We tested out the Singular Audio Tubedrve in the studio: a 500 series stereo tube saturator. It’s a creamy, rich sounding box that can act subtly, or move into a full crushing, aggressive mood.
The Tubedrve from Singular Audio is a multifaceted 500 series stereo saturation and distortion unit that’s capable of exciting single channels, drum busses, and even full mixes. We took some drums we recorded from NZ band Marlin’s Dreaming and tested it out.
Singular Audio is a company out of Amsterdam, Netherlands run by producer and engineer Berend van Eerden. The company sprang to life when he decided to start making the creative gear he’d been custom building to enhance his productions available to other music makers worldwide.
This saturation and distortion unit can act subtly to lightly excite a source, or move aggressively to actively melt and crush whatever you feed into it, with a whole world of flavours in between. The distortion comes from the full plate voltage six 6AS6 new old stock Soviet military tube being overdriven within the beautifully designed, simple circuit.
One of the cool things about this unit is the fact that it uses a full 240 volts to power the tubes, whereas so many 500 series units with tubes run them at a starved 48 volts — or even less, denying the full valve sonic signature and only really running a tube as a vanity exercise.
The 6AS6 is a great tube too — it can be used in both triode and pentode configurations to provide different styles of saturation and distortion, and is a selectable option on the front of the box. The triode mode is the smoother and warmer setting, with even harmonics, and the pentode mode is more aggressive with greater compression and odd harmonics.
With the bias knob you have control of the overdrive point of the 6AS6; pushing it hard will lead to asymmetrical clipping which may be perfect for some applications.
The boost switch sends an additional 15dB of signal to the tube to really start to squish things, and with a mix knob you’re able to distort in parallel, opening up a whole world of subtlety and extra flavour.
To see what this thing can do we put some drums from a recent Live from Happy performance from the band Marlin’s Dreaming through the Tubedrve. The result was extremely diverse, the Tubedrve can be a subtle parallel drive with extra grit on the drum kit, or completely crushed and unrecognisable with the drums turning into this industrial style saturated smash.
It’s a killer unit — useful in both recording and mixing — that will look great in your 500 series rack. We loved the flashing LEDs on the top of the unit too.
The use of full 240v plate voltage on the tubes in a 500 series unit is a welcome change to some of the crappier 500 series tube units using a 48 volt starved design and giving tubes a bad name!
The Tubedrve is available at a few choice places online, or through the Singular Audio website, where it’s currently on special for 699 Euros.
For more info or to pick up a Tubedrve for yourself head over to Singularaudio.nl