Tegeler add convenient plug‑in remote control to one of their best‑selling processors.
Bob Thomas, who reviewed Tegeler’s Crème in SOS October 2017, was so delighted with it that, over three years later, it retains pride of place on his mix bus. A high‑quality stereo device, the 2U rackmount Crème pairs a two‑band passive EQ with a VCA compressor, and allows you to swap the order of these stages in the signal path. It has proved popular, but Tegeler have now augmented it to create the Crème RC, which joins rather than replaces the Crème in Tegeler’s portfolio.
A quick glance at the Crème RC’s front panel reveals little that has changed. It offers the same analogue signal path and most of the controls look and feel the same too. The only visual and tactile differences of note are that the metal toggle switches (for In/Bypass, the side‑chain high‑pass filters and the processor order) have been replaced with large orange‑backlit buttons. On the rear, though, alongside the balanced XLR audio sockets and IEC mains power inlet are USB and RJ45 sockets — the RC in the name stands for ‘Remote Control’. The Crème RC communicates via Ethernet with a DAW plug‑in that resembles the Crème RC’s front panel. (The USB connection is for firmware updates). Communication is bidirectional, with adjustments made using the plug‑in reflected by the hardware controls and vice versa.
Plug‑in remote control of hardware isn’t novel per se. Indeed, I’ve used such products by several different manufacturers over the years, but Tegeler’s implementation of it is different. Most who go down this road populate their hardware with controls that scream ‘digital’, with endless rotary encoders or buttons to adjust parameters, a small display or LEDs to indicate the current settings, and sometimes menus or alternative control functions. Tegeler’s stealthier approach leaves the hardware looking and feeling much like any other analogue processor: with the large chicken‑head knobs, chunky toggle switch for power, the moving‑coil gain reduction meter and generously sized buttons, it all looks and feels very ‘human’.
To achieve this, Tegeler use motorised knobs, which rotate to reflect the changes made using the plug‑in GUI. These knobs don’t move quickly: change a plug‑in’s knob instantly from fully anti‑clockwise to fully clockwise, and its hardware counterpart takes 6‑7 seconds to catch up (you’d rarely make such dramatic changes). During that time, a red square adjacent to the GUI control informs you that the knobs are turning. Behind the faceplate, though, the parameters change straight away; the knobs turn ‘digital potentiometers’, with tiny switched steps that give the user the illusion of continuous control. So while it’s unlikely you’d need to use DAW automation with this sort of processor, it is possible. Note, though, that changing the value results in a series of clicks. Tegeler have done well to keep these extremely low in level, and in most genres you’d not notice their presence without an analyser — but it would be remiss of me not to mention it.
The Crème RC arrives in a stylish wooden box and inside is a 15‑page colour User Manual and six‑side Quick Start Network Connection leaflet, which explain what the controls do and how to set the Crème RC up with your computer, respectively.
The hardware connects either to a router or directly to your Mac/Windows computer using a standard CAT5e cable, and the plug‑in works in VST2/3, AU and AAX hosts. I chose to connect directly to my two computers, a Windows 10 Intel Core i9‑based tower and a MacBook Pro Retina 2018 running Mojave. The instructions are simple, though what should have been pain‑free installation was impeded by an error in the guide, which provided the IP address for a different Tegeler product! I solved this by trying different combinations for the IP address’s last two digits until I discovered the correct one, which took only a minute or two. Get the right IP address and setup is quick and easy — Tegeler tell me the error has since been corrected.
On instantiating the plug‑in, you’re alerted if an update has been released, which is nice. Operation is as intuitive as you’d hope, largely because the GUI mimics the hardware front panel. In fact, once a connection is established, you needn’t look at the hardware, and the only ways in which you’d distinguish this from a regular plug‑in are that you need to establish the audio routing in your DAW separately, and that you can save/recall presets. That facility is welcome: while boosts, cuts and thresholds are obviously source dependent, it’s great to be able to have basic starting points for frequencies and attack/release times for different material and applications. I wonder if Tegeler might also consider implementing a simple A/B compare facility in the plug‑in: at present, you must remember to save the current plug‑in settings before comparing with a preset, or you’ll lose them.
The other significant difference, of course, is the sound. Few plug‑ins could get close to sounding like this, and certainly not with so little user input. As the name suggests, this thing can sound oh‑so thick and smooth if you want it to. It’s intended as a master bus or mastering device, really, but it’s much more versatile than that and I happily found uses for it on bass guitar, synths, drums and vocals too.
I should point out that although the EQ section is billed as being like a PulTec EQP‑1A, and its smooth, forgiving passive filters evidently have their roots in that design, the Crème RC offers only the HF and LF boost side of that equation: there’s no cut facility for the same frequencies, which means you can’t do the ‘PulTec low‑end trick’, and in practice you’d use these bell boosts more like a pair of shelves. That doesn’t make this EQ any less desirable, though, and there’s a useful range available, with the LF band centred on 20‑200 Hz and the HF on 10‑24 kHz.
The VCA compressor doesn’t sound to me like a dbx 160 or an SSL bus compressor but it does sound lovely. And with a variable attack (0.1 to 30 ms) and release (0.1 to 1.2 s, plus Auto and Cream, the latter a useful variation on auto release), it can be quick and grabby enough for drums but really smooth and relaxed when you want that. It excels at reining in ‘poky’ sounds such as over‑stressed vocal syllables or over‑prominent snare hits at the drum bus, but as you’d expect it’s also perfectly at home on the stereo master bus, just tickling a couple of dB off the mix.
The Crème is a wonderful processor, but the Crème RC makes it so much more useful. You can’t help but smile when you first see the knobs turn under their own steam, but just the ability to save/recall settings with your DAW session alone makes this far more than a gratuitous display of technology.
Plug‑in remote control of analogue hardware isn’t novel... But Tegeler’s implementation of it is different from anything else I’ve tried.
For me, the killer thing about the Crème RC is that in no way does the hardware feel digital. I can reach out and use the controls as instinctively as with any analogue hardware, and even something as simple as being able to leave my fingers resting on the side‑chain high‑pass filter buttons while I close my eyes and listen to the different settings can be so valuable compared with the mouse‑and‑eyes operation of a plug‑in. The low‑level clicks I mentioned earlier might not please everyone, but I honestly didn’t find they got in the way and generally, deliberate processing decisions aside, the Crème RC sounds clean and quiet. I have great admiration for some of the other pioneers of plug‑in remote control out there, not least Wes Audio’s 500‑series modules, but I can’t think of any other company’s analogue gear that offers quite the same experience.
- It sounds beautiful.
- Instant recall of settings with your DAW project.
- Digital control doesn’t get in the way.
- Motorised knobs!
- Low‑level clicking when changing settings.
A great analogue channel strip made greater still by plug‑in remote control.
€1999 Euros including VAT.
Tegeler Audio Manufaktur + 49 30 49 79 26 74.