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Softube Summit Audio Grand Channel – A Real-World Review

Producer/engineer Rich Tozzoli and friends recently put Softube's Summit Audio Grand Channel Plug-In to the test while recording in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Here's how it went.

Softube Summit Audio Grand Channel
Softube Summit Audio Grand Channel

The Summit Audio Grand Channel by Softube is an emulation of the Summit Audio EQF-100 equalizer and TLA-100 compressor combined into a single channel strip perfect for adding analog-like vibe to your mixes. The first thing you’ll notice about the Grand Channel is it has character. Just by putting it on your tracks with all the settings flat, you’ll hear it adding its signature sound.

The EQ section features four bands plus high and low pass filters. Each of the four bands has seven expertly chosen selectable center frequencies, a bandwidth control, a cut/boost/bypass switch and a gain knob to control how much you’re boosting or cutting. The two mid bands are bell filters, and the high and low bands can be set to either bell or shelf shapes. I would consider this to be a tone shaper as opposed to more of a surgical EQ. You’re really able to make extreme moves with this EQ, drastically altering the sound of your tracks without ever making it sound unnatural.

You almost can’t make this thing sound bad. The low band is perfect for adding weight and warmth to bass or drums. The high band is incredibly silky and smooth, perfect for adding air to vocals or acoustic guitars. We were amazed how far we could push the high end with this EQ without it ever getting harsh. We found the mid bands to be great for sitting guitars into the mix, pushing anywhere between 1.5 and 4k to help the guitars cut through a dense mix or cutting in the same area to tame overly aggressive tones.

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Moving on to the compressor, we have a gain reduction knob to control the amount of compression, a makeup gain knob and two switches to choose between fast, medium, and slow attack and release times. Softube took this compressor one step past its analog counterpart by adding a few new features.

For one, there’s a wet/dry knob for effortless parallel compression—a feature I wish every compressor had. Softube also added a low cut filter which can be placed either in the audio path or in the compressor’s sidechain detection path. The low cut can go all the way up to 600 Hz, so using it in the audio path is great for cutting out unwanted low end before your signal hits the compressor. Using it in the side chain detector path, on the other hand, is useful when compressing signals with a lot of low end like bass or drums to keep the low end from pumping the compressor too much.

Finally, there’s a saturation knob so you can control exactly how much analog character you want, from squeaky clean to gritty and anywhere in between. If I had to describe the sound of this compressor with a single word, it would be transparent. It’s capable of controlling even the most unruly tracks without making them sound over-compressed. This is one of the few compressors that really works for me on electric guitars, able to control the dynamics and bring the guitars forward in the mix without sounding squashed or flat. On bass, it’s the same story—you can really clamp down, locking it in place without taking the life out of the performance.

Softube •