This is a modified post of something else I put on another forum where there’s a long dedicated thread about the unit. I thought people might be interested here too, so just sharing. No need to reinvent the wheel, but I did edit and change somethings to make it more applicable. Primarily, because this board is generally more laid back, accepting and generally pleasant. Unless of course you’re discussing Overbridge or anything Beringer.
What is it?
A tone amp is how it’s described. It has both mic inputs (two) and balanced line level inputs along with a selection of outputs. It’s all analog and designed with flexibility to be used in both tracking, mixing and master bus roles. It has two circuits (the ‘mojo’ section) that clone ‘A’ (API) and ‘N’ (Neve) preamps. They can be used independently (just ‘A’ or just ‘N’) or together (‘A’ into ‘N’ or ‘N’ into ‘A’). There’s also a Bax style EQ with some very clever additions. An insert is available to bring in compressors or other eq’s into the chain if you like. Not cheap, but very flexible and nothing else quite like it around especially if you’re using it for both tracking and master bus layering levels of color/flavor.
More info here: Louder Than Liftoff Silver Bullet
YT video (start @ 27:28 for electronic example):
I’ve got 12 or so hours listening/tweaking time with the unit now and wanted to share my initial thoughts. If you’re interested in one of these units, then you’ve probably done your due diligence already researched it. You’ve probably listened to the audio samples and watched the videos. It’s doubtful I’m going to say anything that hasn’t already been said before, but maybe I’ll reinforce something for you. Also, I’m trying not to just fanboishly gush and ooze about it, but that’s reeeeeaaallllyy hard. I’ve yet to find something worth complaining about. The superlatives and platitudes thrown around about this thing are well deserved. I don’t have a room full of outboard (yet). This is only my 3rd piece since I started rebuilding my “studio” (yes, it’s just a spare bedroom) a couple of years ago. If you already have a bunch of high end outboard, then you might be (probably are) already getting your mojo fix somewhere else.
But, Brad and Bill who are behind this have built something pretty special IMO…
What am I doing with it? Almost exclusively master bus duties. My solo production effort is limited (talent) and I’m primarily doing “finishing work” for others. I don’t say the “M” word on other forums (I do here), because I’m not a “pro” – it’s not my full time job and might never be though I’d like it as a 2nd career if possible. People tend to get their underwear in knots if you say you’re “mastering” without having 20 years full time experience and a $250K setup in the game. I called it “Amatuering” instead to avoid inevitable comments.
Nearly 100% of what I work on is bass heavy electronic music – what a lot of you here are into. House, Techno and Electro predominantly. A friend of mine who’s a well known/established Electro artist is re-releasing his entire back catalog soon and I got the opportunity to be involved. He wants to try to improve some of the older material hopefully bringing it a littler closer to recent releases. I’m starting the process of going through the catalog, so that’s where I’ve been trying the Silver Bullet (SB) since I got it Wednesday of last week. I’m not committing anything yet though, just listening, experimenting and figuring out the new workflow, but will be soon.
My thoughts so far:
The Mojo section:
How can anyone not like this? Seriously? Hip Hop and EDM guys, take note. This is for you! It gives synths/samplers/drum machines mixed entirely ITB “that sound” you’ve been chasing. At least it’s what I’ve been chasing. Is it entirely replacing my plugin chain? No. Was it meant to? No. Do I still think many plugins are great? Yes. Is it going to polish turds and apply magic? No. Well, maybe a hint of magic or at least some amount of voodoo is involved.
The tracks I’ve been trying thus far were mixed on an O2r many years back and the SB is breathing life into them. The newer tracks sound better run through the SB requiring less other processing overall. It just brings this color, tone and depth that I’ve never gotten (yet) with a plugin. That’s all I can say about it without a bunch of fluffy adjectives involved. If you don’t understand what “3D” or “depth” means, then you will after this. I love hearing it on reverbs particularly on snares and high hats. The mix just starts to get this space and presence – it “pops”. It really hit me bypassing in/out and that’s where other posters said, “…you’ll be smiling…” and there I was… grinning ear to ear and nodding my head! I use MeterPlugs Perception to level match everything I’m doing, so it’s not just a level boost thing.
I’m preferring ‘N>A’ mode on the older songs and ‘N’ seems to work better on some of the newer ones. It just depends on the material and mix. Not a big fan of ‘A’ on its own with this style of music. It takes away from the low end and I’d be EQ’ing it back, but I imagine it’s great on other styles/genres. In my world, it’s going to be ‘N’ or ‘N>A’.
The EQ section:
I probably got the most overall surprise here. I’d heard enough audio samples to get a fairly good idea of the mojo section (still sounds better in person), but it wasn’t until I could play with the EQ that I understood much it more. Also, I was little concerned I’d have too much overlap with two band EQ on the Tegeler Creme (more on that later), but fortunately that’s not proving to be the case. The tight function… YEEEEESSSSS! I really needed this in my life! I might as well epoxy it in place – it’s staying engaged. I really love the ‘sub’ as well and thought I had that covered with the Creme, but being able to dial it back if needed where the Creme EQ is additive only is awesome. I’m welcoming the new options.
I was probably most surprised with the ‘presence’ where I thought I’d likely prefer the ‘air’ more. Presence works so well on mids. With Vintage mode, at least with the material I’ve heard so far it’s very subtle. I had to work to hear it on some tracks and others not at all. Again, just material dependent I guess or I could suck at hearing – take your pick. Overall, I love the EQ and it’s a huge bonus where I’d have bought the SB anyway just on the merits of the mojo section.
I’m running material into the SB first, then into the Tegeler Creme. I’m trying to do anything corrective/subtractive ITB prior to running out. I also have an Elektron Analog Heat for color/flavor, but haven’t tried incorporating it yet. For how I’ve previously used the Heat I’d likely insert it before the SB, but need to experiment. I imagine I’ll be using the Heat much less on mixes now (very subtle boost previously), though it’s awesome for production work. I’m speaking to the choir here about the Heat… I still love it for many reasons. The Heat really works on mastering duties when you need that dirt/sizzle to thicken things.
I’ve only tried the Creme after the SB and not on the insert (cables haven’t arrived yet), but I’m pretty sure it’s going to stay like this or at least until more gear is added later on. I’d like to try another compressor on the insert at some point (maybe something I can parallel) and adding a parametric EQ between the SB and Creme next. So far, I like pushing the EQ of the SB into the compressor of the Creme, then having the Pultec style EQ on the Creme afterwards. Adding a touch of sub on the SB combined with 1 dB @ 60hz of low on the Creme is ah-maz-ing! There isn’t the big overlap between the ‘sub’ on the SB and the low boost on the Creme I thought there might be. At least not yet, the two are playing nicely. Likewise, a touch of ‘presence’ on the SB and using high boost on Creme (I’m usually 1 or 2 dB @ 16kHz) is also great combo. The SB and Creme are a very satisfying pair – like peanut butter and chocolate. It’s almost like I planned this?
I think that’s it for now? Still very new to it and the honeymoon just started, but I usually have a pretty good and quick intuition on what’s staying permanently or likely leaving for something else down the road. I research things to death before purchasing. This guy is staying. Zero regrets or second thoughts about having purchased it without a demo first. I don’t have a need for the 500 series units right now or at least I haven’t talked myself into some yet, but absolutely look forward to future Louder Than Liftoff products.