Stiff upper lip 17/7-2013

Rodin-the-Thinker

On the topic of AAX 64-bit, character plugins, Logic Pro X and other DAW’s.

Metric Halo was quick to go AAX 64-bit and the products are both for Mac and PC. They have some interesting plugins, including ChannelStrip 3, one of very few plugins that can be regarded a classic, Character and TransientControl. They also have HaloVerb, a reverb that I will put to hard test now that my old favorite TSAR-1 and Eventide is unavailable.

A very quick look at the Metric Halo plugins.

I’ve been impressed with PSP’s relentless converting to AAX 64-bit. The good folks from almost-neighboring country Poland have already made a big part of their catalog available and the rest is surely to follow shortly. It’s a company that you might want to check out if you’re an early 11 adopter in need of some plugins with heavy character. I’m installing NobleQ, BussPressor and oldTimerME here today. Will be particularly interested in seeing if NobleQ can hold a candle to the very few plugins that can actually boost highs in a pleasant way.

Another option for plugins with character is – and I’m sure you knew I would say this – McDSP. Check out the Retro collection, Channel G and Futzbox in particular. Great stuff. SoundToys are also alive and kicking so we aren’t completely left in the cold when it comes to character and warmth (how I despise that word!).

Want more character? Avid’s own Reel Tape Suite is still damn good in my opinion. The delay isn’t my favorite and the saturator isn’t my favorite but they’re both good and often find a spot in my plugin folder. The flanger is sweet.

There’s both ups and downs to sticking to Avid’s plugins and whether you should do it or not depends on your situation. If you move between different DAW’s you’re likely to be more than a little annoyed when you open your other DAW of choice and find that your secret weapon isn’t there. On the other hand, if you’re a Pro Tools-only user it’s times like these that it’s almost a guarantee that Avid will have their plugins up and running before most third-parties.

whatsnew_inspiringsounds_alternativedrummer

New interface and some new interesting features.

Speaking of other stuff than Pro Tools… I don’t usually comment much on other DAW’s here for the sole reason that this is a Pro Tools website but I know many of you are interested in Logic Pro X so I’ll do a quickie on it.

I started using Logic with version 5 on PC, saw Apple dump it, went to Cubase but eventually migrated to Mac and got back to it with version 7. By that time I was a Pro Tools user so it was more of an extra DAW than anything but I do enjoy it and find it easy to work in.

Quick thoughts on Logic Pro X

1. iPad integration with Logic Remote. Seriously, what took them so damn long? I saw it coming fucking million miles away. Should’ve been here a long time ago. I would like to see Avid take a similar route but I suppose their priorities lie elsewhere (and maybe rightfully so).

2. Flex Pitch. Looks great. I wanted to see something like this in DAW’s even prior to Pro Tools 8(!) and my disappointment with Elastic Pitch is well documented. By the time it was released I was assured in a very unofficial manner by someone at Avid that great things were coming. Still waiting for that several years later. I now understand that it was empty promises trying to calm me from writing too heated words. I’m not here to bash Avid but I do find it odd that they’re now the ones playing catchup when they were once in the forefront with Elastic Audio. Studio One was as far as I know the first DAW to implement pitch like this in a convincing manner.

3. Bass Designer, more pedals. If they sound good, it’s good, if they don’t they should be left out. More isn’t always better. Haven’t tried them so I won’t comment but most of the time I prefer to get sounds from specialized third-parties, they almost always sounds better. There are of course exceptions, maybe this is one of those.

4. Drummer. Now, this is interesting. An innovative concept to drum programming. Despite reading about it and watching videos, the jury will be out for me until I actually try it but I do like the forward thinking in it. Could very well be a dream for writing demos.

94

A different PT. Real men know their way around trackers.

Speaking of alternative DAW’s, longtime readers know that despite the ‘Pro Tools guru’ status bestowed upon me (and certainly not by myself), I always have other DAW’s installed and frequently make use of them. I fairly recently did a clean install so right now there’s not much else aside from Ableton Live, Maschine and Traktor (if you would consider them as such). Usually I have some sort of tracker installed as well but not at the moment.

Reaper is one of those that I’ve been trying back and forth ever since the first OS X beta. I finally made a full track in it (and enjoyed the process) some years ago. Don’t remember what version number. It’s a nice alternative in my opinion with some clever workflow features.

Live has fallen somewhat out of favor with me. It’s brilliant in what it does but there’s something that’s not ‘right’. Can’t put my finger on exactly what but the tracks just don’t come out right. Push is a really forward thinking design though that I can’t wait to put my greasy absinthe-stained fingers on. I’ve been using Live since version 2.

Despite keeping other DAW’s around I always come back to Pro Tools and it’s certainly where the majority of my work gets done for the sole reason of workflow. It’s usually where I work the fastest and most effectively, other DAW’s are merely there for a change of scenery and curiosity, but don’t ever think me a Pro Tools fanboy. The second I find something that works better for me I’ll jump ship immediately. People get way too religious about this stuff and forget that these are tools for creating something much greater – music and sound.

6 responses to Stiff upper lip 17/7-2013

  1. willcohen says:

    as usual well said… haha I did a fist pump with you at the end :-)

  2. batmundo says:

    I love Logic for its MIDI capabilities, but I find its audio editing functionality is terrible. Pro Tools on the other hand is great for its audio editing, but its MIDI has left something to be desired. That said, I’m interested to see what improvements each DAW has made on the above weaknesses!

    Now, one thing that does blow my mind is just how cheap Logic is. Just $200 for the whole package. And four years since the last upgrade too! How many Pro Tools upgrades have there been in the last four years, and for how much each???

  3. Daniel Wilson says:

    I’ve always had a lot of success with the stock 7-band eq in pro tools. While I am aware that it won’t give you a sound like an orban or something of that quality, I wonder if the average listener can tell the difference. Any thoughts?

  4. stiff says:

    will: hehe, thanks bro – fist bump right back at ya!

    batmundo: The price of Logic is insane. From 6 to 7 they added all the previously paid plugins if I remember correctly. From 7 to 8 they slashed the price in half and now it’s much lower than that. But I don’t see the appeal in few upgrades…? It’s not like it has been problem free (as no DAW is). I guess what you’re getting at is that there at least haven’t been any paid updates. I definitely don’t agree with Avid’s “modern pricing” (ye olde upgrade pricing was $75/$150) but I am happy with the fact that they keep releasing new versions… Many of them are not paid either.

    Daniel: Absolutely nothing wrong with EQ3. From the bottom to the top, people have been using it since it was released with… Eh… Memory escapes me but I would like to say Pro Tools 7… And it’s widely used to this day. It won’t sound like a Neve, or Orban as you mentioned, but not all EQ’s need to sound that way. Because of some features I was unsure if I would replace it with the newer Euphonix Channelstrip but in the end I succumbed.

  5. elvenminstrel says:

    But what exactly does it mean for a listener to be able to “tell the difference”? Our perception is often most strongly influenced by the things we’re least aware of. EQ3 (yes, it arrived with PT7) is markedly superior to EQ2, which was markedly superior to the original Digi EQ. I have mixes I did on PT 3.1 using only stock plugs that I still think sound quite good, though. So, yeah, it’s easily possible to get by with nothing fancier than EQ3. Nevertheless, if you find yourself needing to boost the high end, EQ3 will sound harsh and be more wearing on the ears. People won’t like that, despite not knowing what it is about it that they don’t like. And your low end will get weird if you boost it too much. And if your mids are weak on a track, you won’t be able to get them sounding both strong and clear at the same time with EQ3. All depends on the material you’re starting out with.

  6. Corey says:

    @elvenminstrel:

    I think if the person mixing can “tell the difference” (real or imagined), than it matters. In my opinion, while we toil away to get everything sounding perfect to us, the listener hears the final intent, the final impression we left the mix with when we send it off.

    If that intent/impression is better for ANY reason (including perceived difference), than the mix is better. This is probably a bit meta-physical for most, but it’s how I feel. When I’m stoked on a mix, and it makes me put my arms in the air or groove, that translates beyond the actual mix (however it may sound) to the listener. There is an energy captured in music that is more than the words or the song, more than the chords and melodies, and certainly more than the sounds and tools used on it.

    Does that mean I spend any less time getting it all as close to perfect as I can? Quite the opposite, as I feel attention to detail is EVERYTHING in terms of making something great. But I also realize that the listener has no comprehension of EQ3 as compared to any other EQ, so it’s less about which is “better” and more about how it makes me feel. I accepted a while ago that most plugins were likely the same algorithms being thrown around with different GUI’s anyway. Can a GUI improve the sound of a plugin? No, but it absolutely can change how I feel when I use the plugin, and MY perceived sound of the plugin.

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