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

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by kmetal, Nov 7, 2016.

  1. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Distinguished Member

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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
     
  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    i think you are supposed to drive the Folcrum with a pre amp stage not a line amp stage.
     
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  3. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    I can't tell you enough about my setup yet but I will once it's completed to the point I do critical comparisons. I also look forward to having more people around here doing some of the things I do. It gets a bit lonely lol. :D
    I will say this,

    To keep you thinking... If you are going to step OTB, make it worth while, otherwise, its a waste of money, Kyle. ITB and software kicks ass.

    I've been saying this for about 3 years now. A Bricasti and two DAW's goes way further to improving a clients mix over all the analog hardware in the world. Meaning, if someone gives you a mix that sounds like ass, it will always sound like ass. So, what can you do to improve ass the best?

    Expensive OTB summing can change the waves around a bit but its not imho enough to make it worth the fuss or investment. In fact, people with good hearing might not like their songs smeared either. Even the very best gear will degrade the tracks. This is why ME use the best, they they do it very carefully.

    Those who claim OTB summing is making big differences, I beg to differ its due to their gear choices. ;) What we are hearing is smear and mud factor combined with subtle shifting of the waves. As if we can't do that better in other ways , ITB today.

    Where the rubber meets the highway... It comes down to how much better you can improve their "space" without creating transient smear or phase shifting. How do you do that?

    Less stacking of gear is the first observations you'll reach. It also comes down to really good analog gear. Cheap gear turns a mix into mud. The better the gear the closer to digital lol. Thats what is so ironic.

    Before you step into the Folcrom or any type of summing amp... , I would get your basic rig happening first.

    Are you going to be tracking people?
    if so, I would get the best pre-amp you can buy and go from there. After that, its nothing to add a Folcrom and start testing other mic-pres until your find the one(s) that fit your pallet best.

    That being said, I think Bos can help you a lot more than me when it comes to specs and headroom designs.
    I've read the AEA rpq 2 is excellent. But I've also read something with big rails and a tube is more rewarding.

    My way of thinking... if you are actually going to go for it. SS may only be marginal change, hardly worth the fuss.

    I am pretty certain the pass between two DAW's will do what a SS will do just as well, if not better.

    Words of experience. Once you start mixing peoples stuff, the better their mixes are, the more they are listening to everything you do. The analog assault isn't usually the best thing for a mix after tracking is done. The best time for all the gear is in the tracking stage.

    The AEA rpq 2 looks excellent. I'm also thinking Hardy. Maybe even a used one. I've not completed my rig to even have a valid opinion yet.

    I'm excited you are digging into all this and look forward to the day you get it all sorted , maybe we can even exchange tracks and so on.
     
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  4. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    One big point of the rpq2 is that it has alot of gain +81db !
    Strangely enough the ISA has +80db (Wonder why I love them so much) ;)

    Back to the point ; to me there is no reason to go OTB unless you're gonna use something Worth it !
    Give me a Manley Slam or a Shadow hill mastering compressor, you bet I'd want to go OTB !! ;)
     
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  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

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    The Folcrom inputs can be driven by any balanced line-level outputs. The make-up gain (after the Folcrom) needs to be done by a microphone pre-amp or a line amplifier that has at least 35dB of gain.

    The Folcrum is not an analogue mixer in the conventional sense, it's simply a passive summing network. You have to send it analogue signals that are already mixed, that is, all their amplitude levels are as you want them in the final 2-track result.

    One advantage of using passive boxes of this sort is that you can choose the amplifier that performs the make-up gain to suit the character of the material you are mixing. However, fader-less units like the Folcrom have the disadvantage that you may be running some of the D-A converters that supply the inputs at below their "sweet spot" levels.
    Not a lot to add, really. You can't meaningfully overload the inputs of a resistive device (unless it built with SMT resistors - see posts passim), and talking about high-voltage rails is a red herring, as there are no rails involved. You need the best quality make-up amplifier you can afford, but beware that transformer-input pre-amps do not necessarily work well when fed with the output of a passive summing box as opposed to a microphone. As a make-up amplifier, my API 3124+ (transformer-input) does not give as good a result as my DAV BG1s (op-amp input). The BG1s also have switched-gain rather than the continuously-variable gain used on the API, and this makes balancing up the channels much easier.

    One thing that has escaped mention so far is that external analogue summing allows you to use higher sampling rates for the captured tracks without needing to invoke digital sampling-rate conversion (SRC) to get the 2-track mix down to the CD standard.
     
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  6. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Got that Bos, I was speaking about the designs of the preamp, not the passive summing unit.
    Indeed. This may well be one of the best reasons for some people as well. This is added my my FAQ list now. Thanks for mentioning this.

    Good you mentioned this, Bos! (y)

    This may be the most important reason to go uncoupled and OTB! Take note Kyle. My entire hybrid system has many ways to adjust gain but what I've forgotten to mention over and over (good we have Bos here) is how important gain staging options are on your converters.

    (@Boswell ) Have you noticed when tracking/processing our own music OTB, its less common to be needing to be changing converters DA gains.
    But when mixing for people, their ITB levels level are all over the map and therefore its paramount to be able to dial in their DA outputs on our converters.

    You really nailed the big one here!
    I would have thought variable gain would be easier and more fluid in finding the sweet spot of the preamp.
    @Boswell You've mentioned the DAV BG1 many times as being your choice. Do you think it has a lot to do with the switch gain, op-amp's or both and why?
    My M-2b has switching input gains and variable output gains, not sure if it has op-amps though. But, what I also noticed with some switches, many products lack precision with switching attenuation. Top tier mastering switches can even be impossible to calibrate . Detent switches can be a real problem which is why I no longer prefer OTB mastering per-say. Not questioning this, just mentioning it for conversation as this is my POV now...
    @kmetal you should look into the DAV as well.

    What do op-amps do for sound, Bos?

    Thinking back years ago... I had a very expensive sampler with op-amps that i noticed having a frying sound when they start to fail or are bad right from the get go.
     
  7. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Distinguished Member

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    Yeah the summing is the last part of the setup. I've finally nailed down all the other components short and long term. The pre amp and summing are last since they may or may not go hand hand depending on the summing box. I like the idea of passive for creative control, and so the pre amps get more use. It's sinful to see them sit there 90% of the time.

    Yeah that's my plan. I just need to think ahead so that things all play nice. I won't be doing any real summing till I get the mytek next year. Anything before that is experimentation.

    I've got the computers spec'd, the software, speakers, controller, and guitar and amp all picked w 3/4 of the money set aside.

    I'm scooping things up all of 2017 so I've got time. I just don't want to have wasted gear sitting around due to bad planning.

    Nope. Not at my mix suite. It's all about remote mixing, composition, and surround post, as well as studio design and system integration.

    I busted my tail for 4 years building two well equipped commercial studios, perfect for tracking. My boss and I have a good arrangement as far as the finances go. It only makes sense to track at a comcerial place.

    I prefer to mix at my own private spot.

    What do you mean SS? JW. I need to have this analog section right.

    That's why I'm learning to build gear, and planning on very little for the summing. Mainly colored, semi clear, transparent make up gain, and a mastering eq or two.

    I'm far more concerned w recallablity and realtime remote workflow than having racks of gear for mixing, or tracking for that matter.

    But what i do get has to be good.

    My buddy likes his John hardy a lot.

    I want a transparent pre, a neve 1073 the neve brand or Brent Avril, and something in the middle.

    One or two eqs for tracking and sum, and a compressor or two mostly for tracking.

    I'm way into the idea vsti and the re ampming and using real room ambinace these days. I've been doing rock bands for 18 years so I've started to get a hang of it, which means my creative drive wants to move into other areas for inspritation.

    Sure thing man. In 2-3 years I'll have the full post room setup at whatever my new house is. By the end of 2017 I should have my basic rig and remote system well on its way in the house or an outbuilding. I'm in no way slowing down or moving away. Just trying to catch the next wave of tech and art so I can be current. I spent a long time getting to this point where I feel comfortable and well rounded.

    I'm not a master, but a journeymen of decent quality...

    I've seen the colmen summing box has a fader.

    I'm kinda confused, isn't the makeup gain stage ie pre amp, supposed to provide enough level to hit the sweet spot of the converters.?

    Right now it's looking like mytek next fall and Lynx in the meantime. The Lynx will handle capture duties when I get the mytek 8ch (or similar) for the daw 1.

    Is there a general range where I should be looking as far as levels?

    Well thank goodness. I was gonna just use the isa I had in mind for both tracking and makeup gain, but now I'll have to re think. I'll probably go isa two for instead of 428 just to have something decent to track my voice and di thru.

    The whole reason i brought up the aea becuase I figured clean high headroom made most sense for summing.

    Yeah the aea has switched gain knobs, seemed essential given the role. I want to have an easy 'standard' setting. To recall when I bounce between using the ore amp for tracking and sum.

    My goal is as set and forget as possible. I want this setup in 'always on' mode as much as possible. I have had my fill of patch bays and running between rooms for a while.

    Gonna check out the BG1 im not familiar with them. Thanks!!!!

    Do you have any other pres I should investigate particularly for the summing make up?

    I've looked into millennia and grace so far besides aea. Also true systems as well.

    I'm pretty deceived on the isa for a starter tracking due to low price and good sound. And then a neve 1073. Cuz I love neve sound for tracking.

    It's the unclothed sounding pieces I need to research...

    Lol if you know me I've been blathering about 192k and 384k. It took substantial effort to get quality stuff that was 192 capable software and hardware wise.

    I'm totally lost here. The Lynx have a trim knob for input but it's set and forget.

    Not sure what your talking about here Chris...

    Looking forward to hearing about it, I may be missing something.

    That said, I'm gonna spend substantial time calibrating everything so there's no discrepancy between gear and meters and ears.

    But still unclear about gain staging for the converters?
     
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    The sole reason I invested in the Neos was to have faders. Others will surely disagree but OTB faders are a total waste of money and time. I used my fader because they were there but I would never invest in a summing system with faders again. (n)Its old school, fun to use them but they do not do what they are claimed to do better which is to let the analog push your level up more. You can't recall them and in today DAW, why would we ever need them. I get why people think they are useful or essential but if you have high headroom, I push from the DAW anyway.
    Pretty certain those days are done for me but who knows...

    Related to the above workflow, being able to switch from +4 to -20 on both the AD and DA sides of your converter GAIN is essential for me. This enables use of DAW gains better, including automation and total recall. You have more options in finding the sweet spots of all your gain stages. It helps find the best spots for all your analog gear as well. They are very important. I think most good converters have this. I personally like having buttons on the converters as well as being able to change those via a control panel of the converter software.

    As an example: RME ADI 8 as example have the best gain controls I've used.
    You can adjust them manually or via a mouse. When you are working in the zone, its useful having the ability to push a button while your mouse it on DAW faders and you have an outboard compressor sounding better with less gain coming from the converter. When working with clients stems and tracks, I used them all the time.
     
  9. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Distinguished Member

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    So where essentially talking about manipulating the 'trim' on the converter on a case by case basis?
     
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    absolutely. No other way to do it. Once you step OTB and start adding gear. You soon learn what you don't have and need. Including, how important it is to be able to find the sweet spots. Otherwise, all you are doing is spending money smearing up mixes. Not to mention.... loosing all the automation that makes digital audio so awesome in the first place.
     
  11. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    how does the trim on a converter add gain?
     
  12. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    it either increases or decreases the level coming from your DAW stems or tracks.

    The output of your converters then send the signal to your gear, from there you either push or pull analog to the next stage and so it goes.

    Depending on how you mix or hear cause and effect of a track OTB, you might choose to bump or reduce the ADDA gains.

    When we are mixing ITB, we never think about the Master buss or stems DA. When hybrid mixing, you are constantly working your DAW tracks into your analog matrix, to your capture DAW. You mix into analog and capture it back either round trip or like I do... uncoupled on a second DAW system.

    The gain staging on my converters doesn't always stay the same.
    My converters are never 't set and leave. I love gain staging on converters.

    RME ADI -8 are my favourite converters. I've owned quite a few different brands and designs, the best ones for hybrid have more ways to adjust levels and they also respond to the interfacing and clock better too. ;)

    This is and example of what the better ones are capable of, choice for hybrid. Until you have this much control, you are really only getting a smidge of what your analog arsenal is capable of.

    Input level for 0 dBFS: +24 dBu, +19 dBu, +13 dBu, +4.2 dBu, each adjustable by 6 dB in steps of 0.5 dB via Digital Input Trim

    Output level for 0 dBFS: +24 dBu, +19 dBu, +13 dBu, +4.2 dBu, each adjustable by +/- 6 dB in steps of 0.5 dB

    Output level global: 0 down to -96 dB in 48 steps

    Sample rates: 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz, 176.4 kHz, 192 kHz, variable (sync/word)
     
  13. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    I'm not saying we need to go out and buy the best converters on the planet, but it is empowering to understand why people end up requiring specifics about converters.
    See these specs.
    http://www.rme-audio.de/en/products/adi_8_qs.php

    I have said this right from the day I got into audio. Hearing and being able to find the sweet spots better than others is why pro's become pros and get work. (well, at least wishful thinking we get to where we want through our examples of work).

    Back at Kyle... he is planning to do this as a business, which is only why I am going on about some of these things, in more detail. Food for thought :love::)

    Its also why hybrid monitoring is so damn important.You need to hear those gain stages.

    So back to your question, I'm interested in the new line of Mytec too. I hope they include some of the things I'm sharing here?
     
  14. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Distinguished Member

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    See I think I'm thinking about this incorrectly.

    Are you ever hearing the tracks from the daw or is it always via the summing.

    My picture of the way it is was basically monitoring thru the mix daw 2 bus and then also thru the capture.

    But that almost makes no sense, is there even a 2 bus in the mix daw?

    If not then are you monitoring the stems directly via the mix daw? Or do you o my hear them thru the capture daw?

    Like say 'drums' happens to be a stem or group or whatever term.

    I want to solo up the drums for a second. Am I always gonna here them thru the capture daw? Do I never hear them directly from the mix daw?

    I'm confused becuase how would I ever know exactly what on the mix if I'm always listening thru the capture analog:digital section. If i am able to listen to the mix daw directly, how am I doing this without a master bus? I ask becuase the dangerous st accepts 4 stereo sources. Do you have a dedicated set out mix daw outs into the dangerous soley for checking a soloed up buss on the mix daw?

    -----

    Gain staging- in a typical mix I'm constantly montoring my levels on a per track and master bus level. If I'm starting to blow things up then I pull the faders down.

    It seems to me like your either not doing that, or are doing that and also using the adda as sort of a 'pre / post' gain for the analog section?

    Is this in addition to the analog section in / out gain. ?

    So between daw 1 and 2 there's 4 gain stages- daw 1 DA-analog in- analog out- AD- daw 2.

    It never occurred to me I'd want to mess w the adda levels.

    My thinking which might be off, was just simple as leaving an average amount of headroom on the master bus, like a general 'good range'

    So for instance I'd leave say feed the analog something around -10dbfs, add 6db in the analog, and hit the capture around -4 / -2dbfs. Basically I just kinda assumed some sort of standard levels would be established for the system as a whole.... seems im not thinking properly about this.

    I appreciate the time spent on this topic. It's extremely important I understand what i need to do, so I can properly choose what tools inneed to do this. I'm lucky to have this shot, but there's little room for errors when speaking on gear in this price range. I can't afford any mistakes.

    Especially because I'm going really emphasize this side of this on my advertising becuase I think it's ahead of the curve. I think it can be profitable becuase I think it can make a noticeable improvement to any mix, relatively quickly.

    I'm looking to kinda Compete w the online mastering so things need to be done in a couple
    Hours or less in the $75-$25 range. Basically a psudeo mix stem/master. A 'mix enhancement' if you will, for people who don't want the full multitrack mix.

    At least that's the business side of my thinking...

    I'm glad this came up now.... this is essential to my conversion choice.

    Worse comes to worse I'll just snag the 2ch lynx if I just 'need something' to get moving short term. Thank goodness the eleven rack functions as an interface for any daw, I may just use this if I need to get going sooner than I have the better quality conversion.

    But I'm shopping in the range of the adi and mytek which is to expensive to not be perfect.

    Lol no rest for the wicked here. 2 weeks of hardcore computer component anylization after months of casual, and it seems a whole new stone, boulder, has to be turned. It's gotta be right that's all.

    ----
    As far as the bricatsi goes, it's out of the budget for a year or until the converters situation is handled. Unless that gets integrated as part of the converter role. Ie the bricasti replaces one set of potential conversion.

    For reverb I'm planning on the VSL Mir which is the best I can do particularly in 8ch surround. It's convolution of famous halls and places with about 2k impulses. It's not a bricasti by any means but the approach is interesting becuase you place the sources within the 'room' as opposed to setting the room setting to the source. Although I'm sure there are general room parameters to adjust.

    Either way I 'need' it for surround work, but if I get a bricasti i gotta tone down the MIR room packs for $ reasons. I'll just go bare basics in that realm of the bricasti is in the picture.

    -----
     
  15. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    I'll answer as few of these, then get the rest later, after the good ending of this election!
    tracking, mixing, analog, capture. You can switch and listen, adjust everything at any point. Nothing rivals this system. This is why you need the monitoring controller like the ST. It allows this.

    See above.

    Yes,

    all places, tracking, mixing ITB, OTB and capture plus online.

    Then you swicth your monitor controller to that section.

    absolutely. Same for me. But you can also study how it can sound on the capture DAW too.

    indeed!

    yes.

    you got it :)

    As does anyone else who have never built such a system. Until you use it, you cannot know it all. period. :)
     
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  16. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

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    Yes, gain is variable, but what you have to be sure of is that you can set the L and R channels to be exactly the same, and furthermore, repeat the settings exactly. Even detented pots don't do this very accurately - it has to be switches that select a tap on a ladder network.
    It's really the transparency, the non-transformer input and the switched gain. How the transparency is achieved is up to the pre-amp designer (see below).
    I've not met any that are impossible to calibrate. Matching the channels is a separate issue. If I'm mixing through a passive summer out to a stereo L-R 2-bus, I do a quick check at the outset by putting a mono signal in, selecting my expected make-up gain and then looking at the difference between L and R outputs. Ideally, it should be zero, but if it's 60dB down or more then at least I know I have the switches at the same setting in the two channels. Try getting them to match to that accuracy using variable pots!
    Virtually all pre-amps use op-amps of some sort. Only things like FET followers in condenser microphones could not be called an op-amp, as there is no feedback.

    A simple working definition of an op-amp is an amplifier with a relatively high gain and a defined fraction of the output being fed back and subtracted from the system input. The amplifier amplifies the difference between the system input and the fraction of the output, so that the defined fraction determines the overall gain of the circuit. It's this fraction that can be varied by switches or a potentiometer to form a gain control.

    The implementation of an op-amp can be by a single integrated circuit, by discrete components or by a combination of the two. Because of the problems in mixing processes technologies on a single chip, it's relatively common for a designer to use a pair of discrete low-noise FETs at the input to give the first stage of gain followed by an integrated circuit to perform the main amplification and the output stage.

    All this is independent of whether the pre-amp has a transformer input, and maybe I was a bit careless in my previous post if I implied that non-transformer input pre-amps were built using integrated circuits. However, of the two pre-amps I mentioned, the API 3124+ uses a transformer input followed by an op-amp made out of discrete components and a transformer output, where the DAV BG1 uses integrated circuits and no transformers.
     
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  17. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    i'm still wondering HOW gain is changed in a converter? how is this accomplished? an amplifier?
     
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  18. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

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    I can see how some of the posts in this thread can be interpreted as saying that the converter gains are capable of being changed. In practice, I think the references were about adjusting the gain of the amplifer feeding the A-D converter. Also mentioned were summing boxes like the Folcrom that had no way of adjusting the individual levels of the signals being fed to it from the D-A converter outputs of a DAW.
     
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  19. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    We should all win 50k to gear up our studio for chrismas !!
    Then compare the results ! ;)
     
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  20. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    I'm game. I will only use my DAW, no analog gear and no third party plugins!
    I will only drink scotch and promise to contain myself lol.
     

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