SPL TwinTube plugin review

Discussion in 'Computer Audiophile: Software, Configs, Tools' started by GoodEnoughGear, May 7, 2020.

  1. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    I warn you up front, many people will consider this heresy. I'll listen and learn if I get objecting responses, but I have also listened and learned from actually using this in my chain, and I'm fairly confident in my opinion. So YMMV, just my 2c and all that. So let's get to it.

    Chain is Windows 10-->JRiver-->PatchWork VST Host-->Equilibrium EQ + Essence de-esser + SPL TwinTube-->Soekris DAC1541-->GoldPoint attenuator-->Genelec 8030+750b sub OR Eddie Current BW2.

    This is a review of the SPL (Yes the Phonitor people) TwinTube Plugin, available in 64-bit VST/3 plus other formats, but no 32-bit so Foobar is SOL. I bought mine from Plugin Alliance: https://www.plugin-alliance.com/en/products/spl_twintube.html.

    TwinTube is a digital model of the physical SPL TwinTube Analog processor from SPL:
    [​IMG]

    In its digital form it looks like this:
    [​IMG]

    The concept is really simple: you have a Harmonics section at the top and a Saturation section at the bottom. Each has a level knob, and for the Harmonics you get to select from 4 focus bands. There is an overall level adjustment and an ability to quickly A/B up to 4 settings.

    I have a pretty analytical chain - DAC1541 via a GoldPoint attenuator straight into a set of Genelec 8030B with a 7050B Sub. I made the decision deliberately as I thought I could learn more about sound and have more control and ability to play around for much cheaper in software than starting on a buying parade of gear trying to understand sound and develop my own preferences.

    It's not as cold/thin as some, but it does leave a certain something to be desired. I noticed running the signal through BW2 did a lot to just round it out a bit and give it some fatness/warmth. So I went looking to see how bad the digital tooobiness plugins were and I ran across this one. And I'm delighted that I did.

    To each their own, but I love this plugin. My chain was complementary to about 25% of my collection - the stuff that is well recorded and produced. The likes of Mark Knopfler for example sound absolutely wonderful through it. But the other 75% ranges from 'there's something a little flat' to 'what is this grating tinny shit'.

    With TwinTube I am adding just a small degree of processing, really minor in terms of what the plugin can do, but it is an absolute game changer for me. It takes that 25/75 ratio and upends it to 75/25, and even that last 25% of grating sibilant material sounds so much more listenable. I'm just fattening up the sound a little in terms of body or heft with some saturation and adding the kind of warm lacquer affect in the harmonics that BW2 does so well.

    I had a Gungnir DS loaner for a while which had much more heft than DAC1541, but I found if I ran it through BW2 it was just a bit much. Not bloomy per se, but just too obviously 'pumped up' and glossy. DAC1541 with TwinTube retains the blackground and delicacy of the DAC while giving it just the right addition of heft and glow for easy and engaging listening. And best of all you can tweak it!

    Some may think I'm nuts for spending what I do on DSP. This plugin alone is $200, plus the DMG cadillac level EQ and de-Esser and PatchWork and most folks would have a hard time justifying it. But it's 200 bucks for a plugin that has changed my listening experience in a way that other spend thousands on gear to do.

    Are there any downsides? Not that I can attest to after about a month of usage. I imagine some golden ears may hear something nasty, but to me it's pretty darn transparent in terms of sins of omission at augmentation levels and the sins of commission are delightful when tastefully dialled in. Of course you can crank it and distort the fuck out of the signal but there's a knob to fix that.

    I can cautiously say I fucking love this plugin. Best $200 I have spent on enhancing audio gear, barring a few choice bottles of whiskey :drunk:.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2020
    atomicbob, Clemmaster, crenca and 5 others like this.
  2. aamefford

    aamefford Nothing like chamberpot coffee

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    What are plugging your plugin into? Playback software I assume? It’s a direction I’m interested in exploring. I went through an Amarra phase. They are just such a cluster that I finally walked away. I’m using an RPi3 and hifiberry hat and currently volumino. I wonder if there are plugins available for rpi type playback software. Anyway, great write up, nice to hear someone report on DSP without the apostolic revulsion to polluting the source signal.
     
  3. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    Thanks, good catch, added the chain in at the start. I'm using JRiver Media Center. Foobar2000 can apply DSP as a DLNA Server but JRiver can't - though there may be other ways around that, I'm not sure.
     
  4. Cellist88

    Cellist88 Afraid someone will shit on his opinions

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    Pretty Cool! Did you try the Vertigo VSM-3? for me it sounds a bit more tweakable and more transparent than the spl.
     
  5. fastfwd

    fastfwd Friend

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    I've never used a consumer PC as a digital source, so forgive me if this is a stupid question, but I haven't been able to find the answer with a Google search: Can you associate EQ/processor settings with individual songs, so each song automatically plays back through its particular preset every time?

    Pfft, who cares. I have an Aphex 204 that I loop in to my chain when I want to liven up dull recordings -- if a golden-ear audiophile wants to listen to awesome-but-badly-produced 80's pop with no processing, he's welcome to borrow my CDs and play them at his house.
     
  6. aamefford

    aamefford Nothing like chamberpot coffee

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    Thank you, and thank you fr the opportunity type the sentence "What are plugging your plugin into?" For some reason that cracked me up at 6:30 this morning.
     
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  7. mokobigbro

    mokobigbro Acquaintance

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    Very interesting indeed.

    My favorite coloring plugins, might be nice to put in a playback chain is Kush Audio Omega and Kazrog's True Iron.

    Kush Audio is not too expensive at $29 each. It has different type of transformer sound and also a tube plugin.
     
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  8. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    I did look at it, but it seemed I'd use few of the features for simple listening vs the production bent it has. I'll give it a listen again, though.
     
  9. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    Yes, JRiver will do this:

    https://yabb.jriver.com/interact/index.php?topic=122726.0

    I've always stopped short of it, seems like an OCD rathole for the likes of me. :eek:
     
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