Warm Up Your Pro Audio Computer Daw with Analog Stuff

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Believe it or not, it is possible to mix your favorite analog gear with your pro audio computer DAW. To top it off, your mix will get that special something you can’t get from a plug-in.

Many DAW interfaces come with instrument or mic preamps as input stages. However, you can improve the sound of your recordings using an outboard preamp. You can simply connect the output of a dedicated mic pre to an analog line input of the audio interface or conversion hardware. The quality of the converters can be a concern, even with high-end interfaces, but tube preamps are known for their sweet harmonic distortion and warmth. You can even get additional colors that can be a big help to your projects from solid-state models.

Improved tube circuitry design and affordable mic pres are offered by many companies. These affordable mic pres are quiet, clean and warm with high output levels. You can find quality analog mic pres to fit most projects and budgets. There are even a ‘modeling’ mic pre like Focusrite’s Liquid Channel that can emulate other circuits and morph into a number of well regarded outboard mic pres.

The M-Audio DMP3 and ART DPS II are affordable mic pres that add warmth to bass and guitar. On the other hand, a processor designed for instruments can be inserted in the analog part of a chain to provide a more or less dramatic effect to a vocal or instrument input. Additionally, inserting a hardware compressor between the mic pre and the converter will provide a surprising punch that you can’t get from a plug-in.

Analog gear can be used to warm wimpy sounding recordings made through the AV port in your computer. Often high-end analog gear is used on input, but neglected in the mix. You can turn your interface converters into insert points for your analog outboard gear if you have a multiple output interface. Using your software, insert the loop into the track you are trying to modify. You may have to experiment with the analog gear levels so that you don’t overdrive the gear or the converters.

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