• joeharley5

Post 2: Analogue gear: What and where.

In this post, I'll look in more detail at which pieces of gear I typically use and on what tracks I use them.



Gear!

To begin, lets look at what I typically mix and the typical patching I use for that type of music.


Electronic music is at the moment, the music I am working on most, so my gear choices reflect that. Obviously I am bound by the gear I have and so have to spend time considering what will be best used where. This is both a drawback and a benefit.


The drawback is, I only have a few pieces, so I can't slap an analogue 1176 on every channel. I have one and I love it, so I look for something that will benefit the most from it. This rules out stereo tracks. Most electronic tracks are stereo and the ones that are mono, may be some percussion elements or the sub bass. I don't want to use my 1176 on sub for two reasons. Firstly, I think there are better uses for its character and secondly, does a sub bass really need a 1176 for its compression charactoristics, or can II use another piece, better suited?


The above example is a question I ask myself when I am choosing which piece to place where.


As I mentioned in my last post, I have eight channels comming out of my 18i20 interface. Thats it, eight. My Rupert Neve Designs 5059 has 16 inputs and insert points. Now, the insert points and two stereo outputs are a god send!


Below I will detail a typical gear selection and some routing for an electronic track.


1. Drums go to inputs 1&2 on the 5059, on the insert, I have the ART PRO VLA and Thermionic Culture Rooster.

2. Parallel Kick/Snare on input 3, 1176 and behringer eq.

3 Sub on input 4, Presonus Erureka channel strip.

4. Bass on input 5&6, Alesis 3632.

5. Synths on input 7&8, SPL Vitalizer.

6. Master buss, Stereo output 1, to 5059 inouts 9&10, stereo output 2, back into the 18i20. Between stereo out 1 and inputs 9&10, sit the Drawmer 1978 and SPL Qure.


The above is a typical routing situation for an electronic track. Lets assume that the track has been mixed on a track by track bassis in Ableton Live, and that the groups are sent out to the 5059 for further processing with analogue gear.


A quick rundown of why I use these pieces in the manner I do.


I'll start with the Master Buss.


Firstly the 5059 sounds lovely, and I want as much audio to go through its circuits as possible. Being able to route it back into itself, means I can use both the silk controls, for Red and Blue silk.


Silk for everything!


This is usually the first thing I do, getting the character of the mixer first, as it affects everything. A bit of Red silk for the high mids, snare clarity, synth clarity, and a bit of overall brightness. It can be overdone though! The blue silk I find, adds some real punch and wight to a kick but down in the low mids, things can get muddy so, I tend to use less than the Red silk.


Why Red before Blue? Well, I read an article about mastering, and It suggested adding some high frequencies before a compressor, so that the high frequencies are more equal in volume to the low's. You might want to add some "air" or "clarity", without affecting the overall ballance, and push the low end into the compressor harder than is required.


Now, I want to actually compress the track. 3dB is the absolute maximum I will go for, if it sounds good, 2dB is my usual goal, with a few peaks allowed to go over. A fairly fast attack and release, as I want to tame the few peaks escaping and add that "glue" and some subtle punch, with a ratio of about 2:1.


Eq is the next step and the Qure has a lovely "Qure Filter" that adds 2dB over a fairly wide Q and sounds amazing on a mix up to about 5K. Above that and it's ear bleeding time. The range is from 2k - 6k. If the track is sounding a bit thing, I can shift the Qure filter down to 400hz - 2khz and sweep between those two frequencies. other than that, a little bit of low and a little bit of high. the Qure has tubes on the mid band only so, activating it but not actually using it, adds a touch of subtle brightness.


I want to look at the individual track busses now. Drums first.


The Drums have the ART Pro VLA and this unit is only compressing a few dB as electronic drums don't tend to be overly dynamic but I like the punch it gives the kick, and low frequency percussion with its slowest setting and a ratio of 4:1. I use the slower settings because the drums will be hit by the faster attack of the master buss compressor.


The Thermionic Culture Rooster acts as eq and I need to use it a little creatively. I have my sub down below 80hz and the rooster has a low eq of 60hz, not good for avoiding clashing. How do I get round this, I use the high pass filter, and slam the low eq till I find a combination that works. The mid/high band has 2.5k or 4k that sound great for kick or snare.


Red knobs of doom

If smashing the drums is needed, I can run the Rooster's attitude controll and push the drums into some distortion. This adds some serious character, not always a good thing but in the right song, really brings the drums to the fore and means less compression and it frees up the VLA for use elsewhere.


Next is the parallel kick/snare track. This can be either or both. It really depends on what the track calls for. In use, I slam the shit out of it with the 1176, little bit of eq from the Behringer eq, to help it fit with the drums and the track. This is then blended in on the 5059. It really depends on the context of the song but it means I get that punch and aggressiveness for the drums, whilst retaining the dynamics that are there. Its a creative application rather than a corrective one say for a real drummer and to bring their inconsistencies in volume under control.


Sub bass is through the Eureka and the reason for this is that you can swap the eq and compressor around. I will automate volume in the box, and I like to add some 60-80hz and feed that into the compressor on it's highest ratio and fastest attack and release times. That is pretty much it for sub. I like them to be stable, have all notes a similar volume and for it to be clean.


The bass buss has the 3632 strapped over it and I only use that as a limiter, the rest of the processing is in the box but some electronic bass sounds can be very dynamic and so, a little limiting at the end of the chain can help catch those peaks but keep the dynamics that can be integeral to the overall feel of the track. This isn't always the case, so I may use it as some gentle compression.


The last piece of gear is the Vitalizer that I use to widen the synth buss a bit and that about wraps up how I use my gear and why I use it.


Vitalizer, cheap but...vital?

Now I want to compare the above mentioned routing, to that of a roack song setting.


Below, are the two routing setups for comparrison, and I'll go over some of the differences.


Electronic

1. Drums go to inputs 1&2 on the 5059, on the insert, I have the ART PRO VLA and Thermionic Culture Rooster.

2. Parallel Kick/Snare on input 3, 1176 and behringer eq.

3 Sub on input 4, Presonus Erureka channel strip.

4. Bass on input 5&6, Alesis 3632.

5. Synths on input 7&8, SPL Vitalizer.

6. Master buss, Stereo output 1, to 5059 inouts 9&10, stereo output 2, back into the 18i20. Between stereo out 1 and inputs 9&10, sit the Drawmer 1978 and SPL Qure.


Rock

1. Drums go to inputs 1&2 on the 5059, on the insert, I have the ART PRO VLA and Thermionic Culture Rooster.

2. Vocals on input 3, 1176 and Presonus Eureka.

3 Bass, Behringer eq.

4. Backing Vocals/Synths on input 5&6, Alesis 3632.

5. Guitars on input 7&8, SPL Vitalizer.

6. Master buss, Stereo output 1, to 5059 inouts 9&10, stereo output 2, back into the 18i20. Between stereo out 1 and inputs 9&10, sit the Drawmer 1978 and SPL Qure.


The main differences are the Vocals, that make use of the 1176 on the Eureka's insert send. Fast comp, slow comp and then eq after. I'll do all compression and creative eq in the analogue domain, and corrective eq in the digital domain.


Love this beast!

Guitars get their processing in the box and the Vitalizer is only used to widen them slightly and add some harmonics and a little brightness.


Backing vocals or synths only make use of the 3632 in the same way as the bass buss in the electronic example, in that it is used as a limiter at the end of the chain.


We can see there are some differences but like I mentioned before, choices are dependent on the song itself and the limitations of the amoount of gear I have. however, this means I really spend time considering which piece is right for the job, and how it fits in the with the other processing. The main example, is using the VLA on drums with a slow atack, adding the low end back in with the Rooster and using the 1978 on the masterbuss to catch the peaks.


Now, these considerations should be applied to digital processing too but I find its far easier to swap a few plugins around untill you find the best and that takes away some of the consideration and planning at the beggining of the mix, which can really have an impact on your productivity as you either know exactly whats going on, or you spend time halfway through a mix, eating up time finding plugins that work together.


There are so many more things I'd like to talk about in this post but it would end up being a thesis and you'd either get bored or die from the ammount of tme it takes to read!


I'll look at indivudual tracks, busses and pieces of gear in future posts but thats it for now!


Thank you for taking the time to make it this far in the post!

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