So, let's settle it!
No, not really. This test is by no means scientific. Though I found the results interesting.
So recently I've been buying a bunch of cheap vintage gear off eBay - and by cheap I mean now under $200. I guess most of these units would have been 'mid-end' gear when it came out, which was a long time ago. I was curious as to what would happen if I tried doing a direct comparison to what could be considered 'high-end' in the plugin world.
For the test, I decided to use vocals because, really, what is more detailed? I also tried to find a vocal that had a huge dynamic range (due to the person on the mic being an idiot and not keeping a consistent distance) so you can really hear the compression differences from different states (being on axis with the mic with a nice high end shine, or off axis with a more dull sound).
Then I ran it though the hardware, and then tried to match it as closely as possible in software - obviously the compressors being totally different, there's only so far they can match.
I included the raw recording just for reference.
Signal chain for the raw recording was:
U87AI -> Great River ME-2NV -> (maybe) modded Urei 535 EQ -> Burl B2
(yes I know some parts were clipping slightly, but those units clips nice
Hardware recording was:
FF400 output -> ??? compressor -> ??? multi-efx unit -> Burl B2
??? modeled compressor -> ??? delay -> ??? reverb
I'm putting ??? for now, because I have read threads in the past where people know the sound of a certain plugin so well, if I put the name they would probably be able to identify it
On top of the question, which do you think is the hardware - which do you think sound better?