BB4 Outboard Update: TK Audio 500 Series Universal Insert Station

Let’s face it – every studio is in search of the ultimate outboard. We’re no different at BB4, and our quest for the best recently let us to a very cool unit.

Make that two very cool units! We’ve just added a pair of TK Audio TC1 Transceiver and Reamping Tools. This simple-looking piece actually packs a ton of functionality under the hood: Dubbed a “Universal Insert Station” by TK (inventor Thomas Kristiansson), it’s an active DI that’s awesome for balancing and unbalancing signals, adding gain, and reamping.

We love this for direct recording on guitar and bass, but to our ears it sounds even better with keyboards. Since it’s a transformerless design it doesn’t color their sound, but it makes keys sound really big.

Next up, were looking forward to trying these babies out on some of our unbalanced vintage gear, like classic effects pedals. With the TC1, we can easily input vintage effects into the chain for use within our DAW.

The other thing we appreciate about these TC1’s is that they’re 500 units, which means they fit perfectly into our Radial Workhorse (see the article here). 500’s give you a lot more options -- you can chain them easily within one box, instead of having to use a patch bay to connect multiple 1RU units. That streamlines workflow, which makes BB4 tracking, mixing and mastering sessions faster and more efficient.

Speaking of TK Audio, our introduction to their gear came in the form of our TK Audio BC1-S stereo bus compressor. Its sound reminds us of the classic SSL G-Series compressor: It can be punchy and aggressive or transparent and clean, and it also has a handy “blend” control for parallel compression. The BC1-S is also armed with an external sidechain input which makes it great for side chaining the kick in electronic music.

Our favorite mix move with the BC1-S is to put it on bass or kick tracks, or over the entire drum buss. Using “blend” we’ll dial it in somewhere between clean and heavily compressed – you can’t beat it for an aggressive drum buss that sits perfectly in the mix.

Max your mix! Try this outboard and more when you track/mix/master at BB4.

David Weiss