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Same pre for everything?
Old 17th December 2017
  #1
Gear Head
 

Same pre for everything?

I grew up in the gearslut age where I’ve constantly bought and sold different flavors of high end pres looking for as much variety as I can.. but I recently purchased a sphere console and have been tracking through the pres almost exclusively and I have to say things are coming together better and faster than I have ever experienced. Maybe it’s just that the sphere pres are that amazing or maybe tracking everything through the same pre makes it gel. I mean wow...
What do you think?
Old 17th December 2017
  #2
CEB
Gear Head
 

Well, you have a console.

Are you bringing everything back through the console? Because that's a big difference right there.
Old 17th December 2017
  #3
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
I prefer to track everything through the same/console pre. I will often do vocals and sometimes acoustic guitar though outboard.
Old 17th December 2017
  #4
Gear Head
 

I do obviously end up bringing it back through the console most of the time but for this particular instance I haven’t... just mixing itb. Just used the console like a big pre. Maybe having an eq on every channel before tape helps me commit to sounds a bit more. I don’t know, but it’s made working very easy.
Old 18th December 2017
  #5
Lives for gear
In the history of hits there’s nothing unusual about tracking everything (or more recently ALMOST everything) through the same preamp.
Old 18th December 2017
  #6
Lives for gear
 
Sharp11's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bmaughan View Post
I grew up in the gearslut age where I’ve constantly bought and sold different flavors of high end pres looking for as much variety as I can.. but I recently purchased a sphere console and have been tracking through the pres almost exclusively and I have to say things are coming together better and faster than I have ever experienced. Maybe it’s just that the sphere pres are that amazing or maybe tracking everything through the same pre makes it gel. I mean wow...
What do you think?
That's how we did it for years (and how i still prefer to work), we used the pre's on the console, and the eq's for that matter.
Old 18th December 2017
  #7
Lives for gear
 
teleharmonium's Avatar
 

I don't have a console, but I am trying to stick with this approach most of the time. I have 10 of the same preamp and I have 4 channels of one alternate sound (clean tube pre). The two types are interchangeable in terms of gain structure so I can switch back and forth with no other changes, or intermix them as if they were the same model.

I also own some other pres but I'm not planning on using them much.

Attention is a zero sum game. I feel that minimizing any thinking I might otherwise do about which pre on which source is better for my work and mood overall and leads to benefits that are not directly tied to those kinds of sound choices. Also it may be worth noting that I was mostly on one basic flavor of pre anyway before (solid state, transformers, colored) so I haven't really left the neighborhood, I just consolidated, and it's not like we were talking about life changing decisions anyway considering how similar they really are within the choices I had before.
Old 19th December 2017
  #8
I use whatever pre is there and get on with it, no messing, I grew up on cheap low end mic preamps, and still got great sounds out of them, we live in an amazing age compared to 30 years ago, we really do.
Old 19th December 2017
  #9
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by pencilextremist View Post
we live in an amazing age compared to 30 years ago, we really do.
Absolutely true!
In the mid-80s I worked in a room that booked time at $140 per hour, not counting tape costs. The equipment in that room cost about $400,000. I’m quoting prices then, not dollars adjusted for inflation.
Those rooms were so expensive and exclusive that only a tiny percentage of artists ever got a shot at making a quality recording.
Given about $25,000 (in today’s dollars) and a good-sounding room, I can assemble the equipment to record and mix audio that will at least compete in every respect with the audio from that era. And I will be able to manipulate that process in ways we never dreamed of then. It is a miraculous thing!
Old 19th December 2017
  #10
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
In the history of hits there’s nothing unusual about tracking everything (or more recently ALMOST everything) through the same preamp.
Here's a fairly extreme example of what happens when you deliberately don't. In this case it's sort of a "casting choice."

Old 19th December 2017
  #11
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Here's a fairly extreme example of what happens when you deliberately don't. In this case it's sort of a "casting choice."

The audio and video both have a “throw different elements into a blender” feel. Was this a hit in some part of our universe? Should we feel sorry for Shakira?
Old 19th December 2017
  #12
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
Was this a hit in some part of our universe?
Many parts including yours and mine. At least I thought so.
Old 19th December 2017
  #13
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Many parts including yours and mine. At least I thought so.
My part of the universe admires Shakira’s flexibility, but we haven’t heard many hits lately.
Old 19th December 2017
  #14
Lives for gear
 

I agree here I came up in the Studio Era where you tracked everything thru one console and then inserted and multed if, if you wanted certain flavours so much stuff had a very coherent and consistant sound, I'd say yes I keep maybe flavours of most Preamps though not 10 of each as that ends up getting a touch like chasing you're own tail. Great console though, wow! Very lucky and such a cool score!

Good for you Man!
Old 19th December 2017
  #15
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pencilextremist View Post
I use whatever pre is there and get on with it, no messing, I grew up on cheap low end mic preamps, and still got great sounds out of them, we live in an amazing age compared to 30 years ago, we really do.
Indeed true very very true! Just a huge shame we don't have OEM's making Consoles and Capture units as they used to, then again back then even mid level consoles were expensive too comparatively speaking so it's a touch of a moan that and the 8 bussing I mean 12/12 isn't so hard you'd think? Apparently it is!
Old 20th December 2017
  #16
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vernier's Avatar
One pre for everything is how it was done until probably sometime in the seventy's when some crazy engineer decided to track on Neve and mix on Trident.
Old 20th December 2017
  #17
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier View Post
One pre for everything is how it was done until probably sometime in the seventy's when some crazy engineer decided to track on Neve and mix on Trident.
Or track on almost anything else and mix on an SSL. Initially, a lot of engineers were not loving the SSL for its sound or preamps, but the automation, the EQ, and the secret sauce of the SSL buss compressor made it THE mix console.
I think there was also a compressor on each console channel, but I’m not sure of that (I was a mastering engineer at that time and did not mix on an SSL).
Old 20th December 2017
  #18
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
I think there was also a compressor on each console channel, but I’m not sure of that.
Yup. And a gate. Just like now.
Old 21st December 2017
  #19
Lives for gear
 
vernier's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
Or track on almost anything else and mix on an SSL. Initially, a lot of engineers were not loving the SSL for its sound or preamps, but the automation, the EQ, and the secret sauce of the SSL buss compressor made it THE mix console.
I think there was also a compressor on each console channel, but I’m not sure of that (I was a mastering engineer at that time and did not mix on an SSL).
Yep I did that too, mixed on SSL sometime in beginning of 1980's.
Old 22nd December 2017
  #20
500 series nutjob
 
pan60's Avatar
 

console console console, life is just better when you work on a console.
Old 22nd December 2017
  #21
Lives for gear
 
kennybro's Avatar
A stable of preamp flavors is something that got big in the early 90's DAW age when big consoles started to disappear. Previous to that, the preamp was a thing that amplified the mic level to line, with a few different preferences, Neve vs SSL vs MCI, etc...

I recall a story told to me by a guy who owned the studio where Crumblin' Down was recorded in '83. Seems the company wasn't keen on including the song (go figure ), so JM went to my Friend's's studio in Indy to track. Apparently, they didn't care for the studio board pre's (can't recall what he had) so they brought in lunchboxes probably loaded with API stuff. First time I'd heard of outboard pre's.
Old 22nd December 2017
  #22
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kennybro View Post
A stable of preamp flavors is something that got big in the early 90's DAW age when big consoles started to disappear. Previous to that, the preamp was a thing that amplified the mic level to line, with a few different preferences, Neve vs SSL vs MCI, etc...

I recall a story told to me by a guy who owned the studio where Crumblin' Down was recorded in '83. Seems the company wasn't keen on including the song (go figure ), so JM went to my Friend's's studio in Indy to track. Apparently, they didn't care for the studio board pre's (can't recall what he had) so they brought in lunchboxes probably loaded with API stuff. First time I'd heard of outboard pre's.
I've heard that started happening a lot once SSLs became ubiquitous. A lot of guys were putting lunch boxes together because the preferred the API and a number of brokers started breaking up Neve consoles and selling the pre/EQ modules.
Old 22nd December 2017
  #23
Lives for gear
 
Sharp11's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
I've heard that started happening a lot once SSLs became ubiquitous. A lot of guys were putting lunch boxes together because the preferred the API and a number of brokers started breaking up Neve consoles and selling the pre/EQ modules.
People like what they're familiar with and recording "engineers" are no exception. When new, The ssl was intimidating to many people.
Old 22nd December 2017
  #24
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
that is also true. I'd be intimidated to go blind into an SSL session, having never worked on one.
Old 22nd December 2017
  #25
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 View Post
People like what they're familiar with and recording "engineers" are no exception. When new, The ssl was intimidating to many people.
As a person who was there, in a studio complex with three SSL boards, you have it somewhat wrong.
At least in LA, there was at that time a great interest in new gear, not an aversion to it. That was the generation of engineers who jumped from mono to stereo, from two track to eight to sixteen to twenty-four to multiple locked twenty-fours in little more than a decade. They embraced noise reduction, synthesizers and digital gear with hardly a blink or hiccup (OK, that’s stretching the truth... there was som extreme indigestion at times). “Intimidated” doesn’t describe that generation of engineers at all.
The distrust of the SSL boards for recording was based on some very good engineers’ opinions that VCAs had a limited bandwidth and an inferior slew rate, which they could hear (particularly the generation of VCAs that were in the early SSLs). They figured that the best way to take advantage of the unique and advanced automation and compression of the SSL with minimal negative effect on their audio quality was to avoid multiple passes through the SSL boards. So they recorded elsewhere and mixed on SSLs.
Also, to the best of my knowledge, the SSL consoles in LA were in Hidley rooms, which generally had smaller, heavily treated recording rooms, often with separate, smaller, even more damped drum rooms. The SSLs came along at a time when those rooms started losing clients (at least in rock) to larger, less heavily treated rooms, like Sound City and Crystal. The non-SSL rooms were often cheaper, which was also a factor in those decisions.
VCAs were updated in newer SSLs, and replaced with better performing VCAs in older SSLs, but the two-board habit was already established. These days there is a general agreement that Neve, API, Harrison, and other consoles of that era were exceptional and even magical signal chains in a way that the SSL was not. That’s no slam on the SSL, it’s comparing great to great, like Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder. Their may be a preference, but there is greatness in both candidates.
Sorry to ramble on so long, but I’d like the understanding of that history to be more correct.
Old 22nd December 2017
  #26
Lives for gear
 
Sharp11's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
As a person who was there, in a studio complex with three SSL boards, you have it somewhat wrong.
At least in LA, there was at that time a great interest in new gear, not an aversion to it. That was the generation of engineers who jumped from mono to stereo, from two track to eight to sixteen to twenty-four to multiple locked twenty-fours in little more than a decade. They embraced noise reduction, synthesizers and digital gear with hardly a blink or hiccup (OK, that’s stretching the truth... there was som extreme indigestion at times). “Intimidated” doesn’t describe that generation of engineers at all.
The distrust of the SSL boards for recording was based on some very good engineers’ opinions that VCAs had a limited bandwidth and an inferior slew rate, which they could hear (particularly the generation of VCAs that were in the early SSLs). They figured that the best way to take advantage of the unique and advanced automation and compression of the SSL with minimal negative effect on their audio quality was to avoid multiple passes through the SSL boards. So they recorded elsewhere and mixed on SSLs.
Also, to the best of my knowledge, the SSL consoles in LA were in Hidley rooms, which generally had smaller, heavily treated recording rooms, often with separate, smaller, even more damped drum rooms. The SSLs came along at a time when those rooms started losing clients (at least in rock) to larger, less heavily treated rooms, like Sound City and Crystal. The non-SSL rooms were often cheaper, which was also a factor in those decisions.
VCAs were updated in newer SSLs, and replaced with better performing VCAs in older SSLs, but the two-board habit was already established.
I spent a year at Amigo (the old Warner Brothers Studio) in North Hollywood in the mid 80's, and the SSL was locked up in a closet while everyone continued on the Harrison - soup to nuts recording and mixing on it, as I recall.

Recording technology, by and large, is old technology - it's rooted in telephone tech of the late 1800's - magnets, wires, and microphones, even the patchbay, it's a all old stuff - a Shure SM57 is a dinosaur, just as the internal combustion engine is to cars. Adding more tracks to tape was an incremental change; exciting for musicians who wanted to experiment, but was seen as a threat to others who thought overdubbing would replace them (the irony of session musicians complaining about synthesizers replacing them while the very careers they were enjoying were made possible by recording technology like sound in film, replacing thousands of live stage musicians).

My experience with recording "engineers" (I use quotes because most recording engineers these days are anything but electrical engineers) is like almost anyone else, they're not necessarily forward thinking, nor do they understand how the gear they love works, they just know what they like, and that's usually based on what they know and are used to and most important, have had success with, and the proof can be seen everywhere you look: an unhealthy obsession with vintage tube compressors (particularly the kind with classic labels out of the 50's and 60's), mic pre's, ribbon mic's (because the condensor is no longer good enough, or they simply can't roll of the high end with eq), and I've saved the best for last - "analog" vs "digital", which on any given day will probably see fighting and misinformation to rival the most incendiary automatic vs manual transmission debate in your car forum of choice - today on GS, count the number of posts and thread topics on the discussion point - it even extends into the synth categories under the guise of "hardware vs software".

It's the unusual "name" engineer who promotes and sings the praises of being 100% "itb".

Quote:
These days there is a general agreement that Neve, API, Harrison, and other consoles of that era were exceptional and even magical signal chains in a way that the SSL was not. That’s no slam on the SSL, it’s comparing great to great, like Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder. Their may be a preference, but there is greatness in both candidates.
Sorry to ramble on so long, but I’d like the understanding of that history to be more correct.
There's a contradiction there, if the "general agreement is the older stuff is better, than they cannot both be great (I disagree with this point, btw, the SSL Duality I have the privilege of working with sounds just great to me). However, this paragraph makes my point, it's the "magical thinking" disease - people are "remembering" by romanticizing the past; they think things sounded better then, but they can't possibly verify that as fact, then people who weren't born back then hear these statements repeated today - especially by famous people -, it becomes ingrained and repeated enough times that it becomes fact - but there's no basis, except what some guys think they remember from back then. So now, kids are out looking for cheap, crappy tape machines to gain that "analog color", or broken mixers and compressors from back in the day that they can't figure out how to hook up, and if they could, are probably dangerous. Sigh ...

I believe most musicians (and many recording engineers), and I include myself in this, are essentially infected with the luddite gene, we feel comfortable with the familiarity of what we're used to - drummers, guitarists, pianists, string players, orchestrators, vocalists ... all of us are using the same basic tech we've been using for 100 years (and some cases, hundreds if not thousands of years) with new, incremental techy, add-ons. we reject new technology when it comes too fast - the SSL represented a big change, just as the CD did when it was released. Digital recording and automation were hard pills for many people to accept in our industry - but look at the change - some winners and some losers, the yin and the yang just as it's always been.

But hey, that's what music's all about, it's essentially old - our system of 12 tone harmony is as old as the hills, we dress it all up in modern clothes, using vintage gear .... pretty funny.
Old 23rd December 2017
  #27
Gear Maniac
I think a parallel in the "keeping the mic pre the same vs a lunchbox full of colored mic pres" scheme can be drawn with using plug ins vs no plug ins scheme.

I have a buddy who swears by the UA Apollo approach. He is blown away when he takes in a signal and emulates the API or Neve chain.

He believes that coloring a track in the beginning with these plug ins is the way to go and adding them in during mixdown is audio nirvana.

So if one was to not to color tracks on the way in, keeping the mic pre a constant, then I think the inherent song/lyric would be more likely the focus of the session. i.e. - less attention to making sound coloring decisions and more attention to the point of the song and it's underlying emotion which will inevitably trump sound coloring.

However "art" includes the color and texture of music as well as the intended point of the song so this debate will go on.
Old 23rd December 2017
  #28
Lives for gear
Sharp11,
The fact that Amigo bought an SSL and didn’t install it for a year reminds me of how much money was washing through the recording business back then. It’s like a Saudi prince buying a new Lamborghini and parking it for a year because he wasn’t tired of his Ferrari (that isn’t a true story, but it could be).
I think your recollection is probably more what engineers really felt internally, and mine is from what they displayed. The most successful seemed to never show any fear, hesitation, self-doubt, or anything else that might cause producers or artists to doubt that things were going perfectly. Second-guessing audio perfection was for mastering engineers, and preferably not done in front of clients.
I enjoyed your post.
Old 23rd December 2017
  #29
Lives for gear
 
razorboy's Avatar
 

One Pre to bring them all,
And in the darkness bind them.
Old 23rd December 2017
  #30
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
they think things sounded better then, but they can't possibly verify that as fact, then people who weren't born back then hear these statements repeated today - especially by famous people -, it becomes ingrained and repeated enough times that it becomes fact - but there's no basis, except what some guys think they remember from back then.
I'm pretty sure there's a really easy basis of comparison.

Play the record.

What you hear will be the fact.
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