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Converters first?
Old 28th November 2013
  #1
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Converters first?

Ok the plan is to upgrade my interface and converters. I plan to buy a lynx Hilo as my audio interface by years ends or first of next year. I don't have my monitors yet but am getting the event opals. I want to know if I would be ok with the Hilo and some focal spirit pros for mixing until I get my opals around tax time? My room treatment is already being built and I will be going to a pro studio next month to audition some mics and pres that will fit my voice. I have a outboard TC helicon voice live rack and maybe next year will add a nice 1176 compressor for my vocals. I changed my setup from analog to total digital so I work 100% with vst's and plugins besides the vocal processor. Just want to know what you fellow slutz think. Happy thanksgiving!
Old 29th November 2013
  #2
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I prefer the Equator Audio stuff to the Events, and I prefer the Unity The Rock MKII's to just about anything in the world of nearfields.

I haven't heard the Lynx HILO but I'm sure it's good. (The Aurora is a good benchmark for their commitment to quality and I've always thought they were fairly priced.) My favorite converters in terms of sound so far have been the recent offering from Burl...but that's much more expensive, so don't stress about that. Demo converters and go with what you like that you can afford. Get what really will fit all of your needs after doing your homework. You might want to look into the JCF Latte, Crane Song HEDD192, and Burl B2 Bomber AD and DA units too for a similar 2 Channel ADA setup.

I greatly prefer the Slate Dragon to any version of the 1176 I've tried...but if I was going for that vintage 1176 thing I'd want a Mohog Mofet76 or a Purple MC77. All of them are great, but I like the additional controls the Dragon gives.
Old 29th November 2013
  #3
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Upgrading one's converters is the first order of business! Far smarter to spend $2,500 on a good converter and record with an SM57 than it is to record with a U87 on a cheap converter.

I own a Lynx Hilo and I will say that it sounds fantastic. Zero complaints. By far the easiest converter to use that I know of. However, I have not tried the B2 Bomber or the Latte or a few other "greats." What kind of instruments are you recording? If you're doing synth records, like me, it's perfectly fine to get a vanilla converter like the Hilo. It is completely uncolored. What you put in is what you get out.

My signal chain is as follows for my home studio:

Great River MP-2NV > Great River EQ-1NV > UA 1176 (reissue) > Lynx Hilo > Pro Tools 10 at 32/96

Sounds GREAT!
Old 29th November 2013 | Show parent
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
Upgrading one's converters is the first order of business! Far smarter to spend $2,500 on a good converter and record with an SM57 than it is to record with a U87 on a cheap converter.

I own a Lynx Hilo and I will say that it sounds fantastic. Zero complaints. By far the easiest converter to use that I know of. However, I have not tried the B2 Bomber or the Latte or a few other "greats." What kind of instruments are you recording? If you're doing synth records, like me, it's perfectly fine to get a vanilla converter like the Hilo. It is completely uncolored. What you put in is what you get out.

My signal chain is as follows for my home studio:

Great River MP-2NV > Great River EQ-1NV > UA 1176 (reissue) > Lynx Hilo > Pro Tools 10 at 32/96

Sounds GREAT!
Those Darn Great River products. Always working...on everything.
Old 29th November 2013 | Show parent
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by herecomesyourman View Post
Those Darn Great River products. Always working...on everything.
Precisely. If you're trying to make good recordings, save yourself the many headaches I've gone through testing gear and start with some Great River products. They just don't...not...work. Ease of use is the single most important quality of the studio gear I buy. I don't want to waste time. I don't want headaches. I want warm, good sounding recordings that anyone can appreciate.
Old 29th November 2013
  #6
nms
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Quote:
Originally Posted by herecomesyourman View Post
I greatly prefer the Slate Dragon to any version of the 1176 I've tried...but if I was going for that vintage 1176 thing I'd want a Mohog Mofet76 or a Purple MC77.
Hated my Dragon! Too noisy and just didn't like the sound of it on most settings. Big contrast to the UA-1176LN which I liked. Agree on the Mohog though that's what I'd go for.

Hilo is the best converter buy around if you're after transparent high end conversion and a killer headphone amp. Great combo with the Spirit Pro headphones.

I'm not personally a big fan of the Opals, but as long as you've demo'd them against others that's cool. A lot of people like them.
Old 29th November 2013 | Show parent
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nms View Post
Hated my Dragon! Too noisy and just didn't like the sound of it on most settings. Big contrast to the UA-1176LN which I liked. Agree on the Mohog though that's what I'd go for.

Hilo is the best converter buy around if you're after transparent high end conversion and a killer headphone amp. Great combo with the Spirit Pro headphones.

I'm not personally a big fan of the Opals, but as long as you've demo'd them against others that's cool. A lot of people like them.
???

I don't have a noise problem with the Dragon. I get my transients back with the WET/DRY knob (Built in parallel compression) which is something a traditional 1176 style compressor can't do. This results in a much more dynamic and "alive" kind of vibe to me. I will admit that I normally don't use the heaviest saturate control setting. But everything sounds huge running through one. (Similar to my Chandler Germaniums, but much closer to an 1176 in sound.)

I also dig the little Lindell 7X-500 for the same reason. (Though it's not as powerful as a Dragon or a Germ.) Parallel compression is something I'm a big fan of. The Mohog however is a bit closer to a vintage URIE in tone than the friggin' UA units to me, cheaper, and has two output transformers for two different tones. (I think it has a fantastic value.) And the MC77 has a larger top end than the UA or the Mohog, which works great if that's what you want.
Old 29th November 2013
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
Upgrading one's converters is the first order of business! Far smarter to spend $2,500 on a good converter and record with an SM57 than it is to record with a U87 on a cheap converter.

I own a Lynx Hilo and I will say that it sounds fantastic. Zero complaints. By far the easiest converter to use that I know of. However, I have not tried the B2 Bomber or the Latte or a few other "greats." What kind of instruments are you recording? If you're doing synth records, like me, it's perfectly fine to get a vanilla converter like the Hilo. It is completely uncolored. What you put in is what you get out.

My signal chain is as follows for my home studio:

Great River MP-2NV > Great River EQ-1NV > UA 1176 (reissue) > Lynx Hilo > Pro Tools 10 at 32/96

Sounds GREAT!
That's what I'm looking for. What I put in is what I get out. I'll be doing a lot of r&b, soul, pop, rock, hip hop. Plus scoring for TV and film. I'm using all vst's via kontakt, X3 producer, maschine mk2, komplete 9, omnisphere.
Old 29th November 2013
  #9
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That bomber must be something special cause I keep hearing a lot about it. However, it is out of my price range right now. I'm looking to score on a nice clean used Hilo. Well I haven't had the chance to demo the opals but most everyone I heard talk about them say the same things that I am looking for. However, I plan to purchase a pair and demo them to see if I really like them. As for the 1176 I have heard many talk about the one you guys are discussing. I just love that smooth sound it has. I really like what I have heard about the great river as well. I've got the great river, grace 101, and Dav Bg-1 on my list as one of the pres I'll go with.
Old 29th November 2013
  #10
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🎧 5 years
Im thinking about getting a hilo now, and a bigger system later on for hybrid mixing.

As far as burl goes, you could get a mothership for not much more than the ad / da combo.
Old 29th November 2013 | Show parent
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melodicmusic View Post
That bomber must be something special cause I keep hearing a lot about it. However, it is out of my price range right now. I'm looking to score on a nice clean used Hilo. Well I haven't had the chance to demo the opals but most everyone I heard talk about them say the same things that I am looking for. However, I plan to purchase a pair and demo them to see if I really like them. As for the 1176 I have heard many talk about the one you guys are discussing. I just love that smooth sound it has. I really like what I have heard about the great river as well. I've got the great river, grace 101, and Dav Bg-1 on my list as one of the pres I'll go with.
Get a pair of Mohog Mofet76's if you want the "smoothest" version of the 1176. In that vintage context (I prefer the more modern Slate, but that's a personal preference. Knowing what you want, this is the best option, and much cheaper than UA.)

Get a Great River MP-2NV and skip the other preamps. You won't need them for vocals. (*They will more than likely collect a lot of dust for that application after you get used to them all.)

Then get a Great River EQ-2NV or a MAQ-2NV (*Mastering version)

This way you'll have a two channel identical chain for acoustic guitars, piano, synths, or two vocalists singing live off of each other, voice over work, etc. And a stereo EQ you can use as an analog insert in your mixes on the 2Bus. You will NOT regret having that option as it will make your mixes come alive. Plus those EQ designs can allow you to patch the output transformers of the MP-2NV preamp into the EQ to add more color if you need it (Which for somethings, is really cool, and seriously hard to describe...but try it on a stereo synth track and try not to cry with happiness.) If you're mixing a lot...even if it's other people's sessions...it will prove to be invaluable in a hybrid setup like mine used to be. No matter what the genre was, I don't think there has been a session in six years that didn't use those pieces in my studio. Especially the EQ.

A little 10KHz with that EQ pre compression will knock you out on a vocal!

If you need more preamps for tracking a band, there are a lot of good options from there for utility preamps that can be scored on the cheap.
Old 29th November 2013
  #12
nms
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My Dragon had worse s/n than all my other analog gear aside from my vintage Juno 60 synth. It had a scooped sound I didn't like. I bought it for bass and to use the character options for color but didn't like it for either use.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Melodicmusic View Post
That bomber must be something special cause I keep hearing a lot about it. However, it is out of my price range right now.
Better clocking and DAC in the Hilo. The B2 ADC has a really nice sound, but for my money I prefer more accurate transparent conversion and getting color as needed from outboard. I'd grab one in a second for $1k though.
Old 29th November 2013 | Show parent
  #13
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Originally Posted by nms View Post
My Dragon had worse s/n than all my other analog gear aside from my vintage Juno 60 synth. It had a scooped sound I didn't like. I bought it for bass and to use the character options for color but didn't like it for either use.
Better clocking and DAC in the Hilo. The B2 ADC has a really nice sound, but for my money I prefer more accurate transparent conversion and getting color as needed from outboard. I'd grab one in a second for $1k though.
Maybe something was really wrong with your Dragon then? That's...NOT been my experience.
Old 29th November 2013
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by herecomesyourman View Post
Get a pair of Mohog Mofet76's if you want the "smoothest" version of the 1176. In that vintage context (I prefer the more modern Slate, but that's a personal preference. Knowing what you want, this is the best option, and much cheaper than UA.)

Get a Great River MP-2NV and skip the other preamps. You won't need them for vocals. (*They will more than likely collect a lot of dust for that application after you get used to them all.)

Then get a Great River EQ-2NV or a MAQ-2NV (*Mastering version)

This way you'll have a two channel identical chain for acoustic guitars, piano, synths, or two vocalists singing live off of each other, voice over work, etc. And a stereo EQ you can use as an analog insert in your mixes on the 2Bus. You will NOT regret having that option as it will make your mixes come alive. Plus those EQ designs can allow you to patch the output transformers of the MP-2NV preamp into the EQ to add more color if you need it (Which for somethings, is really cool, and seriously hard to describe...but try it on a stereo synth track and try not to cry with happiness.) If you're mixing a lot...even if it's other people's sessions...it will prove to be invaluable in a hybrid setup like mine used to be. No matter what the genre was, I don't think there has been a session in six years that didn't use those pieces in my studio. Especially the EQ.

A little 10KHz with that EQ pre compression will knock you out on a vocal!

If you need more preamps for tracking a band, there are a lot of good options from there for utility preamps that can be scored on the cheap.
I only need one channel of preamp for my vocals. I don't record any analog or or acoustic gear anymore. My studio is totally digital now. I'm gonna checkout that mohog 1176. That eq is interesting as well.
Old 29th November 2013 | Show parent
  #15
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Originally Posted by Melodicmusic View Post
I only need one channel of preamp for my vocals. I don't record any analog or or acoustic gear anymore. My studio is totally digital now. I'm gonna checkout that mohog 1176. That eq is interesting as well.
You say that...but there will come a time when you have two singers...who just sound better singing together. Because that's how they practice.

Mark my words. You're better off planning one good pair of channels. Plus being able to use those EQ's on a mix as an analog insert is half the fun of owning them.

Also if someone brings in a synth with stereo outputs...or you get a guitar and a bassist, or two guitarists who want to play at the same time via DI's for some reason or another...etc.

I dunno. The last things I would ever sell are at least one Great River MP-2NV and EQ-2NV.

As for Mohog, Brandon, the guy who builds them...is a GREAT dude. Friend of a friend, but really a sweetheart. Giving them a call is worth it.
Old 29th November 2013 | Show parent
  #16
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
Upgrading one's converters is the first order of business! Far smarter to spend $2,500 on a good converter and record with an SM57 than it is to record with a U87 on a cheap converter.
Can't disagree more.

A 57 to 87 is what one might legitimately call a "night and day" difference. Play me an unprocessed vocal, and with no other reference point I'm pretty sure I could tell you which mic out if the two it was. Even an untrained ear should be able to pass an ABX test.

With no reference point, it's really difficult to do that with converters. The differences are subtle in many cases, even to the trained ear.

I'm not saying there's no difference, nor is the OP wrong to say they want to upgrade. I just take issue with the quoted statement. I've recorded major label vocals on cheap converters; I'd never get away with using a 57 for them (unless lo-fi is the order of the day, or for some other stylistic choice).
Old 29th November 2013 | Show parent
  #17
nms
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Quote:
Originally Posted by herecomesyourman View Post
Maybe something was really wrong with your Dragon then? That's...NOT been my experience.
I noticed the same thing listening to the dragon samples in the clipalator at Zen Pro Audio. The Mohog definitely sounded better and less scooped. You can hear a louder hiss present as well. I took a chance anyways but my Distressor bested it in every way so I got rid of it asap. The only setting I liked it at all on was with the vintage switch engaged and sheen/bite/boom bypassed.

The Mohog on the other hand, for its price and what you get it's an easy buy IMO.
Old 29th November 2013 | Show parent
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
Can't disagree more.

A 57 to 87 is what one might legitimately call a "night and day" difference. Play me an unprocessed vocal, and with no other reference point I'm pretty sure I could tell you which mic out if the two it was. Even an untrained ear should be able to pass an ABX test.

With no reference point, it's really difficult to do that with converters. The differences are subtle in many cases, even to the trained ear.

I'm not saying there's no difference, nor is the OP wrong to say they want to upgrade. I just take issue with the quoted statement. I've recorded major label vocals on cheap converters; I'd never get away with using a 57 for them (unless lo-fi is the order of the day, or for some other stylistic choice).
I totally agree with this post. Right on the money.
Old 29th November 2013
  #19
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🎧 10 years
First:

1) Room treatment
2) Mics
3) Mic-pres

If you can make a better sounding recording than Peter Gabriel's "So" or Dire Straits "Brothers in Arms," recorded on 16-bit, 44.1 converters with microsecond clocking errors, then please post it here for us to hear.

Converters last. Don't let marketing hype waste your money.
Old 29th November 2013 | Show parent
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nms View Post
I noticed the same thing listening to the dragon samples in the clipalator at Zen Pro Audio. The Mohog definitely sounded better and less scooped. You can hear a louder hiss present as well. I took a chance anyways but my Distressor bested it in every way so I got rid of it asap. The only setting I liked it at all on was with the vintage switch engaged and sheen/bite/boom bypassed.

The Mohog on the other hand, for its price and what you get it's an easy buy IMO.
I like the Distressor, but it's so clamped sounding...even on light settings you can lose all your dynamics. I found the Dragon to be larger than life without "feeling" compressed. I like both, but it depends on what's needed.

The Mohog and other 1176's have no sidechain so the low mids are getting crushed with everything else and brought back up, the Dragon has a Sidechain which can give you more of a natural low-mid range response. Less compressed feeling.

Of the three, the biggest sound was the Dragon for me, I just think things feel more "real" and less compressed. Maybe we're hearing things differently? I do like the Mohog a lot though.
Old 29th November 2013
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cinealta View Post
First:

1) Room treatment
2) Mics
3) Mic-pres

If you can make a better sounding recording than Peter Gabriel's "So" or Dire Straits "Brothers in Arms," recorded on 16-bit, 44.1 converters with microsecond clocking errors, then please post it here for us to hear.

Converters last. Don't let marketing hype waste your money.
Please explain why converters should be the last option. I hear so much that room treatment, converters and monitors are the most important parts to do first. My room treatment is being done as we speak. I'm using a cheap focusrite 18i20 that is overkill as for inputs and the pres in it are not that good. I'm in need of better converters for mixing and the 18i20 isn't cutting it.
Old 29th November 2013 | Show parent
  #22
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Melodicmusic View Post
I'm in need of better converters for mixing and the 18i20 isn't cutting it.
Again, I'm not saying that isn't the case...but what about the 18i20 "isn't cutting it"?

Converters just aren't the weak link for most people. If you've got a properly treated mixing room, great monitors, a great input chain and a good space to record in, they may well be.

"Flavoured" converters (eg Burl) aside, the differences between "clean" converters are minimal to say the least..even when people claim things sound "muddy" (eg the 002 which famously gets bagged on here on GS), it's a small difference (I've done multiple A/Bs with the 002 and other converters like RME and lynx, and whilst there's a difference, it's not "night and day"...it's small steps).

So yeah - your converters might be the weak link, but upgrading them isn't going to suddenly make your mixes "spring to life". It's baby steps of improvements, and also it follows the inverse square law of money (ie you spend a LOT more for a small improvement).
Old 29th November 2013
  #23
nms
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For me the moment I upgraded from an MR816 to a Lavry DA10 was he turning point for when I actually started to like working on headphones for some things some of the time. The move to Hilo made me like it even more.

The Hilo was a dream come true for me. I sold my interface, Mytek ADC, & Lavry DAC and replaced it with one unit that works and sounds better than the lot plus adds an extra pair of DAC. For high end transparent conversion it's the best buy out there.

I certainly agree with mr Monkey that good mics trump conversion though. Same goes for monitors and having decent room treatment. As long as you're looking after those then go for it though definitely.
Old 29th November 2013 | Show parent
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cinealta View Post
If you can make a better sounding recording than Peter Gabriel's "So" or Dire Straits "Brothers in Arms," recorded on 16-bit, 44.1 converters with microsecond clocking errors, then please post it here for us to hear.
Indeed those are great-sounding records, but, I swear, there are so many other variables in that equation. They had the best producers, the best mics, the best rooms, the best players, and tons of engineers checking everything all the time. Not to mention that the mastering was done in the 80s and therefore sounds way the hell more dynamic. And, to boot, a $115,000 digital system in the early 80s sounds about the same as a $2,500 converter in 2013, specs aside. (Maybe better!)

Damn, I wonder how much $115,000 in the early 80s was in today's money...

price reference:
http://mixonline.com/TECnology-Hall-...-EM-Mastering/
Old 29th November 2013 | Show parent
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by herecomesyourman View Post
Plus those EQ designs can allow you to patch the output transformers of the MP-2NV preamp into the EQ to add more color if you need it
I always just patch my MP-2NV into my EQ-1NV via TRS and then take the XLR output of the MP-2NV. Are you saying you sometimes take the XLR output of the EQ-1NV instead?
Old 29th November 2013 | Show parent
  #26
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Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
I always just patch my MP-2NV into my EQ-1NV via TRS and then take the XLR output of the MP-2NV. Are you saying you sometimes take the XLR output of the EQ-1NV instead?
Yeah, it just depends. Both are great sounds, but different. I sometimes use it on a bus or the 2Bus without the Transformer patched when I need that vibe, but for things not to be so saturated. Sometimes for mastering this can be just the trick.

Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
Indeed those are great-sounding records, but, I swear, there are so many other variables in that equation. They had the best producers, the best mics, the best rooms, the best players, and tons of engineers checking everything all the time. Not to mention that the mastering was done in the 80s and therefore sounds way the hell more dynamic. And, to boot, a $115,000 digital system in the early 80s sounds about the same as a $2,500 converter in 2013, specs aside. (Maybe better!)

Damn, I wonder how much $115,000 in the early 80s was in today's money...

price reference:
1978 3M Digital Audio Mastering System-Mix Inducts 3M Mastering System Into 2007 TECnology Hall of Fame
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Inflation Calculator (LINK HERE) $325,944.05
Old 29th November 2013
  #27
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Dang...I wonder if I've overlooked a good recording option! So it's a little more "clean hi-fi" out of the EQ-1NV XLR output?

Haha, year, $325 grand is a fair bit. 3M digital tape sounds amazing, though...better than most converters, I'm sure!
Old 29th November 2013 | Show parent
  #28
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
Again, I'm not saying that isn't the case...but what about the 18i20 "isn't cutting it"?
The two problems that I have with the 18i20 are headroom with the pres and converters seeming like they have a cover over them. To better explain the pres that are on channel 1-2 are suppose to be of a higher quality than the other pres on channels 3-8. The problem is the gain has to be turned to the 3rd from last notch before you get decent volume. Then it's a problem when singing into the mic that causes distortion on vocals when playing back. Adjusting the gain and using pad on the mic and preamp didn't help much. I used the pad on the mic and preamp to no help even tried standing further away. Sold the mic last week AKG c214 wasn't a good fit for my voice way TOO BRIGHT. I had monitors but had problems with them and sent them back for a refund. Got much better mixes using audio technica m50's and yamaha rhms 10's headphones. I've been using them for a few years now. The problem with the converters is when mixing it seems that the depth isn't there and I know it maybe hard to say that using headphones. I'm looking for that depth and openness that I am missing with the 18i20. I know monitors make much more of a difference than headphones but I would like to make good mixes on headphones as well. I am considering the focal spirit pros as they are made for mixing. (I'm not trying to brag with this point i'm about to make just explaining something). When it comes to production as far as writing and composing music I can stand toe to toe with some of the best. But the mixing quality is the issue for me and it's not that I can't mix I just didn't have the proper gear. I have saved money and made some good money from being a musical director and minister of music. Now I want to match my sound and mixing quality with the gift I was blessed with of composing, and writing. Thanks for spreading such wonderful knowledge. Hopefully what I said didn't confuse you and sound stupid.
Old 29th November 2013 | Show parent
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
Dang...I wonder if I've overlooked a good recording opportunity! So it's a little more "clean hi-fi" out of the EQ-1NV XLR output?

Haha, year, $325 grand is a fair bit. 3M digital tape sounds amazing, though...better than most converters, I'm sure!
I use the new Tascam DA-3000 DSD recorder to sum to now. ($1,000.)

I never record back into a DAW while it's playing back the mix at the same time anymore, and it's REALLY helping.

You should think about upgrading to the EQ-2NV or MAQ-2NV so you can use the EQ on the 2Bus. It's really no joke. (And just keep your EQ-1NV around so you have an extra channel for vocals or bass or something when mixing.)
Old 29th November 2013 | Show parent
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by herecomesyourman View Post
You should think about upgrading to the EQ-2NV or MAQ-2NV so you can use the EQ on the 2Bus. It's really no joke. (And just keep your EQ-1NV around so you have an extra channel for vocals or bass or something when mixing.)
I don't use buss EQ. Generally indicates a mix issue if you have to use 2-buss EQ, imo.

Again, are you saying the XLR output from the Great River EQ units are "cleaner" than the XLR outputs on the MP-2NV?
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