July 8, 2024

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Attractively-priced tribute to sought-after Seventies-vintage Sontec MEP-250 classic rarity

As a tribute to the Seventies-vintage Sontec MEP-250 parametric EQ that is still so sought-after today, Z&H Designs contemporarily created HVC250 with five true parallel bands on each channel as a direct result of spending five years redesigning the increasingly rare and pricey original’s classic circuitry, ultimately producing many components in-house before handcrafting the resultant five-band parametric EQ in readiness for testing on over 100 commercial projects prior to launching the brand. But although the now commercially available HVC250 is as attractively priced as it physically looks, it is actually built the expensive way with 14 independent high-voltage op amps outperforming traditional IC op amps in terms of bandwidth and dynamics. Indeed, its specifications speak volumes — frequency range: 15Hz – 25kHz; SNR: -97.092 dBV (left), -96.021 dBV (right); LF: 15Hz – 800Hz (Q: 0.67 – 4.0 or shelf, ±12 dB boost/cut); LMF: 15 – 800 Hz (Q: 0.67 – 4.0, ±12 dB boost/cut); MF: 160Hz – 8K (Q: 0.67 – 4.0, ±12 dB boost/cut); HMF: 450Hz – 25K (Q: 0.67 – 4.0, ±12 dB boost/cut); HF: 450Hz – 25K (Q: 0.67 – 4.0 or shelf, ±12 dB boost/cut); distortion (left & right channel off): 0.0008%; distortion (left & right channel on): 0.0015% (20 – 20kHz).

As a CLASSIC 5-BAND PARAMETRIC EQUALIZER — to paraphrase the wording subtly emblazoned across its spacious front panel, each of HVC250’s independent bands generously overlap each other and can be independently bypassed. Better still, those generous Q settings allow anyone to perform surgical-style EQ on any track, while the shelf option available at ‘air’ and ’sub’ band levels emulate the LF and HF territorial trickery of that sought-after Seventies-vintage parametric EQ classic rarity that HVC250 so convincingly pays tribute to. That said, extensive field testing has shown that — in spite of the HVC250 design providing such a variety of options — users quickly feel engaged and are able to achieve a desirable sound with only a few tweaks.

The inclusion of excellent electrical components from the likes of Motorola, Nikon, ON, and Philips help HVC250’s all-discrete circuit boards preserve the beauty of analogue equipment, while its modern-day design ethos enables a clean output stage. Saying that, though, a 56V high-voltage linear power supply is central to HVC250’s clear, detailed, solid, and spacious sound quality, helping the five-band parametric EQ handle a higher dynamic range while offering more headroom and effectively reducing noise. Obviously opting to go against the flow of other modern-day brands, Z&H Designs has stuck to tried-and-tested solutions — to the extent of authorising additional outlay on a more effective cooling system.

Since all Z&H Designs products are handcrafted and tested, the signatures of the two working engineers who tested the unit in question will be applied to each and every HVC250 that ships. Speaking of which, the name of every craftsperson involved in its creation is also applied, proof positive that Z&H Designs prefers to take the boutique-grade craftsmanship route rather than becoming another faceless mass-manufacturing operation.

On top of that, purchasers can customise their HVC250 at the ordering stage — switching knobs and changing the front panel design from a selection of available alternatives, or even submitting an original design to better suit their studio setup, for example, as well as choosing a 6 dB boost/cut option, itself including a dedicated panel print. Put it this way: while customised curb appeal may well appeal to many — albeit with additional costs (highlighted here: https://zhdesigns.audio/products/hvc250-stereo-5-band-parametric-eq-customise), an upcoming mastering version of HVC250 with stepped knobs that will soon be making an appearance is surely set to broaden its appeal as an attractively-priced tribute to the sought-after Seventies-vintage Sontec MEP-250 classic rarity still further.

Shipping from Shanghai, China, where units are handcrafted and tested, HVC250 is available to order directly from Z&H Designs for £2,123.00 GBP/$2,699.00 USD/€2,631.95 EUR via its dedicated webpage, which includes more in-depth information, here: https://zhdesigns.audio/products/hvc250-stereo-5-band-parametric-eq

Shipping is free for orders above £208.00 GBP/$250.00 USD to wherever in the world is deliverable by FedEx, UPS, or other legitimate courier companies; full import duty charges into the UK and EU are covered by Z&H Designs itself, while orders destined for the US will not be charged customs duty by default — check out Z&H Designs’ FAQ webpage (https://zhdesigns.audio/pages/faq/) for further information.

See and hear HVC250 in action while watching Z&H Designs’ informative introductory video here: https://youtu.be/Ld8E70Abr90

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