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Automated Processes Inc. 550A and 550B?
Old 8th November 2006
  #1
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๐ŸŽง 15 years
Automated Processes Inc. 550A and 550B?

i don't know much about the history of api, but from what i can gather the 550A was out of production for quite a few years and recently (?) re-issued. the api website states that the 550As in production now are exactly the same as the 550As of yesteryear. if i understand correctly, the 550B is a re-issue as well, but they added an extra band to its design. when the 550B was created i don't know.

this is what is interesting to me: the 550A, which is a 3-band equalizer, is $500 USD more expensive than the 550B, which is a 4-band equalizer.

so what is this 'mojo' that the 550A has that makes it more pricey? is it the parts and construction costs (rarer components, etc..)? or is it just marketing; because the 550A is more famous (i guess) they just charge more?

it would be enlightening if someone who knows what they are talking about could fill me in and give me the 'lowdown' on these two api equalizers. if you were to pick only one to fill a lunchbox with which would it be? do they shine differently on different applications, and overall, how do they SOUND?


thanks a lot!
J.D.
Old 8th November 2006
  #2
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๐ŸŽง 15 years
The answer to your question is probably easily addressed with the search function, although failing that, you might find this helpful:

http://groups.google.com/group/rec.a...56035ee6018502

-dave
Old 8th November 2006 | Show parent
  #3
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๐ŸŽง 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dave-G โžก๏ธ

thanks dave for the link! i have never browsed through Google Groups before.


cheers
J.D.
Old 8th November 2006 | Show parent
  #4
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max cooper's Avatar
 
๐ŸŽง 15 years
Yeah, that's a great read. Did more info ever show up or are we still waiting?

Old 8th November 2006 | Show parent
  #5
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๐ŸŽง 15 years
I have read that before somewhere else. Anyway, essentially the "B" is a 4-band "A". And some will say, well, why buy a 3-band when I can have a 4-band? However, there are engineers that want that "magical" original 550A thing, much as there are people that will want a Neve® 1073, whether reissue or original. Even though a Neve® 1084 or 31102 module might actually be as-good or better than the 1073, people just have to have those four numbers; 1073.

I have heard original vintage API 550A and I have to say they do seem to have something special.

The main reason the new 550A costs more is that it is hand-made in small batches. It's more of a custom-order boutique thing.
Old 8th November 2006 | Show parent
  #6
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๐ŸŽง 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by GearHunter โžก๏ธ
essentially the "B" is a 4-band "A". And some will say, well, why buy a 3-band when I can have a 4-band? However, there are engineers that want that "magical" original 550A thing, much as there are people that will want a Neveยฎ 1073, whether reissue or original.
i don't care what's legendary or popular; i just want what sounds the best!! IYO does the 550B sound just as good as the 550A??

Quote:
Originally Posted by GearHunter โžก๏ธ
I have heard original vintage API 550A and I have to say they do seem to have something special.
..something special that the 550B (or the re-issued 550A) does not have?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GearHunter โžก๏ธ
The main reason the new 550A costs more is that it is hand-made in small batches. It's more of a custom-order boutique thing.
are the 550Bs/560s not hand-made? and why is it a "custom-order boutique thing"? are they not stellar enough to drive up decent demand or are people just reluctant to pay $1500 for a single channel 500-series equalizer?

thx
J.D.

Last edited by jdjustice; 8th November 2006 at 07:39 PM.. Reason: correction
Old 8th November 2006 | Show parent
  #7
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๐ŸŽง 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdjustice โžก๏ธ


are the 550Bs/560s not hand-made? and why is it a "custom-order boutique thing"? are they not stellar enough to drive up decent demand or are people just reluctant to pay $1500 for a single channel 500-series equalizer?
yah, I spoke to Mark Semans at API about this. He said that he would personally choose the "B" for it's added functionality.

He also said the higher price of the "A" has a lot to do with making it to precise orig. specs, which the "B" is not subject to.

As far as people preferring the vintage ones, I think there's sometimes a design difference and sometimes the old one just needs to be recapped, but that can translate to less dynamic range (aka compression, which lots of us like!) and rolled off high end (warmth... we like too!) but I personally like fresh gear; I want it to sound how it would have sounded new.
Old 8th November 2006 | Show parent
  #8
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๐ŸŽง 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by max cooper โžก๏ธ
yah, I spoke to Mark Semans at API about this. He said that he would personally choose the "B" for it's added functionality.

He also said the higher price of the "A" has a lot to do with making it to precise orig. specs, which the "B" is not subject to.

thank you max this is invaluable information. i have been wondering what gives on the price difference there for a while now. thumbsup


J.D.
Old 8th November 2006 | Show parent
  #9
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API Sez...'s Avatar
 
๐ŸŽง 15 years
550a - 550b

J.D.
While differences in the two EQ's from a performance standpoint are both functional and engineering - they have been addressed here by a good number of 'slutz members.

In answer to your price difference complaint, however, the answer is much easier. Yes, the 550a has 3 switches and the 550b has 4. Based on that fact the price should be lower, right? Alas, not so. The 550a uses a custom multi-deck switch where the parts - resistors and capacitors - are hand wired onto the switch along with the connecting wiring. The 550a switch costs us just a shade under $100.00 each, BEFORE we have to solder on all the parts and wires. The 550b switch costs us just under $40.00 per switch and mounts directly to holes in the circuit board along with all those other resistors and capacitors.

So, .... the reason there is a cost difference to the user is because there is a significant cost difference to API.

The original 550a's were made in the late 1960's. When we decided to re-issue them we went back to the original schematics and original parts manufacturers in order to most accurately replicate the design and ultimately, the sound of the early 550a EQ's.

Attached are a couple of pics of the 550a switch and the 550b switch so you can see for yourself.

Thenks for your inquiry, however, and hopefully it helps others who read these threads to understand what we as manufacturere are up against.

Best Regards.
Attached Thumbnails
Automated Processes Inc. 550A and 550B?-550a-b.jpg  
Old 8th November 2006 | Show parent
  #10
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๐ŸŽง 15 years
So there you have it...more expensive to make.

What I'd probably do if given any choice, is get a new 550B, and one day find me a nice old 550A--they go for about $1200, which is actually less than a reissue.

But not an A-1!
Old 8th November 2006 | Show parent
  #11
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๐ŸŽง 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by API Sez... โžก๏ธ
In answer to your price difference complaint, however, the answer is much easier. Yes, the 550a has 3 switches and the 550b has 4. Based on that fact the price should be lower, right? Alas, not so. The 550a uses a custom multi-deck switch where the parts - resistors and capacitors - are hand wired onto the switch along with the connecting wiring. The 550a switch costs us just a shade under $100.00 each, BEFORE we have to solder on all the parts and wires. The 550b switch costs us just under $40.00 per switch and mounts directly to holes in the circuit board along with all those other resistors and capacitors.

So, .... the reason there is a cost difference to the user is because there is a significant cost difference to API.

The original 550a's were made in the late 1960's. When we decided to re-issue them we went back to the original schematics and original parts manufacturers in order to most accurately replicate the design and ultimately, the sound of the early 550a EQ's.
just to be clear, i have no price difference complaint. i honestly believe that API is a stellar company that has over the years made amazing stuff and continues to do so. also i don't really believe that API would price gouge customers. if i made it sound like that's what i was suggesting you guys were doing then i communicated poorly and wish to apologize.

but your post and the accompanying pictures have helped elucidate the differences, and i thank you for taking the time to post here. i was actually taken aback when i saw that someone from API responded to my post; i didn't know you guys lurked around here, kudos for that!!

the reason i asked this question in the first place is because i am thinking of investing in a 10-slot rackmount chassis stock-full of API swag. in the process of doing research i became confused as to which of the two parametric EQs was for me (i know that the graphic EQ, the 560, is for me).... so i needed a little insight and you guys have helped provide that!!


anyway thanks again!
~J.D.
Old 8th November 2006 | Show parent
  #12
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๐ŸŽง 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by GearHunter โžก๏ธ
What I'd probably do if given any choice, is get a new 550B, and one day find me a nice old 550A--they go for about $1200, which is actually less than a reissue.

But not an A-1!

i think that will be my strategy, and FWIW i have been warned about the A-1. thanks Drew!!


J.D.
Old 8th November 2006 | Show parent
  #13
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u b k's Avatar
 
๐ŸŽง 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdjustice โžก๏ธ
IYO does the 550B sound just as good as the 550A??

no, not imo.

i'm an eq minimalist, but eq is critical to how i get my balances fine-tuned. i tend to use small cuts to the low mid and treble to get things to blend, and a small mid cut or boost to then get those things separated forward or back as needed.

the 550a is my favorite eq by far for the way i work, 3 bands in all the right places, 2db goes a long way, and the thing is just so damn musical. the 550b is roughly as effective, but not quite as musical to my ears. shades of subtle things here, but real nonetheless. but i would not, under any circumstances, kick a 550b out of bed, and would be happy to have them as my only eq's for the rest of my life.

as a caveat, my only experience with both these units is in api consoles.


gregoire
del
ubk
.
Old 8th November 2006 | Show parent
  #14
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๐ŸŽง 15 years
API 5500 Ships in two weeks for $2500 USD!!!

this is OT, but:



aren't those f*kkers beautiful?
Old 9th November 2006 | Show parent
  #15
Lek
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๐ŸŽง 15 years
I just tried all three eq's - 550b, 550a, and 560 - love them all.

interestingly, the 2 550b's knobs turn more smoothly than the 550a (especially the turqoise frequency knobs). I had to send my 550a back for another as the top knob 'crunched' through instead of clicked from one setting to another. The new one I got is better, but still not as smooth as the 550b's - well, even if those different switches are causing this, I like the fact that everything is replicated exactly to the old ones.

Sonicaly, I agree with the post that said the 550a is more musical, though the 550b is great and sometimes I love having the four bands. I need all of them- the 550a, b and the 560!
Old 9th November 2006 | Show parent
  #16
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Ghost Logic's Avatar
 
๐ŸŽง 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by API Sez... โžก๏ธ
J.D.
While differences in the two EQ's from a performance standpoint are both functional and engineering - they have been addressed here by a good number of 'slutz members.

In answer to your price difference complaint, however, the answer is much easier. Yes, the 550a has 3 switches and the 550b has 4. Based on that fact the price should be lower, right? Alas, not so. The 550a uses a custom multi-deck switch where the parts - resistors and capacitors - are hand wired onto the switch along with the connecting wiring. The 550a switch costs us just a shade under $100.00 each, BEFORE we have to solder on all the parts and wires. The 550b switch costs us just under $40.00 per switch and mounts directly to holes in the circuit board along with all those other resistors and capacitors.

So, .... the reason there is a cost difference to the user is because there is a significant cost difference to API.

The original 550a's were made in the late 1960's. When we decided to re-issue them we went back to the original schematics and original parts manufacturers in order to most accurately replicate the design and ultimately, the sound of the early 550a EQ's.

Attached are a couple of pics of the 550a switch and the 550b switch so you can see for yourself.

Thenks for your inquiry, however, and hopefully it helps others who read these threads to understand what we as manufacturere are up against.

Best Regards.
Which switches does the API 7600 use?
Old 9th November 2006 | Show parent
  #17
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Drumsound's Avatar
 
๐ŸŽง 15 years
Is the width of the mid band/bands different from the A and B? Is the B narrower because there are 2 mid bands?
Old 9th November 2006 | Show parent
  #18
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Surfkat's Avatar
 
๐ŸŽง 15 years
I have a pair of 550B's and a single vintage 550A. They all have the API mojo to my ears, although there are times I wish I could boost/cut 1 dB istead of 2. The biggest differences for me is the overlapping bands available in the 550B. I find it easy to do more subtle things with the 550B by using overlapping bands. The 550A is a tad more agressive too, great for putting something "in your face" like a snare or lead guitar.

get a pair of 550B's in your new rack and start looking for a used vintage 550A on eBay or here on GS (where i found all of my API 550s). You can't go wrong with either and a true gearslut lusts after both.
Old 9th November 2006 | Show parent
  #19
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API Sez...'s Avatar
 
๐ŸŽง 15 years
Switches

Which switches does the API 7600 use?

Ghost,
The 7600 uses the pc mount enclosed switch beacuse;
1. The 550a was not in production when the 7600 was designed so we did not have access to that switch.
2. The 7600 would probably cost double what it does, because the pc board would have to be split to accommodate the large decked switches sitting in the middle of the front panel.
3. The 7600 was our first 'toe in the water' product that used the 550a EQ circuit to see if we could broaden the appeal for the original 3 band EQ idea. The positive result we received from users of the 7600 was instrumental in going ahead with the engineering involved with the re-issue of the original 550a.

Now....before we hear from the pickers of nits...... the 550a EQ in the 7600 and the 550a in a 500 module are the same circuit start to finish, it's just that in the 7600 the parts that are physically soldered connected to the decked switch are on the pc board.

Thanks to you all for your comments and discussions - we do appreciate your posts - both positive and negative.

As Fletcher says... "We're not happy until" ... wait....that's not what we say.

Best Regards.
Old 9th November 2006 | Show parent
  #20
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๐ŸŽง 15 years
I have to say that to my ears, the 550b sounds CLEANER than the 550a (and Paul Wolff confirmed that to me)

it's not a HUGE diff, but that's what I hear.

and that little bit of edge (which is distortion, really) gives the 550a (or 550) its sound.

but I really have no preference in terms of which to use, either is great for me, except that once in a while I NEED that fourth band, so the b's are invaluable on drums, specifically.


but more importantly- REMEMBER - the NEXT time someone tells you that their Equaliser "features" continuously variable frequency select and amplitude parameters as a "feature" for YOU... that REALLY it's that those $2 pots are a lot cheaper than those $100 switches API uses.
Old 9th November 2006 | Show parent
  #21
C/G
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๐ŸŽง 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by max cooper โžก๏ธ
I want it to sound how it would have sounded new.
Exactly. That is why I get very suspect when folks bash a completely reverse engineered reissue to an original. New back then probably sounds like new today.

Regardless, this thread has some great info in it as I have wanted a pair of the 550b EQ's for some time now and some of the questions I had between the different API EQ's have been answered.
Old 10th November 2006 | Show parent
  #22
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Tone Laborer's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
๐ŸŽง 15 years
That 550a switch looks like a fun one to solder up.
Old 10th November 2006 | Show parent
  #23
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Steamy Williams's Avatar
 
๐ŸŽง 15 years
I got my pair of 550A reissues brand new for the same price as the 550B's, so the decision was easy. That was a one off special offer though.
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