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The Press Desk 31st October 2018 12:56 PM

Ten of the Best Analog Mix Bus Processors [2018]
 
Ten of the Best Analog Mix Bus Processors [2018]

Although plug-ins have come a long way in terms of sound quality, adding a pinch of analog fairy dust still is still something that is very much desired by anyone who values that real-electric mojo. A recurrent theme in this school of thought is mixbus processing -where an analog processor can help give a song that “finishing touch” - and it gets used on both OTB and ITB productions with equal love, so we have gathered ten of the best mix bus processors to help you out in getting those mixes polished up to a pro standard. In alphabetical order:


 ATS-1

Anamod ATS-1


One of the sweetest treats one can offer to a mixbus is the analog tape sound - and one of the bitterest tricks is analog tape machine maintenance. The latter is not a problem with the ATS-1 - highly regarded by Gearslutz members, it features fundamental tape settings such as bias, variable speed (7.5/15/30 ips) and hiss amount, but perhaps its greatest feats are the four different machine models and four tape 'formulations' offered, which can be expanded on with user-installable add-on cards. Arguably this is the best way to achieve that coveted magnetic reel sound, and without all the hassles & expense usually associated with the format.



 HG-2

Black Box Analog Design HG-2


Black Box Analog Design crafted quite an imposing piece with the HG-2. This “mixbus enhancing device” is all about pure analog goodness, with transformers on the input stage and two parallel tube paths to add the richest saturation while at the same time raising perceived loudness. It also comes with an “air” switch for a gentle lift on the high end, different blending configurations for the 6U8A/12AX7 valves and flexible metering (VU/peak) to keep everything in check.



 Karacter

elysia Karacter


Karacter presents Elysia’s take on saturation, a slick processor with an interesting “color filtering” feature, which allows the user to dial the tone of the saturation itself instead of simply using EQ to tilt the signal towards the highs or lows. Besides the stereo mode for the most common mixbus setup, Karacter can also operate in dual-mono and mid-side configurations, allowing for each part to be processed separately, making it a highly flexible unit that only takes a single rack space and doesn’t burn a hole in your wallet.



 Replica

KERWAX Replica


Replica takes a slice from a custom tube-based mixing console made exclusively for the KERWAX recording studio (located in Brittany/France) and puts it in a 3U 19” rack with two tubes and a premium analog signal path. Essentially this is a hand-made line preamp, but with a few extra goodies: besides the tasteful saturation Replica offers variable drive, preamp bias, treble/bass adjustments, elegant VU meters and it’s a dual-mono unit, so besides doing wonders on a mixbus it can be used on channels to enhance individual tracks.



 Silver Bullet

Louder Than Liftoff Silver Bullet


Made in partnership with industry veteran and fellow Gearslutz member drBill, the Silver Bullet’s bold proposition is exactly what its name hints at: a one-stop solution to take a mix to the next level. This unit couples saturation from classic American and British consoles with a handful of tone shaping options, including a 2-band Baxandall EQ with options for 'bass or sub' and 'presence or air' enhancements, which should be excellent for treating individual channels, groups and whole mixes. Since it also comes with a couple of mic preamps it can be used for tracking, so it’s definitely an enticing option for the modern day “do it all” studio.



 Modular Channel Stereo Model 8755DS

Overstayer Modular Channel Stereo Model 8755DS


Overstayer makes a bold statement with the Model 8755D: an all-analog processing behemoth that puts together a complete channel strip for the mixbus - or any studio work - providing three saturation options, a 2-band shelving equalizer, resonant HP/LP filters, a VCA compressor and two mic preamps. This channel strip also offers plenty of flexibility with options for the signal order and a mixer matrix that allows for serial or parallel routing, allowing for a number of different combinations. Certainly a great option for an all-rounder that can take care of a good mix (or basically anything you can throw at it!)



 Master Buss Processor

Rupert Neve Designs Master Buss Processor


The classy Portico II Master Bus Processor presents Rupert Neve’s take on the stereo bus processing concept, bringing two flavours of saturation, compression with RMS or peak options and also an unique “Stereo Field Editor” that allows for imaging adjustments through the “Depth” and “Width” equalizers, which deploy advanced mid-side techniques to further enhance or adjust the stereo field of a mix. Add to that options for dual-mono or linked stereo operation, output and gain reduction meters on each channel and we have a highly capable unit with that signature Rupert Neve sound.



 Fusion

Solid State Logic Fusion


SSL needs no introduction, but they’re breaking new ground with Fusion, a processor that presents features that are unprecedented for the company while keeping their proud analog heritage very much alive. Fusion brings a unique set of tools, starting with a custom switchable transformer (on an SSL?!!) for added mojo, followed by drive control, 2-band shelving EQ, a high-frequency compressor and lastly a stereo image section with a mid-side matrix. This is a very new product at the time of writing but it's got our members' tongues wagging - a few decades ago SSL set what many consider to be the standard blueprint for individual channel strips, have they done it again on the mixbus? We're about to find out!



 Crème

Tegeler Audio Manufaktur Crème


The Tegeler Crème offers a compression and equalization recipe that will never get old or stop being useful on virtually any mixing task. This eye-catching unit brings a passive 2-band EQ inspired by the legendary Pultec EQP1A and a bus compressor that takes a few notes from a well-known classic mixing console, wrapping up with a gain reduction meter and a processing order (EQ-Comp/Comp-EQ) switch. Crème also comes with a price tag that looks rather friendly, which helps to sweeten the whole deal and hopefully your mixes even further.



 The Culture Vulture Mastering Plus

Thermionic Culture The Culture Vulture Mastering Plus


Thermionik’s Culture Vulture is a classic when it comes to valve saturation, and when used mindfully it can do wonders on a mixbus (although it can also be used to wreck things entirely when desired!) A “mastering” version (featured) of the Culture Vulture is also available, adding a new distortion option on top of the three original modes and it features closely matched controls to favour stereo operations, which makes it perfect for mixbus duties.



Closing thoughts:

Although we aimed to list units that can make a notable sonic difference on their own, many of them can be combined for superb results. Feel free to comment and elaborate on your dream combos!

For more on analog processors, visit our So Much Gear, So Little Time sub forum.

jimmydeluxe 12th November 2018 09:32 AM

Tegeler Audio Schwerkraftmaschine - 12 different compressors in one box, tube signal path, plugin control/recall, supreme sound!

fuzulu 12th November 2018 10:28 AM

this is some true gear porn

recycle 5th January 2019 10:59 PM

Where is the Fatso? Should have been #1

RightOnRome 6th January 2019 11:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by recycle (Post 13722657)
Where is the Fatso? Should have been #1

really? .. I find it it's hit or miss on on the MB

rcprod 12th January 2019 10:10 PM

I currently have no hardware unit on my mixbus. I do use the Console 1 and UAD plugins. I wonder if I am missing something that could be found in using one of the above. What would you recommend if I only wanted to purchase one unit? I mix mostly rock music. Thanks.

Secret80sMan 2nd February 2019 02:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rcprod (Post 13735468)
I currently have no hardware unit on my mixbus. I do use the Console 1 and UAD plugins. I wonder if I am missing something that could be found in using one of the above. What would you recommend if I only wanted to purchase one unit? I mix mostly rock music. Thanks.

The Silver Bullet sounds great and is also a really good value considering you have what amounts to two API or Two Neve flavored preamps to track with. The transient shaving also really helps to dial in your crest factor and the owner Brad is super forward leaning and helpful should you have questions. There is a lengthy thread about the Silver Bullet here on GS as well.

rcprod 3rd February 2019 02:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Secret80sMan (Post 13785434)
The Silver Bullet sounds great and is also a really good value considering you have what amounts to two API or Two Neve flavored preamps to track with. The transient shaving also really helps to dial in your crest factor and the owner Brad is super forward leaning and helpful should you have questions. There is a lengthy thread about the Silver Bullet here on GS as well.

Thanks. I will check it out. kfhkh

b0se 3rd February 2019 02:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Secret80sMan (Post 13785434)
The Silver Bullet sounds great and is also a really good value considering you have what amounts to two API or Two Neve flavored preamps to track with. The transient shaving also really helps to dial in your crest factor and the owner Brad is super forward leaning and helpful should you have questions. There is a lengthy thread about the Silver Bullet here on GS as well.

Agreed on all points. Amazing unit.

EvilRoy 17th March 2019 05:55 PM

The mic pres in the Silver Bullet put it over the top for value compared to the rest of these boxes. A couple of 1073 clones alone will cost around $1K.

raal 24th March 2019 07:46 PM

A bit OT but i have an Anamod ATS-1 for sale. Private message please if you're interested.

teeco 5th June 2019 12:52 PM

Another processor that hasn't been mentioned is the Handsome Audio Zulu. Way more than a tape emulation
Hardware box. Look up it up on the gearslutz threads its fast getting a reputation as big as the Silver Bullet which I have, and apparently the two together is suppose to work wonders on your mixbus. Mentioned here you can do perfectly fine mixes with console one and uad. I also have console one and went with the British class a as it gave my purely in the box mixes a vibe I preferred to the ssl, obviously with other plugins.

ChayaFFM 7th June 2019 12:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by EvilRoy (Post 13870339)
The mic pres in the Silver Bullet put it over the top for value compared to the rest of these boxes. A couple of 1073 clones alone will cost around $1K.

yes cause the silver bullet isnt a neve 1073 or a neve 1073 clone. It's "inspired by" a 1081. From unbiased sources I heard the mic pres break up real easy and end up sounding like a fuzzbox. Probably still nice to have but really subtle and not worth 2 grand

Smoke M2D6 8th June 2019 10:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChayaFFM (Post 14024712)
yes cause the silver bullet isnt a neve 1073 or a neve 1073 clone. It's "inspired by" a 1081. From unbiased sources I heard the mic pres break up real easy and end up sounding like a fuzzbox. Probably still nice to have but really subtle and not worth 2 grand

Im working with one first hand and and can say that the mic pre's breaking up "real easy" is not true. Yes, if you push em HARD they will distort, as will any other mic pre, but I have pushed these mic pre's to the limit while mastering and have came out with some pretty buttery sounds. You have to be abandoning all rules of gainstaging to get to the point where the mic pres start distorting though, at which point any mic pre would do that.


Totally worth the 2 grand btw, I am tickled that is all that it costs, and having had it I would totally drop double that without thinking about it if I had to replace it and that's what it costs.

RightOnRome 9th June 2019 03:10 AM

wonder how these compare to the The Silver Bullet?

BART HRK

https://www.ebay.com/itm/BART-HRK-MP...kAAOSwqxdb4321

ChayaFFM 9th June 2019 12:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Smoke M2D6 (Post 14027725)
Im working with one first hand and and can say that the mic pre's breaking up "real easy" is not true. Yes, if you push em HARD they will distort, as will any other mic pre, but I have pushed these mic pre's to the limit while mastering and have came out with some pretty buttery sounds. You have to be abandoning all rules of gainstaging to get to the point where the mic pres start distorting though, at which point any mic pre would do that.


Totally worth the 2 grand btw, I am tickled that is all that it costs, and having had it I would totally drop double that without thinking about it if I had to replace it and that's what it costs.

What genre of music do you work in?

Secret80sMan 9th June 2019 01:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RightOnRome (Post 14028086)
wonder how these compare to the The Silver Bullet?

BART HRK

https://www.ebay.com/itm/BART-HRK-MP...kAAOSwqxdb4321

Not much of an apples to apples comparison. If you want something more pocket friendly but in the same neighborhood get two Chromas. You will have to match them for stereo sources but it will give you a very similar vibe to the Silver Bullet, with less control and no two band eq.

Smoke M2D6 9th June 2019 07:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChayaFFM (Post 14028524)
What genre of music do you work in?

I most at home with hip-hop, but I work with everything, and also do "sample creation" (make music that hip hop producers sample, more soul based)

Currently mixing a bluegrass album,a singer song writer that is inspired by Thom York, a rap album that is full on obnoxious trap, and a piano based artist that has a string quartet throughout.

And I have landed commercials in almost every genre.

The Silver Bullet helps me pull off all these sounds. I can be clear and crisp, dirty and gritty, or vibey depending on how I use the machine. I can pull off Accoustic Americana, EDM, LOFI hip-hop and heavy metal with it, which is why I got it in the first place (it's versatile)

ChayaFFM 9th June 2019 07:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Smoke M2D6 (Post 14029127)
I most at home with hip-hop, but I work with everything, and also do "sample creation" (make music that hip hop producers sample, more soul based)

Currently mixing a bluegrass album,a singer song writer that is inspired by Thom York, a rap album that is full on obnoxious trap, and a piano based artist that has a string quartet throughout.

And I have landed commercials in almost every genre.

The Silver Bullet helps me pull off all these sounds. I can be clear and crisp, dirty and gritty, or vibey depending on how I use the machine. I can pull off Accoustic Americana, EDM, LOFI hip-hop and heavy metal with it, which is why I got it in the first place (it's versatile)

Yeah I think it suits acoustical stuff better.i watched a demo video on YouTube where the guy was using it on bass heavy tracks and the mojo section was pretty useless as it broke up really easily. The Neve Setting was cool as was the eq but then I might as well just get a Neve preamp. I’m more into electronic and modern hip hop myself (hate using the word trap).So I think the rnd542 or something of the sorts is better suited for weight and depth than the SB

Smoke M2D6 9th June 2019 07:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChayaFFM (Post 14029151)
Yeah I think it suits acoustical stuff better.i watched a demo video on YouTube where the guy was using it on bass heavy tracks and the mojo section was pretty useless as it broke up really easily. The Neve Setting was cool as was the eq but then I might as well just get a Neve preamp. I’m more into electronic and modern hip hop myself (hate using the word trap).So I think the rnd542 or something of the sorts is better suited for weight and depth than the SB


I have been finding that it makes my subs way more "subby" without distorting it. You should check one out on www.acessanalog.com (it's free) that's all it took me after months of reading about it and listening to demos. There are not any good demos that I have came across that show what it can do for "modern hip-hop"

When I tried out the SB on Access analog it took all of about 10 minutes to realize just how vital a piece it is.

You should try it out

drBill 10th June 2019 06:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RightOnRome (Post 14028086)
wonder how these compare to the The Silver Bullet?

BART HRK

https://www.ebay.com/itm/BART-HRK-MP...kAAOSwqxdb4321


Um.....they don't. Completely different, and honestly, sleazy using LTL Chroma as a selling point for a piece of gear from his own company that doesn't compare at all to a Chroma. Completely misleading IMO.

drBill 10th June 2019 06:22 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChayaFFM (Post 14024712)
yes cause the silver bullet isnt a neve 1073 or a neve 1073 clone. It's "inspired by" a 1081. From unbiased sources I heard the mic pres break up real easy and end up sounding like a fuzzbox. Probably still nice to have but really subtle and not worth 2 grand

FYI, you've got a couple of things wrong there. If you want more accurate info, it can be found on the LTL website. Also, not sure how you got the Silver Bullet to sound like a fuzzbox, but it's obviously operating WAY outside it's proper gain staging if you encountered that. kfhkh

b0se 10th June 2019 04:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChayaFFM (Post 14024712)
yes cause the silver bullet isnt a neve 1073 or a neve 1073 clone. It's "inspired by" a 1081. From unbiased sources I heard the mic pres break up real easy and end up sounding like a fuzzbox. Probably still nice to have but really subtle and not worth 2 grand

Are you serious? What sources? They can't be doing it right.

Just check the SB thread - countless happy users with years of experience/top gear.

ChayaFFM 10th June 2019 04:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by b0se (Post 14030631)
Are you serious? What sources? They can't be doing it right.

Just check the SB thread - countless happy users with years of experience/top gear.

From a guy who sold both his SB and the zulu. He was gainstaging correctly but as I said: it’s genre dependent. Bass heavy music breaks up way more easily due to bass taking up more headroom. Personally I’ll be going with a pair of 1073 clones. Maybe add the capis sometime in the future

drBill 10th June 2019 05:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChayaFFM (Post 14030656)
Personally I’ll be going with a pair of 1073 clones. Maybe add the capis sometime in the future

That's exactly what I used to use. Less headroom, and less flexibility. Maybe try before you buy.

CPhoenix 11th June 2019 12:40 AM

I love how all but one of them are 2U ... .. that really makes me happy lol

12tone 11th June 2019 07:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChayaFFM (Post 14029151)
Yeah I think it suits acoustical stuff better.i watched a demo video on YouTube where the guy was using it on bass heavy tracks and the mojo section was pretty useless as it broke up really easily. The Neve Setting was cool as was the eq but then I might as well just get a Neve preamp. I’m more into electronic and modern hip hop myself (hate using the word trap).So I think the rnd542 or something of the sorts is better suited for weight and depth than the SB

Whaaa?!?

I have a pair of 542s and multiple SBs.

I think the 542 is great, but dude, lay off the crack...

ChayaFFM 11th June 2019 01:59 PM

whaaa?!?

A person with a different opinion than me? :P
I'm sure they are all great but I like weight and aggressive sounding gear. But thats just me

Rob Coates 15th June 2019 03:01 PM

I've tried many of these boxes and settled on the Analog Heat. It seems to have the greatest range of sounds. One can get an endless variety of distortion types and colors and it's very easy to use. I use it only as a stand alone analog device (though it can be integrated with a DAW).

AudioKemestry 18th June 2019 03:21 AM

My 2 cents...
 
As far as mix buss processors, I would definitely put my Overstayer MAS, IGS Tubecore, and Phoenix Audio DRS-Q4 (2-channel Mic Pre/DI/and 4-band EQ with custom transformers) up against all those listed. Just picked up a Zulu as well. Add that to the list. Loving how it lets me tuck in and saturate those high frequencies.