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Using Outboard gear, but mixing in the box Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 21st August 2007
  #1
Gear Nut
 
sada10's Avatar
Using Outboard gear, but mixing in the box

Are any of you guys mixing with PT ITB and then running back into your mixer to add outboard processing ? I don't like adding any processing pre-tracking, so I am thinking of getting a set up where I would mix ITB and then just run back into my board to add any external outboard gear-outside of the additional conversion, are there any problems with working this way?
Old 21st August 2007
  #2
Gear Maniac
 

after a while of not tracking through a board, many people end up coming full circle from the non-committal to 80%+ processing on takes.

eventually you have to step up to the plate. less conversion is always good. time becomes an issue, and if you know the sound you're looking for eventually you should just put it down.

there is the spiraling trap of non-committing when recording. soon you're not committing between takes, then you can't commit to pizza or chinese.....

then one day you say F*ck it.
Old 21st August 2007
  #3
Processing with outboard gear helps give ITB extra glue that even the best plugins can't provide IMO. Since you have to send D/A -- into the outboard piece -- A/D back into the box, it helps to have quality i/o conversion (Lavry, Apogee, Mytek, etc). Even just two channels is enough if you are just processing one or two tracks at a time. I personally mix on an analog console, so I'm actually going through three conversions, and I feel I'm getting great sounds. If I was all ITB I would just do 2-4 tracks at a time and reprint. Just my opinion too, a little gentle leveling/compression on the way in, especially for vocals and bass can be a good thing. Good luck, hope this helps.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #4
Gear Head
 

well said

Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanEldred View Post
Processing with outboard gear helps give ITB extra glue that even the best plugins can't provide IMO. Since you have to send D/A -- into the outboard piece -- A/D back into the box, it helps to have quality i/o conversion (Lavry, Apogee, Mytek, etc). Even just two channels is enough if you are just processing one or two tracks at a time. I personally mix on an analog console, so I'm actually going through three conversions, and I feel I'm getting great sounds. If I was all ITB I would just do 2-4 tracks at a time and reprint. Just my opinion too, a little gentle leveling/compression on the way in, especially for vocals and bass can be a good thing. Good luck, hope this helps.

well said...
Old 22nd August 2007
  #5
Lives for gear
 
manthe's Avatar
 

I used to be paranoid about making sure I recorded everything as flat and dry as possible.

I have eventually come to view that attitude as poisonous, for me. Over the years I have invested in decent outboard gear. I've got great compressors, some really nice EQs and preamps with 'personality'. I've also bought a lot of mics for their particular color and freq. curves.

After many years of recording the same instruments (in general) with the same gear, I've come to know what I'm going to get with what. I also try very hard to achieve a decent 'vision' of the what a song will/should sound like.

What I'm taking a very long time to say is, I try to get it on the way in. When I mix, I like it to be more of a setting of levels...maybe some fader riding, mutes, etc.

Aside from reverb, and maybe some creative effects, I like to add as few plugs or do as few D/A-A/Ds as possible.

Don't be afraid to try to find the right sound up front and stick to it. That is why I'm also moving away from MIDI synths where possible. I am having a blast (for example) running a synth (pad/bass/etc), or an organ patch on my Roland keyboard through a pair of tube preamps, through a pair of Gainbrains or DBX 160Xs or an 1176...whatever...hell, I have even been using some of my cool guitar stomp boxes with my keyboard/synth for some very cool effects.

I don't know if this is a phase or an epiphany! I work MUCH faster this way, I also find myself far more inspired while tracking and my mixes and songs have never been better!


I hope you were just looking for opinions...
Old 22nd August 2007
  #6
Lives for gear
 
FossilTooth's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by manthe View Post
I used to be paranoid about recording everything as flat and dry as possible.

I have eventually come to view that attitude as poisonous, for me (OPINION!).
I blame a lot of this on Magazines and books on recording basics. You read the same advice again and again:

"Don't EQ too much", "Don't compress too much", "You can't undo compression", "EQ boosts sound unnatural", "You can't undo most processing", "Be Careful!".

They tell beginners to fear their tools. Although it comes from a well-meaning place, it's nonsense, and I bought into it as a beginner as well. Looking back, I would have learned a lot faster by printing EQ and compression. Sometimes they go as far as to reccomend recording guitars without effect processors, when an effected sound is desired.

When asked how he gets the sounds for his drum samples, Steven Slate responded "...Don't be a Pussy with EQ". Sure, most of his samples are a little over-the top for me, but the point is a good one. With few exceptions, most commercial Rock, Hip Hop, Alternative, Modern Country and Pop sounds are processed and tweaked to death, both during tracking and mixing.

Don't be afraid!

(Ignore this advice if you're involved in classical, jazz, or some forms of adult contemporary recording.)
Old 22nd August 2007
  #7
Lives for gear
 
Daniel Antix's Avatar
I do all my mixing ITB with cubase sx 3 (upgrade to 4 on order)

I have a dbx compressor, alesis compressor and a lexicon fx unit which i have running as external plugins in cubase. so i load them up as a normal plugin (in the inserts for example) and and I'O's are already setup, no messing around with extra faders.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #8
To deevelop Nathan's point, It's only worht going back out to the board to mix if you have great converters and a great board. Little point going out through behringer converters and into a mackie board, You will do nothing but degrade the sound. If on the other hand you have lavry/mytek/equphix converters and a neve board or a rack of pultecs and La2as, then just do it!
Old 22nd August 2007
  #9
Gear Nut
 
sada10's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanEldred View Post
Processing with outboard gear helps give ITB extra glue that even the best plugins can't provide IMO. Since you have to send D/A -- into the outboard piece -- A/D back into the box, it helps to have quality i/o conversion (Lavry, Apogee, Mytek, etc). Even just two channels is enough if you are just processing one or two tracks at a time. I personally mix on an analog console, so I'm actually going through three conversions, and I feel I'm getting great sounds. If I was all ITB I would just do 2-4 tracks at a time and reprint. Just my opinion too, a little gentle leveling/compression on the way in, especially for vocals and bass can be a good thing. Good luck, hope this helps.
Have you ever mixed ITB and just used your console almost as a summing device by just adding additional processing for the desired channels, but leaving the other channels at unity? Are there any potential drawbacks that I would face by doing it this way?
Old 22nd August 2007
  #10
Gear Head
 

I use outboard mic pres some time a compressor going in. Then mix totally in the box.

I dont eq on the way in. I probably would if i had a pultec.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #11
Lives for gear
 

I'm just thinking outloud. I mix on a desk to radar so I have 1X AD, 1X DA, and 1X AD. (3 conversions)

If I was mixing ITB and set up my I/O so that all my outboard could be inserted on the digital inserts it would be:

1XAD for recording.
1X DA/AD for the inserts.

Again, 3 conversions. So what's the difference between doing it on a desk or ITB with outboard conversion wise?

I say don't fret it as long as your converters are good.
Old 23rd August 2007
  #12
Gear Nut
 
sada10's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by sada10 View Post


Have you ever mixed ITB and just used your console almost as a summing device by just adding additional processing for the desired channels, but leaving the other channels at unity? Are there any potential drawbacks that I would face by doing it this way?
Any other comments on this?
Old 23rd August 2007
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by sada10 View Post


Have you ever mixed ITB and just used your console almost as a summing device by just adding additional processing for the desired channels, but leaving the other channels at unity? Are there any potential drawbacks that I would face by doing it this way?
I'm not quite sure I follow you on the "leaving the other channels at unity" part of your question. Are you referring to unity on the virtual mixer in the DAW, or unity on the analog console? I AM using an analog console (see my comments in my post above)...in my mind all analog consoles are summing devices (or really vice versa), that's what they do when mixing, they just have a whole lot more features than most summing boxes (faders, aux, busses, EQs). When I mix (on my analog console) I leave the faders at unity. I get a solid gain structure running through the entire system from D/A through the console to the 2 track tape machine so nothing is too hot or too low.

Just because it's a DAW doesn't mean that it's any different than mixing from a 2" tape machine, an ADAT, or a Radar 24 track machine. All the same basic rules apply, it's just that DAWs tend to be more flexible because of the automation and routing flexibility. It's my own personal findings that a mix sounds 'deeper' and 'wider' when a decent to really great analog console is used. Not to mention I find the workflow more efficient (in terms of how I mix on a creative level anyway) when using the DAW and console in conjunction. If your ultimate question is 'will mixing on a console versus mixing ITB box be better?', this is a long ongoing debate among engineers that there is no decisive decision on. It's really up to your ears AND how you like to work. Is full recall more important, or do you find the small inconveniences of using a DAW/Console setup are a sonic improvement? I personally prefer what amounts to a very hybrid method that involves tape, DAWs, some plug ins (just a few), medium footprint analog console, and quite a bit of high quality outboard gear.
Old 23rd August 2007
  #14
Lives for gear
 
filthyrich's Avatar
 

I hate doint this, but

So, I see a lot of people talking about using outboard gear as an efx type send/return from their DAW. Does this mean I can grab a bus from the "bottom" of my DAW virtual mixer (Sonar 6 pe) and hook it up to my stereo eq's/comps?

If so..how does the effect "print?" Usually, I go out of 1-2 L-R into the outboard gear and back into my monitoring device and then back into my MOTU 24 i/o. It records back into the mix and then I move it until it lines up.
I do this with guitar, bass, vocal submixes (i.e. all rthm guitars etc).

BUT how do I get this to work "live?" Meaning...how I get the effect back into the box to blend with the mix? Do I wait until the last step and set up an extra "in" on the Motu during printing of the track?

If so, then I would have a main L-R stereo track go back into the DAW to print..I guess? I've done this before at the last step running the whole mix through a stereo comp/eq and then back into the DAW for cd burining.

Would I simply do the above paragraph plus set up an extra send/return for the efx or whatever of the extra outboard stereo bus?

my brain just exploded...must leave
Old 23rd August 2007
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by filthyrich View Post

BUT how do I get this to work "live?" Meaning...how I get the effect back into the box to blend with the mix? Do I wait until the last step and set up an extra "in" on the Motu during printing of the track?

Out of the D/A into the device (i.e. comp, eq) then out of the device into an A/D. Open a new track and either print it, or not. You should be able to monitor it in real time without actually recording. But you'll have delay because of the conversion. Around 3ms, which is substantial in a mix situation for a single track, especially with drums. It can make vocals or bass sound off in timing too. You could nudge the track, but I believe nudging it back (you can find out precisely what amount of delay your brand of conversion causes by asking the manufacturer), not forward, would make more sense, as the D/A/D is going to add time to it. In other words, if you nudge it 3ms forward, then you'll have 6ms of delay, but if you nudge it back 3ms (or whatever it is) it will compensate. You'll have to use your ears too, I'd print a track and look at the waveform just to see if you are spot on. I think the industry is just now coming around with hardware delay compensation which takes care of this kind of thing (I haven't kept up on it because I've yet to have a request for it, and I don't need it personally for our studio), but I don't think it's extremely common yet....but I suspect that's why most people send out to the device and then print, and then nudge the track back in time.
Old 23rd August 2007
  #16
You can operate 'live' with no recording of the track, if you nudge forward / advance the track that is being sent out.
Old 23rd August 2007
  #17
Gear Nut
 
sada10's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanEldred View Post
I'm not quite sure I follow you on the "leaving the other channels at unity" part of your question. Are you referring to unity on the virtual mixer in the DAW, or unity on the analog console? I AM using an analog console (see my comments in my post above)...in my mind all analog consoles are summing devices (or really vice versa), that's what they do when mixing, they just have a whole lot more features than most summing boxes (faders, aux, busses, EQs). When I mix (on my analog console) I leave the faders at unity. I get a solid gain structure running through the entire system from D/A through the console to the 2 track tape machine so nothing is too hot or too low.

Just because it's a DAW doesn't mean that it's any different than mixing from a 2" tape machine, an ADAT, or a Radar 24 track machine. All the same basic rules apply, it's just that DAWs tend to be more flexible because of the automation and routing flexibility. It's my own personal findings that a mix sounds 'deeper' and 'wider' when a decent to really great analog console is used. Not to mention I find the workflow more efficient (in terms of how I mix on a creative level anyway) when using the DAW and console in conjunction. If your ultimate question is 'will mixing on a console versus mixing ITB box be better?', this is a long ongoing debate among engineers that there is no decisive decision on. It's really up to your ears AND how you like to work. Is full recall more important, or do you find the small inconveniences of using a DAW/Console setup are a sonic improvement? I personally prefer what amounts to a very hybrid method that involves tape, DAWs, some plug ins (just a few), medium footprint analog console, and quite a bit of high quality outboard gear.
Thanks for your response and let me clarify the "unity" comments:
One of the strategies that I am considering is mixing ITB, but then running those premixed stems back out to a analog console for summing and/or outboard processing. Will this work, or am I missing something?-if not, then I am going to see if I can find a analog console with automation that I can afford.

I hope this helps clear things up!
Old 23rd August 2007
  #18
Gear Nut
 
sada10's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by filthyrich View Post
So, I see a lot of people talking about using outboard gear as an efx type send/return from their DAW. Does this mean I can grab a bus from the "bottom" of my DAW virtual mixer (Sonar 6 pe) and hook it up to my stereo eq's/comps?

If so..how does the effect "print?" Usually, I go out of 1-2 L-R into the outboard gear and back into my monitoring device and then back into my MOTU 24 i/o. It records back into the mix and then I move it until it lines up.
I do this with guitar, bass, vocal submixes (i.e. all rthm guitars etc).


my brain just exploded...must leave
I to have been wondering how this is done when I have seen this process referenced on various threads.
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