Firstly I want to recommend that every recording school or university with a recording program immediately purchase an STT-1. Nowhere else can you get so many different signal paths and sounds in one box. The STT-1 is like some kind of educational audio science fair project on steroids. First let's look at the signal path(s), which are nearly all class A. The mic or line input preamp can be switched between either a tube or solid state preamp, each with their own gain control. There's also a tube instrument DI that can be used before either of the preamps. To add further options, there is a transformer that can be switched in or out of the signal path. Ignoring the instrument DI, that's four completely different sounding mic pres that you can easily switch between and hear the differences in how each type of electronics sounds. As a further option, there are some "hot-rod" options on the tubes available from Millennia. The unit ships stock with Sovtek tubes, which are super- clean and reliable. Our unit was hot-rodded with Telefunken tubes, which are a bit dirtier for more of a "rock" sound. Of course, 48 volt phantom power and phase reversal is also available. If desired, you can stop right here as there's a direct out that bypasses the rest of the unit and uses only the mic pres. Otherwise you hit the four band EQ section next. All bands have (stepped) selectable frequencies while the middle two also have a bandwidth (Q) control, while the outer two can be switched between peaking or shelving. Like the preamps, you can choose between solid state or tube circuits. Whichever path you choose, it will also be the same for the compressor, which is the next part of the chain. Actually, there are even more options, as the dynamics can be operated in tube, solid state or pure passive mode, and the EQ can be switched to be either pre or post dynamics. The opto-compressor is next and has the expected threshold, attack, release and ratio (1.4 to 30:1) controls. There's also a de-esser with five selectable frequencies. Finally, there's an output control. We've had this unit in our studio for a few weeks, and every engineer who's used has been raving about it. I've used it on kick, snare, vocals and acoustic guitars all with excellent results. The many different signal routing possibilities put this into a class of its own and actually being able to just hit a button and change the entire architecture is great. Using the STT-1 gives you a better understanding of how different amplification circuits sound in not only this, but other pieces of gear. Whether you've got a bunch of nice pres or not, this is very much worth checking out. If you're just getting started (and can afford the hefty price), this would be a great first channel strip. The price is steep ($2895 list), but the device is deep. (

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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