Millennia HV-3R Multichannel Mic Preamp Review

Apr 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Kevin Becka



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Millennia in Action

My first outing with the HV-3R was on two large tracking sessions with the unit set up in Local mode, where levels and parameters were adjusted using the jog wheel and buttons on the front of the unit. The first session employed the preamps on toms, overheads, a pair of Shure 57s recording a guitar amp (on- and off-axis) and a DI bass input. In all cases, the recordings were clear and punchy with quick transients and little to no “color” provided by the preamps. The bass and guitars were stellar, representing the bottom end admirably and popping the guitars out in the midrange of the mix. During the second session, the preamps were used to amplify two kick drum mics and two snare mics, which were gassed by rare transformer-based SSL 4000 Series console preamps in the earlier session. What was glaringly lacking when I compared tracks from the two sessions was the transformer overdrive and added color of the console's preamps, which was flattering to the overall sound of the kick and snare, giving the kit plenty of beef. The HV-3Rs were too clean on these drums, sounding better in the first session on the overheads and attack of the toms with the more colorful preamps. This is not a bad thing, but it reveals that this box is a specialty tool to be used where clarity, excellent stereo image and low sonic impact are of utmost importance.

I next used the HV-3R's Remote mode to record a percussionist in surround, setting the preamps near the mics after a short mic-level cable run. My setup comprised five SE Electronic SE-3 small-diaphragm condenser mics arranged in a tight circle at 30 degrees left and right, 0 degrees center, and 110 degrees for the Ls and Rs. I also used a Neumann U87 as a roving LFE mic. I had an old D-Link wireless router at home that I brought in to put the HV-3R on its own network. I plugged the router into the HV-3R's Ethernet port and put the unit in remote LAN mode from the front panel. Next, I made sure that my Intel Mac, booted into Windows XP, recognized my network and I was ready to go.

Once I opened the Ælogic software, I could adjust levels and parameters using the computer. I grouped my five L, C, R, Ls and Rs channels, named them appropriately and saved a session setup. It was easy to adjust levels for different instrument overdubs by moving just one of the grouped faders until the hottest channel was where I wanted it. The tracks were stellar with hand percussion, including triangle, shakers, cajon and other toys, sounding like the player was in the room. The unit rendered the transients accurately with plenty of headroom and beautifully rendered top end without any smear, and it created a great 5.1 representation of the room with clear and accurate off-axis information.

Clear Choice

I absolutely loved working with the HV-3R. I was repeatedly spoiled by the quality of my tracks and the different ways I could set up and control the unit. Yes, the data entry on the unit was clunky, but this issue went away when I used the unit remotely. One warning would be to have plenty of room around the HV-3R and a fan if you're going to mount it in a rack: This baby gets hot! If you're balking at the price, think of it as a $700-per-channel box with plentiful (and included) remote-setup possibilities, plus a lot of great optional extras for future expansion. For anyone working remotely, live and/or using Pro Tools, or just wanting a rock-solid front end that will record exactly what your mics are capturing, this is the box for you.

Kevin Becka is Mix's technical editor.

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