Millennia and Electrodyne 500 Series Modules Review

Nov 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Kevin Becka



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Millennia Media’s HV-35 preamp offers a DC-coupled Ribbon mode that boosts gain by +10 dB and kills phantom power.

Millennia Media’s HV-35 preamp offers a DC-coupled Ribbon mode that boosts gain by +10 dB and kills phantom power.

I’ve been fortunate to have used and reviewed a lot of Millennia products over the years, including the STT-1 Twin Topology recording channel, the TD-1 half-rack recording channel, the HV3R 8-channel remote-control preamps and now the HV-35 ($799). Millennia is new to the 500 Series game, though now offering both the preamp tested here and an 8-channel converter. While I try not to gush in a review, anything I’ve used from this company has spoiled me, and the HV-35 is no exception. The company gets it right or it doesn’t release it. On the downside, one of the units was damaged in shipping, making the rotary volume control work differently and not as smoothly as the other. But this was never reflected in the audio path and I quickly got over it.

The HV-35 offers a continuously variable gain control, DI input, highpass filter at -3dB per/octave starting at 80 Hz, a DC-coupled ribbon mic +10dB gain boost that disables phantom power, +48V phantom power, polarity flip and a -15dB pad. There are two LEDs: one marking signal present (green) and the other clipping (red). All other buttons are LED lit in various colors for quick confidence.

When I have a variety of preamps from which to choose, including Millennia products, I always save the latter for critical applications where clarity and low noise are a must. Because I had two units, my first test was to gas a pair of Blue Bottle mics over a drum kit. Not only are the mics fantastic, being the early versions with the chicken-head knobs on the power supplies, but the HV-35s got out of the way, providing transparent gain, making the kit sound—for lack of a better phrase—like a drum kit. No wash on cymbal hits, clean transient strikes of the cymbals and a fantastic true stereo picture of the drums. You gotta love that.

On another session, I used the HV-35 to power an sE Electronics Voodoo VR1 mic recording a tenor saxophone with great results. The Voodoo ignores the annoying part of a closely miked horn, rounding out the tone. Once again, the HV-35 gave me plenty of clean gain and confidence when I kicked in the Ribbon Mic boost button. I can’t tell you how reassuring a feature like that is in the heat of a session where you’re using a lot of outboard gear, changing settings, pulling cables, patches and troubleshooting. Being able to look over at your rack and see that glowing red light and knowing there’s no way phantom power can be on is like hot chicken soup on a cold day—love it.

Kevin Becka is Mix’s technical editor.

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