If you are like me, your project studio could use a mic pre that will warm up the brittle sound of digital recording. But maybe you find yourself economically challenged; purchasing a Neve or API mic pre will have to wait a while. Maybe your computer-based studio is in need of a single box that does it all: phantom power, equalization, compression – the whole nine yards.
Product PointsApplications: Studio
Key Features: Mic pre; 1/4-inch instrument input; compressor; 3-band EQ section; XLR mic in; phantom power
Contact: Joemeek/PMI Audio Group at 877-563-6335; 310-373-9129
+ Great as an insert/remix device
+ Clean, musical operation
The Score: Joemeek does it again with this versatileand affordable microphone preamplifier/compressor/equalizer.
If that describes your situation, this is your solution. The Joemeek VC3Q is the follow-up to the green VC3 box that made much green for the company (11,000 sold!). Joemeek added an extra control knob for the compressor and replaced the enhancer with the Meequalizer, which has three separate bands of EQ. For the money ($399.99), it’s a great-sounding all-in-one unit.
If you like museum pieces, a chrome version of the VC3Q recently found its way to the British National Science Museum as one of the landmark products in the development of the audio industry over the last 250 years. (Actually, I’d like to see what studios looked like 250 years ago!)
Starting in the back, there is an XLR input with a phantom power switch, a 1/4-inch instrument/line input, an insert input for another effect or outboard equipment, a mix input and two outs: one for a recorder and one to a mixer for monitoring the sound.
The big knob on the front of the VC3Q is the volume control. A red-light indicates phantom power is on. The compressor section has three adjustments. Compression controls the compression ratio up to about seven to one. Attack time ranges from 1 ms to 11 ms and Release time ranges from 125 ms to 1.5 s.
The VC3Q has a single LED to indicate when the compressor is smoothing out your less-than-linear inputs. Since this is the only compression indication, you must rely on your ears for adjustment.
The Meequalizer is the EQ section, with bass, mid and treble adjustments to plus or minus 16 dB. A pushbutton turns the equalization off and on and lights up the LED. Out Volume controls the level to tape or disc and an on/off LED lights up when the wallwart is plugged in. An overload LED indicates when the unit approaches clipping.
The extra monitor output can help with latency issues when monitoring your hard disk recordings or it can help when working with a computer-based workstation. This thoughtful addition makes this device ideal for solo home or project studios.
I’ve worked with a vocalist for years and haven’t been able to get her voice above my drum and guitar mixes without heavy EQ. The first time we used this box, however, her voice came shining through with that warm sound I thought I could only get from the higher-priced API or Neve mic pres. Heaven.
Then I plugged in my acoustic guitar, equalized some highs, and added a little compression. The sound I heard coming out of the monitors was a delight. Nice definition and presence – a natural sound.
My Strat, running through a Twin Reverb miked by a Shure 57 lined to the VC3Q (phantom power off, please!), produced a decent sound. A bass plugged directly into the box sounded big and round.
The VC3Q comes in handy as a remix device. I patched the VC3Q in on a variety of tracks in a mix I was working on.
I put a vocal through it during a mix, added a little compression, and the sound was phenomenal. The equalization and compression parameters on the VC3Q run from the subtle to the bizarre and, while easy to use, they require the usual fine-tuning to fit your ears.
Next, I tried a bass guitar track. The compression seemed to add a lot of fatness and oomph. A little midrange EQ helped bring the bass out of the mix.
A drum machine kick track really came alive when I inserted the VC3Q into the channel. In general, I found the VC3Q excelled for adding life and “lift” to prerecorded tracks.
Through all of this, the manual was helpful and well thought out, telling me all I needed to know. It even provided some example settings for vocals, guitars and drums.
For the economically challenged, for all the hard disk recording artists and home-studio geeks, the Joemeek VC3Q is great; a true successor to the VC3. The sequel lives up to the name. One box does it all.
If its size and price don’t grab you, its musicality will. This unit goes a long way toward improving the “tiny sounds at home” vs. the fatness you hear in professional recordings.
Highly recommended, go for the Green!