Outboard Gear – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Audio Mixing and Mastering Glossary

What is Outboard Gear?

Outboard gear refers to external hardware equipment used in audio production, typically in the realms of recording, mixing, and mastering. This gear is separate from the computer or digital audio workstation (DAW) and is connected to the system via cables. Outboard gear can include a variety of devices such as compressors, equalizers, reverbs, delays, preamps, and more. These pieces of equipment are essential tools for audio engineers and producers to shape and enhance the sound of recordings.

How is Outboard Gear used in Audio Mixing and Mastering?

In audio mixing and mastering, outboard gear is used to process audio signals in real-time or during post-production. For example, a compressor can be used to control the dynamic range of a vocal track, while an equalizer can be used to adjust the frequency response of a guitar recording. Outboard gear allows for precise and detailed manipulation of audio signals, giving engineers the ability to sculpt the sound to their liking.

What are the different types of Outboard Gear?

There are various types of outboard gear available for audio production, each serving a specific purpose. Some common types include:

– Compressors: Used to control the dynamic range of audio signals.
– Equalizers: Used to adjust the frequency response of audio signals.
– Reverbs: Used to add depth and space to audio recordings.
– Delays: Used to create echo and spatial effects.
– Preamps: Used to amplify and shape the sound of microphones or instruments.

These are just a few examples of the many types of outboard gear available to audio engineers.

How does Outboard Gear differ from In-the-Box processing?

Outboard gear differs from in-the-box processing in that it involves physical hardware devices rather than software plugins. In-the-box processing refers to using plugins within a DAW to process audio signals. While in-the-box processing offers convenience and flexibility, outboard gear often provides a more tactile and hands-on approach to audio processing. Additionally, outboard gear can offer a unique sonic character and color that may not be easily replicated with software plugins.

What are the advantages of using Outboard Gear in audio production?

There are several advantages to using outboard gear in audio production. Some of these advantages include:

– Analog warmth: Outboard gear often imparts a unique analog warmth and character to audio recordings that can enhance the overall sound quality.
– Hands-on control: Outboard gear allows for hands-on control and manipulation of audio signals, giving engineers a more intuitive and tactile approach to processing.
– Unique sonic characteristics: Each piece of outboard gear has its own sonic characteristics and color, allowing engineers to experiment and create unique sounds.
– Signal chain flexibility: Outboard gear can be easily integrated into a signal chain, allowing for customized processing and routing of audio signals.

How can Outboard Gear enhance the quality of a mix or master?

Outboard gear can enhance the quality of a mix or master in several ways. By using outboard gear, engineers can:

– Add depth and dimension to audio recordings through the use of reverbs and delays.
– Control the dynamic range of audio signals with compressors to achieve a more balanced and polished sound.
– Shape the frequency response of audio signals with equalizers to achieve clarity and definition.
– Add character and color to audio recordings with the unique sonic characteristics of outboard gear.

Overall, outboard gear provides audio engineers and producers with the tools they need to elevate the quality of their mixes and masters and create professional-sounding recordings.