Rupert Neve designed the ubiquitous 1073 preamplifier in 1970. For over five decades its sound has been featured on thousands of recordings. A true studio staple, the Neve 1073 produces one of the most sought after sounds ever made.
Neve 1073 Hardware in Your Home Studio
The 1073 module was designed for a custom A88 console installed at Wessex Sound Studios in London. The 24-channel desk already had impressive capabilities for its time, but the debut of the 1073 preamp was the real breakthrough. Class A circuitry, power, clarity, and undeniable character made it one of the greatest innovations in recording technology. Its sound can be described as rich and full-bodied with solid lows, assertive midrange presence, and airy highs.
The original 1073 included a three-band EQ with a fixed 12kHz high frequency shelf, along with switchable low and mid range bands with cut and boost controls. Below those is a passive third-order (18 dB/octave) high-pass filter. The module was also never intended to be a standalone unit.
Due to the relative scarcity of the originals, the 1073 has spawned dozens of reproductions over the years, including both hardware and software.
These are some of the most popular outboard choices to get that classic Neve sound in your home studio.
AMS Neve 1073SPX
This is the closest version to the original 1073s that you can get. It’s actually built to the exact specs with matched components, but of course includes some useful modern additions.
The SPX is a single-channel mic/line/DI preamp with the classic 3-band EQ and selectable high-pass filter. If authentic is what you’re after, this one is a no-brainer.
There’s also an AMS Neve 1073DPX dual-channel preamp if you need a pair. AMS Neve also produces versions which are preamp only, as well as a 500-series module.
BAE manufactures one of the best Neve reproductions out there. The 1073MP is a no-frills, hand-wired, single-channel 1073 preamp. It includes some of the finest components available, including Carnhill transformers used in vintage 1073s.
This is a single-channel preamp only—no EQ, no filter—but the sound it produces is immense. If you’ve done any digging of your own regarding these preamps, you’ve probably found there’re some interesting debates about AMS Neve vs. BAE 1073. Most people will tell you both are excellent, totally authentic, and capture the coveted Neve sound.
BAE also makes a 2-channel version, one with a filter, one with an EQ, a 500-series module, and even a desktop mic preamp. There’s plenty of variety depending on individual needs.
Vintech Audio makes another high-quality reproduction of an original Neve 1073. The X73 preamp/EQ is made with the original circuit design, the same polystyrene capacitors, and the same transformers as the vintage units. Vintech really went out of their way, going so far as to source the supplier of the transformers used in the original Neve 1073.
Warm Audio WA73
Warm Audio have only been around for 10 years, but they’ve made some serious buzz around their super affordable replicas of classic outboard gear and microphones.
Their version of the Neve 1073, the WA73, is an inexpensive single-channel mic preamp with a high-pass filter. It’s an incredible value, so if you’re after your first dedicated preamp and want some of that classic Neve 1073 sound, this is a great place to start.
Neve 1073 Plugins in Your Home Studio
The biggest reason you’d want a preamp is because it adds a desirable character to the signal on the way in, which gets printed. You can’t do that with plugins (except for one), but you can add some coloration and harmonic distortion to the signal after it gets recorded clean.
Plugins have a clear advantage in terms of cost, too, so you can try lots of them for less than the cost of an outboard preamp.
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UAD Neve 1073 Preamp & EQ Collection
Universal Audio calls their 1073 plugin ‘the only authentic end-to-end circuit emulation’ of the vintage hardware. Plus, with their proprietary Unison technology, you can actually record through the plugin and print it straight to your DAW. This is something you won’t find elsewhere, though you have to have a UA interface to take advantage of Unison.
Waves Scheps 73
The Scheps 73 EQ features bands that stick to the 1073’s original specs and emulate its behavior: a fixed 12kHz high-frequency band, switchable low and midrange bands with cut and boost controls, and an 18dB/octave high-pass filter. Additionally, this plugin includes the lesser-known 10kHz midrange band. It was part of the original 1073 schematics but operable only on the rare 1078 channel strip.
Waves also captured the desirable sonic characteristics of the Neve 1073, like its harmonic distortion. Those overtones are what will give your digital recordings some of that analogue edge.
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Arturia Pre 1973
Arturia’s Pre 1973 is a simple, effective EQ and ‘preamp’ plugin. The 3-band EQ is faithful to the original, and the input section lets you ‘drive’ the plugin harder to recreate some of the effect you’d get using the hardware. Subtle settings are of course more gentle, while really cranking the input gain will push the signal into saturation.
Part of Slate’s Virtual Preamp Collection, the FG-73 is simple, elegant emulation of the Neve 1073. You can use it as the first plugin in your chain, after any clean sounding digital preamp, to impart the legendary Neve character on your signal. This ranges from mild color to full-on distortion.
Neve 1073: Conclusion
The 1073 is the most famous preamp ever made. Even though the originals are hard to come by, there are plenty of authentic reproductions out there, both in hardware and software format. Regardless of which route you go, you’ll be sure to capture some of the sound that made the original Neve 1073 one of the greatest achievements in recording technology.
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