Product Review: Softube’s Summit Audio Grand Channel

Softube, Summit Audio, Grand ChannelGrand Channel, Summit Audio, Softube

    Hello MixCoachers! I’m excited to start product reviews here at MixCoach. I’ve been in contact with some companies I thoroughly enjoy to mix with, and many have been gracious to supply products for the MixCoach team to review.

I’d like to start with

Softube’s Summit Audio Grand Channel plug-in

It is an emulation of Summit Audio’s EQF-100 Full Range Equalizer and TLA-100 Compressor. Softube has made some great emulations of iconic gear such as the Trident A-Range EQ and Tube-Tech CL1B compressor, both of which I think sound incredible. Well, the Grand Channel doesn’t disappoint in the analog modeling department. I am a typical Pro Tools junkie, so I tested the plug-ins in AAX format.

– EQ

Let’s start with the EQ. I found it great for not only sweetening, but surgical cuts with excellent bandwidth control. It offers 4 bands of peak EQ (all with adjustable Q) while the low and high bands can switch between peak and shelving. The low frequencies of the EQ are excellent on sources like vocals and piano when in need of some love in the low to mid frequency range. It added that missing warmth without the mud. I found the low frequency controls also work great on brass sections as well, especially using a shelf.

As for high frequencies, I could get away with some rather heavy boosting in the ubiquitous 2-5K range on test sources without the typical added harshness.Using the high shelf in the 10-15K air band area certainly worked beautifully, as well. It added a nice sheen to acoustic guitars and vocals.

The EQ also has a high and low pass filter. The high pass is switchable between 27, 47, and 82Hz while the low pass is switchable between 8.2, 12, and 18Khz. I’m not positive of the slope of the filters, but they sound musical and gentle to my ear. There honestly wasn’t a source on which the Summit Audio EQ was not beneficial when EQ was necessary. The word sweet just comes to mind in every application that I tested the EQ. I’m in love with having a warm vintage tone capable of being surgical at the same time.

– Dynamics

The channel also contains a compressor. Again, it’s an emulation of the TLA-100 is a tube leveling compressor. It has a switchable slow, medium, and fast attack & release choice. It also has the option to run an internal or external side chain filter up to 600Hz. I use this all the time to help prevent pumping especially on a drum bus. You can use it gently or annihilate the audio signal if you wish with this compressor. Either one in the right situation sounds flat-out awesome.

I’ve been using it a lot on the drum bus if I need some glue. Just about a dB of reduction on the bus adds a warm roundness to the drums. It instantly smoothed out some issues with overly bright overheads in a very natural sounding way. With a slow attack and fast release this compressor added the right amount of punch and snap for my taste.

Using a medium attack and release on a bass yielded results close to that of an LA2A, which I love. Dialing in the right settings on vocals created very warm, tight compression without any noticeable artifacts(even while getting 3-5 dB of gain reduction). When using the same kind of reduction on acoustic guitar and piano the compression was somewhat audible, but I typically never compress acoustic sources that much.

If you are looking for a warm compressor that adds some serious punch this is the compressor for you! Softube also added their infamous saturation knob into the circuit. The more you turn it up the harder it drives the signal adding some nice harmonic interest when used to just barely clip the light. On the other hand you can also push it hard to add a nice gritty bite to something. It also has one of my favorite features… A wet/dry knob built in to parallel compress from within the plug-in. This knob alone is invaluable to me. If you haven’t had a plug-in with this, it’s time you do! I love to save time by not having to route any more aux/bussing than I need to.

– Other Features

Finally, at the end of the chain you can bypass the EQ and compressor individually and you can choose to add the compressor before or after the EQ. The CPU hit is a little higher than most standard plug-ins, but if you only need one of the modules you can just bypass one and save resources.

– Conclusion

If you haven’t tried any Softube stuff I highly suggest it. Especially their analog modeled plug-ins. Some of my favorite plug-ins are from Softube, and I am excited to add the Summit Audio Grand Channel to the collection. It hasn’t disappointed me at all on anything I’ve thrown its way. I’ll be adding a video of the Grand Channel in use on some test sessions I’ve set up. I highly recommend you head over to www.Softube.com and download the demo. Just one word of caution, though… You’ll be spending money!!! If any of the MixCoach Pro Members are using or have tried the Grand Channel please comment below. I’d love to hear what you think of this channel strip. Have a great weekend MixCoachers!

Let us know what you think about the Grand Channel plug-in!

Grand Channel, Summit Audio, Softube

About The Author

MattButler

Matt is a tracking and mixing engineer at Backporch Studios and Pathway Studios in Tennessee. He and his father run a music business called Butler Music Group in Nashville, TN where Backporch Studios is located. He is also a talented multi-instrumentalist who gives private lessons from home. He prides himself in being a technical geek and has a passion to help the community of MixCoach in any way he can.