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Is the AEA rpq 2 a good all around choice for hybrid workflow?

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@audiokid @Boswell @everyone

Having spec'd most of the new system I'm down to the summing section. The rolls folcrum seems like a great no nonsense box, that allows for creativity with color or transparency, because it's completely passive and requires a pre amp / make up gain stage.

A gear seller brought this pre amp to my attaention and it seems to be pretty cool. Clean gain clean sound di for my guitar/eleven rack, and switchable line in/out for external processing or summing. The eq could be useful for subtle tuning and can be bypassed by a switch for capturing both processed an unprocessed signal.

Overall it seems like one of the best all around choices for di/pre and capture/summing makeup gain.

Just wondering about any thoughts in general.

One particular concern is that since the line ins (line mode) and outs bypass the pre amp stage, that leaves 'only' 19db on the output gain avaialable. Is this enough gain for use w the folcrum?

Tape op cited 'only' need about 32db of gain in their folcrum review.

Normally that wouldn't be an issue but with the pre amp gain unavailable it might be a concern...

The big thing I liked about this was being able to leave the Mics and capture plugged in permentaly to the back and just flipping a switch and turning the detented knobs, when switching duties. I'm looking to avoid patch bays and ideally not fussing with plugs at all.

This thing does a fair amount for the price but the gain issue, if it is an issue, may be a deal breaker, since its essentially making the line functionality useless to me.

Thoughts??

http://www.ribbonmics.com/preamps/rpq2

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/RPQ2

Comments

audiokid Wed, 11/09/2016 - 18:15

I have the SSL X-Patch, its insane and actually does what the Liaison does, via Midi , mouse or network commands. You can switch gear on the fly, no clicks heard. Switch analog gear in all direction, one to 8 analog devices in any configuration. They are beautiful for serious hybrid summing, mixing or mastering workflows. 100% automated, Save everything with your DAW sessions.
I will use that with the Folcrom.

audiokid Wed, 11/09/2016 - 18:22

kmetal, post: 443239, member: 37533 wrote: So I firmly grasp the idea that the summing box needs to have outs to both the monitor controller and capture.

Right on.

kmetal, post: 443239, member: 37533 wrote: So it looks like the folcrum would need an additional splitter of some sort...

yes. but it needs to be accurate. Not just some y that splits it off and could add colour or distortion. @Boswell I bet you can advice us on that? To reiterate, How would we monitor the analog section from the Folcrom?

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kmetal Wed, 11/09/2016 - 18:31

It's got to be some sort of transformer involved device similar to some of the things radial designs w their signal splitters. I believe the transformer is used to make up for the -3db loss you get when you split a connection. There's probably other ways to achieve the make up gain in the splitter? Then there's the question of transparency. But one way or another they're all splitting the signal.

I was thinking maybe the Orion's high channel count would be a psudeo xpatch but I've gotta work out how I could save the settings.

The x patch is ideal wish they still made them, I'm not into used.

The Liason is cool but 4 settings seems kinda limiting.

For my uses currently at least, I don't have any analog gear, so it'll be a while before I need any sort of patch bay. Although it's worth investigating until the need arises.

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kmetal Wed, 11/09/2016 - 19:55

I really digging the mixdream XP. It allows mono on any and all channels, and it's got no potentially 'extra' features like the big brother has. Price is right too.

Also when you mono it still allows you to use both channels on the summing box. Other boxes will eat up a pair when doing this. The caveat is you've got to hard pan them in daw, is is a discrepancy with monitoring. Seems like mono bus's and sources are gonna have to take up 2 ch on the summing box, even if it's only coming out of one DA converter channel. Otherwise you'd have like a hard panned kick or bass for example, just to save summing channels. They're could be a workaround for this using pre fader sends on the channel, or perhaps the multiple output functionality of Samplitude. I don't like 'workarounds' at this level of gear, but it could be worth if if extra channels are needed.

The absence of inserts is a bit frustrating. I wish they allowed 1-2 selectable inserts at least. It'd be nice to add a compressor to the drum bus without patching.

Guess that's where an xpatch comes in.. or the mix dream big bro.

The specs seem better on the mixdream xp than the dangerous 2 bus lt on everything except cross talk. MDxp is -90db the 2bus lt is -97. This is important for imaging and smear right? The mixdream is -97, and the 2bus + is -108dbu as far as cross talk.

Well besides the cross talk difference the feature set between the 2bus LT and the mixdream XP seems to be the XP has a button to bypass the makeup gain knob automatically setting output gain to unity. The XP also has a iec power connection vs the LT dc in jack which I think means it's got a line lump psu. I can't find in the manuals or descriptions for either one of the output gain knob is stepped. I kinda like the idea of the bypass in the XP.

The mixdream is priced out of my range but the channel inserts are really a great feature not found in any of the others. If I had higher budget I'd probably get that one for that reason alone.

Visually the mixdream XP looks cooler IMHO than the 2bus LT and has both a bypass for the output gain, and the ability to run the channels un-linked, albeit with some daw gymnastics. the LT has a better crosstalk spec.

I wonder which one does the job better? If I go active it's between these two. Which was the case months ago when I first looked into summing.

Man this is tough. Mainly because active vs passive summing really affects the pre amp choice both sonically and finanacially.

Hopefully box chimes in on the monitoring method w the folcrum, which could really be a deciding factor.

audiokid Wed, 11/09/2016 - 20:11

Sounds like you are really getting a handle on all this now. Right on.

kmetal, post: 443250, member: 37533 wrote: I really digging the mixdream XP. It allows mono on any and all channels, and it's got no potentially 'extra' features like the big brother has. Price is right too.

I agree,

kmetal, post: 443250, member: 37533 wrote: Also when you mono it still allows you to use both channels on the summing box. Other boxes will eat up a pair when doing this. The caveat is you've got to hard pan them in daw, is is a discrepancy with monitoring. Seems like mono bus's and sources are gonna have to take up 2 ch on the summing box, even if it's only coming out of one DA converter channel. Otherwise you'd have like a hard panned kick or bass for example, just to save summing channels. They're could be a workaround for this using pre fader sends on the channel, or perhaps the multiple output functionality of Samplitude. I don't like 'workarounds' at this level of gear, but it could be worth if if extra channels are needed.

I used to think the mono was important. But, I no longer do that OTB. Its all 2 bus stems for me now. By the time my stem are OTB, the mix is pretty much all there. The analog is only an added step. I put my investments and focus in 2 bus processing, reverb and the second DAW to SRC and process to upload. Mono eats up your stems real fast, all for nothing, imho.

kmetal, post: 443250, member: 37533 wrote: Guess that's where an xpatch comes in.. or the mix dream big bro.

exactly

kmetal, post: 443250, member: 37533 wrote: The specs seem better on the mixdream xp than the dangerous 2 bus lt on everything except cross talk. MDxp is -90db the 2bus lt is -97. This is important for imaging and smear right? The mixdream is -97, and the 2bus + is -108dbu as far as cross talk.

Either. SPL would be my choice. Dangerous has better resale.

kmetal, post: 443250, member: 37533 wrote: I kinda like the idea of the bypass in the XP.

btpass is essential.

kmetal, post: 443250, member: 37533 wrote: The mixdream is priced out of my range but the channel inserts are really a great feature not found in any of the others. If I had higher budget I'd probably get that one for that reason alone.

XP is a great start and maybe all you need.

kmetal, post: 443250, member: 37533 wrote: I wonder which one does the job better? If I go active it's between these two. Which was the case months ago when I first looked into summing.

Either. There is nothing exciting in either of these to be overly worried of. They are both top end in what they do.

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kmetal Wed, 11/09/2016 - 20:29

audiokid, post: 443251, member: 1 wrote: I used to think the mono was important. But, I no longer do that OTB. Its all 2 bus stems for me now. By the time my stem are OTB, the mix is pretty much all there. The analog is only an added step. I put my investments and focus in 2 bus processing, reverb and the second DAW to SRC and process to upload. It eats up your stems real fast, all for nothing imho.

So even for bass guitar you send thru a stereo pair? Does this also mean your not sending things like kick and snare out individually? What about lead vox, out mono or stereo.?

I've been thinking for months over the stems based on channel count, I feel like I won't know until i experiment with it in real life.

Ya know I'm wondering if the MDxp has a transformer on the output gain or not. And if it does if it gets bypassed w the switch. Boz me concerned w transformers in the makeup gain section of the summing box. I'm gonna have to email spl.

I like the bypass switch so I can print processed and unprocessed versions of the mix/sum. They're may be instances where the digital 2bus processing (mastering or whatever) maybe more desireable. And I think for archiving it's good to have both.

These 16ch are also really making me think about the conversion choices too. The Orion is the only one in affordable range that would do stereo, surround, 16 sum, and re amp out puts with no patching.

The only way I know of to aggregate interfaces in windows is using the Asio4all freeware driver, but I'm not certain of latency and reliability specs.

Man this is brutal lol. The DAD comverters have high channel count and 384k with the price tag to boot.

It might make sense to start w a 2ch adda which would become the capture one. The antelope pure 2, lynx, and rme 2 channel might make sense.

I feel like I'm going in circles lol like a tornado spinning around in circles while moving in a forward direction perhaps.

audiokid Wed, 11/09/2016 - 20:53

kmetal, post: 443252, member: 37533 wrote: So even for bass guitar you send thru a stereo pair? Does this also mean your not sending things like kick and snare out individually? What about lead vox, out mono or stereo.?

You'll have to find out what suits you best. Whatever summing unit you choose, get one that will mono. The magic in OTB to me is all about the Bricasti and the 2 channel pass. Mixing OTB is a waste of time because it doesn't sound better to me. What sounds better, is the pass and reverb on a two buss lane that seems to add a more open sound to the over all imaging.
You may well need to find this out for yourself. I had to as well. One day I got about 100 grand in gear dropped off at me door. It was all killer gear. And then I started hooking it all up. I read every thread I could. Took notes and compared my entire workflow. One guy says he loves this, the next guy say this other thing is better. SSL comps vs API 2500. Crane Song. Manley, Vari Mu vs bla bla. LA2A vs another brand . Pultec with API trannies vs Valves and so on. All these products are awesome but they also do not stack well and most of them sound better ITB. (I'm never talking tracking)
Individually auditioning , you hear exactly what they do best. Together, they start acting like Marco's example of how a room acoustic effects a microphone, making them all sound similar. Less awesome, more average.

Take a beautiful MEQ-5 that costs $3000 and put it through an API 2500 and it instantly looses air. Take an SSL G and it turns your entire mix into a dead lifeless mix that sounds no better than ITB. You will hear it, if you listen. Eventually you start looking back at your DAW and wondering. I wonder if I could mix this without all this gear now. I mean, I know what each one of these products does. Then the light-bulb goes on inside your head and you suddenly remember why guys like Andrew Shep say, once ITB, stay ITB.

OTB mixing is awesome when used carefully. Too much of it, turns into a noticeable smear.As long as you hear it happening, you are good. That's why I continue enforcing the ST.

imho

kmetal, post: 443252, member: 37533 wrote: I like the bypass switch so I can print processed and unprocessed versions of the mix/sum. They're may be instances where the digital 2bus processing (mastering or whatever) maybe more desireable. And I think for archiving it's good to have both.

indeed.

kmetal, post: 443252, member: 37533 wrote: The only way I know of to aggregate interfaces in windows is using the Asio4all freeware driver, but I'm not certain of latency and reliability specs.

Multitracking, low latency and stability. Think PCIe interfacing. There is no substitute. You want your interfacing on its own port and you want the best one available which I tend to trust RME. Maybe things change but so far, Asio4all is good for 2 track stuff. Capturing DAW. I use Asio4all with Lavry Blacks. Works okay.

kmetal, post: 443252, member: 37533 wrote: It might make sense to start w a 2ch adda which would become the capture one. The antelope pure 2, lynx, and rme 2 channel might make sense.

Sounds like a good plan.

kmetal, post: 443252, member: 37533 wrote: I feel like I'm going in circles lol like a tornado spinning around in circles while moving in a forward direction perhaps.

Thats part of the curve. You are asking all the right questions. You are getting it sorted.

audiokid Wed, 11/09/2016 - 21:03

@Boswell , you don't say much when I am chatting. Please feel welcome to correct me, call me out on things if you feel like it. I'm opinionated but I'm not so stuck on ego that being schooled is a bad thing. I consider you the master in this field. I just happen to have a good line on some cool gear we don't all get to try out, then talk about.

Just saying.

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kmetal Wed, 11/09/2016 - 21:17

Thanks chris. My whole point of OTB is simply to bypass the artifacts of digital summing, which is something I've experienced audibly. Also the benefits of OB SRC seem clear on paper by those who do it. It's not a cheap fix, but IMHO it's worth it. Other than that I'm fine w itb, it's what I've been doing most of my time mixing. I enjoy recall, and push button a/b of settings. I think my multi PC system is gonna help with bottlenecking and computer artifacts. Similar to the effect of using digital OB connected digitallay. Time will tell if that hunch is correct or not.

What I don't like is my mix changing between multitrack and the 'bounced' version.

Do I hope to maybe be able to 'add' some mojo or creatively effect mixes ala mastering style, sure, but primaraly (for me) this whole thing is about reducing the artifacts. That's why my conversion is starting out on the mastering/transparency side of things. I need to know what's there, before I can alter it.

It took me one project w a Rosetta and a Calrec in an accurate room to identify 'that sound' that had evaded me for so long. I figured it out. So now that I know that it's time to move on. I'm not against color, I just want to explore a different side of things.

Anyway, I've gotta find out about the xformer situation on the MDxp. But I came across this box which is in the price range and kinda cool looking.

Dedicated 8 mono ch, 24 stereo, switchable custom xformer. Not sure how I feel about the dual gain knobs.

http://burlaudio.com/products/b32-vancouver

audiokid Wed, 11/09/2016 - 21:28

kmetal, post: 443256, member: 37533 wrote: My whole point of OTB is simply to bypass the artifacts of digital summing, which is something I've experienced audibly.

I don't hear this so I cannot comment.

kmetal, post: 443256, member: 37533 wrote: Also the benefits of OB SRC seem clear on paper by those who do it. It's not a cheap fix, but IMHO it's worth it.

Without question. Its a huge reason why I use two DAW's that are uncoupled. It is worth it.

kmetal, post: 443256, member: 37533 wrote: Do I hope to maybe be able to 'add' some mojo or creatively effect mixes ala mastering style, sure, but primaraly (for me) this whole thing is about reducing the artifacts. That's why my conversion is starting out on the mastering/transparency side of things. I need to know what's there, before I can alter it.

agree.

audiokid Wed, 11/09/2016 - 21:48

kmetal, post: 443256, member: 37533 wrote: My whole point of OTB is simply to bypass the artifacts of digital summing, which is something I've experienced audibly.

What DAW are you using or were you using and what converters were in the loop when you noticed artifacts that were so noticeable? Maybe just having Samplitude will be enough of a wow to start.
Seems most of us who switch to Sam or Sequoia hear an instant improvement in sound.I noticed it instantly. Everything was clearer. Mixing was more fun. Editing and mastering tracks is so enjoyable. Plug-ins work and I really don't dream of much more.

When you say artifacts, what exactly are you thinking will improve in the new workflow?

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kmetal Wed, 11/09/2016 - 22:27

audiokid, post: 443259, member: 1 wrote: What DAW are you using or were you using and what converters were in the loop when you noticed artifacts that were so noticeable? Maybe just having Samplitude will be enough of a wow to start.
Seems most of us who switch to Sam or Sequoia hear an instant improvement in sound.I noticed it instantly. Everything was clearer. Mixing was more fun. Editing and mastering tracks is so enjoyable. Plug-ins work and I really don't dream of much more.

When you say artifacts, what exactly are you thinking will improve in the new workflow?

I was in DP7 32bit, on a 2008ish Mac Pro, motu 2408 comverters @24/44.1, Meyer HD1 monitors

I was working on a death metal project that nearly killed me lol. There was thousands of edits at one point, and 24-30 tracks and maybe 8-10 busses, maybe 25 pluggins maybe 30. Just tons of mid range energy in the tunes lots of lows and high too, just a ton of harmonic distortions.

Anyway long story short, I would render the tracks via bouncing in DP. When I played back the stereo mix in any other player like the peak 2 Trk software or iTunes or whatever, gain matched thru the same montitoring section of the console, simple abc source select, the mixdown always sounded 'confined' or collapsed. Smaller and grainy-er. Like similar to what a good MP3 vs a wav does. Not that extreme but clearly noticeable to me.

Every single time i aB back to the multitrack it sounded fuller and bigger. Not drastically but enough to notice. An unacceptle amount. The multitrack sounded just more open or clear or hefty. The bounce shrunk. It sounded like cheap or something. Now keep in mind this wasn't a great mix or song or band, but my theory is either it was a glitch, which this project had many of (lost fades, settings getting lost) or it was a summing issue. Inbeilve it was a bounce/sum issue becuase it was pretty consistent through the process. I think the math had a hard time w all the complex harmonics.

This didn't happen on every project, but it was noticeable on that one. I don't remember ab ing other projects, so I'm not sure it was a consistent issue, but most of the other projects were not metal.

So that's what I heard.

I've also noticed a similar effect in protools after a certain number of pluggins were engaged. Even if CPU usage was low. There was a shrinking and a veil or fog to the sound that was a point of no return. The pluggin thing was consistent. That's when I really got into channel strip plugs, and group processing.

I'm sure Sam will be excellent. I didn't realize how well coded Adobe audition was till I used cubase and protools le. Audition has excellent built in processing.

I expect my experience w Sam to be similar to audition. Very clear, and reliable. Audition even had spectral editing mode in '05.

I kinda thought I was crazy. Same with the pluggin instansitaion thing in PT where a disabled eq made things worse just by instansiating it. Come to find out PTle had no delay compensation back then. LMAO, that may be part of it.

Anyway I hope for a good experience w Sam sonically. There's a reason ME's use sequoia. I also got an email back from them quoting a 1k discount for sequoia as Samplitude owner, so I'm excited about that. It makes it affordable for me if I go that route later this/next year.

I dunno I just have a hunch that switching programs, OB summing, and the master slave configuration is gonna step my work up. Along with excellent comverters.

I know my itb mixes got better when I started using instrument groups and busses so I'm hoping for a similar effect OTB perhaps less dramatic. There was just more room for things, as if they weren't competing as much.

All in all if the summing doesn't work right I'll sell the box and keep the comverters or maybe sell em. The computers I already have and intend on more for vsti dedication so those won't be wasted.

I'm not sure if it was dp or the conversion or both but there was always a tinge of ametuear to the Projects done on that system even by the ol hit mixer...

Basically I'm taking that 5-7 years over there and trying to weed out the suck one component at a time. Hence me starting from scratch. Everything up do current spec, better conversion, different daw.

There's a chance I could be imagining those artifacts but I truly don't think so.

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Kurt Foster Thu, 11/10/2016 - 05:02

i used to have the same thing happen to me with Cubase. while i mixed things sounded ok but when i rendered it would sound like ..... well like dog dew.

bringing out just a few stems from Cubase into a crap Mackie SR24 mixer with a little lexicon and eventide added in completely restored the mix to my ears. i figured that out 10 years ago. there's nothing new about the whole mixing otb thing.

actually printing the mix on a simple 2 track cd recorder at the destination rate sr is no different than using a second DAW. if you really need the processing of a DAW on the mix, import the 2 track CDR mix and put it back into the DAW and tweak it. the only thing you lose is the ability to tweak the 2 mix while you are recording it.

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Boswell Thu, 11/10/2016 - 05:07

audiokid, post: 443255, member: 1 wrote: @Boswell , you don't say much when I am chatting. Please feel welcome to correct me, call me out on things if you feel like it. I'm opinionated but I'm not so stuck on ego that being schooled is a bad thing. I consider you the master in this field. I just happen to have a good line on some cool gear we don't all get to try out, then talk about.

Whoa! I switch on my computer this morning and find two pages of intense discussion! Talking in my sleep is easy, but the reading is a tad more difficult.

kmetal, post: 443218, member: 37533 wrote: Would alternative way to adjusting the gain on the converter itself be pulling the fader/gain down in the daw feeding the da converter and summing mixer?

Also isnt a passive summing box by nature very difficult to overdrive/distort. Wouldn't the DA be clipping long before you'd have to worry about levels into the summing box?

I'm trying to figure out exactly how imperative gain selection on a DA (AD) is in the decoupled capture scenario. Ie whether it's a deal breaker or not, or just something good to have. Ie essential or optional.

Also, does the adda actually have any amplification or is the gain selection just how much attenuation or not your doing??

I wouldn't get too hung up on gain adjustments around the D-A and A-D when used with a passive summing box.

The make-up gain in front of the A-D is important, but is very dependent on the type of passive box used, and then doesn't vary much from one mix to the next. The Folcrom, for example, needs an average of 35dB, but this may be 30dB on some loud, full mixes and 40dB on quieter ones with fewer tracks. In any case, you could set 30dB knowing that this is unlikely to overload the A-D converters and then push the levels up after the capture if you feel that's necessary. In my case, the analogue 2-bus may be paralleled off to one or more compressors so Box 2 can capture multiple stereo mixes with different levels of compression. For those, it's essential that I have a known reference level feeding them.

Gain adjustment on the D-A outputs feeding the passive mix is much less important. I like to have it (done by using a passive summer with faders), as that allows me to keep my D-A converters running at optimal levels, but, as Chris has mentioned, it does not allow storage of level settings so that a mix can be repeated with exactly the same levels.

kmetal, post: 443223, member: 37533 wrote: @Boswell would a preamp with digital gain control like the one from millennia for instance be comparable to something with switched gain for then make up gain section of a passive summing box.? As far as accuracy and recallability. Also out of curiosity what do you use regularly as far as summing boxes go?

I haven't checked, but I'm pretty sure the Millennia box is similar to other high-end gear and uses digitally-selected analogue gains. That means it's like having a manual rotary switch with discrete steps for the gain, but there's a big digital hand that comes out and rotates it to the required position.

As far as my own use goes, there are factors that pull in different directions. I like to choose a method that I believe best matches the material involved. However, you probably know that I'm a professional hardware designer, and to back that up, I choose to try out prototype designs on a variety of projects so that I can get an idea of what works well and what maybe not so well. This applies across the field from pre-amps through mixers to converters and interfaces. The result of all this is that I rarely use exactly the same setup from one project to the next.

Since I have to leave now, I'll post this and catch up with the rest later.

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kmetal Thu, 11/10/2016 - 14:59

Thanks boz!!

----

I've been researching the Burl Vancouver, it seems to me that the +6 gain boost switch boost INTO the summing amplifier. I think one of the intended uses is to help hit transformers harder if they they are engaged and the mixncalls for it. Then you use the gain knobs to set the level properly for the capture side.

They are touting it as able to be clear and clean or statrated and 'tapey' depending on the settings.

This is intriguing to me. I know the Burl DA stuff is focaused on clarity.

I like the idea of having something very clear like the spl and something that has 'a sound' as well. Along w the high channel count this thing could be the best of both worlds. They don't seem to have published specs.

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kmetal Thu, 11/10/2016 - 20:52

Boswell, post: 443274, member: 29034 wrote: I wouldn't get too hung up on gain adjustments around the D-A and A-D when used with a passive summing box.

Not to keep bogging you with questions, I'll be brief.

Does an active summing unit add any more importance to ADDA gains?

Mucho gracias.

x