SPL’s TwinTube is audio proof of the old adage “a little goes a long way.” Just a touch of TwinTube’s unique analog tube warmth can bring out the color and personality of a vocal or instrument, adding that essential “something” to a mix — without impacting its dynamic range. Today, SPL brings the distinctive features, sound, and character of the original hardware TwinTube to the UAD Powered Plug-Ins platform.
Musicians and recording professionals have long employed classic SPL TwinTube hardware for its ability to make vocals and instruments pop, emphasizing select harmonics to add presence and dimension without impacting dynamic range. One of the biggest and best-known fans of the TwinTube is multiple Oscar- and Grammy-Award winner Hans Zimmer (composer for soundtracks including Gladiator, Pearl Harbor, The Da Vinci Code, and The Dark Knight), who uses a huge rack of analog TwinTube hardware units to record orchestras. Today, for less than the price of a single hardware unit, this easy-to-use UAD plug-in version offers multiple instances, with seamless integration and dependable recall.
A Tale of Two Tubes
TwinTube expertly combines two essential tube effects, Saturation and Harmonics, in a single processor. As its name implies, it’s designed as two fully independent stages — which can be run together or separately — each providing its own unique character. The result is an exceptionally wide-ranging palette of sonic shaping, from smooth and creamy overdrive to deep, growling saturation, with a range of harmonic overtones to add warmth. It’s a sound that simply can’t be achieved using typical EQ.
In the hardware version of TwinTube, saturation is created by pushing the tube beyond its normal limits. This causes a gradual building of harmonic distortion, accompanied by limiting that has been compared to analog tape distortion. It can be employed to subtly fatten sounds when applied sparingly, and to add warm overdrive coloration when cranked up.
The Harmonics section adds a special circuit for overtone processing that reacts dynamically to the incoming signal. Using the Harmonics control, you can adjust and enrich the overtone processing intensity across four frequency settings (2 kHz, 3 kHz, 6 kHz, and 10 kHz), as well as the overall effect. The result is an intensified presence that adds a sense of “air” and space to your sound — bringing a vocal or instrument forward in a mix.
In both tracking and mixdown, TwinTube can be used to work wonders on vocals, instruments, strings, woodwinds, and more. A small amount of tube saturation can increase apparent loudness and emphasize attack. And just a touch of harmonic distortion can help boost desired overtones, while adding air and imaging.