Hey Dave, What are some cool settings for the Fatso?
Hello Dave and everyone,
Sometimes I feel like I'm not getting the most out of my Fatso. So I wanted to know if you had any Fatso secret settings that have worked for you. I've read the suggestions in the manual, but I was just wondering if there were anymore that came to mind.
Like for micing Acoustic Guitars
or micing amps
or for Vocals
Just looking for any tricks of the trade that you guys might have.
Bass - JoeMeek VC3 at -45, Fatso, input 8, Tracking comp, Tranny on, output 1
Kick - ATM25 to VMP, -20 pad in, gain 3, Fatso input 4, Tracking and Spank comps, Tranny on, output 8
Snare - SM57 to VMP, -20 pad in, gain 6, Fatso input 4 Tracking and Spank comps, output 6
Elec. Guitar - Marshall TSL with 4x12, SM57 to VMP, -20 pad in, gain 3, Fatso input 8, Tracking comp, Tranny on, output 1
Elec. Guitar - Custom D.I. to VMP, -20 pad in, gain 6, Fatso input 8, Tracking comp, output 1
Yeah, I can't for the life of me see how "canned settings" - even if they're your own - are useful for much. EVERY track sounds different, and you just have to use your ears while twiddling the knobs and buttons to find out what sounds best. After awhile, it doesn't take long to sweep through a particular piece of gear and find the settings that sound right for the track. (and yeah, sometimes it's the bypass button!)
The only time I use the same settings on anything from song to song is if I'm in an awful hurry (for budget reasons) and the instruments were tracked the same way - i.e. the drums and bass for 5 different songs were all tracked the same day using the same players and gear. Then I'll find some good sounds for those tracks, save the settings as presets (or write them down if there are no presets available) and apply them to the next song. In most cases I still consider that just a "starting point" though, except in extreme cases where I have to mix a whole album in one day or something. heh In my home studio I find presets next to useless.
Everything I mentioned was already going through a Peavey VMP-2 tube preamp. The sound was warm to start with, the kick, snare, distortion guitar from a Marshall and bass were not sources that were overly bright, so I didn't need to warm them. The D.I. guitar was nice, not too bright.
Warmth has been useful on overheads, hi hats, very hissy vocals, and a bass that had way too much fret noise.
Everything I mentioned was already going through a Peavey VMP-2 tube preamp. The sound was warm to start with, the kick, snare, distortion guitar from a Marshall and bass were not sources that were overly bright, so I didn't need to warm them.
I just did a post about EQ's so while that is still on my mind...
Sometimes I would follow an EQ with the Fatso and use only the warmth (or saturation) to tame the high freqs that were boosted. Tube stuff and tape definitely do some taming. Anytime you soft clip a signal, the lows will usually start swamping out the high freqs riding on it (a form of intermodular distortion)... and if you are lucky, it will be a musical "swampage" . lol
One of my first long periods using the Fatso was on a trip to Greece, where I was lucky enuf to do live mixing of one of my favorite clients, NIGHT ARK. They are an extremely original ethnic Jazz band (jeeze I hope this doesnt offend them or anyone else), that use wierd Armenian and Turkish instruments like the Sazbus, Oud, Kanun, Lira (SP?), Jimbus. Some of the instruments are exceedingly "plucky" with a sharp attack followed by a fast decay, so boosting highs made things worse... in fact doing any eq'ing seemed to make things worse. (Laughing!). Immediately I broke out my soldering Iron right there in Athens and started changing thresholds, attack and release times etc. Poor Ara Dinkjian... he kept looking at me wondering if i was experimenting with his sound at his expense. (Of course I was! lol). Anyways, it became obvious the WARMTH on the FATSO could help tame the exagerrated plucks and help bring the beef out so I could turn his instruments up to ungodly levels.
It was great luck to have that trip, not only for experiencing the beauty of Greece and its people, but also for throwing some strange instruments at me, and the Fatso prototype.
Lets not go over board here! <laughing> Bringing out a soldering iron during a session or at a club has been going on for decades,. and is going on at this very minute, Im sure.
Ill tell you what real "engineering" is....
Its when you are working on a digital processor design, but running a recording studio too, and in the middle of a recording session, something really bothers you. SOoooo...you go in to the next room, change some software code on your computer, then go compile it, and then burn a new Eprom (etc..), then go back into the studio, remove the old eprom and plug the new one in, and start using the piece of gear again, as the session rolls on.
I just have tremendous respect for guys (and gals) who have a certain sound in their brain they want to achieve...so they just build something to make it happen. You, Dave Hill, Dan Kennedy, George Massenburg, and on and on.
I guess my real point is there aren't too many real audio engineers any more. The term gets slung around a lot. The mouse has replaced the soldering iron. (Not talking DSP code engineers at all) Audio mixers and recordists are probably better terms for the majority. I certainly fit in that category. I've never designed/built anything. I don't think making cables, replacing tubes/switches, making patch bays qualifies me for the title of engineer.
But I digress....just an opinion. All this to say I really love the tools you provide. I don't know any cool fatso settings to stay on topic as I have only used the distressor. heh
I recently have found that Pultec transformers on the mix bus of a Protools system absolutely makes the sound so much more musical. Adds a sparkly dimension kind of thang. I would like to hear your description of the transformers effects in the fatso.
Guy I'm working with modifies the gear in mid-session and builds things as needed, he designed and built the mixer we're using and some other things. Mostly he'd just use them unmodified if I wasn't always bugging him about "what if we did this... can we get a buss level out of the mixer and run it through a tube mic pre?" It's fun that way, and he does the hard stuff.
But he's totally lost in digital land (I dug this guy out of semi-retirement). What's worse, he thinks he understands it- tutt !
"digital is digital"- famous last words!
Several folks have asked earlier how you can control the compression of the Fatso Vs the Saturation of the FATSO independantly, among other things.
Daisy chaining the Fatso is one way. Use the first channel to compress. As long as you have only one track you need to process, using both channels of the Fatso gives you a million options. Heres a few:
1) Use one channel without compression and make it HOT with the soft clipping, then go to the other channel and use the compressor however you want. The soft clipping will get the peaks before the compressor. GREAT ON BASS, and probably on lots of other things.
2) Switch the above arrangement and let the compressor see some of the peaks and transients, and then go to the second channel to soft clip. It will sound a little different than the above.
3) Take the insert out of channel A and go to the other channels input. Take the output of that channel (Ch B) and go back to the insert. Now you have a threshold control of the compressor of channel A. Keep all processing off of channel B unless you want to experiment with some non linear compression. I would keep the input low on Ch B so the 0VU LED just lights occasionally, and then use the output knob for the threshold of Channel A.
4) You can make the unit into a wierd ducker also. Put the control source into channel A (it can even stay in bypass), link both channels, set up buss compression on both. (You can try the other compressors too), Put the source to be ducked into the second channel (B), then plug in an unconnected stereo phone jack into the Ch B Insert to open it up and prevent it from responding to itself. Ch B will now respond to Ch A's source, without trying to compress itself. Sometimes it may be great to also compress CHB with itself too... but now the control channel A will also move around with channel B's source. To do this just remove the open jack on the insert point.
5) You can also adjust the threshold on the compressors by using the insert out to a channel of gain on a board, even using a fader to change the threshold. Verrry touchy tho, with interactions.
I spent a long time trying to set the compression thresholds at a point where the Soft Clipping circuit gave you a kind of HOT TAPE LEVEL kind of sound. If we allowed infinite control of all the processors, the Fatso would probably have 20 knobs on it or something. I do hate compromises but that is the way of the real world, and sometimes, just a few controls makes something so much easier to use, and takes "user error" out of the equation a little.
The compressors on the Fatso are really very versatile and high quality, but fixed. Ill post a couple uses here for the compressors.
1) Spank a snare. Go to the Spank compressor which emulates an SSL talkback compression curve, and put about 23 dB of compression on it and maybe submix it back in under the main snare. Might not be a bad idea to use Warmth if there is a lot of hi hat bleed, or a de-esser.
2) Run your whole drum submix thru the BUSS compressors, linked. This can be pretty subtle but, its gauranteed to add some HEAT TO THE MIX. The Buss compressors are very slow attack, and fast release, gentle gentle curve. Use 1 - 5 dB of Gain reduction.
3) Tracking or mixing vocals - Try the trusty "TRACKING COMPRESSOR", which is engaged when the yellow and green compressor LED's are lit. This is my favorite compressor in the Fatso and good on lots of things. Very 1176 like.
My first project I did with the Fatso was 12 songs, track and mix, in four days, fast and furious. Same instruments, eq, etc for everything, with a few changes here and there.
I looked over at the Fatso (with a Massive Passive across the Stereo Bus) at one point and realized I only had one tranny in. I figured I had recently bumped it and should put both back in. So I did, and watched myself hate it. To this day, I rarely like both trannies in. Too much. So I just use one side tranny.