After extensive testing and auditioning various products, Vai remarked, "BAE is the clear winner, simply stunning—kind of magical."
Choosing BAE's new remanufacturing of the 1073 mic pre/equalizer, Vai did a comparison with the original, a modern day circuit board replica, and BAE's new unit. "BAE has the smoothest and most responsive EQ I have ever heard," he commented. "It just adds a beautiful air and is clearly superior. I tested the mic pres without any EQ and they come back fat, round and warm. The edges aren't too sharp--and for the guitar, that is so important. You can EQ for days with this BAE gear and it just brings the sound to life. It's like every day is Christmas."
"It's all discrete and completely hand-wired," explains Mark Loughman, who after serving as chief engineer for many years is now CEO and owner of BAE. "The original Neve 1073 mic pre/EQs are known as the Holy Grail of outboard gear, but manufacturing was discontinued in the '70s. Eventually that supply has dried up, so we have gone to the original component suppliers to continue the legacy."
As the owner of a classic API console for years, Vai is especially critical of modern day mic pre reproductions based on that standard. "I experimented and changed the op amps, but until now, I could never find anything that retained the integrity of that old API sound. BAE's new 312A mic-pre and DI is leagues ahead, right up there with the integrity of the original."