June 12, 2024
Sweetwater on FreqTube FT1: True Analog Processing, Limitless Digital Flexibility

Drummer, vocalist, recording artist and engineer Nick D’ Virgilio from Sweetwater provides an in-depth demonstration of the FT1, showcasing its remarkable capabilities across audio sources such as kick drum, snare drum, bass guitar, vocals, stereo drum loop, and the master bus.

We are delighted to share that drummer, vocalist, recording artist and engeneer Nick D’ Virgilio from Sweetwater has featured FT1 in a product demo video which provides an in-depth demonstration, showcasing its remarkable capabilities across various audio sources such as kick drum, snare drum, bass guitar, vocals, stereo drum loop, and the master bus. The comprehensive demonstration covers key features and the application of the FreqTube on different instruments and audio elements, offering a detailed insight into its exceptional performance.

“What a great piece of gear to add to your flavour, that sauce to your songs. Whether you use it a lot, or a little, just a little bit of those tweaks are going to lift your song to a whole other level”.

 Video used with permission. Copyright @sweetwater

The video is a multiple-part presentation, showcasing FT1 application in music production. Nick shares his experience with the FT1, emphasising its versatility and its ability to enhance music production. Nick's demonstration provides a valuable visual and auditory representation of the FreqTube in action, allowing viewers to witness its impact on audio quality and production workflow. It offers a real-world perspective on the product's performance and its potential to elevate audio processing and production workflows.

Additionally, the video captures Nick's enthusiasm for the FreqTube, as he discusses its compatibility with various studio setups, including those with analog gear. His detailed exploration of the FreqTube's features and its impact on music production adds depth to the understanding of its capabilities and potential benefits for users.



Hello there. I'm Nick D' Virgilio and I'm going to show you around a great new piece of gear from Freqport. It's the FreqTube FT1 multi-instance analog hardware processor. Now you can put some beautiful analog tube sound onto your music with all of the convenience of your digital workflow.

Not only does the FreqTube sound great, it's also really easy to use. And I'm not kidding, it really is easy to use.

Just install the provided software, connect it with one USB-C cable and that's it. It works on Mac like I have here with me today,or PC. It's supported by all the major DAWS, and the software plugin comes as aVST3, AU or AAX versions. I'm going to show you the FreqTube in action here in just a second, but first, let me take you through the key features.

Now, while there are some great digital plugins out there that mimic tape machines and other ways to get that analog sound into your music, you get the real thing with the FreqTube. That's because there's four tubes inside the FreqTube to choose from. You get two 12AX7 high gaintubes that are really good for grit and saturation. Then you also get two 1287 mid gain tubes that are a little bit gentler sounding.

Inside a professional grade 32-bit audio converters that run up to 192kHz, which is great, really high for really clean and transparent audio. Also, ultra-low audio sync between the host and the hardware. Then record, make your tweaks and your changes and play back everything you've done so you can save, store, and recall FreqTube settings inside your DAW at an instant.

That's something you cannot do with a typical piece of outboard gear. You can record through it, make your changes and your tweaks, but you better remember exactly what you did to make it happen more than once, or to get right back to where you were with the FreqTube. You can do all of those things, automate everything, and it'll come back exactly the way you left it, the next time you open up your session.  

They have the words "multi-instance" in the title of the FreqTube. That's because since there's 4 tubes inside the box, you can have the plugin open up to 4 times inside your DAW. And then you can mix and match. You can have two stereo versions of the plugin open, or you can have one stereo and two mono. So, use it like that and mix and match however you need to inside your DAW.

There's options with the FreqTube, and that's just one of the many things that make this piece so good. And that's it. The software installed, one USB-C cable and you're ready to rock.

So now that we've went through the key features, I'm going to open up the software here, show you around that, play some music through the FreqTube, and let's have some fun.

 The music you're going to hear is a piece that we recorded here at Sweetwater. It's really good for demos like this. There's vocals and bass and guitar, acoustic drums, a drum loop, all kinds of cool stuff that the FreqTube really shines on. Here's a little piece of the music so you can hear what we're going to work with. Here we go.


So, there you go. One of the great things about the FreqTube is putting it on kick and snare.

I'm going to go over to the mix window. Drums are overhere, and then you just open it up like any plugin that you would open. So, I'm going to go to my insert here in Pro Tools. It puts it under the effect tab. And then I go to FreqTube. And there you go.

This is what the software looks like when you open it up first you could see the tubes. You can power the tubes on and off right down here. The two tubes on the left are the E83CC. The two tubes on the right are the 12 87. So, when you have one instance of the plugin open and you've only had it on one time, you can choose any tube you want.

So, you just pick one of those, power it off and choose another. Now you cannot use one 1287 with one E83. You either use both of one kind or both of the other kind. When you power on the other one, you see the link button and it puts both tubes on. Over here on the box you have 8 knobs that you can assign to anything on the software. So you can have real time, you know, tactile control of the software with the knobs here.

A couple of them are already set, but it's really simple to do. Down here on the bottom it says hardware controls and it says 12345678. Pick whatever you want. So, it already has drive set for number one, but I can change that very easily. Now they're off, let's see. I'll pick one. I highlighted the number 1, and then I go to the parameter that I want to mess around with. The number 1 comes up onto that parameter. Then allI have to do is turn the knob and tell it, basically finds the software. You just give it a turn, a couple of times. And now I'm turning the knob and it's making the exact adjustment on the software itself. Now if you look at the tube, you could see it doing its thing, which is cool. 

They've really mimicked what's going on inside the box, but inside the software.

So, all the way down the light is a little dim. And then as I turn the drive up, the light on the tube gets brighter and brighter. So, you know what's happening. You can actually see it engaging, as well as hearing it here in just a second. So, you do that with whatever you want.

Number 2 is already set to the analog mix. But, as you could tell on the box over here, it's not connected to the physical knob because it doesn't have a color to it yet, it's sort of greyed out. So, all I have to do is turn the knob. It just takes a second for it to read the software and then you're good to go. So, I don't know. Let me pick one that's not already preset here, how about the harmonics one? I'll put number 3, I'll pick for harmonics. I turn the harmonics, then the 3 comes next to the parameter, and then I just turn the knob and tell it connects. 

And now I have hands on adjustments of all of these things. Last thing I'll do here is I'll put one of the filters on. You have 2 filters that you can use. Turn it on and say, I want to mess with the frequency. So, I'll click on number 4. Then I'll click on frequency. The number 4 goes to it. Move it up or down a little bit. There you go. Turn the knob over here to connect. And now they're connected. So, now I can change things with my hands rather than with a mouse or a trackpad. Let's solo up these drums. Here we go.


Nice drum sound. Recorded the drums at my home studio and then brought them in for this session. Now let's check out the sound of the kick drum on its own, solo, so you can really hear what the FreqTube is doing. Here we go. Mess with the drive. It's mellow now that I turn the drive up. Gives it a lot more punch and like, hits you in the gut.

Wow, it comes out. It comes to life quite a bit when you mess with the harmonics.

And then if you don't want so much, you can just make it a little more dry. Take out some of the plug in or you can make it all of the plug in. Back and forth with the analog mix knob here. Yeah, very punchy in the kick drum sound. Now let's get all the drums going again. You can hear what that sounds like inside the drum track.



Sounds good, it's just a little more mellow. It really gave the kickdrum more life and presence, didn't it? So now at this point, you would just kind of manipulate the sound, maybe do some level changes if you need to inside. Inside the waveform or do whatever you need to kind of make it consistent but, it's got a nice punchy sound to it. Let's put the FreqTube on the snare drum.

Now you're going to notice, since I have another instance of the plugin opened, there's only three tubes left, because one of the tubes is being used on the kick drum, so I can choose any one of these three tubes. Power off the one you don't want, power on the one you want. So, let's try the 12 87 on the snare drum. Now, one thing you're going to notice here, since I used 4 of the rotary knobs on the first instance of the plugin, there's only 4 of them left. So, you've just got to work with the plugin and the software and the hardware box and go back and forth and you'll get your flow going.

You might only need to have, you know, real feel of the drive knob and maybe the wet, dry analog mix knob. You may not need to have a knob connected to every parameter of the plugin. You'll learn more about that and you'll get more use to that, as you work with the plugin. And then you can figure out exactly what you need and ease of use for your exact situation. So, I know I like to mess with the drive sound quite a bit. So, we're going to make that number 5 over here. Now they're connected. And also, maybe the harmonics, that's a good one. So, number 6. On the harmonics. Then I twist that the number 6 shows up, and then I twist the hardware knob and they're connected.

So simple. So, first let's hear the snare on its own. Take off those solos. Take it out of a group. There we go. Now, this is just the snare drum. ...

Let's try messing with the drive sound. [Drums]

Definitely mellower. [Drums]

Oh, yeah. I mean, it adds a little bit of volume, but it's also adding a little grid to it and a little bit of life to it, which is really cool. Let's mess with the harmonics.


Yeah, a little more body, just depending on where you put the harmonics knob. It's really cool. Now you have filters, you can mess with in here too. So, let's turn the one filter on.

Right now, it's set as a low pass filter.


Right. Pull out some of the low end of the drum. You can use it as a regular EQ too. Here's your cue in the middle, with your gain. Pick your frequency, and you're ready to go.


So, lots of functionality in the software right here. One cool visual thing about the knobs, the hardware knobs on the box connected to the software, you can colour code them so you know exactly which instance of the plugin you're in.

This should make it easier. They're not all going to be grey like I have them here. So, I went back to the Kickdrum instance, and up here once you click on the little paint can, there are some colours. Pick which colour you want. Pick green for the kick drum, and then when I go over to the snare drum instance again, hit the paint can. And I want those maybe to be yellow. See, and now the hardware box is changing as well. So, this is another little visual feature to help you understand where you are with the plugin. Now let's check out the snare drum inside the full drum track.


Now I can also go back to the kick drum settings that I have on the hardware knobs, without opening up the plugin in the computer. Pull that back a little bit. And I can make those changes because I have the hardware knobs corresponding to something in the plugin, so I don't too need to see the plugin. I can do it right here on the physical unit. I'm going to pullback the the kick drive just a tiny bit.


Another great way to use the FreqTube is on bass guitar.

Nice clean sounding bass guitar, but it needs a little, a little something, doesn't it? Let's open up the FreqTube down to effect. FreqTube is opened. And there you go. Here's the software. I have two instances open on the kick and snare, so there's only two tubes left. Now I know I want to give the bass a little bit of dirt, a little bit of "oomph" to it.

So, I'm going to use the E83 tube over here. It's already set. Let's go ahead and use the last two knobs. So, I'm going to go to 7. Click on drive. The 7 opens up. Let's turn the knob over here. Now they're connected. And for number 8, we'll use the wet dry. Now they're connected and we're good to go. And white sort of blah, what color do we want the base to be? How about...Orange. Nice. Okay, we've connected a couple of the hardware knobs to the software, but it's also worth noting that there are some cool presets in the FreqTube software. So, just up here in the box up here where it says default, there's some presets for all kinds of things, and I want to do some harmonic overdrive on this bass. So, let's check out what that does to the bass guitar.


That's a neat sound. Here's a bypassed. [Guitar]

Back to the clean sound. Now that comes from the filter, some of the drive and some of the harmonics, and then the level of the wet dry mix you have going on here. So, it's pretty wet. It's like mostly the wet sound is coming through.

If I put it back to dry, it's very clean. Nice grit. So, now let's put that with the drum track and hear what we got.


Bypassed. Clean. Cool. But where's, where's the life in it? There it is.


All that is really cool. Here a little bit of grit. It's sort of distortion, but it's a little sort of like breakup. It's, it's sort of like right in between. It's not full distortion, it's just a little bit of "oomph" to the sound and those kin of little nuances in the mix, in certain instruments in your mix, will really take the life of your song to a whole other level.

The FreqTube is great for adding that little bit of nuance to particular sounds in your mix. 

Now let's take the fourth instance and put it on the vocal. Now, I work with this wonderful singer here at Sweetwater in our marketing department, named Annika Bovender. She's an awesome singer and she is the vocalist on this track. Here's a little bit of her without any FreqTube on it.

Great singer, really pure voice. A lot of character in her voice. So now, here it is with no drums.

[Female voice]

 Yes. Okay, now let's put the FreqTube on it. And again, since I've used the FreqTube in three other spots - kick, snare and bass guitar, there's only one tube left, and this is the gentler 12 80 tube, and I think it will be great for the vocal. Okay, here's Anika's voice with the FreqTube engaged.

[Female voice]

Pull back the drive. Brings the volume down, a little mellower. Oh, yeah. Now I'll mess with the harmonics a little bit. So, hopefully you can tell this is just a gentle tube saturation of her voice. It's not a lot, just moving the drive knob up and down. I have a little low pass, so now I'm going to put a little bit of high end on this parallel filter. We have the low end, rolled off a little bit, on the primary filter, the parallel filter. 'm just going to goose up the high end a little bit, let's see what it does.

[Female voice]

It's warming up her voice in a very musical way. 

And that's really all there is to it. Open up the software on whatever track you want. This instance, it's drums and bass and a little bit of voice. Twist those knobs, use a preset if you have to, and just do it a lot to where you hear the changes happening. And then once you do, it's like your brain will remember it. You've got to teach yourself to what these sounds sound like, when you put saturation on something. And that little bit of warmth makes a huge difference. It's really cumulative. The more you add, a long as you don't go over the top, it's really going to add a lot of nice flavour to your overall sound in your song. Now, I want to take the FreqTube and use it in a couple of stereo situations. This thing works really well on drum loops.

Any kind of electronic drum music, electronic synths, synth basses, all of that kind of stuff this thing really shines on.

I have a little loop that comes in during the chorus of this song, it sounds like this.


That's a cool loop sound, right?

Well, check out how cool it'll sound if you put the FreqTube on it. So here, let's put the Freqtube on this drum loop. Okay, now the software is open. You'll notice that all four tubes are here, because it's only been opened once and it's on a stereo channel. I'm going to go back to this Harmonic Overdrive preset because it works so well with the bass. Let's hear what it does with this drum loop. I think it's going to do something really cool. Let's check it out.


Whoa! Totally adds a great bit of grit to it.

Now you're also going to notice up here there is a plus 18 button. When that's engaged you get 18dB more of FreqTube goodness. And this particular preset has the plus 18 button engaged. Plus 18 taken out, that 18dB more of gain is what helps with that analog grit that you're hearing, that grit and saturation you're hearing.


Haha, it's also given the kick drum a little bit of a "synthy" sort of synth bass sound to it. On. Bump, bump bump. Bump bump bump. Really cool. Now, let's put that in the track. I'll start with it bypassed, where it's clean. And it's meant to be in the background, but once I kick in the plug in, it's going to just lift it up a notch. Check it out.[Music] So, it's bypassed. Now here we go.


Ha! It almost adds a percussive element to it.


When you're really mixing the song, you can go in there and tweak those little sounds very slightly. Automate the parameter, you can move the drive knob up and down, automate it. If you want to automate it in Pro Tools, you just hit the auto button up here, all the parameters are on the left and whichever one you want to add, you just put it over on the right.

So like drive. Now it's over here on the right. Now you can automate that parameter. All DAWs have their own way of doing that kind of thing. So just work with the one you have and you can automate anything inside the Freqtube. Okay, last but not least, we're going to put the FreqTube on the master bus. Okay, let's check it out. I have the Freqtube open on my master fader over here, and I went to one of the presets, and we're going to give this a little mastering air, a little presence on the high end.


Now it's not much, that was very little. Now you can also tell that the dry knob is turned way over to dry. Not so much wet, so only a little bit of the plug in sound is coming through because it's mostly the dry sound. Let's try something else. Little mid lift. Okay, so now the filter is way different. There's just a little bit of bump in the mid-range. And the wet dry knob is around half way. So, you're going to hear more of the plugin with this instance, here we go.  


Yeah, it does quite a bit with this preset. Here you can hear the volume, sort of the lift. You can hear that mid-range come in a little bit. You can hear the tubes adding a little bit of saturation and grit. Let's also do this with a default preset. So, nothing is on right now. It's all sort of just set right down the middle. Here we go.  

The drive knob really does quite a bit.  


Oh, see, it's quite a huge difference, isn't it?
But when you have the drive down quite a bit, you put on that plus 18dB just lift sit up in a kind of a cool way. I thought it was neat.


So it really does quite a bit, even just half of the sound of the plugin coming through on your master bus. With that plus 18 engaged a little bit of the drive. The harmonics are in the middle, but you can mess with those two, and all of a sudden, your song, a mellow tune like this has a little more "oomph" to it. So, these are things you're going to tweak and you're going to mess with inside your song. And the FreqTube makes it so easy to do so.

Turn the knobs, have fun. Don't be afraid to experiment, especially when you first get this piece. Really dive in and learn what every knob can do. Get extreme with every knob and sound, so you can train yourself on what the filters sound like when they're totally extreme and off. And then you can find the nice middle ground with everything that this great piece of software and hardware have to offer. And there you go, folks. The Freqport FT-1 FreqTube, multi-instance analog hard ware processor.

What a great piece of gear to add some flavour to that, that sauce to your songs. Whether you use it a lot, or a little bit, just a little bit of those tweaks are going to lift your songs up to a whole other level.

If you want any more information about the FreqTube, make sure you go to our Best in Class website at sweetwater.com, or contact your Sweetwater sales engineer to get any questions you may have answered. And really, just have fun making music.

We'll see you again next time.