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Sonic foot print pre vs. eq vs. comp

hey all jw about your thoughts on where you find the most value of a sonic 'footprint' in other words, 'messing w/ the natural sound'. i feel like so many people talk about the character of pre's but eq seems over looked. i tried a bunch of pres/channel strips tonight (api512c, drawmer 1960, PreSonus eureka, calrec peq something, studio technology projects something) i'd say the sounds ranged from vintage, to full smooth, to Tascam.

i found i was drawn to the calrec, but i really really loved how much the eq was effecting the sound. the api was very nice, and i bet when i patch in it eq i'll get similar satisfaction. i'm seeing to keep leaning toward transformer based stuff over tube (which surprised me as a tube amp playing guitarist for years), and the tube stuff i do like seems strangely on the 'cleaner side' w/ just a nice smooth top.

anyway to the point, when this project is done i'm looking to add to the arsenal at the the studio, w/ some brent avrils, and manleys, and a bunch of mics (geffel, royer, u47 knock of) coming in, my mic i'm gonna get is the beyer 160 cuz 'they used it on jimmi hendrix'.

so since i can't afford tape, or a tape machine, for some color, i'm considering some eq's instead or more pre's. it just seems like people aren't saying much about 'em, it's always pre's and compressors. things like the pultec, or a Neve portico, or even more api, or well, i'm gonna try a bunch before i part w/ my green, but are they worth it? i mean i can use them on the way in and back in. besides the trident 65 desk the eq is either built into the pre, or just some Rane pe15 (which ain't that bad for the price)

just wondering on your thoughts about the value, and usability of eq over other parts of the chain. this is in an either ITB or hybrid type thing where we go back out thru and into. (as far as hybrid goes, i'm still sorting out the details about a master recorder, best methods, but one thing at a time for my mind).
also how you use them, and when ya don't. or when you'd prefer compressor or pre color instead, or all.

thanks all, i'm looking for a couple 'choice pieces' if i'm gonna pull the trigger i'm gonna go high end, and probably keep it for the rest of my days, so i'm in no hurry. cartec got a killer review in sos, pultec is back, dw fearn has one, jdk audio has some attractive prices, but i'm buying to buy once, and if i sell for it to sell higher than i paid. fortunately (or not) there seems to be a lot more pre's and compressors, than eqs to try, so maybe by the time i'm 30 i'll get a couple. i seem to have been leaning on heavy handed or 'has a sound' but i don't mind if it's 'clean', looking towards 'rich, full' even over 'warm', so as long as i can 'hear' what it's doing i'm cool, 'transparent' has it's place, but for now for me, it's in plugins. maybe one day that massive passive or gml will show up, but i want some attitude stuff first. i just can't quite afford expensive subtlety, although if it makes me go 'oh crap' i don't care what adjectives describe it.

price range is just whatever it is, if it's the 5k thing that smokes everything else, well it's just gonna take longer. but this is like when i worked 60hrs a week for months to buy my first car, or saved up for my guitar rig and busted ass, i'm gonna enjoy it for far longer than it took to save and pick it out. the amount of pop/rock type stuff i do outweighs the folk blues and jazz, and i have yet to do classical, although i'd love to be involved in a project like that. and to be honest this eq(s) are probably gonna find there way into a channel or two on the live rig for some tone shaping. but mostly just studio.

thanks for any thoughts.


pcrecord Sun, 10/06/2013 - 05:58
Hi Kmetal,
The room, mic, pre and converters are the stuff we talk the most because they are the first steps in capturing a great sound. And those are very often overlooked by homerecorders.
In fact every parts of our audio chain is critical in giving sonic characteristics of conserving them. No EQ will fix a bad recorded track resulted by a wrong choice of mic or placement. But if those first steps are well mastered, it's normal to think about the next steps, EQ, comp, reverb, delay etc.

I envy you for being at this crossroad where you get to pick hi-end gear that will define you possibilities. I still need to add some mics and converters to my arsenal before thinking about out of the box summing gear.

Even tho, you might be far beyong the quality I can offer to my customers, the advice I can give you is to forget about brand names, prices and reputations and even reviews. Close your eyes and listen. Choose what makes your sound go in the direction you want. You must trust your taste. Because in the end you are the one who will adjust those tools and if they don't go where you want, they are worthless...

audiokid Sun, 10/06/2013 - 22:56
So much to discuss in this thread I hope more contribute.

For mixing and finishing, hybrid of course and after a console through an independent summing system like my Neos or a MixDream, Dangerous 2-bus etc, I prefer colour for tracking or mixing of individual channel.

After trying a lot of comps the last few years, the STC-8 has never left my analog chain. This is a transparent but very silky piece that stays on all the time. There where times I wondered what it was doing because its so gentle. Its a piece that teaches you how less is more and one day I just got it... Its an amazing comp.
That being said, if you slam it, it will do what the API 2500 does but better IMO and at that point software comps like the transient designers or something like a few 1176's are more appealing.
I'm experimenting with the STC-8 in MS and recently put a Kultube after it, which is sounding pretty cool.

I've read numerous threads about how great the API 2500 is so I had to buy one. At first I was all over it but I grew so bored of it really fast and sold it with no regret. To me, that is the most over rated product I have ever owned. I just couldn't stand it after a month. It was like having a kid do a mans job with an underlying smear that got in the way of everything. It didn't belong in the same chain as my Neos but can see why its the craze for drums and electronic mixes. Go figure. It was like pouring extra smoke flavoring into a fine shot of 18 year old single malt.

EQ's on the other hand, are becoming a very important section to my system for tone and very subtle change much more than I ever thought. They can add size and sheen like nothing else does. So, I have a Pultec design ( Passeq) for MS and a BAX at the end right before the second DAW. I'm replacing a few EQ's for the new NSEQ-4. It will be the first in my chain now.
I love how the combination of analog EQ's will effect the tonal qualities of a song rather than actually moving frequencies up or down like a 32 band eq would per-say.. I like having one in MS so I can sweeten up the center and sparkle the sides with space and ambiance. This is where less is more and where Bricasti's shine. Its all about creating space with the least amount of interference for me. Keeping the phase tight and big ass bass full and clear is why I'm doing all this extra fuss..

After experimenting, following the popular pieces, I cannot stress enough to save and invest in higher end carefully selected analog gear over mid level and popular stuff. The mid level stuff is noisier and always seems to take something away as you push them. When you start adding a bunch of mid level gear, it becomes difficult to keep this valued space ( the reason we are doing hybrid) and distinguish what anything is really contributing or doing "well" . You wonder why you are even using analog gear. But, I use Sequoia 12 and that is one kick ass DAW.

If you are inclined to over cook sound (its not hard to do), I think this is where a console is best in comparison to an independent hybrid summing rig. Too many flavors spoil the broth especially in the finishing end of a chain.
But , the increase in phase issues start growing with consoles and round trip processing so you are two steps back again. It then becomes a question of not being able to hear or appreciate certain aspects of high end finishing and sticking to tracking and basic mixing makes more sense. This is how I hear it all.

The hammer is another really cool EQ which surprisingly has a tube and is very transparent in a good way. This is an exceptional EQ for top end silk but you need a few other pieces to pick up where it leaves off.
No one EQ is enough for me. Finding a few to complete your low, mid and highs is the ticket. And one for overall tweaks is the icing on the cake. That's what I love about the BAX.
Then, for surgical stuff, its all in your DAW.

I've been thinking about the GR for a long time, but its not top on my list. Same as the API 5500 where you might use those once in a while in my kind of system.

And last, this is definitely on my G.A.S. list but I'll be waiting until I see a used one.

Hope that helps.

kmetal Tue, 10/08/2013 - 22:20
cool fellas, interesting suggestions, and approaches!
the great river is def on my gotta try it list, and i have actually used the 9098 on a session i was assisting, i didn't know what it was at the time, but recognized the color scheme, i really didn't like it on electric rock guitar, it was just wierd in the upper mids, but it coulda been many things that day, including the general agreement that the scratch guitar sounded 'bitchin', and didn't get beat by any signal chain that day. i like the price, and i'm gonna try it again, cuz i few people i talk to really like it.

man, that bax thing, seems pretty cool. i like that you can 'hear it doing something' but doesn't necessarily scream 'oh thats an..." def on the hitlist to try.

no doubt going high end, if for no other reason that i won't lose alot, if any money if i decide i don't want it. never regretted buying the best i could, (not necessarily most expensive), but my favorite reguardless of the price tag. i think we've all 'settled' on on something only to spend more time regretting than it woulda taken to just get the one ya "really wanted". i listen to alot of the lcal radio shows, and while there are some recordings that sound 'comercial' almost all of them scream mid level, not saying they aren't well thought out, just have that tinge of that thing that's like 'professional' not truly 'comercial sounding'. it just doesn't have that last 10%, that thing, (ya know the one that cost 50x more) one of my desires (on the technical side) has always been to be able to make a recording that sounds like something on mainstream radio, or like a tori amos album, or just 'that' sound. my skill set is developing and i'm far from that level, but i think having excellent gear to work on shouldn't hurt the cause. (with the assumption of good rooms/monitoring)

there probably a few thousand engineers at any given time making these types of albums, and getting those type of sounds, so it's not like it's only a couple people. i'm not saying i'll reach my goals, or that esotric gear is necessary, but in all my research and talking, high end gear seems to be used on high end recordings. kinda makes sense to me.

i also have had a very 'tried and true' approach to my gear purchasing over the years, but i feel like i'm looking for something a bit different, especially now that the studio is bringing in even more of the 'usual suspects', i feel like buying something that i just personally get blown away by, isn't being impractical.

I'm curious about when you guys are working, mixing or tracking, when something 'just isn't' right, or 'needs something more' do you find yourself swapping out the pre eq or compressor for, (obviously in general), which do you find more often settles the issue. sonically speaking. pre's i guess have a byass cuz their second to the mic in the chain, but what it general do you find yourself saying 'aha' to? i guess wouldn't say what's more 'important' rather what do you generally find make the most powerful, in getting ya from ok, ta oh wow.

lol this is what a dude said to me the other day "buy the best, and you'll only cry once"

dude, totally confirmed my suspicions that cheap monitor controlers are worse than none at all! a/b'd a mackie big slob, w/ the regular outs a a motu 828, geez, where did the depth and fullness, go, and where did the harshy midrange sound come from. definately gonna stress to my boos that that's the next most important piece of gear he should get, after the new studios doors open soon. night and day. other than good sound i think his only requirement is 3 sets of out, and talkback. heard good things about the coleman audio peice. having a cheapo hunk of metal in the middle of a proven room, expensive, and classic speaks, and your ears? makes no sense. man i knew it would have an effect, but the effect was HUGE, or should i say thin.




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