Softube Summit Audio TLA-100A Compressor Plug-in
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Softube has the Summit Audio TLA-100A compressor plug-in for native platforms--that's VST/VST3/AU/RTAS and both 32 & 64-bit versions. Having used the original tube/solid-state leveling amplifier (that sold close to $2,000 in the mid-1980s when it came out), I was wondering when it would come out in a plug-in because I never got enough of its awesome sound.
IMHO,one of the hallmarks of great professional audio gear is they are almost impossible to get a sound bad out of them! Good sounds come easy and they make you (the recording engineer) look like a genius! The Summit TLA-100A is such a unit and so is this new Softube plug-in.
After I installed the software, I checked the way it worked in both Pro Tools HD (32-bit) and Logic 9 Pro (64-bit). I found it to sound incredible running in either platform--soft knee compression is just so valuable for reigning in levels in a smooth and not overly "strict" way. The plug-in loads nearly instantly, has the same kind of refined "adjustability" as the hardware original--you set it quickly and you're 95% there--and you're ready for more pressing issues during tracking or mixing sessions.
I got right into using the TLA-100A on a vocal just as I would with the original hardware unit. It works exactly as I remember--smooth and consistent. The Softube TLA-100A plug-in has a choice of three attack and release times (Fast, Medium, Slow) and comes in both mono and stereo versions--using two hardware TLA-100As for stereo was something I could never do because I rarely had two in the studio at the same time and if I did, one ended up on the lead vocal and the other on the bass guitar.
I arrived (after some tweaking) at using both the fastest attack and release time settings for my singer with about 3 to 6dB of compression indicated. I could have the vocal upfront in the mix but without sounding overpowering. I decided on a rougher vocal tone with the Saturation control just past the "Normal" position towards High with the yellow LED only occasionally lighting up.
Saturation is new here and it is a way to set the "analog" headroom of the compressor. It's good for the audio tracks I receive to mix that are recorded at all different digital levels! (Grumble, rant, complain). Saturation on the TLA-100A is a very adjustable distortion effect--unlike a lot of plugs where the saturation/distortion is either one-dimensional sounding or subtle at first and then, suddenly, over-distorted. It works great for bass guitar or too-clean electrics.
I found the TLA-100A's large VU meter to work realistically and the Wet/Dry parameter a great way to control the sound of a totally "crush" audio track by mixing back some of the dry signal to regain clarity.
The Softube Summit Audio TLA-100A has a low cut side chain filter that is excellent when you do not want low frequencies to trigger gain reduction as much a compressor normally does. Compressors work on "electrical voltage levels" and the low frequencies require more voltage (As compared to the higher frequencies) to be heard by us humans. Filtering out or removing some the lows from being detected by the compressor "fools" it into compressing less allowing for more overall compression of the rest of the frequencies.
For information on where to purchase this "homage" to one of the best things to come out of the 1980s, visit www.mvproaudio.com/dealers.html.
A fully functional 20-day demo can be downloaded from www.softube.com.
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