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could someone explain the useage of a pec/direct panel? Control Surfaces
Old 10th January 2008
Gear Addict

could someone explain the useage of a pec/direct panel?

Could someone help me understand better, or point me to a resource that explain the practical usage of Pec/direct paddles? ?
How and when does one use these on the dub stage? they seem very ubiquitous on all large format film consoles, no matter the make.....
Old 10th January 2008
Lives for gear
dr.sound's Avatar

Look here:

or this:
Larry Blake's Film Sound Glossary

Let me know if that answers your question.
Old 10th January 2008
Gear Head
MixinMonkey's Avatar

Think of it as a ridiculously quick & flexible tape/bus switch with some added record enabling options to boot.
Pec/Direct = Tape/Bus (or for us today - Protools return/console stems bus)

An example would be flipping quickly between bus/tape on one stem, but leaving other various stems in tape/playback.. not to mention record enabling quickly for insert/updates.

I use it on a Neve DFC, but for all you ICON D-Control guys/gals out there - Colin Broad apparently makes a Pec/Direct panel for the ICON.
I've never seen the Colin Broad in action, but it's supposed to be very cool.
Old 10th January 2008
Gear Addict

that makes sense... at least to a point. to sum up, it enables a person to choose between listening to the "eight bus" coming from the console, and then with a flick of a switch, listen to the recorded stems, coming from the recorders, (pro tools rigs, akai's, what have you,) does this panel also let you start recording?

so, practicaly, then, when and how do you use it?
Old 10th January 2008
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dr.sound's Avatar

Pec/Direct is for checking the difference between what you're sending out of your console and what you have recorded on your dubber, multitrack, etc. Unlike mixing in the box, most consoles and outboard gear are not fully automated. A Re-Recording Mixer sits at the console toggling the Pec/Direct switch toward the mixer, which is what you have recorded. It is typically lit green.As you see in the Euphonix link, what they call PB or Pec(playback is green) and Bus or direct is clear. Then you push the paddle to the screen to hear what you are going to send to the recorder (monitor only since it hasn't yet been recorded) and quickly toggle back and forth listening for any difference in signal. If a difference is hear the Mixer will adjust a fader for level up or down or EQ to match what is on the recorded stem (pec) to the direct signal. This happens very fast, back and forth as their machines are running then the mixer punches the record toggle switch directly above his pec/direct.
Old 10th January 2008
Gear Addict

Thanks marti!!!! ok... i'm getting it.

what about when when they paddles are red? redording?
Old 10th January 2008
Lives for gear

Short answer:

What Marti said

Longer answer:

It's not so much "what it does" as "how it does it".

When dubbing a film you've got multiple channels (say an 8-wide cinema mix) and multiple stems ( dialog, music, fx, localized fx, and print master ). Somehow you've got to manage those 40+ tracks. You need to be able to punch in on single tracks, or groups of tracks. You need to be able to listen to what got on tape (again for a single track, or any group of tracks). You can do these things manually, or you can have a logic system that makes stuff "just work" for you. We call this the Pec/Direct function.

A good P/D implementation allows you to group tracks together logically, both the bus/tape switching and the track arming (bias). It should allow you to easily drop an n-channel stem into record with a single switch. Alternatively you could punch in to a single channel for all the stems simultaneously. Or some other strange combination. Any time you drop a stem into record, the print master should also drop in, and any safeties as well. By linking the tracks into logical groups, the P/D speeds up these operations considerably.

But the Pec/Direct isn't just a panel, it's also a low-latency control over DSP that provides seamless switching between 2 signals. Insert points before and after the switch allows for surround encoding and decoding equipment so the user can preview those effects. The Pec/Dir system accommodates multiple users by providing multipe control panels for the same recorders. The P/D also handles metering, showing the bus/tape levels side-by-side for visual comparison. And finally, the P/D setup page is a nice place to define the track layout (panning-wise).

Grouping all these functions together, controlled by a cohesive set of logic, lets the computer do all the work instead of the user.

The P/D system manages the entire "output" section of the console. Every time I've visited a dub stage, a remarkable amount of time is spent working the Pec/Dir panel. The P/D function helps you drop in a change without having to return to the start of every segment. This is especially useful when making fixes for the producer. It's one of those features that reduces the grunt-work of a mix so you can spend more time being creative.

Hope this helps,

-Ben Loftis - Home
Old 10th January 2008
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dr.sound's Avatar

Originally Posted by postprosound View Post
Thanks marti!!!! ok... i'm getting it.

what about when when they paddles are red? redording?
I don't know what "redording " is ?heh

Yes, red is recording. Now that the secret is out, anyone on a "Dub Stage" will know when it's in record.

I don't use Pec/Directs anymore since I have been mixing in the box. I don't miss them at all. When we are done mixing we take a real time pass to Print Master and therefor don't have any potentially bad punches or mismatched levels.
Old 11th January 2008
I loved pec/direct when I started using them. (pec stands for photo-electric cell, which passed for playback back in the day). They really make sense to a multi-mixer post production workflow. Even in the pro tools centric world of today, I like knowing that the stem is there and OK and the computer won't mess with me later, and if I punch a stem, it's only that stem I'm risking blowing. You still have the automated mix data to punch in revs later if you need to, but you should still check playback and direct before hitting record to make sure you are matched in. Clearly many people are getting along fine without, but I really thought it was a cool eye-opener when I started using them.

Kind of like using a Lafont cinema filter set (inspired by the Urei 565 little dipper) instead of just a notch filter plug-in. Sure, the notch will work, but the ergonmics and workflow of having the band switch from peak with the band essentially soloed to dip in context makes it so simple and effective. It just makes so much sense you wonder why everything doesn't work this way. BTW, did eventide or somebody else ever come out with a plug with this full functionality? I thought they were going to, but can't seem to find it.
Old 11th January 2008
Lives for gear
dr.sound's Avatar

Thanks for your input and explanation to those out there who never used pec/directs.
Having used the Harrison MPC and it's pec/directs, I do appreciate what it can do for those who need that functionality.
Old 11th January 2008
I love my Pec/Dir panel... the only thing that bugs me is that I want Euphonix or Soundmaster to set up a logical assignment matrix option so that when I toss a paddle for a stem it only arms 1 channel for 6 tracks in protools, so I can use my 5.1 and stereo channels instead of 32 mono channels...

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