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How do you describe the signiture sound of API / Neve / SSL / etc. ?

Alexxon

Active Member
Just a quick question. Since I bought UAD Ultimate 11 I've been working closely with Neve 1073, but I think as someone who used to work 90% with digital stuff(Fabfilter, iZotope, Ableton's host plugins, etc.) I can't actually use my words to find a very precise description to these brands.

To say about the sound from a brand, I'd go straight to their most knowned device and start from there to shape a basic description. So far, I can describe Maag EQ4's sound as "airy and crispy high end" and 1073 as "gentle and full". For others, I'm lack of my own words so here I'm seeking for your ideas.

What's your impression to them? How would you descripe the signiture sound of one manufacturer? Or let's say, which is your recent favorite plugin/hardware, and how you would describe their sound(from any company, the discussion don't need to be stricked to the ones I mentioned above).
 

danisalat

Active Member
This has been discussed to death all over the internet so, if you want other people's opinions, you're just one search away.

My recommendation, instead of talking about sound, would be to focus on application. Otherwise it would just be speculating about what could use this or that.

Search your favourite producers/mixers and see what they use for drums, guitars, vocals, synths etx and try that for yourself
 

brotherseb

Active Member
Hey!
Some links for you:
 

hotspot

Venerated Member
I don't want to describe it in words.

Since we are lucky enough to be able to choose from a large palette, we shouldn't squander it with fictions. All too often, it's the head and the idea of how something should sound instead of the ears that decide.
What fits better in each situation depends on the situation.
When we talk about preamps, it's the source, the room, the microphones...
Then an API can be a better fit than a 1073 (of which all iterations with different transformers sound different anyway, not to mention the clones).
 

Alexxon

Active Member
Hey!
Some links for you:
Thank you so much! I'll go ahead and have a look!
 

Alexxon

Active Member
I've gone through all your comments. Thank you so much. I'm a bit regreat asking this since it's indeed, too broad and too personal. I just sometimes, I'm kind of wanna find the sound I want. I could identify a sound from another but it's just I don't know how to describe it precisely so I was here seeking for some advices. But I'll try do some real instance comparision and do some research. Thanks again!
 

Dumpling

Active Member
  • API: API gear is known for its hard, punchy and brash sound, with a mid-forward character that can cut through the mix. API gear can be good for genres that need energy, clarity and impact, such as rock, pop, hip hop, metal, etc. Some examples of albums that used API gear are Tom Petty - Full Moon Fever and Beck - Sea Change.
  • SSL: SSL gear is known for its clean, edgy and sizzle sound, with a bright and upfront character that can add sparkle and shine to the mix. SSL gear can be good for genres that need polish, definition and dynamics, such as electronic, dance, R&B, etc. Some examples of albums that used SSL gear are Arcade Fire - The Suburbs and Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magic.
  • NEVE: NEVE gear is known for its full, rich and warm sound, with a creamy, thick and low-end character that can add depth and weight to the mix. NEVE gear can be good for genres that need warmth, harmonics and vintage vibe, such as soul, jazz, blues, folk, etc. Some examples of albums that used NEVE gear are Chic - Risque and Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.
 

UniversalAudio

Official UA Representative
I'll say that these characterizations are INCREDIBLY subtle, and really only start to show up after you've got a few dozen tracks all tracked through them. I've tracked/mixed on THEM ALL. Various SSL incarnations, classic Neves (grey/blue stuff), the nasty 80s Neve stuff like V3s, and also modern Neves like the 88RS. APIs and Tridents as well. More that I am forgetting right now I'm sure.

This is of course how all the great records of the past have been made. When you tracked in a "Neve studio" or an "SSL studio", or an "API studio", EVERYTHING when through the board and got its sonic signature printed into it.
 

Axel_L

Member
Search your favourite producers/mixers and see what they use for drums, guitars, vocals, synths etx and try that for yourself
Hi Drew,
while we're on the subject, I just found out a few days ago that you recorded and mixed one of my favorite albums of the mid-nineties: Texas Is The Reason - Do you know who you are?
The drums sound great, especially the snare is very dominant and powerful. Which mixing console did this recording go through back then?
 

UniversalAudio

Official UA Representative
Hi Drew,
while we're on the subject, I just found out a few days ago that you recorded and mixed one of my favorite albums of the mid-nineties: Texas Is The Reason - Do you know who you are?
The drums sound great, especially the snare is very dominant and powerful. Which mixing console did this recording go through back then?
Thanks!!! Super cool to hear people appreciating your work!! Many thanks for that!!

That was a Trident Series 90.

It was Trident trying to compete with SSL. Not a bad desk (but not super successful for Trident). I also did Jawbox on it.
 

Alexxon

Active Member
I'll say that these characterizations are INCREDIBLY subtle, and really only start to show up after you've got a few dozen tracks all tracked through them. I've tracked/mixed on THEM ALL. Various SSL incarnations, classic Neves (grey/blue stuff), the nasty 80s Neve stuff like V3s, and also modern Neves like the 88RS. APIs and Tridents as well. More that I am forgetting right now I'm sure.

This is of course how all the great records of the past have been made. When you tracked in a "Neve studio" or an "SSL studio", or an "API studio", EVERYTHING when through the board and got its sonic signature printed into it.
Thank you so much for your opinion Drew. I think this is also why LUNA is designed to have one kind of summing: to give you the sound of one signiture brand and let you approach your sound using their devices. I love all these audio technology stuff and they fascinates me a lot. I'll explore them as I get more and more matured in mixing with these gears.

Yeah it's really great to have conversation with all of you here. As someone who spent his first two years totally digital and have no background of hardware experience, it's hard for me to really tell one from another. One reason I really like UA is because all the software are loyal to original designs, so I get familiar to the sound of those famous pieces, and it's like a living hardware library on my computer. Technology really brings something good here!
 

UniversalAudio

Official UA Representative
Thank you so much for your opinion Drew. I think this is also why LUNA is designed to have one kind of summing: to give you the sound of one signiture brand and let you approach your sound using their devices. I love all these audio technology stuff and they fascinates me a lot. I'll explore them as I get more and more matured in mixing with these gears.

Yeah it's really great to have conversation with all of you here. As someone who spent his first two years totally digital and have no background of hardware experience, it's hard for me to really tell one from another. One reason I really like UA is because all the software are loyal to original designs, so I get familiar to the sound of those famous pieces, and it's like a living hardware library on my computer. Technology really brings something good here!
Happy to help!!! You're doing all the right things, digging in and learning and asking for opinions/help.

Keep at it!!
 

danisalat

Active Member
I'll say that these characterizations are INCREDIBLY subtle, and really only start to show up after you've got a few dozen tracks all tracked through them. I've tracked/mixed on THEM ALL. Various SSL incarnations, classic Neves (grey/blue stuff), the nasty 80s Neve stuff like V3s, and also modern Neves like the 88RS. APIs and Tridents as well. More that I am forgetting right now I'm sure.

This is of course how all the great records of the past have been made. When you tracked in a "Neve studio" or an "SSL studio", or an "API studio", EVERYTHING when through the board and got its sonic signature printed into it.
this is something most people without the experience don't get or even believe after reading all of the exaggerated praise preamps and that stuff gets all over the internet, that's why I don't like writing about them.

I'm lucky to have a lot of cool gear for tracking, and I regularly shoot mics & preamps out, especially when a new singer comes through the door. Most of the time, although one of the preamps compliments their voice just a bit better, I'm the one making the call because they can't tell a difference.

Plus, there's A LOT of personal preference. I know many people who love API preamps and get great results with them, and to me they've always been pretty meh...
 

hotspot

Venerated Member
this is something most people without the experience don't get or even believe after reading all of the exaggerated praise preamps and that stuff gets all over the internet, that's why I don't like writing about them.
That's how I see it too.
Take every single song from the albums that was meant as a sound 'reference' up there and compare it to the other 'references'.
Still references?
Especially since they come from different eras with completely different sound ideas and possibilities.
Even with reasonably contemporary songs, it's impossible to say whether it was recorded with x, y or z.
As much as I like talking about nerdy stuff, this generalization makes no sense to me.
When it comes to preamps, it's simply not a statement if the microphone combination isn't mentioned at the same time.
 

klasaine

Hall of Fame Member
As much as I like talking about nerdy stuff, this generalization makes no sense to me.
When it comes to preamps, it's simply not a statement if the microphone combination isn't mentioned at the same time.
Definitely!
Using a different guitar pick will change your tone more than any preamp and mic.
 

Bear-Faced Cow

Hall of Fame Member
Thanks!!! Super cool to hear people appreciating your work!! Many thanks for that!!

That was a Trident Series 90.

It was Trident trying to compete with SSL. Not a bad desk (but not super successful for Trident). I also did Jawbox on it.
I wish we had this as a Unison plug-in on the Apollo. I’d probably record with this as much as I do with the Helios 69.

jord
 
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