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Masterbus Hardware in Serial? DAW Software
Old 8th June 2017
  #1
Gear Head
 

Masterbus Hardware in Serial?

I've got a Manley Vari Mu and a RND MBP, interfaced through an Apollo 8 (blackface). Right now, to save space I've got them in serial- my signal goes stereo out into the Vari Mu, directly into the RND, and then back in as stereo.

I'd really like to use the units as separate effects, though. How bad would it be if I had each unit routed to the I/O of the Apollo? Is this severely damaging? It would run through conversion twice. Is the tradeoff better, because I'd be able to use them individually on tracks, thus warming up the mix a bit at a time? The final Masterbus signal would go out-VM-in-out-RND-in.
Old 8th June 2017
  #2
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prockamaniac View Post
I've got a Manley Vari Mu and a RND MBP, interfaced through an Apollo 8 (blackface). Right now, to save space I've got them in serial- my signal goes stereo out into the Vari Mu, directly into the RND, and then back in as stereo.

I'd really like to use the units as separate effects, though. How bad would it be if I had each unit routed to the I/O of the Apollo? Is this severely damaging? It would run through conversion twice. Is the tradeoff better, because I'd be able to use them individually on tracks, thus warming up the mix a bit at a time? The final Masterbus signal would go out-VM-in-out-RND-in.
I personally would avoid double conversion at all cost, if you want to use just the vari mu you can hardwire bypass the MBP, and visa versa. Only thing you can't do is use both at the same time.. Also have you considered getting a high end 2 channel ADDA for your 2-bus? Might be worth it considering the great compressors you have
Old 8th June 2017
  #3
Lives for gear
 

Try it out and see if you can hear the difference. Modern converters are getting very good (even cheaper ones). There are lots of people working both ways.
Old 20th June 2017
  #4
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MatsNo View Post
Also have you considered getting a high end 2 channel ADDA for your 2-bus? Might be worth it considering the great compressors you have
What would you recommend? I'm thinking of getting a Symphony, but I'm open to anything.
Old 20th June 2017
  #5
Symphony is certainly good enough for some DA/AD-loops.
Old 20th June 2017
  #6
Lives for gear
 

Well, there's no "one size fits all" solution. As it was mentioned, you should try, what will be best suited for your workflow.
Although most good converters are pretty transparent, I generally avoid to have multiple roundtrips, when possible. Other aspects of that is, each interface roundtrip inherently adds some delay, which is sometimes necessary to compensate (this doesn't have so high priority, when it's being used just at master), but when you use outboard for some individual tracks or buses, then it makes sense to have everything aligned. So having everything just at own converter I/O and route signal of serial effects multiple times via DAW increase that delay.
Also in some chains it's good to drive some analogue effect directly with previous one.. experiment with different gainstaging etc. which is sometimes hard to do without overloading of converters or constantly fiddling with its sensitivity.

Of course sometimes it's good to have a choice, where you can use multiple effects at master bus and for some other occasion "extract" individual effect and have it at drum bus for example.

There are few approaches, how to do that from some manual reconnection of snakes up to some remote controlled relay switcher/router, which is always bit expensive. From my point of view, good ol' normalled TT patchbay is a nice compromise for most of situations.
Typically patchbays are wired in a way, that you have for example top row with converter outputs, bottom row with converter inputs.. next you have your effects, outputs and inputs from corresponding effect are in the same column. This is most straightforward way, because you can quickly navigate there.
But it's not only way how to do it, and for instance at some small setup with somewhat fixed amount of outboard effects, you can modify that scheme according to your taste and use normalling (full normalling basically connects top patchbay socket to lower socket, when patchcord is pulled out) to save patching for most typical connection.
So that can allow you to have for instance in top row.. DAC 1, DAC 2, COMP OUT 1, COMP OUT 2.. in bottom row COMP IN 1, COMP IN 2, ADC 1, ADC 2.. similarly with some next effect, say some EQ will be used with converter I/Os 3-4 and so on.
This way with normalling, patch cables out, effects can be used individually from a DAW via own converters.. if you plug cables back, then top-down normalling is disconnected and you can patch effects or converters, how you like.. and create some chain with almost arbitrary order.
So that's some example, how it can be done.. additionally, you can use colour coding for patchbay labels to mark I/Os from the same effect etc. This is always helpful IMO.

Michal
Old 20th June 2017
  #7
Lives for gear
 
DarkSky Media's Avatar
The simplest and (IMO) best solution to this issue is an analog patchbay.

That will allow you to have both units normalled into the master bus signal chain, but to hard bypass either or both of them at will from the patchbay. It's relatively cheap to implement, super easy to use, can be extended to include as many additional processing units as you may like in the future, and will have close to zero effect on the quality of the audio (as opposed to introducing two further stages of DA-AD for each outboard processor on the bus).
Old 20th June 2017
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prockamaniac View Post
What would you recommend? I'm thinking of getting a Symphony, but I'm open to anything.
If you have the latest Apollo 8 I wouldn't bother with Symphony 1 atleast My suggestion would be use Apollo 8 for everything, but get 2 amazing channels in and out for 2 bus duties or the occational loop. I myself got the Pure2 solely for using my RND MBP on the 2-bus and it's great, would love to have a tube comp aswell!
Old 20th June 2017
  #9
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MatsNo View Post
If you have the latest Apollo 8 I wouldn't bother with Symphony 1 atleast
I'm considering the Symphony MkII. Would that be a significant difference? I'm considering just getting a sweet converter just for the 2-bus, I hadn't considered that before.

I really don't want to go the patchbay route. It's something I've seriously considered in the past and I'm glad that I didn't. Maybe someday in the future, 10 or so years from now.
Old 20th June 2017
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prockamaniac View Post
I'm considering the Symphony MkII. Would that be a significant difference? I'm considering just getting a sweet converter just for the 2-bus, I hadn't considered that before.

I really don't want to go the patchbay route. It's something I've seriously considered in the past and I'm glad that I didn't. Maybe someday in the future, 10 or so years from now.
I can't comment on mk2, but people say good things about it there's tons of converter shootouts etc on gearslutz. Can be good to check out, and it also shows the difference between good and great converters
Old 20th June 2017
  #11
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
I don't know the apollo AD/DA, but IMO, in my world, multiple conversion steps are not a worry. The horror tales of DA/AD round trips are leftover drama from the 90's early digital years IMO. We're a lot further down the road at this stage of the game.

As a matter of fact, the extra juice I get from going multiple analog steps into my outboard helps far more than it hurts. Every DA/AD comes up on an analog patch bay (which was mentioned as earlier). This is the RIGHT way and most flexible way to do things IMO. Then the i/o is normaled to every piece of outboard gear I have. 80 channels currently, going yo 96 later this year. One pro tools channel may have 3 pieces of hardware (sometimes more) on an insert. Each insert making a round trip through the DA/AD. Dozens of round trips on many different channels per mix. Then, there's at least one more round trip on the mix bus. And a couple more on the mastering chain. There are far more important things to worry about than a DA/AD round trip IMO. Again, this is all predicated on the fact that you have decent i/o.

If you truly are worried about it, get a patch bay. Problem solved.
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