Originally Posted by Tom H
Hi Paul, looks friggin great, would you be so kind to give a quick rundown on where you typically use these modules during a mix?
For example; obsidian on mix... sh optograph on vox?
Sure Tom, I'll describe where I'm using them for the project I'm presently working on. I might as well list the regular rack gear as well since it's in the chain. Right now, I'm working on a Progressive/Heavy Rock project that I got to record from start to finish. My studio is less than a year old, and most of the projects I've worked on were pre recorded somewhere else and then brought to me. This is the first one I've had the chance to fully record from start to finish, and first one with my complete gear setup. Compared to the other stuff I've worked on, this project will sound really good and show a lot more of what I can achieve, so I'm excited. So, that said, here's my layout. I'm mostly using the modules as inserts on the busses which then go into my SH Equinox for summing. Starting with drums, I am using the Dual Vandergraph followed by the Little Devil EQ's. Getting the bigness and punch from the Vandergraph and some more color from the Devils. I really like the Devils on most sources as well. Especially guitars, but alas, I only have two and they are sitting on the drum bus for this project. I did use them on the guitars on the way in though, so they have a bit of that flavor.
For Bass, I'm using the Inward Connections VC-500's into the Buzz Audio Tonics. There is a clean bass track and distorted one so the EQ's and compressors are set up differently. The VC-500's are great on bass. They are clean but have a little something to them and can also be used on a wide variety of sources. The more I use them, the more I love them. Initially, I liked them, then thought not so much, then figured them out a bit more and since then, their functionality and tone has made them a great piece of gear for me. I also wired my API rack to use them linked and they have proven useful on drums and vocals occasionally. The Tonics are great on Bass. Very clean and the bass is really, really tight. That's exactly what I wanted for this sound. I highly recommend the Tonics, they are a really neat EQ that sounds clean and fat. The option of using the x10 switch to access the upper midrange and high end is also really cool and it allows you way more options for shaping.
For heavy guitars, I'm only using the Avedis e27's, but as I mentioned they have the Little Devil signature on them because I recorded them on the way in using them. The Avedis is a very powerful and wonderful sounding EQ with some great color. Really digging it on electric guitars.
For my clean/dirty guitars, I'm using the GR Harrison 32 EQ's into the Elysia Expressor. I really like the filters on the GR as well as the rest of the EQ. Very tweakable. As for the Expressor, it's pretty new to me so I'm still learning it. Very cool compressor though. You can really smash and pump, or keep things open and only compress a little. For the dirty guitars I using it on a ratio of 2:1, with attack and release at 25 ms, Auto fast on, and gain reduction limiter in play so as not to over compress. It's only hitting the peaks and the dynamic build up before the chorus to tame that spot a bit. The way it's set though, it sounds really open and out of way, which keeps the dirty guitar's dynamics intact yet tames them when they get unruly.
For the lead guitar, I'm using a Summit TLA-50 into the Purple Tav, into an Arsenal Audio R24. The tube comp is smoothing out the solo while the Tav is adding some richness and body, while the R24 gives a bit more EQ'ing control and lets me boost the top end and make the delay come out a bit more.
For Vocals I using a chain of the A Designs hammer into the SH Mono Optographs, into the Little Devil Comp into the Inward Connections Step EQ's. I'm using the Hammer for some top end detail, the Optos for the big smoothness. I chose to not use the DeSaturate function on the Optographs this time and they add a nice sort of color and body. But, I'm also using the Band Pass filter to just compress the mid range. The Little Devil comps are on the Germanium setting with a fast release and fast/medium attack, with the mix knob at 50% and the side chain at 60 Hz. The two compressors are working nicely together and tame the dynamics without killing the vocals. The Little Devils have a nice color to them as well. The final piece of gear in the chain is the Step EQ which I really like a lot. Pretty clean sounding, but they do that Pultec curve pretty well. They have a mojo factor to them and they do make things seem bigger, but don't add very much color IMO. I'm doing some pretty aggressive boosting and only a little cutting and it sounds smooth and big with some nice detail. I really like the Step EQ on drums as well, but for this project, the Little Devil EQ gave me more control and color to get the drums where I wanted them.
Last is my chain on the 2bus. I know that some people are hesitant or don't agree with using EQ's and comps on the mix bus, but for me it makes it sound more like a record. To each his own IMO. So, I'm going from my SH Equinox sum out into the Dramastic Audio Obsidian into an API 5500, into a Retro 2A3, into a Crane Song HEDD and back into Pro Tools. I had originally been using my Manley Vari-Mu instead of the Obsidian but I found the combo of it with the rest of the gear on the 2bus was a bit too much color and gooeyness. That Retro really has a gooey thickness to it, so I took the VariMu out and threw in the Obsidian and got more what I was looking for. It's cleaner sounding, has nice width and stereo image and gave me nice control and punch. I think I'm only compressing around 2-3 dB in spots and not much in others. I'm using the 2:1 ratio, on Auto release with a fast attack, and I'm using the side-chain at 185 Hz. By not overdoing the compression it is keeping things large sounding which makes me smile. So, there you go. That's where I'm using everything for this project. Loving what this setup is doing for me, and learning more everyday. Cheers. - paul
p.s. - you'll notice that I'm mostly putting my EQ's after the compressor except for on the clean guitars. At this time, I'm finding that I like the open sound I'm getting from EQ'ing after compression, and when and if I decide to change the EQ setting, I don't have to reset my compressor settings to accomodate changes to the signal.