End of the Year Numbers Advice


So here’s a quick one to think about next time you find yourself hung up on numbers while mixing. I’ve recently been demoing some new plugin emulations from Waves of some classic studio compressors. The cool thing about the Waves emulations are there are pre-existing emulations from Bombfactory of the same classic compressors that have been on the market for almost ten years now. So we’ve got the same hardware inspiration recreated by two different digital manufacturers over the course of maybe ten years.

What’s interesting to me is how different the emulations are. You can set the virtual knobs on either plugin to the same settings, but the attack and release times are clearly different. Even the Input and Output settings are different. It’s visible right on the meters, but more importantly it’s audible. These differences could be for any number of reasons. The plugin manufacturers were probably using different hardware boxes to do the modeling, and when it comes to analog gear two different boxes–even of the same type–may sound and behave differently.

Now I’m not saying that one of these emulations is better than the other; you can go download demos and decide for yourself. But, I would like to point out that the numbers are the same, yet, the numbers are different. So next time you’re reading about how so and so likes to set his attack at 6ms and his release at 75ms or set the knobs a certain way, you might think about whether you have the exact same piece of gear so and so is talking about. And if you don’t have it, remember that you can always fall back on your ears.

Have a safe and Happy New Year!

David Stagl

One Response to “End of the Year Numbers Advice

  • Haha! Thats awesome. Another good example of why its important for us to mix with our ears, not our eyes, and not “by the numbers” as you say. Good word.
    If one of those emulations your talking about is a Urei piece, I’ve seen the analog equivalent of this in practice. There is a place called Logical Audio in Atlanta that I used to take gear to get serviced. Just a couple of years ago I brought in some vintage Urei compressors I felt needed some attention and was surprised to find out they employ a female technician who used to be a QC employee for Urei in the 70s. I ended up bringing in ALL of the Urei stuff we had after she worked on a pair of blackface 1176’s. She reworked an 1178, a pair of LA3’s, a pair of LA4’s, and the 1176’s for me. A couple of these pieces were so dramatically different afterwards, I had to literally re-learn them all. Not just that they “sounded” different, but like you mentioned, attack times WERE different. The units simply “worked” differently after being recapped and thoroughly serviced.