The Neve 1073 is a critically acclaimed microphone preamplifier and 3 band equalizer module established by the legendary Rupert Neve in the year of 1970. It was originally designed for the 28 channel A88 console at Wessex Studios. Although later succeeded in 1973 by the 1084 module designed for the 8048 console, the 1073 remains an industry staple to this very day.
The Neve 1073 consists of a high shelf fixed at 12kHz, a frequency selectable bell curve for the mid band, a low shelf with selectable frequencies of 35, 60, 110, and 220 Hz. To iron that all out it adds a high pass filter with fixed options of 50, 80, 160, and 300 Hz. The Neve 1073 is the preamplifier most commonly used on vocals, as it is well known that due to its transformer based design it imposes subtile harmonic distortion that can remove harshness and thicken audio passed through it when pushed. A Neve 1073 in hardware form currently costs around $3500.
The Scheps Test
Taken from what looks to be a Neve BCM 10 console at Andrew Scheps’s studio in Van Nuys, California, Waves have claimed to painstakingly module each and every detail of the 1073 module. While the chosen selectable frequencies, mid frequency bell curve, high shelf, low shelf and high pass filter configuration all have the utmost influence on the “sound” produced by the 1073, harmonic distortion plays a significant role in the process. This is what will be demonstrated today. On an important note, Alexander will not be testing the pre-amplifier in the “Drive” mode setting or comment on the additional 10kHz band present on the mid band equalizer section as those properties are not present (in functioning form) on the hardware unit. Alexander will only be demonstrating the harmonic distortion characteristics of this preamplifier in its Line and Mic mode stages.
To conduct this test an oscillator emitting a sine wave at 800Hz was placed on a mono audio track followed by the Scheps 73 plugin, and the Blue Cat frequency analyzer at the end. The Blue Cat frequency analyzer was chosen because of its ability to display content all the way down to -120dB. Waves did not model the volume of the preamp, only the harmonic distortion. Separate Input and Output faders (not shown in collapsed view) are provided for that purpose.
Starting at its default setting (0dB Line Level) we can see that not much is going on, only a harmonic at 1.6 kHz.
At setting 60 (Mic level) we can see some rich harmonics being added to the signal. You can guess what happens at setting 80.
At setting -20 (Line Level) we also get added harmonics though (as to be expected) not as much as received with the Mic Level position.
Does the Scheps 73 provide an accurate representation of the 1073 microphone preamplifier? That is for you to decide. Vintage gear of the same make and kind tend to have subtile differences, however for the most part will sound similar enough to be classified under their respective headings. It is therefore a more correct approach to ask “Does this piece of equipment (in this case a plugin) provide you with the tools necessary to complete the said task?” In support of the previous statement, do not use a 1073 simply because of its legendary status, use it because it provides you with the means necessary to create the “sound” you are going for. At the end of the day, it is all about the sound.
This is not the equalizer to use when you need to fix the source. This equalizer is to be used simply for the enhancement of a well recorded source. For a more surgical equalizer do check out the H-EQ by Waves.