October 8, 2023
Gearnews.de presents FT-1 Freqtube: Real tubes as VST for the DAW? (EN)

gearnews.de - hot and ultimate go-to news blog on music and studio equipment for musicians, producers and engineers - publishes Marcus Schmahl’s test on Freqtube FT1: “An absolute surprise for me. The look, the feel, the concept and above all the sound result are definitely convincing!”

FT-1 Freqtube from hardware and software developer Freqport is a combination of solid hardware and a software plugin.

In short: Audio is sent through real analog tubes with an effects plugin and this brings the “warmth” into your digital DAW.

The hardware and software also contains other very interesting gimmicks.

Of course, that's exactly what I had to see in my own home studio. Here comes my check-in!

The most important things in brief

  • Four real tubes with plugin control
  • Eight freely assignable hardware controller knobs for the plugin
  • Multiple plugin instances automatically distribute the existing four tubes
  • Two multimode hardware filters, each with four filter types (with cutoff (12 or 24 dB/oct) and resonance) per plugin instance
  • Hardware display


For our checked format, I was able to try out and test the FT-1 Freqtube plugin and hardware in my studio (thanks to Freqport)


Now I connect the FT-1 Freqtube to my Mac via USB (either USB-C to USB-C or via a hub from USB-C to USB-A) and to the power. The power switch is also located on the back.

Installing the software on my Mac Studio went absolutely smoothly and was self-explanatory. After this procedure you have to start your DAW to scan the new plugin.

And now I'm testing how the new FT-1 Freqtube plugin with hardware connection performs in the studio!

FT-1 freqtube back, © Marcus Schmahl

First look: FT-1 freqtube and Ableton Live

The main focus of the FT-1 Freqtube hardware is on the two pairs of tubes (2x E83CC/12AX7 High Gain Top Quality Tubes and 2x 12AT7 Mid Gain Preamplifier Tubes).

The absolutely cool thing about the concept is that you can use each individual tube separately or in a pair.

That means four mono instances, one stereo instance and two mono or two stereo. And each with its own plugin instance on different tracks of your DAW project and with different settings. Strong! After starting my DAW Ableton Live 11, I can drag the plugin onto any track.

The FT-1 plugin

The plugin interface of FT-1 Freqtube is also clearly structured so that operation is self-explanatory. At the top you can see the preset browser, followed by the name of your track, underneath you can use the drive control in the middle to control the volume at which you want to send the audio signal through the selected tube(s).

The “Primary Filter” can be set graphically to the left, and the second filter, which is connected in parallel, can be set on the far right. The selected tubes are clearly visible in the middle of the GUI, each of which has two pairs of differently “working” tubes. Depending on whether you run the plugin in mono or stereo, you can either select one of the four tubes (mono) or two of the same tubes as a stereo pair.

Warm-up of the FT-1 Freqtube

The next section under the graphic tubes deals with the “Harmonics”, i.e. overtones. With this you can change the sound character of the tubes as you wish. The saturation can be moved from “even” to “odd”. The graphic display is very nice so you can see what the controller does. Below you can determine the dry/wet mix proportion and the output volume as well as switch the effect bypass and phase inversion. Next to the mix controller you can see the hardware controller assignment, which you can also set by clicking on this field.

Warm tubes glow in the FT-1 Freqtube, © Marcus Schmahl

Operation and creative possibilities

Of course, using all functions of the FT-1 Freqtube plugin is child's play. And you can do this with the mouse and the plugin, but also via the eight freely assignable hardware controls. The included presets show impressively what this “little” black and yellow glowing box can do.

Mixing, mastering and also sound design are possible. And with the popular warming tube sound. What more do you want?

The configuration of the hardware controllers, © Marcus Schmahl

And I have to say that the results in my tests were really high quality and surprisingly good.

The sound of individual tracks and basses became more brilliant or gained more attention and assertiveness through saturation. Here you can even choose which type of tube best suits the audio or instrument track.

Another highlight are the very good sounding filters. Filter runs and filter sweeps are very easy to record or draw as automation.

And best of all: you don't need any additional inputs and outputs on your audio interface. Because all audio tracks are sent back via USB from the computer to the FT-1 freqtube and processed. Perfect!

The controls are pleasantly large and easy to reach, © Marcus Schmahl


FT-1 freqtube from Freqport is an absolute surprise for me.

The look, the feel, the concept and above all the sound result are definitely convincing. The many possibilities that can be achieved from what is actually a rather simple piece of hardware are very interesting.

Of course, the price of just under 1,000 euros seems quite high at first glance, but you always have to keep in mind that four tubes have to be perfectly supplied in small hardware, plus the plugin development, perfect and smooth streaming Audio signals and the controller unit. Because that costs a lot.

It's a shame, but it's understandable that you can't supply the hardware FT-1 Freqtube with power via the USB port. But this also means that the small box always needs a free socket when used mobile. But in return you get real tubes for your DAW! And these conjure up a warmer and more brilliant sound.

Solidly installed and stable, © Marcus Schmahl


Read the original article at gearnews.de