Recording - July 2011 - 6

Note to faithful writers: When sending your letters by email, please remember to include your name and where you hail from.
Preamp vibe on a DAW
Hello. I have a small home studio and just purchased a high-end single channel preamp, a Blue Robbie. I was wanting to know the simplest way of routing my recordings (for example, my virtual instruments) within my DAW through the preamp and then record them back into my DAW in order to take advantage of the preamp’s characteristics. Would a patchbay be the best option? In case you need to know, I am using an Apogee Duet interface. Enjoy your magazine.
Cary Strahley via email

In the analog world, a patchbay is a very handy thing to have for routing different signal processors in and out of your DAW interface, and it will find a lot of use as you add other preamps and analog devices to your studio. But as you set up your patchbay, make sure you allow time and thought to solve the issues that I’ve mentioned as well, or your attempts to loop audio out through your analog processors and back into your DAW may end in frustration. Thanks for the compliments and thanks for reading.—MM Thanks for responding so quickly. I do have another quick question regarding this scenario. Since the Duet’s outputs are 1 /4", do I run an instrument cable to the preamp’s instrument input, or to the mic input using a 1/4" to XLR adapter? You’ll have to excuse me, I’m fairly new to this studio thing and I don’t want to damage anything. Thanks—CS Cary, something occurred to me when you sent this letter. Regardless of the computer-side issues of avoiding feedback loops and latency... if you try to feed a line-level output from your Duet into a preamp that isn’t designed to accept line-level signals, which are much hotter than instrument level and much hotter than mic level, you run a chance of damaging your preamp, and certainly you run the risk of massive overloads and unpleasant (as opposed to cool-sounding) distortion. I checked the Robbie’s manual and read that its minimum gain setting is 8 dB, which won’t produce a huge amount of signal-level difference, so I think the instrument input would be a safe place to start your experiments. Just to get another opinion, I also contacted our reviewer Paul Vnuk Jr., who owns a pair of Robbies and uses them regularly. He raised yet another point I hadn’t considered in my focus on whether your plan was feasible and safe: namely, whether or not it would get you the tone you were looking for. Paul responded as follows: “Well, the Robbie does have an instrument-level input, and I think it’s a killer preamp, but unless all of the virtual instrument tracks are mono, it probably will not be worth the effort. The only real reason to send virtual instrument tracks out into a preamp would be to add some vibe and color, again something which I do often... however, the Robbie, while tube-based, is not really a “character piece” like a Chandler TG-2 or Germanium preamp, A Designs Pacifica, or a Universal Audio SOLO/610 would be. In fact the Robbie is the example I frequently cite when people talk about tube-based pres automatically being very vibey and characterful rather than clean and subtle!” So, the conclusion is: you can give it a try and see how it makes your virtual instruments sound, but don’t be too disappointed if the difference in tone isn’t a radical one. You’ve chosen a really good-quality mic pre for recording acoustic instruments and DI of electric guitar and especially bass, but it may not be a magical ‘vibe machine” for your software instruments. Good luck!—MM

Hi, Cary. Routing a signal out of your DAW and back in again isn’t always as easy as it might seem at first glance, but it can usually be done with some fiddling. There are a few things you’ll need to watch out for when you do, though. The first thing to be careful of when setting up a loop like this is feedback. You’re essentially hooking the output of your DAW right back into the input, and that’s a recipe for trouble. If you want to play virtual instruments in real time and record them back into your DAW, you will have to set up your monitoring and routing so that the tracks you’re recording are muted in the signal you’re listening to. Your Duet might have some facility for doing this in its software control panel, but more to the point it certainly should be possible to set up which tracks are playing back and which are muted in your DAW. The second issue will be latency, the time delay introduced by taking the signal out of the digital world through converters, processing it, and sending it right back into the digital world again. This can be as short as a few milliseconds or really quite noticeable. Be prepared to timeslip your recorded tracks back a little bit to get them to line up with the rest of your song. Some DAWs offer a special plug-in feature that allows this sort of routing to be easily set up within the DAW mixer, using the external audio path to your preamp as a send/return loop that’s set up so as not to cause feedback, and may even have automatic delay compensation as well. If yours does not, you’ll have to work out the routing for yourself. Usually this sort of routing is done with an interface that has more than one stereo pair of inputs and outputs, so the processed signal is kept away from the monitor mix, but that won’t be possible with your Duet.

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6
RECORDING JULY 2011



Recording - July 2011

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - July 2011

Recording - July 2011
Fade In
Contents
Talkback
Fast Forward
Put Your Foot Down!
A Guitar Gear Grab Bag
Fat Guitar Tones Without The Mud
Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5017
iOS Music Tools For Guitarists
Reviewed and Revisited: BOSS RC-30 Loop Station
Reviewed and Revisited: IK Multimedia AmpliTube 3.5
Tech21 Blonde
It’s Your Music—Know Your Rights. Chapter 16: Licensing Music For Video Games
Eventide Space
Recording’s Showcase of Sounds
TC Electronic Flashback, Shaker, and Hall Of Fame
Readers’ Tapes
Advertiser Index
Fade Out
Recording - July 2011 - Recording - July 2011
Recording - July 2011 - Cover2
Recording - July 2011 - 1
Recording - July 2011 - Fade In
Recording - July 2011 - 3
Recording - July 2011 - Contents
Recording - July 2011 - 5
Recording - July 2011 - Talkback
Recording - July 2011 - 7
Recording - July 2011 - Fast Forward
Recording - July 2011 - 9
Recording - July 2011 - 10
Recording - July 2011 - 11
Recording - July 2011 - Put Your Foot Down!
Recording - July 2011 - 13
Recording - July 2011 - 14
Recording - July 2011 - 15
Recording - July 2011 - 16
Recording - July 2011 - 17
Recording - July 2011 - 18
Recording - July 2011 - 19
Recording - July 2011 - 20
Recording - July 2011 - 21
Recording - July 2011 - A Guitar Gear Grab Bag
Recording - July 2011 - 23
Recording - July 2011 - 24
Recording - July 2011 - 25
Recording - July 2011 - 26
Recording - July 2011 - 27
Recording - July 2011 - 28
Recording - July 2011 - 29
Recording - July 2011 - 30
Recording - July 2011 - 31
Recording - July 2011 - 32
Recording - July 2011 - 33
Recording - July 2011 - Fat Guitar Tones Without The Mud
Recording - July 2011 - 35
Recording - July 2011 - 36
Recording - July 2011 - 37
Recording - July 2011 - Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5017
Recording - July 2011 - 39
Recording - July 2011 - iOS Music Tools For Guitarists
Recording - July 2011 - 41
Recording - July 2011 - 42
Recording - July 2011 - 43
Recording - July 2011 - Reviewed and Revisited: BOSS RC-30 Loop Station
Recording - July 2011 - 45
Recording - July 2011 - Reviewed and Revisited: IK Multimedia AmpliTube 3.5
Recording - July 2011 - 47
Recording - July 2011 - 48
Recording - July 2011 - 49
Recording - July 2011 - Tech21 Blonde
Recording - July 2011 - 51
Recording - July 2011 - 52
Recording - July 2011 - 53
Recording - July 2011 - 54
Recording - July 2011 - 55
Recording - July 2011 - It’s Your Music—Know Your Rights. Chapter 16: Licensing Music For Video Games
Recording - July 2011 - 57
Recording - July 2011 - Eventide Space
Recording - July 2011 - 59
Recording - July 2011 - Recording’s Showcase of Sounds
Recording - July 2011 - 61
Recording - July 2011 - TC Electronic Flashback, Shaker, and Hall Of Fame
Recording - July 2011 - 63
Recording - July 2011 - Readers’ Tapes
Recording - July 2011 - Advertiser Index
Recording - July 2011 - 66
Recording - July 2011 - 67
Recording - July 2011 - 68
Recording - July 2011 - 69
Recording - July 2011 - 70
Recording - July 2011 - 71
Recording - July 2011 - Fade Out
Recording - July 2011 - Cover3
Recording - July 2011 - Cover4
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