The Rupert Neve Designs Shelford 5052 Mic Pre/EQ is a Class-A, discrete preamp with custom-wound transformers and inductors featuring a “best-of” Neve EQ bands and modern Silk/Texture controls
The Rupert Neve Designs Shelford 5052 Mic Pre/EQ answers the question, can you look forward back at the same time? If you’re Rupert Neve, then yes . . . yes you can. The Shelford 5052 is a callback to the golden age of recording and the preamp that defined the sound of modern music; the 1073. Finished in the familiar Shelford Royal Navy blue-gray, the 5052 is not a 1073 reissue, rather a product of Neve’s ever-evolving design experience over eight decades. The Shelford 5052 reprises the elegantly simple, musically formidable feature set of the 1073, including mic pre, high-pass filter, and 3-band inductor EQ, while upping the ante with modern capabilities, such as the variable Silk/Texture control and simultaneous pre/post “tape” operation. Capturing the heart and soul of his classic designs with a modern twist, Rupert Neve designed the Shelford 5052 as a vintage-style channel strip without the previous compromises.
Rupert Neve Designs Shelford 5052 Mic Pre/EQ in one take:
- Class-A, discrete, +/- 24V topology with custom-wound transformers and inductors
- Dual I/O paths
- The best of the classic Neve EQ bands
- Rupert Neve-designed custom input and output transformers
INSIDE THE BOX—Rupert Neve Designs Shelford 5052
The Mic Pre
Like Rupert’s designs from his time in Shelford, the 5052 preamplifier has 72dB of discrete, class-A gain coupled with serious square-core transformers. Unlike the classics however, the output transformer features the Silk Red / Blue and Texture controls from the Portico II Series to hone the harmonic content and tonality of the output stage. By engaging these controls and sufficiently driving the output, the 5052 can produce up to 4-5% THD (primarily 2nd order, some 3rd order), bringing a richness and thickness to tracks when desired with no danger of overloading the output stage. With Silk disengaged, the output is modern and pristine, yet still retains Rupert’s signature larger-than-life transformer sound. The mic pre section also includes a sweepable 20-250Hz high-pass filter, Mic / Line selection, 48V phantom power, and polarity reverse.
Dual I/O Paths
Following the preamplifier, the 5052 has a transformer-coupled output, which allows the 5052 to feed a tape machine or DAW directly from the mic pre while still using the EQ and Silk / Texture in a dedicated analogue mix path such as that found with a 5088, 5060 or vintage console. This output can also be used to insert a separate compressor between the mic pre and the EQ, or it can allow the 5052 to work with two separate sources. When the “TO EQ” button is engaged, the mic pre signal is routed directly into the EQ such that the mic / line input signal flows through to the main output as a single channel strip.
The “best of the classics” EQ
The 3-band, custom-tapped inductor EQ on the 5052 was inspired by RND’s favorite portions of Rupert’s vintage EQ designs. The low-frequency band is primarily based on the 1064, which is renowned for its creamy, resonant bass. Unlike the 1064 however, the LF band on the 5052 can be used as either a shelf or a peak filter, adding punch, dimension, and immense control to your low end. The 5052’s inductor midrange band is based on his prized 1073 EQ, which is ideal for sweetening vocals and instruments while bringing them forward in a mix.
Additionally, the mid-frequency band’s proportional “Q” response makes it well-suited for minimizing problematic frequencies in a source. The 5052’s high frequency band is a hybrid vintage / modern design, blending inductor circuitry from the 1073 with capacitor-based topology to achieve the vintage tones with enhanced control. As Rupert originally intended with his most prized classic designs, each EQ section uses low-feedback, class-A discrete electronics to prevent low-level artifacts and harshness from detracting from the tonal shaping. The EQ circuit itself, however, is a decidedly modern updated design using techniques and components that were simply not available 35 years ago, and should not be considered a clone.
One of the worst kept secrets of pro audio is that what we can measure often has no correlation with what we hear. The proof of that is various units that specs out the same can sound very different to one another.
One of the reasons is that incredibly small amounts of musically dissonant odd harmonics have a disastrous effect on sound quality. Extraneous noise or interference that finds its way into a signal path seriously impairs performance of the whole chain.
In these days of professional project and home studios, many control rooms have outboard gear that’s not well protected from external signals. Poor grounding of such equipment can be a serious problem. Electronically balanced circuits, often used in modern equipment, can show very good measurements on the test bench but don’t provide adequate rejection of the stray fields found in every working environment.
In order for modules to work together as would be expected (i.e. in a proprietary console configuration) without producing hum, R.F. interference, or other interactions, the connecting interfaces, grounding, levels and impedances must receive careful attention. Input and output circuits must be freed from dependency on ground so that only wanted signal enters and leaves the processing path. Transformers are the ideal solution. The sweet and silky sound of Rupert Neve’s classic consoles was achieved with big transistors and large high quality transformers. Rupert Neve Designs Portico modules achieve similar quality today without the bulk or the cost.
Each Shelford module is a complete integral signal processor that delivers its specified performance independently. This is one of the reasons RND uses transformers.
OUTSIDE THE BOX—Rupert Neve Designs Shelford 5052
Power, Connections and Mounting
The 5052 receives +/- 24V rails from an external DC power supply using a 4-pin connection. There are currently two options available: the RND 5-way brick supply and the RND 25-way 2U rack-mount supply. The back panel of the 5052 includes three XLR-F connections for Mic In, Line In, and EQ In, and two XLR-M connections for Mic Out and Main Out. The 5052 chassis is a “half-rack” format, and can be mounted in RND’s new 2 –way and 4-way vertical racks in addition to the existing 9-way racks and the 5088 penthouse.
The front panel of the Shelford 5052 has the following controls and functions:
- Mic Gain: A 12-way precision rotary switch controls gain from 0 to 66dB in 6dB steps
- Silk/Texture: Pushing the Silk button cycles the silk modes from red silk to blue silk to off. Silk reduces the negative feedback on the output transformer, adding harmonic content as the texture is increased. Red Silk accentuates the saturation in the mid and high frequencies, similar to that of the red silk mode on the Portico II Channel. Blue Silk accentuates low frequencies. By manipulating the Texture control, the amount of Silk can be changed from essentially absent, to roughly 4-5% THD (mostly second order) depending on how hard the output transformer is being driven
- Inductor EQ: The first inductor based EQ designed by Rupert Neve since the mid 70’s, the 5051 EQ is very reminiscent of Mr. Neve’s classic EQ, while
providing a thoroughly modern performance
- HPF: 12 dB/octave High Pass variable from 20-250Hz
- Low EQ: ±15dB Shelf or peak, selectable at 35Hz, 60Hz, 100Hz or 220Hz
- Mid EQ: ±15dB with 6 center frequencies; 200Hz, 350Hz, 700Hz, 1.5kHz, 3kHz and 6 kHz, with High Peak switch to narrow the bandwidth or increase the Q of the filter
- High Shelf: —15dB Shelf or peak selectable at 8kHz to 16kHz
- Trim: Continuously variable ±6dB level trim control
- +48V: Engages phantom power on the microphone input
- Polarity: Push button inverts the polarity of the signal path, and illuminates when engaged. The symbol “Ø” is often used to denote opposite polarity
- High-Pass Filter: The high pass filter is continuously variable from 20-250Hz and engaged by the HPF switch, which illuminates when engaged. It is a valuable aid in any signal chain, but particularly so in a microphone preamplifier. Signals below the selected frequency are attenuated at a rate of 12db / octave, getting rid of proximity effect, building rumble, air handling, motor hum, etc.
- Level Meter: An Eight-segment LED bar-graph meter displays output level (pre-Silk). The color range proceeds from green for lower level signals, yellow for intermediate signals, and red for high levels. When the 5052 is clipped, the highest red LED will hold longer depending on how far above the clip threshold the signal was
Rear-panel outputs of the 5052 include XLR mic and line in, XLR Mic out, EQ out and Main out. There is also a power receptacle for the RND external power supply.
The Rupert Neve Designs Shelford 5052 Mic Pre/EQ gives you a best of old-world and new-world Neve sound. Rack a bunch of 5052s and go make a record. For more information, call or chat online with your Westlake Pro Sales Consultant today.
Rupert Neve Designs Shelford 5052 specifications:
Main Output, no load, –3dB @ 2.5Hz
- –3dB @ 125kHz
Measured at Main Output, un-weighted, 22Hz-22kHz, Terminated 40 ohms, with gain at unity
- Better than –102dBu
- From 20Hz to 20kHz, +25dBu
From 20Hz to 20 kHz is +25 dBu. Total Harmonic Distortion and Noise: from <10 Hz to 80 kHz,
- @ 1kHz, +20 dBu output: Better than 0.002% @ 20Hz, +20 dBu out Better than 0.120%
- @ 20kHz, +20 dBu out Better than 0.010%
Measured at Main Output, un-weighted, 22Hz-22kHz, Terminated 40 Ohms. with all gains set at 0,
- Better than –92dBu
- From 20Hz to 20kH, +24.5dBu
- From 20Hz to20 kHz, +24.5dBu
Total Harmonic Distortion and Noise:
- From<10Hz to 80kHz, @ 1kHz, +20dBu output: Better than 0.007% @ 20Hz, +20dBu out
- Better than 0.120% @ 20kHz, +20dBu out Better than 0.070%
- 25-Way Power Supply (2U)
- 5-Way Power Supply
- 2-Way Wood Rack
- 9-Way Metal Rack