Posts Tagged ‘Presonus’

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Mastering with Focusrite VRM

February 12, 2014

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had the privilege of working on the final stages of a new album – Kiss of Grace – by Lorna McDougall.

The recordings of the tracks arrived with me for mastering and preparing for production.

So the question arose – the tracks sound great on my speakers: but what do they sound like on others…

Big budget studios and mastering houses do this the brute force way – playing the tracks through arrays of differing speaker types in differing acoustic spaces… which mere mortals like me can neither afford the space or the finance to achieve.

Thats where the Focusrite VRM comes in.

Focusrite VRMThis neat little box is a USB audio interface providing a headphone out (and SPDIF in – but more on that later), a sweet volume control and an application that simulates different speakers in different acoustic spaces…

So – with a good pair of headphones you can hear what your mix ‘may’ sound like across a range of pro to domestic speakers in a ‘studio’, ‘bedroom’ or ‘living room’.

Add this to your desktop or laptop and off you go – where ever you are mastering the sound of your recordings is a doddle.

I’ve got to admit that since this has arrived my headphones have been ‘superglued’ to my head… the sound is just so good… at least to my tastes…

The range of speakers and environments is very useful… and some extreme differences between speakers/environments can be interesting to work on mastering against.

VRM Speakers

In use…

The music I was working with was in Studio One, on my old iMac core duo.

My iMac has been my workhorse from 2006 – I use it for everything… and I was interested in what effect the VRM would have on the system…

I created an aggregate audio device with my Presonus FW mobile (used to route FX via SPDIF to my TC Electronic M350)  and the VRM… and routed the ‘main’ out to the VRM.  The outs of the FW mobile went to my speakers as a cue mix.

And it worked – first time, no sweat… badda bing!

Studio One VRM

A screen capture from using VRM today!

Working on the final mix today – the Focusrite VRM has been great.

Now I have it and understand some of its limitations – I will be using this almost constantly from now on.

If you get one of these – and I don’t see why you shouldn’t at £49, from Absolute Music – register it and get the updated software – the 1.0 software… well… sucked!  the 1.4 is significantly better…

Pros

  • Price
  • Convenience
  • Great sound – speaker emulations sound fab.
  • Built like a brick shed – I’d be happy to throw this in a laptop bag knowing that at the ‘far’ end that it would be functioning perfectly.
  • The volume control – very useful, very sweet to use- always by my right hand.

Cons

  • The VRM software takes up CPU cycles and increases latency from the DAW.
  • If there is a load on the computer – or there is a particularly memory hungry application running the VRM starts to crackle.
  • The volume control – there can be noticeable ‘steps’ in volume than would be expected from a purely analogue control… (but I’m being extremely picky)
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