Chandler Limited LTD-1 Microphone Pre-Amp/EQ
By Barry Rudolph
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The Chandler Limited LTD-1 is so close to the original 1073 Neve module that it's almost scary. With its expanded equalizer choices and front-panel DI jack, the LTD-1 is a faithful upgrade of the 1073 from the swinging '60s and not someone's idea of what a "new and improved" version of the famed Neve channel should sound like. The LTD-1 sounds and performs exactly like an original or perfectly restored 1073 Neve module.
Like all of Chandler's line, the LTD-1 is hand-built in the U.S. to near-military specs, using the same layout and wiring paths of the original Neve channel strips. The cabinet is a nickel-plated steel frame. All pots, transformers and circuit board edge connectors mount to an internal subframe assembly. The unit uses exact replicas of Neve's five original PC boards, even with the same part numbers. All transformers and inductors are the English St. Ives that are used in the original modules, along with Neve-specified BC Series transistors and blue Phillips caps.ENHANCED FEATURES
The EQ design is borrowed from consoles that the BBC custom-ordered from Neve, Calrec and Audix, and the unit's nine aluminum knobs have baby-blue centers similar to those used on Neve broadcast modules. The LTD-1 has eight additional frequency choices over the 1073's 11 and is easier to use, as the controls are spread out over the full single-rackspace front panel; no need for those space-saving, but fiddly, concentric pots.
The HF shelving equalizer has 16, 12, 6.8, 4.7 and 3.3kHz positions, while the original 1073 has 12kHz shelf only. The mid section overlaps the HF and betters the 1073 by four choices. The choices are 270, 390, 560, 820 Hz, 1.2k, 1.8k, 2.7k, 3.9k, 5.6k and 8.2 kHz. The LF EQ and highpass filters are the same as the original: 220, 110, 60 and 35Hz EQ points and 300, 160, 80 and 50Hz, -18dB/octave filter positions. There is 16 dB of boost/cut available for each of the equalizer sections, but unlike the 1073, the LTD-1's boost/cut settings (in 2dB increments) are silk-screened on the front panel. I would prefer a detented center 0dB position that was straight up at the "noon" position rather than pointing downward at "6 p.m."
The 100k-ohm-impedance, 1/4-inch direct input uses a locking Neutrik connector on the front panel and a switch to toggle between it and the rear balanced-mic input XLR connector. Other switches include 48-volt phantom, EQ in/out and a Phase Reverse switch. All four switches are mounted sideways, with Neve-style, vintage-looking buttons. Cool details but there are no phantom power or power on/off indicators. I'd like to see all four of these buttons backlit when in use.
The 22-position mic/line input-sensitivity switch selects, in 5dB steps, gain for either the mic or line inputs. Again, just like the 1073, line-level gain is adjustable between -20 dB and +10 dB, and mic gain starts at 20 dB and goes to 80 dB. A separate Clarostat pot sets final output level.
The LTD-1 is powered by the PSU-1 power supply that'll run up to four Chandler products. For my bench A/B, I used a resistive microphone splitter and connected the studios' Neumann M149 to both the LTD-1 and a Brent Averill Enterprises refurbished Neve 1073 module that I've been renting for about 10 years now--I know this module well and use it for A/Bs all the time. I compared both speaking and singing voices using only the mic pre with equalizers switched out. With both units set to equal gain, there was no difference in level, sound quality or noise.
For the equalizer A/B, I switched both modules over to the line input set to the 0dB position. I mixed the output (L+R) of a CD player and fed it to both modules. With EQ switches out on both units, the sound and level were identical. With the EQ switched in and with no boost or cut, I did notice a slightly lower output level from the Chandler compared to this particular 1073 set the same way. I also noticed a slight decrease in low frequencies from the Chandler in this mode. Other than that, the sound and tone of the modules were identical.
I recorded vocals, bass guitar direct and snare (as part of a drum kit) using the LTD-1, and it performed exactly as the other pristine 1073 modules I had on hand: loads of thick, Class-A tone. The DI worked exactly as the Averill unit had. Again, I can't report that the LTD-1 sounded "better," except when I needed more EQ frequencies. The enhanced equalizer makes a big difference when recording certain problem sources, like boxy-sounding snare drums. I normally patch an outboard EQ for these problems, but this time, the LTD-1 came to the rescue.
The LTD-1 is an extremely useful, versatile and worthwhile unit, providing that great Neve sound but with a lot more EQ carving options. Retail is $2,100; the outboard PSU-1 is $100.
Chandler Limited, 319/352-2587, www.chandlerlimited.com.
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