Ah The Good Life with Pro Tools?

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by stedel, Nov 5, 2001.

  1. stedel

    stedel Guest

    Yup. G'day folks.I was just wonderin'.There have been some excellent posts and issues lately dealt with on other sites re sound quality issues, mixing totally within The Tools, or not.etc. etc.
    There was a great thread about setting levels, which due to ...erm..technical difficulties at the moment you can't access.This has left a gap for me, cos it was very exciting and I even stopped watching The Bill to follow it. But I don't know how it ended!!!!!! STOP THE PRESS. OK SINCE POSTING THIS, THE THREAD I WAS MISSING IS BACK.NOV 6!! INTERESTING ADDITION FROM DAVE LEBOLT FROM DIGI RE COMMENTS AND ISSUES RAISED.IT'S THE ONE WITH OVER SIX PAGES POSTED BY FELIX ON LEVELS.(ps it's on The Pro Tools Forum).
    I don't want to start a thread just to hear my own voice or
    to create waffle, but I was wondering if people want to discuss similar issues here, you know, recording issues with ProTools, and how they relate to digital recording in general. It seems as though everyday I hear about a new piece of gear that will put the analog edge into a digital mix. It's getting complicated.And expensive. Cranesong, Fatsco, Manley 16x2 mixers. All three.
    And more.I like the idea in theory, of totally mixing within Tools, but will miss my outboard stuff too much. So, lets get gritty. Rock and Roll
    recorded with a Steinway Piano. Not frequency restricted 808's and their clones.And with a double bass.And a real drummer. Can the Tools crunch it with stuff like the Sony EQ's, and truly, how good are available compressor plug ins like the Bomb Factory stuff. I'm so tired of the promise of virtual worlds. If I have to get something like a Manley Mixer, hey that's the deal No problems.It would be great to have some hard idea about this before I find out I need to sell my family for scientific experiments to get the NewFatCraneMultiFacetedDigitalExpanderandCoffee Machine.Now I've already received excellent advice from people like Julian so I'm not asking for a re-run of should I buy proTools.But well, are we there yet? How noticable IS the new stuff like the Sony EQ? And this is after using it for longer than two nights on the smell of a fresh download. Or is all the debate on other sites merely spurious, and bad sounds due to the right - or wrong -stuff of the humans using this stuff.Maybe I'm talking to myself. Maybe I should just go and lie down.
  2. lagsbartt

    lagsbartt Guest

    Not much to say just check this

    SAW Studio in http://www.iqsoft.com
  3. stedel

    stedel Guest

    Yeah, well thanks Lagsbart. But:
    1.I'm a Mac sort of guy, not PC.
    2. Yes I'm aware of many of these other products,
    but it is ProTools I thought we were discussing here.
    3.Forums are for talk, so say a bit more next time rather than post me to a site advertising different product.
    4. Again thanks anyway. Glad you've found something for yourself.
    5. ANYONE ELSE: an interesting slant on some of the issues with the mixer etc.posted by Dave Lebolt from Digi on their forum just today.If you're interested, that is.
  4. Greg Malcangi

    Greg Malcangi Active Member

    Oct 12, 2000
    Hi Stedel,

    God, where to start. I took part in the DUC thread you are talking about. There was really two main parts to the thread; recording levels into ProTools and gain changing with the faders.

    After over 200 posts to the thread the conclusions are exactly as one would expect. Record the highest levels in to protools as you can. This means leaving space for transients that may not register on the meters and not over driving pre-amps, etc. As for mixing, if you are mixing internally use the main faders to control gain. If you are mixing externally or outputting channels to a converter from an internal mix (main stereo outs for example) leave the faders at unity.

    Many of the posts just provided the technical reasoning behind what we should all already know. Namely that you have to record within a window above the noise floor and below the distortion point.

    Regarding your other points:

    The digital market is evolving much quicker than the analog market. We are now at a stage where a fully spec'ed (ie. non stock) PT rig can provide a level of audio quality nearly comparable with high end analog. Although digital audio seems to be improving virtually everyday, it is still digital audio. At least for the time being, if you want that high quality analog sound you can only get it from high quality analog gear! However, with 96K around the corner, better filtering and continuing improvements with ADCs, plugs and outboard gear, it may not be many years before digital actually sounds better to most people than high quality analog.

    The Bomb Factory Classic Compressors are very good, although marginally not as good as the real thing. I'm looking forward to hearing the Sony Compressor though. I only heard the Sony EQ at a demo but it seemed to be a substantial step forward over anything else I've heard on PT.

  5. stedel

    stedel Guest

    Hi Greg. Thanks for replying. At the end of my post I told myself maybe I should go and lie down. I did. I feel better now. Bit of a rave wasn't it. It was a reaction to those other forum epics.I don't want to dump but I've been through this type of thing before. Maybe you know that weird twilight world called Audio Visual?

    I take what you say re 96kHz. Maybe two years from now, we will all be working in this format - and the systems will be functional, will talk to each other, and the claims of better sound will be clearly demonstrable and self evident. In the meantime we stand to become experimental but pampered Lab rats for re-tooling and re-selling. This is what happened, and is ongoing in the Multi-Media area. Back in the music industry we're already seeing half arsed (sorry) work arounds, competing interface formats and strategies, (a bit like the last ten years - "GroundHog Day goes 96kHz!"). We see weird hybrids advertised as 96kHz "ready" eg. existing effects units, with only a selection of available effects actually functional at 96kHz. And of course we'll be made to feel like a neolithic dunderhead by the advertising people for not signing up, but hey, it'll be cheaper to have counselling for your social ego rather than the 3 months in a rest home that the systems and logistics nightmare will give you.

    Thanks for the comments about the compressors. I've got to say that compressors and reverb are the things I'm having the most resistance to abandoning outboard stuff.
    But close enough to a Pultec? That sounds pretty OK to me. All this is really helpful. I'm narrowing down the things I need to seriously check out, Bomb Factory is definitely up there.

    BTW I agree with you about high end analog. I had a five year break from the music industry (it wasn' t a complete break, but a lot of time was spent in other art forms/technologies). Now that I'm concentrating on the music again, it's truly amazing seeing and hearing the impact of digital stuff during that time on the industry. Studio owner friends of mine, some of whom were/are serious old analog heads, (older than me!) even though they grumble, and fuss, they are installing DAW based systems. And although they curse and say where's the warmth, where's the character, after they sit down, do a couple of cuts, some pasting, trimming, then get really brave and add some plug ins you can see the grin spread across their face. That's exactly what happened with me. Yep there's a trade off - at the moment you loose a bit of quality, but really the creativity you gain is breathtaking. .In the meantime I'm gonna stay partly analog and partly digital, take heed of good advice given here and elsewhere.
    Be scrupulous in my understanding of current technology, take scare posts about not been able to get a good sound after investing in more than $60,000 of equipment with a pinch of salt,and have a life.
    And yep save up for that Sony EQ..
    Kind regards

    PS: The proposed Digi Digest that Dave Lebolt mused about on Felix's massive "Post of The Year" nominated bulletin "Setting Levels in ProTools".I think is a good idea. Digi can be a lot clearer and a lot more informative than they have been re the characteristics of their mixing architecture. Even if they think they have been, user feedback, as seen on those threads would indicate not so. Anyway, we'll see. People need to really understand that digital is different to analog. I've seen posts where people are having to have things like bit depth and wordlength expained to them. You'd think that before dumping even a hundred quid you'd check out some sort of digital primer. Usually these things are explained on page 4 or 5. And you can't hold Digi reponsible for that level of inexperience.
    .Kind regards
  6. Greg Malcangi

    Greg Malcangi Active Member

    Oct 12, 2000
    Hi Stedel,

    << People need to really understand that digital is different to analog. I've seen posts where people are having to have things like bit depth and wordlength expained to them. You'd think that before dumping even a hundred quid you'd check out some sort of digital primer. >>

    I remember when I built my studio about 10 years ago. I knew a fair amount about music but not too much about engineering or production. I spent several hours a day for a whole year studying up on the theory, picking engineer's brains and researching equipment before I actually bought my first piece of gear! However these days people go out and buy a cheap DAW and treat it much like any new computer application. They buy it, install it and start playing with it. Eventually they realise that their mixes sound crap so they try to find out what's wrong with their DAW. It's at this stage, when they start asking questions, that the truth gradually dawns. If Dave Lebolt's suggestion of a digest can give newbies an idea of what they are letting themselves in for, maybe their expectations will be more realistic.

    At this point in time I feel 96kHz is little more than a marketing gimmik. It's going to take quite a few years before the full benefits of 96k are realised. The public and mastering houses need to be able to handle 96k files and the manufacturers need time to come up with killer plugs, ADCs and DVD/SACD systems that take full advantage of the characteristics of 96k. For example it's taken about 6 years from the time that PT went to 24bit until we finally have a world class sounding EQ plugin.

    << Maybe you know that weird twilight world called Audio Visual? >> Oh yes!! I'm not even going to get started on that one! :)

  7. stedel

    stedel Guest

    Hi Greg. Had a similar experience. Basically I'm an artist/musician having to take on the technicalities of this Brave New World. Which as you experienced yourself can be painful.Bit depth resolution? God I used to fall asleep trying to read that stuff. But you've got to do it.Impossible to achieve a quality product the second time if you don't!BTW I discovered I'm a better engineer/mixer than I thought, something I'm really enjoying and looking foreward to pursuing more fully next year.
    I'm also reappraisng the 96kHz thing myself at the moment. Coming from an analog background primarily, and wanting to go Digital it seemed to be the way to go..but I don't know, the more I read, the more I listen, I'm coming round to a similar position to the one you stated. Even if it is the brilliant new way, it's going to take years to work properly and to come down to an affordable cost. And really, once you understand the parameters, as discussed on Digi's forum through Felix's thread, and look at things like the enthusiastic response to the Sony EQ's etc. once you set up a Tools system, with whatever additional outboard system or totally in the computer system you prefer, if you can't get "a good sound", well maybe it's your fault!!!
    BTW I have a "tongue in cheek" post on Julian's forum at the moment, trying to lighten things up. It's a bit long, but you might enjoy it. It's the one about Sex,Pro Tools etc, and Sigmund Freud! Kind regards. Stedel

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