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Softube

Softube
( 34 user reviews on products )
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User reviews on Softube products

Silky Smooth - the Tube-Tech CL1B (Tube-Tech CL1B)

By S2D, 20/09/2014
The Softube Tube-Tech CL1B is a plugin emulation of the original hardware unit by the same name. The hardware compressor has been around since 1987 and was created in Denmark as an updated LA-2A opto style of compressor. It has a legendary reputation and a starring role as the go to compressor in many top studios around the world, so it's easy to see why Softube decided to make a plugin to mimic the hardware. From the beginning, installation is straight forward although you do need an iLok to run the plugin...and the less said about that the better.
Anyway, once you have everything up and running in your DAW the configuration is very simple and the GUI is exactly the same as the hardware unit and beautifully done, infact you'll probably spend the first 5 minutes foaming at the mouth at how good it looks but of course it's not all about the looks, luckily though it sounds even better. The manual should be briefly consulted to get yourself familiar with the 3 different 'attack/release SELECT' sections, or you could just take my word for it when i say;

'Fixed' has an Attack time of 1 millisecond, and a Release time of 50 milliseconds.

'Manual' allows the user to set the attack time from 0.5 to 300 milliseconds and the release time from 0.05 seconds to 10 seconds.

and 'Fix/Man' is a combination of both and you will definitely need to read the manual for this as it is quite complex

It also features a side-chaining option like a lot of other compressors, the manual has a section where it gives settings to try for different applications such as vocals, guitars etc and this could be a starting point for new users of the CL1B.

SUITABILITY/PERFORMANCE

Upon opening the plugin in your DAW, the default setting will have the attack and release setup on manual selection which means the user can control the attack and release settings over the left like a normal standard compressor. The ratio ranges from 2:1 up to 10:1 so it is fairly flexible in this department. For a lot of standard compression jobs like bass, piano, guitar and vocals - keeping the ratio, attack and release knobs set to around the 12 o'clock position gives some nice consistent results that are transparent yet a subtly 'goey' and 'gluey' feel just like a good analogue compressor although not quite as strong. On vocals and bass, the CL1B gently and smoothly caresses the signal with modest attack, release and threshold settings, to sit perfectly in most mixing situations and is clean enough to use on voiceover tracks if used with 2-3db of levelling gain reduction.

The performance to CPU usage ratio is excellent, you can safely run multiple instances of the plugin in 1 session along with other EQ plugs and VST's you would normally use as well without any straining of your computers processor. The Tube-Tech CL1B is ultra friendly in this respect i've found while using a macbook with 4GB of RAM on OSX 10.6.8 in Logic Pro 9. It's as stable as a horse's home.

OVERALL OPINION

One of my personal favourite uses of the CL1B is for adding an extra bit of saturation to electric guitar tracks. Put the CL1B on an aux send track to use as a parallel compressor and for any 'Big' choruses or moments when the guitar should be front and centre, then automate the guitar send level generously until you get about 10db of gain reduction from the CL1B and make sure to have the threshold low and the attack/release SELECT at 'Fixed' which will grey out the attack and release knobs and listen to the extra bit of crunch and power it adds to the guitars when blended in with the original tracks. This can also work on vocals, bass, keys, synths and drums. An excellent Parallel compressor with great character when pushed. I would buy the Tube-tech again and again because it really is that good. With new plugins coming out left, right and centre every week it seems, it can be easy to forget how impressive the results are from this plugin which has been around since 2009, but in terms of sound quality the CL1B is up there with the very best along with it's user friendly GUI and classic settings, you really can't go wrong with it and with a price tag that is 2 grand less than the real hardware unit - it's a no brainer really if you have the 200 dollars to spare.

The iLok issue does put a dampener on an otherwise amazing plugin of the highest quality, but looking past that i would recommend this plugin to anyone who works primarily ITB. It's silky smooth, opto sound works a treat on many instruments and works magic on vocals, which is my personal favourite use for it. Having not used the hardware before, i can only go by what other engineers who have experienced the hardware have say about the comparison - and it is mostly all positive opinions on that matter. Mix engineer Tom Elmhirst uses the hardware Tube-Tech CL1B as one of his main compressors and with credits like Adele and Amy Winehouse's biggest hits to show then that says a lot about the quality of the unit. Attack Magazine rated the CL1B in the top 20 compressors of all time (number 4 to be exact) and state that the Softube CL1B plugin is one of the best emulations ever made. The link for that article can be found right here if you wish to look for yourself - https://www.attackmagazine.com/features/top-20-best-hardware-compressors-ever-made/17/

So if you are in the market for a top digital compressor with a clear and engaging layout based on time-tested classic hardware, then the Softube Tube-Tech CL1B should be one of your purchases. Don't think about it, just get it.
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A Specific Mixing Control Surface (Console 1 mkII)

By Cypraeneus, 24/09/2018
Used with a Mac and Studio One Pro 3.

It is a surface control with the specific controls of a channel strip organized into 7 sections:
- input level, low-cut and high-cut filters a phase inversion
- gate and transient control
- 4-band EQ with selectable frequences and Q…
- compression with selectable values for ratio, threshold, attack and release time (gain is automatic)
- controls for drive and character (the latter to provide an analog color to the sound) as well as output level, plus two solo and mute keys
Finally, on the up and down sides, two series of controls for tracks, presets or plug loading (I’ll detail these later on).

Nothing too fancy so far. There are some well-done video tutorials around.

The device is wonderfully designed, all made of metal with readable indications, quality knobs and control keys which are well enough spaced for anyone – even those among us with big fingers –, and LEDs everywhere to make it more readable.

Let’s get straight to the point.
This is a USB- supplied MIDI control surface with no DSP, aimed at controlling not only a collection of Softube plugins emulating professional consoles but also some Universal Audio plugins since version mkII.
Please note that:
- the SSL4000 plug-in comes with the device
- two other consoles are emulated, plus some sort of plugin recycling that can count as a third one (Summit Audio Channel). Other models are rumored to be in the making.
- All UAD plugs are not emulated, notably the channel strips (!!!) so check the list of available plugins
So if you’re not a UAD user, it’s not obvious that getting this device should be a priority for you. There are of course exceptions (listed below).

Depending on the piece of software that you use, you can control the pan, volume, select a track, solo and mute. Well, some DAWS but not all: so far, I believe Sonar and Studio One to be the ones with the best integration (though they’re not the most used.
Most parameters featured on the surface can be automated.

Regarding its ergonomic aspect, the manufacturing quality and clear (as well as rather classic) layout of the parameters make it a comfortable, intuitive (almost instictive) and easy-to-use surface.
But what makes a big difference is Softube’s cleverness to NOT hav but tiny or badly-oriented LED Screens, but to consider how obsolescent such screens are especially while such a device is bound to be used with a real screen. So? Well, just press a small button labelled DISPLAY and you get everything appearing on your screen – all controls, and even 4 display modes!

There are two annoying things however: the absence of a transport bar type control and of a motorized fader – a real pity!
That would have made it the perfect device. So yeah, I know, Softube has stated before that the Console 1 ONLY aims at controlling the parameters from a single channel strip… But that doesn’t rule a motorized fader out.
Finally, in a mixing context, a transport bar is useful, Native Instrument have understood the ergonomic interest of it as they have featured one on their keyboards.
While here, you’ll have to use your keyboard and mouse, or invest in a surface control with a transport bar and fader…
So, to make it short, a Console 1 mkII with a faderport behind would have been as close as it gets to plain perfect.

Now, one can wonder if it’s worth the €500 it costs. I’ll now get to what motivated me to purchase it.
First, the excellent SSL plugin that comes with it. As I have neither the budget (purchase, service…) or space to own such a console, a great emulation with physical controls (which is more or less what this product is about) is a real asset. But it’s of course all about tastes, so it’s up to you to decide if this is for you or not. This one plugin has replaced a whole series of plugins that I used before, it’s incredibly efficient and as usual with great plugins if you barely change one parameter and it sounds good then it’s great.
Also, I’m a UAD user… (a question of tastes, again).
Finally, I intend to buy an 8-fader controller anyway, but for a tight budget that could be a real issue!

Edit from September 2018:
This one is VERY sturdy: it fell twice from my deck – I have a 2-year-old daughter… Except for a slightly bent corner, it still looks in its prime! It would deserve an extra half-star...
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