Harrison Consoles Mixbus32C by Hindenburg
My name is Randy Rose from Rose Studios/Hindenburg Records. I have been involved in the recording industry since the age of 14 (1985), that's when my band Mad At The World was first signed in Orange county Ca. Since then I have recorded, played on, and produced over 19 studio records. The first studio record we did was recorded on a Harrison analog console- we were in awe of the site, and glory of this beast. I will never forget the aroma of the electronics warming up, all of my senses were shocked to life-this is the real deal.
Many years, and records past and we switched over to Protools. We loved the ability to not have to cut the tape for editing, or have a technician come in a spend 4 hours fixing the Otari remote- those days were now gone. I spent all the rest of my studio years mixing in the box, and editing away. Still not proficient and completely comfortable with this world of endless options, and pages in Protools- I knew that it was the only real "big time" DAW studio standard, but something was missing, a void. It's that tangible, simple, hands on, artform of mixing... it just wasn't there in Protools.
The Harrison Mixbus 32C, what is this? I knew of the 32C from my analog console days. This also resonated with me because my very favorite plug in is the UA Harrison 32C Eq- my goto EQ for every channel until my UA Quad 8's tell me I'm done. I had to try out the demo, and I did, The Harrison Mixbus 32C was much more than a "new DAW"- it was the complete package. I was still into demo mode trying to ignore the bursts every 20 seconds or so, and I had to prove to myself if Harrison truly scoped out, and measured every component in the 32C's circuit as they claimed they did. This would be a good test because I had thousands of dollars of Universal Audios meticulously modeled plug-ins so I put Ua's 32C's EQ against The Harrison Mixbus 32C's modeled Eq. I was shocked... Harrison nailed it. It was actually even better. The onboard Harrison 32C Eq is the best digitally replicated EQ I have ever heard, and thats a big deal. I own virtually every Eq plug UA, and Waves make, and they're great- but not close to the level of the Harrison 32C's EQ. So much that if this was offered as a EQ plug-in just by itself, it would take this industry by storm.
I apologize for all the excessive background stories on who I am, and what I do, but I believe you need to know the man before you believe his observation, and opinion of a new product. Efficiency? it can't be possible that this killer EQ is available in line on every channel? Yes, this isn't a plug-in, it's an integrated part of each, and every channel of this Harrison beast. I have 32 channels open with little to no resources being hogged. Super efficient, unbelievable, well up to this point I was willing to leave protools for the availability to have this EQ on every channel. You see, I'm in search for the sound, it's really all about the sound... my analog front end is to die for, at least for my sound. I have a pair of Electrodyne 501's and Skibbe Electronics 736-5 "Flickinger" mic pre's, Neve, API, Chandler Limited Redd 47, Germanium, and their Tg2's and Paul Wolf's Sunset Sound mic pre's- before it ever reaches my hard drives it takes a magical journey through the forest of vintage electronic discrete circuitry, and hits a lot of iron, then my sound enters the best converters that money can buy. This brings me to the digital realm with little to no shame.
There's one more important thing to mention about the sound, can a DAW actually have a sound? The answer is yes. The analog modeling that Harrison did on this DAW/virtual console is impeccable. It comes with 12 mixbusses, each mixbus has transformer and discrete circuitry emulated saturation- not distortion, even though like the real console, you could run it into the red for some incredible soft clipping. Each mixbus also has three bands of Harrison EQ, so you get to shape the EQ of your drum subs, or your reverbs, or anything you choose to return back into the mixbus. On the master fader, they have once again meticulously modeled an analog two-track with adjustable saturation. Like every step of this journey, I tested the two-track analog saturation against my UA analog two-track plug-in, which is unarguably the second best thing to a real analog two-track and I preferred the sound of the saturation that Harrison offered as a permanent fixture of their two-track fader. Keep in mind, with the saturation turned all the way to the left, there is no saturation effect, so you can go from little to Lenny Kravitz by a twist of a knob.I found the two-track saturation on the Harrison to almost have a glassy, glue type quality to it. It wasn't just simply warm and fat, it was more complex, but complex in a natural way.
The look and workflow. I like to post pictures of my equipment and studio quite often. I've been blessed to come into some incredible analog equipment. It's actually been a quest for me to explore just how much analog mojo can be applied to my DAW. The funny thing is, every time it came to showing pictures of my iMac , and that I was mixing in the box, protools looked embarrassing to me, It reminded me of the days of programming on my Commodore 128 and how there was a part of me that was ashamed of having all this killer analog front-end gear and dumping it into a computer. Obviously, protools looks fine, but it is just a digital work station. The second I saw the video for the Harrison Mixbus 32C, I thought it was a digital scan of the channel strips, or maybe a beautiful control surface. No, it was Harrison's new console styled DAW. It's absolutely beautiful and looks exactly like its analog father but with features that brought it into 21st century. Each and every input channel strip has a beautiful fader with a selectable leveler, limiter or compressor just to the right of it. A beautiful LED meter shows the amount of gain reduction on each and every channel. This kind of reminds me of how the SSL has a cool little compressor on every channel. But the Harrison compressor is right there, right at the fader, can you believe it? No opening of a plug-in, scroll-down option. It's just there. The compressor sounds incredible. It reminds me of an old Dynamite compressor and on the extreme end reminds me of a Pete's Place BAC-500 Fet. Which is kind of like an 1176 on crack. Those are some big guys to compare the channel compression to, but that's what it sounds like to me. Above the fader, you have a trim, I haven't seen one of these in over 20 years. You can actually attenuate the audio coming in to the mixbus 32C. So your faders can be at 0, where they belong and you attenuate it with the trim. This gives you a higher resolution on the increments of your fader.Then you move up the channel strip with a beautiful mute and solo, then you have a selectable assignment to the master output with a glowing green LED showing the channel assignment to the master or not. Then you have an authentic looking pan knob and 12 sweepable bus sends. You have to see it, it's just like the real Harrison channel. No creating them, they're simply there. Moving up to the 32C EQ, keep in mind this is one singular channel of this virtual console. The EQ has a selectable low and high pass filter (the best I've heard), and then the four bands of the Harrison EQ I talked about earlier. The EQ is warm, creamy, smooth and authentic- I'm actually getting hungry talking about it. Above that, is the area where you assign any plug-in (VST/AU/Harrison's proprietary). Another cool thing to note, is this DAW is written in an open format. So a lot of great minds, like Ben Loftis, who is Harrison's mixbus designer, thought it would be great to invite the audio world to share their inspiration with ability to write custom LUA scripts. You can do this from right inside the mixbus DAW. You could assign faders to 0, custom cue points, basically anything can be scripted with this open format. At the very top, that's where you arm and assign all of your inputs. The set-up is so simple, so visual and easy on the eyes. Going back to the original statement, I will finally show my Mac screen with the software up, feeling unashamed and like an artist behind the ultimate virtual console.
Most of us started recording for the love of music, for the love of the sounds, the hooks and the melodies. Many of the recordings we fell in love with have a sonic signature, a footprint if you will, that brings us back to the point in time where we first heard that song, that guitar sound, that bass drum, that snare. Well, this is the console modeled meticulously, I might add, that Back in Black was tracked on as well as many Queen albums, not to mention the all-time greatest selling record ever, Thriller. When they made those records, they had crazy budgets and could've recorded on any console they wanted to, but the producers and engineers for those hits chose the Harrison 32C analog console and Harrison has honored the heart and soul of that console with The Mixbus 32C.
I know you're all thinking, "okay, it sounds great and all, but the inner-nerd cries out to hear about the editing." The editing on the Harrison Mixbus 32C is much more than just cut, nudge and paste. There's tons of options for usable fades and crossfades, tempo mapping. It has everything protools has, it's just easier to get to the options. I've noticed that my workflow is so much quicker and time is money, especially with the budgets record labels are paying now- or should I say not paying now. The editing is very robust and you can go as deep as you want. Myself, I just want to make music.
In conclusion, the Harrison Mixbus 32C is by far the best sounding DAW I have ever heard. From this point forward, the rest of the DAW world will have to compete with DAWs that now sound like real consoles, and I mean sounding like real consoles without having to use all of your analog modeled plug-ins. This is out of the box, if you will. Every channel has the meat and potatoes for the sound of analog color. Not to mention that the gain staging is set up where you can trim your audio up with your plug-ins being pushed at the levels they really would have been on the hardware. I should've mentioned this earlier but I can't leave you without mentioning how easy it is to insert your hardware. I loved hearing my blue stripe 1176 on my vocal channel as well as my hardware Pultecs on the mixbus. It was so easy to assign it and return it. Once again, everything you need in one channel strip multiplied by 24 or 36 and beyond. This was the first time I was able to view my DAW as not just simply a work station, but as an instrument- a mixing, tone-shaping, music-making, ground-shaking instrument. I promise you this is the best kept secret and I feel so fortunate to have rediscovered the art of mixing. That's why I switched to the Harrison Mixbus 32C.
- Randy Rose