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Console emulations in Logic?


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It seems that every plugin manufacturer makes some sort of console emulation now to add the sonic signature of particular mixing desks etc. It strikes me that this is just about the only thing that's currently missing in Logic's stock plugins. I wonder if there are any plans to include this in upgrades or future versions? The plugins emulate cross-talk, distortion, harmonic generation etc etc. Anyone ever tried to model these using Logic's stock stuff?
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I've got a lot of experience with these console emulating plugins, and I can tell you, there's nothing that these things do that can't be done with .5 db of eq and some high and low rolloff. They take away a lot more than they put in.. so its kind of the lazy man's eq. They're a total waste of computer resources and can do very bad things to your tracks if you aren't very careful. I've tried them all, and none are even close to working on an actual console.

If you want something fun to play with, try tape plugins. They get a lot more mileage for the money.

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@ Galacticus - It's very unfortunate that you haven't had many good experiences with plugins that are designed to emulate analog consoles or buss comps and channel strips. I agree that there's a lot of tonal-shaping techniques to use that can get you close to "that sound", whether it's with saturation/distortion or carefully executed eq curves.

 

I tried to not be overly persuaded by the hype that most companies were putting out there, and instead, listened to what my ears told me. I was honestly impressed by the sound quality of Slate Digital's Virtual Console Collection (VCC). They give you 5 different analog modeled consoles to choose from, each with a distinctive sound that separates them from each other. I personally appreciated the fact that you can set up calibration settings, so you can configure how the console will react to the input.

 

I do agree with you on how useful tape emulation plugins can be. And for me, I absolutely adore u-he's Satin plugin!! It's just incredible-sounding… and versatile, too. I used to be the kind of guy that would buy several plugins from different developers, even if the plugin concept was the same (i.e.- tape emulation, buss comps, etc,). But that's changed over the last few years. Now, I mostly stick with one (or maybe two) plugins that specialize in the same thing. I don't really plan on using another tape emulation for quite a while… Satin is THAT good.

 

- xpander

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Whether you find a use for them or not, there are some plug-ins that add more than compression, EQ and saturation; Slate VCC and Sonimus' console emus have crosstalk, and Airwindows' Console models variable buss impedance to enhance stereo separation.

 

I don't see a need for Logic to do this natively though. You've got Harrison Mixbus if that's the kind of DAW experience you want.

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I would agree that tape plugins likely apply a more obvious colour. I recently waded through several pages at over at Gearslutz with many there raving (or not) over the new Sonimus Britson console emu. And I downloaded several wav files from people who were testing it out.

 

There were some examples where I simply could not tell the difference or could hear an extremely small difference. I would quickly switch between files opened in QT so I could track the same section. I tried it in Logic too. Same extremely minimal difference.

 

One set of before and after files I tried a null test on and got a surprising result - not the expected bit of leftover fizz or other ghostly sounds but instead what was left was what sounded like the entire side signal, in stereo and curiously, the snare too. Really didn't expect that! Makes me wonder if shortcuts were taken in the crosstalk section of Britson.

 

And all the while, people on GS are saying things like, "way warmer and more open", "much more 3-D", "beautiful high end" etc.

 

Ok, I don't have fantastic monitors. But I'm a picky listener who's caught things my mastering guys have missed and between two sets of speakers and headphones, I was beginning to wonder what kind of vooddo was being applied, not to the plugin, but to the ears of the GSers.

 

Not saying that there's nothing to it. Sonimus is a great little company and I know that Rev here uses their Satson console plug and I believe he likes it. But after listening to some examples of what this and what MFC (Modern Flagship Console) stuff could do, I came to the conclusion that this was way too subtle for me to spend money on.

 

Really wish I could hear the magic but I guess years of playing next to drummers have taken their toll!

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I use Satson a bit less these days. I also listened to some of those Britson files on GS, and I have to agree with cam. I think the GS guys are suffering from confirmation bias. But part of me still wants to buy it! :oops:

I still use Sonimus Sweetone a lot though, that's a cool EQ.

 

But one plug with a difference is the Airwindows Console thingy. You should read the description I linked to and demo it. I can't say if it does similar things to a LFC, but it does some crazy stuff to the stereo field; makes it wider and separates channels more. It does even more cool stuff when you have EQ or reverb between the channel and bus plugs. More complicated routing can be a pain in the butt though. And it is a one-trick pony - no saturation, EQ or compression as it's designed to work with your console emu of choice. Definitely interesting though, worth a look. (Edit: I'm not saying it makes every mix sound better or everyone should be using it, just that it does something noticeable that no other plug does, so for that it's worth demoing to me).

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Alright, I'll bite! Just read Chris' intriguing description at Airwindows and then headed over to GS for another round of accolades and some more explanations from Chris.

 

Am I to understand that you can simply put the channel version + the bus version together on the main out? I hope that's the case because I was trying to hear if I could notice much difference by running everything into a couple of auxes, one of which has both his console plugs on it. This way I can A/B the auxes.

 

Aaaand..... again, I'm not hearing anything dramatic. In headphones, as I A/B'd I thought I was noticing something but it was subtle indeed. On the mains, at any volume - imperceptible. I wonder if the way I'm using it is not going to get me much in the way of results? Do I need to drive the plugs more?

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The effect is cumulative, so the more channels and the more stereo width you have, the more you can hear it. The pain in the butt when it comes to gain staging is it works best if all faders are at unity between the console2channel and console2bus plugs. Gentle EQ or reverb can be put between them to good effect though.

The distortion can't be driven in the same way as saturating plugs, it's dependent on stereo phase information, not level at all.

I'll try to get an example posted later today.

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Am I to understand that you can simply put the channel version + the bus version together on the main out? I hope that's the case because I was trying to hear if I could notice much difference by running everything into a couple of auxes, one of which has both his console plugs on it. This way I can A/B the auxes.

 

That will produce zero effect (unless you're a GS poster, then it will sound über 3d ;) ).

You need more than one channel2console going into channel2bus to get any effect, and the more you have, the more you'll hear.

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Okay...

 

Here's two old unfinished projects I dug up and applied Airwindows Console2 to. Bounced to 320kps mp3, and included screenshots of the mixer. The "Certain Fate" project also has an mp3 bounce of a null test (null test was done with 24bit .aif files); it's pretty dramatic!

 

In these, you can hear that the more stereo information that's present, the more you hear an effect.

 

A rock/fusion kinda thang:

Boobopolis.zip

 

String quartet ditty:

CertainFate.zip

 

Cam (or anyone else :) ), let me know what you think once you've got a chance to check them out!

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Downloaded all these versions and listened closely. I have to say, I'm kind of stumped on this one. The one place I could hear an obvious difference was in "Certain FateAWEQPost (and pre)", which both sounded either louder or brighter or both compared to the WO version but not especially wider.

 

So I moved on to the Boobopolis fles, and here too, I'm not percieving much of any difference, certainly not in the stereo field.

 

This is how I'm listening...... I've got those two open in QT so I can very quickly Command-Tilde to switch between them. I stop play on one, Command-Tilde and start play on the other using my space bar. This is actually quicker than what I can do in Logic via Option-solo, where I have to move the mouse back and forth. With QT I can also hear the passage just played in one instance or the other. So it's a constant and fast ongoing comparison between the two files as they march down the time line.

 

And I'm not hearing any sort of difference in the stereo separation between these two files nor much of any other difference either.

 

This of course causes me to wonder about any potential vagaries in the mechanics of my hearing sense but on the upside, I can say that the esthetic sense remains firmly intact - IE, I really liked this piece of music!

 

Ah well, I'm going to try some null tests and find out exactly what Logic can "hear' that I can't!

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Really? Wow!

 

On "Boobopolis", I can hear a tiny difference in the overheads during the intro, but it becomes readily apparent to my ears once the Rhodes and guitars kick in. I was checking them in QT too, and I could tell which version I was listening to even when being unable to see the title and playing it "blind".

 

The "Certain Fate" files didn't sound especially wider, but I could pick out slightly more part separation. Also with the pre-Console2Bus EQ, it sounded a little "sweeter" on the high-end than with the EQ post-Console2Bus.

 

I mean, it's not night and day differences, but they're enough that I'm loathe to call them subtle!

 

Glad you liked the music though, I'll have to finish them one day! :)

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Continuing the investigation...... because I'm somewhat obsessive about these things..... :)

 

I did the Logic null test and found that the drums in your files were almost perfectly preserved, with a bit distortion and piano fizz left over. I find this to be an odd result, and it echos, to a certain extent, the experience that I had with the Gearslutz poster's before and after Britson files, except that with his files the result was an almost perfect stereo side channel with it's typically reverby sound, plus the snare.

 

On to the next test.....

 

I chopped out various two bar sections of Boobopolis that featured the guitars and the Rhodes from the same sections of both files and laid them out on a single stereo track, back to back, so I could listen as four bars cycled the two versions, unimpeded by any mousing around or button clicking.

 

Still not hearing any noticeable stereo differences but after a while, I thought I could detect a bit more "fullness" in the Console-applied files. So I checked the gain on the regions via Logic's Change Gain / Search Maximum function in the sample editor and found that all the Console files had a roughly .5 and a half to almost .8 db increase over their non-Console versions, which my RME Digicheck also showed in it's peak level display.

 

Not sure what this all proves......that at least I can detect a half dB difference in similar files but that I am potentially "stereo challenged"? At very least, this demonstrates that the process applied by Console is not linear, since it applies different volume boosts at different points in the files.

 

It's weird - It's not like I can't hear in stereo but I'm wishing that I could at least hear the more elusive width or additional spaciousness that you are hearing and which is so obvious to you. For me, it is subtle in the extreme. Really, the only difference I am hearing is simply that one file is louder than the other.

 

All my tests were done both over my mains and in headphones, where, presumably, stereo info would be more exaggerated. But even in the cans I couldn't hear enhanced stereo qualities. I began to wonder if this was a result of my hearing loss. Now, I've had this for so long that I've learned to compensate but I gave this one more try and boosted the high end considerably, from 5K up, in case that might make a difference in my stereo perception. But this only created more brightness but did not reveal more stereo or width.

 

I can certainly hear stereo enhancements done by things like FabFilter's Pro-C, Crysonics Spectralive, Logic's Direction Mixer or via Mid / Side manipulations. But this "console spaciousness" is so far wasted on me!

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