Vintage vibe, drive, and the magic tone of the 1567a tube mixer – Mac/PC VST, AU, AAX
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When it comes to creating analog-style warmth, there are few, if any, plug-in manufacturers that can compete with Soundtoys. Just about every plug-in of theirs is notable for the great analog warmth, saturation, and overall tone enhancement of real hardware, all based upon a famous piece of analog hardware. The Radiator is no exception. It’s a really cool plug-in that was modeled on the Altec 1567A tube mixer which was originally introduced in the 1960s. It expertly recreates the tube-like warmth and clarity that this particular mixer was famous for.
Classic Altec 1567A
The best place to hear the qualities of the original gear would be the Motown records of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The in-house engineers at the label would often run their signals through the mixer (which originally had five inputs). This would generate fantastic warmth, which helped give the Motown mixes some extra momentum and cohesion. Considering that tons of recording artists are still emulating the Motown sound even today, it’s no surprise that the Altec 1567A was rediscovered decades later by vintage gear enthusiasts and producers for its great tube tonal enhancement. It has since become a favorite of producers such as Butch Vig and Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys.
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This plug-in does a fantastic job of emulating that same type of tube saturation, all in a compact, straightforward package. The saturation that this plug-in creates is much more subtle than that of other Soundtoys saturation plug-ins, such as the Decapitator. It’s honestly somewhat difficult to notice it in the full context of a mix, but that’s actually the beauty of it. It’s perfect in situations where a signal just needs a little bit of extra power behind it to cut through a mix, without a drastic coloration. The simple controls are actually a benefit in this respect, as they prevent the plug-in from distorting. You have input and output gain knobs, which are basically where the plug-in gets its power. Increasing the input gain while lowering the output gain is what gives it its tube-style warmth, without boosting the volume too much. Interestingly enough, the opposite also works well, albeit differently; boosting the output gain imparts a different type of slightly harsher saturation (but still, in the grand scheme of a mix, it’s pretty subtle). Of course, half the fun comes from just boosting it, period, making the overall signal louder, which is arguably its best application.
On top of all these things, you have a few options for tonal control. There’s a two-way EQ section, with bass and treble boost/cut knobs. These help with keeping this type of saturation in line, especially when you really push it. Despite how little the plug-in colors the sound, it’s still really nice to have a way of boosting or cutting frequencies, as they can either enhance the saturation more fully or prevent unpleasant frequencies from ruining the effect. On top of all of that, the plug-in contains a “noisy/clean” switch, which changes the character of the saturation a bit. The Noisy setting actually imparts a tiny amount of tube hiss, which is actually a very pleasing sound to add to the signal. The clean setting removes the hiss, which is obviously ideal in certain situations. The “Mic/Line” switch also adjusts the overall gain structure of the plug-in, and is likewise good to experiment with to see which setting works in any given situation.
The plug-in’s extremely subtle coloring makes it arguably more useful and versatile than most saturation plug-ins. We’ve tried it on just about everything; vocals, guitars (acoustic and electric), pianos, synths, other keyboards, drums. Pretty much every single time, it enhanced the signal in a pleasing way. If you’ve ever had to mix a project that was recorded with less-than-stellar microphones, preamps, or instruments, you know how hard it is to make those kinds of tracks “pop”. This plug-in is great for doing just that. While it’s obviously not always going to be essential to add it to every signal, it’s good to know that it’s always there as an option when one of your tracks needs a bit of enhancement to stick out above the other elements in a mix. Overall, this is an understated but extremely effective plug-in for giving your signals some tonal enhancement without too much coloration.
- Drive Plug-in based upon Altec 1567A Mixer Amplifier, a classic tube mixer from the 1960s that has been used on countless hit records across several decades
- Imparts tube warmth and presence, as well as massive volume boost, on any track
- Colors sound with analog grit and noise, while fattening up signal
- Saturation controlled by input and output gain knobs that can add up to 97 db of volume boost
- Two-band EQ includes knobs for Bass and Treble
- Mix control to balance dry and wet signals
- Mic/Line Switch is level-dependent, and mimics frequency responses from Altec 1567A; helps control gain structure of plug-in29
- Additional Noisy/Clean switch gives two different saturation types, with added tube hiss on the noisy channel for some extra tube warmth
Current Version: 5.2.0
Plug-in Formats (both 32 and 64-bit):
• AAX Native, AAX AudioSuite, VST, and Audio Units (AU)
Supported Sample Rates:
• Minimum: 44.1 kHz, Maximum: 192 kHz
• Operating systems: Mac OS X 10.8 or later; Windows 7 or later
• An internet connection is required at the time of activation.
• Pro Tools (10.3.5 or later), Live, Cubase, Nuendo, Sonar, Logic, Digital Performer
• Click here to view our full list of compatible host applications.
• Free iLok.com account.