About NPNG

     NPNG is the continuing story of me Karl T. Diehl, born and raised in Yonkers, NY. Growing up an ardent music lover in New York I had the great fortune to be exposed to and influenced by all kinds of contemporary music of the day (1954 - 1978). In 1978 I moved to Atlanta, GA. Where purely by accident, found myself running sound in a nightclub known as the Downtown Cafe. For the 6 months I was working (for free) at the 80 seat "Cafe" I was lucky enough to work with 2 bands of note: Double Trouble with Stevie Ray Vaughan and also the B52s. You can find You Tube videos documenting the performance "B52s at the Downtown Cafe 1978”. During this time I was also taking technical courses in industrial electronics. I continued to work with many local bands and repairing band gear until 1981. In 1981 I was hired on as the House Engineer and Stage Manager at an 1100 seat venue known as The Moon Shadow Saloon. There I was exposed to a wide range of music genres. Working at the Moon Shadow was like working in the "The Music Candy Store". The “Saloon” was producing shows 7 days a week with all kinds of national touring acts coming through on a weekly basis.
 

     In 1984 I started working as a tech at Soundscape Studios Atlanta. From there I started the company known as Mobiltech. Mobiltech was engaged in equipment service, systems design, consulting and installation for many of the great Atlanta Studios. I am thankful for the confidence that Jon Marett (owner / operator of Soundscape) had in my abilities and technical chops. Without that opportunity, I have no idea where I would be right now. Back in the late 80s, Mobiltech also operated as the national service center for both Drawmer and Genelec under the guidance of William Ray and Associates (an Atlanta based pro audio rep firm). Mobiltech was also a regional service center for Otari. In the early 90s I accepted a gracious invitation from Solid State Logic to attend one of there SL4000/6000 maintenance and training seminars at the Begbroke, Oxford factory in the U.K.  This was a great opportunity offered by a great company. Thank You Don Wersba!


     Across my whole career as a studio tech I was working on SSL, Neve, API, and Trident Desks. The tape machines were mostly Studer, Ampex, Otari, and MCI. I was building many custom interfaces, multi-channel active DI boxes, custom crossovers and signal routers and switchers. In 1995 I started NPNG, Inc. This was the beginning of a very exciting time for me. I had always wanted to get more involved in discrete transistor circuit design but never had the time. I built a shop in my garage, stopped answering the phone, rolled up my sleeves and spent the next four months developing the circuits which would become the basis for my pre-amp designs. The design criteria was simple. It had to be reasonably quiet in operation. It had to be stable and reliable. It had to be able to output signal levels at least 20dB above its normal operating level before it would clip at full bandwidth. It had to be sonically equal to the best designs while at the same time having its own unique identity.


     I was fortunate (and still am) to have a great friend in Sonny Lallerstedt. Sonny was an integral part of the design process and a great "sound source" for the pre-amp circuits. Sonny is a fine musician, consummate session player and very good engineer. I would build up prototypes and bring them over to the studio. We would listen to his Martin guitars using Geffell M-300s. He also has a great little Vox AC15 (a real one). We auditioned all kinds of sources: drums and percussion, voice, piano etc. We were finding that the circuits revealed a very high degree of detail while still maintaining an overall warm tone.  I am forever grateful for Sonny's encouragement, insight and talent. He is also one of the nicest guys you could ever share time with. You can check him out at Melanconguitars.com/artists. Sonny presently leads worship at Sanctuary Church Kennesaw GA and continues to produce/play/engineer recording projects.


     NPNG was building and selling the QMP-4 and QMP-4b 4 channel pre-amps through 1997. I stopped production of the units because of a problem which developed. All of a sudden my circuits were oscillating and I was having a hard time figuring out what was going on. I was thinking that it was a result of bad transistor batches. However, after building up a unit with the original devices I was still getting the oscillation. I was able to "work around" this problem but was not willing to produce units that I was not 100% comfortable selling. It never occurred to me that it could be the output transformer! I found out years later that the transformer manufacturer had changed the winding architecture on the units (and did not bother to inform anyone). This in turn changed the reactive loading of the output driver stage in the preamp. Now, NPNG will only use Jensen Transformers. Dave Hill at Jensen assured me that if they were to change something on a given model they would change the model # accordingly. I love the way the Jensen Transformers sound and what they do. Their products are dead on consistent and completely stable coupled to the NPNG circuits.


     In 2005 my phone started ringing off the hook. People were calling about the Shelby Lynne interview which appeared in Recording Magazine. I never read the interview but apparently Shelby had dedicated a whole paragraph about the NPNG pre-amps and had great things to say about them. Shelby is the genuine article. Her music reflects what's in her gut, not the latest trendy music. I really respect her for that.  Thank You Shelby for giving me the courage to get back to doing what I love to do. You can find out what Shelby is up to at www.shelbylynne.com. And, by all means if Shelby and the band are playing in your neighborhood go check them out-You will not be disappointed.


     At this time, I decided to re-evaluate the validity of bringing the pre-amp back to the marketplace. I borrowed a unit from a friend of mine and sent it up to Fletcher at Mercenary Audio for evaluation.  After a couple of weeks I got a call back from him, he was quite impressed with the unit but thought it could use a couple of embellishments. I completely redesigned the chassis, added the variable pad and the 80Hz HPF. I had 2 variations of the line amp section. The first (and original), being more neutral sounding and the second having more warmth. Hands down, the warmer version was the preferred option. Ironically, the "warm" version was the "work around" mod to fix the original units when I was having the transformer issues in 1997. Fletcher has been paramount in helping "finish" the MP series designs and "steering" it to market. I look forward to working with him in the future and wish him well with his newest endeavors at Telefunken Elektroakustik and Soundpure.



About NPNG

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