I have decided to discontinue the Rectified Leveler because I feel its not unique enough to carry the Lightning Boy badge (there is actually a badge now). The Rectified Leveler is based on a previous LBA product, the LB2A, which was the second product ever offered by Lightning Boy Audio. The first was a passive summing box, which was discontinued long ago. Lets face it, the LB2A was literally a copy of a vintage LA2A, but with paper in oil caps. The Rectified Leveler offers a lot more features and has a sound that's a touch different from an LA2A, but its still based closely on the LA2A. Orders can still be placed until August 31st, but as you've seen from the pedals, when I say its dead, its dead.
The reasons for ending production of the RL are more than just the simple fact that its not unique enough for LBA. I'm planning to offer a few more products over the next year and I wanted to slim down the product catalog anywhere possible before hand. Being a small business (I'm the only guy building LBA products by hand), I'm very in tune with inventory and purchasing. Its not cost effective for me to offer a wide range of products that require vastly different components. Its more cost effective for me to stock a bunch of the same components. That said, I recently developed an amplifier topology and power supply that can be easily tweaked to work in most line level applications while offering breath taking performance. The performance of my new amplifiers is incredible to say the very least and I intend to implement them in as many facets of LBA designs as possible. It is the new sound of Lightning Boy Audio and my proud self can't wait to share it with the world. :)
The past 3 days were devoted almost entirely to R&D. It started accidentally and lead down a long rabbit hole which ended in my complete amazement. The R&D pertains mostly to the Flux Bender EQ's amplifier stage, but also pertains to the LBA 1401 Stereo Microphone amp because the two amplifiers are essentially the same. Basically, there is a revision to the 1401 Stereo Microphone Amp, which will be coming out mid August.
Working on personal project, I found that by wiring up a matched pair of 6X4 rectifier tubes in a push/pull configuration I was able to increase the B+ voltage, while also doubling the mA output and creating a more regulated voltage. This revelation led me to bust open my prototype passive EQ and work out a more perfected version of this twin rectifier supply. I decided to change some power filter caps for different values and tweak some resistor values to get the most out of the twin rectifiers. Then I added on a pair of NE-2 neon regulators to get a perfectly rock solid 343v B+. The changes to the power supply resulted in an increased voltage of about 5v and more B+ amperage than the EQ would ever need. The changes to the B+ supply made me want to re-bias the EQ's amplifier tube... a change I will never regret! I mounted a pot on the front panel of the EQ so I could adjust the bias by ear, while simultaneously recording before/after changes into Pro Tools. I found the magic sweet spot, which was actually sweeter than ever before!!!
Previously with the EQ bypassed and audio running through the amp things sounded fairly transparent, with some coloration - but essentially no significant changes to the sound quality. The noise floor was measured at -76dB. After the power supply and bias changes the EQ's amplifier (eq bypassed) sounded AMAZING! It blew my mind, but it actually made the original audio sound more "real." I could hear subtle details in the source material that I didn't even realize was there. After listening to the original source material again I struggled to hear those subtle intricacies in the sound of the music... in fact it seemed like they weren't there. This amplifier was able to extract something from the music that was clearly there, but hidden from sight. That's the magic, folks! Well, as excited as I was about the sound, I decided to test the S/N ratio. The new noise floor was measured to be -85dB!!! Woah! Where did 9dB of noise go? Amazing.
To end this long rant of discovery, I will be building a new 1401 Stereo Mic Amp for LBA Studios in a couple weeks and all future builds will get the same. It will incorporate twin rectifiers, the new bias settings, and the front panel indicator lamp will be replaced by a more functional regulator tube glowing behind a clear jewel. What does this mean for the 1401 Preamp? More headroom for one, but also a richer, more detailed tone. It will also get the back panel branding, "Rev A."
I recently got back from a week in the tropics for my honeymoon. My hands needed the vacation and where very thankful to finally have a break from working metal and building circuits. Now that we're all healed up its time to dig in to some long awaited projects. I spent my first few days back building some acoustic upgrades to the live room at LBA Studios and this week I'm living in the studio recording an album for a band called Molten Wax (you can meet a couple members in the new Gravitone 30 video). As soon as we're finished tracking I'm planning to build a new plate reverb for the studio so we have the ultimate reverb for Mixing their album. I'm still using my version 1.0 plate reverb at LBA Studios, but in a week or two we'll be upgraded to the new 1401 Plate Reverb (with remote-auto dampening panel upgrade)... and you can expect an impressive new demo video.
As soon as the reverb is done I intend to start working on the very long awaited production model stereo tube eq... The Flux Bender. It will be done this year. I'm making a promise to myself and to the world. There, its official.
About the Author
Mike Congilosi II, Owner/Designer/Electronics Engineer at Lightning Boy Audio and Owner/Audio Engineer/Music Producer at LBA Studios.