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Author Topic: Gordon Instruments Model 5 Microphone Preamplifier  (Read 19421 times)

Barry Hufker

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Gordon Instruments Model 5 Microphone Preamplifier
« on: September 07, 2008, 01:23:41 pm »

Gordon Instruments products are one of the few (many?) things I highly recommend to people.  Why? Because I think they're the best mic. preamps made.  Grant Carpenter is the owner/designer.  He is very knowledgeable and a very nice guy.  I own four sets of his preamps (so that makes 8 total).  I must like them...

I've owned and used a fair number of preamps - vintage Neve (as in the Kelso), modern Neve (as in the Amek 9098), API, Grace, Millennia, Universal Audio, Focusrite Red, SSL Duality and others.  While each has its appeal, the Gordon Instruments Model 5 is superior I believe.  It is a very quiet preamp. When first hearing it I was startled by the lack of noise.  The preamp just sounded "black" - dead quiet.  It's low distortion was also ear-opening.  The gain is switchable in 5 dB steps.  There are times when I wish it could be 1 dB so as to more accurately match the gain between a stereo pair of microphones (rather than having to adjust the balance in the computer).

Going into the details of Grant's design is more than I want to take on in this space.  He has however rethought how preamps should work and this has paid off tremendously.  To my surprise no one has built preamps in this manner before (as far as I know).  The concept is so simple in a certain sense that I wonder why not.  You'll have to go to his website for all the details.

One of the things the preamp has is a very high input impedance.  This greatly reduces the amount of current related losses and microphone load distortion.  The signal path is balanced throughout, while the preamp's output constantly monitors the load and adjusts itself accordingly.

Of all the preamps I've heard, perhaps the SSL Duality is in the same sound class.  I mean that in the sense both are extremely clean, clear preamps although I've not yet done a direct comparison.  The AMEK/NEVE just sounds cloudy (lacking detail and clarity) in comparison while the Millennia reveals a pronounced midrange bump.  The API remains itself - a preamp with a certain well-known sound color.

It is my experience mics sound their truest through the Gordon.  Great mics sound great and poor mics sound poor.  For instance some vintage mics which have been highly regarded just sound old, while a new mic had better be a good design or it will also be found out by the Gordon.

One of the nicest features is that the preamp and gain controls can be separated.  A conventional mic cable is connected between the gain control box and the preamps.  I find this very handy.  On location I place the preamps right next to the mics but can control their gain in the makeshift "control room".  With the preamps next to the mic I only need a short cable between mic and preamp.  At the preamp, the signal is changed to line level.  Putting the A/D converter next to the preamp, I can then run a digital signal a long distance to the recorder rather than having an analog mic signal travel 100 feet (while suffering cable-induced losses or exposure to electrical interference).

The construction quality is second to none, as are the component choices.  The preamps by the way are transformerless and use relays when switching gain.  Other features include phase reverse, phantom power switching (with 12 mA per channel)and mute.

I can't say enough good about these preamps.  If anyone requires the truth for their recording, this is the product for finding it.  These are modern classics which people will regard as highly as Neve, API, etc. are held now.

Because the website is not immediately obvious I am posting it here: gordonaudio.com  As usual, IHNFOPSITP.

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Larrchild

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Re: Gordon Instruments Model 5 Microphone Preamplifier
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2008, 02:03:22 pm »

Usually, the higher the impedance, the more the effects of cable capacitance will alter the sound, even in a balanced configuration. I'd be curious what the effects of a 50' mic cable would be in this pre?
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Larry Janus
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J.J. Blair

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Re: Gordon Instruments Model 5 Microphone Preamplifier
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2008, 05:42:15 pm »

Maybe that's why you can separate the two pieces?
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Larrchild

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Re: Gordon Instruments Model 5 Microphone Preamplifier
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2008, 05:47:01 pm »

Plus, the mic's source impedance is setting the impedance of the line to some degree, just curious if it could do a long run on it's input.
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Larry Janus
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Hank Alrich

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Re: Gordon Instruments Model 5 Microphone Preamplifier
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2008, 12:50:03 am »

Barry Hufker wrote on Sun, 07 September 2008 10:23

Gordon Instruments products are one of the few (many?) things I highly recommend to people.  Why? Because I think they're the best mic. preamps made.  Grant Carpenter is the owner/designer.  He is very knowledgeable and a very nice guy.




While I don't yet own a Gordon, I will, and I agree with you. A few years ago a friend and I ran a comparison of the Gordon Model 3, my Great River MP2-MH, my Millennia HV-3D, and a Grace 201.

We had four AKG C460's, w/cardioid caps, that had been mod'd by Jim Williams and we placed them in a tight array, as physically close as we could get them, and hooked 'em up via identical cables.

I provided the source, playing various styles on my McCollum GA (speaking of really good stuff...) in my recording room, approx. 19' x 21' with a 12/12 ceiling with the lowest points at the side walls at 10'. I was in a known sweet spot in the room, and the mic array was roughly six feet away, far enough that I considered the slight difference in mic positions not a major factor.

When we took our first listen we immediately came to the conclusion that the mics must not have been as well matched as we had assumed. No way could the Gordon sound so much better than the others. No way could there be so much more "there" there.

So we rotated the mic cables, shifting all mics into the next pre. We got the same result. We kept shifting until each mic had fed each preamp, and the results remained the same. The difference followed the preamp regardless of mic.

I switched to mandolin (1921 Gibson A2, and a superb sounding instrument) and we met the same conclusion.

If Grant is at the AES show next month in San Francisco, go by his booth and talk with him. He loves to show folks his preamp and talk about what he has done and why.

The preamps to which we compared it are not slouches. They are among the best for transparency. The Gordon was in a completely different league. I have never heard another pre like it.

Hank Alrich

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Re: Gordon Instruments Model 5 Microphone Preamplifier
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2008, 12:56:29 am »

Larrchild wrote on Sun, 07 September 2008 14:47

Plus, the mic's source impedance is setting the impedance of the line to some degree, just curious if it could do a long run on it's input.


I used the Gordon Model 3 for a stereo pair in front of a female vocal trio and supporting ensemble in concert. 50' mic cable of Gepco 5598M into 100' of cheap Rapco PA snake. No problem whatsoever. Fabulous sound. Mics were a pair of the AKG C460's mentioned in my reply to Barry's post.

Barry Hufker

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Re: Gordon Instruments Model 5 Microphone Preamplifier
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2008, 01:12:47 am »

Thanks Hank for sharing your experience.  I enjoyed reading about it.

I too have had no problem with 50 or 100' runs of Gotham GAC4 with the Model 3 or 5.  It's always a great sound.

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Larrchild

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Re: Gordon Instruments Model 5 Microphone Preamplifier
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2008, 01:32:49 am »

Well, with the 2-piece setup, as long as it can get from the tip-top of a Starbird boom to earth, that should be fine.
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Larry Janus
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Hallams

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Re: Gordon Instruments Model 5 Microphone Preamplifier
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2008, 01:43:01 am »

So how much might i expect to pay for the dual preamp?
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Chris Hallam.
Melbourne, Australia.
 

Hank Alrich

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Re: Gordon Instruments Model 5 Microphone Preamplifier
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2008, 02:24:57 pm »

Hallams wrote on Sun, 07 September 2008 22:43

So how much might i expect to pay for the dual preamp?


Info here:  http://www.gordonaudio.com/ordering.htm

Model 5 Two-channel mic preamplifier with rack kit, power cord, and user guide (separate gain control required)     $2600

GC32    Two-channel gain control with rack kit    $300

Sam Lord

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Re: Gordon Instruments Model 5 Microphone Preamplifier
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2008, 05:55:35 pm »

Larrchild wrote on Sun, 07 September 2008 17:47

Plus, the mic's source impedance is setting the impedance of the line to some degree, just curious if it could do a long run on it's input.

Larry, of different kinds of mics, I would expect ribbons to be most affected.  A Royer 121 has a Zout of 300 ohms and typically low sensitivity.  But even here most Gordon owners (according to Grant, I have no ribbons) still prefer the high-Z input.  Occasionally the 1k loading gives a pleasing effect on some mics.  The remote feature is great to the keep cables short.  On mics with power supplies the mic's Zout indeed rules.  The quality of the phantom section is pretty staggering too.    
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maarvold

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Re: Gordon Instruments Model 5 Microphone Preamplifier
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2008, 12:52:01 am »

I own 6 channels of Gordon Model 5's and love them.  They are like a straight wire with gain and guts.  The differences between various microphone designs are made more obvious than with any other preamp I have tried.  Also each gain setting is optimized for that setting only, making the preamp ultra quiet and ultra low distortion.  If I remember correctly, it can put out +30 dB before clipping.  And the 2 channels are laid out in absolutely mirror-imaged topology.  They are a very high quality, intelligently conceived and executed, workhorse product.  Highly recommended.  
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Michael Aarvold
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mr.gefell

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Re: Gordon Instruments Model 5 Microphone Preamplifier
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2008, 05:28:19 pm »

here's what I wrote some time back on GS, just to pin the tail on the donkeys...

"
A lot of things have been said about this genius man and his preamp manufactured in Music city. Let's just set the record straight, no tip-toeing no dilly dally and no beating around the bush.

Don't laugh I'm totally serious.

"Do i really want a gordon mic pre? Should i invest in these grey obscure device?"

One word (or two??)

HI-FI

problem is that all other so-called transformerless transparent tend to fall into to this category.

Now the confusing part. The gordon mic preamps engineered and manufactured by this white guy ....




named Mr.Grant Carpenter fall into another category. It's....


**drum roll**



FI

"say wut?"

uh..well" it's the impin in the pimpin".

you heard me it's Fidelity.It's Lp vs CD one seems more richer,colorful ,vibrant and sensual. The other one cold and mathematical. It's all about perception.

You don't see the difference. You hear it and you feel it.

Now some of you will have hard time swallowing this,given the 2900 bucks price tag for the 2 channels;but Grant Carpenter is a honest man and a manufacturer. A business man of real integrity who obviously doesn't overcharge for his products. And since he is a very smart guy you can be sure that the quality is top notch. Sure it's expensive..but it is a fair price.

These are handmade products,containing only the best materials and components money can buy, and to build and test each preamp takes a great deal of time.


Has Mr.Gefell compared the Gordon's with other preams? YES

Will it sound better than what you are currently using?

I don't know..to be honest i don't really care
But for me..i am completely and utterly in love with how this preamp let's the music carry itself along.

No solid state haze...edginess. Must be the the jfets huh? .It has flow.It's liquid.It's earthy. It's highly textural but in a natural way. Musical contrasts like ..loud and quiet , thick and thin are well proportioned . Tone color and instrument color- wood.metal,skin.. spit -all sounds like themselves. Things sounds correct. Yup. The reproduction has authority,,which you don't find in any other hi-fi so-called transparent preamps.

"But Mr.Gefell can you post a mp3 sample?"

Listen Wacko...There is only one type of potential customers of this preamp.The one who loves music and fidelity.For him or her this is the great sounding , all he or she ever need work of art gear that will make his/her projects absolute thrill to work with and listen to.


Sell a kidney or a ring...do something.


Buy this preamp.


Long Live Grant Carpenter and Music City!"
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Mujtaba Hussain,Oslo Norway

wwittman

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Re: Gordon Instruments Model 5 Microphone Preamplifier
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2008, 06:21:06 pm »

are you implying that some people actually think CDs sound BETTER than LPs?

interesting choice of metaphor


I also reject the notion that an API mic preamp is a "known colour" as opposed to just a superior mic pre


for me it's simple:
does an instrument sound better, fuller, more 3-D and substantial through one mic pre versus another?

my, admittedly only once, experience with a Gordon mic pre was that it didn't sound as good as the API it was next to.

but I am open to try again.

the Focusrite  and the SSL pres are simply BAD sounding, to me... being rated as better than those is no brag
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William Wittman
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(Cyndi Lauper, Joan Osborne, The Fixx, The Outfield, Hooters...)

Barry Hufker

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Re: Gordon Instruments Model 5 Microphone Preamplifier
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2008, 06:53:16 pm »

I'll happily repeat "the API is a known color".  It is a color I enjoy but a color nonetheless.  The Model 5 (and single channel Model 4), like the Model 3 before it, is a wonderful piece of gear.  If it doesn't impress you, don't blame the preamp.  The disappointment is likely what you have in the signal chain before it -- the talent, the instrument, the room, the mic.

Am I overstating the case? Maybe a tad, but it's one helluva preamp.

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