Film3rd July 2019The classic REDD and TG consoles were the centrepieces of Abbey Road’s music revolution in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Learn what their audio plugin counterparts sound like, the differences between them, and how each can contribute differently to your mixes courtesy of Waves Audio.REDD and EMI TG12345 are channel strips based on the Abbey Road consoles through which some classic albums, most notably by The Beatles and Pink Floyd, were mixed. The consoles, developed by EMI’s Record Engineering Development Department, were known for their distinctive sound quality and minimalist functionality.
The REDD.17 and later REDD.37-51 consoles were born in a world of limited channels and tube-driven audio, while the TG12345 was created during the transition to multiple tracks and solid-state electronics. So, you might think the difference between them is simple: tube warmth vs. solid-state clarity. But dissecting the REDD and TG channel strips actually reveals as many similarities as differences.
REDD.17 vs. REDD.37-51We first need to distinguish between the REDD.17 and the REDD.37-51 as they actually have quite a difference in tone. In both REDDs the controls are similar, though the REDD.37-51 offers a choice between the REDD.17/REDD.37 preamps or the lower-distortion, higher-headroom preamps used in the REDD.51. Also, the tone control supplements the REDD.17’s high-frequency shelving controls with Pop or Classic modes. The low shelving is the same (boost/cut at 100 Hz), but the Pop option modifies the high-frequency boost to a bell curve at 5 kHz instead of a shelf. For both strips and both REDD.37-51 modes, the high cut shelf frequency is 10 kHz.Sonically, the differences become most apparent by turning up the drive control and really pushing the console. The REDD.17 is the more colorful and heavy-handed of the two—the overdriven, out-of-control sound of Pink Floyd’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn album comes to mind. The REDD.37-51 still adds plenty of character, but the “crunch” sounds more controlled and somewhat more refined.On drums, the REDD.17 takes otherwise polite sounds and gives them punch. The bass lift can really push a kick for dance music. Drive does add the requisite grit, but light to moderate settings seem preferable because the tradeoff for a fatter sound is reduced clarity. Note that when overdriving the REDD.17, increasing the treble EQ returns some of the clarity.The REDDs model two different channels (remember, this was analog gear—no two of anything sounded exactly the same), and you can choose either one for the left and right channels. The TG does this as well. A more conservative approach would be to choose the same emulation for both channels, producing a more consistent (and preferable) sound with mono sources, while choosing a different emulation for each channel with complex stereo material (like mixed drums) can widen the image slightly due to the difference between channels.
In general, the REDD.37-51 sounds more refined, especially with higher drive settings, so you can slam it harder before the sound becomes too blurry. The bass lift is more controlled and less distorted when pushed. Also, the Pop tone mode provides a punchier alternative compared to the Classic mode’s diaphanous high end. Overall, the REDD.17 seems best-suited for that hard-hitting sound associated with earlier Beatles recordings, while the REDD.37-51 is cleaner and more versatile, but still has its own kind of gritty vibe and tube warmth.
REDDs vs. TG12345The EMI TG12345 has more options. The compressor is unique and wonderful, albeit a little touchy to adjust. In contrast to REDDs, the EQ adds a band for presence (with boost/cut at 500 Hz to 10 kHz), and there’s a spread control to supplement the stereo, duo (independent left and right channels) and mid-side modes all the consoles have. As a result, the TG requires more tweaking to dial in the sound you want.The TG12345 seems happiest with input levels of around -8 to -16. The spread control is super cool and is the kind of “magic” control that gear snobs revere. When comparing it to some modern binaural panning and imaging processors I found that the TG doesn’t quite separate with the same kind of spaciousness, but that’s also what keeps the sound from seeming “separated.”
The TG’s dynamics processing is basic—compressor and limiter options (with 2:1 and 7:1 ratios respectively), six release (recovery) options, and a “hold” control that essentially biases the compressor detection to restrict the range over which compression occurs. Waves also added a sidechain high-pass filter to reduce low frequency compression, and a mix control for parallel compression.
Find out more about the REDD and TG12345 Waves Audio Plugins.