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IGS TubeCore 500 tube mu compressor 500 Series Dynamics
Old 17th April 2014
  #1
Hardware IGS TubeCore 500 tube mu compressor

Now shipping!! Street price is $1199 USD. Matched pairs available at no extra cost (please specify when ordering).

The IGS TUBECORE 500 is a full symmetric transformer balanced 500-series compressor. The structure is based on the typical vari mu solution. The TUBECORE 500 is a true tube (no opamps used) mono compressor where compression is achieved using the remote cut-off of tube biasing. Could be used as a mono tracking compressor or (as a matched pair) as an advanced mastering tool.

TUBECORE 500 technical specification:

- Fully symmetric design, from Input to Output
- Precise analog scales and ultra fast VU Meters
- Frequency response +/-0.2dB: 20Hz-20KHz
- Release: 0.1s - 4s
- Attack: 10 - 300 ms
- Max. gain: 35dB
- Input - Carnhill transformer
- Output - Sowter transformer
- Shipping weight 2 kg (4.5 lbs)

Front panel:

VU METER - Big VU meter showing the amount of gain reduction.

THRESHOLD - Above this level of the input signal the compression will occur. Use it to control the amount of compression.

ATTACK - Time delay between the apperance of the signal and the compressor reaction.

RELEASE - Time delay between the disappearance of the signal and the compressor reaction.

GAIN - Input gain knob.

OUTPUT - Output level knob.

Old 18th April 2014
  #2
Deleted #8726
Guest
Tube units are cool all right. Good stuff.
Old 18th April 2014
  #3
Lives for gear
 
the fxs's Avatar
 

can't wait to try it.
Igor makes great stuff
Old 18th April 2014
  #4
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claend's Avatar
 

Hey Nathan,


Based on any specific design?

Regards,
Old 20th April 2014
  #5
I'll ask the obvious: has anybody compared it to the Doublewide? Pro/con/diff? The threshold is an immediate difference, of course, but otherwise?

r,
j,
Old 21st April 2014
  #6
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Audio Child's Avatar
 

Certainly early for that! However i would consider a direct comparison with the one la 500!
Old 22nd April 2014
  #7
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Transistor View Post
I'll ask the obvious: has anybody compared it to the Doublewide? Pro/con/diff? The threshold is an immediate difference, of course, but otherwise?

r,
j,
A little bit of speculation here, but the other IGS 500-series tube compressor the One-LA actually hits the tubes with 250 volts - I assume he's done the same thing with this new unit.

The Double-wide runs on 36-volts.
Old 22nd April 2014
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by LobCity View Post
A little bit of speculation here, but the other IGS 500-series tube compressor the One-LA actually hits the tubes with 250 volts - I assume he's done the same thing with this new unit.

The Double-wide runs on 36-volts.
Interesting. Not that I subscribe to the idea that low(er) voltages are "bad" (and the DW is definitely not bad, it's probably my favourite mono compressor), but this may result in some usable differences in sound. I hope not, of course

r,
j,
Old 22nd April 2014
  #9
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Audio Child's Avatar
 

Can we really be basing the sound of voltage guys lol ?
Old 22nd April 2014
  #10
I'll have to verify with IGS, but just having kept my ears open over the years, higher voltage in a tube design would mean the tubes themselves are picking up the active gain in the circuit, not a different non tube device in the design. So yes in this case voltage could play a very significant role in sound difference.
Old 22nd April 2014
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audio Child View Post
Can we really be basing the sound of voltage guys lol ?
Could be a factor in a Vari Mu design. In other tube designs the voltage plays a role.
Old 24th April 2014
  #12
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claend's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LobCity View Post
... the One-LA actually hits the tubes with 250 volts - I assume he's done the same thing with this new unit.

The Double-wide runs on 36-volts.
Very different topology, I'd be surprised.

A comparison with the DW is a must!
Old 29th April 2014
  #13
We just got in some black face versions of the TubeCore 500. It looks tough.
Old 30th April 2014
  #14
Gear Maniac
 
TimFoster's Avatar
First post here -- after 10+ years of anonymous lurking, I've finally gone and created a GS account. Figured I might actually have some unique and useful input to share soon, as I've just gone and ordered a stereo pair of 500 series Tubecores from that thar' gentleman in the post above.

I totally understand the suspicious nature by which new users are viewed, but I hope it's taken in the spirit it which it was offered. For my part, I'm a musician and recording enthusiast of 25+ years and have probably rubbed elbows with at least a few of you in the past :-)

Anyway, pleased to meet ya' and I'll certainly follow up with some comments once I get em'...
Old 30th April 2014
  #15
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Audio Child's Avatar
 

Great can't wait to hear your response!
Old 5th May 2014
  #16
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TimFoster's Avatar
Stereo matched pair of Tubecores arrived at work today -- packaged safely, and delivered quickly! Thanks Nathan! They sure am purrrty....


IGS TubeCore 500 tube mu compressor-0505041316.jpg


...More to come...
Old 6th May 2014
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by TimFoster View Post
Stereo matched pair of Tubecores arrived at work today -- packaged safely, and delivered quickly! Thanks Nathan! They sure am purrrty...

...More to come...
Do let us know how it sounds. And if you're able to compare it to ...that other one, it'd be great.

r,
j,
Old 6th May 2014
  #18
Gear Maniac
 
TimFoster's Avatar
Ok... I hope it's alright to post this sort of thing in this thread. There's a definite lack of real information on these things, so I'll try to provide some balanced feedback given my very brief experience thus far...

I received my units in the black finish; it's a good looking piece:

IGS TubeCore 500 tube mu compressor-dsc02778.jpg


The unit is heavy! Build quality is fantastic. Knobs have a nice feel -- a reassuringly smooth resistance. Tolerances are excellent with no finish flaws. I won't be cracking the top on these -- not yet, anyway. But the view below provides some insight into what's gone into the noise makin' end of this thing.

It has three tubes. The Carnhill input transformer is visible on the lower right; can't see it in this view, but a giant Sowter output transformer is affixed to the upper left-hand side. It uses a blend of surface mount and high quality passive components -- no way around SMD's when packing all this into a small footprint, i'd imagine... But there's no shortage of high quality passive components -- a bunch of WIMA and high-temp rated Jamicon electrolytic caps are scattered throughout... You can also see relays, which I assume work in conjunction with a timing circuit to warm the heaters of the tubes at power-up.

IGS TubeCore 500 tube mu compressor-dsc02782.jpg


So.... in the rack it goes. Don't do this:

IGS TubeCore 500 tube mu compressor-dsc02785.jpg

...that is, don't mount two high voltage tube devices next to your temperature-sensitive germanium compressor... Because IGS has not cheated the laws of thermodynamics on this one: they run hot. In fact, I decided to pull the Chandler and Alter comps and run only the two Tubecores in the rack, leaving an open slot to the right of each unit. Not saying that i had to do it. But it made me feel better.

I have them in the higher current API rack, and i can tell they're pulling some serious juice as the power supply is noticeably warmer than any of the other racks...These guys aren't doing the "starved plate" thing. Igor can correct me here, but those anodes may be up beyond 300volts; either way I'm pretty sure that this is the real deal with minimal compromise (500 series supply debates aside, of course.)

So yeah... the heat. There was a bit of "hmmm, i don't have any other 500 series stuff that runs at this temperature... I think this is ok? Is this ok?"... I'm familiar enough with the realities of tube gear, just never encountered it in this particular footprint. I'll trust IGS' engineering standards on this one, and they do offer an excellent 3 year warranty.

Chew on that for a bit... I know everyone want to know about the sound. In short, i like it! I'll share more on that and a few quick clips later on when time permits.
Old 6th May 2014
  #19
Gear Maniac
 
TimFoster's Avatar
In use...

I was anxious to squeeze some sounds out of this thing, so I recorded a quick drum clip and used this as a basis for some quick tests. Please note: I'm not a drummer! But I will bang the ever-loving sh!t outta them anyway.

Below is my control file. I squashed the room mics and set them pretty low in the mix, added a bit of compression to the snare and EQ'd a bit of mud out just to get it somewhat presentable. No dynamics across the buss, etc... I sent it the extra round-trip through the converters with no processing applied so as to be on even ground with the other samples. All clips are normalized, rather than matched for RMS level... I think this provides a truer representation of the dynamics being shed, outside of a mix/DAW situation:




The controls are pretty standard fare -- input, attack, release, threshold, output. Pushing the input allows you to control the tube artifacts -- harmonics, compression and outright saturation/distortion independently of compression. I wondered how dirty it could get? The answer is really fooking dirty. The below clips represent hitting the tubes gently, with some stank, and finally with blatant disregard for taste. I kept the attack time as long as possible, the release quick and the threshold backed all the way out to minimize any compression effects and just focus on the output stage. For all intents and purposes the gain reduction meter didn't budge, except for the slightest bit on the heaviest input settings. Note that all clipping occurs in the Tubecore; the AD was sent a reasonable signal level. Also be wary of the last clip -- it is comparatively loud in it's normalized state (and I still had room to push the input gain even more!!!)






....

Onto compression... I can't claim that this is the most versatile compressor, but it is reasonably so in my opinion. I think it does what it does well. I like the variable attack and release times and I felt I was able to dial in different degrees of snap (with quick attack, moderately fast release), punch (with longer attack and somewhat fast release), crush (fast across the board) and smoothing with more relaxed time constants. I found the attack time made particularly dramatic changes when digging deep into gain reduction. Combine that with the ability to independently futz with the input level and you have a good number of options.

Below are a few examples. Note that all clips are running in unlinked mode, as I haven't re-soldered the sidechain links on my rack. With alot of gear, you need the 1rst hand experience of repetitive listening and knob turning within your mix environment to get the nuances a device can create. Taken in context, those little things may take on greater weight and show greater variety... but in clip form, they may all sound damn near the same. I hope that's not the case here, but I'll let you be the judge. I walked away thinking it wasn't a one trick pony, but obviously i'm in the honeymoon stage and haven't used it on much else beyond this atrocious drum clip! yet...

Here I'm going for some punch. Moderately long attack, moderately fast release... Maybe 3dB's average reduction, giving the input stage a good goosing in the azz:




Here's just a quick example of how much snap I could wrestle out of the snare when diggin deep into gain reduction (15dB or more) with the right attack time (around 3 on the dial in this case.) I ain't sayin its in good taste to go quite this far, but I wanted to demonstrate some extremes... you can of course back it off to more reasonable usage, if that be yo' dammy:




Medium attack and release times across the board... pretty tame on the input level, bout 5dB reduction:




Somewhat fast attack and release times across the board, about 5dB reduction:




...

Unfortunately I've never spent time with the "other" vari mu option out there, so I can't really do a direct comparison. I can say that I'm happy with this one though... My schedules been kinda hectic lately, but I'm excited to try it out on some different sources and see what it can do. Maybe I can throw up some guitar or lap steel clips if there's interest.

At a minimum, I hope this was a bit useful and not just me rambling and wasting bandwidth as I'm prone to do...
Old 6th May 2014
  #20
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the fxs's Avatar
 

Tim,... Thanks for sharing!
Much appreciated
Old 6th May 2014
  #21
Moderator
 
matt thomas's Avatar
Nice variety of sounds you can get from it

hard to tell with the volume differences, but I think I liked medium attack release best, or maybe the hot punchy one, depending on what I was after

I would also want the green one heh

matt
Old 7th May 2014
  #22
Thanks. I think -- since I like what I'm hearing. I need to audition this.

r,
j,
Old 7th May 2014
  #23
Gear Maniac
 
TimFoster's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by the fxs View Post
Tim,... Thanks for sharing!
Much appreciated
Quote:
Originally Posted by Transistor View Post
Thanks. I think -- since I like what I'm hearing. I need to audition this.

You're welcome guys. It was time owed, considering all the countless hours I've spent harvesting info off this site over the years!


Quote:
Originally Posted by matt thomas View Post
Nice variety of sounds you can get from it

hard to tell with the volume differences, but I think I liked medium attack release best, or maybe the hot punchy one, depending on what I was after

I'm glad that somewhat came across in the clips. It's no Distressor in terms of versatility, but definitely capable of more than I had expected. The saturation aspect alone seems like it will be useful for adding a bit of hair and mid growl to an electric guitar or dead snare track, etc...

And agreed, those would've been my choices too. I went back and forth on whether to volume match or simply normalize the clips; in the end I convinced myself normalization was the better route for demonstrating dynamic reduction... if I'm being totally honest, laziness may have played a part in that one too.


...


One more quick thing worth mentioning... Yesterday I was playing around a bit when my little guy ran up and said, "Daddy, you're Joker!!!"

Translation: it's LEGO Batman time. Now Lego Batman time doesn't f#%k around -- it's could be hours until we've wiped the living room clear of danger and villains and whatnot. Knowing this, I was about to power the rack down... but decided to let it simmer for a good couple hours to see how this heat thing panned out.

...So I come back about 3 hours later and feel the rack. It's relatively cool? I feel the Tubecore... also pretty cool to the touch... My immediate thought was something had "sh!t the bed", as it were, so I quickly patch it in and fed it some audio. To my surprise, it was working fine! And in no short time it was back up to prior operating temperature.

The moral is there's either some sort of idle power-saving feature, or more likely it is biased in such a way that only draws current when signal is present. I know Class A is the holy grail of tone for most folks, but in this case -- as a 500 series unit with a shared power supply -- I think not going that route was absolutely the right call. (Take this with a grain of salt, as I'm just speculating and don't really know what the topology is.) It sounds great as-is to my ear, and it's reassuring to know it won't be cookin' when there's nothing in the kitchen!
Old 9th May 2014
  #24
Gear Maniac
 
TimFoster's Avatar
Last one, then I promise I'm done being annoying-clip-upload-guy. It's a quick finger-picked acoustic thing. Used a cheap Fender with dead strings and a crack in the body, but it somehow records ok for what it is... until you lean into it - then all sorts of awful buzzes!

I very roughly volume matched the clips this time out. It's not a major change or anything, but what I'm hearing is better solidity/definition in the little high note runs, done in a warm and natural way... My playing wasn't super consistent, but I think it helps to round things out overall. Liked it a bit better than another opto comp I would typically turn to for this sort of thing. Who knows though, could be the honeymoon thing still

Bear in mind the unprocessed one may sound a bit punchier since they've been almost-sorta, volume-matched instead of simply normalized...


Old 18th November 2014
  #25
Thanks for the sound files Tim. Sounds very smooth (nice guitar picking too!!).
Old 10th February 2015
  #26
Gear Nut
 

Holy cow batman (Lego) that's a wicked guitar sound! What's the signal chain besides the igs?
Old 29th October 2016
  #27
Gear Addict
 

How does this compare to the MANLEY VARI MU?
Old 15th April 2017
  #28
Gear Nut
 

I just got a Tubecore 500 and must say that it is indeed a very nice tracking compressor for vocals and bass. Just a bit like a LA2A, but very flexible because of adjustable attack and release. Must say I like it more than my DW.
Anyone else using this unit ?
Old 18th April 2017
  #29
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the fxs's Avatar
 

how's everybody liking their Tubecore 500 after a few months/years ?
Old 12th June 2017
  #30
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the fxs's Avatar
 

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