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SSL XL DESK - Hybrid Mixing Workflow Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 20th March 2017
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
jffmusic's Avatar
 

Hybrid Mixing Workflow + Which console?

Hi Guys,

Can you please share your mixing workflow for Hybrid mixing including hardware equipment, the daw and a small console?

Im thinking about mixing in the box initially, doing automation there and then move to the console in stems to do final mixing and broader touches. Then I can print stems or the final stereo Mix.

Thinking about the SSL XL Desk or the Matrix as console options.

Thanks!

Last edited by jffmusic; 21st March 2017 at 04:49 AM..
Old 22nd March 2017
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
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bumpiliciouus..
Old 23rd March 2017
  #3
Lives for gear
 
subspace's Avatar
I've been woodshedding this week, stemming some ITB mixes out comparing different lay-outs.

Starting with a Pro Tools session around 48 tracks, I bussed all the drums to stereo aux bus A, all the guitars to stereo aux bus B, and all the vocals to stereo aux bus C. Returning those busses to the stereo master I had a baseline ITB mix.

Reassigning those busses to separate analog outs on a MOTU 16A, I returned them to my small console, an Audient ASP2802. I then compared using an IK Bus Compressor plug on the drum bus ITB to the Audient bus compressor patched into the analog channels. Decided the bottom end wasn't solid enough and patched the kick and bass out two more mono aux busses to the last two channels on the Audient. Tried the IK Precision Compressor on the ITB vocal bus, then swapped it for an A-Designs Nail on the console channels. Similar comparisons done with a Black 76 plug on the bass bus and a CAPI FC526 on it's Audient channel, as well as a British Channel comp on the kick bus to a 160XT on it's channel insert.

So all the individual track processing was handled ITB, while the analog bus processing was inserted on the Audient channels. I was focusing on using less individual track compression pre-fader and instead mixing into subgroup compression driven by the channel faders. The analog dynamics worked well for this and since they were inserted on the Audient channels before the analog faders, I could still ride the bus levels using the analog automation.

From a mixing standpoint, I'd think the Matrix would lend itself best to that kind of workflow, as flipping from the DAW control layer controlling the ITB channel levels to the analog layer riding the bus levels was very intuitive.
Old 30th March 2017
  #4
Gear Maniac
 
jffmusic's Avatar
 

Thanks for the reply!

Yes I will have to experiment. I like the SSL XL Desk better in some analogue way, hope is not very limited.
Old 30th March 2017
  #5
Here for the gear
 

I'm using a combo of an SSL Nucleus (Gen 1) and a Sigma, which would be most similar to the Matrix, although Matrix has additional features.

Some notes on workflow:
- Most importantly, the Sigma is completely controllable and DAW project recallable via the Sigma Delta plug-ins. You won't get that with the XL-Desk.
- The Sigma has 16 stereo channels and two mix busses, each with inserts and an added ability to route mix B into mix A.
- My DA is a gen 1 Apogee Symphony.
- I have a lot of outboard gear (22 x 500 series processors, a couple Distressors, etc.) and use a TT patch bay to get gear in the signal path between the DA output and Sigma input. If I'm not using outboard, I just normal the DA output to the Sigma input to save on cabling.
- In cases where I combine multiple channels into a group in the DAW, I leave the Sigma channel at unity and control levels in the DAW. In cases where I map a DAW track directly to a Sigma channel, the DAW channel stays at unity and I control levels in the Sigma.
- I usually map all drum tracks to mix bus B and route them through a bus compressor via the mix B insert, and then turn on the Mix B to A feature. You could also use this for other parallel compression for units that don't have a wet/dry knob.
- The Mix A output from the Sigma goes to my analog master section, currently controlled by a Manley Backbone (which is awesome). I have a couple of EQs and compressors there.
- The Backbone output gets multed to both an AD input for routing the final mix back into the DAW -and- back to the Nucleus's external inputs for monitor control.

This has worked great for me with the only pain being manual outboard analog gear recall. I really like the diversity and options my 500 series processors bring, but I have considered picking up an X-Rack with SSL EQs/Comps to get total recall.

I hope this is helpful. I'm sure the XL-Desk sounds great, but I would likely go with a Matrix if I were starting from scratch to get recall and digitally controlled routing, etc.
Old 30th March 2017
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by jffmusic View Post
Hi Guys,

Can you please share your mixing workflow for Hybrid mixing including hardware equipment, the daw and a small console?

Im thinking about mixing in the box initially, doing automation there and then move to the console in stems to do final mixing and broader touches. Then I can print stems or the final stereo Mix.

Thinking about the SSL XL Desk or the Matrix as console options.

Thanks!
I would always do automation AFTER the broader touches. I don't see how you can do fine tuning if the overall eq or compression on significant parts will be changing. Do the broad strokes how you want, THEN refine the automation.

I also think automation ITB but then into outboard processing is slightly counterproductive, unless you're working in stems and processing the stems (eg vocals including fx into a buss and processing that - I hate the idea of doing pre processing fx sends).

Hybrid using hardware inserts can be cool. Hybrid using a desk and outboard inserts there can cause workflow limitations and headaches.

The sigma and matrix (and AWS of course) are pretty cool solutions for those who want the best of both.
Old 30th March 2017
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
jffmusic's Avatar
 

Thanks Phsycho_Monkey!

I got what you're saying about automation/ fine tuning.

I have most of my experience ITB. Now I'm trying to move into hybrid mixing. I know AWS 900 is an option, but on one side is more expensive and on the other side I have a lot of external Neve and API preamps already, so not sure if getting a console full of pre amps as well. And I feel is more complicated to use that console than the XL Desk.

How you see the routing using the SSL XL Desk?

Maybe set up everything in the computer, mix ITB (even using some hardware fx/compressor inserts into protools) come out in stereo stems and maybe couple important individual tracks, then go directly to the 3 busses and final buss. Add some fx inserts on the busses, maybe re-touch some eq if needed, go to a stereo buss and print.

Another option maybe go to the console with more stems re-touch everything with external eqs, etc. come back into pro tools in the same stems, automate and go out to the desk again into final busses.

Best!
Old 31st March 2017
  #8
Solid State Logic
 
Jim@SSL's Avatar
 

If recall is the issue, why not strap a Sigma over the 2nd insert point of each channel, (or set as 8x Mono and then 8x stereo over the remaining channels of the XL-Desk). Faders then become post-automation trims, but automation is after processing on insert points?
Old 2nd April 2017
  #9
Gear Maniac
 
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Hi Jim,

Thanks! I didn't get exactly what you're saying.

Can you share a couple of common/ recommended mixing workflows using the SSL XL Desk? How people are using it. Maybe with or without the Sigma.

Also, I have external Neve and API preamps. In case I need to track more than 16 Mics, can I combine the XL Desk with some preamps going directly to the converter or there would be a delay or other kind of problem?

Cheers!
Old 3rd April 2017
  #10
Maybe this will help. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=POouLhgfT68

The XL mixer would be my choice. I guess if you have a lot of hardware gear you want to insert on your tracks, the Matrix might work out better, but I love having a analog mixer

Last edited by Jason rocks; 3rd April 2017 at 05:34 PM..
Old 3rd April 2017
  #11
Wes Audio Dione's are incredible. Vocal/Instrument automation via USB and plug in. The new automated 500 series gear is the future.
Generally I make 8 stereo stems that all have 500 series eq and compression and then send them to 4 stereo groups
1 is heavy compression for parallel fun, 2 is Fuzz Saturation for colour, 3 is API 560s for punch, 4 is VOGS for sub.
Then they are blended together for the stereo mix maybe with some extra stereo parallel busses of high end eq, compression and a M-A-S or HG2 for more colour if needed.
Old 3rd April 2017
  #12
Solid State Logic
 
Jim@SSL's Avatar
 

Best advice is to sit down in front of one. Workflow is always an individual thing and it may even shift from project to project. Sounds like a cop-out but it's true.

At the end of the day it's a 24 into 8 analogue console, so generic workflow will be like most other analogue consoles. However it does have some cool "add-ons" that make hybrid life a bit easier.

The Sigma thing?
XL-Desk has 2 insert points on each channel. Send the first out to your patchbay and processing, send the second in to a Sigma to automate analogue levels/recall, then use XL-Desk faders as trims.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jffmusic View Post
Hi Jim,

Thanks! I didn't get exactly what you're saying.

Can you share a couple of common/ recommended mixing workflows using the SSL XL Desk? How people are using it. Maybe with or without the Sigma.

Also, I have external Neve and API preamps. In case I need to track more than 16 Mics, can I combine the XL Desk with some preamps going directly to the converter or there would be a delay or other kind of problem?

Cheers!
Old 3rd April 2017
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
jffmusic's Avatar
 

Hello Guys,

A friend of mine is selling his SSL AWS 900. He is selling it for double the cost of what I will have to spend on the SSL XL Desk. I already have like 8 API pres and 8 Neve pres. Do you think it worth the effort to get the used AWS 900 and maybe selling the Neve/ API pres or you think the SSL XL Desk would be enough for professional projects in a Hybrid context? My idea was to mix in the box and then send stems to the console.

This is for a commercial studio. Do you think the AWS would make a big impact for the clients? Will give me a lot more than the XL Desk?

Please if you have experience on this I would appreciate your point of view.

Thanks!

JF
Old 4th April 2017
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by jffmusic View Post
Hello Guys,

A friend of mine is selling his SSL AWS 900. He is selling it for double the cost of what I will have to spend on the SSL XL Desk. I already have like 8 API pres and 8 Neve pres. Do you think it worth the effort to get the used AWS 900 and maybe selling the Neve/ API pres or you think the SSL XL Desk would be enough for professional projects in a Hybrid context? My idea was to mix in the box and then send stems to the console.

This is for a commercial studio. Do you think the AWS would make a big impact for the clients? Will give me a lot more than the XL Desk?

Please if you have experience on this I would appreciate your point of view.

Thanks!

JF
Recall.

2 x built in dynamics, EQ on every channel.

Analogue automation.

DAW control (which is really useful at tracking - you can set record levels to tape, then do balances ITB but on the faders).

24 true mono channels, rather than 16 mono/4 stereo channels.



From a quick glance, that's the big differences between the 2, ie the benefits of the AWS.

IF you never intend doing more than stem mixing on the XL, don't care about fader automation/DAW control, and so on - ie you're really looking for a centrepiece for tracking - then maybe the XL desk is a good option?

Personally - if I were taking the route Jim above suggested (sigma on the inserts for automation) you'd be foolish not to take the AWS route and get all the other benefits.

Disclaimer - I spent a day working on an AWS 948 Delta a couple of weeks ago, that's my major experience with that console. And it was broadly positive!
Old 4th April 2017
  #15
Gear Maniac
 
jffmusic's Avatar
 

Thanks Psycho!

Also you have 5.1 monitor system controller. I think if you want you can do everything you do in the XL desk in the AWS right? (and obviously more) I mean if the idea is for other engineers to work at the studio as well. I think this is more complete option.

I just watched a couple of videos of the AWS on youtube and there's too much information! Between the Daw controller and all buttons options. I would like to keep it a bit simple with Mixing in the box into 24 tracks. Send it to the desk. Add EQ, compressors, FX. Automate, send to busses and print. Then you can recall if you need to. What you think? Do you think is a good fit for rock music as well?

Is it standard buying used consoles? Or because has electronics could be tricky? I'm afraid it could get damaged because it's used.

Thx
Old 4th April 2017
  #16
Gear Maniac
 
SonicAxiom's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottreder View Post
I'm using a combo of an SSL Nucleus (Gen 1) and a Sigma, which would be most similar to the Matrix, although Matrix has additional features.

Some notes on workflow:
- Most importantly, the Sigma is completely controllable and DAW project recallable via the Sigma Delta plug-ins. You won't get that with the XL-Desk.
- The Sigma has 16 stereo channels and two mix busses, each with inserts and an added ability to route mix B into mix A.
- My DA is a gen 1 Apogee Symphony.
- I have a lot of outboard gear (22 x 500 series processors, a couple Distressors, etc.) and use a TT patch bay to get gear in the signal path between the DA output and Sigma input. If I'm not using outboard, I just normal the DA output to the Sigma input to save on cabling.
- In cases where I combine multiple channels into a group in the DAW, I leave the Sigma channel at unity and control levels in the DAW. In cases where I map a DAW track directly to a Sigma channel, the DAW channel stays at unity and I control levels in the Sigma.
- I usually map all drum tracks to mix bus B and route them through a bus compressor via the mix B insert, and then turn on the Mix B to A feature. You could also use this for other parallel compression for units that don't have a wet/dry knob.
- The Mix A output from the Sigma goes to my analog master section, currently controlled by a Manley Backbone (which is awesome). I have a couple of EQs and compressors there.
- The Backbone output gets multed to both an AD input for routing the final mix back into the DAW -and- back to the Nucleus's external inputs for monitor control.

This has worked great for me with the only pain being manual outboard analog gear recall. I really like the diversity and options my 500 series processors bring, but I have considered picking up an X-Rack with SSL EQs/Comps to get total recall.

I hope this is helpful. I'm sure the XL-Desk sounds great, but I would likely go with a Matrix if I were starting from scratch to get recall and digitally controlled routing, etc.
I'm enjoying a similar setup and workflow here. My setup is:

- various hiQ analog outboard (BAE 1084's, ADL 1500, PA MC77's, Electrodyne 501's, SSL 611EQ's and SSL 611DNY's and a few other 500 series modules)

- Ferrofish A32 Dante (32 analog in/outs to Dante, 32 ADAT in/outs, 64 MADI in/outs, all formats are converted to any other - 64 channels appear in the Dante network)

- Yamaha DM1000 incl. 2 Dante cards for 32 Dante in/outs (receiving all analog intputs for latency-free headphone mixes - its only use right now in my studio)

- main pc (win7, Reaper, Yamaha AIC128-D Dante PCIe card providing 128 Dante in/outs)

- SSL Sigma receiving individual tracks from the DAW, sometimes stereo stems; Sigma also gets automated via Reaper MIDI faders.

- patchbays to insert the analog gear before or while mixing into the Sigma and during mastering

Honestly, I dont miss something like an XL-desk with my setup. Maybe a Matrix could be useful due to its capability to save and restore analog patching. Other than that, I'm leaning more towards adding even more different analog flavours to my setup. I think I prefer having BAE, E-dyne and all the other colours available instead of selling them all to get "only" the SSL sound (no offense! SSL sounds spectacular!).
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