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should I stop mixing in pro tools?
Old 13th January 2003
  #1
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vtone's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
should I stop mixing in pro tools?

I've got decent mics, pres, hardware compressors, eq's, distressors, fatso, hedd, etc. but I do all my mixing in pro tools using a hui. I spend so much time trying to make things sounds less 'digital' I'm wondering if I should can the hui and run my mixes out to a nice old analog console. does it make much difference in the end? because its an awfully expensive endeavor, and would take me forever rewiring my patchbay!

thanks any advice or suggestions or comments would be helpful.
Old 13th January 2003
  #2
Founder
 
Jules's Avatar
What ever gear decisions you make should take your long term financial survival into account.

Don't do anything that puts your survival at risk.

"Now we go back to the music...."
Old 13th January 2003
  #3
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e-cue's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I've got a hui as well. One of the "digital sounding" things I get is with fader automation from the hui. I usually do my moves, then smooth out the stairsteps. After all, we are talking midi resolution which I've always kinda kinked my head at.

Do you have experence spliting out to an analong console? It might not be your be all, end all. Can't you rent a day at another studio and give it a shot first? Sometimes I mix all inside pro tools in front of a 100 channel 9k, sometimes I split out to a Neve VR, sometimes I split out only certain channels, hell, I even did a mix off 24 channel analog the other week and put pro tools on the stereo bus and over drove it by about 3 db. I don't care WHAT I have to do to get the sound I'm trying to capture, but each method took a lot of getting used it.

I'd suggest you try it before investing a lot of money into something that might not work best for you.
Old 13th January 2003
  #4
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vtone's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Jules
Don't do anything that puts your survival at risk.
this is very wise advice.

I'm currently drooling over a small emi mkIII console. I would love to use it with pro tools. but it would literally mean I'd have to go back to living on toast and butter for a while!

it's a tough decision, because I've developed work arounds over the years to get things to sound the way I want them. but I feel the emi console would be a worthwhile addition and I would definitely get use out of it. but now I'm starting to wonder if it's more important to mix to nice ampex atr-102 before I start bussing my tracks out to an analog console. of course mixing on a nice analog board and mixing to tape is probably the ideal way to go (in general) but I can only afford to take one step at a time.
Old 13th January 2003
  #5
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atticus's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
There are a lot of great analog boards for not a lot of dough that would make wonderful summing mixers. I'm thinking of the little Studer mixers primarily but I've heard great things about the Speck box as well as the Dangerous 2 Buss LT. They're all worth looking into.
Old 13th January 2003
  #6
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vtone's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by e-cue
Do you have experence spliting out to an analong console? It might not be your be all, end all. Can't you rent a day at another studio and give it a shot first? Sometimes I mix all inside pro tools in front of a 100 channel 9k, sometimes I split out to a Neve VR, sometimes I split out only certain channels, hell, I even did a mix off 24 channel analog the other week and put pro tools on the stereo bus and over drove it by about 3 db. I don't care WHAT I have to do to get the sound I'm trying to capture, but each method took a lot of getting used it.
I have some experience, not much, bussing tracks out to an analog console. I have a mackie that I ressurect sometimes. but mostly it's about having the OPTION to bus to a decent analog console (that is, NOT a mackie!).
Old 13th January 2003
  #7
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by vtone
I have some experience, not much, bussing tracks out to an analog console. I have a mackie that I ressurect sometimes. but mostly it's about having the OPTION to bus to a decent analog console (that is, NOT a mackie!).
In the world of analog, a "decent" console is not cheap.

Never was. I agree with E-cue, before you put down dough on something you've never heard or tried(which I think is mind boggling by the way), get a feel to see if you can actually get what you want out of an analog board.

Mixing in analog and mixing on digital is not the same(I am sure you have noticed this).

A quick solution(which is not too expensive) is the SBM-2(16 input summing mixer) sold by Boutique Audio. It sounds huge!!!! and they will return your money if you don't like it(which I doubt).

Good Luck.
Old 13th January 2003
  #8
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adam_w's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Mate, stop worrying. Yes, the input chain matters massively - as it always has, as does all the sneaky DAW ways of simulating that which we love from the analog world. If you can afford a Neve or SSL room & your budget lets you mix in one & it works for you for a particular project, go for it..or not, as is best for you. People achieve stellar results on all sorts of things, its whatever works... There have been great records made on total **** gear and vice versa. Both analog and digital...16 bit even..LESS...akai S950 to DAT ! Its YOU that matters, so go for it..mixing in the box, out of the box...**** it !

I think the PT automation is better than most desks, overwrite, modify and tweak the HUI moves if its pissing you off.


Old 13th January 2003
  #9
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e-cue's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Just curious, why do you want to make it sound less digital? If you already have a mackie, you could also consider getting an analog machine and using both. This way you'll have your tape hiss, and everything else you miss from analog. I've always kinda dug the sound of a 16 track 2 inch for drums and bass and everything else in pro tools. Also, have you experemented with different kinds of dither? How about none at all?
Old 14th January 2003
  #10
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jeronimo's Avatar
I've tried bussing 8ch out of PT LE (001) into my Tascam 2524 ... and my mixes still suck!!
Old 14th January 2003
  #11
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Curve Dominant's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Here's my $0.02US...

A few months ago, I trained myself (rightly or otherwise) to assume that there was absolutely NOTHING inherently flawed about the PT mix bus. I then went back to my mixes and worked on them with that assumption in mind.

I started finding problems in my mixes, fixing them, and even re-cutting tracks that I realized had not been recorded optimally. My mixes gradually improved to the point where I was absolutely convinced that there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with the PT mix bus.

Just to be completely sure and satisfy my doubts, I took a CD of those mixes to Sigma Sound, and listened to them in their control room on their Genelecs, in the presence of one of their chief engineers (who has produced and engineered recordings you are all very familiar with). We both agreed the mixes sounded totally cool. The option of mixing the tracks there shifted from the advantage of sound quality, to the advantages of bringing in a live drummer in place of programmed beats, live string ensembles in place of synthesised strings, their superior DSP power for plugins, etc. But the sound quality of the PT mix bus never even came up, and they never uttered even a hint of selling me on mixing out through their SSL9000J.

Jules & Co. remember that I once started a thread here like this one, casting about for suggestions for a mixer to mix out from PT. I have since crossed that item off of my lab requisition. It simply is not necessary. What goes into PT goes out.

It seems to me that PT likes nice warm analog-sounding signal going in, such as one gets from quality mics, preamplification, compression, etc; and that PT will faithfully reproduce those sounds, right down through the mix stage. I would concentrate on that scenario.

YMMV.
Old 14th January 2003
  #12
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
As many know, I'm no great fan of the PT mix bus. IMO, it does have some issues (no offense Mr. Curve).

But having said that, I'll offer this advice. The PT mixes I've heard that sounded decent to me were running very conservative levels on the 2 bus. I mean very!

Try chilling out the gain on a channel by channel basis, then having the 2 bus peak at -10 max. Even lower may be appropriate, depending on the material. Like peaking at as low as -16 to -20. Use a clean sounding plugin on the 2 bus to make up the gain after the summing has occured.

Yes I'm aware of all of the various opinions on channel fader position staying near zero, etc. The bus headroom matters more, IMO.

Think I'm crazy? Check it out. Print a mix with "normal", near zero 2 bus levels. Now group all channel faders, trim back 12dB and add 12dB of gain on the 2 bus with a clean plugin. Print that.

Compare the two.

FWIW, this is why some people swear by the Dangerous box and others aren't so impressed. The more headroon you leave on the 2 bus, the less difference the Dangerous will make. OTOH, if you crowd the bus, analog style, the Dangerous sounds like a God send on PT.


Regards,
Brian T
Old 14th January 2003
  #13
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bassmac's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Brian is right on the money.

If things start to get to hot, just click the "ALL" group, and pull down them faders till you got about -10db breathing room...before adding any master fader plugs. And don't forget to un-check "ALL"... or you'll surly screw yourself on your next move... been there done that!

I'll bet when they're demoing the Dangerous 2-Buss again at NAMM this week, they'll be A/B'ing it with a overloaded Pro Tools mix buss.



heh
Old 14th January 2003
  #14
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adam_w's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Nice post - that's why we like G.S.... **** the mathematics - skip the flame wars ...lets rock ! (and spend way too much on cool gear)
Old 14th January 2003
  #15
Gear Head
 
🎧 15 years
There is no mystery, secret code, special way to mix in PT.

PT mix buss is seriously flawed.

It constantly amazes me that many either

A. Blindly deny this fact

B. Or choose not to hear it

C. Cant hear it. (this one fair enough)


As with many PT users I was completely sucked in by the dazzling and potential great things I was going to be able to do. Of cousre the day it arrived I was immediately searching the DUC for the next batch of 'ANALOG' warming up plugins. Its all buy, buy, buy, and then buy some more when someone is sucked in to Digi gear. The plugs didnt work so off I went and searched for hardware tube equipment. And as you know that can be a seriously expensive BIZ.

Luckily and just in the nick of time I got myself another console.

My mixes breathe like they used to. I dont give a second thought regarding latency, levels, and all the other bull that goes along with being a PT's engineer.

I say, you go get yourself a half decent console. You can pick up some early 80's neve's for around 6-9k us. You dont even need that. Some Soundcraft early consoles are pretty good and you can pick them up for 1 couple of thousand. (Not the spirit, or the ghost)

Guaranteed if you stick with the in the box method you will end up spending at least 6-9k on warming up devices over the next few years on solutions to your problem. You may even upgrade to HD?, you may already have done? That alone will cost you nearly as much as a decent second hand console.

Think about it

Why should you need to add another ton of stuff or plugs to your PT rig.

Its a massive con imo. Buying a pT's rig is simply the tip of the iceberg regarding your wallet. I have yet to meet someone that has actually purchased one and not spend 1000's on outboard, and plugins to compliment the system over time.

Thats some DAW that isnt it, a superb all in one solution
Old 14th January 2003
  #16
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Curve Dominant's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
posted by Robinhood:
I say, you go get yourself a half decent console.
Mr. Robinhood,

If you knew anything about Erik and Bomb Factory Studios, you would know that he has plenty of experience with analog consoles and gear. Erik is one of the biggest if not THE biggest Gearslut here when it comes to analog gear. Furthermore Bomb Factory has produced great recordings for some of the biggest artists in our industry.

I believe Mr. Massenburg also has some experience with analog consoles.

So when you come here and state,
Quote:
posted by Robinhood:
PT mix buss is seriously flawed.

It constantly amazes me that many either

A. Blindly deny this fact

B. Or choose not to hear it

C. Cant hear it. (this one fair enough)
,

...you are going to have to bring something to the table besides an anonymous username if you expect any of us to take you the least bit seriously. As it is, you've chosen to come here attacking the credibility and insulting the intelligence of professionals with proven track records, offering absolutely no helpful information to back it up with. Such diatribes only go further to reinforce the growing impression that people who "hear voices" in the PT mix bus are among the most unreliable sources of credible expertise in our industry.

(No offence, Mr. Brian T.)
Old 14th January 2003
  #17
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jeronimo's Avatar
I'm new in this bussiness (maybe the newest one here) and I would like to share my thoughts about mixing w/ PT or analog.
My first real job was recorded to a old black face ADAT, and mixed on a Soundcraft 6K (I guess) I had some cool outboard to use (not a lot though) and I think I got a nice result, good separation on the instruments and good punch.
Then I started my own studio, PT LE, Tascam 2524, VC6... and I started mixing all in the box...
I'm having cool results, but I can't seem to get the separation that I had on my first job... WTF... now, a few records later AND keeping the 2-buss w/ more headroom... I'm starting to like my mixes better...
Old 14th January 2003
  #18
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RKrizman's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by BrianT


FWIW, this is why some people swear by the Dangerous box and others aren't so impressed. The more headroon you leave on the 2 bus, the less difference the Dangerous will make. OTOH, if you crowd the bus, analog style, the Dangerous sounds like a God send on PT.
It's also the case that if you have a so-called crowded PT mix bus, when you break those tracks out to the D2B they'll be hitting the analog inputs harder (cuz they're louder, right?). So maybe that great sound comes from spanking the D2B. A more conservative PT mix won't do that, so there won't be that much difference.

When you start getting these analog-type differences in your mixes, I'd look to your analog elements for the explanation.

-R
Old 14th January 2003
  #19
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RKrizman's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by bassmac


I'll bet when they're demoing the Dangerous 2-Buss again at NAMM this week, they'll be A/B'ing it with a overloaded Pro Tools mix buss.
LOL. Whatever it takes.

When you go by their demo, try soloing the kick drum and notice how the D2B even makes that solo track fuller and punchier. Of course, there's no "summing" involved in a solo track.

-R
Old 15th January 2003
  #20
Gear Head
 
🎧 15 years
Mr Curve Dominant.

I know plenty about Bombfactory, Massenburg, Nika, and all the others.

Now while everyone is entiteled to their own opinion I cannot for th elife of me see why so many people could be wrong on this matter.

If the mix Buss was perfect why do so may PT's users go out on a limb to try and 'Fix' an already perfect mix buss?

Just take a look around you and you will see tons of software and hardware solutions to 'Fix'..............wel fix what?. That is the question.

There are just to many unhappy puppies using PT's.

So now we are just going to call the mix buss different.
That may be so, I will stick with my "It sounds awful" for the moment.

Some day I firmly beleive the sterile nature of PT's or any other DAW for hat matter will be 'fixed'. In the grand scheme of things we are basicaly the pioneers of digital recording (if you compare it to the timescale of analog recording"

However even at this present time I beleive there are better summing digital mixers than Pt's. Digis PT's system is the industry standard. I dont for one moment beleive that is because it is the best. Like Microsoft Digi happened to be in the right place at the right time.

PS
remember Bomguy makes plugins for Pt's. Dont you see a slight conflict of interests there?.
Old 15th January 2003
  #21
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chap's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
recent change

First of all, Jules is correct. An inexpensive solution may be the Dangerouse 2 Buss,.
Math issues aside, many of us have felt like our mixes were veiled. I've tried a number of solutions which may or may not work for you.
Good converters grouped out to the Dan. 2 Buss into a SLAM! and Massive Passive have changed my mixes drastically. Dangerous makes a 'lite' version if finances are a concern.
The benefits are huge sonically and also, you get more work space without a board.
Even with out the Manley stuff, the 2 Buss results in tighter bass and better imaging.
cheers,
JC
Old 15th January 2003
  #22
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chap's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
mix loss

Chris Muth has a paper on mix loss that is available on the web. It is an eloquent explanation on summing in the current, voltage and digital domains. Having had these guys solve my problems and seeing Chris's work at Sterling first hand, it's amazing to me that there's even a speck of controversy about what Dangerous is doing.

For those of you who have to attend Namm, check it out. These guys are about integrity and problem solving. In my own a/b tests, the D 2 Buss wins every time regardless of the prescence of a PT 2 Buss or simply stemming mixes into the 2 Buss. It will even improve 'crowded' PT Master faders.
Greg Calbi turned me on to it and he has some pretty good ears.
There's no controversy here. You either use one or you don't. If you don't, back off all your levels in PT and you'll get cleaner mixes.
Old 15th January 2003
  #23
s2n
Gear Nut
 
🎧 15 years
Know what your converters are calibrated to and observe 0.0Vu.
Hitting PT's master fader at near 0.0dBFS is the equivalent of driving an analog console's mix bus to +22dBu; you're gonna hear the transformers working overly hard at that level. It all comes down to gain staging. Proper gain staging in digital is more important then in analog. In analog, you simply pull down the master fader. In digital, the "mix sum" is performed before the master fader, so pulling the master fader down reduces the volume...not the "stress" on the summation. And, all the inserts on PT TDM's master fader are post-fader...MasterX3 and L2 won't help.
Study your plugins and avoid the ones that cause more harm then good.
And, do yourself a favour and buy a word clock generator, a high-quality ad/da converter and a pair of analog Vu meters. The Aardsync II and PSX100 did wonders for my PT TDM rig.
Old 15th January 2003
  #24
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Kris's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
I will agree that getting into protools is definately a money PIT... especially if you've been into it for more than a few years... It's just the nature of business... Digidesign ain't the only one!
Old 15th January 2003
  #25
jon
Capitol Studios Paris
 
jon's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by bombguy
Everyone from Nika to Bomb Factory to Massenburg has stated that the mix bus is mathematically correct.

REPEAT: Everyone from Nika to Bomb Factory to Massenburg has stated that the mix bus is correct.
Well, there you go. We don't have to use our ears anymore.

Wait until they come out with the new, improved, even-more correct mix bus. What in the world does "correct" mean anyway?

My position on this: Listen for yourselves, guys, and make your own decision. After all, who is responsible for the sound of the work you do?
Old 16th January 2003
  #26
Mindreader
 
BevvyB's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Night and day.

Stuff through the dangerous box as we are talking about is 'unsquashed'. Don't know how else to put it. Stuff coming straight out of PT sounds squished in comparison.

And it's so obvious to anyone that it sounds better I don't even know how anyone could say it doesnt once they've heard it.
Old 16th January 2003
  #27
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chap's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Imagine. Us using our ears? in audio?
The 2 Buss wins my ears but I'm no mathmetician.
Old 16th January 2003
  #28
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Re: mix loss

Quote:
Originally posted by chap
Chris Muth has a paper on mix loss that is available on the web. It is an eloquent explanation on summing in the current, voltage and digital domains. Having had these guys solve my problems and seeing Chris's work at Sterling first hand, it's amazing to me that there's even a speck of controversy about what Dangerous is doing.

For those of you who have to attend Namm, check it out. These guys are about integrity and problem solving. In my own a/b tests, the D 2 Buss wins every time regardless of the prescence of a PT 2 Buss or simply stemming mixes into the 2 Buss. It will even improve 'crowded' PT Master faders.
Greg Calbi turned me on to it and he has some pretty good ears.
There's no controversy here. You either use one or you don't. If you don't, back off all your levels in PT and you'll get cleaner mixes.

Chris Muth's paper has some holes in it. If you want the low down check Nika's sight.

I don't think there is a problem with the mix buss in PT, the problem is with the person using it.

I heard the same issues when SSL was making its in roads in the big studios. I worked with so many old school cats that swore that an SSL could never work for mixing(especially when compared with a Neve). Their issues were the same...the dreaded SSL mixbuss. It was too small sounding, sweet spot was too small, its not warm enough, too many chips in the channels..blah,blah,blah. And look at it now on the Billboard charts on most hit songs were mixed on what?

SSL that's what.

And what are these guys mixing on now?

SSL tha'ts what.

It took a while for mixers to figure out how to get the most out of an SSL(it took me almost 5 years and i am still learning). And this was before the internet and all of this information going around(which I feel is part of the problem, but that's another post all together).grudge

If PT as a mixing form isn't working for you, switch to something else(its much cheaper switching now, than 10-15 years ago when it was a $80,000 console).

Why bitch about it so much? The work has to get done, just be a pro and find some solutions!!!

Ok, back to our show.heh

P.S. Chap, I felt that the SBM-2 sounded much bigger than the D2B with PT.
Old 16th January 2003
  #29
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RKrizman's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by jon
Well, there you go. We don't have to use our ears anymore.

Wait until they come out with the new, improved, even-more correct mix bus. What in the world does "correct" mean anyway?

My position on this: Listen for yourselves, guys, and make your own decision. After all, who is responsible for the sound of the work you do?
I think that by "correct" they mean that the mix bus adds things accurately, and that any error is imperceivable. Of course, just because it is correct doesn't mean that it sounds good. Correctness (flatness, accuracy) may or may not be a desireable quality in any given situation, for the same reason that you might reach for Neve preamp instead of a Millenia Media in a particular instance.

But there is a legitimate question here for anybody inclined to consider it. Is the PT mix bus broken and would sound better if the math was more accurate? Or is the math fine and PT sounds flat and lifeless because it is too clinically accurate and doesn't have any analog electronics to enliven the sound?

-R
Old 16th January 2003
  #30
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vtone's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
first of all, thanks to everyone for replying. this is a very engaging forum and I've been enjoying following the dialogue.

after much thought I think the dangerous 2 buss is worth checking out. I'm new to this forum and didn't know it even existed! I can't say I totally understand the concept of it but I'm going to download the manual tonight and give it a look. also I'm going to do a search for d2b on gearslutz and check out what people are saying.

I'm not sure how to implement the dangerous2buss... I set up my mixes in pt with tdm plugs and hardware inserts and bounce to multiple mono. then I import stereo mixes into a new playlist and do my global eq-ing with the massive passive, compress mixes with cranesong stc, use the hedd as an effect, L2... all on the master fader. I bounce that to disc as a single stereo file and burn a master via masterlist cd. this is a typical way of working, right? how would the d2b LT change this process?

thanks again everyone!
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