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Plugins are making outboard gear unnecessary
Old 20th December 2018
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Plugins are making outboard gear unnecessary

I saw an interview with mixer, Ben Barresi, that Warren Heart conducted and as Warren and Ben went over Ben's wall of outboard gear, it hit me that none of that gear is necessary for today's mixing needs. You can make a radio-ready mix with zero outboard gear. Waves makes a package that gives you access as if you had a SSL-4000 console in itself. It doesn't hurt to have an analog console of course--those are the first things that amuse me when I enter a studio whether its Neve or SSL or API.

World class mixers like CLA (Chris Lord Alge) stand behind these plugins that render your Pro Tools rig a virtual outboard/console gear rack. I've paid for bundles of 4-6 plugins that are the cost of a single piece of outboard gear. Unless you're a collector of audio gear, which most of us are, outboard gear minus a recording console can be rendered extinct by today's plugins, by Waves or others. I personally don't recommend buying a bunch of outboard gear if you're building a studio from scratch, its draining on the wallet and all you need is a console and plugins.

Thoughts?
Old 20th December 2018
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
escape set's Avatar
Please, no.
Old 20th December 2018
  #3
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by UndergroundLab View Post
I saw an interview with mixer, Ben Barresi, that Warren Heart conducted and as Warren and Ben went over Ben's wall of outboard gear, it hit me that none of that gear is necessary for today's mixing needs. You can make a radio-ready mix with zero outboard gear. Waves makes a package that gives you access as if you had a SSL-4000 console in itself. It doesn't hurt to have an analog console of course--those are the first things that amuse me when I enter a studio whether its Neve or SSL or API.

World class mixers like CLA (Chris Lord Alge) stand behind these plugins that render your Pro Tools rig a virtual outboard/console gear rack. I've paid for bundles of 4-6 plugins that are the cost of a single piece of outboard gear. Unless you're a collector of audio gear, which most of us are, outboard gear minus a recording console can be rendered extinct by today's plugins, by Waves or others. I personally don't recommend buying a bunch of outboard gear if you're building a studio from scratch, its draining on the wallet and all you need is a console and plugins.

Thoughts?
IMO you state the obvious. But good luck selling the purists on that.
Old 20th December 2018
  #4
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greggybud's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by UndergroundLab View Post
Thoughts?
How about forum search here? Your post seems a bit vague and over-simplified.

Consider there are hundreds of variables, therefore that article may be an fun read for say...an airlines magazine when you are stuck in economy class on a 6 hour flight.

First define "necessary." I think it depends on the mixers genre, audience, time constraints, mixers experience with hardware and software, and audio objectives in order to produce any given output. Next define "radio ready." Everything these days is "radio ready" and some of it is ruined.

I read Serban Ghenea mixes ITB. But I'll guarantee you that afterwords, commercial projects are sent to outside ears for professional mastering. You can send it to LANDR or the $5 guy on Craigslist for digital. But personally I value the ME's experience, his monitoring, his room and knowledge with his own hardware and software. That's not to say Ludwig can't or won't use an L2. He has his arsenals, and experience to know when to apply what for the given audio objective.

Will that Waves emulation give identical results? Absolutely not. Will it be "good enough?" That's up to the user. Personally if I want to get close to hardware, I'm going to choose UAD, but not 100% of the time. I don't get "amusement" when working or even looking at a board.

"Unless you're a collector of audio gear, which most of us are, outboard gear minus a recording console can be rendered extinct by today's plugins,"

Strongly disagree. Digital hasn't captured everything. Again, "how close or good is close..or good enough." Why hasn't Bernie sold everything, including all the modifieds, then go buy Izotope and call it a day?

Building a studio, and choosing hardware or software totally depends on your objectives.
Old 20th December 2018
  #5
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by UndergroundLab View Post
I saw an interview with mixer, Ben Barresi, that Warren Heart conducted and as Warren and Ben went over Ben's wall of outboard gear, it hit me that none of that gear is necessary for today's mixing needs. You can make a radio-ready mix with zero outboard gear. Waves makes a package that gives you access as if you had a SSL-4000 console in itself. It doesn't hurt to have an analog console of course--those are the first things that amuse me when I enter a studio whether its Neve or SSL or API.

World class mixers like CLA (Chris Lord Alge) stand behind these plugins that render your Pro Tools rig a virtual outboard/console gear rack. I've paid for bundles of 4-6 plugins that are the cost of a single piece of outboard gear. Unless you're a collector of audio gear, which most of us are, outboard gear minus a recording console can be rendered extinct by today's plugins, by Waves or others.
I would've agreed with you if you said Softube, Slate, Fabfilter, UAD. lol

Waves? No.

The facts are... experienced engineer with literally any software > inexperienced engineer with the greatest analog gear known to man. That's any day of the week.

CLA would engineer circles around me with his stock plugins, even if I had a pair of Pultec EQ's, LA2A's, 76's, Massive Passives, the works. He'd still torch me. (And I'm not dissing myself by saying that... my mix would be solid!... but his would be the clearcut winner).

Waves has some gems, but most of the catalog isn't nearly as good as the competition. The competition absolutely goes toe-to-toe with analog gear.

Quote:
I personally don't recommend buying a bunch of outboard gear if you're building a studio from scratch, its draining on the wallet and all you need is a console and plugins.

Thoughts?
Yes. Because if you're starting out, you should not invest significant money on signal processors you barely know how to use correctly. Learn with stock plugins, and upgrade according to your learning curve and audio needs.
Old 21st December 2018
  #6
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iLex's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by UndergroundLab View Post
World class mixers like CLA (Chris Lord Alge) stand behind these plugins
Old 21st December 2018
  #7
Here for the gear
 

I thought it was already accepted by many 10-15 years ago that plugins can get the job done performance-wise.

Peering into a screen probably isn't as fun for most as being surrounded by the gear though... maybe manufacturers should sell the rack front panels and we should just use those to control the plugins.
Old 21st December 2018
  #8
Gear Maniac
 
Detch's Avatar
 

it's happening and you can't stop it.
but vintage gear lovers will not disappear
Old 21st December 2018
  #9
Gear Guru
I will say when Waves came out with their SSL emulation Andy Mendelsohn did a master class comparison at Berklee to check it out with the actual desk. Other than slight eq curves being different, the consensus was pretty spot on (and surprisingly so!). Bob Ohlsson on here, says the Kramer deck is very faithful to the deck they modeled.
I don't happen to own any Waves gear but there are people that are sophisticated, who don't share the Waves sucks GS mantra FWIW. I think you need to take it on a case by case basis.....
Old 21st December 2018
  #10
Deleted e999d8e
Guest
If you have a reliable tool, even if it's no longer cutting-edge tech, you don't just throw it out because somebody has released a software bundle.
Old 21st December 2018
  #11
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greggybud's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ardis View Post
I will say when Waves came out with their SSL emulation Andy Mendelsohn did a master class comparison at Berklee to check it out with the actual desk. Other than slight eq curves being different, the consensus was pretty spot on (and surprisingly so!).
I actually prefer the Waves SSL over UAD version which is an exception. But at this level, for myself, it's more about "flavor" as opposed to what is better or best. You definitely have to take it on a case by case basis. I'm still using Ren Comp quite a bit, and I have most UAD compressors. It's more about what works for a particular audio objective, and how easy it fits together.
Old 21st December 2018
  #12
Gear Guru
Quote:
Originally Posted by greggybud View Post
I actually prefer the Waves SSL over UAD version which is an exception. But at this level, for myself, it's more about "flavor" as opposed to what is better or best. You definitely have to take it on a case by case basis. I'm still using Ren Comp quite a bit, and I have most UAD compressors. It's more about what works for a particular audio objective, and how easy it fits together.
We are sooo spoiled! I grew up in a world where a tape deck and whatever mics came with it were "it",,,,, A 57 was a big deal and studios were a lot of money. I'm trying to get over the disposible mentality of plug ins and focus on a handful to get to really know them. I do track with analogue.

We do a lot of radio and mix to pix on the audio side of things here, and music is much different. Talking with the engineers and watching them work, they use whatever we have (need to go from room to room), and can make just about anything sound great. That being said, there is lustworthy gear, and they pick and choose it carefully. Honestly they use what they are familiar with and the younger guys are fine with plug ins.

I really don't think there is a better or best just different, and agree with you. For a pro it's all about time and client management anyway. Makes me laugh on here when I hear people talking about purists. Guys who really know their craft don't care and use analogue, because they can get more out of it. They'll use plug ins if it saves time and they don't have a box available. with music the gear you use is as important as the instruments, and yes the guys I know won't turn up their noses at plugins, but will gravitate to analogue every time if given a choice.
Old 21st December 2018
  #13
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deuc647's Avatar
If you guys who say plugins are rendering gear useless would look on sale sites, you would see that the like of Neve, SSL consoles are not there anymore because people are buying them up, a year ago they had about 8 SSL consoles for sale, today they have 1. This coming from someone who mixes on HDX.
Old 21st December 2018
  #14
Here's my take:

I've many waves plug-ins, and constantly compare them with other "pricy" plug-ins like UAD, PA etc. Some of Waves plug-ins are utility plugins, like L1, Deesser etc, for that Waves is still the option. For the SSL channel strip, I was really careful with my comparison, and my impression is that Waves SSL channel strip is still quite, let's say, impressive! considering its age and CPU consumption. For SSL G bus compressor though, the UAD slaughters the Waves one so badly, that I think Waves SSL bus comp is now useless even for 29USD.

Waves DBX, API 2500, and PIE comps are my favorites from Waves by the way.
Old 21st December 2018
  #15
Gear Guru
My bringing up Waves was due in part to the two examples where I've heard respected people compare to hardware. Obviously there are a ton of shootouts, but those I find unconvincing since are a very specific case. Personally I think plug ins make you want the real thing. Nothing like a piece of gear. Figure the last 5% of goodness is important and that's what you get with hardware. The real problem is being able to hear it!.......

Mics, pres, conversion is where I spend money on the best I can afford. I send my stuff out for mixing because I don't have the room or experience to make it great......I mix ITB for a reference, and am looking for results I can play for others without feeling embarrassed.....!
Old 21st December 2018
  #16
Here for the gear
 

Hi, first post!

I started out with a little tape deck in the 80s and did some work in a studio that had a beautiful console and tape decks....I always wanted an API console but ultimately I couldn't justify it for my little project studio so I ended up with a little Softube Console 1 with he API emulation. It's pretty good. My outboard collection is small and underutilized compared to my growing plugin collection.
Old 23rd December 2018
  #17
Gear Addict
In a few months, it will be the 20th anniversary of the first Billboard #1 song which was mixed entirely in the box. But please, carry on.
Old 23rd December 2018
  #18
Here for the gear
That plugins are making outboard gear "unnecessary" is probably mostly true for most of us when you consider the additional cost of the accessories needed to make them work. I'm talking about patchbays, cables, power strips, racks etc... If I can spend a few hundred bucks and get "close enough" at the click of a button, then it becomes more of an economic issue that's a no-brainer in terms of expense and end results. Let's face it, most of the sought after plugins are emulations anyway and the trade-off necessity is having adequate processing power which is still cheaper in the long run because it enables more than just plugins to work.
Old 23rd December 2018
  #19
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s.d.finley's Avatar
Recording with quality hardware makes mixing with plug ins easier. Hardware is NEVER going to go away. These threads have been popping up for almost 2 decades and guess what? Hardware is still here. New units being made and sold on the regular. Certainly plug ins have gotten better, but also the quality of hardware has gone up while the price on new units, not vintage has gone down. Plug ins vs hardware, its not one or the other, use both.
Old 23rd December 2018
  #20
Lives for gear
Hardware = recording/production.
Plugins = mixing

This is my conclusion. Recording with quality hardware gear (vintage or new) and commiting on the way in is sooo much better than recording flat with plugins. dialing up sounds with hardware is so much faster and sounds so inspiring while tracking. Plus, IMO, when you stack properly as you record, it makes the mixing process much easier.

For mixing, I am 100% certain that plugins are sonically at par with hardware. It’s just different. With hardware there is a different workflow. When I mix on an SSL, I can literally rip through a mix much faster than on the computer. It’s really fun. Analog recalls are not fun!! ITB is much more efficient overall. That’s why most of the time I mix ITB.

That’s just my 2¢
Old 23rd December 2018
  #21
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EvilRoy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by escape set View Post
Please, no.
^This.^

Analogue is Dead threads come up daily around here. It's been argued to death. In the end everybody goes and does what they want, the way they want anyway.
Old 23rd December 2018
  #22
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greggybud's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by nonstatic View Post
In a few months, it will be the 20th anniversary of the first Billboard #1 song which was mixed entirely in the box. But please, carry on.
Yes almost 20 years later it still sounds too loud, and over compressed mixed on ancient Pro Tools system.

Are you celebrating?
Old 23rd December 2018
  #23
Here for the gear
 

Young engineer here with a different perspective from some of the older guys on here. My opinion on the matter is that hardware will probably be around for another 10-15 years before it completely goes away in favor of software. Emulation is damn close, but not perfect. You can get amazing plugs from affordable options like Waves or expensive (dare I say, overpriced) options from UAD. And you'd be hard pressed to find any tangible differences if any during an A/B.


People will collect hardware for years because it's a nice, niche thing and people like to collect and use vintage gear. I, personally, would prefer to take a faster and simpler workflow any day - you can have your hardware. Because at the end of the day, the difference in sound quality is negligible at best.

Note, I do think synthesizers and virtual instruments still have a long way to go. I will admit that hardware synths are much, much superior at this moment. My post is currently referring to hardware EQs, compression, etc.


First thing to go will definitely be the full mixing desks. We don't need it. It'll be replaced with a full digital control surface like the Avid S6. Hardware will still serve its purpose in the signal flow during recording if needed.

I know its a touchy subject and many will disagree, but times are changing. People can make award winning records with a just a laptop now. There will always be a passion for the old way of doing things and that's okay! But for me as a growing engineer, I'll stick with a much faster workflow with the same, "hardware" quality results
Old 23rd December 2018
  #24
Lives for gear
There’s nothing “off” about the original post. Other than capture and speakers, not much in audio requires gear today. After decades, I have recently used some plug emulations that convince me they are perhaps better than the original gear. Things change in audio... I’m okay with that.
Old 23rd December 2018
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicholasr325 View Post

I know its a touchy subject and many will disagree, but times are changing. People can make award winning records with a just a laptop now. There will always be a passion for the old way of doing things and that's okay! But for me as a growing engineer, I'll stick with a much faster workflow with the same, "hardware" quality results
Also with the laptop, it's all there, a one-stop shop. I can continue working on my music while on an airplane (writing, not mixing), and not have to haul a rack of hardware everywhere i go.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nicholasr325 View Post
Note, I do think synthesizers and virtual instruments still have a long way to go. I will admit that hardware synths are much, much superior at this moment. My post is currently referring to hardware EQs, compression, etc.
However, i think VI's and synths are further along than you might give credit. It's harder to discern the difference in film scoring without looking at the budget, unless you can really listen in on what's happening. If ther is a trumpet solo, then it could be a dead giveaway. but full symphonic passages are pretty convincing to the point that a lot of studios will utilize a composer and his computer for small to medium size projects. It's getting there...
Old 23rd December 2018
  #26
Console One and Waves NLS (used in summing mode) make a good replacement ITB mixing desk solution, Not that I've used SSL's or Neve's etc (only Mackies ). but NLS does a great job in aiding separation, increased stereo field and adding a little weight. Console One saturation helps with the colour, and throw in some UAD plugs here and there and on the buses and I think I achieve nice analogue sounding mixes all ITB. I use a DAW controller as well to make the experience even more tactile.
Old 23rd December 2018
  #27
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JayTee4303's Avatar
It nice the kids are starting to feel good about their music. That's important.

Being assertive is, too. At some point you just have to stand up and tell the world you count. And it's ok to make wild claims on the basis of little actual experience.

See, we were young once, too. We know what it is to be held down by the man, and though we may smile at your over the top assertions amongst ourselves, we... rarely... rub your noses in errors later on.

We WANT you to grow up, and take over. Somebody HAS to.

We want you to go beyond where we stand now, and we're willing to basically GIVE you the benefit of our experience, even if you fight it, because if we don't, it will just disappear.

In fact, that applies to my hardware as well. ONE of you is going to end up with it, because it will outlive me.

So go on. Tweak yer LA2a plug as many hours... days... or weeks... as it takes to stick yer chest out and say "I mixed that."

Tell the whole world how useless the actual hardware is.

That way, when YOU run your first track thru my old one, and basically bust an O, no matter HOW the knobs are set, 2 seconds after getting the routing right, it will be YOUR secret, to keep, and selectively pass on to the really stellar newbs... AFTER they run outta breath making grand pronouncements.

Recall.

Ha ha ha ha...

Dude, it's got two knobs and three switches.

C'mon.

If it's THAT hard...

Yer fancy cellphone takes pitchers, right?

Now be a good boy and fetch grandpa some tequila. And a ciggy. My artheritus is acting up.

Then I'll tell you some lies about the good old days, and after that we can load my next clients in.

Don't worry about woundin yer X-box thumbs, I'll get the B3. You grab a two wheel cart and haul in the thumb drive.

;-)
Old 23rd December 2018
  #28
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EvilRoy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JayTee4303 View Post
It nice the kids are starting to feel good about their music. That's important.

Being assertive is, too. At some point you just have to stand up and tell the world you count. And it's ok to make wild claims on the basis of little actual experience.

See, we were young once, too. We know what it is to be held down by the man, and though we may smile at your over the top assertions amongst ourselves, we... rarely... rub your noses in errors later on.

We WANT you to grow up, and take over. Somebody HAS to.

We want you to go beyond where we stand now, and we're willing to basically GIVE you the benefit of our experience, even if you fight it, because if we don't, it will just disappear.

In fact, that applies to my hardware as well. ONE of you is going to end up with it, because it will outlive me.

So go on. Tweak yer LA2a plug as many hours... days... or weeks... as it takes to stick yer chest out and say "I mixed that."

Tell the whole world how useless the actual hardware is.

That way, when YOU run your first track thru my old one, and basically bust an O, no matter HOW the knobs are set, 2 seconds after getting the routing right, it will be YOUR secret, to keep, and selectively pass on to the really stellar newbs... AFTER they run outta breath making grand pronouncements.

Recall.

Ha ha ha ha...

Dude, it's got two knobs and three switches.

C'mon.

If it's THAT hard...

Yer fancy cellphone takes pitchers, right?

Now be a good boy and fetch grandpa some tequila. And a ciggy. My artheritus is acting up.

Then I'll tell you some lies about the good old days, and after that we can load my next clients in.

Don't worry about woundin yer X-box thumbs, I'll get the B3. You grab a two wheel cart and haul in the thumb drive.

;-)
The way I figure it, I'm a big advocate of everyone going ITB only. I am getting some seriously great deals on used analogue gear lately, haha. Prices are 1/10th what they were before 2000. Even new gear is now more affordable with all the clones. Works for me. I'm happy to take that useless old LA2A off your hands for pennies on the dollar. Just think all the plugins you can buy.

Old 23rd December 2018
  #29
These kinds of threads are always fascinating to me. Hardware gears are the real deals. No doubt about that. But the dedication that the software world puts to stand against those actual gears, is a thing that I appreciate most. I am more comfortable with software, and I like to idea of having those iconic gears even though they are virtual. I can get 80's sound with those virtual "RMX-16", "SSL board", etc. and when for another song I explore 70's sound with "virtual" 1073s, EMT plates, tape echeos, etc etc. That's the enjoyment of software for me. Thanks to UAD, Waves, PA, and other great developers for that "dream".
Old 23rd December 2018
  #30
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by JayTee4303 View Post
It nice the kids are starting to feel good about their music. That's important.

Being assertive is, too. At some point you just have to stand up and tell the world you count. And it's ok to make wild claims on the basis of little actual experience.

See, we were young once, too. We know what it is to be held down by the man, and though we may smile at your over the top assertions amongst ourselves, we... rarely... rub your noses in errors later on.

We WANT you to grow up, and take over. Somebody HAS to.

We want you to go beyond where we stand now, and we're willing to basically GIVE you the benefit of our experience, even if you fight it, because if we don't, it will just disappear.

In fact, that applies to my hardware as well. ONE of you is going to end up with it, because it will outlive me.

So go on. Tweak yer LA2a plug as many hours... days... or weeks... as it takes to stick yer chest out and say "I mixed that."

Tell the whole world how useless the actual hardware is.

That way, when YOU run your first track thru my old one, and basically bust an O, no matter HOW the knobs are set, 2 seconds after getting the routing right, it will be YOUR secret, to keep, and selectively pass on to the really stellar newbs... AFTER they run outta breath making grand pronouncements.

Recall.

Ha ha ha ha...

Dude, it's got two knobs and three switches.

C'mon.

If it's THAT hard...

Yer fancy cellphone takes pitchers, right?

Now be a good boy and fetch grandpa some tequila. And a ciggy. My artheritus is acting up.

Then I'll tell you some lies about the good old days, and after that we can load my next clients in.

Don't worry about woundin yer X-box thumbs, I'll get the B3. You grab a two wheel cart and haul in the thumb drive.

;-)

Love this!!
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