Mercury Recording Equipment Company
Technology is taking us to new places in recording. But for successfully capturing great recordings that technology needs a helpful hand... from the past. Nothing sounds as good as the American and European tube equipment from the 50s and 60s. Full of warmth, air and musicality. As well, there was short period (late 60s to the early 70s) when the American and European Discrete, Solid State equipment was also wonderful sounding.
Mercury Recording Equipment Co. was started in 2000 by David Marquette who you may know from Marquette Audio Labs in Hayward, CA. After dealing with vintage equipment and racking vintage modules for many years David felt it was time to build some the great equipment of the past from scratch that were not truly available to most people. The first three products (M.66, EQ-H and EQ-P) were helped brought to life by David Bock, who you may know from his great work at Soundelux Microphones. But you might not know David Bock is a highly experienced studio technician and has worked in such places as Hit Factory (NYC) and Ocean way (LA). For studios like those, the in-house microphone and outboard equipment collection is perhaps their most important asset. But they also need constant maintenance to keep them up and running. David Bock got the experience "in the field" (i.e. in the most professional studios) where the equipment we call "Pro Audio" are the essential tools for creating recordings on a daily basis.
The Mercury Recording Equipment Co. line started of three classic recording equipment recreations: the MERCURY 66 is a Variable Bias style, "All Tube & All Transformer Compressor". It is very similar to a Fairchild 660. Due to the shortage of original tubes and transformers it is nearly Impossible to recreate that circuit exactly today. But the MERCURY 66 uses similar circuitry, tubes, custom transformers and design ideas, which recreates the sonic characteristics, performance and features.
Secondly the MERCURY EQ-H1 and MERCURY EQ-P1 "All Tube & All Transformer Equalizers" are tributes to the early Professional Tube EQs such as PULTEC. The MERCURY EQ-H1 and MERCURY EQ-P1 Tube Equalizers recreate the same sonic qualities as the early tube equalizers with that warm, distinctly rich tube sound you want in both your analog and digital recordings today. Focusing on tone, the Mercury Program Equalizers are paying homage to the "vintage" tube equalizers you have come to know and appreciate.
Next, Mercury's owner, David Marquette collaborated with John Hinson to work on the next two Mercury Recording Equipment Co. products: the MERCURY M72s and the MERCURY M76m. John has also worked with a lot of 'vintage' recording equipment in the past. With David's passion and pride in craftsmanship and John's unsurpassed knowledge of the old Telefunken/Siemens modules these projects were very successful. John's credits include: Musician, Beatles Fan and he also helped Universal Audio with their designs and production. John worked as Senior Analog Design Engineer on many projects for them.
The MERCURY M72s Studio Microphone Amplifiers are a recreation and salute of the Telefunken /Siemens V72 modules made in Germany in the 50s and 60s, but most famous for being used by George Martin on the Beatles early recordings at Abbey Road Studio in London, England. The MERCURY M76m is an enhanced recreation of the vintage V76m modules. With output attenuation, level control, as well as selectable input impedance. It also has many other features such as direct input, phantom and phase reverse.
In 2005, many changes happened. Mercury got a 'facelift' by switching to silk screened front panels. Products also became all 'enclosed', and the tubes are no longer mounted on the back of the chassis (except for the M66, which still have the tubes accessible on the back of it's chassis. These changes helped Mercury lower many 'List Prices' and all 'Street Prices' to the end user.
Mercury Recording Equipment Co. also expanded it's line from 5 to 11 products. First, Mercury's David (Marquette) and designer John (Hinson) worked together on the Mercury AM16. This is a tribute to one of David's favorite preamplifier, the 1960s, 'vintage' Langevin AM16. The Class A circuit is famous for being very open and musical. The Mercury AM16 is available as a dual channel version or AM16/1 single channel version.
Secondly, David and John also completed one of Mercury's long awaited projects, the Mercury Grand Pre, a solid state, high gain, 70's British inspired microphone amplifier. The Mercury Grand pre is available as a dual channel version or GP1 single channel version. The Mercury Grand Pre is not a Neve Twelve Seventy Two clone by any means but rather the new Classic British Alternative!
Not to mention there was a single version of high regarded Mercury M72s released called the M72s/1 and a single version of the M76m was released called the M76m/1. Same amazing tone and functions in a single channel, 2U package. Giving another opportunity for people to get the classic, tube tone and quality performance of the Mercury Studio Microphone Amplifiers.
The Mercury FDI was also unveiled in 2005. The Mercury FDI (FET Direct Input) is an amazing proprietary J-Fet circuit designed by John Hinson. The Circuit is a J-Fet circuit but based on a class 'A' tube topology. The Mercury FDI lets you hear every nuance of your direct recording. It sounds amazing in front of tube and solid state circuits, letting the character of the amplifier determine the overall tone.
"I have had the opportunity to work with a lot of the 'classic' or 'vintage' recording equipment. Since 1994, at Marquette Audio Labs, I have racked hundreds of 'vintage' modules including: Telefunken / Siemens V-Series modules (V72 and V76 etc...), Neve, Calrec, Langevin, Audix, Helios, MCI, WSW, ANT, Sphere, Fairchild and more. Now, I am using my continued passion and those years of experience to build quality products that pay homage to the 'classics'.
Now, with Mercury, my goal is to build quality recording equipment that I would want to use myself. Equipment that has tone, in various shades. warmth and character. Equipment that lets you hear as well as 'feel', the musicality. I feel we have met and even surpassed that goal.
We are not 'box shippers' but rather pride ourselves on providing a product or 'tools' to help you create Music. After all, music is why I started doing this in the first place. I have always loved writing, playing, recording and especially listening to Music. So to design and build equipment that provides recording tools for people to make music is a very rewarding job for me."
The advantage of this particular J-Fet circuit is that it has extremely low noise, high input impedance and good immunity from RF. The DI signal is then sent through the entire micamp circuitry (including our custom, massive input transformers) so all that wonderful character of the pre-amp is available for instruments too, unlike most micpre products with a 'D.I. option'. The FDI's gain is adjustable using the main gain control, as well as the input pad.
Basically, it sounds like a hot rodded guitar amp in a box (with no speaker, of course). We think this is a wonderful direct recording tool and now feature it as a standard feature on all Mercury Recording Equipment Co. Microphone Amplifiers.
At this point Mercury Recording Equipment Co. is still more of a "custom shop" than a large factory and continues to grow. Mercury products are labor intensive and proudly built in the United States of America. Assembly is done in house and things are hand built and or hand assembled. It was never our intention to be the biggest or ship the most products but rather to keep the integrity of the products we build as well as the passion of the vintage equipment that inspired us. The vision of Mercury Recording Equipment Co. is to build superior recording equipment and to have the value of quality craftsmanship in the forefront.
In 1999, ironically, the idea and plans for Mercury started in the Control Room of 'Funkhaus Hayward', the Marquette Audio Labs Studio. The live room of 'Funkhaus Hayward' is now where Mercury products are built.