hardware makes you look good

“Hardware ist schön, Hardware ist groß, Hardware kleidet sehr gut” – as stated by Christoph Kemper (developer of the famous Access Virus) in a recent interview for the german Musotalk online magazine. Which basically translates into something like “Hardware is big, hardware is sexy, hardware makes you look good”. While this was held in the context of the developments of his brand new “Kemper Profiling Amp” and about what we still actually see on a typical live stage today (and what is just a fake), it still seems to be the paradigm in quite some studios as well.

Funnily, lots of them are already working (at least partly) ITB and rarely touch the outboard anymore. The plain reason for this is simply a much more convenient workflow which directly translates into time and budget savings. Nevertheless, the producers website typically remains decorated with the usual outboard equipment brands and so the studio wall. Still seems to look more attractive to whomsoever.

Today, the really interesting music production insights can be obtained from the successful and rather open-minded and pragmatic producers. They choose the tools that work and don’t care that much about the tedious ITB versus outboard discussion. They usually don’t spent their time on ranting about stuff that don’t work. They have to deliver.

Despite the more prominent examples like Charles Dye or Phil Tan, gearslut and down under producer Dax Liniere gives some great insights into his latest production for the Sydney band sleepmakeswaves, which is not only ITB to a large extend but in which a whole bunch of freeware tools are used as well. Read (and hear) the report over there at gearslutz.


  1. Fwiw, I think the truth is somewhere in the grey area in between.
    No need to repeat all the nice things working ITB brought us, too many to mention between total recall and powerful plugins, some of the best even free. 😉
    Still, there are areas where hardware will rule for a long time to come, guitar gear is one of them, monitor mixing another imho.
    Basically, look back five years and see where we are now, it pays off to combine hardware and software in ways that suit you best personally.
    Ymmv …

  2. Btw, just read Dax’ thread and listened to the clips, great job there, sounds fantastic !
    Goes to show there are no rules, it all depends on the humans operating the gear …

  3. Wow! This is the last place I expected to read about Dax and Sleepmakeswaves! Nice guy and great band . . I’ve toured with them several times! Must check out Dax’ post in Gearslutz! Cheers . .

  4. ITB vs. outboard gear = boring as hell. The only important thing for a music creator is getting and using what works FOR THEM. Doesn’t matter what it is. No one should be crticised because they used A instead of B. Who has time for this nonsense?

  5. i think those things are already moving.

    I’ve seen ppl selling their summing boxes to buy Nebula 😉 (on gearslutz too)
    And i see a lot of big bucks producers using FerricTDS as neutral color tape mojo.

    The gap between hardware and software is getting tighter.
    I even realized unique sounding devices (Eventide H3000,Lexicon and Maxxbass to name a few) got an hardware and software version, but the hardware version is already digital 😀

    But humans are still humans : why do you think Protools is in all studios ?
    Most of the time, because clients ask for it and want to see a Protools sticker somewhere.

    Most studios i know work on another DAW when they got choice 😉
    And sometimes they track on Protools, but when the client is away, bounce all tracks and finish the job on Samplitude,Sonar,Reaper… even Logic 😀

    The same applies to Waves : it is a good thing to put on gear list.
    Even if, of course, there are a lot of good plugs from them (like my beloved API2500 comp).

    Just to point out it is more related to human behavior than sound itself 😉
    And there is a gap between ppl mixing and their clients, bigger than the gap between ITB/OTB or digital/analog…

    Humans abstraction got it’s limits.They want to feel things.
    Mixing engs feel things by hearing them (so plugins are not really a problem), but other ppl need to feel things by seeing them, even touching them (like real hardware or Protools/Waves stickers).

    My simplified point of view 😉

  6. You can easily find digital plug-ins which mess the source up with unpleased distortions. To me people like Dye just tell half of the truth. They mix stuff ITB that did hit several stages of finest gear in tracking. For sure you can mix this ITB and telling amateurs “listen to that nice tone I get ITB.” But if just have one midrange preamp, one mic and nothing else in tracking. It will make a big difference if you mix ITB or OTB. OTB always sounds opener, wider it has more depth and dimension where ITB sounds small, mucked up. AE like C. Dye or Tony Shepperd know the trick – with not telling you that they get top notch tracked material. The only one who is true to the kids is Chris Lord Alge. He says clearly that you can’t do it ITB. The day I mixed the first time OTB it was clear that I will minimize the use of plug ins, as well as to choose them more wise if I use them.

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