Louder Than Liftoff Silver Bullet


#1

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. :laughing:

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.

In use:

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? :rofl:

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.

Thanks!


Free Mastering
#2

Yeh I bet that bullet is dam sweeeeeeeet

How much did you end up paying for one?


#3

Nice mini review! I was following this when it was first announced, hadn’t seen any actual user reviews yet. I sometimes use my Chandler little devil preamps like the mojo section, and have other mojo-y eq’s to match it with :fire::smiling_imp::fire:


#4

List price on the site – $1999 plus shipping. They don’t come up used very often and when they do sell within hours. They’re often sold out and have a waiting list. I was able to get in on the current batch, so only had to wait a couple days plus shipping time.


#5

Is this something you could use to sample loops, then build tracks with?


#6

Yes, that’s a big part of what attracted me to it was the overall flexibility. It has six different inputs (only two can be used at a time) for: 2x MIC, 2x ‘track’ mode (tracking) and 2x ‘mix’ mode (mixing)

MIC mode: Microphone inputs – pretty self explanatory. You get to choose between API or Neve preamps. There’s no dual mono mode though… you can run two different sources, but they’ll both share the same ‘mojo’ and ‘eq’ settings.

Track mode: Inputs to be used for tracking – e.g. running your synths/samples/whatever external gear through

Mix mode: Inputs to run your DAW master outputs through for master bus use

The unit has two pairs of outputs: one for ‘mix’ and one for ‘track’. Mic inputs go to ‘track’ outputs I believe.

There’s a selector knob to go between the three modes. “Track” also acts as a bypass while audio is running through the ‘mix’ inputs

I do very little with microphones myself, so the mic inputs will only get occasional use. I’ll primarily be using it for mix mode, however the overall idea is that you’re not just using it at any one stage (e.g. master bus) though you can certainly do that. Most people are using it throughout the recording process building up individual parts. You’re layering “flavor, color and tone” as you go, tracking live or running parts and/or stems through it. Since my primary use is in a mastering context I’m using the mix mode.

Operationally, it’s incredibly easy to use and takes only 2-3 minutes to get your head around the workflow.

I’d suggest looking at the setup diagrams in the manual if you really want to visual it:


#7

These two videos walk you through the workflow.


#8

Wow - first I learned about the Silver Bullet when you posted in the other thread (your setups, I think?) and now I just learned about the Tegeler Creme. Both sound like really awesome products that are above and beyond my needs. For now, I’m content with Analog Heat and keeping an eye / ear on your work. Your post was very well thought out. It’s interesting to hear about people auto-commenting with negativity whenever the “M-word” is mentioned. Though, that’s not surprising in this day and age of e-experts. I hope I can pick up some tips and tricks for making my own crap music sound a little less crap!


#9

Thanks! With the “other” forum (pretty sure you can guess which one) there’s just endless negativity and putting other people down to make themselves feel better or more important. It’s especially prevalent with mastering… the arrogance and pomposity is astounding. Some guy just starting out asked “What are the best speakers for mastering around $1k?” and was immediately hit with comments like, “Why bother? You’re wasting your time”. I can’t stand that. Like all these just guys woke up one day with $100K in gear in a perfect room not having started anywhere. There’s very little help or encouragement… just tearing other people down. I rarely post there… I go to read 20% of comments that are useful about the gear I’m interested in.

I have a separate thread about the Creme here if you’re interested:

And if you ever want to hear any of your tracks through either or both of them feel free to PM me:


#10

Greetings! I see that you have a SB going into a CREME. I have a Creme currently and am about 90% sure Im going to pull the trigger on a SB and probably use it the exact same way you do (Have the SB going into the Creme, bypassing the Creme when no in use)

Just wondering if now that you have had the SB for a few months if you still like it going into the creme? What does your gain structure typically look like? Get good crest factor while using these two in tandem like this?


#11

In short, I absolutely love it. It’s a terrific pair. The Creme, I have no plans to part with it, but if I had to I could live without it or do with something else. The EQ (especially the high end) is beautiful as you likely know. I love it, but if I had to, I figure something else out. Now the SB… I don’t think I could ever part with it. I seriously think at times about buying a 2nd one down the road as a spare unit. It’s that important to me.

I primarily use mine for mastering purposes and I work on mostly house, techno, electro – those genres. On the SB, I love the ‘N > A’ (Neve into API) setting with input gain around 10-11 o’clock position and output around 1-2 o’clock. For input into the SB, I place it in my chain such that when I’m coming out of the DAW I can use a gain plugin to keep things somewhere between -16 and -18db. I then use the SB to get a decent amount of gain out to get that flavor and tone. I’ll push the meters to somewhere around +2 to +4. The Creme doesn’t seem to mind the input. I’m nearly always (98% of the time) using the ‘tight’ filter on the SB.

In the Creme, I’m generally using the EQ, but not always (tend to use 1-2db of high more so than always using low). I do my EQ corrections in the DAW prior to hitting the SB and Creme, so at this point it’s more final polish and shine. For the music I work on, it’s typically 30ms attack, 0.1 release and either 2:1 or 4:1 ratio. I’m never doing more than 2db overall reduction and it’s usually more like just barely moving the needle or maybe 1db at most. Just a bit of ‘glue’ at that point. Like EQ, I’ll have done any corrective or multiband compression in the DAW prior to going out. I use the Creme as the last bit of analog gain to bring the level up a much as I can prior to hitting the converters on the way back in. Once back in the DAW, I’m doing any final gain increases, clipping and/or limiting.

One thing I didn’t expect is how nicely the EQ’s on the two units work together. I was afraid I’d have a lot of overlap since they’re both just simple BAX EQ’s. Fortunately, they both have pretty different and distinctive sound to them. I actually really like the ‘sub’ option on the SB sometimes more than the Creme (and that’s saying a lot). I love the ‘presence’ as well. So, for example, if I’m needing it, then I might use a touch of low (on either unit), a little ‘presence’ on the SB, then finish it with a bit of high on the Creme. It really works out quite well!

Of course, I’m really bitten by analog outboard gear now and that’s what I GAS over. I’ll add more in the future specifically for mastering, but I’m really happy right now overall. Everyone I do work for loves the results. I can’t comment on using the SB for tracking or the MIC pre’s – just haven’t used it like that yet. My own musical efforts are pretty basic and I plan to use the SB for that purpose very soon, but hasn’t been a priority.

If you have any audio you’d like me to pass through the SB or SB and Creme as a sample, I’d be happy to do that for you. Just PM me with details and send a DropBox or similar link. Make sure it’s WAV and not MP3. Happy to answer any other questions.

Hope that helps!


#12

Good to hear that it works with the Creme well. I have lots of tracking outboard stuff but only the Creme on the 2 bus, which is awesome, I love the the Creme, but also at the same time feel it is lacking.

I was looking for something for gain staging prior to the it and came across the silver bullet and pretty much read everything about it on that giant Gear Slutz thread about it. Read a few people asking about how it works with the creme, but no one really has that combo, save for you. I do alot of mixing, production and mastering and would be using the SB and the Creme in tandem for alot of bus duties (I print alot of stuff and move on during production and mixing)

I also see you have an analog heat box…How do you like that? I am thinking about getting a Handsome Audio ZULU for my saturation needs, but also want to wait till I get an SB to see how well it saturates (I WANT TO DRIVE SOME TRANSFORMERS!)

I think I do have something to test out Ill hit you up in your PM


#13

Yes, still have the Analog Heat though it gets used a lot less for mastering now. The SB has filled that role for the majority of ‘flavor’ I was looking for. That said, the Heat can still be useful to beef things up. When it works it really works well, but I don’t find myself using it a lot now. I still want to keep it though and it’s amazing as a creative production tool. The Brainworx (Plugin Alliance) Vertigo VSM-3 is pretty brilliant for adding that low end beef as well with the M/S implementation. I don’t even want to think about the hardware version… someday. :laughing::joy:

It goes on sale regularly and sometimes as low as $49 which is a steal. You can also often find it 2nd hand for around that price.


#14

New relevant video since a few people have been discussing!


#15

Now the only thing your chain needs is a little tube flavor :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:. I highly rate the Henry Amps Michelangelo. Amazing eq but also just has a killer box tone running it flat. It’s pretty much lived on my mix bus/mastering chain since I got it a few years ago.


#16

Would love one. Thought about one of these or something like an HG-2. Lot’s of options… :laughing:


#17

I just ordered one of these, and I’m super excited to get it. Now, I have to sell a bunch of stuff :joy:


#18

more budget-minded (=poorer) people like me might want to look at LTL´s “chroma” and “Mr. Focus” (etc.) modules for the 500 Series Range and/or their COLOR hardware plug-ins for the colour palette.

good way to get CLOSE to “Silver Bullet” Territory while staying at around 1/4 to 1/2 of the price (depending on which COLOR carrier module you opt for, there are cheaper ones than LTLs Mr. Focus/Chroma etc.).


#19

Congrats! I’m pretty sure you’ll love it. I’ve never read a single account of someone saying they got one and regretted it. I’m sure they get sold off, but you don’t see them pop up used that often either. In any case, report back once you’ve had a little bit of time with it.

For electronic music, my starting point is:

  • Mix mode (I primarily use it as outboard processing)
  • N > A (Neve to API) mojo path
  • Both circuits having gain about 11 o’clock position and output at 1 o’clock
  • Tight filter engaged
  • Vintage off

90-95% of the time that immediately gets me in the ballpark for a mastering session with only minor EQ tweaks (if needed) from there.

For EQ, I tend to use the ‘sub’ more than the ‘bass’, but that’s largely due to my pairing it with a Tegeler Creme and it’s Pultec style EQ. In small amounts the two can play off each other nicely, but I’m typically using one or the other and it’s entirely source dependant. For the high EQ, I’m almost always on ‘Presence’ with small boosts… usually like .5 to 1.5dB and generally never more than 3, but again, entirely depends on the song and what cuts/fixes I’ve done ITB prior to hitting the outboard chain. Again, the preference for ‘Presence’ is due to the Tegeler where I prefer to use that for ‘Air’ sweetening, but the SB to entirely usable for that too. Just comes down to preference and what you have.

I like the output meters usually around +4 for the flavor and saturation. Usually anything +2 to +6 is usually OK. Higher than that can still sound ‘good’ but it gets too heavy handed for my application. If I’m feeding in more gain with the amps I’m obviously compensating with the output gain lowering it on each. I’m generally never above 12 o’clock position on either and if I am then generally one of the circuits is somewhere 12 to 1 while the other is much lower (like 9 to 10).

Of course, YMMV on all of this stuff, but hopefully you’ll find that useful. The thinner/weaker the source material the more heavy handed (within sensible limits) you can get. This box is a ‘desert island’ piece for me. Other things will come and go, but not this one. Hope you enjoy it too!


#20

Thanks for all the tips! Your enthusiasm for the SB in this post actually really helped nudge me into splurging for it. In my head, I was thinking that N > A would be my preference as well to achieve the punchiness I desire.

My ultimate plans are to pair this with a Stam SA 4000 MKII with API mod I preordered as well to sit on the master bus… which is just a Roland Integra 7 sequenced by a Squarp Pyramid (while using the Integra 7’s in/outs to mix in audio side-chained by a FMR RNLA). I really appreciate simple, powerful setups.

I have an OTO Boum and AH MKII I plan on selling to help finance the SB; I feel the SB will fill the role that those two pieces had in my setup.