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What's missing in my mixing rig? Mix Philosophy. Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 21st December 2010
  #1
Gear Head
 

What's missing in my mixing rig? Mix Philosophy.

Hello everyone. This is my first thread.
So I mix a lot of indie rock, and a lot of hip hop. Can someone tell me what flavor of gear I'm missing in my rig so that I know what to buy next? If anyone knows how to spend other people's money, it's you guys.

Currently, I mix out of Pro Tools. I run a 16ch. Tonelux summing rig and I tend to run about 75% in the box, and I group similar inst. sections into stereo outs that get additional analog processing. I run a good bit of plug-ins on the individual tracks first. (UAD, McDSP, Waves (heavy on the API), Massenburg MDW, Lo-Fi, etc)

Ch. 1-2 Drum grp -> Overstayer comp.
Ch. 3-4 Kik+snr copies-> Drawmer ds501 punchgate (for the snap)
Ch. 5 Bass -> (UAD Fairchild-LoFi) -Peavey Kosmos Pro.
Ch. 6 Vox -> Retro 176- Tonelux EQ- Dbx902- Dolby 740
Ch. 7-8 Gtr/Keys -> DBX 160x's
Ch. 9-10 Perc (API plugs)
Ch. 11-12 BG vox, fx etc
Ch. 13-14 Eventide H3000 return (usually set to detune on vox)
Ch. 15-16 Various

The mix runs through a Drawmer 1698 for a little 2bus comp, and then into a Burl B2 for conversion back into PT.

So what do you think? Am I picking the right gear for the right instruments? I could get a Mofet76 for Bass, or an API2500 for drums and move the Overstayer to guitars, and the DBX160x's to kik+snare duty. I could beef up my analog EQ world, but honestly, I think digital EQ's have gotten pretty close (where as digital compression is still miles away (feel free to discuss)). I could get some more analog FX (PCM 70, RMX, etc). I could just shut up and build up my skills with what I have, but that's not in the gearslutz spirit now is it?

I also want this thread to sort of be an open discussion to mix philosophy, is it important to balance a mix with FET, VCA, Vari-Mu styles of compression? and op-amp, tranny, tube EQ's? or is just a whatever works type of thing? Am I over thinking with regards to types of gear? I realize I'm basically giving away how I mix, but as an assistant, I filled out many grammy winning mixers recall sheets, and stealing their tricks never got me very far without first understanding the reason behind their madness.

So how do you guys make the decision on what to buy next in your rigs? Do you look for balance? or do you just hunt for what's popular/trendy? Do you think about what's missing in your mixes and naturally blame the gear?

I do indie-rock to satisfy the soul, and major label hip-hop to satisfy the wallet.

Anyway, so what should I buy next and why???

Thank you slutz,
-theCota
Old 21st December 2010
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Ahh man you're doing it all wrong.

WTF Is a Peavey Kosmos? Just stop engineering now before you ruin anymore peoples dreams and aspirations.

Old 21st December 2010
  #3
Lives for gear
 

Sorry I don't have any input yet cause there are so many options. However I would like to hear your mixes. Website?
Old 21st December 2010
  #4
Gear Head
 

The Peavey is a sub-harmonic generator thing, like the DBX 120, but with more options. Gives me an octave below for the rumble, and an octave above so that I can hear the low end on small NS-10 / boombox speakers.

I'm just looking to start a little convo going with my rig involved in the process.


proceed..
Old 21st December 2010
  #5
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by theCota View Post
The Peavey is a sub-harmonic generator thing, like the DBX 120, but with more options. Gives me an octave below for the rumble, and an octave above so that I can hear the low end on small NS-10 / boombox speakers.

I'm just looking to start a little convo going with my rig involved in the process.

proceed..
You must know I was just joking around! Yah? heh

If I'm serious I would ask why group Gtrs and Keyboards together particularly if you work on indie rock. and why no punchy Comps/Limiters (don't know what an Overstayer is, sorry) like Distressors or 1176s on the rhythm parts.

DBX 160 would be wasted on a keys/gtr sub....in my head anyway.
Old 21st December 2010
  #6
Gear Head
 

I knew you were messin around... all good.

Sometimes I group gtrs and keys together with a touch of light compression so they'll sit a bit seperate from the rhythm and bass. I agree that the Dbx probably isn't best there. maybe I should put the dbx's on drumbus duty instead of the overstayer. I would say my weakness is that my mixes feel overprocessed, and I can't tell if it's cause I've got the wrong types of gear in the wrong places, or cause I'm over doing it with plugins. I was all in the box up until a year ago... things have improved since stemming out.

I was thinking about an 1176 for bass. but I'd probably get this Mofet76, which is a boutique build of an 1176.

good suggestions so far.
so what's your thought process when selecting the next piece of gear for your rig?
Old 21st December 2010
  #7
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by theCota View Post
I knew you were messin around... all good.

Sometimes I group gtrs and keys together with a touch of light compression so they'll sit a bit seperate from the rhythm and bass. I agree that the Dbx probably isn't best there. maybe I should put the dbx's on drumbus duty instead of the overstayer. I would say my weakness is that my mixes feel overprocessed, and I can't tell if it's cause I've got the wrong types of gear in the wrong places, or cause I'm over doing it with plugins. I was all in the box up until a year ago... things have improved since stemming out.

I was thinking about an 1176 for bass. but I'd probably get this Mofet76, which is a boutique build of an 1176.

good suggestions so far.
so what's your thought process when selecting the next piece of gear for your rig?
I'm lucky in that I get to see far more talented ppl's settings and I do occasionally get to play with the gear.

From my limited experience 160 on Bass. It is so good at flattening all those weird notes that poke out or just dont sit.

API stuff on drums works pretty well. 1176 is one of those all round bits of kit. There isn't much that doesn't sound better through one.

If I was given 1 mic and 1 compressor on some weird desert island it could well be a 57 and an 1176.
Old 21st December 2010
  #8
Lives for gear
 
BradM's Avatar
Depending on your comfort level with electro-mechanical gadgets....how about a decent 2-track tape deck for mixdowns? The indie hipsters would certainly love you.

I kind of agree that the dbx 160X does make a really great bass compressor because of the reason that Mark mentioned. It has saved my ass numerous times. It's really good at locking the bottom end of a Fender Rhodes in place too.

Brad
Old 21st December 2010
  #9
Gear Head
 

I'm comfortable around tape, but I have a hard enough time trying to pick a compressor, let alone what deck, cal, tape, etc. I'm pretty happy with the glue factor I get in my mixes, the Burl has a nice little low-mid bump that can almost be described as tape-like (not quite, but close). And the Drawmer 1968 gives me the glue aspect. Tape, of course, would be nice ... but it's just not efficient for my needs now (one day for sure).

You guys use the 160x as more of a limiter on bass? high ratio? I've been using the UAD, switching between their LA2A, Fairchild, and DBXVU, depending on the track. I also love the digi Lo-Fi. By playing with the distortion/saturation knobs, I can actually really even out the level of the bass. Works better in the hip-hop setting, but seems like the indie kids want that thump sometimes too.

An 1176 is definitely at the top of my list, and I've been toying around with the idea of an API2500, but I dunno. I've never heard the hardware, and I'm not overly impressed with the plugin. I'm all about the API EQ's though. I EQ in the box, and compress as much out of the box as possible. Would you agree that compression just isn't there when working digital?

Gearslutz has a way of making me want way more than I can afford. I've been trying to pick gear that can be versitile enough to handle a wide range of styles without breaking the bank. As you can see, most of my $$ went into the vocal chain. That Retro 176 is one of a kind, and the Dolby 740 is my secret weapon. I'm getting lost on what should go on bass and gtrs/keys. 1176 seems to be in the lead.

do you guys do a lot of stereo grouping/parallel stuff? or am I the only one? It's a habit from my 'in the box' days, cause I hated the way full on compression sounded digitally... splitting it up seemed to help.
Old 23rd September 2011
  #10
Gear Head
 

it's been a while ....

bump?
Old 23rd September 2011
  #11
Looks like you've got a great setup. The only thing I didn't see in your list was a nice 2-Bus compressor (A Designs Nail? - not a fan of the Drawmer) and an SPL DeEsser (best DeEsser I've ever used).

Other than that your bases are pretty much covered. Anything else would be different flavors and cool toys, which never hurt.
Old 23rd September 2011
  #12
The skies the limit here. I'm not in agreement that plug in EQs are as good as high end EQs, but that's my ears not yours. If I had your setup I'd get a couple of rich colored sounding pieces and put them on the 2 bus - I'd do a Chandler Zener and Chandler Curve Bender if the budget was there. You could use those for tracking too, even if you aren't using the EQ or compression during the tracking, and it will give it a lot of glue in any application. The cumulative effect for tracking, mixing and 2 bus will be huge. Run your various individual tracks (overheads, voxs, bass, synths, guitars) and effects through them and reprint to additional tracks in the DAW. Also you didn't mention the specific converters you use, they are very important for overall clarity and imaging.
Old 23rd September 2011
  #13
Lives for gear
 
AcoosticZoo's Avatar
Very nice setup. Have you A/B'd VCC with your external chain to see how much better it is in a double blind test?



Regards
Josef Horhay
Mixing Engineer
www.acoosticzoo.com
Old 24th September 2011
  #14
Gear Head
 

I've definitely heard great things about the A Designs stuff, tho I haven't had any hands on time w them. I currently use a Apogee DA-16x as my PT output converter into my Tonelux rig, and the Burl B2 to print back in. I have dbx 902's for dessing, which I love, but I also use the waves R-desser a lot. it depends on the song. Great outboard EQ's definitely smoke plugin eq's, but how you use them plays an important role. for example, when I use my tonelux eq's I never look at the numbers (way too small of a font anyway), I just sweep till I find what I'm looking for. with a plugin eq, I'm grabbing a number first and then my ears will make the adjustments. It's a different type of thinking going on.

I dunno. I had a chance to mix a record on an ssl 9000j the other day, and the experience was so different. The mentality and workflow of console mixing produces a different mix in and of itself... even if the actual eqs and comps were the same, the mental state is not, and that makes for a different mix. I have decent experience in both worlds, so I'm equally comfortable hopping around and there are pros and cons to both I guess, but it's made me realize that the specific gear is not as important as the process (not trying to compare mbox mixing to ssl, but you know what I mean) . Blasphemy, I know... especially here at gearslutz.

what do you guys think?
Old 24th September 2011
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by theCota View Post
I currently use a Apogee DA-16x as my PT output converter into my Tonelux rig, and the Burl B2 to print back in. what do you guys think?
Ok those are great pieces.

If you are doing any kind of rock (especially indie rock) coloration is very important and seeing what you have I can't imagine it being anything but mostly clean. I like to use a combination of cleaner more 'hi-fi' pieces along with more 'vintage' oriented pieces, both types make the most powerful complement.

My suggestion, based on my own experience - Add no less than 4 transformers to each track minimum in addition to what you have now and you'll be on your way.

If I count the number of transformers from start to finish in the average signal path of a of a single track in a production I do, it would have 12-14 transformers.

Recording:

Mic (sometimes) - 1
preamp - 1 or 2
compressor - 2
EQ (sometimes used in tracking) 1 or 2
2" 16 track - 2 (per channel), plus the sound of the tape itself


Mix:

comp - 2
EQ - 1 or 2

2 bus:

comp -1 or 2
EQ - 1 or 2

Mix to 1/4" tape machine - 2

I've been doing this 17 years so it took a long while to refine and find out why, beyond just skills, of what provided 'that sound' (transformers and also tape, and IMO OTB which you are doing). Until I had tape and the right gear for the job (traditionally I've doing mostly punk, hardcore, metal and indie rock, but I've done my share of acoustic forms of music over the years) it never came together in just the right way. If you were doing acoustic types of music (folk, bluegrass, etc) or jazz with a lot of acoustic music a mostly transformerless setup could be appropriate IME.
Old 24th September 2011
  #16
Gear Head
 

I dunno, an ssl doesn't have many transformers in it, but mixing on it really gets a 'sound' going. People say track on a Neve, mix on an ssl. I've spent a lot of time with a neve 8078, and I know there are transformers all over that thing (in and out on every module.. Preamp, eq, auxes, routing, mix buss etc), so maybe there's something to be said about transformers effect on the 'analog' sound. That neve definitely sounds amazing. Plus, not all trannys sound the same, or saturate at the same point or in the same way.

My new theory is that digital recording has micro phase shifting due to delay compensation and latency, as well as internal digital routing, processig, and summing. This tiny but cumulative drag on the audio just ruins something in a record. It's not a cold or harsh 'digital' sound thing that people complain about (I think that just means bright since tape and analog equipment can smooth down that top end, digital mixes retain all that 15k that tape polishes), but have you ever done a mix in the box at 44.1, and after adding 30-40 plugins on it, and doing 1000x edits and nudging hits and replacing notes etc ... something about it just feels different in a negative way? I just feel the longer I work on audio in the digital world (editing, tweaking, arranging, etc), the worse the sound gets. detail suffers, sound stage, depth... all that stuff that high sample rates and good converters / clocks tend to minimize.
I pay attention to my analog stages during tracking to ensure the most vibe/groove/saturation, whatever ... and I always convert as few times as possible and clock w the best I can get, but I really think the digital storage medium just blurs phase in a way that takes away the precision of analog. like how a new computer runs great, but over time, starts to lag because caches and memory locations build up and hard drives need defragging and little 1's & 0's just get stuck and next thing you know PT is crashing 4/10 time you boot, and iTunes takes 10 minutes to load your music. I think the same thing happens to audio files within session files at such a small rate that it is hardly noticeable ... unless it's your job to notice, which ours is.

thoughts? anyone agree? Maybe that's why Radar sounds the way it does... cause the digital storage is designed to only handle audio and the garbage build up is minimized.

oh well, I'm just rambling on at this point. but please ... discuss...
Old 9th January 2012
  #17
Gear Head
 
zumbi's Avatar
 

very interesting thoughts, theCota

i also got the feeling that the more digital processing the more life suck out of music...
i mean with deal with digital for convenience, certainly not for sound, no?

i my small scale set up i actually choose to let go the computer and record into an adat 24hd (can't afford radar, let alone 2") and mix on a ghost with few outboards (compressors)
hi on my list is a 1176 to insert on bass, insh'Allah

blessings!
Old 9th January 2012
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by theCota View Post
I dunno, an ssl doesn't have many transformers in it, but mixing on it really gets a 'sound' going. People say track on a Neve, mix on an ssl. I've spent a lot of time with a neve 8078, and I know there are transformers all over that thing (in and out on every module.. Preamp, eq, auxes, routing, mix buss etc), so maybe there's something to be said about transformers effect on the 'analog' sound. That neve definitely sounds amazing. Plus, not all trannys sound the same, or saturate at the same point or in the same way.

My new theory is that digital recording has micro phase shifting due to delay compensation and latency, as well as internal digital routing, processig, and summing. This tiny but cumulative drag on the audio just ruins something in a record. It's not a cold or harsh 'digital' sound thing that people complain about (I think that just means bright since tape and analog equipment can smooth down that top end, digital mixes retain all that 15k that tape polishes), but have you ever done a mix in the box at 44.1, and after adding 30-40 plugins on it, and doing 1000x edits and nudging hits and replacing notes etc ... something about it just feels different in a negative way? I just feel the longer I work on audio in the digital world (editing, tweaking, arranging, etc), the worse the sound gets. detail suffers, sound stage, depth... all that stuff that high sample rates and good converters / clocks tend to minimize.
I pay attention to my analog stages during tracking to ensure the most vibe/groove/saturation, whatever ... and I always convert as few times as possible and clock w the best I can get, but I really think the digital storage medium just blurs phase in a way that takes away the precision of analog. like how a new computer runs great, but over time, starts to lag because caches and memory locations build up and hard drives need defragging and little 1's & 0's just get stuck and next thing you know PT is crashing 4/10 time you boot, and iTunes takes 10 minutes to load your music. I think the same thing happens to audio files within session files at such a small rate that it is hardly noticeable ... unless it's your job to notice, which ours is.

thoughts? anyone agree? Maybe that's why Radar sounds the way it does... cause the digital storage is designed to only handle audio and the garbage build up is minimized.

oh well, I'm just rambling on at this point. but please ... discuss...
sometimes I'll do some tracking and have everything ready for editing and loving the vide. Do some mandatory editing like cutting silences or nudge audio in time. I get round to mixing and it's lost it's vibe. I don't know how to explain it but it is what it is. I have a pretty basic setup and I've never worked with completely analogue setup, I would love just to see if it's all in my head. But I've had the feeling sometimes that i preferred the vibe and energy before i started editing this is before I start mixing. Maybe we're not supposed to hear the changes digital can make but it effects the music enough that it changes how we feel or interpret it subconsciously.
Old 10th January 2012
  #19
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sim View Post
Maybe we're not supposed to hear the changes digital can make but it effects the music enough that it changes how we feel or interpret it subconsciously.
Agree with you guys.

But the "scientists" on this site are lined up with quantitative silliness to prove your intuition wrong. Maybe they got charts...
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