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DAW or Console

Discussion in 'Recording' started by DownSouth, Nov 6, 2001.

  1. DownSouth

    DownSouth Guest

    We have recorded our album using a ProTools Mix+ system w/ a Lucid ADA8824 & Digi 24 bit ADAT brg , a Mackie 8 bus, (2) Fatso's for tracks, and a VariMu on Vocals w/ a U87 mic. As we are doing hip hop/R&B we did not use any acoustic instruments. We ran all the tracks through the Fatso's in a few passes & recorded the vocals with the U87.

    Question is it's mixing time in about a week and we are still torn between:

    A. Mixing in Protools- 4 stereo stems out to the Mackie board, using a combo of DSP FX and outboard FX mixed to 1/2" w/ Manley Vari-Mu on the Stereo Bus. Cheaper.


    B. Running direct outs from ProTools into an SSL and mixing to 1/2" in the more conventional manner. more expensive.

    I for one have never mixed inside of a DAW and am a little nervous. We are using the same engineer either way we go. For those of you who have experienced both what could be the differences in the two. For the type of music we do, does it matter which way. Thanks
  2. e-cue

    e-cue Active Member

    I try to mix ALL my projects in protools. It took me a while to get used to mixing exclusively in a daw, so if you go this route, expect to spend a little more time. However, the 1st time I did this, I instantly noticed the benifits. You no longer have to be conserned with recalls. If the client want's to change something, you can do it in your boxers at home at any hour (provided you have a system). I have had songs mixed that needed vocal changes for whatever reason and tracked vocals in hotel rooms with my portable rig & save the label thousands in studio bills.
    Most of the music I do is hip-hop & r&b, and after Sept 11th we've had to change several "questionable" lyrics and since everything was mixed in protools, we 'fixed' the song in the time it would have taken to align a 1/2" machine. (btw: I normally print to 1/2" & dat when available some my mastering engineer can choose which one is best for mastering)
  3. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Go the SSL route with the half inch man. Believe me, I'm a protools convert and about to buy a procontrol but you are making a record not conducting an experiemnt. If you've got the money save yourself the time and grief right now. Trust your engineer knows what he is doing with an SSL and will be more hands on than you so just sit back point him in the right direction and get the result you all want. No harm in doing a couple of mixes on the DAW simultaneously just to give yourself an idea and prehaps to able to take this route next time. But don't try and learn a system and make a record at the same time. Get the record sounding great and then when you have some time so what it would have taken to get a similar or better result without the SSL. Good luck, hope it sounding great already.
  4. Dave McNair

    Dave McNair Active Member

    No question, mix on the SSL to 1/2" Just having analog outboard gear will go a long way towards getting the most of of your tracks. Plus, you still will have all the power of PT's right there for any last minuit edits are whatever. I have been working a lot lately in DAW's and there still is nothing better than having all the faders, eqs, compressors, ect right there in front of you. I could give a ^#$% about recalls if I get the sound I want. Plus if you keep good notes and the console is fitted with recall, you can get it back anyway.
  5. Jon Atack

    Jon Atack Member

    I agree with Dave. Provided your engineer is familiar with the SSL and the studio is well-maintained and provides a good assistant, I would definitely go that route. What kind of SSL is it exactly that you would mix on?

  6. DownSouth

    DownSouth Guest

    SSL 9096J We are using the same engineer who is familiar with both ways. I know I can get top quality w/ the SSL to 1/2" but what would be the obvious differences in the two methods that I can hear. Can I get a successful r&b mix inside of ProTools- stemmed to a Mackie 8 bus- mixed to 1/2" with a Manley VariMu on the stereo bus? After mastering (Sterling Sound) how different will they sound.
  7. e-cue

    e-cue Active Member

    I'd have to say, it's up to your engineer. Mc Snare & others obviously love their consoles, and I obviously like protools (although I achieve almost equal results on either, probably because I was deep into protools before the 9K's came out). Every engineer is different. If your engineer hasn't done a mix in protools yet, it's probably best not to experement.
    As far as recalls, I fly all over and can't always vouche for my assistant, much less the facility. I always have an extra copy of the recall notes made if I go the console route, because I'd had studio's, labels, etc, lose my recall notes in the past. But, if your nit-picking over a budget-sensitive project enough to consider mixing in protools only because of the costs, a recall might put that budget over the edge. And for the record, I have NEVER had to do a recall because someone wasn't happy with the mix, it's always sample clearance changes, etc...
  8. Dave McNair

    Dave McNair Active Member

    Well ok, I'll back pedal a little bit here. If your project is on the lofi side with nothing but low bit samples and beats and you feel confidant about mixing it in ProTools, go ahead and get yo mix on. If you are happy with all your sounds at this point and not looking to raise the bar sonically you are probably not gonna notice a huge difference mixing in the computer. If most of the sounds were acoustic the little bit of air, depth, and low level information that is lost might be an issue, but if the stuff is big and crunchy and street sounding, there may not be that much to gain. Maybe try one tune on the SSL and see how it compares.
  9. Jon Atack

    Jon Atack Member

    Hi Downsouth,

    I mix quite a lot of R&B/hip hop and if it were my decision, here would be my thoughts:

    I would not consider alternative A (summing out on the Mackie). If the budget was too tight for your alternative B, then I would mix all in PT, preferably using good outboard verbs and harmonizers as mix inserts into PT. Also, if the sonic quality of the vocal tracks and the samples/sounds is not pretty high, there may not be much point in doing a big studio mix. Like McSnare wrote, there might not be all that much to gain.

    Otherwise, if the track is slamming and the budget is there, I would go for alternative B and send all the tracks out individually via AD8000s to the SSL...with no PT gain changes, panning, or plugins except as special fx. The reasons for this are:

    a) I prefer the sound of the summing bus of the SSL over PT.
    b) I vastly prefer SSL and outboard EQs/dynamics over PT plug-in EQs/dynamics.
    c) I don't like what the PT math from gain changes/fader moves/panning moves/plugins does to the sound.
    d) I find the ergonomics of mixing on the real board much better, making for a more inspired and faster mix.
    e) I have noticed that my analog board mixes sound more real, open, bigger and better than my PT mixes.

    Just to clarify, my intent is not to bash PT...it sure wouldn't be in my interest, anyway. I have an "extended" PT+Apogee system that I have been using intensively and (wince) upgrading since 1996. Though, as the J desks have been in production since 1995, e-cue would probably have me beat in terms of PT years logged... ;)

    Finally, I would avoid the vari-mu on the 2-bus...but that's just me; there are other boxes that I would prefer for that purpose.

    Let us know what you decide and how it goes...

  10. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    If you think that it might take several attempts to get the mix right, then 'all in PT' might be the best way to go.

    If you are confident of the 'one shot' chance of nailing your mix in one session.. Then go for the SSL route.

  11. DownSouth

    DownSouth Guest

    Thanks for the input. We have decided to go with mixing out of PT direct outs to the SSL and mix in the more traditional manner. We have no samples or lofi stuff and want to keep up the quality that we are accustomed to. We will however, at some point, mix one track on the SSL and PT just for comparison. Even considered dumping all ProTools tracks to 2" then mixing but do not want to lose any flexibilty. Once again, thanks for your input.
  12. Jon Atack

    Jon Atack Member


    Let us know how it comes out.

    Just curious...how much does the 9096J room cost?

  13. DownSouth

    DownSouth Guest


    I honestly cannot hear the difference between a 4000G & a 9000J but the 4000G room is locked for two months
  14. DownSouth...

    In the spirit of the questions McSnare asked:

    - what are your drums composed of (live drummer samples? triton/motif/proteus/mophatt sounds?

    - keyboards, are they miced cabinets or directs from rhodes, wurlies, or hammonds - or patches?

    If you are using all "pre-manufactured" sounds, unless you tweek like a man on speed editing 32nd drum n bass notes - most of the tone is already there.

    Yes, the mix can convey the sounds in different manners - but this can come down to the quality of software based comps and verbs vs. the hardware ones, and then you have the summing bus debate.

    For me, the more r&b/hiphop I've been doing - has been real kits w/ samples blended in - and patches re-amped in good rooms to give the sounds some life.

    good luck on your mix and let us know what you dig most!
  15. Bob Olhsson

    Bob Olhsson Distinguished Member

    Maybe I can shed some light on this issue since I've hung out on both sides of it for about 10 years. A lot of people find that they have always done their very best mixes really fast. SSLs and some other consoles can be configured to allow creating the first 90 percent of a great mix a lot faster than any DAW that's appeared so far.

    It's sort of like comparing programming a synthesizer to playing a guitar. The former requires analysis but allows precision. The latter is imprecise but the whole frequently exceeds the sum of the parts faster than you could even hope to analyze what's happening.
  16. Dave McNair

    Dave McNair Active Member

    Fantastic comment, Bob. I wish I could say cool stuff that succinctly.

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