Congratulations to Thermionic Culture who are celebrating their 15th birthday with the release of the Culture Vulture Super 15. We've got a short history of the company and a bit of info about their new hardware below.
Also, congratulations to Martin Hicks of Toronto, Canada who won a Thermionic Culture Vulture in a recent SOS competition in the US edition. Here he is using a copy of Sound On Sound to play a Theramin through it.
Here's more from Thermionic Culture:
A brief history of Thermionic Culture and why it was formed
Thermionic Culture was formed in 1998 as a partnership between Vic Keary and Jon Bailes to manufacture Vic’s electronic designs together with Jon’s expertise in design and production.
It was formed because (in Vic’s words) “Valve audio technology had never reached its peak of perfection when transistors supplemented valves in the mid ‘60s”.
When Vic worked on the EMI valve desk at Lansdowne Studios in ’61 he was asked to improve the high end of the eqs, which he did, and also added a “Presence” switch of his own special design to each channel. His whole circuit forms the basis of the FREEBIRD 3 channel EQ.
So, unlike several other manufacturers, Thermionic Culture never copies old designs, but, keeping valve technology as a basis, sets out to make better products, more in tune with 21st century music production and to impart the “reality” of true valve amplification.
The first products were The Phoenix compressor, followed soon by The Culture Vulture distortion unit and the Earlybird mic pre amp. Absolute opposites as the dirtiest and cleanest valve outboard units ever!
Thermionic Culture expanded as word got around, and we were joined 11 years ago by Nick Terry, well known recording engineer, who inspires new ideas, and soon after Ian Curtis, our production Director, who brought with him key members of ex Raytheon staff.
When Nick joined the company, he brought his friend Mark “Horse” Phillips who is responsible for quality control. Jon still designs all circuit boards and front panel layout and the rest of the “boxes”.
The Culture Vulture Super 15 is the most comprehensive Vulture to date. It incorporates all the features found on the 11th Anniversary edition such as the 7 extra distortion functions, but also now features a 2 position Presence switch.
The Drive switch has three positions with a +10dB option sitting squarely between ‘Normal’ and ‘Overdrive’, enabling users tomake their sounds ‘a little more crunchy’ with increased brightness.
The Function switch now offers further enhancements including special dynamic tunable mid-lift in the P positions and extra drastically-processed harmonics in the SQ positions.
The Output Level controls have a -10dB attenuator which can be used in conjunction with Drive +10dB for comparison purposes or just to reduce high levels.
The module’s line inputs are balanced while the line plus low level outputs are unbalanced. Five NOS military-grade valves are utilised for long life, low noise and enhanced performance, mirroring The Culture Vulture Mastering Plus. And of course dials now up to 15.and it really does have more gain.
The UK retail price is £1895 + VAT and the US retail price is $3199.