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for resident outboard slutz: what pre/eq/comp you track synths/beatboxes with?
Old 20th October 2013
  #1
for resident outboard slutz: what pre/eq/comp you track synths/beatboxes with?

a question so for those who like using preamps , sometimes compressors, equalisers, line drivers, saturators.... in short analog processing for tracking synths and drum machines....

what do you use... what you like and why?

what characters you get, and what combination of instruments and peticular preamps you found just does it sensationally well?



i sold most of my outboard at one point, and am down to:

Great River ME1-NV pre for classic transformer solid state sound. big low end, focused tight sound. everything sounds bigger thru it. i combine it with LittleLabs RedEye3D DI, w UTC transformer, for extra "hair" sometimes. Fireface UFX onboard pres when i want uberclean sans transformer...(for some vocals & acoustic, rarely for synths). huge improvement over pres i had in FF800.

but am looking to expand to some other colours again... either a tube design, germanium, or API or CAPI something etc.
Old 20th October 2013
  #2
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i sometimes track my 101 through a digitech bad monkey or DBX 163x but i don't think that's the price bracket you're looking at for some reason .
Old 20th October 2013
  #3
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Liking my CAPI VP26's (with Red Dots) for synths. Shiny and tight in a nice way.
Old 20th October 2013
  #4
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Loving the thermionic culture freebird for tone and 3d-ness
Old 20th October 2013
  #5
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A couple dozen or so odd guitar pedals, amps, Sherman Filterbank 2, Electrix Filter Queen, Chandler Germanium Tone Controls...
Old 24th November 2013
  #6
+1 for the Electrix Filter Queen, an amazingly underrated piece of gear. The Filter Factory is also great, some people think it's just an expanded Filter Queen, but it's really a completely different flavor of filter - much wilder and more resonant. I own both, use them on different synths. Also, I can't get enough of the FMR RNC compressor as my synth master comp. Totally invisible compression.
Old 24th November 2013
  #7
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I do all of my drums in Cubase / Motu BPM but for 2 weeks now I have had the API 2500 hardware on the drum bus and WOW. I also have a fatso which i would HIGHLY recommend for the output of any drum machine.
Old 24th November 2013
  #8
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Westlaker's Avatar
I've been tracking synths through a Phoenix Audio Nice DI, my only piece of analog outboard. Not really a "night-and-day" unit, at least the way I'm using it; more of an "additional 10%" or "sweetener" sort of thing. But at $500 (used) for a stereo DI (that can also be used for running whole mixes through), it's pretty good bang-for-the-buck. I tend to use it most often with my Microwave XTk and MKS-70. It definitely gives both synths more presence (so they can stand up to, say, a Prophet 5 in the mix).
Old 24th November 2013
  #9
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if i want a bit of graininess, i'll track thru my neve 1272s, sometimes with my UA 2-1176 in the chain to calm things down ( or tube things up...). other times i run thru my rane dms 22, which has a super clean pre and EQ-great for scooping out some tubbiness. (the late great roger nichols talked me into that purchase and i'm forever grateful). other times i skip the preamps altogether and just squash with 1176.

just depends on the tone and where i want it to sit in the mix.
Old 24th November 2013
  #10
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I recently bought a Rodec Restyler and I love putting a complete mix through it, then back into one of my Octatracks for further dissection and processing.
Old 25th November 2013
  #11
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I love using my Overstayer ID4 or Black Lion Auteur when I'm looking to add some serious saturation and bite to my synths during tracking.These two are definitely my favorite for synths. For less bite and more subtlety, I will track through my UA 4-710d (especially if I want a little bit of 1176 style compression) or crank the input gain on my Orion X's line input.

I always feel a little but if list for more nice DI's, but don't have the rack real-estate for anything new, really. These options have most of the bases covered though, and I never find myself NEEDING anything new.

For EQ Tracking, I only use the Orion's on board EQ (which is superb) and never find myself needing more outboard EQ. The Orion does everything I want for tracking, and UAD2 plugs do the rest for mixing.

I'm a huge Overstayer fanboy for compression. Out of all the comps I've used, I've kept the Overstayers and dbx160XT pair. I also have the Drawmer, but wouldn't use that for tracking.
Old 25th November 2013
  #12
I come through a Tascam m-2516. That goes to one of my 828mkIIs or my lucid 8824.

Any pedals I do as inserts or Aux sends. If I want to use a batch of channels 100% wet, I use the group out setup and route that directly back into the computer, adjust to taste, print, automatic bounce-down allowing more options later (I keep the originals in the DAW, just don't route them back out).

In terms of actual effects, I have a pioneer SR-202s spring reverb, lexicon mx200 and mpx100, RNC and a pair of Urei 562s.

If I need more, there's always plugins...
Old 25th November 2013
  #13
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degas's Avatar
 

Neve 1073 DPA for stereo, and UA6176 for mono+tube.
Old 25th November 2013
  #14
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maisonvague's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by clusterchord View Post
a question so for those who like using preamps , sometimes compressors, equalisers, line drivers, saturators.... in short analog processing for tracking synths and drum machines....

what do you use... what you like and why?
These days for tracking synths I'm mostly using a UA 4-710d. This is one of my absolute favorite pieces of gear because it covers so much ground in a single unit.

First, it can serve as either four solidstate or four tube preamps or a blend of both. In other words you can go from a clean sound to a colored sound with many shades in between. Second, its got a very basic built-in compressor per channel based on the UA 1176 which sounds great. The lack of tweakability is actually a blessing for me because there's less risk of screwing up compression settings while tracking. The fixed settings they do offer are usually perfect for what I need (which isn't much -- just a touch). Third, it's got very well thought-out inputs/outputs, sends/returns, lo-z, hi-z, etc. And then, last but not least, it provides excellent A/D conversion!

Needless-to-say, I love this box!!!

Occasionally I'll use my UA Solo 610 on synths, but a little tube goes a long way. I generally prefer solidstate for synths. I also occasionally still use my old dBx 166 "Blackface" compressor while tracking -- my first compressor. Not the greatest sounding unit ever... but somehow it still manages to put a smile on my face.

For saturation, spring reverb and other analog processing, my "secret weapon" at the moment is a Vermona Retroverb Lancet. Fabulous little piece of kit worth checking out.

Old 25th November 2013
  #15
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for digital synth and plugins culture vulture mastering + does wonder, api and tonelux stuff work good on everything ,its kinda vanilla to me , good ratio of color/details

depend what needed, if the synth is bright and i want a darker sound or a low mid bump , if i want to keep all the details ect..
Old 26th November 2013
  #16
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davemillermusic's Avatar
 

I've tracked a load of synths through this chain - Avalon 2022 Pre > DBX160sl compressor > SSL G series EQ module.

Magic every time
Old 26th November 2013
  #17
nice ,, thanks everyone for the replies. always interesting stuff.


in the meantime, i've got 6ch of vintage Studer balancing units/line pres. i'm getting em racked and recapped currently. its a transformer design unbal>bal, and with 34dB gain if needed. and another trannie path going opposite direction: bal>unbal plus +34 dB pres. all avail simultaneously.

think it wil be great for recording synths, interfacing old fx units, or just sending DAW tracks to synths for processing.



@Maison, good to know.. think they have 710 locally..might ask em to try it out.
Old 26th November 2013
  #18
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I havent tried a lot of gear so my opinion is based on the first nice outboard i am to own. for what its worth , this is what i recently chose.A pair of rupert neve designs portico ii channel strips

Transformer instrument input in to mic amp,4 band eq, compressor (the instrument input goes through mic amp, and the trim amp,mwhile the line input only goes through the trim amp)

The added touches, like the high pass sidechain, the de esser, the wet dry blend on the compressor, eq post or pre compression, and the adjustable silk circuit, make these strips amazing to me. Link the compressors for stereo tracking or connect them in sequence on a mono source to maybe have one applying parallel compression, while the next unit compresses the result of the parallel pass. Or just saturate the hell out of it through both units. Its also great for lots of sources, and different music. My workflow with these is to track parts one at a time through the channels, commiting to the sound as i go. Once itb make minor adjustments with plugins, and mix back through the channel strips for 2 bus eq and compression.
Old 26th November 2013
  #19
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maisonvague's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by clusterchord View Post
in the meantime, i've got 6ch of vintage Studer balancing units/line pres. i'm getting em racked and recapped currently. its a transformer design unbal>bal, and with 34dB gain if needed. and another trannie path going opposite direction: bal>unbal plus +34 dB pres. all avail simultaneously.

think it wil be great for recording synths, interfacing old fx units, or just sending DAW tracks to synths for processing.



@Maison, good to know.. think they have 710 locally..might ask em to try it out.
Well, with access to that kind of gear, you might not find it as useful as I do. But still, it's worth checking out. In terms of workflow, I particularly appreciate the send/returns. If, for example, the compressor is too limited for a certain application an alternative compressor can stay patched in at all times ready to go. The same applies to any other kind of outboard FX you can think of. Got an old multi-FX unit lying around? Patch it in permanently to a channel or two and it may see new life!

If you do check it out, don't be put off by the huge jump in gain between knob setting 3-4. At first, I thought my unit was defective, but this is apparently done by design. Why exactly I'm not sure.

Since getting the 4-710d mixing has become SO much easier for me because the sound I want is pretty much already there. The composite effect of multi-tracking with it is like "super glue". I really can't say enough good things about it.
Old 26th November 2013
  #20
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What i have always wondered about preamps is whether they actually colour your signal so dramatically that you can hear the results in a single file A/B test or whether the difference becomes most obvious as you start recording a higher number of tracks with them because they are more transparent?

The only experience i have with preamps is a friend who bought an Avalon preamp (or something similar, can't remember - at least it was fairly expensive) and then demonstrated it to me, the problem being that there was no obvious difference between material tracked with and without it - in single files.

His reasoning was that even though the quality was only marginally improved (as in: Not really audibly) the results would show after recording ten tracks or so.

Is that how it works?
Old 26th November 2013
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grumphh View Post
What i have always wondered about preamps is whether they actually colour your signal so dramatically that you can hear the results in a single file A/B test or whether the difference becomes most obvious as you start recording a higher number of tracks with them because they are more transparent?

The only experience i have with preamps is a friend who bought an Avalon preamp (or something similar, can't remember - at least it was fairly expensive) and then demonstrated it to me, the problem being that there was no obvious difference between material tracked with and without it - in single files.

His reasoning was that even though the quality was only marginally improved (as in: Not really audibly) the results would show after recording ten tracks or so.

Is that how it works?
Depending on the pre (and I'm talking high quality and otherwise) you can actually add a lot of character on one pass. It depends on the topology of the piece however.

There is also a cumulative effect, especially with more characterful pres where the subtle saturation may color a mix more clearly as all of the track add up together so does the harmonic distortion.

With some other high end transparent pres the quality difference is the opposite (especially relative to junky pres in an average consumer audio interface) where many dBs of clean transparent gain can prevent a certain undesirable haze (aka unwanted/unflattering distortion).

There's much more too it and I'm over simplifying but that's the gist
Old 26th November 2013
  #22
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I use the Di inputs on either a pair of Phoenix Audio DRS1 preamps or the Thermionic Rooster, sometimes ill use a Roland SIP300.
Old 26th November 2013
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goodfellow View Post
Depending on the pre (and I'm talking high quality and otherwise) you can actually add a lot of character on one pass. It depends on the topology of the piece however.

There is also a cumulative effect, especially with more characterful pres where the subtle saturation may color a mix more clearly as all of the track add up together so does the harmonic distortion.

With some other high end transparent pres the quality difference is the opposite (especially relative to junky pres in an average consumer audio interface) where many dBs of clean transparent gain can prevent a certain undesirable haze (aka unwanted/unflattering distortion).

There's much more too it and I'm over simplifying but that's the gist
Simplifying is fine with me

So basically, one type of preamp emphasizes transmitting the correct signal as undisturbed as possible to improve upon a bad/cheap input design, while the other type actually adds various forms of distortion/colouration to something that may be to clean?
Old 26th November 2013
  #24
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maisonvague's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by grumphh View Post
So basically, one type of preamp emphasizes transmitting the correct signal as undisturbed as possible to improve upon a bad/cheap input design, while the other type actually adds various forms of distortion/colouration to something that may be to clean?
Basically, yes.

I became a convert to the Cult of the Pre-Amp through personal experience. Years ago I bought a Digi-002R despite hearing a lot of negative things about the pre-amps. They can't be that bad, I thought. But as it turned out, even my lowly Mbox (the original one) sounded better! The difference was pretty shocking.

I'll never forget the first time I hooked up a good pre-amp to the 002R, completely by-passing the stock ones. It was one of those OMG moments -- like a veil had been lifted off the face of my music.

Not every A/B situation is so dramatic, of course. But when you start multi-tracking with better quality pre-amps, the difference becomes more and more noticeable as the track builds up. At least, that has been my experience.
Old 26th November 2013
  #25
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it still a luxury if what you record dont need any boost to me? a good analog eq around same price as a good pre will make way more difference in a mix for someone who can t get both.
Old 26th November 2013
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maisonvague View Post
Basically, yes.

I became a convert to the Cult of the Pre-Amp through personal experience. Years ago I bought a Digi-002R despite hearing a lot of negative things about the pre-amps. They can't be that bad, I thought. But as it turned out, even my lowly Mbox (the original one) sounded better! The difference was pretty shocking.

I'll never forget the first time I hooked up a good pre-amp to the 002R, completely by-passing the stock ones. It was one of those OMG moments -- like a veil had been lifted off the face of my music.

Not every A/B situation is so dramatic, of course. But when you start multi-tracking with better quality pre-amps, the difference becomes more and more noticeable as the track builds up. At least, that has been my experience.
Thx for the insight

Do you use "colouring preamps" too?
Old 26th November 2013
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grumphh View Post
Thx for the insight

Do you use "colouring preamps" too?
You're welcome.

Yes. Both the 4-710d (in the tube setting) and the Solo 610 are what I would call "coloring pre-amps" because of the tubes (which have an audible effect on the sound).

In the solid-state setting, though, the 4-710d is clean and transparent. To my ears, it doesn't "improve" the sound but rather only "preserves" it during the recording process. And since I usually prefer to shape my sound in detail prior to recording -- printing FX, EQ etc. -- as opposed to producing later down the road -- most often this is what I want (as opposed to "color" from the pre-amp itself).

With vox and acoustic instruments good pres are particularly important but in my experience less so with synths depending on their design (or how golden ones ears may be -- mine are more like silver or bronze ). Synths with a low output -- like, for example, my OB-Xa -- especially benefit from good pre-amps.
Old 26th November 2013
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maisonvague View Post
You're welcome.

Yes. Both the 4-710d (in the tube setting) and the Solo 610 are what I would call "coloring pre-amps" because of the tubes (which have an audible effect on the sound).

In the solid-state setting, though, the 4-710d is clean and transparent. To my ears, it doesn't "improve" the sound but rather only "preserves" it during the recording process. And since I usually prefer to shape my sound in detail prior to recording -- printing FX, EQ etc. -- as opposed to producing later down the road -- most often this is what I want (as opposed to "color" from the pre-amp itself).

With vox and acoustic instruments good pres are particularly important but in my experience less so with synths depending on their design (or how golden ones ears may be -- mine are more like silver or bronze ). Synths with a low output -- like, for example, my OB-Xa -- especially benefit from good pre-amps.
Would you want to do an entire mix with the strongly coloured preamps, or is that for individual sounds only?

I mean, what i imagine is that when using coloured preamps for an entire mix, that that particular colour would dominate it, no?
Old 26th November 2013
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grumphh View Post
Would you want to do an entire mix with the strongly coloured preamps, or is that for individual sounds only?
Either way, depending on what you're trying to achieve. For the most part, I've only used e.g. the Solo 610 on individual (mostly vocal) tracks. But I've certainly kicked around the idea of multi-tracking everything through it -- as if I had THIS:



Quote:
I mean, what i imagine is that when using coloured preamps for an entire mix, that that particular colour would dominate it, no?
Yes that can happen -- especially if it's a strong color like those you can get from tube stuff.

So it's best if you like that color.
Old 26th November 2013
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maisonvague View Post
Either way, depending on what you're trying to achieve. For the most part, I've only used e.g. the Solo 610 on individual (mostly vocal) tracks. But I've certainly kicked around the idea of multi-tracking everything through it -- as if I had THIS:


-
I bet that looks better than it sounds.

...but yeah, with that you'd be at the forefront of 60's experimental electronic music heh
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