Looking beyond plug-in emulations, Access Analog has introduced an innovative streaming service. The US startup lets you run audio into a dream rack of hardware equipment and back into your DAW. It’s like gear rental gone digital, or a Netflix for analog equipment. However, you don’t have to pay subscription or purchase the plug-in. You book time slots of up to 3 hours, which are priced quite reasonably. By the time Access Analog is overbooked, I reckon they will have enough cash to expand.
Farming Off Gear
There is no virtualization – all the gear is physical and remotely controlled, by you. Since it’s 2019 and all, you are not yelling commands at a studio assistant over a mic. Rather, the knobs and switches are massaged by these rad rotors twisting the nobs and robot fingers pushing the buttons for you! There’s no AI in the system, for now at least. You grab a DAW plug-in, which resembles any virtual rack, and use it as imagined – complete with presets and parameter automation.
Audio can be delivered lossless (24-bit WAV) on a solid internet connection, as you tweak or after offline rendering. Signal routing and audio conversion (an Aurora Lynx is on duty) is handled automatically behind the scenes. Delay compensation, however, can be tricky as your DAW is dealing with several layers of latency – plug-in, back-and-forth internet audio, and the robotics interpreting your moves.
Running 2-channel audio from your master bus is said to be straightforward. But working the Access Analog plug-in on a single track, with others playing in parallel, might throw the timing out of sync. This happens when your chosen buffer size is larger than your DAW’s maximum delay compensation. It’s fixed in the old-fashioned way – manually move the track earlier in the timeline by the buffer size, or by buffer size minus the maximum delay compensation.
Even so, this is seriously advanced stuff and the kind of breakthrough we rarely witness as audio technology matures. Introductory prices start at USD 6 for a 30-minute ride and the initial equipment list has some remarkable entries like the SSL Fusion, the Black Box HG-2, and the LTL Silver Bullet analog mojo boxes. These alongside traditional workhorses like the SSL G Comp, an UA 1176, and the Pultec EQP1A.
For more information and reservations, visit Access Analog. After delivering the article, I learned about the existence of Mix:Analog, which has been around since 2017 and lets you do similar things. However, their technology is web-only at the moment.