I have in my grubby paws a nice Neve 8801 Channel Strip (thank you to A&E UK) and thought I would record a quick test (in the spirit of my recent mic pre shoot out) against my studio Focusrite ISA One.
The Neve 8801 Channel Strip
The 8801 Channel Strip is a complete channel from the Neve 88R console – often considered a great sounding analogue music console. Contained in a single rackmount unit, this unit is completely hand-built and hand-wired by Neve.
The 8801’s signal path consists of a Neve mic preamp, high and low pass filters, four bands of equalization, a compressor, gate, dynamics side chain and an insert point. The order of the signal path can be easily modified as the producer requires.The filter section and/or the equalization section can even be routed to the dynamics side chain to tailor the dynamics response of any input signal. There is even a USB socket to store the controls for recall.
Funky, flexible and fully buttoned then!
The Focusrite ISA One
The ISA One is a single channel, variable impedance Mic Pre-Amp (and Headphone Amp) and DI. It is my studio standard and based upon the legendary Focusrite Console
The Pre Amp Test
- I recorded Richard Orford (thank you for your kind help) with an AKG 414
- I had the ISA One input impedance on the standard ISA 110 setting.
- All EQ and dynamics on the Neve were in bypass.
- No plug-ins were used on the recording and both recordings were loudness measured to within 0.5 LUFS with Nugen VisLM metering.
For some fun I have made it a blind listening test, results to be revealed soon.
Please have a listen and vote for your favourite and leave some comments.
Have a listen to my other mic pre-amp shoot out here
Okay so which one did I prefer? I have to say B, less sharp and more rounded. The rest of the PTE team that tried the test all preferred B too.
A was the Neve and B was the ISA One.
The result of the test surprised me, the result of the poll didn’t.
I am used to using this preamp at A&E UK with a Neuman TLM 193 which is a great combo by the way. I wonder if the Neve would “sing more” with a better mic than an AKG 414? To test this theory I will be borrowing “the daddy of all mic pres (allegedly) the Neve 1081” and will use it when we do our VO Mic shootout with some budget and some sexy mics. Stay tuned for more fun.
As to the other bits on the Neve, I am not a fan of the compressor as for my narration needs it is too fast and aggressive for my likng. The EQ however I like. Would I pay over £1500.00 for it? No. I am sticking with my Focusrite ISA One for now.
Thanks for taking part - it’s very interesting for us all. Thank you also to Wayne Urquhart, A&E’s Uk Head Of Sound for his assitance.