elysia Designs skulpter 500 Class-A Sound Shaping Recording Preamp

May 29 2018, 01:00
High-end studio processor manufacturer elysia announced availability of its new skulpter 500 sound shaping preamp — pushing its range of 500 Series recording hardware into another area of processing. According to the German company, the skulpter 500 is high quality recording preamp based on single resistors controlling a fully discrete Class-A amplifier capable of complementing any microphone or high-impedance instrumental source and adding two variable saturation/filter stages and an intelligent onboard compressor.

elysia designed the new skulpter 500 as an ideal recording front-end to feed modern DAWs, providing both clean or colored signals, and making any type of source, either microphone or instrument, sounding as intended for the recording session. The skulpter 500 provides a balanced DI input with significant headroom of up to +19 dBu, so just about any signal coming from guitars, basses, synths and effects will benefit greatly from the skulpter 500’s pristine amplification and versatile processing qualities.

The skulpter 500 gain stages and fully-discrete Class-A amplifier is what makes this new solution unique in the first place. Every single part is based on 100% discrete audio technology, starting with the mic preamp, the JFET DI input, the two sound shaping paths, the variable low cut filter, the onboard compressor, and – finally – the input and output stages. In addition, the unit's sound shaping preamp operates in constant Class-A mode, which means that the transistors are always conductive, resulting in the absence of crossover distortion and providing a solid sonic base, always wide, open and punchy.

The skulpter 500 does not use a potentiometer for changing its gain, but instead uses fixed resistors switched by a cascade of relays and electronic switches. This setup is controlled by an encoder with 20 steps per rotation, providing a total of 40 gain values in 1.5/2 dB steps (total gain range: 3 - 65 dB).

The following amplifier is a fully discrete class-A design. Similar to many tube amps, it operates in feed forward mode, which means it works without high amounts of negative feedback.  The skulpter 500 provides an ample amount of gain, starting at unusually low values and going up to what users will need to properly amplify ribbon microphones with high gain requirements. A huge benefit of this is that an additional pad becomes completely unnecessary, resulting in a better signal-to-noise ratio.

The actual mic preamp and the direct input have a separate gain value each. If the users changes from Mic to DI or vice versa, the gain will automatically change accordingly. This comes in really handy as in most of the cases microphones require a considerably higher amount of gain, which would be way too much for a synth or similar sources plugged into the DI. Also, using single resistors arranged in a cascade guarantees exact gain values. As a result, multiple preamps do not require factory matching or consecutive serial numbers when forming stereo pairs or multichannel configurations.

With ample gain range starting at only 3 dB and extending up to 65 dB of amplification, the skulpter 500 forgoes the technical need for a pad circuit completely. When a skulpter 500 is powered off its current gain setting is saved automatically, so the preamp will start with exactly the same amount of gain on the next session. 

The skulpter 500 is made in Germany, exclusively using top-quality components, gold-plated PCBs, a rugged 4mm aluminum front panel, and solid aluminum knobs. It is available from any elysia dealer for $879.00 MAP ($949.00 MSRP), or 589 Euros net (plus VAT where applicable), and is shipping right now.

The skulpter 500 can be seen and heard on elysia’s Youtube channel here: www.youtube.com/elysiaTV 
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