So what is Da Vinci?
- It is one of the finest tube mic preamps on the planet.
- It has an outstanding optical compressor.
- It also takes something you have already recorded, and makes it sound better.
How does it make something I have recorded sound better?
- It gives you the ability to send your line level signal (mono or stereo) though some tubes and analog circuitry in order to add some serious mojo, compression, or vintage distortion.
- There is also a variety of tone-shaping options that can be used to manipulate the signal in both preamp and line level operation.
Housed in a 3U rack unit, the Da Vinci employes an EF806 and a 12au7 for the gain portion of the unit. The signal first enters the Da Vinci by passing through an ultra high fidelity Jensen transformer, and from there moves to the EF806, followed by the 12au7. The signal exits the Da Vinci by passing through another ultra high fidelity Jensen output transformer. The entire unit is completely hand-built, discrete, single ended, and Class A in design, causing it to handle transients and the full range of frequencies in a way that few pieces of studio gear are able to accomplish.
The Da Vinci allows the user to switch each channel from Mic Preamp to Line Level Harmonic Enhancement, proving for utmost versatility. The mic preamp retains the rich sonic signature expected from an all tube preamp designed and built by Hendyamps, complete with various tone-shaping options such as High Cut, Air Boost, and the Smile circuit.
Yes, but how does it sound?? Well the best way to describe the preamp tone is to simply say that it is pure authenticity mixed with tube richness. This preamp is literally the opposite of muddy or sterile. It simply takes your signal and amplifies it in such a way that it gives you every detail, nuance, and tone in such a way that the question of “what preamp flavor do I need for this source” will no longer be an issue because Da Vinci conforms itself to any source, and makes it sound bigger, better, and richer.
The Da Vinci also includes an optical compressor with two different modes of operation - Normal and Aggressive. In normal mode the compressor provides a balanced, smooth operation that truly is a set and forget tool. In aggressive mode, the compressor becomes much more active in controlling dynamics while also providing a built in de-essing function which is often perfect for mics or sources that can have some issues with sibilance. Also note that the compressor is able to be employed during either preamp or line level operation.
The Da Vinci, when operating in Harmonic Enhancement mode (line level), is intended to take any signal and add harmonic richness and depth. As well, the Da Vinci is able to employ all of the tone-shaping options seen on the front panel, providing a wide array of options when mixing or treating pre-recorded audio. The result is a signal that is now fuller, punchier, and easier to mix and when used on individual sources or stereo busses, the entire image simply becomes better...there is no other way to describe it!
- The BYPASS switch is actually a true bypass switch, removing even the transformers from the circuit during line level operation - A feature very important to critical A/B’ing, especially when mixing or mastering.
- The PRE/LINE control sets the operational mode of that particular channel to Preamp or Harmonic Enhancement (line level).
- The LOW CUT switch allows the user to roll off the low end.
- The HIGH CUT switch allows the user to roll off the high end.
- The AIR switch allows for a boost in the high frequencies.
- The SMILE control is a switch that allows the user to engage a type of light multi-band dynamic compression in the mids while retaining the full dynamics in the lows and highs, resulting in a very interesting, and pleasing treatment of the overall audio signal.
- The GAIN control is a 6 position switch that allows the user to increase the gain by adding or taking away negative feedback in the circuit. This is much like a variable pad for the preamp with the default position being #5 (#6 is the max setting)
- The TRIM control acts as an output volume when in Harmonic Enhancement or Preamp mode.
- The COMPRESSION control adds more compression as the knob is increased.
- RATIO is not a true ratio control but instead acts as a variable setting that sets a hard deck that limits the amount of compression applied to the signal. Instead of constantly affecting the overall amount of applied compression, the Ratio knob allows the compression to be applied unhindered until the threshold is met and then no more compression is able to be applied until it returns to a level that is above the threshold. Basically what all this means is that you have a way to avoid pumping and unhelpful compression artifacts while still keeping the overall characteristics of the optical circuit that sound so good.
- Phase Reverse Switch
- 48v Phantom Power Switch
- XLR In and Out (Four XLR In - Two for preamp and two for line level, Two XLR Out)
- DI for each channel
- True Bypass for line level sources
- Low Cut Switch
- High Cut Switch
- Gain and Trim controls found on the Rembrandt Preamp
- Switch controlling the mid-range dynamics and sound
- Optical Compression Controls
- Signal amplified by an EF806 and 12au7 (for each channel)
- Jensen Transformers in and out
- All Hand-Wired, construction
- Rugged, etched metal faceplate
Song recorded using Da Vinci mic preamps
Song recorded using Rembrandt (Mosaic), Picasso, and Da Vinci preamps
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