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Looks Like the new VP Cat's out of the Bag….. 500 Series Preamps
Old 7th March 2011
  #1
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drBill's Avatar
Looks Like the new VP Cat's out of the Bag…..

I wanted to put up a thread dedicated to CAPI VC528ST2+ experimentation and how those who are testing them are using them to date. I know that Jeff designed them to be a stepping stone link in what will ultimately (I believe) be a full console design, but I have been using them in quite a different fashion since I got them.

I suspect many of you are using them after a vp26 or other pre and tracking with them, but I'm tied up with MIXING for awhile, and wanted to try other venues for these guys.

I think it was Dan who coined the term "The Missing Link", and I couldn't agree more. That's what I'm calling them from here out!

I got mine late Friday and slapped them into my 500V API rack. Had some problems there as the API backplane PCB in my rack is ever so slightly out of spec. The ML's didn't want to fully seat and the mutes came on no matter what I did, so I put them into my Lunchbox and they worked perfectly - as expected.

I've been experimenting a bit with the filters, (LOVE the LPF for taking "just a bit of the edge off") and more, with driving the electronics a bit to yield a bit more "size and depth". After having the vp26's a few months, I feel like they really are the perfect 512 for the digital world - taking the best of API past and smoothing off that harsh edge that their more modern brethren seem to have on certain sources. But they seem to keep all the goodness of the 512B/C's and make a great compliment to digital. With that in the back of my mind, I had high hopes for the 528's and implementing them into my MIX stage. (Looking forward to tracking with them as well, but right now, I'm backlogged mixing for quite some time).

I don't mix with compression across the mix bus, so I don't get the (sometimes) advantage of what a nice analog compressor or tubes across the mix buss will bring. But I do crave some warmth sometimes, or an "analog smear" or "glue" as it were without the reduction in dynamic range.

I won't go into too much detail here yet, but I'll say that my brief experiments really took my mixes to a higher level. I experimented with driving the output gain of the 528, along with driving the input harder and triming down the output. (ala how you would push a guitar amp to get a little more 'hair" on the sound). The latter is where I started to achieve more "glue" and "size", although the former was certainly nice enough to warrant the extra D/A-A/D stage, and kept the mix "unaffected" but warmer. The filters are just glorious and wonderful - especially the LOW pass for trimmiing off excess HF that's not needed. (I'm a long term proponent of cleaning out un-needed HF material on digital mixes, and prefer different frequencies for different sources obviously, so I have decided that to do do this right - for ME - I need 8-16 pairs of these guys. heh heh)

Anyway, I wanted to put up a thread where we could talk about these bad boys. Experiences, applications, successes, and thoughts.......Dan, Klauth, others......let's hear what you think!!!

bp
Old 7th March 2011
  #2
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lectric's Avatar
 

I wait for to buy a pair...
Old 7th March 2011
  #3
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Klauth's Avatar
Well said drBill... as I concur.

My thing is tracking drums so, that's all I really concern myself with these days. that said, the VC528 is a god send of a module for a guy like me I WAS using Empirical Labs, LiL Freq's for my fader purposes, previous to receiving the VC528's and they worked great, very clean though, with amazing EQ and HP section so, I was really curious as to how the VC528's would compare.

Upon replacing the the LiL Freq's with the VC528's I heard a HUGE improvement in the form of thickness & depth, in a very desirable way. I compress and EQ to disc so, the HP/LP is a REAL asset for me, as most mic pre's don't have them. I tend to get a little nutty with my signal chains so, when I first saw pics of the VC528's, my eye's began to expand, pupils dilated... and I'm pretty sure I was mumbling, as my jaw dropped... to a seemingly dislocated level.

So, me being the gearslut that I am, Instantly I thought, "I GOTTA HAVE THIS" I don't even care if it sounds good.... just look at it !!!.... GAWD DAMN !!!!!

Anyhoo, back in "reality ville" this thing makes anything I run through it, sound "better" in an analog sorta way. I was actually considering the tonelux route before I got hooked on this module. yes, the VC528 has less features than the tonelux fader but, the sound & build quality are second to none(as far as I'm concerned plus, the VC528 is a 500 series which means I don't have to buy, yet.... another format rack system. bottom line, the thing just has KILL written all over it !!!

I decided to try running a really thick kick drum chain, just to see what it would sound like. thinking that, it might be TOO thick? :/

Audix D-6 > Germanium Pre > Germanium Tone Control > VC528 > DISC

WOW !!! talk about taking the Germanium thing to a new level? *YIKES* the combination of the filters on the VC528 with the Tone Control was surprisingly harmonious. the VC528 simply lets you drive even your most heavily wicked gear, to safer & "better" sounding levels of control.... well, at least in my world. ~THANK's Jeff.... YOU ROCK Bro thumbsup ~The klauth.
Old 8th March 2011
  #4
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Michael Loomis's Avatar
 

So, I take it these are not actual (for sale) product yet, true?
Old 8th March 2011
  #5
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drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Loomis View Post
So, I take it these are not actual (for sale) product yet, true?
Michael - you'd have to check with Jeff Steiger @ CAPI to be sure, but I believe they are ready to hit prime time any day now. In case you're trying to figure out exactly what we're going gaga over, here's a pic below......

I'll try to take a pic of them in the rack if I get a chance.

Here's some info on the unit from Jeff :

For some quick background in case you don't know. I originally got the "second stage" idea when testing my first VP26 proto. I went up to friend Dave's place for an additional opinion. To me, the pre sounding very much exactly like the pre's in my console. I guess I wanted some reassurance. In testing at his place, we used his Brent racked vintage 312 cards as well as a random, input channel preamp from his vintage 1604 console. After a few hours of opamp and preamp swapping, I was pretty happy and satisfied that I had nailed it. For kicks, I told him that we should try one more track with the Direct Out from the 1604 as opposed to just the Preamp Out. If you don't know, the Preamp Out is exactly the same circuit as the VP26 preamp (besides the t-pad). The Direct Out has the 500 slot channel EQ after the preamp, then the channel fader and into the 2nd booster stage of the Input Channel. We of course had the EQ in the slot but disengaged. As we all know, there is no hard bypass on an API EQ. We still get the benefit of two more 2520's, some discrete voltage follower circuits and a 2503 output transformer. In short, upon playback, we had that moment where our jaws dropped open, we looked at each other and could only say "Wow!". I knew then that one day I had to bring this additional circuitry to the industry.

For years we have all followed the logic that "less is more". Shortest path to tape as possible. I don't think this is always the best solution sonically especially in today's digital age. My slogan for the VC528 is "Sometimes less is more...but sometimes...more is more!". Dan has given it the code name of "The Missing Link" which is highly appropriate I think.

Anyhow, if you have an API EQ on hand, you can bypass the discrete receiver stage of the VC528 to emulate the authentic Direct Out of the console. The shunt jumper directions are on the attached pdf. I added the discrete receiver stage for those without an API EQ for some extra mojo.

I explain the operation of the mute circuit in the pdf as well.

To answer a few of Don's questions, the EA2623-1 transformers are Ed Anderson's (Purple's ODD and TAV) faithful recreation of the output transformer used for my console's input channels. They are indeed found in a 525 as well as the ACA cards. All parts and components are of top quality. I select the right part/component first then worry about the cost. I can only hope that things will be reasonable when I'm done!

The filters are implemented in the same passive way as the HPF in my console. I added the 550a voltage follower as a buffer and then a LPF array. This was mostly due to input from my friend Dan Deurloo. The filter points were settled on thru a few emails between myself and Dan. They were figured out mathematically and then verified thru testing on my AP Portable One. The frequencies are pretty accurate to reality. The knee changes a little when switching to the -12dB setting. This is typical for two 1st order filters in series. They do sound very natural to me.

Opamps: I shipped Klauth's pair outfitted with all SL-2520 red dots courtesy of Scott. Klauth, I know you are a big fan due to the rack full of VP26's stuffed with red dots!. Bill and Don, you guys have Gary's gar1731's (from the Melcor) in the receiver stage and his gar2520's in the booster stage. These are of course socketed and can be interchanged with any of the 2520 style opamps. The gar1731's are very smooth and probably the most colored out of all the opamps I carry. Very smooth but still ironically mid aggressive in that familiar way.

So there you have the gist of it. Here's a pic of the guts, and I'll try to snap one in the rack, but I gotta get back to some mixing. It's a joy since I'm playing with these new toys. heh
Attached Thumbnails
Looks Like the new VP Cat's out of the Bag…..-3-vc528-st2.jpg  
Old 8th March 2011
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
Michael Loomis's Avatar
 

Where can I get a copy of the .pdf he's describing? Don't see it on their website.
Old 9th March 2011
  #7
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Loomis View Post
Where can I get a copy of the .pdf he's describing? Don't see it on their website.
hey Michael - I'd suggest contacting Jeff directly about that. Cheers, bp
Old 9th March 2011
  #8
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Michael Loomis's Avatar
 

Just did that, thanks.
Old 10th March 2011
  #9
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junior's Avatar
 

Very nice! heh
Old 11th March 2011
  #10
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dandeurloo's Avatar
I've been using mine a ton on some pretty rough tracks I got in to mix for a local band. I ran all the drum tracks through them and it made an enormous difference. I can't wait to track with these more. I am sure they will be even better sounding when used from the first track!

Oh, and the stepped fader is a life saver for so many things!
Old 11th March 2011
  #11
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ddageek's Avatar
 

You guys are making me so jealous! Must get a pair!
Old 11th March 2011
  #12
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drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dandeurloo View Post
I can't wait to track with these more. I am sure they will be even better sounding when used from the first track!
I'm literally right in the middle of a drum take right now. My OH chain is off the hook -

Vintage Rogers kit >> Gefell M71S's >> vp26's >> Eisen Lil PeqR's (w/ Marinairs) >> VC528.

Scarey good.... I'm a happy camper today.
Old 15th March 2011
  #13
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
In my continuing saga to put gear into situations it was never meant to go..... heh heh

My latest experiment - put the VC528 in FRONT of the vp26. :-) Bet Jeff never thought someone would do that..... heh heh

I came out Pro Tools at moderate levels with a final mix, attenuated about 25dB in the 528 with NO filtering, then into the vp26's with input at 12:00, and output attenuation of the vp's around 1:00 to match the donor tracks levels as I redigitized them back into PT. It ended up being a very cool sound. I had to play around quite a bit with the gain staginig to find out how much attenuation on the 528, how much INPUT on the vp26, and how much final attenuation on the VP26 to get "the vibe" I was after. This is going to take some twiddling to find my perfect "sweet spot". Where to attenuate, where to push harder......

On second thought, MAYBE I should do an insert into PT and use it as a PARALLEL processor mixing clean digital, and warming analog for the perfect combo..... Hmmmmm.... That's my next mission.

At any rate, the result of the 528/vp26 track was rounder, bigger, and significantly "louder" with same "peak" levels at around -6dBfs. More "analog warmth" as some might say. Or maybe it's just more bacon and cheese. Actually, the "experiment" tracks SOUNDS about 2-4dB LOUDER than the donor track. Almost like I had hit a buss compressor with maybe 2dB GR. I'm guessing due to transients being shaved off and transformers starting to saturate. The bass was more solid, and there is no doubt it is a more "analog" sound, albeit with a bit more harmonic distortion (which is what I was after for this track).

This is a sure fire way to get tracks louder towards 0dBfs without using brick wall limiting. I have a feeling using both Brick Wall limiting with a 528/selected pre will yeild a HUGE sounding track during mastering.

Oh, and BTW, like I mentioned on my last post, I used it after (heh - sometimes you have to be a conformist) the VP26's on OH drum mics this last week. I'm not sure what it was, I had a vintage Rogers kit that I didn't like as well as my favorite Yamaha kit "in the room", but the results in the control room turned out huge sounding despite the sound in the tracking room. Man, I love these guys. Makes me sound better than I am.

Thanks to Jeff for inventing these guys. thumbsupthumbsup
Old 15th March 2011
  #14
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bleen's Avatar
A pair of these are my next purchase after building another batch of VP26s!
Old 16th March 2011
  #15
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ben_allison's Avatar
When Jeff announced this, I knew immediately that it would become a classic piece of gear.

It really is THE missing link.
Old 16th March 2011
  #16
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msquared's Avatar
 

Is there any chance of *anyone* who is testing these out putting up some tracks? Maybe a demo video?
Old 16th March 2011
  #17
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these are not preamps right? they are an extra "channel driver/filter" stage?
Old 16th March 2011
  #18
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drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by msquared View Post
Is there any chance of *anyone* who is testing these out putting up some tracks? Maybe a demo video?
I plan on putting up some clips when I get the time. At least I'm planning on posting some of my twisted experiments. I'm just swamped right now - will get to it as soon as I can. Some of the guys using them traditionally might have some pre vs. pre + 528 stage clips. Maybe they will chime in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by work2do View Post
these are not preamps right? they are an extra "channel driver/filter" stage?
You are correct - they are not preamps. They are High Pass & Low Pass filters + an extra gain / attenuation stage and mute stage. Basically (sorry, Jeff can describe this much better than I can, maybe he'll chime in) they are designed to be the stage of circuitry directly after a pre in a console (API-ish in this case) minus the parametric EQ (which Jeff also has up his sleeve). They add two additional transformers, two switchable slope filters, and two additional API-ish discrete op-amps (there are several choices including API's 2520's if you like). Ultimately the bottom line is, when using it traditionally after the pre, (like consoles always did) they yeild a more "console-like" sound than just using a pre into your A to D - which is what many of us have been doing since the advent of rack mount and 500 series pre's. Utilizing the 528's in your chain - post preamp - is a modern sonic alternative to a console design. Basically, getting the "missing link" back into the tracking / overdub chain. And in my experiments, the mixing / mastering stage.

For a long time I've been looking for a way to have flexible gain staging post D to A and pre A to D during mix and mastering stages. A flexible way to drive different pieces of outboard to their sweet spots. The 528 is it and it's outstanding filters have been missing from the 500 series as well. I've been tweaking/using them in unusual places for gain staging for "analog" purposes in my digital chains. I've found that I can get size, focus and warmth - in a traditional analog sense - without using a buss compressor. ie: I'm getting an apparent louder, fatter, more focused audio file post CAPI chain at less dBfs than my untreated files in the DAW with no compression in the chain. Pretty interesting stuff. I'm still experimenting when I have the chance. This is pushing new ground for me, and I'm still finding my "sweet spot" with the "Missing Link".

I kind of feel like I'm swimming in uncharted territory, and it's taking awhile to dial in exactly what I'm looking for, but I have the passion now and I can hear it's there for the picking. I'm pretty excited on this end......
Old 25th March 2011
  #19
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dandeurloo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
.
For a long time I've been looking for a way to have flexible gain staging post D to A and pre A to D during mix and mastering stages. A flexible way to drive different pieces of outboard to their sweet spots. The 528 is it and it's outstanding filters have been missing from the 500 series as well. I've been tweaking/using them in unusual places for gain staging for "analog" purposes in my digital chains. I've found that I can get size, focus and warmth - in a traditional analog sense - without using a buss compressor. ie: I'm getting an apparent louder, fatter, more focused audio file post CAPI chain at less dBfs than my untreated files in the DAW with no compression in the chain. Pretty interesting stuff. I'm still experimenting when I have the chance. This is pushing new ground for me, and I'm still finding my "sweet spot" with the "Missing Link".

The gain stages are something that can't be over looked here! When I first talked to Jeff about making the Missing Links the gain stage was one of the main things I wanted for that exact reason. I want to drive my outboard a little harder but not clip my AD recording my mix back into the DAW plus have the filters to clean things up. The Missing Links are magic for this. The idea behind the features are designed for dual duty, tracking and Mix Buss. A studio tool that everyone could use from the Home project studio to large mastering houses. Thus the name "Missing Link"!

The 3rd part (and worth the price of admission and then some) of the Missing Links that I had no input in was the circuit/tone. And this is something that Jeff nailed! Honestly, I knew they would sound good but I had no idea they would be this cool. With out the guts/circuit/tone of these the missing links would not be half of what they are and the "analog sound" would not be there. The VP26 and the Missing Links = TONE!

Yesterday I did some drum tracking through my pair of the Missing Links and found them to be amazing on OH's. I was able to get my pres into a good smooth saturation and dial back the gain with the Missing Links. Plus the Mojo/tone of the Missing Links really made the OH's sound amazing. Again it sound very analog! It is hard to explain but it is true. They have the magic. I always love the sound of tape and cymbals. I love how tape very smoothly compresses the cymbals and gets rid of the nasty harsh top of cymbals. The Missing Links do the same kind of thing.

Jeff, 2 more please!
Old 25th March 2011
  #20
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drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dandeurloo View Post
I love how tape very smoothly compresses the cymbals and gets rid of the nasty harsh top of cymbals. The Missing Links do the same kind of thing.

Jeff, 2 more please!

Agreed. I think the vp26's bring the most to the table though. Alone they still feel like an analog pre made specifically for recording digitally. They just smooth off the top end nastiness that you can sometimes get with other "x"12 style pre's. Then, add some 528 style thick maple syrup and bacon to those waffles son, and you've got something substantial. heh heh And it's all good. I agree also with the 2 more sentiment. Actually, make that 6. I also chose OH when I recorded drums last week, but I sure wish I had more for K/Sn.......

Honestly, your moniker of "the missing link" is so ON. When people get hands on with these things, and when jeff gets them up on the site, he won't be able to keep them in stock. thumbsup
Old 25th March 2011
  #21
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DrBill, I have been running every track through them later and its very nice. Have you been doing that at all?

Also, its so tasty to print your mix with them on a buss like GTRS and then run the final mix back through the Missing Links. The bacon just gets fatter and goes down so well!

These have really been so fun to work with.
Old 26th March 2011
  #22
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drBill's Avatar
Dan - since I'm working ITB mostly, I'm not getting EVERY track thru them, but a lot of them are. Anything that originates outside that is going in via microphone is going thru them at this point, and MOST everything that is outside going in via line level is hitting them. I need to just REMEMBER to use them more. I'm working so fast and am so cemented into my work flow I forget sometimes. I'm about to print 20 mixes and I will print internal DAW busses pre 528 "to tape (DAW)" and also go D/A out to the 528>>>vp-26 and back into PT and weigh the options. I suspect some will end up the "pure" way, and others will end up the 528/26 way. The one thing I really like about the 528 way is that it shaves off the digital sounding transients the same way tape does, leaving a punchier more analog sound that's "apparently" louder, but still not hitting 0dBfs. Attenuating and hitting the 528 and then "reamping" with the vp26 is shaving off 3-5dB of digital fluff transients that I'd have to compress and then brick wall limit during mastering anyway. BUT, I actually much prefer it to compressing as it keeps the dynamic range, while getting punchier and fatter. The best of both worlds. heh All that said, I mix a certain way to achieve my "analog inside of digital" goals, and going outside to analog after the fact leaves me both happy and a little sad. I think I need to leave them inserted into my mix chain so that I am mixing INTO them instead of slapping them on at the end. When I get there, I think my world is going to flip upside down. (In a great way) thumbsup

bp


PS - just to clear things up - it was YOU who coined the phrase "missing link" wasn't it? And I prefer to think of them as thick maple syrup instead of bacon. I think it fits better, but the sentiment is the same. Whatever your favorite saturated fat / sugar fetish is......
Old 26th March 2011
  #23
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I agree with everything you just said! That is why you can get by with a pair but really more is better! That way we can mix through them and use them for tracking and mixing. I can see a rack of these in the future.

Yeah, I did come up with "Missing Link".

I know bacon and syrup always go well together but some chefs do it better then others. I'm just really glad Jeff was the chef on these!
Old 5th April 2011
  #24
Old 5th April 2011
  #25
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Great news!! And a fantastic price. Thanks Jeff!!!
Old 5th April 2011
  #26
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junior's Avatar
 

Yeah, very nice! So, when are the full kits going to be available?
Old 6th April 2011
  #27
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msquared's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
Some of the guys using them traditionally might have some pre vs. pre + 528 stage clips. Maybe they will chime in.
Anyone? Testers posting high fives is exciting and I'm happy for you all, but now that these are almost available it'd be nice to hear some A/Bing.
Old 6th April 2011
  #28
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drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by msquared View Post
Anyone? Testers posting high fives is exciting and I'm happy for you all, but now that these are almost available it'd be nice to hear some A/Bing.
Working on that, but I'm just snowed under right now..... sorry.
Old 6th April 2011
  #29
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ianbryn11's Avatar
 

Wow... these are sounding really cool!
Old 6th April 2011
  #30
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monkeyxx's Avatar
can't wait to give these a try... subscribing
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