Blind shootout of Vintech vs Neve conducted in Nashville
On Monday Jan 16th 2006 a blind shootout of vintage Neve 1073's and Vintech X73's was conducted at Nashville's "Seventeen Grand" studios. All tracking/recording and playback was supervised by renowned recording engineer Chuck Ainlay. Several high profile recording engineers and producers were in attendance including: Gary Paczosa (Engineer for such artists as Alison Krauss, Linda Rondstat, Dixie Chics), Kyle Lehning (producer for Randy Travis, Waylon Jennings, Restless Heart, etc.), Pete Sheridan, Dan Spomer, and many others
All recordings were done utilizing Nuendo 3 software at 24 bit, 192k sampling rate. Steve Lamm of Cryptic globe recording operated the Nuendo software running on a custom built (by Steve Lamm) quad AMD 64 bit processor computer. The A/D convertors were Lynx Aurora 16 mastering grade convertors clocked to a Universal Audio 2192.
There were a total of four rented Neve 1073's available for the tests. Two were rented from Gear for Days of Nashville, and two were rented from Dreamhire rentals of New York. Vintech provided two model X73 units and one model X73i for the tests. The mics used were a Royer stereo ribbon microphone and custom large diaphram tube microphones built by Big Microphones of Nashville.
Chuck Ainlay tracked female vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, drums and acoustic piano for the listening tests. Each microphone was passively split to both a vintage Neve 1073 and a Vintech X73 or X73i simultaneously, presenting a 600 ohm load to each microphone. This was done so that in each test both the Neve and Vintech modules received the exact same source material.
Chuck, along with Steve Lamm, oversaw recording the various tracks into Nuendo 3 directly out of the Neve and Vintech modules through the Lynx Aurora 16 convertors.
Steve Lamm put together a series of six listening tests from the material recorded. In each test Steve cut out a short section of a recorded performance (between 3 and 4 measures approximately) from both the Neve and Vintech recordings. Remember that these recordings were cut using the same mic split passively to both the Neve and Vintech preamps simultaneously, so mic placement and variances in performance were eliminated as variables from the tests.
He then setup a test that played back four repititions of a particular audio clip in random order, three clips being identical copies recorded with one of the preamps, and the last clip being recorded with the other preamp. In some of the listening tests, three of the clips were recorded with the Neve preamp and one with the Vintech. In some tests three clips were from the Vintech preamp and one was from the Neve preamp. Listeners were asked to identify which of the four clips was different from the others in each test
Results: Out of twelve signed test sheets, with six listening tests per sheet, the average test score was approximately 23.6 percent correct. The probability of picking the different preamp out correctly in each test by pure chance alone is 25 percent. Most people got either one or two correct answers out of six. Here is the actual distribution of correct answers on twelve signed test sheets, six test questions per sheet:
People who got zero correct answers = 1
people who got one correct answer = 6
people who got two correct answers = 4
people who got three correct answers = 1
The best score was 3 correct answers out of six.
Of twelve signed test sheets, there was a total of 17 correct answers out of a total of 72 possible correct answers. Here is their distribution by source material:
Drum overheads: four correct answers
female vox one: three correct answers
female vox two: three correct answers
acoustic piano: three correct answers
electric guitar: four correct answers
acoustic guitar: two correct answers
Kyle Lehning, producer for Randy Travis, Restless Heart, Waylon Jennings, many others
Vintech Audio is not afilliated with AMS Neve LTD.