Academy Dashboard Forum Production Recording Techniques Tracking thru plugins

  • This topic has 5 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated 6 years ago by Gary Harrison.
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    Sean Johnson

      Hey all,

      I'm curious on how you all handle this. I'm mixing fully in the box w/mostly Waves plugins, but if I had hardware like a 1073 eq/pre and an SSL 4000 board for example, I expect I'd send my mic thru the pre into the board and then record the resultant sound.

      So in the plugin world, I can simulate this by routing my mic thru my Scheps73 and SSL 4000 channel strip. But now I have the option to apply the plugin to the dry sound and tweak, or "print" the affected sound as I would with hardware.

      What do you do? Do you leave your options open? Or commit to the sound? Other options? Are there other benefits/detriments to either side of this coin?

      thanks for your thoughts.


      James Gorman

        Unless the artist needed it, I'd choose a chain that keeps the latency low rather than looking for specific tones. I've always printed raw to keep my choices open. That said my ITB chain ends up looking a lot like what you get from recoding desk -> media -> mixing desk, with layered compression and eq.

        Pros for this I can think of:
        - you're aiming for the best sound with just the source, mic and pre
        - can set things up for whatever is best for the artist - eg going wild with compression, distortion, etc without worry about the mix (or having to set up complex routing matrix)
        - keeping information loss to a minimum (this may be my background in data showing through - always store with the lowest loss!)

        I suppose the biggest con I can think of is that if you're using to avoid commitment to a sound you may end up on the road to a big mess.

        I like to think the last point is big one for me, rather than not committing to a sound. I find it freeing to be able make a bold choice knowing the source is still there.

        Sean Johnson

          James, thanks for your reply. I'm tending to go the same way and in fact find myself using the dry DI tracks when mixing some of Warren's stuff.

          Jason Davenport

            Hey Sean,

            I prefer to commit to a sound on the way in if I am tracking in my studio. Simply because with dry tracking, you leave yourself, and the artist with too many choices. This can lead to complications down the road with the artist, or you, wanting to constantly change the tone of say the guitars. If you commit on the way in, that IS the tone. That being said, I also print a DI track just in case.

            I find myself sometimes using Warren's DI track if I am changing the production, but usually I use the amp track/tracks for a straight up mix.

            One problem with tracking with plugins is latency. You can compensate for that by adjusting your buffer size, but it doesn't always get rid of it completely. Depends a lot on your interface, and DAW.

            Now if you use UAD interfaces and plugins, you can track through those without fear of latency, or overloading your CPU.

            Hope that helps answer your questions!

            Sean Johnson

              Thanks for your thoughts Jason. I appreciate your take on it.

              Gary Harrison

                I don't worry to much about plugins. I might put a verb and delay up for the singer, but I won't print them. To me the sound is the mic>preamp>compressor(if used)> interface. Getting the right mic>, into the right preamp (if we have that luxury)> into the right compressor(again if we have that luxury)> a good A/D converter. That is you source sound, imho anything the computer does with that is a manipulation of the captured source sound. I strive to get the best sound I can if possible with mics and preamps. That's what I'll print. Them If I need to make adjustment I'll use the plug ins for that. Then again I'm an old analog tape guy.

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