Is outboard gear worth it in a home studio?

Alamo

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For some reason, I keep talking myself into and out of adding a 1073 clone, a 1176 clone, and maybe more to track through. I know I can get close in the box, but I keep wanting to try some outboard gear.
You'd be unearthing the entrance to a brand new rabbit hole.
you might even find a can o'worms at the bottom ;):twisted:
 

drmordo

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It's important to have hardware if you want to use it while tracking. I have a compressor I run on bass, guitar, and sometimes vocals while tracking. I use it lightly on vocal and guitar but pretty heavily on bass. I have Leslie emulator I run stuff thru sometimes. I have a Lexicon reverb unit because to me ITB reverbs still don't sound as good as hardware for really lush verbs. I have a console that I record everything thru but which is critical when I record drums.

That said, I'm think the next album will be more OTB, so I'm also thinking about getting a couple/few 1176 clones.
 

Peegoo

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^This always, also you didn't say how you plug all those in, if there was one piece of gear I think people should get it's a good mic preamp (better than what's in the standard computer interface).
Other than that tactile is great when working on a computer and for that I use a Behringer X-Touch 1
https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/XTouchOne--behringer-by-touch-one

Other than that it's easier (and often better) to run digital effects.

I used a patch bay.

The mic pre I use is contained in the POD HD. It has an XLR input jack and many mic patches for vocals and instruments, as well as bass patches. It's the ideal piece of gear for me.
 

drmordo

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I used a patch bay.

The mic pre I use is contained in the POD HD. It has an XLR input jack and many mic patches for vocals and instruments, as well as bass patches. It's the ideal piece of gear for me.

I do love my POD as well.

That said, IMO preamps are by far the most overrated piece of gear that people obsess over. The amount of money folks will spend on a piece of gear that has an absolutely tiny affect on the sound is staggering.
 

Peegoo

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I do love my POD as well.

That said, IMO preamps are by far the most overrated piece of gear that people obsess over. The amount of money folks will spend on a piece of gear that has an absolutely tiny affect on the sound is staggering.

The only drawback of the POD HD is there's no provision for phantom power for mics that require it. So I stick an in-line phantom power module between the mic that needs it and the POD. It works great.
 

loudboy

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I tried plug-ins and completely stopped using them because of those sorts of issues. I do not miss them, and I don't really need 'em for anything. They're also a money pit.

If you search around, there are amazing freeware VSTs, that rival almost anything commercial.

I have some nice pres, a Purple MC77 (for tracking vocals and bass) and good A/D and D/A converters. They do make a difference, especially as your track count adds up.

But, not as much as mics. That's where the rubber meets the road, and where the $ should go.
 

Tuneup

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I do love my POD as well.

That said, IMO preamps are by far the most overrated piece of gear that people obsess over. The amount of money folks will spend on a piece of gear that has an absolutely tiny affect on the sound is staggering.
You think preamps are overrated... so wow.... your amp doesn't have one? a mic pre with good analog compression is a necessity IMO, all those crappy pres in the usb interfaces and I never realized that until I got a good analog mic pre.
 

Maguchi

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For some reason, I keep talking myself into and out of adding a 1073 clone, a 1176 clone, and maybe more to track through. I know I can get close in the box, but I keep wanting to try some outboard gear.
I think so. But i have a lot of outboard gear left over from pre-DAW days that still sounds great and I don't wanna douche it.
 

ahiddentableau

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As far as sound quality is concerned I think the answer is no. You can do everything with digital now and it sounds good. However, if having and using the gear gets you more excited about recording and that means you do it more and enjoy it more? Then it's worth it. For you. Which is all that matters here.

One other thought: using outboard makes me think more about the end result when tracking. It somehow makes me more thoughtful about the process of recording. I have to think about the end result ahead of time and so I'm less likely to shoot from the hip and then react. That has value, too. Provided you can use it well, because heaven help you if you screw a track up on the way in!
 

Maguchi

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As far as sound quality is concerned I think the answer is no. You can do everything with digital now and it sounds good. However, if having and using the gear gets you more excited about recording and that means you do it more and enjoy it more? Then it's worth it. For you. Which is all that matters here.

One other thought: using outboard makes me think more about the end result when tracking. It somehow makes me more thoughtful about the process of recording. I have to think about the end result ahead of time and so I'm less likely to shoot from the hip and then react. That has value, too. Provided you can use it well, because heaven help you if you screw a track up on the way in!
Another alternative is to record everything dry when tracking and add effects (either outboard or plugin) when mixing down. That way if something doesn't come out right during mixdown, you still have your dry uneffected tracks and can redo things. If you're using outboard instead of plugins during mixdown though, you'll probly need a physical mixing board. Either way is cool. It's quite doable with a patchbay.
 

Tuneup

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Outboard gear doesn't take CPU cycles, but if you record with outboard gear then that sound stays, it's recorded.
My DAW records the guitar prior to digital effects applied, so I can scroll through presets and find a tone I like if I don't like the first sound.

just another 2 bits
 

bottlenecker

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Another alternative is to record everything dry when tracking and add effects (either outboard or plugin) when mixing down. That way if something doesn't come out right during mixdown, you still have your dry uneffected tracks and can redo things. If you're using outboard instead of plugins during mixdown though, you'll probly need a physical mixing board. Either way is cool. It's quite doable with a patchbay.

Whether I use outboard reverb or a plugin, I like to make a wet track for each track I use reverb on, that's 80-90% wet, then I use the volume of that track to set reverb level. If it's not an ambient effect, then I just make an effected track and keep the original muted. Any effects applied are saved, and also removable and adjustable if remixing. I'm afraid to admit this because it seems crude to me, and probably missing some shortcut, but I like how my tracks and effects are organized this way.
 

Skully

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Outboard gear doesn't take CPU cycles, but if you record with outboard gear then that sound stays, it's recorded.
My DAW records the guitar prior to digital effects applied, so I can scroll through presets and find a tone I like if I don't like the first sound.

just another 2 bits

Another great thing about recording guitar with a software amp sim is the ability to edit the unprocessed sound wave. It's much easier than cutting a wet track, especially if delay is involved. I rarely re-amp, but I'm always editing soundwaves.

As far as outboard gear for home recordists goes... Frankly, I think it's a waste of time. Instead of obsessing about the recording, you end up obsessing about the gear.
 
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Maguchi

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Whether I use outboard reverb or a plugin, I like to make a wet track for each track I use reverb on, that's 80-90% wet, then I use the volume of that track to set reverb level. If it's not an ambient effect, then I just make an effected track and keep the original muted. Any effects applied are saved, and also removable and adjustable if remixing. I'm afraid to admit this because it seems crude to me, and probably missing some shortcut, but I like how my tracks and effects are organized this way.
Koo. I learned "old school" where effects were not removable from tracks, and recorded dry and added effects later. Nowadays with so many available tracks, it would be easy to record both a wet and dry track side by side and have options for later. I guess we all get comfortable with working a certain way that is quickest and smoothest based on past experience.
 

beyer160

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I just wrote a novel and erased all of it- the simple truth is, it all depends on your workflow and needs. I grew up working Old Skool and tend to print tracks with some level of EQ and compression. I've done it enough that I can do it without worrying about screwing it up, if that's an issue then I understand printing dry and doing that work later.

Some stuff I like to compress and EQ on the way in, other stuff I don't. If you like to do this too, I can't imaging NOT getting use out of a solid analog signal chain. I don't use hardware during the mix stage, but there are advantages of having an analog signal chain up front- not the least of which is the fact that it's just plain cool stuff.

As to mic preamps, I've shot some out before and have absolutely heard a difference- sometimes a big one. But, if you gave me a choice between making a record with a rack of 1073s and a box of SM57s or a Focusrite Scarlett and some high dollar mics, I'd put the money in mics. If you record electric guitar and don't have a nice ribbon mic, I'd start there.

And plugin emulators are fun, but they don't do what the real things do.
 

knockeduptele

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For some reason, I keep talking myself into and out of adding a 1073 clone, a 1176 clone, and maybe more to track through. I know I can get close in the box, but I keep wanting to try some outboard gear.


I did precisely that and never looked back


IMG_1948.JPG
 

bottlenecker

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Koo. I learned "old school" where effects were not removable from tracks, and recorded dry and added effects later. Nowadays with so many available tracks, it would be easy to record both a wet and dry track side by side and have options for later. I guess we all get comfortable with working a certain way that is quickest and smoothest based on past experience.

That's how I learned. Effects were applied real time during mixdown, which was it's own captured moment in time. Which is kind of cool, but I'm just not willing to do that when I have unlimited tracks.
 




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