The 500 Series Thread

Vintage King and Heritage Audio are also worth checking, depending on routing needs.
The HA offers a 4 units version.


Having gone feet-first into an api “system” years ago in exchange for Waves plugins modeled after the modules and thinking about getting back into 500 stuff, I came across these:

As the link suggests, the module is a diy kit, but has an either api or Neve sound, (afaik, there’s no audio examples) but with a Cranborne transformer; $350 for the kit. Looks promising.

I’m glad this thread started because I have some things 500 series related I’ve been noodling about. Specifically The Louder than Liftoff Chroma:

I don’t believe in free lunches. The API 512c/512v is $895/$995 respectively. The Neve 1073 is $995. The Chroma which claims to have both of these circuits internally is $649. Something doesn’t add up.

When comparing the units by just looking at them we have:


So one would think it has to be more than just paying for the name. All have SMD’s. I’d love to be wrong about this and say that the Chroma has made the classics obsolete, but my inner skeptic is pretty noisy.

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Looks like the Colour Module for the API or Neve sound has another output transformer and is separate.

So no API and Neve at the same time. Would have to switch modules.

Damn that Neve module is jam packed full of relays. I’m sure that’s not the only reason for the price disparities but those aren’t the cheapest as far as components go.


stepped potentiometers are indeed super expensive. i had one go on my Heritage 1073/500 and opened the thing up… damn… that’s quite a knob inside… and i had to send it off to get repaired. was beyond my skill set.

while i’m at it… i’ll also throw in a nod to the Heritage stuff… i have both a pair of their triple wide 1073/500s that i use on my piano and a pair of 1073jr EQs in my desk.

the 360hz on a 1073 is one of the most lush sounds you can dial in…


I have a pair of LTL Chromas that I use for makeup gain to re-amplify my mix after analog summing with a Rolls Folcrom. I really like them. Awesome gain staging and tone control options - it is very well thought out. I use the Mass Drivr colour module in them, and it does have a switchable N or A circuit option built in. With the API line driver colour module you can cascade from Neve to API at variable mix and gain amounts and then attenuate the output.

Edit: The pots are stepped in tiny, rock solid increments on the Chromas. I have a pair and match them for stereo use and have zero issues.


MAAG. I’m intrigued by this module -
Any feedback would be much appreciated.

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Hmm, I’m curious as well! Brad at LTL has recommended them for stereo use consistently, they are quite similar to the Silver Bullet, and they do also make a stereo Chroma+. Regardless, I’m very happy with how they sound and the stereo mixes I’m able to achieve with them.

It sounds fantastic, the air band works like a charm for me on lead synths, vocals and guitars: it works very well for me as end of chain, just before hitting the soundcard.
Add some nice top ends, when lightly overdriven it gives that “expensive microphone” vibe to vocals .
I was considering scooping a second one to try as a stereo, but ended up buying a Series 500 Clariphonic instead (which is another great coloring EQ)

I have no doubt chromas sound good and have a nice work flow for finding a sound. The appeal of not being locked in to “a sound” is super attractive which is what they offer. I am just genuinely curious what the discrepancy is and what are the trade offs.

That’s very interesting to hear locked step switches (or stepped pots) are so much more expensive to manufacturer. I suppose their value is in exact recreations of a setting on something, particularly for taking notes or mastering. But creatively it’s hard not to think there’s some nuance missing inbetween the two steps on the dial.

I know that’s totally a fabricated idea on my part, but have also had experiences with modules (metasonix being a great example) where the slightest nudge on a dial changes the settings to the point of it feeling like an epiphany. Locked steps have always seemed like a drawback, especially for live mixing. (I can’t ever imagine them on an oscillator, for example, but quantized over smooth is a good sound example) - but i’m also new to getting into compression and other mastering concepts.

They would be great for an octave switch on an oscillator.

if people are asking why things are cheaper, the first places I would look would be the mechanical hardware.

Right. I wasn’t aware of the price difference for pots so this was a great learning experience. The funny thing is i kinda prefer non stepped pots and I think JDK has variable pots and their gear is more affordable and sounds great. I had the 19” JDK EQ and it was amazing. I regret selling it to be honest. I might have to give their 500 stuff a try.

SMD components vs through hole can also be a difference in price but I don’t think there is a massive difference there.

What I’m musing about is the diyre color pallets uses ICs(That) the pull the gain up/down to drive the color module. I have no idea if that has a negative or imperceptible difference on the sound. I think the chroma uses its A/N gain stage to drive the color module? If that’s the case would it be an upgrade for color modules? I’m probably splitting hairs here but I’m hoping someone else around here knows better. The color mix on the chroma is a huge workflow upgrade and worth the upgrade alone.

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Octaves, true! - Sort of like a Standards module, I suppose:

But they’d be terrible for an oscillator tune knob. Would make it sound zippered and digital, or quantized.

Oh here is an interesting tidbit from

We HIGHLY recommend the Grayhill mod for the gain position. With single stage pres like the Elements series, using a variable pot means much of the gain is in the last 1/4 of the pot turn. Using the Grayhill mod distributes the gain over the whole switch rotation. The variable pot option is available for those on a budget.

So not only will a stepped pot give you better accuracy when stereo matching, but also there is a “proprietary logarithmic” curve for usable resolution in the “sweet spot”

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I own a Chroma and a 1073 clone (AML ez1073). My opinion is the Chroma is the more versatile of the two. When pushed into distortion territory, both modules exhibit similar harmonics - I compared them visually using a soft scope. Otherwise, the Chroma can get the smooth relaxed vibe of the 1073 - at least enough to where I doubt many would be able to distinguish the two. At the end of the day, one IS the classic sound and one gets most of the way there. Both are great. The real benefit to the 1073 is the inductor based EQ which sounds fantastic but is an add-on module (at least for AML).

That being said, the Chroma is far more versatile even before the Colour slot or mode switching comes into play. There is more clean gain available and there are basic EQ options onboard that work well - again, straight out of the box without toying with Colour modules. If I were going to pick one, I’d take the Chroma hands down. If I were going to pick 2, I’d pick 2 Chromas. If I were going to pick 3, I’d get 2 Chromas and a 1073. You get the idea.


One aspect of stepped controls to consider is that they greatly reduce option paralysis. It’s easier to tell which setting produces the best result. This is a big advantage for speed in tracking. Instead of tweaking knobs by a half degree for 15 minutes, you can quickly choose the best option and move forward.


Really, it’s hard to argue against stepped controls in gain staging IMO. It worked tracking to tape and it’s easy enough to add volume working ITB.


Agreed, although I do appreciate the hybrid approach of the ez1073 trim control occasionally if I’m trying to dial in the perfect level, but that’s more of a sound design thing than a tracking concern. Plus most of my sources have a volume control.

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