Thermionic Culture Vulture
The original boutique, all-valve, studio distortion tool — exclusively for UAD-2 and Apollo.
A singular, enigmatic piece of all-valve boutique hardware, the Thermionic Culture Vulture is a distortion hedonist's malleable plaything. For more than 15 years, this British-made, studio-grade, high-gain valve unit has provided a palette of vivid distortion colors — from sublime thickening textures to demonic growls of perverted mayhem — on countless genre-spanning recordings.
Now — thanks to an intense multi-year engineering effort from Universal Audio — you can track and mix with the only authentic circuit emulation of this one-of-a-kind valve distortion tool with the Thermionic Culture Vulture plug-in for UAD-2 hardware and Apollo interfaces.
Now You Can:
Get a full palette of high-gain, studio-grade, dual-stage valve distortion
Dial-in rich harmonic content with three diverse valve topologies — including UA’s first ever pentode tube emulation
Record through the Culture Vulture in real time with Apollo Twin, Apollo DUO, Apollo QUAD, or Apollo 16
Subtly color or utterly destroy existing tracks, buses, or a full mix with the Culture Vulture using any UAD-2 hardware
Get the same sound and controls as the legendary analog hardware with added features like parallel Dry/Wet processing
Mix with artist presets from Tony Maserati, Eric "ET" Thorngren, Rik Simpson, Chris Coady, and more
Take a Listen
5-Minute UAD Tips
Thermionic Culture Vulture plug-in
Dominate your Sources with Three Valve Topologies
The Culture Vulture plug-in for UAD-2 and Apollo interfaces faithfully emulates all of the original hardware’s sonic proclivities and diabolical details, including its three distinct all-valve circuit topologies.
Authentic, All-Valve Circuit
The Thermionic Culture Vulture plug-in captures the natural, “in-between-the transients” dynamic bias response inherent in the hardware's valve-driven circuit — as well as its powerful stereo control set.Use the Drive knobs and Overdrive switches to control the amount of input signal hitting the 6AS6 valves — with up to 20 dB of gain on tap! The Bias controls adjust the incoming voltage, providing dramatic differences in response, from clean to distorted, voltage-starved chatter, and gating effects. Use the Filter controls (9 kHz and 6 kHz) to fine-tune your distortion flavors even further.
Expanded Feature Set for Valve-Soaked Mixes
The Culture Vulture plug-in offers two key features not found on the original hardware. Use the Mix control for parallel processing on any bus, adding gentle valve presence, punch, and grit to drums, vocals, or an entire mix. And with the Link function, you’re afforded a perfectly matched stereo image to save time and preserve balances. While the Thermionic Culture Vulture is not a compressor per se, it can act as sonic “glue” on a bus or an entire mix, deftly teasing out tantalizing sizzle and detail with authentic valve heat.
“I use the Thermionic Vulture hardware on almost every mix, so having a UAD software version was a dream come true. I never thought anyone would be able to mimic the sonic variations of the hardware. I'm obsessed.”
– Tony Maserati (Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Jason Mraz)
“I’m a big fan of Thermionic Culture and own many pieces of theirs to help remove the generic digital DAW sound. I’ll now be using the UAD Culture Vulture plug-in to perform the same function. In short, I love it.”
– Rik Simpson (Coldplay, Portishead, Jay Z)
“The UAD Culture Vulture just became my new secret go-to weapon. The first time I used it to beef up the kick and snare on a Hip Hop track, I knew there was no going back.”
– Ivan Barias (Musiq Soulchild, Jill Scott, Estelle)
“The ‘mighty’ Culture Vulture is one of the best sonic destroyers of all time, and it’s equally useful for bringing life and detail to dull sounds. Now with the UAD plug-in, I can use several instances per song.”
– Chris Coady (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Beach House, Future Islands)
“The UAD Culture Vulture can do all the crazy, blown out sh*t as the hardware. In fact, it’s even better at subtle gaining and beefing up, without getting too shredded. It’s a new/old favorite.”
– Peter Katis (The National, Interpol, Jónsi)
“I love the UAD Culture Vulture on drums, bass, vocals, and guitars. I also found the presets very useful for hearing the versatility and tones this plug‑in is capable of.”
– Jeff Balding (Taylor Swift, The Eagles, Florida Georgia Line)
January 14, 2016
I really wanted to like Decapitator better, but this won every time, especially on bass & vocals. I found it to be more dynamic and musical, helping me achieve the desired warmth...Read More
January 11, 2016
I was interested in this plug-in because I wanted to see what kind of warmth and saturation it could offer. After using it on several tracks, (bass and drums) I realized that this is what...Read More
December 7, 2015
A good friend of mine has the hardware version and has used in on a few my morning jacket albums.... he loves it. they love it.... now I love it!Read More
April 17, 2015
Possibly the best plugin UA make
This is one of the most analog sounding, musical, versatile and useful tools ive ever bought, software OR hardware. It has become indispensable for my mixes and im yet to find a category...Read More
December 10, 2014
Thermionic Culture Vulture Review by D.Tarqua
I bought the plugin as I was looking for a very special Guitar Sound that I could not get with the Amp simulations and it worked fantastic. I was looking for a overdriven distorted but...Read More
December 1, 2014
Emperor's new clothes?
After hearing the online demos, and trying out a working demo briefly I made a snap judgement that we had an Emperor's new clothes device here. People were saying it was amazing,...Read More
Exclusively licensed by Thermionic Culture Ltd., modeled by Universal Audio
Studio-grade, high-gain valve distortion from a subtle warmth to utterly destroyed
Models entire Class A circuit, including the Pentode-driven input amplifier with bias control, plus valve output amplifier
Three modes of operation including Triode and Pentode modes 1 and 2
Overdrive, Output filtering, plus plugin-only Dry/Wet parallel Mix and Controls linking
Requires a UAD DSP Accelerator Card or Apollo Interface available from authorized dealers worldwide
Thermionic Culture Vulture
Be different,but be cool.
I was using the Culture vulture from around 1996 way before it was even called that, and then had extensive use of the vulture since it's release. Firstly let me say that i don't think the add campaign has done this plug any favours at all. It's not just a distortion unit but actually a real subtle piece of hardware. I also get a bit annoyed about people on here bitching about dsp. Do you'r research and see what it takes to make a plug sound good,or stick with you'r waves garbage. That said this is NOT a vulture i'm afraid. If it was it would stand alone but as it is there are many alternatives out there that well,do it better. The Nick terry pre sets are really interesting but not enough for a heavily priced plug.
I really wanted to like Decapitator better, but this won every time, especially on bass & vocals. I found it to be more dynamic and musical, helping me achieve the desired warmth without distorting too much too soon. Since Soundtoys offers an excellent demo period, I highly recommend comparing them side-by-side rather than taking anyone else's or my word for it. I wish it didn't take up as much DSP, but at the end of the day, tone comes first.
I was interested in this plug-in because I wanted to see what kind of warmth and saturation it could offer. After using it on several tracks, (bass and drums) I realized that this is what I needed to add that golden saturated edge to distorted guitars or drums. I'm going to experiment more with it, but I have used it in conjunction with the fatso, and was impressed with the results. Since I have the Apollo, I don't have to worry about DSP, but if I didn't I would print and bounce the tracks to save on DSP. If you want warmth and saturation, I would demo the unit. It is quite cool.
A good friend of mine has the hardware version and has used in on a few my morning jacket albums.... he loves it. they love it.... now I love it!
Review based on demo
Sorry guys, but this one is a miss. I have many other plug ins from UA that I really love, but this one just sounds.. terrible...
Possibly the best plugin UA make
This is one of the most analog sounding, musical, versatile and useful tools ive ever bought, software OR hardware. It has become indispensable for my mixes and im yet to find a category of sound on which it does not work. I see some people are saying the hardware is better. Well man, it must be seriously magical then because this is about as good as it gets in plugin land. I rarely go near presets but Ive also found these presets to be amazingly well made and great places to start from.
To all those complaining about its DSP usage, either buy more DSP or live with what youv'e got. Good things cost money. Deal with it. Thankyou UA for choosing sound over instance count. Were in the business of making better sound, not more of it.
Thermionic Culture Vulture Review by D.Tarqua
I bought the plugin as I was looking for a very special Guitar Sound that I could not get with the Amp simulations and it worked fantastic. I was looking for a overdriven distorted but highly sophisticated sound not a Heavy Metal sound. The Thermonic provided exactly the controls I needed to do this. In the meantime I use it not only on guitars but on a variety of instruments and even vocals to add spice or richness to the sounds. Just used it on a Hamond and that was just gorgeous to emphasize the Hammond Sound even more.
What I did notice tough is that I primarily use the P1 distortion sound as I actually don’t seem to like the others. I try them often but then always revert to the P1.
I love it :-)
Emperor's new clothes?
After hearing the online demos, and trying out a working demo briefly I made a snap judgement that we had an Emperor's new clothes device here. People were saying it was amazing, to-die-for, best distortion ever. I slapped it down and cranked it up and thought it sounded cheap and nasty and walked away. After seeing the hugely positive and hugely negative reviews coming in, I assumed it was a Marmite machine (you love it or you hate it). But I was tempted to try it out again. This time I used much more subtle settings with mix set very dry on electric piano and I was sold. The electric piano had more character and colour and more significantly it suddenly just sat in the mix like slipping into a comfortable sofa. I was sold.
Very similar to hardware
I had the thermionic hardware and at its best it would provide some subtle natural warmth at lower levels. It was never a box I would go to for extreme levels of distortion but that's not what this product is all about.
The plugin is about 90% of the hardware. Though I will say the range for the various settings is different between hardware and software. Like 5 on the drive for the software seems like 8 on the drive for the hardware
All in all, a solid effort for UAD. I wouldn't buy another hardware vulture as its value was marginal to me but as a 300 plug it might be worthwhile.
Pros FAR outweigh cons
I just spent over an hour with this plugin, using my electric bass through both the new 1073 and the API Unison Preamp plugins. In both cases, the Culture Vulture was a priceless addition. I also played extensively with the distortion and found it to be incredibly responsive over the full dynamic range of the bass. It's über fat, beautifully harmonic, and full of thick analog personality. If only I could control Console sessions with a MIDI pedal board, I could plug straight into a PA system and have people on their knees, based on the tone alone. Drawbacks are the 15% DSP loss per instance, the delay compensation pop-up warning, and the high price (which will force me to have wait for a sale). Still, five stars for making this a reality!
This is it!!!!! I just sold my hardware Culture Vulture
I was waiting for this one to come and , and i just used it today... It just blew my away..
Tracked my MPC, Electric Guitar through it on the Apollo.... just the SAME as the hardware...
I used to own the red mastering version... of the culture vulture..
I'm glad i sold it.. this is the SAME!!!
UA has done a brilliant job!!
Hats off again!!!!
The video and demos they have on site are misleading.. they just shot themselves in the foot by doing lame demos...
TRY this for yourself and see why this is phenomenal!!!
Finally digital audio is getting there!
This plug is an exercise in restraint
With the majority of gear the sweet spot ranges are middle to max settings... the sweet spot in this guy is from 1% to 10% max settings on all knobs except the bias.
A little gain, high bias and T mode is gold! It breaks up nicely and sounds amazing!
I hallucinate that most of the bad reviews on this thing are from people who want to believe that the entire range of a plugins ability should be usable very often. That's not the case with this thing. A small range of it's ability is useful often, while the rest of its range would be great on some things and not very often.
Apollo Users: You can track with it other plugins (like api vision channel strip). Search for how to get past apollo dsp channel limit on uadforums.
Grew on me.
I didn't like it at first, but as I played with it over different sources I started to really like it. For more subtle breakups and harmonically enriching a source, it sounds really really great, and will make something fatter and pop out a bit. For heavy distortion I still am not a huge fan, but it isn't bad by any means.
It is hard on processing, but I'd rather UAD keep making plug-ins sound better at the cost of DSP, than the other way around. It's not that hard to commit to and print a sound with this
You gotta play with it to get into it, don't go by the examples in the video.
Sounds So Awesome!!
I don't get the negative reviews on Consumption, and sound.. The real version is like $2,000 you would have to commit to it anyways.. So 1 Instance per sharc is fine with me..It's simple guys Record through it if you have apollo/twin or Commit and bounce "SIMPLE"
This is a Great time to be in the Audio game, UA are the Leaders Period.. I'm currently using the demo and have the other offering out there and this is warm, phat adds weight and that sizzle/crunch distortion that's great for parallel use. This really helped on a Dance/R&B Record we were mixing used about 4 instances.. And bounced when card hit the ceiling..
and yes.. Will By another Octo this summer!!
Another Must Buy!!
Rich and deep!
Unbelievable rich and deep sound, highly versatile, thanks UA! Go on making the best plugins possible, no matter how much dsp-power they use!
I wish I had a use for the more destructive potentials of this plug-in, as they seem like lots of fun. Bit for my everyday tasks of de-harshing recordings with digititis or enriching things that are just a bit too sterile, the lightly driven triode mode is gorgeous. Nothing else gives me so much tubey niceness while doing so little alteration to tonal balance. I'm hooked!
Forget the video examples--DEMO the plug-in!
I keep reading people's reactions to the video, and in particular the audio examples. Please do yourself a favor and try the demo rather than listen to the video! The actual plug-in sounds MUCH better!
I cant get enough its so good... killer on vocals
This one and the new LA2a, as well as the new 1073
are some of your most vibey and best sounding pluggins yet..
Great Low End, Poor Top End
After the success of the 1176, LA2a, Pultec, and Neve additions, I really had high expectations for this release. I think Fab-filter, Trash, or Kombinat would be a better option for the money. The plugin doesn't sound bad on the low end. I thought it sounded pretty thick when it is used just to fatten things up. It really sounded great when i was re-sampling bass lines in a Neuro Drum and bass track. It really does have a nice low end character. On the other hand, It really sounds digital on the high end. Whenever you push the drive it starts to break up and sound like a cheap digital distortion. There is no resemblance to the hardware unit. Stereo Multiband Distortion is the future guys! Make a multi-band dist with a super fat analog sound
Don't be fooled/ try it!!
I understand why people are giving this negative reviews based on the audio demos. They really don't express what this plugin is about. Yea it does heavy distortion but with subtle use, it really gives depth & character. Honesty I demoed this thinking it was just another processor and was really blown away. I kept coming back to it thinking it was fooling me, but it's the real deal. The magic comes with just a little push of the unit. Especially drums!! But other instrument benefit too. I'm not going to wait for this to go on sale, I'm getting it. It does use dsp but I bounce to disk anyway. As my boy Darth would say "impressive!"