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Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

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Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby Skyline » Thu Aug 05, 2010 3:09 pm

A little while back I decided at last to sell my two ten year old ADATs and Tascam DA30 DAT recorder as I hadn't used them for ages, instead just using Sonar 8, i7 Scan PC, Delta66 interface and the Tascam 16:8:2 analogue desk I've always had and used with the ADATs and DAT.

Before selling the stuff on ebay I thought I'd give a last listen to my old DAT masters and to my dismay the songs sounded, well, distinctly better than stuff I've been doing in the last couple of years with the PC only setup above. When I say better I mean brighter, cleaner with instrument separation a lot clearer. I was a bit surprised to say the least. One explanation of course is that I've regressed in terms of mixing skills, but I really don't think that can be the answer.

Could it be that the AD/DA converters in the ADATs and the DAT were far better than those in my Delta66? The path I used to use for mixdown was ADATs -> Tascam analogue desk -> DAT. To play back the path would be DAT -> analogue desk.

Were ADAT converters highly rated? Should I (better late than never) seriously upgrade my Delta66, to say a Lynx L22?
Would this get my old ADAT/DAT mojo back?

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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby jaminem » Thu Aug 05, 2010 5:43 pm

It could well be your Delta66, its getting decidedly long in the tooth now, and wasn`t really 'top end' when it came out.

I too owned a Delta 66 back in the day and was allways disappointed with it, it has a harsh, almost 'crusty' hard top end, which improved if you recorded @ 96khz but when I swapped it for an RME HDSP9632, the difference was night and day as far as I was concerned.

Interesting in your DAT comparison, as I had a pro Sony DAT (studio clearance from a mastering studio in soho) which had superb converters as I recall, really natural sounding and very sweet at the top end.

Not heard the Lynx, but its highly rated, so I'm sure you'll hear a difference.

The ony other thing I can thnk it coud be, is have you moved your recording space recently? You may have had great acoustics when recording with your old setup and nasty one now?
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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby akkk » Thu Aug 05, 2010 7:34 pm

Mixing in the box just sucks. Similar experiences. There is something wrong with the platform, it´s not the converters, gotta do something with windows, software, pc components etc. Tracks ain´t have air between, they are mush. U get separation by taking them out to mix desk. This is a problem.
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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby Skyline » Thu Aug 05, 2010 8:36 pm

akkk wrote:Mixing in the box just sucks. Similar experiences. There is something wrong with the platform, it´s not the converters, gotta do something with windows, software, pc components etc. Tracks ain´t have air between, they are mush. U get separation by taking them out to mix desk. This is a problem.

akkk, you've really got me wondering now, because I hadn't twigged that the biggest difference to my pre and post-ADAT/DAT setups is that I used to mix outside of the box. At mix down I'd run the two ADATs' 16 outputs into my desk, mix using the desk faders with the result going to the DAT. Maybe I should instead be looking at an interface that lets me go back to mixing outside the box. Any suggestions?

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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby chris... » Thu Aug 05, 2010 8:54 pm

akkk wrote:Mixing in the box just sucks.
Opinions differ
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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby narcoman » Fri Aug 06, 2010 12:37 am

akkk wrote:Mixing in the box just sucks. Similar experiences. There is something wrong with the platform, it´s not the converters, gotta do something with windows, software, pc components etc. Tracks ain´t have air between, they are mush. U get separation by taking them out to mix desk. This is a problem.


I agree with a decent console - but with cheap gear?... ITB is better..... but you need to be better to make it work....... despite the great democratization - experience still rules.
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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby akkk » Fri Aug 06, 2010 4:52 am

Quality soundcard with several outputs, rme fireface etc. to quality analog mixer with plenty of headroom and good components

something like this:
http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/LX308B

better with eq, but will cost pretty much then

analog pro compressor

and this to master recorder, or go to pro studio with your fireface and computer- only way to get pro sound

small mackie, soundcraft, a&h, yamaha mixers gives deeper (three dimensional, more enjoyable) and wider mixes than ITB, but u kind of loose the advantage, because they mush low and up end of frequenzys and no pro level headroom. Is stil prefer my mackie mixes over ITB, more enjoyable. But really pro is pro and u dont get that with cheap components and engineering. Kapitalism creates shitty products, I am sorry for us all. Wasted hours with broken tools. Neve, SSL level quality components, pro comp ati2500 etc., good master recorder, sounds from different sources (even more separation and air between tracks), pc, synths, samplers, there u go.
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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby akkk » Fri Aug 06, 2010 4:55 am

ITB= plastic, not Hi-Fi.
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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby The Elf » Fri Aug 06, 2010 6:56 am

akkk wrote:ITB= plastic, not Hi-Fi.

Lots of opinions differ.

Strangely, none of my ITB mixes have ever come back because they don't sound good enough...
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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby JamesSimpson » Fri Aug 06, 2010 8:23 am

ITB sounds great, flexibility is fantastic, I just find it takes me atleast twice as long to get the same result out of ITB as OTB.

A nice console is still preference, with good converters, good speakers, good room, great outboard.

But who has that money anymore?
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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby jaminem » Fri Aug 06, 2010 8:33 am

akkk, sorry but your answers make no sense.

In your first post you say its not the converters - its everything else, then you suggest the OP buys what appears to be a very average looking soundcard just so he can mix on a desk?

Clearly you like mixing on a desk, thats fine, but to say mixing ITB is rubbish because its not your preference isn't really based on any facts is it?

You then state that it probably won`t be as good unless you can buy a high end console with some top end outboard? I'd have to assume that this option isn`t open to the OP as if he had that kind of cash he'd be taking his advice from a professional company not some bloke on a forum.

The OP wondered if it was his soundcard causing an issue - it could well be, it could also be his acoustics, use of processing, mics, or people he's recording.

Agree with you that upgrading the signal chain may help, but seems unlikely a Neve 88RS is in the budget?
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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby James Perrett » Fri Aug 06, 2010 8:40 am

I'll bet that you changed your mixing technique when you started to mix in the box. I know that I certainly use compression differently now that I have an unlimited number of compressors. In the old days I would compress groups of tracks and compress on the way to tape whereas nowadays nearly everything is compressed separately at mixdown. Perhaps you are also using separate reverbs for everything? This can cause a very confused soundstage unless you are extremely skilled at mixing. I find that my most successful mixes use no more than 3 reverbs - much the same as my out of the box mixes used to.

Cheers

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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby Pete Kaine » Fri Aug 06, 2010 10:22 am

That's a great post James. I only finally moved everything ITB last month after messing about with a few hybrid solutions for the last few years and I'm finding it a lot more productive.

Your absolutely right through (at least in my case) where I used to send everything through the same half dozen effects returns out of my desk before this and that limited me to only so many options, I now don't give a second thought to loading up the effects on every channel.

Whilst that's not so bad for dynamic effects, with the spatial ones now that you've made me think about it and I can see just how much damage that would do to the depth of field.

Thanks!
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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby akkk » Fri Aug 06, 2010 11:16 am

Better souncard helps so far, but doesn´t solve the issue. And yes, yes, they sell ITB mixes in beatport and where ever, but if we only concentrate on quality, vocals really shining in its own space, deepnes.......Pc+souncard with many outputs+ quality high-end analog mixer+ maybe some hardware comps and reverbs.......best solution. Doesn´t matter how many vst comps u put there, never achieve that kind of airiness and separation between tracks ITB.

ITB is ok, but but but, guys, really?, u must know what I am talking about??


U get little bit more open and shining master when u record your soundcards output to DAT and not use itb summing, but this will only get u so far.
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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby akkk » Fri Aug 06, 2010 11:22 am

Elf, does your mixes sound like this?:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jByHIk27PE

Vst synths, but mixed outside with high end gear. Show me that kind of shining vocals with deep reverb and separation between the tracks in ITB mix. I don´t think so. Do you?
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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby narcoman » Fri Aug 06, 2010 11:25 am

akkk wrote:Quality soundcard with several outputs, rme fireface etc. to quality analog mixer with plenty of headroom and good components

something like this:
http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/LX308B

better with eq, but will cost pretty much then

analog pro compressor

and this to master recorder, or go to pro studio with your fireface and computer- only way to get pro sound

small mackie, soundcraft, a&h, yamaha mixers gives deeper (three dimensional, more enjoyable) and wider mixes than ITB, but u kind of loose the advantage, because they mush low and up end of frequenzys and no pro level headroom. Is stil prefer my mackie mixes over ITB, more enjoyable. But really pro is pro and u dont get that with cheap components and engineering. Kapitalism creates shitty products, I am sorry for us all. Wasted hours with broken tools. Neve, SSL level quality components, pro comp ati2500 etc., good master recorder, sounds from different sources (even more separation and air between tracks), pc, synths, samplers, there u go.


Well - I can make that direct comparison right here - got a Neve console and probably one of the best monitoring set ups this side of £100k. As I say - totally agree on the high end console front - but I (and others like Tchad Blake and Dave Pensado) can wipe the floor with low end hardware solutions.

So yes - you're right. But yer also wrong ( RME? eh? )
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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby narcoman » Fri Aug 06, 2010 11:27 am

akkk wrote:Elf, does your mixes sound like this?:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jByHIk27PE

Vst synths, but mixed outside with high end gear. Show me that kind of shining vocals with deep reverb and separation between the tracks in ITB mix. I don´t think so. Do you?

I can show you a couple of hundred!! Even more........

I can show you a couple of Grammy nominated pieces. I can show you an Ivor winning movie soundtrack......

Anyway - enough. I get what you're saying - but poor mixing ITB has more to do with driving than quality of car.
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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby jaminem » Fri Aug 06, 2010 11:50 am

Narcoman Does your carses go like this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADY2Ka_0f3o

4 wheels, and a chassis but mixed with huge engineering resources, technical know how and cash. Does your '84 Nissan Micra provide this level of performance. I don`t think so.
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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby The Elf » Fri Aug 06, 2010 12:02 pm

akkk wrote:Elf, does your mixes sound like this?:

No, mine are better, of course.

Blaming ITB for your poor mixes is like blaming a hammer for a badly constructed house.

I'm doing just fine with my hammer thanks!
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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby Martin Walker » Fri Aug 06, 2010 12:32 pm

Skyline wrote:Were ADAT converters highly rated? Should I (better late than never) seriously upgrade my Delta66, to say a Lynx L22?

Hi John!

To return to your original query I'd say you'll notice a huge difference between an elederly Delta 66 and a Lynx L22.

I've reviewed both and the L22 is nothing short of superb for audio quality. The Delta 66 was a good card in its time, but seriously outclassed by most budget audio interfaces nowadays, and particularly by the L22.


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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby Martin Walker » Fri Aug 06, 2010 12:39 pm

There seem to be plenty of professional engineers and producers who already agree that while ITB and analogue mixes of identical material sound different (analogue seems to offer a magic ‘glue’ that sometimes gels everything together well), it depends a lot on the material, and even track by track as to which sounds ‘better’.

It’s certainly not a hard and fast rule that ITB sounds inferior, but simply an artistic choice.

You can get excellent results with both.


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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby akkk » Fri Aug 06, 2010 12:40 pm

Narco, it is about driving, but can´t drive 200km/h on corners with volkswagen, so why not drive with ferrari all the time? . And don´t talk about money here. We should leave the money a side and be proud professinals and leave a legacy behind, knowing we did the best we can. Maximum experience for listener, we doesn´t have to be ruled by economics and turn everything to [ ****** ], just because money rules. opinions are opinions ofcourse, but u know what I mean.

And yes:

Let´s forget RME , u are right in that, prism or similar I guess. But everything else I said is solid and u agreed, which is cool. U sound like a pro, good for u. I understand ITB kicks low end analog mixing. Someone should make small mixer with neve components and sell it for 500$, why not . Transistors, capasitors, metal, can´t be so hard.
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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby Skyline » Fri Aug 06, 2010 4:14 pm

Martin Walker wrote:
Skyline wrote:Were ADAT converters highly rated? Should I (better late than never) seriously upgrade my Delta66, to say a Lynx L22?

Hi John!

To return to your original query I'd say you'll notice a huge difference between an elederly Delta 66 and a Lynx L22.

I've reviewed both and the L22 is nothing short of superb for audio quality. The Delta 66 was a good card in its time, but seriously outclassed by most budget audio interfaces nowadays, and particularly by the L22.

Martin

Thanks Martin.
I'm pretty sure that the Delta66 is a weak link in an otherwise decent setup, so I'm looking seriously now at the L22.

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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby Skyline » Fri Aug 06, 2010 4:18 pm

James Perrett wrote:I'll bet that you changed your mixing technique when you started to mix in the box. I know that I certainly use compression differently now that I have an unlimited number of compressors. In the old days I would compress groups of tracks and compress on the way to tape whereas nowadays nearly everything is compressed separately at mixdown. Perhaps you are also using separate reverbs for everything? This can cause a very confused soundstage unless you are extremely skilled at mixing. I find that my most successful mixes use no more than 3 reverbs - much the same as my out of the box mixes used to.

Cheers

James.

James, you're right. I never thought about those aspects, so I will now! Thanks!

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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Aug 06, 2010 6:02 pm

James is quite right, and it is a very common theme.

When PW and I go out and about with our Studio SOS visits, and sometimes when we do our college visits, we often get asked to listen to a mix and to offer advice on how to make it better.

It often happens that our 'client' will call up the mix and then leave us to play while they go off and make another cuppa to wash the hob-nobs down

Within minutes they'll hear the 'new' mic and come rushing back to say it how great it suonds and to ask what we've done?

Invariably all we have actually done at that stage is to bypass the five processors (comp, lim, EQ, reverb and guitar sim... or whatever) they had running in every single channel, and just re-balance the raw tracks to provide a starting reference point.

Because it is so easy to do, most people using modern DAWs tend to over-process everything just because they can (and they think they should) rather than because they actually need to.

It's often not helped by the fact that they've also recored the sources badly and are then forced into trying to fix it in the mix processing, rather than getting a good clean source recording in the first place.

And it's so common to see people running reverbs and dynamics on every channel rather than using aux buses and groups. And then wonder why the computer is maxed out all the time!

They also frequently run everything way too hot with no headroom at all!

So it's no wonder everything sounds naff and doesn't gel together.

With analogue OTB mixing they can't do any of that because they don't have the resources. All they have is some gentle EQ for tonal shaping (no surgical tweaking), an outboard compressor or two, and an outboard reverb or two. That's usually about it and as a result the mix is cleaner and simpler and just works and sounds so much better.

It goes back to Narcoman's point. Those who know what they are doing can produce extremely good ITB mixes. Those who don't, don't. It's that simple.

Oh... and running ultra-hot outputs from your computer interface into a budget analogue desk for OTB mixing won't help either because those kind of desks just don't have the kind of input stages that can cope with peaks around +22dBu all the time.

Back everything off in the computer so that the D-A outputs are averaging around -20dBFS with transient peaks kicking up to -10dBFS (or better still, record it that way in the first place) and the whole thing sounds a lot sweeter.

Gain structure is your friend!

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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby planetnine » Fri Aug 06, 2010 6:40 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:...They also frequently run everything way too hot with no headroom at all!

So it's no wonder everything sounds naff and doesn't gel together.

With analogue OTB mixing they can't do any of that because they don't have the resources. All they have is some gentle EQ for tonal shaping (no surgical tweaking), an outboard compressor or two, and an outboard reverb or two. That's usually about it and as a result the mix is cleaner and simpler and just works and sounds so much better.

It goes back to Narcoman's point. Those who know what they are doing can produce extremely good ITB mixes. Those who don't, don't. It's that simple.

Oh... and running ultra-hot outputs from your computer interface into a budget analogue desk for OTB mixing won't help either because those kind of desks just don't have the kind of input stages that can cope with peaks around +22dBu all the time.

Back everything off in the computer so that the D-A outputs are averaging around -20dBFS with transient peaks kicking up to -10dBFS (or better still, record it that way in the first place) and the whole thing sounds a lot sweeter.

Gain structure is your friend!

hugh

I was brung-up on analogue desks mixing live events where there is not enough time for making the same mistakes with gain each time, and the meters and faders concentrate you onto the 10dB above and below 0VU/dB.

-so it seems natural to me to set my nominal at -18dB FSD, I can always turn my monitors up (that's why they have all that headroom capability).

It's apparent that most students I teach do not have that control or restraint, and they invariably run out of headroom, sometimes more than once during a busy mix and have to pull all the faders down, or mix with the master at -20, -30dB.

Everybody should learn gain structure on analogue desks at horrible gigs with 20 bands and no time

>
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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby The Elf » Fri Aug 06, 2010 9:02 pm

The no headroom/reverb on every channel thing... gawd, there are some people I work with regularly who just do not get it, depite me going over it a hundred times! This is where those of us who started on hardware are at an advantage and software companies need to come up with something to help guide newcomers to the right approach.

...and/or maybe I'm just useless at explaining!
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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby narcoman » Fri Aug 06, 2010 10:02 pm

jaminem wrote:Narcoman Does your carses go like this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADY2Ka_0f3o

4 wheels, and a chassis but mixed with huge engineering resources, technical know how and cash. Does your '84 Nissan Micra provide this level of performance. I don`t think so.


erm - i wasn't making an analogy. I was saying poor ITB results are more to do with the driver. Any DAW - if you want to go there - is a high performance sports car. Perhaps not a Veyron, but certainly a capable machine. Top end analogue - yeah - that's a Veyron
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Re: Old ADAT/DAT masters sounded better - weak link my Delta66?

Postby narcoman » Fri Aug 06, 2010 10:04 pm

akkk wrote:Narco, it is about driving, but can´t drive 200km/h on corners with volkswagen, so why not drive with ferrari all the time? . And don´t talk about money here. We should leave the money a side and be proud professinals and leave a legacy behind, knowing we did the best we can. Maximum experience for listener, we doesn´t have to be ruled by economics and turn everything to [ ****** ], just because money rules. opinions are opinions ofcourse, but u know what I mean.

And yes:

Let´s forget RME , u are right in that, prism or similar I guess. But everything else I said is solid and u agreed, which is cool. U sound like a pro, good for u. I understand ITB kicks low end analog mixing. Someone should make small mixer with neve components and sell it for 500$, why not . Transistors, capasitors, metal, can´t be so hard.


As my post above mention.... a DAW is a well specced sports car - but a Veyron (my console ) IS better..... The point is - ITB is a good solution for those who know how to use it. A good console is better - but there are a lot of really great sounding mixes NOT done OTB. Just don't judge ITB by the crap swamping Myspace or in the charts..... because there is FAR better out there !!

All things being equal - if one can't do a kick arse mix ITB (with well recorded source material) then one can't mix. You can do it BETTER on a good console etc - but you can get most of the way there ITB.
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