Video: Jay Maas on Using Hardware Outboard Gear with a DAW-Based Recording Setup

The allure of digital is undeniable: At no point in the history of recorded sound has it been so easy to lay down a track. All the connections, levels, and general worry when recording with a traditional studio setup are, by and large, bypassed when you're operating in ones and zeros.

For some, however, there's no reason to abandon analog recording equipment entirely—and indeed, the mixing of hardware analog gear and digital music software can give you the best of both worlds.

Jay Maas is one such believer in the power of analog gear, and he knows more than a bit about recording. After opening Getaway Recording Studio on the North Shore of Boston in 2003, the producer/engineer has over 100 credits to his name and has worked with hardcore legends like Bane and Propagandhi.

So with two decades of studio experience, Jay has a few pearls of wisdom for producers of all stripes. In our video above, he shares five reasons to keep analog gear in your recording rig and the five pieces he'd include in his desert-island gear locker.

Why Analog Recording Gear Is Great

Harmonics and Distortion

When you push the peaks in software, you tend to get glitches in return. When you juice a track with decibels and gain using analog gear, you get more character and warmth that you simply can't find with an overdriven digital signal.

Response of Extreme Settings

Elaborating on the first point: When you push the bill with tubes and transistors, you can push the bill further. In Jay's own words: "I feel more comfortable pushing 12dB on an EQ in the analog domain than I am in the digital domain."

Lack of Latency

Don't want to worry about milliseconds and conversion rates? The answer is simple: Go analog, baby. Latency "fundamentally undermines the essence of the performance" and can keep you from capturing the purest distillation of an artist's work.

Reliance on Your Ears

The graphical parametric EQ is a vital tool in today's studios (and one Maas freely admits to using frequently), but it cannot emulate the experience of sitting down with an artist and shaping the sound as you mix.

The Sheer Fun of Analog

There's something to be said for having a physical piece of gear and tweaking settings to your heart's delight. It's easy to lose track of time when you start exploring that gear, and that time is well-spent.

Jay sums it up perfectly: "If you're having fun, you're probably doing more work."

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