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Advice for Getting Into First Piece of Hardware
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 
Advice for Getting Into First Piece of Hardware

I know this same question gets asked from time to time, and I've read those threads, but as someone looking to get into hardware, I'm looking for advice - mainly because I don't have the option of testing out gear before purchasing. I don't have any pro studio's near me, and I haven't found anywhere that allows me to "test" gear before purchasing.

I've long been into plug-in emulations, but it seems the majority opinion of those with experience with the actual hardware seem to greatly favor them over their software counterparts. Specifically, I'm thinking my first purchase would be a compressor, but there are a number that I have interest in, for different reasons, as each provide different uses. However, without being able to test each before purchasing, I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on how to go about getting started - or if the only option is dive in and hope for the best.

I'm looking to add some "analog" flavor into my productions, hoping that hardware will help me get away from the more "digital" in the box sound, and breathe some "life" into the music. Among the options I have been looking at are the ELI Distressor (not sure if the stereo pair is essential here), API 2500, SSL G Bus Compressor, and a few others. Similarly, I'd also ask, are the updated versions of "classic compressors" - SSL G Bus, LA2A, 1176 etc., no longer worth purchasing in comparison to the originals? Understanding that may be a subjective question, but interested in the answers nonetheless.

Thanks for any help!
Old 1 week ago
  #2
Gear Head
 
JoeRainey's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DAKAudio ➡️
I know this same question gets asked from time to time, and I've read those threads, but as someone looking to get into hardware, I'm looking for advice - mainly because I don't have the option of testing out gear before purchasing. I don't have any pro studio's near me, and I haven't found anywhere that allows me to "test" gear before purchasing.

I've long been into plug-in emulations, but it seems the majority opinion of those with experience with the actual hardware seem to greatly favor them over their software counterparts. Specifically, I'm thinking my first purchase would be a compressor, but there are a number that I have interest in, for different reasons, as each provide different uses. However, without being able to test each before purchasing, I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on how to go about getting started - or if the only option is dive in and hope for the best.

I'm looking to add some "analog" flavor into my productions, hoping that hardware will help me get away from the more "digital" in the box sound, and breathe some "life" into the music. Among the options I have been looking at are the ELI Distressor (not sure if the stereo pair is essential here), API 2500, SSL G Bus Compressor, and a few others. Similarly, I'd also ask, are the updated versions of "classic compressors" - SSL G Bus, LA2A, 1176 etc., no longer worth purchasing in comparison to the originals? Understanding that may be a subjective question, but interested in the answers nonetheless.

Thanks for any help!
It makes sense to me to start with something for the whole mix. IMO you can't go wrong with an SSL style bus comp. I have the Dione, by Wes Audio, and I love it, especially because you can control it digitally from your DAW.

You might also consider a summing mixer, for analog flavor, for sure.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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thismercifulfate's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by DAKAudio ➡️
I'm looking to add some "analog" flavor into my productions, hoping that hardware will help me get away from the more "digital" in the box sound, and breathe some "life" into the music.
A hardware comp won’t do any of those things. If your music lacks “life”, dynamics processing in the analog realm should be the least of your concerns. Sure, you’ll get a million gear recommendations in this thread; maybe every compressor ever made, but I would manage your expectations or you will be pretty dissatisfied after you’ve spent the money.

As someone who mixes ITB a lot but sometimes prints important tracks like vocals through outboard comps, I’d say the biggest advantage of the hardware is getting the nice ‘boxtone’, and slightly smoother action. But the difference isn’t night and day and the difference isn’t going to make or break a production.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
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Pyeguy's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by DAKAudio ➡️
Specifically, I'm thinking my first purchase would be a compressor, but there are a number that I have interest in, for different reasons, as each provide different uses. However, without being able to test each before purchasing, I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on how to go about getting started - or if the only option is dive in and hope for the best.
Lots of people including myself are in more or less the same situation. You can't always get access to trying something first to make a decision. Some people on these forums like to make things more complex than they actually are, when someone has a basic, straightforward question. All you really need to get started with compression is a compressor to start tracking with and see how it affects your signals going in. You can also get a stereo mix compressor such as the Neve 33609 if you have the money to do so, and if you want to experiment with stereo mix compression.

Compressors (good ones) add body, sustain and impact to a signal. I prefer original compressors over clones, if you can afford the real ones. If you are thinking about which hardware compressor to get first, I would definitely suggest the 1176, or a good clone of it. I personally like the Klark KT-76 as an affordable clone. 1176 type compressor will cover all of your basic tracking needs from crushing drums to levelling vocals.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #5
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
there's no benefit in using analog hardware except maybe on the way in and there's zero reason to leave the digital domain once you're there...
Old 1 week ago
  #6
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by DAKAudio ➡️
I know this same question gets asked from time to time, and I've read those threads, but as someone looking to get into hardware, I'm looking for advice - mainly because I don't have the option of testing out gear before purchasing. I don't have any pro studio's near me, and I haven't found anywhere that allows me to "test" gear before purchasing. ...
I'd be curious re your location? Haven't done it in a while but plenty of vendors let me try stuff -with clear rules; Pay up full first, some reasonable amount of trial' time, anything but pristine and full respect to no question re perfect return condition..

I'll offer one (of several actually) -likely used, versatile, they go from pristine-to vibe for days' in several styles, mix, tracking, master duty.. In other words get a taste of more than one pond.
Ted Fletcher Pro. I have the P38.. it's served me very well.
https://tfpro.com/product/p38ex-mk2/
https://www.google.com/search?q=tf+p...client=gws-wiz
Old 1 week ago
  #7
Gear Head
 
I was in the same place as you and tried a number of things. If I could start over again I think I would start with a tegeler creme as my first piece of outboard gear. Maybe followed by an ssl fusion. They work great for 'mixtering'.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
Gear Maniac
 
jondoe1972's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Have you tried Access Analog?

They have at least some of the pieces you’re interested in. You can demo and decide from your studio.

Good luck!
Old 1 week ago
  #9
Gear Head
 
Naru's Avatar
 
The Clipalator is well helpful for comparing hardware.
https://www.zenproaudio.com/clipalator
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #10
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismercifulfate ➡️
A hardware comp won’t do any of those things. If your music lacks “life”, dynamics processing in the analog realm should be the least of your concerns. Sure, you’ll get a million gear recommendations in this thread; maybe every compressor ever made, but I would manage your expectations or you will be pretty dissatisfied after you’ve spent the money.

As someone who mixes ITB a lot but sometimes prints important tracks like vocals through outboard comps, I’d say the biggest advantage of the hardware is getting the nice ‘boxtone’, and slightly smoother action. But the difference isn’t night and day and the difference isn’t going to make or break a production.
Don't believe I said anything about my music "lacking life", nor anything about "making or breaking a production", but maybe my explanation wasn't clear:

When working completely in the box, sometimes there can be a lack of warmth or color, caused by using only digital plug-ins. The sound is almost too "clean" at times, and from what I've seen, those more familiar with outboard suggest that analog gear can help bring that color and warmth into a purely digital environment. Among other things, I assume that's a large reason to use outboard gear in today's more digital world, and why I am interested in doing so myself. Hopefully that clears up what I meant by breathing new life into the my productions.

To my knowledge, each of those compressor's I mentioned have their own color, and hopefully can add some of that analog sound into my music. However, without having immediate access, I am trying to get a perspective on how to go about choosing one for those reasons.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #11
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne ➡️
I'd be curious re your location? Haven't done it in a while but plenty of vendors let me try stuff -with clear rules; Pay up full first, some reasonable amount of trial' time, anything but pristine and full respect to no question re perfect return condition..

I'll offer one (of several actually) -likely used, versatile, they go from pristine-to vibe for days' in several styles, mix, tracking, master duty.. In other words get a taste of more than one pond.
Ted Fletcher Pro. I have the P38.. it's served me very well.
https://tfpro.com/product/p38ex-mk2/
https://www.google.com/search?q=tf+p...client=gws-wiz
Interesting, any vendors that you can remember doing so in particular?

I'll have a look at the other suggestion as well. Thanks!
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #12
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jondoe1972 ➡️
Have you tried Access Analog?

They have at least some of the pieces you’re interested in. You can demo and decide from your studio.

Good luck!
I'm not familiar with them... Their website is slightly confusing, they allow you to test the actual hardware? It seemed like they were specifically referring to software in their FAQ, but I can't find a ton of information.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #13
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyeguy ➡️
Lots of people including myself are in more or less the same situation. You can't always get access to trying something first to make a decision. Some people on these forums like to make things more complex than they actually are, when someone has a basic, straightforward question. All you really need to get started with compression is a compressor to start tracking with and see how it affects your signals going in. You can also get a stereo mix compressor such as the Neve 33609 if you have the money to do so, and if you want to experiment with stereo mix compression.

Compressors (good ones) add body, sustain and impact to a signal. I prefer original compressors over clones, if you can afford the real ones. If you are thinking about which hardware compressor to get first, I would definitely suggest the 1176, or a good clone of it. I personally like the Klark KT-76 as an affordable clone. 1176 type compressor will cover all of your basic tracking needs from crushing drums to levelling vocals.
Yes, can definitely see that happening with my own question. I have a small budget to play with, so looking toward the real thing over clones. Do you have experience with the 1176, and/or some of the others I mentioned, interested to see how they might compare firsthand in similar use-cases? Have also heard some people say that the re-makes aren't as good as the original, and wonder how much truth to that there is as well.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #14
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thismercifulfate's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by DAKAudio ➡️
When working completely in the box, sometimes there can be a lack of warmth or color, caused by using only digital plug-ins.
And you know this how? Have you ever mixed on a console, or with a wall of outboard hardware? The whole “digital lacks xyz” trope is old and tired but somehow keeps being perpetuated by these message boards.

The fact is lots of great recordings are mixed itb every day and no one can tell or cares if they were mixed analog or not. Great mixers have been and still are make world-class mixes completely ITB for years now.

But go ahead, go spend your money on a magic box.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #15
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Pyeguy's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by DAKAudio ➡️
Yes, can definitely see that happening with my own question. I have a small budget to play with, so looking toward the real thing over clones. Do you have experience with the 1176, and/or some of the others I mentioned, interested to see how they might compare firsthand in similar use-cases? Have also heard some people say that the re-makes aren't as good as the original, and wonder how much truth to that there is as well.
I have a collection of compressors some of which are FET's. I've heard the 1176 in clips many times, but I don't own one. But I want one. If I had the cash I would get an original (reissue). I've heard it and I like it. I've heard the Klark 76-KT as well used for light levelling (tracking vocals and acoustic guitar)...or all out smashing a drum overhead/bus with the 'all buttons in' mode. 1176 is obviously different than some of the others in your list, as it is a mono compressor vs stereo compressor.

I'm basically using my mono compressors for tracking at the moment, and using the stereo compressors on group buses and/or mix bus. For a mix compressor, I've heard the 33609 on mix bus/drum bus and it's awesome imo. UnFairchild is awesome too, but who has the money for that.
Old 1 week ago
  #16
Gear Head
its not popular here but id start with a great converter and summing mixer first. This keeps you ITB while benefiting from analog. As you get better youll want to go all analog like a true slut. Get the converters and summers with a sound. Like RND, Burl, ect. Then you can buy a bunch of cheap clean hardware units like the xpressor xfilter. They usually lack tube/ transformers but you can make it for it with he converters and summer. I took the hard expensive route but if i was to start over id do this 100%
Old 1 week ago
  #17
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by DAKAudio ➡️
I know this same question gets asked from time to time, and I've read those threads, but as someone looking to get into hardware, I'm looking for advice - mainly because I don't have the option of testing out gear before purchasing. I don't have any pro studio's near me, and I haven't found anywhere that allows me to "test" gear before purchasing.

I've long been into plug-in emulations, but it seems the majority opinion of those with experience with the actual hardware seem to greatly favor them over their software counterparts. Specifically, I'm thinking my first purchase would be a compressor, but there are a number that I have interest in, for different reasons, as each provide different uses. However, without being able to test each before purchasing, I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on how to go about getting started - or if the only option is dive in and hope for the best.

I'm looking to add some "analog" flavor into my productions, hoping that hardware will help me get away from the more "digital" in the box sound, and breathe some "life" into the music. Among the options I have been looking at are the ELI Distressor (not sure if the stereo pair is essential here), API 2500, SSL G Bus Compressor, and a few others. Similarly, I'd also ask, are the updated versions of "classic compressors" - SSL G Bus, LA2A, 1176 etc., no longer worth purchasing in comparison to the originals? Understanding that may be a subjective question, but interested in the answers nonetheless.

Thanks for any help!
You should be sure of what you want and need first. If you need advice means you may be not ready.especially that you are talking about very expensive high end equipement...

G comp is nice but very clean and very limited, especially for the price.
2500 has a nice color and more versatile. Not bad as a go to comp; but its more than 3k, secondhand are expensive too. You will be disappointed to put so much in just one comp.

Format 500 offers more options and is affordable. I prefer 19" racks here.

There are tons of options, even amazing ones at very low prices.

If you want a compressor,dig more. Just looking at the same classics, emulated hundred times is surely not the smartest choices. For the price of an api you could have several badass gears, a little complete analo setup which could bring mojo and pleasing sound that digital misses.

-what different types of compression you like? What you use most?
-need versatility or not?
-color or not? How much?
-character or not? How?
-need specific parameters?
-aggressive or transparent or punchy? All of that?
-drums most of all are vocal above all? Both?
-vintage or modern?
-what budget?
-to go where and complete with what in the future?

Etc. Just examples. You need to know where you wanna go.

Then it will come naturally.
Old 1 week ago
  #18
Gear Addict
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Seriously
Audioscape produce a fine SSL type compressor.
I can attest it sits on my chain to mastering and has made a real difference to my sound along with a Chandler mini mixer.
Audioscape do not make a lesser comp it is a fantastic
well performing piece of audio equipment.
You will find the price is not a true indication of it's worth.
I am from NZ and I have never regretted purchasing great hardware.
Not to mention they are great people.

Pounamu
Old 1 week ago
  #19
Gear Guru
 
🎧 20 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by DAKAudio ➡️


I'm looking to add some "analog" flavor into my productions, hoping that hardware will help me get away from the more "digital" in the box sound, and breathe some "life" into the music. Among the options I have been looking at are the ELI Distressor (not sure if the stereo pair is essential here), API 2500, SSL G Bus Compressor, and a few others. Similarly, I'd also ask, are the updated versions of "classic compressors" - SSL G Bus, LA2A, 1176 etc., no longer worth purchasing in comparison to the originals? Understanding that may be a subjective question, but interested in the answers nonetheless.

Thanks for any help!
Every time you read about another big time mix engineer who is now “totally ITB”, you also read all the Excuses that the material they get is all impeccably tracked. “No fair”. The stuff they get sounds great already. So of course they can do ITB mixes.

For some reason I will never understand, so many people take away the “lesson” that in order to be competitive, they need to mix through hardware. I would say the obvious lesson would be to try for better tracking. Like the tracks these ITB mixers “unfairly” receive from their clients.

Microphones are Hardware
Preamps are Hardware
Musical instruments are Hardware

Until these three are truly sorted, hardware for mixing has been demonstrated by many engineers to not be the thing that is going to put “life” into a track that needs it. And I mean sorted. Some people will tell you mixing through any cheap-ass knockoff box beats any software. Good luck with that.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #20
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq ➡️
Every time you read about another big time mix engineer who is now “totally ITB”, you also read all the Excuses that the material they get is all impeccably tracked. “No fair”. The stuff they get sounds great already. So of course they can do ITB mixes.

For some reason I will never understand, so many people take away the “lesson” that in order to be competitive, they need to mix through hardware. I would say the obvious lesson would be to try for better tracking. Like the tracks these ITB mixers “unfairly” receive from their clients.

Microphones are Hardware
Preamps are Hardware
Musical instruments are Hardware

Until these three are truly sorted, hardware for mixing has been demonstrated by many engineers to not be the thing that is going to put “life” into a track that needs it. And I mean sorted. Some people will tell you mixing through any cheap-ass knockoff box beats any software. Good luck with that.
i (mostly) don't care about who's using what kinda *****' - what (sometimes) bugs me though is that imo far too many people still believe into superority of analog *****', in every situation, for every application, for every type of sound design etc. - not sure whether to attribute this to ignorance or magical thinking...
Old 1 week ago
  #21
Gear Maniac
 
jondoe1972's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
As I understand it, you can buy credits on Access Analog’s website and spend them making use of the actual hardware (like the Distressor.)

You’ll need to schedule your “session” with them and I assume you’ll need internet connection. Basically, they have a set up that allows manipulation of the hardware knobs in real time. You use their plugin to connect to their server.

This will allow you to test this stuff in your studio without buying and returning things.

Good luck!
Old 1 week ago
  #22
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
You have many good recommendations here, but I'll give you my 2 cents worth :-)

Get a lunchbox and put a Serpent Audio SB4001 comp in it. It's a great bus comp and you should notice a difference right away.

Then, when you can afford it, get a pair of Rupert Neve 542's. I track most, but not all, stuff through these, and love the sound.

Then get a nice Opto comp to track vocals through (and the 542). I myself have the Buzz SOC 20, but that is not a 500 thing and may be out of your price range. I love the sound of vocals through this chain. I used to mult at the patch bay so I would have one 'clean' track of vox, but no longer feel the need for even that.

For me, the magic starts to happen when you track through hardware, and mix with it. But, even just tracking through it and mixing itb (which I've started to do) you should notice an improvement for the better.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #23
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Pyeguy's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jondoe1972 ➡️
As I understand it, you can buy credits on Access Analog’s website and spend them making use of the actual hardware (like the Distressor.)

You’ll need to schedule your “session” with them and I assume you’ll need internet connection. Basically, they have a set up that allows manipulation of the hardware knobs in real time. You use their plugin to connect to their server.

This will allow you to test this stuff in your studio without buying and returning things.

Good luck!
This is actually pretty cool. I heard about this a while ago (access analog) and thought "are these guys crazy?" I see they have everything set up and going. I'd be into trying out their 33609 for sure (on mixes). From the samples I've already heard of it, it adds a lot of weight and punch to your mix. I was surprised when I heard the 33609. I'd never really known that much about it's sound before.
Old 1 week ago
  #24
Gear Head
 
Naru's Avatar
 
If I knew then what I know now, I’d start with 500 series because it takes up less space, and you potentially get more for your money than 19 inch rack gear. And it’s easier to hide from the mrs too.

My tuppence ha’penny.
Old 1 week ago
  #25
iFi audio
 
iFi audio's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DAKAudio ➡️
I know this same question gets asked from time to time, and I've read those threads, but as someone looking to get into hardware, I'm looking for advice - mainly because I don't have the option of testing out gear before purchasing. I don't have any pro studio's near me, and I haven't found anywhere that allows me to "test" gear before purchasing.

I've long been into plug-in emulations, but it seems the majority opinion of those with experience with the actual hardware seem to greatly favor them over their software counterparts. Specifically, I'm thinking my first purchase would be a compressor, but there are a number that I have interest in, for different reasons, as each provide different uses. However, without being able to test each before purchasing, I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on how to go about getting started - or if the only option is dive in and hope for the best.

I'm looking to add some "analog" flavor into my productions, hoping that hardware will help me get away from the more "digital" in the box sound, and breathe some "life" into the music. Among the options I have been looking at are the ELI Distressor (not sure if the stereo pair is essential here), API 2500, SSL G Bus Compressor, and a few others. Similarly, I'd also ask, are the updated versions of "classic compressors" - SSL G Bus, LA2A, 1176 etc., no longer worth purchasing in comparison to the originals? Understanding that may be a subjective question, but interested in the answers nonetheless.

Thanks for any help!
The Manley Core reference channel strip is a great first piece as, if it's worth the investment for you, it has a tube amp, an Electric-Op Amp compressor, EQ, and Limiter features, so can become a main stay swiss army knife. I've had my eye on one for a foundational piece for my own hardware setup, so figured it worth a look for you!
Old 1 week ago
  #26
As already stated, I'd definitely manage your expectations. I've used most of the suggestions on here on a daily basis, including mixing on consoles. If you're having a hard time getting things to sound "less digital" ITB, then hardware, especially a single piece like an 1176 or an LA2A, isn't going to change things that much.

Certain bus compressors will give you a different tone. But tbh, I have an Audioscape Bus Comp and have used the onboard bus comps on SSL consoles for years, both sound pretty much identical, and both sound very close if not identical to the UAD SSL bus comp at low gain reduction (1-2db) with slow att/fast rel which are the settings I generally use on every mix. And none of them will turn you into a better mixer or suddenly make your ITB stuff sound more analog. Just the reality of the situation.

I'd look at something like a Manley Vari-Mu for analog tone. Just a warning, doesn't work 100% of the time, when it does it's magical, but is it worth the $3-5k price tag? That's up to you.

I'm a gearhead and I love analog stuff, but these days its more about knowing that sound your after when working ITB.
Old 1 week ago
  #27
Yeah, the 500 stuff is a great place to start. Easier to get some impact and have some fun for the same money and less space. I like some compression when tracking certain things. Add other modules such eq, moar compressors, 542s, filters to taste. I have some stuff that is more used for tracking and some more for mixing, but I change it up all the time.

Whether or not I could do some to much of what I do in the box doesn’t matte much to me. i just like having a few knobs to twist without looking at plugins…. Allows my eyes a break and forces me to use my ears. More fun too.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #28
Gear Guru
 
🎧 20 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
i (mostly) don't care about who's using what kinda *****' - what (sometimes) bugs me though is that imo far too many people still believe into superority of analog *****', in every situation, for every application, for every type of sound design etc. - not sure whether to attribute this to ignorance or magical thinking...
Someone who currently doesn’t own any HW (signal processors) can only ‘know’ what effect they will have from reading about it. Which is a notoriously bad way to learn what something sounds like. The posts people make are full of “night and day” hyperbole. The heavens opened up! If all these pieces of gear sounded the way GS’ers talk about them, all our problems would be over.

It is perhaps a lesson each person must learn for themselves. But it can be an expensive one. If a ‘color’ bus compressor does not magically add the “life”, will they finally start looking at Front End, or will they decide they need to go out and buy more … a tube EQ and a few more color boxes?
Old 1 week ago
  #29
Lives for gear
 
engmix's Avatar
It amazes me how passionately ridiculous so many get when it comes to those who want to dip their toe into some analog kit. Some responses are even hostile in tone. This in itself is fkn hilarious that some should be so passionately hating one way or the other on this subject.

You get the common answers, maybe your production is lacking, do you know what analog gear sounds like, other successful releases were done ITB, and no one cares whether your ITB or OTB, and other famous engineers mix entirely ITB…I’m sure I’m leaving a good half dozen others out. The first one I mentioned is totally valid, and it’s always a good idea to a/b your work with other releases, which can often help give one insight as to how relevant their production is. And the other releases don’t have to be famous, they can be anything that you really admire. This aside, the other reasons as just waxing nonsense.

This whole thing is totally lost in translation. Those who work OTB to hybrid do it for various reasons. A big reason is, the decision making one makes when turning knobs versus turning images on a screen. As well as the sound that is imparted by the gear. I wager none of us who work hybrid do it because we think we’re going to be famous, have hit records, or it’s going to be a magic bullet to great mixes and success, and makes us cooler than those who work totally ITB. It’s simply a different methodology of engineering styles. We do it because we like the sound of our mixes passing through the gear.

I started in this business working on completely analog systems, thus giving me some insight as to what a real La-2a sounds like etc. I also worked completely ITB, then using outboard chains when tracking, to finally having a hybrid system that gives me the best of both worlds for tracking and mixing. Does using analog gear make me a dick or delusional, no. It simply gives me access to both methods of engineering.

I will say this, no one unit will be a game changer. Hybrid systems yield the best result when multiple units create a chain that floats your boat on a sonic level. For instance, my Mix Bus-A chain is RND 542 > SSL Bus+ > Goly Porter Grinder > Portico II Master Bus Processor. And on my Mix Bus-B chain is a set of AMS Neve 2264 diode compressors. The mix-b chain runs in parallel and mixed in to taste. Sometimes I don’t have do any gain reduction, I might find just running through the transformers to be exactly the right thing. This has taken me years to come to this particular chain, and I have had many. This one gives me a lot of color options, as well as incredible transparency and spacial enhancement.

Starting with a compressor is often where many go, but then realize that many modern day compressors are extremely transparent, and in the end not giving the analog color that one desires. There certainly are color compressors out there, but you have to demo the gear to arrive at what you might feel you’re missing. The SSL Bus+ is a bit of both worlds, somewhat clean to not. This is great bank of the buck unit because of all of the bells and whistles and tone shaping you can do with it. This is an excellent first choice if it’s all you can get, and you truly think it’s compression that is missing.

There’s another angle that many overlook, mic / line pre-amps. Consoles and gear might have a particular coloration due to the amplifiers in the circuit design. For years many of us have been running mixes through line amps. One that comes to mind are the Capi’s, but you could run through anything. This can often yield the most immediately analog flavor on a mix. The more you saturate the circuit, the more effect there is on transient information to the overall frequency curve of a mix. And some are more colorful than others.

Yes, analog is not a magic bullet to great mixes. It’s just a different way of getting to the finish line on a record.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq ➡️
Someone who currently doesn’t own any HW (signal processors) can only ‘know’ what effect they will have from reading about it. Which is a notoriously bad way to learn what something sounds like. The posts people make are full of “night and day” hyperbole. The heavens opened up! If all these pieces of gear sounded the way GS’ers talk about them, all our problems would be over.

It is perhaps a lesson each person must learn for themselves. But it can be an expensive one. If a ‘color’ bus compressor does not magically add the “life”, will they finally start looking at Front End, or will they decide they need to go out and buy more … a tube EQ and a few more color boxes?
it is the massive exaggerations about analog gear (and its alleged mystical qualities) of people who should know better that irritate me...
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