Analog Vs Digital in the modern recording studio

Back in 1998, I was recording with my band at a local recording studio when we were offered to record to 16 track tape or for quite a bit more cash, a fully digital system. We were really eager to go down the digital route but unfortunately we couldn’t afford it and had to settle for old fashioned mixing desk and tape.

Fast forward 24 years and the reverse is the case with with analog gear at sky high prices and costs to to use them in fancy studios that are out of the reach of most near mortals. I’ve luckily bee able to acquire some really nice bits of analog equipment over the years and I do enjoy using what I have but is it it some part the process rather than than the sound I enjoy?

I think there’s no doubt that some bits of vintage hardware do have personality and I think that comes through in harmonic content enabling you to achieve a thicker sound very quickly presuming that’s what you’re after that is.. Having said that there are now plenty of plug ins that emulate this very thing and are considerably cheaper than their hardware counterpart.



If harmonics and controlled distortion are not what you’re after and high fidelity and re-call are your aims then I think plug ins have an easier time convincing the engineer that they more than capable. I’ve been a big fan of the Plugin Alliance ‘Bx Townhouse Buss Compressor’ since it came out and pitted it against an SSL compressor (both original and modern) and have found that I prefer the BX Townhouse on my mix buss most of the time.


Here is a comparison I made to compare the two bearing in my mind the cost difference of over $2000!



In summary, I’m more than happy to use plugins to achieve my sonic goals, I do enjoy using hardware, the tactile immediacy is great, a good example of this summing through a desk to tape making adjustments on the fly is a thrill and I will do it again but…if you don’t have access to this type of equipment then please don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll find ways to achieve what you want without it, Andrew Scheps does and he has 3 Grammy awards.

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