In advance of the 32nd annual NAMM TEC Awards, being held Saturday, January 21 in Anaheim,Mixbux 32C is nominated for Outstanding Technical Achievement in the WORKSTATION TECHNOLOGY / RECORDING DEVICES category.
As Answered from Ben Loftis, Product Manager – Harrison Consoles.
Your website states “Over the last 40 years, Harrison consoles have earned, throughout the world, an enviable reputation for excellence.” Tell us a bit about your history and mixboards in that context.
In the 60’s, Dave Harrison was a recording engineer and musician with James Brown, among other artists, and he started developing mixing consoles for MCI. In 1975, he launched his own console company with his first product, the 32Series. This was the first “inline” console design, which means that every channel had 2 paths: one for the live microphone, and another for the tape playback. This allowed you to use the console EQ once during tracking, and then re-use it for mixdown. That’s a standard feature of recording consoles now, and David was awared a “fellow” of the AES for that innovation. The name “32Series” came from the fact that it could feed 32 recording tracks, which no other console could do at that time. The 32Series consoles had a lot of innovative signal-switching features and it was later refined to incorporate early automation and moving-fader systems.
The 32Series had a long product life of nearly 10 years, and it was adopted by countless major facilities around the world. The result is that many of the biggest hits of the 70s and 80s ( by Michael Jackson, Queen, Madonna, and many more ) were recorded and/or mixed on a Harrison console. After the 32Series, we made the MR-series and then various consoles for live sound, on-air broadcast, and film mixing.
Harrison consoles have always been very feature-ful and cutting-edge. Dave always talked about the “Glass Console” which we would call multi-touch. But the technology just didn’t exist back then. In the 80’s Dave Harrison started development of a computer-controlled console called the Series10: this console used “analog” signal processing, but it could instantly recall all of the settings, or even play back automated moves. That was unheard-of at the time! Most music studios didn’t understood how or why you would want to “recall” your settings. And it was very, very expensive. It was overshadowed by the SSL “Total Recall” system which doesn’t actually recall anything!
The good news is that “film” guys did understand this technology, and it resulted in a series of very successful products for film mixing, culminating in our current flagship console: the MPC5.
I’ve wanted a software summing mixer experience for a while now. Is that what Harrison Mixbus32c aims to provide for the user? How so?
Some of our customers use Mixbus32C as a purely “summing” mixer, but Mixbus does much more than that! It’s a full workstation that has its own editor with MIDI, virtual instruments, automation, plugins, etc etc.
Every workstation has its strengths: some are good for making beats, some are good for music scoring, and some are good for editing vocals. Every company’s DAW has a mixer, but usually it’s only a small part of the program, and their lack of expertise really shows. Mixbus32C is made by a company that is dedicated to the art of mixing: to take your tracks and make a commercial-quality mix, very quickly and easily. If you’ve ever considered taking your tracks out of your workstation and sending them to an analog studio for mixing, then you might try Mixbus32C. You don’t have to abandon your current setup; you can just use Mixbus for that final step of mixing and mastering your tracks.
But it’s not just for mixing. We also have the tools to record your audio or MIDI tracks; so for many users it’s the only DAW they need.
For those of us in hiphop production that love analog warmth and tape saturation, what makes Harrison Mixbus32C a great choice for adding warmth and such to our mixes?
Harrison products have a long history with R&B, hiphop and Pop artists! One of the huge advantages of Harrison is that we knew what features, and what settings, were used on those huge records of the 70s & 80s ( the ones that are so often sampled and used today …. ). So we’ve been able to ‘bake in’ some of those sounds by recreating the signal flow and the operation of those consoles that were used on the originals.
For example, a critical part of the sound and workflow, in those days, was the process of recording your tracks to tape, and then re-recording to the 2-track tape. At each stage, there was a subtle soft-clipping and compression, and this affected the way that the ensuing compressors and EQs worked; it was a cumulative effect of many stages; Mixbus32C helps to recreate that with the “Drive” control on each of the mix-buses and master bus.
Your website states “Mixbus32C engine is internally dithered, ramped, and gain staged so that sound quality is preserved as close to analog as possible” Was it important to remain faithful to the actual Harrison console or was it more important to advance the concept via the software recreation with new features?
Harrison’s development followed a unique path that nobody else ever attempted: we had many high-end facilities using our digitally-controlled analog consoles; and when the digital revolution came, they needed to update that console to digital. At that time, our consoles were in 2 separate parts: the control surface, and the processing racks. So in many facilities we left the control surface in-place, and we replaced the analog processing racks with digital racks. This meant that on Friday, the mixer was using an analog console, and on Monday he might be using the exact same control surface, but now it’s a digital backend. So we had to make sure our digital backend sounded exactly like the analog backend!
We’re the only company that had to take an “analog” console and completely recreate it, in-place, to be used as a digital console. We learned some tricks during that process that I believe are exclusive to us. We don’t add distortion or crosstalk or any of the bad things that “console emulation” plugins typically use. Instead we use our techniques to minimize the bad effects of digital, and therefore make your recordings sound more “analog”.
More details about our history at: http://harrisonconsoles.com/site/history.html
More about Mixbus 32C on Harrison Console’s website.
About NAMM TEC Awards
Presented annually by the NAMM Foundation at The NAMM Show, the NAMM TEC Awards recognizes the individuals, companies and technical innovations behind the sound of recordings, live performances, films, television, video games and other media. Award categories span 25 Technical Achievement Categories and 8 Creative Achievement Categories. Two new categories were added this year, Audio Education Technology, and DJ Production Technology.