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Focusrite Red 3 & 230: Anyone shed a light?
Old 18th June 2005
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Focusrite Red 3 & 230: Anyone shed a light?

I've been sifting through a few old threads on the Focusrite comps. So far this is what I found:

Focusrite RED 3 - old version has both input and output transformers; new version only has them on the outputs.

Focusrite BLUE 230 - same as old RED 3, with stepped controls.

Now, when did the old RED 3 become the new RED 3? From S/N ???? Or how else can you tell them apart (besides taking the top off).

Has the BLUE 230 always been exactly the same unit? Since it was more intended for broadcasting apps, does it have other features than the old RED 3 besides the stepped controls?

Doesn't Focusrite offer an upgrade for the RED 3 to have transformers on ins and outs?

DC
Old 18th June 2005
  #2
Lives for gear
 
dave-G's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Having had both (currently the 230), all I can say is that it was very familiar compared to my memory of my early 90's Red 3.

I would be surprised if they actually changed the circuit board when they stopped including the transformers, in which case you could theoretically install the transformers into a newer Red 3, right where they would have been ...

Tony Marra of Thermal Relief (the US repair facility) seems to post here (as 'tmarra')... Perhaps he can answer the question more accurately...

-dave
Old 18th June 2005 | Show parent
  #3
Lives for gear
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dave-G
......I would be surprised if they actually changed the circuit board when they stopped including the transformers, in which case you could theoretically install the transformers into a newer Red 3, right where they would have been ...
I considered doing that. The PCB's seem to have space for the missing transformers. Also, on the pcb it sais: Focusrite RED 3/ blue 230 so thei're using one pcb for both the BLUE and the RED range compressors.
I called the Dutch distributor about the transformers and he was willing to sell them to me for +/- 450 euro for 2 input and 2 output trannies.
I did not do this mod (too expensive for me)...

When I looked at my RED (the inside that is) I did not see any transformers on the outputs.......
Old 19th June 2005 | Show parent
  #4
Gear Addict
 
tmarra's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Well since you mentioned my name...

I get at least one call a week about this topic. It seems the internet has definitly kept the rumor alive that the old Red 3 with transformers sounds better than the new Red 3 without the transformers. Focusrite's stance on this is that the transformers were replaced because the electroniclly balanced input stage sounds better than the transformer input. With that said, let me state the facts that I know:

The Red 3 has gone through 5 or more revisions since it was originally built. I don't have the serial number ranges and Focusrite UK records are a little sketchy regarding the serial number ranges also.

As you guys have already indicated, the early ones had rotary switches and banks of resistors instead of pots for some of the functions. And of course they also had the input transformers everyone desires. What they also had that no one seems to metion is a Unshielded Mains transformer, and different power supply for the VCA that caused more heat and went out more frequently that the new one. You also will find these lack the +14dB switch for the meters. I addition you may find many of the early ones had the "old style" knobs which have a small dot or "dimple" on them for an indicator. And finnaly you could not "unlink" the compressor from the limiter like you can with the current units. In other words, on the new units you can use just a compressor or just a limiter or both.

The current revision of them removed the rotary switches and installed pots although the footprint on the PCB was left for the rotary switches and resistors since this is the same exact PCB that is used for the Blue 230. At this time they also removed the input transformers and substituted their balanced input stage. But for improvements they encased the Mains transformer in Mu Metal, changed the PSU for the VCA, installed a +14dB switch for the meters, and also put a -6/0 dB internal operating level switch on the back. (Which I might point out most people set in the wrong position - it should be set for -6 for professional levels (+4) in and out)

Now in my opinion (not Focusrite's), the current Red 3 is a vastly superior product over the early units. And while the input transformers are desired for their sonic qualities, I and anyone else I have ever installed them for (about 5 units over the last 9 years I've been working for Focusrite) have never heard a difference. I personally contacted every customer who said they really couldn't hear a difference, but felt better knowing they were there.

With all that said, if you want the transformers, they still can be retro-fitted but it is quite costly due to the amount of components that have to be removed from the PCB's in order to install the transformers. I think we are charging around $550 (roughly $300 for the transformers and $250 labor) to install them in a Red 3.

Now after finnaly seeing my first real Blue 230 this week (not very popular here in the States) I can tell you it is a Red 3 WITH factory installed input transformers and rotary switches, but it did lack the -6/0 switch and illumination for the VU meters. (It was was a better meter though)

Well that's all the facts - you guys can develop your own opinions.
Tony
Old 19th June 2005 | Show parent
  #5
Lives for gear
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Thanks Tony!
Old 19th June 2005 | Show parent
  #6
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tmarra
Well that's all the facts - you guys can develop your own opinions.
Tony

Hi Tony.

I was probably the person that started the rumor. heh

And to me it is no rumor.

They do sound different.

I have a 230 and had a Red 3 without the transformers and the difference is very noticeable.

But as you say to each his own.
Old 20th June 2005 | Show parent
  #7
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dave-G's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tmarra
Now after finnaly seeing my first real Blue 230 this week (not very popular here in the States) I can tell you it is a Red 3 WITH factory installed input transformers and rotary switches, but it did lack the -6/0 switch and illumination for the VU meters. (It was was a better meter though)
Hey! That's my 230 you're working on, Tony!! Hope all is well! thumbsup

Thanks for the post

-dave
Old 22nd June 2005 | Show parent
  #8
Here for the gear
 
🎧 15 years
I had Tony do the modification to my "new" Red 3. I spent a few months with it in the stock state before I decided to have the transformers put in, so I did have a good base of experience with it before.

When I got it back, I wasn't sure that the difference was huge, but thankfully I had run some tracks through the Red 3 (stereo bus app.) via my Apogee PSX-100 at 48KHz. When I repeated this test with the new transformers in place, I definitely noticed a bit of a difference, though somewhat slight. There seemed to be more of a "sheen" on the tracks. Don't know exactly how to describe it other than that. Slightly smoother (but not attentuated or smeared) high end, perhaps? I did prefer the transformers. It was $550 or so to do it, plus shipping.

Was it worth it? For me, yes. I like the Red 3, transformers or not, and I feel that this gave the compressor a bit of a more unique vibe. I had the money and was interested in hearing the difference, knowing fairly certainly that I wasn't going to hate the end result. If you are looking for a night and day difference, you won't find it by doing this mod. If you don't like the Red 3 as it is now, you probably won't be that much more enamoured with it in the modified state. I certainly like mine now, though.

By the way, Tony was very helpful and prompt. I would definitely do business with him again.

Ian
www.emaginaryrecords.com
Old 22nd June 2005 | Show parent
  #9
Lives for gear
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Do all Red3's (old & new) have output transformers?
Old 23rd June 2005 | Show parent
  #10
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Radiance
Do all Red3's (old & new) have output transformers?
Yes.
Old 23rd June 2005 | Show parent
  #11
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
the only time i ever played with a red 3 was mixing a singer who brought his own and insisted i use it on his main vocal. when he was out, i also patched it across the drum buss and the mix buss to see what it was made of.

i remember thinking 'what an odd, grey sheen on top of everything', like a silver fur coating. i wasn't sure if i liked it, but i definitely didn't hate it. it tamed the vocals really well too, although it seemed to be doing more GR than the meters indicated. very thick compression if memory serves.

in addition to rambling , i have a point: i was setting up a plug-in comp at an acquaintance's place, teaching him the basics of compression, and he had the sonalksis compressor. the first thing i thought when we stuck it on his vocal was 'this sounds like that red 3.'

i wonder if they modeled it.


gregoire
del ubik
Old 23rd June 2005 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by u b i k
the only time i ever played with a red 3 was mixing a singer who brought his own and insisted i use it on his main vocal. when he was out, i also patched it across the drum buss and the mix buss to see what it was made of.

i remember thinking 'what an odd, grey sheen on top of everything', like a silver fur coating. i wasn't sure if i liked it, but i definitely didn't hate it. it tamed the vocals really well too, although it seemed to be doing more GR than the meters indicated. very thick compression if memory serves.

in addition to rambling , i have a point: i was setting up a plug-in comp at an acquaintance's place, teaching him the basics of compression, and he had the sonalksis compressor. the first thing i thought when we stuck it on his vocal was 'this sounds like that red 3.'

i wonder if they modeled it.


gregoire
del ubik

The secret to using the Blue 230 or Red 3 on the mixbuss is that you have to hit it very lightly.

Highest threshold,1:5:-1 ratio, medium-slow to slow attack and a slow release.

As TLA would say "kiss it lightly".


Its a very mid foward compressor and when done right it will make your vocals in the mix jump through the roof.
Old 1st November 2007 | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Bigbang's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I have just bought a newer version of the Red 3 and I would like to install the input transformers.
I would like to let my technician do the modifications here in the Netherlands, instead of shipping the unit back and forth to the USA.
But for that I will need the part number of the used input transformers to order them from Focusrite.

Can someone shed a light on these part numbers?

Any help is much appreciated!
Old 8th June 2010 | Show parent
  #14
Gear Nut
 
🎧 15 years
SO Big Bang,


Did you succeed in modding the red 3?

Greets from another dutch slut
πŸ“ Reply

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