FOH Hugh Johnson on NLS Live

Hugh Johnson

FOH Engineer

Vince Gill

Earlier this year, my colleagues and I were apprised of the release of the NLS Non-Linear Summer for TDM and, subsequently, the Avid Venue plugin. Needless to say, we anticipated this release with great expectation. Imagine: having a choice of mic pres from some of the world's most famous analog consoles available on any input. That concept alone gave us the great hope of putting the depth, warmth and dimension of analog mixing back in the digital audio realm.

Subsequently, we posted an NLS at the top of each channel, choosing the NLS flavor based entirely on what we heard when switching back and forth within the plugin, from console to console, and deciding which console sounded the best on that given instrument. The net result was astounding. Not only did the promise of depth, warmth and dimension of analog come back to the mixes, the clarity of the high and high mid frequencies revealed themselves and the low frequencies now found themselves in an effortless position. The cymbals sounded smooth and sustained naturally. The bass guitar suddenly had presence, warmth and, more importantly, a place in the mix. These are just a couple of examples of the many sounds we experimented with. Ultimately, we wound up with an NLS on every recorded track or live input. We also placed an NLS on the output busses and that really glued everything together. Again, with the option of switching consoles effortlessly on the output, finding the exact right sound for that particular piece of music was effortless.

In summary: The NLS has given us back analog. There is now that 3rd dimension in the mixes. Not just left and right, but forward and back. The way vinyl used to sound. I can say with all confidence that NLS works just as well live as in the studio. It is totally amazing to bypass the NLS on any channel and hear the image flatten out, both in frequency response, and in broadness and depth. Doing the same to the NLS on the output busses, and the difference is even more noticeable. It really is incredible what the NLS has done for our sounds, recorded and live. And all of this without latency or DSP issues.

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