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Old 13th September 2019
Gear Nut

Sweetwater shootout anomaly

I'm a bit late to the party, but I was interested in the Sweetwater shootout because I wanted to hear how Klark performs. I wrote this in the Shootout thread, but I copied it here also, since the discussion went in this direction.

There are discrepancies in volume between the samples and interestingly enough, Klark Teknik EQP-KT is 1.2dB quieter than most of them who average at -6.2dB (peak).
Here are their levels as read on Reaper's meter:

pultec 1: -6.3
pultec 2: -6.0
tubetech: -6.2
manley: -6.5
retro: -6.0
wes audio: -6.2
warm audio: -6.2
klark teknik: -7.4
apogee: -5.9
avid: -6.0
ik multimedia: -5.6
Ozone: -6.0
softube: -6.1
uad: -6.2
waves: -6.2

Sure, Klark was outclassed even by plugins, because it's 1.2dB quieter! I level matched all of them and suddenly Klark began to show its strength. It does sound different than most of them and even when level matched it sounds different than the originals, but so do others. Tubetech and WesAudio are very close to the originals, the rest of them are either more woolly or boomy when listening to the low end. Klark on the contrary is tighter and cleaner than the originals, we can say more modern sounding and in my book this is not necessarily a bad thing. It reminds me somewhat of Sonimus SonEQ Pro plugin which has the low band based on the Pultec. I fell in love with it due to sounding tighter. I can imagine two Klarks in the chain after my diy Vari-Mu which inflates the low end a bit and is a bit woolly. I wouldn't necessarily use a more boomy sounding Pultec clone after it, but Klarks could very much fit with their tighter sound.
Now, the high end. I'm very much sure that it has been boosted at least 2dB more than on other clones in this shootout. There is no way it would sound this bright at the same amount of boost.
10 years ago I've made a Gyraf two channel Pultec. I sold it, because I was not really a fan of its low-end which for my taste was a bit exaggerated and it was not easy to dial just the right amount. It was quickly too much. I do very much like the low end boost on the Klark I hear in this shootout. Maybe the original Pultec sound is not my cup of tea, but I like this cleaner and tighter version Klark Teknik have made. And for 430 EUR/pair I can only laugh and press the order button.

Just my 2 cents and a warning to scrutinize such shootouts, because even a fraction of a dB will affect your judgement, what to speak of 1dB or more.
It might be interesting to note, that IK Pultec plugin has been praised in this shootout. Of course, with 1.8dB higher level than Klark it sounds terrific and totally demolishes it!
At the end this shootout appears to me as if there was an agenda to stop the sales of the utterly cheap and competitive Klark.
And no, I don't work for KT. I just like fair comparisons when they are made.