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Hi, How is everyone today?


I have recently done several test to confirm or "unconfirm" the issues surrounding mastering in the box vs going thru vintage analog gear.  I did this test based on my last analog chain using gml, neve and ssl gear.


Here are the results I came up with.



The System

I did this test using two instances of Sequoia 11 and two card interfaces.  I was able to send an analog signal out of Seqoia and then re-route the signal back into another interface using a second instance of Sequoia.  This was the only way to recapture the signal without using two computers.  It was a pain but once the system was set up it wasn't too bad.  What I found with Sequoia was it created a ton of backup files and strange files you wouldn't expect to see in your project.  Up to 10 files for one project?  Too much! 


Vintage Gear

I used a 33609 Neve Compressor, a Alan Smart Compressor (not at the same time), a GML, a LA3A and a Summit EQ.


After two months of listening thru these boxes I then went into the box with emulators and I was shocked to find that they sounded almost identical.  It is somewhat a workaround to use the Neve in the box due to the level coming back from this emulator.


The one thing that I did notice was that the levels were impossible to achieve going strictly out of the box.  I ended up running a brickwall limiter on the output section of the capture.

With the loudness war you have to use a serious limiter at the end of the process. 


I had many disucssions with guys around town who have done comparions and they all agree that the emulators are great.


I would have never believed this until I heard it for myself.  It is true that the right plugins can get you a great sound.  I think that the average listener is more use to a digital sound and mp3 format and the analog fat sound is "muddy to them".  I can't believe I am saying that being from a total analog background at Tanner in Memphis.


I still think that tracking drums and bass on analog is the best way to get the bottom punch.


In Conclusion:


I guess I will stay in the box with emulators now that I am not assoicated with a major studio with toys laying around.  I can recreate the sound in the box.  The price of the vintage gear vs the plugins is a nobrainer for me.  The rates here in town have dropped so much that you have to stay competitive and I would rather be working in Wavelab with Cubetec Plugins and Emulators.


Your thoughts ??????




Tags: engineer, mastering

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I've never been convinced mastering is about anything other than good taste, doing your homework to determine where the goal posts are for a given project and monitoring that reveals enough that you won't be trying to "fix" something that ain't broke.
here here !!! check out the new UAD Studer 800 ;)

might find some of that "bottom punch" you seek !!!

and as far as emulations and in the box- i recently started using the Hollywood String program- beyond my inequities as an arranger- all but the most experienced string aficionado would be hard pressed to tell the difference !
Hey Anita, It's good to run into you here ... Happy New Year to you.  I have retired all of my outboard gear and only work in the box now.  I am really glad that most emulators offer trial versions because I like to compare different ones.  It seems like very few plugins are transparent and with the exception of UAD cambridge, everything I use has a unique color before anything is boosted or cut.  If I don't like the color, I don't get it.

Hi Anita... thanks for the post. Here's a thought to consider.

Everybody probably understands the tradeoffs involved with software versions of classic gear vs. the analog version. One that isn't often discussed is investment value. Perhaps that isn't the right term, 'cause nobody's going to retire off the appreciation that their gear earns... maybe "preservation of capital" is a better way to put it.

When the day comes to sell off a piece of gear, I can generally get about what I paid for it, IF I buy the real thing. I won't be able to do that with my UAD plug-ins after a few more years. Of course, you only get one channel's use out of the real deal, where you can duplicate compressors on every mix input with plug-ins. They're a lot more portable, of course. And some of the hardware versions are just plain impossible to find/afford, like Pultecs or EMTs. But whenever it's practical, I greatly prefer the real analog hardcopies over emulations just to preserve my investment... cause at the rate I'm going, it's gonna take a LONG time to recoup those dollars spent on gear... certainly longer than my current computer will last.

Don't get me wrong... I like my plug-ins (I don't have that many, just the ones that came with my UAD Solo) and will continue to use them, I just plain like using old stuff (as long as it's in good shape and not worn out, of course). For example, I've been slowly collecting stuff to go in my DBX900 rack, and would love to replace the Gain Brains and Kepexes that we had at my old studio. This stuff is generally still around and can be had on eBay, and is- for the most part-repairable. And if things get really tight, I can re-sell them.

Thanks to all, really enjoy reading the discussions- BG

For sure, the end "user" (buyer) won't have a CLUE if you used emulators, external analog, or any combination in between.  Use what works for you, what gets the sound the client wants.  We all get WAY too caught up in the "process" over the fact that it's how does the MUSIC sound, and most important of all, HOW GOOD/BAD is the song, and is that SONG going to motivate the consumer to actually part with their hard earned $$$$'s.


Don't get lost looking at the bark on the trees, step back and take in the whole forest.  You'll be happier and live longer 8)


Glenn Meadows

AND, to steal a line from a seriously famous engineer, and morph it a bit,


"Nobody ever walked out of a record store humming the "plug-in" ".






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