Golden Age Pre-73 vs. Vintech 473

Posted: November 29, 2011 in gear shootout
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Golden Age Projects Pre-73 vs. Vintech 473 – A Neve 1073 clone shootout

Yes, ANOTHER Neve 1073 clone shootout.  Just what you always wanted….

I FINALLY got my hands on a Golden Age Projects PRE-73 to compare with my Vintech 473!  Obviously it would be nice to have an actual 1073 to compare to, but hey…..I’m not made out of money here!   (but that may be coming later on down the road.  Stay tuned)

Now, just like with all of my shootouts, I’m not going to go into great detail about what I thought for two reasons.

#1 My opinion is really irrelevant.  The audio speaks for itself.  Download and listen.  I could go on for 3 pages about what I think, but that’s completely pointless.  A [clip of audio] is worth 1,000 words.

#2 I loath reviews and shootouts where the reviewer goes on about how “transparent, warm, airy, 3D, up front, smooth, detailed, etc” a piece of gear is.  That’s just a bunch of crap that most reviewers put on the page to make minute differences seem big; or a $10,000 piece of gear SEEM like it’s worth every penny compared to a $500 piece of gear.  Audio is a game of inches.  Don’t let anyone fool you or tell you otherwise.

What I WILL say is that I liked the 473 better.  But it’s BARELY different.  The two preamps are VERY close to each other.  I wouldn’t be completely disappointed if I had a rack of 4 Pre-73s rather than my Vintech.  Well, I take that back.  Yes I would, because my Vintech has an AWESOME EQ on it.  The point is, if someone swapped out my Vintechs with GAPs, didn’t tell me, and put a sheet over my rack, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

THE TEST

Keeping phantom power out of the mix I used a Shure SM7 mult’d (split) at the patchbay going directly in each preamp at the same time and then going directly to Pro Tools.

SM7 -> patchbay split -> Vintech & GAP -> Digidesign 192

The interface was a Digidesign 192.  Both the GAP and the 473 are stock from the factory (no mods or special transformers)

I recorded snare and voice.  The voice was mine and a snare was a vintage Ludwig Black Beauty.  I recorded myself speaking a few sentences and then recorded 3 hits on a snare drum.  These are all separate files available to download below.  You will also find a phase inverted file that shows the difference between the two preamps.  I took one of the three snare hits (level matched) and inverted the phase between the two preamps.  The last file is the phase inverted difference between the two preamps.  They do a pretty decent job of canceling out all things considered!

Gain on both preamps was set at 50db for voice and 30db for snare with the output all the way up on each. The GAP was 3.5db hotter on its output.

I set up a Pro Tools HD 9 session at 24bit 96kHz.  There was no processing anywhere from mic to final file output.  I set the level to be equal between both pre’s  in Pro Tools and normalized the files to -3db.  (with an SM7, the output on speech can be quite low.)

Files were exported to 24bit 48kHz WAV files for download.

THE FILES

Below you will find a download link with 5 files.

1. GAP Pre-73 – Voice
2. Vintech 473 – Voice
3. GAP Pre-73 – Snare
4. Vintech 473 – Snare
5. Phase inverted snare

Get the files here ->  DOWNLOAD!

ENJOY! Don’t forget to leave feedback and let me know what you think!

Vintech 473 – http://www.vintech-audio.com/473_info.html

Golden Age Project PRE-73 – http://www.goldenagemusic.se/goldenageproject/uk/index.htm

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Comments
  1. Julian says:

    Very nice shootout. While I didn’t do a shoot out, I had had experience with vintech’s before hearing the Pre73. I actually purchased mine with the TT mod from Zen Pro Audio, which I feel opens them up. Very nice bang for the buck pres here. I understand they take a quantum leap forward when replacing the transformers with the real Carnhill’s as well.

    • glitchfactor says:

      Thanks for reading Julian. Ya, I’d love to get my hands on one with the tranny mod. Vintech also has an upgrade to their pre that is very easy to do that’s supposed to improve the performance. I might start with one or two channels and see how it works out.

  2. Gary says:

    I preferred the GAP on voice – seemed smoother and more rounded than Vintech. Both sounded the same to me on snare. Cheers!

  3. musicroom says:

    Thanks for posting this! For the money the Gap-73 sounds like a great future purchase for me. I have a VMP2 which sounds similar, but I’m thinking/hoping there will be some differences so I can have another choice for vocals and acoustics.

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  5. joemal97 says:

    Thank you for your blog. I have a small home studio and use the focusrite ls 56 as my interface. I really like the neve 1073 preamp emulation, but it lacks the “warmth” and “airiness” of the GA 73. I don’t have $350 to splurge with right now. Do you have any recommendation for achieving the warmth and airiness using plug-ins. I use Cubase 6.5 and I own T-Racks Mastering Suite with EQP-1 and Fairchild emulations and Liquid Mix 32 (compressors and eq emulations). Thanks for any advice.

    Joe

    • glitchfactor says:

      Hi Joe, well, at the preamp stage, there really isn’t going to much you can do after the fact to inject that once it has been recorded. Sometimes if things aren’t sounding “analog” enough for me, I’ll run the signal through some outboard gear. I’m not trying to come off as an audio snob here, but you can’t really expect to get that high end studio sound if you don’t have a good front end (preamps/conversion, etc). Software won’t really get you there. It will get you CLOSE….maybe even 95% there, but you’ll ALWAYS be looking for that extra 5%. Of course, there is something to be said for experience too. I dont’ know how long you’ve been at it but, you’ll get the sound you’re looking for much easier as you’ve been doing this for a while, even if the gear isn’t the greatest.

      • joemal97 says:

        Thanks for the response Julian. I’ve been playing for about 40 years now, but I’ve only really engaged in DAW work for the last 18 moths, and only really focused on it for the last year or so. I read a lot of SOS magazines. Until I can afford to plunk down some cash on a new pre-amp, I’ll have to use the Focusrite LS 56, Cubase, and plugins (probably at the pre-fader stage) to gain ay kind of results. My instinct is to add some type of Bitcrusher, Tube Saturator, and\or Tape Saturator plugin prefader to see if that will warm up the signal a bit. I also own an old Nakamichi 480 1/2″ which I can record into the chain to see if it adds some warmth. I also own an old Audio Technica 1212 from the old days that has some character although I’m not sure how to include any of all of these things in the inital gain structure. The GA 73 is on my wish list but out of sight ntil February. Please let me know if you think any of this make sense or whether it’s a waste of time. Thanks again. Joe

      • glitchfactor says:

        Well the bitcrusher wouldn’t do you any good, but tube/tape saturation can always help. I usually put that on most of my individual tracks or busses. I’d be careful with the 1/2″ if you don’t really know how to align the machine well. But to that end, I’ll frequently print mixes to tape after I’ve finished it and before mastering.

        -Justin

  6. Daniel says:

    the golden age is more ”SSS” and ”T” than vintech…

  7. Chris says:

    I’m Just Curious What Do Feel About The EQ That Goes With The GAP-73,I’m Kinda Interested In Getting It Just Due To It Being Based On The Neve

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