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Hybrid mixing setup- patchbay or hardware inserts?
Old 29th June 2016
  #1
Hybrid mixing setup- patchbay or hardware inserts?

Hello to all you slutz! Long time troller, first time posting.
My question is this- I have been mixing with a hybrid setup for about a year now(as opposed to solely ITB) and I've been using hardware inserts in PT. to this end, I have a couple of signal chains wired with some of my favorite combos, mostly for drum buss/ 2 buss processing - but I wonder if the extra converter round trips are damaging my mixes. My converters are Apollo 16mkii, and I don't feel that I'm losing any noticible resolution, but there are a few funny things about gain staging working in this way. So I suppose the question is also one about operating level conversions between digital and analog. My theory is that since there is only one piece of digital gear involved, the sampling will be pretty accurately locked with regard to pitch and catch- and with room eq wizard loop back, the Apollo is SUPER flat after about 30 Hz.
So there- is it better to add 20' of cable (neglex) and lossy XLR(neutrik) connections per side, plus a patchbay(audio accessories) or convert several times (And I get my converters could be better to start with).


Thanks!
Old 30th June 2016
  #2
Gear Head
 

Hi and welcome!

first of all if your setup sounds fine and works for you stick to it! Anything else will make things unnecessary complicated.
It really is more about the workflow than anything else. I wouldn't worry about loss in quality so much. Technically you loose some quality both ways. Does it hurt your ears? I guess not. I do use a patchbay and it's very convenient sometimes. I've got Neutrik TT Patchbays with Sub-D connections. Got some of them "normalled" wich means I have a basic setup without patching anything. And when I wanna change something its done in no time. Wouldn't wanna miss it!
Gainstaging...yeah... that can be a real pain in the lower back... I don't know the apollo so much but on my converter I can adjust the gain for individual I/O's. First that made things even more complicated but I hope I'm fine now.

And a about the converter: sure, there's always a better converter and than there's a better clock and a better cable - none of that will make better music or better mixes! It might make a really, really great mix sound even better but I guess there are not sooo many people on earth that got a. that kind of hearing b. the ability c. the experience to really make use of that last 2%. I know for a fact that the engineer who recorded the latest Radiohead Album didn't gave a sh.t about the converters or the clock at La Fabrique and just used what's there. It sounds pretty awesome to me. And most of us at GS are not about to record or mix the next Coldplay album so don't worry, your Apollo is a great converter and neither a patchbay or a couple of AD/DA's are going to ruin your mix.

Hope that helps!
Old 30th June 2016
  #3
Lives for gear
A single round trip will not cost you much vs. what you gain. If you have more inputs than converters, a patch bay help tons, especially when a mixer or summer is being used. A patch bay and cables cost a few bucks. Watch what you wish for.

Audio Accecories in the USA staple of patch bays. Pro Audio LA will cut your existing cables into new one if you get a patch bay through them. Red-co also makes a good one for less cash.

In some cases, going through another units converters is what gives the desired sound. For high end reverbs I find this to be true.
Old 7th July 2016
  #4
Thanks for the tips, all!
I think I'm gonna stick with hardware inserts, for now nice to know other GSers don't think I'm nuts for round-tripping so much.
Old 31st March 2018
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by domenicsabol View Post
Thanks for the tips, all!
I think I'm gonna stick with hardware inserts, for now nice to know other GSers don't think I'm nuts for round-tripping so much.
Hello. You're set up and original question sounds like where I'm at now! How's everything been working, any changes? I use an Apollo 8 Mkii now and was considering adding the 16. I currently run everything through a couple Sampson patch age which I've got set up and working well. Buuuut am considering an easier life perhaps with just using the hardware as plugged js? Hmmm
Old 31st March 2018
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by szyam View Post
Hello. You're set up and original question sounds like where I'm at now! How's everything been working, any changes? I use an Apollo 8 Mkii now and was considering adding the 16. I currently run everything through a couple Sampson patch age which I've got set up and working well. Buuuut am considering an easier life perhaps with just using the hardware as plugged js? Hmmm
I guess it depends on your needs - I have since moved on from the apollo/hardware insert setup, but it wasn't a bad rig and I did a lot of work I'm proud of like that. PT 12's 'commit' feature was a life saver, but I was worried about 'o-eq-i- o-comp-i' sort of signal chains, but it was never an audible issue unless the delay compensation would get buggy, but you could hear that pretty easily and restart. Where the issue really came for me was having to make all those DB25 cables so I didn't have to dismantle my whole system every time I went out on a location recording! If you can get a good deal on it, I would say go for it!
Old 31st March 2018
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by domenicsabol View Post
I guess it depends on your needs - I have since moved on from the apollo/hardware insert setup, but it wasn't a bad rig and I did a lot of work I'm proud of like that. PT 12's 'commit' feature was a life saver, but I was worried about 'o-eq-i- o-comp-i' sort of signal chains, but it was never an audible issue unless the delay compensation would get buggy, but you could hear that pretty easily and restart. Where the issue really came for me was having to make all those DB25 cables so I didn't have to dismantle my whole system every time I went out on a location recording! If you can get a good deal on it, I would say go for it!
Cool, thanks on the reply . Yea that repeating IO pattern kind bugs me out too. Not the thought of degradation, just the latency and weirdness of it. Entering and exiting the analog/digital paradigms... it's not natural! haha.

With the patchbay, I like knowing that I only exit and return once, and everything in between is analog and latency free, minus all the bugs and sample issues. I guess I'm answering my own question here lol. Well, best of luck. Cheers!
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