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Channel Strip, or "à la carte" Plug-Ins?

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I've always gone the à la carte route, inserting EQs, compressors, etc. as needed. But there are a huge number of channel strip plug-ins, many of them devoted to emulating the sound of particular console channels (e.g., SSL). Recently, I was playing around with the Scheps Omni Channel from Waves, and was very impressed...and I started thinking that maybe I should pay more attention to channel strip plug-ins.


What say you? What's your experience in using channel strip plug-ins vs. taking the à la carte route?

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Either or both!!!! If you can get tools you like on a single plugin, why not use it?


Tracktion/Waveform offers a plugin called Master Mix.



It will work as an AU or VST plugin. 90 day free demo, nothing to lose by trying it. Every so often, all their software goes on sale if you want to go that route.


I have it, use in on individual tracks all the time. Haven't gone deep with it yet - the gui is pretty straightforward.


I've messed with IK Multimedia's ONE plugin too, it sounds good to me and has a good set of tools. https://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/trone/


IK usually does a TRackS bundle sale every so often. ONE is a plugin I got when I posted about that a while ago.

Simple gui, just turn knobs.


I've got homework to do!!!!


Meanwhile. I'm making a dedicated "mini patch bay" to add a couple of physical channel strips to my little rack of stuff. I fixed an HHB Radius 40 I've had for years and added a Presonus Eureka.

I've liked the things I can get done going in with those tools too.

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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For my current project of building backing tracks for live gigs it's definitely a la carte, I don't want resources going to anything that isn't essential. I took time yesterday to explore the DP amp/effect sims a little. I liked the Custom '59 best and also added the "Tube Wailer" to my live guitar track on a couple songs. Automation makes it easy to engage and minipulate the "dials" where necessary and increasing my signal level slightly on lead guitar sections can also be nice. Each setup is custom tailored to individual songs but I like to start simple with a base setup. Theoretically my whole guitar signal will be a hands off affair; wireless into interface, through DP channel and out to amp. The need or desire to have the emulations is that I'm using a Roland keyboard amp where I also have keys and acoustic guitar, don't want a second amp just for electric.


When I can ever get back to my own recording projects I'll definitely be trying the channel strip approach.

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A la carte plug-ins for sure for me. Honestly, I'm not even really a fan of hardware channel strips. :duck:


I quite like to customize my signal chain. I have lots of cool hardware and software toys which I've spoent years collecting. Mixing and matching them is a big part of the fun for me. :w00t:



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Honestly, I'm not even really a fan of hardware channel strips.


Maybe there are two angles to channel strips:


1. Emulation of a specific "sound" or console

2. Convenient, "one-stop shopping" for the most common effects scenarios.


I don't use channel strips, but I could see spending several hours on one that's particularly capable (like the Omni Channel I mentioned), and coming up with presets for my most common recording scenarios to help speed up workflow. Then again, features like the FX Chains in Studio One provide the same basic function...when you have a set of plug-ins you like, you can turn them into a pseudo-channel strip.

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I will share my current thoughts about hardware channel strips since I am in the middle of integrating 2 of them into my rack.

I was pretty happy with ITB until I got the Focusrite ISA One mic preamp and DI. That changed my outlook, I was getting better sounds at the input.


First and most important, I've been plugging the XLR Line Out from the channel strip into the XLR Mic In on my Quantum interface. I will be doing this will both channel strips and the Focusrite. I've tested them all and confirmed that they are all working well this way.


By using them as a pre-preamp, careful dialing can provide more gain options with lower noise. I noticed this with the HHB, using it Line In it starts to get a bit of low level noise before I reach recording level. With the current configuration I can gain stage from back to front and get a very quiet signal chain.


Since both the EQ and Compresser on each strip can be bypassed, I can use these as clean mic pres with the added benefit of HPF and on the Eureka - a pad and an impedence/resistance switch that does make a difference in the tone of a specific microphone. Since many of my mics don't have HPF that's handy. If un-needed and unwanted low frequncy response is pushing the input levels higher with no benefit, I'd just as soon take care of that at the input stage. The Quantum does not offer an HPF. I doubt I'll need a pad very often if ever.


Next up is the EQ sections. Most modern music that I listen to has production values that select a primary source for the fundamental low frequency instrument. Usually it is either a bass instrument or the "kick". You really don't want those two instruments in the same range, mucking up the mix. Both of my chosen devices have good sounding DI, good low frequency response and versatile EQ sections. I want to dial in those EQ sections so they are complimentary to each other. Then if I choose the bass to be the primary low frequency I can run it through one channel strip and If I want the kick to be the primary I can run the bass through the other strip.


I will be trying the same thing with the kick, the Korg Wavedrum has some great kick sounds and unlike a traditional foot pedal kick which only offers a change in volume, the Korg is VERY expressive. It works well plugged into a DI.


I am pretty gun-shy with compressers going in but have been fiddling about with low ratios (1:1.5-ish) a slower attack and a threshold that allows more dynamics. There is a different tone there, sometimes I like that. At the same time, it is not squashed beyond changing. I do appreciate having a wide dynamic range and don't want to defeat that going in.


Essentially, the two channel strips will offer basic mic preamps with useful switchable input settings plus presets for low frequency response tailored to just a couple of instruments. Switching sections of the channel strips in and out will provide or delete some features I hope to find useful.


I still plan on doing the heavy lifting ITB. I do expect it will take some experimenting to dial in what I am after but since this is my home studio I can mark my settings and/or just leave them where they work well. I've had the same equipment for many years so once I get things dialed I should be able to leave them for the most part.


I've got a thread in Dr Mike's recording forum about my dedicated mini-patch bay. I am hoping to have that all hooked up this week.


I welcome feedback from more experienced recordists!!! Thanks, Kuru

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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