22 Apr Current Status of “Vega Research” (Mr. Guido Borghesani’s Lab, SECRET-1 and Cloe Guitars): The “Black Vega”
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Fig.1: The “Black Vega” Outer Box (left); Other Cetec Vega unit (right).
today was (Guido) Borghesani‘s lab day 😀
Went to Guido & Luca and all the other guys at the shop.
The shop is split into two parts: Cloe’s Guitars & Borghesani’s Tech Lab.
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Cloe Guitars and Luca’s Harley
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From Left to right, Alex “Ringhio”, Luca, Me, Guido.
I must stress again that these guys are terrific. The most professional and available people I have ever met, in Italy and abroad. I wish them deserved success.
Cloe Guitars is the shop where I get/got all my guitars set up and PLEK’d. Luca is a knowledgeable individual but more so, someone who will “reason” with you and work with you to get you what you want.
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Alex Plek’ing a guitar
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Luca working at the Luthier’s desk.
But today was more of a Guido’s visit for some technical detail on both my current original Vegas (Cetec-Vegas) and to discuss about the replica.
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Guido in his lab.
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On a side note, Guido just repaired my 1950s original Neumann U47!
So here’s the summary of what all of this is boiling down to:
– I have a total of 4 Cetec Vega R42 receivers and their transmitters.
– 3 are R42s with cream-colored transmitters that look almost identical to the original X10.
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The original Schaffer Vega
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One of my R42s Cetec Vega
– 1 is an R42 coupled with a Cetec microphone (similar to a classic SM58) and will be used for tutorials (I won’t use anymore comment audio taken from the camera).
– One of the three R42s is “broken”. Won’t work. So we decided to use it for both parts AND to use its guts for the prototype of what we called at least temporarily the “Black Vega” (this name seems to receive a lot of attention :D).
Regarding the “Black Vega“, the following has been temporarily decided (to be confirmed):
• Looks wise, the unit will be indeed “black” ( 😀 ) (yes, we already picked the box!). And it will be a metal box (recycled aluminum). See Fig.1 above.
• It will be circuit and components wise as close to the original R42/Transmitter as much as possible and needed.
• It will therefore have a power supply built in (likely, inside the unit). I do not think the Black Vega will be battery powered. The power supply inside the R42s plays a big role in providing the R42s the boost that is needed to drive the amplifiers inputs the way we heard here and on record.
In fact, the R42 (and likely, the original Schaffer Vega XXX) has a number of ICs internally one or more of which are great quality ICs used in mixers. Really powerful sounding and qualitative.
There are two separate output circuits inside the R42. One drives the front monitor output, the other one drives the rear XLR output. It will give up to +20db and its output measures 28 volts(!). Really powerful.
After my own tests I realized it was the rear output the one that was used extensively. It has virtually no hiss (noise) and sounds terrific. It’s the one that got me and is getting me as close as can be to Angus Young’s tone on at least two identified records (“Back in Black” and “If You Want Blood You’ve Got It”.
• it will likely feature a VU meter as on the original unit, which will likely measure the compression level you are supplying (same as one of the options you have on the real unit). So yes, you are getting this right: looks wise, it will be cool as “hell”.
• it will sport a number of knobs to control the tone. Likely, it will be probably more controllable than the original or as much as the original. Knobs will be much likely as on the original “Schaffer Vega”.
• It will sport a compressor and a boost.
• The expander (which on the original unit is called “Dynex II”) won’t be there, as it is not needed (the expander on the original unit serves to flatten the compressed signal; on the “Black Vega”, a variable amount of compression between 0 and x will be set by the user and then, signal will be boosted, which is the resulting effect happening anyway on the Cetec-Vegas).
• There won’t be of course any wireless transmission. Everything will be inside the “box” (Input/output).
• The unit will feature a stand by/on switch (non-existent on the original: you either play with the Cetec-Vega or you don’t).
• It won’t likely be cheap; though, it should finally solve the desire of many to really take you into Angus’ golden tone of that golden era (1978-198x).
So, it won’t be a “simulator” of tone. It will be as much as the real unit as possible. We thought about this, and I chose to go for the “real” way. That is, the boost will be a clean boost of immense power, as opposed to a simulated boosted sound already sounding “distorted” (i.e., a “gain”, “overdrive” unit). Much likely this will be a tool to feed into tube amps only. We still don’t know about this for certain (i.e., only tube/solid state/hybrids, etc.). Tests will have to be made.
All for now (and I think I gave away enough detail 😛 ).
It will take time. You can be sure about this. Maybe I will have a prototype by next June, but really this is unknown at this time.
Now, regarding my current Cetec Vegas, both transmitters were modified today.
We knew that these had a 10kohm resistance (they were set up for microphones) while instead the original unit had a 50kohm resistance. So we fitted one unit (TX only, naturally: nothing changes on the RX side) with a 50kohm resistance; the other one, has a 1Mohm (1 Mega) with a provided, variable 100kohm potentiometer (external, plugged with a jack) that will serve me to determine how the transmitter changes with different kohms.
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All of this is rather important, as it will let us find the best settings upon which to build and setup the replica.
I haven’t tested thoroughly the kohm change yet, will do tomorrow and report (both here and at the lab).
EDIT: Tested, please see and hear here.
Also, we found out that there is a switch on the R42 (receiver) to bypass the expander (Dynex II): basically, this leaves the compression entirely IN! To be experimented with.
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Additionally, Guido has almost finished drawing the schematics of both TX & RX.
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All for now. It was a very exciting visit for me.
SoloDallas out 😉