By George Shilling and Russell Cottier

Thermionic Culture Vulture Valve distortion unit
Dec 23 2008 Valve distortion unit
Thermionic Culture Vulture

When I reviewed the TL Audio Indigo Valve Distortion Unit I predicted that we would see further expansion in this area of outboard equipment, and, belatedly, here it is.

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TL Audio M1 Tubetracker Small format console
Dec 23 2008 Small format console
TL Audio M1 Tubetracker

Whilst the VTC design has been around for some years and is now established as a successful mid-range/project studio console, TL Audio have toyed with a few different lower-order models over time.

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Waves API Collection Native / TDM plugins
Dec 23 2008 Native / TDM plugins
Waves API Collection

With the proliferation of SSL and Neve emulations that have appeared over the last couple of years, it is perhaps inevitable that there would be an officially licensed set of plugins based on these well-loved API (Automated Processes Inc.) analogue processors.

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Phoenix Audio Nicerizer 16 16 channel DAW summing mixer
Dec 23 2007 16 channel DAW summing mixer
Phoenix Audio Nicerizer 16

The Nicerizer series comprises two distinctly different models; the ‘8’ has a slightly different concept from the ‘16’ which we have here. Both are summing boxes for out-of-the-box DAW mixing.

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Vertigo Sound VSC-2 Stereo VCA compressor
Dec 23 2007 Stereo VCA compressor
Vertigo Sound VSC-2

This German unit is also known as the Quad Discrete VCA Compressor, but the first thing to point out is that the Quad does not refer to multi-channel audio, as this is strictly a stereo unit.

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Thermionic Culture The Earlybird 2.2 & The Pullet
Dec 23 2006
Thermionic Culture The Earlybird 2.2 & The Pullet

Whilst Crane Song lovingly craft transistor-based birds, Thermionic have been building an increasing reputation for bird-based quality valve gear over the last few years.

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Crane Song Trakker Mono compressor / limiter
Dec 23 2003 Mono compressor / limiter
Crane Song Trakker

The Trakker is a new mono compressor/limiter from Cranesong. Although similar in appearance to the STC-8 Stereo Compressor, the designer has taken a somewhat different approach.

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TC Electronic FireworX Stereo effects processor
Dec 23 2003 Stereo effects processor
TC Electronic FireworX

I was intrigued. A couple of die-hard analogue-loving colleagues were salivating over some new equipment. I presumed it was another valve compressor or somesuch.

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Aphex 661 Expressor Tube Compressor / Limiter
Dec 23 2003 Tube Compressor / Limiter
Aphex 661 Expressor

A friend of mine has a theory that any audio equipment is guaranteed to be good if it is American and has an 'X' in its name.

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CLM Dynamics DB500s Expounder Stereo / dual mono dynamic equalizer
Dec 23 2003 Stereo / dual mono dynamic equalizer
CLM Dynamics DB500s Expounder

In the area of studio outboard, there is always room for a new twist on an old idea, and Scottish company CLM have popped up, seemingly from nowhere, with this ‘Dynamic Equaliser’, an EQ with several new twists.

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dbx 160S Two channel compressor / limiter
Dec 23 2003 Two channel compressor / limiter
dbx 160S

The dbx 160 was standard equipment in any studio worth its salt when I started in the business. Not for the faint-hearted, I always suspected that this half-rack, 2U machine was compressing far more than the meter indicated.

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Digitech Studio 400 Four channel multi-effects processor
Dec 23 2003 Four channel multi-effects processor
Digitech Studio 400

The 400 is a black 2U multi-fx box, fairly shallow in depth. On first glance one is immediately put in mind of the Eventide H3000. However, this unit is about half the price of an H3000D/SX.

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DPA 3541 Vocalist and Instrument Microphone Kit
Dec 23 2003 Vocalist and Instrument Microphone Kit
DPA 3541

When scouring the microphone cupboards of the commercial studios I use, I am always delighted to encounter Brüel & Kjær models, (now available under the DPA name). Frequently, these are Type 4006 omni-directional condensers, known for their bright, clear and true characteristics.

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Drawmer Front End One MX60 Mic / line channel strip
Dec 23 2003 Mic / line channel strip
Drawmer Front End One MX60

In the high-end 'voice channel' market, one can easily forget that Drawmer were an early entrant with the Vacuum Tube 1960. They now enter the crowded budget end of this market with the feature packed 'Front End One' MX60.

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E.A.R. / Yoshino 660 Compressor / Limiter
Dec 23 2003 Compressor / Limiter
E.A.R. / Yoshino 660

Esoteric [es–o–ter'ik], adjective inner; secret; mysterious; taught to a select few – This is the dictionary definition of the ‘E.’ of E.A.R. (Esoteric Audio Research), which says much about the philosophy behind the company and its designs.

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Eventide DSP 4500 Ultra Harmonizer
Dec 23 2003 Ultra Harmonizer
Eventide DSP 4500

The Eventide name is synonymous with the studio harmonizer. Their more recent designs include many other types of effects, but the pitch-shifter remains central to all 'Ultra-Harmonizer' models. The most widely known Eventide unit is the H3000 and its variants.

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