The transition in audio production from analog to digital over the past couple decades has been a boon for radio. No more splicing tape, and no more finding the right tape or piece of tape. And don’t get me started on those dreaded carts. I’m thankful they’ve been replaced by a click on the screen. Tape hiss is something I don’t miss either.However, in some ways, digital audio production is too clean. So after ditching tubes and tapes for transistors, integrated circuits and hard drives, some people have gone back to analog for one phase of the audio chain: the pre-amp.Tube pre-amps and compressors have sonic attributes that cannot yet be replicated with digital modeling. Tubes provide a warmth that comes from semi-random, subtle distortion on certain harmonics. That sounds like it would be a bad thing, but it’s actually a good thing.
Tube pre-amps used to be in every radio and music studio. Not so anymore. Tube pre-amps are one reason (of many) why Frank Sinatra and Black Sabbath both sound better than most music today. (Read MORE….)