The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
Dipping a toe into the analog domain... Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Dipping a toe into the analog domain...

Hey Folks,

First, some disclaimers. For the sake of discussion, let's assume there is appropriate room treatment, appropriate monitors, and a Lynx Hilo involved in this scenario.

Second, I did a lot of searching, and while I came up with some similar threads, I couldn't seem to locate any specifically in the Mastering sub-forum, and I'm primarily concerned with the expertise here.

Even with that said, I'm still somewhat hesitant to ask this question, as it seems like it would have to have been asked before, but alas, here we are.

I am an amateur ME that often gets paid for his work. So, professional? I'm not sure. Maybe "serious hobbyist" is a more apt description. Mastering fell into my lap about 12 years ago. I was mastering my own music, a handful of people asked who did the work, I said I did, and people started paying me. I absolutely adore the work, and I have the pleasure of getting work in a handful of somewhat niche genres that I really enjoy.

At this point, I'm working entirely ITB, but I'm considering dipping a tentative toe into the analog domain for three primary reasons:

1. While digital is quite surgical, it can also come with the sterility often found in surgical environments. Over the years I have collected some fairly musical plugins, and I'm doing just fine with them, but I do find myself occasionally longing for some subtle saturation, color or even the ethereal, difficult to quantify transparency inherent to high-end analog devices, that just isn't there to be had.

2. I find the lack of physical interaction limiting. I realize this is probably an unusual reason to go analog, but I do find looking at a tiny compressor on a screen distracting when I'm trying to focus on the sound, especially when doing EQ or Compression. Having knobs and moving the screen away would be a benefit to me.

3. Marketing. The music I most commonly work with is heavily 80s inspired, and producers are all about analog everything, some guys even mixdown to tape in their home studios. Being able to say "Analog Mastering" would go a long way in my market.

So, with the disclaimers out of the way....

If you were on a limited budget (say $6000 total with some flex), and were going to buy one stereo analog EQ solution, and one stereo analog compressor solution, as your only analog gear in the chain to begin with, what gear would you consider?

I've been looking at a pair of the Dave Hill Titans for the compressor section because I like the PWM/Diode and Parallel features for their single-solution versatility, but I'm happy to be wrong there.

In the EQ domain, I'm really not sure where to look. Something like a Massive Passive or Curve Bender has crossed my mind, but both really stretch the budget. Maybe A Designs or API? I'm a little lost here. In the digital domain I can just try things.

Your input and suggestions are appreciated! Sorry for the long-winded post.
Old 1 week ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 

You can just try analog equipment as well, any pro dealer should be able to hook you up. The only sensible way forward, truly.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Timesaver800W View Post
You can just try analog equipment as well, any pro dealer should be able to hook you up. The only sensible way forward, truly.
I learned that this is a common practice after I had posted the question. I saw it on the vintage king site that they will ship demo units of just about anything. That's a really nice service, and I suppose it makes a lot of sense when you are talking about an equalizer that costs as much as a used Honda.

Thanks for your reply!
Old 1 week ago
  #4
For your budget I'd personally focus on getting either one EQ or one compressor, that you will never want to sell, rather than two units that may well be moved on in the fullness of time. It's probably not as exciting but it will be a better use of your money.

I think an excellent main EQ (Knif Soma or Eksa, Maselec, Barry Porter, SPL PQ, Buzz REQ, Sontec etc) is probably the most important tool any mastering engineer can have, but I can also see the value in a very good compressor with a boxtone that works on the majority of material.

I'm not saying that you can't buy a great compressor and EQ for $6,000 (you can, especially used), but the cornerstones of your setup should not be skimped on.

As always, take the above with a generous pinch of salt.
Old 1 week ago
  #5
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hippocratic Mastering View Post
For your budget I'd personally focus on getting either one EQ or one compressor, that you will never want to sell, rather than two units that may well be moved on in the fullness of time. It's probably not as exciting but it will be a better use of your money.

I think an excellent main EQ (Knif Soma or Eksa, Maselec, Barry Porter, SPL PQ, Buzz REQ, Sontec etc) is probably the most important tool any mastering engineer can have, but I can also see the value in a very good compressor with a boxtone that works on the majority of material.

I'm not saying that you can't buy a great compressor and EQ for $6,000 (you can, especially used), but the cornerstones of your setup should not be skimped on.

As always, take the above with a generous pinch of salt.
Yeah, that's probably good advice, and the more I read, the closer I get to that line of thinking. The good news is, 90% of my work is in the same genre of music, with a very specific sonic aesthetic. If I find an EQ or compressor that works for that sonic aesthetic, it will be a tool I deploy often.

If you are curious, the newest album from The Midnight is one of the best examples of the genre. Not my work, but it gives a great sense of my musical playground. I spend the vast majority of my time with melodic, synth-driven, vocal pop. YouTube
Old 1 week ago
  #6
Lives for gear
 
teebaum's Avatar
a few months ago i would have said something else, but today i would recommend you to buy a solid 500er rack and fill it with some modules from bereich03audio - they were explicitly designed for mastering, sound really good, are all stepped and very easy to use and were meant to complement narrow band digital equalizers.

my tip - first "passive -shelf", then "passive - mid", if you need hp & lp you can also use "filter".

I would also take a used manley vari-mu, a hcl varis or a knif pure mu.

with this you have a really solid base, which complements the digital world perfectly

as soon as some money is available, you can put some more into the 500 rack - ssl compressor (clone), saturation, another eq module...
Old 1 week ago
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
biksonije's Avatar
 

Hey GemCity,

I bought quite a lot stuff this year and you can get quite a number of pieces of gear for your 6.000 believe me! Or you can NOT buy a single piece. It depends...

Now, let me tell you what I've bought. As fellow Slutz here mentioned already, Teebaum and Hypocratic, there are lots of builders which are as good as "original" ones. And better than "originals". I ordered a hand made SSL 4000 G Stereo Buss Compresor (Conpany is NekoNeko and the guy's name is Gray - Gray is a fantastic guy btw from UK) for 700 Pounds (800 EUR, fully moded to my specs!). Then I saw that Klark Teknik lowered the prices down so I ordered 2 mono channel EQs. They make Tube EQs, Pultec clones (well, that type anway but let's call it clone, copy, type...) and the price is now 199 EUR (Thomann.de)! Damn!!! First I ordered one and the price was 299 (or 399, I can't remember now) EUR. When I saw a lowered price I switched the order and get 2 of their EQP-KTs! So now I will have two (that's 2) Tube EQs as a stereo pair! What a treat! Also I got 1176 (another copy of 1176) from Klark Teknik, a 1176-KT Compressor (mono), much faster Compressor than SSL. Different box for different setup and application. And, to top it all, a gem (a real gem believe me) at the end of this year was Custom Audio Germany HDE-250A stereo EQ (Sontec 250 type), 5 band parametric EQ, M/S option, outside PSU - a monster. Yet another absolutely fantastic build. This one is the most expensive piece I bought this year. HDE is 2.200 EUR. A guy's name is Steffen Müller and you can find here on GS many satisfied people who have his EQ. Believe me when I say that this EQ is top-notch build, both in sound and in quality. His gear looks better than some big names in audio gear world.

So, if you sum that all up it's all under 4.000 EUR!

I am aware that there are great builders and companies out there. I can write only of those things I have.

Or you can go for "original" Pultec, used in some big studio and your 6.000 maybe won't be enough.

Ehmm, I really hope you get the idea. Gear is expensive but also you can buy a lot of stuff for not that much, depends on your needs and, of course, your wallet. All I can say is that audio gear is expensive hobby/business but it's a dream doing it!

Best regards to all you Slutz here!

Krešo
Old 1 week ago
  #8
Lives for gear
 
teebaum's Avatar
maybe here's another approach that will cost you around $1000, but will also save you money.
take 2-3 non-mastered songs that you thought might help outboard and choose 2-3 mastering engineers whose work you really appreciate and who don't live on the other side of the world.
now book attended sessions with them and see what they do with the masters and which outboard they use - maybe you can also ask a few questions about the devices they use - why they used them.
then you should know pretty well what you need to get ahead yourself.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
Gear Maniac
 
biksonije's Avatar
 

It is always a good approach. Thou a bit expensive but if it's all for right reasons... Well, why not! First person experience, both visual and sonic one!
Old 1 week ago
  #10
Lives for gear
 
teebaum's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by biksonije View Post
It is always a good approach. Thou a bit expensive but if it's all for right reasons... Well, why not! First person experience, both visual and sonic one!
equipment is overestimated, knowledge and experience is often underestimated - especially in such forums.

i sometimes have customers who make fundamental mistakes with the priciest equipment (e.g. not paying attention to gainstaging) and who would win an incredible amount by hiring a professional for 1-2 hours.

$1000.- may sound expensive, you can take 1-2 engineers with 1-2 songs, then it's less.
I think it's well invested money, which you can get out by choosing the right equipment if not short term, then medium term well.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
biksonije's Avatar
 

Hey Teebaum,

I completely agree that gear is often, more than often, overrated. On the other hand, hands on experience and long time accumulating knowledge gets banalized. And that's a fact.

Have you noticed how things like statements "I could do it a hundred times better if only I had this console and that rack" flow all around the air? Shame.

Anyway, as I said, first person and hands on experience can't replace reading or watching tuts.

Bye to all you Slutz out there!

Krešo
Old 1 week ago
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
eternalsound's Avatar
OP: If you get something reasonably priced and used, you'll do well for yourself. There is no difference between a $9000 compressor and ..say a used Summit Audio compressor for ...who knows ..$1500. ?? You should't have to pay over 2K for each piece. I had the Manley Massive Passive and Vari-Mu mastering versions at one time, but I've since ditched them because they were ..nothing special ..at all.

Also, I'd avoid stepped knobs on all your gear too - not only does it save you tons of money but they are really contrary to mastering needs as they cut your adjustment resolution significantly across the full dial range. Some use them for recall so they can more easily re-set the same compromised settings that they started with in the beginning ..which makes ..'double' no sense. I use 0 stepped knobs these days and I've never once been debated on it .

The biggest mistake you could ever make is believing that you have to empty your pockets to get fantastic analog gear.

Good luck!

Old 1 week ago
  #13
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by eternalsound View Post
OP: If you get something reasonably priced and used, you'll do well for yourself. There is no difference between a $9000 compressor and ..say a used Summit Audio compressor for ...who knows ..$1500. ?? You should't have to pay over 2K for each piece. I had the Manley Massive Passive and Vari-Mu mastering versions at one time, but I've since ditched them because they were ..nothing special ..at all.
Honestly, I don't enjoy the Massive Passive (with the caveat that I have only heard online demos, mostly with crappy music), at least from what I have heard. It's too... maybe sterile to my ears. Sterile isn't the exact right word.... clinical. I will probably still demo one at some point, just to make sure. But more to the point, I don't hear anything from it that I can't accomplish ITB. I'm more interested in color and boxtone on the analog side. The Curve Bender and the Michelangelo, for example, give me the fizz.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eternalsound View Post
Also, I'd avoid stepped knobs on all your gear too - not only does it save you tons of money but they are really contrary to mastering needs as they cut your adjustment resolution significantly across the full dial range. Some use them for recall so they can more easily re-set the same compromised settings that they started with in the beginning ..which makes ..'double' no sense. I use 0 stepped knobs these days and I've never once been debated on it .
Recall is actually very important to me. I get after-the-fact revisions on at least 50% of my projects. It's a lot. People are generally happy to pay me a small fee to "rerun through the same processing," and I'm happy to oblige. Switches and relays, as opposed to pots would be quite beneficial in my use case. Take pictures, save with project files, done.
Old 1 week ago
  #14
Lives for gear
 
teebaum's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by GemCity View Post
Honestly, I don't enjoy the Massive Passive (with the caveat that I have only heard online demos, mostly with crappy music), at least from what I have heard. It's too... maybe sterile to my ears. Sterile isn't the exact right word.... clinical. I will probably still demo one at some point, just to make sure. But more to the point, I don't hear anything from it that I can't accomplish ITB. I'm more interested in color and boxtone on the analog side. The Curve Bender and the Michelangelo, for example, give me the fizz.
the massivo sterile?
really?
ok...
the massivo ist the classical counterpart to the mea-2 and IMHO one of the most vibey and 'un-clinical' eq's ever made. it's ok not to like him, but he's a synonym for 'anti digital'.
Old 1 week ago
  #15
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by teebaum View Post
the massivo sterile?
really?
ok...
the massivo ist the classical counterpart to the mea-2 and IMHO one of the most vibey and 'un-clinical' eq's ever made. it's ok not to like him, but he's a synonym for 'anti digital'.
Like I said, I haven't demo'd one in person, so I might change my mind.
Old 1 week ago
  #16
Gear Maniac
 
eternalsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by GemCity View Post
Honestly, I don't enjoy the Massive Passive (with the caveat that I have only heard online demos, mostly with crappy music), at least from what I have heard. It's too... maybe sterile to my ears. Sterile isn't the exact right word.... clinical. I will probably still demo one at some point, just to make sure. But more to the point, I don't hear anything from it that I can't accomplish ITB. I'm more interested in color and boxtone on the analog side. The Curve Bender and the Michelangelo, for example, give me the fizz.



Recall is actually very important to me. I get after-the-fact revisions on at least 50% of my projects. It's a lot. People are generally happy to pay me a small fee to "rerun through the same processing," and I'm happy to oblige. Switches and relays, as opposed to pots would be quite beneficial in my use case. Take pictures, save with project files, done.
That interesting because if there was one thing, to me, about the Massive is that it certainly wasn't sterile or clinical; instead in that regard it was quite the opposite - very warm ...soft ...too soft ...mushy ...lacking punch. It was too far into the opposite of clinical, to me.

The concept of 'recall' with analog stepped gear is a bit comical to me by setting ..then recalling as I said in the previous post is a double 'no-no'. BUT, to each is own and I'd never advocate against someone's desire for what suits them ...I just speak from a theoretical perspective, that's it.

With tubes in general...I believe in only hitting them 1 time in the chain and see them, actually, as a 'process', an individual 'process'. Picking up tube artifacts repeatedly through the chain will soften your signal to a mush and strip the punch at the same time. With that, I wouldn't do the Vari-Mu and Massive in the same chain.

My .02

Old 1 week ago
  #17
Lives for gear
 
teebaum's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by GemCity View Post
Like I said, I haven't demo'd one in person, so I might change my mind.
the massivo is a very very own animal, best you forget a lot what you think you know and get into it - then it becomes interesting.
Judging him without having had him in your fingers is almost impossible with this eq.
many also use it transformerless, because the transformer can make the basses too soft.

there are some known mastering engineers who use him together with the mea-2, the 2 seem to work very well together.
i had a massive passive once years ago, but it was my only analog eq at the time and i don't think it's suitable for that.
Topic:
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
LouisJB / Electronic Music Instruments and Electronic Music Production
94
EDGEK8D / Electronic Music Instruments and Electronic Music Production
8

Forum Jump
Forum Jump