This is real vintage Joemeek NOT modern Chinese crap.
Works perfect. Sounds with a lot of color and vintage mojo.
You can call me on Skype RustGL and I can show you online how it works and sounds.
While other retro designers scour the earth for supplies of long-discontinued valves, Ted Fletcher's Joe Meek boxes rely on photo-resistive gain control devices to recreate the '60s compressor sound and, so far, the range has had tremendous success. Though the basic compressor circuitry used in these designs is based on a concept developed by Joe Meek, the legendary '60s producer probably best known for his involvement in 'Telstar' (by the Tornadoes), Ted Fletcher has brought the design up to date, giving it a faster response, better audio performance and more predictable control operation. The latest green eyecatcher in the Joe Meek range, the VC1 Studio Channel, brings together various elements used in previous Joe Meek units and bundles them into a 2U, single-channel rackmount processor.
It seems that hardly an issue of
SOS goes by without including some form of 'direct to tape' channel processor, but it's easy to see why the concept has caught on as well as it has. By the time a mic signal has fought its way through the channels, routing busses and groups of a typical budget console, it's usually starting to look a bit dog-eared. If you use a dedicated 'channel' device comprising a mic amp followed by additional processing, a mic signal can be amplified, EQ'd, compressed, enhanced, and even put through an expander gate, without ever seeing a mixer.
Of course, the available processing depends on the type of channel device you buy. The VC1 combines a mic preamp, a compressor and an enhancer in a single 2U package. In true Joe Meek tradition, it's also about as green as green gets. I once asked Ted about the choice of colour, and he told me that when the original prototypes were being built for launch at a trade show, they had to use car spray paint to get the job done quickly. The colour just happened to be green, but people liked it so much that the company decided to stick with it.
On its own, the mic amp has a warm, clear sound but without quite equalling the same 'airy' clarity of some esoteric designs. Even so, considering that this whole unit costs less than a single high-end mic preamp stage, it actually performs very well, and its quality is significantly better than you'd expect from most mid-priced consoles. It's certainly a very quiet preamp and it has plenty of headroom. Applying a little gentle enhancement restores that sense of air around the top end, and in a much more natural way than most harmonics-based enhancers I've come across. Used sparingly, the enhancer behaves just as you'd expect a good HF equaliser to behave, adding a sheen to the signal that wasn't evident in the original. A midway setting of the Q control seems to produce a very natural result on vocals.
As for the compressor, this is classic Joe Meek stuff, and while milder settings are perfectly competent for benign dynamic range reduction, the compressor really comes into its own when it's provoked to the edge of pumping, where it introduces a sense of energy and excitement, but without trampling all the transient detail to death. There's no doubt that this compressor is built for character rather than accuracy, but for rock and pop vocals it works really well. If you want invisible gain reduction, look somewhere else!
If you've used a Joe Meek unit before, you'll know pretty much what to expect from this one. What I really like about it is that all the effects it produces are effortlessly musical. Setting up is quick and easy, the enhancer section does all that a good HF equaliser does -- and more -- and the compressor keeps vocals lively and up-front. Having a choice of three input and output types adds greatly to the flexibility of this model, and a lot of thought has gone into the design to make the VC1 feel a lot less complicated to the user than it really is.
Though the VC1 is predominantly a vocal processor, it is also effective on most instruments, and the provision of a line input means that off-tape signals can be processed back through the unit when necessary. The instrument input is also useful for treating keyboards, samplers, or active guitars and basses, but the impedance is too low for serious use with passive guitars and basses unless a suitable DI box is used first.
If you want something that will add to your sound in a flattering and distinctive way, maybe it's time you tried out one of these for yourself. In any event, put it on your shortlist and compare it with the competition.
Pros & Cons
JOE MEEK VC1
• Warm, musical sound.
• Very effective compressor and enhancer.
• No auto compression mode.
A great-sounding 'character' unit with a flexible range of input and output options.