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My new sigma setup post-duality
Old 13th May 2015
  #1
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syra's Avatar
My new sigma setup post-duality



I've seen various threads on the Sigma and answered a fair share of pm's on the subject. I decided to post this thread to show people how I work and share some files from my tests. As a lot of you know, I moved my SSL Duality out of my studio a few months ago. It was a decision based on my need to distance myself from engineering and to regain my focus on making music which is what I really do. Actually I still engineer a lot but it was about the energy in the room. Making it feel less like a recording studio. In the same place I used to rest my hands on faders, now they lay on top of piano keys - my primary instrument since my mom said so when I turned 5.

A lot of people asked me what console I was going to replace the Duality with. When I told them no console they said "Welcome ITB" to which I replied "Thanks but no thanks"... As you can see in the picture I needed my 3 main displays at the heart of this new setup so there was no way space-wise to incorporate any kind of a console let alone a 48-channel Duality. And nothing against the box, but the workflow is completely different. My hands go by themselves on these SSL EQs and no mousing around can replace that "instinct". Mixing on an analog console is like playing an instrument. It is an inspiring experience in itself. Unless you've tried it, you can't relate. Of course if mixing was my main source of income and needed to switch between 3 songs a day because the A&R specifically asked for the tambourine to be raised by 0.2 dB (true story), I would embrace ITB wholeheartedly.

So what's out there that can bridge the gap? The Sigma looked like about the only real alternative. Similar engine to the Duality with the same DAW control. I tested one and was happy to hear that it can be pushed. Sounds like a Duality? Hell no. But beggars can't be choosers. I'll take it! Let's grab a few X-Racks on the way out and we should be ready to rock heh

Long story short, by now I have fine-tuned my analog template to the point that I can tackle any kind of project with barely any patching and only taking a handful of pictures of the non-recallable EQs. Everything else stays frozen and is controlled by gain staging. From my live room all my drum mics are normalled to 16 channels of Neve preamps. The outputs of these are normalled to the X-Rack EQ inputs which then feed the X-Rack Comps leading to the A/D's. The D/A's feed the Neve line inputs and continue with the same path until the X-rack output is mult'ed to the Sigma inputs. So all it takes to go from tracking to mixing mode is to switch the Neve modules from Mic to Line and that's it. Now besides the Sigma I can also hit the Neves as hard as I like. Of course if I want the least amount of color or I don't want to use the Neve or SSL Eq/comp, I can easily use the patchbay and bypass any of those chains.

So, I have attached 4 files from a test I've done. Session at 88.2 and all of the tracks are raw with no plugins used. I had 13 outputs feeding the Sigma in this test. Every channel was matched within 0.1 dB using a signal generator. Files 3 and 4 which are the "Hot" versions appear louder BUT they peak at the exact same level. On File 4 Neves and Xracks do not have any EQ or compression engaged. Any perception of EQ or compression comes from pushing the modules and the Sigma mix buss.

File 1 - Straight up ITB

File 2 - D/A's straight to Sigma Cold

File 3 - D/A's straight to Sigma Hot

File 4 - D/A's hitting Neves at +10 followed by X-Racks and pushing Sigma Hot

Last edited by syra; 3rd June 2018 at 07:41 PM..
Old 13th May 2015
  #2
Gear Nut
 
matt_l's Avatar
 

Beautiful setup! What are you using for A/D/A these days?

Matt
Old 13th May 2015
  #3
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12tone's Avatar
 

Stunning!!!

One question - did you not consider other favors of EQ and dynamics other than just SSL?
Was recall the main criteria in going with the X-racks?

In any case, looks marvelous and totally well thought out...well done sir
Old 13th May 2015
  #4
Here for the gear
 
secondruleis's Avatar
 

Wow, what a great setup. I love the way you routed everything for maximum usability and minimal patching. Thanks for the details, picture and audio files!
Old 13th May 2015
  #5
Nice set up, congrats!
Old 13th May 2015
  #6
Gear Nut
Love the setup. File 4 definetly sounded the best IMO. Been thinking of doing something similar myself as I'm more into composing at home these days. Where you're using the Artist Mixes I'm planning to put a S3/C24 though.
Old 13th May 2015
  #7
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Improv's Avatar
 

Whoa. That's pretty freaking gorgeous right there.
Old 13th May 2015
  #8
Yeah, lovely flow and the results speak for themselves. File 4 sounds so much better than ITB. I'm employing a similar philosophy with my new room, just want to get back to great sounding, tactile creativity without all the time wasting patching and decision making.
Old 13th May 2015
  #9
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Wow, what a gorgeous space!!! I'll say one thing, you certainly aren't missing the client 'wow' factor by swapping the Duality out for the Sigma.

When you say 'hell no', the Sigma doesn't sound like a Duality, can you elaborate?

Also curious, what is your choice of ADDA?

Thanks for sharing, very cool thread!
Old 13th May 2015
  #10
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Lupez's Avatar
participating.
Old 13th May 2015
  #11
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syra's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by matt_l View Post
Beautiful setup! What are you using for A/D/A these days?
My multitrack DAW converters are the latest Avid I/O boxes. 48 I/O. I record my mixes back through my crookwood router using either their converter or the Lavry Gold MX. I was using a DAD AX24 for this task (it's in the classifieds) and although it is amazing it doesn't simplify my workflow since the crookwood is integrated internally.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 12tone View Post
One question - did you not consider other favors of EQ and dynamics other than just SSL?
Was recall the main criteria in going with the X-racks?
This thread I posted a few years ago may explain why. I chose the X-Racks mainly for recall but also I'm not a huge fan of the 500 series. Everything that I have in a 19" rack compared to its 500-series version sounds better to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by delcosmos View Post
Nice set up, congrats!
I wish I had enough space to copy your setup and have my SSL in mix mode right behind me!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leak1989 View Post
Love the setup. File 4 definetly sounded the best IMO. Been thinking of doing something similar myself as I'm more into composing at home these days. Where you're using the Artist Mixes I'm planning to put a S3/C24 though.
Yeah not a huge fan of the artist mixes but I needed a eucon controller (so I can lock my VCA channels and emulate the SSL VCAs through the Sigma) and the S3 is too big for my workflow. I just need the faders. I tried to get a couple fader packs from the S6 but they don't work without the main computer frame.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul_G View Post
Yeah, lovely flow and the results speak for themselves. File 4 sounds so much better than ITB. I'm employing a similar philosophy with my new room, just want to get back to great sounding, tactile creativity without all the time wasting patching and decision making.
Agreed, file 4 is my favorite too. Get the high end from slamming the Neves and the compression from slamming the Sigma.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisrulesmore View Post
Wow, what a gorgeous space!!! I'll say one thing, you certainly aren't missing the client 'wow' factor by swapping the Duality out for the Sigma.

When you say 'hell no', the Sigma doesn't sound like a Duality, can you elaborate?!
Yeah I was 100% sure I'd lose a lot of the "wow" factor when I moved the Duality out but according to most of my collaborators I did ok haha. The overall room changed. You can't see from that picture but I extended the back wall another foot, put some furniture in and installed wood also on the riser.

The Sigma sounds very good but it is quite clean compared to the Duality. It doesn't have that mojo you know... of course if you ask E and G+ users they'd tell you that the Duality is quite clean too in comparison so everything is relative.
Old 13th May 2015
  #12
Solid State Logic
 
Jim@SSL's Avatar
 

Clever and super relevant.
Top job. It is easy to see you've really thought about this change.

But 3 monitors?
You only have 2 eyes... :-)

While I'm sure that sonically it is every option you need, and ergonomically it fits the writing workflow, but......




....do you find yourself no longer sitting in front of a big console with your mind in "mix" mode? I know you know what I mean. :-)

I would....
Old 13th May 2015
  #13
Gear Addict
 

Sorry I am trying to highjack this thread But I am with jim not sure you need 3 screens

I watch Jim excellent Video few months ago and sat and thought about a lot stuff ! I was using dual screens set 50-50 in front of me, But I only really used 1 screen 90% of the time and was getting sore back as I was twisting to the right to centre on that one screen

I now switch to single screen (backs better) and its quicker as I only see the info I am looking for (I do use the excellent apple mouse to two finger swipe full page apps) I also found I could have better placement of my audio monitors without the screen being in the way.

I do think we get rapped up in the pose value of lots screen and flashy light part of Jim talent was point out "what do you use" and have it close

Ps love your set up wish I could have 1/2 you love gear

Pss Jim Please do some more great video !!!!!
Old 13th May 2015
  #14
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12tone's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
But 3 monitors?
You only have 2 eyes... :-)
It's not as though if you have 2 monitors that it's one eye per screen...

I use 3 as well, and it is really helpful to avoid screen clutter as you can separate the timeline, mix console and vst/vsti's in its own space without having overlap - so it's a great workflow enhancer.

It is also invaluable when you have several computers hooked up, and with the ability to select input one can avoid having to using a KVM or monitor switcher.
Old 14th May 2015
  #15
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Regarding the screens I think 3 makes a lot more sense than 2. With 3 you have 1 main in the center and 2 secondary on either side. With 2 monitors you always have the problem of looking off to one side.
Old 14th May 2015
  #16
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Love the setup. I want to do something similar but put it all in a sterling modular your desk. You get a console feel with hybrid workflow.

Any issues with having the xracks down and off to the side? Seems a little hard to get to.
Old 14th May 2015
  #17
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fullscale's Avatar
Agree with Johnny on the screens, regarding placement of gear there's always going to be some compromise but this seems workable.
Old 14th May 2015
  #18
Gear Nut
 

Congrats, well thought out facility, clean and efficient
Old 14th May 2015
  #19
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syra's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
....do you find yourself no longer sitting in front of a big console with your mind in "mix" mode? I know you know what I mean. :-)

I would....
Nothing puts me into mix mode like sitting in front of a proper console! Really wish I could keep it... But sacrifices had to be made... so the sigma will have to do for now.

ps. You're off the hook with the SSL filters btw heh

Quote:
Originally Posted by emearg_s View Post
Sorry I am trying to highjack this thread But I am with jim not sure you need 3 screens
I wish I had 6. Main screen is for DAW, screen 2 has my drum machine along with my analyzer and probably tidal or something (if I use Logic/Bitwig I extend the browser and with cubase always have the channel mix window view) while screen 3 I have lyrics for the song I'm working on along possibly with Sigma browser or Kontakt... I really wish I had more. And I do use multiple desktops too especially if I'm running Logic along with Protools.



Quote:
Originally Posted by 12tone View Post
It's not as though if you have 2 monitors that it's one eye per screen...

I use 3 as well, and it is really helpful to avoid screen clutter as you can separate the timeline, mix console and vst/vsti's in its own space without having overlap - so it's a great workflow enhancer.

It is also invaluable when you have several computers hooked up, and with the ability to select input one can avoid having to using a KVM or monitor switcher.
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnyc View Post
Regarding the screens I think 3 makes a lot more sense than 2. With 3 you have 1 main in the center and 2 secondary on either side. With 2 monitors you always have the problem of looking off to one side.


Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnyc View Post
Love the setup. I want to do something similar but put it all in a sterling modular your desk. You get a console feel with hybrid workflow.

Any issues with having the xracks down and off to the side? Seems a little hard to get to.
Yeah most people go the sterling/argosy modular desk route. It looks impressive but I needed to fine tune every single inch of my reach and starting from scratch was the only option.

X-Racks are totally fine. Don't need to move from my seat, just lean a bit. The bottom one has only comps which I never touch.
Old 14th May 2015
  #20
Gear Guru
 
RoundBadge's Avatar
Syra's win for the coolest hybrid setup ever.
end of story.game over.
Old 14th May 2015
  #21
Solid State Logic
 
Jim@SSL's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by syra View Post
Nothing puts me into mix mode like sitting in front of a proper console! Really wish I could keep it... But sacrifices had to be made... so the sigma will have to do for now.

ps. You're off the hook with the SSL filters btw heh
I pitched our crazy idea about the filters thing, didn't fly :-( I asked...
Would have been interesting to try.
Old 14th May 2015
  #22
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exwel's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RoundBadge View Post
Syra's win for the coolest hybrid setup ever.
end of story.game over.

great setup!
Love to test all those neves before my xrack and sigma.

Do you also use the neve with tr909 and synth sounds? is the neve fast enough for EDM?
Or do you use only the neve's with tracking for live instruments?


I make Hard EDM so for synth i use sometimes
Siemens V276a - W290 with DI redical - api 2500 (love it for synth's) - x rack eq - SIGMA. Maybe a similar effect?
Old 14th May 2015
  #23
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Clever and super relevant.
Top job. It is easy to see you've really thought about this change.

But 3 monitors?
You only have 2 eyes... :-)

While I'm sure that sonically it is every option you need, and ergonomically it fits the writing workflow, but......




....do you find yourself no longer sitting in front of a big console with your mind in "mix" mode? I know you know what I mean. :-)

I would....
Every time I buy a lottery ticket I'm dreaming of stopping mixing inside my DAW and mixing on a SSL Duality.

I still describe mixing on a DAW as "trying to paint your house through the letter box"

DAW's for writing great - but for mixing - I do it, but only out of necessity not choice.
Old 14th May 2015
  #24
Moderator
 
James Lugo's Avatar
 

Damn syra I'm so happy for you. I am right behind you brotha new Hybrid setup comes in next weekend.
Old 14th May 2015
  #25
Gear Addict
 
Lupez's Avatar
sad to see all of these console owners eventually going hybrid...
Old 14th May 2015
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lupez View Post
sad to see all of these console owners eventually going hybrid...
Supply and demand, brotha! No one ever wants to do a recall on a 48ch board when plugs sound so good. Plus with all this gear, if you can't get it right on the way in, you're doing something wrong!!
Old 14th May 2015
  #27
Gear Addict
 
Lupez's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by sam guaiana View Post
Supply and demand, brotha! No one ever wants to do a recall on a 48ch board when plugs sound so good. Plus with all this gear, if you can't get it right on the way in, you're doing something wrong!!
A hybrid setup requires recall anyway...unless you are using normalled summing exclusively.
As soon as you are dealing with outboard you are in the same (or even worse) position as owning a SSL console with total recall.

In my very humble view, mixing on a console is what mixing is really supposed to be...
I am hybrid as well but only because I cannot afford a large mixing console.

Last edited by Lupez; 14th May 2015 at 03:32 PM..
Old 14th May 2015
  #28
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lupez View Post
A hybrid setup requires recall anyway...unless you are using normalled summing exclusively.
As soon as you are dealing with outboard you are in the same (or even worse) position as owning a SSL console with total recall.

In my very humble view, mixing on a console is what mixing is really supposed to be...
I am hybrid as well but only because I cannot afford a large mixing console.
Tighter budgets and tighter deadlines = more ITB work!
Old 14th May 2015
  #29
Gear Addict
 
Lupez's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Oracle View Post
Tighter budgets and tighter deadlines = more ITB work!
agreed.
but ITB is not hybrid...ITB is ITB!

and BTW...it is the only Total Recall solution aside from fully automated desks - hybrid is not.
Old 14th May 2015
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lupez View Post
agreed.
but ITB is not hybrid...ITB is ITB!

and BTW...it is the only Total Recall solution aside from fully automated desks - hybrid is not.
Not if you print detailed, processed stems and balance those for recalls like many of the big guns.
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