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Big mixing without a big desk? Control Surfaces
Old 29th May 2003
  #1
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jazzius's Avatar
 

Big mixing without a big desk?

Ok, we all know about the big name mixers who regularily utilize 128 inputs on a 9k during mixdown and we're all jealous (well i am, anyway).......but i was thinking, maybe there's a way to achieve the same thing, but on a budget.....

I've got 3 RME 8 channel AD/DA's......the crafty thing about these boxes is that they output (D/A) on 8 jacks and on a D-sub simultaniously....so each 8 channel box gives you 16 D/A outs....of course it's only 2x8 but this is great for mult-ing channels.......sooooo, if i had 4 RME hammerfall cards in my computer (each with 24 channels ADAT) and 12 of the RME converters, i could have 192 (but really 2x96) channels of D/A for around 12 grand!!!.......ok, so this is mad overkill but you get the idea.....

......next, run all these channels thru analogue gear......running 4 channels of kick thru different boxes just like the big boys.......Transient designers, cheapo Behringer gear, Drawmer gates....... whatever......no bloody bull**** plugin latency to worry about, just grab a knob and twist......yesssss.......

next, some of these channels (like the 4 channels of kick) need to be summed...step up something like the

Speck Xtramix

next, run your 48 channels back into the A/D and back into Logic or Nuendo or whatever........automate, buss and then run 24 channels of D/A back out of the computer (maybe thru some higher quality converters this time) into a high quality 24 channel mixer with a few busses.......maybe apply some boutique processing at this point......mix done....

ok, i know there's a couple of things going on here that the real BIG mix wouldn't have......an xtra stage of AD/DA and some computer summing.....but there's also some advantages.........if you record the 48 tracks of analogue processing, then the mix is very easily recallable....and of course all that money saved on the 9K or Neve can be spent on outboard.

I know this may seem obvious or like old hat to some, but it just occured to me as the setup i'd like to pursue for the future.......anyone using a setup like this?........got any views on it?
Old 29th May 2003
  #2
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marychain's Avatar
 

HI Jazzius,

thats a pretty interesting topic that ive not seen mentioned on any boards come to think of it. After 3 years MITB I have now started looking at an analog front end. The only thing that has prevented me from doing this so far is 'Cost'. I have started to buy the bits but even on a budget is still mucho £££££. I need

2 more Digi 192's (I have one which wil lmake three-24 outs is a minimum). I would like 4.............but already its ssooooooo expensive and I have only gotten to the DA stage.

More Outboard Comps: I have 1 Distressor so far, and a bunch of cheapo jobs not worth mentioning. So again I have a loong way to go. I'm looking at

another Distressor
Avalon (dont know which one yet)
Alan Smart (or something similiar)


EQ's/Preamp
Hmmm, I will need one good one at least but am going to rely on Plugins, and the boards EQ for the most part.

FX
Going to stick with what I already have (outboard) and perhaps pick up a high end unit.

Console:

This is my dillemma. Which one. Mackie 8 buss? Kinda defeats the purpose I think?. Will probably go for something from the mid 80's. Have no idea yet. Budget hmmmm would like to spend no more than 7k, but reality may hit and I coul dsee myself going up to 10k maximum. A Neve 80b would be nice.


I havent added up the cost yet, but just to get a half decent front end for my current HD3 system is not going to be what I call cheap or on a budget. 20k perhaps to do exactly what I can do now?? I hate to MITB now so I really want to do this.

IN use. I'm not going to go as fancy as you are. I will simply use the PT rig as a fancy tape machine and mix and master from the console on to DAT. Exactly much how I used to do I guess.

The only slight bitter pilll with all this is that Im going full circle right back to what I was doing 6 years ago. To purchse my Fist PT system I sold tons of perfectly good outboard which I totally regret now but I had to get the money from somewhere. Yup! I fully bought in to the 'You can do it all in the box with this rig'. Then I upgraded to HD around a year ago which was more £££, and now I'm looking at going analog (50%) again.

I cant wait for the day I can simply look at a knob or fader, push or twist it and not only see the change but hear it. Oh and I can feel the change . Gave the MITB a long good shot but it just doesnt cut it imo. Of course I will lose total recall, but when I really think about it, and put it in to perspective Total Recall has never made me a better mixer, or musician. The fear of losing out is what has kept me MITB for so long.

Would be great to hear from other folks on this subject.

Old 29th May 2003
  #3
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jazzius's Avatar
 

the reason the above setup is a bit complicated is that i'd want to get the automation in there..........it seems this is where the price sky-rockets so i'd do automation in the computer (after the analogue processing)

yeah, when I said "budget", i meant it in relation to achieving what could normally only done on a "house-priced" desk.....'course the setup i'm describing would still run to minimum of 20+ grand without any outboard......

.........still, i think it's a pretty good investment for the future......say DSD takes over in 5 years time.......you'd only have to replace your DAW.....the rest would still be all good.........plugins are way cheaper than outboard but i think it's a false economy......if i bought a PT plug tommorrow for $500, i feel damn confident in sayin this plug will be completely useless in 10 years time......by which time there won't be any upgrades to the new Protools BS or whatever it'll be called. As much of my cash as possible will be going to analogue gear in the future.
Old 29th May 2003
  #4
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jazzius's Avatar
 

oops.......you'd also have to replace your converters!
Old 30th May 2003
  #5
I've been doing this for a while.

Its very similar to my setup only I use a SBM-2 summing mixer(may pick up another or a DB2-LT) and HD. Also I use PT HD.

The latency thing is still a work around(especially when layering the processing with the original tracks). Also when you use auxes or effect sends/returns.

Its a cost effective way to getting a big mix done on the cheap(with automation and total recall), but to me it still doesn't beat mixing on a 9000J. Mixing on the 9K is more than just lots of inputs, its layed out to make humongous mixes much easier. Also the avabilty to do all the panning,EQ,dynamics,Processing tricks without having to think about it(on the fly) makes mixing much more fun.

It doesn't hurt that it sounds fantastic also!!

Big,wide and open.

The benefit of working the first way i that you stay in the sweet spot longer and you can fit it into a smaller space. For an independent composer/producer its a great solution.

But there will always be clients that have to have their mixes done on a big console. SSL 9000J only. They feel that unless its done on a SSL9000J, it is not professional or upto par.

Those are the guys that continue to keep the big studios going.
Old 30th May 2003
  #6
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blackcatdigi's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by marychain

I will simply use the PT rig as a fancy tape machine and mix and master from the console on to DAT. Exactly much how I used to do I guess.

The only slight bitter pilll with all this is that Im going full circle right back to what I was doing 6 years ago. To purchse my Fist PT system I sold tons of perfectly good outboard which I totally regret now but I had to get the money from somewhere. Yup! I fully bought in to the 'You can do it all in the box with this rig'.
(snip)
Gave the MITB a long good shot but it just doesnt cut it imo. Of course I will lose total recall, but when I really think about it, and put it in to perspective Total Recall has never made me a better mixer, or musician. The fear of losing out is what has kept me MITB for so long.

Would be great to hear from other folks on this subject.

Well, if it makes you feel any better, I'm about a year ahead of you on the "full circle" cycle... I was a digital disciple for about a decade. These days, I use as little digital as possible.

Long, long ago I sold off the console, recorder, and some great outboard to get into 'The Box'...
I then spent years trying to get back up (sonically speaking) to where I was, and never got there. Came to the conclusion that while it is possible to do great work ITB, it was less than optimal. We dumped the Pro Control and got an 80B. PT is now used as a glorified tape machine / editor. Stuff sounds much better, much quicker. As for recall, well, there ain't none.
I would rather start over than try to document everything and I appreciate more billable hours!

And I'm still trying to replace all the outboard I had...

Good Luck!
Old 31st May 2003
  #7
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jazzius's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by thethrillfactor


Big,wide and open.

ok, this is due to the exemplary summing of the 9K.........but what if you were to reduce yur BIG mix to, say 24 tracks, then sum this with a couple of dangerous 2-buss's or a massenburg or Mil-media console?............you'd get pretty damn close, right?........or not?........i agree that the 9k has something special in the summing department...anyways, some interesting answers there...........

........
Old 31st May 2003
  #8
Quote:
Originally posted by jazzius
ok, this is due to the exemplary summing of the 9K.........but what if you were to reduce yur BIG mix to, say 24 tracks, then sum this with a couple of dangerous 2-buss's or a massenburg or Mil-media console?............you'd get pretty damn close, right?........or not?........i agree that the 9k has something special in the summing department...anyways, some interesting answers there...........

........
Read the Joe Chiccarelli review of the D2B in the new Tape Op (pg 54 & 55). Apparently, not only would something like the D2B, GML or Millennia come close, in some ways it would surpass the percieved notions of what is "great". He compared it to an SSL 9000J, a Neve 8066, an internal mix of PT HD. To sum it up, nothing was better than the other all retained a high level of fidelity just with different amounts of coloration and "speed", and for me, I prefer speed and clarity as opposed to coloration in a console. I can always track with colored pieces or insert them during mix. I wouldn't want all of my tracks to be forced to have a signature.
Old 1st June 2003
  #9
Quote:
Originally posted by NathanEldred
Read the Joe Chiccarelli review of the D2B in the new Tape Op (pg 54 & 55). Apparently, not only would something like the D2B, GML or Millennia come close, in some ways it would surpass the percieved notions of what is "great". He compared it to an SSL 9000J, a Neve 8066, an internal mix of PT HD. To sum it up, nothing was better than the other all retained a high level of fidelity just with different amounts of coloration and "speed", and for me, I prefer speed and clarity as opposed to coloration in a console. I can always track with colored pieces or insert them during mix. I wouldn't want all of my tracks to be forced to have a signature.
Before I purchased the SBM-2, I compared it to the D2B,Amek DIB,the Manley Mixer and a SSL9000J(provided by Unique Studios) with a 128 track intensive PT mix.

They all did the jobs well.

They each had their strong points.

The D2B's strong point was its neutrality. I thought for a mastering house or a minimalist approach for mixing it would be perfect.

What i didn't like was that it was too neutral(almost digital sounding). I think for mixing popular music you need a little oomph!! A little magic or pizazz. I use to be a chef and I prefer my dishes tasty(as well as my women)
Adding the flavor on afterwards to me is kinda boring almost bland.

For certain types of music, I could see the Manley would be perfect. Jazz, blues or certain types of country, the Manley just gives it a glow!!! Only problem is if you have glow already, it can be too much!!!

I was left with three choices.

Really only two...I wish I could afford the 9000J(dammit!!!)

If you've ever mixed on the 9K, then you understand why its a mixers dream(even though it took me a while to get used to its sound or lack there of). By far it gave the widest image(even with being creamed with 128 PT tracks with effects).

Of the remaining two, the SBM-2 really blew me away. It is not only built like a tank, but sonic wise it delivers!!! It is big sounding and it has a slight signature. Its somewhere between a SSL and API(my opinion).

The Amek was also nice. It just lacked something that the others had. Also having pan pots on the front of the SBM-2 comes in super handy when doing final tweaks in the mix.

But alas, I am learning that one summing mixer is just not enough for today's complex mixes. With all of the effect returns and crazy splits and mults, maybe 3-4 is needed.

Man i just mix a console sometimes.grudge

Lets see if I start saving now, I'll be able to pay for the 9K when...
Old 1st June 2003
  #10
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jazzius's Avatar
 

Thrill.........did you not try the mil-media console?

.......looks perfect for this sort of thing.....

it has a few busses, it's automatable ($$$) and expandable.
Old 1st June 2003
  #11
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Gie-Sound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by thethrillfactor
Before I purchased the SBM-2, I compared it to the D2B,Amek DIB,the Manley Mixer and a SSL9000J(provided by Unique Studios) with a 128 track intensive PT mix.
.........
...the SBM-2 really blew me away. It is not only built like a tank, but sonic wise it delivers!!! It is big sounding and it has a slight signature. Its somewhere between a SSL and API(my opinion).
Thrill,

Do you have a link for the SBM-2???
What company makes it??

ThanX in advance!
Old 1st June 2003
  #13
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Gie-Sound's Avatar
Ols STUDER for mix-bus?!

How would you guys rate the quality of the summing buss in small (old) STUDER mixers? B169??
(Recently I saw someone routing 6 busses + bass + leadvocal to a Studer B169.)

Picture stolen from: http://www.recordingconsoles.net
Old 1st June 2003
  #14
Quote:
Originally posted by jazzius
Thrill.........did you not try the mil-media console?

.......looks perfect for this sort of thing.....

it has a few busses, it's automatable ($$$) and expandable.
Jazzius,

I am not a minimalist guy at all.

By the time i blow out the Mil console to have what i need, I'll be into used SSL category.

Plus I like mix consoles to have some "Thrill"Factor. heh

If its just straight wire than its going to be more work to get the oomph. That's one of the things when mixing that I can't risk, is time or wasted time.

I like mixing consoles where in a pinch, if i had to mix a song just with what's on board(like a rough mix during a tracking session that I may keep) I could use everything in it from EQ and dynamics.

If its recallable its a major plus.

Also if i am going to buy a console, I would buy something that has to impress the clients. Its sounds shallow, but this is a business. The bigger looking console always wins people's confidence. Even though the smaller one maybe more practical(like my setup) people still feel there music will sound better if it goes through something bigger.grudge

Hey, if they have the money to spend, then I'll gladly book time in a 9K room. heh

I'll bring my gear which is in cases on wheels and charge them for the rental.

Hey like i said its business.
Old 2nd June 2003
  #15
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jazzius's Avatar
 

But if you've got enough "colour" outboard wouldn't the straight wire console be OK?........then you could choose your palette rather than the console applying it on everything for you?

What was the Manley mixer like?
Old 2nd June 2003
  #16
Quote:
Originally posted by jazzius
But if you've got enough "colour" outboard wouldn't the straight wire console be OK?........then you could choose your palette rather than the console applying it on everything for you?

What was the Manley mixer like?

In theory...yeah.


But in execution its a different story.


I spend now more time trying to give tracks a sound than ever before. And I mix more samples than anything, which supposedly have already been treated.

I miss the days where i start a project on a console and finish on it.

When was the last time you did a rough and it was the keeper?

I miss those days.grudge

The Manley sounds like you would expect it to(if you work a lot with Manley gear). It has a euphonic color. Not sharp and not totally mellow. Again i think it would be great choice for someone mixing acoustic music who likes a little color(in contrast to the D2B which is straight wire).
Old 3rd June 2003
  #17
Quote:
Originally posted by jazzius
But if you've got enough "colour" outboard wouldn't the straight wire console be OK?........then you could choose your palette rather than the console applying it on everything for you?
For me, I like exactly what you're talking about. I don't think the cooking analogy is quite accurate in my case, because I'm tracking with as much color as I want when I deem necessary (HEDD, Fatsos, NV's, Dakings, etc, etc). My console is very very neutral, and that's how I like it. If I want the guitars to be fat and slow and full of harmonic distortion, then that's what I can do on the way in, and by inserting on the way out. If I want the overheads clean and quick, I can do that two. It takes a little planning ahead of time, and a decent variety of gear to pull that off though. Slightly OT, but I avoid plugs whenever possible too, I used to be a little more tolerant of them. I did a little experiment just turning a bunch of them on and off (with nothing boosted or "effected")...they definitely narrow the sound in just about any way you can imagine. It's subtle, but it's there. Imagine the cumulative effect over many tracks (or multiple plugs on one track).
Old 4th June 2003
  #18
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Nathan--

You make a good point on the plugins. I think it depends on the software. But, I know what you're talking about.

With software, it's almost as if you need one app for creating a project (Acid), another for effects (Cool Edit) and another for a good mix bus (Nuendo). I wouldn't do this but I know a few people who think that's the way to go.

--Steve
www.mojopie.com
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