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In-depth Feature:  TC Electronic TC Thirty
Trevor Curwen writes: .

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Being fortunate to have an original 1960 AC30 as part of the studio furniture it was possible to do a direct comparison and it has to be said that, apart from the obvious difference of hearing the sound through the famous blue Vox speakers and through a set of NS-10Ms, the similarity is uncanny. Playing through the TC Thirty you could close your eyes and swear it was the real thing not just for the sound but also for the feel as it seems to closely follow the dynamic range and respond to your picking in the same way.

AC30 controls
The TC30 fairly accurately recreates the AC30 sag where the note comes through and the residual background noise eases away into the background to come back up as the note or chord dies away. That background noise sound is modeled accurately (an AC30 of that vintage has a certain low frequency hum and inevitably a bit of hiss when cranked up) to give a very natural sound but may get a little annoying when the treble boost is engaged and those higher noise frequencies come up in level.

The treble boost does add a real extra dimension to what's on offer, thinning out the bottom end and emphasizing the top. With the various peak frequencies available there is plenty of variation and usable tones. The three boost settings are all quite different but its the 'original' setting that really kicks the distortion in and gets the amp singing on sustained single notes, albeit with the highest amount of background noise.

Ik Multimedia Amplitube
A plug-in for all formats that models the full signal chain from stompbox through amp and speaker to mix effects.


    Universal Audio Nigel
    Powercore's main rival the UAD-1 comes bundled with it's own excellent own emulation plug-in that covers a wide range of amp tones with the ability to morph between two particular types plus some authentically analog sounding FX.


    TC Electronic
    Latest versions of Powercore include Tubifex, a more generic amp modeller than the specialised TC Thirty


    NI Guitar Rig
    Native Instrument's modular Guitar Rig looks all set to be a real winner and the first software update will include an AC30 emulation.

  • The TC Thirty might be modeled on a single channel but with the nice gradual increase from clean through raunch to full on overdrive available through the output volume knob and the flexibility of the treble boost, it is much more than a one-sound amp.

    It is highly likely that the TC Thirty is the most authentic computer-based emulation of a specific amp yet heard and comes highly recommended. A little less background noise would be desirable when the treble boost is on but the designer set out to produce a real life warts'n'all sound and that's what you get.

    Whether anyone would shell out all the money on a PowerCore just to be able to run a TC Thirty is questionable but its availability might just tip the balance for anyone debating whether to take the plunge. Certainly for guitarists (or studios) who already have a PowerCore, the TC Thirty is an opportunity not to be missed. The big man with the poodle cut, the clogs and the home-made guitar may have been the inspiration for this but you certainly don't have to be a Queen fan to enjoy it - U2, Tom Petty and of course The Beatles all come to mind as AC30 users.

    As it stands, the TC Thirty is a fine product that produces a glorious sound and since it is currently in software version 1.0 it can only get better over time. And if TC are listening, a Top Boost version would be certainly appreciated...

    Price: ? 215 $249 £179
    Contact: TC Electronic

    More Resources              Articles - full listing
  • TC Optional Plug-ins
  • TC Thirty Audio examples (loads!)
  • Sonic State PowerCore FireWire Review

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