The Schaffer-Vega Diversity Replica (Updated)

15 Dec The Schaffer-Vega Diversity Replica (Updated)

And now Ladies (any ladies here at all? 🙂 ) & Gentlemen.

A moment of Respect & Admiration for the man himself, Mr. Ken Schaffer.

I presume all of you are able to feel the respect and admiration that I have for Mr. Schaffer. I have read his biography (though partial and summarized, see his site ) several times, and it would appear that he has lived 5 or 6 different lives all packed into one. By itself this is cause for admiration, but reading what he has achieved, and how he has achieved it really ‘does it for me’. Also, last but not least, the making of the SVDS with its history and accompanying stories is overwhelming.

So please enjoy these two images of Mr. Schaffer.


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and today

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Do you recognize the individuals next to him in both pictures?

You know folks, a fact that maybe not all of us here are aware of is that Mr. Schaffer not only created and marketed, promoted, sold, serviced, repaired when needed, also configured, etc. a wireless system for musicians (AC/DC having been our/my main focus since I found out); the point being, Mr. Schaffer has revolutionized the way musicians (singers, guitar players, generic micro-phoned instruments players) could play, entertain, walk onto stages in front of thousands of people. Even – as is the case with Angus Young – change for good the way a guitar player can feel about his freedom of movement and expression on stage or off, i.e. in the studio.

 Despite there being one or two forever failing wireless systems already in existence prior to the introduction of the SVDS, Ken Schaffer was the one to create the first exceptional sounding and reliable wireless system for musicians.

For You, Sir, with devotion.


Fil 🙂



Just a small, aesthetic update: a “Schaffer-Vega Diversity System Family Picture”, with all original (of the era) items.

From left to right, an original, near mint SVDS User Manual, a couple of stickers, an original circa 1977 63EX SVDS Dual Diversity Receiver, a “mounted on strap” (even the strap is a 1970’s original suede strap) X10 SVDS Transmitter for guitar (all courtesy of Mr. Ken Schaffer), a couple of original antennas in the back (same: thank you Mr. Schaffer :) ) and an original, advertisement page for a later device consisting of a non-Diversity Schaffer-Vega (the only thing I could find on eBay for a looOOooong time lol).

I love family pictures 🙂


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P.S. Also re-posting here an original to the era Comic/Advertisement page (courtesy of Mr. Ken Schaffer).

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PS Speaking of family pictures, we took some the other day with Franz. Get this! Partial Family Gear Picture 😀

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… and the now uncovered Wizards (one Vintage Classic and one Modern Classic : a lot more on the Wizards soon)

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Audio Update (overdriven sound, Marshall 1959)

Together with Franz, we decided to go as follows for now: whole track (backing track) where I played: two rhythm guitars and two solos (one part per unit: one rhythm part with Replica, one with SVDS; one solo with Replica, one with SVDS; Replica will be LEFT; SVDS will be RIGHT).

I am posting this for you, plus the individual “rhythms” and “solos” tracks, L/R, so you can compare them without any disturbance whatsoever (in the force).

Warning: I left in all of the hiss of both units (SVDS and Replica). They are both hissy, though in different ways. The SVDS has the compressor hiss and the RF hiss in it; you will hear it on the right channel (rhythm and solo) as a constant hiss.

The Replica has “only” the compressor hiss, which exists only when one is not playing, as the compressor – exact same one as in the original SVDS, same version, model etc. – will try to raise the signal when no signal is present.

We haven’t made a decision about this yet; we may try to find another compressor with the same exact 2:1 curve, same “sound” but modern conception which definitely kills the hiss. Most likely attempts will be made shortly.

Usually when you’ve heard me play my SVDS (and the R42 before it) I always used a noise gate, the same that was being done back then with these units.

Please note: severe hiss such as this only happens with overdriven sounds, not with clean sounds because of the gain obviously.

Here for you is the whole track:

Shook Me Track Whole Thing

Here’s the rhythm guitars (L/R: Replica left, SVDS right)

Rhythm Guitars

Here’s the solos

Solo Guitars

And here we have an Audacity frequency Analysis.

Left channel:
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Right channel:
[singlepic id=577 w=320 h=240 float=none]

Guitar used was a 1967 Gibson SG Standard.

No equalization WHATSOEVER was used. Everything is FLAT. I used my 1976 Marshall 1959, recorded with Neumann U47 on axis, slightly above center cone, Celestion G12-65 original speakers.

Settings. Replica and SVDS had the SAME settings, i.e., knobs rotated exactly in the same position (TX knob full right, RX Output at 10 o’ clock).

Marshall settings: Presence 0, bass 5, mids 3, treble 5, volume 7.

Guitar was at 8 on volume knob for rhythm; 10 for solos.

Now, please comment away.

P.S. Just as a final note, it came into my mind to remind you that the sound you hear “live” on the amp (well, on these type of amps at least) is basically raw, just like – the same sound in fact – here:




We have one prototype, seemingly? One working prototype?

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(Stay tuned, want to tease you all for a while).

Note: from left to right, Mr. Banane (Franz), Mr. Guido Borghesani and myself 


So, want a close up and maybe some more tidbits?


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So, it does have two knobs. They are exactly the input knob of the original X10 Transmitter (left knob on the replica) and the Output knob of the front output of the original SVDS Receiver (right knob on the replica).

They work almost exactly – if not really exactly – as on the original SVDS.

There is one power transformer.


Please note: the box/case you see now is NOT the final case! It’ just a temporary fix in lieu of the real replica case, which will be similar to the original, black SVDS receiver box (please see pic below to refresh your memory).


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And going back in time (one day), Mr. Borghesani is doing final assembly and testing. We arrived right then and continued to A/B (compare) the two: the original beauty and the ugly newborn, still in its “board infancy”….

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Testing between the SVDS and the Replica at Borghesani’s Lab:

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Fil "SoloDallas" Olivieri

We Are Rock 'N Roll People.

  • avatar
    andre peralta
    Posted at 05:54h, 19 April

    hey fil is it finished?

    • avatar
      Posted at 06:34h, 19 April

      Yes, it is 🙂 Got the stomp box prototype too, Franz did an amazing work.

      It’s finished 😀

      • avatar
        Posted at 09:52h, 19 April

        Go Franz Go!

        Brilliant News 🙂

      • avatar
        andre peralta
        Posted at 22:55h, 19 April

        hey, to which countries will you ship it?

  • avatar
    Posted at 19:18h, 24 May

    Is there a waiting list for the replica yet?

    • avatar
      Posted at 20:02h, 24 May

      Not yet. We will open a list after we have shown the final prototypes to you all. This will then be prototypes of the unit you all will get. Then we will know the prices and open a prescription order list. You know, it’s about being serious too. What you’ll see is what you’ll get.

  • avatar
    Posted at 22:11h, 20 May

    Hi Fil, not sure if it has been mentioned but do you have any idea of the price these babys will be sold for?

    • avatar
      Posted at 22:19h, 20 May

      No, not yet. Final prices will depend on a few still unknown things: production costs, case manufacturing, final part list, compliance tests…but we will tell as soon as possible, of course.

      • avatar
        Posted at 22:53h, 20 May

        Cheers, I’m really looking forward to the final product. 😉

  • avatar
    Posted at 13:59h, 10 May

    i had a horrible dream last night that i finaly had the replica but then it got run over by a truck! didnt even get chance to play it :'(

    aint dreams funny 😛

    • avatar
      Posted at 23:15h, 10 May

      Wtf Ant! Strange dreams you have 🙂 But it’s cool that people actually dream about our replica 🙂

      • avatar
        Posted at 15:21h, 12 May

        Lol i have had stranger dreams than that i can tell you 😛

        Also is it normal to have constant ACDC playing over and over in my head? Lol dont get me wrong its cool but i duno if its normal lol

        • avatar
          Posted at 15:34h, 12 May

          It is. Have that too 🙂

          • avatar
            Posted at 19:43h, 12 May

            Ahh good now i know im not goting mad lol

            • avatar
              Posted at 22:54h, 19 June

              Ha, ha, how wrong is this Ant? To have a mp3 player stuffed with various songs and artists but playing again and again the AC/DC folder, huh? 🙂

  • avatar
    Posted at 12:19h, 08 May

    I’m really looking forward to get my hands on one of the replicas. Any hints on when it’ll be ready for ordering?


    • avatar
      Posted at 13:59h, 08 May

      When it’s done. 😀

      Sorry, but this starts to remind me the situation with Duke Nukem Forever game. Developers were constantly asked “When it will be released?”, so they kept to answer “When it’s done.”. However, we know it is matter of coming months, not years.

      Patience my friend, there is whole lot of guys (and maybe girls, too) waiting. Phoenix is (slowly , but surely) rising from the ashes.

      • avatar
        Posted at 14:02h, 08 May

        Hahahaha. Yes, I remember that situation (and many other similar ones). It’s not that we intend to keep a secret with you – any of you – as to when exactly it will be out: we don’t know yet either 🙂
        The reason is, that the FINAL prototype is being worked on these very days, and I mean, these very days (May 2012). MAYBE by the end of May we’ll have a few working protos, and we WILL show them appropriately with audio AND video. THAT will ignite the orders list likely. After order list is ignited, we will commence production (we have located already the producer, no issues). And after that, they will be delivered at your door. Months, yes. Many months? Nope! 🙂

        • avatar
          Posted at 16:00h, 08 May

          🙂 🙂 🙂

          Sorry for being such a pain in the but. It’s just that I’m recording right now (AC/DC stuff) and I can’t get the sound just right …

          Hopefully the replica will do the trick 🙂

          • avatar
            Posted at 16:02h, 08 May

            YOu are NOT a pain in the BUTT!!! You are a PLEASURE to read: we DO want you guys to be passionate and be waiting for these! We ARE happy to read you/hear you/see you inquire! 😀 🙂

            Thank you for this 🙂

  • avatar
    Posted at 22:54h, 20 April

    Hi Fil!
    I am the first to say that I am truly excited for the Schaffer-Vega replica! I would love to get a hold on one! Did you know that David Gilmour used the Diversity System for The Wall tours and was used for his famous song “Comfortably Numb” at Earl’s Court? Here’s a photo!
    I wish the best luck to you and I will be sure to say in touch and hopefully will be one of you first buyers 🙂
    Best Wishes!
    David S.

    • avatar
      Posted at 22:59h, 20 April

      Rumor has it, David Gilmour has been trying to collect any SVDS he can get his hands on…why do you think you cannot find them online, anywhere?

      Fil had to go directly to the man who made them for his 🙂 🙂

      Great find artbarsnstripes!

      • avatar
        Posted at 23:03h, 20 April

        Haha! What a tone hog! I’m pretty sure us Gilmour fanatics would love to get a hold of this replica, since we strive for that amazing tone! I know I’m looking forward for one 😉

  • avatar
    Scon Bott
    Posted at 14:17h, 22 March

    Is the compressor a “Compressor on a chip”, VCA design?
    Obviously, the input and output stages will colour the tone slightly, but this is a 2:1 comp probably pre-set NOT to affect the attack.
    Now if one could recreate the eq colouration of input/output caps, is a 2:1 compressor REALLY necessary in the stompbox version?

    • avatar
      Scon Bott
      Posted at 14:20h, 22 March

      My thinking is that a goosed, saturated amp is going to have a very low dynamic range anyhow. I don’t think a comp will bring anything to the table except noise.
      You could even have it switchable. (!)
      (But still “EQ compensated” in bypass)

      • avatar
        Posted at 14:27h, 22 March

        It is necessary, the compressor – which is as you noted on a chip – is exactly a 2:1 and preset, but not so simply. The circuit both on the TX and RX are fairly complicated, which took us some time in fact (and we’re having “real” audio engineer look at it now). We think it is really necessary as it really is present – the typical compression sound that is – in the SVDS. It’s one of the things you can clearly hear.
        However, the “sensitivity” of the compressor was and will be “settable” with a specific knob ranging from almost 0 to 10. This does greatly influence the way the compressor works on the overall sound. It was there on the original unit – on the X10 transmitter – and it will be there in our replica, though it will be directly on the box, naturally.

        So you will be definitely be able to set the amount of “hearable” compression in your final sound. I say again, the two knobs on the replica will be the compressor knob and the clean boost knob.
        They will be available both on the analog replica and on the stomp box replica. Good points of yours!

        • avatar
          Scon Bott
          Posted at 17:35h, 22 March

          Right, although 2:1 is a pretty low ratio, the threshold and make-up must be set to bring the low level stuff up as much as possible…
          It could be that the noise is mostly unavoidable is this scheme, though a discrete compressor circuit would mitigate it through use of cherry picked components, it’d also add a lot of work.
          Obviously, an expander would probably kill the pumping-noise effect if set up carefully – a bit like a gate but much more subtle.
          You can get hold of chips that will do both. (SMM2166 or equivalent?)

          Thanks, and I think you’re doing great work!

  • avatar
    rockn roll man
    Posted at 11:19h, 11 March

    What is the object on the Wizard head?

    • avatar
      rockn roll man
      Posted at 11:21h, 11 March

      I don’t mean the SVDS. the other one…

    • avatar
      Posted at 11:33h, 11 March

      Conn-Strobe Tuner (to tune guitar). AC/DC used to use it, it’s just a prop to me, an item. It works, but I don’t use it.

      • avatar
        rockn roll man
        Posted at 20:39h, 11 March

        Can I buy it? Where? On ebay?

        • avatar
          rockn roll man
          Posted at 20:56h, 11 March

          Sorry for the disturb again , so, does it have a guitar input?

          • avatar
            Posted at 21:55h, 11 March

            Yes, it has a guitar input.

  • avatar
    Posted at 14:20h, 02 March

    Hows the process on the replica? 🙂

    • avatar
      Posted at 15:01h, 02 March

      I think we should all start thinking of names again 🙂

      Black Vega is a prety good one but im sure there might be some more suitable ones out there 😉

      i wasnt just ACDC that used the SVDSs there was a whole load legends!

      i will start off 😀
      Legendary Vega


  • avatar
    Posted at 10:17h, 02 March

    Hi Fil,
    On their latest live tour, Angus seemed to be using a lot of 1959s, obviously his sound after going through the cab mic will go through the sound desk. Do you think they altered his tone in anyway this time, I know they will equalise him with the rest of the band but his tone on the last live tour seemed to me to be very rich and powerful, maybe this is due to him using a lot of amp heads?

    • avatar
      Posted at 10:26h, 02 March

      for what I know now – right now, derived from everything I know – Angus now uses Marshall amps with…. Wizard internals. Especially live. So that is one thing. It is not clear to me whether he uses the Wizard Vintage Classic or the Modern Classic, though I believe the first is being used for rhythm at least. One cabinet is microphoned only. And I think with only one microphone. The microphone should be the same as used in prior tours, the Audio Technica AT4047. So Angus’ sound – the recorded one! – is coming from a single head, single cabinet. Nothing more than this. The fact that they have more heads on stage is for the stage sound, it’s for them to play with, not for the recording. Very little if nothing of that goes into the mic.
      The have the FOH mixing indeed, but especially todays, not much is equalized. They want the audience sound to be as close as possible to the stage sound. I think they do some mild mid-scooping, which is what I have learned to do in the past months and am now perfecting it. 4 EQ bands, Highs, HMF, LMF and bass. Plus two more knobs for filtering (excess bass and excess treble fizz). They basically lower things. That’s it 🙂

  • avatar
    Posted at 14:34h, 22 February

    Hello, Fil.

    In the sound samples here, why is replica hissing with some short pauses at times, while the original hisses continuously?

    And the other one: have you thought about closely recreating the Vega’s sound and boosting ability in some kind of an effect box without the radio transmission thing (not needed that much in many occasions) with inherent hiss issues, price issues, battery issues, etc. ?

    • avatar
      Posted at 14:39h, 22 February

      Hi Alex,
      the intermitting hissing one is the replica prototype.
      Alex: our replica will NOT have the wireless transmission. It WILL be a box, close in looks and dimensions to the original SVDS, simply with input jack and output jack. Just like a standard stompbox. You will be able to turn it on (effect on) or off (through) just like with any clean boost, overdrive, chorus etc.

    • avatar
      Posted at 14:41h, 22 February

      BTW the hiss thing is mainly due to the compressor. We are using the SAME compressor as the original one here.
      We are currently studying identical sounding alternatives that will reduce hiss.

      • avatar
        Posted at 14:55h, 22 February

        OK, now I get it. Thanks a lot.

      • avatar
        Posted at 14:58h, 22 February

        … but not quite )

        So, there is no radio transmission happening in the replica, right?

        • avatar
          Posted at 16:29h, 23 February

          Yes, right. No radio transmission, no wireless operation. Just exactly the same sound as the original SVDS.

      • avatar
        Posted at 14:39h, 23 February


  • avatar
    Posted at 11:46h, 02 February

    Imagine if you could get your hands on the exakt model of that suit and parachute as the person is using on the picture and your collection of Vega items is complete lol 😉

    Just kidding really nice collection 🙂

    • avatar
      Posted at 12:09h, 02 February

      But then he has to jump with it too 😉 Nah, better not 🙂

  • avatar
    Posted at 19:47h, 03 January

    I don’t think most people will be to bothered with a hiss if the replica sounds so great 😀

    I mean i think many who have read about the whole boost thing about Angus have tried out boost pedals and/or owns one or several and if i’am not mistaken most boost pedals has some sort of hiss to them, i got used to mine but i don’t know if anyone else is bothered about their pedals hissing.

  • avatar
    Posted at 18:11h, 19 December

    Sorry, getting lost in the close to 300 comments in this thread.

    Fil, what’s the next steps regarding the unit? How do I get into
    the loop? Cheers Jonas

    • avatar
      Posted at 08:32h, 20 December

      Hello Jonas, next steps are:
      -Fil making a demo video
      -Eventually final audio adjustments on the replica (making it less hissy, even though the original SVDS is hissy too, maybe via internal on/off switchable noisegate)
      -Opening a preorder list
      -starting production ru
      Alright? 🙂

      • avatar
        Posted at 08:57h, 20 December

        Banane, thanks – look forward to this 🙂
        Cheers Jonas

  • avatar
    Posted at 01:37h, 19 December

    Hey Fil, tongiht I went to see livewire the ac/dc tribute band, they came to the town whee I live. It was awsome on of the guys loaded the cannons up with too much powder and it blew the roof of the building out haha! I thought my right ear drum had exploded!

    The main reason I have decided to share this with you is that, Malcolm Youngs actual (real) guitar tech was himself at the show as he also helps the tribute band, I couldnt belive it in my local town what was he doing there? I got talking to him he telling me about how the 2 year tour was a long one and telling me about their on stage set up, the only thing I thought may have been slightly inaccurate was he said that angus had done some albums on a JCM 800, and that the best ay to get angus’s sound was on a JCM 800, obviously from what you have discovered that isnt quite true, but never the less he was a genuinly nice man. Kinda strange talking to someone whos got Angus and Malcolm youngs numbers in his phone contact list haha! 🙂

    • avatar
      Posted at 10:34h, 19 December

      In fact, there are minor diferences between a JMP and a JCM 800. They are basically the same circuit.

      • avatar
        Posted at 12:36h, 19 December

        Only the first JCM800’s with the vertical inputs. The horizontal input JCM’s are completely different. Only late JMP’s and early JCM’s are quite the same.
        But those are very bright sounding, and need G12-65’s to sound ‘fuller’, compared to greenbacks. They have very few bottom end.

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