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What would be your method of incoperating an ssl e series w/ daw?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by kmetal, May 5, 2013.

  1. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    hey all. there's a good possibility the studio i work at is going to be getting an ssl e-series, a 2" tape machine, and a 1/4" mastering deck. I've been mulling over some different ways of incorporating these into our daw system (digital performer/apogee/motu).

    i would prefer to not have to recall tons of settings every time a client wants something up or down a little bit, it's time consuming, and financially impractical for most clients.

    Obviously there are a ton of ways, but i was thinking that tracking thru the console/tape (optional) and to the daw, then editing/adding effects/plugins/automation, then busing groups, or stems back thru maybe like 8 channels of the console, to daw and/or 1/4" deck, and completing it. this seems to me like a practical use of all the tools, without making things overly complicated and expensive, but it's just a thought.

    its certainly gonna depend on the clients wants, but i'm just talking about kind of like a 'standard or routine' method. just wondering what type of approaches you guys would likely take if you were using this setup. thanks!
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I would skip tape altogether. If you hear what Chris has, I think you will find that the analog summing and analog inserts in a mastering loop combined with a second computer/DAW to capture at the final sample rate will give you what you want without the noise of and hassle of tape.
  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    tape is hard to find and expensive to purchase. it's doubtful clients will be willing to go the distance. when they do print to tape and then dump to the DAW. of course you can always "rent" a reel to the clients. i used to record on ADATs with an MCI console and everything sounded just fine. i see no reason you can't do the same thing with a DAW. in fact that's exactly what the big boys do these days. the DAW is just a recorder. do all the processing with real outboard.

    of course you need to get 24 channels or more of conversion, install a real patch bay, buy a bunch of Neve and API pre's (most people don't like the SSL pres for tracking) decent compressors, eq's, gates, get a few high end reverbs, buy some speakers and mics to set up in the L/R for room reverb.

    as far as recall, well my friend those are billable hours. tedious, yes. but that's what interns are for. print up some recall sheets, get a digital camera and do the work, get paid. in the old days clients would block out time to mix and you would leave a mix up until you were sure you had it right ...

    ssl, 2 inch, it's a real studio. use it bill for it enjoy it.
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Well said John and Kurt.

    I recently added an SSL G and an API 2500 to the system. The flavoring I expected to get from both these pieces is no disappointment. I don't think you need 32 channels of anything to get the flavour of something if you put the goods where it counts and thats what hybrid offers. If you are thinking like a mastering engineer with the ability to mix, it will start to make more sense to you.
    The big console is going to be the tracking but I don't think its the answer for the Mixing and Mastering. What comes out of the DAW and how you go about mixing it all is where it either goes to latency hell or gets better. This is the area most people are lost IMHO. This is where all the shifting happens. Bad stuff.

    I'd be coming out of the DAW and going into something the specializes in exactly what John just said. I have no regrets after all I've invested in and I can honestly say I wouldn't change one thing. To my ears, the BIG MIX happens via the analog stems coming out of the summing amp and into something like a Dangerous Master. How you harness that section and transfer it to a capture system is where the glue and size happens. Precise monitoring between your DAW and capture process is critical. If you do the round trip ( sum back to the same DAW) I say its a big big waste of time compared. So a tape machine would be cool but you can keep that. I'd be using a DSD or a second DAW like Sequoia that is set-up for mastering and sending your tracks off to the WWW. One step and its off to online publishing. No SRC on the DAW side at least.
    I personally think most people doing this hybrid thing are going about it all goofy.

    Things for you to study right now are a capture system and why people like me do that, high headroom summing device(s) ( like the Neos, Dangerous 2-bus) and a patchbay like the X-Patch that connect gear intelligently to the summing device and the converters. Forget the summing devices that add colour. those are a joke. You want big headroom and the ability to mono, mute, monitor the entire process. The monitoring system that connects it all together should be designed like a star ( see the Dangerous Monitor ST).

    The console is not what I would call a good monitoring set-up.
    There is a lot of guessing between the tracking, mixing and master ( capture device) in a hybrid system. Hybrid = Tracking, Mixing, Mastering. Think mastering while tracking and mixing and you will get it right.
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

  6. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    i have never mixed on an SSL but i think that people just preferred the sound of Neves and APIs for tracking with the ability to push the transformers. more meat. i don't know for sure but i have always thought that SSL didn't have transformers on the inznouts and therfore were more transparent much like a Neotek. .... what i have heard is the SSLs worked well and didn't add too much of the iron / transformer sound a second time around. but the all the stuff at Sunset was recorded exclusively through that Neve ... a matter of taste i suppose.

    but SSL was the first to offer automation and what they called "full recall" even though it was far from that. there was still a lot of patching, outboard resets and eqs on the console to reset.

    from what i remember the first SSL's were equipped with auto which as you described Donny was a null system with lights ... these were essentially the same type of auto systems that came on the MCIs with DBX 202 VCAs. ... the auto on my MCI worked just fine .. it ate three tracks on the tape 2 for auto 1 for a guard band, although when i had mine i just lost one track to smpte and one for a guard and i recorded the auto info on a synced ADAT ... it was cool because of it being digital you could actually punch in on an auto pass. while the auto on my MCI didn't do eq or aux's you could always patch mults with those changes you needed and have the auto mute and switch the different channels on and off as needed. my 636 had 36 channels plus 4 wild faders so there were plenty of extras to go around. i really liked mixing this way.

    again if i had an SSL (or an API, Neve or even an MCI) i would use it to sum and mix. really a large format console is just a great big summing mixer with lots of extra features and an SSL because of it's transparency is an excellent choice.

    if you're going to go with something like a Neos (which also is an excellent way to do it) then commit to that. if you're going to have an SSL, then imo, the Neos or whatever other summing choice you would make, becomes redundant.
  7. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Kurt explains it precisely. The Warehouse Studio has both Neve and SSL and the Neve is by far the tracking choice, the SSL is the mixing choice. http://warehousestudio.com/index.php?target=item3,item100,item122

    SSL in/out spells boring to me compared, so you are going to eventually start looking for vibe. Avoid the huge expense and I would invest in a hybrid mixing set-up. Use the DAW for all the automation and invest in racks of pre's, great converters and a hybrid rig. This makes most scene today. The Maintenance on something like a big console alone will kill you in in the end. Way better going modular today. Things are developing towards this.
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Just to add a bit more,

    The only reason I would do the SSL console is if you are bringing in freelance mixing engineers. As Kurt describes, its the choice mixing console as engineers float from studio to studio. That's how I'm reading it all.

    Is this the direction of your studio?
  9. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member


    i agree with you for the home studio or small mid level facility a big console is a no go for a number of reasons. but consoles are the centerpiece of a professional commercial studio. they define the sound of a room and there's always the ooh factor when you are trying to convince a potential client to book your room at 60 bucks (or more) an hour.

    with a console or with a summing solution, it's still hybrid mixing. the term hybrid is not exclusive to the use of a stand alone summing solution.

    a mix in a big room wouldn't use stems from the DAW. each track would be output to a discreet channel on the console at nominal level (full bit /no boost or attenuation) and then mixed / summed entirely in analog. no digital summing whatsoever. try it yourself. take discreet tracks and mix them / no summing or stems from the DAW and then sum them in the DAW and send them from the DAW in stems. i think you will hear a difference. once you sum or eq or change levels in a DAW, the damage is done and you can't undo it. DAWs are great for recording and editing but they suck for eq's processing, or when you begin to jack the levels around. find your nominal levels, -18 / -16/ -12 (whatever) and set it then leave it there. full bits out.

    DAWs are great for recording but they suck for mixing. this is why most major productions still being done in NY / Nashville / LA are being done in large traditional studios with a Neve or API on the front end and SSL's at mix. the DAW's are used mostly as a glorified recorder and most processing is done in analog because analog processing just sounds better than plug ins. same with eq. real analog eq's built into the better consoles just sound better.

    yes you can find guys who use plugs and that might be they are warming up to the sound the plugs offer rather than the real things or maybe these guys are doing at least part of their work itb at times and they need the plugs. but the guys who work in the big rooms all the time though still using hardware in large.

    with a summing mixer but you would need at least 8/16/ 24/ 32 outboard eq's/ comps to match what a well equipped console could offer but you would still not have all the aux functions. consoles can offer on board compressors on every channel as well as multiple paths to mix, several aux sends that can be pre or post, monitor paths for both C/R, headphones and studio mains all simultaneously. the mix is printed to a separate system either a stand alone DSD or a hi res DAW, through separate converters just as you are doing to avoid sample rate reduction and dithering.

    not everyone can afford the initial cost of purchasing and commission a large format console, let alone the upkeep of said console or the real estate involved to house one. Client base and type of work may not warrant such an investment and in those case the smaller format summing solutions and the use of plug ins and a more economic use of outboard may be just the right solution.


  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Totally agree and get it all. I used consoles for 18 years.

    This is what ITB is to me lol.

    I never sum ITB. Hate it and don't see me returning ITB anytime soon. I use my DAW like a recorder and editor and treat every move I make like borrowing money, or running a race. Once you start adding clothing, rubber boots lol, , things start getting goofy. Kind of like Monty Pythons Twit race lol.

    I think we all don't realize how Plug-ins are a latency phase nightmare that creep up on a mix. Man, I think twice every-time I use anything ITB. Plug-ins are like opening a Pandora box to me.
    I also get the commercial studio appeal and the ability to have 32 channel strips. I hope acoustic music keeps growing.
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Its always wonderful walking into a room that has a console. Even a crappy Tascam does it for me! But, consoles limit you, or force one sound. Digital technology is not going backwards. Specialized modules that work with DAW's may not look as impressive as a console but they will excel and dominate the new recording world coming. And I'm not talking about bells and whistles.

    It will be fun to reflect back on all this stuff in ten years.

    Food for thought and a big question.
    Why would I want to pay for an SSL compressor on each channel? This is ludicrous today and to me, really boring compared to bypassing all that extra noise and shaping sound where it counts.

    SSL is not great for half of the music I can imagine.
    As an example of what I just discovered:

    The Neos has a huge vibe of energy. I can tell right away what something sounds like when I insert it. The Neos doesn't restrict, it welcomes and always reports back whatever you feed it. There isn't a more powerful summing system on the planet that I know of.
    It tells the truth of what something sounds like. This is what I like about hybrid. Its a place to hold a party of different themes. I don't concider a console as true hybrid. Its mixing OTB on a console. I know others will disagree but thats how I think.

    Two examples of what I just discovered.

    The API 2500 seems to keep the space and electric energy open in a mix. If I want to keep going, this is a good thing. The SSL G on the other hand reacts like a stop, like the end of the party and a summery of what just happened.

    But either of these might be good or bad in certain area's of a mix.

    If I had an SSL console, I can only imagine this, but the SSL wouldn't be something I would want on every channel after what I hear. But, it is definitely something that I want in a push of a button.

    Check this new Dave Hill comp. There is going to be more and more stuff like this designed for modular hybrid systems. These products will be the demise of traditional consoles.
    I don't see owning a console as logical anymore. Pro audio is changing way to fast to be locked into one product.
    I'd love to have an API 1608 but I bet I would be mixing on my rig more than that. Okay, maybe this is what people would pay for in a commercial studio but for how long?

    Anyway, I don't want this thread to be all about my set-up. It works for me and like I say, I would love a 1608.
    I think we all love gear.
  12. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    i'm with you on this Chris. if i had the need for a console, it wouldn't be an SSL. the only reason to have an SSL imo is for client demand or if someone dropped one in your lap at a ridiculously good price. if i had one i would use it. but given the choice, i would also lean to an API. i'm not sure it would be a 1608 although they do look nice but if i were going to take the plunge i think i would want more than 16 channels. 24 minimum, 32 would be better. a 1608 for tracking and a Neos for summing at mix would be su-weeet!

    any summing itb can be detrimental (even into stems). anything that makes the computer do math, any processing itb ... detrimental. eq, compression, level changes, mix automation in the box all will compromise the sound. despite the promise of a console-less studio all DAWs do well is record playback (at fixed level) and edit. even a cheap crappy mackie will sum your mix better than itb. now i'm not saying a good mix cannot be done itb, i'm just saying it would probably sound better if it were done on a console.

    if i had the client base and very deep pockets i could also live with another MCI JH-636 with super eq's, moving faders, loaded with Hardy pres. call me silly, i just love how those old beasts sound. i would get a bunch of Radial lunchbox's and stuff them with Neve and API pres and EQ's for tracking and restore my compressor collection with LA2's LA3's and 1176's and get a few pairs of system 9098 pres/ eq's.
  13. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Ya, you are reading my mind lol.
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I've never had the opportunity to use or hear Hardy pre's. I'd love the Jensen Twin Servo 990 Mic Preamp 2-Channel
    Maybe one day.
  15. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    that's them! same thing. they make them to fit for a 600 series channel strip. transformer and all!
  16. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Can you explain their sound?
  17. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    big like a GR but cleaner. can be run anywhere between very clean like a Millennia to colored like a vintage Neve. a very versatile pre.
  18. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    in case your wondering what spawned my question it's the studio i work for is moving(has two, moving the weaker one), i dunno if you remember the thread i started a few months ago that went array by page 8 or whatever, but after months of negotiation the deal went down, under what i think are fair terms. and since building a commercial facility as large as this one, is absurdly impractical, this is the only way for his business to break out of the 'mid-level'. it's gonna be insane, and every contact the old timer who works there has left is gonna be utilized, but lets face it, your not gonna get a band w/ a 25k budget to come to a studio in a mill type practice facility. so he's decided to go big, or go broke trying. i'll start a thread somewhere else showing our progress.

    shockingly that just may happen. the barter system is an amazing thing, to me the cost of giving someone a couple days a month for an e-series is a no brainer, even tho the electricity bill will go up by 150 per mo. The studio is all setup for it cuz that's what it was built around, in 1982. it even has a separate room w/ ac supply for the power supply. So we'll see if this all happens, it's likely, but not absolutely for sure yet.

    i agree wow factor is an excellent sales person. it certainly looks way cooler than the 42 channels of mackie control surface currently in use.

    if it were my choice, which is isn't i would get a neve. but there is a healthy 12 ch of api pre's, along w/ dual channels of cartec, manley,neve, 4ch brent avril. summit tla-100, joemeek sc2, 1176ln, and a couple more i can't think of after ten hr's of ripping down insulation. so were aren't necessarily married to the ssl input section. we're gonna use all mogami wiring (canare for xtra stuff), quested nearfields, ueri 813c mains, and all the usual commercial studio mics, including a c-12. while it's not bricasti, we have the classic yamaha spx 90, and eventide h3000 for people interested in ob verb. but we also have a reverb room. there's a reasonable amount of good OB equipment there. we don;t have jack joeseph puigs collection, but it's certainly not a semi-professional setup.

    besides the fact that it's super fun to mix otb, i think it's just as much about curb appeal. if kenny wayne sheppard showed up, he ain't gonna stay if he see's mackie on anything.

    most people can't afford it. but it's useful to have the machines to do restoration work. and since it's become 'hip' again it's good to at least have to offer. more often than not, they'd just rent the tape.

    very interesting way to think about it.

    no, mixing is certainly what the chief engineer made his millions doing, so it will be a big part of what we offer, which perhaps is why he pushes so hard for this board to the owner. our focus is to be an all-incompasing studio, in a pleasant area. we are going to be able to sleep six, with a small kitchen and shower. Mix, restore, master, record (not necessarily in that order). i'm also working on putting together a monthly web cast (we have a professional videographer who works w/ us), so we could kinda do like a 'live w/ jules asner' type thing. i'm going at this at every angle. or at least trying to.

    this couldn't be more true. that's the first thing my boss told me when i met him 4 or 5 years ago. he said your using way too many plugins. my mixes sounded fuller and clearer dry. even the 'best' plug-insget cheesy very quickly. I tend to use buses to try to limit the amount of dsp i use

    i hope so. but then, where am i gonna find floppy discs!? "new thunderbolt to floppy drive box", lol, not happening. i can already see the disgust on people's faces while i'm learning the not-so total recall. i'm gonna have to get fast asap.

    anyway sorry for the long winded post i don't have much shop talk time for the next 7 weeks. but i appreciate the angles, and what seems to be consensus opinions on certain things. I watched an interview w/ Chris Lorge Alge who still uses that board (sure you all know he's almost exclusively a mixer), and his method is to submix (bounce) things (like vocs, strings ect.) into stereo pairs itb, then bring it out to however many channels he has, like 48 or something.

    it's actually intersting cuz we could use a secondary computer (the old mac g5) for a setup similar to yours chris. i'll have to explore this in more detail, cuz i liked the results of what i've heard ya do. anyways i'm outy, been up for 24hrs straight again. this is gonna be crazy!
  19. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Kurt said:
    LOL, not to mention having one of each. "Honey... I need two $80 thousand dollar consoles....a Neve for tracking and an SSL for mixing....oh, and we're gonna have to knock out a few walls..." LOL

    Chris said:
    I've come to realize this myself in the past couple years. And not just in regard to phase/latency, either. Tone, definition, warmth and clarity can also be effected.

    A few months ago, I opened up an old project file that I hadn't worked with in quite sometime. I decided on a total remix from the ground up, so I removed all processing from the tracks, leaving nothing but the recorded tracks in their original form. I couldn't believe the clarity, definition and depth that returned to the mix upon doing so.

    Now, it could be argued that I had simply over-processed the tracks, and I suppose that's possible, but it's not as if I just started mixing yesterday - I've had quite a few years of experience mixing, and truthfully, I didn't really have all that much going on...Most here who have heard my mixes would probably agree that I usually don't tend to go over-the-top with regard to FX or processing, so it's not as if I had massive amounts of compression or limiting, or dramatic changes in EQ, or tracks swamped with reverb, flange or delay. The FX and processing were pretty minimal. But, when I removed all those plugs to start over, the clarity and integrity of the tracks was more than just a little evident... as subtle as a kick in the crotch.

    It's not just the "less is more" approach. Even minimal amounts of the wrong processing can do damage, because these FX often skew the integrity of the tracks. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's not the fact that I used too much processing... it's that I used the processing, period. You could use even the barest or most minimal amount of reverb, but ...if that particular reverb plug damages the integrity of the audio, it doesn't matter how much or how little you add.

    An example... I had originally tracked an acoustic guitar on the track I mentioned above, using an M-S mic array (414 as the Fig 8 and a C1000 as the center). I added a slight amount of compression and verb, and when I removed this processing to start over, the width and depth of the M-S array came shining through. In using processing plugs on the track - even the most minimal amount - I had damaged the natural scope, width and depth that a nice M-S pair can offer. I just hadn't realized it at the time.

    The downside is that I don't have a rack of peripheral OB gear to tap. Like many other users, I have no alternatives but to use the plugs. However, in the last year or so, I've become much more aware of just how much, at times, some plugs can negatively effect the overall mix.

    IMHO of course.
  20. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Here it is, waiting for me, and in Canada. I suppose I could sell the boat, but didn't I just say I was thinking about selling my gear and buying a bigger boat a few months ago? facepalm

    (Dead Link Removed)

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