JoeMeek VC1QCS Studio Channel Mic Preamplifier

The JOEMEEK VC-1QCS is a 2U 19-inch rack unit with a the new Current Sense Microphone Pre Amplifier, a JOEMEEK Compressor, an Instrument Pre-Amp, a JOEMEEK Enhancer, De-esser and a full channel of the Joemeek Meequalizer "EQ". In addition, the VC1Q offeres a 24 bit 96K digital SPDIF output. All you need is the optional VC1QD card that plugs into the back of the VC1Q for digital operation. This box will knock your socks off and simply can't be matched by anything on today's market in it's price range!

It's best to think of the Studio Channel as six separate pieces of equipment:
1) The Microphone amplifier.
2) The Compressor.
3) The Enhancer.
4) The Equalizer
5) The De-esser
6) The Gain Make Up Amplifier

THE MICROPHONE AMPLIFIER.
The microphone amplifier takes the audio signals from any microphone and amplifies them up to 'line' level; that is, from a few millivolts, up to about a volt. This function is not too difficult and the microphone amplifiers on normal professional mixers do it quite well; BUT they cut costs and corners. The JOEMEEK Studio Channel has an uncompromising old fashioned approach, it uses a transformer at the input to provide the lowest possible noise and distortion. By using the finest components available for the purpose, and with proven high overload amplifier design developed over many years, the performance is startlingly good. The JOEMEEK Studio Channel is designed for the best condenser microphones and it is particularly good with Neumann, Sony, BPM by Studiotechnik, Microtech Gefell, AKG, CAD, Audio Technica and many others.

Dynamic or ribbon microphones should be used with the phantom power turned off, then full advantage can be taken of the extreme low noise performance of this amplifier. Some capacitor microphones can produce enormous output voltages when placed close to a loud sound source. To eliminate any possibility of overload under these conditions, a 20dB pad switch is fitted.


PHASE SHIFT and QUALITY:
It's Fletcher Company theory that 'big' sounds are only possible if the recording channel keeps the response and phase of the lower frequencies flat and under control. To achieve this, the J0EMEEK Studio Channel has an extended frequency range down below 20Hz. This ensures that there are no sudden phase shifts in the low end. The proof of the theory is that the sound from the Studio Channel is characteristically full bodied and rounded in character. Such extreme LF response can often bring its own problems so a 'subsonic' (High Pass) filter can be switched in with a front panel push-button. A push button is provided on the front panel to reverse the phase of all audio signals (mic and line).

BALANCED AND UNBALANCED.
The JOEMEEK Studio Channel is designed to be used in the best recording studios where most (if not all) interconnections are 'balanced'. Balanced operation means that the audio is carried on two wires working in opposite phase. Then should any interference appear on the 'line', it will be effectively canceled out Both of the main inputs (Microphone and Line) and the line output are accurately balanced to get the best advantage from true balanced operation.
The Compressor:

The compressor is a photoelectric device where the sound triggers light emitting diodes which in turn control the resistance of a photo sensitive resistor. This form of compression used to be common in the 60's and 70's but has been superseded by so called 'improved' voltage controlled amplifiers. The advantages of the older system are that distortion is virtually eliminated, noise is extremely low while overload margin is extremely good. The disadvantages are that the design is more difficult to produce cheaply and, according to those who judge equipment by specifications and not by listening, the older design is less flexible in operation and more difficult to use! Using 1990's electronics for the control circuitry, Ted Fletcher has recreated the compressed sound of the 60's; a sound that was unlikely ever to be heard again. Totally unlike a modem compressor, it can pull voices forward, help with internal mix balance, and add 'presence' to the sound as well as controlling recording volume levels. But its main and unique attribute is it's ability to produce the characteristic 60's compressed exciting sound without losing the transient sparkles that are such a feature of good digital recording.

THE COMPRESSOR; TECHNICALLY.
To get the best use out of the compressor it is necessary to understand the basic physics and what it is designed to do. A LIMITER is a device which stops the output of a signal path going above a predetermined level. A COMPRESSOR is a device which reduces the dynamic range of program material.


WHAT IS A COMPRESSOR?
A perfect compressor is an amplifier where the input/output ratio is constant: So using a 2:1 compressor, increasing the input by 2dB gives a corresponding 1dB increase in the output. Early compressors which used variable mu thermionic tubes or photoelectric devices only approximated true compression over a limited range. They had a soft 'threshold' where compression started and held to a predictable ratio up to a certain level, then they returned to a more linear amplification allowing transients through. This is in stark contrast to modem VCA compressor/limiters where designers latched onto the idea that a compressor should be entirely linear in its compression characteristic (regardless of the sound produced) and thought it 'sensible' to combine the functions of compressor and limiter to 'stonewall' any and all signals above a certain level. The musical effect is that VCA compressors sound muddy and flat, while the historic compressors sound lively and retain sparkle. But all compressors change the sound to some extent. The JOEMEEK Studio Channel compressor adds 'punch' and 'bite' without the dull muddiness of all others.

It is advisable to keep compression to a minimum during recording. The most effective way of using compression is during the mixdown process. There can be no rule as to the correct amount of compression for any particular program material. Compression (particularly the JOEMEEK compressor) is a creative effect for the producer. In rock music, it is possible to use considerable amounts of compression (10dB or more) and still for the effect to be slight. in classical recording, conventional compression is frowned upon but the JOEMEEK compressor can be used to great effect if handled gently.


WHAT IS AN ENHANCER?
An enhancer (or exciter) adds a particular type of sparkle to sounds, particularly voices. It appears to create brightness from sounds that were 'flat'. The enhancer in the JOEMEEK Studio Channel (in common with the other JOEMEEK enhancer) works by picking off the higher frequency part of the sound, compressing and dynamically altering it, filtering off the original sound and remixing the resulting harmonics back with the signal. It adds high frequency sparkle, making singing voices sound more present and exciting without some of the other hissy effects you get from simply turning up the HF equalizer. It is the supreme 'suck-it-and-see' device. Used properly it can create beautiful sounds. Overused it can be horrible.

USING THE ENHANCER.
Once a signal is going through the Studio Channel, press the 'ENHANCE' push-button (which changes the 'en' LED from green to red), turn up the 'DRIVE' control until the Enhance LED just starts to change color or brighten on peak sounds. Turn up the ENHANCE control until the sharpening of the sound is obvious, then adjust the 'Q' control and the 'DRIVE' control to get the required effect. Like the Compress control, the ENHANCE control just adds the enhancement so if it is turned to minimum there is no effect. Once the effect is audible, experiment with the three controls to set the desired sound, the controls are very much interdependent and musically related. 'DRIVE' affects the depth and 'tone' of the enhancement. RESONANCE or 'Q' affects the length of the high frequency harmonic after the syllable that created it. CAUTION. If in any doubt at all, leave enhancement till the mixdown; its easy to put on but impossible to take off!

NOISE IN THE ENHANCER.
Under many normal conditions of use, the enhancer has the effect of amplifying selected narrow frequency bands in the upper mid range. The danger is always to overuse the enhancer This has the effect that any noise sounds particularly 'scratchy'. The problem is that the existence of these frequencies is common in quality recording. The effect can be reduced to almost nothing with careful use of the drive and enhance controls; but it does take practice.

The Enhancer section of the VC1Q is also a De-Esser. A de-esser is used to remove sibilance from vocals.


THE EQ

The EQ section is one complete channel from the VC5 "Meekqualizer"

TREBLE CONTROL Approx 18dB lift and cut at the shelving frequency of 8KHz. (fixed)

MID CONTROLS Approx 16dB lift and cut at 600Hz to 3.5KHz sweep variable. 'Q' value of the mid frequencies varies (increases) with frequency. 'Q' at 600Hz approx 1.2  at 3.5KHz approx 2.5.

BASS CONTROL Approx 18dB lift and cut at the shelving frequency of 100Hz. (fixed).

In/out switch (bypass) with indicator

Unique sound, totally unlike any digitally modeled plugin or analog project studio console EQ on the market.

INPUTS. The Studio Channel is optimized for the three main types of inputs found in recording studios. XLR microphone inputs are on the front and rear of the unit. On the rear of the unit, the line input is balanced. On the front of the unit there is an unbalanced 'instrument' input.

FILTER.
A high pass filter push button removes extreme rumble frequencies if required.

PHASE REVERSE. Reverses signal phase

VU METER
The LARGE illuminated meter is switchable between reading audio input, and gain reduction (compression)

THE COMPRESSOR COMPRESSION CONTROL EXPLANATIONS.
'COMPRESSION'
adds gain to the compression sidechain and so increases compression.
'RATIO'
sets the ratio of compression, 5 position switch as used in the SC2.2 Stereo Compressor
'ATTACK'
sets the time that the compressor takes to act.
'RELEASE'
sets the time during which the path gain returns to normal after compression. Generally, the longer the time, the less obvious the compression.

BALANCED OUTPUT The line level output from the studio channel is electronically balanced on both XLR and 1/4" outputs with a discrete "floating" circuit. The circuit performs like an audio transformer.
POWER.
The VC1QCS is mains powered dual voltage and is fitted with a ground lift switch on the rear panel.


THE TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION.

MICROPHONE INPUT: XLR input 3kohm approx. to suit 200 ohm microphones. Current Sense Impedance matching. Switchable 48V phantom. Input level from-70dB to 0dB.

LINE INPUTS: 10K I/O impedance floating balanced. Instrument input 150K impedance unbalanced. Mix input 10K impedance unbalanced.

OVERLOAD MARGIN: 30dB on mic and line inputs in normal operation.

GAIN: Line in -6dB to 24dB
          Instrument in 0dB to 35dB
          Mic in 15dB to 70dB
          Insert gain 0dB
          Mix in gain 0dB

NOISE: Line in 80dB below operating level
            Mic in 125.5dB below input at 50dB gain 20Hz to 20khz.

HARMONIC
DISTORTION: Generally within 0.02% rising to approx. 0.14% at 4dB above nominal output level. 2nd harmonic predominant.

AMPLITUDE
FREQUENCY
RESPONSE: Line in 6Hz to 20khz within 0.5dB
                    Mic in 8Hz to 20khz within 1dB
                    High pass filter 3dB down at 25Hz, 12dB per octave.

FILTER: High pass filter switch. Operates at 25Hz at 12dB per octave.

OUTPUTS: High level balanced 50 ohm + 4dBu for 0VU (variable)
                  Max. Output approx. + 26dBu XLR Low level TRANSFORMER balanced 200 ohm -20dBu Insert, Tip and Ring jack socket. 400 ohm -10dBu output  22K ohm input.

COMPRESSOR: Photoresistive servo operated
                         Ratio minimum approx. 1.5 to 1
                         Ratio maximum approx. 8 to 1 variable.
                         Attack time 1mS min. 7mS max. (variable).
                         Release time 200mS min 3.5S max. (variable).

ENHANCER Performance details not released.
POWER 3.4 Watts. IEC socket for power cable.
HOUSING 2U rack mounting totally enclosed aluminum case.