ITB vs. passive summing OTB

Discussion in 'Analog Summing' started by Kurt Foster, Nov 30, 2014.

  1. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    pluses and minuses?

    i pretty much get what's good about itb, .... but what are the drawbacks of passive summing networks ... ? why is passive summing not a good thing?

    and while i'm asking, when doing itb are you printing back into the same machine or are you doing a d/a - a/d to another recorder. if it's the second choice then what are you recording to? CDR? a second daw? how about a hi def stand alone thingie?
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Digital box -> Analogue box -> Different digital box

    It doesn't matter that much what the boxes are, as long as they all have inherent quality, particularly in their converters. Take my common example of 96KHz recordings on coupled Alesis HD24s. These play as multi-channel analog into a summation device and the 2-track mix is captured by a DAW or a separate digital recorder, usually at 44.1KHz. The source can be multiple but different devices, so, for example, the raw dry tracks can be fed into the mix but wet versions of some could come in via effects units or a DAW.

    Where's the sample-rate converter gone? It's not needed, as it's built into the process. How many audio-band anti-aliaising filters are there in a 24-channel recording? Just the two in the mix capture box. Phase distortions introduced by the 24 filters in the recorded tracks all happen in the top octave (22 - 44 KHz), and they don't get through the capture filters. The capture box sees what it thinks is a pure analog stereo mix, and it uses its own clock to digitize it. This box could be a DSD recorder, as all the mixing is now done, but the use of something like that would depend on how the result is to be mastered.

    Passive summing is a good thing if it meets the demands of your mix.
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I would completely forget the passive summing altogether. If you are wanting to produce excellent mixes, the magic I hear is between two uncoupled DAW's. The converter on the Capture should be excellent and have a monitor out. That is where you listen.

    What this is basically doing is removing the first DAW's master bus and giving you a superior way (or perspective) to listen to how it is summing. The uncoupling also adds something special, which Bos explains best.

    The basic console emulation process is simple. Create groups (bus's and Aux) and sent your tracks accordingly into the Drums, Bass, Guitars, Keys, Strings, OH, Room, Reverb and delay effects groups etc. Mix ITB and use hpf. ( why do I say that? Because a DAW has huge bandwidth compared to analog. And, we don't realize just how much it really is screwing with us.
    Assign all the bus and Aux out as DA 1 & 2 into your Capture converter and AD > capture your mix on DAW2 at 44.1.
    Mix into DAW2 monitoring off the capture converter. Master on DAW2 and you are done.

    If you want to step up your game, you can invest in something like the Liaison, Manley Backbone... whatever suits your fancy, where you can insert gear for character. If you use example, a UA product there, it will create the entire mix to sound like UA trannies. Same tonality but smarter way to get distortion at a fraction of the costs. yielding SUPERIOR results.

    I use an advanced monitor control system and the Neos and Dangerous Master between the two DAW's but, I DONT NEED IT! The basic system is the bomb.
  4. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    thanks Chris ..
    i pretty much get what's good about itb, .... but what are the drawbacks of passive summing networks ... ? why is passive summing not a good thing?
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Well, people that use the Folrom rave about how cool it is. I tried to get once here but the manufacturer never took me up on it. Use a nice pre and I would expect one to be pretty cool.

    You can buy one of those cheap. Thats what I'd be buying if I was looking.
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    What interface, DAAD are you using?

    FWIW, IMHO, a total waste of time unless u have a really good round trip process, and you know how I feel about that. I wish you would do something like this though, It would be fun relating to a few others here.
  7. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    i'm leaning towards a LittleOne 8 to start.

    i have an Alesis i/o26 for my daw (Harrison MixBus) and a M Audio Fast Track for the mix daw (Audacity / Ardour)....
  8. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Personally I think the best use of resources for this type of project would be two uncoupled DAWS. The summing boxes are fine but an expensive venture to get what you really want to hear. As Bos described, its all about the second capture device seeing your tracks as a pure analog signal at what ever capture sample rates the tracks were originally done at. Having an analog summing device between the two machines is like choosing which secret sauce to use on your burgers. If you want color and you want to enhance the mix you've created then by all means get a console with insert points and eq to add to the soup. If its simply trying to move from one storage medium to another as simple as possible without ANY additional modification to the signal, then something passive.

    It seems like this is where you're aiming , with the future work to also be able to use what you come up with.

    Unless you are simply looking to master (or mix) existing multitrack sessions to two tracks, a passive summing box with some sort of monitoring ability and some insert points is probably going to be your best bet. I'm with Bos in that as long as there is quality on both DAWS as far as fidelity, you really cant go wrong simply because of the nature of what happens with an uncoupled source/capture system.

    I will eventually settle into this set-up in my room. It just makes sonic sense.

    as for a passive box...the Folcrum like Chris said, gets some great love. The Phoenix Nicerizer is another choice.
  9. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    i don't think you would remember but that is how i have been doing it for quite some time as far back as when you were at my place (in what 2005?) i have always come out of the DAW in analog and re printed the 2 mix to a stand alone CDR @ 16/44.1 ... and while that's ok, i still hear a difference when i come out of the daw with individual tracks and sum them with a mixer. (all this with Cubase 5.1) it might get better with the MixBus DAW ... we will see...
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I remember you saying this for years a s well, Kurt.

    To add for giggles.
    I've found M/S processing indispensable when mixing and archiving. Not much else matters to me . Its why I even took hybrid serious. Hardware or ITB MS processing, most of the impact I hear, or lets say, where I get the most out of an hour is related around the relationship between the sides and the center. The punch sits in the middle and magic lives on the sides. Creative M/S shaping and getting it all to sum in mono is challenging fun and very rewarding.
  11. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Yeah I remember. That is how a lot of us who came from analog burned our mastered disks. I still have all of that gear....idle...I always thought that burning to a CDR with its own converters always reproduced a better sounding mix as opposed to rendering ITB and using the burner there. I think this is the gist of what Bos and Chris have been about . That is, having two uncoupled converters and separate capture devices with them(Bos and Chris) both espousing that IF you're round-tripping through analog for enhancement purposes, that a separate capture of these single tracks is also something that bumps up the fidelity. Or maybe 'retain' is a better word. In my mind I could see this as a three step process....Maybe not something to be 'on the clock' about, but if I'm producing then something I would gladly add to my price sheet. Capture. (whatever sample rate you like) First trip out...thru your "special" analog stuff to the second uncoupled DAW (whatever sample rate you like)...Mix new tracks and Next trip out through analog summing to your first machine and then master.

    At least this is my primitive understanding of the whys of hybrid. I totally "get" why the uncoupled capture makes for a clearer picture and understand the reasons of the anti-aliasing filters smearing the content. All of these things have been gospel for a lot of years in the photo and film works world, Seems that audio is just starting to catch on to the fact that their DAW came about because of the video world and the needs for clarity of picture as well as massive track counts needed in film production. Avid is all about this part and the fact that their platform still works for capture at all is a testament to how embedded they are in the audio side. But the changes and the upgrades and everything they do is first and foremost about POST and Film/Video....
    Jitter and all that nomenclature has been in their language for many years before digital audio became the norm...whatever that is.

    I put this here not as something really necessary for Kurt and the rest but more for the casual reader looking for this kind of info about where digital can be taken.

    When getting into a dense mix its very easy to hear most summing buses in a DAW (dont care what brand btw) start to collapse with a high track count and a decent number of plugs. ESPECIALLY if you don't round trip out to analog and back. Even with the same machine...same second capture....a round trip through high end analog will give you tracks that don't crap on the summing mixer in your DAW quite as easily. But the nature of the machinery and how its used for summing within itself is a failure waiting to happen no matter what.

    Its sort of the same (only different!! HAHAHA) as aligning and degaussing and biasing the second tape machine. Procedures must be met and followed to retain quality and fidelity throughout the process.

    Chris has run the gamut in search of this fidelity and has come to an experienced conclusion that it is really all about be able to HEAR clearly what is happening, keeping the aliasing problems OUT of the equation, and staying uncoupled with the capture device. (Does that sum it up??) Its what I understand at this point and while this might be REALLY REALLY a basic explanation, its the best way I know to express how it looks from here.

    So, in deciding about "mixer" vs. "passive summing" vs. summing ITB you really have to decide what your goal and a priority might be for your room and workflow. I KNOW that I will eventually have a hybrid mix situation. Its what I do more of than anything else. I also 'track' so I do get to control what goes into my tracks to be mixed. It makes things a lot easier when your tracks are solid. And this brings me to a final point aimed at those who are curious about this......I say this simply because I come late to the table with digital and am learning as I go. There's a huge skill-set involving computerese and what tools you have at your disposal in a DAW of ANY sort. And because of this, a lot of people think that their editing skills can FIX any sort of blurb or mistake and any so-so capture can be enhanced and brought up to a level of quality fidelity. Here's where "old-Skool" is the trump card......record it 'right' and you wont have to rely on the tools and tricks as much. These then become creative tools rather than repair kits for the aimless.
  12. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Dave, this is awesome, you have it!
  13. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    A question...

    so, if you are coming out of your main production DAW during the final mix, and then inputting to another/separate uncoupled DAW, you still need to render that final 2-mix on the other DAW/PC to a playable file, like a PCM, correct?

    So, when doing this final rendering on the secondary DAW, are you not still facing the same potential issues? I'm just asking cuz I'm trying to wrap my head around this.

    I'm not doubting or ball-busting here... I'm, sincerely curious.

    Oh... wait... are you talking about sending it to a 2 track prog like SoundForge on the second PC, where you would then simply then save it as a playable .wav/PCM file, so no further rendering is needed?
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    who are you asking, Donny?
  15. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    LOL... anyone who knows... :) You're the guy when it comes to this...
  16. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Yup, and this is where a Mastering DAW convinced me. DAW 2 is the emulation of the analog chain. The Master section in Sequoia 13 can emulate everything I do OTB, better. My hardware chain was the mentor.
    Over the last 3 years I have been buying raved about go to products and learning what all the fuss is about. Then, looking at a second DAW like it was the analog chain, follow?

    There were times I was convinced OTB was the only way. This process seems so simple now but it took a lot of money and study to find this.

    On a side note, this is also why I am now "wondering" about using an Apollo 16 in the step. I'm "thinking" these could be used to emulate Hardware grit prior to the capture. I would use an Apollo 16 and the emulations like a patchbay into the Dangerous Master.

    What I continue to believe, no matter whether you use a console or modular gear, mix or master OTB, go one way. Don't return back (Round Trip) to the mixing DAW.
    I could be wrong about this but so far I have not been able to get better results on one DAW. I'm thinking its still has something to do with uncoupling and a better listening perspective.
  17. Makzimia

    Makzimia Active Member

    This is a conversation, along with others you have had about ITB vs OTB and separate master, I am following closely. Here is where I think I am going at the moment myself. I looked at how I did my 'pre-master' back in 2000 with a DA-20 MK2 DAT off a octave EQ and the DBX Quantum, those being fed from the Roland VS-1880. So, if I am understanding where all this conversation is going, I believe I have a solution that will work, please do correct me, if I am wrong.

    I am going to send stems out to EQ, Multi Comp and the Eventide as a separate lot to the dangerous music monitor ST for monitoring, and record them to say a Tascam DA-3000. With that in place (whilst recording) having used the Orion 32 into the RME over and back on MADI, the Orion as a in and out for preamps and some SSL for OTB effects like the Yamaha SPX90 II, I should have a nice clean and full sound, no?.

    (still waiting on the auralex delivery and me to setup before I can even set the gear up, forgot how expensive decent cables were too.. OUCH).


  18. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    If you connect the Tascam DA-3000 to one of the 3 Monitor ST channels, so you are hearing the capture POST! Then you are right on the money there. This is exactly what you want. So, you monitor what you are mixing into your DA-3000. (y)

    I do the exact thing for Bricasti's and Eventides between the Orion as you are thinking. Works excellent. BUT, I don't go back to the DAW in parts. Meaning, I'm not Round Tripping the analog or hardware processed signals of those effects, then duplicated an ADDA again as a final mix to say your DA-3000.

    No matter whether I am going ITB or OTB, the Project all stays together as one complete step (project).

    I would do exactly as you describe. Mix ITB, process Hardware on the Orion32 analog side> capture the analog mix ( in my case 24 channels of NEOS > summed to a Dangerous Master) into the AD 3000 at the destination SR and master everything there ( on DAW2).

    This is why I choose a 2nd DAW to capture and master on. This is why I use Sequoia ( or what ever mastering software you use) to finish (master) on.
    The Mastering DAW (DAW2) is ready to capture your mix uncoupled from the Orion32. Nothing is being synced between those two Converters.
    You don't want a clock in this equation at all! But! You want the Monitor ST on the DA 3000. Making more sense?

    You connect the Orion analogs outs into the analog ins of the next summing device. In my case, its a Prism Atlas AD to Sequoia on DAW2. I use the Prism DA into the Dangerous Monitor ST. I now hear every step of my tracking, mixing and mastering at the final destination.
  19. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I edited the above to read clearer.
  20. Makzimia

    Makzimia Active Member

    Exactly as I pictured it, thank you (y)
    bigtree likes this.

Share This Page