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using preamps as inserts

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using preamps as inserts

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2021 4:15 am
by heavenorlasvegas
anyone here used preamps for a certain kind of character as an insert or on a bus?

i'm looking for a stereo unit that will give a kind of colored coherence and impart saturation to certain tracks or even across a whole mix.

Re: using preamps as inserts

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2021 9:03 am
by Aled Hughes
The Cranborne Camden can work well like this as they have the variable ‘Mojo’ circuit. I have a pair of the 500 modules.

The Mojo is very versatile and can work on most things- I wouldn’t be surprised if they used it in units other than mic preamps.

A dedicated bass unit with two Mojo circuits would be hard to resist - I’ve been running my bass through both Camdens this week - one with a generous dose of ‘Thump’ into a mild amount of ‘Cream’ on the next one. It just sounds very, very good!

Re: using preamps as inserts

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2021 9:24 am
by The Elf
I often use my Focusrite Liquid Channels in this context. I've never regretted buying them and they've paid me back many times over the years.

Re: using preamps as inserts

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2021 9:48 am
by Zukan
Yep, we do this with software too.

Re: using preamps as inserts

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2021 10:12 am
by Luke W
Just a thought... If it's definitely a hardware solution you're after, then maybe a dedicated saturation unit will be more along the lines of what you want? People certainly use preamps for this sort of thing, a few have replied here already saying exactly that, but if you'll never use it just as a preamp as well, then there may be better options for what you're trying to do.

Re: using preamps as inserts

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2021 10:45 am
by CS70
With all the great plugin effects that exist, I feel no need of going to the hardware for this. I just record with the appropriate preamp and if needed add color in post.

Re: using preamps as inserts

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2021 10:58 am
by Mixedup
Yes, I do this often. Though increasingly I look to Acustica Acqua plugins for this.

Re: using preamps as inserts

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2021 6:03 pm
by heavenorlasvegas
thanks for all the replies! i'm not against using plugins as some serve as great tools, but i've found distortion plugins in particular lack any kind of depth or dimensionality.

i'm also wondering how mixes that were done pre 2000's for example were able to achieve such pleasant drive, being that dedicated saturation boxes are a relatively new thing.

Re: using preamps as inserts

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2021 6:18 pm
by CS70
heavenorlasvegas wrote:thanks for all the replies! i'm not against using plugins as some serve as great tools, but i've found distortion plugins in particular lack any kind of depth or dimensionality.

i'm also wondering how mixes that were done pre 2000's for example were able to achieve such pleasant drive, being that dedicated saturation boxes are a relatively new thing.

I have no idea what depth and dimensionality are for distortion.. I mean, the things clip peaks and adds harmonics, and that’s what they do.

You should give a try to the SSL X-Saturator, it’s really good.

But sure hardware works fine, it’s just boring to set up and hard to recall. But of course no probs if there’s a sound you like coming out on the other side.

Generally, driving any gain stage hard enough will introduce clipping and add harmonics. The good ones depend on the material and the stage design as by definition you’re running it outside its expected performance envelope. Transistor stuff may not work fine but then again you never know.

So I guess back in the time, you could try to drive anything that could be driven, from the console gain of course to a compressor input stage or the tape recorder...and really anything. You can also try to add various light colors by multiple stages, which is what might happen with a hardware chain.

Re: using preamps as inserts

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2021 6:40 pm
by heavenorlasvegas
CS70 wrote:
heavenorlasvegas wrote:thanks for all the replies! i'm not against using plugins as some serve as great tools, but i've found distortion plugins in particular lack any kind of depth or dimensionality.

i'm also wondering how mixes that were done pre 2000's for example were able to achieve such pleasant drive, being that dedicated saturation boxes are a relatively new thing.

I have no idea what depth and dimensionality are for distortion.. I mean, the things clip peaks and adds harmonics, and that’s what they do.

You should give a try to the SSL X-Saturator, it’s really good.

But sure hardware works fine, it’s just boring to set up and hard to recall. But of course no probs if there’s a sound you like coming out on the other side.

Generally, driving any gain stage hard enough will introduce clipping and add harmonics. The good ones depend on the material and the stage design as by definition you’re running it outside its expected performance envelope. Transistor stuff may not work fine but then again you never know.

So I guess back in the time, you could try to drive anything that could be driven, from the console gain of course to a compressor input stage or the tape recorder...and really anything. You can also try to add various light colors by multiple stages, which is what might happen with a hardware chain.

makes a ton of sense! thanks

Re: using preamps as inserts

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2021 8:44 pm
by Albatross
I always run out and back through something analogue as part of my mastering/polishing/varnishing whatever you want to call it.

Used to use an old HiFi amp and more recently been trying a little Spirit Folio Notepad. Also going to try a very old Philips tape machine with a valve amp inside it for some mono masters. All out of the interface through the amp and back into the interface.

Might just send drums and bass out through that valve amp actually now I think about it.

Plug-ins are fantastic but these things that just sit there with lights on getting warm are more like instruments to me. It all compliments each other.

Its supposed to be fun! I'd say experiment, its how all the best stuff gets created.

Re: using preamps as inserts

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2021 9:06 pm
by heavenorlasvegas
Alba wrote:I always run out and back through something analogue as part of my mastering/polishing/varnishing whatever you want to call it.

Used to use an old HiFi amp and more recently been trying a little Spirit Folio Notepad. Also going to try a very old Philips tape machine with a valve amp inside it for some mono masters. All out of the interface through the amp and back into the interface.

Might just send drums and bass out through that valve amp actually now I think about it.

Plug-ins are fantastic but these things that just sit there with lights on getting warm are more like instruments to me. It all compliments each other.

Its supposed to be fun! I'd say experiment, its how all the best stuff gets created.


excellent approach and ideology! i agree 100%.

Re: using preamps as inserts

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2021 11:02 pm
by sound bites
I highly recommend this excellent article right here:

https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/analogue-warmth

Re: using preamps as inserts

PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2021 4:06 pm
by jimjazzdad
sound bites wrote:I highly recommend this excellent article right here:

https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/analogue-warmth
That is a truly 'vintage' Robjohns article. A great read. :thumbup: