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Thread: JOEMEEK VC1 GEAR REVIEW ..transformer preamp and opto comp in 2020

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    JOEMEEK VC1 GEAR REVIEW ..transformer preamp and opto comp in 2020

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    I grabbed a JOEMEEK VC1 rev3. and a cup of Starbucks Hazelnut.

    JOEMEEK VC1, the first 19" rack version. 199x ... it followed the "brick" box. The Brick shaped like the ISA One type design preceded this VC1. This VC1 rev3 is 19" standard rack piece and the rev 3 added a phase switch. The transformer and all electronics is the same as the Brick, and precedes the VC1Q (Q= EQ). All the inside is the same per Ted Fletcher the designer and things didnt change for a few years until the VC1Q when EQ and more knobs were added making it visually obvious. This is the first VC1 "with all the knobs in a straight line".

    These JOEMEEKS are a good read and interesting design, imo. Ive owned a few over the years, new and old, VC1Q and the VC3's.
    The manual is great but also there are posts from Ted Fletcher the designer whose gone into details of design.
    http://www.joemeek.com/pdf/vc1hb.pdf

    The Preamp design based off a British Broadcasting console, the transformer designed for large signals for low distortion, and overbuilt in a good way for microphone levels. The unique gain structure is a multi-gain stage with "no gain stage having more than 25db gain per stage that eliminates transient distortions". The Transformer is a "high permeability core, 90% mu-metal and wound using a bi-filar technique for high efficiency, good freq response, excellent common mode rejection". Interesting in the Rabbit Hole of transformers, this unit has the OEP transformer that was bought by Carnhill 2014, , which bringing it all current is the OEP/Carnhill BAE 1073MP choice of transformers...as BAE says about the OEP/Carnhill transformer DI "it imbue any signal passed through it with a warmth and analog richness".

    the manual link above mentions more on the compressor and voice enhancer. It also has a DI input for instruments tossed in!!! and Switchcraft jacks again adding to the well built early units. ($great value)

    COST:
    From the internet searches retail was as high as $1099 back in those days, common used prices in past few years have always seemed $400-$600 though on the street. GAS got me when I saw one for $279, but then was pleasantly surprised when it arrived in a 6U SKB case in perfect shape too ($200new). So against my new years resolution to stop gear buying , the deal was too sweet.

    GEAR LOVE:
    I love the gear and JOEMEEK was a early piece for me. The gang here turned me onto learning what preamps and comps were near 2004, the DMP3/RNC was big then and still is a "wow!" moment. It was like a really really pro sounding upgrade from my bland/empty porta studio mic pre's. To repeat the buzz a level higher , I grabbed a JOEMEEK VC1Q and loved it but it was a much smaller "wow buzz" than the first pre/comp upgrade. Ive found this "smaller wow" to be consistent all the way up to $2500 units for me...with my ears and my monitoring situation. The dmp3/rnc is still a respectable unit in all ways against anything Ive had here.

    The JOEMEEK VC1 was touted as the British sound and colored to bring some extra tones to the bland and blank interface or cheap mixing board sounds. Its 2020, Ive since had and have many many other pieces through the Home Studio...more reading , more experience, more hindsight, more experience and gear under the bridge, the JOEMEEK VC1 Ted Fletcher stuff is a beautiful piece of gear and vibe. Of course being into the Beatles sound and recordings I thought "BRITISH SOUND!!" thats what Im seeking. The JOEMEEK did have a cool sound and the analog knobs allowed tweaking and DI was very nice for bass . BEATLES SOUND buzz!! British green....(I had no idea back then about Neumanns and REDD's then before high speed internet was just starting, and surfing on phone lines was so slow I didnt bother.).

    The whole concept of the large consoles being torn apart and channel strips of NEVEs, API and SSL becoming a wave of single channel strips but with much higher quality than the cheap mixing boards was the thing for studios and smaller studios. The Home Studio market benefited by the single channel strip or two strips for a "pro" sound without buying a large console. Seems over the years the massive gear market has now turned into a battle of Clone-1073 and Clone -Neumann mic and Clone-Compressors (1776 & LA2A) should have us all sounding the same.

    CHANNEL STRIPS? TRANSFORMERS? OPTO Comps?
    The JOEMEEK VC1 isnt some clone-1073, but it is a Transformer Preamp so not considered super-clean. It was designed to sound better than a bland ic chip cheap mixing board and yet in a decent price range for those who werent buying NEVE Original 1073 strips. The Compressor is of the optical flavor and again focused on Vocals...aka VC....Voice Channel. (not that you cant plug anythign into it).
    Interesting too of the history timeframe, Ted Fletcher mentions it was designed to some hi-end mics we all know, but also the times were the beginning of the Chineese Mic LDC invasion due to the booming Home Studios wanting LDC they could afford. So he was aware of the overly bright bumps in most these mic's coming in from Asia under various name-brands. (Jim Williams has a great article on how all the mic capsule stuff and bright spike characteristic of CHineese capsule mics developed).

    Transformers in physics are known to tame some shrill highs. I think one reason Transformers work well to our ears. I dont know if I can hear a difference like some Golden Ears between transformer windings and magnets and all that but theres something to it all obviously in the signal chain as all the infamous designer gurus used them and the transformer is still desired today. Opto compressors are pleasing to the ears though designed a long time ago seem to be here to stay and the JOEMEEK has this done very well and tuned for Voice with good suggestions for settings in the Manual. ( a great manual read too).

    CON and BASHING SECTION:
    The only thing I can bash is myself, because I dont use the gear enough, theres nothing to really bash in this review and at this used price.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails joemeek-vc1-png  
    Last edited by CoolCat; 1 Week Ago at 15:58.

    if it's not happening in the room, it ain't gonna happen on tape.-H.Gerst

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