Following the world wide acceptance of the Great River MP-2NV microphone pre-amplifier an EQ was the next logical Great River / Mercenary Edition release. The creation of an equalizer had been in the plans when the MP-2NV was first developed, but the question was where to go with an EQ section that had not been beaten into the ground by the "Neve-a-like crowd.
The idea was to be able to use the EQ-2NV as a stand alone EQ with it's own 'Line Input' or through the MP-2NV's mic input and to have two different flavors of output amplifier available when using the EQ-2NV in conjunction with the MP-2NV. The insert point on the MP-2NV was where the equalizer section occurred in the 1073, so that's where Dan Kennedy and Fletcher wanted to put it in the signal chain, but they also wanted it to be able to be used as a "stand alone" unit.
The insert point on the MP-2NV was where the equalizer section occurred in the 1073, so that's where Dan Kennedy and Fletcher wanted to put it in the signal chain path, but they also wanted it to be able to be used as a "stand alone" unit. In order to use the EQ-2NV as a stand alone unit, the EQ would have to have it's own 'Line Input and Output' as well being able to function through the insert point of the MP-2NV. As the EQ-2NV was going to have two potential inputs and outputs, Dan decided it would be a really good idea if the two inputs and outputs sounded different.
With the MP-2NV you have a transformer based class A output amplifier, with the output section of the EQ-2NV you have a transformerless class A output amplifier that actually has greater headroom than the output section of the MP-2NV, it also has a significantly different tone. This was done to allow the user to maximize their sonic options. If a user had both units, they could now run a mic into the MP-2NV with the availability of a choice of output amplifiers [even if they didn't want to use EQ], and if the user wanted, they could indeed run a line level source into the MP-2NV [allowing for the impedance switch to come into play as well as the different sounding input amplifier, and still gain the choice of output amplifiers].
There is a choice of input sensitivity on the EQ-2NV which gives the user further sonic options. The input can be set to work with the mic-pre, or with a +8 input, a +4 input, a -2 input, a -10 input, or a -15 input, the idea being that you could now determine the level of aggressiveness/distortion you wanted to get from the equalizer.
The equalizer on the 1073 is a 3 band EQ with a fixed frequency of 12k on the top band. The equalizer on the 1073's big brother, the 1084 had the option of 3 frequencies on the top as well as the ability to change the bandwidth of the midrange frequency. But seeing as the MP-2NV had the option of putting anything we wanted on the insert point, the decision was made to go with a full 4 band equalizer a la the 1081.
Fletcher sent Dan sets of original Neve™ 1081 inductors and a Neve™ 1083 manual section.
The original inductors were copied, and as was done with the MP-2NV and the board layout and component section was brought to a less cloudy, more "open" sounding design. Again allowing the user to use the EQ-2NV on multiple tracks without getting the haze or sonic signature buildup that can occur when using one specific unit on multiple tracks within a multi-track presentation. The EQ-2NV, as the MP-2NV isn't meant to be a "Neve-a-like", it's meant to be it's own unit that gives a nod to a most brilliant design from the past.
To keep the unit cost effective, digital controls were added to control the frequency selection, this was employed in lieu of the mechanical switches employed in original Neve™ modules. The mechanical switches are a very expensive proposition and being mechanical, they wear out after a while [as anyone with an original Neve™ module will tell you!!]. With the major expense of high quality physical switches removed from the equation, more money could be allocated to the very unique, high headroom output amplifier design, as well as to using the best components available for the entire audio path. The original version of the unit had push buttons for changing the frequency up or down and was going to have an LED display window... it really would have looked remarkably slick except Fletcher hates push buttons. He wants to turn a switch to the frequency of his choice and get back to work, so rotary switches with the appropriate frequency markings are featured on the "final release" unit.
Another addition afforded the EQ-2NV through it's digital control was to give the user three "bandwidth control" options on the two midrange bands. On the original 1081 you had a choice of normal "Q", or "High Q" as the switch had only two positions [in, or out]. On the EQ-2NV you can have a bandwidth selection that sits in between the "Q" selections offered on an original 1081 unit.
There was one hurdle left, which was the EQ-2NV's input transformer. There were several from which to choose. Dan sent prototype units out to Mercenary on a pretty regular basis, each with a different input transformer for each side. Generally one was picked over another, and that one was sent up against the next one as the prototype was sent back and forth. Finally we got it down to two finalists. Dan really liked one of the two finalists, Fletcher [of course] liked the other. The two talked about it at length. Dan's studio is a good 5 miles up the Mississippi River from his houseboat, Fletcher's studio is about 20 feet from his office. Dan was doing the majority of his listening with full program material while Fletcher was using the unit on various tracks within a multi-track composition.
The EQ-2NV was ever intended to be a mastering equalizer, it was intended [at least in Fletcher's twisted mind] to be a tracking and mixing tool. Dan was dead on right that the transformer he preferred was indeed better on program material, but this wasn't to be a mastering equalizer, it was to be a tracking equalizer. Dan took the unit up river and tried it in his studio on different tracks in a multi-track concept and heard what Fletcher was hearing in terms of the tone and character of the "other" input transformer and capitulated.
Somewhere down the road a mastering version of the EQ-2NV may indeed emerge. This will feature the first set of transformers that Dan had originally chosen as well as detents and all kinds of other features one wants on a mastering unit, but for the time being, the EQ-2NV lives as a superior tracking tool netting the user a very large set of very musical sounding tonal options.
Recently Dan mentioned that he was working on a new mic pre design that would be remarkably open with specs to die for that will not be a Mercenary Edition... so if there is going to be a "mastering version" of the EQ-2NV, it will arrive sometime after Great River's next mic-pre.
EQ-2NV User Guide Adobe .pdf
EQ-2NV Brochure Adobe .pdf
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