Tag Archives for " Pro Tools "
About 3 years ago I posted about my top 10 compressors, but things have changed a lot since then, so I thought it was time to post an updated list. Many of the entries haven’t changed, but a few have (especially on the software side).
This list is a combination of hardware and software, since most of us live in a DAW world these days. Also, the ranking is somewhat arbitrary based on my personal usage. Okay, here we go.
1. Universal Audio 1176: I don’t care which version you use, the 1176 is about as close to a desert island compressor as you’ll get due to its versatility. I like to use it on kick, snare, guitars, bass, vocals – just about anything. It can be aggressive or smooth sounding, but nothing pulls an instrument out of a mix in the same way.
2. Teletronix/Universal Audio LA-2A: Once again, I don’t care which version of the hardware or software you use, the LA-2A has a sound and feel all its own. It can work pretty well on most instruments, but it stands out on vocals, and is dead easy to use. I rarely use a lot, as I like the sound of 2 to 3 dB of gain reduction in most situations.
3. Universal Audio LA-3: Perhaps the ultimate electric guitar compressor, I’ve used it successfully on piano and keyboards as well. Nothing works quite the same with electric guitars in a mix.
4. UAD Precision Limiter: This is a plug that I use on every mix. It doesn’t really try to emulate anything else and it doesn’t have to. It can sit there and be very transparent while putting an absolute ceiling on the peaks of a mix (the way I like to use it), or you can set it to be really aggressive and squeeze every last drop of dynamics from the mix, if that’s what you’re looking for.
5. PSP Vintage Warmer: I don’t know what it is but the Vintage Warmer makes a mix sound better just by being in the signal path. I hardly ever adjust it much, but it always seems to pull the mix together. I like to use it as the first thing on my stereo buss and feed it into an SSL buss compressor, then the Precision Limiter.
6. SSL Buss Compressor: This is the sound that made so many pop and rock records in the 80s and 90s, and it still works great in those genres. I once worked in a studio that had the buss compressor on their 9k labeled as “The Good Button.” Why? Because no matter how your mix sounded, once the SSL buss compressor was engaged, it sounded better.
7. JST Finality: Joey Sturgis is a clever guy and his Finality is a great example of a new take on a classic design (the 1176). The Finality sounds great on drums and bass, doesn’t cost much and doesn’t take up too many system resources. Very cool.
8. dbx 160: I just love the 160s; any of them. For a punchy drum sound, you can’t beat the hardware 160X’s (or even the A model). In software, the UAD 160 sounds great. My favorite for aggressive kick and snare, but it will pull a piano or acoustic guitar up front as well.
9. Fairchild 660/670: When it comes to buss compression, the Fairchild 670 stands is king of the hill for many kinds of music (especially retro or acoustic). It just adds a glue and warmth that you have trouble getting any other way. Just a little bit (a couple of dB) seems to work a lot better than a whole lot. The 660 is the mono version of the more widely known 670, and was the sound you heard on many of The Beatle records (Ringo’s drums, for instance).
10. Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor: Few modern compressors have caught on so widely as the Distressor, and that’s because there are few that are as versatile. I like to track with it on vocals to keep the peaks under control, but there are few compressors that are as effective on room mics, especially when it’s set to “Nuke.” I’m so happy that there’s now a plugin version as well.
Honorable Mention. Pro Tools Native Digirack Compressor/Limiter: I personally think this is one of the most versatile compressors that you can find. It can sound transparent and it can sound aggressive, and since it doesn’t take up much in the way of systems resources, you can use a lot of them in a big mix. Don’t overlook it.
Once again, my top 10 compressors are what I always use, so this is a clearly personal opinion. There’s lots of great compressor out there (especially in software), but I’ve come to rely on these units because I know what they’ll do in most situations.
What are your favorites?
There are stars, then there are superstars, then there’s Justin Bieber, who seems to shine brighter than the rest. On this week’s podcast, Justin’s studio partner Josh Gudwin will discuss what it’s like recording, mixing and even producing one of the biggest names in the entertainment universe.
On the intro we’ll take a look at how Instagram might be the best social platform to find music fans, if you have what they want. I’ll also discuss the latest in the DAW world, as so many of us look for an option to Pro Tools.
Pamplamoose showed the world just how powerful some DIY YouTube videos could be, garnering millions of views that eventually landed the duo some national television commercials. Jack Conte, half of the duo, built on that success to form Patreon, a way for creators to make a living from their work through subscription payments from their fans.
In this week’s Inner Circle Podcast, Jack talks about how Patreon got started and some of the surprising successes of the platform’s users.
On the intro I’ll take a look at how radio as we know it is dying right before our eyes, and a quick overview of Pro Tools 12.6 and some features that we should have had a long time ago (as many other workstations have had).
The thing about the above new features is that other workstations have had these for a while now, so in many ways Pro Tools is still playing catch-up.
I often get asked what plugins I regularly use, and even though I like to think that I’m pretty open minded about it, there are some that I keep coming back to. Here are my 10 go-to plugins, with a number of honorable mentions, in no particular order (even though they’re numbered).
1. Universal Audio 1176 – In my opinion, there’s never been a more versatile compressor created, either hardware or software. I’ll use it on drums, room, keys, guitars, bass, vocals – almost anything actually.
2. Universal Audio dbx 160 – Another favorite emulation, it gets used mostly on kick and snare, where it shines for the controlled punch it provides. Be sure to use a low compression ratio of 2:1 or even less.
3. Waves Schepes 1073 – What a fantastically versatile EQ! It’s also one of the few where I even use the presets and they work well (great job, Andrew!). I especially love it on kick and snare, but it will work everywhere else as well.
4. Universal Audio Maag EQ4 – I just love the Air band, which brings out the presence of almost any mic. Stick this sucker on a vocal and you’ll make that cheapie mic sound closer to a C12 than you might have imagined.
5. Exponential Audio PhoenixVerb – I loved the sound of the old Lexicon reverbs, and the PhoenixVerb has all that and more (company owner Michael Carnes spent 25 years working for Lexicon).
6. PSP Vintage Warmer – I use this on the mix buss of every mix. It just makes everything sound better, even without using too much of it.
7. PSP 2445 Reverb – One of my new favorites, it’s kind of a one-trick-pony reverb in that there’s not a lot of different algorithms to choose from, but that one trick always sounds great. The shortest decay settings are excellent.
8. Universal Audio SSL Buss Compressor – Once again, this is one that’s on the mix buss of virtually every mix I do. I’ve tried other plugins, but always come back to the SSL.
9. Universal Audio LA3 – For some reason, this is just the ideal electric guitar compressor. It even makes highly distorted guitars sound better.
10. Pro Tools Native 7 Band EQ – I use this more than just about anything, sometimes just to finish off the sound after another EQ was already applied. The good thing is that since it’s native, you can use a ton of them without eating up much computer processing power.
JST Finality – This is quickly finding it’s way into my top 10. Sound wonderful on kick, but I’m still finding other uses for it.
Universal Audio LA2A – I use this a lot of hat and vocal (usually in conjunction with an 1176).
PSP L’Rotary – This is the best Leslie speaker emulator ever, in my opinion. You won’t need this on every mix, but when you do, it always works.
Soundtoys Microshift – Whenever I need a Harmonizer sound, this is what I turn to. It’s one sound that just can’t gotten any other way.
I know the list leans heavily towards Universal Audio, but I’m can’t deny that I’m a big fan. The list of honorable mentions could have also gone on quite a bit longer, but then I would’ve been getting into plugs that I don’t use as regularly. Anyway, now you know what I use as go-to plugins, but keep in mind that if you check back in 6 months, the list may be completely revised.
A few months ago Avid proudly put out a press release about how they just hired 250 new employees to staff new facilities in the Philippines, Taiwan and Poland, and how they would save $68 million as a result. Oh, and by the way, that was at the expense of closing down offices and downsizing its staff in the U.S.
Now the latest Avid press release touts how Taipei City is the “new home of hardware design,” the new “global support center” in the Philippines will be open 24 hours a day, and the new R&D center in Szczecin Poland includes “veteran staff for engineering, customer care and professional services.”
It’s also opening a new Boca Raton, Florida office for a “consolidated administrative support group, leveraging a strong work force to improve efficiency and productivity.”
Does this sound like a company that really cares about you, the user?
Does it sound like a great idea to can all the people in the U.S. responsible for the development of the hardware and software for the simple reason of finding cheaper ones off-shore?
How about taking the support for its complex products and moving it all to the Philippines?
These moves have nothing to do with the user, of course, since it’s all about looking good for Wall Street, which is something that Avid desperately needs. It’s stock is near an all-time low, down nearly 65% in the last year alone.
That’s the problem with public companies in general. For the most part, the execs get caught up in a game of “pleasing the Street” rather than looking out for its customers. In short, it’s stockholders become its customers.
Avid’s CFO and executive vice-president John Frederick has announced that he’s stepping down after the upcoming May 10th earnings call, which means that the outlook probably won’t be too shiny and happy, and the restructuring is a band-aid (and a poor one) at best on the hope that a few analysts will slap a “Buy” recommendation on it.
Those of us who use Avid audio products look at these moves with a great deal of skepticism, and at the same time keep an eye out for the next alternative.
Pro Tools and the other audio-related products are only part of the Avid’s product profile, but the company performance gives it’s users reason for great concern for the company’s, and their future.
(Photo: Maverx via Wikipedia)