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The Digidesign ICON - is it the most expensive mouse in the world?

A post by David Mellor
Saturday November 12, 2005
Buy a Pro Tools system and you have all the functionality of a Pro Tools system. Add to it, at great expense, a Digidesign ICON control surface and you have... all the functionality of a Pro Tools system. Err...?
The Digidesign ICON - is it the most expensive mouse in the world?

Comment from a Record-Producer visitor regarding the Digidesign ICON...

OK, so I see what ur saying, but really, the ICON is just a big mouse, the board itself doesn't have awesome sounding EQ, compression or that gorgeous SSL preamp.

That's what made the SSL famous, really, on top the digital integration.

I think just like when SSL came out, there were still those who stayed true to what they liked such as Neve consoles, Soundcraft or my personal favorite, API, the same will happen with this situation. It all comes down to better marketing and who does a better job at convincing the target audience of either console that theirs is a better investment based off of.......whatever it may be.

Those who already use Pro-Tools will probably lean toward the ICON. I personally don't want to pay good money that I could spend on finding a U47 or Elam 251 in mint condition, or getting killer conversion by Prism or Apogee and channel strips in my studio such as Neve Purepath, anything API.....you get the point.

That to me is pointless when I've already mastered my shortcuts on my keyboard which doesn't take anywhere near as much space as a large console would.

One of the plusses people tell me about coming to record here is that they feel comfortable, not pressured, which in turn makes you perform better anyway. I also want to have options and personally, neither the Digidesign converters or preamps have sold me yet and I've heard them installed in numerous studios (although Digidesign does make it easy to use Apogee converters with their gear).

The only person that I've heard come out with the sound of mixes I like to listen to is Charles Dye here in Miami, but a lot of that is the process with which he uses to record with which is one that takes place from the second he organizes a session and records or sequences the first musical sound.

The whole plastic knob controlling a bunch of plug-in settings within Pro Tools is just a convenience thing and really only shows you have money, not necessarily skill. What happened to the days of recording things like how Bruce Swedien does it....with minimal processing, just good technique and the overlooked good musicians

The keyboards shortcut keys work fine for me right about now. Maybe one day when I'm working on a huge album where time, convenience and compatibility are all a factor, then I might be looking toward an ICON.

However, I don't even use Pro Tools, I'm a Cubase/Nuendo user. I feel more flexible and these programs, to me, approach music from the musician that wants to make music, not a person trying to learn how to make music and needs a program to make it easier for them to achieve this.

Also, isn't Audio Masterclass supposed to be educating those trying to get established and those up and coming producers such as myself who want to break in big? It's not very reassuring to me to feel like others are so ignorant that they can't see that simply having a good mic for that lead singer.....Kelly Clarkson, Mariah, Christina.....a good preamp that you can run vocals and midi through to get a nice homogenous sound and to make it easier to mix later, good conversion (something I need), creativity and knowledge of the language of music.

I can literally do an entire album for Britney Spears, Stacy Orrico, Nelly.....just about any big solo artist....with good samples and one good signal chain going into my DAW......again, the ICON is just a convenience.

If you need to record multiple channels at once, then it will cost more to get started, but really, for most of the acts you'll run into, you need one great sounding line/instrument/mic in, and you need to know what sounds to use and how the blend them together.

That's it. Hope that helps you all that are getting started.

Thanks for listening, Dave, I know I go off sometimes.....

Yours truly,

Julian Vazquez
Owner/Founder/Head Producer
Ear Candy Studios
www.earcandystudios.org

David Mellor responds...

I can't fault your comment, apart from to say that Audio Masterclass is here to prepare people to work in the industry as it exists, and for what it might possibly evolve into. Yes, you can do it with a preamp and Pro Tools. But if people at the high end of the industry, which includes broadcast and live sound as well as specialist music recording, are buying the ICON, then it is something that has to be considered.

But they might all be wrong. No sarcasm intended, all the people buying ICON might really be wrong and are wasting their money. That is why your comment is justified. Sometimes I take different points of view and I could easily argue a similar case to yours, depending on what side of the bed I got out. The people who make such massive purchasing decisions can't take it as lightly, hence the need for discussion.

It would be nice to hear from someone on the pro-ICON side.

A post by David Mellor
Saturday November 12, 2005 ARCHIVE
David Mellor has been creating music and recording in professional and home studios for more than 30 years. This website is all about learning how to improve and have more fun with music and recording. If you enjoy creating music and recording it, then you're definitely in the right place :-)
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