How can you produce high quality tracks, when you don’t have the ‘right’ microphone, pre-amp or outboard gear, etc.?
My studio has a relatively modest set-up, with minimal hardware, as far as my recording and mixing chain goes. However, I have a good selection of mics and pre-amps, as well as some of the best vintage and modern gear ever made in the form of software emulations and plug-ins.
You may be surprised to learn that many of the top engineers in the world work solely ITB (In The Box) these days, meaning that they are 100% software-based. This modern way of working is possible due to the strides made in physical modelling of analogue equipment, right down to the individual components and circuitry, which has become so accurate that there’s almost no discernible difference between the hardware and the emulations.
I own a significant number of these high-end plug-ins from highly acclaimed manufacturers, such as SSL, Neve, AMEK, Focusrite, Elysia, Lindell, Shadowhills, Vertigo, Maag, Brainworx, Soundtoys, Waves, Purple Audio, Bettermaker, Izotope, Cherry Audio, Harrison Consoles, Softube, Arturia… the list goes on…
It is now possible to have a virtual recreation of almost any classic console, simply by placing your favourite emulated channel strips across each channel in the DAW. You can take this approach even further, by applying various other emulated vintage and modern processors, such as EQs, Compressors, Saturators, Reverbs, Delays, Modulation effects, etc., in order to simulate almost any combination of hardware you might expect to find in the best high-end studios in the world!
Of course, as has always been the case, it’s not all about which mic, pre-amp or compressor you use – the most vital piece of hardware for any producer or engineer is a good pair of ears! Couple this with knowledge, experience and judgement and you’re on your way to a great-sounding record every time.