The Focusrite Red 7 Microphone Preamp from Focusrite employs a superb mic preamp with a dual-range mic gain pot for precise control.
The Red 7 employs the same superb mic pre-amp as the Red 1 and Red 8, with a dual-range mic gain pot that allows precise control across the full range of the device. Phantom power and phase reverse are also provided. The Line input is electronically balanced, with continuously variable gain.
A high quality output fader offers +6dB gain to infinite attenuation, essential for direct recordings, or for accurate level matching after EQ and dynamics. Added to this mic pre is a full dynamics section, optimised for vocals. With its superb signal path, outstanding ease of use, and an integrated all-in-one design, it is a powerful tool for voice recording in all situations from music studios to post-production. The compressor design is taken straight from the Red 3, and as on that unit, is characterised by low noise and distortion even with heavy processing. Relatively heavy compression can be applied whilst retaining a transparent natural sound. Ratio, gain make-up, threshold, attack and release are all continuously variable, and a program dependent auto-release mode can be switched in. A swept high-pass filter allows effective treatment of problems such as rumble, bass lift and proximity effect.
The de-esser/exciter stage can be switched to provide frequency-selective compression (de-essing) or excitation. The amount and centre frequency of the processor are continuously variable, and as all the unit's dynamics still use the Focusrite single-VCA technique, unwanted colouration of the sound is kept to an absolute minimum. A clear VU meter shows level after the pre-amp gain control, or displays compressor gain change.
The Red range was launched in 1992. The modules are all hand-built and use the same circuit topology as the console and the ISA modules but with improved electronic performance, mechanical integrity and control layout. With the growing trend towards project studios and the explosion in modular digital multitracks, the emphasis of Focusrite's business turned towards the growing demand for analogue direct recording modules and in 1994 and 1995 the Red range expanded to 8 modules:
- Red 1 Quad Mic Pre
- Red 2 Dual Equalizer
- Red 3 Dual Compressor/Limiter
- Red 4 Preamplifier (no longer in production)
- Red 5 Power Amplifier (no longer in production)
- Red 6 Mono Mic-pre & Equalizer
- Red 7 Mono Mic-pre & Dynamics
- Red 8 Stereo Mic Pre
The success of the range was confirmed at the 99th AES convention when the Red 3 Compressor won a TEC award for outstanding signal processing. This was reconfirmed at the 101st convention when the Red 7 won a TEC award in a new category for outstanding Mic Preamplifier technology.
The Focusrite Red Range is hand-made, crafted to the highest standards. All the Red Processors are manufactured solely in the UK using machine-tooled, half-inch thick claret red anodised aluminium. The chassis features recessed section grooves and styling motifs, (sculpted with diamond-tip cutters,) porthole windows, anoprinted silver control text, and firm-response illuminated switches.
All potentiometers are manufactured to Focusrite's own specification by French company (Sfernice), and are made from conductive plastic which gives more sensitivity and no mechanical resistance (easy to make very fine adjustments).
All Red products feature sealed relays, (gold-plated silver in an inert gas), situated in the middle of the circuits in which they switch. The precious metals mean that all contacts are low resistance, and the gas prevents any kind of corrosion of the surface of the contacts, meaning the most perfect audio switching device ever designed - utterly passive, zero distortion caused and no FETs required.
Red Range processors with mic pre's feature solid-state-amplified audio transformers, which help to give the characteristic "warm, organic sound" loved by studios world-wide. Transformers are the only way of giving a truly floating and earth-free system, because there's no galvanic connection between the input and output circuitry.
Transformers are not new in audio; they were there at the outset, but whilst others were trying to design them out to cut costs, Focusrite went after the best transformer possible, a philosophy which resulted in the transformers you find in the Red series today. Low frequency second order distortion created by transformer saturation provides the character that many perceive as "warmth". Meanwhile, a high frequency emphasis generated by the reactance of the coil resonance with the terminating impedance of the microphone or receiving device, provides the engineer with open, spacious high frequencies. The Red Range mic transformer in particular gets its legendary "transparent yet warm" label from this process, an apparent contradiction in terms, yet a genuine characteristic audition a unit and hear for yourself.