At the 2014 NAMM Show, Rupert Neve Designs is launching the 551 Inductor EQ: the first and only equalizer for the 500-Series actually designed by Rupert Neve. Featuring 3 bands of EQ inspired by Mr. Neve’s most prized vintage designs, along with custom-wound inductors, transformers and class-A gain blocks, the 551 brings the thick, powerful lows and sweet highs of Rupert’s classics to the 500-Series format.
The 551 echoes Rupert’s classic 3-band EQ feature set, with a custom inductor, switched frequencies and a HPF. Traditional transformer-coupled inputs and outputs designed specifically for the 500 Series are used for both technical performance reasons and optimum musical reproduction. The 551 will begin shipping in late January 2014 with a US list price of $950.
The 3-band, custom-tapped inductor EQ on the 551 was inspired by RND’s favorite portions of Rupert’s vintage EQ designs. The low frequency band is designed to produce a creamy, resonant bass response – however, unlike the vintage modules that inspired it, the LF band on the 551 can be used as either a shelf or a peak filter, adding punch, dimension, and control to your low end. The 551’s inductor midrange band is ideal for sweetening vocals and instruments while bringing them forward in a mix, and its proportional “Q” response makes it well-suited for minimizing problematic frequencies. The high frequency band is a hybrid vintage / modern design, blending inductor circuitry with capacitor-based topologies to achieve vintage tones with enhanced control. The High Pass filter is a 12dB/octave design with a fixed 80Hz frequency, and can be used in tandem with the low frequency EQ to add low-end presence without clouding the source material.
As Rupert originally intended with his most prized classic designs, each EQ section uses low-feedback, class-A discrete electronics to prevent low-level artifacts and harshness from detracting from the tonal shaping. However, the updated EQ circuit of the 551 is a decidedly modern design using techniques and components that were simply not available 35 years ago, and should not be considered a “clone”.
Both the high and low band can be switched from shelf to peak curves and offer 15 dB of boost or cut. The high band can be switched from 8 kHz to 16 kHz, and the low band can be selected at 35 Hz, 60 Hz, 100 Hz or 220 Hz. The inductor-based mid band offers 6 center frequencies; 200 Hz, 350 Hz, 700 Hz, 1.5 kHz, 3 kHz and 6 kHz. The mid band also has a “Mid Hi Q” switch to narrow the bandwidth (increase the Q) of the filter.
For Rupert Neve, the 551 represents a commitment to producing 500-Series modules without compromising quality. “While creating functional 500-series modules is relatively simple, designing those modules to equal their non-500-series counterparts with the current, voltage and space restraints is quite challenging. In creating our own 500-Series modules, we experimented with a number of different transformer and circuit designs to achieve the same presence and sweetness found in the Portico Series of modules. The result of these efforts is that outside of the slightly lowered headroom, our 500-Series modules are nearly indistinguishable from standard Portico Series modules, and are perfectly suited for studios of the highest caliber.”
Another element unique to the 551 is the custom-wound inductor in the EQ circuitry. Inductors are wires wound around a coil that provide a form of frequency-dependent resistance. When they saturate, they bring out beautifully musical harmonics that give tracks the smooth, polished sound that has made Rupert’s consoles and equipment so desirable for over fifty years. With an extreme attention to detail towards variables like the winding and core materials in relation to the surrounding EQ circuitry, the 551?s custom inductor helps the EQ capture the vitality of Rupert’s vintage modules, while still retaining its own sonic signature. This is an EQ with a truly vintage soul.