So the other part of the one-two king hit of the-sound-of-Audio-we-all-love is clearly valve. The nice news here is that the Akai I bought has these two valve amplifier paths, with this stuff in them:
Valve complement: 2 x EF86, 2 x 12AX7, 2 x 6BQ5, 2 x 6X4, 1 x 6AR5.
Those 12AX7 I think are the thing imparting the magic, but whatever it is these are also in the new mastering chain. So now everything is being mastered through vintage (and I MEAN vintage – circa 1982) valve amps into pro grade mastering tape machines.
It should come as no surprise to those who care about this sort of thing that: