[Ardour-Users] a few thoughts

Al Thompson althompson58 at gmail.com
Tue Dec 4 14:51:24 PST 2012

On 12/04/2012 02:05 PM, Adriano Petrosillo wrote:

> I'd like to point out that my suggestions came out after having mixed
> my band's album. I experimented with large numbers of tracks and
> overdubs (I tried the "Steve Albini" way of recording - having a large
> number of microphones and mixing them in later - hm, maybe it's
> because I don't have his rooms, or his microphones, or his preamps,
> but, although I carefully positioned them avoiding differences in
> distances from mics to source, and even after aligning tracks to avoid
> phase cancellations, I generally ended up scrapping more than half the
> tracks :D ), and in the end, this was the result:

Preamps are probably the least of that equation.  The MOST important
things when micing instruments are THE ROOM and MIC CHOICE!  If your
room doesn't sound good to a mic, then you are not going to get good
results.  Also, MIC CHOICE is hugely important.  It's NOT just put a mic
"here" and another mic "there."  It's put an FET U87 "here," and a 414
"there."  There is absolutely no single mic that is "the right" mic. 
Even two mics of the same model can sound different.  90% (or more??) of
your results are determined by the room, mic choice, and mic placement.

> Not too happy about it, mixing was REALLY rushed, but, having
> practically lived in front of a PC for 2 months without ever pausing,
> I came to understand what I like and what I don't.

Nobody is EVER completely satisfied with ANY project they release.  It's
just a fact of life.  No matter how much time you have to put into a
project, at some point in the future, you WILL listen to it and say "I
wish I'd have done that differently." 

> I'd like being able to have a mixer panel where to route MY preferred
> parameters of MY favourite plugins in tracks in MY projects so that,
> if I want to boost highs while listening to the song, I don't have to
> open the GUI, clutter the screen with additional windows, maybe crash
> the DAW because some plugins are a bit too touchy, etc. (but only with
> Reaper, use them with Nuendo and they run "smoothly as", as they would
> say in Britain).
> I like having tracks that can also behave like buses and not having a
> real distinction between the two (but I suppose this is a design
> choice, in Ardour... fair enough).
> I like being able to check for phasing instantly clicking a
> mono-stereo button on the master track.
> I like being able to route tracks directly from the mixer without
> having to use special interfaces (which I'd open only to check routings).
> I like being able to reamp tracks just as easily. (Another example of
> routing, I know).
> I like being able to give colours not only to the items or the waves
> in the tracks, but to the actual "panels" of the tracks.
> I like being able to choose between various modes of visualization in
> the mixer panel, collapsing and simplifying tracks I don't need to
> constantly check (but still keeping them in).
> I like having MIDI tools in Reaper which allow you to apply swing
> settings and humanising.

Most of this can be done with available tools.  As far as things
crashing, that's going to be pretty much a reality in ANY computer
environment.  What may work 100% of the time on the developer's system,
may be really touchy on yours, because you have a slightly different
version of some library, or your video card uses a different chip set,
or your CPU is different and has a different cache size, or, if you're
using Windows, some Microsoft update comes through that hoses your
system, etc etc.  It's the main reason there is a market for companies
who sell "protools ready" systems.

> Anyway, what really saddens me is that people like Al Thompson,
> genuinely (I hope) misunderstand what I'm trying to say, because if he
> thinks I want to force the whole community to have MY own workflow he
> is totally wrong, and if he cared to better evaluate my proposal, he'd
> understand that I'm actually advocating for making MORE kinds of
> workflow possible, in Reaper: specifically, my idea of a 3-band eq
> track template with pots and colours was just AN EXAMPLE of what could
> be done, and again, it would be a track template *I* would use in MY
> projects, and in my vision, he would be able to use a template editor
> to make HIS OWN track templates, using HIS FAVOURITE PLUGINS and
> routing each knob to HIS preferred parameters, and having them all
> exposed as user-friendly and easy to read knobs on a mixer
> interface... or he could even choose NOT to use 

But what you propose is 90% possible now, and we aren't encumbered with
someone else's idea of a "good plugin package."  I say "904" only
because I don't know if a set of 'standard knobs' on the DAW screen is
going to be workable with different plugins, since I pretty much want
ALL knobs available.  If they aren't all available, then I have to open
the plugin anyway, and I've just added unnecessary knobs taking up space
on my mixer screen.

Take your 3 knob EQ suggestion.  That won't work for me most of the
time.  If I need only a 2 band, fixed freq EQ, then I've got a wasted
knob on my screen taking up space (and computer resources).  If I would
like my preferred 4 band quasi-parametric, then I'd have to open the
plugin to get to my knobs anyway.  So in one case, your 3 knob interface
wastes space, and in the other, still wastes space because I can't use
it and have to get to the plugin anyway.  Trying to get everything I
WANT AND NEED on one or two computer screens all at once is never going
to work.  Once I realized that, things got a lot easier for me to
transition to digital (and YES, I still prefer to sit behind a real
console, with racks of real gear in the room).

> But most of all, why all this noise for a FRIGGING interface
> customisation idea? :D Not change, mind you, just the possibility of
> having tracks that look like mixer channels instead of the usual.
> What's the big deal?! :D
Because musicians and engineers HATE change!!! (grin) 

I remember when digital was first introduced.  You would chuckle if you
would have heard people screaming because 0vu was now that ABSOLUTE max,
and not merely a suggestion to be regularly ignored.

I'm sorry you took my comments as contentious.  They weren't meant to
be.  They were meant to get you to try to see the futility of getting
something like a computer based recording system to satisfy the majority
of people.  It was never possible to get an ANALOG system that would
satisfy everyone.  That was why studios either had to own several of
every version of every model piece of gear ever made, or they had to
rent from any of the multiple rental houses that existed just for that
purpose.  But either way, you had to patch that piece of gear into the
patch bay, and roll over to it, get used to the different front panel,
and the play with it to find the sound you were after.

In the end, bands/producers went to different studios for different
parts of projects simply because they wanted the different capabilities
that each had, or they "made do" with what their 'home studio' had to
offer.  There are trade-offs everywhere, and they have always existed.

My bands, CD projects, music, news, and pictures:

My blog, with commentary on a variety of things, including audio,
mixing, equipment, etc, is at:
Staat heißt das kälteste aller kalten Ungeheuer.  Kalt lügt es auch;
und diese Lüge kriecht aus seinem Munde: 'Ich, der Staat, bin das Volk.'
                                                - [Friedrich Nietzsche]

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