Handcrafted Labs Cascadeur Pre Distortion Box

Handcrafted Labs

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Product Code: 7011
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The Handcrafted Labs Cascadeur Pre Distortion Box is a modern engineers's "secret weapon" for creative sound design and everyday recording. It is a masterful blend of a Class A tube preamp, an opto compressor/limiter, and a distortion module.

Introducing the Handcrafted Labs Cascadeur Pre Distortion Box! This 3U rack beast is not just a feast for the eyes with its vintage aesthetic and array of knobs, but it's also a powerhouse of sound design and recording capabilities. This combination of features, honed years of development and testing, has birthed a versatile studio device that's as powerful as it is unique.

The Cascadeleur Pre's design consists of several modules, offering a myriad of signal processing options. The input stage features a transparent Cinemag transformer-based tube preamp, a "-20db" switch, phantom power +48V switch, phase flip switch, and a high pass filter. It also includes a High Z instrument input on the front panel, which feeds signal through input transformer as well. The compression module houses a smooth opto compressor/limiter, offering, low cut/full range compression switch.

The heart of the Cascadeur Pre is its distortion module, a playground for the creative producer or sound designer. It offers a switch that routes the signal in what HCL engineers call vertical/horizontal modes. Horizontal mode is a main mode of operation of distortion module, when signal is fed directly to the output after distortion. The Drive and Bias knobs control the intensity and character of the distortion, and you can choose between three distortion modes and triode or pentode configurations. It can also be utilized in parallel using Vertical mode with clean signal fed to output at – 10 dBu and distorted sound added with Master Level knob.

The output module incorporates “Master” volume control knob. In this case it is a choice between transparent Class A tube signal and slightly spiced tube sound with some tube harmonics in it. And again, after all the creative stage the signal’s been through you’re given this choice. How cool is that! There’s also a great feature called “Brilliance” on the output stage which is there to compensate the highs after a heavy distortion or just to give an extra presence and brilliance to the sound. And last but not least the device has an insert switch. It gives an extra two ways to work with: first – to use the Cascadeur Pre on the insert of your console (you can use compressor and distortion modules separately or combined), and second – to use external device (like EQ) inserted in the Cascadeur PRE.

With all that choice you are given a great creative tool to express your musical and sound design ideas and talents in a fast, convenient and greatly sounding way. In fact these are three high quality devices all under the same hood – preamplifier, opto compressor/limiter and a creative distortion module. So you get really good value for you money. And speaking of that, the price is extremely competitive while the quality is uncompromised.

Handcrafted Labs Cascadeur Pre Distortion Box Features

  • Class A tube preamp
  • Cinemag transformers
  • Smooth opto compressor/limiter
  • Distortion module, with Drive and Bias controls
  • -20dB Pad
  • 3U Rack Space

Handcrafted Labs Cascadeur Pre Distortion Box Includes

  • Handcrafted Labs Cascadeur Pre Distortion Box
  • Power Cable
  • Manufacturer Warranty

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What We Think


So how do you use this beast? Well, apart of it’s wild nature it is still a great Class A tube preamp with very smooth opto compressor. So it’s a great instrument in everyday tracking already. It’s remarkable on vocals, very good sounding on almost any acoustic instrument, can give a warm touch to the keyboard sound. I’ve had good experiences on percussive instruments, snare drum, toms. But in a push of a button the Cascadeur Pre is ready to blow you away with creative distortion.

From our experience, the Cascadeur Pre can give life to most anything where some distortion may do good. We really love to put some on synth organs (B3, VOX etc.) and Rhodes. Also, we had good results on tracking backing vocals and even a lead vocal on alternative rock band’s song. On one project it had a huge affect on the sound of acoustic guitar in the mix (we’ve actually built the mix with that sound!). Another huge playground is the drums sound. One of of greatest experiences with the sound of the live kit was routing it to the pair of Cascadeur Pre, adding some punchy distortion, then routing it to the pair of 1176’s to squeeze it to death and then blending it to the clear sound of the kit. Same thing we’ve done to bass track recorded through the DI, giving it a good distortion and using Cascadeur Pre limiter placed post distortion.

And another great thing about Cascadeur Pre that saves us a lot of time and nerves using it as a instrument input. We simply plug electric guitar in, warm it up, add a gentle compression and then rout a signal to ProTools where we use software emulated guitar amps. Trust us, its pretty hard to tell that the sound you get there wasn’t recorded on an actual amp. Well, the Cascadeur Pre is quite a new device so many tips are yet to come. But I’m sure that creative possibilities and the quality of the sound that this device has will earn the trust of many engineers and producers around the globe.

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