VC5 – Meequalizer Questions

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    I’m now the proud owner of a VC5 Meequalizer. My rack is a nice array of green and red nowadays. VC3, VC5, VC7 and a P8. 8-)

    I have a few questions:

    1) Noise floor: The noise floor is a bit higher than I expected, using the output gain is out of the question. Was this a lower end bit of kit and I’m being unreasonable? I was hoping to use it in my mastering bus to add a bit of colour, but it’s probably a bit noisy for that (I know it was never intended for this). Maybe I just had high expectations or am just used to noise-free EQ plugins. 😳

    2) 50 Hz Hum: It seemed to be picking up PSU hum from the P8 it was sat on top of. Moving it away has helped, but it’s still there no matter where in the studio I put it.

    it’s at the same level as the noise floor, so it’s not “this thing is broken” levels. But certainly high enough I wouldn’t want to boost it’s signal for any reason. I’m even contemplated relocating the AC transformer outside of the unit. Again, could just be me applying modern expectations to an old, low-end bit of kit.

    I did find at least one other person with a similar ailment :

    3) Mid EQ: I understand the principal of the VC3 was to be a simple and no-frills EQ which adds interesting/natural phase shifts to audio. However, I am instantly wishing I could move the mid EQ point around. I have a RE20 I use for vox and it always benefits from a little boost at >4Khz and I’ve love to use the VC3 for this rather than a plug in. Is it technically possible to move the mid EQ point, even if permanently?

    Sorry for all the questions this week. Your help and advice, as always, is greatly appreciated.

    Ted Fletcher

    The VC5 was not a ‘low end’ product at all…. it was made ‘economically’ in that it uses a conventional mains transformer and there is not a lot of screening, so hum can be a problem, as it is with all analogue equipment, but it should not be a problem operationally if the levels are operated right.

    One of the really important factors about the VC5 is that the EQ amplifier section uses discrete transistors in a circuit that is quite similar to some of the early Neve equipment. It works in class A so if you push it hard, the distortions produced are 2nd order, that is, they are pleasant to listen to. These discrete amplifiers have a significantly higher noise floor than IC circuits. The biggest difference with modern gear is the operating level…. the VC5 needs to work at high level; running it at a nominal -10dB it is likely to sound noisy. The red ‘overload’ LED actually comes on at least 8dB below clip so, unlike with digital gear, it’s perfectly OK to let it flash!

    In fact, some of the later versions of the VC5 had a modification to the output stage to reduce the audio output (technically, the mod was removing R39, grounding the junction of R41/R44 and changing R47 and R48 from 33R to 330R). This produced a 6dB reduction in output and the output becomes partially balanced, a technique that works very well.

    For the sake of completeness, a further mod was to change C33 from 4.7uF to 47 or 100uF. this protects against an instability that can occur with very high transient overloads in the audio.

    The VC5 follows my philosophy of the time…. don’t be frightened to ‘push’ the audio levels; if it sounds right, it is right! :D

    Historically, the VC5 was designed at the end of 1996 and was produced at our Newton Abbot factory from March 1997 to about mid 2000. Most went to the USA.


    Thanks for the advice Ted!

    I used it in the session this weekend and ran it nice and hot, sounded much better and didn’t even notice the noise floor 8-)

    As for the EQ. 3.5KHz is close enough, so maybe no need to tweak it to expand the range (although that would be useful).

    Thanks again,


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