If you’ve spent time in recording studios, or you’re just a gear head, you’re probably familiar with the name Rupert Neve. Neve’s innovative designs, including his famous mixing consoles, revolutionized the sound of recorded music and helped to shape the way music is produced today. Despite his passing in 2021, Rupert Neve’s legacy as a visionary in the field of audio engineering continues to influence and inspire musicians and producers around the world. One of his most influential designs was the Neve 1073 preamp, a feature of many of his recording consoles. These preamps are highly regarded for their amazing tone, great sounding EQ, and the all-around musicality that they impart on almost any instrument or vocal.
If it were up to most of us, we’d have studios chock full of 1073 pres. The only obstacle is the price. Coming in at well over a grand for one channel, filling a studio with 1073s isn’t something you can just do. To buy enough 1073s to record a full drum kit, you might have to sell your car (and an organ or two).
Luckily, there are several companies out there who have taken on the task of building their own iteration of the classic 1073 design, and there are many who have done a fantastic job. We’ve compiled a list of every 1073 clone, with some pros and cons, so you can get that classic tone at a fraction of the price.
Our Top 3 Picks
This single channel 1073 clone is the best combination of value and quality. Warm Audio is known for the affordable and faithful reproductions of classic audio gear, and their WA73-EQ is no exception. If you're looking to splurge just a little bit on a preamp without totally breaking the bank, and the EQ section is important to you, this is your best bet! We've had nothing but great experience with Warm Audio, so if you're looking to get into the world of affordable, pro quality outboard gear, this is a fantastic place to start.
This is the same unit as the WA73-EQ, just without the EQ. If you can live without the EQ, and just care about a great signal going in to your interface, this is the best option for you. If your budget tops out in the $500-600 range but you simply must have the EQ, we'll have some picks for you down below. However, this is our #1 choice for budget 1073 clones just based on sound quality of the preamp alone.
These are affordable enough that pro studios could grab a couple for stereo micing or to have more options in bigger sessions!
This BAE unit is the most expensive piece of gear on the list. It's actually more than a legit Neve1073SPX. So, you may be wondering why it makes the cut. The answer is simple. This is a fantastic sounding unit; one of the most faithful Neve clones out there, and it's also a 2-channel preamp. That means you can record stereo overheads, hard panned acoustic guitars, or two vocals at the same time through this amazing piece of gear. The only downside: it is missing the EQ section, however, for the quality of the preamps and the fact that you get two, we can let that slide.
These are three solid options that will feel right at home in any professional studio. If these selections are a little rich for your blood, we’ve stacked up the budget 1073 clones to see which one is the best option for home studios looking to build their collection, or newer producers looking to build a great vocal chain.
The Best Budget 1073 Clones
Black Lion Audio's attempt at the classic 1073 is a valiant effort. While I prefer the Warm Audio for the EQ and full size chassis, the BLA unit is a solid option as well. This would be right at home in a professional recording studio, and is our top pick for the more budget friendly 1073s!
BLA offers a more affordable MKII version of their B173. It's black instead of blue, and it's also a good bit cheaper. This unit has everything you'd expect from a budget 1073 clone. No EQ, a small frame, and no fancy features. However, it does punch above its weight in terms of audio quality for a preamp of this price.
This Golden Age Project Pre-73 left a little to be desired when it comes to tone. The half-rack size also makes it a little unwieldy to work with when it comes to integrating it with your recording setup. The build quality is around what you'd expect for a unit in this price range, which is to say that it's just alright. Overall, I'd suggest sticking with your built in preamps while saving your money for something a little more premium.
This unit has more flexibility than the standard Pre-73, but ultimately it has similar pitfalls to the other Golden Age Project unit. If you're dead set on getting a 1073 style preamp right now and don't want to spend more that $500, and you also want some EQ options, this is the pick for you. However, if you don't really care about EQ, grab the Black Lion instead and save yourself some cash.
If you’re looking for something a little different, or want to dive into the world of 500 Series preamps, you’re in luck! There are a few options you can grab that will slot right into your API Lunchbox.
500 Series Options
This isn't even a clone! If you want a legit piece of Neve hardware, and you are in the 500 Series world, the Neve 1073LB 500 Series preamp is right up your alley. There's no shame in the clone game, but as far as resale value goes, nothing beats the real thing.
For a long time, I had an entire 6-across lunchbox filled with these preamps. They sound as good as the full size Pre-73 to me, plus they're quite affordable. If you're looking to track big sessions and get that 1073 style sound, this is a decent option. They are quite feature rich for such a compact preamp, too, and the DI input is convenient.
If you’re not familiar, 500 Series or Lunchbox modules are smaller preamps that slot into a “lunchbox” that contains a power supply and XLR inputs and outputs. The modules slide into a slot on the Lunchbox, meaning you can pop our modules in an out without having to re-wire them in your rack. It also allows you to have six preamps in one Lunchbox, or you could build a signal chain that includes a preamp, a compressor, EQ, etc. If you want to learn more about 500 Series modules, check out this article!
Should you get a Neve 1073 Clone?
In my opinion, the Neve 1073 is a great addition to almost any recording setup, and if you can’t afford the real thing, these are some great options that you can add to your gear list without breaking the bank! If you can swing for the Warm Audio options, you certainly won’t be disappointed, but even the more affordable Black Lion Audio preamp will perform well compared to your stock interface pres.
If you found this article useful, feel free to check out our other product reviews here!