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SSL 9000J Mixing tips or better yet Outboard mixing tips in general
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AnAverageJoe
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24th June 2009
Old 24th June 2009
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SSL 9000J Mixing tips or better yet Outboard mixing tips in general

Hello my fellow GS brothers and Sisters,


I am in a dilemma or a crisis. Next week I have the opportunity to mix on an SSL 9000J with a bunch of outboard and a HD4 system. I'm happy I got chosen to mix, but there is only one problem. I've NEVER mixed on an Analog console before except when I'm the FOH engineer at different venues around my area. Even with that in the past few years I've been mixing more on M7CLs and PM5Ds seems like everyone is getting rid of their midas and soundcraft console, but anyway. My personal Rig is just a 002 with PTLE 8 and a few outboard peices I use on almost every mix and my clients like my mixes on that, Anyway... Do you guys have any tips that would help me with mixing on an SSL or mixing OTB in general? I really appreciate the help.



- Thanks again guys and girls,

Joe
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24th June 2009
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Use your ears...and 4h00 later your client will conclude if you are a fine SOUND engineer and not a fine PLUG-IN engineer (ah ha ah)

Have fun !
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24th June 2009
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hope you have a good assistant who knows the room
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It can be a little intimidating at first, but just make sure you have a good assistant that knows the board (as stated before), because the routing can be a little confusing at first on the big boards. Keep it really simple. Just the EQ and dynamics on the board (plus any reverbs or delays) is all you really need to mix a great sounding record. You might actually be surprised how quickly you can make it sound really good sitting in front of an SSL 9k.

From what I have read, Andy Wallace mixes are mostly just the console with only a couple outboard things.

Also keep in mind that with the exception of instant recall any techniques you used mixing on your 002, can still be used on the PT/SSL set up. So if you have favorite plug ins, they still work on the bigger hybrid set up.

Most of all have fun.
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24th June 2009
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Stem your tracks from PT 1:1, so it resembles a tape machine, sort of. Now you have access to BOTH console and PT as a processing tool. Spread your tracks out on the desk in order of the musical instrumentation, and needs for outboard processing, taking into consideration any desk EQ/Comp/AUX buss for parallel stuff.

I patch from DA converters to equipment, then into the channel inputs of the desk. Balance the Audio, however you think it should sound. Using a console is much more fun than using a computer to mix. Things come together way faster, and the creative side comes out more, when your not dealing with a lot of technical BS. As RoundBadge suggests, make sure there is an assistant, who knows the room, the signal flow of the HD/Console rig, and can be your patch monkey for the session.

Most important, make it sound good, by using your ears, and going with your instinct. There's probably something to be said for just "doing what the song requires" rather than learning what a 9000J and unfamiliar processors are really capable of, during your first time using the stuff. Do not spend your time, experimenting. You will fall into a bottomless pit of time wasted. That is, unless you know what you are doing.
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25th June 2009
Old 25th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Le Lab View Post
Use your ears...and 4h00 later your client will conclude if you are a fine SOUND engineer and not a fine PLUG-IN engineer (ah ha ah)


Have fun !
LOL Hey I've used outboard before lol...

Quote:
Originally Posted by RoundBadge View Post
hope you have a good assistant who knows the room
I didn't think of that! I'll keep that in mind thanks a lot!

Quote:
Originally Posted by rcm View Post
It can be a little intimidating at first, but just make sure you have a good assistant that knows the board (as stated before), because the routing can be a little confusing at first on the big boards. Keep it really simple. Just the EQ and dynamics on the board (plus any reverbs or delays) is all you really need to mix a great sounding record. You might actually be surprised how quickly you can make it sound really good sitting in front of an SSL 9k.

From what I have read, Andy Wallace mixes are mostly just the console with only a couple outboard things.

Also keep in mind that with the exception of instant recall any techniques you used mixing on your 002, can still be used on the PT/SSL set up. So if you have favorite plug ins, they still work on the bigger hybrid set up.

Most of all have fun.
Tell me about it! I was happy as heck and scared at the same time. Thanks RCM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roc Mixwell View Post
Stem your tracks from PT 1:1, so it resembles a tape machine, sort of. Now you have access to BOTH console and PT as a processing tool. Spread your tracks out on the desk in order of the musical instrumentation, and needs for outboard processing, taking into consideration any desk EQ/Comp/AUX buss for parallel stuff.

I patch from DA converters to equipment, then into the channel inputs of the desk. Balance the Audio, however you think it should sound. Using a console is much more fun than using a computer to mix. Things come together way faster, and the creative side comes out more, when your not dealing with a lot of technical BS. As RoundBadge suggests, make sure there is an assistant, who knows the room, the signal flow of the HD/Console rig, and can be your patch monkey for the session.

Most important, make it sound good, by using your ears, and going with your instinct. There's probably something to be said for just "doing what the song requires" rather than learning what a 9000J and unfamiliar processors are really capable of, during your first time using the stuff. Do not spend your time, experimenting. You will fall into a bottomless pit of time wasted. That is, unless you know what you are doing.
Wow! I just read this post 5 times so it sinks in Thanks Adam
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25th June 2009
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Any other advice or things I should know before going in? I must say that I have heard the singer's songs before and I always felt her vocals could be eq'd differently not sure how, but when I get to it I'll know!
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25th June 2009
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as a freelance guy, i was pretty spooked on my first gig tracking and mixing on an analog console, so it's natural. the first studio i used,had an A+ assistant who was more than qualified and able to mix himself. I ended fully utilizing him and empowering him to help. i basically ended up producing a bit more than actual engineering to save my client time from me holding up the show,but the outcome was exactly as I had hoped for. a great assistant is an often overlooked asset.
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25th June 2009
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Besides what was said above... check which speakers they have in that room. Bring your own speakers if you don't like the ones they have or you don't know them well... take some old mixes of yours with you, so you know how they relate in that room. Good luck!
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25th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnAverageJoe View Post
Any other advice or things I should know before going in? I must say that I have heard the singer's songs before and I always felt her vocals could be eq'd differently not sure how, but when I get to it I'll know!
MOST IMPORTANTLY>>>>> Bring some reference material to get accustomed to the monitoring. This is the single most important part.. getting used to the room and monitor system.

Secondly..... You should make it as simple as possible for yourself... Stem ONLY the major things out to the console. No need to have a million things coming out of the DAW to the console to keep track of.... this would only make sense if this is how you normally work. Otherwise you are just creating more things to keep track of that you aren't comfortable with.

Utilize the automation in Pro Tools, so you aren't learning a new system as you are trying to mix. Work the same way you do on your 002 setup... don't try to re-invent the wheel on your first foray into an SSL room. Don't feel like you have to use everything that is at your disposal.

Otherwise... Enjoy yourself.
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25th June 2009
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A few more tips:


1. Organize your PT outputs to the console inputs so that you can stay in the mix position most of the time (in the middle of the console at the center section most likely). Use the extremities of the console for less important tracks. The kick drum does not necessarily have to come into channel 1 (which is probably WAY over to the left). While I always keep instruments grouped together when I mix ITB, I frequently break them up just a little bit on the console for better ergonomics.


2. Use the 8 VCA master faders at the center of the console. They are most definitely useful.


3. Plan your mix similar to how you are comfortable mixing normally. Setup likely FX processors on appropriate Aux sends before you start so they are accessible instantly when you are mixing. Also consider multing the output of the Lead Vocal channel to some extra channels on the extremes of the board to automate verb and delay spills if you think you'll need them.


4. Consider returning your FX into board channels rather than AUX returns. You can use the channel EQs to good effect on the returns as well as defeat noise and mess with level by using the channel automation.


5. Use Protools to submix certain things. Just because you have 64 tracks of audio does not mean you need to return each of them to their own fader on the console. I frequently submix BGvox to 1 or 2 stereo outputs from PT. Keep your amount of channels used on the board reasonable and manageable.


6. Keep a close eye on your channel meters. If you are running with hot tracks out of PT, you're going to have some headroom issues on the console. Gain structure is key especially since the SSL9000s don't like to be pushed.


7. Just because every channel has EQ and dynamics does not mean that they all need to be used. Same goes with the Quad compressor. As always, use your ears.


8. Have fun!



Best of luck!
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25th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audio Hombre View Post
as a freelance guy, i was pretty spooked on my first gig tracking and mixing on an analog console, so it's natural. the first studio i used,had an A+ assistant who was more than qualified and able to mix himself. I ended fully utilizing him and empowering him to help. i basically ended up producing a bit more than actual engineering to save my client time from me holding up the show,but the outcome was exactly as I had hoped for. a great assistant is an often overlooked asset.
Well I won't be on the clock , but I will definitely find out who is the best assistant is. I have pretty good idea who it is too!

Quote:
Originally Posted by G-Spot View Post
Besides what was said above... check which speakers they have in that room. Bring your own speakers if you don't like the ones they have or you don't know them well... take some old mixes of yours with you, so you know how they relate in that room. Good luck!
Well they have custom Augsburger Mains, 1031As and a pair of NS10s. But I'll be using my 2020s! Also I've been in the B Room getting familiar with how the E Series SSL works so I'll have a good idea of whats on the 9k. If the A room was not booked so much I would be in there studying! Thanks for the advice
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27th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyBelmont View Post
MOST IMPORTANTLY>>>>> Bring some reference material to get accustomed to the monitoring. This is the single most important part.. getting used to the room and monitor system.

Secondly..... You should make it as simple as possible for yourself... Stem ONLY the major things out to the console. No need to have a million things coming out of the DAW to the console to keep track of.... this would only make sense if this is how you normally work. Otherwise you are just creating more things to keep track of that you aren't comfortable with.

Utilize the automation in Pro Tools, so you aren't learning a new system as you are trying to mix. Work the same way you do on your 002 setup... don't try to re-invent the wheel on your first foray into an SSL room. Don't feel like you have to use everything that is at your disposal.

Otherwise... Enjoy yourself.
Wow I didn't see these posts. I was just going back and revieewing the tips and I ended up seeing these new posts. I'm going to try to get in there all this week to get used to the room and things. As for monitoring, I'm going to bring my own pair since I know them. Good tip on not sending everything out to the console, cause that's EXACTLY what I was planning on. It's in 80input 9000J so I really will keep my track count down. One question though, When mixing on my 002 I keep my peaks really low about -14db on an average, but lately I've been mixing with my peaks at -10db. My question is should I approach the SSL with the same gain sructure or not? Thanks Tony or anyone who answers!

Quote:
Originally Posted by nlc201 View Post
A few more tips:


1. Organize your PT outputs to the console inputs so that you can stay in the mix position most of the time (in the middle of the console at the center section most likely). Use the extremities of the console for less important tracks. The kick drum does not necessarily have to come into channel 1 (which is probably WAY over to the left). While I always keep instruments grouped together when I mix ITB, I frequently break them up just a little bit on the console for better ergonomics.


2. Use the 8 VCA master faders at the center of the console. They are most definitely useful.


3. Plan your mix similar to how you are comfortable mixing normally. Setup likely FX processors on appropriate Aux sends before you start so they are accessible instantly when you are mixing. Also consider multing the output of the Lead Vocal channel to some extra channels on the extremes of the board to automate verb and delay spills if you think you'll need them.


4. Consider returning your FX into board channels rather than AUX returns. You can use the channel EQs to good effect on the returns as well as defeat noise and mess with level by using the channel automation.


5. Use Protools to submix certain things. Just because you have 64 tracks of audio does not mean you need to return each of them to their own fader on the console. I frequently submix BGvox to 1 or 2 stereo outputs from PT. Keep your amount of channels used on the board reasonable and manageable.


6. Keep a close eye on your channel meters. If you are running with hot tracks out of PT, you're going to have some headroom issues on the console. Gain structure is key especially since the SSL9000s don't like to be pushed.


7. Just because every channel has EQ and dynamics does not mean that they all need to be used. Same goes with the Quad compressor. As always, use your ears.


8. Have fun!



Best of luck!
nlc201,

Thanks for the tips! How hot should I run each fader out of PT or does it matter much?


Thanks!
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27th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnAverageJoe View Post
One question though, When mixing on my 002 I keep my peaks really low about -14db on an average, but lately I've been mixing with my peaks at -10db. My question is should I approach the SSL with the same gain sructure or not?
I don't think so: the SSL is an analogue board. I think -6 dB is ok to start with. Just listen and you'll find out.
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27th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnAverageJoe View Post
One question though, When mixing on my 002 I keep my peaks really low about -14db on an average, but lately I've been mixing with my peaks at -10db. My question is should I approach the SSL with the same gain sructure or not?
The way most pro rooms are set up, its probably fair to think about 0db in analog world being roughly -18dB in the digital world.

Unlike digital, analog consoles are very forgiving if you push your levels too hot, but as a guide line get things sitting around zero and then trust your ears if you want to push things further..
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcm View Post
The way most pro rooms are set up, its probably fair to think about 0db in analog world being roughly -18dB in the digital world.
Forgot to mention that.

But eh, what do you actually mean by "When mixing on my 002 I keep my peaks really low about -14db on an average, but lately I've been mixing with my peaks at -10db."? Do you refer to the level of the channels (what I thought you meant) or the mixbus?
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28th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcm View Post
The way most pro rooms are set up, its probably fair to think about 0db in analog world being roughly -18dB in the digital world.

Unlike digital, analog consoles are very forgiving if you push your levels too hot, but as a guide line get things sitting around zero and then trust your ears if you want to push things further..
Thanks! I too have noticed the same thing when I mix FOH on an analogue console. +0 doesn't hurt. I just wanted to know if you guys ran the SSL hot or tried to keep the mix buss at a certain level. Thanks again!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joram View Post
Forgot to mention that.

But eh, what do you actually mean by "When mixing on my 002 I keep my peaks really low about -14db on an average, but lately I've been mixing with my peaks at -10db."? Do you refer to the level of the channels (what I thought you meant) or the mixbus?

I meant my mix buss
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28th June 2009
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In terms of level, if you're running fairly conservatively out of PT, you should be fine. Line trims can be useful to boost or attenuate if the faders are too far off unity for your tastes. Just watch your meters. The stereo VUs will give you a great indication of where you are globally. If you're having to pull the master fader back a lot to get the VUs to nominal level, you're probably running too hot and are gonna face headroom problems. An SSL9000 is not a console you really want to overdrive (unlike it's 4000 brethren). There is a sweet spot but I'd err on the side of being slightly conservative. Having extra headroom is rarely a bad thing.
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And if your assistant isnt that good: Bring reference cd's to get used to the room, watch the meters on the SSl while you go, use PT automation and you'll be fine. Its really an easy console to work on.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nlc201 View Post
In terms of level, if you're running fairly conservatively out of PT, you should be fine. Line trims can be useful to boost or attenuate if the faders are too far off unity for your tastes. Just watch your meters. The stereo VUs will give you a great indication of where you are globally. If you're having to pull the master fader back a lot to get the VUs to nominal level, you're probably running too hot and are gonna face headroom problems. An SSL9000 is not a console you really want to overdrive (unlike it's 4000 brethren). There is a sweet spot but I'd err on the side of being slightly conservative. Having extra headroom is rarely a bad thing.
Ok Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Svens View Post
And if your assistant isnt that good: Bring reference cd's to get used to the room, watch the meters on the SSl while you go, use PT automation and you'll be fine. Its really an easy console to work on.
Thanks for the help!
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11th July 2009
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I'd like to know how the experience went!!
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11th July 2009
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I'd like to know how the experience went!!
Hey there Cookie, Unfortunately I haven't mixed on the console yet. The A room of the studio has been getting booked so I'm not sure yet when things will slow down in the A Room. The B room is slow, but it has an SSL E Series. The C Room is getting booked to and it has an AWS console. I'll keep you guys posted!
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11th July 2009
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Hey there Cookie, Unfortunately I haven't mixed on the console yet. The A room of the studio has been getting booked so I'm not sure yet when things will slow down in the A Room. The B room is slow, but it has an SSL E Series. The C Room is getting booked to and it has an AWS console. I'll keep you guys posted!
Dude rock the B room with the E Series! It will be cheaper, you won't have to wait for time, and that board has more vibe in my opinion.
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11th July 2009
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Dude rock the B room with the E Series! It will be cheaper, you won't have to wait for time, and that board has more vibe in my opinion.

You think so? I know CLA prefers the G and E series over an other SSLs, but I'm not mixing rock! I'll mainly be mixing ballad and up beat R&B music.
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11th July 2009
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Look forward to hearing how your experience goes!

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11th July 2009
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I just wanted to know if you guys ran the SSL hot or tried to keep the mix buss at a certain level. Thanks again!
No. Don't try to run "hot". Most likely, if the studio is calibrated correctly, you won't be inclined to run "hot" anyway cuz it'll start to hurt your ears! :-)

You might be surprised how low the signal level is in PT to get 0 VU on any analog device.

In the end use your ears and check the VU meters to confirm what you are hearing.

And another thing I suggest if you haven't already... download the manual from SSL's website and read it a few times. That in conjunction with playing with an E series should hopefully get you into the swing of things.
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11th July 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nlc201 View Post
In terms of level, if you're running fairly conservatively out of PT, you should be fine. Line trims can be useful to boost or attenuate if the faders are too far off unity for your tastes. Just watch your meters. The stereo VUs will give you a great indication of where you are globally. If you're having to pull the master fader back a lot to get the VUs to nominal level, you're probably running too hot and are gonna face headroom problems. An SSL9000 is not a console you really want to overdrive (unlike it's 4000 brethren). There is a sweet spot but I'd err on the side of being slightly conservative. Having extra headroom is rarely a bad thing.
This is good advice. Having spent a lot of time on a 9K, it definitely has a sweet spot where it's at its best. But like he says, you don't want to overdrive it like you can with the 4K (what I work on now). The trick is hitting it hard enough, but not hard enough that it snats (which is what it does when you overdrive it too hard). Like someone else said, assign things to the 8 VCA groups and use those to adjust balances in a more "global" way. You do not want to be making adjustments with the master fader. That thing should always be all the way up.

In my opinion the 9K is the best desk out there for mixing R&B, so if that's what you're mixing then it's well-suited for the task. With the 9K channel strips you have the option of using the "E" series or "G" series EQ. I find the "E" to be MUCH more useful on drums.

Also, the routing on that desk is absolutely unparalleled (pun intended). The A, B, C and D stereo busses make it very easy to incorporate parallel compression. Send your drums up to the routing matrix, assign to one of the extra stereo busses, patch the output of that buss into a pair of distressors or whatever and then into a pair of channels on the desk. Done. Want extra parallel compression from a different comp on the kick, snare and rooms? Just assign to another one of the stereo busses and repeat.

Have fun and whatever you do...DO NOT lose that little pen. You will not be able to operate the computer without it!
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12th July 2009
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Thanks guys! I think someone did lose that pen lol not sure, but last time I was there, it(the pen) was not lol. I'm not going to get in to the computer of the SSL just yet, but I'll be studying the manuals, I already have them with me.
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11th September 2009
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Ok Guys! Just got up from a long night. Anyway, I got the call to go mix last night and I ended up mixing in the B room on an SSL SL4000E Series around 1am this morning. I'm just about to go to another studio to do some tracking work for a local artist so I'll post up pics of where I mixed and tell you about my experience! Thanks again to everyone who helped me!!!
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#30
15th September 2009
Old 15th September 2009
  #30
Lives for gear
 
Joined: Jan 2007
Location: Florida, New Jersey
Posts: 882

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Ok guys! Sorry I haven't gotten back to you guys sooner! Been a crazy weekend. Anyway, I had fun mixing on the E Series. That board sound really good, although I didn't really find the compressor really useful on the Lead Vocal, but a may be that song. I love the EQ on that console. Anyone ever compare the 9k EQ with the E or G Series EQ? While I was mixing, the artist came to the room and loved how the mix was turning out and they loved it even more when it was finished, with a few adjustments of course. I'll be going back there tonight to discuss getting some more work done over there. I ended up not getting an assistant, because he was tracking the A Room, but I figured most of the room's routing. The other day the A room was free, but I decided to stay in B so I can learn that board and move to the next.(The A Room is really cool and it's designed by Bob Hodas) I posted a picture of the B Room, so you guys can see where I was.
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SSL 9000J Mixing tips or better yet Outboard mixing tips in general-b-room.jpg  
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