DAW’s and plug-in’s. Current limitations

Robert Katz Leave a Comment

From: Derek Casanares

Subject: Re: DAW Suggestions

Hello Bob,

…How using plug-ins effect your final product, using a combination of recording direct to hd and tape – best of both worlds.

There are some very good plug-ins. The weak link is inexperienced engineers who do not realize the limitations. For example, you can push an analog compressor very hard without getting harsh artifacts, but inexpensive and poor plugins simply cannot do so. As sample rates get higher, the artifacts of strong digital compression become more tolerable, but really the key here is moderation. An experienced engineer who has been mixing with the best of analog equipment for, let’s say, 5 to 20 years, could get good results mixing with plug-ins because he uses his ears, doesn’t push the plugins past their limitations.

I have great sympathy for inexperienced engineers attempting to do so, because your early products will not have the dimensionality, warmth, depth, impact, and other qualities that can be obtained from a good analog mix. It takes a whole new set of talent and understanding of the benefits and limitations of a digital mixing system for each type of music. Use good plugins, avoid the ones which make your mix sound smaller. I’m not saying it can’t be done, I’m only saying it isn’t as easy as it looks.

Also, I’m trying to decide if it’s in my best interest to butan analog
board for my DAW and get on of the new digital mixers.

Read “More Bits Please.” Digital Mixing has come a long way, both in the box and with external mixers. The limitations are often the quality of the equalization and compression algorithms, but the basic mix engines are usually high enough resolution to get good mix results. The included reverbs in the inexpensive digital mixers are usually poor to medium quality. In short, supplement your digital mixing, whether in the DAW with plugins or with a digital mixer—-with good outboard analog and digital gear and know how to use it to its best advantage and I think you will not need to invest in an analog console.

In my book, second edition, I cover the issue of analog versus digital summing in more detail.

Bob Katz

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