Comparing Neve 1073 Recreations - BAE, Vintech and Warm Audio

Comparing Neve 1073 Recreations - BAE, Vintech and Warm Audio

By Front End Audio on Dec 22nd 2023

Comparing Neve 1073 Recreations - BAE, Vintech and Warm Audio

Comparing Neve 1073 Recreations - BAE, Vintech and Warm Audio! It’s always fun to compare and shootout preamps, microphones, and other gear here at Front End Audio. Last week, we decided to compare Neve 1073 style preamps. The Neve 1073 is one of the most iconic preamps ever made and has been used on a ton of hit records over the years. While we don’t have any vintage 1073s in stock, we DO have preamps that are based on it! We decided to set a few of them up in our in-house studio and compare. We selected three 1073 style preamps:

The BAEWarm Audio, and Vintech preamps are all built to last with quality components. Each are very popular pieces here at Front End Audio for engineers looking for that 1073 sound.

[These preamps all have EQ but for our test, we only compared the preamps, not the EQ. It can be hard to set the EQs and trust that they’re all at the same value. Even though the knobs may appear to all be in the same position, the difference in components and wiring can affect the achieved value. So, we kept it to the preamps this time.]

We used the Radial JS3 Microphone Splitter to split the signal from the mic to all three preamps. That allowed us a fair comparison of the performance. The microphone we used was a Neumann U 87 Ai, a mic we know extremely well and pairs great with a 1073 style preamp.

Now, the purpose of the comparison wasn’t to see which preamp sounded most like a vintage Neve 1073. The purpose was to compare three similar style preamps (all at different price points) for our personal knowledge as engineers and pro audio salespersons.

BAE 1073 Preamp & EQ Bundle

Let’s start with the BAE 1073 Preamp & EQ Bundle. This preamp is the one with the highest price tag in the comparison and there is a lot to love with this piece. It sounded great, like you could plug any microphone into it with any vocalist and it would get the job done beautifully. With no EQ engaged, and the input set at a moderate level, it’s a very full, yet balanced sounding preamp. It stayed truest to the vintage Neve 1073 sound. Truly, a ‘chef’s kiss' kind of piece!

Vintech X73i Microphone Preamp & Equalizer

When we switched to the Vintech X73i Microphone Preamp & Equalizer we noticed, it had a bit more top-end presence. It also felt a little more open than the BAE. Almost like that of the Phoenix Audio Ascent One EQ and Preamp (another of our favs). The Vintech sounded more like a modern-style recreation of the famous Neve 1073. Great River has a similar sound with their ME-1NV preamp. Thick with that 1073 vibe/character, but also able to be clean. The Vintech X73i had a high-fidelity kind of thing going for it. It’s a very cool piece of gear!

Warm Audio WA73-EQ Microphone Preamp & EQ

Warm Audio’s WA73-EQ Microphone Preamp & EQ was so impressive for the price tag. We could hear the 1073 vibe and honestly, for the money, this unit sounds and feels solid. The WA73 has a bit more upper-mid presence which may or may not be what you need on a given source. And it’s a tad bit thinner than the others and lacks a bit of fullness in the low-mid range. That being said, with the EQ engaged, it was able to fill in that range in a way that helped it compete with the more expensive BAE and Vintech. A great choice for anyone!

Are there differences? Yes! Which one is better? That’s a tough question to answer. It’s such a personal preference kind of thing. In fact, if you’re just starting out with recording and your ears aren’t yet trained, you might not hear or feel any differences at all. We really love the Vintech because we’ve often used the Phoenix Audio Ascent One EQ and Preamp and get more of that same openness from the Vintech. However, the BAE is so well designed, it’s hard not to make great recordings with it. The Warm Audio stands up to its competition nicely and if you’re looking for that 1073 kind of sound on more of a budget, then it’s a great choice. You won’t grow out of it either, if you later upgrade your preamp, you can always move this to something else in your recording rig.

What’s important to remember – all preamps will sound a little different from each other but with EQ, you can add or subtract to get what you want more or less of. Of course, we always want to start with something that already sounds solid! Like the three compared here, full across the spectrum, enough lows, smooth and airy highs, with a well-defined and balanced mid-range. We also have to remember that if everything in your mix was super flat, your mix would be that – flat. Sometimes, a bit of extra character in the high-end or mids will help your track sit better in the mix! And after all, we’re almost always reaching for an EQ at some point or another right? Even though the Warm Audio is the less expensive preamp in this comparison, it may actually work better in some mixes right off the bat. It’s the same for the others as well - it ultimately depends on what mix you’re working with or the sound you’re going for.

All are absolutely great choices and there is a reason we sell so many of them here at Front End Audio. If you have any questions about any of these preamps or any other 1073 style preamps, give us a call at Front End Audio! We’re always here to help!

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