Thermae vs. Tonal Recall

Since we’ve announced Thermae, I’ve had a lot of people asking what Tonal Recall can do that Thermae can’t do. In other words, people are wondering why in the world they’d want a Tonal Recall when it appears that Thermae is capable of doing traditional analog delay tones and so much more.

I’ll start with this – the approach on Thermae was much different than Tonal Recall. It may seem strange to read this, but Tonal Recall is much more well behaved. It’s going to sound “good” in many settings, clock noise will be filtered out, and voiced primarily for guitar. It has governors to prevent under-clocking, aliasing, and accommodations for other “unpleasant” artifacts that can present themselves with these types of designs.

In addition to that, I’ve always felt that the modulation on Tonal Recall is something pretty special and unique. It represents a hybrid analog/digital approach where the LFO is created digitally but then driven into an analog clock generator circuit which really makes it “feel” analog through and through. Thermae, on the other hand, has its clock created completely digitally, and this is what allows for precise quantizing on the pitch shifting. This is perfect on the applications specifically for Thermae, but I can’t help but feel there is some magic lost for the more traditional modulated delay sounds that Tonal Recall can conjure up. It’s not that the modulation on Thermae is bad, it’s just bolder, and less traditional sounding.

The voicing of the wet, delay path is also quite different. While Tonal Recall has a typical tone control that gently rolls off high frequencies, Thermae has a slightly resonant low pass filter that accentuates frequencies before rolling them off, which makes it extra interactive with the regeneration control. Both have some low end frequencies cut in the delay path, but to different degrees. Tonal Recall also boasts some intelligent clock frequency roll off dependent on the delay time, but Thermae has nothing of the sort. With Thermae, users are encouraged to incorporate clock noise into the signal path (if they so desire) to inter-modulate with the wet signal to create ring mod tones.

The “companding” circuitry for both is also a little different. Tonal Recall has a bit of a crisper attack for applications like slap-back guitar whereas Thermae is a bit laggier and has a smoother release for creating infinite delay type of pads.

Perhaps most noticeable, Thermae does not have the traditional manual delay “time” knob. It just didn’t make sense to include that with Thermae because of the crazy vast range it covers and also because I never wanted to give up access to the “glide” knob for folks. You’ll understand when you get one; however, it is a bit of a bummer to have to lose that control as most of us analog delay freaks really like to mess with the delay knob when creating self-oscillation.

In short, Tonal Recall is for the tone seeker looking for tons of control over a more traditional sounding analog delay. It feels a little strange to type that. Certainly, relative to many analog delays on the market it is insane… but compared to Thermae it is just much more polite, and has more of a guitar focused vibe.

Thermae, on the other hand, is for weirdos. It just sounds a little synthier too.