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Author Topic: New Sontec  (Read 24760 times)

phonon

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New Sontec
« on: August 31, 2011, 07:56:22 am »

We are pleased to announce that we have just received a beautiful, new Sontec from ITI Audio.  It really delivers.  The new ones, even with the HS-2030 op amps, are the real deal.  I told Burgess that is sounds like a general purpose audio "betterizer."  Even at Unity Gain, the eq seems to make most program sound a little richer, more 3D, and more (transformerless) triode-like - but the effect is subtle and tasteful.  I have yet to find program that sounds better with it in bypass...   

Although this Sontec has that betterizing effect, it is also, curiously, the most transparent analog eq I've ever taken out of bypass.  Usually, even with GML 9500 or Prism MEA-2, I'd find myself doing some knob adjusting just to get back to the sound of when the eq was in bypass, so that I could proceed to any deliberate changes from there.  Not so, with the Sontec.  Taken out of bypass, one scarcely hears a change in balance (no brightening effect).  But the musical richness of tone does take over.  It's a bit creamier.  But quite naturally so.  Like you played the same performance, through the same mics, only on a better violin. 

The model I ordered is the MES-482D7.   This is a 4 RU, 8-band (in the form of 6 parametrics and 2 (12-freq) shelves) eq, with +/- 7 dB gain.   The first two clicks to the right or left are only 1/4 dB changes!  Then it goes to 1/2 dB and, finally, 1 dB steps.   In order to fit all the bands in a 4 RU chassis, each switch is ganged for left and right.  This means no M/S processing with it, but I only need to use one hand to dial in a setting.   And the channel matching is absolutely perfect, as evidenced on the 'scope (using a 10 kHz square wave), as well as on SpectraFoo (fed by a Lavry AD122MKIII).   The noise floor, when taken out of bypass, shows a few harmonics of the line, depending on how the chain is set up.   But this is because I ordered this Sontec with unbalanced inputs.  (The outputs of Sontecs are always unbalanced, unless specially ordered).   Also, those sidebands are down at -110 to -116 dBm, depending on the chain, and is, therefore, inaudible.   :-X

The eq operation is the best I've heard, hands down.  Usually, if I cut a low area (with a different eq), the high mids become more apparent.  I had attributed this to "unmasking," previously.  Now, I'm thinking it was just interaction.  This eq keeps the high mids full-bodied, even if I make the low mids lean.  Same with cutting highs.  The lows don't become dark.  They stay right where I put them.  This is a very good design - one I've sort of dreamed of having, since I began premastering, but was reaching for, as if at straws, previously. 


Burgess and Carolyn Macneal (his wife is a professional piano tuner and assembler at ITI) drove to Cincinnati to deliver the eq in person.  Actually, Mrs. Macneal dropped him off, since she knew her husband and I were going to talk about little other than electronics.   While he was here, I took him to see the new Scully (The Lathe) that's in the cutting room, here (still being set up, with help from Len Horrowitz, my landlord (Jim Bosken), Paul Gold, and Dietrich Schoenemann).   I also took Burgess next door, to QCA, to see their cool mastering room that still has the first Sontec MES equalizer (4-channel MES-430, serial number 101).   It even has ITI op amps in the advance path, while having been updated with Sontec op amps in the program path. 

If you are thinking about adding an analog eq, or replacing one, I strongly suggest you consider a (new) Sontec.   




Andrew
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livingstone

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Re: New Sontec
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2011, 08:10:06 am »

Congrats Andrew !!!
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bblackwood

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Re: New Sontec
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2011, 08:47:41 am »

Very nice, congrats and welcome to the 'club'!

You're going to love that box.
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Brad Blackwood
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lowland

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Re: New Sontec
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2011, 08:48:14 am »

If you are thinking about adding an analog eq, or replacing one, I strongly suggest you consider a (new) Sontec.   

That all sounds great, Andrew, thanks for posting.

The sorts of things you describe in the way the EQ works seem right up my street. I tried without success to get a review 'newie' sent over some time back (it wasn't refused, BTW, just not answered) - now the excitement has died down a little I might try again.
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Nigel Palmer
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lucabasano

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Re: New Sontec
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2011, 10:07:27 am »

Thanks Andrew for post,and picture of Burgess,make my day,my be even the week!!.
I'm more a instrument restorer than a ME,great to see state of art proaudio gear still alive and for real.

Luca
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josh00101

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Re: New Sontec
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2011, 10:46:02 am »

HI Andrew, Love the post! Do you feel that the sound of the eq "D Series" has improved from previous versions?  Compared to a 430(IC's in the tuning) or is it similar to the 432/C (without IC's in the tuning) ?

Josh
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Waltz Mastering

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Re: New Sontec
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2011, 01:59:24 pm »

Hi Andrew, Congrats.  Would you mind sharing the price for that beast.. if not it's understood.

Hermetech Mastering

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Re: New Sontec
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2011, 04:31:55 pm »

Absolutely amazing "sounding" (I mean from your description, never heard one in real life...) I'd also like to ask, if it's not too crass, about how much she set you back?

Dave-G

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Re: New Sontec
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2011, 04:32:42 pm »

Very nice, congrats and welcome to the 'club'!
Hey -- I thought you left the club.

Congrats, btw, Andrew.  That qualifies for EQ envy.

-Dave
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bblackwood

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Re: New Sontec
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2011, 04:33:38 pm »

Hey -- I thought you left the club.
Nope, had two, sold one. Have one on long term loan to a friend - still a Sontec owner...
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Brad Blackwood
euphonic masters

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Re: New Sontec
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2011, 05:41:05 pm »

Nice box Andrew. That's a lot of EQ. Got a permit for that?
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Paul Gold
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Jerry Tubb

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Re: New Sontec
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2011, 06:17:35 pm »

Congrats Andrew, sounds like one-sexy-Sontec!

and welcome to the club indeed.

JT
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phonon

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Re: New Sontec
« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2011, 06:42:23 pm »

Funny Paul!   I do have a State of Ohio vendor's license.  But the eq is being used without a permit...

Thanks, also, Brad, and Jerry, for club spirit.  I realize I'm a little late to the party, but maybe it's just beginning, now that Burgess has his second wind (or third???).   

Gregg, Tom, when I ordered this 8-band eq, it was 11.8k USD.   Thankfully, only 50% is required to begin construction.  The 432 is somewhat less expensive, since it is really a 6 band (with 2, simple shelves).   But Sontecs actually tend to increase in value, or at least hold their own, if you sell them many years later.   I bought this eq so that I wouldn't want to buy/upgrade to yet another one.  I'm hoping to make it a lasting addition to the console.   I have seen a few more expensive eq's, but none that I couldn't live without.  This one is just right.  Plays great with the other gear.  Feels good - the switches are solid and reassuring. 

Josh, I should imagine that the D's are more like the C's than the B's or "A."  However, each is somewhat different.  Burgess feels that the sound of the older ones is largely due to component ageing.  When the transistors are still "al dente," they are faster and less "warm" than when they have cooked for a decade or more.   I like this one's sound, already. 

It does take a while to build these.  He doesn't keep them stocked.  But it's well worth the wait.  And each time you talk to Burgess you learn many things electrical.  He even helped me with some unrelated gear issues I was having.   

Burgess was a lacquer cutter until ITI began doing stereo mastering.  Then he moved into equipment design, like eq's, mic pres, and other console circuits.  As you may know, already, Burgess explains that he and George Massenberg came up with the original parametric eq concepts for ITI, who didn't think it merited patenting.  Burgess came up with the name, even, and George came up with the key circuit, which he wrote down on a piece of paper one night and left stabbed to the door of their office.   They went to the same High School and worked together at ITI before it went out of business.  Then Burgess bought a bunch of their old schematics and a bunch of components from the auction and the rest is history. 

I am now trying to get him to make a simple cutter's eq (HP/LP, only) in a 4-channel 1 RU box.  If we can make it work, I think he'll have a niche for it, since many people would like to get the sound of his amps without having to buy the whole nine yards.  Le Must de Sontec?

My eqs, right now, are: Sontec, Massivo, SonicStudio HD, and, on rare occasion, Sonoris LP.    I upgraded the transfer DAC, in honor of the Sontec, to a Weiss DAC-1 MKII.   Love that DAC, btw - especially for thrill~listening. (;   However, for processing jobs, I'm still mostly monitoring with the Lavry Blues and find them quite adequate to resolve the analog chain's nuances.   Not as rarified, certainly, as Paul's Prism Dream DA, but, still, "pret-ty good." 

Andrew
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Gold

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Re: New Sontec
« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2011, 06:53:58 pm »

I am now trying to get him to make a simple cutter's eq in a 4-channel 1 RU box.  If we can make it work, I think he'll have a niche for it, since many people would like to get the sound of his amps without having to buy the whole nine yards.  Le Must de Sontec?

Cool. What do you have in mind?

Quote
Not as rarified, certainly, as Paul's Prism Dream DA, but, still, "pret-ty good." 

I bought a second DA2 for monitoring but I'm still using the Blue. I haven't had a chance to put it in. I've been doing other stuff. I think I'll have a chance to stuff your EE board this weekend. I've been going crazy with the machine shop tools. They're more fun to play with than a new DA. The front panel will look home brew sweet.
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Paul Gold
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phonon

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Re: New Sontec
« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2011, 07:16:51 pm »

Cool. What do you have in mind?

Still figuring out the corners for the HPF.  The low pass is probably going to be 15k, 16k, 17k, 18k, and 19k and off.  2nd order, Butterworth. 


Quote from: Gold
I bought a second DA2 for monitoring but I'm still using the Blue. I haven't had a chance to put it in. I've been doing other stuff. I think I'll have a chance to stuff your EE board this weekend. I've been going crazy with the machine shop tools. They're more fun to play with than a new DA. The front panel will look home brew sweet.


Am super-psyched about the Gold EE.   Have been trying to get that room up to speed.  The machine shop down the street fixed the focus rack, nicely.  Salvaged an old-school video cable from an eBay Trinicon camera and now the videoscope is working.  Still restoring the Ortofon drive package, but it might only need a transistor, now.   (photo, below, is of unmodulated grooves)  Got a Par-Metal chassis, arrived yesterday, that needs some XLR holes punched.  Waiting on the kill switch and new Shallco attenuators for the console.  Gotta get a preview machine, one day... 



Andrew
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