DaD Valve
User’s Manual
January 2000 Revision
DaD Valve
DaD Valve is a revolutionary approach to the simulation of the classic
valve sound for digital audio systems.
Main features
• Real valve sound, with its classic warmth, within the digital domain, and with
characteristics and control impossible to achieve in conventional valve
• Simulation of the most common valve types -triode, tetrode and pentode-,
with a full range of biasing and operating levels.
• Optimized responses for the 38 most common families of acoustic and
electronic musical instruments. Also suitable for the processing of any kind of
sound: music, effects and voices.
• Proprietary system based on physical modelling providing absolute and
independent control over both spectral and dynamic responses, with a total
of 1600 different configurations.
• Easy and intuitive user interface.
• High signal to noise ratio due to an internal resolution of 48 bits.
• Processing of all kinds of electronic and acoustic instruments, either
individually or by sections or sub-mixes.
• Especially suitable for voices and sound effects.
• Mastering of complete mixes.
• Suitable for all styles. It adds even harmonics to cold electronic sounds and
restores lost warmth to acoustic instruments.
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1. About v alves
Valves were the first known electronic devices. Electronics were born thanks to
Though their evolution has not been as spectacular as that of transistors, the
most important electronic devices known today were first designed with valves.
Yes, even computers. The first computer ever, the Eniac, was made up of
18,000 valves. And here we are, 50 years later trying to emulate those elderly
devices using computers 10,000 times as powerful as Eniac. The reason for
this is not nostalgia.
It is generally accepted that digital audio sounds almost perfect. However many
listeners argue that it can sound harsh and clinical. Valves, on the other hand,
have never been criticized in this way. Why does everybody agree on the
quality of valve sound?
Not all valves are equal. There are hundreds of models. Though they have
common features their differences are also important. According to their
internal structure they can be classified into three families: triodes, tetrodes and
penthodes, the main difference between them being the number of grids. It
can be said that the more grids, the more linearity, and of the three types,
penthodes are the most linear.
But sound is both a science and an art, and in art things are not always
predictable. As a result less distortion is not always better. There isn´t a single
ideal valve type for all applications. That is the reason why we´ve used our
expertise when designing DaD Valve: to choose a variety of valve circuits to suit
a huge range of applications.
There are two things that make valves sound different to any other electronic
amplification device. The first thing all valves have in common is they don't clip.
The shape of their distortion is always “round” like their sound is said to be.
The second thing is they are essentially asymetrical. This asymetry generates
even harmonics, in contrast with the odd harmonics generated by the
symetrical distortion of digital clipping. The fact is second harmonic distortion is
far more pleasing to the human ear than any other kind of distortion. If you
follow some simple rules and use it wisely you will get some amazing results.
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2. DaD Valve and the DaD Series
2.1. About the DaD Series
The DaD series is a revolutionary approach to the simulation of analog systems
for digital audio.
As we have said before, It is generally accepted that digital audio systems can
sound clinical at times. In order to overcome this problem most professionals
are using hybrid systems. It is well known that for some instruments and music
styles, analog recording technology sounds better. But analog systems have
several inherent problems: noise, hum, etc. If it was possible to get analog
sound, within the digital domain, then we could benefit from the best of both
We have worked out the way to digitally simulate the analog world without
compromises. The technology that we have developed is called “modelling”. A
term you might have heard before.
As a result we are proud to introduce the ideal approach: analog sound within
the digital domain.
2.2 About DaD Valve
DaD Valve is the first of a forthcoming series af analog simulating devices.
We modelled a whole valve chain, its associated circuitry and all significant
parameters including noise, temperature, frequency response, impedance, etc.
We developed our model using a Silicon Graphics workstation. Having got the
results we were looking for, our software was ported on to the Protools
platform without losing any of its sonic characteristics.
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2.3- DaD Valve´s internal structure
For the sake of clarity and flexibility, “DaD Valve” is split into two modelling
sections: spectrum and dynamics. Both sections can be linked or unlinked
depending on the user needs (Section 4.1.6.)
2.3.1. Spectrum model
The “spectrum model” section emulates the frequency and transient
response of a real valve circuit. To undertake this emulation we have
had to create a mathematical model of a real valve circuit in which a
large number of parameters interfere with each other. This has proven
to be the best way to get a perfect simulation.
The main source of frequency non linearities in a real circuit proceeds
from inductance and capacitance, both internal and external. As a
consequence there is a spectrum change. However in our spectrum
model, the frequency response non linearities are the result of the
modelling. Hence it is not an equalizer. This becomes obvious by the
fact that the frequency response changes according to the input signal
spectrum. It also changes as the valve´s operating point (pusher)
changes. A slight amount of non linear feedback also emulates the
microphony effect of a real valve increasing the sense of authenticity.
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2.3.2. Dynamics model
The dynamics model section produces harmonic distortion identical to
the inherent non linear transfer function of a real valve. It both
complements and interacts with the spectrum model. Both sections are
necessary for a complete simulation. You need to take this into account
when selecting one preset in one section while the other one is in
“linear” mode (see section 4.1.7). If one section is not active, this will
change the effect of the other.
Spectrum and dynamics model sections combined produce a sound
undistinguishable from the real valve. The characteristics for each of both
sections can be choosen from a menu of 40 different presets
represented in a 5x8 matrix.
The reason why we took a preset approach is that there are a huge
amount of complex variables to be managed in the analog world: valve
type (triode, tetrode or penthode), bias, decoupling, component non
linearities and drift, noise, etc.. A user setting adjustment approach
would have been impractical due to the sheer number of these
variables. We have painstakingly made a selection of the best sounding
combinations of parameters for each family of instruments Thus
hundreds of hours of expertise can be at your disposal at the touch of a
In fact you can think of each preset as the best combination of a valve
microphone and a valve preamp for any given family of instruments.
We´ll explain later in depth the most suitable applications for each
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3. Configuration and system requirements
DaD Valve can be configured both as a mono or a stereo device. The stereo
mode is selected automatically when it is inserted in a stereo track. In stereo
mode both channels are linked from the same front panel. This link has
nothing to do with the link between spectrum and dynamics responses. Two
“output level meters” appear automatically when in stereo mode. The stereo
link is transparent to the user and can not be overriden in any case.
You won´t normally use DaD Valve on every single track of your recording.
Optimum results will be achieved by selecting the most appropriate
instruments for treatment, and this can be done by experimentation. As a
starting point you could apply DaD Valve to the main melody and lead
instruments. Distorted guitars, strong effects, voice overs, and in general any
sound that you would have liked to have recorded with a valve microphone
and preamp will benefit from the processing.
For up to date information about resource allocation on your platform please
refer to DUY’s website at
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4. How to use DaD Valve
DaD Valve’s setup is very straightforward, but there are some simple rules that
you have to follow.
The only critical adjustments are the input level and the pusher amount. We´ll
describe them in detail in 4.1.2 and 4.1.3, but first of all let´s review the front
panel from top to bottom.
4.1. External controls
4.1.1. Top push button menu
It is standard for Sound Designer and ProTools plugins. It also depends on the
host program you’re using to insert DaD valve. One button you will always find
is the Bypass.
Bypass.- Its name is self explanatory. Even in bypass, you still have output level
meter reading. By toggling the bypass you can make a direct comparison
between direct and processed sound. Sometimes, depending on the
combination of sounds and settings the comparison will be straightforward.
However if needed you can trim the input level to equal the processed and
unprocessed output readings. You can then compare the perceived level
difference which should be higher in the processed sound. This perceived
level increase is due to the modelling process.
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4.1.2. Input level
The input level stage has three elements: slider, bargraph and overflow.
An Input level slider is made available to the user in order to allow the setting
of an optimum operating level. This will allow tracks recorded at very low level
the gain they need to be suitably processed. The Input level default value is 0
dB, which is suitable for medium to high level signals. You can switch to the
default value at anytime by pressing the “‘Input level” area while at the same
time holding the “Opt” key. You can also make fine adjustments by pressing the
“Cmd” key while moving the slider.
The Input level bargraph provides a reading of the first stage of the plug-in,
before it reaches the dynamics and spectrum model stages.
The OV (overflow) light turns red when any internal overflow occurs and
returns to blue only after clicking it with the mouse. Overflow is not an indicator
of valve distortion.
You should lower the Input Level everytime you see the overflow indicator red.
It might also be necessary to adjust the Input level slider when changing the
preset. Most of the times a slider setting of between -3 dB and +3dB,
depending on the original track recording level, will be suitable.
4.1.3. The pusher
The “pusher” sets the operating level of the Dynamics section of the plug-in. It
determines to some extent the amount of its non linearity and it affects both
the real and perceived signal level. Once the input level has been properly
setup, changes in the amount of distortion should only be done with the
pusher. You only need to lower the input level in case of overflow.
The bargraph under the slider gives a rough indication of the amount of
distortion produced by the Dynamics section. The more even harmonics it
produces, the more the bar turns from blue to red and from left to right.
You have to be careful with the use of the “pusher“ adjustment, especially with
the more non linear presets, as it can easily lead to produce distortion if set
above its optimum level. However, with the more gentle presets you can set it
near its maximum. Please refer to section 4.2 for evaluation of each preset´s
amount of distortion.
If you press the ‘pusher’ area while at the same time holding the ‘Alt’ key you
get the default value of 0 dB. This value is a ‘safe’ one, and as we said before
higher values are more suitable for most applications. You can also make fine
adjustments by pressing the “Cmd” key while moving the slider.
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4.1.4. Lobe Flip
Valves are inherently asymetrical devices. In order to give maximum flexibility
to DaD Valve you can swap the internal polarity of the dynamic model which
can in some cases enhance the processed sound. To do so you just have to
press the small valve drawing in the middle of the plug in. Reverse drawing
means internal inverse polarity. Face up Lobe Flip is selected by default.
Note that Lobe Flip control doesn´t actually invert the signal at the output . It
only internally affects the polarity. Thus the output signal always retains the
input´s original polarity
In fact Lobe Flip setting is only perceptible on asymetrical waveforms. Some
voices, percusion and wind instruments are clearly asymetrical. Our best advice
here is: just experiment. Even if there isn´t any change in the perceived sound,
Lobe Flip can be used to limit the output peak reading (see 4.1.5) thus
optimizing the level dynamics.
4.1.5. Output level meter
The output level meter measures the peak level of the plug-in´s processed or
unprocessed signal, depending on whether Bypass is on.
It can be used to optimize the preset and pusher settings. By checking the
output level meter you can make a perceived level comparison between the
processed and bypassed signals with the same peak reading. Please refer to
Bypass description (4.1.1).
When DaD Valve is inserted in a stereo channel (stereo mode) a second level
meter appears below the first one for the Right channel.
4.1.6. Link-Unlink
As we already explained on section 2.3, dynamics and spectrum presets can be
optionally selected independently. This can be done with the link-unlink toggle
icon. For DaD Valve´s easiest and fastest operation link mode is preferable. But
for experimentation and maximum flexibility unlink is the best choice. ‘Link’
mode is selected by default.
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4.1.7. The presets
It is time to decide which preset best suit your needs. Even though our best
trained ears have devoted thousands of hours to develop and test the presets,
you have the right to disagree with our decisions. That is why we have also left
you plenty of room to experiment leaving you up to 1600 possible
combinations of dynamics and spectrum presets (in unlink mode). If you want
to do your own research in to which responses best suit your needs, you only
have to follow a few rules.
Preset matrix menu visualization is quite straightforward. You only have to push
and hold one of the two icons that are always shown (spectrum and
dynamics). The visible icon is obviously the one that has been selected. Once
you have the complete preset matrix menu pop up you can move around it
and decide which preset to select by releasing the mouse. The ‘Linear’ preset
is selected by default.
Generally speaking, the presets are less linear when they are located more
towards the right and to the bottom of the table. The top row has the most
subtle distortion because it has been created for polyphonic instruments, in
which non linearities are more noticeable. Instruments in the bottom rows are
generally lower pitched and also more tolerant to non linearities.
The same rules apply for sound effects, which are not specified in the icon
menu, and for which experimentation is mandatory. However later in these
pages we´ll make some suggestions as to which presets to use for every family
of sound effects. You can also read section 5.- if you want to know more about
the psychoacoustic theory behind our statements.
To make your experimentation easier we have added two visual indicators to
every preset icon. The vertical bar to the right side is an indicator of amount of
non linearity. The longer the red bar on the top, the less linear the preset. The
longer the blue bar on the bottom the more linear.
The horizontal bar gives a visual indication of the frequency related processing.
The more the spectrum changes, the shorter the blue bar, and hence a more
audible transformation will take place.
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4.2. The preset matrix menu
In theory this is the ideal valve. Extremely linear and colorless in the spectrum
and/or dynamics model. Its effect is like a section bypass. Thus, in unlink
mode, you can listen to the effect of the remaining section alone.
Suitable for the processing of whole mixes. It is the second most linear preset.
Its gentle response allows both music and soundtracks to be smoothly
processed. Voices or effects only mixes are better processed with less linear
Suitable for male and female voice ensembles. It can be successfully used with
pop or classical arrangements. Alternatively try the next two presets on the
same row.
Female voice
Designed for female or high pitched voices. Equally suitable for children's
voices. Both singers and voice-overs can be processed. Try Choir for more
subtle effects. For single voices set pusher to its maximum.
Male voice
Suitable for male or low pitched voices. Both singers and voice-overs can be
processed. Try Choir for more subtle effects. For single voices set pusher to its
Ideal for acoustic piano. Very subtle non linearity. Set pusher to its maximum.
Electric piano
A little bit more bite than the piano preset, but still very clean. Also suitable for
celesta and for miked-up keyboard recordings. For Di´d recordings try using the
analog synthesizer preset ( two on the bottom)
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Also suitable for classical and pop keyboards with a bright sound such as
harpsichord, “clavicembalo”, clavinet, etc.
Analog synthesizer
For monophonic and polyphonic, analog or digital synthesizers recorded
without mics. The added distortion compensates for the lack of “liveness” when
recording electronic keyboards direct to the mixing desk.
Acoustic bass
For plucked acoustic bass. Set pusher to its maximum.
Acoustic guitars
For acoustic metal stringed guitars.
Electric guitars
For electric guitars recorded with an external amplifier. For Di´d guitars set
pusher to its maximum.
Spanish guitars
For nylon stringed guitars.
Distorted guitars
Electric guitars with distortion either from amplifier overload, or effect boxes. It
gives low level signals a boost of 3 dB. Also suitable for processing any
instrument that you want to give a distorted character.
Acoustic bass guitar
For acoustic bass guitar played with a plectrum. Set pusher to its maximum.
String section
For acoustic string sections. For electronic and sampled strings try less linear
Violin, V iola, Cello
For bowed and plucked single string sections. Also suitable for samples. In
acoustic ensemble recordings done without overdubs it even improves
perceived instrument definition. Low level signals are boosted by 3 dB.
Double Bass
Ideal for bowed doublebass. Low level signals are boosted 3 dB.
Woodwind section
Suitable for acoustic and good electronic woodwind sections. For bad electronic
woodwinds buy another keyboard.
Flute, oboe, clarinet and fagot
For acoustic individual woodwind instruments. Can also be used in recordings
with a lot of crosstalk between instruments. Clarinet preset is also suitable for
alto sax. Fagot preset also suitable for tenor and baritone saxophones.
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Suitable for acoustic or sampled orchestral timpanis, even if miked with the
whole orchestra.
Latin percussion
Suitable for both latin and ethnic percussion.
Suitable for acoustic and sampled toms.
Bass Drum
Suitable for acoustic or sampled Bass Drum. Low level signals are boosted by 3
Snare Drum
Suitable for acoustic or sampled, pop or orchestral snare drum. Low level
signals are boosted by 3 dB.
Suitable for a complete acoustic or electronic drum kit.
Suitable for acoustic or sampled cymbals.Low level signals are boosted by 3
Electronic Toms, Bass Drum
Suitable for analog synth type percussion. Excellent for dance music. Process
track by track. If already mixed use the Tom preset. Low level signals are
boosted by 3 dB.
Electronic snare drum
Suitable for analog synth snares. Excellent for dance music. It is by far the least
linear preset of all. Use it with care. Low level signals are boosted by 9 dB.
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4.3. Soundtrack recordings
Looking at the contents of the preset table could easily lead you to believe that
DaD Valve had been designed only for musical applications. Nothing could be
further from the truth.
Sound effects have two characteristics that have forced us to take another
approach to their classification. Firstly they are much less predictable than
musical instruments. Secondly their timbrical variations are countless. For these
reasons, choosing a preset for a sound effect is much more subjective than
choosing it for a musical instrument. However effects can actually be treated
more easily because they tend to be much more tolerant to distortion than
musical instruments.
We have concluded the results of our research in a written set of guidelines for
soundtrack design.
Ambients can be treated with soft non linearities like those found in the
second to fourth column of presets. Dense effects with multiple sources should
be treated with the presets on the top row (instrument sections and
polyphonic instruments)
The perceived quality of effects with sharp transients can be improved by using
heavy non linear presets like those for percussion. The only exception to the
rule is the Electronic Snare Drum preset, too non linear for practical use on
most effects. You can try it anyway with single pitched sounds like certain
animal noises.
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5. A psychoacoustic theory
There are some well known, but often forgotten, principles that should be
remembered to make the best use of DaD Valve.
The brain, the best neural network ever created, perceives and identifies
sounds by learning from, and comparing to, hundreds of thousands of
references. These references, or templates, that we call individual sounds are
learned and stored in our brain in an evolving process that is both hereditary
and environmental. The hereditary side of the process is what makes it
possible for us possible to identify hundreds of mathematically related sine
waves as one individual sound. It is the environmental side which allows us to
differentiate between a flute and an oboe.
DaD Valve generates harmonics. If properly adjusted DaD Valve´s new
harmonics will be perceived as sounds related to the original sound. Thus only
the original sound will be heard, but with added characteristics. If you overstep
the mark non linearities will become annoying. The more complex the original
sound, the more perceivable the non linearity, and the more difficult it will be
to get beneficial results. To avoid going beyond the limits please read the
above instructions thoroughly.
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Sound Designer II ® , Digidesign TDM Bus® , DAE® and Pro Tools® are registered trademarks of Digidesign, a division
of Avid Technology, Inc.
Apple Macintosh™ is a registered trademark of Apple Computer, Inc.
Power PC™ is a registered trademark of International Business Machines Corporation
Silicon Graphics™ is a registered trademark of Silicon Graphics Inc.
DaD Valve™ and the DUY logo are registered trademarks of DUY, S.A., a division of Iris Multimedia S.L.
All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
DUY Research - Plaza Lesseps 33 - 08023 Barcelona - Spain
Phone: +34 932 174 510
Fax: +34 932 176 313
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