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Three Great 500 Series-Compatible Microphone Preamplifiers (Part 2) - Pete’s Place Electrodyne 501

2/7/2014 9:55:06 AM
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Regrettably, I never had the opportunity to work on an Electrodyne desk; the company closed its doors in the mid ’70s—over a decade before I entered the business but its reputation remains legendary among my peers.

Title: Electrodyne 501 (left) and Electrodyne 511 (larger images of included with this report) - Description: electrodyne           

Electrodyne 501 (left) and Electrodyne 511 (larger images of included with this report)

I did have the chance to work on multiple Sphere desks as they were quite abundant in Nashville in my early days; Don McLaughlin started Sphere after leav-ing Electrodyne. McLaughlin retained the majority of Electrodyne’s designs, which he used in modified form in the Sphere con-soles, making them sonically reminiscent of Electrodyne.More recently, Ken Hirsch of Orphan Audio (www.orphanaudio.com) purchased Electrodyne and partnered with Peter Montessi and Pete’s Place Audio to release the 500 Series Electrodyne 501 mic pre and 511 EQ. These are not pieces created in the vein of the real thing, but arethe real thing; each amp stage incorporates the original factory engineering notes and high-performance components, carefully matched to the original specs, including the transformers. The two-stage discrete transistor and transformer-coupled 501 mic pre includes an active DI, too.

The two-stage discrete transistor and transformer-coupled 501 mic pre includes an active DI, too.

The two-stage discrete transistor and transformer-coupled 501 mic pre includes an active DI, too.

The 501 has a maximum gain of 68 dB, adjustable over 50 dB in 2 dB steps with two ranges (depending on if the 20 dB pad is activated or not). Output level is infinitely adjustable from -∞(off) to +6 dB, while the OUT control knob is labeled with a dot instead of a line which, unless you are looking directly at the pre, can be difficult to read. The mic input impedance is switch-able between 50 and 200 ohms and the DI impedance is over 7 MΩ. The maximum output is +30 dB. The clip indicator monitors both amp stages and illuminates when either stage is within 3 dB of clipping. The first time I put the Electrodyne 501 to work was recording a male vocal with a Shure SM7B. The sound was fantastic, possibly the best tone I’ve ever heard from an SM7B. Further, knowing the historical significance of the pre practically gave me goose bumps. I loved having the ability to turn the Output down slightly and push the preamp harder to get more color. I used the pre to record female vocals (Sony C800G), this time increasing the Output so as to not drive the pre as hard for a more natural sound and the results were great. The 501’s DI circuit sounds fantastic, especially on instruments with significant bottom end content like bass guitar and analog keyboards. The instrument input’s amazingly high input impedance guarantees compatibility with virtually any direct signal while allowing the precise capture of the sound source’s true tone.

The sound was fantastic, possibly the best tone I’ve ever heard from an SM7B

The sound was fantastic, possibly the best tone I’ve ever heard from an SM7B

Specifications

·         Maximum Gain: 68db. Adjustable over 50db in 2db steps with two ranges using 20db pad.

·         Output level control: Infinitely adjustable from 0 (off) to +6db over unity.

·         Input impedance: Microphone, 50 / 200 ohms selectable. DI, over 7 megohms.

·         Output impedance: 150 ohms

·         Distortion: 0.02%typical over entire gain range.

·         Maximum output: +30db at less than 0.8%thd. (+29.5db at 0.06%thd)

·         Frequency response: +/- 0.25db, 10hz to 60khz.

·         Signal to noise: -80db typ, -60db at absolute maximum gain.

·         Clip indicator: Monitors all three amp stages and illuminates when any stage is 3db from clip.

 

 
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