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Old 04-24-2012, 07:59 PM   #1
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Default Slate Digital VCC vs Waves NLS vs Sonimus Satson

What do you think about those console emulators? which is best?

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Old 04-24-2012, 08:25 PM   #2
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Regardless of which you prefer, of course you still have to record every track thru a UAD Studer multitrack insert and then bounce it to a UAD Ampex, or everyone will immediately notice that nasty, digital 'in-the-box' sound, and hate you for it.
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Old 04-24-2012, 08:43 PM   #3
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The best is Nebula. Best selection, best value, best sound. Not the best in terms of resource consumption, it's very heavy...but you get what you "pay" for, it takes cycles to perform emulations that sound that good.
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Old 04-24-2012, 09:14 PM   #4
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I have satson. I almost never use it because I simply do not understand it beyond a simple H/LP filter/gain. It's great for that but I've gotten to where I use alloy on every channel now so.......it's lost in the shuffle.

Anyways, looking forward to hearing peoples ideas, seems like a pretty wide difference in those (especially price wise)
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Old 04-24-2012, 10:48 PM   #5
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Well I am biased. I critic even what I use, the good and bad

I have Waves NLS
And I use Sknote stripbus + Waves NLS

Something is happening in SKnote StripBus that I really like. Mixed with NLS it is impressive.

Although I know it, and I am not dumb, nothing is like a studder 16 track tape recorder. However this digital realm is almost there, maybe in a few more years.


I really like the mix of Sknote stripbus + Waves NLS+ Voxengo Warmifier= a very nice and soft sound
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Old 04-24-2012, 11:09 PM   #6
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Sknote stripbus
Never heard of it before (for whatever reason) and it's x64! Thanks
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Old 04-24-2012, 11:33 PM   #7
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Ya someone told about these and I thought why it looks like crap !!! Ya don't judge lol that's all I have to say. Sknote has also the Roundtone plugin ( tape sim) and it is very good as well.

Some of these dont have very good interfaces but it's the sound I am looking for not how pretty the plugin is.
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Old 04-24-2012, 11:33 PM   #8
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I am admittedly a Nebula-holic. That stuff is awesome and my analog ears will never be satisfied without it. But for non-Nebula, I am blown away by the Sknote suite. You need to spend some time with it and really learn it's depth. And about the 64bit.... great stuff, but warning. Quinto (The dev) is about to release a major update, but until then, sometimes when switching between the console types it will crash Reaper. I do my console selecting in Reaper 32bit for now, and move to 64bit after those decisions are made (which is early in the project). Good stuff though, still worth it even before the update. In fact, I own almost all of the Sknote stuff. Amazing plugins and a great value.
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Old 04-25-2012, 01:45 AM   #9
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+1 on Satson!!
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Old 04-25-2012, 04:37 AM   #10
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[...] nothing is like a studder 16 track tape recorder. However this digital realm is almost there, maybe in a few more years. [...]
Did you try the UAD Studer A800? They snatched a TEC award for it this year, so I guess some people must really like what it does.

Also, anyone using Airwindows plugins? Any opinions as to how they compare?
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Old 04-25-2012, 05:34 AM   #11
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[...] nothing is like a studder 16 track tape recorder. However this digital realm is almost there, maybe in a few more years. [...]
Did you try the UAD Studer A800? They snatched a TEC award for it this year, so I guess some people must really like what it does.

Also, anyone using Airwindows plugins? Any opinions as to how they compare?

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The best is Nebula. Best selection, best value, best sound. Not the best in terms of resource consumption, it's very heavy...but you get what you "pay" for, it takes cycles to perform emulations that sound that good.
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I am admittedly a Nebula-holic. That stuff is awesome and my analog ears will never be satisfied without it. [...]
As for Nebula, I still don't get it. I tried the free version, and found absolutely nothing interesting sound-wise (and a terrible UI). I keep hearing recommendations from very enthusiastic Nebula users though. Is the non-free version simply the worst demo version imaginable? Can anyone point me to an audio demo of, for example, overdrive that holds up against the UAD Minimoog Multimode Filter (even at static settings, disregarding the tweakability factor)?
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Old 04-25-2012, 05:48 AM   #12
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I've been using VCC and it sounds great. Never tried the others but from what I've read they're all good.
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Old 04-25-2012, 06:43 AM   #13
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Answering "what is best" is always impossible. People's music, eq's and systems differ, etc.. However, both Satson and Waves are great sounding tools to have if you do everything ITB.

NLS is really nice. People don't seem to care for it because they think it's too extreme. It's not. Just don't abuse the drive features and it will give you a nice, round, even sound. The 3 emulations all sound different, and the individual channels also sound different from each other. Basically the combinations could be limitless.

Satson is fantastic. I picked it up yesterday. Like NLS, it's very easy to use. It's also a bit brighter than Waves. It can stand on it's own, and when combined with the NLS channels, it also sounds great too (and vice-versa).

CPU usage is negligible on both (I have 10 instances of the channel plugs and one instance of the buss running). Nebula is a killer. I can't be bothered with it even on my i7 with 8 gigs of ram.

Anyway, I think between these two plugs, you can't go wrong, but if you're strapped for cash (or dislike waves), definitely go with Satson- you won't be disappointed. It's $39.

BTW, I can't speak to VCC, but the ilok2 dependency is a real deal breaker for me. Satson runs on the honor system, and I like their philosophy. Waves has a new cloud installation/registration system which is easy enough to get through.

Hope this info helps.
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Old 04-25-2012, 06:49 AM   #14
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The best is Nebula. Best selection, best value, best sound. Not the best in terms of resource consumption, it's very heavy...but you get what you "pay" for, it takes cycles to perform emulations that sound that good.
I agree. And it seems like Nebula is where this whole console emulation started!
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Old 04-25-2012, 06:50 AM   #15
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Did you try the UAD Studer A800? They snatched a TEC award for it this year, so I guess some people must really like what it does.

Also, anyone using Airwindows plugins? Any opinions as to how they compare?



As for Nebula, I still don't get it. I tried the free version, and found absolutely nothing interesting sound-wise (and a terrible UI). I keep hearing recommendations from very enthusiastic Nebula users though. Is the non-free version simply the worst demo version imaginable? Can anyone point me to an audio demo of, for example, overdrive that holds up against the UAD Minimoog Multimode Filter (even at static settings, disregarding the tweakability factor)?
I hated the Nebula free version. It brought my quad core to a halt, but that WAS a few audio engines ago. And in regards to it's flavors, it can be pretty subtle, but it IS all about analog emulation. It shines when you use a bunch of Nebula all over a project. It's not like slapping a flanger or delay on a guitar and going "WOW", but it is more like tracking a whole song on all analog; consoles, preamps, tube gear, tape..... Like Ngarjuna said, it is a complete shift of what work-flow means. But as a guy who used to do all analog and hated what I was hearing coming from ITB (Yes, even the good stuff), Nebula restored my excitement for ITB work. Not the best tool to "show off" if a paying client is looking over your shoulder, and in a hurry, pinching pennies.... lol. But an A/B between non-Neb and Neb.... My ears have never been happier.
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Old 04-25-2012, 06:52 AM   #16
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Answering "what is best" is always impossible. People's music, eq's and systems differ, etc.. However, both Satson and Waves are great sounding tools to have if you do everything ITB.

NLS is really nice. People don't seem to care for it because they think it's too extreme. It's not. Just don't abuse the drive features and it will give you a nice, round, even sound. The 3 emulations all sound different, and the individual channels also sound different from each other. Basically the combinations could be limitless.

Satson is fantastic. I picked it up yesterday. Like NLS, it's very easy to use. It's also a bit brighter than Waves. It can stand on it's own, and when combined with the NLS channels, it also sounds great too (and vice-versa).

CPU usage is negligible on both (I have 10 instances of the channel plugs and one instance of the buss running). Nebula is a killer. I can't be bothered with it even on my i7 with 8 gigs of ram.

Anyway, I think between these two plugs, you can't go wrong, but if you're strapped for cash (or dislike waves), definitely go with Satson- you won't be disappointed. It's $39.

BTW, I can't speak to VCC, but the ilok2 dependency is a real deal breaker for me. Satson runs on the honor system, and I like their philosophy. Waves has a new cloud installation/registration system which is easy enough to get through.

Hope this info helps.
I LOVE Satsons filters. But as I dig deeper into StripBuss, it blows me away.
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Old 04-25-2012, 09:08 AM   #17
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Another +1 to Satson. Coming from an all analogue background it really does add some mojo, things become easier to place and sit within a mix and require less further processing in general, which is something I've missed since working mostly ITB. The filters and meters alone would be worth the £25 I paid for it, factor in the rest and it's a no-brainer for me. Total bargain.
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Old 04-25-2012, 10:31 AM   #18
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nls wins IMO. makes everything sound better. its not on everything i do. i like it so much i remixed some old stuff with it.....
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Old 04-25-2012, 02:36 PM   #19
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Well.
I used NLS, used TB, I have also Nebula and many others (like SK). And I have one conclusion: the MAGIC happens way before those plugins. It's in the melody, emotions and composer's vision. I have lot of mixes that I love and they were made completely ITB without those plugins. They were made using some not-the-state-of-art compressors and eq, but there was a vision. and this vision shines.

But If I could advise - Nebula sounds great, but it will eat all resources you've got. It can be frustrating. NLS is fine, but don't drive it too much - it can ruin your mix if you overdose. TB - quite impressive little thing! SKNote - nice but use with caution. Satson - I haven't used it (much), I don't have an opinion.
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Old 04-25-2012, 02:40 PM   #20
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Well.
I used NLS, used TB, I have also Nebula and many others (like SK). And I have one conclusion: the MAGIC happens way before those plugins. It's in the melody, emotions and composer's vision. I have lot of mixes that I love and they were made completely ITB without those plugins. They were made using some not-the-state-of-art compressors and eq, but there was a vision. and this vision shines.

But If I could advise - Nebula sounds great, but it will eat all resources you've got. It can be frustrating. NLS is fine, but don't drive it too much - it can ruin your mix if you overdose. TB - quite impressive little thing! SKNote - nice but use with caution. Satson - I haven't used it (much), I don't have an opinion.
Totally reasonable assessment. Honestly, it's console emulation; if the consoles you were wanting to emulate (the greatest desks ever made) made night and day changes to your audio they wouldn't be considered the greatest desks ever made. That's why I tend to dislike any console emulation that's "easy" to hear; that's not how great consoles work.
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Old 04-25-2012, 03:04 PM   #21
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Totally reasonable assessment. Honestly, it's console emulation; if the consoles you were wanting to emulate (the greatest desks ever made) made night and day changes to your audio they wouldn't be considered the greatest desks ever made. That's why I tend to dislike any console emulation that's "easy" to hear; that's not how great consoles work.
That's why I said in an earlier post that it is the subtle sonic build-up that makes an analog signal chain (or Nebula chain or any great emu chain) so magical. But let's not forget the humor in all of this; those very qualities that we crave from the analog days are the same qualities that artists and engineers felt like they had to tolerate..... the crosstalk, the build-up of "noise", the "imperfection... lol. Just look at the other hugely popular and sought after emulations; the tape!
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Old 04-25-2012, 03:04 PM   #22
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Totally reasonable assessment. Honestly, it's console emulation; if the consoles you were wanting to emulate (the greatest desks ever made) made night and day changes to your audio they wouldn't be considered the greatest desks ever made. That's why I tend to dislike any console emulation that's "easy" to hear; that's not how great consoles work.

+1

That's damn right.....
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Old 04-25-2012, 05:13 PM   #23
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+1

That's damn right.....
And that's why I'm really happy with NLS (and Satson): Used properly they're subtle gems. But they're no "magic bullet": If your song is a turd, all you'll end up with is a well polished one.
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Old 04-25-2012, 05:46 PM   #24
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I've been testing out the NLS and it seems to add "something" that I like... just not sure if its the effect of actually summing with an analog board.
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Old 04-25-2012, 06:19 PM   #25
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I've been testing out the NLS and it seems to add "something" that I like... just not sure if its the effect of actually summing with an analog board.
Hey Jonny

Before you invest in NLS, I strongly urge you to check out Stripbuss.
The main dev, Quinto Sardo, is super cool in the Cockos sort of way. And he is one of the only software guys who backs up his work so much that instead of offering demos, he will actually refund your money on trust if you are not happy with it. It helps that his stuff is crazy-amazing too.
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Old 04-25-2012, 06:31 PM   #26
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Is the "buss" spelling an American vs British spelling thing, or just a spelling mistake? I'm not a native speaker, and just curious because I see it written like that quite a lot (the plugin is called "StripBus", with a single s at the end).
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Old 04-25-2012, 06:38 PM   #27
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Is the "buss" spelling an American vs British spelling thing, or just a spelling mistake? I'm not a native speaker, and just curious because I see it written like that quite a lot (the plugin is called "StripBus", with a single s at the end).
My bad. Not sure where that spelling comes from. But it is how I have always spelled "buss" referring to a console. I do still ride a bus, though......
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Old 04-25-2012, 06:43 PM   #28
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Apocryphal (I think Bill Porter said this but I don't recall it was a number of years ago): bus is actually the correct spelling, as in busbar, but engineers in the classic days wanted to separate the spelling from confusion with the word "bus" and all of its various connotations so they took to mispelling it with the extra "s". No idea if that's true or not.

In practice today you definitely see it spelled both ways without much rhyme or reason.

ETA: Wikipedia entry for busbar claims that the term itself is derived from "omnibus" (without citation, though).

Lots of these terms in production with less than clear etymology (I've heard at least half a dozen explanations as to what M.O.S. stands for, none of them ubiquitously accepted).
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Old 04-25-2012, 07:10 PM   #29
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Apocryphal (I think Bill Porter said this but I don't recall it was a number of years ago): bus is actually the correct spelling, as in busbar, but engineers in the classic days wanted to separate the spelling from confusion with the word "bus" and all of its various connotations so they took to mispelling it with the extra "s". No idea if that's true or not. [...]
In any case, it's exactly the type of contextual information that I was apparently missing. It would definitely explain that it appears much more often that you'd expect if it was some random spelling mistake. Thanks for clarifying that! (and sorry for the brief OT)

And back on topic: still waiting for any responses on my mention of the airwindows stuff. Is it because they're Mac-only that nobody else mentioned them here yet? Or does anybody think they don't compare favorably to the ones mentioned? (I don't really have an opinion about that yet, since I don't have much experience with this type of plug-in yet).
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Old 04-25-2012, 09:26 PM   #30
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Another vote for Nebula here. For me it's hard to be a Nebula user and know the power of this plug-in when it comes to consoles emulation... it's hard because I can't use it like I want, "live", right there in my tracks while I'm mixing from start to end. The whole freeze/render before mixing paradigm just doesn't cut it anymore for me because I can't spend time on that while having lost of clients waiting on the line for their songs.

I needed to be quick and deliver good results so I had to look for second options and VCC, and SatSon, were on beta stage when I started looking around. SatSon wasn't ready by that time so I had to purchase VCC. I haven't regreted it a single bit, that plug-in sounds great in my opinion. I was a bit skeptical when I heard some audio demos (I didn't have an iLok by that time) but I bought it anyways (they started offering free iLoks which made it even more appealing).

I've been mixing with VCC and SatSon for a long time now (2 years or something) and I couldn't be happier. SatSon is more aggresive on the low end and, as far as I can hear, delivers a better definition in that part of the spectrum but VCC's Brit4k (based on a SSL 4k, just like SatSon), is just great for clarity, punch and difinition in the rest of the spectrum.

I'd definitely puchase VCC and SatSon, seriously, they work together just fine and complements each other in a nice way. I also beta tested StripBus but I couldn't really test it properly because it doesn't sound good at 96kHz, which is the sample rate I use for mixing and recording. The sound at 44.1kHz was good, though. Waves NLS is a no go for me, I don't like it at all (the Nevo emulation is nice but, to my taste, VCC's Brit N and Nebula's VBC sounds like 10 times better).

This NLS plug-in is a tool for coloration, in my opinion; it doesn't really add that "cohesivness" and "homogeinity" I can get with VCC, SatSon or Nebula, it just distorts too much and I found myself fighting against it than having a great time (yes, all my stuff is below 0dBVU so no, it's not me hitting it hard with crazy levels). The Spikey emulation is a joke in my opinion and I have a lot of respect for Waves plug-ins audio quality. That emualtion literally chews the high-end of your tracks and makes it sound really bad as far as I could hear. It also adds some muddiness I couldn't stand (maybe because it distorts the low end in a weird way which makes low mids sound that bad).

In short, if I had to choose one console emulation I'd buy VCC. It saves time, helps and doesn't get in the way (and it's also the most versatile/feature-packed of all three... with 5 and two more consoles on their way). Just like Nebula but maybe a couple of steps down the ladder. In my opinion, this and SatSon are the best console emulations, in algorithms, so far.
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Old 04-25-2012, 09:53 PM   #31
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I've been testing NLS and I cant help but think this whole trend of tape/console emulation is the biggest sham we've encountered in 'modern' digital mixing.

I cant figure out why anyone would want to add a plug and mix into it. It's just going to alter the choices you make, but you still want to hear things the way you want hear them and so you have to fight against what you are mixing in to.

I'll never say any plug or method of achieving a sound is invalid anymore, If this way of working is effective for you in terms of time and sound then be my guest, but I kind of evaluate plugs on a time vs value/sound standard these days and honestly trying to add a console emulation on every channel and setting the gain correctly on all of them just horrifies me. In my experience the level matched A/B is too subtle to be worth it in work flow time spent.
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Old 04-25-2012, 09:56 PM   #32
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if only nebula's GUI was usable... and you didn't have to buy additional packages for it....
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Old 04-25-2012, 10:18 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Wilkesin View Post
I've been testing NLS and I cant help but think this whole trend of tape/console emulation is the biggest sham we've encountered in 'modern' digital mixing.

I cant figure out why anyone would want to add a plug and mix into it. It's just going to alter the choices you make, but you still want to hear things the way you want hear them and so you have to fight against what you are mixing in to.

I'll never say any plug or method of achieving a sound is invalid anymore, If this way of working is effective for you in terms of time and sound then be my guest, but I kind of evaluate plugs on a time vs value/sound standard these days and honestly trying to add a console emulation on every channel and setting the gain correctly on all of them just horrifies me. In my experience the level matched A/B is too subtle to be worth it in work flow time spent.
That's probably what you're experiencing with NLS. You didn't mention if you've tested VCC or Nebula (I think StripBus and SatSon don't have demos). In my experience, with NLS, you have to fight against it and it doesn't really help to get all your mix elements in a certain "space", it was quite the opposite as far as I could hear. Plug-ins like these do actually help people in several ways: a) they help you to get a clear notion of gain staging and how to get better mixes with "proper" levels; b) they become part of your sound and if you get to know them very well, you can use them to enhance your mix or just create a sense of "all elements are part of a whole, sound-wise"; c) they also react to dynamic changes which gives you a great advantage if you use them as the last plug-in in your chain: you can smooth trasients out, get a better definition or just make your drums punchier while mixing into it, to name a few. A good console don't get in the way and being honest, no one didn't really care about their sound as long as you could get your work done (a console is just a medium to "move your mix") but nowadays they're being used for "cohesiveness", "coloration", "saturation", etc., which isn't bad at all. Now, the thing is people think you should hear what a console does, they always expect obvious and drastic changes and that, in my opinion, is just plain wrong. You're supposed to feel what it does, not hear it.
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Old 04-25-2012, 10:24 PM   #34
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You're supposed to feel what it does, not hear it.
makes no sense.
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Old 04-25-2012, 10:24 PM   #35
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makes no sense.
agreed
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Old 04-25-2012, 10:29 PM   #36
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Old 04-25-2012, 10:38 PM   #37
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agreed
I think this is a matter of taste and opinion, because I know exactly what Mercado is referring to. Have you ever had a chance to run some ITB tracks out of the DAW and through a chain (not just an input) of analog gear like a console, tape, back into the console, tube pre's etc? It really is something that can be sensed in the audio as well as what is audible. It changes the sonic power or energy of the audio (not in a flaky hippie way, but in a tangible scientific way). While these plugins are emulations, some of them are quite complex and begin to give digital audio some of that color that people are referring to. It certainly is not for everyone, some of you LIKE pristine digital audio. But some prefer the imperfections and color of some of that flavor. I used to work with all analog, and you would most certainly mix into your compressors, eq's tape machines, etc. That was the best (and only) way to make decisions, there was no waiting until tracking was done sometimes. I know, we are in a new century and don't need these limitations, right? Sometimes the things that are considered limits are what set our creativity free. I love what Nebula does to my audio and don't mind the various libraries I need to buy. It is much cheaper than a roomful of high end hardware and better sounding to my ears than a slew of algo plugins. To each their own, for sure.
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Old 04-25-2012, 10:52 PM   #38
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makes no sense.
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agreed
I can see how that wouldn't make any sense. I think I wrote something that should be debated in a room, live, not in the internet which is a medium where "feelings" are always misunderstood heh
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Old 04-26-2012, 12:14 AM   #39
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[QUOTE=ngarjuna;951581]Apocryphal (I think Bill Porter said this but I don't recall it was a number of years ago): bus is actually the correct spelling, as in busbar, but engineers in the classic days wanted to separate the spelling from confusion with the word "bus" and all of its various connotations so they took to mispelling it with the extra "s". No idea if that's true or not.

/QUOTE]

Ahhh ... Mr Bill Porter [my mentor]. A True Engineer, and a beautiful person.

and we spelled it 'Buss' ... as in 'Bussing'.
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Old 04-26-2012, 12:43 AM   #40
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This is certainly a 'debatable' topic ... ESPECIALLY when two different schools of experience prevale... Those that have ONLY worked in the digital DAW environment, and those of us that came up from the console, tape world.

I still recall the day the first RDat 2 trk deck was installed at one of the studios I worked. These were to be used as digital backups for the Studer 1/2" mastering deck.

Printing to BOTH simultaneously, and then checking playback ...

The RDat sounded EXACTLY like what we heard during the mixdown out of the NEVE console.

The 1/2" 30ips playback from the Studer tape deck .... sounded better.

The tape imparted its' magic into the mix.

As to consoles, and their inherent 'sound' ... well ... that was NOT the general DESIGN INTENT ... The design was to provide a range of routing configurations, flexibility, along with eq, dynamic control in as CLEAN a way possible. NOTWithstanding the introduction of VCA fader automation in some of the early MCI [and other] boards.

The consoles were NOT 'sound efx' units ... although, working the gain structure brought out different characteristics. Nothing really different than what we did with tape levels, OR choosing different tape formulations. [Why one would choose Scotch 250 for one project, and Ampex 456 for another, as example].

That being said ... the consoles DID have a 'type' of sound, in particular, the EQ sections brought their own flavors.

With ALL the capabilities that a, say, $750K NEVE or SSL console had ... we STILL were mindful of signal routing. We OFTEN bypassed MUCH of the console electronics and patch straight to tape when practical. This would MINIMIZE to HALF the console in the path ... However ... we had to bring up sounds through the console for mixdown.

Without boring any further ...

I would say that consoles do have a sound. It was not uncommon to choose a studio for a particular group because of the console [and other considerations]. Back in the day, cutting an R&B/Funk band on an SSL got 'that' sound. I wouldn't hesitate to cut a rock band on an API console, or track a country group on a NEVE. While today, we might track that country group on an SSL.

Bottom line ... the console was never the determinant whether the song went to Number 1, or was a flop.

There are certain styles of music that have really evolved SINCE the digital revolution. For these 'styles', a consoles character may not be a consideration.

What makes this all the more difficult topic continues in the comparison between 'real' instruments and their digital emulations.

Example, I own a LINN drum [purchased from Rodger] ... I also have LINN DRUM sample libraries. When I hear the library, you know it is a LINN drum. But when you fire up the actual LINN drum instrument, and play those built in samples through ITS' built in amp/mixer ... THAT is the sound of a real LINN Drum.

Similarly, comparing guitar amp simulators to, say a Fender tube amp, or an original Rhodes piano, or a Hammond B3 ... the samples can sound 'just like it' ... but it just doesn't hold to the real thing. [debatable ... of course]. Sometimes convenience becomes the deciding factor. But if given the choice, I'd probably choose real Ziljian cymbals .

Software emulation of consoles? Well, I did by the Statson VST because it sounded decent, and the shelving filters were nice ...

For the closest console sound? I had to choose NEBULA and the selection of 3rd party libraries prepared for it. These are convolutions of actual equipment. Much like the difference between convolution reverb and algorithmic ones. need both.

I'll look into this VCC unit too ... BECAUSE ... as good a NEBULA sounds, no QUAD core that I own stands a chance. I will expand my 'server' version to spread the massive load.

again ... sorry for boring everyone.
Sincerely.
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