To be fair, I have really always been digital. I started recording by plugging my bass into a Boss distortion pedal (fondly named ‘Captain Crunch’) and that into the line-in on the back of an old Mac. It sounded terrible, but that’s where I got my start. Now I have professional equipment, both digital and analog. There are pluses and minuses to each, and quality good sounding gear is available in abundance for both types. However, there is something a bit more fun to the analog world.
Generally, I’ve strived for a ‘hybrid’ approach. I have a Soundtracs Topaz mixing board that I use for mic preamps and EQ before converting to digital audio and multitrack recording on a computer. It’s basically the old analog workflow except I replaced a tape machine with an analog to digital audio interface and a computer. The idea is to then do any editing on the computer and add any effects, then run everything back out to the analog mixer to build a final stereo mix. That last step has never really happened. I don’t have enough analog effects to really do much other than basic EQ and setting volume. Even though I have been mixing ‘in-the-box’, I’ve still always imagined and planned my studio and gear with a hybrid approach.
The majority of my paying gigs have always been live recording. For that the smaller, lighter, and less gear I have to take with me, the better. An analog compressor will take up likely a whole space in my rack and weigh a number of pounds. A digital plugin compressor, only takes up an unnoticeable amount of hard drive space once, but can be used an unlimited amount of times simultaneously. Generally, it’s also cheaper to buy a good sounding quality plug-in than it is to buy it’s analog counter part.
Now, I still WANT the analog gear. It looks cool to have racked up. I like plugging things together and adjusting knobs and seeing the lights blink in rhythm with the music. It’s just not the same to see a graphic representation on a computer screen. For my true needs, though, software is much more efficient and effective.
So I am finally fully embracing the convenience and cost effectiveness of digital. It’s more of a mindset, really. I’ve pretty much been fully digital, anyways. I’m actually a little relieved to not be striving for things that just aren’t currently the right fit for me. I would still love to someday get nice hardware compressors and EQs and mix on my board. For now, I’m going to just go with what makes sense.