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CAPI VP28 Op Amp Shootout 500 Series Preamps
Old 14th June 2013
  #1
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shelterr's Avatar
 

CAPI VP28 Op Amp Shootout

So I recently purchased a pair of VP28's and I must say they are very impressive! I was extremely curious about the different sound of the Op Amps so I ordered some extras and recorded a guitar test. Every combination pre and post was tested using Red Dot's, GAR2520, and GAR 1731's.

This test was done using a guitar loop so the performance is identical on each test. I included a list of the gear as well as pictures from the test. I also ran the test with the other mic preamps in my collection and I will post those once we have had time to discuss the differences in the VP28 options.

-2008 Gibson Les Paul Classic with 498T humbucker.
-1980 Marshall JMP 100 Watt (modded)
-Shure SM57
-Bogner 4X12 with V30's
-Prism ADA-8XR conversion

I hope this is helpful!
Stephan
Attached Thumbnails
CAPI VP28 Op Amp Shootout-vp28.jpg   CAPI VP28 Op Amp Shootout-bogner.jpg   CAPI VP28 Op Amp Shootout-jmp.jpg   CAPI VP28 Op Amp Shootout-lp-classic.jpg  
Attached Files

GAR 2520 Preamp, GAR 1731 Fader.wav (5.94 MB, 14786 views)

GAR 1731 Preamp, GAR 2520 Fader.wav (5.94 MB, 13374 views)

GAR 2520 Preamp, GAR 2520 Fader.wav (5.94 MB, 13795 views)

Red Dot Preamp, GAR 2520 Fader.wav (5.94 MB, 12885 views)

Red Dot Preamp, Red Dot Fader.wav (5.94 MB, 14325 views)

Red Dot Preamp, GAR 1731 Fader.wav (5.94 MB, 12605 views)

GAR 1731 Preamp, Red Dot Fader.wav (5.94 MB, 12268 views)

GAR 1731 Preamp, GAR 1731 Fader.wav (5.94 MB, 13465 views)

Old 14th June 2013
  #2
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ARIEL's Avatar
Great thanks for doing this , I'll download them and take a listen . I Also was curious about the difference as well .
Old 14th June 2013
  #3
Gear maniac
 

Nice shoot out! I focused on the samples with all the same op amps. I had already determined that I liked the red dot over the gar2520, but I didn't realize that the 1731 was such a unique sound. I really liked it in the shoot out. There was a lot more high end, sounded louder and probably cuts in a mix really well. Seems like it would be a good choice for overheads and guitars if you need a little more sizzle. It sounded more vintage to me - like old school Ozzy guitars. I'd stick with red dots for probably everything else. Might stick with red dots for guitars too, depending on the song. In this sample, the Gar2520 just doesn't seem to do anything better than the other two. I am sure it has it's place and proponents. That's the great thing about options - you get to find what works for you.
Old 14th June 2013
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1rechtien View Post
Nice shoot out! I focused on the samples with all the same op amps. I had already determined that I liked the red dot over the gar2520, but I didn't realize that the 1731 was such a unique sound. I really liked it in the shoot out. There was a lot more high end, sounded louder and probably cuts in a mix really well. Seems like it would be a good choice for overheads and guitars if you need need a little more sizzle. It sounded more vintage to me - like old school Ozzy guitars. I'd stick with red dots for probably everything else. Might stick with red dots for guitars too, depending on the song. In this sample, the Gar2520 just doesn't seem to do anything better than the other two. I am sure it has it's place and proponents. That's the great thing about options - you get to find what works for you.
Interesting findings. I personally didn't prefer the red dots in any combination. I will say that the red dots did seem to sound the most similar to my API 312 with Hunnington 2520's (I'll post the rest of the tests later). I actually sold my red dots although I understand why people like them. The all 1731 option was very cool and I totally hear the old school Ozzy sound!
Old 14th June 2013
  #5
dude, very cool of you. gonna listen now.
Old 14th June 2013
  #6
all 1731 was pretty cool.

I have vp28's with gar2520 and red dots...gotta get some 1731's now.
Old 14th June 2013
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by littlesicily View Post
dude, very cool of you. gonna listen now.
I figured it was the least I could do. I bought my VP28's off a GS user and heard about them on this site as well. This is as scientific as a test gets. No variables, just the op amp differences.
Old 14th June 2013
  #8
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ben_allison's Avatar
Wow! Can't wait to listen to these.

I have a feeling I'll be sending Jeff some PayPal love sometime soon.

Old 14th June 2013
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by shelterr View Post
This is as scientific as a test gets. No variables, just the op amp differences.
Well, you know...as the tubes warm up in the amp over time...

Nah, just kidding...
Old 14th June 2013
  #10
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ben_allison's Avatar
I really hope you accounted for changes in barometric pressure...
Old 14th June 2013
  #11
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shelterr's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by littlesicily View Post
Well, you know...as the tubes warm up in the amp over time...

Nah, just kidding...
Ya know its funny, I actually did run the amp for about 20 minutes to ensure it was equally warm for each test. Those op amps are so easy to change that it really didn't take long in between tests either. It was about as painless as testing gets thanks to the stepped controls on the VP28.
Old 14th June 2013
  #12
THANKS SO MUCH FOR DOING THIS!

As I'm just about to purchase two VP28s, this is a HUGE help!

They all sounded fantastic! But I think the red dots are a winner for me, and the 2520s are a close second. They sound very similar, but the low-mids were clearer for me on the red dots. I'm not sure they're worth the extra price however.

Thanks!
Old 14th June 2013
  #13
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BradM's Avatar
Excellent job! I love when people actually post useful things like this.

I found the 1731 to be the most colored sounding of the bunch regardless of which position it was in. It seemed to homogenize (mushify) any time it was in the signal path. I could see how some might find it a unique tonal option. Not my thing. I must say the GAR2520 didn't do it for me in these clips. Of all the GAR clips the one where it was followed by the 1731 was probably the most tonally balanced. To me the Red Dots were the clear winner. Whereas with both the GAR and the 1731 it felt like double action was too much, double Red Dot just seemed oh so right. It had more depth and detail than the others. There was an enhanced 3D sense of space around the instrument...I could feel the transients and the excursion of the speakers in the cabinet more.

I'm feeling pretty good right now that I stuck Red Dots in the summing amps of my console.

Thanks for sharing!
Brad
Old 14th June 2013
  #14
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ben_allison's Avatar
Thanks again for doing this. It's always great to check out these kinds of tests.

Just comparing the RedDot+RedDot to 1731+1731 (which are arguably the most opposite of the batch) there are differences... but as I surmised, those difference are pretty slight, and in a blind AB I think people would be surprised at how little they're actually able to tell them apart.

It's always tough on a solo track. Over 24 channels, plus summing, it would be a different story I'm sure.
Old 14th June 2013
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by ben_allison View Post

It's always tough on a solo track. Over 24 channels, plus summing, it would be a different story I'm sure.
I agree. Also, more noticeable on a 2mix than a solo'd track.
Old 14th June 2013
  #16
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I feel like when I pan the guitar hard left or right, I prefer the non-red dot options. I think the double 1731 is really cool for it's natural eq curve and big sizzly sound, but I think The 2520 pre, 1731 post is my favorite combo. It seems to have a more transparent low mid than the others and is very tall sounding to me. The double 2520 is a little bloated for me, although it does seems balanced in a way.

The red dot combo really does sound very close to my original API 312 with Hunnington the 2520. It's maybe a hair more sterile to me but I'll post it and let you guys decide for yourself. I also tested my other mic pre's. I tried to level match as good as possible but it can be difficult.
Attached Files

API 312 (Hunnington 2520).wav (5.94 MB, 12599 views)

A Designs P1.wav (5.94 MB, 12294 views)

PAU Model 805.wav (5.94 MB, 12171 views)

Howertone (custom tube).wav (5.94 MB, 11924 views)

Chandler TG2.wav (5.94 MB, 12195 views)

Trident S20.wav (5.94 MB, 12202 views)

Old 14th June 2013
  #17
Registered User
 

As i already knew, the differences are not subtle. I felt the 2520's were aggressive and chunky, and would sound good in a modern metal funk thing, i felt the red dots were equally aggressive and chunky, but had the ozzy thing without a doubt, that classic rock midrange forward thing happening perfectly. The 1731's didnt sound good to me for this guitar sound? All this falls perfectly into what i'm hearing on my rig with these combos.

thanx for doing this, it gives me some new perspective and gets me outta my bubble a bit
Old 14th June 2013
  #18
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drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by shelterr View Post
but I think The 2520 pre, 1731 post is my favorite combo.
That's what Jeff suggested for me, and it's what is in both my ML's and 28's. Sounded so great I never bothered to change it up. Will listen later when my computer free's up.....
Old 14th June 2013
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
That's what Jeff suggested for me, and it's what is in both my ML's and 28's. Sounded so great I never bothered to change it up. Will listen later when my computer free's up.....
I actually arranged mine that way because I saw the picture of yours! It's a great combo for sure.
Old 14th June 2013
  #20
Really cool test. I liked the pair of red dots best for the op amp shootout. I felt like they had the best balance. The 2520's sound a bit tubby and the 1731's a bit thin.

I really dug the sound of this PAU Model 805 too. I've never heard of that pre, but it sounds pretty awesome.
Old 14th June 2013
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tonycamp View Post
As i already knew, the differences are not subtle.
I've made a test, to see if people can hear differences as well as they claim they can. It's really easy to say, "Oh no sweat!" on the Internet with no accountability. So this will be an interesting exercise.

Here are three versions, each comped from three takes. I've made it so these tests won't null, so cheating isn't possible.

Listen to, them and tell me where the cuts are, and what opamps are being used.

Should be a piece of cake.

http://roestudios.com/dump/OpampTest01.wav
http://roestudios.com/dump/OpampTest02.wav
http://roestudios.com/dump/OpampTest03.wav
Old 14th June 2013
  #22
Registered User
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ben_allison View Post
I've made a test, to see if people can hear differences as well as they claim they can. It's really easy to say, "Oh no sweat!" on the Internet with no accountability. So this will be an interesting exercise.

Here are three versions, each comped from three takes. I've made it so these tests won't null, so cheating isn't possible.

Listen to, them and tell me where the cuts are, and what opamps are being used.

Should be a piece of cake.

http://roestudios.com/dump/OpampTest01.wav
http://roestudios.com/dump/OpampTest02.wav
http://roestudios.com/dump/OpampTest03.wav
LMAO! You are a troll You're joking right ben?? I'm really not sure?? Before you call everyone out, you should thank the OP for taking the time to be helpful, then listen to the 2520's vs Red dots, if you can't hear the diff, get a new rig?...if you're not joking? Also, I like the way you set up your test with no foundation or parameters what so ever?...if you're not joking?....are you joking¿ I wouldn't entertain your "shootout" based on the fact you cant hear the diff between 2520's and red dots in these samples alone?...if you're not joking? You should spend less time being the internet gotcha police, and refine you ears a little, so you can hear the huge diff between red dots and 2520's?...if you're not joking?...Your assertions are absurd and disrespectful to Jeff, Gary , Scott who make and sell these different opamps and to anyone else who possesses the ability to hear??...if you're not joking?...It's actually pretty funny whether you're joking or not
Old 14th June 2013
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tonycamp View Post
LMAO! You are a troll You're joking right ben?? I'm really not sure?? Listen to the 2520's vs Red dots, if you can't hear the diff, get a new rig?...if you're not joking? Also, I like the way you set up your test with no foundation or parameters?...if you're not joking?....are you joking¿ It's funny either way
Troll? I'm far from a troll.

No foundation or parameters? How do you figure? This is a simple test.

Three files. In each, I cut between different takes. That's all.

If you're positive you can hear night and day differences, you should easily be able to AT LEAST tell me where the cuts are. If you're confident in your assertions, sack up. I'm giving you an opportunity to prove yourself right.

Dr Bill's done test like these before too. It's a valid way to see if someone can identify if things are appreciably different from each other, without any bias or preconception.

I believe in scientific terms, it's called a blind test.
Old 14th June 2013
  #24
Registered User
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ben_allison View Post
Troll? I'm far from a troll.

No foundation or parameters? How do you figure? This is a simple test.

Three files. In each, I cut between different takes. That's all.

If you're positive you can hear night and day differences, you should easily be able to AT LEAST tell me where the cuts are. If you're confident in your assertions, sack up. I'm giving you an opportunity to prove yourself right.

Dr Bill's done test like these before too. It's a valid way to see if someone can identify if things are appreciably different from each other, without any bias or preconception.

I believe in scientific terms, it's called a blind test.
You nor I have the class to be Dr Bill, In scientific terms, you've set no baseline?(prove that it's colder in the summer than it is in the country) no one here knows your rig, or what mic you used or even what your point is?(seems personal toward me?) is this a Dave Moulton eq exercise or an opamp comparison? either way, people who own these opamps know the diff? who the [email protected]#k are you to tell anyone what they hear? you look like a petty [email protected]#$che bag, and i invite you to go have sex with yourself I'm here to have fun, and learn from helpful folks, so do me a favor, and set my profile to ignore ben
Old 14th June 2013
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tonycamp View Post
no one here knows your rig, or what mic you used or even what your point is?(seems personal toward me?)
Tony, I took the clips that were posted in this thread. That's the baseline. Maybe I wasn't clear. I'm using the OP's original clips. My rig doesn't factor into this, whatsoever.

And it's not personal. I don't know you, or anything about you. Your comments just motivated me to create a test, from the op's clips. It's an exercise for anyone to participate in, to see how much they think they can hear.

It's as much for my benefit as anyone else's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tonycamp View Post
who the [email protected]#k are you to tell anyone what they hear? you look like a petty [email protected]#$che bag
I'm not trying telling you what you hear. I created a test, using the op's clips, to have YOU tell us what YOU hear. What's petty about that?
Old 14th June 2013
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by ben_allison View Post
I'm not trying telling you what you hear. I created a test, using the op's clips, to have YOU tell us what YOU hear. What's petty about that?
Do your tests use all combinations of op amps? How many cuts are in each clip?

I know for me, the best way to hear the different tonalities in the op amps with the initial clips is by listening to the first 3-5 seconds of each clip. That way the performance is the same while I'm switching between them.
Old 14th June 2013
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcoutu1 View Post
Do your tests use all combinations of op amps? How many cuts are in each clip?

I know for me, the best way to hear the different tonalities in the op amps with the initial clips is by listening to the first 3-5 seconds of each clip. That way the performance is the same while I'm switching between them.
I kept it simple: the tests use no more than three distinct takes: RedDot + RedDot, 2520 +2520, 1731 + 1731.

The assertion is that, "The differences are not subtle," so, the amount of cuts (and where they are) should be absolutely obvious to someone making that assertion.

Proof the assertion is true requires accurately identifying the cuts.

If someone can't honestly identify them... I think that's fine! My argument is simply that the differences are subtle, and no one is served by grandiose and sweeping statements that have little to no basis in verifiable fact.
Old 14th June 2013
  #28
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Maybe it's because I'm listening softly on my computer while my wife has something going on on her computer right behind me, but I can't hear any differences whatsoever.

I appreciate Ben's revision of this test just for the opportunity to hear it change during a single take. I'd think that would make the change seem more obvious even if I didn't know what the change was. I SHOULD be able to hear some change in the timbre... but I can't.

What do I need to do to train this part of my ears? Or does it matter at all?

I'm thinking about building some of these because I only have prosumer grade pres right now. Even bought a soldering iron and a reamp box to start learning how to build. (Taking it slowly; this is a long term project.) I figure any of these is going to be a step up from my BLA's and Syteks and Mackies... otherwise I'm putting a lot of energy and money and time into snake oil...
Old 14th June 2013
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ben_allison View Post
I kept it simple: the tests use no more than three distinct takes: RedDot + RedDot, 2520 +2520, 1731 + 1731.

The assertion is that, "The differences are not subtle," so, the amount of cuts (and where they are) should be absolutely obvious to someone making that assertion.

Proof the assertion is true requires accurately identifying the cuts.

If someone can't honestly identify them... I think that's fine! My argument is simply that the differences are subtle, and no one is served by grandiose and sweeping statements that have little to no basis in verifiable fact.
I'm going to back Ben up here. I think the differences are also subtle. I define subtle as "change to op amp on one track will not change the impact the song has on the listener". Can I hear a difference in the OP's tracks? I belive I can. Can I accurately identify the cuts blindly? Probably not, but we'll see. But I'm going to take Ben's test and post my thoughts. I like doing this kinds of listening tests, not because they have any bearing on the music I make, but because they are fun exercises to train the ears.

Whatever you stick in those preamps at the end of day doesn't change the fact that you are going to record a take, listen back, and then change the mic positioning or the EQ on the amp until you have something you like. Those changes will always trump an op amp choice. My second defintion of "subtle": if another change swamps the op amp change, then the op amp change was subtle in comparison.

Brad
Old 14th June 2013
  #30
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I will gladly do the blind file test but am not really clear what I am supposed to be listening for. What files are used? What are the 3 tests? More information would be appreciated.
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