“Silk” is one of the standout features on many Rupert Neve Designs preamps, including their flagship Shelford Channel mic preamp, and on RND’s limited-edition 5025 Dual Shelford 2-channel model. While the Shelford on its face is a very transparent mic preamp, the Silk & Texture circuit on the output transformer lets you add “color” by fine-tuning the amount and type of harmonic content in your signal.
As Rupert Neve Designs explains it, “When you apply SILK RED, you’re enhancing harmonic content generated by the highs and high mids of your source. This adds a sparkly sheen to the top end, and is often ideal for sources including vocals, snare, strings, pianos, and other acoustic instruments.
With SILK BLUE, you’re enhancing harmonics generated by the lows and low mids of your source. This tends to ‘beef up’ a signal from the bottom up, making it a great choice for drums, bass guitars, heavy electric guitars, male vocals, and synthesizers.“
When you push the Silk button, the preamp cycles through Silk modes Red, Blue, and OFF. Red Silk mode emphasizes higher frequencies, and Blue Silk mode emphasizes lower frequencies, while the Texture knob lets you adjust the amount of Silk harmonics you’d like to add to the output — from zero, to roughly 4-5% total harmonic distortion (second and third order).
RND’s Silk Mode: Can You Hear the Difference?
Check out our samples on acoustic guitar, and see if you can hear the difference RND’s Silk Mode makes!
Guitarist and engineer Gary Nobody (as he likes to go by!) made these test recordings through the 5025 Dual Shelford, with the Silk switch set to OFF/Red/Blue, and the Texture knob at its maximum setting to deliver the greatest sonic effect.
To record these samples, Gary used a stereo pair of Neumann KM 184 small-diaphragm condenser microphones 12″ from his Taylor 816ce steel-string acoustic guitar, with an sE Electronics Reflexion Filter Pro isolating baffle behind the cardioid mics. Preamp gain was set to +36 dB, high-pass filter set to 100 Hz, with phantom power on as required for the condenser mics.