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Airwindows Desk
Old 13th March 2010
  #1
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Airwindows Desk

I'd add this to an existing thread, but frankly, I got fed up with reading for an hour through over a dozen pages of bickering just to try and find the few posts that had anything to do with actually using and evaluating the plug, so...

Hopefully others will follow suit here, post a few examples, have a discussion, and be able to judge what it is or is not doing for their mixes.

I, like many, care very deeply about the concept of getting a warm, rich sound itb because I, like many, simply do not have the access or resources for all the analog goodies. I, like many, am just a guy in my bedroom doing the best I can with the tools onhand. I don't expect perfect emulation of analog gear, nor, do I necessarily want that... but I, like many, would like to see to what extent it is possible to use technology to create pleasing mixes that do not sound like they were done in one's bedroom.

I downloaded Airwindows Desk less than half an hour ago, tossed it on a current project, and burned a small section with and without for comparasin.

Frankly, I don't know enough to do a "null test" or whatever other obsessive gearhead thing one might do, but I, like eveyone, know what I do or don't like.




The setup:

itb logic au

I did not use the plug exactly as prescribed because it was mentioned that it should be put last in the chain on each channel, etc. Well, first of all, I am (other than vocals, of course) completely 100pct itb which means all VI's, no natural istruments with wildly varying attacks, dynamics, etc... if anything, the dynamics are a bit flat. Add to this that I have begun mixing with the intention of never crossing any plug, buss, etc. at anything greater than -6db. Add to this that I am often far below that, and from the description, it seems that this was intended to be hit harder, and I'm not about to add multiple gainstages to each channel when I'm already running 20 instances of FreeG as it is.

I may be incorrect, but it seemed to make more sense in my case to put it first in the chain, before compression without makeup gain, before attenuation, etc. Other than that, I have done nothing in this example to work with gain-staging. Whatever level the VI or track was out before any processing, that's the level at which it hits desk.

Maybe I'm just lazy too, and if there's a better way, I'm open, but to get a quick idea what it's doing, it's first on everything... first in chain on every channel, buss, and stereo buss.

The examples are otherwise identical... One has desk on everything... the other it is disabled. I won't make claims as to compensating for gain differences, etc... with and without, that's it.

I have an opinion, but I will withold it for the time being so that we may get some unbiased opinions, and hopefully others may share their own examples.

Thank you.

edited to add... this is the regular "desk" I'm using, not tube or trans... haven't dug into them yet.
Old 13th March 2010
  #2
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Since I hadn't gotten responses yet, and only a few views so far, I realized I should go back now and delete the names of the files so it's not clear which is using the plug and which is not... forgot about that.

I flipped a coin to determine which was A and which was B... so feedback can be blind and true to the sonic nature of the processing rather than preconception.

sorry about that... hope I caught it in time.

thx.
Old 14th March 2010
  #3
Airwindows
 
chrisj's Avatar
It's possible people don't want to work it like it's a contest.

I heard what I meant Desk to do, in the relevant mix, so I'm happy
Old 14th March 2010
  #4
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Mr.HOLMES's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisj View Post
It's possible people don't want to work it like it's a contest.

I heard what I meant Desk to do, in the relevant mix, so I'm happy

May you are a little bit biased CHRIS?

So I just heard that in mix A the keys where a bit more distorted.
The song is great the "Prince" like break is wonderful.

Overall the mix needs some more top end....
The desk plug in does not plays big role for it IMO.

Go on with the song with or without desk....
Old 14th March 2010
  #5
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djanthonyw's Avatar
 

Desk is version B.
Old 14th March 2010
  #6
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XHipHop's Avatar
In my experience, Desk mostly just "smooths out" the high end of my tracks. I can even hear it on a single track just by bypassing and activating desk (depending on the track and how easy it is to hear the high frequency content...on a bright pad it's very evident).

I've only got macbook speakers here right now but if i had a proper listening environment, that's what'd i'd be listening for.

The other two versions of the desk (tube and tranny) are a little too colored or me but I guess they might appeal to some people.
Old 14th March 2010
  #7
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I don't have much an opinion on Desk, for some reason. Nevertheless I'm a big fan of Chris' products.

But I wanted to pop in and say, Al, that I think you've made significant improvement in your productions since the last time I heard them. It was something like 4, 5, or 6 months ago when I last heard 'em. They weren't bad then, but your progress is very evident.

Cheers.
Old 14th March 2010
  #8
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thx, louder. this forum has been a tremendous help. It's unbelievable what you can learn for free if you put your mind to it and look in the right places for the info.

Chris, not intending a contest or anything of the sort.

I figure I'm just like a lot of people out there who want a quick fix.

I'd try mixbuss, but frankly, I'm just not willing to start all over with a new daw... I have too much time and energy invested in Logic, and I'm not gonna switch horses in the middle of the stream.

Heck, I don't even care if it does what it claims... I only care if using it makes the music more appealing to most people or not. It's an important issue to me because if it does, and there is some sort of consensus about it causing some sort of sonic improvement, then I'll use it on every track in my upcoming album.

If not, I wont.

I have a guess at this point that it would be most evident on material with lots of pointy bits in the high freq range. Call it a hunch based on what I've heard playing around with it so far. If so, and if it's an improvement, then great... since I am known for rockin' the bells, tambourines, bottles, and bringin' the fiesta to the treble knob.

It may actually be just what I need.

I just don't know yet... which is why I would like some feedback on it, blind tested... and would like to hear (without all the politics, bickering, and fighting among developers if that's possible) about other people's experience including any tips they may have come across in their use of it.

I'm not interested in comparing it to some cpu hog plug that I can't use across the board. I'm not interested in comparing it to anything that makes me ditch Logic... just wanna hear some feedback,make sure I'm not imagining what I think I'm hearing, and hear what other people have done with it to get a grip on where and when it shines brightest.
Old 14th March 2010
  #9
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Anyone else got some a/b clips to post?

Anyone got any tips or tricks they've noticed?
Old 15th March 2010
  #10
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lovespirals's Avatar
 

i'm guessing desk is version b.
Old 15th March 2010
  #11
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ok, but based upon what? Just trying to get a concept of what exactly other people are hearing for a difference...

There does appear (to my ears anyway) to be a very slight volume difference, so I suppose I should've adjusted that.

Very interesteed to hear from anyone else using it as well, or hear any nuggets of wisdom on how to get the most from it or other such plugs.

I'm not looking for comparasins, but if anyone does have a particular product they believe in and want to share, just understand that it has to be

1 cpu friendly
2 able to be used 50-75 times in a session
3 Logic / au itb
4 Mild enough on the eq that I'm not having to crank life back into the mix

... as these are the reasons I chose to look into desk in the first place.

Also interested to hear anyone's breakdown of their use of desk vs. channel... as I've used channel a few times and like what it does in certain instances (Neve and api settings) Clearly, channel can be more extreme, but I haven't used it dialed down before, so...

Are you using them together? How so?

any audio examples?
Old 15th March 2010
  #12
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Or anyone who's found a particular use in combination with other fx... or of the other elements (transdesk, tubedesk)
Old 15th March 2010
  #13
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Also interested in hearing about whatever anyone is using on perc mixes... like cowbells, etc... I do a LOT of that, so interesting to hear how anyone processes those things.
Old 17th March 2010
  #14
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lovespirals's Avatar
 

so which sample was witch?
Old 17th March 2010
  #15
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I'm not sure which is which, however I like B. It sounds wider, and punchier. If B is desk there is is some nice mojo there...
Old 17th March 2010
  #16
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Yeah. Desk is B.

Here's what I believe I'm hearing for what it's worth... there is a very slight bump in (at least percieved) volume overall... again, 50 or so instances here using multibusses, etc.

Second, it's not so obvious in this example, but it does seem to give a slightly more rounded feel to high frequency transients... agogo, hat, cowbell, etc. It's subtle, but it can be important when you're trying to get those elements as hot as you can without causing pain in the listener. (some of which I added for last run attached)

Third, it does appear to me to be just slightly punchier.

The fourth bit is a tad harder to define. Frankly, I'm not sure how to express it. It just sounds, well, subtly different. I might chalk it up to a slight increase in percieved mix depth, but I'm not sure if that's right... just different. I thought at first that the elements were slightly more blended, but I don't think that's it now... a bit hard to pin down.

Anyway, I should mention that I haven't hit at nearly zero db as had been mentioned in another thread... so I may not be using it as intended. What I need is a quick fix... slap it on each channel without changing my workflow... so I tried it the way I need it to work.... and the levels may not be optimized as a result.

I realize too, that I was using mushy midrangey drums (work in progress)... so I decided to give it a more modern crunchy hip-hopey rhythm section to see what it does on more hard hitting contemporary material... I burned this last night and I don't have mix up to do a comparasin, so I'll just put what I have which is with desk... and with new toy being demo'd... stillwell bombardier on drum buss.

Just my 2cents, but between stillwell, the glue, and some of the airwindows plugs, I feel that I am able to get much closer to a less objectionable itb mix... they each in their own way seem to have a bit of mojo... bending the sound digitally in a way that actually works.
Old 6th April 2010
  #17
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mudangel67's Avatar
 

airwindows desk test

hey all.... i dont know if anyone is still monitoring this thread but i just recently discovered chris' plugs and I am super excited. I have been looking up all the old threads on the DESK stuff and wanted to make an observation.

This plugin is amazing. I have read some really weird comments and just want to say that desk does exactly what Chris wanted and something that no one else has done yet. I, like everyone...including chris dont notice some huge change when you put up the plug. Isnt that the point.

I dont put up an eq plugin to get more reverb or a compressor to get delay or spectrum analysis... nor do I put tracks through an API or Neve and say the mix is done... it is just beginning.

I use the boards for the unique way that particular board responds to my mixing process... my gain stages, eq, bussing compression and balances.

I can hear very clearly the unifying characteristics of the desk plugs as i do my mixes and it is wonderful.
Thank you Chris... I thank you . My mixes thank you.

I would like more discussion of the differences in the various plugs in that line though... such as...

what is the differences between the character plugs like neverland, apicolypse and such...and the desk. Technically do they perform the same function when used on every track??

Also, what is the inside scoop on the transdesk and tubedesk and desk. What are the differences? What desks were you looking at for the characters and can they be used (functionally) together in the same session or does that somehow inject problems??? just wanted to hear from the expert.

I did too mixes with this stuff today and was really excited.
Old 9th April 2010
  #18
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i was just a/b'ing a mix a did with it versus the same mix with all its instances muted. yeah it's a real subtle thing, so subtle one should have no fear of putting these on all your tracks and worrying about them being negatively affected.

i'm pretty sure, but not totally certain, i hear what's going on: the bypassed mix seems a tad more sterile, more daw-ey while the effected mix seems to have a more classic sound, a sorta subtle silky glue.

and i agree, it'd be nice to know more about the differences between the three versions of the desk plug in.
Old 10th April 2010
  #19
Airwindows
 
chrisj's Avatar
It's not huge differences- I think for many people (certainly me) the most simple form of Desk will be the best. Plain Desk is the cleanest and colors things the least.

TubeDesk includes modeling of an overall power supply, distorts easier, and is actually a bit more lively in the highs, but you don't really hear it as such because of the earlier onset of distortion. It's got 'power supply sag', in fact you could use it on guitar tracks while still using regular Desk, if you wanted the guitar tubier. Used across the whole mix, things are going to sound more Fifties and Sixties without radically altering the mix balance.

TransDesk uses a different kind of power supply modeling- on the theory that with the really big desks like SSL, some of the weird tizzy aura is from power supply management, which depends more on local power supply energy storage that's reinforcing treble energy and running out of steam when it has to get more power from the central supply. At any rate, it has different brightness and distortion onset, and hints at that funny aura of big desks, but a lot more subtly than say 'Logical'. Actually if I was trying to get that particular sound, I'd probably do TransDesk on individual channels and auxes, and Logical on the 2-buss to make it more obvious. Might be interesting to play with

They were added mostly because the Desk concept is so simple and featureless that I wanted to give people some options for different, more colored flavors. Having done so I get a lot of people saying original Desk turns out to work better- it does for me. But you can have the other versions included anyhow. I do suspect TubeDesk in particular will prove useful as an additional, very subtle effect on many things. Bass guitar, or drums, perhaps?
Old 11th April 2010
  #20
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Mr.HOLMES's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by CallMeAl View Post
Yeah. Desk is B.
I feel that I am able to get much closer to a less objectionable itb mix... they each in their own way seem to have a bit of mojo... bending the sound digitally in a way that actually works.

Damm I just wanted to stop posting at GS.

All I can say from my experience if you want some mojo take care for proper gain-staging ITB and mix into some nice transformers together with the Hammer EQ.

A real time safer your mix just sounds right faster with less plug ins less stress ... and you save time AB ing subtle things from plug ins. my2cents

No plug in will make a real console but some hardware on some buses helps a lot to get my ITB mixes just where I want to have them.heh
Old 11th April 2010
  #21
Gear Maniac
 
lovespirals's Avatar
 

mr holmes,
i don't pretend to be an authority on the desk plug in, and i see the point you're trying to make about recording with good vibey gear into your daw (i have a very mojo-ey signal chain with transformers in my main mics, avedis pre, and chandler compressor). however, desk isn't a substitute for that stuff. it aims to give the daw a more analog-mixer way of handling gain while mixing, rather than make up for any lack of mojo in the signal chain while tracking.

further, not all sounds go through one's signal chain. virtual instruments, samples, etc. are already in the box without having passed through your signal chain (sure you could buss out to them if you like).
Old 11th April 2010
  #22
Airwindows
 
chrisj's Avatar
Costs less than professional gear with really nice transformers, too. I have API pres with transformers, believe me I noticed a price difference

Desk is particularly good at dealing with sampler/virtual instruments (well, that and Single Ended Triode- that one's extraordinary with virtual instruments but does a separate set of things. Desk'll make a fake string sit in the mix, SET will make it sweet)

I DO think mojo is subtractive, not additive, so I'll disagree with Mr.HOLMES here. I don't find the additive colorations given by mojo outboard gear to be generally useful. What's more important is the way they sculpt and shape what's already there- with a lot of pro digital gear, the fidelity is SO high that a mix equates to a lot of sounds all sitting 1/2 inch from your eardrum at the same time. To make stuff sound realer, there's a great deal of lossiness involved, and it's not all just coats of sonic paint over the unaltered in-your-face sound.

Desk (especially the simplest, plain-Desk version) sticks to bending the sound in that 'realness mojo' way while not touching the tone AT ALL in any other way. That's kind of the point. In a sense it is the digital equivalent of exactly what Mr.HOLMES says with the outboard transformers... those saturate both in amplitude (core saturation) and slew (inductance?) just like Desk, only since they are real objects the saturation is more colored and dirty, where Desk is a theoretical ideal curve getting the most result with the least coloration in other ways

Woops, just said Desk sounds better than hardware. Well... maybe if you want best of both worlds. If you wanted specific hardware color, maybe not so much
Old 11th April 2010
  #23
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Mr.HOLMES's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisj View Post

Woops, just said Desk sounds better than hardware. Well... maybe if you want best of both worlds. If you wanted specific hardware color, maybe not so much
Thats exactly my problem with desk.
If you push a console harder regardless how many tracks you have running something happens. Saturation / Compression in other words time and frequency domain (pardon for my non technical vocabulary) ...

Desk is a great idea IMO and has the right approach but the name for it is for me misleading... with my transformer bus ITB things change the harder I push a fader... I can hear this in desk in NO or maybe LOW doses..... and HW saturation sound sin my ear much different than what software try s to emulate.

But thats just me.....my personal opinion .....
Old 11th April 2010
  #24
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Well, after having used it for a while now, I'll say something completely unscientific.

It does, in my opinion, help to blend sounds. It does so VERY subtly, and I really don't know how to describe it any better, but since I am dealing almost completely with virtual instruments, and have a vocal chain going straight to A/D with no pre, i need all the help I can get.


While it's not performing any miracles, there is a real difference I have noticed, and the best way I can describe it is this:

With desk, I tend to notice the individual instruments a bit less, and the overall mix a bit more... which is to say the instruments seem to blend a bit more overall... now it is subtle, and I have over 50 instances running on current mix...

I don't know whether it's specifically "more analog" or not, but I will say it is a bit "more blended."

IMHO
Old 11th April 2010
  #25
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Mr.HOLMES's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by CallMeAl View Post
Sorry the examples were so poor before... I was hoping others would post examples.

I've been mixing on headphones since room was torn up.

New treatment is done, and I can hear things much more clearly, so here are better mixed bits:
Just for fun the first few bars thorough my 1073 clone...
Attached Files

Neve 1073.wav (1.35 MB, 156 views)

Old 11th April 2010
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.HOLMES View Post
Just for fun the first few bars thorough my 1073 clone...
Yeah... only comp on there is the glue on drum buss, and maybe 2db gr witht he glue again on stereo buss...

Tried to keep it light for now... will work on maybe a bit more comp when I have the time to zero in on that part.

Desk does seem to me to be one possible part of the equation for smooth pleasant non-digital sounding mix... getting a bit more familiar with comps would certainly help as well...
Old 12th April 2010
  #27
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Mr.HOLMES's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by CallMeAl View Post
Yeah... only comp on there is the glue on drum buss, and maybe 2db gr witht he glue again on stereo buss...

Tried to keep it light for now... will work on maybe a bit more comp when I have the time to zero in on that part.

Desk does seem to me to be one possible part of the equation for smooth pleasant non-digital sounding mix... getting a bit more familiar with comps would certainly help as well...
Just again IMO it would help your mix a lot to send some buses into real gear and to sum the gear back in a summing mixer or small console.. but thats just me ... you can work with desk-plug-in for my music I don't hear what desk could do for me...

In you MP3s I hardly can hear any difference with or without desk.

Desk is for me a plug in where you have to believe that it does something to the sound...
Old 12th April 2010
  #28
I think we have a born again hardware man on our hands boys.

He has heard the light...














(BTW - I like hardware too - but plugins can also be good. Desk is not meant to replace hardware for those who already have an analog mix setup, but rather to give a tool to help mixes gel better for those ITB. Dont be such a snob Holmes - not everyone has $20000 to drop on hardware.)
Old 12th April 2010
  #29
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Mr.HOLMES's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardtoe View Post
I think we have a born again hardware man on our hands boys.

He has heard the light...

(BTW - I like hardware too - but plugins can also be good. Desk is not meant to replace hardware for those who already have an analog mix setup, but rather to give a tool to help mixes gel better for those ITB. Dont be such a snob Holmes - not everyone has $20000 to drop on hardware.)
If you think I am a snob it is up to you, I am fine with this.
If you like AW-Desk use it ....thats up to you as well.

If you think I can hear light..... as well this is up to you again.

I am not dictating you:

a.
What gear you like to use.

b.
What you have to think about me.
If I am snob in your eyes well ok I am a snob for you.

c.
Feel free to make wrong assumptions about me!
It does not need 20K in hardware to get a nice flavor to your mix.
Old 12th April 2010
  #30
Here for the gear
 

In my opinion Desk is snake oil.

It's described by the manufacturer as being able to do things that are just plain ridiculous. And there's this implication of "it's sooo advanced that you probably won't hear it if you don't know what to listen for & don't have golden ears." So essentially the concept of the plug-in is bathed in "advanced" rhetoric to the point that few people actually understand the terminology enough to question the results.

The manufacturer is telling people what they hear and some of his customers believe they're hearing things they actually aren't.

I wont deny that it does something, but even what the manufacturer says it's doing makes absolutely no sense when you think about it. "Colorless mojo," give me a break.
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