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Maselec MLA3 vs. TubeTech SMC 2B
Old 16th September 2012
  #1
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Giuseppe Zaccaria's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Maselec MLA3 vs. TubeTech SMC 2B

Hi there..slutz..
Been away for a while..but suddently i got back..
What i need is a multiband..for mastering of course..
Would you tell me your impressions and opinions on these two lads?
What you'd pick up and why..
Whats the different between them (sonically speaking)?
Appreciated..bye
Old 16th September 2012
  #2
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Rick Sutton's Avatar
 
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🎧 15 years
I have the SMC2-B and honestly I don't care for it when it comes to mastering. I use it during mixdown on occasion and there I find it useful. For me the TC M5000 is the multi-band that is the most useful for mastering. I have no experience with the Maselec.
Old 17th September 2012
  #3
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Ben F's Avatar
 
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Maselec, original version. Sounds better than the silver flat knob version...tried both.
Old 17th September 2012
  #4
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i had the tubetech & change to the maselec.
the tubetech is a nice sounding unit with the typical sweet & soft tubetech sound. great to give live into harsh sounding mixes, nice for lifting the highs & often good to control the energy of the lows.
the maselec is much more stright line, very easy to reset, nice for a invisible treatment. very nice shaping of the lows, superfast (if desired) in the hight (a great de-esser), good for fixing the tonal balance.
you can use the maselec on all kind of material, the tubetech fit not allways
Old 17th September 2012
  #5
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TanTan's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I'm using the MLA-3 and I think it's a must have in a mastering house, it allows you to dive very deep into a mix dynamics and "improve" it. I've never used the Tubetech but honestly I don't think an Opto multiband compressor can (theoretically) be anywhere as good as a VCA one, it can be cool for compressing the bass band but the faster frequencies like the mids and especially the De-Esser isn't really fast enough in my opinion.. the Maselec is an amazing unit.
Old 17th September 2012 | Show parent
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben F ➑️
Maselec, original version. Sounds better than the silver flat knob version...tried both.
There's only one version of the MLA-3 and that has the newer knobs.
Old 17th September 2012
  #7
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There is an older version with older knobs, if I remember the attack times in the low are not all the same.

2R
Old 17th September 2012
  #8
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Are you sure you are not mixing up the MLA-2 and MLA-3? I've used some of the first pre-production MLA-3 here in the U.S. and they all have the newer knob style. I do some work for the U.S. distributor.
Old 17th September 2012
  #9
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I also have the newer one and I've never put my hands on the older version, but I've made a quick search and I found this link, you can see both versions ...

Maselec - MLA-3

2R
Old 17th September 2012
  #10
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Paul Gold's Avatar
 
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Mine has the older knobs and the faceplate is a little different. The LED's aren't recessed. It was an ex demo unit.
Old 17th September 2012
  #11
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Always learning, thanks guys. I've never seen one of those.
Old 17th September 2012 | Show parent
  #12
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John Moran's Avatar
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Gold ➑️
Mine has the older knobs and the faceplate is a little different. The LED's aren't recessed. It was an ex demo unit.
same as mine, except this one wasn't a demo.

I love it , very useful and powerful tool.
Old 18th September 2012
  #13
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Ben F's Avatar
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Gold ➑️
Mine has the older knobs and the faceplate is a little different. The LED's aren't recessed. It was an ex demo unit.
That's the original. We had the demo unit and ordered a new one, listened to it and then insisted on the demo unit. The newer model appeared to have a slight flattening effect on the sound and smaller stereo image compared to the original demo unit.

I didn't lift the lid to compare but according to Maselec the newer model is an improved circuit, and should sound identical.
Old 18th September 2012
  #14
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I have one of the original models and can confirm what Ben is saying.

It is a similar thing with the MPL-2. The new models sound flat and dull when compared to the original.

According to the rep who chased it up with Leif the maker, the new PCB boards are more temperature stable and have a different layout. He said that they should sound identical but this is most definitely not the case as new ones have the same flattening/dulling of transient effect.
Its not a subtle difference between units either.
Old 18th September 2012
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I'm lucky enough to get to speak with Leif on a weekly basis and we often talk at length about electronic design, it's a hobby and fascination of mine. Given Leif's design goals and my experience of the older EQs and compressors do you think that it's possible that you are missing something that was added by the old designs? They were definitely more colored compared to the current cleaner designs.

I use the current version of the MDS-2, MEA-2 and MLA-2 daily and I don't hear the flattening effect you are describing.

Cheers,
Ruairi
Old 18th September 2012
  #16
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interesting thread,

i had an MLA-3 (with silver knobs) on test a year ago and didn't kept it because i didn't liked the sound of it that i found flattening in the highs and with a narrow stereo image.
i enjoyed the controls but not enough to compensate the sonic side.

if it would have sounded more transparent or at least more stable in the stereo i'd have probably kept the unit.
i used an original MLA-2 a while ago that i found had the same sonic impart.

OTOH i tested and bougth an MPL-2 6 month ago wich i found more transparent than the 2 others.
this one was not supposed to have changed in the maselec line, but maybe it had ?
Old 18th September 2012
  #17
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Ben F's Avatar
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruairi ➑️
I'm lucky enough to get to speak with Leif on a weekly basis and we often talk at length about electronic design, it's a hobby and fascination of mine. Given Leif's design goals and my experience of the older EQs and compressors do you think that it's possible that you are missing something that was added by the old designs? They were definitely more colored compared to the current cleaner designs.

Cheers,
Ruairi
Hi Ruairi,

No, used to have a version 6 MEA-2 and really wanted to like it but you could hear it softening the transients even in bypass! Maybe you could ask Leif? I have the old and new version MLA-3 at 301 (which I really like) and you can hear the difference when inserted into the chain quite easily. Maybe it's a different run of Op-amps or something? From what the distributor said I doubt that it is an issue that concerns them, probably only certain customers that would notice...Or could be a certain run that is affected.

Three people on this thread have noticed it would be good to clarify.
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #18
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Ben,

I'll ask Leif what exactly changed, what serial number is yours?

Naturally I get to talk with and listen with lots of Maselec users and if I had to sum up a concensus it's that the newer revisions sound much cleaner than the old. I've had clients who rejected the old EQ in the past purchase the new one for example.

I know that Leif's design goal is less distortion and coloration, he is always moving in that direction. Of course not everyone wants clean all of the time.
Old 18th September 2012
  #19
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Hi Ben,

I just had a call with Leif and he listed the changes between the "older" version of the MLA-3 and the current version.

- The knobs.
- The Front panel thickness and screening.
- The attack time on the low band (and when set the same the old and new will react identically).

I double checked with him and there were no other changes to design or component choices. I've no idea what might account for your preference except perhaps a fault in one or other unit?

Going back to your comment on the softening of the version 6 MEA-2 in bypass I cannot see how that can be the case, it's a full relay bypass. I've used one as my primary eq for years now and don't hear this behavior. Depending on the order of your chain and buffering there may have been loading issues on another piece of gear?
Old 19th September 2012 | Show parent
  #20
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Ben F's Avatar
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruairi ➑️
Hi Ben,

I just had a call with Leif and he listed the changes between the "older" version of the MLA-3 and the current version.

- The knobs.
- The Front panel thickness and screening.
- The attack time on the low band (and when set the same the old and new will react identically).

I double checked with him and there were no other changes to design or component choices. I've no idea what might account for your preference except perhaps a fault in one or other unit?

Going back to your comment on the softening of the version 6 MEA-2 in bypass I cannot see how that can be the case, it's a full relay bypass. I've used one as my primary eq for years now and don't hear this behavior. Depending on the order of your chain and buffering there may have been loading issues on another piece of gear?
Thanks for the clarification with Leif. I could go further but I won't, it's obviously not in the manufactures interest to elaborate. Definitely not an equipment fault or 'user error', being somewhat technical like yourself, I like to rule that out. Polybonk had the same issue with the MPL-2 in front of the Prism rep. Others can decide for themselves

Interesting that you don't notice the MEA-2 version 6 being in bypass, as it was quite obvious to me and many others that have used it. Goes to show every ones idea of 'transparent' varies. My understanding is the audio is still passed through the filter boards in bypass. This was addressed in version 7:

Prism Sound News: Prism Sound unveils new look Maselec Master Series EQ And Compressor

"The new MEA-2 features faster amplifiers with wider bandwidth and improved low frequency EQ filters. The individual EQ sections are now completely switched off when the gain controls are set to 0dB and the unit goes into full bypass when the power is switched off. These developments have significantly improved the unit's specifications by providing lower noise and wider dynamic range, while the new output amplifiers have improved high frequency performance."
Old 19th September 2012
  #21
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polybonk's Avatar
 
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There must be a inconsistency somewhere. Its not a subtle sound difference. Very obvious difference in sonic quality between a new and older MPL-2. The difference was plain as day to the rep when he was here.
Old 19th September 2012 | Show parent
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by polybonk ➑️
Very obvious difference in sonic quality between a new and older MPL-2. The difference was plain as day to the rep when he was here.
I had an older MDS2 and got new ones a couple of years ago. The new ones sound different. I like them better. I think Ruari was talking about the guts vs. the face plates of the MLA3.
Old 19th September 2012
  #23
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Paul is right, I was just speaking about the MLA-3 versions.

I spoke with Leif about the bypass and in version 7 it does indeed relay bypass the filter section entirely, the input and output buffers are still in line. Mine is a version 7 and I happily leave it in line even if I'm using EQ, it's very transparent. I've heard several version 6 and never noticed the issue Ben mentions.
Old 20th September 2012
  #24
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Yes I know. What I am saying is the general complaint people have about maselec when they do complain is along the lines of.

Makes the sound flatter, dulls the transients.

This complaint occurs with
MEA-2
MLA-3
MPL-2

I have heard it most recently on the MPL-2 my self.

I have heard the MEA-2 unit that Ben was talking about. That did it as well.

I have an MLA-3 that I love and does not change the sound and having heard the flattening phenomenon on other units I believe that there must be something going on. It would also explain why some people love the gear while others complain that it sounds bad.

I was always thinking myself that people must be really picky to say that the MLA-3 makes things sound bad in this way. Because my one sounds great! Then when I had a new MPL-2 and an old one in front of me the penny dropped.

The older unit sounded fantastic and the other one no matter what I did made the track sound slightly worse. That Maselec flattening/dulling "sound" that others had complained about.

So if Ben is hearing a difference between 2 different units of MLA-3, there is some kind of inconsistency in the build somewhere. The interesting thing is when units sound bad, the complaint always seems to be descriptively the same.
Old 20th September 2012
  #25
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Hi Poly,

I would be careful not to equate some opinions on this forum with "the truth" and that is not to ignore some of the posted comments and certainly not to ignore what you heard. We all hear things differently. It's midnight and I'm just home from a long mastering session using all Maselec, I don't hear these issues in my room (good room, good speakers). I can also line up many many pro users who don't hear the Maselec line as dulling the transients and consider it super clean, I get comments like this on an almost daily basis.

I would never proclaim that one piece of gear is right for everyone, we are all sensitive to different things - some love color, some don't, some like a softer sound, some like it hard as diamonds!

One thing that I am certain of is the unit to unit consistency in the Maselec range, through my work I'm constantly listening to new demo pieces and older gear belonging to clients and can reference them all against my own gear which I use daily.

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this one but I'm glad that you are enjoying your MLA-3.

Cheers,
Ruairi
Old 20th September 2012 | Show parent
  #26
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teebaum's Avatar
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruairi ➑️
Hi Poly,

I would be careful not to equate some opinions on this forum with "the truth" and that is not to ignore some of the posted comments and certainly not to ignore what you heard. We all hear things differently. It's midnight and I'm just home from a long mastering session using all Maselec, I don't hear these issues in my room (good room, good speakers). I can also line up many many pro users who don't hear the Maselec line as dulling the transients and consider it super clean, I get comments like this on an almost daily basis.
same here, my new mla-3 ist superclean and didn't dull the signal or kill transient, perfect unit, very good tool.
Old 20th September 2012
  #27
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As always, discussing the sound of an individual tool is rather meaningless, unless it is observated as a part of the complete chain.

This feeding that will sound different than that feeding this, etc.
Old 20th September 2012 | Show parent
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Virtalahde ➑️
As always, discussing the sound of an individual tool is rather meaningless, unless it is observated as a part of the complete chain.

This feeding that will sound different than that feeding this, etc.
In general Jaakko I agree 100% and even pointed it out earlier in the thread that a loading issue somewhere in the chain may have accounted for audible differences. In Ben's defense he says this was not the case.

That said the Maselec range has a consistently high input impedance and all units are comfortably capable of driving 600 ohm loads. You and I discussed on another forum where one piece of gear I was using would not happily drive the EAR 660 compressors but the Maselec EQ did so happily. So I guess I'm saying that compared the most gear the Maselec range is relatively immune to loading issues from high source impedances or low destination impedances. With all that your chain has to work as a whole and as I said above no one brand of gear will be for everybody!

3am, DDP uploading - time for bed.
Old 22nd September 2012
  #29
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Here you go. This is the best I can do considering the music I used to test the 2 MPL-2 units was what I was working on at the time and I don't have client permission to post them publicly.
Sorry for the sloppy line up.
Here is the original unit:

and the new one:

As you can see the main thing that changes level between them is the height of the initial transient on the beat and a little bit more energy at the back. When you hear the files this difference is very audible.

Its not so obvious when you look at them next to one another so I suggest opening them in new tabs and flicking back and forth or download the images.

This proves their are audible differences between two identical models of Maselec gear, which is not supposed to be the case. As an owner of Maselec gear it would be more beneficial to have these differences explained rather than pretend they don't exist.

Now I should put it that I love Maselec gear and own a few pieces my self and am considering the Eq as well. I am just interested in the differences an what they could be. It also explains the wide difference in opinions I have come across when talking to ME's I respect.
Old 22nd September 2012 | Show parent
  #30
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hmiller's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virtalahde ➑️
As always, discussing the sound of an individual tool is rather meaningless, unless it is observated as a part of the complete chain.

This feeding that will sound different than that feeding this, etc.
I don't think this gets mentioned enough. People here will talk about how great a particularly clean EQ is, then you see they also have a compressor in their chain that sounds like a Big Muff with a low battery.......
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