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Transforms in RC 500
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tonygalfano
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Joined: 05/06/2014 17:55:57
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Hi,

I just bought a Studio Channel to replace a few of the preamp pedals I've been using for my live mandolin/violin (acoustic) setup. I've been through every preamp and eq pedal on the market and they are all so guitar centric and limited that I thought I'd try what works in the studio for my instruments....a decent pre, some mild compression and gentle but effective eq. I've tried the Studio Channel in my home studio and so far it sounds like it'll work well live too.

So, my quest is about the RC 500. If the channel strip idea works live for me then I want to move up the ladder a bit and get a really good, but affordable channels strip that I can use for both studio and live performances. I'll have the studio Channel out for gigs over the next two weeks.

Am I correct in assuming that all three components in the RC 500 (pre, comp and eq) are of a better quality than the Studio Channel?

Also, I've had a number of transformer based pres before, with different transformers, on the input and the output. I'm not sure what "transformer coupled" means. The word coupled implies more than one, but I've seen it before on preamps that only have transformers on the inputs. So, a two part question:

1. Does the RC 500 have trannies on both the input and output, on the input only or the output only?
2. What transformers are used? I only know of a few name brands (Carnhill, Lindaul) but I know there are others, including very good custom transformers.

The other question I have is related to the gain on the RC 500. With 70db on the input and 10db on the output, that totals 80db of gain? What about increases in gain from the compressor and eq boosts? Sounds like this thing has a massive amount of gain!

I love the value and quality of Presonus products and use a lot of them, including your fantastic Studio1 DAW! Reviews of the RC 500 are so far very positive and it's most likely my next buy if it works in a live setting for me.

Thanks,
Tony
mwright137
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Transformers can be used for a lot of things. One is actually to DE-couple the input from the circuitry inside.

What a transformer does is take the signal on one coil and make that same signal appear on the other coil without any electrical pathway connecting the two. It's electromagnetic, but that's beside the point.

A 1:1 transformer is made to duplicate the signal level (in = out). A 2:1 transformer would HALVE the signal, so the out put is always half of what the input is. This is how power transformers work.

My guess is most audio transformers are 1:1 and are made to isolate the circuitry in the device from the connection to your instrument. It's safer that way.
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tonygalfano
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Wow! That's way over my head!

I had always thought that transformers in preamps, especially on the output stage, is used to create harmonic distortion. I had no idea they had more uses.

Do you know how they are used in thRC 500? I'm basically interested in a very clean preamp, but would like to know if the transformer(s) in the RC 500 are setup in either the input or output stages so that they can be pushed to create harmonic distortion when the gain is increased, much like the Neve and other vintage pre's do.

It would be nice to have both, I guess. I also always thought of transformers adding a certain weight to the signal.

Thanks for the tech info and I now have to go do some more research based on this!

Thanks,
Tony
mwright137
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I think you're thinking of tubes.
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tonygalfano
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Maybe. I've used a Great River me1, i think was the model. It has a gain and master level control. Raising the input gain produced a noticeably colored sound, somewhat distorted, harmonically over-diven, if you will. The master gain allowed you to crank the input gain for that "iron" colored sound while keeping the level low enough to prevent clipping.

There are no tubes in that preamp, but the transformers (Carnhills) are cited as one of the main causes of, and quality of the coloration.

I also have used a John Hardy preamp, which uses a transformer but remains clean throughout the gain spectrum, as does the Focusrite ISA One that I had a while ago. I think it had a transformer on the input only, but in the promo it's credited with providing a polished, smooth sound with added weight.

I'm just trying to find out which type of transformer is used, where it is in the signal path and which side of the coloration fence The RC 500 is on ....more coloration from the transformers as they are pushed, or, clean throughout the gain range with some added color/wieght from the transformers.

Thanks again for chiming in. I welcome any info as I'm just starting figure out the technical side of this biz. I've been on the user side a while now and really should learn more about how these great tools work! This may be a tech support question unless you have one of these and can open it up?

Do Presonus staff reply on these forums?

Tony
mwright137
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PreSonus chimes in from time to time but mostly it's of, by, and for users.
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tonygalfano
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That's cool. I have and have had a ton of Presonus gear and really think it's some of the best value in the business. I do find it hard to get info re products like this. Are there any RC 500 users/owners out there that can definitively answer these questions?

I'll probably end up buying one, as the price is really hard to beat if the quality is up there with the ADL 700. Just wouldn't mind getting a bit of clarification on the trannies and the gain issues.

Thanks again,
Tony
roblof
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mwright137 wrote:I think you're thinking of tubes.

When transformers saturate they add 'stuff' to the signal. Large transformers seems to handle the low end a lot better than the smaller ones so there is some alteration of the phase and freq response depending on the transformer itself (and its surrounding components).
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cristofe
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The best examples of this can be observed in guitar amps. More is more.

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tonygalfano
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Thanks again guys. I'm still just trying to get an answer in regards to the RC 500 setup. Maybe I need to copy the original question again so I don't get confused:

1. Does the RC 500 have trannies on both the input and output, on the input only or the output only?
2. What transformers are used? I only know of a few name brands (Carnhill, Lindaul) but I know there are others, including very good custom transformers.

I know I have a bit to learn about the ins and outs of the equipment in general, but this is a very specific technical product question, pre-sale, regarding the components and configuration of a Presonus product. Did I post in the wrong forum?

Thanks again to all and hopefully someone from Presonus can clarify this. Pre-sales questions really should go to staff, otherwise we're all unpaid sales people here! Not that I mind answering questions if I have the answers, but I'm a prospective customer of an $800 piece of gear......seems like someone at Presonus should take a minute to answer this question?

Thanks again,
Tony

mwright137
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From the RC500 manual:

Transformer-coupled, high-gain microphone preamp.

Power User Tip: All input and output connectors are transformer-balanced XLRs with the following wiring standard...
I am Sir Melvis Bacon, Knight of BaconHam Palace.

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StudioLive 16.4.2; StudioLive 328AI (x2)
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I use Gobbler to back up my projects.
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tonygalfano
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Thank you Sir!

That answers my first question and is a good sign indeed!

I guess I'll have to wait on the second question, but that does explain the setup. Sorry I missed that in the manual. It seems both inputs and outputs have transformers. Still tying to get the terminology down....transformer balanced, transformer coupled, input and output transformers, iron in the path, etc....

Again, I'll most like buy one of these based on the specs and review (so far only one), after I work with the Studio Channel for a few gigs. I'm sure it's going to sound better, and, if the channel strip thing works for my live/studio rig, I may have to get 2 of them!

Anyway, thanks for pointing out the obvious! RTFM, right?

If there are any RC 500 owners/users out there I'd love to hear some reviews, in studio or live. Presonus, if you can answer the transformer brand question that would be nice too.

Thanks all,
Tony
mwright137
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Got you some answers. Sorry about the delay - been a rough week...
tonygalfano wrote:Am I correct in assuming that all three components in the RC 500 (pre, comp and eq) are of a better quality than the Studio Channel?

Yes, the Studio Channel is designed to be an affordable, multipurpose channel strip, while the RC 500 is a complete Class A solid state professional preamp. The preamp was specially designed by one of the PreSonus engineers and the compressor and EQ section are based on the ADL 700 design. That is a testament to the quality of the RC500.
tonygalfano wrote:1. Does the RC 500 have trannies on both the input and output, on the input only or the output only?

There is a transformer on the input only, which is different in design than the more "character type" pres.
tonygalfano wrote:2. What transformers are used? I only know of a few name brands (Carnhill, Lindaul) but I know there are others, including very good custom transformers.

It is an in-house, specially-designed transformer.
tonygalfano wrote:With 70db on the input and 10db on the output, that totals 80db of gain? What about increases in gain from the compressor and eq boosts?

The preamp section has 70dB of gain - which is a lot of gain. The output section has 10dB. Think about it this way: The 70dB of gain controls the mic preamp and the output 10dB can be used for makeup gain, since the compressor and eq section do not have makeup gain controls, But feel free to experiment!
I am Sir Melvis Bacon, Knight of BaconHam Palace.

MacBook Pro 13. OS X Mavericks - version 10.9.3
StudioLive 16.4.2; StudioLive 328AI (x2)
AudioBox 22 VSL; BlueTube DP V2; FaderPort; Monitor Station; FireStudio Project (x2)
Studio One 2 Pro 2.6.2 (64 bit)
I use Gobbler to back up my projects.
[WWW]
 
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