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Softube Summit Audio Grand Channel Review

softube summit audio grand channel review

Review Preface:

Round up, round up people because today we have a beautiful DSP display of Summit Audio units put together to work in harmony as a single channel strip. Comprising a beautiful marriage of the stunning Summit Audio EQF-100 equalising unit and TLA-100A compressor, Softube have painstakingly taken great detail in mapping these units into a convenient plug-in that is effervescent to the original vintage outboard signature. Before going into a deeper analysis it is most important to highlight what this is going to do for you and why you might select it. If you want a plug-in that adds that momentary fashionable and desirable vintage tube warmth character all-in-one so you can add it on either an individual track, mix bus or master-output then you have satisfied your first criteria. Second if you are waiting to saturate a mix that feels a tad sterile from neutral FET designed microphones or pre-amps then the delicate warmth and smooth harmonic character of this plug-in will nicely fit into this climate. Last of all, whist the compressor is exceptionally easy to use this is a plug-in that does require a moderate knowledge of how to use EQ sculpting without having a visual representation to craft curves on, so this should be taken seriously along with the fact that you do need an iLok account with version 1 or 2 for the product authorisation.


Unboxing:

With a plug-in that is bought online there really is no physical package to open but there is a install process so we shall briefly outline these steps. When you are purchasing the plug-in you will input your iLok account name and almost immediately the licence will be deposited. From here you simply log-in to your iLok account and download the licence to your iLok device. Once this is completed you can go ahead and download the universal Softube plug-in installer (there is no separate specific licences for each plug-in type and you do not have to search to find the individual product item download here) and then execute the installer and select the plug-in from the menu. Finally you are ready and set to go. In this same section we would like to highlight that during testing The Pro Audio Web Blog has not identified any bugs when using this plug-in as an Audio Unit or RTAS. All of the functions perform as expected and changing the values of the virtual knobs is a fluid process and if you so choose you can change the direction in which you have to move the mouse to modify the knob values in the settings tab. In addition the design this plug is exactly the same as what you would find on the physical Summit Audio units so it looks great and no confusion is ensued. If you refer to the above you will notice that the plug-in has a master input and output VU meter, a output -/+ output volume control, two set variable low and high pass filters, a '+ boost' and '- cut' switch on each of the four EQ frequency variables, a separate compression meter that can be set to output or reduction, a compressor gain input knob, a compressor gain reduction knob (for the compression tolerance), an internal and external side-chain, a full low cut detection filter circuit, a variable saturation and parallel inject knob as well as a fast - slow attack and release switch. Other details include a EQ and Compressor bypass switch and a EQ before or after compressor knob.


Sound Quality and Functionality:

For this review I would like to separate the unit into it's two counterparts and then conclude by summarising them as a paired unit. Without the compressor engaged, we turn our attention to the EQF-100 full range equaliser and I believe there is a single word that can summarise its performance, this is wow. When the plug-in is simply applied to the channel with the factory settings (where everything is disengaged) there does appear to be a very slight saturated pronunciation and importantly there is not a slight increase in metered gain vs bypass, but why is this important? When this is so it shows that the plug-in is authentic in its intent and is not trying to create a false illusion quality by increasing the output by a couple of decibels. Passing these comments we naturally progress to the meat. The EQ is really very smooth and has no harshness to it whatsoever and this is still so when you pump the gain on any given frequency from a sensibly mixed bus or master fader. If you dramatically increase the very top end there is still a real velvety texture which is polar to the attack sterility that you would associate with an FET designed EQ such as Solid State Logic EQ - but then again we are talking about a tubes here. The bandwidth controls are sensible and do not extend to a dramatic Q peak as you cycle through the frequencies. When looking to target individual frequencies the factory set positions are ideal and well thought through to help you make the most from your mix. I found that this EQ works particularly well on almost anything I had to throw apart from dance genres because the, although gorgeous, tube enrichment does not work well with precision cluttered kick drums and airy synthesisers. When testing the this plug-in was placed on drum bus' it makes the whole kit pop; if you do it right and some might say that this plug-in eliminates the need for a room mic (particularly if recorded where phasing has not been 100% successful) to thicken the overall balance. You can literally throw almost everything at this, pump it as hard as you can get and everything still sounds pleasantly detailed; something that is extremely hard to achieve with EQ's of this design.


​Now, let's talk about the modelled TLA-100A compressor unit. This really is a nice big impacting compressor that exerts great flexibility without cutting back the little details that count. Whether you are just flirting with compression or putting it through its paces with trying to level an entire dynamic rich orchestral suite, the TLA-100A effortlessly deals with these situations with just the turn of a knob. It just has such an open approach to the way it compresses that it surprises you every time, and I have to say that this is possibly one of the nicest compressors I've ever used... I'm in love. During the process of review I sent some test samples across to my colleagues who also shared the same view. The saturation and parallel inject are settings which can dramatically change a sterile mix and they offer a selection of how much harmonic saturation they want whilst making the stereo field a new pitch. Altogether I cannot think of a better all-in-one channel plug-in.


Review Conclusion:

From a plug-in this level of replication is unmatched and Softube and they have clearly outdone themselves on the Summit Audio Grand Channel, my one criticism is that this does require some advanced knowledge of settings so it is not for the novice. On this basis The Pro Audio Web Blog awards the Softube Summit Audio Grand Channel a very respectable 4.5/5.


Edd Harris

Global RRP: $329.00

Editors Rating:

Four and a Half Award
Softube Summit Audio Grand Channel
4.5/5 stars
From a plug-in this level of replication is unmatched and Softube and they have clearly outdone themselves on the Summit Audio Grand Channel, my one criticism is that this does require some advanced knowledge of settings so it is not for the novice. On this basis The Pro Audio Web Blog awards the Softube Summit Audio Grand Channel a very respectable 4.5/5.

Edd Harris - 11th April 2013