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Plugins are making outboard gear unnecessary
Old 15th July 2019
Gear Guru
drBill's Avatar
Originally Posted by Lorenzop View Post
hey dr. bill....just curious how you handle recalls? Don´t your film/tv clients ask for revisions, alt takes etc. and what about all the cue changes that need to be re-arranged musically and then remixed?? Or do you mix analog YOUR projects and digital film/tv work?
Or are you oh so very old skool and have an actual pen and paper recall sheet?!
No pen and paper!! I use pro tools, and use the comments section to notate any changes - BUT - I try not to make any changes. I REALLY try!! I can quite often get away from changes by using trims before, after and between pieces - thus allowing PT to manage the gain staging and keeping the hardware in it's sweet spot.

I do keep a master document that is "ground zero" for all outboard in my mixing template. I'll occasionally go thru everything and check to make sure nothing's been bumped, tweaked or changed. Then, I know that if no changes are notated in the comments box of PT, that the gear should be in it's "default" sweet spot position.

Often, if a project is unique or different, I'll mix up the settings I need on gear and make a "project dependent" master document of all the gear and it's settings. Not pen and paper, but a .doc that gets put in with the project.

As mentioned, and it's important, I try to keep my outboard gear in it's "designated sweet spot" and leave it there. I have enough gear that if something is not working, I'll just move on to a different piece of gear or add another piece, and if I can't make something work, I'll look to a plugin. I think lots of guys work that way - and it makes recall as simple as using plugins. It's harder when you only have a handful of pieces and must constantly make changes to the settings. Luckily I've pretty much moved past that.

For guys with minimal gear that are still dedicated to a hybrid approach while building the arsenal, printing tracks and keeping and de-instantiating the original is a good option when you've got to change settings.

Also, I try to choose gear that is easily recallable, and has the most sonic bang for the buck. An obvious example is an LA2a. It's essentially 2 controls per channel that never get changed. I'll also generally defer to gear with stepped controls when buying so that if I do make changes, recall is easier. I just added a 11 sp 500 rack of Mr.Focus modules, and I use them as "analog" presets. They work great for that, although I do usually end up tweaking the Focus filter, but other than that - they stay where I like them. Just like a synth / plugin preset that you always use.

For gear that will inevitably get tweaked, I like stepped controls that are in the "half hour" position and can easily be glanced at and I notate : "HF boost - 1:30" or something to that affect. Makes recalls a bit easier.

EQ is often the hardest thing for recalls, but sometimes, I'll keep a general HF boost, LF cut on an EQ (or whatever is required), and use it for the overall tone and vibe, and use a plugin for some midrange nips and tucks. Best of both worlds, and constant tweaking of the hardware is not necessary. I like API EQ and it's serendipitous that it's also easily recalled.

The hybrid approach is a mindset and production esthetic that works for me. It's rare that I have to do major recalls (I am generally working for myself these days), but when I do I'll always gripe a bit, and then do it. It's not that time consuming with my setup.

I'm so grateful and blessed to have the gear I have - both purchased and designed for myself - that make mixing so much more euphonic and fast. I'm loving mixing life these days. (although more i/o and a few more pieces of hardware are no doubt in my future.....)
Old 15th July 2019
Gear Maniac

Originally Posted by KevWind View Post
the title is bass ackwards
I like this.....
Old 16th July 2019
Lives for gear
Optimal results? Sure. Yes, the gear plays a role, but in 2019 the quality of gear plays a role that is remarkably small, especially when compared to 40 years ago. The worst A/D converters are respectable, decent microphones are dirt cheap, plugins are a pretty fair approximation of expensive outboard gear, and a cheap DAW will give high fidelity and as many tracks as you could dream of.

I'd take Andrew Scheps mixing with a free DAW and included plugins over most other people.

I grew up with a Tascam 4-track, a Tascam mixer, a few mics, and a few decent outboard gear products. It is a completely different world.

Originally Posted by Synth Buddha View Post
Dear Wiseman, is there a remote possibility that for optimal results both may play a role?
Old 16th July 2019
Lives for gear

Originally Posted by A Tan View Post
It's not the gear

It's the ear of the engineer
Well, let's see him mix it with his ears and no gear.
Old 17th July 2019
Loafing So Adding My Opinion On This

If you record human beings playing in a physical space, hardware is a necessity. If you only mix, you still will need a well treated room, quality monitors and great converters, minimum. That said, particularly depending on your work and/or clients, the OP is correct that many plug-ins can be just as good for their hardware cousins. However, and I admit that I'm old school (started my recording experiences on a Tascam 38 8-track open reel deck) and saw the transitions from analog tape to digital tape to computer-based DAWs.

If I were starting out from scratch, I would put my money into high-end room treatments, monitors, converters, and mic pres. Many stock plugs included in most modern DAWS are fine to get the job done. I'd recommend; however, getting a summing mixer of at least 8-channels, though 16 (or more) is preferable.

I use mainly UAD plugs on the software end but we have a good amount of high-end hardware that definitely makes a difference. But unless the client has the budget to have me fully use our hardware, I'll use primarily use plug-ins, though I may throw a HW Distressor or SSL Compressor on the lead vocals and my Shadow Hills stereo compressor on the 2-bus.

Had an interesting "solved by hardware" moment on a hip-hop mix recently. The project consisted of the stereo "beat," and about 6 tracks of vocals. Plan was to simply throw the Shadow Hills on the stereo out and print the mix. For some reason, during a certain portion of the song, there was an undesirable "crunch" in the track. I thought that it was one of the vocal tracks and solo'ed each one to find the glitch. Nothing, all clean. Solo'ed the beat. Nope. But playing all of the track together, even turning off all the plugs, the crutch was still there. Once I stemmed out the tracks through the summing mixer -- the crunch glitch was gone, finished the mix, client was happy and on to the next project.

Moral of the story is that mixing in the box occasionally creates unpleasant artifacts whereas analog is more forgiving and in the case of a summing mixer, can enhance.

I should also note that not all plugs can perfectly mimic the hardware. For example, I have both the hardware Massive Passive and the UAD plug. The hardware is undeniably sweeter and realistic. Additionally, I usually have to boost/cut more dBs on the software than on the HW to get the sound I want.

That said, we're talking about tools to complete a job. Whatever works for the craftsman to get the job done, is the right tool.

Last edited by JHTorch; 17th July 2019 at 02:54 AM.. Reason: Corrections
Old 17th July 2019
Lives for gear

I got sick in my stomach going through this thread and finding out the $29 I bought does not sound exactly like a $500,000 SSL as it was advertised. I still can't believe I got conned and will ask for my money back
Old 17th July 2019
Lives for gear

For the SSL?
Old 17th July 2019
Lives for gear
b0se's Avatar
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 View Post
For the SSL?
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