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Author Topic: U73B compressors  (Read 12027 times)

RMoore

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U73B compressors
« on: January 03, 2005, 07:57:52 PM »

Hi Oliver - I see on your site you mention U73b compressor units were once the mastering setup of choice in Europe.
Is there a place in these modern times for U73b's as a realistic option for mastering applications?
Assuming its been serviced, matched, works correctly etc?
Thnx,
RM
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People's Republic of Ryan

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RMoore

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Re: U73B compressors
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2005, 07:14:47 AM »

The reason I'm curious is because to save $ on some projects I'm doing DIY mastering - I know this is a 'no no' officially but it works for me as its for vinyl singles / eps that see underground release & the sonic results are good.

I was thinking to try and take it to another level with CD mastering - but can't quite get the same levels as the big boys, at least without squashing the heck out of the trax...

So as I already own some U73B's, as you know - the thought occurred to try it in a mastering application along with my existing stereo analog compressor w a bit of compression from each..

Think the revised, serviced U73b units would stand up to modern tube mastering compressors in terms of not changing the sound too much while giving a few db of transparent squeeze on program material?

FWIW - I was using them before strapped over the mix buss (pre service / modifications) & liked what they with the dynamics but didn't like freq loss on the bass / the fact each unit sounded different / settings drifted..

Thanx!

RM



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People's Republic of Ryan

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By the end of today, another day is gone forever. You will never get it back.
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Oliver Archut

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Re: U73B compressors
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2005, 06:11:38 PM »

Hello Ryan,

to give you a straight answer, all historic U73 units as they come from e-bay or vintage dealers are in desperate need of rebuilding, if somebody tells you it is already rebuild, please make sure who did it, and to what adjusting specs, pre distortion, etc.
There were several different version, the IRT based 6 or 12dB threshold, the TELDEC limiters, the EMI/Carl Lindstroem mastering units and the Deutsche Gramophone version. Doesn't matter what the front says, 73/a/b/TS, etc. it depends on the internal set up. Some units do not even share the same x-former...
Biggest problems that all controls are inside the unit, and if set up once, not easy to change.

I do not know if the U73b, if set up right, has a place in CD mastering, but for Vinyl the 73 were the standard in any european pressing plant up to 1980... It is quite hard to get the historic proper set up for the different types of lathe, and not to many people are around that can do that type of work, but if you get it done you are ready to go...

Seeing it from a technical point of view, the entire U series concept (check out the postings at Fletchers) is still valid today, biggest problem is to find good quality remote cutoff tubes, there are a few more E99F and EF85 out there than the 6386 you need for a Fairchild, but the adjusting and general maintenance is quite demanding. The loss of bass, and the drifting of your units makes my point.

Biggest payoff is the super fast response, and very stable frequency vs. compression ratio.

Regarding mastering in general, up to 1980 it was a objective issue, given strict rules "how to" by RIAA and DIN or other agencies, since then the "Mastering Part" became a more subjective or creative issue, several (record) companies started to stray off the given rules, to get better/more noticeable presence in an overcrowded recording/media market, so I do not know what to say about your home master issue.

Maybe some mastering guys can give some insides.... Pro and contras...  
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Oliver Archut
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RMoore

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Re: U73B compressors
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2005, 12:05:27 PM »

Hi Oliver - Ok,
*Thank You for all this info & feedback on the U73b...
I can see its a bit of wishful thinking on my part that a 50 year old limiter could be appropriate for CD stuff when there's digital hammers around like L2 etc..
I will keep my eye out for E99F and EF85's.
FWIW I do like the German pressings I have of some classic rock & otherwise LPS from the 60's & 70's..I guess this was the U73b vibe..
All the best,
Ryan
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People's Republic of Ryan

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By the end of today, another day is gone forever. You will never get it back.
We must never let up for a second. Work harder at every single thing - Terry Manning

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bushwick

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Re: U73B compressors
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2005, 03:22:01 AM »

I thought I would jump in here because I have firsthand knowledge of properly working U73's. I have some that Oli cleaned up, modded and built varicoms for, and I also have his prototype for the new U73's.

With regards to their relevance in moderns studios. In the fashion that I have them (varicoms, rebuilt and modded) perhaps my favorite compressor ever. Strapping them across a drum sub can bring the drums forward but in such a way that they become even more three dimensional. Think of taking a bite out of a perfect peach and how juicy that is. Somehow, and I know this must sound absurd, the sound gets kind of liquidy and sweet - it takes on a very pleasant texture. Its enhanced somehow. I don't totally understand what is going on but those wacky Germans back in the day were out-of-their-mind smart.

Listen to Abby Road. Like the compression on the drums? Voila good bros and that was unmodded without a varicom. Whats a varicom? Its what makes them go from a pretty awesome compressor to what I am describing. If gives you total control over the release functions and allows the units to work in stereo. I have a mono prototype until my second pair of 73's is finished and while it sees use and has all the liquidy sound of 73, the varicom really takes them to the next level. I must say the new one is a tad quieter and I would love to have about three or four pair of the news one with varicoms in my racks...I need more money. I think Oliver needs more hands. Any ee's want to move to Kansas?

To make them relevant for mastering, you would need to a varicom.

here is a pic of my "budget" rack for one of the pairs above the prototype for the news ones.




index.php/fa/573/0/
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Joshua Kessler
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RMoore

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Re: U73B compressors
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2005, 11:57:03 AM »

Wow - very interesting,
Thanx for the pic,

FWIW - I ended up using my U73b's more as 'vibe machines' as opposed to studio workhorse compressors..I even did a few records where I'd tweaked 2 units to sound kinda similar and strapped them across the mix which made it sound extra 'phat' but yet, not at all squashed...
strange and wondrous machines they are.
I got another desk & that technique never sounded as good.
Plus I started to notice too much of a difference in frequencies, plus the settings would drift..
Another strange thing is that somehow it seemed bass frequencies  were being treated differently, as if gain reduction was taking place above say 100 HZ ..wierd..
I would love to hear how these sound after being refurbished and have the benefit of external controls for gain, threshold etc..
Interesting the U73bs are working for you in that rack with GML, Daking etc..

A funny story is I was once in a top flight pro studio & they had 2 U73bs - the engineer was telling me they rocked & especially the middle 'mega squash' setting (on the top 3 way switch for compressor / bypass / limiter function)...he was meaning the bypass setting !
But if you can't read German you might not know....
It is true though that even in bypass mode my ones have an effect on the sound that can be pleasing & 'warm' due ( I assume) to the tubes, xformers etc in the signal path..
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People's Republic of Ryan

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bushwick

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Re: U73B compressors
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2005, 01:16:22 PM »

haha. Bypass...thats too funny! I sometimes am afraid that maybe I am wrong about what I am hearing and at the very least don't want to say too much for fear that my "opin" was wrong or that I was suffering sinusitis that day. I really don't completely know what is going on with them but I have never heard anything like it. Truly incredible. Have Oli fix yours and clean them up and build you a varicom. You will dance in your chair....and in case it sounds like I am a bit zealous I should tell you that I don't work for him. He still owes me a second rack of them for cryin out loud.   [I was going to put a sad smiley face her but don't know how]


Anyway, Oli grow more frickin hands!!


As an aside, and I don't want to get too ahead of myself, but I have a engineer friend who has been doin it this stuff a long time (though has been out of audio for the last fifteen years and into computers). He was the chief engineer at the Filmore East, back when if you wanted something in your place, you built it. He also has built consoles for folks like Bob Dylan. At any rate he is thinking he wants to build some audio gear that does not cost a lot of money. He asked if he could test some designs at my place. I will at some point, or perhaps he will, share the experience with the community in great detail.

He built some prototypes and about ten days ago we stacked em up against some of the vintage stuff I have (Neve, Telefunken, Calrec...) with a U47, Elam 250, Royer 121 capturing a reading and some acoustic guitar. You know what? Again, the telefunken had that mysterious enlarging of the sound with all that very hard to qualify percolating going on inside the sound. Something where the frequencies are translated into some algorithmic christmas tree with lights. Forgive the strange explanation - I can't articulate it well enough yet.

With exception for the V72 being a bit too noisy on ribbons it was quite cool to see and to be able to hear the differences of all this stuff in a more critical setting. Perhaps Oli could help out here and explain how this stuff does what it does... so strange.
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Joshua Kessler
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RMoore

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Re: U73B compressors
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2005, 07:24:21 AM »

Well I hope Oliver will be able to rock out on my comps soon!

I have had the units for years & appreciated what they did but have always had the feeling at the same time that they could probably really be optimized to be easier to work with (tweaking parameters) and sound better..

I was curious - on your rack what happened to the original chassis from the U73b's? Did all the electronics get taken out and placed in the custom rack?
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People's Republic of Ryan

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By the end of today, another day is gone forever. You will never get it back.
We must never let up for a second. Work harder at every single thing - Terry Manning

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RMoore

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Re: U73B compressors
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2005, 07:26:49 AM »

<He built some prototypes and about ten days ago we stacked em up against some of the vintage stuff I have (Neve, Telefunken, Calrec...) with a U47, Elam 250, Royer 121 capturing a reading and some acoustic guitar. You know what? Again, the telefunken had that mysterious enlarging of the sound with all that very hard to qualify percolating going on inside the sound. Something where the frequencies are translated into some algorithmic christmas tree with lights. Forgive the strange explanation - I can't articulate it well enough yet. >

I am a little curious here - you are meaning using the U73b in a comparison test using mics or were you using a V72 ??

Does the U73b have enough gain to use as a mic pre?

If you experienced noise using the V72 with ribbon mics that'd make sense because they don't have enough gain (+- 34 DB) to be a good pre for ribbons (generally you need a pre with +- 70 db clean gain)..

I know what you mean about sounds seeming to be larger with the V series pres - I have experienced that also, even with cheap dynamic mics like SM57, all of a sudden you are hearing more sound that you are used to with that mic ,  its like it picks up more sound from <around> the source too, like changing characteristics to be a little more omni instead of cardioid..very wierd!
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People's Republic of Ryan

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By the end of today, another day is gone forever. You will never get it back.
We must never let up for a second. Work harder at every single thing - Terry Manning

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bushwick

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Re: U73B compressors
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2005, 02:20:38 PM »

Hi Ryan-

First off, your units need to be gone through so they can be matched and used as a pair. Also, they need to be regularly adjusted which I doubt your doing to adjust how they react to what they see - you have to align them. That is what the hole in the face panel was for. I am vague on that whether thats true because the moment I got them they went straight to Oliver. Oliver, is that right about the hole on the front?

At any rate, the face panels are removed and the rebuilt guts go inside of the big chassis you see with some new points inside each of the old units being tapped with wires and brought to the face panel for the pots. He also builds a varicom in an old chassis and mounts that in between them.

You'll freak when you get them running right.

The mic test I was talking about was with a V72 and I spoke to Oliver about the noise and at some point in the future I am going to switch over the rack of pres to DC filaments and that will take care of it. That will require some work so for the time being the 76's will do if I want to go the ribbon-tele route. The DC should take care of the noise in the V72 he said when changed and then the full range of gain that they now have (modded for 55 db) will be very quiet. In the mic tests you were referring to, I was saying that it seems all tele gear has the same mojo going on (properly working that is). I am a total nut for that stuff bro.

The U73's have about 45 db of gain, so yes you can use them as pres too!!!

I think I have a slightly better comparison than the christmas tree. If you have ever done mescalin, it makes somethings you see a bit blurrier but WAY more beautiful and ironically, clear.  That is something that is universal to the experience and everyone I know who has done it relates that. On some scale, thats whats going on here.


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RMoore

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Re: U73B compressors
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2005, 09:05:46 PM »

bushwick wrote on Wed, 19 January 2005 20:20

 , I was saying that it seems all tele gear has the same mojo going on (properly working that is)


I agree that the stuff has some kind of mojo going on

bushwick wrote on Wed, 19 January 2005 20:20

I think I have a slightly better comparison than the christmas tree. If you have ever done mescalin, it makes somethings you see a bit blurrier but WAY more beautiful and ironically, clear.  That is something that is universal to the experience and everyone I know who has done it relates that. On some scale, thats whats going on here.


I am trying to cut back on my mescaline intake these days - especially while in the studio or with the kids around,

Funny you should mention that tho' - I was just reading about Ibogaine yesterday:

http://www.ibogaine.co.uk/ibogaine6.htm

Fascinating sounding compound 4 real


Thanks for the info on how your U73b rack was set up  as well,

I am jonesin for a U rack
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People's Republic of Ryan

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By the end of today, another day is gone forever. You will never get it back.
We must never let up for a second. Work harder at every single thing - Terry Manning

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bushwick

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Re: U73B compressors
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2005, 10:28:36 PM »

Well you have always got ibogaine if Oli can't get your rack set up in the near future.

No prob for the feedback. I seem to have accrued all kinds of info that none of my friends can relate to or understand so its awesome to get it out to folks.

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Joshua Kessler
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Mike Tholen

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Re: U73B compressors
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2005, 11:36:37 PM »

index.php/fa/614/0/
I have a pair of U73b's that have been rebuilt/modified/racked by Ollie himself.
I use them most everyday on a variety of sources including stereo mixes, they are very useful in todays recording enviroment ie; the digital domain.
I find myself using them to smooth harsh/fast sounds without over kompressing.
I also use them for vocal distortion, blending it with the clean vocal. I chain the two channels together, messing with the gain structure from one into the other to achieve an awesome distortion...VERY USEFUL!!!
I have never used U73b's in their stock/unmodded/unOlliefied state but whatever Ollie did, it rules. Ollie has rebuilt/modded/fixed/tweaked alot of my gear and everything he has touched is kicking some serious ass.
     Regards-Mike Tholen
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