Heavenly Blue and Fiery Orange are descriptions of the glowing valves or, as the Americans call them, tubes, that are simulated by the latest offering from Antares software – Tube. These tubes are typically used in the preamp sections of guitar amplifiers and are also used in classic mic preamp designs.
Heavenly Blue models the subtle effects of a high-quality tube preamp and you can use this to add warmth to vocals, instruments or complete mixes. The Fiery Orange tube models the deep, warm distortion of an overdriven tube amplifier, so you should use this in moderation – unless you’re looking for a very distorted sound.
Tube is available as an RTAS, MAS or VST plug-in – so it works with most popular host software including Pro Tools, Digital Performer and Cubase. It’s as though you had recorded these through a high-quality analogue valve preamp.
Use the Input Level control at the left to adjust the gain such that the input-level needle spends most of its time in the top two red segments without lighting the Clip indicator. Keep the input meter needle within the red segments, or no tube effect will be audible – even with maximum Drive.
But do keep a close watch on the Clip indicator. Input clipping is not the desirable distortion that happens in the tube model – it just sounds nasty!
Use the Output Attenuation control at the right to reduce the level of the signal after it has passed through the tube model. You can adjust this to ensure that no clipping occurs as a result of the gain applied by the Drive control. As with the Input Level meter, the output level meter needle should spend most of its time in the top two red meter segments without the signal triggering the Clip indicator lights. If these light up, reduce the output.
A switch to the left of the Drive control lets you experiment further using the OmniTube function. This applies the effect to the entire signal – as opposed to only the transients as with a tube preamp.
I tried the Tube on an acid jazz project where I played lead and rhythm guitars. The guitars sounded fine, but were getting lost in the mix at times. EQ was changing the sound in the wrong way. Applying a moderate amount of Heavenly Blue Tube processing did the trick – lifting the guitars out of the mix by making them sound fuller, with a more interesting presence in the solo sections and warming-up the sound in the rhythm sections, without changing the tone in any drastic ways. Highly recommended.