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Rupert Neve Designs 5057 Orbit

16-channel Summing Mixer By Hugh Robjohns
Published September 2021

Rupert Neve Designs 5057 Orbit

With RND’s famous Silk circuitry on board, this summing mixer allows you to dial in texture to taste.

Rupert Neve Designs’ 5057 Orbit is an elegant 1U rackmounting 16x2 summing mixer that contains all the salient parts of the company’s own Rupert Neve‑conceived mixing consoles, but without all the extraneous controls, the physical size, or the substantial budget. What’s on offer here, in a compact 4.5kg unit that extends a modest 230mm behind the rack ears, is a simple unity‑gain mixer with 16 balanced analogue line‑level inputs, but the stereo outputs are transformer‑coupled, and RND’s popular Silk circuitry is included for even more characterful ‘texture’.

Form & Function

A pair of AES59/Tascam D‑sub sockets accept the 16 line inputs with a nominal 16kΩ input impedance. Each input is capable of handling signals up to +26dBu (so there are a few decibels of headroom over the +24dBu maximum output of professional converters) and is individually buffered, using the well‑proven NE5534 op‑amp, which also unbalances the signal to feed the stereo mix bus. Odd channels go to the left, even channels to the right, and front‑panel buttons also allow the first eight inputs to be summed to mono, in four independent pairs, if desired. There’s no extra summing attenuation (no ‑6dB pan law, for example), though, which means that if identical signals are present on both inputs the mix contribution is 6dB greater when summed to mono, and it’s not obvious at a glance whether these mono buttons have been pressed; as there are no status LEDs, there’s a little potential for confusion here should a button be pressed accidentally.

All balanced inputs feed the summing bus with a fixed unity gain; there are no input level trims or pan controls to fine‑tune the mix. Any mix optimisation must be done in the DAW before feeding the stem outputs to the 5057’s mix bus.

The rear panel offers three outputs, including an unbalanced Link to feed a second unit’s summing bus.The rear panel offers three outputs, including an unbalanced Link to feed a second unit’s summing bus.

A TRS socket on the rear, labelled Link In, allows another 5057 to inject its stereo mix bus into the busses of the receiving unit; RND recommend daisy‑chaining up to four 5057s in this way, for a total of 64 channels, although it’s possible to add more if desired. The mix‑bus amplifiers use more NE5534s, as do the Link output buffers, which provide unbalanced outputs from the mix bus on another TRS socket to feed the Link inputs of another 5057, or of related units, including the 5059 Satellite and 5060 Centrepiece.

A pair of indicator LEDs shows the signal level on the mix bus, lighting green from ‑20dBu and changing to red at +24dBu. A precision rotary 12‑step attenuator switch trims the mix level downwards by up to 20dB before the output transformer stage, its inter‑channel matching being within 0.1dB at all settings. The attenuator offers 1dB increments down to ‑6dB, followed by 3dB steps thereafter, until the last 2dB step. The output section includes the Silk effect circuitry (of which more below), and features some elaborate class‑A circuitry, involving a number of discrete transistors which drive the large output transformers. These are located at the rear of the PCB motherboard and mounted at right‑angles to each other, to avoid magnetic coupling....

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