Fasten your seatbelt. Or at least be careful. The UAD Thermionic Culture Vulture plugin can make some serious noise.
The hardware versions of these are in a lot of studios, for good reason. Thermionic designed the Culture Vulture to simulate the distortion inherent to tube amps. It has been doing this for almost 20 years, and was originally made as an answer to the “cleanness” of digital recording. Yes, that’s right—people have been trying to make digital sound like analog ever since digital recording became a thing. And what better way than to actually put the signal through an analog unit designed for the purpose of distorting the signal!
So here we have an emulation of a device that was meant to simulate something else. (!) But if you are actually looking for something to add that indeterminate analogue-ness to your recordings, the UAD Thermionic Culture Vulture will do the trick. (Digitally, or course. How ironic.)
You can go from very subtle enhancements to outright irritating distortion. This transition can happen pretty quickly, which was the basis of my warning earlier. The Mix control (only on the plugin) comes in very handy!
- As was already mentioned, the Mix control knob is very handy!
- The meters show the amount of bias being applied. It doesn’t show levels, input or otherwise. The Bias defaults to .45 milliamperes, but lower is usually going to sound better.
- The P2 setting is very lively – !
- Engaging the Overdrive is also very “lively”.
- The toggle switches are backwards, meaning that up means off.
- Changing the Bias and drive will effect the Frequency response (see below).
- Have some fun—set to P2 and hit the overdrive. Really crank the signal. Then use the Mix control to back it down, to maybe less than 5%. Tiny and controllable distortion!
- Take a look at the manual for my presets for this learn a little more.
Compare to the Arturia Dist Tube Culture.
[Note for the graphs: These are with the controls in the default state, with only the levels adjusted. Except the last two. You can figure it out!]