Honorable mention must be made to a great bit of studio kit with the distortion/mastering unit from Thermionic Culture. Apparently Thermionic Culture’s ‘The Culture Vulture’ was originally designed as a “distortion box” to simulate overdrive in valve amps, but has lots of uses beyond this.
We know some owners that use them on drum loops, vocals, piano sounds – and even across entire tracks (as it’s a stereo unit). The distortion achieved through this analogue processor is true valve overdrive – unlike some “tube” units where the glowing valve is little more than a visual treat for its owner.
The 2U rack unit is handmade using traditional design processes (which may contribute to the price!), and adds classic warmth to those oft-too-clean digital recordings. Distortion characteristics are largely controlled by a 3-way rotary switch. The ‘T’ position generates mainly even-numbered harmonics; the P1 position creates odd-numbered harmonics; and the P2 option provides an alternative pentode configuration which provides more drastic distortion effects.
The Chemical Brothers love it – and that is good enough for us! As of November 2011, the Culture Vulture valve processor is also available in a new mono channel-strip unit.
“The vulture distorts synths in a truly beautiful way. We used to achieve this effect through a long convoluted process, now we can get this great sound at a flick of a switch!” – Tom Rowlands