The Pursuit of the Tone, First Love and Coming Full Circle!

I remember reading one of the computer music production magazines way back around 2002, a small side column caught my attention where a featured artist/producer  (I can’t remember who) mentioned this VST plugin called ValveTone62 and cited it as a real favourite, waxing lyrical about it’s ability to bring some analogue vibe into the digital arena and stuff..

ValveTone__62_fo_54d105aa6b3f4

Having only ever known studios filled with outboard, tape machines and consoles up until that time, like many I had was excited with the transition toward the ‘In the box’ world of the virtual studio that has now since become the norm..

However it did feel as though something was missing….

Those early days seem distant now, so much has happened, so much has evolved and technology leapt forward, coding techniques have changed, the platforms and frameworks have changed, the cpu power is now in a different league…

But what hasn’t changed… Is the human ear… The air we move, the soul that is touched…

So I went and bought ValveTone62 in search of a bit of that analogue vibeyness I missed, On the strength of that brief mention I had read, coupled with the rather attractive looking GUI in the picture, It actually became the first plugin I ever bought, I added it to my stock Emagic Logic setup and instantly fell in love…

It really did seem to add that bit of ‘vibe’ back in, I loved the ‘Sitter’ and ‘Thick’ presets on my favourite bass sound..  The sound from my Korg TR Rack, recorded into Logic with the ValveTone62 plugin on it became a staple diet in my tracks…

colortone_free

I also added the extremely generous ‘ColorToneFREE’ plugin the good folks at Tritone were giving away as a taste of the full ColorTone Pro..

The ColorTone plugin was so ahead of it’s time it is unreal when I think about it now, in fact the whole Tritone ethos was amazingly ahead of it’s time, ever since then there has been a steady stream of new plugin developers arriving and adding their attempts at bringing that analogue ‘mojo’ into the digital realm.. Many claiming to be the most accurate, most non linear, organic, warm and authentic, offering tube saturation, valve distortion, modelled transformers, components, whole circuits… All of them and every user who has bought these products has been in search of the same thing… The pursuit of Tone!! Analogue sounds in a digital world..  I don’t remember anyone else really doing it before I found Tritone, they were definitely very early to the party…

ColorToneFREE had this beautiful SSL model and it delivered what I had been missing in the box.. I produced a whole album for Scott Johnson and that sound was the glue on every track throughout… Happy Days..

Then as OS updates and DAW updates came and went, newer plugin invaded my folder and compatibility issues arose for older pieces of code (The death of runtime upon which older Tritone Plugins depended), my ValveTone62 hung in there, got updated to an Audio Unit at some point because I needed to open an occasional older song, but in the passage of time Tritone Digital and those pioneering and groundbreaking plugins became all but lost in my world buried beneath a thick molten layer of all the code that followed them..

Until now…. Fast forward 2015

One morning, I visited Gearsluts as one does, only to be greeted by a Tritone Digital are back and 64bit ready thread title… I rubbed my eyes with hazy disbelief… Followed a link and to my surprise, it was true, boom they were back!.. It all came flooding back, it then occurred to me that as ValveTone62 had been my first analogue modelled plugin love affair that it would be a great idea to revisit some of their offerings and see how they fared in the current climate and highly populated and competitive analogue emulation plugin marketplace…

ClassicTone_560__52a19c3888978

I eagerly loaded a Logic song, started comparing the  CT 560 and ColorTone Pro plugins alongside other counterparts from UAD API (560) and the UAD Studer and Ampex, Slate VCC and Virtual Tape plugins, SoundToys Decapitator and Klanghelm SDDR..

Now I must be clear, I didn’t map the curves, level match or analyse beyond using the human ear, but here’s the thing, the ear is what the audience hear the music with.. the route to the heart and soul of the listener right?

So how did the Tritone Plugins fare against the current crop?

Interestingly the UAD API 560 and Tritone’s CT560 were quite different yet definitely had a related vibe, if I tweaked them deliberately I could get them pretty close to each other but it was reminiscent of two hardware units that had aged and didn’t sound exactly the same although you could tell they were the same if you see what I mean?, the punchiness that is associated with API models was present and the high end was crisp, the UAD at first felt more substantial but when I realised that if I didn’t try to match the controls and just went by ear alone  I got them  a lot closer.. Both are great EQ’s… the Tritone held it’s own very well against a heavyweight contender from UA..

ColorTone_52a19bd75b4bc

ColorTone Pro is a very, very cool plugin, it is packed with emulations of tape machines and pre-amps, it has a wonderfully simple interface to use and yet delivers so many great variations of that sought after warmth, gentle saturation and analogue flavour with an easy and effortless elegance, this plugin just sounds nice… plain and simple, it does affect the sound, it does not pretend to be transparent, it is what it says a blatant ‘Color Box’ and to that end it succeeds with great results..

It compared really well with the current saturators and tape emulations because it was somehow more than just another variation, there is just a certain roundness to the sound after the signal passes though this plugin… I wonder if this ‘vintage’ code somehow has more ‘mojo’ than it’s newer and younger rivals? Funny to imagine, but somehow I know i’ll be using ColorTone Pro a  lot more than some of the other competitors available… It has a character of it’s own..

The Tritone guys names their company after two recording studios they each owned, Trinity and ValveTone.. Hence Tri-Tone.. so not because of the weird horror piano, death metal musical interval… These guys know their gear, have a historical pedigree and most importantly have an obvious love for the analogue ‘tone’ and their plugins reflect this vibey sound so well…

Damon Salvator

They are proof that age is indeed nothing but a number, if you want vintage soulful tone then maybe vintage code is your perfect choice, they are priced fairly and customer support is very good…

It really is All About the Tone’ and I cannot wait to see what else these guys come up with next now that they are back!

http://www.tritonedigital.com

Recommended!

Zz.

*at the time of writing Tritone have a sale on until Valentines Day Feb 14th 2015

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