Tracking analog drums & synths with Neve / Chandler pres. Fat! or just too colored...
I'd like to hear your experience with tracking drum machines & synths. I'm particularly interested in tracking with classic pres such as Neve '1073' and Chandler TG gear for example. Obviously these pres are exception for some sources (vox, gits, acoustic drums etc) but I've heard it said more than once that these are too coloured for electronic sources. If u aren't into these what has been your optimum choice.
Some will say forget the pre altogether and go straight to the converter but I guess that's a different question entirely.
I don't think there's something that is "to coloured" for electronic sounds. I use distortion on all my sounds in varying degrees from a tiny bit to ultra shred.
The Culture Vulture and Overstayer Saturator are imo the first choices for colour. But stomp boxes and mixing desks are cheaper and work fine to.
Most often I use a combination of tube amps, stomp box and mixing desk distortion in parallel to get the sound I want.
Its not that I'm overdriving everything until its smashed, a little bit goes a long way.
I have no experience with Neve.
But you get good results when balancing these:
- Pre-distortion EQ
- Kind of distortion (even/uneven harmonics, serial/parallel and combinations of all these)
- Amount of distortion
- Post-distortion EQ
I think there is such a thing as "too colored" or "distorted". There's a sweet spot
between sterile and burned. I also use parallel processing with saturation (tube)
processing to maintain the transients while boosting the harmonics on the body. The
other thing to watch out for is as you are boosting 2nd/3rd etc harmonics (octave,
octave and 1/2 which can make the 200Hz-3kHz range nice) is any inharmonic HF noise
is that much more emphasized. This can increase harshness or brittleness, so a nice
analog HF shelve @ 6kHz+ or LPF @ 10-15kHz can help restore the HF balance.
I used GML 8200 or Neve 1081 plus tubes in parallel on the new Driven Machine
Drums M.D. Collection. Really warmed up the digital nature of the MachineDrum, giving
a nice driven analog sound while maintaining natural + controlled transients.
Recorded, processed, and edited somewhere between 10,000-12,000 samples (pruned
to 2,733 for release) for the M.D. collection in the last 10 months so this is a topic I'm
fairly versed in.
The artistry/mastery, IMHO, comes from learning all the different colors of processing
and the color of the original synths/drum machines. I'm a fan of the contrast, analog
processing on digital, digital FX on analog (not always). I also look for the odd
character combo like Sweet and Sour or Chili and Chocolate. It can help add depth.
On digital synthesis sources, I can go a little warmer. On analog, I like something cleaner
like a nickel preamp for just mild euphonic to glue an Eventide effect to the source with a
similar harmonic stamp.
So u are tracking with the 1081 yes? Do u eq much 1081 on the way in?
I did for the project, specifically with some snares + toms in the
PI (acoustic physical modeling) portion of the Machine Drum. I like it
on cleaner acoustic snares + toms, it's got both a nice HPF (low-cut) and
the transformer gives a nice low-mid 200-400 punch to those percussive
instruments. (probably why some like it on bass guitar too)
For vintage analog 909 or even modern analog like Oberhiem SEM, I wouldn't
choose it as my first choice, or second. To much THD. Something clean
and digital like Modcan FMVCO/VCDO thru a cleaner SVF or LPG, I'd use it.
If you want a nice VERSATILE pre-amp/d.i. for synths that you can tune,
tighten, and color with while tracking...
I really like the Chandler TG stuff...my studio partner has 8 channels of the Abbey Road channel strips. The EQ is pretty magic on these, and you do get some saturation/tone options. Without using the EQ, the pres themselves are a hair dark....but its very easy to open that up with the EQ and Gain.
I also use a pair of Germanium Tone Controls in my rack to add life to otherwise vanilla synths. Those work well for another sort of distortion as well as somewhat a broad pallet of EQ.
I've also had really good results with the API 3124+, which compared to the TGs/1073, is a pretty clear, mid-forward but still fat sound.
I personally find the 1073 on the dark side, and wouldn't want it as my "only" pre, or want all of my keyboard tracks to go through it.
Got you. This is what I was thinking & is my major concern I guess.
One man's dark is another's warm...me I think they are a bit too dark. I would think that if you wanted your synths to be dark sounding, you would close the filter more, you wouldn't want the preamp do that. The TG I wouldn't call too dark, but the TG1 is easier to get a sweet spot with, you can really get something happening with those on drums and going nuts with EQ...you can boost for days without it sounding bad. For my uses, I'd rather get most of my EQ-ing done in the tracking stage versus mixing, plugins just don't cut it except for surgical subtractive EQ-ing. So I use the Germanium Tone Controls when I need to boost in the mix. The APIs sound great because they are already a little hyped.