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Handsome Audio Zulu: tape sound without the hiss :-)

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Handsome Audio Zulu: tape sound without the hiss :-)

PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2017 9:20 am
by sixtysixmix
Hi All,

I recently took delivery of the wonderful Zulu from Handsome Audio. I became aware of this product on a different forum and I signed up to the early bird offer. It has take a while to get to the non-US customers but I am a very happy camper indeed.

The Zulu is a passive device that you can put across the mix bus or a group bus, or you can track with it. It has a series of settings that are explained in the manual that simulate different tape technology (from dodgy cassette to pro 1/2 inch) and it has a BIAS and other tone controls.

The device is not just an EQ .. it also provides some compression and while I have never personally worked with tape as an engineer (I did make a few 16 track demos in my early days as an artist :-) ) I have to say it provides a vibe that I am loving. Pretty much anything I put it on it just sounds better. The words 'glue', 'vibe', 'sounds like a record' just keep popping into my head.

All the controls are stepped switches which make exact recall a breeze and the unit is dual mono so you can be running a couple of mono signals through it with different settings at tracking or mixing time.

Working with Zulu is quite simple, you just need to drive the inputs with a decent amount of line level and it does the rest. When putting across a bus for mixing there is quite a large volume difference if you are trying to compare before and after which is due to the passive nature of the circuit. I am seeing anything between 5-10 db of lost volume depending on the settings.

The only negative thing I can think of is the lack of a bypass switch but with the volume difference being up to 10 db .. you probably wouldn't want one anyway. You could do some damage to monitors or ears quite easily! So its just a question of getting to grips with handling routing/patching in such a way that if you want to try before and after you can .. though to be honest, once I have heard the signal through Zulu I have not once wanted to take it off! :clap:

Here is a YT unboxing and quick demo I have made: (This is my first YT video, created on my i-phone but with direct sound from the Zulu so please forgive the lack of HD resolution and the clunky production :-) )

I plan to make a better A/B video where I will try to match the levels so a clearer idea of exactly what it is doing can be obtained.

Handsome Audio's FB page has more examples.

Re: Handsome Audio Zulu: tape sound without the hiss :-)

PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2017 1:51 pm
by Martin Walker
Thanks for all the detail sixtysixmix! 8-)

I hadn't heard of this product.

Not sure about its awkward retro styling, but hey, it's what it sounds like that counts, so I'm now off to the Handsome Audio box to listen to some more audio demos - glad you're enjoying your new toy! :thumbup:


Already found this - Zulu offers the sounds of 3 classic platforms:

Hifi/Swiss series/Ampex 456

ProFi/Japanese series/Ampex 456

LoFi/4 track studio/Cassette


Re: Handsome Audio Zulu: tape sound without the hiss :-)

PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2017 2:01 pm
by Martin Walker

Tricky to judge so far, but this demo seems the most convincing to me - Zulu adds a very nice low-end warmth and punch to the drums: