Using a computer as an effects unit

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Lost on side
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Using a computer as an effects unit

Post by Lost on side » Sat Apr 11, 2009 6:56 pm

Hello, I know this has likely been discussed, but I didn't really find anything with the search.
I'm an analog guy, and I keep reading about the great reverbs available to DAW users (specifically the UAD stuff and Altiverb) so it makes me wonder if I can access these sounds by hooking up my computer to an effects send.
I know there are effects units that are supposed to have great sounds, but the good ones seem to be way more costly than the plug-ins, and getting a hold of a real plate would be ridiculous for me (I also can't set up home reverb chamber where I live).
Does anyone do this? Is it worthwhile?
Thx

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T-rex
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Post by T-rex » Sat Apr 11, 2009 8:08 pm

I think for the cost of a computer, a decent multi i/o soundcard, a DAW program and the actual plugs ins you could probably get some nice outboard gear that would be rock solid etc.

For the computer I think it would totally work but you would have to have the latency as low as possible, set up the effects on different channels of your daw program on the analog ins and outs and probably use direct monitoring.

An easier solution might be one of those hardware things they sell that will run plug ins.
http://www.museresearch.com/receptor.php?r=overview

But I think if you are runing analog, I would focus on hardware outboard.
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Post by Lost on side » Sun Apr 12, 2009 2:10 am

T-rex wrote:I think for the cost of a computer, a decent multi i/o soundcard, a DAW program and the actual plugs ins you could probably get some nice outboard gear that would be rock solid etc.

For the computer I think it would totally work but you would have to have the latency as low as possible, set up the effects on different channels of your daw program on the analog ins and outs and probably use direct monitoring.

An easier solution might be one of those hardware things they sell that will run plug ins.
http://www.museresearch.com/receptor.php?r=overview

But I think if you are runing analog, I would focus on hardware outboard.
Thanks for responding.
I keep hearing that these software reverbs are so great, and the samples I hear indeed sound good. I have a computer, I have Logic and PT that I never use, the high quality Lexicon or TC or whatever the fuck stuff is over a grand, surely a decent computer has more power than those units.
(I checked out the link and those things are a couple grand)

What hardware would you recommend that would be cheaper than just spending a couple hundred for a UAD thingy?

For me, reverb is what it's all about. I have yet to get anything convincing out of the Ensoniq DP4, Furman RV-1, or Alesis Wedge that I have. These have some nice usable effects, but they don't sound like an EMT plate or a chamber. I'm not chasing after some retro sound, I just want quality. The other sounds I'm getting are good, but the reverbs don't cut it....

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Post by T-rex » Sun Apr 12, 2009 8:22 am

When you said analog I was thinking you would need to buy a daw program
and all that. I mean a computer, decent sound card for low latency, converters, daw program, altiverb and the EMT140 with a uad card to run it would run you as much as a Bricasti, which is supposedly the bee's knees for reverb now. If you already have most of that than you are golden.

The problem with the UAD (which I have and love) is I don't know if the UAD-1 supports the live mode like the new UAD-2's do. Live mode (I think that's what it is called) lets you monitor through the plug is with much less latency. The uad stuff has the signal sent from the daw program to the card where it is processed and then sent back to the daw program. If you are doing everything inside a DAW with delay compensation you are golden, but outside of that I think the latency might really cause a lot of phase issues. I haven't tried it like this, I am just thinking out loud.

So if you have Logic you should try running this with Space Designer and see how you like it. I am a PC guy but people seem to rave about that reverb prgram. I don't know Logic but if I were going to do it in cubase I would set a pair of sends on my ghost to an input channel in cubase with the Plate 140 on it, set the channel to direct monitoring so the affected sound comes right back out to two channels on my board (or the effects return). Then send from the ghost whatever I want to the Plate 140. If it works well for you then get out the wallet!

A used uad-1 and the plate (which is fantastic imho) would run you about $300 and Altiverb (which is also fantstic) runs about $600 for the new version.
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Post by Scodiddly » Sun Apr 12, 2009 9:18 am

You're also using some old stuff there - Alesis Wedge? Maybe you could look into some of the current mid-range TC, like the M2000.

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Post by decocco » Sun Apr 12, 2009 9:38 am

Altiverb is pretty great. Sure, You could use your DAW as reverb. I would think you might have some latency issues. Good hardware reverbs are expensive. You might be able to find an old AKG BX-10 for a few hundred bucks. It's a nice spring, I've used them a lot, and they're really great as far as spring reverbs go. If you want a digital reverb that's under $1K, maybe check out a Lexicon PCM 70. Those are pretty decent. If you want to spend some cash you could pick up an old Lexicon 480L. The 480L is expensive, but it sounds freakin' great.
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Post by Lost on side » Sun Apr 12, 2009 12:51 pm

I would figure that there would be some kind of hardware that could do what some of the plug ins do. Using a computer would give me so many more options than just spending big dough on a Lexicon or a BX-10 (I have used those and liked it alot), that it seems a waste.

Can't I just call latency "pre-delay" :o

Has anyone tried using a computer like this?

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Post by mertmo » Sun Apr 12, 2009 4:00 pm

Can't I just call latency "pre-delay"
Awesome! :D

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Post by rushofblood » Sun Apr 12, 2009 4:27 pm

Lost on side wrote:
Can't I just call latency "pre-delay" :o
haha I do!

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Post by chris harris » Sun Apr 12, 2009 5:08 pm

Pre-delay indeed! And, if you're not using the DAW to play audio files, you should easily be able to get away with the minimum buffer/latency setting.

Go for it!!

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Post by Lost on side » Sun Apr 12, 2009 5:47 pm

subatomic pieces wrote:Pre-delay indeed! And, if you're not using the DAW to play audio files, you should easily be able to get away with the minimum buffer/latency setting.

Go for it!!
Ahhh, encouragement!

I'm a fool, so bear with me. What causes latency? Does it happen during the A to D, the D to A, or both? Will higher quality converters improve it or is better software that is needed? Or all of the above? Or something else? Or...
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Post by Scodiddly » Sun Apr 12, 2009 5:57 pm

Latency happens because it just takes that long for A to be figured out and converted to digital, and same story for going back. Better converters can have somewhat lower latency than crappy converters, but pretty much you're still stuck with at least a millisecond in each direction. Most pro outboard digital audio gear (including digital consoles) end up being around 2-3 mS from analog input to analog output.

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Post by Lost on side » Sun Apr 12, 2009 6:18 pm

Scodiddly wrote:Latency happens because it just takes that long for A to be figured out and converted to digital, and same story for going back. Better converters can have somewhat lower latency than crappy converters, but pretty much you're still stuck with at least a millisecond in each direction. Most pro outboard digital audio gear (including digital consoles) end up being around 2-3 mS from analog input to analog output.
So why would the latency be any worse through the computer than through an outboard Lexicon or whatever (or did you just tell me that it wouldn't)?
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Post by Scodiddly » Sun Apr 12, 2009 7:11 pm

Lost on side wrote:
Scodiddly wrote:Latency happens because it just takes that long for A to be figured out and converted to digital, and same story for going back. Better converters can have somewhat lower latency than crappy converters, but pretty much you're still stuck with at least a millisecond in each direction. Most pro outboard digital audio gear (including digital consoles) end up being around 2-3 mS from analog input to analog output.
So why would the latency be any worse through the computer than through an outboard Lexicon or whatever (or did you just tell me that it wouldn't)?
A computer would be the same or possibly worse, just because there's a lot more overhead in a computer than in a purpose-built piece of hardware. But if you're just doing reverb in the studio, it likely wouldn't matter.

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Post by Dakota » Sun Apr 12, 2009 10:52 pm

Lost on side wrote:
Scodiddly wrote:Latency happens because it just takes that long for A to be figured out and converted to digital, and same story for going back. Better converters can have somewhat lower latency than crappy converters, but pretty much you're still stuck with at least a millisecond in each direction. Most pro outboard digital audio gear (including digital consoles) end up being around 2-3 mS from analog input to analog output.
So why would the latency be any worse through the computer than through an outboard Lexicon or whatever (or did you just tell me that it wouldn't)?
That's a maddening crux right there. Home computers are so much more powerful than classic old digital fx processors, but neither PCs or macs were designed to process and pass audio fast. Everything has to get into the cpu, be thought about by the OS (that was designed primarily for consumer tasks) for a while, then spat back out.

An OS designed from the ground up just to handle audio is a dream much talked about, but has not happened yet.

Per your original post, to get enough benefit from something like altiverb, you'd need to make sure your A/D/A was pretty nice. Otherwise all the fine detail worth going to the effort for just gets hashed out.

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