Developer Fuse Audio Box released VPRE-31A, an emulation of a vintage germanium-transistor preamp dating from the 1960s. Germanium was the semiconductor material of choice for the first solid-state units that came to replace vacuum tube designs by the 1950s. Therefore, it’s a big influence on the sound of transistor gear between the 1950s and sometime in the 1970s. By then, silicon transistors had become the norm. Notable germanium transistor products of that era include the first EMI TG solid-state consoles, the rare Neve 1053 mic preamp & EQ, and some old Fairchild and Telefunken equipment.
Fuse Audio Labs VPRE-31A
Fuse’s creation is based on a rare 4-transistor preamp from the 1960s with a custom UTC input transformer. The sound of it being pushed is described as boasting “a nice grind” and “significant low end” that’s suitable for giving drums and vocals that extra oomph. Using the plug-in is simple enough – crank the Gain knob to taste, switch between 600 or 150ohms impedance for a subtle change in character, and tinker with the Noise and Trim controls ’till you’re satisfied. A rough-around-the-edges preamp that’s still musical ought to be welcome in your arsenal, given how prominent distortion and saturation (artfully applied) have become in modern production.
Price and availability
VPRE-31A is on an introductory sale till 16 January, priced USD 19 down from the regular USD 39. The plug-in is available for 32/64-bit Windows computers and 64-bit Mac computers in VST2, VST3, AAX, and AU formats. There’s a 14-day trial version available, so you can take it through its paces before buying.