Softube: Tube-Tech Classic Channel Bundle
Superbly engineered by Swedish software developers – Softube – and released in April 2011, the Tube-Tech Classic Channel Bundle combines 3 high-end plugins which supply the vintage characteristics of the Tube-Tech: PE 1C & ME 1B ‘passive’ program equalisers and the CL 1B Optic compressor hardware units derived from legendary Pultec and Teletronix models. The Tube-Tech Classic Channel is a highly musical processing tool for shaping the sound of a track or the whole mix.
PE 1C: Regarded by many as ‘the’ PulTec EQ plugin because it captures every nuance of the hardware version – The Tube-Tech PE 1C is a passive, tube-based equaliser suitable for many different sources ranging from bass, drums, guitars and vocals. The PE 1C controls the ‘low end’ with a Frequency Selector and 2 Low Shelf Filters designed to boost and attenuate a signal simultaneously. The Low Shelf filters, when used in combination, are slightly off-set which creates a characteristic dip in the frequency curve which is indicative of the ‘vintage’ PulTec sound. There are a further two sections in the PE 1C dedicated to boosting and attenuating the higher frequencies of a signal. After selecting the high frequency range using the Frequency Selector and dialing in the Q (frequency bandwidth) the signal can be boosted creating a ‘bell’ shape boost. To attenuate the high frequencies – you would choose from frequency range from any of the 3 frequency bands available using the ‘Atten Sel’ rotary and adjust to suit. The level of the full processed signal can be controlled at the plugin’s Output Gain stage.
ME 1B: The Tube-Tech ME 1B Mid-Range Passive Equaliser is a great tool for shaping the mid- range of any audio material as it affords Low & High Frequency Peaking and Mid frequency Attenuation. The ME 1B was designed to control the frequencies that the PE 1C doesn’t adjust. The ME 1B provides a frequency range from its Low Frequency Peak at: 200Hz – 1KHz to the High Frequency Peak of up to 7KHz. The ME 1B also shares a switchable high frequency boost range of: 1.5KHz to 5KHz. As a mid range EQ the ME 1B is considered ideal for Vocals and Snares although it will work its magic on a wide selection of audio signals.
The ME 1B together with the PE 1C delivers a high quality, versatile and full featured equaliser unit which equips the Tube-Tech Classic Channel with its potential to control a wide range of frequencies. The ability to combine the different filters and EQ sections through a process of: Frequency Selection, Attenuation and Boost – plays such a crucial part in the plugin acheiving its classic Pultec sound while providing more exact sound sculpting.
CL 1B: The CL 1B Optic Compressor plugin, through its expert Softube modelling, provides an appealing and distinctive vintage ‘warmth’. It contains all the tube based characteristics of its hardware counterpart including a unique gain reduction structure with a low harmonic distortion and switchable Attack/Release combinations.
The CL 1B Attack/Release Select Switch: Allows the user to switch between a manual and a fixed attack/release setting. But it also makes it possible to combine both the fixed and the manual settings to obtain complex program dependent release time slopes, a feature uncommon with other compressors.
The CL 1B Gain Control: Is a “make up” gain available for replacing gain loss which takes place when compressing a signal. It is placed after the gain reduction circuit and therefore has no influence on the threshold setting.
Metering In CL 1B: There are 3 types of signal monitoring available through the CL 1B Compressor using the Meter Select Switch, they are: Input level – Gain Reduction or Compression (VU) – Output level. The VU meter does not reflect Peak or RMS levels. By design, it is true to the original hardware unit and provides monitoring levels for the signal gain reduction when using compression.
The CL 1B Side Chain: CL 1B accommodates Side Chain functionality both as an Internal and External feature in all host DAWs that support the use of side chain. The use of the Classic Channel EQs does not affect the External side chain signal in the CL 1B compressor.
Routing & Gain Structure: The workflow of the Classic Channel provides a lot of flexibility in performance as each plugin unit may be isolated for single use processing. The processors can also change their order within the processing chain using the plugin’s Bypass & Routing Panel. This plugin feature provides all the flexibility needed to engage or bypass any processor unit within the Classic Channel. It can also position the EQs before, or after the compressor. However, when the EQs are inserted before the compressor you need to consider the Gain Staging of the PE 1C and ME 1B – as they will affect the threshold and gain reduction of the compressor. That said, if you make sure the track audio level stays more or less the same when you bypass the unit then it will be easier to bypass, compare and also to switch the order of the compressor and equalisers.
Out of the box and straight into the box – working with the Tube-Tech Classic Channel Bundle takes a little time getting to know it. The effort is worth it though, because this is a gem of a processor bundle which deservedly commands attention. There is an easy to follow section in the Softube Plugins manual which is as detailed as it is graphically illustrated and certainly gets the user workflow up to speed.
Like all Softube offerings, the Classic Channel benefits from the Company’s patented Simulation Technology, where every component, down to the subtlety of the output transformer, is taken into account. Regarding overall quality at the output? The Tube-Tech Classic Channel is stunning. It is exclusively rich and warm, and carries with it the inherent superior sound quality produced by Softube’s outstanding software engineering. There is a confidence factor involved when working with the very best and one which elevates our productions to that higher ground – almost Nirvana – because when the results sound good – then we know of its bliss.
Brought to you courtesy of Soundwrx Digital