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Broader sounding mixes

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by Tommy osuna, Jun 14, 2015.

  1. Tommy osuna

    Tommy osuna Active Member

    My question and comments has had a lot of debate .

    I noticed while I was tracking with the 610 and Avalon that when I was trying to mix afterward the tracks did not sit in the mix as well . When I tried the Pacifica and a neve 1073 the mixes in the box were so much better . They had so much more depth .

    I mix and record by feel although , I've had a couple of decades of experience with many pieces of gear so I understand how to get many sounds .

    My question is aside from the obvious these pieces of gear are all top notch why the real difference in depth and just over all control and precision when mixing .

    All were done without compression

    I'm not posting the tracks because what was recoded is not really what I want out in the world as music This question is for more seasoned engineers that have had lots of experience with these pieces of gear .

  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Was that the Avalon VT-737SP Tommy ? You may just not like the sound of tubes ;)
    What instruments are we talking about ?
  3. Tommy osuna

    Tommy osuna Active Member

    Yes the Avalon 737 . Gtr, vocals ,drums bass .I guess just in general .
  4. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    That may explain what you are experiencing to a certain degree.
    The 610 and the 737 are driven by tubes. In general while being very clean at low gain input, when you drive them a bit, they add some harmonic distortions that may let you feel as if they are not so clean than a solid state preamp like the Pacifica.
    Other common behaviour of tubes is that they sometime have less headroom and have slower dynamics.
    I may sound like Tubes are not good, but on the contrary, they are a very good choice for vocals and acoustic guitars but I tend to avoid them on drums and bass.
    Altought many are living by the 610 on bass, I feel it may be on basses that are quite clear or thin sounding or if someone wants a rounder sound. My Yamaha 5 string sound a lot better with my ISA preamps be cause it is faster so the dynamics are better.

    Before discarting the 610 and 737 I suggest you try them at lower gain and higher output level and vice-versa just to evaluate what kind of sound you like ;)
    Tommy osuna likes this.
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I might be the odd man out here, but I've never cared for the 737. And, it's not as if I don't like the sound of tube pre's, because there are times when I really do. I've just never liked the sound of the 737, and I've used it more than just a few times.

    I recall feeling quite let down the very first time I used it - this was back when it was first released, like around '95 or so, and there had been quite the buzz about it leading up to its release, so I was quite excited about getting a chance to use one.
    I was disappointed. I found it to sound muddy, lacking depth, and, the presence was shy - although I need to re-state that...it was a little odd, because while the presence that I wanted was shy, the presence that I didn't want was quickly achievable.

    It took quite a bit of dialing-in to get it to even just sound close to what I wanted, but I never really did get "the" sound I was after. Having worked with other tube pres before that - and since - I've never had to work as hard to get a pleasing tone out of a pre as I did with the 737. A lot of engineers might not consider "depth" to be a description often-used when talking about the sounds of pre amps, and, maybe it's not the best word, but I knew exactly what you were talking about when you mentioned it being an issue. It's about how the track that you record with it sounds in relation to the rest of the tracks, and getting it to "sit" right in the mix. The 737 gave me that problem every time I used one.

    Flame suite engaged.
    Tommy osuna and pcrecord like this.
  6. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I never tried it, but you are not the first I read that doesn't like the 737 ;)
    At 2.5k, you I guess you would expect more.
  7. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Based on my own personal experiences with it, I don't believe it's worth that figure.

    But, I also know that it's been used on many hit recordings... so what do I know, right?
    What I do know is that I've worked with many tube preamps ( and tube mics as well) in the past that didn't take me nearly as long to get the tones that I was after. In some cases, I managed to get what I was after immediately.

    Like anything else, I suppose there's a degree of personal preference involved... it just so happened that it wasn't mine.
    Tommy osuna likes this.
  8. Tommy osuna

    Tommy osuna Active Member

    Well that's probably as clear as we will get on this . It's just something I've noticed when using the 737 mostly the 610 does not give nearly as many issues infact I really like it in comparison. Thanks
    pcrecord likes this.
  9. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Sorry I'm late to the party, but I've been fascinated with depth in recordings myself. And I belive that beside good mixing and nice Input chains. The depth comes from the quality of the room/instrument, and the quality of the conversions/sample rate/monitoring directly.

    $10 yard sale guitars are known for character. Rarely is that character described as lush rich or full. Intruments producing lush pleasing harmonics are expensive, and in vocalists it's rare.

    I have the ability to listen to the same songs thru my home studio speakers in various current online broadcasters- iTunes Amazon Iheart, ect. The sample rate data compression format directly impact the nuance of depth. They 'sound' pretty much the same in tone timbre and frequny balance, but sound flat in a 3d sense.

    I belive this is a more exhaggerated/audible effect, similar to what happens in the conversion process. DA conversion makes a bigger diff than I knew a few years ago, and I now veiw the DA as part of the speaker itself. As another component of the speaker.

    But that's where your depth comes and goes from imo, provided your listening area can reproduce it. My rule of thumb even tho its crude and general, is tubes warm, transformers big. There are obviously every option out there, like clean sounding tube pres, but in general.
    Tommy osuna and pcrecord like this.
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    The biggest "depth" pre I have ever heard is the M-2b .
    I also get a particular glue depth from a Bricasti or well coded reverb on a 2-bus. The key is true stereo and/or tools that don't shift.
    I pan LRC.
    I also take advantage of well designed or coded M/S tools that give me ways to preserve the mid and side information perfectly to the export.

    Chatting away on this...
    • I get depth from the change that occurs in a DA pass between two DAWs going from 96k to 44.1 (I do not bounce!). I cannot hear the small yet vary valuable change I feel is really what counts most... unless I have good DA monitoring system in the first place.
    • Being able to identify and execute "cause and effect", which is right in front of us, is why I choose hybrid and the modular approach.
    • Breaking a mix into sections, (channels, groups, AUX , master sections) up into steps between two DAWs) has advantages. I believe a DAW can get a lot more of what we think analog does, ITB now, if we take a closeer look into these sections.
    • Digital audio is only as smart as we are. ( per-say)
    • I put more value in ways to hear transparent change. The less I pile up tracks and buses, effects on the master section of one DAW, the better it usually sounds upstream.
    • executing steps, like the right time to do or not do something in a mix, especially when it comes to adding high end.. has clear advantages.
    This is just a hunch as well:
    • The reason some people love more obvious character gear may be because its easier to hear it on poorer playback systems.
    • Hybrid is popular because it allows us to insert and manipulate analog distortion.
    • The change that happens between the round trip is obvious, but its not what I would call good for all passes because it also makes things that were better off left alone (less conversion or less smearing or avoiding a transformer pass) adds character to a mix. Not all tracks need to go through transformers.
    • A stereo analog pass shifts the audio. If the analog gear is good, its usually better able to preserve the shift. Cheap analog gear will shift audio more which can appear to be smoother and more interesting on its own . Some people think this effect is appealing and even better sounding. I am on the fence with that because it may also effect the phase. Keep in mind, this can also be bleeding in other captured unpassed tracks (round trip single tracks). This is a really bad thing, which is a big topic, rarely ever discussed. This is also why I do not trust transformer based summing consoles. I'd much rather choose dedicated stems that have transformers on it to an entire console adding transformers shifting randomly throughout your entire mix . Shifting the transients takes a tight mix and tuns it into a soupy smeared mess. Each to there own on that.
    • Today, we are a lot smarter about preserving phase. This is one reason why Dangerous Music and SPL do not put trannies in their summing consoles.
    • The less times you pass through an ADC, the truer the transients and the more presences. In cheap gear, clarity translates into metallic zzz.. This is why analog gear helps bad convertion. So, on one hand, we are using analog gear to sweeten up bad conversion, while smearing it. Its a good bad cycle. You are warming up good after bad. All to loose the phase which is where big fat sound needs tight phase.
    • Cheap 2-bus gear appears to spread the stereo width. It also becomes smaller in bandwidth but wider because the phase is shifting. Smaller reduced bandwidth which is also like using filters, may appear to sit in a mix that is hard to control. This is why some Pre's work better for some sources. Could you get the same effect, with an EQ. Maybe? Its definably worth researching more. See MEQ-5
    • Phase phase phase. I check every channel to the next for phase.
    And to go on a bit more...
    Being able to blend smaller (character) and larger channels (more transparent) together in the right way helps mix bigger mixes. This is why I feel its important to use character within a transparent mixing/ summing workflow over having a console that turns everything into its common footprint. I personally don't think its great to have something that turns an entire mix (including the monitor section) into one sound. Too much of a good thing spoils the ability to hear variety between character and transparency. Which is why we most likely like certain pres in certain styles. They are also pushing certain freq which may be why they fit so well in certain songs. Which may be why we can also emulate comps and analog gear ITB.. I think EQing is a lot to do with how to emulate a particular pre.
    Having the ability to make changes without anyone knowing you were actually doing something always sounds bigger to me. Meaning, if I can create just enough of a change on something (without effecting the phase of it) so it stands out, but doesn't detract from the fullness of the original source, to my ears, this always yields bigger and fuller mix. In fact, I can always find ways to improve phase in a mix which always improves the fullness and dynamics of a mix.
    The way music fits together and how its all tuned in a room, that is also timed for the song has a lot more to do with depth than a lot of hyped out gear does, imho. I personally love transparent big rail gear and look towards lining up everything I can, better instead.
    I put more time into the music and how tones fit together than the actual gear. I think its really easy to be fooled/ distracted to what a lot of analog gear does.

    Good songs sound great because they are tuned and played well. Everything seems to fit.
    How many times have we worked on a song that just sounded great because it had that simple yet so big and roomy sound to it.

    Hearing what not to do is more important to how I think today. I love this saying: It took me a few years to learn about recording, a few more to learn about what all the gear does, and a lifetime to learn what not to do.
    I've been seriously distracted over the wrong kind of gear for years.
    kmetal likes this.
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I have no idea about those pieces of gear but I think its a fun topic that is more to do with the freq curve of the gear. The curve is obviously right for your taste and the general tones in the song. Do you think I'm right or why do you think one is preferred over the other? Do you think an EQ ( like an MEQ-5 Pultec) combined with either pre would get close results?
    I tend to think so. If I was tracking a lot of guitar, I would be adding one to my chain.
  12. Tommy osuna

    Tommy osuna Active Member

    well I would tend to agree with the eq portion of your response
  13. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Thanks. I think EQ curves have everything to do with character products, plus the added noise of course. If you've ever owned a few MEQ-5 (Pulse Techniques and a Bricasti), you may hear how those two items can make most pre's sound even better, or less impressive. The mid curves take any track and make it broader. That is, if the rest of the mix isn't crowding the mids of course. Which always comes back to filters and EQing.
    The point i am making through and throughout all my posts is always about hearing and recognizing why rather than just saying you like something.

    Why do you like one pre over the other. What is is about one over the other?

    All the rest... I'm speaking about mixing and mastering of course. Which is once again a lot to do with EQ and phase.

    How you get your sound before it reaches the DAW is another topic. Maybe this is what you are really talking about, > tracking and nothing to do with mixing? Broader sounding mixes?

    I've given you my thoughts,
    Why do you think the 1073 is so much "depth"? I've owed GR MP 2NV and they are a similar build to a 1073 and I don't hear them as even close to what you hear once i got more into the above mentioned. They are small sounding in comparison to alternatives.They are of course, middy sounding which is maybe just what you are looking for?

    imho of course.
  14. Tommy osuna

    Tommy osuna Active Member

    Well the a designs pacifuca I use also . I'm pretty capable of putting the right instruments in the right sonic space it's more really about vibe I just don't feel it with the avalon like I do the 1073 or the Pacifica so maybe it's more about the solid state issue that makes more sense to me at this point
  15. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I don't know if it really does come down to a simple "SS vs Tube" scenario, Tommy. Certainly, tube gear sounds different than SS does, and to take it even one step further, transformer-less SS gear sounds different than SS gear that uses transformers, and to take that even further, not all Input XFO's or Op Amps sound the same, either ... So I'm not so sure that it can be reduced to a comparison that is this simple, because not all Tube gear sounds the same, and, not all SS gear sounds the same, either. For example, I'm not implying that an SSL pre sounds worse or better than a Neve pre does... or vice versa, because while I think they sound different, that doesn't mean that one sounds better than the other for everything... "different" and "better" are not always the same thing.

    I think it really all comes down to context. What may sound good ( or not so good) in a simple solo vocal A/B test, might not sound the same, once it's used in relation to the other things going on in a particular song/mix.

    As I've mentioned previously, I've worked with plenty of tube pre's (and tube mics) that I thought sounded great - for what I was using them on at the time. Other times, SS sounded better.

    This is, to a similar extent, why very few engineers will actually do a mix using the "solo" mode on any given track. In this mode, you can work on getting the "perfect" kick drum sound, ( or vocal, or whatever) but only in and of itself, because once you open up the other tracks around it, it might not sound good at all. ( Context. ) ;)

    So, while Model A might sound different ( or maybe better, or worse) than Model B - using one single audio source as the comparison factor - this doesn't mean that it's the right model to use for everything, and I believe this, regardless of whether the models in question are SS or Tube.

    pcrecord likes this.
  16. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'm interested as well.
    I bet Bos could better explain how different designs suit a particular approach of music or instrument which imho also has a direct correlation to how tones end up fitting into a mix. Is it better to track it or mix it. I think its better to track something when you are dead certain its your sound but I'm also on the fence as to how far I will go when it comes to how a pre or tone forces you into a box. What's cool today, may be a major disapointment after the fact.

    How fast the pre responds at particular freq and transients plays a factor too.

    I think we are heading towards a more common tracking system: Example : Antelope Orion32 + MP32.
    Being said, my preference would be 32 channels of Millennia M-2b and look to filtering ITB over using Neve flavours, A Designs etc.. This pre for that, and that pre for this approach doesn't make any sense to me anymore. I liked how we used one console back in the 70's. Today, because we have DAW's that take the place of most of the strip, I basically only want transformerless designs with big rails and look to hybrid summing solutions to add tranny vibe to only a few stems in an entire mix.
    I like the biggest rail, biggest capture to start with (m-2b ya :love: ) then look to the mix. I prefer mixing big clean captured tracks. Its easier to reduce ITB than it is to expand. This is my approach to broader, deeper mixes.
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  17. Tommy osuna

    Tommy osuna Active Member

    Like I said its a big topic . I do like what I'm hearing on this forum it's so pleasant to get real responses !
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  18. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Trade it for a Manley lol. You can hear the tubes a little, but it's basically big and clear. I guess I'd describe it as somewhere in the middle of tube and tranny?

    Also even tho I say it all the time, eq and compressor boxes give as little or, as much, or wAymore character than a preamp can, so it's about the collective of the chain. Your not the first person I know of to be 'meh' about the Avalon.
  19. audiokid

    audiokid Staff


    Guitar is my instrument. The MEQ-5 Pulse Technique is a favourite mid freq essential . Nothing rivals this for analog mid freq instrument shaping.
    I've owned a few Tube version and I think the API SS tranny ( I plan to buy a few) might be the better choice for guitar. The tube versions are sweet, maybe better for acoustic instruments, SS better for some attitude. Either version, those combined with your favourite pre, I don't think you could have a better combo for guitar and pretty much everything on the planet. Absolute cream of the crop. Pulse Technique pultecs (not impostors) are all I would ever buy now . As far as EQ's are concerned... Everything but these pultecs can be had ITB.


  20. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Try an ISA, they do a good job on guitars too ;) I use a combination of dynamic and ribbon mic with them...
    audiokid likes this.

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