Wunder Audio PEQ1 Mic Pre/EQ – A Blast From the Past Gets a Sonic Makeover. By Michael Cooper
In 1971, Led Zeppelin bass and keyboard player John Paul Jones ordered a custom console to be built for his personal recording studio. Decades later, Wunder Audio owner Mike Castoro got his hands on a preamp/EQ module from that one-of-a-kind board and was blown away by its sound. Castoro spent the next four years designing and implementing 20 modifications for the module, and the result is the Wunder Audio PEQ1.
Solid, In and Out
The solid-state, fully discrete, Class A PEQ1 can be ordered either as a stand-alone mono module with 18-pin, gold-plated Amphenol connector ($2,250 list) or in a one- or two-channel rack-mountable chassis that also provides XLR and TRS connections for mic, line and instrument inputs and line output (more on these connections in a bit). Although the circuitry for the PEQ1 is unique, Castoro made the stand-alone moduleís form factor and pin-out configuration fully compatible with Neve 1073 modules so that it could serve as a direct replacement in Neve 80 Series consoles (or outboard racks designed for the 1073).
by Mike Jasper, www.deceptivesound.com
When Wunder Audio owner and CM7 creator Mike Castoro was asked to describe his mic, he said it was similar to a U47 but better. I would agree. The Wunder Audio CM7 is the best vocal mic I've ever sung through in my life. Period. And the "better" part is in the sound, especially at the high end of the spectrum, with air and clarity that's missing from the original U47. Oh, and please don't confuse this crystalline high end with the annoyingly bright 3-5k bump you hear so much on cheaper tube mics. I've listened to both, and the difference is huge. My first tests were done at Wunder's own Stardog Studio using my Collings D1A and my own smoky vocals on a song I've sung and played a thousand times. We did a shootout between the CM7 and one of Castoro's selected U47s. He had seven of his elderly beauties ready for us, culled from nearly 150 U47s he had bought and sold over the years as a vintage mic dealer. We tried a few U47s, then selected the one we thought sounded best for my vocals and ran it alongside the CM7. It was undeniable; I preferred the CM7 on both guitar and voice, in both omni and cardioid modes. Later in the week, I blindly re-listened to the CD of that session and again picked out the CM7 as having the sweetest sound.
Wunder Audio PEQ1R. By Garrett Haines - Sept/Oct 2005
I wrote a pretty positive review of the Wunder Audio PEQ-1 back in the June '04 issue. At that time, the unit was available as a replacement module for some vintage consoles, or in a custom rack unit. But console modules are designed to be read in a vertical position. You end up getting a kink in your neck trying to adjust settings when the module is rack mounted. Fortunately, Wunder now offers a single-spaced version of the PEQ1, called the PEQ1R. The controls are rotated 90 degrees for easy left to right use. They've also added a convenient instrument jack on the front.
The PEQ1R has some sonic tweaks since the first PEQ1. Mike Castoro and the crew at Wunder have made additional improvements including an improved amplifier network, a beefed up output stage, and decreased the overall Total Harmonic Distortion (THD). Additionally, the EQ section was enhanced to give a little more separation between the 15k and 20k frequencies. All of this amounts to polishing a unit that was at the top of my list to start.
Wunder Audio PEQ1 PreAmp/EQ/Module By Garrett Haines - June '04
The PEQ1 is a Class-A discrete mic-pre/ equalizer that can be used as a replacement module in vintage Neve 80 Series consoles. For those who don't have an 80 series, a 19" rack mounted version is available (with controls rotated 90 degrees for easy use). Despite the inevitable comparisons, the PEQ1 is not a Neve clone. Our testing proved it is a unique product that stands on its own merit.
Inspired by a one-of-a-kind console built in 1970 for John Paul Jones (of Led Zeppelin fame), the PEQ1 is the culmination of years of testing and development by Mike Castoro and the gang at Wunder Audio in Austin, TX. The inside of the PEQ1 is pristine, with meticulous wiring and impeccable soldering. Top-of-the-line components are used at every junction, highlighted by custom wound transformers. Made by the same craftsman who wound the original Zeppelin modules, the Wunder transformers are so beefy they barely fit in the unit's case.
Wunder Audio CM7 FET MIC Reviewed by Mike Jasper ©2010, Tape Op Issue 77
Thanks to Top Hat Recording, a few of us Austin engineers, producers, and studio owners got to listen to one of the first Wunder CM7 FET mics alongside its inspiration -the Neumann U 47 fet. Top Hat's John Harvey went straight for the jugular and recorded the kick drum first, something the U 47 fet records very well. Mary Podio undertook the tedious task of performing incessant kicks on a Fibes kick drum. As expected, the Neumann sounded great in this application and captured a tight, full-sounding low end. The CM7 FET sounded similar, almost identical to the Neumann in the bottom end but with a little bump in the high mids around 3 kHz. Later, when I added some compression to both kick drum tracks, that 3 kHz bump pretty much disappeared, and the two mics sounded very close to each other. Still, I'd give a slight edge to the Neumann on kick.
The following is a review that can be found on the "gearslutz.com" forum (search: wunder)
So the Wunder arrived yesterday and I thought it was like Christmas or at least my 2nd birthday this week! Except I found I didn't have the right cables to plug it in ... DOH!!!!!!!
So today with mass trepidation I went to a fellow local (Melbourne) slutz shop (studio) to try it out on a few things and do some direct comparisons with 2 of his latest pre/eqs... Focusrite ISA 110LE and Vintech X73.
First of all let me premise this brief report with a few things.
-I bought this Wunder sight unseen or un-heard purely on speculation, slutty interest and amidst a moment of pure gear weakness.
-These are the first impressions and MY OWN opinions from using the unit this afternoon and evening back home with my small Pro Tools setup (as a HW insert) on pre-recorded files. It may be too early to make a valued judgment but here is what I think of the unit so far.
-For all those that thought this was simply another 1073 clone... THINK AGAIN!!. Whilst the Wunder PEQ1R bares some of the same eq points as the venerable 1073 that is where the similarities actually end. I admit that when I first saw these online nearly 6 months ago I was skeptical to say the least, but I'm honest enough to admit my reservations and stand here happily correcting them!
The Wunder of It All - Wunder Audio PEQ1R Mic pre/EQ By Randy Poole - Oct 2005
The folks at Wunder Audio have come up with their version of an early British-style three-band EQ and mic pre. The PEQ1 is different from the other such units available, being based on a module from Led Zeppelin's bass and keyboard player John Paul Jones', custom 1971 Allotrope console with large nickel transformers. Wunder then spent 4 years improving and tweaking this new design to satisfy their desire to build something truly unique.
The PEQ1 is nicely laid out with quality components and wiring throughout. Many of the improvements made to the design were in the EQ and gain stages, adding more EQ points, and more gain stages, which means a more flexible EQ, and more headroom. Some improvements were made in the frequency response. The 3-db roll-off points are 8.7Hz on the low and 118KHz on the top end.
I tested the PEQ1R 19-inch rack mount version with outboard power supply. It also comes in versions to drop right into a console, in place of a 1073, or racked in a 2- or 8-module Wunder Audio rack.
Wunder Audio PEQ1R Mic pre/EQ By Monte Vallier - May 2006
I'd been wondering (sorry) about these mic pres for a long time. I've read about them on gearhead sites and I've seen them at industry shows and in ads. I've only read a couple reviews though and I've never actually seen one in anyone's rack or knew anyone who had used one. I guess I got the first one on my block. I had no preconceived notions.
But according to the lore, the guys were refurbishing a couple of 80 Series Neve consoles and came across some modules that were made for one-of-a-kind desk for John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin. They thought that these modules sounded amazing and figured out that the beauty of the sound was coming from the transformer. Inspired by these transformers, the Wunder folks spent a lot of time in the lab developing and testing their own custom wound transformers that would end up in the PEQ1 series.