HI MIchael, I am mixing engineer with over 20 years of experience, I also work 100% ITB, I wonder if you miss a specific sound or piece from your hardware era, and also wanted to know if you feel there is one specific plugin you actually like more than its analog counterpart
As you know, I loved my hardware toys. I had six double sided racks of them. When I made the decision to go ITB, I sold most of them because the software copies of many of my toys were actually just as good. But, I didn’t get rid of everything, I still have a bunch of my favorites at home. I still have my EAR 660, custom La3a’s, MXR phaser/flangers, custom Federal, Fairchild 666, Roger Mayer RM58, Custom Awa Green and a bunch more. I still have all my analog delays like the Miazzi, swiss echo, Custom Binson and few other delays. I’ll occasionally turn them on an use them as inserts or send/return and if I like the sound, I print it right away. Done!
With the exception of a few pieces of analog hardware, I don’t miss anything about going ITB. Also keep in mind that my main joy was moving faders and being physically dynamic in my mixing. When I went Hybrid I had an avid 32 channel S6. When I moved the studio to my house there was no room for that monster so I got 4 S1’s. I still have as many faders in front of me and the ability to mix with both hands as I did when I was mixing on my SSL
What do I love more being ITB…uh pretty much everything!Analog breaks down and you have to repair it, Digital simply crashes and nothing is lost if you are saving regularly. There’s way more headroom in digital than analog so transients don’t get smoothed out. Recalls are fast, making full stems is just a matter of hitting the Andrew Scheps button. I can mix one song for awhile, stop, put up another one if I want. I can edit, move tracks around, automate plugins across a track or stereo bus, Fix audio files etc. I have a travel rig so I can mix anywhere in the world which is great because I travel alot now that i’m back racing my bicycle. So if i’m training in CO, I bring my rig, train in the morning and mix in the afternoon. Life is good.
And then there’s the overwhelming choice of plugins. Companies like UAD, Waves, Plugin Alliance, Kazrog, PSP, softube…and many others have musicians designing their software so not only is advances in technology allowing better sounding plugins but they sound and feel great to the ear. There was a time when about the only thing that resembled the hardware was the GUI. You’d open up the plugin and it sounded like crap. That’s no longer the case. Not to mention the incredible tools that could never have been developed for analog. Tools dealing with Siblance, or noises in a track, or the ability to extract stems out of a mono or stereo recording. Companies like Fabfilter, Isotope, Smoothe and others have taken it to a whole new level. Every problem has a solution or a fix.
I haven’t come across any software that beat the original. But then, I’m not really trying to compare. i know the sound of the originals and if a software version comes along that feels and sounds like it, I’m good.
You know how many analog vs digital panels are at AES or NAMM now? Zippo.
Now, with all that said, would I still have fun mixing a song on my old SSL, Hell yah! It was always about a performance for me so nothing changes from an emotional standpoint. Would my assistants be happy to spend hours taking notes of all my gear and doing stems until the wee hours of the morning? Fuck no. Path of least resistance.
Wow! thank you so much for taking the time to elaborate so much in your answer!