Consoles vs In the Box

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Consoles vs In the Box

Postby dylanger » Mon Jun 02, 2014 1:12 am

Hey Hey folks, its been a while!

Over the last few months I've been living in Edmonton and I've been meeting a lot of musicians and been involved with a couple of studios in the area. Its been very interesting seeing the different views on music and Pro Audio. For a while now, I've only really been talking to this small group of engineers and getting to work with a couple of different Engineers in the last little while has been pretty enlightening. One studio owner I've become really great friends with and he actually plays bass in my band is all about "Consoles". For the most part I just brushed it off my shoulders because like me, the man has got some serious G.A.S. But over the last couple weeks I started asking questions about his set up and how a console is used, I had an idea of the signal flow but I asked to get some assurance. The biggest question I had was "Why do you have a console if you have all these outboard preamps?" I figured the whole point of a console was to use the preamps and he said he rarely ever uses them to tape because its not a really high end console. He went on to talk about how a console actually has a sound and how he just enjoys the work flow so much more rather than a bunch of pulgins and scrolling around with a mouse constantly. All and all I learned a lot about the concept over the few late night Q&A's we had.

So my question to you guys is why do you guys work in the box? I assume its because of the large investment. I'm sure Malcolm, Andrew and Al have all had their hands on a few great consoles, (Have you Matt?) Was there anything you guys liked so much about the work flow that you wish it would be feasible to make the investment? I'm not really sure of your set up and outreach Andrew, For all I know you may have a console to work on.
Last edited by dylanger on Mon Jun 02, 2014 2:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Consoles vs In the Box

Postby macrae11 » Mon Jun 02, 2014 11:34 am

Here at Outreach I'm mostly ITB with a small control surface. Couldn't mix without at least a minimal control surface anymore, I'd rather break my fingers. I do have a few pieces of outboard that I use but everything is summed and mixed in the box. We do have a great analogue coffee table though! The main reason is speed. I'm only working on music 15-25% of the time and when I am it's fitting it in between post/video sessions. No time to setup or recall a console for every different session. When I have 4-5 things going on in a given day I need instant and perfect recallability.

I do get the chance to still mix analogue semi regularly at the school I teach at which has an SSL AWS900 which is a great mid sized console. If I had my druthers and was mixing primarily music and budget wasn't an issue I would definitely be working on an analogue console, although it would still need some level of digital control. Something like the SSL or Neve Genesys or something with a Shadowmix system built in. Custom Daking with Shadowmix anyone??!? Or maybe an API Legacy? Something where I wouldn't need any outboard pres(guess that rules out the SSL). Ideally something with motorized pots but nobody that I'm aware of really has that. Genesys sort of but it's limited.

While I do find it faster and more enjoyable to create a great mix on a good analogue console I wouldn't go analogue just to be analogue. For example IMO it's rather pointless to mix on a Mackie or something of that level, so I wouldn't be interested unless the console was getting towards the 6 figure range at least when it was new. Not being an elitist(well maybe a bit) but that's just where it seems to me that the tradeoff point for convenience and flexibility are overcome by quality. What's your friend using? What about preamps?
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Re: Consoles vs In the Box

Postby dylanger » Mon Jun 02, 2014 2:14 pm

Are you just talking about the AWS900 pre's? Or your just not a fan of the SSL Pre's the put out in any of their consoles?

Right now he's using a Allen and Heath GS3000 which is definitely a budget console but from what I can understand the routing capabilities are pretty great for some thing in that price range. Its funny you mention that for the most part you wouldn't use anything that wouldn't be pushing the 100,000 mark brand new. I figured that something like the API1608 would be a huge upgrade to his GS3000 and what he explained is that it is but doesn't have the routing capabilities that his GS3000 has. From what he tells me, he'll be upgrading his console pretty soon.
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Re: Consoles vs In the Box

Postby hgregg61 » Mon Jun 02, 2014 4:43 pm

So I'm the G.A.S. man Dylan is talking about. It's true, I love the workflow of working in a console for both tracking and mixing. I do 95% music work, usually working on 2 or 3 projects at a time, but normally 1 or 2 per day. My console is an Allen and Heath GS3000, and while it is certainly not a high end console, I wouldn't quite call it a budget console either. It isn't hurting my audio, although it isn't adding much either. The eq's sound pretty good, albeit a bit limited and not special, but the routing is stellar. It provides me with a way to mix that really appeals to my aesthetic, from both a sonic and workflow perspective.

The pres in it are certainly nothing special, and I have outboard from daking, great river, UA, and Sebatron that I use most of the time. I'd love a console that had really wonderful preamps in it, with more special and/or flexible eqs, and a more euphonic sound. But I wouldn't buy an API 1608. I'm sure it would be a huge step sonically, but I wouldn't be able to mix the same way, and I feel the quality of my mixes would suffer, at least for a while. I do a lot with parallel compression, and the more busses, sends and groups the better. And channels too for that matter.

Soon I'm gonna be moving into a new shop, and the A room there will have a really wicked Neotek Elite (meets pretty well ALL my requirements, although recall would be nice. I'll be looking for another board for the B room too. Something with at least as good routing as my GS3000, but improved sonics. It'll definitely be something older, as you can get a lot of console with used desks these days. I'll find something I like around 15k I hope. There's a DDA that appeals to me at VK right now in that price range.

Anyhow, different strokes for different folks! The increase in inspiration and speed with which I can mix makes it worth it to me... Although whenever I end up having to do a bunch of recalls, I'm briefly all regrets. In the end I can say I gain more than I lose, but one way or the other, you're always going to have to make some kind of compromise.

Cheers

-Harry

Oh yeah, did you guys here Daking is about to come out with a new console that has mic pre,eq and complete in every channel, plus total recall! I obviously want one, but it's gonna be too much money for me to get anytime soon.
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Re: Consoles vs In the Box

Postby dylanger » Mon Jun 02, 2014 5:14 pm

Sorry my bad, shouldn't of said "Budget Console". Not really what I meant on the grand scheme of things, Andrew started talking about the 100k + boards and I got silly.....I dont think Harry will disown me...
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Re: Consoles vs In the Box

Postby Malcolm Boyce » Mon Jun 02, 2014 6:19 pm

Whether a console is of the "budget" variety is entirely a matter of perspective. Nothing matters, really, 'cept using what you know and like, and can get a result that you are truly happy with.

If I were inclined to use a lot of analog hardware outboard, whether tracking or mixing, I would certainly find a substantial (analog) console preferable. Both recording and live, I have found "digital" solutions that satisfy my needs for quite some time now. Working analog, I would miss the recallability more than any sonic quality advantage in my work.

Tracking through a desk with some sonic mojo would be appealing to me, but consoles of that ilk are rare to nonexistent in my circles. Mixing, I don't want for anything outside of working digitally.
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It just fills Forum pages..." --compasspnt

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Re: Consoles vs In the Box

Postby macrae11 » Mon Jun 02, 2014 6:36 pm

Hi Harry welcome aboard. I too am a recovering G.A.S.aholic so maybe we should start a support meeting or something. I've kept mine in check by convincing other people to buy the gear that I want to use.

As far as the SSL goes it's a great mixing desk and it integrates with Pro Tools nicely but the preamps are meh. I could use them, but I wouldn't spend $100k+ on a board if I wasn't going to use the pres.

Harry pretty much covered my reasons for the API not being an option. To add to that any console I'd buy would have to have a minimum of 24 channels and in order to bump up the API to 32 you're back up to the $100k range. Would be a great little tracking console but but not worth the investment for how limited it is IMO. If I was going that route of a small frame analogue only console I'd look at the Daking 1112 or wait to see what new contraption Geoff has dreamed up. But again by the time you add automation you'd still be looking at around $75,000 new. Might be able to find one used for around half that but who knows. There were so few made I don't even know what the market's like on them.

Haven't used any Neoteks, but I do like Sytek gear. I worked on a very similar DDA to the one at Vintage King for a few years. Only 24 mic pres and no automation. It was an ok desk, don't think I'd pay over $10k for one myself as I didn't find it all that special. I'd much rather an inline console too, much more compact and I find them easier to navigate. Nice to have 24 busses though. I haven't used that A&H you have either but I'm generally a fan of their gear, especially for the price. There was a studio in town that had one but I believe they had some maintenance issues and moved on fairly quickly.

Again for me it's not about price it's all about speed. I'd love to be more relaxed and work on one project at a time but until I win the lottery that's not going to be happening.
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Re: Consoles vs In the Box

Postby hgregg61 » Tue Jun 03, 2014 2:01 am

The Neotek is pretty boss. Sounds really great, wicked pres, amazing routing (26 busses, inline, lots you can do with the small fader). The B room at the new shop is gonna be almost entirely for mixing, with some overdubs. Just a medium sized booth in that room. The appeal of that DDA for mostly mixing is pretty strong. It has automation, the 24 subs, 4 band eq on the whole monitor section, and it's heavily modified. I can't know for sure how it sounds, but something tells me a good sounding but squeeky clean input section, with class a transformer balanced summing would fit my aesthetic, and be a definite upgrade from the GS3000, both in terms of sonics and routing. We will also have 12 channel ward beck side car, which sounds amazing, but there's not much to do with it for mixing. Not sure which room it will live in.

There's nothing about me that's a recovering G.A.S.aholic... I'm full blown. But yeah. Consoles rule. They are not for everyone, but they are definitely the way to go for me. Since music is almost all my work, something that is inspiring and musical for me to work on, makes me do faster, better work. And for me that's a console. Someday I hope to own something like a pimped out daking (love their gear so so much), but until that time, in happy working on the best desk I can afford. And it's a much preferable way to integrate outboard, especially when doing lots of parallel compression with hardware.

I like you guys! Thanks for the welcome!
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Re: Consoles vs In the Box

Postby Alain Benoit » Wed Jun 04, 2014 5:53 pm

macrae11 wrote: Something where I wouldn't need any outboard pres(guess that rules out the SSL).


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Re: Consoles vs In the Box

Postby Alain Benoit » Wed Jun 04, 2014 5:55 pm

macrae11 wrote: I too am a recovering G.A.S.aholic .......... I've kept mine in check by convincing other people to buy the gear that I want to use.



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Re: Consoles vs In the Box

Postby macrae11 » Thu Jun 05, 2014 10:46 am

Hey you were a consenting participant so quit yer facepalmin'!!
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Re: Consoles vs In the Box

Postby Mathieu Benoit » Thu Jun 05, 2014 2:42 pm

dylanger wrote:So my question to you guys is why do you guys work in the box? I assume its because of the large investment. I'm sure Malcolm, Andrew and Al have all had their hands on a few great consoles, (Have you Matt?) Was there anything you guys liked so much about the work flow that you wish it would be feasible to make the investment? I'm not really sure of your set up and outreach Andrew, For all I know you may have a console to work on.



Clearly I like boxes. That is the way I work for a multitude of reasons. Now if someone took my Daking Pre/EQ and expanded it into a console capable of full recall. Well....

Image


That being said, for my "flow" I would much prefer a small control surface to mix in Pro Tools. Even if I had tons of money to burn, I would just buy more Daking Pre/EQs. If I won the lottery I woulld maybe ask Goeff to add some metering on those, MAYBE a summing unit if I really thought it would make an appreciable difference.

You know me though Dylan, I am a minimalist. There are plenty of people out there that record/mix on different consoles or ITB, and if I put it to a blind test we'd all be completely lost.

It is just impractical for so many reasons. I still remember the Amek days at Fluid. We will never get those hours back.... Hahaha.
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Re: Consoles vs In the Box

Postby dylanger » Thu Jun 05, 2014 6:33 pm

Were they billable hours :lol:

You guys got rid of that just before I started hanging out there so I didn't have the pleasure.

Daking mic pre/EQ will probably be the first bit of outboard gear I ever buy, tracking guitars with it that day was pretty great.
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Re: Consoles vs In the Box

Postby macrae11 » Thu Jun 05, 2014 7:45 pm

There were many many non billable hours spent on that desk. First time Matt and I ever spent the night together actually. :oops: That desk had potential if it had been at 100%. If it had motorized faders it's something I probably could have made work. Certainly sounded decent when it worked, but just not worth the effort to get it where it would need to be IMO. I think if I sat Matt down in front of the SSL for a couple of days he'd start to see the benefit of a console. It's not something you can blind test either because it's not even totally about the end result it's about a different process. I make different decisions because it's a different experience mixing on a desk. It might sound similar in the end if you're working on a very neutral board but typically I find I can get there faster which is why I won't mix without at least a rudimentary control surface anymore. It's not the same but it bridges enough of the gap that I can deal with it.
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