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Hi-end digital mixer vs PT ITB Equalizer Plugins
Old 18th July 2014
  #1
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MrChick's Avatar
 

Hi-end digital mixer vs PT ITB

Hi all,

Since PT HDX works in 64bits and the Hi-end digital consoles works in 40bit fp, I wonder if the mix sounds better in one or other system. We are talking about DFC, S5, etc.

Someone with actual experience in both can comment?

Right now I have a DM2000 (32bits) and I looking for a system that improve my sound so the alternatives are few... The S5 appeals me but it might be discontinuated soon.

Thank you for comment.
Old 18th July 2014
  #2
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Henchman's Avatar
Nope. No difference.
It's the re-recording mixer that makes it sound good.
Old 18th July 2014
  #3
Really, the only differences are in workflow and routing flexibility. Everything else comes down to the mixer (and the material).
Old 19th July 2014
  #4
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Thanks for comment.
So do you think the eq and dynamics in a DSP system like the S5 doesn't surpase a plugin in the HDX? and in RTAS, there is any difference?
Do you think the HDX might be a sound improve to the DM2000?
Old 19th July 2014
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrChick View Post
Thanks for comment.
So do you think the eq and dynamics in a DSP system like the S5 doesn't surpase a plugin in the HDX? and in RTAS, there is any difference?
Do you think the HDX might be a sound improve to the DM2000?
Technically, 32 bit float (pt hdx) has less resolution than 40 bit fixed. 32 but float is 24 bit with an extra 8 bits that describe volume. That being said both are so accurate we can't hear the difference. Like henchman said, it's the operator that makes it sound good.
Old 20th July 2014
  #6
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The s5 channel strip sound "better" than the PT channel strip IMO but I suspect that the coding is different to allow greater number of instances on a range of pt configs. It is also worth noting that there is little flexibility in the on board dsp eg you run out of bands then you need to head out of the console. Also you will no doubt need a couple of hdx systems anyway, plus picture playback. Installation costs are never fully accounted for either
My last PT console "install" was a few ethernet cables and that was a but it. What we saved on install and cable could easily pay for another pt system
Also the work flow is terrible. Don't care what anyone says, its slow. Yes you can manage, yes you can sysex reverb patches etc, yes you can chase tc etc but you can simply close a session and open another and some frame rates are hard to manage depending on house sync etc for example many suites can do 23.98 and 29.97 and 25 but have to pull down if they get a 24fps project for example. This is the case of two S5f facilities that I know of.
I can work at one frame rate for one job close the session and re-open another frame rated project immediately.
Programming reverbs suck and many facilities have installed pro tools " toybox " systems that are simple io setups to run reverbs, delays etc.

Anyway my 2c
Old 20th July 2014
  #7
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MrChick's Avatar
 

Thanks for comment.
My main work is music for Tv and commercials so the recall is very important for me. I work in logic for music and from time to time in PT for sound desing and postproduction. Since 10 years I've been mixing in the DM2000 because never felt the ITB was for me. I'm very happy with this setup: programming, editing in logic with 72 outs to the DM2000 via Adat. Now, I want to improve my sound so my first plan was change the mixer for other that sounds better, I guess a S5 will sound better that the DM2000, but I don't know this really. Since two years I've been improving the analog and the AD/DA sides
Right now, I'm beginning to think the better way will be protools, may be a HD native with something like a Matrix for analog inserts, mixing and controller but I want to keep working in logic... May be I haven't explored all the ways or I'm blocked...
Old 20th July 2014
  #8
I have had a few different digital consoles, starting with our trusty old 02R that I bought in 1996. We then had an 02R96, and then a soundtracs DS00 and last a System 5.
You can do good work on all of them, just like you can do good work on PT with an Icon (or a mouse). What changes though is the ease of doing that work.

I would say that the S5 will sound better than the DS00 or the 02r, and that can be down to how dsp algorithms have been implemented, as well as features (a 4 band eq along with 2 filters goes a long way compared to just a 4 band that's meant to do all the work).

Also, if you are automating your mix, which you probably are for post work, then you'll get much more out of a desk that has a good automation system (S5) than out of a clunky system like the Yamaha automation.

Anyway, it then all boils down to your personal comfort and how much you are willing to pay to get to the next level of comfort/sound/convenience.
A S5 costs a bit, and you could probably get all your work done in your actual DAW with a good controller (S6 maybe?).
Old 20th July 2014
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrChick View Post
Thanks for comment.
My main work is music for Tv and commercials so the recall is very important for me. I work in logic for music and from time to time in PT for sound desing and postproduction. Since 10 years I've been mixing in the DM2000 because never felt the ITB was for me. I'm very happy with this setup: programming, editing in logic with 72 outs to the DM2000 via Adat. Now, I want to improve my sound so my first plan was change the mixer for other that sounds better, I guess a S5 will sound better that the DM2000, but I don't know this really. Since two years I've been improving the analog and the AD/DA sides
Right now, I'm beginning to think the better way will be protools, may be a HD native with something like a Matrix for analog inserts, mixing and controller but I want to keep working in logic... May be I haven't explored all the ways or I'm blocked...
If you want to change your system IMO either stay in the box and buy a used D-Command (good deal these days), or buy something like an SSL AWS900, which is just awesome for music, has full recall, and is a very very nice controller too.
Old 22nd July 2014
  #10
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I've done a lot of work on the S5 console and I don't hear any sonic advantage from the S5 processing over the best ITB plugins that are available, other than more internal headroom, which I believe will become less of an issue with PT11. I have to admit that I have never heard more transparent EQ and Dynamics than the modules on the Neve DFC, I can't think of anything that even comes close, but the ITB workflow more than makes up the difference with the ultra tight schedules these days. Over many years I've worked extensively with just about every premier film console I can think of and I much prefer working ITB.
Old 22nd July 2014
  #11
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Henchman's Avatar
What Gary said.
Old 22nd July 2014
  #12
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MrChick's Avatar
 

Thanks a lot for your comments.

I think the hybrid route is the way these days. Mixing ITB for sound desing and postproduction and ITB plus something analog for music. I think a Matrix/AWS may be a good solution for me. I can mix the main tracks in analog with inserts and summing some stems mixed ITB, plus monitor control and Daw controller.

For your comments, it's clear that the ITB wins over Digital console in a approach like mine.

My best.
Old 22nd July 2014
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ggegan View Post
I've done a lot of work on the S5 console and I don't hear any sonic advantage from the S5 processing over the best ITB plugins that are available,
Gary, what Eq/Dyn plugins do you prefer?
Old 22nd July 2014
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ggegan View Post
I have to admit that I have never heard more transparent EQ and Dynamics than the modules on the Neve DFC, I can't think of anything that even comes close

Thats interesting to hear. I totally believe it. Any Idea why that is? I can never find enough information in laymans terms about that console. Probably because its not a layman's piece of gear! I would imagine a room with a DFC would have more down time than a D Control room.

I (obviously) have never mixed on a DFC. They had a few smaller ones at POP. (Not sure if those are the same as the big ones at Warner or Skywalker) But I was just in the room briefly. Didn't really get to listen that much.
Old 22nd July 2014
  #15
The DFC 2 that they had at Les Audis de Boulogne (now Technicolor) could be dogs when it came to downtime. I hear that has much improved since they moved to DFC Gemini setups.
Old 22nd July 2014
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ienjoyaudio View Post
Thats interesting to hear. I totally believe it. Any Idea why that is? I can never find enough information in laymans terms about that console. Probably because its not a layman's piece of gear! I would imagine a room with a DFC would have more down time than a D Control room.
Recordist checking in, console rooms generally have more downtime than ICON rooms, mostly because there are so many more parts to a console system than an ICON system. I've seen older S5s crash out because one small piece of gear linking the Soundmaster to the Supercore had a single setting tweaked. It took the stage out for nearly 30 minutes.

That said, I've definitely run into situations on ICON stages where I wish I had the flexibility of console surface layouts and routing. Sure, there's multi-mode, and you can also re-assign units on the fly, but once you've built layouts on an S5 coming from multiple sources, it's hard to go back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ienjoyaudio View Post
I (obviously) have never mixed on a DFC. They had a few smaller ones at POP. (Not sure if those are the same as the big ones at Warner or Skywalker) But I was just in the room briefly. Didn't really get to listen that much.
The DFCs that POP had were smaller frames but generally the same consoles you'd find at Warner and Skywalker (though the cores may have been a bit older than the Skywalker ones).
Old 22nd July 2014
  #17
As an interesting sidenote, in the latest video from Soundworks, the DFC at Skywalker is cut in half to insert an Icon in the middle.
I guess that's what you get without Eucon on a DFC (just kidding, it's a great desk, and adding the Icon gets the "best of both worlds" in the same room thing)
Old 22nd July 2014
  #18
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one other interesting note- ITB just requires physical i/o for your monitors- and whatever outboard you need to use- whereas an external desk requires i/o for every channel that goes to a fader. it can get costly to be running 100+ i/o paths outside the box.
Old 22nd July 2014
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven1145 View Post
As an interesting sidenote, in the latest video from Soundworks, the DFC at Skywalker is cut in half to insert an Icon in the middle.
I guess that's what you get without Eucon on a DFC (just kidding, it's a great desk, and adding the Icon gets the "best of both worlds" in the same room thing)

Wow look at that. Before I saw it I imagined in my head that it would look horrendous aesthetically, but Its actually not bad.

I wonder if that is a permanent installation or just for that particular project. Looks like it was a single mixer and just the director working on it. Maybe after that movie is done the Dcontrol goes back in storage and the center DFC goes back.
Old 22nd July 2014
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by charles maynes View Post
one other interesting note- ITB just requires physical i/o for your monitors- and whatever outboard you need to use- whereas an external desk requires i/o for every channel that goes to a fader. it can get costly to be running 100+ i/o paths outside the box.
Luckily the cost of running MADI has gone down quite a bit, except in PT-land where the MADI interface alone costs 3500 $ vs some MADI cards like the RME or SSL ones.
The actual i/o count on a S5 for example is very high, but you then need to have enough DSP cards to actually process the channels (our main studio S5 has 5 DSP cards, which makes for 1280 mono inputs and outputs, however the mixer model has "only" 188 mono channels going to 48 busses in that configuration).
Old 22nd July 2014
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charles maynes View Post
one other interesting note- ITB just requires physical i/o for your monitors- and whatever outboard you need to use- whereas an external desk requires i/o for every channel that goes to a fader. it can get costly to be running 100+ i/o paths outside the box.
I don't know if the large console manufacturers already are working on incorporating it (Ben?), but with Dante HC just unveiled which transmits 512x512 bidirectional, fully redundant uncompressed channels over a single Cat 6 cable, this should not be an issue at all in the future, especially regarding the cost of the console itself.
Old 22nd July 2014
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrChick View Post
Gary, what Eq/Dyn plugins do you prefer?
I like McDSP and DMG plugins, but most of the facilities I work in have neither, so at those places I make due with the standard Avid plugins, which aren't exceptional, but they aren't bad either. I'm not into heavy EQ or compression, generally I'm tilting the curve gradually in the highs or lows with pretty wide Qs, rolling off highs or lows with a gentle 6dB/8va filter or notching out tones. I like to keep compression very light most of the time, as well.
Old 22nd July 2014
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ggegan View Post
I like McDSP and DMG plugins, but most of the facilities I work in have neither, so at those places I make due with the standard Avid plugins, which aren't exceptional, but they aren't bad either. I'm not into heavy EQ or compression, generally I'm tilting the curve gradually in the highs or lows with pretty wide Qs, rolling off highs or lows with a gentle 6dB/8va filter or notching out tones. I like to keep compression very light most of the time, as well.
I install my DMG plugins and UAD satellite with plugins everywhere I go.
I won't mix without my template and plugins.
Old 23rd July 2014
  #24
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Originally Posted by charles maynes View Post
one other interesting note- ITB just requires physical i/o for your monitors- and whatever outboard you need to use- whereas an external desk requires i/o for every channel that goes to a fader. it can get costly to be running 100+ i/o paths outside the box.
Yes but not many people would be buying a console if they were just running one rig surely? Once you start running multiple rigs for each department plus recorder it starts making more sense. Of course that gets expensive whatever route you choose!
Old 23rd July 2014
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman View Post
I install my DMG plugins and UAD satellite with plugins everywhere I go.
I won't mix without my template and plugins.
How do you do that at bigger companies?
I'm asking because I'm working at one and neither I as supervisor nor the tech or the IT departments would let freelancers install anything on the working systems.

How does it work if by bad moon or whatever your plugin installs cause downtime in one of the studios? Who's responsible then and takes the costs?

How does it work if you leave and the same session you worked on has to be changed and the plugins used in your template are not available at the facility anymore?

Just to be clear, I'm genuinely interested how that works. Freelancers here are expect to work on our templates with our plugins. No exceptions. Not one of them ever complained.
Old 23rd July 2014
  #26
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Most facilities I've seen build rigs for each job, maybe from a base image to save time and install whatever the client wants! It takes 30 mins a machine (?) to re-image them to a standard house spec so I can't see the objection to the client having whatever they like on them.
Old 23rd July 2014
  #27
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Originally Posted by londonengineer View Post
Most facilities I've seen build rigs for each job, maybe from a base image to save time and install whatever the client wants! It takes 30 mins a machine (?) to re-image them to a standard house spec so I can't see the objection to the client having whatever they like on them.
Ah, that makes sense. Won't fly in a high-thoughput broadcast environment like mine though.
Old 23rd July 2014
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kosmokrator View Post
How do you do that at bigger companies?
I'm asking because I'm working at one and neither I as supervisor nor the tech or the IT departments would let freelancers install anything on the working systems.

How does it work if by bad moon or whatever your plugin installs cause downtime in one of the studios? Who's responsible then and takes the costs?

How does it work if you leave and the same session you worked on has to be changed and the plugins used in your template are not available at the facility anymore?

Just to be clear, I'm genuinely interested how that works. Freelancers here are expect to work on our templates with our plugins. No exceptions. Not one of them ever complained.
If I can't use my plugins and template, I wont mix there.
A mix tech, IT manager or supervisor has no business dictating how and what I use to mix. I can only guarantee my work, by using what I'm used to using. I refuse to be put in a situation where I can't do my job to MY standards, because I don't have my tools.

If a fix needs to be done after I'm gone, they will have to either bring me in, or borrow my UAD satellite.

And londonengineer pointed out how a facility SHOULD do it, that gets lots of freelance engineers through the door. I know they do that at Universal as well. They did it when I mixed a pilot there last year.
Old 23rd July 2014
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman View Post
If I can't use my plugins and template, I wont mix there.
A mix tech, IT manager or supervisor has no business dictating how and what I use to mix. I can only guarantee my work, by using what I'm used to using. I refuse to be put in a situation where I can't do my job to MY standards, because I don't have my tools.

If a fix needs to be done after I'm gone, they will have to either bring me in, or borrow my UAD satellite.

And londonengineer pointed out how a facility SHOULD do it, that gets lots of freelance engineers through the door. I know they do that at Universal as well. They did it when I mixed a pilot there last year.
Yes, I can understand how that could work in other environments. As said, where I work, no way, it simply wouldn't fly because of a multitude of reasons. I guess you won't work here anytime soon, lol.

If it's that common, I wonder why Gary doesn't use his DMG plugins everywhere though?
Old 23rd July 2014
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman View Post
I install my DMG plugins and UAD satellite with plugins everywhere I go.
I won't mix without my template and plugins.
I often work at Technicolor on the Paramount Lot and they don't want you to use anything that isn't already installed on their system. Other places don't mind, but I have had the experience where I used my own plugins at a facility and then afterwards when I am booked at another facility they needed to get into the mix for some reason and demanded that I send over my iLok when I needed it on the current project. It was awkward. I suppose if I were on staff it wouldn't be as much of a problem, but I bounce around to a lot of different facilities.
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