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SSL AWS 924 for 5.1 Surround Mix for Film Scores Control Surfaces
Old 11th May 2017
  #1
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SSL AWS 924 for 5.1 Surround Mix for Film Scores

Please let me know if you have a professional studio for 5.1 surround with an SSL AWS 924!!

I'm planning to get an SSL AWS 924 for a studio where I do music for artists. I don't have much experience with 5.1 but I want the studio to be able to do surround mixing for Film scores professionally. Also to get professional engineers to come to the studio to do 5.1 surround mixes.

I know the AWS covers all aspects about tracking and mixing in stereo for music. Also I know that it has 5.1 monitoring. But does it covers all aspects to have a professional studio dedicated to 5.1 surround mixing for Film scores?

If not, what would you recommend? How can I complement it to make a pro studio for surround mix having the AWS? Or would you recommend other ways?

I know the AWS has 5.1 monitoring but not a 5.1 mix buss, so I would need to do surround panning in protools. Is this something that could make a professional mixing engineer to not hire the studio for this reason?

Thanks!
Old 11th May 2017
  #2
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5.1 music mix or 5.1 dub/re-recording mix?
It's not set up for a re-recording mix.

As for 5.1 music mix, I know of no one who has done it on 924 for feature film or (US network) tv. The SSL 8000G and 9000J, yes, if you are looking at SSL desks. But generally the preferred has been the Neve 88RS/88R consoles (if going analogue.) You have to deliver multiple stems for a feature (and most tv) in multichannel sound to a dub mix. The 924 would be a long process to get that to happen (and it wouldn't be consistent for dynamics processing unless you did some elaborate sidechain bussing when doing 5.1 stem prints.)

But... most are done using a control surface due to delivery requirements (probably greater than 90%.) And if your goal is 5.1 for film/feature, it's best to go with an Avid S6. Love or hate Avid, they are entrenched in post production. (I would have said the Euphonix consoles, but that nail is finally in the coffin from Avid).

But you were just looking at $6k for speaker monitoring and now an $80k console and are trying to set up for film/tv 5.1 surround work? You've got things out of balance to both attract people to work there and what the demands are for music for surround film/tv. Might be time to visit successful studios who do the work you are planning to offer to learn from their successes and failures.

Last edited by pentagon; 11th May 2017 at 05:40 PM.. Reason: typo
Old 11th May 2017
  #3
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I use a AWS 948 and love it but when it comes to film work I mix in the box using it as a DAW control. I've done over 30 film scores and the requirements would be make it just too difficult to use the desk for summing. The amount of recalls and stems requested can be insane (esp when it's surround stems). These are mostly orchestral and electronic scores. I have used the desk when there was a pop or rock type song included in the score. Record or radio type tracks I much prefer mixing on the desk. It sounds so good. I mix everything on the desk but scores.
The first Terrence Malick movie I did was in 7.1 so the desk would have been a no go anyway. One director was considering 12.1. When it comes to stems ITB is really fast. On the desk it's really time consuming. I think once you experiment you may agree. Best of luck.
Old 12th May 2017
  #4
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Duality is configured as a 5.1 console. That's why Schron, Rudolfinium and all the other film music studios have them rather than AWSes. Add in 24 buses for stems and you see why...

As previously posted, the DAW control and 5.1 monitor section allows the AWS to be called in to occasional service it is not what I'd call a dedicated 5.1 console.
Old 13th May 2017
  #5
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Yes I'm a bit confuse on the 5.1 side. I have seen a very professional studio that works in both worlds (artists and film) with an old Icon until today and doing big Hollywood films. They also use one set of stereo speakers and one set of great 5.1 speakers that they use both for 5.1 and for the second pair of stereo speakers.

I know the AWS covers pretty well all stereo requirements (includes eq's, pres and compressors) and also has a ver extensive daw control system (including plug ins and details). On the 5.1 you can use it for monitoring but it has some limitations in it right?

If I have the AWS at the studio, is there any equipment that I can add at the studio to complement the AWS that could give me complete flexibility for 5.1 and just use the AWS as a daw control when I'm in 5.1? Not sure if it's the Avid Dock or another parallel monitor system like the dangerous, etc.

I mean the S/6 is one of the top equipments for 5.1 but at the end it's just a controller or am I wrong?

Thanks!
Old 13th May 2017
  #6
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Anything not a Eucon controller can't do as much with Pro Tools as a Eucon controller. That includes DAW control by the AWS which talks to ProTools as a HUI device.
The S6 is "just a controller" but it has deep embedded control of ProTools that HUI can't do.
Whereas the AWS has actual analogue processing that may not be taken advantage of when working in 5.1 (at which point it may also just be a controller.)

Some have hybridised this type of workload by using a ProTools|Dock or S3 in addition to their analogue board. That could work for you.

If you were using something like the Duality or 88RS, ProTools would just play the part of a hard disk recorder/playback so control of ProTools doesn't have to be too deep. Less of this would matter (of course those are way more expensive)

You've got some very expensive decisions to make on what type of client you are trying to attract. If you are the only one engineering in the room, this may be easier since you can possibly establish an unorthodox workflow that gets the job done.
Old 13th May 2017
  #7
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The AWS has a very good 5.1 monitoring section that slows multiple 5.1 signals to be auditioned.
One area that is does very well in is allowing proper trim of each speaker, bass management switched in and out, feeds for multiple front speakers to be swapped and also sub woofer swapping.
I suggest downloading the manual from. The SSL website and reading the section on monitoring which also covers in depth the 5.1 situation.
Old 13th May 2017
  #8
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I mean the S/3 is a pro tools controller. What an AWS can't do as a controller that the S/3 can do?

Maybe the Avid Dock is a good idea or just a parallel complete monitor system like the dangerous for 5.1 on top of the AWS? Something that more 5.1 engineers are comfortable with...

What does the Avid Dock could add to the 5.1 mixing experience with the AWS?

Maybe this is a silly question: What's the main change of using the S/6 than using the S/3 than just mixing in pro tools directly with an artist mix or directly with your mouse and keyboard? I mean the sound won't change right? Is it just the conformability to being able to have all commands in one console?

Also, about studio B should I go for an Icon D Command that are pretty cheap today or just go with a Dangerous or any other 5.1 monitor control surround system? The D Command uses the Xmon that I believe is the same that uses the S/6? Or I'm wrong. Is the D Command obsolete already?
Old 13th May 2017
  #9
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D-Command and D-Control are obsolete.

There's no requirement for an X-mon for the S6

The S3 can do far more than the an HUI controller (which is what the AWS is). The Dock is even better with soft keys to make a pseudo-S6.

I think the biggest thing you are missing is for film/tv 5.1 work (or greater) is time = money. You can work much faster on a better controller. An S6 is > than a S3+Dock which is >>>>>>>>>>> greater than any HUI controller (which includes the AWS.) Someone has to pay for that time and they don't want to pay for wasted time. If you aren't trying to attract actual film/tv 5.1 work, this will mean little.

The add of a Eucon controller (S3 etc) to an AWS (if using the AWS for analogue processing) is adding the features and automation of ProTools to an analogue chain you like the sound of.

Dangerous is a monitor controller. And no offence to DannyMac, but any AWS used for the features mentioned is a way expensive monitor controller. Dangerous, Avocet, Grace can do those feature for 1/10th the price.

Last edited by pentagon; 13th May 2017 at 07:27 PM.. Reason: typo
Old 13th May 2017
  #10
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OK got it. Thanks!

The only detail is that I will have to work with artists and attract work for 5.1 surround Mixes for Film as well. That's why I'm interested in the AWS and trying to complement it with some extra equipment (not that expensive) for Film. I know the AWS is pretty expensive just as a monitor controller but the purpose is to cover tracking and mixing for artists as well. I know, I have two options: Going more towards Artists music (AWS) or going more towards Film (S/6 or maybe S/3+Dock). I would like to go go more to the AWS and complement it with something to do Film.

When you say the S3 can do "Far More" what that means? Can you give an example what extra things it can do?

What if I go for the AWS with the S/3 or with the AWS with a Dock. What would the best option of these two? What I would achieve with each one? What I understood is that my limitation with the AWS would be to do panning from one speaker to the other??

I can't go for a Duality and I think I wont go for an S/6 because it costs like the AWS, and I'll be fine for Film but not that great for artists and the value will come down after some years pretty quick. If the studio starts getting a lot more film work I'll consider this in the future. But now the idea is to be able to do both.

I know a top studio that that does Film work with an "Icon" today. You mean obsolete that it wont work in the near future? Today it costs basically like a Dangerous system. I think could be good for a B room instead of a Dangerous system. What you think?
Old 13th May 2017
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jffmusic View Post
When you say the S3 can do "Far More" what that means? Can you give an example what extra things it can do?

What if I go for the AWS with the S/3 or with the AWS with a Dock. What would the best option of these two? What I would achieve with each one? What I understood is that my limitation with the AWS would be to do panning from one speaker to the other??
You should read the S3, Dock, and AWS (in regards to DAW control) manuals. There's far too much difference on what a Eucon control surface can do from a HUI control. The AWS will definitely attract stereo and music clients. This may be your best plan to do both film/tv work and artists to add a S3/Dock to the AWS. Most likely a film client would not use the AWS at all and go to the S3+Dock and just monitor out the AWS. A Music client would probably use both the AWS and S3+Dock (since the Dock could be used to control the protools rig while mixing on the AWS.) Probably the Dock is more important to get more features overall but an S3 (or Artist Mix) would be good to have as a companion to give at least a bank of faders that can work with the Dock.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jffmusic View Post
I know a top studio that that does Film work with an "Icon" today. You mean obsolete that it wont work in the near future? Today it costs basically like a Dangerous system. I think could be good for a B room instead of a Dangerous system. What you think?
An Icon (D-Control or D-Command) are/were great as controllers. Just they are EOL by Avid at this point so I think they have about 5 or less years of support with the software.
The Dangerous ST/SR is just a monitor controller -- not a mixing board; I was using it as a comparison for monitor control functions. For an Icon system, you'll need an X-Mon box (or one of the replacement units like the Trinnov) to use the monitor control section of the Icon.

And btw, the S3 goes regularly for about US$3600 and the Dock for US$1000 on ebay from authourized retailers -- so don't look at new prices and you'll get more for your money. Those ebay units tend to be "demo" units or tradeshow units and there's no reason there should be that many of them for that purpose (they are pretty much new or even unopened with warranty.) I have a feeling that this is a sales ploy to get around Avid minimum pricing.
Old 13th May 2017
  #12
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FWIW, I owned an AWS for many years and am now leading the audio post production department of a big company with S6 in all rooms.

What pentagon has said is spot on.

You have to make your decision based on a thorough examination of your business needs.

1: Both are at the top of what they were designed for.
2: I can perfectly understand the emotional attachement to an analogue SSL console
3: Using an S6 can make you work much faster and intuitively than with any other controller except maybe the old D-Control, which means faster and better results. Anyone who says these things are just 'big mouses' has never worked on one.
4: If you want to do more post production work, the choice is easy. S6 all the way. You will only use the monitor section and controller side of the AWS for that anyway, and while the AWS is probably the best HUI controller you can get (and the faders beat those of any controller except for the S6), the S6 beats it by a million miles in that field.
5: If you want to do mainly artist work and 5.1 post production once in a while, the AWS is a fine choice if you're into an analogue/hybrid workflow. That being said, these days of course you can do terrific music work on an S6 as well.
6: You won't attract score mixing engineers with an AWS. All these guys probably have their own mix rooms or will ask for an 88RS with scoring panel and/or spec'd out Duality.
7: Forget about having post production freelancers book a room with an analogue SSL console.


I love both of them.
Old 14th May 2017
  #13
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Thanks Pentagon and Kosmokrator for your feedback!

What it means EOL?
I see the S/3 goes for $4999 new. Where can I get it for $3,600?

Kosmokrator I understand what you mean. I'm not in the US and the studios here are a bit less advanced. So maybe a studio with an AWS plus a Dock could attract anyway some Film work. I mean, most of the studios here probably have an Artist Mix. Not sure 100% I will have to go check a bit more.

OK! So what you think about:

Studio A (Artists and Film):
AWS + Dock (maybe later I can add an S/3 or an artist Mix). For artists and Film.

Studio B (TV and Film):
Options:
1) Icon D command w/ Xmon or Dmon?
2) S/3+Dock?
3) Dangerous+Artist Mix?
I could move one of this to studio A when needed for something important.

A Neve 88R costs like a Duality?

Thanks!
Old 14th May 2017
  #14
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EOL = end of life
For the S3, look on ebay. The reputable dealers are selling "tradeshow" and "demo" models often (alto music, westlake pro, etc.) As mentioned, there can't be this many used for tradeshows. They show up and disappear all the time at around $3600 (even this price seems to be fairly stable.)

Yes, 88RS is like Duality pricing.

Seems like an ok plan. Especially if Studio A has a tracking room (where the AWS might be more desirable.) For Studio B, I'd go with S3 + Dock -- especially compared to the D-command (the D-Control could attract some clients but the D-command vs S3 + Dock, the S3 package can do more and will be supported longer.) Having two rooms set up similarly also makes maintenance easier. You'll probably still want a monitor controller (Dangerous ST/SR, etc.) with the S3+Dock.
Old 14th May 2017
  #15
Gear Maniac
 
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I have being checking the different AVID products and not sure if it's my idea but it seems that the S/3 and the Dock share/overlap some functionalities? Dock looks like a beautiful product! You can choose tracks, zooms, you even have 1 fader and you can do surround panning on the screen, etc.

Also the AWS has lots of daw control possibilities for faders, automation, plug ins, etc. that cover lots of the same purposes with faders as the S/3, yes in a different way but same purpose I believe. Maybe the S/3 is more direct in some aspects but same idea right?

I know that the Dock and the AWS don't talk to each other but both talk to pro tools and I believe those together can cover most of the needs of pro tools controlling that at the end is what the S/3 or S/6 does. Maybe the S/6 has lot more control possibilities. I haven't check that one much because it's expensive and I don't want to spend that much in a controller unless in the future I see the necessity of having it to create more business. Yes it has a tracking room.

Also, for the other studio not sure if it's better the S/3 or the Icon. I have read some opinions that says that the S/6 is the replacement of the Icon and the S/3 is a downgrade. So not sure if the S/3 would be a plus. The only problem with the Icon is how many more years it will survive. Also with the Icon I wont need a monitor controller.

Maybe AWS and Icon are good options. And have a floating Dock and maybe an Artist Mix if needed.
Old 14th May 2017
  #16
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I think you probably need a hands-on walk through with these as controllers (AWS and S3.) There's no question on the AWS for analogue. For DAW (ProTools) control, you really need to see how they work differently. The Dock gives the S3 many of the S6's center section abilities (though it can also run separately.) For faders though (and a mixer will want more than one), the S3 (or Artist Mix) will be needed more than any HUI control like the AWS. HUI does not operate like Eucon at all. HUI is kludgy and has to work around (if it can) a lot of things that a really old protocol supports -- but other manufacturers don't get a choice because it's the only protocol that ProTools allows others to use.

As for the Icon... The Icon is more than one device; it is two separate packages. There's the D-Control and there's the D-Command. Both use the X-Mon box to manage monitoring from their control sections. The S3 is the replacement for the D-Command. The S6 is the replacement for the D-Control (and based on price, the System 5 (hybrid) Protools support -- though the System 5 was an actual console too with independent processing.) The D-Command and D-Control are two different levels of product. Both the D-Command and D-Control are part of the Icon group (blame Avid for this confusion in naming back when they were competing with Euphonix and before they bought Euphonix.) Today, even the S6 is really two different products also (the S6 M40 and the S6 M10.) So you actually have three controllers (S6 M40, S6 M10, S3.) Per my dealer, the S6 M10 is a waste and was really just an offshoot of the project meant for live/FOH mixing (Venue S6L.) Confusing yet?
Old 14th May 2017
  #17
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Yes you're right! I haven't used the AWS that much but I did a demo and I was surprised about how many functions it has for daw controller. I mean you can go as deep as controlling each knob of a plug in with the knobs at the console, similar to what I have seen on the S/3. Have you checked it?

Very confusing!! hahaa.. What I read is that the s6 m10 is the d-command replacement and the S3 is more a c24 replacement??

Anyway, the one that I would get if I get one would be the D-Command. Then I'll see, if everything works fine, what I could get in the future. What is really an incentive is that with that console you replace the Dangerous+S/3+Dock those together cost more than the D-command. And really people talk great things about the D-command.

As I mentioned, I can always have a Dock and an Artist Mix at hand in case are needed
Old 14th May 2017
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jffmusic View Post
Yes you're right! I haven't used the AWS that much but I did a demo and I was surprised about how many functions it has for daw controller. I mean you can go as deep as controlling each knob of a plug in with the knobs at the console, similar to what I have seen on the S/3. Have you checked it?(...)
Almost everything has already been said. At the level of money you intend on spending it's the best idea to book a day at a studio with each of these options and try it hands-on.

Regarding what you said above: IMO forget about the 'controlling of plugins'-aspect. It's IMO one of the less interesting features of a controller. Yes, the AWS can do that. Yes an S6 can do that way better.

What the most important thing in use between HUI and Eucon is 1. Layouts/Custom Fader Groups and 2. VCA spill.
These two what make really a difference in mixing.
And of course access to the advanced automation functions like preview, snapshots.

Sorry for only talking about the S6, I don't have any experience with the Dock and/or the S3.
Old 14th May 2017
  #19
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FYI, outside of the S6, VCA spill is only available with the S3+iOS App (though it is really designed for S3+Dock.) Can't do VCA spill with the artist mix.
Old 14th May 2017
  #20
Gear Maniac
 
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Yes thanks!

Would you mind going in a bit more detail what you mean by these and in what situation you use those functions for example:

1. Layouts/Custom Fader Groups.
2. VCA spill.

Pentagon are you able to do these with the S/3?

Cheers.
Old 14th May 2017
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jffmusic View Post
Yes thanks!

Would you mind going in a bit more detail what you mean by these and in what situation you use those functions for example:

1. Layouts/Custom Fader Groups.
2. VCA spill.

Pentagon are you able to do these with the S/3?

Cheers.
Yes. You can do both of these with the S3 + iOS app (but preferably with the Dock holding the iPad.)

You can do Layouts/Custom fader groups with an Artist Mix too but it is a pain to manage without an iPad mimicking the screen/soft key functions found on the S6. Not recommended. You cannot do VCA spill at all though without the S3.

They are both exactly what they sound like. Layout/custom fader groups means pulling up a custom layout/fader group across your faders quickly with one/two taps. This is a case of assigning different channels to different faders and the setup of the board itself (where things are) no matter where the channels are located in your onscreen mixer.

VCA spill is where you call up a VCA group and spill all its member across a set of faders so you can work on the internal mix of the VCA group, and then continue mixing.

A simple example for an orchestral film score, would be a VCA devoted to strings but you have multiple passes (arco, short, pizz) so you spill and fix the balance between the different parts or maybe the first violin spots need to come down in the arco strings so you break apart the arco group and go to microphone level and fix spots against the tree, then jump back up to mixing the strings against everything else. All with a tap or two.
Now imagine doing this for hundreds of things in a modern film score from orchestral recordings, solo recordings, add-in percussion, synthetic elements and panning in 5.0/5.1 and reverbs and automation. You can see how much time this will save to get things done faster. (And if you look at FX mixes, especially for scifi or animated picture, you can be all over the place grabbing hundreds/thousands of elements.) Plus all these tracks (since you are jumping everywhere) are labeled clearly on the digital scribble strips (and change color.)

Can we do this work without all this, yes (we had for years) but it is slower and deadlines are faster now and once a mixer works this way, they won't want to go back.
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