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Differences in the iterations of current AMS Neve 1073 offerings

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Differences in the iterations of current AMS Neve 1073 offerings

Postby cashhewn » Sun Aug 02, 2020 8:16 am

Hi,

I'm in the midst of running the dizzying (sickening?) 1073 research gauntlet. Specifically, at the moment I'm trying to suss out the differences in the AMS Neve 1073 lineup and weigh where the corners have been cut on components and/or features in order to figure out what product might be best for me. Hugh Robjohns here at SOS has excellently reviewed many of the iterations of AMS's lineup, but I'm still left with questions...

Maybe we can compile some useful information on the differences here in this thread?

Here's what I understand (please correct me and please add any info you might have):

1073- the AMS Neve flagship offering, no expense spared, 3 dedicated transformers, one each on the line input, mic input, and line output, full compliment of the EQ section, must have a power rack or console to provide power, "hand wired"- £2100

1073N- has all the features of the 1073 but adds a DI, can also be console or power rack mounted yet has the ability to be used as a standalone device with its own line lump power supply, but is much cheaper than the 1073 due to surface mount construction and what else? What other components or corners are cut to make it £600 pounds cheaper than the 1073?- £1500

Here's where I really start to lose the plot...

1073DPX- seems to be a dual 1073N in a 19" rack mount form, still all three dedicated transformers on each channel, uses the same surface mount construction, yet adds mic, line, and DI inputs on the front of the unit, adds insert inputs to the back, adds a sophisticated looking headphone amp with multiple monitoring options, and an optional digital I/O module, all while being still much cheaper than two 1073Ns. Where are these savings/concessions coming from? Also the price has been drastically lowered since it was initially released by about £1000. What's going on here, seems a much better value than the 1073N (if you don't need it in a console). Too good to be true?- £2345

1073SPX- single version of the 1073DPX but nixes the headphones and is more expensive than half of a DPX.- £1300

1073DPA (and 1073DPD with the optional digital I/O)- big departure here: it's also a dual channel 19" rack mount form like the 1073DPX but it completely eliminates the EQ section, the DI, the front inputs, the headphones, and I believe one of the transformers (the line input transformer). Is this one surface mount construction? It seems like a lot of features and components to eliminate yet is only £600 less than the 1073DPX.- £1750

Then there's also the 500 series preamplifier, and 500 series EQ, that I haven't even considered since I don't have any 500 series equipment (yet?).

Please let me know what you think and if you have anything to add in terms of the AMS Neve stuff, thanks!
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Re: Differences in the iterations of current AMS Neve 1073 offerings

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Aug 02, 2020 10:07 am

cashhewn wrote:1073- the AMS Neve flagship offering, no expense spared...

I'm not sure I'd say that exactly... it was built originally to a broadcast spec, and it runs on a single-sided 24V power rail. Some of its contemporaries ran on dual-sided +/-24V rails giving significantly greater headroom... But it is certainly the original classic and it is built in the original way with several daughter PCBs on edge-connectors and lots of complicated handwiring. This makes it very expensive to produce. It only runs in an original console or a dedicated (expensive) rack, and doesn't have DI facilities. One for the deep-pocketed purist nutters...

1073N- has all the features of the 1073 but adds a DI...much cheaper than the 1073 due to surface mount construction and what else?

It's around 25% cheaper because it's massively easier to build. It's done away with all the time-consuming hand-wiring, all the unreliable edge connectors and noisy switches, ises relays for the gain switching (which is a much better idea) and it can be mostly produced by machine rather than by hand.

Nevertheless, the circuitry is essentially the same as the classic original, it still uses discrete through-hole transistors and the full transformer/inductor complement. If you want something that looks and sounds like the original but is more practical and affordable, this is a nice option.

1073DPX... all while being still much cheaper than two 1073Ns. Where are these savings/concessions coming from?

Cheaper, standard metalwork chassis instead of custom construction. Economies of scale play a surprisingly big part in electronics manufacture! I think this is AMS Neve's best 1073 version, by far, but I don't think it has been as popular as they'd hoped. It is, essentially, two 1073N's but with some very useful extra bells and whistles in a very convenient and attractive format. This is the one I'd go for if I was hell-bent on owning a 1073 with a Neve badge.

1073SPX- single version of the 1073DPX but nixes the headphones and is more expensive than half of a DPX.

...but less expensive than the 1073N, again partly because of the standard metalwork and easier construction. But who would only want a single channel, really?

1073DPA (and 1073DPD with the optional digital I/O)- completely eliminates the EQ section, the DI, the front inputs, the headphones, and I believe one of the transformers (the line input transformer). Is this one surface mount construction? It seems like a lot of features and components to eliminate yet is only £600 less than the 1073DPX

Yes, it has lost the line-input transformer, but it still uses discrete through-hole transistors amidst mostly SMD construction. I agree that it's disappointing value for money... If you just want a bare-bones 1073 preamp there are far more cost-effective (and better-looking) alternatives IMHO.

For completeness, we should also mention the 1084 module, which is the same as the 1073 Classic but with a slightly enhanced EQ section (and it needs the original console/rack for power again). There's also the new 1073OPX which is a heavily modified remote controlled version without the line-input or -- quite astonishingly -- the line-output transformers. Derived from the Genesys Black console preamp option.

You've discounted them, although the 1073LB and LBEQ modules are actually very good -- but obviously not relevant if you don't want to go down the 500 series route.

And then there are a great many 'homages' to the 1073 from several other manufacturers. Some of these are slavish copies of the original, and some are more intelligently engineered and modernised equivalents. BAE, Black Lion, GAP, and Warm Audio spring to mind, but there are others... and there are also many 500-series modules and DIY kits too, all based to some degree on the 1073 schematics.

Of these, the Golden Age Premiere Pre73 and Pre-Q73 models are, I think, superb incarnations and amazing value for money. If you want the 1073 sound, and the overall style, in a more affordable package, look no further.

Personally, though... much as I love the 1073 as an important part of pro-audio heritage, much as I love the wonderful ergonomics of the original (vertical) module, and much as I love the sound character... the world has moved on. If you are happy to leave the EQ to the DAW (where it belongs), and just need a superb high-end preamp, I'd recommend the Cranborne EC2. Much cleaner and quieter than a 1073 when required, but with wonderfully controllable Thump/Cream character options when required -- which offer all that you'd want a 1073 to do, and much more besides.

As for AMS Neve, I think the 1073 is seen as an ongoing cash-cow. Why else would it offer ten different versions (including the 1084 and the Geneysis Black console option), and keep its prices so very much higher than the homage manufacturers, some of which retain the handwiring but still come in cheaper? And Neve's newer iterations seem to be drifting away from the original design concept by dropping the line input transformers and, most recently, the output line driver circuitry completely. Sacrilege! :lol:
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Re: Differences in the iterations of current AMS Neve 1073 offerings

Postby cashhewn » Sun Aug 02, 2020 7:38 pm

Hugh,

Thanks so much for the insight, I do feel like I understand the AMS product line a bit better now.

The amount of work and input you put in here at SOS is mind-boggling and also supremely helpful, and also thanks for your personal alternative Neve-style picks, there are so many options out there...

Maybe people are bored to death of this subject, apologies if so, but it inevitably comes up for us folks just getting into recording. This search began because I wanted to understand what AMS had to offer and also what the company has become today since its sale and relocation many years ago, and indeed it's hard for me to separate their products from the mental attachment I have with their famous name.

That said, in all of my research, there seem to be very few brands/products out there that are trying to offer a Neve-style device like the AMS 1073DPX that is two channel, 19" rack mount, that also attempt to retain all of the original features and components that seem to make up the 1073: the three transformers, the line and mic inputs, and the full compliment of the EQ. In fact I don't think I've found a single device that's similar to the DPX (actually in this thread Hugh pointed out the Golden Age Premier PreQ73, which I had not yet fully considered, and a pair of those would come close, and be considerably less expensive!). The only things I found similar to the DPX and its price point that get named a lot, Great River, BAE, Heritage, Vintech, etc, either completely eliminate the EQ section, or the line inputs and transformers, or some other of the original criteria. I may be wrong but there's nothing out there that seems to offer all of the classic 1073 criteria in a dual channel 19" format near the price point that AMS does with the 1073DPX. You'd have to step up a huge leap in price to get even a single channel that meets all the criteria. I believe that the Heritage DMA73 may come the closest but it totally eliminates the EQ section.

I guess all of this is what got me started thinking that the AMS 1073DPX was too good to be true and wanted to know more, and then I got baffled by AMS's oferings. Anyway, it seems like the DPX is a fine device, just like the many fine devices out out there.

At the end of the day, until I built my own studio I never knew that I "needed" a Neve-style preamp. I've been happily recording and making music without an input and output transformer-coupled preamp for ages, but I've come to a point with my studio that I feel freelance engineers in my space may want some sort of transformer-style preamp on hand, which I don't have, hence the quest began in the first place, to find out why the 1073 is the "gold-standard" of transformer-style preamps and how to get the best approximation of this at the best price point for my budget and personal needs, etc.

Thanks again to everyone who contributes to this excellent site, as always!
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Re: Differences in the iterations of current AMS Neve 1073 offerings

Postby James Perrett » Sun Aug 02, 2020 9:15 pm

I don't know if it is heresy say this but I've not used my Neve preamps in ages. I'm happy either using the preamps in the mixing desk (A&H Saber) or those in the Audient ASP008. I'd say that a good collection of industry standard microphones is going to be much more attractive to visiting engineers.

And a decent room of course.
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Re: Differences in the iterations of current AMS Neve 1073 offerings

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Aug 02, 2020 9:44 pm

cashhewn wrote:At the end of the day, until I built my own studio I never knew that I "needed" a Neve-style preamp. ... I've come to a point with my studio that I feel freelance engineers in my space may want some sort of transformer-style preamp on hand, which I don't have...

That's an expensive game to start playing. For every freelance engineer you please with a modern 1073-a-like in the rack, you'll have another whining that you don't have a rack of APIs, or SSLs, or Millennias, or some flavour-of-the-month valve preamps...

As I said, I love nice hear as much as anyone else, but what matters more is whether the gear in hand can deliver the sound I want, and not really whether it looks like something that established a benchmark fifty years ago...

Its also worthis thought that while the EQ section is important in making the 1073 look right, who actually uses EQ on the way in to the DAW these days? So would you be paying for an expensive box of vintage technology, half of which you probably wouldn't actually use much, if at all?

BTW, I should also have mentioned both the Focusrite ISA and the Rupert Neve Designs channel-strip products. Both designed by Rupert as more modern state-of-the-art preamp designs all building on his earlier experiences and knowledge. I own and often use an ISA428, partly because of its transformer colour. And the RND Shelford channels are very nice and well worth a look...
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Re: Differences in the iterations of current AMS Neve 1073 offerings

Postby cashhewn » Mon Aug 03, 2020 12:00 am

Yes James and Hugh, sage advice, and just what I needed to hear this very moment to put away my wallet and carry on (for now!).

Indeed I've heard it said (something to this effect) that in order of significance in imparting personality to a sound it's: 1- the musician, 2- the instrument, 3- the microphone, 4- the mic pre, and so on...

Thanks for your words here.
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Re: Differences in the iterations of current AMS Neve 1073 offerings

Postby The Elf » Mon Aug 03, 2020 12:49 pm

And all of this is why I'm still happy with my Focusrite Liquid Channels - all the options I could ever need.
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Re: Differences in the iterations of current AMS Neve 1073 offerings

Postby Urthlupe » Tue Aug 04, 2020 2:20 pm

Feels like a dead thread now, but I just wanted to reiterate some of the points above.

Of the AMS Neve 1073 options I have found the DPX by far the best to use - it’s facilities and layout just seem to cover the bases for my workflow, it’s so easy to use from the front panel. The phones option seems odd at first but makes it abs ideal for patching something in quickly that you want to hear right there without starting everything up. Yup, the EQ gets little use - but tbf there’s a 1081 Classic here whose EQ I prefer so that may be partly the reason.

As above - I find the RND boxes excellent - I have a couple of the Portico2 Channelstrips and the MBP. The facilities are really worth patching for, thoroughly flexible EQ and compression - the variable ‘Silk’ colouration options are addictive. Excellent DI. A much wider palette. Personally though I don’t find them as well built as the AMS (but better than the 8801’s....!).

My ISA 428 mk1 cooked itself - although it took ten years plus (power supply - redesigned in the mk2). I miss it mightily - although in comparison obv only mic pre’s, again ergonomically it was abs right for me, and its lovely smiley VU’s.....

Incidentally Focusrite service dept were AMAZING.

Loopy
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Re: Differences in the iterations of current AMS Neve 1073 offerings

Postby CS70 » Tue Aug 04, 2020 4:00 pm

cashhewn wrote:Yes James and Hugh, sage advice, and just what I needed to hear this very moment to put away my wallet and carry on (for now!).

Indeed I've heard it said (something to this effect) that in order of significance in imparting personality to a sound it's: 1- the musician, 2- the instrument, 3- the microphone, 4- the mic pre, and so on...

Thanks for your words here.

Almost right - room and positioning come before the microphone.. if they're messing the sound up, your perfect mic will simply capture a messed-up sound, perfectly.

For visiting engineers who know what they're doing - make the best room you can. For the ones mildly knowledgeable - get the best mics you can. For the rest, get an enormous desk from someplace, fix a few channels and the master section and let 'em pay an exorbitant price for using it. They will, and they will thank you for all the noise, pardon, analogue warmth :D
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Re: Differences in the iterations of current AMS Neve 1073 offerings

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Aug 04, 2020 4:14 pm

I think we settled on:

1. The Composition
2. The Arrangement
3. The Performance

4. The Room Acoustics
5. The Mic placement
6. The Mic Selection

Then the mic preamp and all the rest of the electronics... with the A-D converter being somewhere close to the bottom of the list of importance, and far, far below the monitoring chain and control room acoustics. ;-)
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Re: Differences in the iterations of current AMS Neve 1073 offerings

Postby cashhewn » Tue Aug 04, 2020 8:18 pm

This is fantastic, I’m so happy the thread got to this point! Lovely wisdom, thanks all.
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Re: Differences in the iterations of current AMS Neve 1073 offerings

Postby Urthlupe » Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:05 am

Lol. If only the world were such an accommodating place....

I can see the temptation to create and promote hierarchy and structures, especially when we’re enjoying being ‘technical’, but oftentimes, I do wonder :angel:

Loopy xx
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