New Music Gear Monday: Rupert Neve Designs 5211 Two Channel Preamp

Rupert Neve Designs 5211 on Bobby Owsinski's Production BlogWhenever the name “Neve” comes up, an audio person immediately envisions a high quality signal path that’s big and colored in a most pleasing way. The problem is that Neve vintage modules and even many of its clones carry a heavy price tag and tend to provide that one sound, which as great as it might be, may not be for everyone. Rupert Neve’s latest company Rupert Neve Designs launched its new 5211 two channel microphone preamp which promises much more versatility at a slightly more reasonable price as well.

The 5211 differs from the RND’s popular Shelford models in that it has a transformerless front end that allows for a much less colored sound than what you’d expect from anything with a Neve badge on it. Each channel provides 72dB of low noise gain, which should be plenty for even the lowest output ribbon mic, that’s controlled by a 6dB stepped Gain switch and a continuously variable ±6dB Trim control. You’ll also find a polarity reverse button, 48-volt phantom power, and a swept 20Hz–250Hz highpass filter, which is a nice improvement on the usually fixed HPF that most preamps have. Finally there’s a LED meter that shows signal activity from -10dB to +22dB so you can be sure that you’ll always have the proper gain staging.

What’s sets this preamp apart is the variable Silk control. Silk is a special circuit that alters the signal’s harmonic content to create a similar sonic character to the Neve vintage console modules by saturating the output transformer. The Texture knob on each channel controls the amount of Silk applied, and when the level is pushed to the end of its headroom, the effect is amplified even further.

I have friends with so-called “golden ears” who have sold their Shelford modules in favor of the new 5211’s, claiming that they can get that same vintage Neve 80-series sound when using Silk, while also getting having clean transparency that some recordings require available.

The rear panel features XLR inputs and outputs with an additional -6dB output for each channel in the event that the output of the normal line out is too much for your A to D convertor when getting that overdriven output transformer sound.

The two channel Rupert Neve Designs 5211 preamp is just $1,995, which is less than you’d expect to pay for a pair of vintage Neve modules or clones. You can find out more here, or on the video below.

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