Vintech Audio X73i
Possibly the best value in the business! The X73i is a class A, all discrete, transformer balanced microphone preamplifier with equalizer both based on the classic Neve 1073 module.
The X73i uses the same design as the more expensive Vintech X73, but with less labor intensive parts. Built in the USA, this is a chance to get a great deal on an all Class A Neve type preamp with EQ. Requires external power supply, which can power up to 4 units (we recommend only two units on the PSU if using them aggressively for headroom purposes, i.e. hard hitting drums).
The X73i features the same class A mic pre as the X73 with all of the same eq parameters plus additional mid range frequencies, selectable input impedance, 1/4 inch D.I. on front panel, transformer balanced mic and line inputs, phase reverse, phantom power switch, eq switch, 70db of gain, quality Grayhill rotary switches, custom machined aluminum knobs, plus many other features.
(Vintech PSU Required)
Comes with Manufacturer's Warranty
Posted by Nathan Eldred on Sep 28th 2016
Vintech Audio makes excellent recording outboard gear. Their lines continues to expand to provide more and more value for the end user. Now offering a 500 series module at an entry level price of $695, you can get a quality Vintech piece at a low price. The Vintech "X" series of preamps are even better, more for practical reasons than sonic, each providing added benefit with different eq points found on the X73i, X73, X81, and the combination of great preamps and essential eq on the 473. The Vintech X73i is a Neve 1073 recreation mono line channel, mic pre and eq. It's build quality is rugged, and it's housed in a 1U chassis. The X73i needs a Vintech Power Supply. A single VA PSU is capable of powering up to (4) four individual (i.e. mono) X73i modules.
Vintech X73 vs. Vintech X73i:
Well, there are five differences between them. First, the X73 and the X73i have slightly differing EQ points. The regular X73 has more points in the highs, the X73i has more points in the mids.
Second, the X73i has a 300/1200 ohm switch...the more expensive X73 does not. The 300/1200 ohm switch will yield more variety as different mics have different frequency curves and distortion amounts depending on the impedance input of the preamp.
Third, the X73i and X73 have different switches (the things sitting directly behind the knobs on the front panel). The X73i utilizes Greyhill switches, found in many of today's quality gear, like Millennia Media and Great River for example. The X73 utilizes hand soldered point to point Swiss-made Elma switches. The actual Elma switch in the X73 looks somewhat like a minature jet-engine, it's very complex and small, the labor involved in the soldering of the Elma switches takes several extra hours to complete per unit. The Elma switches themselves are very expensive. There isn't a "sound" difference between a Greyhill switch and an Elma switch.
Fourth, The X73i has 2 transformers, the X73 has three. The X73i utilizes one of the transformers twice. Essentially, one of the transformers is doing double duty, this is actually not a new practice and can be found in old Neve units. The reduced cost of having one less transformer is reflected in the price to the user.
Last, but not least, is the price tag. The X73 currently sells for about $2020.00 with PSU, and the X73i sells for $1600.00 with PSU. There is a $420 difference there. For many engineers, to spend the extra $420 may be a luxury, considering that they get the same, or what some consider more, with an X73i.
Given these differences, although they are slight, I find that the X73i is actually more versatile in it's midrange EQ. It is also more versatile due to the 300/1200 ohm switch which the regular X73 doesn't have. For the price, you can't really beat it's value. Compare an original Neve 1073 at approximately $3500 per mono line channel, to the new X73i at $1375 plus $225 for PSU, making it $1600 per mono line channel, and you will find that there 1,900 reasons to consider the X73i, that is -- $1900 dollars saved.
Comparisons to original Neve 1073 units:
In tests between original well-maintained Neve Modules compared to Vintech X73 and X73i units, the Vintech units sounded identical to the Neve units to my ears. When tracks were recorded both simultaneously through a splitter to both a Vintech X73 or X73i and to a Neve module. The resulting tracks were then spliced into varying combinations in DAW, specifically Neundo, back and forth between the two. The final result being that no one was able to detect with any repeatable accuracy either one of the preamps correctly or reliably. They sounded identical. The most important thing about all of Vintech's X Series and 473 is that they are the most like the original Class A Neve Designs in sound.
In the Studio:
The X73i is flexible, with Mic input, line input, and instrument/DI input - all three seperate. You can use the X73i for: 1)Recording with a microphone (plenty of gain for ribbons too!) 2)Recording With any instrument on DI, bass guitar, synths, DI guitars 3)Recording using Line Input, for usage with a different preamp but with Vintech EQ 4)Mixdown, using Line Input for classic coloration/musical distortion from the Vintech's St. Ives transformers. If you are looking for a "vintage" sounding preamp, the X73i delivers. The "vintage sound" comes from it's the St. Ives iron-core transformers (the same transformers used in the old Neve gear). The X73i is very versatile on all sources and works for all styles of music, I have yet to find a source that I don't like it on. It's EQ is very flexible, and sounds very musical.
I often times will select the X73i over other preamps for certain applications. I am very familiar with all of my preamps, so when I find something that works best on an application, I use it. To that effect, my top 5 favorite list of uses for the X73i in order: 1) vocals, 2) acoustic guitar, 3) bass guitar DI or Mic, 4) drum kit (kick & toms especially), 5) electric guitars. It's creamy smooth, airy, lots of color without sacrificing fidelity, and sits great in the mix. The X73i has a rich midrange, extended top, solid natural lowend, not accentuated like most 1272 preamps. It has a more extended top than most Neve clones, and that makes it more flexible without additive EQ. I particularly like to use my Telefunken U47 and X73i on female vocals, I prefer my Soundelux E49 and X73i on male vocals.
The X73i couples well with condensers, ribbons, and dynamics. In general, the 300 ohms will give you a louder sound with all types of mics. The 300 ohms tends to emphasize the high-mids and the lows. The 1200 ohms setting is slightly quieter, slightly flatter in the mids and lows, and has an airier top.
1/3/05: I was flipping through January 2005 of MOJO magazine, and spotted Robert Plant in a studio photo at Riverside Studios, UK; and in the rack next to him, a familiar sight, a Vintech X73i and a Chandler TG-1.