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Outboard FX limitation when mixing to linear mediums Reverb/Delay Processors (HW)
Old 1 week ago
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Outboard FX limitation when mixing to linear mediums

Back when we were using mostly linear mediums, we also usually had only 1 of each effect box. Let's say we had only 1 of a really good digital reverb unit that had 2-3 presets that we wanted to use (room, plate, long ambience). When people were in that situation back then would they usually print the FX for one preset onto a separate track, then run a new pass with a new preset and repeat?

Bonus question: how common was it to record WITH the FX to a stereo track? Sometimes my synths either sound good already with the onboard FX, or I just know that it'll require an outboard effect so it makes more sense to me to record the wet track from a group to free up the unit for mixing time.

What was your method?
Old 1 week ago
Lives for gear

I would always ask internally synth routed FX (Unless so crucial to the Patch or Register) be taken off, knowing the Studio Effect Units not only far more capable though mailable in creating a different Sound. Roland Chorus FX pretty much stayed on, DX7/II to K5000S (Most Additive Synthesizer FX that here were crucial) occasionally numerous Samplers, had strange Verb to Sounds if the FX were part of the (so-called) sampled Sounds. Really the main exception is always, Plain Bog Standard Reverb which in Quality on Synths is pretty poor in quality as an afterthought, (bad even today) to Phasing and Flanging to near all Delays and Time domain rhythmically required FX and Pitch shifting 949’s to H3000/4000/7000’s. AMS in the day overpoweringly brilliant.

I didn’t spot too many dedicated Midi Patch panels, especially back in 2” Analog days, (except dedicated Midi Suites) yet pulling out the FX unit and plugging in wasn’t too hard (pedantic artistic performance, naturally ruined). Reverberation is still huge (in turning off Synth FX) in your creation of one giant colossal coloured Mix, and from Panning law to perspective you want those Synth sounds sitting perfectly. Look up Delay timing charts or divide 60 seconds via BPM and you’re going to land very close. Remember even Analog (could have) latency, between recorded and overdubbing to Play alongside the cables and trunking underneath a Studio.

I might also add that it wasn’t unusual to have delays as such with +/- 5-8 milliseconds or /+- 12-16 milliseconds pushing and pulling drum boxes more so recorded snares and percussion. Naturally most bog standard Drum Machines would go directly in, acoustic samples often Re-amped to give bigger girth. Here to this very day I use a perfectly maintained “Russian’ Dragon” which is just incredible in plugging into a patchbay and immediately reading the closest Tempo. The manual also had inherent midi timing floors in latency, so much so the MPC60 and SP12/1200 drum samplers alongside their big brethren often had 60-120 milliseconds of inherent delays creating Swing Movements.

On many sessions I used Quadraverbs to SPX-90’s as additional Delays (most other sounds fell to pieces so clanging reverb was out) freeze was like an H3000 Patch interesting and together with Lexicon, AMS and Eventide to EMT Reverbs, no one cared less! I think that’s the charm of Hardware FX, in that they created an Envelope Environment around the Sound fully. Plug In’s oftentimes sit atop or don’t surround Enveloping fully. Printing Wet Sub Mixes, I.E Drums to BV’s to Percussion and Guitars if distorting Bar Chords too!

Distance and spatial immersive experiences were the most crucial aspects in allowing even PCM-70 Circles (as Delays) spread L/R Centred and Back, as for Stereo V. Mono? Always were the FX Hardware considered. Mono Input and Stereo Output on 200/ PCM-60/70 for example and 41/42 Haas Delays. I still hold a very strongly viewed mindset that if it cannot be mixed on 48 Tracks there’s a serious problem! Once more the biggest difference was in using channels as Sends and Returns to Bussing and Tape Inputs to Outputs (spare) as secondary FX Return paths. This allowed the 4/6/8 Monitor to Cue Sends dedicated to Headphones. Crucial if overdubs were required in Mix scenarios and spicing Tape was common place knowing certain Analog 2” Machines in Spot Erase we’re hopelessly woeful.

The guide was always something akin to:
Large Ambience or Hall (Big Distance)
Plate (medium)
Chamber (smaller)
Delays (utilitarian)
Phasing & Flanging (utilitarian)
Pitch Shifting and Vocoders (utilitarian)
Pre delay to ear candy (as required)

So usually 8 Sends and Returns If Stereo you stole a few console channels from wherever. I don’t think there’s any specific rules for Mono V Stereo Sends. If it sounded right it sounded great! Perhaps the truest lost art in Recording Audio! Commitment of Drums to Synths and Bass to Guitars in trusting your Engineer knew exactly which takes were consensually captured. When you hire a Studio and Engineer you’re sort of expecting in trusting his or her Ears as those most experienced! The very same reasons why being presented with 96-144 DAW channels gives a huge sinking feeling unless they’re time coded punchers, streamers and hits making a Documentary or Film Fly with SFX.

Lastly I’m thinking in DAW situations for those Learned Digital Natives. Most possibly another thing to remember, is the 15,000 routing options a console immediately gave you! Patchbay supremacy reigning offering inserting Compression on a Pre Fader Mix understanding balanced to unbalanced and impedance to finally transferring to a final Format. I’ll maintain 1/2” Analog the happiest medium then again I loved me a Sony 3348 HR Digital Recorder at 20 Bits! Big Remote and parallel time code to FS and flawlessly punching In/out to assembling Editing Tracks minus fuss! When Adat to DA-88 came in, they were $3000 buck junkyard units!

Hope that helps
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