For the second time, Plugin Alliance has pulled the stunt where a developer they work with created a one-off piece of hardware, then turned it into a plug-in. The first time it happened, we got Phil’s Cascade. I haven’t tested it myself, but I like the idea. You don’t get many plug-ins with a backstory like this.
Neold Big Al
Big Al is a dual-stage tube saturator built out of new old stock components dating as far back as the 1930s. It features transformer-coupled tube-driven preamp and power amp stages, along with some interesting controls. For example, there’s a ‘jumper matrix’ where you can adjust the properties of Emphasis Shift, Bass Compensator, and Voltage Sah. These are paired with Drive, High, Low, Level, and Mix controls to shape the distortion and saturation.
The Low control is based on a Baxandall filter, boosting or cutting frequencies around 100Hz to adjust saturation intensity. The High control is a secondary EQ placed before the preamp tube. It adjusts a peaking filter that boosts or cuts frequencies around 10kHz, acting as a Treble control.
All that comes together at the power stage, which is based on an AL4 power pentode tube with the output transformer pushed into overdrive by the preamp stage. All in all, Big Al sounds like a useful vintage-style distortion and saturation plug-in to fatten up tracks or give them some spike and hair. Based on a one-off unit, it really doesn’t sound like anything you’d find on Reverb.
Price and availability
Neold Big Al is on a introductory sale, priced USD 200 down from USD 249. The plug-in is also part of Plugin Alliance’s Mix & Master and Mega Bundle subscriptions. It’s available in AAX Native/AudioSuite, AU, VST2, and VST3 formats for 64-bit Windows and macOS computers.