As my audio production gear quest/arsenal expands, I find myself diving deeper and deeper into the abyss of forked rabbit holes which is the realm of audio production equipment, and how the different gear works together. There are so many different makes, takes, combination variables, whether certain hardware is compatible, will compliment, and will interface well with other hardware in the same chain, software debates, DAWs, required PC parts, OS comparability/comparability, synths, beatpads, MICROPHONES!!... It goes on and on in every direction infinitely.
There is so much depth and detail (and in many instances customization or actual creation of hardware) to all this that I am sure just some the topics alone (listed in the above paragraph) sound like a foreign language to most of you - bc it certainly did to me at first. It is quite a fascinating world however, and much preferred for the way my mind works, and what I like when delving into creative endeavors (the high level of customization via preference/opinion - aka precise tuning). I usually side with the part of the brain that works with creativity and literature, but this is the ONLY topic I was ever interested in enough to shed that aside and take the hard road of learning something technical, which my brain-type has much more trouble adapting to.
My Current Hybrid Vocal Tracking Chain
Hooked up differently now - Mic to XLR in pre to XLR out on the pre using an XLR to TRS cable into a balanced input on the UCX (this is to bypass the preamps on the UCX). Using low-latency DSP for compression/EQ but am looking to switch to 100% OTB tracking. See, I told you it was another language.
With powerful/versatile tools, comes immense education and practice. I have been on this path for years but much more intently in the past six months, where I have really committed to this passion. I like to throw my energy around and not settle in one place, but this makes it hard to be successful in a world that demands extreme expertise in each single category. Audio production has so much versatility, customization, and individual realms of its own, that it allows me to congruently throw my energy around in different areas, but also still the same area (THIS IS ALSO WHY I LOVE HIVE!!). This is the fist time in my life I have found something like this in the physical realm, and am very excited to see where this is all headed, because it feels great.
I have spent more hours and late nights than I care to count scouring audio-gear/engineering/production forums for answers to some of the most complex technical questions I have ever had to ask - mostly only to discover that for most scenarios, there is almost never one complete, strait-forward, "correct" answer. So much depends on your recording space, your studio dimensions, your other gear, your preferences, and so on with everything else and more (again - listed in the first paragraph).
The only true way to really know if a piece of gear or certain approach to production is going to work for you is if you actually get the gear in hand, in the actual space you will be using it... and try it, adjust it, try again, and so on. Unfortunately there is no practical way to do this unless you have a limitless budget (the gear gets extremely expensive), and even less so now since it is nearly impossible to test microphones and some other gear in stores because of "the pandemic". It is also hard to get all the gear you want to try at once (so you can test how everything works together) without actually buying it all, which makes the process all the more risky, time consuming, and work-heavy. Fortunately I am experienced with bartering and finding deals on quality pre-owned merch - perks of being an environmentalist. I am also always up for a fun, passionate challenge.
My Previous Vocal Tracking Chain
These were kind of a joke - Scarlet Focusrite 6i6 with a DBX 286s "strip"
The only alternative to trying things yourself is to do a heavy amount of research in audiophile forums and through streaming videos, and then in some cases even creating your own threads for your specific situation ONLY when you cannot find another thread that could possibly solve your dilemma.
I realize that Hive is not yet an ideal place for such inquiries, as there are still not a ton of audio engineers on the platform, and certainly no established community for it that I am aware of (if there is please link me in the comments). That is why I have turned to Gearslutz - IMO the best, most active, and most complete audiophile forum site on the net (although I must admit their Discord server is not really that great).
I made my first few forum posts EVER on Gearslutz, and just made another one this evening involving my concerns about compressor hardware and how it relates to my vocal chain (linked recording equipment). I know there are only a few sound engineers on Hive, but if any of you see this PLEASE lmk what you think about my compression post by leaving a comment here or better yet on my recent Gearslutz thread.