Black Box Analog Design HG-2 Processor
The Black Box Analog Design HG-2 Processor is a line level, stereo unit designed to add saturation, harmonics, natural compression, increased RMS and enhancement during mixing and mastering. It is designed to easily and naturally do what usually requires multiple pieces of gear and do it better!
The Black Box Analog Design HG-2 uses custom input transformers to feed two paths: The main signal path travels through a 6U8A Pentode tube stage that then drives into the Triode stage that follows, resulting in everything from subtle harmonics to full on saturation.
Also fed from the input transformer is a parallel signal path that utilizes a set of 12AX7 tubes, voiced specifically for harmonics and saturation. This parallel saturation circuit is outfitted with a 3 way Freq. Select switch that allows the user to choose the frequency content returning from the circuit. The low position saturates just the low mids and sub frequencies, the flat position saturates full bandwidth and the high position saturates only the high mids and high frequencies. The result is the ability to add top end to dull tracks, enhance low end or enhance and add energy to the entire signal. The saturation knob allows the user to control how much of the processed, parallel signal is fed into the main signal before hitting the Pentode stage. Finally, both stages reach the passive output attenuation before a pair of custom output transformers.
In addition to the saturation stages, an air switch adds a subtle top end lift and the alt tube button switches between two different 12AX7 tubes in the parallel circuit. Switching between tubes allows the user to select between differently voiced tubes for different types of saturation, instantly.
The meter button switches between 3 modes (VU, VU/Peak & Energy), and the bypass switch is a true bypass that shorts the input directly to the output with no additional circuitry in line.
Black Box Analog Design HG-2 Processor Features
- High voltage Pentode & Triode tube stages
- Parallel saturation with mix control
- Selectable parallel saturation frequency
- Instantly selectable saturation tubes
- Air lift
- Ultra fine L/R trim adjust
- Custom input and output transformers
- True bypass
- Selectable 30 segment meter (3 modes)
- Illuminated push buttons & sealed relays
- Internally modular design for easy servicing
Black Box Analog Design HG-2 Processor Downloads
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The Black Box HG-2. Sounds amazing and has a stupid ability to make a weak snare in to a banging garbage can lid with a crowbar. Can really pump up the RMS as a side effect so you have to be careful not to eat up all the energy in exchange for loudness - this box does what it does so well that it's too easy to get carried away and realized that you've completely flattened everything!
I especially love it on snare, toms / tom bus, synths, FX returns, and strings. Anything that needs to be "juiced". It's actually a lot of fun on FX returns - drop it on some delays or a reverb return to really add some color and character. Great for injecting life into a digital delay pedal like a Strymon, but if you have a delay that already has some character like a Lexi PCM 42 or a Roland SDE3000 this box will bring it to the next level.
The AIR button adds some kind of tube harmonics up high, around 10k. It does have a great ability to add a certain 3-D ness to stuff. For some it might be too strong, but it can be adjusted internally to be lower which some do for mastering purposes. I love it the way it is though - it's an additional way to add openness to something without EQ'ing it.
The saturation knob brings a lot to the table and allowing you to chose to saturate the lows, highs, or the whole signal adds a ton of functionality to the unit and tailor make the saturation for the source.
It does eat some of the bottom though no matter how lightly I hit it, but I think that's just a side effect of tubes and something I tend to experience with tube stuff in general. Even when it comes to pultecs, especially on masterbus I tend to use solid state ones because the tube ones eat some of the low articulation.
Because of the fact that it slightly eats lows it's not something I use on drum bus or master bus as a first choice, although I have had success with it on both by using it in parallel with a low cut filter in front. When doing that, it's easy to retain lows while adding some juiciness and RMS. So while it takes some additional patching, being able to run it in parallel with a cut filter in front does add a ton to its usefulness.
I deducted a star from the review and made it 4 stars because if it had two more knobs - a switchable low cut filter and a wet / dry mix knob, the functionality would be knocked out of the ballpark! Nothing crazy - like a three switched knob for low cut (like 40, 80, 120 hz) and a parallel mix knob and this thing would be unbeatable.
Very useful box.