Golden Age PRE-73 and EQ-73
The quest for an authentic sounding Neve 1073 preamp and equalizer has turned many a jovial audio engineer into a mad hatter who’ll throw mics at you for singing love songs, and curse at popular streaming services for no apparent reason (do we need a reason?). What’s worse, all original 1073s have been in service so long it’s difficult to select a holy grail unit to compare with the numerous clones that proliferate madly with every passing Sweetwater catalog. And the damn things are so expensive that experimentation is prohibitive. Have no fear my mad hatter friends, for I have played through some very nice Neve 1073s and can attest to the sublime, ah yes almost spiritual, feeling of blasting a guitar through these devices. So it was with great surprise that I discovered the versions built by Golden Age Project, a Swedish maker of high-end recording gear that made a foray into the clone market to great success.
How did I end up trying these? Okay, I purchased them as an experiment, despite what I said earlier. But aha! These are suspiciously affordable! The preamp unit costs about $350 depending on the model you want, and the matching EQ unit is about $380. How could they be any good at that price, and manufactured in (gasp) China?! I haven’t tried every 1073 clone at this price point, or all the other expensive ones out there, so this review isn’t meant to be a “shoot-out” (how can you tell from YouTube videos how a device really sounds anyway). The message is much more direct: the company’s Pre-73 and matching EQ-73 have that beefy, crankable sound I recall from the original Neves I’ve played through. There are plenty of respectable pro units out there, but hard to beat this price, quality build, and above all: sound. So, it might be worth “the experiment” and acquire the set. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Here’s a trick: the units are meant to be connected together, but if you have a preamp that has an insert, or can patch the EQ in after the preamp in some way, you can use the EQ by itself. I asked the company about doing this and was told I might lose some headroom in the high frequencies, but honestly I didn’t notice a difference.