Tube preamps with Elektron digital gear

Hi everyone,
Just wondering if anyone has tried coupling any of your digital elektron boxes with a tube preamp to warm up the sound? I just started wondering what, for instance, a Model:Cycles or Digitone might sound like, if it was warmed up by a high voltage tube mic pre.

One of my favourite hobbies is running my M:C through various different distortions. I’ve run it through several pedals, an analog heat, an overdriven quadraverb and am now the proud owner of a few Erica Fusion modules. I’m just struggling to gain the M:C to the right level to run it through the tubes on them and get satisfaction.

I’ll post here when I succeed.


The Erica Fusions look pretty juicy. I’ve been reading though, that if you’re not feeding a tube over 150V of power, it never really reaches the point where it can cook your sound and add proper harmonic distortion. Have you found that?

DN doesnt need it imo

But… i run my MC through an EH lpb2 tube pedal…and it ranges from a subtle warming to harmonic distortion…bloody lovely…

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I have an old akai reel to reel deck that I keep around for the tube preamps. It cooks the tubes at nice high plate voltages and breaks up beautifully though it’s a bit extreme. I’ve run most of my gear through it at one point or another including my two elektron boxes (model:cycles and rytm mk1). I don’t think the rytm really benefits much from it since it’s already so easy to compress/ distort/ gain stage within the box. The cycles sounds great through it but I find it’s a bit heavy handed. I’ve had the best results with things like the korg er1, ensoniq esqm and sq1+, dx7, all of my casio keyboards, etc. basically stuff that has a colder nascent sound. I think the m:c would be better served by a cleaner tube pre than this janky old akai (which almost any other pre would be) but it’s the only stereo tube pre I currently own.

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I keep trying to find something like this but a bit smaller (EHX is plus size, and not many come up for sale), or half rack size say.
Stereo tube pre-amp where tubes can be changed for different flavour.
Haven’t come up with alternatives yet…

Erica Fusion Box probably bears a closer look.

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It won’t make your mix sound better for 99.9% of people listening it. But if it make you happy to have a mic tube preamp (and a DI box to convert line level to mic level) then yeah it can’t be wrong.

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Do you mean there’s not enough gain to make the tubes show their teeth? Or is there plenty to make up for the difference in line-level/modular-level and you’re not really finding a sweet spot?

I recently got some Bubblesound 2hp Booster modules and they’re doing great work to lift my Digitakt up to sit in a loud enough range for the modular.

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This, mostly. And just not managing to get anything sounding particularly good yet. Will probably have to invest in some sort of booster module.

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Wow I bet you could get some nice BoC style effects out of that. Tape and tube :open_mouth:

The term is “starved plate”…lots of good google learning to be had…

There were some 90s / early 2000s gear releases that added starved plate valves to circuits to “market” gear…some good, some bad…some even had valves just for show, they glowed pretty but didn’t do a thing to the signal…

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Not really. The tape side of the machine needs a lot of work which is why I ended up with it in the first place. After going through it I decided it’s not worth the time and money it would take to get it running. Even if I fixed it up it’s still just a mid level 1/4” home rtr deck and would need a lot of modding to make it cool. Too many other projects need my attention more immediately. Maybe if I get a bunch of free time someday.

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So your EH pedal must be starved plate then, if it’s a pedal right? Does the tube just add some warm to the distortion?

I m using the EHX LPB2ube on my MD. Not subtly but to add a lot of dirt. Really helps pumping analog life in that digital coldness. See also thread here:

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The Presonus Bluetube is half-rack and can be found for <$50. iirc, it’s dual-mono and sounds decent. It’s a starved-plate design.

ART made several that ran at high-voltage. And for light-saturation on Hi-Z sources, the Tube Works Blue Tube sounded great.

(12AX7/ECC83 tubes/valves are ‘twin-triode’ tubes, meaning 1 12AX7 can process 2 channels.)

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Ehx site used to say it was full plate but the transformer is only 18v so i don’t know? And actually don’t care, i like what it does…It can just be a pre that ads a small amount of character, or a ball tearing, thick distortion, especially if the inputs are ganged…(feed left channel into right channel for a double dose)…

I would grab another if i could find one…

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I like running my MS through some Radial JDI’s into some preamps to add transformer harmonics.

A good tube preamp won’t necessarily add warmth or distortion contrary to its reputation, the benefit of tubes transistors vs solid state is wider dynamic range and more pleasant sounding clipping (if/when clipping occurs).

Experimenting with guitar pedals can lead to something unique without spending a lot of money.


I remember reading that this pedal ran the tubes at 300 volts (which is about as high as you ever run 12ax7 types). There’s probably just another transformer inside the pedal that steps the 18v up to 300v. Easy enough to do.
I’d love to try one out but they’re hard to come by.

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I wish I’d bid a bit harder on that one I missed a month ago. Was boxed with manual too!

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I know that feeling.

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