modelling pre-amp goodness


I’m just thinking loud here about pre-amps and all their different sounds and how they contribute to todays recordings and overall production aesthetics.

There are actually two types of such devices in general which are coming to my mind. On the one side there are the more unobtrusive ones which are adding almost nothing to the sound but just tighten and focusing the lowend a little bit or enhancing slightly the mid range in a good way. The other ones (mostly tube/valve types) are tending to saturate and distort the incoming signal if driven with higher input gain which may contribute to the desired sound in some cases while in others not.

A ‘610’ replica I do have here in my lab for example adds cool harmonics to a bass guitar or a male voice recording but there is too much distortion added to use it on female vocal stackings. Other models are more reserved and gentle in adding such effects but still can be used to excite and color the input signal slightly. Most of this goodness comes from certain side effects of transformer coupled tube stages.

The capability of adding overall extra harmonic audio content is just one single side effect and there are different and more complex ones. A transformer for example does have a very complex and non-linear overall behaviour and especially in the very low frequency range. This is due to the fact that it does not let DC pass through and the more near a frequency actually is to DC the more weird a real transformer responds to this signal. The result is a type of distortion which includes both even and odd harmonics and can perceived (in the good case) as a pleasant low-mid enhancement. Due to psycho-accoustics this can even improve the bass perception on speaker systems or headphones which are not capable of dealing with very low frequencies at all.

Leakage or bleeding effects in a circuit does have impact as well on how the device responds to the input signal and saturation effects can have a significant impact e.g. on how depth and stereo imaging is perceived when talking about stereo recordings. Uneven frequency and phase response of such devices counts in as well of course and is probably the most important aspect of the sonic ‘color’ impression we do have from a certain unit.

To me the ideal pre-amp would be a flexible one that would let me dial in or out those effects depending on the input, the recording or mixing situation or so. In the analog domain this is hardly (and expensive) to achieve but in digital domain we can at least simulate this by proper signal modelling.


  1. Coming soon after the BootEQ update, the Varosound Preamp 😀 ?!

  2. JWMMakerofMusic says:

    This is what’s going to be added to BootEQ I imagine. I mean, Bootsy said so he’d be adding something sweet sounding to the second half.

    Now if Bootsy does add a preamp, I would hope there’d be both the option for an unobtrusive tightening one and a dirty saturation one. 😉

  3. Looks like I need to invest in the “Bootsie” company cause he is gonna take over the world!!!

    Waves URS, NOMAD, and all the rest….EAT YOUR HEART OUT! Bootsie is gonna kick your asses!!

    Bootsie, wait till i get some money together and we talk!

  4. Hello i´m a Portuguese sound engenieer and i must tell one thing ,i expend lots of months to resolve one problem with my mixing in studio ,until the day i know your grate audio plugin (Density) .For me its one of the my favourits

    Thank you ,and i pass de word to my friends in Portugal.

    (I’m sorry about my English)

  5. definately no replica here …

  6. I couldn’t find a good place to post this, but I guess I’ll put it here.

    I really dig your Nasty EQ plugins, especially since your bands cover Abbey Road’s “Brilliance Boxes”, as a matter of fact, thats what I use NastyHF for, two instances for brilliance instead of shucking out 200 bucks for GUI.

    I’m glad your plotting something with Pre amps, something I have always desired was a Preamp VST that could respond like the REDD 47 of Beatles fame…

    Or a compressor like the RS124, which was a modified Altec 436, which are sometimes compared to LA2A compressors…

    Anyways, hope you come up with some else I can Beetle around with…

    All the best, Devan

  7. I’m all for any and all Preamp sims that will add a bit (or more than a bit) of old school color to my overall sound.

    I’ve been searching high and low for a Preamp plug that could give me a sound similar to anything in the late 1960’s EMI/Abbey Road sonic arsenal.

    Bootsy- I’m a big fan. You do produce great plugs, and they are always on my list of “go to” EQ’s, and compressors. I can’t wait to get my hands on the Varosound Preamp!

  8. Bootsy, your plugins changed my life!

    I don’t enjoy any EQ anymore unless it’s the MKII. Please keep up the great work, I can’t wait to send some money soon.

  9. Bun Solomon says:

    hey Bootsie Man,
    I keep hearing good stuff about you !!! I cant wait to try your plugins…
    Do you have Mac Osx Intel version AU,Vst Rtas ???
    I’ll be excited to get them in these version. I am a Mac -User.

  10. Excellent plugins. Thank you a lot from a bedroom studio in Finland. I don’t really have a lot of money to invest in plugins as being an audio engineering student isn’t that great moneywise, and these are priceless to me. I have lately been beefing up and gluing my sampled drums with the Tesslas and the Thrillseeker comp, the stateful saturation sounds awesome (just tried it today on an arpeggiated C64 chip synth, works!). It seems that it hasnt been mentioned as often as the others, but I love the epicVerb, and would also like to add another reverb from you to the wishlist, perhaps something a bit different.

    Thanks again a bunch, looking forward to everything you come up with.

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