A few years ago I did an album purely for my own pleasure, it was a bunch of old songs I had written from the late 1980s and early 1990s. I used session musicians from all over the globe to put the album together and I spent two years to finish the project. It took that long purely because I was constantly changing my studio setup and effects racks along the way, but I did finish it eventually.
During this lock down I have become restless and the desire to do another project has grown to the point where the wheels are now in motion. I intend to use the same musicians I used last time, simply for the fact they are so damn good at what they do. I use a drummer from London in the UK, and the rest are sessions players in Los Angeles, USA. I mixed the previous album using the DAW I had been using since the mid 1990s, MOTU Digital Performer. Recently I decided to try the Harrison Mixbus DAW, of which there are two versions: The standard version for US$89, and the 32C Version which is based on the Harrison 32C Console and sells for US$349.
After reading a lot about the standard Mixbus, and liking the interface which mimics an old school console I decided I would take the plunge and try it out. I instantly liked the sound of Mixbus, it sounds ‘less digital’ than MOTU Digital Performer. After spending the next month or two playing with Mixbus, I decided it was my new DAW, after more than 30 years with Digital Performer!
I love the workflow with Mixbus, and I love the fixed 8 buses on the right, just like a real analogue console of old. Yes it is limiting as you can not add more than the standard 8, but so be it. However Harrison eventually sent me an offer to upgrade to the 32C version which offers 12 buses, and a far more exotic EQ section on each channel among other benefits. So I took the plunge there too, so now I have three DAWs, but have settled on Mixbus 32C for this project.
I know I am giving up many of the list of features that MOTU Digital Performer offers that are not on Mixbus, but I am old school and did not use all the power of the modern day Digital Performer anyway. One of the great features of Mixbus (both versions) is the inbuilt compressor/limiter on every channel strip. Simple to use, and it provides very clear visual of the compression on the track. I also decided to move away from the Universal Audio Apollo Twin I had been using since selling off my previous studio gear. I love the Apollo Twin, but I needed more I/O and Universal Audios larger Apollo’s are simply too expensive, particularly for what I would be using it for. Instead I purchased the new Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 Gen 3 interface.
The Focusrite gives me the ability to setup my rack of effects on the 8 in and 8 out jacks, using each stereo out pair as hardware effects sends in Mixbus.The effects I currently have here which were bought for testing, sampling and perhaps review are as follows:
Roland SDE-1000 Digital Delay
Yamaha SPX90 Effects Processor
Sony MU-R201 Digital Reverb
Roland DEP-5 Digital Effects Processor
Akai AR900 Digital Reverb
But wait you say, there are five effects in the rack that means 5 stereo pairs are needed right? Not really. The Yamaha SPX90 and the Roland SDE-1000 are both mono in, so I could send each a mono signal, my problem however is the return, I am out of returns. So at the moment I have the send going into the Roland SDE-100 and the output of that feeding into the Yamaha SPX90.
This will change however as I am likely to on sell the Roland SDE-1000 after testing and sampling it. If interested let us know as this unit is MINT and I doubt it has ever been in a rack until we put it in one, in fact I am not sure it has ever been used prior to now, that is how good the condition is on this one. So sit back, and enjoy the journey, it should be fun to do once again, and I am looking forward to working with all the musicians to get this track done. We will be updating this page as the project progresses so come back regularly.