Outboard Gear (Pairs?)

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Clydesdale
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Outboard Gear (Pairs?)

Post by Clydesdale » Sun May 03, 2015 10:06 am

Hello kind strangers,

I had an older account, but ignored the rules of writing my info down, and have since lost my credentials. So, I'm by no means 'new' here, as I have been appreciating this magical dungeon for many moons.

I'm doing some upgrading to the personal home recording setup and wanted to get any and all opinions, as well as have a couple questions confirmed/denied, if you have a moment...

Currently using:

- Apogee Quartet
- Great River - single-channel pre
- A few decent (Shure) mics
- Warm Audio WA-76 Compressor (1)
- Cubase 8 on a Mac Pro, and Macbook Pro

I had wanted to get a good mic or two, and was also looking at buying another pre, possibly dual channel, as I'm currently lacking in that department.

Sweetwater has mic month going on and I saw the Universal Audio 4710d bundled with a pair of AKG C414 XLII's. The price point, plus the no-interest financing made me pull the trigger, as it really opens up my options in so many areas down the line, and gives me 2 great mics for the price of one.

I have been enjoying the WA 76, so was also looking at their new EQ, and have heard good things (or good hype perhaps). In talking to the my sales 'buddy', he has always 'encouraged' me to get pairs of certain outboard gear (compressor and now EQ), if possible. Can someone help me understand the true value of having these in pairs? He mentioned master buss compression, and other stereo applications, but I'm somewhat of an amateur with a lot of this stuff. Does the average home recording enthusiast really 'need' pairs, or is it just an ideal situation?

Does stereo recording really change the game, considering I mostly record acoustic/electric guitar, bass, vocals and mostly use software for percussion?

Budget is certainly an issue, so buying 2 EQ's, plus a possible second compressor would really max out my finances. Is just having one of each of value, or would it only make me realize I 'needed' pairs? Are there solid plugins that I can invest in for significantly less money, especially considering I'm not a professional by any means? I want gear that has room for me to learn, but feel all this might be a bit much for me right now

Any thoughts or suggestions would be very much appreciated!

Best,

Nathan
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kslight
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Post by kslight » Sun May 03, 2015 11:26 am

Nah I wouldn't buy a pair unless you realized a need. Unless you are recording piano, drums, or classical music, or multiple instruments at once?which I'm guessing you're not. Of course your "sales engineer" sees a value in pairs..

Its definitely nice to have a pair of mic pres, but buying two or more of everything else is probably a losing battle unless you really need that much gear to use concurrently. I personally can't afford a single channel of, let alone a pair of any outboard gear worth putting on the master buss, IMHO.

Clydesdale
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Post by Clydesdale » Sun May 03, 2015 12:06 pm

kslight wrote:Nah I wouldn't buy a pair unless you realized a need. Unless you are recording piano, drums, or classical music, or multiple instruments at once?which I'm guessing you're not. Of course your "sales engineer" sees a value in pairs..

Does recording stereo constitute a 'need' at all? Will it prove annoying to mix stereo recorded guitar with only a single outboard EQ?
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Post by kslight » Sun May 03, 2015 12:17 pm

Not necessarily, because if you want to process multiple tracks through that singular EQ you can always print one track through the EQ, then go back and run another track through, etc?assuming you are mixing ITB? You'll of course have to compensate for the latency of this process, but there is always a workaround.

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Post by Clydesdale » Sun May 03, 2015 12:28 pm

kslight wrote:Not necessarily, because if you want to process multiple tracks through that singular EQ you can always print one track through the EQ, then go back and run another track through, etc?assuming you are mixing ITB? You'll of course have to compensate for the latency of this process, but there is always a workaround.
Def mixing ITB. Can you fill me in on that potential latency issue right quick?
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Post by kslight » Sun May 03, 2015 12:41 pm

The latency is caused by d-a and a-d conversion. After running your track out and back in it will be in a slightly different spot than before, you will need to nudge it back in time to where it was.

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Post by The Scum » Sun May 03, 2015 1:25 pm

To circle back to the original question:

If you're working in stereo, having things in paris can be useful. If you're working with panned mono tracks, it's perhaps useful on the mix.

True stereo is a little more detailed discipline than just using pairs of tracks. The New Stereo Soundbook is very informative. Before I read it, my stereo work was pretty haphazard.

With a pair of 414's, you've got a really versatile mic for stereo work. They'll do all of the patterns for mid-side, Blumlein, XY, ORTF, etc.

I'll use stereo techniques on acoustic ensembles, drum overheads, and I almost always track acoustic guitar in stereo. It can lend depth and realism that's hard to recreate otherwise.

Tracking in stereo requires a pair of preamps.

That said, I don't go too far out of my way for pairing EQs or compressors...eventually I acquired some pairs, but stereo wasn't the primary intention. I've got two Distressors, but they're almost always being used a two mono units...if one weren't there, I'd sub something else in it's place.

Compressors are an interesting topic. A stereo compressor isn't the same as two mono compressors side-by-side. A stereo compressor usually reacts to input on either channel equally. Some compressors are two channels in one box, and have that circuitry already inside, enabled by the "stereo" switch. To do stereo compression with two individual units, they usually get tied together to work in stereo. To do it with an 1176, there's an external box that makes it work.

If you're working with plugins, most plugins just naturally adapt to become stereo units when you put them on stereo tracks.

My recommendation: get the book and learn from it, using the 414's and 4710. If you're really set on buying gear, get a good stereo mic bar, like the Grace or AEA to use with the 414's. Once you've internalized some of the concept of working in stereo, you can decide whether you need pairs of outboard.
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Post by Clydesdale » Sun May 03, 2015 3:47 pm

The Scum wrote:To circle back to the original question:

With a pair of 414's, you've got a really versatile mic for stereo work. They'll do all of the patterns for mid-side, Blumlein, XY, ORTF, etc.

I'll use stereo techniques on acoustic ensembles, drum overheads, and I almost always track acoustic guitar in stereo. It can lend depth and realism that's hard to recreate otherwise.

Tracking in stereo requires a pair of preamps.


My recommendation: get the book and learn from it, using the 414's and 4710. If you're really set on buying gear, get a good stereo mic bar, like the Grace or AEA to use with the 414's. Once you've internalized some of the concept of working in stereo, you can decide whether you need pairs of outboard.

Thanks so much for the response!

So you personally do a lot of acoustic in stereo? Is that mostly big production stuff, or simple tracking as well?

Seems that would be the only instrument I would really consider tracking that way. I imagine the 414's in combo with the 4710 will be pretty inspiring, but part of me is wondering if that rig is really necessary just to be able to record acoustic guitar in stereo. It will certainly be nice to have the option, as well as another pre(s) on top of the apogee and GR.

I guess I'm now wondering if it wouldn't make more sense to just get another solid single channel pre amp and a mic or two. Will the 4710 have advantages over two unique pres, for stereo applications?
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Post by The Scum » Sun May 03, 2015 7:34 pm

So you personally do a lot of acoustic in stereo? Is that mostly big production stuff, or simple tracking as well?
Actually, I do very little acoustic guitar. Though when I do, I'll track in stereo, even if I knock it down to mono in the mix.

And I think my approach is almost the opposite of what you're getting at - if it's solo, I'm almost certainly doing it in stereo, so it stands alone more easily. Or a close mic plus stereo room mics...or stereo close & room. If it's one element in something bigger, making it stand alone is less important.
I guess I'm now wondering if it wouldn't make more sense to just get another solid single channel pre amp and a mic or two. Will the 4710 have advantages over two unique pres, for stereo applications?
"True" stereo techniques are based on how we hear - with two ears that are reasonably well matched. So these techniques use signal chains that represent that - paired/matched mics & preamps at the least, paired EQ and compression if you get fancier. It's a kinda old-fashioned, well-reasoned, and rigorous approach, but can also be very useful.

Though it's not the only approach. I just finished a mix where the drum overheads were actually an RCA ribbon over the drummers right shoulder, and an EV635a over the snare/hats...probably through similarly mismatched preamps...I'm not sure if I took notes. The intention during tracking was that I'd probably pick only one and use it...but the pair sounded pretty good hardpanned, so that's what stuck.
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Post by Marc Alan Goodman » Fri May 15, 2015 1:17 pm

I only have a couple pairs in the studio, and mostly because I want to use more than one at a time rather than using them in stereo. I find that having two many stereo pairs in a mix starts to defeat the purpose of having a nice wide image, all the side information starts to cloud up real quick and I only end up focusing on making the middle really work. With one or maybe two stereo elements in a track it's a lot easier to build a real space.

All that aside: having stereo pairs is nice when you can afford it, but it's certainly not always necessary. As long as I had SOMETHING stereo I think I'd rather have more options. But that's just me.

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Post by vvv » Fri May 15, 2015 4:33 pm

Me on the cheap end, I find closely similar mic's good for overheads, where I want a stereo picture of a single instrument/performance. (I have used mostly AT4040's for years.)

After that, I want different mic's for stereo sources. If I record two acoustic guitars onna track, I pan the mic pairs opposite, ex., with an SDC (often neck) and a LDC (often body) on each guitar, one guitar has the LDC left and SDC right, the other panned LDC right and SDC left - usually not hard-panned, just spaced to get some spread, often 9, 11, 1 and 3:00.

Re pre's, the only time I feel I need matching pre's is for those overheads, or possibly for stereo keyboards that I'm recording DI.

I have a few compressors, and half of them are 2-channel, stereo-linkable, altho' I only use them tracking, as I mix ITB.

I do EQ, if necessary, ITB (other than what may be onna pre, or on a mic, etc.).
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Post by losthighway » Sun May 17, 2015 2:37 pm

Compressors are kind of a different thing (single compressors with stereo strapping jacks are cool!), but when it comes to pre's I always figured, if you like the pre and you want to record a lot, why not have two? Then you can record two different mono sources with a really good pre for each, or have stereo tracks going through identical pres.

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Post by Marc Alan Goodman » Sun May 17, 2015 5:14 pm

losthighway wrote:Compressors are kind of a different thing (single compressors with stereo strapping jacks are cool!), but when it comes to pre's I always figured, if you like the pre and you want to record a lot, why not have two? Then you can record two different mono sources with a really good pre for each, or have stereo tracks going through identical pres.
I do support that. I've never been a big fan of having lots of different pres around. Mostly I use our desk unless I REALLY need another flavor, and we only really keep two other flavors around.

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