Using a computer as an effects unit

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Nick Sevilla
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Post by Nick Sevilla » Tue Apr 14, 2009 8:59 am

Lost on side wrote: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?
I just did a record, in which I used 3 stereo instances of Logic's Space Designer reverb, plus one of the new Delay designer.

I hooked the 8 channel audio interface digitally to my main PT HD rig (24 bit 48kHz) via adat lightpipe.

I assigned 4 mono aux sends in PT HD to send to the effects, and returned them digitally back into the main DAW via 4 stereo aux inputs.

I compensated for the latency by shortening the pre-delay by the same negative amount, in order to hear them properly.

I really liked using this like that.

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Post by decocco » Tue Apr 14, 2009 11:30 am

If you don't mind the latency, it's all good! Use your computer as an effects device. You've already got it and altiverb sounds great and is cheaper than a sexy Lexi hardware verb. Personally, I don't always want pre-delay, and I don't have a spare DAW, so this would not be a good solution for me. It may be great for you!
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xpulsar
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I DO THIS !!

Post by xpulsar » Tue Apr 21, 2009 11:55 pm

I use my Mac Book Pro with a Metric Halo 2882 and Logic Pro 8 as an effect unit all of the time.
I'll set the buffer settings as low as they go, I can hear a little latency but it does not seem to bother me as most of the things I'm doing with it involve Verb. I have designed some really cool convolutions with Logic's Space Designer. It installs this really cool programme that lets to you take samples of rooms or hardware reverb.
I have some rooms sounds that are completely original and cannot be repeated. Which helps my mixes stand out and not sound like I used the same preset that will get used a ton by everyone. I think this is a really great way of getting things to have a great space. You can work on creating the verb just for the song.

-Collin

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Post by Scodiddly » Wed Apr 22, 2009 4:27 pm

Dakota wrote: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.
Yup, that's pretty much the problem. If you look at something like a Yamaha live digital board, such as the PM5D or LS9 or whatever, the internals are digital but very analog-like in how they are laid out. It's digital audio going between chips, which are sort of positioned like analog processing blocks. Not at all like the "a bunch of A/D/D/A and a CPU" approach you'd expect.

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Re: I DO THIS !!

Post by Lost on side » Sat May 16, 2009 11:58 pm

xpulsar wrote:I use my Mac Book Pro with a Metric Halo 2882 and Logic Pro 8 as an effect unit all of the time.
I'll set the buffer settings as low as they go, I can hear a little latency but it does not seem to bother me as most of the things I'm doing with it involve Verb. I have designed some really cool convolutions with Logic's Space Designer. It installs this really cool programme that lets to you take samples of rooms or hardware reverb.
I have some rooms sounds that are completely original and cannot be repeated. Which helps my mixes stand out and not sound like I used the same preset that will get used a ton by everyone. I think this is a really great way of getting things to have a great space. You can work on creating the verb just for the song.

-Collin

I know this is a late response, but are you using this with an analog set-up?
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Post by Brian Brock » Sun May 17, 2009 9:51 am

hmm... you could get a kurzweil rumor, which is awesome, for the around price of a UAD with the plate reverb. the rumor's plates are really good.

The real advantage of using a computer for this, it seems to me, is that you could have 8 channels of whatever reverb instead of 2. But of course, you would have to have a decent converter (I imagine hardware reverb manufacturers can make compromises in AD/DA since they control the whole signal path), an interface with low latency and good drivers, and let's not forget that the computer won't just work - you have to turn it on, wait, start software, start a project which has track templates set up - then to use it you have to go click around, and don't forget that the computer is likely to be noisy... It might work fine, but it might be a big pain in the ass.

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Post by Gentleman Jim » Sun May 17, 2009 11:10 am

xpulsar wrote:
I use my Mac Book Pro with a Metric Halo 2882 and Logic Pro 8 as an effect unit all of the time.
I'll set the buffer settings as low as they go, I can hear a little latency but it does not seem to bother me as most of the things I'm doing with it involve Verb.
You might want to check out MainStage; it lets you use Logic's effects/processing and instruments without a recording/playback function. It cuts down on latency.

And hey, you already have it - it comes with Logic Studio.

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Post by Lost on side » Mon Nov 02, 2015 8:21 pm

I'm back for an answer 6 years later! So is this now feasible? Anybody doing this? Like, maybe using a UAD Apollo?

I just want some high quality plate...
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Post by Magnetic Services » Mon Nov 02, 2015 8:57 pm

I have much love for my Lexicon MX200. ($150 new)

Simple, easy front panel controls, flexible routing options, good reverb algorithms, and a nice selection of other effects. (16 out of it's 32 effects are different types of verbs)

And I know this isn't exactly what you're talking about, but you can use it as a plugin in your DAW simply by connecting to it via USB!

I think being smart about what you're sending to the reverb, being tasteful with the settings, and EQ/compressing the wet sound again at the board make infinitely more difference than having the most expensive, complex, realistic algorithm on the market.

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Post by Lost on side » Mon Nov 02, 2015 9:27 pm

Hmmm...I don't know what format you are working with, but I'm using 8-track, 1/2" tape. I have an AKG BX10, and an Ensoniq DP4 which aren't too bad. I play around with the board EQ, and some compression, but I have mid-range stuff, not Pultecs and 1176's. The board EQ isn't so great (Ramsa WRS4424), so dialing top notch reverb...well, I can't say I've been satisfied. I hear raves about the plates in the UAD stuff, so it would seem like a reasonable way to get those sounds.
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Post by crow » Wed Nov 04, 2015 2:31 pm

Um, have you been interested in this for 6 years and you haven't tried it?

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Post by Lost on side » Thu Nov 05, 2015 5:02 pm

6 years ago I was discouraged enough by posters here, to not try it. But I wondered if now some developments had made it more feasible. Does that bother you?
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Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Thu Nov 05, 2015 7:09 pm

I do it. It works.
One of the studios I work out of has some pretty limited outboard and plug ins. There's enough to cover most things but it's sorely lacking in the reverb department. If I know I'm going to have to mix there I'll bring along my laptop and a 2 channel converter (usually a lowly 1st generation Mbox). I'll run the Waves IR plug-in on a aux channel and wire it to a stereo send/return on the board. I'm sure there's a bit of latency but I'm using it for big room emulations and plate reverbs so who really cares.

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Post by crow » Thu Nov 05, 2015 8:00 pm

Lost on side wrote:6 years ago I was discouraged enough by posters here, to not try it. But I wondered if now some developments had made it more feasible. Does that bother you?
Sorry, my post came across as snarkier than I intended it. If I had seen this thread back then, I would have said "go for it, it'll probably sound great and what do you have to lose", which is also what I'd say now.

As far as recent developments go, I'd also say that it seems to me that in the past few years, the sound quality of budget interfaces has gone up immensely, and while I usually use Lynx Auroras in my studio, I use the focusrite 2i4 and a mackie onyx blackjack for laptop recording, with totally fine results. Either of those, or something similar, are more than up to the task of receiving and outputting line-level signals for your purposes. I would also add that with a couple bucks' worth of 1/8" to 1/4" adapters, you can use any old computer, however old, with no special interface, as a perfectly good FX unit. Latency will be an issue, but likely a quite minor one, especially if you're mostly doing reverbs.

I like the UAD plate a lot, but I wouldn't invest in a UAD system just for that, unless you found a used card for cheap. I'd start with some freeware verbs(there are millions for the googling), or built-in DAW ones . My favorites, which are not free, but also not pricey, are ValhallaRoom (a very tweakable algorithm reverb)
https://valhalladsp.com/shop/reverb/valhalla-room/
and Type4 (an awesomely realistic/flavorful spring reverb)
http://www.genuinesoundware.com/?a=showproduct&b=28

Or, as was mentioned, Space Designer is pretty great. My DAW of choice is REAPER, and it comes with a convolution reverb, for which you can download gajillions of impulse responses from all over the place.

Good luck!

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Post by Lost on side » Mon Nov 16, 2015 7:57 pm

It's okay, I can understand why it might seem odd. I don't even have Logic anymore and don't really keep up on software/digital recording developments.

Thanks for some direction.
If that cat there doesn't stop it man, we're not playing anymore!

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