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Patching in multiple pieces of outboard?

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I was wondering how people are going about patching in pieces of outboard gear for mixing duties?


I'm going to be investing in a few pieces of equipment, and am trying to weigh up the best way of hooking everything up for best results?

I currently have an external pre-amp and compressor which get used during tracking and mixing. I send mono tracks through this simple chain for processing with the i/o plugin, and print the incoming signal to a new track. To this current setup I will be adding a dual mono 2 channel eq, a pair of stereo linkable vca comps, and another single channel pre amp to match the existing one.


I won't have enough gear to justify a patch bay, so with that method discarded, as I see it, there are 2 viable methods: -


1. Manually connect up each piece to form the chain I want to use for a particular application, with a line output and input to and from the interface, and a single instance of an i/o plugin for each processed track. Rinse and repeat.


2. Hook each piece of gear/channel up separately with a send and return from the interface, and use an instance of i/o for each.


The 2nd method seems like the easiest, most flexible, and least fiddly way of doing it, but I'm worried about what kind of latency issues might arise from going back and forth through the converters several times...as fiddly as option 1 is, at least there is only 1 i/o operation taking place for each track I send out regardless of the number of outboard units being used.

So, how do you do it?!



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