I came across Tube-Tech's CL 1A (the predecessor to the CL 1B) back in 1989 and was immediately a fan. I now own three channels of the hardware CL 1B, and I use them daily. When I discovered that a plug-in version of the box had been released, I cringed; I feared yet another plug-in that visually nails the hardware unit but sonically misses the mark. Thankfully, my gut feeling was wrong. Due to TC's advanced component emulation technology, the CL 1B plug-in comes as close to the hardware version as any plug-in model I've ever used.
As with the hardware unit, the CL 1B plug-in is extremely versatile with an attack time variable from 0.5 to 300 ms, release time from 50 ms to 10 seconds and a compression ratio adjustable from 1:1 to 10:1. By utilizing three modes of operation — Fixed, Manual, and Fixed/Manual — the CL 1B can adapt to virtually any situation.
I've found that vocal compression is the CL 1B's forte, and when using it for this purpose, I usually set the threshold to 4:1 with relatively quick attack and release times. I dial the threshold down until the vocal sounds magic and then adjust the makeup gain accordingly. A higher ratio and slower attack make for the perfect kick compressor and using the plug-in for parallel compression on the entire kit is like turning the drummer in my tiny tracking room into John Bonham (actually making his drums sound like John Bonham's while his playing remains the same). The CL 1B's clean, smooth sound is a nice alternative to the EMI TG12413, which is my typical go-to plug for drum-kit parallel compression. The CL 1B is also great for bass guitar providing a clean sound with a realistic tube warmth. After using this plug-in for over a year, I haven't encountered a sound source that it hasn't perfectly complemented.
The only real downside with the CL 1B is that it requires more computer DSP than many other compression plug-ins. The algorithm allows two instances at 44.1/48 kHz or one instance at 88.2/96 kHz per DSP chip on Pro Tools|HD Accel hardware and half that on Pro Tools|HD Core cards. It doesn't support sample rates over 96 kHz. Its $995 price tag may seem a bit steep, but its performance makes it worth every dollar.
Contact: Tube-Tech, dist. by TC Electronic | 818-665-4900 | tube-tech.com
Russ Long is a Nashville-based producer, engineer, and mixer and Pro Audio Review senior contributor.russlong.ws