Softube Tube-Tech CL1B
Softube Tube-Tech CL1B

Tube-Tech CL1B, Software compressor from Softube in the Tube-Tech series.

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S2D 09/20/2014

Softube Tube-Tech CL1B : S2D's user review

« Silky Smooth - the Tube-Tech CL1B »

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The Softube Tube-Tech CL1B is a plugin emulation of the original hardware unit by the same name. The hardware compressor has been around since 1987 and was created in Denmark as an updated LA-2A opto style of compressor. It has a legendary reputation and a starring role as the go to compressor in many top studios around the world, so it's easy to see why Softube decided to make a plugin to mimic the hardware. From the beginning, installation is straight forward although you do need an iLok to run the plugin...and the less said about that the better.
Anyway, once you have everything up and running in your DAW the configuration is very simple and the GUI is exactly the same as the hardware unit and beautifully done, infact you'll probably spend the first 5 minutes foaming at the mouth at how good it looks but of course it's not all about the looks, luckily though it sounds even better. The manual should be briefly consulted to get yourself familiar with the 3 different 'attack/release SELECT' sections, or you could just take my word for it when i say;

'Fixed' has an Attack time of 1 millisecond, and a Release time of 50 milliseconds.

'Manual' allows the user to set the attack time from 0.5 to 300 milliseconds and the release time from 0.05 seconds to 10 seconds.

and 'Fix/Man' is a combination of both and you will definitely need to read the manual for this as it is quite complex

It also features a side-chaining option like a lot of other compressors, the manual has a section where it gives settings to try for different applications such as vocals, guitars etc and this could be a starting point for new users of the CL1B.


Upon opening the plugin in your DAW, the default setting will have the attack and release setup on manual selection which means the user can control the attack and release settings over the left like a normal standard compressor. The ratio ranges from 2:1 up to 10:1 so it is fairly flexible in this department. For a lot of standard compression jobs like bass, piano, guitar and vocals - keeping the ratio, attack and release knobs set to around the 12 o'clock position gives some nice consistent results that are transparent yet a subtly 'goey' and 'gluey' feel just like a good analogue compressor although not quite as strong. On vocals and bass, the CL1B gently and smoothly caresses the signal with modest attack, release and threshold settings, to sit perfectly in most mixing situations and is clean enough to use on voiceover tracks if used with 2-3db of levelling gain reduction.

The performance to CPU usage ratio is excellent, you can safely run multiple instances of the plugin in 1 session along with other EQ plugs and VST's you would normally use as well without any straining of your computers processor. The Tube-Tech CL1B is ultra friendly in this respect i've found while using a macbook with 4GB of RAM on OSX 10.6.8 in Logic Pro 9. It's as stable as a horse's home.


One of my personal favourite uses of the CL1B is for adding an extra bit of saturation to electric guitar tracks. Put the CL1B on an aux send track to use as a parallel compressor and for any 'Big' choruses or moments when the guitar should be front and centre, then automate the guitar send level generously until you get about 10db of gain reduction from the CL1B and make sure to have the threshold low and the attack/release SELECT at 'Fixed' which will grey out the attack and release knobs and listen to the extra bit of crunch and power it adds to the guitars when blended in with the original tracks. This can also work on vocals, bass, keys, synths and drums. An excellent Parallel compressor with great character when pushed. I would buy the Tube-tech again and again because it really is that good. With new plugins coming out left, right and centre every week it seems, it can be easy to forget how impressive the results are from this plugin which has been around since 2009, but in terms of sound quality the CL1B is up there with the very best along with it's user friendly GUI and classic settings, you really can't go wrong with it and with a price tag that is 2 grand less than the real hardware unit - it's a no brainer really if you have the 200 dollars to spare.

The iLok issue does put a dampener on an otherwise amazing plugin of the highest quality, but looking past that i would recommend this plugin to anyone who works primarily ITB. It's silky smooth, opto sound works a treat on many instruments and works magic on vocals, which is my personal favourite use for it. Having not used the hardware before, i can only go by what other engineers who have experienced the hardware have say about the comparison - and it is mostly all positive opinions on that matter. Mix engineer Tom Elmhirst uses the hardware Tube-Tech CL1B as one of his main compressors and with credits like Adele and Amy Winehouse's biggest hits to show then that says a lot about the quality of the unit. Attack Magazine rated the CL1B in the top 20 compressors of all time (number 4 to be exact) and state that the Softube CL1B plugin is one of the best emulations ever made. The link for that article can be found right here if you wish to look for yourself -

So if you are in the market for a top digital compressor with a clear and engaging layout based on time-tested classic hardware, then the Softube Tube-Tech CL1B should be one of your purchases. Don't think about it, just get it.