About a year after the Drawmer 1969 Mercenary Edition was released, Fletcher was talking to drinking buddy Dan Kennedy about Great River's next product release. Dan asked Fletcher what he wanted in a mic pre if he could have anything he wanted. After hearing Fletcher's requests, Dan went on to further explain that it would be entirely impossible to put Tyra Banks in a 1 RU enclosure. Well, Fletcher figured if he can't have a 6' tall super model he might as well have something with the thunder of a Neve™ 1073 but without the haze he found when recording multiple tracks through that flavor of pre amp.
As recording has moved along, we find ourselves using more and more tracks. As we use more and more tracks, things that were at one time acceptable, like the cumulative effect of the St. Ives and Marinair transformers in original Neve™ modules. Through our work as recording engineers, we found this cumulative effect to make the low end lose it's "punch" and "distinction". The circuit in the MP-1NV was taken from original Neve™ drawing. The implementation of that circuit allows for an equally large, yet clearer and more distinct recording. At Mercenary, we have found that especially as you layer many tracks, the new transformers allow the tones to blend and intermingle in a more musical manner, making them easier to mix.
Fletcher sent Dan one of his 1073's and a manual section. Dan looked at the design and surmised that with modern components and a different board layout the signal to noise ratio and overall clarity of the 1073 could be greatly increased. Dan also surmised that the "haze" Fletcher found was primarily caused by anomalies inherent to the original transformers. For the next 12 - 15 months, Dan designed and Fletcher rejected.
Working with the folks at Sowter transformers, Dan Kennedy came up with a special, custom transformer specifically for the Great River MP-2NV "Mercenary Edition", that achieved Fletcher's sonic criteria. The idea was to build a transformer that would have all the "size" and "thunder" that you would find in the pre-amp of an original Neve™ 1073, but without the 'haze' and 'mush' that can accumulate when you run a whole bunch of tracks through a 1073. Fletcher wanted it all, size, thickness, but with an open character to the sound and the availability of "air" in addition to "depth".
One evening when Fletcher was at dinner with Rupert Neve, he told a story about a desk the original Neve™ had delivered to Air Sound in London. Apparently Geoff Emerick was working on the desk one evening when he heard one module that sounded different from the other modules in the desk. When they brought that module back to the Neve™ factory, they discovered that someone had omitted the installation of the load resistors on the input and output transformers, causing the transformers to ring somewhere in the vicinity of about 60 kHz.
Now, normally you wouldn't think humans could hear that high, but apparently we can. I guess we perceive this ringing as part of the harmonic structure, or it creates some phase shift down the line... the bottom line is that on some very airy and delicate sounds, you can indeed perceive a tonal difference when you remove the load from the transformers. By loading the transformers, you can also perceive a bit of 'toughness' to the sound... perhaps it's just the contrast to the 'unloaded' transformers, but there is an audible difference. The MP-1NV's transformers are not loaded when the switch is in it's normal "out" position, by depressing the switch you add the proper loading to the transformers, which actually flattens the frequency response to it's original 'ruler flat' response.
In the feature department of the design, every 10 series Neve™ module has a switch on the back that is marked "Hi" or "Lo" (depending on position this allows the user to change from a 300Ω input impedance to a 1200Ω input impedance). Dan Kennedy had a fairly brilliant idea, and brought the microphone impedance switch to the front of the MP-2NV. This switches between a 1200Ω load and a 300Ω load. The difference isn't all that subtle, the 300Ω load gives you about 4db greater overall gain potential, as well as a slightly brighter and airier tone with some microphones.
In addition to the regular features found on Great River's MP-2MH [such as the dual output so you can monitor what you're recording without the latency caused by running through a DAW], an "Output level pot" has been added for greater gain staging flexibility, as well as an "insert point", which is perfect for use with a Speck "ASC" equalizer or FMR Audio RNC compressor, and especially good with the newly created Great River EQ-2NV Mercenary Edition.
The other big ergonomic improvement is the metering. Two LED ladders meter the input amplifiers, as well as the output amplifier (don't forget, a 1073 has 2 Amps in the front, the 1272 only has one), allowing you maximum confidence that your levels are optimized, even with another unit (or two) connected to the insert point!!
As with all Mercenary Edition products, a myriad of tonal options are available along with an extended feature set that will afford the user the ability to really shape the tone to the song on which they're working, while having absolute confidence that the machinery is there to help, not hinder.
NV Series User Guide Adobe .pdf
from Great River is the MEQ-1NV Mercenary Edition.
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