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VIDEO: How much do you want to add real tube magic to your DAW? (Features Freqtube FT-1)

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Ricky Ray:  Freqtube FT-1 Is a great piece of gear but very expensive near $1k USA. And with valves there’s the most common preamp tube 12AX7/ECC83 dual triode, and the occasional EF86 pentode very different tube tones. A simple proof is the Matchless DC30 amp with 2 different tube preamps featuring those two preamp tubes.

William Palminteri:  Hello DM,
Once again elaborating on my comment from last month, I took it upon myself to build a 6SN7GT tube emulator plugin, complete with thermal noise, etc., and inserted one on 16 channel inputs of my Cakewalk DAW, and also on the output bus.
After taking some noise and distortion measurements I asked myself what the the H**L I was doing, trashing up a perfectly good DAW with early 1940s technology.
Did it sound 'better'? 'Warmer'?
Assuming it did, I'm so used to digital purity that I can't really answer that question.
As an aside, that classic Neve console sound is probably due to Rupert's use of transformers for D.C. isolation in the signal path of his modules. But that's another story....
Best regards,
Bill P.

Stephen Wise:  Tube equipment was common when I began my career. I look at it today and say: "Uh, no, I don't want to go back to that."

Solo Performer:  Can you do the same with valves?

BBM:  Your premise is proved wrong by your own words.

Glic Mathan:  There are very real differences that we can hear and feel; not just in comparing two tracks processed differently, but in the overall effect when all tracks are mixed together. The headroom on high end mic preamps is a great example of the “magic” that can infuse a mix. Tubes color and warm the signal just as tape saturation adds it’s own natural compression. Digital is much more fussy and less forgiving. I love digital editing but not much else about digital audio apart from convenience. We are in a “convenience age” for sure. You can’t record in the box exclusively without plug-ins on each track. Much better sounding recordings can be made to tape with just a little compression and reverb on the stereo mix. Low end is notoriously difficult with digital and easy to capture to tape. Many big studios still record drums and bass to tape. Consider that there are all kinds of plug-in analog simulators today, and for good reason. Digital recording is flat and sterile without them. That’s why outboard gear, including tube tech, is still immensely popular. If digital had it all covered as a superior medium, there wouldn’t be this massive plug-in industry geared towards sounding old school (ie analog as exists in the electromagnetic, natural world as processed through our analog ears). Likewise, if today’s music and films were so great, there wouldn’t be so many covers, remakes and “deep fakes” of old content. Its not “old people” complaining that “things used to be better.”They actually WERE better. The technological advancements in the past 150 odd years is unique in human history. For thousands of years there were no recordings at all. Music remained fairly consistent generation after generation. I would argue that the golden age of audio is BEHIND us. It’s all quick and easy, cheap simulation and fakery now, which won’t be helped by AI.

Anthony:  Playing my strat through a transistor amp is a disgrace !

Max Carola:  This is great, especially the introduction about the immersion in old fashioned sounds. This is why we still like an SM57 on the snare or on guitar ams. It's so familiar sound!
It seems to me that all the magic is related to that second harmonic distortion and slight saturation that I believe I can easily replicate with a plethora of plugins that I have into my DAW. Just that when it's right the added component is so little that we end up using way more than needed. In the hardware stuff we are never that exaggerated, mostly because of the built in safetyes that don't allow to screw the sound more than a certain level. In the analog world no one really want or actually CAN record 10 dB over a reasonable level without all the red alarm lights of an analog gear scream "WTFAYD"". But I believe that it's a direct translation of old analog techniques into the digital realm without the necessary adjustment of the techniques. Thank you. I subscribed to your channel and I find it really entertaining!

dfasht:  PLugins are shyte

James Rindley:  What can tubes do that mosfets can't? I'm a bit surprised to see you buying into the myth of tube "magic". If someone really wants to add a bunch of harmonic distortion to their music then any nonlinear device will do the trick. Surely a single stage mosfet amp with no NFB will do exactly the same as the tube, choose a depletion mode device if you really want to emulate the tube fully. However, I suspect the myth of tube "magic" has more to do with the high output impedance of tube power amps interacting with the variable impedance of speakers and producing bumps and troughs in the frequency response. Such an amp will emphasize certain details and make some instruments stand out - there's your "expansive soundstage". It'll only do this for some recordings of course, meanwhile other recordings will sound much worse. The audiophile will consign these to the category of bad masters which have now been exposed by the superior resolution of the tube amp.

James Rindley replies to James Rindley: @Audio Masterclass Sure I get it, like that's why most of that tube gear has the glass bottles on the outside so they can be seen. I'd love to do a blind test of a good solid state amplifier and then do the same test with a glowing tube amp visible in the room but not connected.

Audio Masterclass replies to James Rindley: Popular music as we know it today was founded on tubes, or valves as we call them in the UK. It is certainly possible to emulate the sound of tubes with a variety of solid state devices, and digitally. However, there is a feeling of authenticity about actual tubes that many people like. Even if they can get exactly the same sound in other - perhaps more practical - ways, they will still want what they consider to be the real thing. DM

Mr. Lowery:  I have an old Digitech 2101 preamp/FX 2 unit rack gear! I took the tubes out of it and put two AMT solid-state tube replacers and my sound has never been better! LOL Now, I had a solid-state Randall RG100 amp for most of my life so, I like cold amps. LOL

Kalhan:  Choobs

lilregpack:  i closely compared those 2 drum tracks, they are exactly the same.

SeSa:  This channel is literally just sitting on everything I enjoy most and propagating what bores me to tears. It looked like a perfect channel at first. "Emulation." shudder and click

mcpribs:  As someone who has played guitar and bass for over a quarter century, and own a 60’s Gibson and Airline, respectively, and 70’s Ampeg amplifiers for the loud bits, since I’ve owned my HX Stomp, I almost never play those amps, all which were in need new caps. I never thought I’d see the day where digital technology was enough, Keith Williams of five watt world stated when realizing his Stomp got him 90% of the way there, “90% is still an A.”

I would definitely be intrigued by this device, however. 😉

Morbid Man Music:  Yeah, let's get rid of pesky guitars and drums too!

J Huc:  I would avoid using the word ‘better’ and substitute ‘nicer’ Better, to me, means truer to source.

Brian Mac:  850 yoyos? I'll stick with phi-L's Tube Pre plugin. Dev'd by DDMF now.

William Palminteri:  A 'tube emulator' doesn't emulate an old 1950s studio which employed MANY tubes, not to mention all of the inductors in the signal path.

Zebra Troop Fan:  As a guitar player I love tubes. It’s what I play live and I just love the sound.

Mikexception replies to Zebra Troop Fan: Yes but you love bad tube amplifiers - the worse construction and not succesfull sound the better

MajorWebUser:  David – You are one of the clearest speaking audio experts I've come across. I've always been suspicious of the superiority of tubes. I'm an odd American that doesn't like overblown bass or 'colored' sound. You've absolutely nailed it that we've become used to the 'warm' sound of tubes. In such discussions, I often use the simile of light bulbs. Most people find 'true' white light (5000K) too harsh and too blule. While it is actually very close to what we see as sunlight on a clear day, people overwhelmingly prefer warm white (around 2000K) because that's the color of lighting with which they grew up. As you point out, there is no right or wrong. It's a matter of acquired taste. What will be interesting to see as the next decade progresses and class D products and related offerings change the face of audiophile equipment. Your services will become even more important as people attempt to message the sound coming out of their highly adjustable systems. Thanks for posting such worthwhile content!

Mikexception replies to MajorWebUser: Average people when looking at tubes "simplify the life" by connecting different view to different sound They tent to put blame for "difference" on tubes.With no proven excuse. I am pretty sure it is childish. Both - solid and tubes color sound but in about 10X different frequency ranges. All this is the result of phase shifts but in tube technology problem is small and a lot of perfect tube amplifiers working with designed speakers in past were produced . Thing is today only a few could listen to them

To solve it in solid technology is impossible. (except when is using output transformer) The reason is speaker cabinet Then with solid amplifieers all pray tor low output impedance and great damping of speakers. which is no possible With tube technology they just are def? No, typical tube amplifier is much better to control bass due to it's design

Starman57:  If you already have some tube or transformer based preamps, you can do this for free by routing an Aux to an external output port of your interface, analog signal into a line level input of the pre (adjust it to taste) and feed it back on an interface input. This is actually fairly common practice on mix buses.

Justin Fisher:  If I want or need harmonics I just use Waves Cobalt Saphira. Job done. Using a real tube amp or preamp from a DAW send just sounds like a collosal wate of time, money and effort to me.

Scott Cortez replies to Justin Fisher: yes, you can use waves, but using a real tube isn't a colossal waste of time, or money; it is an effort though, all worthwhile art is.

Mikexception replies to Justin Fisher: You can compensate fault of solid amplifier with artificial coloring but it never will lead to perfect sounding in degree in which perfectly designed tube amplifier can do.

Jim Hines:  Instead of using a tube plugin, have you tried Harrison's Mixbus software? It's one of the best sounding DAWs I have ever heard.

Jim Hines replies to Jim Hines: @Craig Scott Frost You are absolutely correct. Good mention. Just add the Harrison 32C channel strip plugin to any DAW, and you get the same sound. Or any other tape saturation plugin(s) you desire. I just happen to think the Harrison one sounds the most natural (my opinion only). For novices, any reasonable mix will sound better when using it, as opposed to not using it. With that said, if you use ProTools and decide to use the 32C plugin (or any other), well you would have to use the plug on every channel. Not so convenient. Using mixbus avoids this complication.

Craig Scott Frost replies to Jim Hines: That sound is the added tape saturation emulation, as well as EQ curves and compression if you use them. The same sound can be added to any DAW. If you turn all that off in 32c, it sounds exactly the same as any other DAW.

Federico Ferretti replies to Jim Hines: Mixbus sounds great,but it's absolutely not CPU friendly 😭

Ean curtis:  I use a hardware 1073 into a tube mic pre in my signal chain.. it does make a huge difference I like things fat n dirty but unfortunately I have to give my mixes to people who master on computers and it looses alot of grit when it's mastered ...I wish people still mastered to 2 inch tape !!!!

Liam Porter:  Thanks for sharing.

Sahin Habesoglu:  So, human ear likes to hear distortion!

Mikexception replies to Sahin Habesoglu: At power about 10% of amplifier nominal power distortions are meaningless the same as in solid. Excellent tube sounding is noticable. even at 0,2 W

Paul:  How about a tube preamp.

Swan Gonzalez:  It's great to see your face finally. Much more engaging. Used to listen to just your voice. Thank goodness for putting audio quality in proper perspective. Cheers

C.F C.F:  The future is hybrid. We are in a golden age of analog because the newer generations of audio pros realize the value of analog after inheriting the ethos that digital was better from Gen X and some Baby Boomers. The assertion this video makes simply is not where the market is going despite what the speaker's subjective opinion is on the matter. Personally I disagree. Audio production is an art, not a binary application of digital vs analog (tubes). The sum should always be greater than the parts and the journey is material for the outcome.

BBM replies to C.F C.F: Hallelujah!

Five Chord Music:  Sounds like the phase changed in the example. Just me ?
Love your no BS presentations David :)

Eudon Robinson:  I have one of these waiting for me at home, can’t wait to try it out tomorrow

John Wu replies to Eudon Robinson: So how is it? What r your thoughts after using it for a few days?

Self-Law:  Thanks paul.

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Tuesday April 18, 2023

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David Mellor

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

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