Thermionic Culture Culture Vulture Mastering

Thermionic Culture Culture Vulture Mastering

As there has been a number of requests from mastering engineers and recording studios alike regarding a balanced version of the Culture Vulture. Vic and the team have now decided to put this into production to meet this demand.
The MV has the same front panels controls and operation as the standard Vulture but with the following changes:
  • Transformer balanced inputs & outputs on stereo jacks.
  • Transformer balanced rear mounted bypass switch.
  • Large indented input Drive controls.
  • Indented Output Controls
  • Specially selected or military type valves with longer life and low microphony. Carefully matched 5725 distortion valves.

Thermionic Culture has met demand from mastering engineers and recording studios alike to produce a transformer balanced version of the popular Culture Vulture stereo valve distortion device. The MV has the same front panels controls and operation as the standard Vulture, but features sowter transformer balanced inputs & outputs on stereo jacks. which can be bypassed. Large indented input drive controls, and indented output controls. Specially selected and matched military type valves with longer life and low microphoney. In all notes below the mastering unit is "MV".



The MV has balancing transformers on inputs and outputs. The input transformers are always in circuit and have an input impedance of 50k ohms, so they will accept a high impedance source (eg: guitar) as well as line. Use of the front socket cuts out the input from the back. The option of using balanced or unbalanced outputs with a switch next to the output jack that bypasses the transformer. We suggest that you do not use this switch unless the program material is high level and contains plenty of low bass. You may prefer to leave the transformer in anyway to get the distortion caused by a saturating transformer. The output transformer is designed to feed an impedance of 10K. Bypass it if the impedance of the unit you are connecting to is lower or much higher. All inputs and outputs and standard stereo jacks.


The valves used in the MV are all specially selected or military types. Exceptionally long life with low microphony can be expected. A 5725 is used for distortion and they are carefully matched left and right. The output is a 5963 which is similar to the common ECC82.


Indented conductive plastic pots are used for inputs and outputs and these are linear types in the MV for greater accuracy. They do not go back to zero in this version as we felt that accuracy was more important than total flexibility. The bias controls are also linear in the MV and wirewound for lower noise and higher reliability. The switches are unchanged and the same "P2" effects of extreme distortion and frequency doubling can be obtained.

Setup and Operation

The MV is factory aligned so that it has unity gain when inputs and outputs are set at 0dB, it is in balanced mode feeding an impedance of 10K ohms and the current meter is set for minimum distortion with the Distortion switch set to Triode (T). This is usually about 0.25mA. Refer to the test report for each unit. Although the MV is set up at minimum distortion point, this setting is only really useful for gently "warming the sound". The most popular setting is P1 and a higher current, around 0.4mA when an even distortion, a little like analog tape, is obtained. Reduce the output control as gain will be higher. Obviously, overdrive will give more extreme distortion. P2 can be used for frequency doubling effects as well as extreme distortion. For frequency doubling, set the output level to max, the meter to about 0.1 or less with no signal but don't drive too hard. You will probably need some extra gain from the unit following the MV

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