The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
Louder than Liftoff Silver Bullet first impressions
Old 17th December 2015
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Thread Starter
Louder than Liftoff Silver Bullet first impressions

After a long wait the first Silver Bullets started trickling out and I was one of the first to receive one. As fate would have it I got only an hour of playtime before I had to tear down and prepare for my trip to LA. Here are my first impressions.



First off it is well packaged and there was absolutely no damage on its trip up the coast. Opening it up it looked great, very professional. Certainly pleased to have it in my rack. Everything about the unit feels solid and the innards are very clean.



I popped it into its temporary home and ran it round-trip from an Orion Pure2. I put on a track that I am very familiar with and played around with it. Hard bypass is silent, as it should be. Switching on the mojo, with the pres at minimum gain/attenuation, the signal has just a touch more magic to it. Cranking the pres the sound gets better. There is a lot of room to crank and you can pull it back down to a sane volume with output attenuation.

I didn't have much time to play with the EQ and the little I did shows promise. Even cranked full it didn't sound horrible--I certainly wouldn't print the track that way--and I'm sure that on some sources that amount of manipulation would sound great. For my genre focus I will be giving it a gentle touch. It did take me a little bit to understand the EQ front panel--though I'm not sure why--but now I've got it nailed.

The meters are big and responsive. That's a good thing as this will sit front and center in my setup.

When I return from LA I plan to put it up against my current setup (Woolly Mammoth into a Pacifica with some Clariphonic for sweetness).

Right now I'm very pleased with the quality and value for the price (especially with the discount that's on right now)--the fact that it doubles as a stereo pre-amp is just bonus.

Last edited by Talljoe; 17th December 2015 at 05:45 AM.. Reason: Attachments didn't stick
Old 17th December 2015
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Red Black's Avatar
Thanks for the post! I'm very jealous..
Old 17th December 2015
  #3
Lives for gear
 

Even though they're different pieces I'm very curious to hear your thoughts on it against the Wooly Mammoth
Old 17th December 2015
  #4
Lives for gear
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
Sounds promising. Glad these finally made it to market.
Old 17th December 2015
  #5
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Talljoe View Post
After a long wait the first Silver Bullets started trickling out and I was one of the first to receive one. As fate would have it I got only an hour of playtime before I had to tear down and prepare for my trip to LA.
Congrats tj, I'm glad you got it hooked up and at least had a few moments to play with it. Like you, I only got about a half hour before I had to tear down my CRM in prep for a new HVAC system.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Talljoe View Post
First off it is well packaged and there was absolutely no damage on its trip up the coast. Opening it up it looked great, very professional. Certainly pleased to have it in my rack. Everything about the unit feels solid and the innards are very clean.
Even though my name is on the unit and I've been in since day 1, I've not seen the packaging, and I must say - it's top notch and classy to boot. Usually I don't care about that kind of thing, but it's obvious to me that Brad's attention to detail goes all the way. BTW, did you notice the super HD IEC power cable? Again, attention to detail. I've bought gear costing 3-4X's as much with power cables that are completely wimpy in comparison. Well done Brad!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Talljoe View Post
I didn't have much time to play with the EQ and the little I did shows promise. Even cranked full it didn't sound horrible--I certainly wouldn't print the track that way--and I'm sure that on some sources that amount of manipulation would sound great. For my genre focus I will be giving it a gentle touch.
Nice. What style of music do you mostly do? The EQ's have a lot of development and testing put into them. We settled on +/- 9 vs. +/- 12 or 6. I think it's a great compromise that allows a heavy hand, or very detailed mini-brushes.... And yeah, that sucker is sweet. I've got to give Brad most of the credit for the EQ. He's a genius EQ guy IMO. Also, the vintage filter turned out awesome IMO. My proto-prototype that I've been using a couple of years doesn't have the EQ, and I've been using a custom Eisen EQ with Marinairs in it. I don't think I'll be missing it much...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Talljoe View Post
The meters are big and responsive. That's a good thing as this will sit front and center in my setup.
Yup. I demanded a big @** meter in this baby. Nothing much comes with great metering anymore, and after I convinced Brad, we were both totally on board with making it pop. Believe it or not, a lot of work went into the meters....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Talljoe View Post
When I return from LA I plan to put it up against my current setup (Woolly Mammoth into a Pacifica with some Clariphonic for sweetness).
Sweet. Looking forward to your comments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyxx View Post
Sounds promising. Glad these finally made it to market.
Yup!! Not as glad as we are though... LOL Seriously, a huge amount of R&D & testing went into these, and the actually production process turned out to be pretty far advanced, so as much as we'd have loved to release this 6 months ago, Brad especially wants things RIGHT - no matter how long it takes. We're happy now though, and are excited to release what we believe is a production changing piece of gear. Hope you guys enjoy!
Old 18th December 2015
  #6
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Talljoe View Post
When I return from LA I plan to put it up against my current setup (Woolly Mammoth into a Pacifica with some Clariphonic for sweetness).
This is your current master buss? I'm curious how you get the mammoth to sit on the master -- are your germaniums off? I tried, got close, but in the end took it off the master cause it was just too much with the germaniums on. Thanks..
Old 18th December 2015
  #7
Gear Nut
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by goldi View Post
This is your current master buss? I'm curious how you get the mammoth to sit on the master -- are your germaniums off? I tried, got close, but in the end took it off the master cause it was just too much with the germaniums on. Thanks..
To go off-topic slightly (relevant because I will come back to compare later) my mammoth has the vintage telefunken mod in the nickel slot which is were I usually leave it parked. Attached are a couple of recent settings. I tend to drive it hot out of the compressor (~4dB in the below photos) then pull it back down with the output attenuation. I definitely use a light touch. The germaniums are can be too aggressive for the mix bus, I look forward to the occasions when I can drive them for fun effect on individual tracks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
Nice. What style of music do you mostly do? The EQ's have a lot of development and testing put into them. We settled on +/- 9 vs. +/- 12 or 6. I think it's a great compromise that allows a heavy hand, or very detailed mini-brushes.... And yeah, that sucker is sweet. I've got to give Brad most of the credit for the EQ. He's a genius EQ guy IMO. Also, the vintage filter turned out awesome IMO. My proto-prototype that I've been using a couple of years doesn't have the EQ, and I've been using a custom Eisen EQ with Marinairs in it. I don't think I'll be missing it much...
Primarily acoustic, folk, Americana and other gentle genres. Places where the original fidelity of the music shines through more than the creative mix moves I did in the rock world. This is a recent album I did: https://viopanduo.bandcamp.com/ I'll certainly get some use out of the EQ in all of its settings; on the mix bus it'll probably be subtle--I'll know after more experimentation.

I agree on the EQ genius, part. I have 4 Chop Shops, 2 Electras, and two of every Colour Module brad makes (in the other thread you can see a pair of the Rogue-Tec modules in the background).
Attached Thumbnails
Louder than Liftoff Silver Bullet first impressions-img_20150706_172211.jpg   Louder than Liftoff Silver Bullet first impressions-img_20150621_201155-1-.jpg  

Last edited by Talljoe; 18th December 2015 at 10:00 PM.. Reason: Use a different photo that is easier to see.
Old 22nd December 2015
  #8
Lives for gear
 
BradM's Avatar
Hey guys!

I finally have a break from the madness and can catch up on all these posts. I'm happy to report that we got out the first 25 units before Christmas as planned. I know that a couple units were delivered to customers this morning and a couple more are out for delivery. Hopefully some of those guys are GS users and will post pics of their new toys and share some first impressions. I'm really excited to see and hear about how you all are going to integrate your new Silver Bullets into your setups. Of the feedback I've received so far it's been really positive. I can't think of a better way to end what's been a very challenging, yet productive year. On behalf of Bill and myself, thanks for believing in us and this product. I can't begin to tell you how satisfying it is for me to see these things in the hands of folks like yourselves.

I want to give a special thanks to @citrusonic (aka Tone Elf). He casually commented in the other Silver Bullet thread that he would be willing to come up to Rogue Planet Command and help with assembly. Well, he actually got in touch through email, we had a couple phone conversations, and he took a bus up from L.A. to stay with me for a week and help me get this run out the door. How f-ing cool is that??! While I focused on testing and QC, he assembled almost every single unit and boxed them up with the same attention to detail and care that I personally have. We had a great time hanging out the last week and making gear together. Thank you, Michael, for your invaluable help, and you wonderful friendship. Tone Santa and Tone Elf will be teaming up again after the New Year to finish the second batch of units.

I wanted to share some pics. The first customer to receive his Silver Bullet was able to come and pick it up in person since he lives just 30 minutes away. I took some photos as he was opening the box. He later sent me this sweet pic of his rack after getting the unit installed. The last pic is Tone Elf with a unit that we made for John R (I took artistic license and edited our little sign for this post).

I spoke at length the other day with @Noa on the phone after he was able to spend some time comparing/contrasting the Silver Bullet with some of his other gear. I know he intends to swing by this thread and share his thoughts at some point. I'm looking forward to his full report!

Thank you all,
Brad
Attached Thumbnails
Louder than Liftoff Silver Bullet first impressions-img_8103.jpg   Louder than Liftoff Silver Bullet first impressions-img_8106.jpg   Louder than Liftoff Silver Bullet first impressions-img_8114.jpg   Louder than Liftoff Silver Bullet first impressions-img_8149.jpg  
Old 22nd December 2015
  #9
Lives for gear
 

Mine arrived saturday, I'm the proud owner of Silver Bullet #005 , which is pretty cool!

In a word, it is fantastic! I'm absolutely thrilled with it. The Air and Sub EQ are just the ticket for the mix bus, the vintage low-pass switch is lovely, the two mix busses sound very different and very complementary. I'm doing some orchestral cues at the moment and am finding the N setting to really help things sound a little more expensive and gelled.

At sensible settings, the sound of the N/A paths is very subtle, as one would expect, but they both can get very saturated, and do so in a very elegant manner.

So far, I've preferred the sound of just one path, rather than the cascaded modes but I'm sure they will have their uses. I've not even tried it as a mic-pre yet.

The overall fit and finish is excellent - despite the modest cost, which really when you think about what you're getting is very low indeed, it is really well appointed with lots of nice touches. I greatly appreciate the use of gold plated neutrik xlr connectors throughout, for example. The meter looks great, and all the controls feel positive and durable.

I would have valued some numbering around the pots to aid recall but that's about my only criticism.

Anyway, I will report back after further use, but it's a resounding victory as far as I'm concerned so well done Brad & Dr Bill!!
Attached Thumbnails
Louder than Liftoff Silver Bullet first impressions-sb.jpg  
Old 22nd December 2015
  #10
Gear Nut
 
InMyGalaxie's Avatar
 

Badass. Congrats guys!
Old 22nd December 2015
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
basic's Avatar
 

Nice work guys, congrats! Any kind of time line for the next 25? Stoked to get my hands on my very own! Happy holidays.
Old 23rd December 2015
  #12
Lives for gear
 
BradM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by basic View Post
Nice work guys, congrats! Any kind of time line for the next 25? Stoked to get my hands on my very own! Happy holidays.
The vendor is finishing up the PCBs right now. They were awaiting some transformers that showed up yesterday. So as soon as I return from visiting with family for the holidays I'll get the next batch finished up as expediently as possible. I plan to have everything shipped on or before 1/18/16.

Thanks! @InMyGalaxie

Brad
Old 23rd December 2015
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
basic's Avatar
 

Cool! Thanks
Old 23rd December 2015
  #14
Lives for gear
 
12tone's Avatar
 

Got mine...



It's a beautiful piece - very clean design aesthetics, and visually uniquely modern respective to the usual fare you see in audio gear.

Sonically it doesn't disappoint. For one thing, it has gobs of headroom and tons of gain, and what sets it apart is the gain structure of the cascading topologies, where you can use one to drive the other. I'm testing it side by side against a pair of Aurora Audio Stingers and Warm Audio Tonebeasts. Both the Api and Neve flavors are displayed with aplomb compared to the Tonebeasts and Stingers respectively.

I know the Warm Audio and Aurora units very well, so I know where the sweet spots are in the input/output gain structure to get that heft and hair vs an unadulterated signal...in experimenting with the SB, I realize because of the cascading topologies, there is another extra level of fine control - in bombarding it with extra gain(+24db) or using a pair of Avedis line pads, which is a 35db pad I believe, there exists multitudes of different tonal possibilities. I think a hidden gem might be for use as a distortion device - maybe, maybe not...it actually distorts in a pleasant way.

The EQs are sublime - they're sort of things where once engaged with the proper settings applied, if you take it off you notice it right away, a night and day thing really, much more readily apparent than the subtle, sublime console emulations. I could see where the SB sees its way to many mastering facilities, as it has the broad stroke ability to lift the blanket from a mix, as though you're taking a 'je ne sais quoi' sonic opaqueness out of the equation. The low end definitely gets a tightening, and when needed, a boost can be applied that doesn't muddy the low mids.

The meters take it over the edge. I love meters, that's one of the reasons I got the Stingers - the meters and the faders, and wished more gear had them, and that there'd be more meters of the size and legibility of the SB's and the Stingers.

I'm very happy with the SB, and can't wait to incorporate several of them in a summing setup.

Thanks, Brad and drBill.
Old 24th December 2015
  #15
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by 12tone View Post
Got mine...



It's a beautiful piece - very clean design aesthetics, and visually uniquely modern respective to the usual fare you see in audio gear.
Thanks 12T!

Quote:
Originally Posted by 12tone View Post
Sonically it doesn't disappoint. For one thing, it has gobs of headroom and tons of gain, and what sets it apart is the gain structure of the cascading topologies, where you can use one to drive the other. I'm testing it side by side against a pair of Aurora Audio Stingers and Warm Audio Tonebeasts. Both the Api and Neve flavors are displayed with aplomb compared to the Tonebeasts and Stingers respectively.
Sweet. Glad to see the SB held up to the fire against some stiff competition. Brad and I both feel like it will not only compete, but excel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 12tone View Post
I know the Warm Audio and Aurora units very well, so I know where the sweet spots are in the input/output gain structure to get that heft and hair vs an unadulterated signal...in experimenting with the SB, I realize because of the cascading topologies, there is another extra level of fine control - in bombarding it with extra gain(+24db) or using a pair of Avedis line pads, which is a 35db pad I believe, there exists multitudes of different tonal possibilities. I think a hidden gem might be for use as a distortion device - maybe, maybe not...it actually distorts in a pleasant way.
It's no doubt a gain stagers dream come true, and really rewards those who understand gain staging and especially those who are willing to experiment.

Distortion is a relative term of course, and I learned long ago (actually it was one of the first things that started pointing me in the direction that eventually led to the SB design) that distortion on things that you would normally not distort (like violins, orchestra, etc.) can really make a mix come together.

Hence - the Silver Bullet. Not only an EQ, not only a Metering device, not only a mic pre, not only a saturator, not only a mastering leveler, but also a distortion box. I don't really think it's the #1 best use of the box, but it certainly can work on individual elements. I've got some application notes that I want to put forward on that exact topic. More to come....

Quote:
Originally Posted by 12tone View Post
The EQs are sublime - they're sort of things where once engaged with the proper settings applied, if you take it off you notice it right away, a night and day thing really, much more readily apparent than the subtle, sublime console emulations. I could see where the SB sees its way to many mastering facilities, as it has the broad stroke ability to lift the blanket from a mix, as though you're taking a 'je ne sais quoi' sonic opaqueness out of the equation. The low end definitely gets a tightening, and when needed, a boost can be applied that doesn't muddy the low mids.
Yup. Looking forward to some mastering thoughts for those of you doing mastering. Actually one of the things I've been thinking about is that the RMS level gets bumped quite a bit higher after going thru the SB, making comparison clips "kind of difficult" - and a bit unfair to the untreated audio file. The SB can be 4dB LOWER and SOUND 3X's as loud without any compression artifacts. Clipping done analog with zero to minimal obvious artifacts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 12tone View Post
The meters take it over the edge. I love meters, that's one of the reasons I got the Stingers - the meters and the faders, and wished more gear had them, and that there'd be more meters of the size and legibility of the SB's and the Stingers.
Yup. We wanted this unit to have some BLING and stand out in a rack, looking like a million bucks!! Booya!


Quote:
Originally Posted by 12tone View Post
I'm very happy with the SB, and can't wait to incorporate several of them in a summing setup.

Thanks, Brad and drBill.
Awesome 12T, and thanks for the very interesting and well thought out mini-review. Look forward to your notes and how you implement the SB into your setup.

You're Welcome!




Merry Christmas all!!! Enjoy your Silver Bullets.



bp
Old 24th December 2015
  #16
Lives for gear
 
Hardtoe's Avatar
Is there an official recall sheet? Doing my first mix with the bullet, but wondering the best way to document my settings (not a big fan of photos)
Old 25th December 2015
  #17
Lives for gear
 
BradM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardtoe View Post
Is there an official recall sheet? Doing my first mix with the bullet, but wondering the best way to document my settings (not a big fan of photos)
Hey! That is totally my bad. I do have one, but I just spaced on putting it up. I'll email it to you.

Brad
Old 25th December 2015
  #18
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
Hey! That is totally my bad. I do have one, but I just spaced on putting it up. I'll email it to you.

Brad
Any eta for any clip or video?
Old 25th December 2015
  #19
Gear Head
 

I'll have to say ditto to 12tone's review.... I am hearing the same things. Running some of my last projects stems and full mixes through the SB and the
sound stage gets deeper and instruments seem to have a more well defined space. Just engaging the tone section seems to widen the sound field.
I must have been a good boy this year cause this was a fantastic Christmas present!
Old 26th December 2015
  #20
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by scf2525 View Post
I must have been a good boy this year cause this was a fantastic Christmas present!
Mee tooo!!!

Oh mann....GS isn't letting me upload pics right now.....sorry.
Old 27th December 2015
  #21
Gear Head
 

Funny story (kinda)… So I bought the complete Beatles remastered several years ago and didn't really like the sound.
So I decided to go check them out on Spotify… listening and I thought.. well it's sounds better than I remembered.
Then I looked over and realized I still had SB in Neve mode on the master buss, turned it off, and there was the remastered sound I remembered.
Old 27th December 2015
  #22
Lives for gear
 
BradM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by amit monga View Post
Any eta for any clip or video?
Hi Amit!

I don't have an exact date. Right now Bill and I are spending time with family and friends for the holidays. Once we return we are going to begin planning this.

Thanks for asking!
Brad
Old 28th December 2015
  #23
Lives for gear
 
ORyan87's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by scf2525 View Post
Funny story (kinda)… So I bought the complete Beatles remastered several years ago and didn't really like the sound.
So I decided to go check them out on Spotify… listening and I thought.. well it's sounds better than I remembered.
Then I looked over and realized I still had SB in Neve mode on the master buss, turned it off, and there was the remastered sound I remembered.
Ha !
Old 28th December 2015
  #24
Lives for gear
 
12tone's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by scf2525 View Post
Funny story (kinda)… So I bought the complete Beatles remastered several years ago and didn't really like the sound.
So I decided to go check them out on Spotify… listening and I thought.. well it's sounds better than I remembered.
Then I looked over and realized I still had SB in Neve mode on the master buss, turned it off, and there was the remastered sound I remembered.
...unless I'm a weirdo, not a funny story (rhetorical btw)

Among other things, I always use reference recordings to judge audio gear, and must say, the SB is a black box device to enhance such things. Immediately there is an expansion of the soundstage - it opens up, and the EQ - fuggetaboutit, like a bacon/butter sonic sheen over starchy potatoes. In short whatever source material becomes more euphonic, with the caveat that it actually made poor recordings and mixes sound absolutely worse, whereas known good recordings and mixes ends up sounding gloriously better.

Holy Toledo Batman, another possible target -> audiophiles...
Old 28th December 2015
  #25
Lives for gear
 
ORyan87's Avatar
I really can't wait to get my box.......
Old 2nd January 2016
  #26
Here for the gear
 
Dfhog's Avatar
 

I love this box!!!

Silver Bullet - Aptly named.
The surprising minimalist control panel belies the layers of magical functionality in Dr. Bill's Stereo Tone Amp. I have just had a few days to get acquainted with the unit but I already know that tracking and mixing will never be the same for me.

While running through a few recent project mixes with the S.B. on the mix bus, I was floored by the sonic goodness that was easily dialed in. The ability to push the A and N style preamp gain into even order harmonic saturation is so very nice and just puts a fantastic gluey sheen on the tracks. There is an enormous amount of gain on tap, so going from slightly thicker to a huge crunch is available. The A style pre sounds very open in the high frequencies and pushes the mids forward, the bass is tight as you would expect. The N style pre seems to have a fatter sounding low end and more luscious buttery mids. When I cascaded the two while mixing I had to back off the gain a bit more but the sound was even more harmonically rich.

I found that it was best to start the mix from scratch with the Silver Bullet as opposed to running a finished mix through the unit. So it's going to stay on my stereo mix bus and stay on

The two band tone controls are totally intuitive and tweaking to the right dials in more of the broad band EQ. The bass on the tracks became wider and the cymbals were much more 3D.

I have just tracked a couple of electric guitar parts and am very impressed. The mic pres stand well next to my CAPI and Hairball pres. I did use the MIC+ mode with a 57 and a 421 on two small combo amps and the extra bit of gain let me dial back the output and resulted in a great sound with a very low noise floor.

You get two channels of world class preamps in two flavors with a variety of routing options and a Swiss army knife EQ which, at the twist of a knob, allows for tracking or gargantuan tone altering mojo on the stereo mix. So what's not to be thrilled about. It probably should cost more but don't tell LTLO that!

Great job by Louder Than Liftoff's Brad and Dr. Bill!
Attached Thumbnails
Louder than Liftoff Silver Bullet first impressions-silver-bullet-home.jpg  
Old 3rd January 2016
  #27
Gear Maniac
greetings everyone!

this post is long overdue, but the last couple of week weeks have been a whirlwind. I was up in San Jose helping Brad assemble these for a week, straight into last minute holiday madness, and finally a recording session to end the year on a productive note. Lots of couches have been slept on, and miles logged between Northern and Southern California. Rejoiced to have a couple of days to hang out and be a real person before I head back up to Rogue Planet Command to assist Brad with the next batch of units. I will be engineering an extensive laundry session today.

I just wanted to chime in and commend Brad and dr.Bill on their work with the Silver Bullet. it is a beautifully designed unit, and it has been a real privilege being able to watch Brad work.

I had an opportunity to sit down and listen to one for an evening, and I felt that I needed to tell about my experience, as it is one I will not be forgetting soon.

so, I started engineering a couple of years ago now. very modestly in the beginning with a small Focusrite interface into Garageband. once I fell in love with the craft, I began investing in bigger pieces like the Apogee Ensemble, a UA Satellite card and outfitting my mic locker with some essentials. I never felt like I would be able to put an analog piece of gear to work appropriately, as I am relatively inexperienced with outboard processing, and wasn't certain I would know what I should be listening for anyways. Up until this point, every sonic decision I've made in the box has been a largely visual based notion. Granted, I am using my ears too, but it's often pulling up an eq, visually boosting where I know I need to boost and trusting that the computer knows more than I do.

Pushing a rough mix through the Silver Bullet was a monumental moment for me, as I finally felt like I was using my ears like an engineer should. I was pressing buttons, and turning knobs, and things were sounding better. A lot better. Once you dial in the right amount of mojo, and get the EQ to sing (the air on it is so, so sweet) bypassing the unit will blow your mind. With the Silver Bullet on my 2 bus, my mix sounded alive and real in a way that no plugin has ever been able to even get close to. It adds so much dimensionality to the image, and makes it sound like a real mix. It truly does everything you've read and more. Brad and Bill knocked it out of the park with this, and I am so excited to have one of my own. There's no going back after this, and it's wonderful to know that one unit can do so much for my overall sound. Night and day difference.


The attention to detail put into this unit from start to finish is palpable, and I'm honored to help Louder Than Liftoff get them out the door.
Old 3rd January 2016
  #28
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dfhog View Post
Silver Bullet - Aptly named.
The surprising minimalist control panel belies the layers of magical functionality in Dr. Bill's Stereo Tone Amp. I have just had a few days to get acquainted with the unit but I already know that tracking and mixing will never be the same for me.

While running through a few recent project mixes with the S.B. on the mix bus, I was floored by the sonic goodness that was easily dialed in. The ability to push the A and N style preamp gain into even order harmonic saturation is so very nice and just puts a fantastic gluey sheen on the tracks. There is an enormous amount of gain on tap, so going from slightly thicker to a huge crunch is available. The A style pre sounds very open in the high frequencies and pushes the mids forward, the bass is tight as you would expect. The N style pre seems to have a fatter sounding low end and more luscious buttery mids. When I cascaded the two while mixing I had to back off the gain a bit more but the sound was even more harmonically rich.

I found that it was best to start the mix from scratch with the Silver Bullet as opposed to running a finished mix through the unit. So it's going to stay on my stereo mix bus and stay on

The two band tone controls are totally intuitive and tweaking to the right dials in more of the broad band EQ. The bass on the tracks became wider and the cymbals were much more 3D.

I have just tracked a couple of electric guitar parts and am very impressed. The mic pres stand well next to my CAPI and Hairball pres. I did use the MIC+ mode with a 57 and a 421 on two small combo amps and the extra bit of gain let me dial back the output and resulted in a great sound with a very low noise floor.

You get two channels of world class preamps in two flavors with a variety of routing options and a Swiss army knife EQ which, at the twist of a knob, allows for tracking or gargantuan tone altering mojo on the stereo mix. So what's not to be thrilled about. It probably should cost more but don't tell LTLO that!

Great job by Louder Than Liftoff's Brad and Dr. Bill!
Hi
how is the "A" secton compares to capi vp28 sonically on the mixbuss?
Old 4th January 2016
  #29
Gear Nut
 
Em Dash's Avatar
 

The camera on my phone has started crapping out on me, so I won't be able to add a picture of Silver Bullet #0003 in its new home until later... But I do want to take a few minutes to say that I'm happy as a pig in **** using this guy on the mix bus.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 12tone View Post
In short whatever source material becomes more euphonic, with the caveat that it actually made poor recordings and mixes sound absolutely worse, whereas known good recordings and mixes ends up sounding gloriously better.
+1

My first impression of the SB, just running some familiar stuff through the box, was a) that I really liked the EQ and b) that the gain staging choices available make for a lot of possibilities for a sonic signature.

When I finally had time to use it at length, I made up a little game which turned out to be surprisingly enlightening. To wit: I took my two favorite consumer hifi amplifiers into the studio and attempted to get the Silver Bullet to sound like each of them.

The surprising thing I learned is that this Tone Amp was a lot easier for me to use once I stopped caring what "A" and "N" stand for and started thinking of them as tone components.

I think I have pretty decent ears, and I am certainly familiar with the prototypical API and Neve "flavors." I know I tend to prefer the Neve low end and mids on most things. The SB's A and N circuits definitely sound like what they're based on, but once I stopped thinking about that and just started using my ears, I had a lot more fun.

And I was surprised at how many variations you can get out of these two circuits, both together and separately.

I have this old hifi from 1958 that I love. I bought it from the original owner, who took good care of it. I've recapped it and replaced the power tubes. It's about 10 watts per channel, EL34-based class AB. In other words it's a typical low wattage late 50s/early 60s home stereo. The sort of amp that makes you understand why Klipshorns were invented...

I was not surprised to discover that the N mojo circuit by itself gets damned close to the sound of that little guy, but I was pretty surprised to find that tucking a tiny bit of A under that N using the A->N setting almost NAILED it.

(Also, a note to Brad: The EQ, when set to "bass" and "pres" acts and sounds almost exactly like the bass and treble controls on that amp! Except on the SB they can also cut!)

I was not surprised that my Yamaha CR-1020 is a little more A than N, but I WAS a little surprised to find that a fairly saturated A gets closest... That Yamaha is a very "clean" sounding amp to my ear, so I wasn't expecting to turn the gain up as high as I ended up going with it to find the sound.

I was also surprised at how useful "Air" is on this EQ for this kind of "copy that amp's sound" exercise. I normally think of an "air band" as "opening up" a track or a mix, but in this application I was thinking of it more as "extend the top end to simulate the way this amp works best with such-and-such a tweeter."

Anyhow... Here's my real point:

The SB sounds great, no doubt. It does the "Neve thing" and the "API thing" very well. But in my mind what makes the SB important is the way it lets you mess with everything in between. It's easy to think of it in terms of "A or N," but with those two circuits and the EQ, there are an INSANE number of distinct variations.

I'd wager you could get the SB to sound like a number of other preamps by combining the two flavors it has. In fact, while I write this I am idly trying to get the N->A mode to sound like a moderately-driven Jensen twin servo design preamp (A/Bing between the SB and a pair of Seventh Circle J99s). I think I will be able to get pretty close...

I encourage all SB owners to try to make the SB sound like their favorite amp! It was more educational than I expected it to be, both because it revealed how versatile the SB can be AND because it made me think twice about how well I "know" the sound of my favorite amps and these well-respected preamp "flavors."

Last edited by Em Dash; 4th January 2016 at 06:34 AM.. Reason: typo
Old 4th January 2016
  #30
Gear Nut
 
Em Dash's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
Looking forward to some mastering thoughts for those of you doing mastering. Actually one of the things I've been thinking about is that the RMS level gets bumped quite a bit higher after going thru the SB, making comparison clips "kind of difficult" - and a bit unfair to the untreated audio file. The SB can be 4dB LOWER and SOUND 3X's as loud without any compression artifacts. Clipping done analog with zero to minimal obvious artifacts.
Bill, I'm sure I'll be messing about with the SB on some mastering projects this year.

I am a fan of analog limiters and multiple analog stages of just-a-little-saturated as a way to increase level without trashing it up full of artifacts (for the inevitable large number of clients who want it "as loud as Band X"). The SB strikes me as extremely useful for that application, but also potentially great for what you might call "mastering glue" on projects like compilation records or where the band recorded at a lot of different times and places, so the mixes don't all hang together sonically like a single album.

I'll definitely bring any SB mastering discoveries here to share!
New Reply Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook  Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter  Submit Thread to LinkedIn LinkedIn  Submit Thread to Google+ Google+  Submit Thread to Reddit Reddit 
 
Topic:
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump