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Analog mixdown vs digital mixdown

Member for

21 years
I did a search for this and didnt find anything, although Im sure its been taled about...

I just became manager of a studio and am going from the PC world to Mac Pro Tools. Its all alien to me.

Heres basically what we have:

Toft Audio ATB32 mixing board
Mic Pre's- Focusrite Octopres
Pro Tools 7.4 HD2 with two Digidesign 192's with and A/D
Expansion card and a D/A Expansion card
128 Tracks with 32 Tracks simultaneous in and out

and a ton of good outboard gear, a standalone commercial building, etc. Its a great start and the nicest in my town.

So the current engineer went to show me how he runs things and it confused me.

Basically, he does almost everything from the analog console. Mixdown, effects, etc...
I asked him why he doesnt do everything in Pro Tools and he says he likes the sound and EQs of the board and enjoys using the board hands on. Everything I learned tells me to do as much as I can in Pro Tools and run it out to a stereo mix on the board. He actually uses all the channels on the analog mixer to mix with. So basically, everytime he pulls up a mix, he has to reset every channel on the board, like the old school days. He just went to a great recording conservatory and he definately knows what he is doing, because his final product sounds fantastic...

The only thing he really uses Pro Tools for is tracking, gating the drums, and editing tracks.

My friend has an SSL board and I can understand wanting to use a nice board if you have it... So maybe Im just not used to this type of setup...

Money is not an issue for the most part and personally, I would like to get a nice digital control surface for pro tools.

I would like to get your opinions on this.

Thanks ahead!!


Member for

18 years 5 months

UncleBob58 Sat, 03/29/2008 - 11:29
If the product sounds great, you don't have to change anything - yet.

As the manager I'm sure that part of your job will be to attract more clients, so eventually you will have more than one engineer. When you hit that point you will either have to find engineers that work in the same way that your current engineer does, or adapt the studio to those who work "in the box".

Those of us who prefer to do everything in PT like to have LOTS of plugins available and, especially for PT HD, they can be just as expensive as hardware modules. Otherwise, there will not be many changes.

There are many other things to consider, such as your projected client base. If you're just recording bands and musicians, they will not have that incredible sense of urgency other types of clients will have. If you are aiming at corporate clients then you should be all in the box - they want it FAST! There's no time for completely resetting the console to do a one word fix on a 30 second commercial and then doing a remix. The same applies to film and TV, you will be bouncing from project to project which will also have to be compatible with other facilities.

Is there another room or plans for one? Maybe you can have an "analog" room and "digital" room. A studio at which I freelance has just that, one room with tons of great analog gear and PT is mostly used as a multitrack tape recorder. The second room is a totally in the box PT HD set-up. (There are other smaller editing rooms as well.)

So before making decisions on gear changes perhaps you should discuss with the owner where the studio would like to be in ten years. That will put some focus on the decision making process.

Member for

19 years 10 months

Kev Sat, 03/29/2008 - 15:28
very deep subject this one

I agree with Uncle Bob
your engineer says
" ... he says he likes the sound and EQs of the board and enjoys using the board hands on "
I can't argue with this and do agree
PT EQs do get better with time
I have chosen to give up my console as it suited my needs and space and maintenance time (and I'm a tech !!!)
you seem to have more outboard than I and it does make sense to keen an analog room

BUT as Uncle Bob says
you want / need a digital room for those projects that time and RECALL is the issue
I get that !
for the clients that want analog and can afford the time to LOVE the mix all the way ... and can pay for it
then fine

I chose to give it up and go the IN THE BOX for mixing
I do use the old stuf to lay tracks and use the Mics and Mic-pres as instruments.
I am even beginning to give up some of the comps and EQs during track laying.

eventhough I feel that the Plug EQ are not quite there yet.
for comps ... well I'm a swinging voter
things like LA2s and old 1176s are living animals and sometimes they don't seem to be on your side and I will turn to a plug
other times an LA2 is it ... that T4B inside is happy and the magic comes

Member for

21 years

Member Sat, 03/29/2008 - 16:10
Excellent points... sounds like I would get the same from most pros...

I really just wanted to make sure he isnt doing it the WRONG way. It sounds like there isnt necessairly a "wrong" way.

I have more than enough space to add a 2nd system and share the same monitors / amps / etc... and just A/B everything for now. Maybe I can get that PC I want in there too :) I really like the Creamware Scope cards with Cubase and that would make us way more flexible.

We are actually buying out the building next to ours within 2 years and we will double our space. I really like the idea of having an all digital 2nd room.

Thanks for your advice. Time to start shopping!

Member for

19 years 10 months

Kev Sat, 03/29/2008 - 22:46
don't be too quick to capitalise in mac/pc/digital
over capitalise too soon

this is an area that is constantly changing and you need to be earning money from each system

the creamware/cubase is cool for the alternative
a duplicate system to the PT7.4 HD2 and interfaces would give you a back-up system in the event of an emergency
you can even borrow from the other system to increase grunt when required

having identical monitoring will keep consistency between rooms and give clients the choice to use the rooms in an efficient way
track lay
edit mix
analog mix

you have variety

a small mBox system is also cool for editing in either room
I just came off a drum tracking session where two other small systems were being used to comp drum tracks before the other overdubs were done

very cool
very efficient

buying the building next door is a very sensible thing to do

Member for

15 years 11 months

RemyRAD Mon, 03/31/2008 - 00:00
After 37 years of doing this stuff, everything I do is a hybrid. Everything contains both analog and digital elements in many different places within the workflow. Nothing terribly consistent. Whatever sounds best for the application or is the most ergonomically comfortable in the final process. If I tracked through good preamps, I might mix in the box. If it was tracked on something else, I might mix in analog and sweeten in the box.

I frequently do my own light mastering, since my mix is already sound mastered.

Old-fashioned new sort of girl
Ms. Remy Ann David