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Analog/Hybrid project studio, which way to go???
Old 16th November 2014
  #1
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kitsunekuma's Avatar
Analog/Hybrid project studio, which way to go???

Hi everybody, first post here but I think it will be a bit long...

So I'll try to explain briefly my actual setup :

For now I'm running a small project studio where I mostly compose and record music for TV series and get to do some sound editing / mixing for TV.

In my spare time, I have a few extra clients that ask me to mix songs and record vocals with a few instruments but no full bands or drums (yet) as the place is kinda small so for the moment I don't track a lot of channels .
In the near future I hope to do more music recording/mixing and maybe to move to a bigger place so I can record some rock bands etc...


So I have a few Presonus devices that I bought sometime ago because I thought it was a good bang for bucks and some other stuff:

- Presonus FP10 audio interface with 8 pres
- Faderport for transport & automation
- Presonus Monitor Station for monitoring selection and talkback, headphones ...

I'm a former guitarist so I have a few high end analog stompboxes effects that I like to hook up for mixing or tracking to add some mojo

Got a Mac running Ableton Live and Protools 11

I am very attracted to analog gear as I had many occasions to try both world (digital vs analog) as a guitarist and I always prefered analog devices but I also know it can be much more expensive and a huge amount of problems and not so convenient for recall etc...

For controls, I have the Faderport which is nice but kinda restrictive with only 1 fader

Got a Novation Launchcontrol that I kinda hate, used it a few times, it got taped and written all over it to remember what was assigned to each knobs and finally it's just sitting there in front of me waiting to get used...


Then I would like to be able to include outboard gear easily as I have many effects and I know I'm gonna get at least a nice stereo compressor (SSL?) and stereo Eq (Pultec?) for finalizing my mix

I must say I use a lot and like SSL emulation plugins most of the Softubes plug-ins also the Puigchild & Puigtec.

So, I found out a few possibilities for my budget around 5000$:


DAW controllers:

- SSL Nucleus:

I could put a few outboard gear on the two channels of the Nucleus for mixdown, maybe agglomerate its soundcard with the presonus FP10 for more I/O so I can add more outboard effects or track more instruments (don't know if really possible)


or

- Mackie MCU Pro with ext module + Softube Console 1 + new audio interface (or keep the presonus FP10?)




Analog solutions:

Toft ATB 08M

or

SSL X-desk (+X-rack in near future)

or

Get some 500 series modules

or

Get a few outboard gear for my mix bus but I would stick with only a few controls



Sorry for the long post, maybe I'll open some more dedicated topics after this one...
Old 16th November 2014
  #2
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Unclenny's Avatar
I always like to throw in the channel strip option for discussions like this.

If you had a couple of good strips as your front end at first you could get started. If you like that Toft ATB look for a couple of used Trident 4T strips. You would get the Toft EQ with a decent compressor as well.
Old 16th November 2014
  #3
Old 16th November 2014
  #4
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kitsunekuma's Avatar
Thanks for your answer Unclenny, I gotta check these Trident channel strips and maybe some other stuff from Trident. I just thought they were much more expensive so I didn't look into it
I also found thank to you some 500 series type EQ from Trident that I didn't knew about and they are pretty cheap.

I think I would need many channel strips if I want to treat each track separately... I thought the idea of an analog console is more convenient and elegant than adding many racks but maybe it would cost me less and allow me to get some good quality and diversity

I'm very open to this kind of suggestions as it may help me find some solution.
Old 16th November 2014
  #5
I think the softube console would be a great choice. Below is another other option to consider.

If you like softube and plugins that do the analog thing well you owe it to yourself to try out some slate plugins. Their whole line up is killer and in a few weeks their VMR should come out with a SSL eq model. VTM, VBC(ssl bus comp) and VCC is also killer. Below is another set up to consider.

Slate raven mti multi touch console $2000
slate VMR, VBC and VCC (AAX in Dec. ) = $500
2 channel interface (audient id22, rme baby face apogee duet etc..) $700
SSL vhd channel strip $1200
Old 16th November 2014
  #6
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Tracking an audio source and post production activities are two entirely different activities however some devices will be necessary for both endeavors. I use two PreSonus offerings, A Fader Port and the Studio One 64K advanced DAW with a ton of UA plugs (it has an incredibly easy mixing and mastering protocol) that I liked well enough to abandon Logic two years ago. I also use an RME UFX interface so for mixing and mastering this is all I need. Tracking is a different story that requires some pretty serious analog gear in pres and mics. I use a UA 4-710d and also an ADL600 tube pre and over 45 years of processing Bluegrass music I have a closet full of very good mics including six different tube models. I spent a lot of wasted time years ago screwing around with high end studio analog equipment and at this point I have a much more reliable digital set up that I described above but Mics and Pres are still and always will be a critical analog element in the recording chain. If you restrict your analog purchasing to the front end of the recording chain 95% of the analog warmth you are seeking resides right there. The notion that a large acoustically treated room to "old school" track full bands is a black hole. It is the last stand for studios and the reason is a significant number if not most commercially successful music from the C & W and Americana world is layered in project studios very similar to what I just described. The back streets of Nashville are full of the whitewashed bones of folks that previously made a living in $100. an hour studios! If I need to record a live performance, my A & H QU16 does a credible job of capture in any venue the band is comfortable: then transfer the HD files to the DAW and we are in business.
Old 17th November 2014
  #7
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kitsunekuma's Avatar
first I wanna thanks you all for your inputs on the subject,

well, tribedescribe I heard about the Slate plug-ins and I thought about getting them, I'll definitely consider them if I decide to go the ITB way. About the Slate Raven I gotta check this product too but I must say I'm not so fond of touch devices, not for the possibilities but for the feel you get from it.
I'm not an old fart but I already hate my phone for having a touch screen and when it gets buggy or slow I can't even pick up the call because there's no damn simple button to do that simple task.
Anyway I must check the Raven too, maybe it's interesting and coming from Slate I'm pretty sure it's a good device.

I also think the Softube Console 1 is a cool thing, I'm very close to get it but still hesitate as I think it should be paired with some faders from another DAW controller then maybe the SSL Nucleus is more interesting...



Thanks hughshouse for your input, are you really comfortable with only the Faderport as controller? I really like it but I think that one fader is cool for automations but not so great if you have to deal with many tracks when mixing. I often find myself clicking repeatedly the select track button or search for a moment the right track to select, then in Ableton Live sometimes I select a track and the fader is still operating another one or even not responding... it makes it kinda laborious to work with it.

I get what you mean about having a good source and I'll keep it in mind when I will do more tracking. By the way I really like that the UA 4-710d is offering 4 channels, this kind of solution with multiple channels would be nice to save some money I guess.

So now I've got my eyes on multiple channel racks, seems that I could start slowly by getting a few of them
Old 17th November 2014
  #8
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Post production is a snap with a Faderport because editing is a one track at a time function and DAW automation allows careful management of each individual track in prep for the two mix. Adjustment of a track while mixing is very easy: Highlight the track and use the Faderport to make necessary changes. I can manage 48 tracks as easily as a small Bluegrass mix thanks to automation. As I pointed out in my first post I use a QU16 console to track live shows. If I were doing Back-line and aggressive percussion rock I might be using a 32 channel version but the USB capture is as simple as it gets. The protocol I am suggesting is a home run for more than a few of the best session players in the country and I sense, as a novice recordist, you are being caught up in a retro analog impulse that is very popular in this and similar blogs. You can spend your money and take your ride but be prepared for some expensive detours along the way that will delay your arrival to your destination.
Old 17th November 2014
  #9
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kitsunekuma's Avatar
Well hughhouse, I'm not that young and not that new in the music and sound environment, being a musician for 20 years I will just say that I did my own experiments and I concluded long ago that I prefer analog gear even if I like the convenience of the digital stuff, that's why I also chose a few DAW controllers and included working with plugins in my list of solutions.

So about the topic, thanks for putting the accent on the front end of the signal chain, it's true that most of the time I'm more preoccupated by the post treatment than all the work in pre. Maybe that something I understand more now. If I treat the signal while recording I would have less work during the mix and would then get better result as I would also spend less time doing something I could get easily during the takes... But then I think about non destructive work and I learned from other sound-engineers that it was also dangerous to treat too much before the mix due to many possible errors that are not undoable.
I like the flexibility of the DAW and I thought it's better to use my treatment chain and effects using my I/O network and not print any treatment until I'm satisfied with my mix. Then maybe taking a bit more risk would be rewarding?

Now I think getting some channel strips is a great idea but I still can't tell how many I should get...
I thought 8 channels would be nice but maybe I can use less for the moment if I re-record my treated tracks?

I'm thinking about that:
2 channels for guitars/bass (I can record the bass treatment then keep the 2 channels for guitars)
2 channels for drums (I can treat each channel with plugins then send the stem through a stereo channel)
1 for voice
2 channels for the mix bus

I could get all this by having 4 channel strip, that's an interesting option as I can buy them slowly and don't have to save for a long time to get a decent console for example.

For now I'm also considering getting the Softube Console 1 as a starting point that would allow me to spend more on other outboard gear than getting tons of EQs to feed multiple tracks that maybe don't need that kind of treatment. That would help me get the best of both worlds I guess...
Old 17th November 2014
  #10
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Unclenny's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kitsunekuma View Post
If I treat the signal while recording I would have less work during the mix and would then get better result as I would also spend less time doing something I could get easily during the takes... But then I think about non destructive work and I learned from other sound-engineers that it was also dangerous to treat too much before the mix due to many possible errors that are not undoable.
Making a few commitments on the way in can be very creative and rewarding in its own way.

Also....it's a good way to get some analog goodness in there without making another round trip through the converters.
Old 17th November 2014
  #11
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I hear what you're saying re Nucleus and other gear - both inboard and outboard.
Probably well outside your budget but hear's the approach I'd take...

SSL Matrix2 - then over time, build up a solid outboard gear collection (because you inevitably will during the course of your remaining time here on earth).
Then you'll be in a perfect hybrid nirvana!
Old 18th November 2014
  #12
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kitsunekuma's Avatar
thanks Unclenny for your suggestions, that's what I think too now about more pre treatment. I think maybe the fact that we can do undo things indefinitely in the DAW makes it a nice learning tool but sometimes doing something concretely and take some risks can get good results too.
I will definitely try this approach more often.

Treborius about the SSL Matrix2 , man I know this thing it incredible, when I read about it I thought "that's what I need!" then I saw the price and just sat in a corner crying (for only 2 hours I swear!)
There are maybe some second handed good deals and I could get it after saving for a year or something but where I live right now it's really hard to get second handed gear and even if there are some items they just sell them for too much

Another option I heard about is to get the SSL Nucleus then the SSL Sigma with many converters, it would be easier to buy these parts separately and not spend that much for a good equivalent of the SSL Matrix but then again you would need some pres and eqs, compressors etc...the amount of money would be the same in the end
Sometimes I think it's just endless!!!

Yesterday I read about many channel strips and found out an interesting configuration that is out of budget now but that I could get by buying slowly:


1 Empirical Lab Fatso stereo for the drums or even for Mix Bus
1 Trident Audio Serie 80B 2 channels for guitars
then maybe some Avalon vt737sp or V5 or Manley Core for voice
Avalon vt747 stereo for mix bus

Softube Console 1 for all the ITB and eq work

Any recommendations? Maybe there are other solutions out there...
Old 18th November 2014
  #13
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kitsunekuma's Avatar
Alright I think I found what I'm gonna get.
I just found out about JDK audio and I think I'm gonna get the JDK audio R24 the JDK audio R22 and JDK audio R20 from this brand. They are all stereo or dual channel and they are cheap enough to make me want to get all of them. :D
I like the fact that it's from the API company, love the military design and found that what I heard on several samples was very pleasing.
I read about it on forums and saw mostly very good reviews.

Any recommendations about the JDK brand? I'm not gonna buy them right now so I will still check around if I find something more attractive but I think I didn't see any equivalent for that price.

I think I'm gonna get the Softube Console 1 for sure as I think it would be excellent for all the EQs and later get a Mackie MCU Pro for the faders if really I feel the need of them to replace the Faderport.
Old 11th December 2014
  #14
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Lupez's Avatar
hi
I am in your exact same position....here's what I did so far:

https://www.facebook.com/sopralenuvolemusicstudio

next is Sigma and one day Matrix hopefully.
Old 13th December 2014
  #15
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kitsunekuma's Avatar
Thanks Lupez for your input, I'm checking your studio pics, nice room you've got and I like that desk you have too!

Well my budget got restricted because my main project has stopped so I had to redefine my purchases.

I 've just ordered a Softube Console 1 with a Slate Virtual Tape Machine plug-in. That should get me started for the ITB part.
I will get a patchbay soon that could help me hook up my outboard gear and pedals.

Then, when I will have the fund$, I should get a preamp or a channel strip for voice tracking as a priority.
I might get the Manley Core or something equivalent because I could get a nice preamp + EQ + comp all in one.

Then I think about changing my audio interface for more I/O and get a SSL X-desk or something equivalent for summing
After that I would get some stereo compressor and equalizer like the Tube-Tech or something similar for the mix bus.

I kinda let down the idea of getting a Nucleus but a Sigma is still interesting.
Old 30th December 2014
  #16
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So, I don't know if anyone is following the thread but I've got the Softube Console 1 and the Slate VTM for a few days and I decided to use Protools 11 almost exclusively.
I also got a few more plug-ins that allows me to work ITB while I will collect funds for future outboard gear.
For my mix buss and a few tracks that would need it I've got the Softube Summit Audio Grand Channel that can work with the Console 1 too.

I think now that I can focus on a good preamp or channel strip for tracking and a better interface as my next purchase.

About outboard gear I just can't tell now if I could just use a patchbay with my presonus fp10 or if I will need a mixer... I think I will probably decide after I get more serious outboard gear but I heard that it's kinda difficult with latency problems to insert them directly from the interface especially as I don't have a Protools HD.

I still think about benefits from getting a summing mixer or something like a SSL X-desk not only for the analog summing but more for integrating outboard effects. I could send some stems on it and insert my outboard gears on the mix buss and the channel inserts.

If you guys have some interesting ideas or some feedback about the way to proceed I'm all ears
Old 1st February 2015
  #17
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Alright,
I don't know if anyone is reading this thread but I thought it would be interesting to update it as I have new ideas about building my project studio

I have read a lot of topics here and found out about a few solutions that might be a great enhancement of workflow and would help integrate analog gear to my mix.

So I am now using mostly the Softube Console 1 with a few plugins and the Presonus Faderport.

I might add to this a mixer:

Focusrite Control 2802 (summing mixer + DAW controller + nice Preamps + "SSL type" Bus Compressor)

I would need an interface so I thought about getting an Allen & Heath ICE 16-D or maybe a pair of them.

Then I thought about adding some analog gear for the Stereo bus that I could use for tracking too:

2 x Warm Audio EQP-WA (Pultec style EQ)
2 x WA76 (1176 style Compressor)

I might get some nice preamps later if I don't find the ones on the focusrite to my taste...

Let me know what you think about it, I'm still not 100% sure about the Focusrite mixer but I think it's a great deal.
Old 17th March 2015
  #18
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drcaron's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kitsunekuma View Post
Alright,
I don't know if anyone is reading this thread but I thought it would be interesting to update it as I have new ideas about building my project studio

I have read a lot of topics here and found out about a few solutions that might be a great enhancement of workflow and would help integrate analog gear to my mix.

So I am now using mostly the Softube Console 1 with a few plugins and the Presonus Faderport.

I might add to this a mixer:

Focusrite Control 2802 (summing mixer + DAW controller + nice Preamps + "SSL type" Bus Compressor)

I would need an interface so I thought about getting an Allen & Heath ICE 16-D or maybe a pair of them.

Then I thought about adding some analog gear for the Stereo bus that I could use for tracking too:

2 x Warm Audio EQP-WA (Pultec style EQ)
2 x WA76 (1176 style Compressor)

I might get some nice preamps later if I don't find the ones on the focusrite to my taste...

Let me know what you think about it, I'm still not 100% sure about the Focusrite mixer but I think it's a great deal.
Interesting thread. Any updates?
Old 20th March 2015
  #19
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kitsunekuma's Avatar
Yeah and it's a bit of bad news,

I don't have much money now and I need to wait a moment before getting anything and I just found out that the Focusrite 2802 seems to be discontinued. They don't sell it anymore on Thomann...
There was a good deal to get if for around 2000 euros but I didn't have the funds. :(

I still plan to get the Warm Audio stuff for tracking and for the mixbus but I also found out about BAE preamps and EQs that are just incredible! They are very expensive but I am now considering it might be wise to just save money for long enough to get the real deal than spend it on cheap things.

For now I'm working using mostly the Console 1 , the Softube Summit Audio Channel and the TSAR-1 Reverb with Slate VTM and the Slate VMR for the free Revival module. It does the job pretty well for the moment.

I'm working in a studio with a cheap Yamaha N8 (8 channels digital mixer) and I tried to see if the small mixer ergonomy is pertinent.

I guess using a mixer is great when you have a bigger amount of channels to control but under 16 faders it's probably not enough for mixing a whole project.
I just think for the moment it's not worth going OTB except for the mix bus or except using OTB gear for tracking until I could get a 16 to 32 channels mixer or something that would allow me to do most of the work on it.

I just found it a kind of headache to send stems on the small mixer and to have to choose which track might get grouped and which track goes where to avoid problems (with panning etc...). When I was working with 8 channels I just felt I was slowing my workflow for little to no benefits compared with ITB

Even if I like the idea of the SSL X-desk and the Focusrite 2802 having both 16 channels, I'm thinking it might be just complicating my workflow if I can't do a project from start to finish with it.

To sum it about the hybrid concept of a studio, now I just think it's great if you use analog gear:

for tracking (get the best sound at the source)
for the mix bus (a good chain of stereo EQs and Comps maybe send the whole mix through excellent preamps would be cool too)
for particular FXs like analog delays or distortions

Then use ITB for all the rest.

Going less hybrid and more analog would be great for nice artistic projects where you don't need fast recalls and you work on a big board with everything hooked on it.
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