Once you own Analoguetube products, you own them “for life”. That’s the bold claim from Simon Saywood, who created Analoguetube as a result of his love of electronic manufacturing and his interest in music, in particular tube technology. “Having been in the audio industry for 25 years and seen the growth of the digital era, I wanted to create something hand-built that combined my passions,” he explains.
Saywood’s philosophy has always been to maintain an emphasis on quality manufacturing with attention to detail and an open-ended commitment to customer satisfaction. There are a few compressors (and Fairchild wannabes) available on the audio market, but none “like Analoguetube, built to the original Fairchild design”, claims Saywood. His looks like an original, and “sounds one too”.
Saywood beings: “2016 was a very busy year. In fact, the last 18 months have been exciting as the company expands. 2017 is shaping up to be an equally exciting year. Since our first AES show back in 2008, production has grown steadily, and we now have an illustrious worldwide client list of studios, mix, mastering engineers and producers alike”.
“I keep as close to the original specifications as possible with the Analoguetube design, improving where possible and appropriate. The AT-1 and AT-101s were designed and developed to perform and operate like the Fairchild 660s and 670s. This design makes for a very natural sound, low distortion and no audible thumps or pops, even under severe limiting conditions. The AT-1 and AT-101 compressors have received many reviews and nominations that have championed this technology and made Analoguetube what it is today.”
He gets into the detail: “The attack and release time doesn’t compress to the point the music becomes compromised, but, rather, ensures a better balance of compression.”
Analoguetube compressors are all built using original parts that include the transformers, controls and the new generation 6386LGP triodes developed from the original tube types. The unique features of these “gain-crushing” compressors allow all types of instruments and sound to sit “upfront”; signals sound fatter and bigger in the mix, adding depth, dimension and clarity, gluing the image together for all types of music.
“Stereo compressors are used as normal out-board equipment in the studio or in mastering but some are strapped across the mix-buss which is very exciting, as both Analoguetube models have a very unique tonal signature that translates very well across radio, streaming and other mediums," notes Saywood.
It is interesting to note that there are some historical differences between the 660 and 670 models. “They are tone and functionality with the AT-1/660's offering more in the mids than the AT-101/670s,” says Saywood. “The depth and dimension aspects often associated with the stereo units are to do with the mids being gently dipped down between 60Hz-5kHz when 'driven' and compressed. The mids are often then EQ'd back in at the board and brought 'forward' (in level) in the mix – this is sometimes perceived as the 'depth'. “
Whilst all AT models are pretty much the same as the Fairchild originals, he insists, there have been a few minor additions. Features include: Stepped AC threshold, Lat/Vert (Mid-Side Processing) ‘Key’ Insert, Bypass switching and Stereo Linking. All units are further customized using alternative colours and anodizing on 5005-grade aluminium alloy.
Whilst the meters, attenuators, switches, knobs and some transformers are imported from the US the entire development, production, assembly and testing is in London.
“There is very much a no-compromise approach to audio equipment manufacturing: Sowter Audio transformers, non-inductive Mills resistors and Film & Foil Musicap capacitors all connected using traditional ‘point-to-point’ wiring throughout.”
Saywood hopes for an eventual listening revolution: “We are being seduced by music that has become flat and lifeless through radio, streaming, aggressive marketing and the need to shout the loudest. It’s a trick. A lot of music we hear today seems to be compressed in a way that leaves very little in the way of musical dynamics, affecting the natural tone and colour of the music which has become lost as the output becomes louder."
While we await that revolution, the client list grows. Users currently include: Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine), Andrea Bocelli, Miles Showell (Abbey Rd), Cenzo Townsend, Metropolis Mastering, Jon Kelly and Steve Booker, in destinations stretching from Los Angeles to the Middle East. Distributors include Kazbar Systems (UK) and Joystick Audio (Belgium).
“Analoguetube has shipped almost 50 units worldwide which is quite incredible when you think of the 80hrs they take to make and the 35kg each unit weighs…”