Professional Sound - Indepth

The Future Is Back ... by Neil Muncy

Vintage recording equipment, such as microphones, equalizers, preamps and compressors have been hot items on the resale market over the past several years.

It’s readily accepted that much recent equipment manufactured with ICs and to a certain “price point” does not sound as musically correct as older gear which was often constructed to a laboratory standard. Prices of high-demand older pieces have soared dramatically because of limited supply. And yet, people still fork out inflated dollars because they believe the only way to obtain that classic sound is with the authentic gear it was first made on. The question is, would you pay $4000 for a 40 year old tube microphone in mediocre condition? What if the single tube for that very mocrophone cost you a cool $800 when it was time to replace it? Would you still purchase it?

This trend has not gone unnoticed by several hip companies who have introduced updated versions of old classics using discrete parts and a simple audio path retaining signal integrity. When coupled with quieter modern day components, these new pieces can sound as good as, and often better than their ancestors from which they were derived. Moreover, they use commonly available parts and inexpensive tubes to keep service costs within line. Yet, no matter how good they sound, these newer pieces lack the “marquee value” of older, more established audio devices, whose mere mention reduces many of us to quivering, monosyllabic gear groupies. Yes folks, snob value is alive and well within our industry.

For those of you not afraid to pay less for older technology wrapped in new boxes it’s worth your while to check out current products from Groove Tube (tube mics), Demeter Amplification (tube mic pre’s, direct boxes), Tube Tch (mic pre’s, compressors, equalizers), Manley (tube mics, tube multitrack recorder parts), Demaria Labs (tube compressors) and others. Older equipment can be a bargain up to a certain price point, however once that moocho dollar threshold is crossed, you owe it to yourself to check out what newer technology with an eye towards the past, has come up with. Has anyone else besides myself coined the phrase “Back to the Future”? Now there’s a title for a song, a movie, or … something!

Barry Lubotta – Owner, Pizazzaudio Recording Studio, Weston, ON.

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About Andrew King
Andrew King is the Editor-in-Chief at Professional Sound. He is also a co-host of Canadian Musician Radio and NWC Webinars’ series of free music and entertainment industry webinars.
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