Skip to content

Tag: Softube

The anatomy of a score mix #4

As previously we took a look at the various EQs I’ve used during this particular score mix, now let’s see the dynamics arsenal that helped me shape the final mix.

McDSP AE600

I know now you think I’m crazy because it was also featured in the EQ article, but this beast is also a dynamic EQ, and as such I think it fits in the dynamic processing category also. With this, you can selectively process different frequency bands with great precision. The main point of the dynamic EQ is that it only works when needed. If you cut or boost with a regular EQ, the chosen frequency will be altered continuously. But with a dynamic EQ, the processing affects the frequency range only if the signal is above the threshold.

For example I had a cue where the high strings were getting a bit harsh, instead of cutting with a regular EQ, I just set a dynamic band for them which treated the harsh frequencies only in the loudest parts, otherwise I left them as they were.

Avid channel strip comp section

The second plugin that got mentioned in the EQ part too. As you probably already know this, it is still the channel strip from the famous Euphonix console. The dynamics section is a workhorse, if someone would force me to choose only one plugin for a full mix I’d happily choose this as my all-around tool. One more positive thing is that it maps perfectly on the S6 surface, which is a huge plus in my book.

Avid ProCompressor

Probably one of the most underrated compressor in the plugin world. Actually it is a very clever and great sounding beast, offering a complete Swiss army knife feature set. With the multiple algorithms – smart being a truly smart one actually – , dry-wet, DSP support, clear and informative GUI it always has a place in my mixes. Honestly if you need a great all around compressor, you should consider this as a serious candidate. The algorithms are working truly well, I even use them to experiment and test things with it without inserting many different plugins. You can even listen to the part of the signal that is being affected (that is over the threshold).

Avid ProMultiband

Actually it’s two plugins but mostly people think this is merely a multi-band processor. Well, that is indeed a multi-band compressor with a great interface, with nice options to control your sound, but it also has a truly great part. That is it can split up your audio into different parts based on frequency. So you can split up the signal into different frequency bands adding your own processing for the highs, adding something different to the low-mids while applying a third approach when it comes to real subs. It is all up to you. Or this way you can create interesting parallel chains for different areas of the spectrum.

Softube TLA 100

A true classic with additional features. This is a real know-it-all type plugin. For the lack of a better term it’s really musical sounding even if you hit it harder than the normal. The additional dry/wet mix knob makes it an excellent choice for bus duties also. The other great add-on is the saturation knob, so we can control if it should be absolutely clean or not. I’m a huge fan of adding tiny bits of “analogue” distortion throughout the chain so sometimes I even you this only for the sound, without really using the compressor section.

Brainworx Bx console comp section

What can I say? It’s a Neve compressor with some clever add-on like, dry/wet, side chain HPF and most importantly with the sound of a real gem. Be aware of that it’s gain reduction meter is a bit strange, at first you might end up hitting the compressor harder than you would like to. But once you find the sweet spot, it’s gorgeous. Another thing you have to get used to is the buttons and their behaviour. If you’re familiar with some real old-school Neve gear, then there won’t be any problem. Otherwise it’s not rocket science but certainly requires a little attention here and there.

SSL channel strip comp section

I don’t think I can tell you any more good things about the old classics. Without further explaining my fanboy attitude, this thing just works. It’s really that twist the knobs until it sounds right. No secret sections, no big tricks, it’s mixing on a visceral level.

API 2500

In my opinion this is the king of bus compression. I fell in love with it the first time I’ve tried. The real deal is that this API truly works on any material from drums through electronic stuff to symphonic material. Do not miss the different possibilities this circuit offers. The thrust control, the ability to act like a feed-back or feed-forward type compressor, the unique partial and adjustable stereo link. In my experience if this is not working or doing harm to the sound, then there’s a 99.9% chance that the settings are wrong.

That’s it, although I have more dynamics processors than I can list here, I always use the ones I feel I need. Especially with compression you must be cautious, it is very easy to overdo it and kill the dynamics of your material.

Comments closed

Consider it done…

Something really funny happened. I mean it was frustrating but turned out to be funny. At least I consider it to be that. You might remember my venting about the lack of proper customer service at Gobbler. Basically they couldn’t solve a very basic issue that happened on their side and instead of trying to do something they decided to abandon the case.

Now, after more than a month I’ve received an email from them apologising for the delay and asking if I’m still having that particular problem. Wait a minute… Gobbler’s customer support did nothing to solve the issue. So what do they think? A wizard came by and solved their issue? Honestly I couldn’t believe they seriously sent me that mail.

I thought ok, last chance, I answered their mail and told them that the issue is still present, but honestly I somewhat gave up the hope that they will or able to solve it. Frankly I completely lost faith in Gobbler and not willing to purchase anything through them. Guess what is the answer. They closed my case as if they could solve it and sent me a survey mail so I can rate their customer service’s quality. I mean really???

Probably this is a standard procedure but if only once only one member of their team really cared about this, we could all already forgot the whole thing. But I dare to say after more than a month (almost 2) that they couldn’t care less. And after all that they ask me if I was happy with their service? I think that’s a joke. Beside that it’s really not a real, working customer support.

On a closing note I sincerely hope that any company who offer some of their product through Gobbler will remain partly independent and continue to offer their products without a Gobbler registration. Now it’s clear to me that it was a huge mistake from the Softube guys to offer Gobbler only service.

Comments closed

Marathon

This weekend we’re going to have a Brahms marathon. From about 10 at the morning till 10 at night we’ll have 11 concerts. From piano pieces through clarinet quintet to the great symphonies. This definitely sounds interesting, but not only because we love Brahms, but it is also exciting technically.

Preproduction

We have to consider all the various needs of the different crews. We have the three separate crews from the National Radio, three video crews and our main crew. Why so many? Because the whole act will be broadcasted live through the Radio and online. All the concerts. Besides that we record everything (obviously).

The National Radio uses a Studer Vista 8 console and another very old vintage Studer for the interviews. All the video crews will receive sound from us as we mix live from two studios. As we already did it like this last year, the two main rigs will be a Pro Tools HD 12.6.1 and a Steinberg Nuendo 7. Control surface will be the Avid S6.

As you can guess at this scale we need serious backups. Two Joeco MADI recorders and one Pro Tools and one Nuendo will serve as safety backups so both stages has its own main rig and double-backup just in case.

All the complicated routing is going through the DoTec MADI router which has its own backup. I think we don’t use any equipment without a proper backup that day.

Templates

As we receive all the technical details a few days before the live broadcast we make master templates in every workstation. This way no matter who’s going to mix a particular concert, everyone knows where to find things. At this scale you simply cannot let chaos prevail.

This year I thought we might have the chance to do a very interesting experiment. In Pro Tools all the channel strips will be the Brainworx bx console which is a fantastic Neve emulation. Basically I built a “Neve console” inside Pro Tools. First I modified the default preset. No gate, compressor is active but start to work from -10 dBFS with a 2:1 ratio, eq is engaged but flat, lo-pass off, high-pass engaged at its lowest setting, noise off.

I took the time and set up the whole session like if it was a real console, all channels have different channel numbers in the Neve emulation. If you are even remotely familiar with this old console, it’s a pretty clean console with gorgeous filters. I already tried it on a few different sources, but now I think the time has come to really experience what this channel strip emulation can offer when we really use it as it is intended to be used. Let’s hear if the new Tolerance Modelling Technology has that intangible plus sonically.

All the input channels goes through at least one audio subgroup, then from that particular group all the audio groups routed to a sum bus. All instrument mics goes through at least one audio subgroup and the sum group except the audience and announcer mics, those directly goes to the final mix group. With this I can separately adjust the balance between the orchestra, the audience and the announcer. Although everything is planned properly usually life always entertain us with some unexpected surprises. That’s why I planned separate groups for everything.

The audio subgroups has the very same processing:

After those there is a final master processing chain:

The Active-fixed EQ is our housekeeper, removing any nasty frequency build-up or resonance, maybe subtly adding a tiny amount where needed. The TLA is really there for very soft massage, just kissing the needle or as we say “slowly nodding a bit” and even that is with 50-50 dry-wet ratio. The Brainworx is doing some M/S magic and a little mono-maker helps too. The Vertigo is optional, sometimes it’s the real magic dust, sometimes it just stays there in bypass. The Maag EQ is one of our favourite tone shaper while the API 2500 is my first choice for 2bus compression. The ProLimiter is there as a true peak limiter and has a fantastic metering so no other 3rd party meter is needed during the mix.

It might seem too much but keep in mind that these plugins are are doing very little things. But I decided I rather put them into the template than try to improvise during the rehearsals or the live broadcast. With this there’s no situation you cannot solve easily.

The effect chain has been selected to serve every possible need. Those are tried and tested. The room is the Eventide 2016 Stereo room, the plate, the chamber and one hall is made from Exponential Audio’s Nimbus, and the last hall is Exponential Audio’s R2 reverb.

Here’s the simplified structure of the session:

session structure

This is the first time I try to mix with a console emulation live so now I check and practice the Eucon mapping daily to get accustomed to it. The beauty of a proper control surface is that you become much faster because of muscle memory. There are still some black spots but it seems that the Bx console is nicely mapped. One tricky spot is its dynamics section as you have to learn and feel the threshold, but once you get familiar with it, it’s great.

Of course, all the mixes must adhere to the latest EBU standard with a target loudness of -23LUFS, while the online broadcast is going to be at -18LUFS.

I hope everything is going to be flawless with this much preparation. Wish me luck.

Comments closed

Customer support with Gobbler

I really don’t like to write any negative things about any company. Generally I think it’s not constructive, and probably won’t solve anything. But as I write positive review about plugins and gear and companies, I think I have to share my rare negative experiences too.

Few weeks before…

Many of you already read and actually agreed with my latest ramblings about Softube taking the Gobbler path. It might be a good idea to join to such a service for a company, but I still think that it’s a bad idea to force users into one direction without offering the old way of doing things, at least for some time. The other problem is future consideration. Although I don’t know the deal between Gobbler and Softube, I’m pretty sure that it is a good one for the Softube guys. But maybe not so good for the users. And in my opinion they should’ve considered this too. For some reason they thought this is a fine way to make a change like this.

The present

Now, out of necessity I registered a Gobbler account to have access to our Softube arsenal. It’s not a complicated task, can be done in a minute or two. The last step is to get an email from Gobbler to validate your new account. This last step was unsuccessful. No problem I thought and tried the resend button, and then retried again and again, and again. No worries. I’ve sent an email to Gobbler’s customer support and they reacted in a few hours. Their question was which site I’ve registered on. The shop.gobbler or the app.gobbler. I replied…

And the rest is silence. This was a week ago. Still nothing happened. Frankly I don’t know if they simply don’t care or cannot solve this issue. What I care about is honest communication and the willingness to solve the issue. Both seems to lack.

I can only hope that we won’t have any issues with our licenses because if an email error is more than they can solve, then we might loose our trust completely. One thing is for sure, I won’t purchase anything through the Gobbler service. So all in all I still think, even more so, that Softube made a mistake to use Gobbler as their only back platform.

If Gobbler will get back to me, I’ll report it.

Comments closed

Softube and Gobbler

I read it on forums that Softube has recently changed the way users can access their products. First I haven’t payed attention, but after a few days it was suspicious that many seemed to thought that it’s a bad move.

Today I checked if I need to update some plugins, and realised the Softube ones need update.

Meet their new system

There’s no way to access your downloads if you don’t have a Gobbler account. Period. I for one really don’t like this as I had terrible experiences with Gobbler before. So take into account that I’m biased. But anyway, generally I don’t think it’s a good thing to force us into something like this.

Once you have your Gobbler account, and that is linked to your iLok account, you have access to your Softube plugins. The app scan your plugins and tell you if you need to update your plugins, or even if you have something that is not on your machine yet.

softubegobbler

On my laptop I have 4 Softube plugins. When I tried to update them from a broadband connection it was painfully slow, but at the end it was successful.

It’s absolutely not obvious though that you still have access to your offline installers. But the one caveat is that you still need the Gobbler account. To access your installers, go to Softube’s website and log into your account. Scroll down to the bottom of the page where you can find the link to “My downloads”. And voila, it’s all there.

The year of new models

Now it’s obvious that most companies want to offer subscription based services. This is good or bad depending on your own point of view. I can see the benefits of subscriptions, yet I’m still not convinced that this is the best way to do it. One thing for sure I hate when I’m being forced into something. I sadly tweeted yesterday that I think it’s a bad decision, obviously Softube’s answer is: “Gobbler is much easier than the old system…” Well, I don’t think that registering with a third party, then downloading and using an additional third party software is easier. My main problem with this is we already use a plethora of little add-on apps from cloud services to backup apps, you name it. I’m not convinced we need more.

Comments closed