Focusrite Liquid Channel? (or stranded on a desert island)

Discussion in 'Mixing' started by imagineaudio, Nov 24, 2004.

  1. imagineaudio

    imagineaudio Active Member

    Hi, I stumbled on to this forum for the first time today, so this will be my first post here. Nine months from now I will be relocating 2800 miles away. I am currently upgrading my Pro-sumer grade home studio to a more Pro-fessional standard. My question to all of you is this: After my move I will be starting basically from the ground up building a small project studio, what am I going to need?
    My intention is to have the least amount (in terms of pieces) of gear, but of the pieces I do have, they must be high-quality, and extremely versatile. I will need:

    4-8 channel PC interface (I run Nuendo)
    Good reference monitors
    Vocal condenser
    Intrument mics
    1 or 2 channel mic pre
    DAW controller

    Quality and Versatility is the key

    I've got some ideas in mind, what do ya'll think???
  2. sdelsolray

    sdelsolray Active Member

    Portland, OR
    Re: Stranded on a desert island.....

    What's your overall budget? That'd be nice to know.
  3. imagineaudio

    imagineaudio Active Member

    how about:
    4-8 channel interface: $700
    Monitors $700-$1000
    Condensor mic $500-700
    Instrument mics $400-500
    Mic Pre $1000-1400
    Controller (?)

    Am I missing anything?

    Also what's the deal with these single channel strips costing $2500+? Are they worth it? How is the liquid channel?
  4. ericj

    ericj Guest

    At the risk of starting yet another huge debate on the merits of dynamic convolution vs. the real thing, I'll present my current experience.

    My two cents is that I love the Liquid Channel. We have a pair of them at my work and they sound absolutely wonderful. Now, as I've said before, I haven't had the luxury of trying many of the very high-end gear this box is designed to sound like, so I can't make many A/B comparisons. But I do know that it's made my tracks sound so much better, and that's not a bad thing!

    I used a dbx 160SL compressor setting for a vocalist, and it placed them in the mix extremely nicely (in OverEasy mode.) I used the 1176 setting, set with all buttons pushed in (slam mode, I guess), on a lead guitar track, and that thing would sustain for days. It was just awesome. I literally sat there for over an hour and just played my electric because I had never achieved a tone and sustain like that before, and I was just using a little SansAmp Trademark 10 amp direct to the LC (another winner, IMO, albeit limted flexibility.)

    I'm still trying to decide what preamp settings work best on particular material, but so far I've used the CraneSong Flamingo on some acoustic guitar tracks and the Neve 1081 on electric guitar tracks with great results. I've also tried the API 3124 and the SSL SL4000 with undecided results. (not that they were bad in any sense, but only that I couldn't decide what they sounded *best* on. They would certainly make anything sound great though.)

    My next goal is to load the "hot" versions of the EL Distressor settings and run some vocal tracks through them. The Distressor sound appeals to me very much, and I'd like to see if the LC can deliver on the distortion that the Distressor is known for. (Too bad Focusrite hasn't modelled the Fatso yet, I'd run all my final mixes bused through the LCs paired if it did...)

    Anyhow, just wanted to give you a description of my experiences. Naturally, even these preamps won't make your tracks sound better if you neglect to use high-quality microphones, studio monitors, and acoustic treatment. However, if you have even a couple great mics and a decent room to mix in, I'd highly recommend these, especially for the budget-conscious project studio.

    They will bring your outboard gear up to a very acceptable quality, where it will then be your responsibility to constantly improve the way your mixes sound. In other words, the outboard gear won't be the limiting factor in the sounds of your mixes, but rather *you* will.

  5. imagineaudio

    imagineaudio Active Member

    And thats what I'm after.....want to make sure I have a set up where [/i]i am the weakest link in the chain. That is why I set my budget the way that I have......on each piece of equipment rather than on everything together. Are my budgets too low, what would I be looking at in that range?
  6. J-MADD

    J-MADD Active Member

    Home Page:
    well, with regard to budget, The liquid channel would be around 3000 dollars from what I have seen. I have an isa 428 and I like it especially on drums. That cost me about 1600 dollars. But, it gives you 4 mic pres for that price.
  7. underworld

    underworld Guest

    Re: Stranded on a desert island.....

    I'm kinda going through the same with my studio. I just replaced my ST Audio C-Port with a Lynx Two - and as you would expect, it was a good move. I'm still blown away by the difference. You should check out the Lynx Aurora if you need 8 channels.

    I also just picked up a control surface - the Radikal SAC 2.2 - I've only had it for about a week and it's my first surface - but so far I think it's pretty great. I run it with Nuendo 2. A lot of people also like the Mackie Control.

    For mics, I have several but usually use my C414 for vocals, a R0de NT 5 for acoustic, a Blue baby bottle for various things, and an EV ND468 for electric guitar.

    I'm in the process of replacing my mic pres as well. Just sold off my Bellari and ART pres (keeping my Presonus MP20 for now) and am looking at several pro grade ones. High on my list are the Great River, the Manley Dual Mono (and the TNT whenever it comes out), and the Seventh Circle Audio stuff.

    Mics and mic pres are probably the most subjective though...

    I'm still running my M-Audio Studiophile monitors (8") at the moment. I think they're next on my list to replace with some Genelecs or Dynaudios perhaps.... we'll see.
  8. Blenn

    Blenn Guest

    I highly recommend the Genelec 8050a's. I too have Lynx 2 card and they're stunning. But when I went from my mackie HR624's to the Gens I was shocked!

    Get them - you will not be dissapointed!

    Paul Blenn
  9. ericj

    ericj Guest

    Perhaps you could look into the Seventh Circle Audio preamps. They're supposed to be very very good, and if you don't mind weilding a soldering iron, you can have several pres that sound the biz.

    This way you can buy just a couple, and expand as your budget allows, all while not compromising on quality.

    Hope that helps-
  10. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    77 Sunset Lane.
    "I haven't had the luxury of trying many of the very high-end gear this box is designed to sound like, so I can't make many A/B comparisons. "

    This is key to the whole debate ... Most people who seem to like the Liquid Channel, haven't had much expierence with many of the pres it is supossed to model.

    I am sure the Liquid Channel sounds great on its own as does most Focusrite gear, excluding the Green & Platinum Range stuff... but in terms of the emulation ... word is "close, but no cigar" ... so if you want something that will provide a lot of different colors and textures in an all in one package .. go for it. If you want a pre that sounds like all the "classics", dream on ... it ain't there yet. Add to that the Liquid Channel is an all in one pre and converter, my take is in the long run it will most likely become obsolete ... while my Sebatrons, Neves, GR's and others will be just a viable then as they are today. I prefer to keep my converters and processing gear separate for this reason although I do see the convenience of an "all in one" package .. It's all in what your needs are
  11. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    FWIW I've spent most of my adult life surrounded with great pre-amps and compressors... and I spent a bunch [like 12] of hours playing with the Liquid Channel.

    If you're looking for a 2 dimensional sounding piece of $*^t with varying degrees of harsh and rasp... this is the box for you!! If you're looking for something with a depth and 3rd dimension to the tone, an energy and excitement to the tone, a fullness that can assist with reinforcing the emotion of a performance... then the Liquid Channel is not for you.

    Different strokes for different folks and all that.

    Now as this thread was titled "desert island"... the one piece of equipment I would want if I was stranded on a desert island would be a ^#$%ing Satellite phone so I could get the hell off the desert island and back to someplace with a good bar, women, and maybe a steak dinner... the last ^#$%ing thing I'd be thinking about is a ^#$%ing mic pre.
  12. Blenn

    Blenn Guest

    Just been playing with the Liquid in my studio for about 5 hours now. Used a TLM103 into the Liquid and into Nuendo at 24/96. I recorded a one off vocal using the Flat Transformer patch so I could basically reamp the vocal through all the different pre's.

    1) THe preamp in this unit is excellant. Truly really good but:-
    2) Either my ears are ^#$%ed or I just cannot hear that much of a difference between all the different pre's. This is with zero harmonics and full 15-ODD dynamics. I cant hear nothing different!
    3) The compressors are good but nothing you cannot get from a UAD-1.

    The differences are so subtle that I cannot justify the price. I already have the AMEK CIB's and they are excellant pre's. I was hoping for something that made me go WOW! but I did'nt hear it. Those subtle differences would be well and truly lost in a mix with kit and guitars etc.

    PROS- EXCELLANT preamp with good AD converters and great way of controlling it via our PC
    CONS - doesn't fulfill what it promises!

    Overall - dissapointed - NO _ GUTTED!

    Paul Blenn
  13. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    So be happy, now you won't have to plunk down 3+k for a preamp- get a great river and do like fletcher and go to a place with a good bar and good women and get a steak dinner and celebrate you didn't spend all that good money for nothing...
  14. Blenn

    Blenn Guest

    True. Excellant advice. Especially the woman bit.

    Tell me more about the Great River preamps. I have heard them mentioned quite a lot actually!

    Paul Blenn
  15. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    here is a review by Ro's own Kurt Foster

    (Dead Link Removed)
  16. ericj

    ericj Guest

    Good lord, I knew it would come back to this...

    Kurt, you're right. I have not heard much of the high-end gear this attempts to replicate. I do want to make clear though, that this box is deep, in the sense that it takes a while to get into it. At first, different settings sound almost identical. As I listen to it more and more, and as I try it on different material, I find that certain settings are more suitable. I just tried the ISA pre and comp on an clean electric guitar track and it really *really* brought out the harmonic content and general juciness of the track. Does it sound identical to the original ISA? I don't know. I don't care, quite frankly. I do know what it sounded like going in, and I know what it sounds like coming out, and I'm pleased.

    It reminds me of my Andromeda synth. You don't just sit down one day and understand this beast. You work with it, you experiment, you learn how it reacts to certain settings. Only after months of work do you begin to realize the capabilities of this piece of equipment. IMO, It's not prudent to make a hasty decision in a short time period as to the value of the LC. You can compare "does it sound exactly like so-and-so pre" quickly, and make your decisions on that claim... but don't believe marketing (ever)... go and listen to it yourself, or better yet, demo it for 30 days from Sweetwater or something, in your own environment and with your own gear. Bottom line is, it sounds *really* good.

    Fletcher, I'm just curious if you were eventually able to use the LC for longer than an hour with Michael Wagener? I'm referring to your post here: I only ask because I've found that the LC, at least for me, took a while to really learn and appreciate the differences between each replica. Forget the whole "it sounds exactly like a Neve" marketing stuff for a second. Just having a pre that sounds excellent, and really does have a lot of different personalities, although subtle, is a huge thing. I could care less if the replica TRANY-H really sounds like the API 3124 serial #10149. I do know that the ISA replica has more shimmer than the Neve, but the Neve HOT replica sounds *excellent* on a class-A guitar amp just breaking into overdrive.

    Lastly, in regards to your mention of "2-dimensional sounding", I noticed that you tested it at 48k with the latency you mentioned you were experiencing. I've been using it since day one at 96k and don't notice any sort of flatness to the sounds I'm getting from it. It supports 192k, and that will probably demonstrate even higher depth IMO.

    Anyhow, I respect everybody's point of view. I know for me it works great, and I'll continue to use it on tracks, and I know that I can now become better since the gear is of very acceptable quality, and it gives me the creativity to try mutiple pres/comps on tracks, without owning a roomful of gear.

  17. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    77 Sunset Lane.
    Everyone who frequents RO knows how I feel about the whole idea of amp and mic modeling ... I have not yet heard anything that is supposed to emulate other products that really does it. Not with guitar amps, not with speaker emulation or with mic pre modeling. ... As I said , close but no cigar. That being said, I believe you when you say you have found the Liquid Channel to be useful ...

    At issue for me is the whole "truth in advertising" issue and being disappointed that the marketing gurus at "Fu%kusrite" would employ these types of tactics ... I know the marketplace is demanding it and they are responding to the demand ... but as I see it, who ever is managing Focusrite these days is doing a marvelous job of cheapening the product line and name. It's sad to see a quality company sell out.
  18. ericj

    ericj Guest

    I totally agree with you. I detest marketing claims, and Focusrite isn't doing a very good job of keeping the hype down. I can't stand flamboyant marketing (especially from the Protools camp, ironically!)

    I decided to purchase a pair of these, basically at the last moment, where I was *just about* to purchase a pair of Millennia Origins. I had heard a bit about the LCs, and the salesperson offered a 30 days return with the LCs. So if it wasn't for that, I probably wouldn't have had the guts to go with them over the STTs. Anyhow, like everybody else around here, we're constantly looking to upgrade our systems. The SCA DIY kits are looking pretty nice at the moment.

  19. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    From earlier in this thread:
    So I would say that the answer to your question is a resounding "yes". Bro, I ^#$%ed around with every possible setting on this thing... I called Lynn Fuston and asked him if he had found a setting with any redeemable qualities... I sat and I listened [BTW, I could hear the differences in damn near every patch without too much of a struggle... I just didn't hear anything worth hearing].

    Replica sheklica... this thing sucks purely on it's own merit.

    Bro, no disrespect intended, but I'm not convinced you have the ears to hear what I was hearing. This statement based on the "at least for me, took a while to really learn and appreciate the differences between each replica" statement.

    I heard the differences loud and clear. Many of them were not in the least bit subtle, it's just that none of them were good. I do mean none.

    After reading praise for this piece of superflous scrap steel I became more and more intrigued... I really started to doubt what I had heard at WireWorld. I called around and found one to borrow. I went through damn near every pre-amp setting [without paying any mind to the "replica designation"] looking for something that I would want to use on a recording.


    I found nothing.

    I tried damn near every compressor in the thing... same result. For shits and giggles I put the compressors in that thing up against their analog counterparts... night and day differences in terms of depth and dimension.

    In playing around with it in our studio "The Methods and Applications Laboratory" [we call it "The Meth Lab" for short], we played with it at 96kHz... it still sucked. We put the converters up against some "real" converters like the Lavry 'Blue Series' stuff and the "Nyquist" converters in my RADAR-24... holy $*^t do the LC converters suck.

    BTW, at this point in the evolution and development, there aren't any 192 kHz converter chips that actually have the depth of field that you can get with 96 kHz chips in the same circuit... this was proven to me when I went from the 192k "S-Nyquist" converters in my RADAR-24 to the 96k "Nyquist" converters. The tone got much sweeter at 96k... the only difference was the chip set. Dave Hill at Crane Song is the guy that explained to me why I liked the 96k converter set more than the 192k converter set... I was having a tough time wrapping around what I was hearing as I thought the 192 in theory should have had better depth and dimension.

    We tried running into the thing AES using the Lavry and iZ converters... the LC still sucked, still sounded 2 dimensional, still had no depth, lacked definition, ^#$%ed with the detail and worst of all, obscured some of the emotional content in the original audio that was sent to this unit.

    Allow me to elaborate.

    We even went so far as to hook up a GML 8302 mic pre into a set of Lavry A/D-D/A converters [cleanest path I can think of!!] and tried running that through the LC's different "pre-amps"... the idea being to remove that "genius" Focusrite technology from the signal path and replace it with some of the highest class $*^t I could think of.

    When checking out the compressor I ran tracks from the RADAR into it digitally, then back out through both the LC converters and Lavry converters [just to try to remove the crap converters from the equation, and lower/remove latency issues].

    What I found was that just running through the unit stripped away depth of the audio, stripped away some of the "urgency", the "emotion" of the music. The net result was a sound that layed flat... sorta like when you meet that girl that won't move during sex... it was just sorta upside down masterbation. Yeah, it was getting laid, but frankly who cares. It wasn't fun. It wasn't exciting. If I want to be bored by music I'll turn on MTV-2, I sure as hell don't want to be bored by music in my own damn studio.

    Proof that Barnum was right.

    How about I send you out a pair of Pendulum Audio "Quartet"s... take as long as you like shooting them out next to the "LC" [and the STT-1 for that matter] and I think you'll start to get more of an idea about what I'm talking about vis a vis "excitment", "emotion" and the "sex" of it all.

    If you dig the Pendulums I'll be more than happy to arrange a zero profit thing for M-A through another dealer... this ain't about sales from my perspective, it's about people starting to get excited about the emotions we can support in the music with the audio we record.

    All these people keep bitching and moaning about how downloading and $*^t has killed record sales... when the fact of the matter is that the records sound like $*^t. Yeah, a lot of it is the inability to write and arrange music, yeah a lot of it is because the emotion has been obliterated via "grids" and "auto tune"... but we, as engineers aren't capturing the stuff with the depth and emotion that will compell the listener to listen.

    We destroy the dynamics with too much compression because "every one else is doing it" [it's really just the 'Lord Alge' cocksuckers and that piece of $*^t Marcussun (sp?) but everyone is following along just like sheep], we lose the depth because of bad conversion, we use substandard tools because "they're affordable and sound almost as good" [and after you add all that up for a while you have a KIA that's built with kinda all the same parts as a BMW... but hey, they both have 4 seats and a steering wheel and both companies go by 3 letters so the KIA must be "almost as good"].

    Yeah, I get a little emotional and pissed off about this stuff because I really, really want to hear some well recorded music... I really, really, really don't want to have to listen to the "classic $*^t" station to hear depth and emotion in a musical performance.

    Have some fun... listen to an Aretha Franklin record or a Donny Hathaway record vs. Mariah, or Britney, or Averil etc... listen to how the audio supports the musical statment. Listen to a Rolling Stones record from 1971 vs. a Rolling Stones record from 2001... same band, "better" equipment, similar songwriting and arranging... different depth of emotion to the audio.

    Does this make any sense or have I lost my ^#$%ing mind?
  20. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    77 Sunset Lane.
    No Fletcher .. you haven't lost your mind ... I think you hit the nail on the head for the most part ... but I still like my Millennia Origin STT-1 ...

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