Ok, so I'm about to start teaching some audio engineering classes in a few weeks, so I wanna use the next few posts to talk about some things I'll probably end up covering in those classes. I'll be teaching teenagers, so their curriculum or whatever most likely won't involve any of these topics, but I'm sure I'll at least be asked questions related to this stuff.
Consoles... I know I spent part of my last post bitching about never being able to afford an SSL or any other awesome console. But I also said I liked not having to deal with the crap that's involved with using a console. As a certain man by the last name of Grau and the first name of Joshua who shall remain nameless said, "I'd rather just go home and do this all in Logic." I too, would rather just go home and use Logic. Lately, (other than on school projects) I've just given up consoles altogether and started mixing totally in-the-box. I do, however, take my sessions into the SSL or Neve studios while mixing, but only so I hear the mix in those specific rooms instead of my bedroom or one of the school's smaller editing suites.
Honestly, if I had unlimited money, I still wouldn't buy a big console. They use up an assload of power, they require you to have the room at a certain temperature to keep them from overheating, require you to go through pain-in-the ass subgrouping unless you have a 200-channel board out in your backyard, they require you to have an expensive-ass Pro Tools rig, they limit you on inserts, they give you limited EQ control (unless you can find 174.61Hz with your ears, and yes, it helps to be that specific sometimes), they limit your number of busses, they require you to document and recall your all of your parameters each session, and a ton of other annoying crap.
Most of those problems can be avoided with a digital board, but it's still just a gigantic representation of what's already in Pro Tools, and it's already digital, so it's not like you can have any kind of audiophile argument to justify having a board. You could also get one of those awesome ICON digital consoles... but congrats on buying a giant mouse.
There is the argument that analog boards give your mix that "warm analog sound," but fuck you, that's just harmonic distortion and even if you want that, they make plug-ins that do that very thing. Sure, a plug-in is never going to precisely replicate the sound of a piece of analog gear, but a piece of analog gear can never precisely replicate the sound of a plug-in, so eat shit. I mean, two pieces of the same kind of analog gear aren't even going to sound exactly the same, because they aren't THE EXACT SAME PIECE OF GEAR! Plus, if you do an entire mix on a Neve, it's not like anyone, even a super-audiophile, can tell what board it was mixed on. These boards' distinctive sounds aren't really that distinctive unless you're the one in the room with it mixing on it.
And if you really want to add that "analog warmth", then you can add it to the entire mix with any small piece of analog gear. It doesn't have to be a giant mixer. Hell, you could even use something with a tube and crank it through to really add some warmth. So don't get me wrong. I'm all for that kind of thing. I just don't have a specific way I think things should be done. I believe in experimenting and trying to do something different with each song, whether you're using plug-ins, running an entire mix through a preamp, blasting a signal through a speaker into a washing machine and recording it with the crappiest mic you can find, or doing all three :D
So, to clarify, I'm not saying you can totally model the sound of a board with digital crap, because those tiny differences do add up by the end of a mix, but my point is, as long as it sounds good, why does it matter what equipment was used? And I don't mean to rag on boards. I do love them and it feels awesome to work on one, but in a lot of cases, they are just a huge pain in the ass to work around and nobody (artists or engineers) should have to feel like their mixes were done on a console to be worth a damn.
Please note, when I say that working on a console is a pain in the ass, that doesn't mean I'm not good at it. I'm mainly saying that compared to the quickness and super-flexibility of DAWs, boards can just get in the way sometimes. Sure, you can do a lot of complex stuff in PT and then do the other half with a board... but what's the point? Also note that I do plan on buying a mixer, just not a huge one. All I want is a small one for tracking, and I probably wouldn't use it at all for mixing.
So, to close this out, I wanna say that I freakin love that SSL at school and that it does sound great, but if you're the type of person that thinks that things have to be done a certain way or with certain gear, then fuck you.