Getting a Analogue Sound out from your DAW

Today we are in a era where in every DAW is outstanding, now choosing one DAW over the other is just a matter of Choice. For every musician getting the old time analogue sound has always been a dream . Digidesign brought in the heat plugin as  a part of their HDX system offering , it sounds great but to get the real magic happening you need to route your signal path through  an analogue gadget.

summingpackage

To take this concept forward the concept of Summing mixers came in vogue. The Analogue warmth is a holy grail for all recording engineers. Lets see why it is so important to change the way you mix records.

Most of us in the modern era mostly after 1980 would not have a first hand experience with Analogue mixing but hearing old  records that where mixed during the era sure has a type of characteristic that is hard to beat. If you are looking for such a sound then you need to know all about summing mixers and how it can enhance your music production.

Now lets us explore what this analogue warmth is all about. you know that before 1980 the main medium of recording is spool tapes and delivery format is in cassette tapes. They are magnetic media and they induce a certain warmth to your recording because you can over drive the sound over the zero DB barrier and still get away  without distortion. That scenario is just not possible in the modern era, you all know though we can now record up to 24 bits in 192 Khz you still can’t match the sound of a 2” Studer multitrack tape machine.

During my musician days, i can still remember the days when I used to record with Late Sound Engineer H. Sridhar at Media Artist studio. They used to record on a Studer 2” 24 track tape machine. The other studio that I frequent for all the Advertisement work is Picture productions, they use to use a 1/2” 16 Track Tascam recorder.

In this discussion versus Analogue vs digital, though digital recording has come a long way and has been very superior in many aspects there are some aspects of analogue technology introduce artefacts and distortion which sounds pleasant and often musically enhancing and this is what we are not able to recreate in the modern digital era.

The heat factor in a analogue recording chain start from the Magnetic recording the, its mechanical artefacts of the machine itself such has wow and flutter, harmonic and non harmonic distortion caused by transformers and inductors, Activity circuitry whether it includes vacuum tapes or not.  Alongside this there is the frequency response of dynamic, ribbon microphones and valve stage of mixers which dates back to the 50’s and 60’s often had restricted high frequency performance this artefacts and distortion characteristics is what the heat factor is all about which is quite impossible to achieve with this technically perfect digital era.

Now lets get our hands dirty. What if we where to pass our pristine digital audio signal though this imperfect analogue world and see if we can capture that analogue warmth of the last century.

To start with you need to have a good Sound card which has 8 outputs, preferably  16 outputs and two additional inputs to get the Signal back into our DAW. A good sound card choice today will be the New Motu 16A or the Uaudio Appolo 16.

The Summing mixer is non other than the legendary Neve 8816 Summing mixer. The 16 channel design from AMS Neve employs transformers at the input and output, which help give it a classy warm sound. It also has a subgroup which help give it a classy warm sound. It also has a subgroup bus and can be augmented with the option 8804 fader pack and hight quality A-D Converter card for digitising the final mix.

The Neve 8816 provides much more than a 16 into 2 mix. It offers comprehensive monitoring options. You can route 2 pairs of studio monitors though this box. It also has a integrated talkback and a fader pack to control the volume if accessing the knobs are cumbersome. It also has a USB port which allows you to connect the unit to a mac or PCs which can recall the settings.

The front panel is crammed with a lot of setting and the most of the knobs have dual  functions, when you use a fader pack the rotary controls on the unit becomes send controls and post fade channel direct outputs are available from the fader pack back panel.

The 8816 is extremely versatile and can be used for a wide variety of application including recording, a input expander for sub mixing and mastering, it can be configured as a split mixer with separate recording and monitoring paths to interface with the DAW. The topology of this unit is based very close on the mix bus of the revered Neve 80 series consoles and uses transformers as an integral part of the mix system.

Regarding the layout every one of the 16 channels are equipped with a red level control and a grey pan control, a solo/cut button and a cue/select button.

 

 

The 8816 option A-D card is a high quality stereo design, based on a Burr Brown PCM 1804 converter chip, supports sample rates us to 192 KHz. The DSD format is also supported so you can take a output of your mix at the highest quality. The button on the front panel allows you to set sampling rates from 44.1 to 192 Khz. There is a word clock input and output via Bnc. There are XLR connectors provide an external AES reference input and two AES3 output. With an external sample clock the two AES ports can be used in dual wire mode. Two VU meters are fed from the main output.

 

 

After playing with the unit I guessed at a price of 5 Lakhs for the unit but it is available for less than 3 Lakhs in India tax paid at Audio media inc. The optional fader pack is prices at around a lakh and seventy five thousand and the optional A-D card cost around seventy five thousand. for more details call us at +914424981208 email us at audiomedia@mac.com

To visit AMS – Neve website : www.ams-neve.com

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