Do high end mixers matter?

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Chaos215bar2
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Chaos215bar2 » Mon Jan 11, 2021 3:27 pm

MisterJ wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 3:11 pm
There might be something to this but there is another problem with Nyquist. I actually pointed this out to my instructor when I first learned about Nyquist in an electronics course many years ago. If you plot out a sine wave at 20khz that is sampled at the Nyquist frequency of 40khz, there will be exactly two samples of that wave. It will be sampled as a sine wave at 20khz but the amplitude will not be sampled correctly. Depending on where the samples fall, it could be anywhere between peak value and zero. So as frequency increases towards Nyquist, there will be a very subtle timbral leveling as the amplitude of the higher harmonics aren't accurately captured. I wasn't the only one to realize this. Shorty afterwards, oversampling ADCs came out which dealt with this by sampling at a higher rate than recording an average of those samples at the usual 44.1 or 48khz. They effectively deal with any timbral leveling and allow the use of higher frequency anti aliasing filters.
This isn't actually a problem inherent to Nyquist–Shannon, but each sample must be interpolated using a sinc function (with infinite extent forwards and backwards in time) to avoid it completely. (In practice, it's obviously impossible to achieve that ideal.)

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Carrousel » Mon Jan 11, 2021 8:00 pm

Tumulishroomaroom wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 12:30 pm
@Carousel I'm curious to know how your experience with the tube summing mixer will turn out as it's something I'd be interested to do in the future too. Tegeler seems to make very nice gear too + with 40 channels you should be good for a while ! Analog summing mixers seem to be a nice solution for compact, hybrid and luxurious mixing system.
Yeah absolutely, I’ll post some results in this thread once I’m up and running. It arrived today, in an actual wooden chest :hyper:

I had a theory that they had cut as many corners as possible (no pots to control anything, DB25 inputs etc) in order to maximise the proportion of unit cost that went on the valves and transformers....but when I saw this crazy wooden chest that theory went out the window :hihi:

Hopefully still good though haha
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by dubonaire » Mon Jan 11, 2021 9:10 pm

Carrousel wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 8:00 pm
Tumulishroomaroom wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 12:30 pm
@Carousel I'm curious to know how your experience with the tube summing mixer will turn out as it's something I'd be interested to do in the future too. Tegeler seems to make very nice gear too + with 40 channels you should be good for a while ! Analog summing mixers seem to be a nice solution for compact, hybrid and luxurious mixing system.
Yeah absolutely, I’ll post some results in this thread once I’m up and running. It arrived today, in an actual wooden chest :hyper:

I had a theory that they had cut as many corners as possible (no pots to control anything, DB25 inputs etc) in order to maximise the proportion of unit cost that went on the valves and transformers....but when I saw this crazy wooden chest that theory went out the window :hihi:

Hopefully still good though haha
That box is a signature of Tegeler, but it probably doesn't cost that much. I was going to get Tegeler comp and EQ but the ADAT500 swung me to 500 format.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by SingIt » Mon Jan 11, 2021 11:15 pm

sleestack808 wrote:
Mon Dec 21, 2020 7:53 pm
Even if you are micing maybe one amp and using a couple high end synths. Do they matter?
In my experience they don't unless you are an awesome engineer and know how to mix really well and mic amps at an extremely detailed level.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by helix » Tue Jan 12, 2021 4:59 am

MisterJ wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 3:11 pm
Chaos215bar2 wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 1:47 pm


Chris of Learning Modular gave a pretty reasonable sounding explanation for why you might want to go 96 KHz. I'm just trying to paraphrase, so please correct if anything here sounds wrong.

The issue, according to this explanation, is the filtering required to avoid aliasing. Assuming you want to capture sounds up to 20 KHz accurately, even at 48 KHz sampling, you're going to need a filter that goes from essentially unity gain to nothing across about 1/4 of an octave. IIRC, the issue was that this sort of brick wall filtering introduces a varying phase delay near the cutoff frequency, which can obviously affect any processing done past that point in the signal chain. 96 KHz just gives you extra headroom to move any artifacts outside of the audible range.

I don't think conversion to 48 KHz after mastering makes much difference, because the phase delay doesn't make much of a difference (if any) to human hearing. (But this last part may be wild speculation based on just enough information to sound plausible.)
There might be something to this but there is another problem with Nyquist. I actually pointed this out to my instructor when I first learned about Nyquist in an electronics course many years ago. If you plot out a sine wave at 20khz that is sampled at the Nyquist frequency of 40khz, there will be exactly two samples of that wave. It will be sampled as a sine wave at 20khz but the amplitude will not be sampled correctly. Depending on where the samples fall, it could be anywhere between peak value and zero. So as frequency increases towards Nyquist, there will be a very subtle timbral leveling as the amplitude of the higher harmonics aren't accurately captured. I wasn't the only one to realize this. Shorty afterwards, oversampling ADCs came out which dealt with this by sampling at a higher rate than recording an average of those samples at the usual 44.1 or 48khz. They effectively deal with any timbral leveling and allow the use of higher frequency anti aliasing filters.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oversampling

In the real world of music making what doesn't look good to an engineer designing the circuit can actually sound great to a musician. I don't think the timbral leveling ever was much of an issue and might have even made the resulting sound a bit sweeter--kind of like some sort of subtle randomized low pass filter. I've done lots of samples at 32, 44.1 and 48khz with samplers that have no oversampling and they've always sounded fine to me for what I was doing. There's lots of love out there for 8 bit Ensoniq Mirages due to the aliasing that happens with the sound. My S6000 does have oversampling and I will say, it's ADCs are among the cleanest and most precise sounding that I've used.

And following up on something I put in an earlier post, I was playing something on a nylon string guitar the other morning that I thought I might want to record live. So I had to think of the best way to do it and putting the signal from the microphones through my Mackie mixer was definitely not the way to go. It could do the job yes, but the better option for a quality stereo recording was going directly into the pres of my 828 MK3 with XLR cables. I have a mixer that's great for synthesizers and drum machines but not really the best for live recording. In the pre digital era, I would have used a reel to reel and a dedicated preamp if I was doing a live recording at home. Mackies are great for doing synth mixes but for recording live instruments, I would want something better.

All very interesting! Cani ask though what the difference in "live recording" and a synth is? Frequency wise they're going to be similar, and if anything a synth sound, say a pad or FM patch may be far more complex with more going on in the spectrum. so is it more of a dynamics thing, catching nuances of play, and tails on the guitar? Could that be emulated with a synth? Lets face it a lot of the time synth patches or patterns play the same volume/velocity for the duration of a sequence, aside from filter. But often synth sounds aren't that dynamic. (YMMV of course).
What i mean to ask is, the mixer doesn;t know you're playing a live instument or a synth, so what is it the mackie was unable to capture faithfully with the guitar that you weren't happy with?

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Voltcontrol » Tue Jan 12, 2021 7:07 am

dubonaire wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 9:10 pm
Carrousel wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 8:00 pm
Tumulishroomaroom wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 12:30 pm
@Carousel I'm curious to know how your experience with the tube summing mixer will turn out as it's something I'd be interested to do in the future too. Tegeler seems to make very nice gear too + with 40 channels you should be good for a while ! Analog summing mixers seem to be a nice solution for compact, hybrid and luxurious mixing system.
Yeah absolutely, I’ll post some results in this thread once I’m up and running. It arrived today, in an actual wooden chest :hyper:

I had a theory that they had cut as many corners as possible (no pots to control anything, DB25 inputs etc) in order to maximise the proportion of unit cost that went on the valves and transformers....but when I saw this crazy wooden chest that theory went out the window :hihi:

Hopefully still good though haha
That box is a signature of Tegeler, but it probably doesn't cost that much. I was going to get Tegeler comp and EQ but the ADAT500 swung me to 500 format.
Looking at the locks on those boxes, they're pretty low cost items wholesale. The foam probably costs them more. Still very nicely done!
Awesome gear too. :tu:
Gaun Yersel!

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Voltcontrol » Tue Jan 12, 2021 7:08 am

Oh and I wish this thread had a poll. :goo: :party:
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by MisterJ » Tue Jan 12, 2021 4:21 pm

helix wrote:
Tue Jan 12, 2021 4:59 am

All very interesting! Cani ask though what the difference in "live recording" and a synth is? Frequency wise they're going to be similar, and if anything a synth sound, say a pad or FM patch may be far more complex with more going on in the spectrum. so is it more of a dynamics thing, catching nuances of play, and tails on the guitar? Could that be emulated with a synth? Lets face it a lot of the time synth patches or patterns play the same volume/velocity for the duration of a sequence, aside from filter. But often synth sounds aren't that dynamic. (YMMV of course).
What i mean to ask is, the mixer doesn;t know you're playing a live instument or a synth, so what is it the mackie was unable to capture faithfully with the guitar that you weren't happy with?
With live recording you have to deal with room acoustics, background noise, figure out mike placement, all the usual audio engineering stuff. It's real easy to do a passable recording but a really good one takes some thought. Recording studios are designed for it but if you're doing it at home, you don't have a tailor made acoustic environment to work with.

I have a live work space and my mixer and electronic setup is tightly packed right below the sleeping loft where I have just about a foot of clearance above my head and it is pretty dead acoustically. The mixer is smack in the middle with two sets of speakers at equal distances on both sides of it. Ideal for creating a mix and monitoring it. I like to play guitar right next to my heater on cold winter mornings. The heater is in a corner and that corner has a very high ceiling, 16' or so, and the walls are covered with corrugated metal sheets to protect them from the heater. The metal reflects sound as well as heat and that creates, pretty much by accident, a mini live area with lots of natural reverberation so, in addition to being warm, it's got the best sound for playing any acoustic instrument. In order to capture that acoustic environment in a nice stereo image of me playing live, I have to have some decent microphones and place them in the right place. I could run the feeds through the mixer but I don't need to. I'm not going to use the effects I use with my synths and I think the pres on the 828 MK3 are better than those on the Mackie and the interface has EQ and compression should I need them. I have pickups and a lavalier guitar microphone if I just wanted a clean mono recording to track with but I'm thinking about an old school stereo live recording that captures both my playing and the acoustic environment that I'm playing in.

Recording synths is actually much easier than live instruments. You set the volume with a knob and if it isn't too high or too low, you're good to go. When I record guitar or base, even with with a pickup, the dynamics are not so easy to control and I always get something on the recording that I didn't hear while playing like the sound of my fingers gliding over the strings of my base as a recent example. I had to do several takes and modify my playing technique a bit and use some EQ to get it right.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by grizzleb » Tue Jan 12, 2021 4:30 pm

So basically high end mixers don't matter for electronic music then?

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by MisterJ » Tue Jan 12, 2021 4:36 pm

grizzleb wrote:
Tue Jan 12, 2021 4:30 pm
So basically high end mixers don't matter for electronic music then?
There's no yes or no answer for that. There are so many different ways of doing electronic music that there is no one size fits all solution. What I get from a lot of the replies here is that there are many out there that aren't even using a mixer, just their interface.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Blairio » Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:05 am

MisterJ wrote:
Tue Jan 12, 2021 4:36 pm
grizzleb wrote:
Tue Jan 12, 2021 4:30 pm
So basically high end mixers don't matter for electronic music then?
There's no yes or no answer for that. There are so many different ways of doing electronic music that there is no one size fits all solution. What I get from a lot of the replies here is that there are many out there that aren't even using a mixer, just their interface.
A lot of my favourite 80's / 90's synth based music was made in studios with big SSL desks. The desks imparted some of their signature sound to the recordings. Mixing desks are generally not neutral. A Neve sounds different to a Trident, for instance, and both sound different to an SSL.

I think the principle holds with smaller, less expensive desks too. Desks have a sound, and can be used as part of the creative process. However, if they sound shit, then that will form part of the recording too.

I like to hear the basic parts of a track playing all at once (via midi) before I record each synth / sampler / drum machine part individually. For that I need a mixer in front of my Motu M4 interface. YMMV.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Voltcontrol » Wed Jan 13, 2021 5:15 am

Blairio wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:05 am
MisterJ wrote:
Tue Jan 12, 2021 4:36 pm
grizzleb wrote:
Tue Jan 12, 2021 4:30 pm
So basically high end mixers don't matter for electronic music then?
There's no yes or no answer for that. There are so many different ways of doing electronic music that there is no one size fits all solution. What I get from a lot of the replies here is that there are many out there that aren't even using a mixer, just their interface.
A lot of my favourite 80's / 90's synth based music was made in studios with big SSL desks. The desks imparted some of their signature sound to the recordings. Mixing desks are generally not neutral. A Neve sounds different to a Trident, for instance, and both sound different to an SSL.

I think the principle holds with smaller, less expensive desks too. Desks have a sound, and can be used as part of the creative process. However, if they sound shit, then that will form part of the recording too.

I like to hear the basic parts of a track playing all at once (via midi) before I record each synth / sampler / drum machine part individually. For that I need a mixer in front of my Motu M4 interface. YMMV.
"A certain sound" matters a LOT in dance genres. Sometimes it's the magic of a mixer, sometimes something else, often a combination.
Potentially interesting example:
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Chaos215bar2 » Wed Jan 13, 2021 11:40 am

Blairio wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:05 am
I think the principle holds with smaller, less expensive desks too. Desks have a sound, and can be used as part of the creative process. However, if they sound shit, then that will form part of the recording too.
Surely there must be desks that are neutral, though? It just seems odd to me, never having set foot in one, that a studio would want to commit to one particular “sound” in the form of a professional mixing console if they had any choice in the matter.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Blairio » Wed Jan 13, 2021 1:12 pm

I know it seems counter intuitive, but some desks ( even different examples of the same model!) can sound different from others, and the desk installed in a studio can play a large part in a band's decision which studio they want to record their next record in.

Desks in studios where highly successful records have been made, assume mythical status, and should that studio close, there will be serious interest in the desk from other studios and producers.

When Total Recall desks became prevalent, a lot of producers and engineers gravitated towards them, but in time a significant number moved back to the lower tech desks, as they felt something had been lost in the sound of recordings.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Chaos215bar2 » Wed Jan 13, 2021 1:35 pm

I guess I was imagining a "high end mixer" to be something a little more than what most modern mixers actually offer, in terms of ability to achieve a range of sonic characters according to the needs of a particular track or record. (Not that this isn't possible to an extent, but it sounds like most still lock you into a particular "sound".) It does make complete sense that people would gravitate towards and studios would feature mixers which have already become popular for a particular character as well.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Dave Peck » Wed Jan 13, 2021 1:42 pm

Chaos215bar2 wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 11:40 am
Blairio wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:05 am
I think the principle holds with smaller, less expensive desks too. Desks have a sound, and can be used as part of the creative process. However, if they sound shit, then that will form part of the recording too.
Surely there must be desks that are neutral, though? It just seems odd to me, never having set foot in one, that a studio would want to commit to one particular “sound” in the form of a professional mixing console if they had any choice in the matter.
One studio technique has been to do the initial recording (tracking) through a console that imparts a desired sonic characteristic, like a vintage Neve, and then MIX through a console that is chosen more for it's ability to route and mix huge projects, like an SSL. Some big studios have (or had) multiple rooms and consoles for this reason - a tracking room and a mix room. Or, a client would choose to track at one studio and mix at another because of their different consoles.

There ARE some consoles with very neutral response, low distortion, low noise, etc. Some of these are huge, but others are more modest, like a Speck Lilo. These can either be used to keep the signal clean (or keep the coloration that had been added during tracking intact), or you can process the clean console's mix bus signal through various preamps or whatever to impart the sonic characteristics of that device. This can be a really versatile solution because you can get a wide range of characteristics from the same console, ranging from clean to any kind of coloration you want to add. If your console already adds a distinct coloration, you don't really have the option of removing that or changing to a different type of coloration.


Keep in mind these are all generalities and there are lots of caveats. For example, many consoles will sound very clean when used at certain signals levels but then begin to impart their particular sonic characteristics only when the signal level begins to approach clipping. So even a console that is known for, and chosen for, it's 'warmth' and 'color' and 'vibe' that happens when you crank it up can still also be a 'clean' console just be keeping the levels lower.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Chaos215bar2 » Wed Jan 13, 2021 2:11 pm

Okay, that makes perfect sense. Thanks!

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Blairio » Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:24 pm

Dave Peck wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 1:42 pm
Chaos215bar2 wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 11:40 am
Blairio wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:05 am
I think the principle holds with smaller, less expensive desks too. Desks have a sound, and can be used as part of the creative process. However, if they sound shit, then that will form part of the recording too.
Surely there must be desks that are neutral, though? It just seems odd to me, never having set foot in one, that a studio would want to commit to one particular “sound” in the form of a professional mixing console if they had any choice in the matter.

....,.....Keep in mind these are all generalities and there are lots of caveats. For example, many consoles will sound very clean when used at certain signals levels but then begin to impart their particular sonic characteristics only when the signal level begins to approach clipping. So even a console that is known for, and chosen for, it's 'warmth' and 'color' and 'vibe' that happens when you crank it up can still also be a 'clean' console just be keeping the levels lower.
Exactly. A gifted engineer will ' play' a desk to achieve a particular performance. But just like instruments, some desks will 'play' better than others.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Tofupancho » Wed Jan 13, 2021 8:07 pm

For additional context, the 80 series Neve consoles, probably the most iconic ‘color’, were made in the 1970s and still hand wired. At that time it wasn’t necessarily engineered to be colored but rather to sound good throughout the full operating range whether you were plugging in a microphone pointed at a triangle or a sousaphone. The microphone amps had something like 3 independent amplification stages so you were never shoehorned into driving any component into saturation if you didn’t want to, had the ideal signal to noise ratio, etc. Given the astounding number of 1970s electrical components a signal would typically pass through, it was pretty darn clean. Until pushed, abused, all those good things. The Sound City documentary talks a lot about a Neve 8028 board, the records made on it.

The 1980s came with incredible leaps in electronics and the SSL 4000 E/G series. Those later 4K boards were incredible in terms of functionality, routing, practicality, sonic performance, and essentially were that board you could choose without committing to a more heavy-handed coloration. A large range of being pretty transparent, although talented engineers still found many cool techniques to coax some grit out of them. They exploded in popularity in music studios, post production studios, artist personal studios, everything. All over the world. The claim is ‘more platinum records were made on a 4000 than any other console’. Still, you’ll very frequently see engineers bring bits and pieces of old Neve, API, Quad 8 circuits, to their (music) sessions on an SSL board to impart some flavor. I’d be surprised to hear an engineer ever brought an SSL preamp to a session on an old Neve or API.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Michael O. » Wed Jan 13, 2021 8:29 pm

Blairio and Tofu pretty much nailed it. To the original question: like I posted earlier, yes, high end mixers matter in a number of contexts, and for a number of different reasons (certainly not solely the sound factor- I can’t imagine giving up the console workflow for either tracking or mixing, even if I had all the Trident, Neve, and Langevin preamps I could ever need in a 19” rack format).

And as for the neutrality of the sound: neutrality, high-fidelity, cleanliness, or whatever you’d want to call it has always been a chief design criterion on the engineering and design side, but material, technological, and financial factors have always acted to limit that cleanliness, as they to some extent still do. Further, I don’t know of many (or any?) consoles that have a more-colored sound than that of magnetic tape medium itself, so in that regard they were amply clean sound wise. Additionally, while maintaining as clean a sound as possible throughout has always been of concern, the ultimate design criterion is simply: to create a euphonic-enough board that has all or most of the facilities required or otherwise desired by the end user.

Additionally, and this is obvious to anyone who has ever worked with a well-maintained, large console, the gestalt of a console is so much more than the sum of its constituent parts. It’s not just a collection of preamps, nor of routing modules, or summing modules, and so on. It shouldn’t be conceived of as a single tool or a single piece of gear with a solitary or limited sound or purpose. Rather, it is a system of complementary components that work in concert to enable the user to effectively and efficaciously accomplish any number of studio tasks amongst a swath of potential applications.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Dave Peck » Wed Jan 13, 2021 8:54 pm

'Efficaciously'.

Nice.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Voltcontrol » Thu Jan 14, 2021 3:23 am

Michael O. wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 8:29 pm
Blairio and Tofu pretty much nailed it. To the original question: like I posted earlier, yes, high end mixers matter in a number of contexts, and for a number of different reasons (certainly not solely the sound factor- I can’t imagine giving up the console workflow for either tracking or mixing, even if I had all the Trident, Neve, and Langevin preamps I could ever need in a 19” rack format).

And as for the neutrality of the sound: neutrality, high-fidelity, cleanliness, or whatever you’d want to call it has always been a chief design criterion on the engineering and design side, but material, technological, and financial factors have always acted to limit that cleanliness, as they to some extent still do. Further, I don’t know of many (or any?) consoles that have a more-colored sound than that of magnetic tape medium itself, so in that regard they were amply clean sound wise. Additionally, while maintaining as clean a sound as possible throughout has always been of concern, the ultimate design criterion is simply: to create a euphonic-enough board that has all or most of the facilities required or otherwise desired by the end user.

Additionally, and this is obvious to anyone who has ever worked with a well-maintained, large console, the gestalt of a console is so much more than the sum of its constituent parts. It’s not just a collection of preamps, nor of routing modules, or summing modules, and so on. It shouldn’t be conceived of as a single tool or a single piece of gear with a solitary or limited sound or purpose. Rather, it is a system of complementary components that work in concert to enable the user to effectively and efficaciously accomplish any number of studio tasks amongst a swath of potential applications.
Dave Peck wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 8:54 pm
'Efficaciously'.

Nice.
Love this! :tu: :cloud:
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by BlinkyLights » Thu Jan 14, 2021 3:44 am

The synergistic gestalt of my Mackie 8bus does have a certain je ne sais quoi surrounding its fascinatingly nebulous but altogether mesmerizing zeitgeist, delivered rather efficaciously, particularly for a budget console.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Michael O. » Thu Jan 14, 2021 3:33 pm

BlinkyLights wrote:
Thu Jan 14, 2021 3:44 am
The synergistic gestalt of my Mackie 8bus does have a certain je ne sais quoi surrounding its fascinatingly nebulous but altogether mesmerizing zeitgeist, delivered rather efficaciously, particularly for a budget console.
Hehe, I did my best to be succinct and clear with something that’s sort of abstract and difficult to fully express. The console experience is a unique one.

No joke though, those old Mackies kind of rock. I keep mine on the workbench for equipment testing purposes, and sometimes get carried away playing with the onboard eq. Not a piece of gear I’d ever want to service, though.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by htor » Thu Jan 14, 2021 3:52 pm

speaking of "color". what does that really mean? i often hear about devices "adding color" and the "coloration" of sound.

what is colored? and what is not colored?

(no philosophy, please :hihi:)

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