Login / Register
 
Finding or making resources for auditioning plug-ins and outboard compressors/EQs
New Reply
Subscribe
nathanhall
Thread Starter
#1
11th April 2007
Old 11th April 2007
  #1
Gear interested
 
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 22

Thread Starter
nathanhall is offline
Finding or making resources for auditioning plug-ins and outboard compressors/EQs

Warning – this is really long, but it is the culmination of months of looking for something on the Internet which is apparently not there, despite the raging debates on the subjects which are commonplace.
<o:p> </o:p>
In about a year, my wife is graduating from school, and I am going to do some serious damage to my credit via some major gear acquisitions.



Despite my willingness to spend, my pockets are not infinitely deep, so I’m looking to make the smartest purchases I can, and use this next year to research more into some of the outboard/plug-ing debates around here that will be influencing my purchasing decisions.
<o:p> </o:p>
One frustrating thing I’ve noticed is the lack of sound samples to back up assumptions of outboard gear vs. plug-ins. I’m planning on traveling up to the Boston area to do my own gear testing in person, and also to rent some gear, however I’d also prefer the efficiency of being able to quickly compare a sample of one compressor to another in my own studio in a blind manner, in a similar fashion to what can be done using Lynn Fuston’s 3d mix CDs. I thought this post was great:
<o:p> </o:p>
Waves SSL vs SSL FX G384 vs URS 1980 - The advanced Test
<o:p> </o:p>
Interestingly enough my wife was able to easily pick out the hardware G384 sample and had a strong preference for its sound, even though she had no idea of or really didn't care what the test was, that hardware vs. software was being compared, or where the sound samples came from. My testing methodology was very imperfect - I knew the point of the test I was conducting, and she saw me as I clicked on the different wav files I saved to my desktop.

<o:p> </o:p>
I would ideally like to find more comparisons similar to the above thread between software EQs and comps and hardware EQs and comps. I understand that some people don’t believe in the value of these comparisons, or in the validity of single or double-blind testing, but I’m not buying equipment for them, and this type of comparison would give me more confidence in my future buying decisions. My impression of some of the best software EQs and comps out there are as follows:
<o:p> </o:p>
UAD – Neve series (EQ and comp), Pultec, Precision <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">EQ</st1:city>, <st1:state w:st="on">LA</st1:state></st1:place>-2A, 1176, Fairchild 670
<o:p> </o:p>
Eliosound – AirEQ
<o:p> </o:p>
Sony – <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Oxford</st1:place></st1:city> EQ
<o:p> </o:p>
Waves – SSL EQ, SSL Comps, Linear EQ
<o:p> </o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
Some of the hardware I’m interested in looking at includes (but is not limited to):
<o:p> </o:p>
Purple MC77
<o:p> </o:p>
Portico stuff
<o:p> </o:p>
SSL G384 (older model)
<o:p> </o:p>
Alan Smart C1/C2
<o:p> </o:p>
All API EQs and comps
<o:p> </o:p>
Great River EQ
<o:p> </o:p>
Buzz Audio Essence
<o:p> </o:p>
SSL X-logic rack range (EQs and comps)
<o:p> </o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
I have searched this here Interweb far and wide to find good comparison samples for auditioning in my own studio, and have come up largely empty. So my question is twofold:
<o:p> </o:p>
<!--[if !supportLists]-->1)<!--[endif]-->Is there some secret repository for plug-in vs. outboard comparison samples?
<!--[if !supportLists]-->2)<!--[endif]-->If not, would anyone like to participate in creating one with me?
<o:p> </o:p>
I would like to have two methodologies, although I am more than flexible on how this could be carried out. I’d like to make comparisons for the purpose of:
<o:p> </o:p>
<!--[if !supportLists]-->1)<!--[endif]-->Determining which sound I prefer
<!--[if !supportLists]-->2)<!--[endif]-->Determining which plug-in sounds most like the original unit it is trying to model
<o:p> </o:p>
Within these comparisons, I would like to compare the sound of one plug-in to a hardware model on a single track, and also with the way that track sits in a mix. For example, I’d love to hear UA’s LA-2A and Neve 1073 plug-in emulations compared to the real thing on a single track, and also in the context of a full mix, ideally where multiple hardware units are used (say 16 mixdown stems each with treatment from a hardware unit, and an identical mix with treatment from the plug-ins only, both using identical summing (ITB or an external summing unit), and with quality A/D 24-bit/96kHz conversion (Lavry/Mytek/Prism/Weiss/maybe Apogee AD series w/o soft-limit), and without trying to replicate any effect that additional A/D and D/A conversions might impart on the sound by going OTB as opposed to using a plug-in).
<o:p> </o:p>
Here’s the best part. Assuming these types of comparisons don’t exist on the Internet, I can offer only two things:
<o:p> </o:p>
<!--[if !supportLists]-->1)<!--[endif]-->The desire to see these tests performed
<!--[if !supportLists]-->2)<!--[endif]-->Testing via the plug-ins
<o:p> </o:p>
I would like to make the samples available for public download, and controlled, anonymous test results available for public viewing, so that ideally an individual could perform these comparisons in an enforced double-blind environment, upload their results anonymously, and then be allowed to see their specific results and the general, summarized anonymous results of the total group. My desire is to avoid as much as possible tainting the results by two factors:
<o:p> </o:p>
<!--[if !supportLists]-->1)<!--[endif]-->The natural bias that hardware owners and sellers have that their hardware sounds better than plug-ins because they are significantly invested in their decision, and perhaps because their initial experience with older plug-ins formed an opinion and assumption in their mind which is difficult to overcome despite tech improvements


<!--[if !supportLists]-->2)<!--[endif]-->The natural bias that software-only owners and sellers have that their plug-ins sound just as good because they are significantly invested in their decision, and perhaps because they are unable or unwilling to invest in a necessary amount and quality of outboard hardware, or simply have not had significant experience listening to outboard hardware
<o:p> </o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
I, for one, have flip-flopped back and forth on this subject based upon my limited experience with quality hardware. I’ve heard some really good sounding plug-ins that made me think I’d never need hardware, and some really good sounding hardware that made me think what the hell am I doing with all of these tacky plug-ins. I’m sick of the absolute statements made expressing strong opinions without evidence or really anything quantifiable, and I’m interested to see how others opinions really hold up in the face of what I would consider to be a testing methodology that, while not unassailable, is good enough for me. I would find it especially interesting if most people were unable to tell the difference or prefer the outboard a statistically significant amount of the time, while a smaller group of people were able to identify and consistently prefer the outboard hardware, as this would be in line with my suspicions. Most of all, I’m interested in doing the test to determine what my preferences are in an environment with the least amount of assumptions and outside influence.
<o:p> </o:p>
Here’s my final assumption: Some of you have read this far, and are interested in the same type of thing I’m interested in. How do we get started?
<o:p> </o:p>
-Nathan
#2
11th April 2007
Old 11th April 2007
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Joined: Dec 2004
Location: In a house
Posts: 1,378

CorkyTart is offline
In my opinion, you are heading down the road of making a huge mistake. By your own admission, you are ready and willing to destroy your credit to buy gear that you are unfamiliar with. I have seen people do this before and they are haunted by the decesion 10 years after the fact. Great gear does not equall success in this indusrty. I'd start small and build up to the expensive items...
nathanhall
Thread Starter
#3
11th April 2007
Old 11th April 2007
  #3
Gear interested
 
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 22

Thread Starter
nathanhall is offline
I'm being a little melodramatic and making what's apparently a very poor attempt at humor - my wife's graduating from law school, so everything should be fine in that department.

I'm not willing to buy gear I'm unfamiliar with - that's why I want to do plenty of auditioning, plenty of renting, and really that's one of the main points behind my entire original post. I want to invest in something I personally feel confident is making a positive impact on the sound of my mixes.
#4
11th April 2007
Old 11th April 2007
  #4
Gear Guru
 
Ethan Winer's Avatar
 
Joined: Oct 2002
Location: New Milford, CT, USA
Posts: 13,661

Ethan Winer is offline
Nathan,

Quote:
Originally Posted by nathanhall View Post
In about a year, my wife is graduating from school, and I am going to do some serious damage to my credit via some major gear acquisitions.
I agree with Corky - start small and build up to the expensive items. You don't even need expensive items to have a truly great setup.

It's not about the gear or the plug-ins. It really isn't. What really matters is good musicianship, recording in a room that doesn't add a bad sound to everything, and having good speakers in a good sounding mix room so you can hear what you're doing. Everything else is way down the list of what matters.

--Ethan
__________________
Ethan's Audio Expert book
nathanhall
Thread Starter
#5
11th April 2007
Old 11th April 2007
  #5
Gear interested
 
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 22

Thread Starter
nathanhall is offline
I agree on these priorities. I believe myself to be a pretty good musician and daily practice and surrounding myself with the sound and influence of other good musicians is by far the best way to improve my own sound.

In addition, most likely the largest part of my budget is going to room design and treatment which will undoubtedly include a decent amount of your real traps as a component (slightly off topic - I just heard your portable vocal booth samples on the PSN podcast - great stuff , especially the comparison with the untreated samples and the SE reflection filter samples - that's exactly the type of comparison format I'm looking for in terms of evaluating outboard hardware in my original post).

However, I've been doing home recording (and a short stint of NYC studio apprenticing) off and on for the past 15 years, and I'm looking to take my setup to the next level.

I'm trying to avoid the long and error-prone road I took to get to my mic pre setup that I'm finally happy with. I've moved from Fostex to Mackie to Allen&Heath to ART to Presonus to dbx to finally my current selection of pres (Great River, Grace, and D.W. Fearn). Some of those intermediary steps were not steps forward, and it is only the final stage of my mic pre acquisitions which followed a method I considered to be well-researched and well-founded. After reading other's opinions, listening to pre comparison samples, and finally borrowing or renting a selection of high-end pres and doing single-blind comparisons, I purchased my choices with confidence. I would say they have made a significant difference on my recordings, although agreeably not nearly as much of a difference as the improvement in my voice and guitar/violin playing over the years, or the improvement in my mixing skills over the years.

I am open to other methodologies for evaluating future purchases for my studio, but I am committed to improving certain components of my studio if I feel and can demonstrate there is considerable room for improvement.
#6
11th April 2007
Old 11th April 2007
  #6
Pragmatic Snob
 
u b k's Avatar
 
Joined: Oct 2004
Location: The Land of Sunshine
Posts: 12,297

u b k is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by nathanhall View Post
...my wife's graduating from law school, so everything should be fine in that department.

that's the funniest thing i've read here in a while!


gregoire
del
ubk
.
__________________


Kush Audio: Where High End Keeps Getting Higher

.........

Kush Audio: Where High End Keeps Getting Higher
____________________
#7
11th April 2007
Old 11th April 2007
  #7
Gear nut
 
Riddler's Avatar
 
Joined: May 2006
Location: Birmingham, UK
Posts: 137

Riddler is offline
Quote:
In about a year, my wife is graduating from school, and I am going to do some serious damage to my credit via some major gear acquisitions.
Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
that's the funniest thing i've read here in a while!


gregoire
del
ubk
.


If this woman has agreed to this ploy, not only is she the greatest, but also now you'll find a gang of gearslutz coming to steal her from you!!!

Tim.
nathanhall
Thread Starter
#8
11th April 2007
Old 11th April 2007
  #8
Gear interested
 
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 22

Thread Starter
nathanhall is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by Riddler View Post


If this woman has agreed to this ploy, not only is she the greatest, but also now you'll find a gang of gearslutz coming to steal her from you!!!

Tim.
She pretty much is the greatest. Beautiful, intelligent, and willing to fund my hopeless excesses.

Remind me to stay relatively anonymous on this forum...
#9
12th April 2007
Old 12th April 2007
  #9
Gear Guru
 
Ethan Winer's Avatar
 
Joined: Oct 2002
Location: New Milford, CT, USA
Posts: 13,661

Ethan Winer is offline
Nathan,

Quote:
I just heard your portable vocal booth samples on the PSN podcast - great stuff , especially the comparison with the untreated samples and the SE reflection filter samples - that's exactly the type of comparison format I'm looking for in terms of evaluating outboard hardware in my original post).
It's interesting you said this because I got a lot of heat from what I assume are SE customers when we first posted that comparison on our site. In fact, they raised such a stink here at Gearslutz that I took it down and replaced the video with one that doesn't mention SE's RF at all. I'm now having second thoughts, and am considering reinstating our original comparison. There was not only the video, but also measurement graphs showing the improved blocking and reduced coloration of our PVB compared to the RF.

As a consumerist myself, I want to see such comparisons - as long as they're fair and accurate, of course. Which ours was. It sounds like consumers like you want that too, yes?

--Ethan
New Reply Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook  Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter  Submit Thread to LinkedIn LinkedIn  Submit Thread to Google+ Google+ 
 
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
basement / High end
45
TCW / Music Computers
10
max cooper / Music Computers
13

Forum Jump

SEO by vBSEO ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.