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Why Does't Pro Tools have Console Emulation -baked in??
Old 5th January 2020
  #1
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Why Does't Pro Tools have Console Emulation -baked in??

Just a thought.. It's the year of our Lord 2020, and this question has been rolling inside of my head for the last 4 years or so. maybe longer.

But, Why hasn't Avid ( Digidesign) baked-in ( coded) console emulations into its Mixer?

Today, we all kinds of software plugins that attempt "the console" 3rd order harmonic distortion to add the ( mojo ) to a mix. However, very few DAW manufacturers have delved into the realm of actually coding ( at the core level) Console emulations. I think Presonus Studio One( Soft Tube) and Harrison ( Mix Bus) come to mind. My "old" trusty Ensoniq PARIS Also had console emulation baked in.

But, what hasn't Pro Tools? I'll admit to anyone that I'm still not comfortable mixing in the box with Pro Tools. As I've never understood it's handling of Gain structure. Or lack thereof.

I think that should be the next mountain to climb tech that Avid should add ( Console Emulation) to application know as Pro Tools.

What are your thoughts on this? Thanks..

Last edited by jjdpro; 5th January 2020 at 02:56 AM.. Reason: Miss spelled doesn't in the title.. :)
Old 5th January 2020
  #2
Gear Guru
 

It's probably trickier and more costly than you think.

Firstly Avid has to compete with all other DAWs out there. Even though Harrison's DAW has this emulation baked in it's a tiny fraction of the DAW market, so clearly that isn't enough to get users. What Avid cares about is paying customers, just like Steinberg does. So if the two are competing how do they outcompete each other? I know that I personally won't buy one over the other because of console emulation but I will if it offers some other functionality. For example:

I'm in film/tv and the latest Nuendo allows me to analyze an imported video for where the picture edits are. Nuendo then gives me markers for each (or cycle markers). This is extremely handy when mixing because you can more easily match perspectives etc to the camera angles. This is a pretty big thing. So is the ADR functionality in Nuendo. I can't get either as easily using third party plugins.

But I can get console emulation using plugins.

So when the companies compete they simply have to consider what new feature will bring in the most new money.

Also, be sure that if Avid included console emulation everyone would compare it to the alternatives. So if it's included you would have users of Slate, UAD etc compare the emulation quality and flexibility to everything else that's out there, and so the bar for success would be pretty high. And remember that a lot of people already own these sorts of plugins so it doesn't really add that much having it in the code of the DAW.

And on that note you have some practical issues to consider. Anyone who has a session with console emulation plugins and non-linear stuff would have to think twice before applying a built-in emulation. The sound would change and they'd have to adjust their current projects. For those starting out fresh the question then becomes if you get one or more emulations, and what happens with gain using them - will they include lowering the dynamic range of signals? If they do, what happens if you want to do A/B comparisons between different emulations or between emulations on and off? What happens to long-term archival capability? Will the emulations remain the same over time or will they be improved upon? What happens to backwards compatibility?

And will it affect performance? Clearly it will use some amount of processing so for any user that's on the edge in terms of available DSP resources what happens when they upgrade and turn this on?

So all in all I think it'd be cool but it really doesn't seem realistic to me.
Old 6th January 2020
  #3
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Good points.. I'm too a longtime Nuendo user as well..

I just think this is the missing link for the "In the Box" mixer. In addition, it puts those DSP cards to good use. Now, owning multiple DSP cards would make sense. Especially, with both Mac's and PC becoming more powerful every year, Native DW work is very commonplace. And, the need for AVID DSP cards for most user, is not needed.
However, if you added the power of a true Console with say ( Softube console emulations) baked into the DSP cards, that would make Pro Tools a very attractive DW again ( Imho).

Speaking of those console plugins. I'm not impressed I own most of them, and they perform like an afterthought. Even when I string 50 -70 instances along, it still does not perform nor sound like a console ( Paris, or Harrison, or Studio One, Reasons). Plugin are not the answer.

I mean, where else can they innovate in the recording and mixing process?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc View Post
It's probably trickier and more costly than you think.

Firstly Avid has to compete with all other DAWs out there. Even though Harrison's DAW has this emulation baked in it's a tiny fraction of the DAW market, so clearly that isn't enough to get users. What Avid cares about is paying customers, just like Steinberg does. So if the two are competing how do they outcompete each other? I know that I personally won't buy one over the other because of console emulation but I will if it offers some other functionality. For example:

I'm in film/tv and the latest Nuendo allows me to analyze an imported video for where the picture edits are. Nuendo then gives me markers for each (or cycle markers). This is extremely handy when mixing because you can more easily match perspectives etc to the camera angles. This is a pretty big thing. So is the ADR functionality in Nuendo. I can't get either as easily using third party plugins.

But I can get console emulation using plugins.

So when the companies compete they simply have to consider what new feature will bring in the most new money.

Also, be sure that if Avid included console emulation everyone would compare it to the alternatives. So if it's included you would have users of Slate, UAD etc compare the emulation quality and flexibility to everything else that's out there, and so the bar for success would be pretty high. And remember that a lot of people already own these sorts of plugins so it doesn't really add that much having it in the code of the DAW.

And on that note you have some practical issues to consider. Anyone who has a session with console emulation plugins and non-linear stuff would have to think twice before applying a built-in emulation. The sound would change and they'd have to adjust their current projects. For those starting out fresh the question then becomes if you get one or more emulations, and what happens with gain using them - will they include lowering the dynamic range of signals? If they do, what happens if you want to do A/B comparisons between different emulations or between emulations on and off? What happens to long-term archival capability? Will the emulations remain the same over time or will they be improved upon? What happens to backwards compatibility?

And will it affect performance? Clearly it will use some amount of processing so for any user that's on the edge in terms of available DSP resources what happens when they upgrade and turn this on?

So all in all I think it'd be cool but it really doesn't seem realistic to me.

Last edited by jjdpro; 6th January 2020 at 05:47 PM..
Old 8th January 2020
  #4
It does in a way - HEAT. Had it for ages.

But - I don't know about everyone, but I don't WANT console emulation built in (I don't use HEAT, I think I even have the license for it....). Sometimes I use it (Slate), sometimes I don't.

It's very tricky to separate the console "glue" from the other tactile aspects of console workflow, but personally when I'm mixing music I usually find it helpful.

BUT - music is only part of PT's market - I think people who only do music forget the far bigger market is post, and you'd never use console emulation there.

I guess the only thing you could say is why haven't Avid brought out their own version of console emulation? And I guess the answer is there's already a lot of good options and it possibly wouldn't be a cost effective place for them to go.

I can think of many features I'd rather have before Avid console emulation...
Old 8th January 2020
  #5
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Liquidaudio's Avatar
 

Why not just get an actual console? I don't get this emulation stuff..

Even an old Soundcraft will kick the sh*t out of any console emulation.
Old 8th January 2020
  #6
Gear Guru
 

Easy recall is why. Work faster = be more productive.
Old 8th January 2020
  #7
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Liquidaudio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc View Post
Easy recall is why. Work faster = be more productive.
I get that.

Let's continue living in the virtual world.
Old 8th January 2020
  #8
Gear Guru
 

I'm actually not entirely against this as a concept, but I realize the difficulties in implementing it.

In addition to what's said already the question has to be which console to emulate, and to what degree. Because there's going to be a difference between a vintage Neve and a new API or a vintage SSL or any number of others, and since it's all really about adding it all up I think the workload to get that sound is pretty significant. I mean, look at the UAD-2 88RS for example;



Assuming for the sake of argument that it's done "the right way" there's the emulation of

- A gate/expander
- A compressor/limiter
- An EQ
- Cut filters
- Presumably transformers in the circuit

I think that's a pretty tall order if done right, but I also think that slapping one of those on tens of channels will indeed give you a sound. Whether or not it's "enough" or "worth it" or "nice" is a different matter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Liquidaudio View Post
Even an old Soundcraft will kick the sh*t out of any console emulation.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjdpro View Post
Speaking of those console plugins. I'm not impressed I own most of them, and they perform like an afterthought.
Old 8th January 2020
  #9
Gear Maniac
 
Liquidaudio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc View Post
I'm actually not entirely against this as a concept, but I realize the difficulties in implementing it.

In addition to what's said already the question has to be which console to emulate, and to what degree. Because there's going to be a difference between a vintage Neve and a new API or a vintage SSL or any number of others, and since it's all really about adding it all up I think the workload to get that sound is pretty significant. I mean, look at the UAD-2 88RS for example;



Assuming for the sake of argument that it's done "the right way" there's the emulation of

- A gate/expander
- A compressor/limiter
- An EQ
- Cut filters
- Presumably transformers in the circuit

I think that's a pretty tall order if done right, but I also think that slapping one of those on tens of channels will indeed give you a sound. Whether or not it's "enough" or "worth it" or "nice" is a different matter.
A bunch of channels won't emulate a console, you'll get close though. It's the sum of all parts. But pushing an analog SSL board to it's max like a race car, that's something else. Distortion is too complex to emulate. Hey, I'm not against it all, I have plugins. But trying to emulate a console ITB just seems silly to me. Rather use those plugins to create a unique sound than try to mimic a board.
Old 9th January 2020
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liquidaudio View Post
Why not just get an actual console? I don't get this emulation stuff..

Even an old Soundcraft will kick the sh*t out of any console emulation.
Don’t agree, but you’re welcome to that old soundcraft!

I sit in front of a Neve VR most days. I don’t mix on it, or even through it. I did sum a mix through it once...and did the rest of the EP hybrid. No one commented the summed mix was “bigger”, “wider” or anything, I certainly didn’t think so, and it was a lot more hassle so didn’t bother again.

I can’t imagine wanting to sum a mix through an old soundcraft or similar - the most you could hope for was that it didn’t wreck it.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
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Well Well! Dream it and it will arrive.. It's that Universal Audio has implemented a new DAW that not only has console emulations but, tape emulations baked in as well. And, it sounds Amazing!!

A daw for music creators and engineers first, and not Post leaning..This is Taking the DAW in the right direction..
Good job UA!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjdpro View Post
Well Well! Dream it and it will arrive.. It's that Universal Audio has implemented a new DAW that not only has console emulations but, tape emulations baked in as well. And, it sounds Amazing!!

A daw for music creators and for post first!
It's nice that there's another turnkey solution - where the hardware is tightly married to the software.

However - that's what Avid got slated for for years, that you needed hardware to run their software...so they opened it up!

Interesting to see what happens with the UAD stuff. If you only use their hardware and get frustrated with the Console workflow, it'd be appealing I'm sure.

I can't see it appealing too much to those who use multiple setups though.

And I'd hope you can turn all that stuff off too!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
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Agreed!


Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
It's nice that there's another turnkey solution - where the hardware is tightly married to the software.

However - that's what Avid got slated for for years, that you needed hardware to run their software...so they opened it up!

Interesting to see what happens with the UAD stuff. If you only use their hardware and get frustrated with the Console workflow, it'd be appealing I'm sure.

I can't see it appealing too much to those who use multiple setups though.

And I'd hope you can turn all that stuff off too!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
Gear Guru
 

From a convenience perspective I see the benefit of having it more or less integrated and hidden so that simply using it gives you a sound (as opposed to just clean). The drawback with that though is that if you need another DAW for everything this DAW doesn't do then you're potentially ending up with a lot of back-and-forth transfers, and possibly multiple hardware setups.

From a processing standpoint I'm not 100% sure it's so different from using appropriate plugins on every track and group. So in other words why not just do that in Pro Tools and have the best of both worlds? Like Monkey said we've sort of been through a lot of this before.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #15
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I like knowing that my DAW is as clean as can be to start. Digital is supposed to give you back exactly what you put in, right? Good place to start.

I also have tried a couple of console emulators and like to have a choice of which to use as some are more aggressive than others. Like typically use both Waves NLS and United's Front DAW and they both serve different purposes.

If PT included something besides Heat that was part of their generic plugin set, I'd definitely try it but depending on how it sounded, it's good to know I've got some options.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #16
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Looks like you were prophetic.. In comes UA Luna!! With a Neve and tape emulation baked into code.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc View Post
I'm actually not entirely against this as a concept, but I realize the difficulties in implementing it.

In addition to what's said already the question has to be which console to emulate, and to what degree. Because there's going to be a difference between a vintage Neve and a new API or a vintage SSL or any number of others, and since it's all really about adding it all up I think the workload to get that sound is pretty significant. I mean, look at the UAD-2 88RS for example;



Assuming for the sake of argument that it's done "the right way" there's the emulation of

- A gate/expander
- A compressor/limiter
- An EQ
- Cut filters
- Presumably transformers in the circuit

I think that's a pretty tall order if done right, but I also think that slapping one of those on tens of channels will indeed give you a sound. Whether or not it's "enough" or "worth it" or "nice" is a different matter.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #17
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Exactly my point.. let the user choose which kind of mixer they want per project or per channel. Ye, I agree, sometimes clean digital is great..But, other times, a console third-order harmonics, spill brings in mojo to a project.



Quote:
Originally Posted by jerry123 View Post
I like knowing that my DAW is as clean as can be to start. Digital is supposed to give you back exactly what you put in, right? Good place to start.

I also have tried a couple of console emulators and like to have a choice of which to use as some are more aggressive than others. Like typically use both Waves NLS and United's Front DAW and they both serve different purposes.

If PT included something besides Heat that was part of their generic plugin set, I'd definitely try it but depending on how it sounded, it's good to know I've got some options.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #18
Gear Head
 

Maybe because not everyone wants it? Not everyone wants character plugins or "vintage vibe".
Old 3 weeks ago
  #19
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T_R_S's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjdpro View Post
Just a thought.. It's the year of our Lord 2020, and this question has been rolling inside of my head for the last 4 years or so. maybe longer.

But, Why hasn't Avid ( Digidesign) baked-in ( coded) console emulations into its Mixer?

Today, we all kinds of software plugins that attempt "the console" 3rd order harmonic distortion to add the ( mojo ) to a mix. However, very few DAW manufacturers have delved into the realm of actually coding ( at the core level) Console emulations. I think Presonus Studio One( Soft Tube) and Harrison ( Mix Bus) come to mind. My "old" trusty Ensoniq PARIS Also had console emulation baked in.

But, what hasn't Pro Tools? I'll admit to anyone that I'm still not comfortable mixing in the box with Pro Tools. As I've never understood it's handling of Gain structure. Or lack thereof.

I think that should be the next mountain to climb tech that Avid should add ( Console Emulation) to application know as Pro Tools.

What are your thoughts on this? Thanks..
are there a gazillion plugs that can do that?
or as mentioned before - HEAT.
That's whole idea behind plug-ins the DSP can go ANYTHING you want it to do.
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