N00b Question: why out of the box mixing?

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plurgid
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N00b Question: why out of the box mixing?

Post by plurgid » Sun May 09, 2010 6:05 pm

I'm a real n00b.

I mean, this is how much of a n00b I am: 6 years ago i discovered GarageBand installed by default on my new mac-mini, and I was like "holy crap, you can record things on a computer!"

Since then, well ... my interest has blossomed to say the least. I've upgraded to Logic and my computer, and I've gotten myself a couple pretty nice audio interfaces and some other miscellaneous gear ... some fair-to-middlin' studio monitors, and of course, I got my free subscription to tape-op a couple years ago and ... I'm really diggin' learning about this stuff.

I continually read here on the forums, and in the magazine about people doing tracking in through some kick-ass A/D converters to disk, then (in my mind anyhow) *inexplicably* pumping it all back out through D/A conversion, into a mixing console, and back through A/D conversion back to disk.

Doesn't this process just introduce more inaccuracies in the original audio (like making a xerox of a xerox of a xerox ... not to mention the added opportunity for cable noise and interference to creep in)? Or am I missing some kinda "magic" that these analog mixing consoles perform ... and if it really *is* "magic" of some kind, SURELY we've figured out exactly what that magic is by the year 2010 and can replicate it in software?

I guess what I'm getting at here is this ... if I was gonna blow some cash on new gear ... would it make more since to get an analog mixing console, or something like a euphonix control surface?

Why is everyone so ga-ga about analog mixing consoles?
Educate the n00b, please.

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Post by joel hamilton » Sun May 09, 2010 6:23 pm

This should be in "recording techniques" but I dont have the heart to drop it on Tony.
I am going to make some popcorn, sit back, and watch this turn into one of the most awesome analog vs. digital debate threads EVER.
Or,
Maybe I will be the dickweed that points out that there are like 987 million threads like this all over the interwebs, and we MAY not break any new ground here, so you could probably do a couple of searches here, and on any messageboard that has ever existed on earth, and get about a billion pages of crappy arguing to read.
If that sounds fun, then enjoy.
If not, maybe this thread will be amazing.
Have a great day.
Love,
-Joel
P.S. seriously. Just search "OTB vs. ITB mixing" via google or on ANY messageboard about recording.

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Post by kslight » Sun May 09, 2010 6:43 pm

I agree with Joel but I'd venture to say that if you've got good converters you aren't going to hear a deterioration until you have really gone back and forth many times...which I don't know why you'd do that. I'd also say that mixing otb is not just about mixing through a magic analog console but also racks of magic outboard gear.




And to answer your question...better buy to get a decent analog console versus a DAW controller...

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Post by mrc » Sun May 09, 2010 6:57 pm

Something like this would be nice... http://losangeles.craigslist.org/lac/ms ... 40737.html

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Re: N00b Question: why out of the box mixing?

Post by Dakota » Sun May 09, 2010 7:45 pm

+1 Joel's advice.

I'll bite on this one, though. It's a valid question.
plurgid wrote:... and if it really *is* "magic" of some kind, SURELY we've figured out exactly what that magic is by the year 2010 and can replicate it in software?
Yeah, you'd think. But so far, no. Some of the good analog stuff has hyper complex nonlinear and not entirely predicatable detail things that can't be modeled in a digital system, not really down to the fine details. A map of the world is still not the world.

A case in point: the soundtoys echoboy plug. Totally kicks ass for a plug, big jump forward in digital modeling, I love it. Completely usable and exciting sounding. Still, on a lot of things a hardware echoplex ep-2 or a roland 555 kills it. Because the hardware tape echoes have an infinite degree of non-repeatable detail in both the micro and the macro.

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Post by jgimbel » Sun May 09, 2010 8:40 pm

I never jump in one these things because other people say it so much better than I, but I figured I'll try to say it as simply as I can. There is, as Joel got at, something that analog gear does that simply cannot (or has yet to be) accurately replicated in the digital world.


There are things that make digital audio sound closer, but never "there" enough that it's equal. I record pretty much entirely digitally these days, but almost without running things through outboard gear, summing, whatever. Having audio go through all the components just does something that encompasses the sound. Digital imitation of analog stuff tends to manipulate the sound but just doesn't have the same..magic, mojo, whatever. When I run things through my Tascam Portastudio (not even just upon playback on tape, I mean actually running through it like an effects box), there is definitely something that's added that is very hard to explain.

I've got a TAC Scorpion sitting in the corner of my room that I got from another member here. I don't have the space to use it yet, and my interface only has 8 outs so I couldn't even use it for much yet, but all this talk about consoles and OTB mixing lately is making me feel that I NEED to get this up and running this summer.

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Post by AndyHutchinson » Sun May 09, 2010 9:34 pm

Contributing to a thread like this is like hitting on your friend's sister: you really shouldn't do it, but it's hard to resist. It's probably been said on this forum a thousand times, but, as Joe Meek said, "If it sounds right, it is right." My philosophy, as a 26 year old raised on Tascam 4-Track cassettes, but, mostly on DAW's that, whatever it takes to get the sound you want and need should be done. What the previous posters said is true; there is something special about analog that hasn't completely been replicated in digital, though some plugins have come close, but, at the same time, simply inserting a piece of analog gear in your chain isn't going to turn you into Bruce Swedien. It's all about the performance and your ears. Best of luck either way

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Post by losthighway » Mon May 10, 2010 5:45 am

Here are a trite list of comments:

"Jitter."

"Dude warmth"

"Use your ears."

Again, for the original poster, this is actually a fascinating question and you shouldn't think anyone here wants to snub you for it. Unfortunately the life of this question has been robbed by circular arguments and pages of rants.

The TOMB consensus seems to be that people have been and will be making great records using software, high quality A/D converters, a cool board, and good outboard gear. Mileage will obviously vary depending on the strength of all of those elements, but there is no replacement except to try it out. Many people find the cost of a board considered "worth trying this on" high enough to be prohibitive. A lot of other folks swear by their mid-grade board (i.e. Soundcraft, Soundtracs, Sony, Yamaha, the new Mackie that comes with lasers).

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Post by joel hamilton » Mon May 10, 2010 7:48 am

"Again, for the original poster, this is actually a fascinating question and you shouldn't think anyone here wants to snub you for it. Unfortunately the life of this question has been robbed by circular arguments and pages of rants. "

Exactly.

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Re: N00b Question: why out of the box mixing?

Post by rty5150 » Mon May 10, 2010 10:13 am

plurgid wrote: SURELY we've figured out exactly what that magic is by the year 2010 and can replicate it in software?
yeah, surely...

but in like 5 years we are supposed to have holograms, pizza rehydrators, hoverboards, self drying jackets, auto lace-up shoes, and flying cars, too.

to me it has become an issue of an analog signal passing through components that inject the mojo that we diesire. don't get me wrong, i am a big fan and proponent of digital modeling. i like guitar modeling quite a bit, and think that its technology is greatly improving. same thing for plug-ins, but right now, they lack a certain degree of size and weight in the sound. that is my opinion and experience. there are many people that mix solely itb and that works for them. 5 years ago i was one of those people. now working hybrid, i love the convenience of plug-ins and DAW automation, but the sound of analog gear is just really hard to get with plug-ins solely. at least as of this writing. if you look at most of the major players of LA, NY, nashville, etc; they use a combination of outboard and plugs. so in all fairness, it comes down to the guy behind the board(or in most cases, the mouse).

rich

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Post by joel hamilton » Mon May 10, 2010 10:20 am

its because the very same "magic" that is referenced in advertising copy when describing an old piece of analog gear is also the same "magic" people wish was NOT there when they actually come face to face with these very same pieces of gear: non-linear behavior, variation from unit to unit, tone imparted even when all settings are on "0" or whtaver is supposed to be "nothing" (like a pultec not EQing anything, but not in bypass), AGING, upkeep, heat, response curves that border on human personality-like-complexity, and an overall unwillingness to be compartmentalized for a billion other variables I wont bore you with.
The idea that a FINITE system can somehow reproduce the results of an INFINITE system is one that only the purveyors of FINITE systems will claim.

Nobody wants ACTUAL personality, it seems, because that is much too unpredictable. We need "totally crazy" that is easily recalled, reproduced, and packaged.
Why is miley cyrus more popular than Mahavishnu orchestra?

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Post by joel hamilton » Mon May 10, 2010 10:22 am

Hilarious concept:

A plug in that does something "CRAZY", with presets named things like "super fucking crazy voice" or "total MAYHEM."

If you get the irony in that, you get why people still mix on consoles.

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Post by kslight » Mon May 10, 2010 10:42 am

Agreed mixing ITB is convenient especially for plugin automation but the sound is just not as interesting, and even if sound wasn't the issue the workflow IMHO is more logical OTB.

Mixing itb for me is similar to using a sampler instead of a grand piano...sure there are some realistic sample sets but right now the sound is not there for the nuances and character of the real deal, not to mention the lack of character just from not choosing your mics and pres and piano for the job, the sampler takes a lot of the personality out.

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Post by plurgid » Mon May 10, 2010 1:35 pm

I am thankful for all the responses in this thread. Though it might be well worn ground for a lot of people it's pretty interesting to me as a neophyte (and the non-hyperbolic opinion of the tape-op crowd is something I find valuable as well).

It sounds like the answer is: "analog magic is preferred by many", and I can buy that to an extent.

What I know of digital modeling kind of indicates that infinite level of detail is available with infinite CPU ... so you know ... if you have a shitload of CPU it would be possible for digital models to sound pretty damn convincing, but really never *exactly* the same as the analog gear ... which I guess is worth the price of repeated D/A conversions (presuming you have nice enough converters for it not to be an issue).

So anyhow, I think I get it now ... and man, it does sound cool. So I'm thinking, I should get me a mixing desk and forget about control surfaces ... but then someone posted this ...
mrc wrote:Something like this would be nice... http://losangeles.craigslist.org/lac/ms ... 40737.html
sixty-fucking-THOUSAND-dollars??!!! ... for a piece of gear for which is "vintage", which I presume probably means that people who know how to fix it are few and far between (and that it is likely to break in the near future if not already broken in some subtle way)??

What the hell? Seriously?

I'm a hobbiest, man. I record myself, and my band. I'm a middle aged father of 2 with a day job and a mortgage!. Our band will never be "discovered" and we could gig out every day of the week for the next 50 years and still never cover the cost of something like that.

So ... if I want a taste of this analog magic ... what would you guys suggest to be a *reasonable* way to get into it. Is there gear you would suggest you know ... way, way south of $60k ?

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Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Mon May 10, 2010 1:49 pm

plurgid wrote: So ... if I want a taste of this analog magic ... what would you guys suggest to be a *reasonable* way to get into it. Is there gear you would suggest you know ... way, way south of $60k ?
Rent a day or 2 at an analog studio.

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