Digging the CL 1B Plug-in with Tony Shepperd
Stefan Hedengren, October 2009

With over 20 years in the business, Tony Shepperd is a veteran engineer, producer and mixer. Artists he has worked with include Whitney Houston, Lionel Richie, Kenny Loggins and Faith Hill. Working with this kind of talent, it's no surprise that Tony has access to the best of the best of hardware and software tools. He is currently digging the Tube-Tech CL 1B Compressor!

Could you please start by telling us a bit about your background?
I've been doing this for 24 years now and started in the days of analog. I always knew I wanted to be an engineer. When I got out of college I opened up my first recording studio.

To me it's the closest representation I've heard of any hardware ever. Fantastic.

I had been buying gear all along the way when I was in college. I had a Linn MPC but it kept crashing on me so I looked around for something else and found a Synclavier. I took on a partner and opened up a studio with a 16-track 1" machine and a Trident board.
I had that for a couple of years but I got burglarized. I moved locations and built up a 48-track facility.

Now you're a champion for in the box mixing. How was the transition from analog to digital for you?
That transition was kind of natural because of the Synclavier was all digital. You're working with digital recordings. It got to the point where we started doing hard disk recordings into the Synclavier, so that transition for me started in the 80's, but technology hadn't caught up yet.

... I spent hours going through settings hardware vs software and I just kept saying 'this is unbelievable'.

I think the whole thing with mixing in the box is one of those things that if it works for you - great. If it doesn't work for you - move on and find something that works for you.

It's funny, because twenty years ago I had all analog, incorporating digital into my mixes and now I'm all digital incorporating analog! I don't throw away anything. I think you should incorporate what you have and do the best with what you got.

What about software plug-ins?
No software plug-in sounds exactly like a hardware plug-in. Having said that, it's hard for hardware to sound just like another piece of hardware. If you have a Pultec, it doesn't sound like another piece of Pultec. I've owned in my life three Tube-Tech CL 1B Compressor, they don't all sound alike, but they all sounded like Tube-Techs. If you know the characteristic of the hardware, then you look for it in the software version.

So would you say that you could hear the Tube-Tech sound in the Softube Tube-Tech CL 1B?
Oh yeah. I took the output from a lead vocal in Pro Tools and sent it to the hardware, I duplicated the track and put the plug-in on it and I could literally A/B the setting between the two by just muting and unmuting.

To me it's the closest representation I've heard of any hardware ever. Fantastic.

So what would be your typical application of CL 1B? Plug-in or hardware.
I like to use it on anything if I can get away with it! There's just a girth and width to it that just works for me. I don't care if I'm cutting acoustic guitar, bass guitar or vocals, it's has a depth I love it. If you have an instantiation of the software plug-in it has that same characteristic. It's really an excellent plug-in.

Are you using any other Softube plug-ins?
Yes, and they sound really good. Although I'm very partial lately to the Tube-Tech CL 1B Compressor plug-in (laughter). There's a girth to them that you just don't get with other plug-in manufacturers and I love that, absolutely love that.

Do you use amp simulators?
I do. It depends on what I'm going for. When everybody went clean on the vocals I tried to dirty them up and now that people are going dirty I try to do them clean. I try to fight the pack mentality. The amp simulator stuff is really great when you get tracks from people and they recorded everything without going through the analog phase and you need a little dirt on the track. Just add a little hair on the track.

Do you have anything else you want to add?

The Tube-Tech CL 1B Compressor it's... I told Mick the other day that I was so blown away. When I first opened the plug-in I thought it was just a picture: "those knobs doesn't turn... OH MY GOD THOSE KNOBS ARE TURNING!" (laughter). It freaked me out. "THOSE KNOBS ARE TURNING!". Everything about it... I was: "man this is awesome". When I first downloaded it I spent hours going through settings hardware vs software and I just kept saying "this is unbelievable".

Freelance Writer