CTX Transformer Console Colour
- Full Kit
- Step-by-Step Guide
The punchy, forward sound of a vintage American console.
Transformers and discrete opamps (DOAs) are the core building blocks of the American console sound. The punchy, present sound of those classic 70's consoles derives from the unique character of the DOA and transformer and the complex ways they interact with each other. Countless plugins have tried to imitate this sound, but why imitate when you can have the real thing?
The CTX combines the RED-25 DOA with a Cinemag transformer and then cranks the gain to pack the sound of a channel strip into a single Colour. At moderate operating levels, the module's effect is vanishingly subtle, but makes everything sound more "finished" when stacked over numerous tracks in a mix. As levels increase the transistors of the DOA and core of the transformer saturate, thickening the signal with low-frequency harmonics and natural compression.
In 2019 to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Colour Format, we redesigned the first three Colours, the 15IPS, CTX, and JFT, to use only discrete, class-A transistor circuitry. You could think of this as the opposite of an update—we’ve revered the technology of the Colours back to the late 60’s. The result is an authentic vintage character that’s more nuanced and refined.
In the process of revamping the CTX, we realized that incorporating a 2520-style DOA would be a natural choice given the history of API and Cinemag. Thus the CTX went from being a simple transformer Colour to a more full-featured American console Colour.
The DOA adds another layer of saturation that complements that of the transformer. The overall effect is more pronounced than the mkI, with higher harmonic distortion at low levels and the ability to impart noticeable compression effects at high levels.
- Transformer wound by Cinemag in California
- Steel core emphasizes the phase distortion and hysteresis effects associate with the "iron" sound
- Compatible with the Colour format
- Red PCB!
- Full, step-by-step assembly instructions and guaranteed support
What the Pros are Saying
"CTX may be my favorite of the bunch. As you push the input level, it substantially 'thickens' just about any source. A stereo pair across a drum bus can dramatically change the character of the drums without sounding heavy-handed."
TapeOp Magazine (review of the CTX mkI)
CTX Transformer Console Colour
Use this one all the time on most anything—The one time I “accidentally” recorded bass guitar with “too much” CTX drive , if turned out great in the mix. CTX is sort of like a modern API attitude , while Mass Driver is leaning towards vintage API —-though the difference is somewhat subtle , I like both.
Along with a colour palette Mk2, this was my first build. It was a very easy build. I recommend building the DOA first if you have sausage fingers like me. Installing the DOA first to solder the metal connectors was damn near impossible once the caps and transformer were already there. Small handed folks needn't worry, but I have fingers like kielbasa.
On a first try I ran kick drum, acoustic guitar, and vocals through it. It really adds some weight and thickness to the mids. If you hit it with a hot signal it can also provide a fair amount of drive and mild clipping.
On the lowest setting it is subtle and gentle. Really appropriate to just run everything through for a little added texture. A/B and you can definitely hear it.
Overall I am super happy and ready to set up a stereo signal chain of colours to go along with my other analog gear. Amazing!
This thing was easy to build and sounds great!
I definitely recommend this color card for your setup. the RED-25 is a pretty close rendering of the 2520. I actually have a 2520 and i feel that the RED 25 just might have a little more thickness to it. Great way to get your feet wet!