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Guerilla Genus

Console Emulator rant

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trying to get a deeper understanding of how the channel/bus SSL (S), Neve (N), Trident (A) console emulations change sound is like looking up rocket science, should I really dive into this rabbit hole or just press the I believe button. Honestly I think I'm just trying to get lucky with no real knowledge; besides the fact that these are emulations of classic analog desk that introduce saturation/harmonics into the signal and it's suppose to sound good.  But, I have no idea how this really works, so I feel like I'm just pushing buttons and turning dials😰 hoping for something good to happen.  Every explanation I find on the web is way way way over my head....excuse my rant.

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Well, then maybe some education is in order....

Excuse my rant.

This is all complex stuff. You can't expect to understand it without putting in some effort.

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See The Cakewalk Reference Guide pg 1093 for tips on why and how to use the console emulator. 
 

if you don’t have the reference guide see thread in the main Cakewalk page just a few threads above yours for a link  

 

Edited by Michael Vogel
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10 hours ago, bdickens said:

Well, then maybe some education is in order....

Excuse my rant.

This is all complex stuff. You can't expect to understand it without putting in some effort.

You're right learning the basics of midi sequencing and programming was easy, but the real benefit of using cakewalk is obviously the Pro-Channel which leads me to believe the program is more geared toward engineering. 

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18 hours ago, Michael Vogel said:

See The Cakewalk Reference Guide pg 1093 for tips on why and how to use the console emulator. 
 

if you don’t have the reference guide see thread in the main Cakewalk page just a few threads above yours for a link  

 

Thanks.  I had not read that section and it has the best explanation of what is going on that I have read.  Interesting that the Reference Guide recommends placing the Console Emulator first in the chain while Craig A. recommends that it be last. (Thanks for the link to that video, Jackson White.)  I'm curious as to the reasoning behind each approach.

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something interesting in the video/manual was that the tolerance control introduces variance from channel to channel, I am curios as to  what this variance does and why it is necessary to emulate a hardware console 

I found this....

"The tolerance of a resistor is the deviation that a resistor may vary from its nominal value resistance, measured at 25°C with no load applied. In other words, the resistor tolerance is the amount by which the resistance of a resistor may vary from its stated value."

Edited by Guerilla Genus

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I'm a nerd, but follow me....when I was a Sonar Tech in the navy there was a transducer on the ship, that transducer converted electrical energy into sound that we transmitted into the water ( in search of reverberation against things of interest...)

If I follow the same logic with the console or mixing desk.. the mic is a transducer that changes sound (pressure) into electrical energy that is then transferred to the mixing console, recorded, and converted back to an audio signal by another transducer... (speaker monitor).  Analog mixers have components (resistors, capacitors, amplifiers,) that make subtle noise vibrations when carrying a load or current. These components also have ratings .ie a 100 ohm resistor, but the probability that there will be deviation in that rating is reliable, so if im anywhere near correct.. in theory....the console emulator is emulating the component circuitry of an analog desk and introducing this subtle noise and deviation to replicate distortion of the original signal (which turns out to sound pleasing). The Tolerance button emulates deviation, the drive and trim dials are suppose to be potentiometers that change (resist/amplify) the current or voltage of the signal in the console........

 

I don't know....I'm trying

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The way I look at it is pretty simple: classic boards have a certain character, whereas most current audio interfaces are designed to sound as clear and neutral as possible. Virtual instruments, especially orchestral and piano, are also usually designed to sound as pristine as possible. The sound comes in as clearly as possible to let the mix engineer add character to it with whatever tools they have.

Console emulators are supposed to add the character of various classic mixing desks' input and preamp circuits. Inputs on classic boards were sometimes included transformers, which in my opinion, sound really sweet.

If you want your stuff to sound like you recorded or mixed it using a classic console, a good console emulator will help get you there.

Something to remember, though, those old boards were also designed to sound as clear as possible, so the effect is probably going to be subtle.

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On 8/31/2021 at 6:35 PM, Guerilla Genus said:

Honestly I think I'm just trying to get lucky with no real knowledge...

Aren't we all?

Don't sweat console emulation. It's an attempt to replicate the flaws of old gear, and its primary function is to introduce a small amount of harmonic distortion.

That's all.

As noted by Erik above, the flaws in classic gear were unintentional. Those expensive boards were designed to deliver the highest fidelity available with the electronics of the day. Nowadays, we can easily achieve more linear frequency response, greater dynamic range, lower noise, finer control and greater consistency using inexpensive gear. As an old timer who battled analog signal chains and magnetic tape for decades, I fully embrace the crystal clarity of digital audio and feel no nostalgia for days gone by.

So why does anybody bother with console emulation and tape sims? Because the flaws inherent in those things made mixing easier. A little harmonic distortion adds texture. Even white noise helps glue a mix together. Tape saturation does a lot of the blending for you. Personally, I do not use any of that stuff. Embrace the purity of digital, I say. If your mix sounds thin and disjointed, keep working on the mix.

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I interviewed Rupert Neve, whose pres and consoles are still the classics of “tone”.  He said was always trying to get the cleanest signal possible with the least possible distortion.  After selling Neve and waiting out the non competitive  clause, he got back into making recording equipment.  The earliest focusrite stuff and latter hardware were cleaner, so clean a buddy who had one swore he could turn up the eq and hear nothing.  The roughness in  the saturation of eq etc. made changes easier to hear.  Most of the engineers didn’t like the newer hardware (tho electrical engineers found it great).  Mr. Neve added the silk  circuit in his Rupert neve designs gear to put back some desirable saturation into his gear.

Distortion won’t help w hunting subs but can with music production if you need some edge.

the console emulator is supposed to add some of the non linearities inherent in complex , multiple transformer coupled signals passing thru a console.  It is certainly cheaper and easier than having nice, expensive stereo analog channel strips to put all you audio into and through.

Edited by Alan Tubbs
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On 9/1/2021 at 3:35 AM, Guerilla Genus said:

trying to get a deeper understanding of how the channel/bus SSL (S), Neve (N), Trident (A) console emulations change sound is like looking up rocket science, should I really dive into this rabbit hole or just press the I believe button. Honestly I think I'm just trying to get lucky with no real knowledge; besides the fact that these are emulations of classic analog desk that introduce saturation/harmonics into the signal and it's suppose to sound good.  But, I have no idea how this really works, so I feel like I'm just pushing buttons and turning dials😰 hoping for something good to happen.  Every explanation I find on the web is way way way over my head....excuse my rant.

Really great answers you're getting, but i believe not one of them answer your question. So i'm gona try an be short and clear with this. 

The first thing before you understand how this works - is to be able to identify the sound (character) it adds per module, which is fairly subtle. Once you can identify this, the rest will become really noticeable. Reason: The more you use this on each channel, the more you will hear this effect in the project. It sometimes helps with your peaks, it smooth out your dynamics | OR | it can add to your dynamics. Another example would be: If you have it cracked up +3db on every channel in a project that consist of 40 Tracks - distortion will be really noticeable. 

It can either sweeten or ruin the project, so use it sparingly and wisely to shape your Drums, Instruments and Audio Files.

Make a mental note of "less is more" with this. 

Edited by Will_Kaydo
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On 9/1/2021 at 9:43 PM, Ron Caird said:

Thanks.  I had not read that section and it has the best explanation of what is going on that I have read.  Interesting that the Reference Guide recommends placing the Console Emulator first in the chain while Craig A. recommends that it be last. (Thanks for the link to that video, Jackson White.)  I'm curious as to the reasoning behind each approach.

I really think this article will be helpful to those following this thread, it describes how the Console Emulator works, and includes screen shots of a sine wave processed through the different console emulators. There's also a workflow tip about using them on page 77 of The Huge Book of Cakewalk by BandLab Tips.

As to "before or after," it depends. Back in the day, due to track and hardware limitations, it was common to print effects to tape, and/or patch effects between the tape outs and mixer inputs. In either case, the console emulator would go after effects. If the effects were added to the mixer using insert jacks, then the effects bypassed the audio input transformers, and possibly some redundant input stages. In that case the audio was less affected by the console's signal path anyway. I really can't think of any use cases where the console went into an effects chain, with the exception of master bus effects (like limiting) prior to mixing down to a two-track. To emulate that, insert the console emulator into your master bus, before any effects you might be using. 

Remember too that regardless of the design philosophy of wanting to make a transparent-sounding console, there is no such thing as a straight wire with gain, especially when input or output transformers are involved.

Hope this helps...

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16 hours ago, chimkin2 said:

It would be better if there was a global bypass button like in S1 ☺️

Then you can hear more easily what it's doing. 

In Cakewalk, use Quick Grouping on the Bypass buttons.

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6 hours ago, Craig Anderton said:

In Cakewalk, use Quick Grouping on the Bypass buttons.

Good Tip thanks Craig ☺️

I tried it but unfortunately I got a Load Failure error! Not sure why that would be  ? 

Not a major issue for me as I tend to use 3rd party plugins, I like Kazrog True Iron for this type of thing .    

image.thumb.png.821a4f80370064c298c1087c8a888ebc.png

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