Professional Sound - August 2017 - Page 23

Rupert Neve Designs Shelford Channel

By Adam Gallant

The Shelford Channel is the latest product release from Rupert Neve Designs . It is a comprehensive channel strip containing the best of Rupert Neve ’ s classic designs married with state-ofthe-art , decidedly modern features and components .

Out of the Box The unit takes up a single rack slot and is encased in a robust steel shell with a hefty front panel . The layout of the strip is simple and intuitive . From left to right , we have the input stage , EQ module , compressor , and finally , the output stage with selectable VU meter . More detail on each shortly …
For inputs , we have XLR line and microphone on the back and DI on the front for Hi-Z . For outputs , the team at RND has included both a line level out as well as a -6dB line out to accommodate driving the full output stage into a device with lower max input levels . To add more flexibility , the unit also has a sidechain send and return as well as a link for using two units in stereo .
Input Stage The Shelford Channel holds Rupert Neve ’ s first newly-designed Class A , transformergain mic preamplifier in over 40 years . Extremely low-noise with recognizable character , this transformer is directly coupled to the microphone line and provides the first 15dB of gain . Then we have a 12-position rotary switch and trim pot that control the discrete , class-A amplifier blocks . There ’ s also a phase switch , 48 V phantom power , and an extremely useful and nicely sloped , sweepable high-pass filter that attenuates 15dB from 20-250 Hz . The DI input on this unit also has a passive thru output via the front panel to feed a separate amplifier . I often route a tuner through this 1 / 4-in . output to reduce cable and hardware on the input side of my recording chain .
EQ Marketed as “ the best of the classics ,” the Shelford Channel ’ s EQ is a joy to use . It is a three-band EQ inspired by the 1064 and 1073 Neve modules . The most apparently modern aspect of this EQ ’ s sound is its lack of harshness and noise . Pushing the full 15dB in the highs and high-mids can have a pleasing effect on source material without any brittle or distorted side effects . Keep in mind , you ’ ll have to reduce the signal level at the source to minimize the potential for clipping when boosting any and all of the bands . Each band also has a Q control , adding to its flexibility .
The low and high bands have either a shelf or peak . The mids are controllable via a six-position frequency rotary selector as well as the Q control . When engaged , this will narrow the Q from 2 to 3.5 . Also , the Q will automatically tighten when subtracting and automatically widen when boosting . In the highs , we have a shelf or peak and the option of centering the frequency at 8 kHz or 16 kHz .
Compressor Perhaps the most exciting thing about this unit for me is the parallel compressor . Being able to blend in the compressed signal means I ’ m keeping a certain portion of the initial transients intact and still getting the “ forward ” and present quality of added compression . The compressor has a side chain insert on the back and a HPF to side chain switch on the front that informs the compressor . The compressor can also be placed before the EQ with a touch of a switch .
In my opinion , the Shelford Channel has the best-engineered compressor implemented in the most flexible way possible .
Output Stage The VU meter is well lit and can display the output gain or the compressor ’ s reduction amount . An added tier of analog saturation is available on the unit via the Silk button . The Silk button has three states : off , blue , and red . The blue mode features more saturation in the lows whereas the red mode saturates the highs and high-mids . The Silk , just like the compressor , has a blend knob , giving it another tier of flexibility . This final stage is very much the icing on the cake of what is one of the most exciting channel strips to be released in a long time .
Summary After using the unit for several weeks , I have found myself not only tracking with it consistently , but also routing material through it during the mix process – both with great results . I have found the Shelford Channel to be as inspiring to use as any great musical instrument . It ’ s vintage-sounding in every way needed and modern-sounding in all the right ways . Overall , an incredible job by the team at Rupert Neve Designs .
Adam Gallant has worked in all facets of digital audio production , from music composition to location and post audio for television and film . He currently owns and operates The Hill Sound Studio in Charlottetown , PE .
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