Why I Sold My Analog Hardware

Faster than Analog.

Backstory

About 10 years ago I used to own a Pro Tools HD system with an AVID C24 control surface. This was an awesome setup! I had more faders than I knew what to do with and perfectly laid out mix templates for every session. But, times change…

I decided to downscale and sell the C24 in exchange for outboard compressors and EQ’s that I could use as hardware inserts in my mixes. The debate was ON in the forums and plug-ins just didn’t match the hardware. Did I mention this was ten years ago…?

Present Day

We’re living in a day where communication from India to the US is possible with messaging apps, file transfer is accommodated via cloud sharing, and transfer of funds is a click away from a smartphone. So why can’t a music project be completed with software only? In my opinion, it can!

Part of my decision came from a conversation I had with some experienced engineers from the NAMM show. I learned and saw how top engineers were selling their outboard gear because the recall-ability and sonic of plugins was matching and in some cases surpassing its hardware counterparts. I’m not gonna name any names, but trust me; it’s true.

However, I’m not easily swayed by people’s opinions until I personally feel that this is proven. So I had to prove myself that this was possible for me also.

Pepsi Challenge

It was the week leading up to NAMM and I started a new mix for a Hip Hop client. I started the mix as I usually do in my studio with my Genelec 1032A’s – which are phenomenal. But I knew that I had to travel that week and wouldn’t be able to finish the mix at the studio.

This is where the hardware comes in…

Remember I told you that I sold the AVID C24 to buy outboard gear? For the past 10 years, I’ve been using the Empirical Labs FATSO JR and a pair of Vintech x73i’s on my Mix Bus. This combo worked wonders for me and added so much punch and weight to ALL MY MIXES.

Back to NAMM week – I knew that I wouldn’t be able to use the hardware combo on the final mix since I had to travel. So, I spent an hour – if not, more – comparing the outboard to a chain of plug-ins to replicate “that sound.” And guess what?!? I nailed it!!!

It took a lot of listening and A/B-ing but I was able to recreate my hardware combo using plugins. But more important than the results was that I finished the final mix on my laptop in the hotel room. Mix was approved!

Summary

Now that I’ve convinced myself that I can replicate my hardware inserts using software, it enables me to take my mixes on the road. Because the reality is that my clients don’t really care what I use, as long as the finished results are exactly what they’re looking for. To be fair, I’m not knocking analog hardware, but to say that hardware is better, to me is simply an opinion.

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