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AES Columbus - July 7, 2022

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Summary

Access Analog offers a robotics-powered service that enables borrowing some highly desirable outboard audio gear via the internet. They gave AES Columbus the chance to try it and provide feedback. Lesley Fogle, Bill Schulenberg, Paul Kavicky, Robin Gulcher, Costa Hondroulis, and Rob Powell met with Chris Barrett, CEO and Co-Founder of Access Analog, to discuss.

Access Analog operates through a plugin. The plugin remotely controls, and streams audio to and from, the Access Analog gear. As of this writing, the plugin works on Mac and Windows in AAX, VST, VST3, and AU formats, and talks with gear from Daking, SSL, Neve, Manley, API, Universal Audio, and more. Visit https://accessanalog.com to learn more.

The experience was fairly smooth for everyone, in both Pro Tools and Digital Performer. The consensus was that the service works well.

As with any streaming service, latency was a factor, but members found strategies for working with it. Paul discovered that he could work comfortably by getting it to be in time with the beat of the material. Bill found that bypassing the plugin while making adjustments improved the process for him. Buffer settings can help with different scenarios. Chris said that offline processing is still the best option while bouncing tracks.

Some members could compare gear used via Access Analog to a software version. Lesley found that the analog gear she tried had a nice high-frequency sheen and character that the plugin version lacked, a takeaway here being that there was no loss of quality when using Access Analog.

Bill had to run stereo gear in dual mono mode for his mono tracks and found that this limited available controls, but found a way to work with it. He also wondered how the plugin could show metering on devices. Chris explained that computer vision techniques convert metering to numeric data that can be streamed efficiently to the plugin.

Other significant discussion was around an education mission: a suggestion for a simplified offering for young engineers, perhaps partnering with a company like Universal Audio that has an existing education program; additional written and infographic documentation; both the benefits and challenges of using the service in a classroom. Additionally, Chris mentioned some exciting upcoming offerings, and solicited feedback about other types of gear that could be used with the service.

Keep an eye out for more great work from Access Analog!

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More About AES Columbus Section

AES - Audio Engineering Society