The Translator is an interesting little passive device that purports to add “vintage tone” to your stale signals. It’s a small, bright red, inline XLR coupler with a transformer inside that’s meant to be added between mic and preamp. In use, the Translator adds a bit of harmonic sheen and clears up the low mids a bit. The top end of your signal gets a bit more saturated, and harsh edges are definitely smoothed out. It’s a fairly subtle effect and very dependent on signal level. Louder mics or really hot signals yield much better results. It’s the kind of device that fares better with low cost mixers than boutique gear. The Translator “tints” the sound rather than painting it a whole new color. I actually found that my favorite use for the Translator was pairing it with really low cost DIs. Adding it to the output gave keyboards, especially Rhodes and percussive elements like drum machines, more of a “tougher” sound — more saturated and detailed. The coloration is definitely desirable, and adding it in this application always led to a “sounds better — let’s use it” moment. If you’re in an environment with decent sonics, the Translator isn’t really going to add much to any of your signal paths, but if you happen to be working with a piece of gear that is a bit bland and just is lacking that “certain something”, the Translator will definitely change its character. ($149 AUD including GST; for sales outside Australia, contact the manufacturer for a price quote;

–Thom Monahan <>

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

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