Let's talk about analog console workflow

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Matt C.
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Let's talk about analog console workflow

Post by Matt C. » Mon Jul 04, 2016 9:20 am

Been thinking about the workflow and ergonomics of analog consoles lately since I've been thinking about upgrading. Right now I've got a Tascam m520 that I've been working on for about 7 years, and while I like some things about it, I've never been happy with the workflow it seems to force on me. As far as I can tell, there are no analog consoles that have the features/signal flow that I want, so I'm trying to wrap my head around the best way to use the designs that are out there. I'm looking to get opinions about a few things, from the perspective of tracking and mixing OTB.

1. My 520 is a pretty standard split design. I don't really like how it forces me to work, and I'm not sure if it's just the reality of the design, or if I'm just missing something. I don't like building a too-simple mix in the monitor section while tracking, and then having to start from scratch on the channel faders when it's time for a "real" mix. Anyone have any working methods they like on this type of setup?

2. Anyone have any console designs or features that they love? particular things they think help facilitate an easy OTB working method?

j.harv
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Post by j.harv » Tue Jul 05, 2016 4:48 pm

I have a Tascam 388, which is an 8 channel mixer with built in 8 track reel to reel recorder. The work flow using this thing is amazing! So easy to use, no re-patching, and a stand alone monitor section. And they sound pretty damn good too for 1/4' tape.

drumsound
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Post by drumsound » Tue Jul 12, 2016 12:46 pm

If you had a larger channel count you could set it up with a split style that had full channels for your tape/recorder/computer returns that you didn't need to switch when it came to mix time. Keep EQ and send settings, but start using the channels you used for mic inputs as line inputs for effects returns and whatnot.

I say the assuming the monitor channels on your Tascam are not "full featured" with EQ and sends and buss assignments.

The Scum
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Post by The Scum » Thu Jul 14, 2016 10:46 am

As Tony says, if you've got more full channels than inputs/tracks, you can use the extra inputs as full-features monitor strips during tracking.

If you're in the post-modern age of tracking with outboard preamps, then the input signals never need to hit the desk before the recorder, and you can build the mix in-place as you go.

Most monitor sections (whether split or inline) are less full featured than the input strips, even at the $100K+ level. There were a couple of D&Rs that had good EQ on both paths, as I remember.
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Matt C.
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Post by Matt C. » Fri Jul 15, 2016 8:14 am

good point, although I'm not sure I have enough space for a console big enough to do that.

One thing I always wonder about workflow with a split console: I'm in the habit of sending the tape machine healthy levels of everything, then building a rough mix in the monitor/tape return section while tracking. Does anyone do it differently, like leaving the monitor section levels all the way up for everything and building a rough mix with the levels you're SENDING to the recorder? seems like it wouldn't be ideal in terms of noise, but in a way it's simpler.

Right now I use some outboard preamps, but really I'd prefer to ditch them and use a decent sounding console for (almost) everything. And I'm finding that if I'm gonna make the console such a central part of everything I do in the studio, it's hard to find one with a feature set I like

What I really want is basically a console that puts the recorder (tape machine, computer, whatever) at the insert point, so that the main channel fader is always receiving the tape return and nothing needs to change when mixing. I saw that Steve Albini has a Neotek board they modified to do this, but I don't think it's a stock feature of any consoles.

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Post by drumsound » Tue Jul 19, 2016 9:05 pm

To a certain extent I am building the mix in how I send to tape, but things change. When I worked exclusively on tape there was more concern with signal to noise ratio, so I would print things a bit hotter, knowing I might turn them down in the mix, but that I kept the hiss at bay. Often on playback someone asks for something to be turned up or down, so I do that on the monitor section, and its no big deal. Its quite rare that I'm ever working on a song from tracking to mix in one full swoop, so I might rebuild the mix a bunch of times anyway. Or I might have before mixing with a computer involved.

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