Improving the signal chain


I’m also intrigued by the Silver Bullet. I just picked up a Chroma preamp with the FET filter module installed. Haven’t had time to make great use of it yet, but the design is awesome and the build quality is excellent.


There was an ad in sound on sound from CAPI that mentioned they were gonna do pre-built runs of the vp28 and two of their other designs with all the premium add ons if any one is DIY-averse that might be an option. There also seemed to be some maker who was building CAPI stuff and selling the assembled modules on reverb.


Radial JDI stereo DI, Drawmer 1973, and Warm Audio Pre273EQ will arrive tomorrow maybe? I plan on ordering a UA LA610 later this week. I’ve used it years ago and love it and am confident it’ll be a nice entry point for mono channels :slight_smile:

I’ll let you know in the next couple weeks about the Drawmer.


It seems easy to spend a lot of money sweetening your sound. I guess I have a similar inquiry with a slightly different tack: If you were going to record live takes from modular and you didn’t really want to fuss too much in post, what end of chain processing would you consider essential?

Less is more solutions welcome. The overstayer MAS that @madeofoak mentioned sounds like it has this quality. I’ve seen Analog Heat popping up more recently — and BOUM as well for another flavor of the same. I guess I just wonder what is really “worth it” when dealing with a full mix when recording?


Yeah, it’s a fascinating question. Honestly, it’s not something I think a lot about, but having come into some money with my mom’s passing and not being interested in any of the ‘cool’ toys, I’m trying to address this utilitarian side of things while I have a little lump of dough to play with.

To someone else’s point above, with the hot signal of modular, the idea of pre-amps isn’t really necessary at all. However, a nice compressor can still work wonders. For me, the follow-up question to ‘is it worth it?’ is ‘what is the point of diminishing returns between investment and improvement?’ Like, a $1500 compressor sounds crazy good compared to nothing, but is a $3000 compressor that much better? Same thing goes to my recent headphone and monitor research as I’ve been upgrading on those things too.

I remember some of my first ‘real’ recording experiences in a studio that Will Oldham’s brother Paul ran being pretty eye-opening as to the profound difference in hardware v software processing. Presumably that gap has narrowed, but I’m not sure if anyone feels like software still matches it. Really, I’m not sure because I don’t spend time reading about that kind of thing :slight_smile:

If you want a nice compact (each is a 1/3 rack) solution that really made a big difference for the price point - the FMR Audio stuff is great. I’ll definitely still be using them and the RNC and RNLA are both around $200.


I’m striking out on searching for “ltlf silver bullet”…

Got a url?



I guess its actually LTLO.


I currently run my full modular mix into the Heat for recording, as well as for my final part of the chain when playing live. The two knob eq and stereo filter make it great for shaping the overall sound and range. It’s also very versatile in terms of the types of distortion saturation character you can get it. I like the first three settings for ambient stuff, the mid-drive for amp-less guitar recording straight into the interface, and the classic distortion in parallel for the full mix of the band I’ve recently started playing shows with.

Noise floor is pretty good, especially considering that it is distortion and saturation. It’s not as clean as my meris pedals or most modules, but not unmanageable.

EDIT: update to my previous negativity on the overbridge features–so far the overbridge beta is working fantastic! I’m not getting any sample dropping or glitches at 96k/128 samples for looping back audio with the standalone editor.

The mk1 (which I have) has basically all of the same features as the mk2, so I’d recommend that if you want to find a deal used.


I’d definitely recommend trying the Overbridge 2.0 beta, when you have a chance. It’s now possible to use Analog Heat (I have Mk2) as an audio interface - driving speakers & headphone - while using a VST instance on one track (or the master bus) simultaneously. My current favorite stock preset is the minimalist ‘Subtle Enhancer’. I also have a Neve DI and a MixPre3M for recording, but when composing / arranging in Ableton I find the all-in-one nature of the AH (with Overbridge 2.0) compelling.


Good to know! Do you know if you lost presets you created when you uograded the firmware to be able to use OB 2? That is the real reason I’ve been waiting.


I only had the AH about a week before upgrading firmware and hadn’t created presets yet.


gotcha, :+1: 20 char


I really like the Analog Heat and I use it at every stage of production, from sound design to recording to mastering. It’s very easy to work with. It forced me to learn how to properly gain stage things as an added bonus. For end of chain/mastering purposes I like to use its bandpass or highpass filters to find a part of the track I want to emphasize, get a little bit of drive drive going on one of the calmer settings, and dial in the wet/dry mix so that it just very subtly shapes things. It’s also excellent for dynamics–beyond compression and expansion, it can do some very cool things when you start applying the envelope follower to the EQ bands, filter, and resonance.


here is where these threads come together…Mixing/mastering

2 channel (stereo) sweeting is mastering

it doesn’t really matter what you used to get a mix… modular, laptop, 12bit sampler, mastering cats can help (if you find someone who shares your aesthetic)

as part of 'research you can hear how good it can be if you dm @taylor12k
(or someone who shares your vision)
just pick one track from your system and contract a mastering of it, you can learn a lot about your system
(it’s not just the gear) :slight_smile:


thanks for the mention…

but, yeah, i should add… “sweetening” is one of those words like “mojo” or “warmth” that can mean different things to different people.

for me, and my day job (as a mastering engineer) i think of “sweetening” as more of a question… “what does a track need?”

sweetening is not always ADDING, either… in fact, adding is secondary in (my) mastering to subtracting and sometimes taking care of a problem (frequency, with EQ, etc) will enhance, and thus, “sweeten” the mix.

there are some processes that are harder to put your finger on and describe and can often be used to great effect to make a mix sound better in a few different ways… saturation is one of those “mysterious” processes… i find different kinds of tube saturation can give a mix girth… or “hair”, or a lift… or just a little something that’s sort of difficult to describe.

but, to echo @abalone it’s definitely not just the gear, but knowing what needs (wants/should) be done to a mix to make it sound… “better” (? subjective) and then how to do it… having certain tools that either make your job easier or don’t harm the audio more than help are somewhat secondary…


let me add one final thought… based on a mastering job i’m working on right now… and a track that lacks definition and separation. you could spend all day trying to boost or cut the right frequencies to make things punch or more defined… but the answer was much simpler than that… a good portion of the mid range was out of phase… and as soon as that was cleared up and brought back in phase the whole mix pops and loses that washiness that wasn’t doing it any good.

an example of no fancy tools, just knowing what to listen for and what to do about it.


Late contributor to this thread (and Lines noob), but thought I’d chip in. Some of the things that I’ve gotten over the years that have been a big help for me, fidelity-wise:

  • Apogee stuff. I love the sound of their converters, and have owned the Ensemble FW and TB.
  • Dangerous Music D-Box. On paper it initially felt like a pretty simple device, but the amount of headroom and general (for lack of a better word) space it gives have been huge helps in making mixes that i like. It also does sort of fun things to my mix workflow by breaking stuff into buses—it’s definitely helped the way I approach things and has made me simplify a bit, in a good way. In retrospect that sounds like I just said a bunch of BS but I guess the simplest way I can say it is that it’s made me consider the density of recordings much more, and to edit unnecessary stuff accordingly.
  • OTO BOUM. I really can’t say enough good stuff about this thing, and oddly enough the gain setting I use the most is the boost.
  • API 512v preamps. I wanted some outboard pres that had a bit more character than the stock pres on the Ensemble. I was initially very worried that getting a pair of these wouldn’t be a noticeable enough difference for the money, but I’ve been beyond happy with them so far. All of the things people say about them—punchy, etc—that’s all true, but I guess overall I’d simplify it by saying they just have more immediacy and presence.
  • Want to get a pair of outboard compressors for bus stuff but am unsure what to pick up at this point, as one previously sought option didn’t work out. Might see how the RNC handles that duty, as I’ve only really used it for tracking/mono sources. Might just stay ITB for the mixing end though, not sure.

On the whole the stuff I’ve made up to now has been almost all sort of indie rock / psych / chamber pop type music with more conventional rock band instruments (guitars, bass, keys, etc), but I’m getting more and more into recording electronic music. Interested to see how the stuff I’ve come to use will translate into the new musical territory.


I don’t know anyone here who has suggested it’s only the gear. All of that other stuff matters (of course!), but what we’re talking about are the hardware tools that can improve the sound, which is an admittedly subjective topic. If we open things up to the other variables this topic gets even broader and more subjective!

If I could buy perfect ears, whatever the heck that means, it’d be the first thing I’d be in line to pick up :slight_smile:


Yep I think it’s a pretty limiting approach to say it’s only the gear, to say the least. I’m sure everybody (myself included) has run into the wonderful experience of thinking a piece of gear is going to drastically improve your sound, only to leave you feeling pretty disappointed, haha.

I think probably the biggest thing I’ve learned above all is that you should always go with what sounds best, paying no attention at all to the impulse that something would definitely sound better if recorded with better gear. I’ve heard phenomenal recordings made with built in laptop speakers, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve recorded guitars straight into my interface for scratch and decided to keep a sound I dialed in quickly via a Logic amp emulation, just because hey—it worked.

I can’t help but be a geek though, so I guess I’m constantly trying to balance the ideals of striving for best fidelity vs being free/unencumbered. It’s a struggle! :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


Was reading back in the thread and saw this. Plugins have indeed come a pretty long way—I don’t think anybody will say that they’re a pure 1:1 vs hardware, but for the comparative price (thousands of dollars for one compressor vs, say, an entire suite of plugins), it’s hard to say anything bad about the UAD stuff. I’ve had a very, very good experience with them. They also have great sales, so definitely keep an eye out for those if you’re interested.