Today I made an interesting discovery. I was mixing a band for a live radio broadcast and they had one of these old things at the studio.
An old school analog gate/expander - I had never used something like this in a studio before. I’ve used the trusty dbx gates on live gigs, but never in a recording studio. For many years now the Waves SSL plug-ins have been my bread and butter and the dynamics on the G-Channel is an integral part of all of my drum mixes, specially the gate/expander. I know the sound of that software like the back of my hand and I know exactly what I can get from it.
With the sound of the Waves stuff firmly in my memory, I inserted that old thing on kick and snare, just to see what it’s like and it completely blew my socks off - it sounded absolutely FANTASTIC! It’s so musical, so smooth, so easy to get what you want and most importantly: what a sound! That thing really has a distinctive character, nothing like digital gates which just “opens and closes”. The DS201 really has a sound of it’s own, plus you get what you want much, much quicker than with a plug-in gate.
In case you’re wondering what it sounds like, especially the skeptical die-hard digital guys out there, I uploaded this sample track so you can make your own mind about it. On this track I have the gated kick and snare, and I bring the mono overhead in and out. The band setup is: guitar, bass, drums and vocal, and they’re all in the same room playing “Witchy Woman” by The Eagles.