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Hybrid Mixing and Conversion
Old 21st November 2020
  #1
Hybrid Mixing and Conversion

I'm starting to build a hybrid mixing setup, and am wondering about conversion. Since I'm not integrating a console at this stage, I believe the way to go hybrid is with hardware insert chains (i.e. a vocal chain with a Comp and EQ)...though that will be an extra stage of AD and DA conversion:

#1 AD: Tracking (Preamp > DAW)
#2 DA/AD: Hardware Insert Chain (i.e. Vocal Chain with a Comp>EQ)
#3 DA/AD: Hardware Mixbus Processing Chain (Stereo Bus Comp>Stereo Bus EQ)

Is this extra step of conversion going to noticeable at all assuming high end converters are being used? Is there any benefit to mixing and matching converters so that any sonic imprint doesn't build up, i.e. 3 trips in and out of a Burl may be too much color vs 3 trips in and out of Lynx or Crane Song DA/AD?

I am considering a Burl B16 for 8x8 i/o for analog insert chains, and Crane Song HEDD Quantum for the mix bus chain. For tracking, I would use the HEDD when doing critical overdubs (vocals), and the Burl if I need more than 2 channels (drums).

Thoughts on this approach? Other ideas or suggestions? Thanks!
Old 21st November 2020
  #2
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drBill's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightowl43 View Post
I'm starting to build a hybrid mixing setup, and am wondering about conversion. Since I'm not integrating a console at this stage, I believe the way to go hybrid is with hardware insert chains (i.e. a vocal chain with a Comp and EQ)...though that will be an extra stage of AD and DA conversion:

#1 AD: Tracking (Preamp > DAW)
#2 DA/AD: Hardware Insert Chain (i.e. Vocal Chain with a Comp>EQ)
#3 DA/AD: Hardware Mixbus Processing Chain (Stereo Bus Comp>Stereo Bus EQ)

Is this extra step of conversion going to noticeable at all assuming high end converters are being used? Is there any benefit to mixing and matching converters so that any sonic imprint doesn't build up, i.e. 3 trips in and out of a Burl may be too much color vs 3 trips in and out of Lynx or Crane Song DA/AD?

I am considering a Burl B16 for 8x8 i/o for analog insert chains, and Crane Song HEDD Quantum for the mix bus chain. For tracking, I would use the HEDD when doing critical overdubs (vocals), and the Burl if I need more than 2 channels (drums).

Thoughts on this approach? Other ideas or suggestions? Thanks!
IME, no, multiple passes don't matter. At least not if you're using a fairly modern and decent set of converters.

If you are headed into "colored" territory with your AD/DA - like the Burl for instance - then yes, you may get a buildup of that color. You should be sure you like it.

I've got AVID HD I/o's and I'll go in and out 3, 4, 5 x's on one channel with no issues, and no "obvious" degradation due to multiple conversions. As they say.....YMMV, but I wouldn't worry about it.

If you ARE intent on worrying about it (), go ahead and employ a patch bay and do only one trip out and back, and patch your chain together in the bay. Less conversions if that's your primary objective.
Old 21st November 2020
  #3
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Karloff70's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
This seems to be one of those topics with a tribal split of opinion. I'm with Bill. Don't worry about it. But these days I put dither plugs before the outputs of the insert loop. Worth doing.
Old 21st November 2020 | Show parent
  #4
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drBill's Avatar
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
But these days I put dither plugs before the outputs of the insert loop. Worth doing.
Absolutely! .

The bottom line, and the ONLY thing that really matters when the day is done is if the sound of your source sounds BETTER after all the A/D conversions with hardware strung in between them - or worse. If better, then what's to worry about?

My experience is that hardware in the chain brings a tangible and visceral impact to the mix. No brainer for me.
Old 21st November 2020
  #5
Thanks for the replies! I will do a test with the HEDD Quantum and see how many loopbacks with nothing in between I can print before noticing degradation...I think the Burl conversion for hardware inserts might be nice, as any hardware I insert will be intended to add color and harmonics....the only situation where I'd be stacking Burl conversion, is if I use the 8 channels of Burl AD while tracking (Drums or anything that needs more than 2 channels in my project studio)...though for most sources while tracking overdubs, I will just record via the HEDD.
Old 21st November 2020
  #6
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🎧 10 years
I haven't worried about multiple ad/da passes for a few years now....
Hardware inserts are amazing, and as long as everything is calibrated properly the difference is minimal - in some cases hardware is more predictable due to loading characteristics - I use the AVID HDio and Prism ADA8 units and have patchbayss, SSL etc......I used to be a bit anal on hardware insert chains and do it all through the patch-bay so as to only have one conversion stage.........now I'm not fussed to have 5/6 HW inserts each with a conversion in a row - working at 44.1k or 96k
Old 21st November 2020
  #7
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7 Reviews written
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I vote for clean and clear. Color on converters to me has always seemed like the wrong place to put it. I like it in my outboard and real tape (layback). The Lynx newish Aurora (n) is a ton of value for multichannel. Very honest sound with modern connectivity and Ncontol. Sear Sound is using them among others.
Old 21st November 2020
  #8
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🎧 5 years
You may consider adding a patch bay for using outboard on the way in and reduce the conversions when using analog loops out of a DAW.

The base line for patch bays is the audio accessories mini shorty DB25.

Ghielmetti is a step up, but they use uncommon plugs to manage the normal.

Redco is a step down, but are a significant cost reduction.



I would also figure out how to use RME drivers and PCI cards. No matter what converters you pick.
Old 23rd November 2020
  #9
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I dream of having inserts right out of Protools to various hardware chains. It's an expensive approach and to be really useful you may need some form of patchbay to mix and match components during mixing. If you suddenly find the Pultec to 1176 to LA2A chain is not working and you want to insert a CL1B instead of the LA2A, well that's going to require some patching somewhere or a lot of converters to make that happen in the box. Currently I do use a mixer and it's inserts routed to a patchbay to build chains on the fly. I am using a Lynx (n) 16 channel. In my scenario 12 of the 16 sum to the mixer and the other 4 are used for print back and direct to speakers.

I would need an additional 40 channels of AD/DA to get to all the outboard, that's almost 10k of converters using Lynx and about double that for Burl.

I can do all this via a mixer (Crest HP8) plus 3 patchbays 1/4inch and cabling for $1500. It's not as elegant but way more economical. If you can find a summing mixer with inserts, it will save you a lot of money. Of course this approach would require an external patchbay.

Another consideration, to rebuild chains from the box as you mix, that could be up to 4 DA/AD conversions and with the Burls, that's a lot of color. Better some more pristine conversion for that process and keep the Burls for the master print. Just some consideration points. Like I said, if I could afford 4 more Lynx boxes and get up to say 50 or 60 lanes of conversion for mix summing and a tall rack of outboard, that would be a boost to workflow.
Old 23rd November 2020
  #10
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drBill's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Yeah, there's no doubt it can get expensive. But bays and wire and the labor it takes to put them together costs more than the AD/DA hardware from my experience.

Of course, that depends on what converters you are using and what your wire run lengths are. I have found that multiple trips out to form "chains" is the way to go for me. (Currently on 112 I/o of AVID HD conversion). It's instantly recallable, and virtually no degradation - or actually, the "degradation" that I WANT from the gear I've strung together.

For me, after being deep into virtually every style of mixing since 2" tape and 2 track tape with consoles, on to digital multitrack and mixers, on to ITB, back to consoles, etc....it is by FAR the best way of mixing that I've ever had. My LFA console is gone, the outboard and conversion is growing....


You can see the "before" and "after" patch bay pics below. Before being manual patching of everything, after being half-normalled and patched inside PTHDX.
Attached Thumbnails
Hybrid Mixing and Conversion-bp-non-normaled-patchbay.jpg   Hybrid Mixing and Conversion-bp-half-normaled-patchbay.jpg  
Old 24th November 2020
  #11
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🎧 15 years
Oldone, the gotcha with native Pro Tools is the 32 channel I/O limit (cripple). There are other Hybrid inexpensive ways to get to very high channels counts including cost of decent converters. If you use a different DAW there has been the tried and true, extreme low latency combo of using Alesis HD24XR units for conversion along with RME 9652 PCI cards as an interface for 72 channels I/O, now with used prices around $3k. For your stated 40 channel need it would be 2 units of each for 48 channels at around $2k and if you only have PCIe slots on the motherboard add two $30 adaptor riser cards (along with a bit of metal work to the back of your computer case) to make the PCI slot cards work.

Another inexpensive option for high channel count Hybrid that is perfect for racks of outboard but is a right time, right place thing now is that Yamaha PM1D systems are showing up for next to nothing. A few thousand will get you 96 channels or more of conversion with Yamaha's best remote controlled mic pre (from the analog PM5000 desk) all in modular form where none of the modules need be together or in the control room plus with it's matrix routing you can skip the need for patchbays for the outboard. I've gotten into details to help a couple guys with specific Hybrid setup needs with my prior posts so just search my posts for that info or if in the US give me a PM with contact info and we can talk details.


Once you get into very "high end" converters or using anything but standand 44.1k/48k sample rate for high channel count then yes, you will have to pay up. My view is that converting to analog for a trip or two improves digital's sonics even with decent converters at industry standard sample rates.
Old 24th November 2020
  #12
From what I've gathered regarding hybrid mixing workflows, a summing mixer has a few advantages:

1. Need less A/D converters since you're summing OTB, so that may change your interface/converter situation.
2. If you have more in's, you can leave those normalled/hardwired to mic pre's, synths, etc...
3. Also use 2 less D/A for the mix buss insert since your coming offing your summing mixer.
4. Hitting all your HW at the exact same time, not so much a huge benefit but if you're blending wet/dry on HW there will be no inter sample latency issues.

Otherwise, using all HW inserts in interface does sound more flexible and convenient. I'm experimenting with a bit of both atm...
Old 24th November 2020
  #13
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Trev@Circle's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
My set up is almost exactly what you describe (but I do have an API console in the midst of it all). 2 x Burl motherships (I also have two Auroras and an Avid HD but am about to move them on), multiple hardware inserts. Crane Song Hedd on the mixbus. Monitoring through an Avocet. No build up. sounds awesome. Don't worry about it.
Old 25th November 2020 | Show parent
  #14
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Worlez's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Sorry to derail but if you decide to sell the Aurora's give me a shout - I'm considering for some as we speak! [email protected]

Cheers

Al
Old 25th November 2020
  #15
It seems the two best solutions for me are either the Lynx Aurora(n) or the Apogee Symphony MKII - and it seems the Lynx comes out ahead sonically, and also doesn't have a fan. Both I could start with 8x8 i/o for hardware inserts, and move up to 16x16 if I decide to explore summing or more inserts. And both have AES ins and outs for the HEDD, Avocet and anything else I need to connect digitally.

Anything else to consider? Are there any standalone 8x8 or 16x16 converters that can be connected via AES other than the Burl B16?
Old 25th November 2020 | Show parent
  #16
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
How do you clock that whole set up? I'm getting a second mothership and have solaris for monitoring

QUOTED: [email protected] - My set up is almost exactly what you describe (but I do have an API console in the midst of it all). 2 x Burl motherships (I also have two Auroras and an Avid HD but am about to move them on), multiple hardware inserts. Crane Song Hedd on the mixbus. Monitoring through an Avocet. No build up. sounds awesome. Don't worry about it.
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Old 27th November 2020 | Show parent
  #17
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Trev@Circle's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by gfunny72 View Post
How do you clock that whole set up? I'm getting a second mothership and have solaris for monitoring

QUOTED: [email protected] - My set up is almost exactly what you describe (but I do have an API console in the midst of it all). 2 x Burl motherships (I also have two Auroras and an Avid HD but am about to move them on), multiple hardware inserts. Crane Song Hedd on the mixbus. Monitoring through an Avocet. No build up. sounds awesome. Don't worry about it.
__________________
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Slightly odd tbh. The HEDD is hard wired on an insert point in the mixbus of my console. I go into it analogue and out analogue. While there is digital conversion going on inside it, in practice I use it as a piece of analogue hardware.

The Avocet is more complicated because my set up is. The monitor out from my console goes into the avocet analogue but that, obviously, doesn't allow me to listen to the final mix because it is going from the mixbus out of my desk into protools via Burl AD which is coloured. As a result, in order to hear it after that AD I have to bring it out again. I don't have a digital card on the Burl so it comes back out of the Burl DA (which is not coloured) and goes straight into the Avocet. Might not be ideal as there an addition round trip but it works for me in practice.
Old 8th December 2020
  #18
After a few weeks of thinking about this, it seems the Lynx Aurora(n) TB3 is the best quality and most affordable solution for Analog I/O and AES for my hybrid setup.

While I've loved working with the RME PCIe AES/Sonnet setup, the cost of adding 8x8 or 16x16 channels of high quality conversion would be very high.

With the Aurora(n) I get the same amount of AES I/O as the RME PCIe card, as well as an expandable configuration of Analog i/o. I can start with 8x8, and when I fill up those hardware inserts, I can upgrade to 16x16, and even 24x24. I like the idea that the Lynx conversion is very transparent, as I am using the hardware to provide the color, and the Lynx will give me a clean slate to color as I wish; and the HEDD will remain as the centerpiece for 2 bus and critical tracking.

So I'll be moving on from the RME PCI/Sonnet and buying the Aurora(n). Open to any other ideas, though I'm pretty sure I've looked at all the options I can find that would give me conversion on par with the Aurora, and this makes the most sense. [deleted by MOD]

Last edited by [email protected]; 4 weeks ago at 09:48 PM.. Reason: Please read the FAQ
Old 4 weeks ago
  #19
Following up with a question regarding patch bays and summing. I was checking out the Flock digital patchbay, and the setup pictured below intrigued me.

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/atta...1&d=1608302492

All their setup diagrams show an 8x8 converter connected, and in this case an 8x2 summing mixer...I am wondering about the workflow of having 8x8 I/O from the computer for patching and summing, rather than 16 or more. If you had a setup like the one pictured, how might you approach a hybrid mix?
Attached Thumbnails
Hybrid Mixing and Conversion-screen-shot-2020-12-18-9.41.05-am.jpg  
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #20
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drBill's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightowl43 View Post
Following up with a question regarding patch bays and summing. I was checking out the Flock digital patchbay, and the setup pictured below intrigued me.

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/atta...9.41.05-am.jpg

All their setup diagrams show an 8x8 converter connected, and in this case an 8x2 summing mixer...I am wondering about the workflow of having 8x8 I/O from the computer for patching and summing, rather than 16 or more. If you had a setup like the one pictured, how might you approach a hybrid mix?
IMO, more conversion (providing your DAW and computer will accommodate it) is the most efficient, elegant and most inexpensive way to do it. My $0.02
Old 4 weeks ago
  #21
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Agree with Dr.Bill here, that $2600 for the Flock 8x8 digital patchbay eats a lot of budget money compared to other options. A used high end 96 point "analog" patchbay is under $600.

Just the Yamaha PM1D option I listed above for around $4k including used RME interface cards should net you at least 128 inputs of Yamaha's best remote controlled pres with A to D conversion, 64 balanced ouputs with D to A conversion, separate 64 channels of digital I/O to connect up to your computer interface (two RME Raydat PCIe cards for 64 channels I/O or three RME 9652 PCI cards for 72 channels I/O to your DAW - RME AES PCI/PCIe options too but will net lower channel I/O count to DAW). The Yamaha system doesn't need it's control surface mixer to run (great flexabilty where you locate I/O and Brain rack modules) and it has a matrix mixer so instead of the Flock 8x8 mixer you will have a 320x224 mixer per brain module unit. You will be able to hook up 64 channels of outboard without double use of another 256 channels of high end mic pres. Actually with this option you are more limited by the computer's interface cards total I/O.

Thats just one option where you don't paint yourself into a corner if you need more channels of outboard down the road plus I wanted to show what a certain budget could deliver. Hybrid and high channel count boil down to a tailored solution though. With that in mind look at each option's pros and cons (even high budget options have their share of cons), being especially wary of hidden gotcha's. When budget is a priority you just have to spend more time researching what will give YOU the most.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #22
Still determining if it's better sonically and functionally to do an 8x2 Summing setup vs. 8x8 Hardware Inserts on Subgroups and 2x2 Mixbus.

A) 8 DA channels into compressors/eqs, summed into 2 bus with comp eq > print. In this situation, any automation in the DAW would be pre-comp/eq (ala Michael Brauer).

B) 8x8 Hardware inserts for the subgroups, and print those back into the DAW, I can then do automation post comp/eq, and run a 2 channel DA/AD for the mixbus.

So in the second method, I am adding 1 more AD/DA conversion, and not getting the summing of the subgroups in the analog realm....but I am gaining the ability to automate or treat the subgroups in the DAW going into the 2 bus chain.

Thoughts?
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #23
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drBill's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightowl43 View Post
Still determining if it's better sonically and functionally to do an 8x2 Summing setup vs. 8x8 Hardware Inserts on Subgroups and 2x2 Mixbus.

A) 8 DA channels into compressors/eqs, summed into 2 bus with comp eq > print. In this situation, any automation in the DAW would be pre-comp/eq (ala Michael Brauer).

B) 8x8 Hardware inserts for the subgroups, and print those back into the DAW, I can then do automation post comp/eq, and run a 2 channel DA/AD for the mixbus.

So in the second method, I am adding 1 more AD/DA conversion, and not getting the summing of the subgroups in the analog realm....but I am gaining the ability to automate or treat the subgroups in the DAW going into the 2 bus chain.

Thoughts?
I think it depends a lot on what the A type of summing is. If you're summing OTB into a vintage API or Neve or SSL or expensive summing box with transformers / tubes / and/or class A discrete electronics, it's going to have much more impact than an inexpensive summing box will. Not all OTB summing is created equal.

Personally, I've chosen the B method - or actually a variation thereof - and it makes me smile. The one extra round trip of conversion means nothing. Other than it's bringing more analog goodness into the chain.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #24
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Trev@Circle's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
IME, no, multiple passes don't matter. At least not if you're using a fairly modern and decent set of converters.

If you are headed into "colored" territory with your AD/DA - like the Burl for instance - then yes, you may get a buildup of that color. You should be sure you like it.

I've got AVID HD I/o's and I'll go in and out 3, 4, 5 x's on one channel with no issues, and no "obvious" degradation due to multiple conversions. As they say.....YMMV, but I wouldn't worry about it.

If you ARE intent on worrying about it (), go ahead and employ a patch bay and do only one trip out and back, and patch your chain together in the bay. Less conversions if that's your primary objective.
I agree on all but one thing: the "coloured territory... like Burl for instance" - until I got my second mothership I had an avid I/o alongside my mothership. The burl wasn't noticeably more or less coloured than the Avid. Just a little different (the avid was really great fwiw - I just wanted all my converters to be the same).
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #25
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GreenNeedle's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
I agree on all but one thing: the "coloured territory... like Burl for instance" - until I got my second mothership I had an avid I/o alongside my mothership. The burl wasn't noticeably more or less coloured than the Avid. Just a little different (the avid was really great fwiw - I just wanted all my converters to be the same).
An issue with using different converters is timing. Some will come in behind others, then your phase gets all messed up if you send a kit for example through different conversion chains.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #26
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mahler007's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightowl43 View Post
Still determining if it's better sonically and functionally to do an 8x2 Summing setup vs. 8x8 Hardware Inserts on Subgroups and 2x2 Mixbus.

A) 8 DA channels into compressors/eqs, summed into 2 bus with comp eq > print. In this situation, any automation in the DAW would be pre-comp/eq (ala Michael Brauer).

B) 8x8 Hardware inserts for the subgroups, and print those back into the DAW, I can then do automation post comp/eq, and run a 2 channel DA/AD for the mixbus.

So in the second method, I am adding 1 more AD/DA conversion, and not getting the summing of the subgroups in the analog realm....but I am gaining the ability to automate or treat the subgroups in the DAW going into the 2 bus chain.

Thoughts?
FWIW, I have a 24 i/o setup, and I do both.

I stem out to 4 separate stereo busses for light analog EQ/Comp flavor processing and analog summing. If I have to compress anything heavily, I tend to do that inside the DAW with either a plugin, or additional analog gear on a hardware insert.

I have up to 16 mixer channels available, so depending on what the mix is, I may send out to more channels than those 4 stereo busses for summing.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
I think it depends a lot on what the A type of summing is. If you're summing OTB into a vintage API or Neve or SSL or expensive summing box with transformers / tubes / and/or class A discrete electronics, it's going to have much more impact than an inexpensive summing box will. Not all OTB summing is created equal.
Thanks @ drBill your posts are informative...so my options are

A) 8 DA Summed to 2 AD. 2 Mono Busses, and 3 Stereo Busses all through compressors/EQs > Passive Summing Mixer (Fulcrum or other) > Fearn VT-2 Preamp (makeup gain) > Comp/EQ > AD

I have read mixed reviews about passive vs. active summing...I could also use a Dangerous DBox+ instead of the Fulcrum > VT-2 here. I originally assumed the passive into the VT-2 might sound best, but I've read Dangerous Music's site that suggests active summation is superior.

So this options could be a Dangerous Convert-8 > DBox+ > AD+
OR
Burl B16 w/ BDA8 > Fulcrum > Burl BAD4M (using two AD inputs with the transformer switched out for print).

B) The other option is an 8x8 converter rig (Burl B16 w/ BDA8/BAD8) for 8 Hardware inserts to send and return and PRINT the busses (2 Mono Busses, and 3 Stereo Busses)...then run the Mixbus via 2x2 (Crane Song HEDD Quantum). I can have the VT-2 here in line input mode to get the Fearn color (not sure if this will be equivalent to the Passive Summing > VT-2 Mic Amp color?).

Based on these choices, you think B is the way to go?
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #28
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drBill's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightowl43 View Post
Based on these choices, you think B is the way to go?

I'm biased. Here is another perspective from another GS member :


Quote:
Originally Posted by MRSEED View Post
I've done that a few times, running every single element through my SB, before finally using on mix bus. makes everything huge - thats why i want more so I can just do a similar thing in real time while mixing.

do a double dip during mix/master? again, read you mentioning doing that before, so I tried it few times and that 2nd pass of the mix through the SB is magical, much more glue really amazing. It often made me think of having 2x SB perm on the mix chain so I can mix into it.

Until recently I had one of the most desirable and transformer laden summing mixers out there, sold it for 8 nice vintage EQs. I can 100% say a single SB on the mix bus beats a summing mixer for sonic signature all day every day. and using hardware racks as DAW inserts kills a summing mixer for workflow all day everyday - for me personally.
Old 1 week ago
  #29
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ha

seriously though - there is only a handful of studio tools you can really really dial that saturation in with like the Silver Bullet.

a good friend and gear mentor showed me his SB, he said 'check this out' started dialling it in and the whole track changed for the better, was a instant moment for me and the moment I had the cash I threw it at my own one asap.

The SB is refined - its not rough round the edges like some transformers thrown in a box and wired up to some knobs. Its perfectly balanced for needs you didn't even know you've need, like all the multiple ins and outs. The super effective cascading is to die for.

The summing mixer I had (one people wet their pants over), I had to REALLY restrict my workflow to use it - then I'd listen back and there would be only the tiniest bit of saturation in a A/B comparison even if I hammered it.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightowl43 View Post
I can have the VT-2 here in line input mode to get the Fearn color
have you bounced any channels through it yet? I not love my VT1, never sued it as a like amp before so curious.

the only crap thing about a VT1, its not a VT2...
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