Pete's Place and Orphan Audio team up to bring back the revered studio brand
WEST HILLS, California - December 2009 -- Despite the proliferation of digital audio devices on the market, interest in vintage analog processing continues to rise. And although many classic brand names have resurfaced in recent years thanks to the adage that "everything that's old is new," one name has been conspicuous in its absence: Electrodyne.
That, however, has now changed thanks to the recent launch of the Electrodyne 501 discrete two-stage studio preamp and 511 two-band inductor EQ. Offered in the popular 500 Series module format, these two new products represent the first results of a joint venture between Orphan Audio, owner of the Electrodyne name and its intellectual property, and Pete's Place Audio, which will manufacture, market and sell the products.
"Electrodyne was one of the most significant console brands from the '60s and '70s, used by everyone from Capitol and Motown to the major broadcast networks, so we're very pleased to have a hand in its return," says Pete's Place Audio President Lisa Montessi. "This, of course, is only possible due to Ken Hirsch's [Orphan Audio founder and designer] passion for the brand and meticulous dedication to preserving the sonic authenticity of the original products."
The Electrodyne 501 is a two-stage, discrete transistor, transformer-coupled preamp with active DI based primarily on the modules found in the classic 1608 console. Each amp stage is individually optimized for peak performance using detailed Electrodyne factory engineering notes and select high performance components identical to the originals. In fact, the 501's transformers are made by Electrodyne's original supplier to exacting factory specifications.
The new preamp's active DI circuit presents an almost immeasurable load (over six megohms!) to sensitive musical instrument outputs allowing incredibly accurate capture of the instrument's true tone. Furthermore, the output of the DI circuit is designed to directly connect and interact with the mic input transformer to permit an extremely broad spectrum of tonal options.
The faceplate of the Electrodyne 501 features a large rotary gain control offering up to 68dB of gain -- adjustable over 50dB in 2dB steps with two ranges via a 20dB pad switch -- and a smaller output level pot infinitely adjustable from 0 (off) to +6dB over unity. Additional switches for impedance selection (50 or 200 ohms), phase reverse, +48V phantom power and DI (with 1/4" input jack) are also present, as well as a clip LED that monitors all three amp stages and illuminates when any stage is 3dB from clipping.
The Electrodyne 511 is a classic two-band, discrete transistor, reciprocal, active inductor-based equalizer using late-'60s/early-'70s design technology. As with the 501, the 511's custom inductors and output transformer are made by Electrodyne's original provider to strict factory tolerances as small as two percent. This affords a consistent EQ performance and repeatability from channel to channel that was simply not possible in the 1960s. Smooth performance and EQ response from minimum to maximum gain at all frequencies provides unusually broad sonic and tonal options not experienced since the 1970s.
The module's faceplate sports twin large rotary EQ controls each offering +/-12dB of boost and cut with four selectable frequencies per band (LF: 40, 100, 250 and 500Hz / HF: 1.5, 3, 5 and 10kHz). Shelving is available on all frequencies, with peaking offered at 250 and 500Hz in the LF band and 1.5, 3 and 5kHz in the HF band. An EQ in/out switch with accompanying LED rounds out the front panel feature set.
Both the 501 and 511 deliver a maximum output of almost +30dBm into 600 ohms paired with extremely low distortion specs, high signal-to-noise, and wide dynamic range.
From a cosmetics standpoint, the vintage vibe of the two modules is further enhanced via the use of '70s NOS Electrodyne knobs from the original factory.
According to Orphan Audio's Ken Hirsch, who headed up the design of the new modules, the Electrodyne 501 and 511 truly live up to their esteemed pedigree, even in the eyes -- and ears -- of their potentially harshest critics. "We purposely put our prototypes into the hands of a number of engineers who own lots of vintage Electrodyne gear, use it every day, and truly consider themselves experts on it," he says. "And the consensus from even the biggest skeptics was that we absolutely nailed it. Many of them didn't believe we'd be able to preserve everything that they loved about the sound of the vintage pieces while improving noise specs, consistency and reliability, but we were told across the board that we pulled it off, which is personally very rewarding."
Already currently available, the Electrodyne 501 preamp carries a price of $895.00 (USD) while pricing for the 511 equalizer is set at $1,050.00.
Pete's Place Audio was founded to bring a wide variety of handcrafted, innovative, boutique recording and live audio products to market. Under the leadership of President Lisa Montessi and backed by the manufacturing expertise of A-Designs Audio, Pete's Place collaborates with some of todayâ€™s most talented recording artists and engineers to help determine what products, regardless of how esoteric, they feel are missing in the studio and live performance environments.
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