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Hardware fanatics recently converted to plug-ins.
Old 7th June 2012
  #1
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pqlia's Avatar
Hardware fanatics recently converted to plug-ins.

Any hardware fanatics who have recently dropped their defences and allowed the use of a few select plug-ins for reverb/compression/EQ?

A short list of your ‘acceptable’ plug-ins would be very beneficial to other strange hardware people (like me!)

Unfortunately, I’m still at the stage where I try a plug-in and end up removing it in preference for very old budget outboard?!?! – and strangely, my outboard is VERY, very humble: Almost laughably so!!

'Vintage' Joemeek compression – (signal remains very ‘large’ even though gain controlled )
Revox A700 – (sweetening, compression, glue like no other)
VC5 - (doesnt upset the integrity of my mix - even with heavy use)
'Vintage' Studiomaster EQ - (Impossible to replicate 'warmth')
Sony Reverb – (dark, smooth, atmospheric)
Axxeman – (good clean amp simulation)
Yamaha/Emu hardware AD/DAs for processing signals

A couple of plugs which have raised my eyebrows are:

Sonalksis sv-315 Comp – (a curiously smooth sound)
Vibe EQ – (humble, not precise but indeed very er …vibey)

Note: This is not another tiered hard/soft debate – Quiet obviously i WANT to use S/ware plugs to make life easier and to be able to make decisions within the DAW. I used to be a bit defensive/snobbish regarding hardware – now I believe you can use anything you like.... if it achieves the sound which your ears want to hear.
Old 7th June 2012
  #2
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narcoman's Avatar
 

my studio is full of outboard and a nice Neve console. However - because of the nature of modern work it's now all plugins apart from an EQ on the mix buss and mixing down to half inch.
Old 7th June 2012
  #3
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pqlia's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by narcoman View Post
my studio is full of outboard and a nice Neve console. However - because of the nature of modern work it's now all plugins apart from an EQ on the mix buss and mixing down to half inch.
Interesting as you have very high level h/ware – and still have made the switch.

In your case it’d be easier to list the hardware which is still in use!

Just out of interest, which reverb/comp/EQ plugs have managed to enticed you away from your hardware and to what extent do you use them for a ‘modern workflow’ as opposed to because they sound just as good to you.
Old 7th June 2012
  #4
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soundeq's Avatar
 

The UAD stuff all is top notch. Honestly.
I use all my sexy analog gear as a front end before it hits the converters.
Then have some high end 2ch stuff for group/buss processing if needed (usually isn't).

UAD stuff has good "character" Moog Filters, Dim D, roland space echo, the lexi 224 is top tier verb as well.
Old 7th June 2012
  #5
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beingmf's Avatar
 

The first plugin that made me even sell my originals was Nebula with the Siemens W295b library!
Old 7th June 2012
  #6
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pqlia's Avatar
Excellent – please keep them coming! – I will most likely investigate any 30day trials/demos of plugs recommended by once die hard h/ware enthusiasts. - Especially by enthusiasts with 'plush' gear!

Thanks.
Old 7th June 2012
  #7
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Well.. I've got something like 24 channels worth of outboard compressors plus outboard EQ's and FX.. also desk EQ and compression on every channel.
However, a good few plug ins get used while mixing:
Compression: things like Old Timer, Devil lok, TC brickwall limiter, Liquid Mix emulations.
EQ: TC linear phase, dynamic EQ, Liquid Mix, Generic DAW filters,
Delay: Generic DAW
Reverb: Convolution stuff

You know how it is.. whatever it takes.

I'd feel quite uncomfortable without the mixer and outboard. That kind of provides the basis that the plug ins can fit in with.
Old 7th June 2012
  #8
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I used to have much more outboard but sold over a dozen channels of compression and a half dozen EQs after gaining confidence in plugs. I still have some good buss compression and a couple of parametric EQs that are used with the Nicerizer, but that's about it. Well, to be clear, I have a half dozen channel strips so those could be used in mixing/mastering but I do not in practice.
Old 7th June 2012
  #9
I don't really use compressor, or eq, plugs except for quickie mastering situations where the client needs something to go out to someone and they want to pump it up a bit. For those although I have the Waves I tend to use the PSP plugs, they sound better to my ear although they use a lot of resources.
For me anything that is about sample playback, I think will be superior to hardware samplers, just because of the ability to stream huge samples off a hard disk, so things like Ivory, and Kontakt and Play get used here quite a bit. Also I've been fooling around with using some of the Bricasti impulses for Space Designer, using it like hardware and patching a send and returns to my console. But it also has made me want to buy a Bricasti, I have a feeling the hardware probably still sounds better
Old 7th June 2012
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by pqlia View Post
Any hardware fanatics who have recently dropped their defences and allowed the use of a few select plug-ins for reverb/compression/EQ?
Not here. There's still "Nothin' Like The Real Thing, Baby!"

I have EQ's that do DC to 200k hz, -105 db noise, .0005% THD. Now what plug will replace that?

I have compressors with the same bandwidth, .002% THD, what will replace those?

I have hardware reverbs from Lexicon and Bricasti, what plugs will replace/improve on those?

All my "plugs" here still have real plugs on them. I see no reason to lessen that.
Old 7th June 2012
  #11
Harmless Wacko
 

Convenience is a degrading madam to work for.

She's smiles enough. The customers like her...

But ya never seem to get paid enough for even a single day off.

And now she's got a stranglehold on the business. People are forgetting their ever was another way.

Which is just how she wants it to be.

Yer also probably better off not reminding the hookers that none of these Johns are ever gonna be their husbands.

The older ones weren't born in the brothel.

They actually know there's a difference.

Yer probably not gonna get a slew of particularly honest or very forthcoming answers from that lot for all the obvious reasons.

Hope springs infernal.

HOHOHO.

Me?

I'm a practical "glass is half full" type working girl who likes sex too much to give a damn about the minutia of who... well... make that HOW... I'm f*cking most of the time.

Cue the theme from "Rawhide".

SM.
Old 7th June 2012
  #12
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OK, *select* recommendations, without plug-in bashing, seeing as that's what you ask for:

EQ:
• Softube Trident EQ (also use Vintage Amp Room and Bass Amp Room a lot).
• PSP Noble Q, UA Pultec Pro, Waves Puigtec - all capable of perfectly decent results.
• UAD: Harrison EQ. Very nice software EQ. Though nowhere near as nice as the Great River modules, particularly on the hi/lo filters, it's still very very usable. And of course the Manley Massive Passive.
• DDMF LP10. Really useful, versatile variable-phase EQ. Sees a lot of use.

Compressors:
This is tricky, as I reckon it's where hardware still wins hands-down. Even the GA Comp 54 with stock transformers sounds better to my ears than the best (UAD 33609) Neve emulation in software. Particularly when driven hard.
But, that said, the various UA offerings are nice as software goes. Their latest 1176 emulations are great. The IK 1176 and LA2A ones are really good too. Of the SSL emulations, the Cytomic The Glue is the best to my ears - again not a patch on hardware like the TK Audio BC1 though. Some of the Liquid Mix emulations are nice for the sonic flavour, if not capable of the same sort of gain-reduction you'd actually get from hardware. Really didn't get on with Nebula. It's a real resource hog, and still user unfriendly - but if you get some of the better third party libraries for it, the results sound nice. Same issue as with the Liquid Mix though - you just can't get the sound *and* the actual gain reduction — though if you combine with something clean-sounding you can get decent results. And there's a freebie from Tokyo Dawn that's well worth trying out.

Gates:
Are you kidding? There's this thing called 'strip silence'...

Limiters:
A real mixed-bag here, in that different ones work better on some material than others. Consistently good performers are Slate FG-X (you have to find the sweet spot with this one, though - easy to go wrong); Sonnox Limiter (as opposed to Inflator); DDMF Limiter; and Ozone 5. UA Precision is OK, but not all that. The Waves stuff is pretty horrible unless you want 'that' sound - in which case L316 rocks. Struggling to find capable vari-mu emulations that are comparable with hardware - sorry. Best bet there is to use Liquid Mix or Nebula for character and combine that with more transparent gain reduction.

Reverbs:
UAD EMT Plate 140 is superb.
Lexicon Native PCM is exactly the same algorithms as the hardware.
Sonnox or TC for other nice algorithmic reverbs.
Plenty of capable springs around.
Add a nice convolution reverb and a decent library and you have all bases covered.
...except there's no soft equivalent of a Yardstick :(

Tape:
UA rules the roost here. Not feeling so much love for Waves. Not tried the Slate thing yet. On a budget, the ToneBoosters tape sim is great, but to me sounds better used in parallel - you just have to get into a different way of working with some of these tools.

Delays:
Generic DAW delays are fine for most duties.
Sound Toys Echo Boy
PSP Audioware's PSP42 and PSP84 are a great combination.
UA Space Echo, if you like that kind of thing.

Distortion:
Can't recommend the Mokafix stuff highly enough - but I think they stopped selling them due to piracy making it not worthwhile. Shame.
SPL TwinTube
Sound Toys Decapitator (you really need to learn how to use this to best effect, but the results are fantastic for a plug-in).
Good Amp Sims, like Softube Vintage Amp Room, Metal Amp Room, Peavey Revalver III, and the IK Multimedia X-gear stuff (Hendrix and Fender collections being the most useful). Some include dedicated pedal FX emulations, but the amps and cabs yield decent enough results. Again, often use in parallel.
...but give me a Looptrotter Monster over any of the above any day

Last edited by mixedup; 7th June 2012 at 08:54 PM.. Reason: Found time to make the response more useful!
Old 7th June 2012
  #13
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pqlia's Avatar
VERY helpful so far ... i could keep referring back to this thread on my journey into plug-in land.

Seems like i have a LOT of demo-ing to do!

I used Vibe EQ yesterday... woke up today and took it off!! that's my typical working methodology at present! - There's 'something' initially nice about it... but it never survives until the final mix... (for me)

Not bashing plugs, I just feel I’ve not heard the 'right' ones yet! Years ago I used a waves L1 limiter and it squeezed the life out of my kicks! - Maybe I overused it?!?

A thought just entered my head about the open-ended nature of plug-ins: because I can remove them at anytime - maybe, just maybe, that ability leads me to question the choice I’ve made... whereas when I print something with my very basic outboard... the sound is the sound, is the sound... the only way I can change it is to re-record the part.... I recorded a BV the other day via a hardware EQ and it sounded passable/ok – I did wonder how it would’ve sounded with a plug-in EQ .. but re-recording the part was not an option after many takes. To put it another way, If applying a plug-in was a permanent process (like printing to daw via h/ware) maybe I’d be more ready to accept their sound - Could be a bit of psychology in there somewhere?

Anyway, just thinking aloud... and perhaps too deeply! :¬)

Thanks for recommendations... please keep them coming - they're very helpful as I know you all have plush, high end outboard and plush ears... and yet still have been lured by the temptation of plugs - logic says then, that they cant be all bad...?!?!?.... maybe.
Old 7th June 2012
  #14
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narcoman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
Not here. There's still "Nothin' Like The Real Thing, Baby!"

I have EQ's that do DC to 200k hz, -105 db noise, .0005% THD. Now what plug will replace that?

I have compressors with the same bandwidth, .002% THD, what will replace those?

I have hardware reverbs from Lexicon and Bricasti, what plugs will replace/improve on those?

All my "plugs" here still have real plugs on them. I see no reason to lessen that.
Absolutely .

no plugin comes close. unfortunately the number of recalls required on modern mix in media land make it none choice. There is no way my company could earn what it earns based on outboard gear. too many changes and too many versions required AND multiple projects on the go at any one time.

If it was down to sonics alone, then the console and £100k of outboard every time.

So, the ones I find acceptable given the productivity against quality curve and also find. Every day use. there are others I use. For specific task, such as the elysia mpressor or various other plugin alliance things...

EQ
McDSP
Flux
Massenburg
UAD massive passive ( I've got two real ones, but these ain't bad)
Softtube trident

Compression
UAD Neve 33609
Waves CLA 1176
UBK
Massey

Reverb
altiverb
Lexicon PCM


Delay
Echo farm
Echoyboy


That's about it. I generall mix into a few stems and pu various EQs on those stems... MAssive Passive on string groups, Rooster on percussion and often synth groups into an STC compressor. For rock music? I no longer mix too much rock as th money is terrible and I just can't get the " right" sound on anything but my console. Makes it costly when other jobs ear better.

Shame!!
Old 7th June 2012
  #15
I use both ITB with Plug ins and OTB with hardware. With Both Plugs and Hardware. Hybrid baby!

Its all about the work. Somethings get mixed inside the computer with plugs, so things go out, with no plugs, sometimes both. I won't cut my hands off, to spite my feet. Use em if you got em!!

doc_out!!!
Old 7th June 2012
  #16
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narcoman's Avatar
 

Absolutely right. Economics has pushed me almost totally ITB though. a few nice PTB projects every now and then keep me sane.
Old 7th June 2012
  #17
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Karloff70's Avatar
 

I'll pipe in and say get the Klanghelm DC8C compressor. There is no demo, but there are files on his page to listen to and it is only 20 euros. DO NOT let this make you think it is junk!! This thing is likely to stay on after you wake up and still make you smile........and I am totally hardware minded.
Old 7th June 2012
  #18
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pqlia's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
I'll pipe in and say get the Klanghelm DC8C compressor. There is no demo, but there are files on his page to listen to and it is only 20 euros. DO NOT let this make you think it is junk!! This thing is likely to stay on after you wake up and still make you smile........and I am totally hardware minded.
It survives the 'morning after test' and it’s only 20 euros too ???

Struggling to calm myself down!

Will certainly check it out, many thanks oh hardware minded one.
Old 7th June 2012
  #19
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pqlia View Post
It survives the 'morning after test' and it’s only 20 euros too ???

Struggling to calm myself down!

Will certainly check it out, many thanks oh hardware minded one.
It will confuse you when you do the customary "let's hear how it rapes my signal" bypass toggle, as it doesn't. Seems it has a slight silky thing up top, but then it also feels like it doesn't actually touch your source. Kind of like a decent piece of hardware.....and it can PUNCH. Enjoy.

P.S. Just keep the saturation switched off......
Old 8th June 2012
  #20
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pqlia's Avatar
^^^ thanks.
Old 8th June 2012
  #21
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pqlia's Avatar
Thank you ‘Narcoman’ and ‘Mixedup’ – very helpful lists!

This thread is starting to read like ‘The hardware fanatics guide to permissible plug-ins’ ……… A book opportunity, surely!
Old 8th June 2012
  #22
Gear Addict
 
Fenris's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pqlia View Post
Any hardware fanatics who have recently dropped their defences and allowed the use of a few select plug-ins for reverb/compression/EQ?

A short list of your ‘acceptable’ plug-ins would be very beneficial to other strange hardware people (like me!)

Unfortunately, I’m still at the stage where I try a plug-in and end up removing it in preference for very old budget outboard?!?! – and strangely, my outboard is VERY, very humble: Almost laughably so!!

'Vintage' Joemeek compression – (signal remains very ‘large’ even though gain controlled )
Revox A700 – (sweetening, compression, glue like no other)
VC5 - (doesnt upset the integrity of my mix - even with heavy use)
'Vintage' Studiomaster EQ - (Impossible to replicate 'warmth')
Sony Reverb – (dark, smooth, atmospheric)
Axxeman – (good clean amp simulation)
Yamaha/Emu hardware AD/DAs for processing signals

A couple of plugs which have raised my eyebrows are:

Sonalksis sv-315 Comp – (a curiously smooth sound)
Vibe EQ – (humble, not precise but indeed very er …vibey)

Note: This is not another tiered hard/soft debate – Quiet obviously i WANT to use S/ware plugs to make life easier and to be able to make decisions within the DAW. I used to be a bit defensive/snobbish regarding hardware – now I believe you can use anything you like.... if it achieves the sound which your ears want to hear.
FYI...the A700 is the WORST machine Revox ever made, both mechanically and sonically. The PR99 is the best. Some prefer the B77, which is basically a PR99 without the balancing transformers.

+1 on the Studiomaster EQ! I sold the UAD cards after I realized the humble Studiomaster EQ was more natural-sounding.

Plug-ins...these days I use exactly ONE plug-in, Waves C4. Bought it 12 years ago. Useful for problem instruments, decent as a mastering EQ, and the minimum-phase crossover actually sounds better than the newer linear-phase plugs.
Old 8th June 2012
  #23
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pqlia's Avatar
Just when i thought this thread had ended !!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fenris View Post
FYI...the A700 is the WORST machine Revox ever made, both mechanically and sonically. The PR99 is the best. Some prefer the B77, which is basically a PR99 without the balancing transformers.
Well that doesn’t make me feel very good (Where is the crying face icon?)

I've never come across another piece of studio equipment which people are so divided about as the A700. A couple of days ago I was told by an enthusiast on this forum that it was the best Domestic Revox both sonically and mechanically. I've been sending emails to Revox repair engineers for months now asking them what the sonic different between the A700 and the A77 is... not one single reply!... I just concluded that it’s so old (1974) that no one remember much about it. No one has ever reliably told me how it compares to the A77 which many small studios rave about. All I know is that I’ve only ever used a Fostex R8... so comparatively it's fantastic (to me)
Also many synths sounds seem to benefit from its signal path without the tape even running!!! . . . Another Revox enthusiast told me that he's worked on many A700's in his time and they are capable of amazing results... I'll try and find the links to these posts so you can see for yourself. I'm not being defensive... but would just be interested what the truth of the matter is.

Quote:
+1 on the Studiomaster EQ! I sold the UAD cards after I realized the humble Studiomaster EQ was more natural-sounding.
Not many people know... but it's one serious EQ!! - the mix buss however is a bit 'cloudy' - I've heard there's a mod to make the mix buss more transparent... but i dont have the technical knowhow to perform it.
Old 8th June 2012
  #24
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pqlia's Avatar
Calibrate Reel2Reel or leave well alone?

Fenris - Please see posts #18 and #22

I’m not wishing to derail my own thread of course… :¬)
Old 5th July 2012
  #25
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Fenris's Avatar
 

From what I've read, the A700 was very ahead of its time technically. Problem was, it was overly complex and didn't work very well. What I remember from my A700 is that it had really bad IM distortion on high frequencies, sort of a thump or rumble, and it had a lot of transport problems. I couldn't get much tape compression out of it, but it sounded kind of cool and vinyly at 7.5 ips. The PR99 has an AMAZING saturation, unlike any other tape machine I have. I first noticed it when using it as a tape echo, the echo actually sounded better than the original vocal.
Old 5th July 2012
  #26
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pqlia's Avatar
[QUOTE]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fenris View Post
From what I've read, the A700 was very ahead of its time technically. Problem was, it was overly complex and didn't work very well.
I hope I don’t come across as defensive!! - Appreciative of your reply.
I use mine sometimes all day everyday - works perfectly... a machine from 1974! - check Audiokarma Forum, many Revox hi-fi fanatics still have them in use. I've often heard it said that the A700 had the best transport of all the 'A' and 'B' models.

Quote:
What I remember from my A700 is that it had really bad IM distortion on high frequencies, sort of a thump or rumble,
How does 'thump' or 'rumble' describe HIGH frequencies?
Quote:
I couldn't get much tape compression out of it,
I did read once that it's reproduction is truer than many other Revoxes and therefore has less colour and saturation. I've been looking all over Google to find where i originally read that without much success.
Old 5th July 2012
  #27
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great thread
Old 5th July 2012
  #28
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Fenris's Avatar
 

Yes, that was the goal of the design, to be as linear as possible. That was part of Studer's philosophy, unfortunately it sometimes resulted in machines that had great specs on paper but didn't sound very good. The A700 transport was very advanced for the time, but due to its complexity it was less reliable. The same model can vary from one year to the next, and I may have gotten a lemon.

The "thump/rumble" refers to low-frequency intermodulation distortion that occurs on sources with a lot of HF transient energy, like percussion or vocal sibilance.

The A700 had a remote varispeed unit that's very rare, but the manual gives the specifications for the varispeed signal, so you should be able to build one. It might involve pulse width modulation.
Old 5th July 2012
  #29
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pqlia's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fenris View Post
Yes, that was the goal of the design, to be as linear as possible. That was part of Studer's philosophy, unfortunately it sometimes resulted in machines that had great specs on paper but didn't sound very good. The A700 transport was very advanced for the time, but due to its complexity it was less reliable. The same model can vary from one year to the next, and I may have gotten a lemon.

The "thump/rumble" refers to low-frequency intermodulation distortion that occurs on sources with a lot of HF transient energy, like percussion or vocal sibilance.

The A700 had a remote varispeed unit that's very rare, but the manual gives the specifications for the varispeed signal, so you should be able to build one. It might involve pulse width modulation.
Well it sounds like you know what you’re taking about so I guess I’d better listen!

I tweaked back the bias on mine a little – without any real knowledge of what I was doing – just did it very carefully by ear and it honestly sounds wonderful, and I use it for compression/glue all the time but it never really crushes/clamps a sound – it somehow always remains quite ‘open’ sounding.

Thanks for your feedback anyway, I think we succeeded in derailing this thread with talk of A700

I understand the LF intermodulation as related to the HF from your explanation now.

Peace.
Old 5th July 2012
  #30
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FireMoon's Avatar
Lately I've found the most common chain for me is this...

Sonimus Satson Channel (for high and low shelving) Waves NLS channel EQ will be the Fabfilter Q, a URS Neve or one of the free Nasty series of eqs or the Nasty Channel strip.

Track comps.... UAD 1176, LA2A or a little freebie called the "Clean comp"

Buss comp... Mostly UAD 1176 for drums

Master Buss..... Fabfilter Q maybe in cahoots with the UAD Pultec , Fabfilter L ,the most transparent Limiter I have heard so far.

The Fabfilter L can also do a really good job on individual tracks

Reverb.The Valhalla series can do a hell of a lot right, one sleeper that a very experienced mate of mine swears by and he really does know his "plates" , is the emulation that comes in the "Speakerphone" package. He reckons if you turn off all the extra gubbins and strip it back to its raw 140 emulation that, that is as good an emulation as he has heard.

Delays... and sound mangling.... The Soundtoys stuff sits way on top of the pile here although the Bionic series are great little delays for just, well doing echo...

Brainworx Shedspread, is a really useful guitar tool..

The one thing, which is sort of weird when you come to think of it, I've never really found a truly great plugin for are... Chorus/Flanging/Phasing. all sound just a bit to clean to my ears and well, "meh".
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