22nd July 2004
As the workshop rolled along we were getting such amazing sounds we both were loathe to try the Liquid Channel on product, but now the workshop is over... the project is coming out so cool that Michael and I decided we should do an extra day of recording with the band.
So this morning Michael had to be at the studio at 10 because the tent for the WireWorld BBQ was being delivered [our usual start time has been 11... it's 11 now and the band isn't here yet].
So with an hour to kill and a right powerful curiousity we figured this was a good time to give the Liquid Channel a shot. We had a DI guitar track we could use for 're-amping' [which was our source material]. This particular guitar sound is seriously lush with all kinds of depth and harmonic content... we thought it would be a good test.
The first thing we recorded was Michael's usual guitar setup, a Royer R-121 to a Chandler TG-2 pre-amp. Like I said, the sound is seriously lush and full of harmonics. So we threw the 121 into the Liquid Channel on it's "Flat" setting.
Eh. It was kinda 'flat' sounding but that's what they said it was supposed to sound like... so we tried the "3124hot" setting. Now I know API's pretty well, and I know the sound of running an API 3124+ pretty hot... this wasn't it, but hey, we didn't have one sitting next to it for comparison so that's really an invalid test.
We moved on to trying the VT2 setting. I've been living with D.W. Fearn stuff for over a decade now... the one thing it doesn't do is make stuff sound smaller... however, it's emulation did. Turning the "harmonics" on was a big mistake as the tone got smaller still. OK, we didn't have a real Fearn sitting here for comparison... invalid test number two was out of the way.
Next came the "VIPRE"... we had one of those. We were just about to check the two next to each other when we thought about trying a new master clock... so we tried a new master clock. The sound with the new clock seemed a bit bigger and clearer... not enough to write home about nor enough to really convince me that it wasn't the mind playing a trick on me but I thought it sounded bigger and clearer none the less.
So now we recorded the Vipre emulation next to the Vipre. Same level. When we went to match the levels for real [you know... phase reverse one of them, move the fader to you pretty much run out of audio]... we realize that wasn't happening with the current state of affairs. We had this 3ms / 149 sample latency between the Liquid Channel and the Vipre. The latency was only 148 samples running on it's internal clock, and frankly this might actually be good for guitar players as they're often early and could stand to slow down a bit... but abso-****in-lutely un****ing acceptable in any form of a drum application. What? I'm supposed to record a drummer then wait for playback to slide the snare drum to where it's supposed to be in the kit? I don't ****ing think so... but I digress.
So we put the two VIPRE's next to each other. Recorded them both, 100% level matched so no unit had an unfair advantage. Both Michael and I were fully cognizant that we had walked into this prejudiced, both Michael and I were fully cognizant that we needed to give the Liquid Channel every possible opportunity to shine... and I'm pretty sure we did [like putting a better clock on the thing... which I'm pretty sure did help it].
So as we listened to the Liquid Channel VIPRE next to the real VIPRE we both came to the same conclusion... the Liquid Channel VIPRE was 2 dimensional in comparison, and had this kind of annoying upper midrange "gank" to the vowel of the guitar sound. The real VIPRE just sang and rang... it was large, full, and opulent sounding... the Liquid Channel was not.
Now Michael has been jokingly pissed at me for the past few days about ****ing up his vacation by bringing a bunch of toys to his studio... but this time he looked at me kind of seriously, pointed to the Liquid Channel ruffled his brow, and said "3 and a half thousand dollars for that?" then pointed to the Quartet II and said "4 and a half thousand dollars for that? ... you bastard".
I was a bit more disparaging... my reaction was "yeah, it's Liquid alright... ya know that blue shit soup at the bottom of a 'porta-john'... that's the liquid in this channel".
I'm sure this thing is going to appeal to the crap converter crowd that can't hear the difference between good and not good because of their conversion... and it will really appeal to those "POD people" who seem to crave 2 dimensional audio like a narcotic... but for anyone that is into something that sounds like music, this thing is complete shit.
The band's here, and I've devoted 90 minutes of my life to this piece of shit. Gotta go... oh, and as always... YMMV.