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Bond117 28th March 2018 12:30 AM

Mastering With Digital Console or Analog Console (+outboard gear) instead of DAW?
 
So what I'm trying to do here is figure out how to improve my setup with around a $5,000 budget. I know that sometimes the best option costs a little more, so if I need to go over budget so be it.

Right now, I record all synths and gear through a Focusrit Scarlett 18i8. I then mix and master in the box. I do everything. So currently I'm in the box. I would like to change that and improve my mixing and mastering, on top of being the producer/writer and such.

So I seem faced with three options:
#1 . stay in the box and get a really nice plugin suite
#2 . Get a 96khz digital mixer like the Allen and Heath SQ6
#3 . Get a Neve 5060 Centerpiece and master buss processor etc. Or analog desk and outboard gear

Now my question would be, from your guy's experience, and before I go empty my savings account, which option would YOU personally choose, if you had to start over?
I know a lot of people rave about the Neve gear, and I do like the sound of "highest quality" but.. it's pricey, and also I'm not sure how the whole stems workflow happens.. I would need the 5060, something like an Apollo 16 interface with analog outs cuz there's only analog ins on the 5060... I don't know how a setup with the 5060 works.

My fear with a digital mixer is little to no quality increase over the DAW, and a redundant 6 grand spent.

And I generally just hate mixing and mastering in the box, I want to touch a fader dangit. At the end of the day though, I want to be able to get the best mastering results possible, regardless of time and effort.

mrc 28th March 2018 10:57 AM

I wouldn t spend my money on a digital console, it has no real sonic benefits compare with itb.
The centerpiece is above the buget, plus you would also need a converter.
My opinion is that the best thing you could do is upgrade your monitors/ room acoustics. I know this from experience, by far the best investment i made were some better monitors. I d rather mix on hi end monitors with stock plugins then on budget monitors with all the plugins and hardware i want. If you don t hear exactly what you are doing, all you do is guess work.
Also, if you decide on buying other monitors, you should consider upragind your interface too.

deuc647 28th March 2018 02:42 PM

This is one of the few times i will say mastering ITB wins hands down.

JAT 28th March 2018 03:15 PM

For 5 grand you can't get the RND Centerpiece, although you could get the Satellite. Still, without good outboard you aren't taking full advantage of it. My advice would be to start collecting good outboard to send your signals in and out of the box.

An RND Shelford or Portico etc. would make a difference, even if you are mostly doing synths. You can route them into or send softsynths in and out. If you want stereo, there are plenty of cheaper units out there - a Warm WA73 stereo unit (pre and EQ) and a RND stereo comp (or one of Drawmer's, etc.) could leave money for an 1176 or La-2a clone(s), which can make a world of difference on bass and vocal etc texture. Or use that leftover money on a simple line mixer like the Dangerous or upgrade the Focusrite. But having a good input channel (or stereo) provides the most bang-for-buck, in my experience. Gives some tranformered heft to your signals to be mixed.

Bond117 28th March 2018 03:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mrc (Post 13224876)
I wouldn t spend my money on a digital console, it has no real sonic benefits compare with itb.
The centerpiece is above the buget, plus you would also need a converter.
My opinion is that the best thing you could do is upgrade your monitors/ room acoustics. I know this from experience, by far the best investment i made were some better monitors. I d rather mix on hi end monitors with stock plugins then on budget monitors with all the plugins and hardware i want. If you don t hear exactly what you are doing, all you do is guess work.
Also, if you decide on buying other monitors, you should consider upragind your interface too.

Interesting thought. I use JBL LSR308 rn, what would you switch to some good Adams or something? What interface? I would probably do this and then down the road get an analog console with outboard master buss compressor? Not sure if it helps me out.

Bond117 28th March 2018 03:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JAT (Post 13225288)
For 5 grand you can't get the RND Centerpiece, although you could get the Satellite. Still, without good outboard you aren't taking full advantage of it. My advice would be to start collecting good outboard to send your signals in and out of the box.

An RND Shelford or Portico etc. would make a difference, even if you are mostly doing synths. You can route them into or send softsynths in and out. If you want stereo, there are plenty of cheaper units out there - a Warm WA73 stereo unit (pre and EQ) and a RND stereo comp (or one of Drawmer's, etc.) could leave money for an 1176 or La-2a clone(s), which can make a world of difference on bass and vocal etc texture. Or use that leftover money on a simple line mixer like the Dangerous or upgrade the Focusrite. But having a good input channel (or stereo) provides the most bang-for-buck, in my experience. Gives some tranformered heft to your signals to be mixed.

I'm fine with going over budget for the 5060 if it's truly worth it. As far as outboard I was considering the portico Master Bus Processor

Bond117 28th March 2018 04:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by deuc647 (Post 13225224)
This is one of the few times i will say mastering ITB wins hands down.

Why do you say that?

deuc647 28th March 2018 06:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bond117 (Post 13225382)
Why do you say that?

Cuz you can manipulate audio easier with plugs that are non destructive.

avare 28th March 2018 08:51 PM

Acoustics and monitor system.

Andre

mrc 29th March 2018 08:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bond117 (Post 13225303)
Interesting thought. I use JBL LSR308 rn, what would you switch to some good Adams or something? What interface? I would probably do this and then down the road get an analog console with outboard master buss compressor? Not sure if it helps me out.

You don t see many mastering studios using JBL or Adam as monitors for a reason. There are better sounding solutios. Many will go for a sealed system for better transient response.
Once again my advice would be to invest the money you have in better monitors/room.
You can decide what interface you need once you know how many channels you need.

Rami Hashash 29th March 2018 09:30 AM

What Andre said.

:cowbell:

Duke Murdock 29th March 2018 01:38 PM

Try to think of your problem as being solved through a process over time rather than with a single silver bullet. Evaluate where you are, determine where you want to be, then decide which piece or pieces give you the most benefit. Over time with new knowledge from your new gear and from other sources your thinking about the next piece might change. I know mine does.

Actually now that I write this you should probably check out The Silver Bullet lol. It might go a long way to what you are looking for as a start but surrender to the process. kfhkh

Bond117 3rd April 2018 02:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by avare (Post 13225977)
Acoustics and monitor system.

Andre

I'm not sure I understand.. Improve room Acoustics and upgrade monitoring system?

Bond117 3rd April 2018 02:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mrc (Post 13226910)
You don t see many mastering studios using JBL or Adam as monitors for a reason. There are better sounding solutios. Many will go for a sealed system for better transient response.
Once again my advice would be to invest the money you have in better monitors/room.
You can decide what interface you need once you know how many channels you need.

I guess I don't really understand what you mean by "sealed system".. Airtight room? I have limited ability to do this as of right now, unless there's an affordable solution I can't really tear apart an apartment.

And again, I would have considered something like the ADAM A7x's pretty adequate, but I'm curious as to what you had in mind. I wouldn't mind spending around 1k each if it'll really be worth it.

Teofunk 3rd April 2018 04:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mrc (Post 13226910)
You don t see many mastering studios using JBL or Adam as monitors for a reason. There are better sounding solutios. Many will go for a sealed system for better transient response.
Once again my advice would be to invest the money you have in better monitors/room.
You can decide what interface you need once you know how many channels you need.

JBL also makes M2s and such which are used by mastering engineers..

Only because a company makes a really cheap entry level monitors doesn't mean that they wouldn't make good speakers as well.

-----

OP:

With sealed system they referred to sealed speakers instead of ported ones.

What Andre meant was that biggest improvement probably comes from room treatment and speakers (room size and form makes a huge difference as well).

avare 3rd April 2018 05:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bond117 (Post 13236632)
I'm not sure I understand.. Improve room Acoustics and upgrade monitoring system?

Yes. You understand correctly.

Andre

Bond117 5th April 2018 05:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Teofunk (Post 13236822)
JBL also makes M2s and such which are used by mastering engineers..

Only because a company makes a really cheap entry level monitors doesn't mean that they wouldn't make good speakers as well.

-----

OP:

With sealed system they referred to sealed speakers instead of ported ones.

What Andre meant was that biggest improvement probably comes from room treatment and speakers (room size and form makes a huge difference as well).

I will definitely do something about the room treatment. In addition, I must ask, from a sealed monitor or a super high end monitor, is there any out there which are viable for semi-pro grade mastering around $800-1500 a piece?

And to nod to my op, getting an analog console and mixing with stems, or getting a high end digital console, will provide little to no Sonic advantages? Or would it be if anything, a worthwhile investment as a workflow and productivity/accuracy thing.

Currently I spend about max, 2k on a piece of gear.. and it takes me awhile to save. So I figured I could save for a whole year and perhaps get a console.

sfoote 12th April 2018 05:03 PM

As an owner of a RND 5088, I'd go with the 5060 centerpiece. Things got a whole lot easier for me to get a sound when I went out of the box.

It got harder in some ways, like there's more stuff sitting around and cables to cause problems. I only mix for me so I don't need things like recall ability.

nyandres 15th April 2018 02:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bond117 (Post 13239952)
I will definitely do something about the room treatment. In addition, I must ask, from a sealed monitor or a super high end monitor, is there any out there which are viable for semi-pro grade mastering around $800-1500 a piece?

And to nod to my op, getting an analog console and mixing with stems, or getting a high end digital console, will provide little to no Sonic advantages? Or would it be if anything, a worthwhile investment as a workflow and productivity/accuracy thing.

Currently I spend about max, 2k on a piece of gear.. and it takes me awhile to save. So I figured I could save for a whole year and perhaps get a console.

For mastering a pair of focal shape twins may do....But you can probably find a pair of ATC SCM25 used in the 5k range.

A good mastering hardware EQ, or bus compressor is also a good option. As for centerpiece,..its pointless

e-are 15th April 2018 03:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Duke Murdock (Post 13227287)
Try to think of your problem as being solved through a process over time rather than with a single silver bullet.

Actually now that I write this you should probably check out The Silver Bullet lol. It might go a long way to what you are looking for as a start but surrender to the process. kfhkh

Was my 1st thought. Get some good outboard. Silver Bullet would be the 1st piece. As far as the neve sound look into vintech. A little cheaper than some clones but I love them. As far as monitoring, I use Dynaudio's now but have used and listened to many and Sonarworks has made a significant difference. So much so I have sold all but the Dynaudio's, avantones, and 2 older small pairs of krk's. Get your acoustics together as best you can and let Sonarworks do the rest. Then grab some outboard gear.
peachh

Mister Karloff 16th April 2018 01:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bond117 (Post 13224211)
So what I'm trying to do here is figure out how to improve my setup with around a $5,000 budget. I know that sometimes the best option costs a little more, so if I need to go over budget so be it.

Right now, I record all synths and gear through a Focusrit Scarlett 18i8. I then mix and master in the box. I do everything. So currently I'm in the box. I would like to change that and improve my mixing and mastering, on top of being the producer/writer and such.

So I seem faced with three options:
#1 . stay in the box and get a really nice plugin suite
#2 . Get a 96khz digital mixer like the Allen and Heath SQ6
#3 . Get a Neve 5060 Centerpiece and master buss processor etc. Or analog desk and outboard gear

Now my question would be, from your guy's experience, and before I go empty my savings account, which option would YOU personally choose, if you had to start over?
I know a lot of people rave about the Neve gear, and I do like the sound of "highest quality" but.. it's pricey, and also I'm not sure how the whole stems workflow happens.. I would need the 5060, something like an Apollo 16 interface with analog outs cuz there's only analog ins on the 5060... I don't know how a setup with the 5060 works.

My fear with a digital mixer is little to no quality increase over the DAW, and a redundant 6 grand spent.

And I generally just hate mixing and mastering in the box, I want to touch a fader dangit. At the end of the day though, I want to be able to get the best mastering results possible, regardless of time and effort.

Can you show us a few pics of your room. With out knowing your enviroment I can't give you truly useful advice. My current advice is to save your money until you can pinpoint a specific problem and its solution.

psycho_monkey 16th April 2018 01:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bond117 (Post 13239952)
I will definitely do something about the room treatment. In addition, I must ask, from a sealed monitor or a super high end monitor, is there any out there which are viable for semi-pro grade mastering around $800-1500 a piece?

And to nod to my op, getting an analog console and mixing with stems, or getting a high end digital console, will provide little to no Sonic advantages? Or would it be if anything, a worthwhile investment as a workflow and productivity/accuracy thing.

Currently I spend about max, 2k on a piece of gear.. and it takes me awhile to save. So I figured I could save for a whole year and perhaps get a console.

Why do you want a console for mastering?

And putting a $5k+ processor in the centre of your system then slumping on monitoring is putting cart before horse - how will you get the best use out of it if you can’t hear what you’re doing?

Serious mastering studios put $$$$s into the build before the final surface treatment, and then another $20k into the monitoring. Or more.

Now of course you can’t do that, but that’s the level of design a studio spending 5k on a single EQ has done. I can’t soeak for anyone specifically, but I’d hope most would rather work ITB with the best room/monitoring possible than have some nice outboard and sun $1k speaker in a boxy room.

So - improve your room as much as you can within budget, buy the best monitoring you can, and then upgrade anything else when you can afford it. You can get going ITB and build from there.

A digital console is just a DAW in a different shape box. They have their uses - predominantly live, or in some studio situations - but not much use or point investing in one for mastering, even stem mastering.

Bond117 16th April 2018 07:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by psycho_monkey (Post 13260492)
Why do you want a console for mastering?

And putting a $5k+ processor in the centre of your system then slumping on monitoring is putting cart before horse - how will you get the best use out of it if you can’t hear what you’re doing?

Serious mastering studios put $$$$s into the build before the final surface treatment, and then another $20k into the monitoring. Or more.

Now of course you can’t do that, but that’s the level of design a studio spending 5k on a single EQ has done. I can’t soeak for anyone specifically, but I’d hope most would rather work ITB with the best room/monitoring possible than have some nice outboard and sun $1k speaker in a boxy room.

So - improve your room as much as you can within budget, buy the best monitoring you can, and then upgrade anything else when you can afford it. You can get going ITB and build from there.

A digital console is just a DAW in a different shape box. They have their uses - predominantly live, or in some studio situations - but not much use or point investing in one for mastering, even stem mastering.

Yeah, I think I'm on the same page here now. Best route would probably be to invest in some monitors like Genelec 8351s or (Harbeth 30.1s?) something else. I just wish there was a good motorized DAW controller like Berhinger Xtouch that played well with Ableton 10. Like the faders don't even line up at 0. If there was I would add that instead of an analog console, mix ITB, and maybe add a master bus processor down the line or something.

psycho_monkey 17th April 2018 01:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bond117 (Post 13261973)
Yeah, I think I'm on the same page here now. Best route would probably be to invest in some monitors like Genelec 8351s or (Harbeth 30.1s?) something else. I just wish there was a good motorized DAW controller like Berhinger Xtouch that played well with Ableton 10. Like the faders don't even line up at 0. If there was I would add that instead of an analog console, mix ITB, and maybe add a master bus processor down the line or something.

I still think think I’m confused. Initially you said “mastering”. Now you’re talking Live, faders, mixing?

PS I think the Avid Eucon stuff works with Live - try a 2nd hand Avid Mix? They’re not that expensive..

Duke Murdock 17th April 2018 05:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by psycho_monkey (Post 13262652)
I still think think I’m confused. Initially you said “mastering”. Now you’re talking Live, faders, mixing?

PS I think the Avid Eucon stuff works with Live - try a 2nd hand Avid Mix? They’re not that expensive..

Oi mastering and producing. Two words that have entered the lexicon in more inappropriate places than I can count.

Bond117 17th April 2018 02:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by psycho_monkey (Post 13262652)
I still think think I’m confused. Initially you said “mastering”. Now you’re talking Live, faders, mixing?

PS I think the Avid Eucon stuff works with Live - try a 2nd hand Avid Mix? They’re not that expensive..

I do all three, the idea is I wanted to switch most things out of the box, IE mixing with an analog console, stems, and mastering outboard gear like an MBP. I was more or less curious if keeping an analog signal path when doing the mixing, and mastering, would help with the final quality/workflow. The question I guess could really have been "Should I mix/master ITB or not, or a hybrid setup." The console was at the time, a logical addition to this if I was to master outside the computer, because I could keep the signal path analog for longer with mixing too and route into the outboard gear.

If you can master ITB, I figured maybe a digital console would be able to do this as well.

Wasn't sure what the best route was for someone who does all three, but I think I agree with what you were saying. It would be pointless to invest in a console. It would be much more effective to improve the acoustics and monitoring, and maybe get an Apollo 16 (interface improvement + preamp emulations) and an MBP etc.

Aside from this, since it's not worth an analog console in addition to the external processing gear when mastering in analog, I was still kinda getting used to the idea of the additional benefit of having physical faders with either route.
I realized that if I really wanted that added benefit still, I could just get a DAW controller. :) Hopefully that's less confusing, my bad.

Bond117 17th April 2018 03:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Duke Murdock (Post 13262935)
Oi mastering and producing. Two words that have entered the lexicon in more inappropriate places than I can count.

If you read the original post, you would see that I do all three, and am not using them interchangeably.

It's just that you can master ITB with plugins, so I figured you can also do this with a digital mixer since they're not too different. If I was to go with analog outboard gear for mastering, I figured an analog console was a logical addition to this because the signal path could be kept analog for longer, which I thought could yield a better result. And in reality it probably does.

What it sounds like though, is the best answer for someone like me is "None of the above". Go without a console, but still get outboard gear like an MBP maybe. So master in analog/hybrid but remain ITB for everything else.

nyandres 17th April 2018 11:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bond117 (Post 13263597)
If you read the original post, you would see that I do all three, and am not using them interchangeably.

It's just that you can master ITB with plugins, so I figured you can also do this with a digital mixer since they're not too different. If I was to go with analog outboard gear for mastering, I figured an analog console was a logical addition to this because the signal path could be kept analog for longer, which I thought could yield a better result. And in reality it probably does.

What it sounds like though, is the best answer for someone like me is "None of the above". Go without a console, but still get outboard gear like an MBP maybe. So master in analog/hybrid but remain ITB for everything else.

You want precision for mastering... Analog boards are only gonna be worst and cost more. Digital is more precise... Some mastering analog gear for color is nice to have as an option... But you dont want the center of your workflow around it.

Progmatic-Studios 20th July 2018 03:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bond117 (Post 13224211)
So what I'm trying to do here is figure out how to improve my setup with around a $5,000 budget. I know that sometimes the best option costs a little more, so if I need to go over budget so be it.

Right now, I record all synths and gear through a Focusrit Scarlett 18i8. I then mix and master in the box. I do everything. So currently I'm in the box. I would like to change that and improve my mixing and mastering, on top of being the producer/writer and such.

So I seem faced with three options:
#1 . stay in the box and get a really nice plugin suite
#2 . Get a 96khz digital mixer like the Allen and Heath SQ6
#3 . Get a Neve 5060 Centerpiece and master buss processor etc. Or analog desk and outboard gear

Now my question would be, from your guy's experience, and before I go empty my savings account, which option would YOU personally choose, if you had to start over?
I know a lot of people rave about the Neve gear, and I do like the sound of "highest quality" but.. it's pricey, and also I'm not sure how the whole stems workflow happens.. I would need the 5060, something like an Apollo 16 interface with analog outs cuz there's only analog ins on the 5060... I don't know how a setup with the 5060 works.

My fear with a digital mixer is little to no quality increase over the DAW, and a redundant 6 grand spent.

And I generally just hate mixing and mastering in the box, I want to touch a fader dangit. At the end of the day though, I want to be able to get the best mastering results possible, regardless of time and effort.

what did you end up buying? abduction

chazmar 20th July 2018 06:54 PM

This all got a little confusing but I'm going to answer "What should I do on an outboard mastering solution with 5K?"

Well, beware the "room treatment" and "monitoring" hype - If logic serves me correctly, if you can hear a finely produced master with full spectrum high quality headphones, well ..wouldn't it stand to reason that you can "produce" what you are hearing ...through full spectrum high quality headphones? The main problem you're going to run into is cork-sniffing regarding rooms and monitors. You don't not need to invest "a lot" on money into these things as I've been using Paradigm Studio 100 tower monitors that I bought $900 used for the set. Some might cork-sniff that you need to spend $15,000 for a set of monitors, but mine are fantastic and function fantastically at a fraction of the price. One luxury from doing this for a long time is that you know what you need AND you learn to know WHAT YOU DON'T NEED and what IS cork-sniffing.

Now to answer you're question: 5K ain't going to get you much. gooof I've got a 8U rack full of the necessary processing gear for mastering and it's still 15K. Cork-sniffing would have you blowing all that on an eq OR a compressor, but it's not necessary by any means. Used gear is the key though - you can get each necessary component for under 2K that would certainly be sufficient for mastering. However, you're still looking at 8 to 10K for modest but fully capable setup.

You're going to need a little (double) the money for the outboard solution. Add another grand for some room treatment that IS necessary to a degree, but nowhere near cork-sniff land.

:)