SPL MixDream analog DAW summing

Discussion in 'Summing Mixers' started by audiokid, Feb 5, 2010.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Okay, I'm taking the high road. After so much reading this past year on analog summing amps, then finally listening to some samples, its definitely what I need. This unit takes that ITB closet sound (I've been going nuts trying to overcome) and opens your mix up into a warm fat sound. No wonder they call it MixDream.
    Reading this shootout ( Summing Box Shootout ) it logically makes the biggest improvement when starting any project from scratch. This could be why some don't see the value.
    Plug a stereo comp into it and you have a nice package.
    I'm getting the MixDream this month and will be dreaming about it until it arrives. I'll keep you posted.

    I found these clips over on PSW forum.

    check them out.


    Anyone else have one? I'd love to hear what you are doing with it or how you've set it al up?
  2. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Chris did you see the thread over on Gearslutz where the guy compared the Mixdream to the Midas Venice desk? Worth a google, audio samples there too. I own neither but am fascinated by summing at the moment.
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Hi Jeemy,

    I did, thank you for asking! Those you suggest, including a few others threads I've found through the years, then hearing these samples, plus cucco's opinion on summing a few months back here. I finally get it, I'm convinced.
    I've spent hundreds and hundreds of hours going in circles with my mixes since I bought my first DAW ( Pro Tools Mix ++. Bloody nightmare ITB is until now. I think this is the best kept secret for DAW mixing and mastering. Best of both worlds now.

    I haven't been this excited about something in a long time.
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

  5. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    I agree that there is merit with analog summing. But to do it right is expensive. Summing boxes are one method. If I am going that far then I lean more toward a decent analog console to do summing and all the other things a good console has and does. I have been digital mixing for the last year now, and miss analog but love the power, flexability and work flow of digital. To see if I really like it or can tolerate it, I sold some unused outboard and MIDI synths and got a Tascam DM4800 with options. Now with over 100 inputs, every single one being used, I have a DAW controller, 32-ch audio interface, digital mixing that does not have the same summing results that I hear from ITB, I can still mix ITB if I choose, I get to use the DSP of the Tascam for anything going through it, 24-mic pre's (ok, nothing to brag about but they are quite useable, and good enough for my outboard), a patchbay to interface all my really necessary outboard, analog and digital and I was able to get rid of 4-48 point patchbays.

    It's a pretty sweet setup. But like any audio interface product used with any DAW software, you still have dick around with computer & software issues. I still prefer analog consoles but I am getting used to digital. Things run pretty good, but I have pretty high expectations. I can usally put up with the computer stuff when mixing. I also have a HD24 (also used for reliable remote recording) that can interface to the Tascam via ADAT if I want just record or mix old school.

    If I commit to digital mixing, and I am just about there. I'd be eagarly wanting something like SSL digital or Euphonix console, but for my current home studio I will likely upgrade to something like the Yamaha DM2000 and use it with Nuendo or Cubase where the digital mixer and software are better fine tuned in working with one another.

    Long story summary: Consider a decent digital mixer as an alternative to ITB or analog summing, and consider all the other things/features that it can provide.
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Ooo, AG, you have a nice sounding setup.

    This is the desk you have here:


    That looks sooooo nice! I can almost smell it.:tongue:
    Is it analog though? I'd love to do an A/B comparison sometime to see how the MixDream stacks up to that for sound. However, now knowing summing produces the best results starting from scratch, how could one compare in a simple way miles away?

    I do miss a consol and will be getting some sort of controller for Sequoia done the road. Oh its so much fun eh.

    AG, I'd love to see some pics of your setup. Thanks for chiming in.
  7. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    I have a Ramsa DA7 and you've certainly got me interested in the possibility of using it to sum out of the box; even just to see how that sounds.
  8. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Chris - did you look at the AMS Neve 8816? I read the shootout with interest, especially as that one wasn't included. I giggled that it had an iPod input, but am wondering if it could have been a contender....
  9. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Yes, Hard to say.

    Hey, Ramsa makes nice gear. About 30 years ago I was checking out a club I was booked in. I listened to this chick band turn all the rockers heads into gel. They had their Dad doing sound with this tiny Ramsa board. We were all used to seeing Soundcraft consols. This band comes in with some old cat using a tiny Ramsa board and blows the doors off the place. I sat behind him all night long. I learned something that night.

    Hearing how summing opens up the mix is what impresses me to. Your Ramsa should work excellent.
  10. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member


    Ya, the DM4800 is what I have to play with these days for my home setup. It is a pure 100% digital mixer, and a MIDI control surface, a analog/digital patchbay, an audio interface, a digital audio format converter (S/PDIF, AES, ADAT or TDIF), A/D & D/A converter, and at least a few more things I'm forgetting. Extreme big bang for the bucks. One thing about this digital mixing using plugs that I have to resolve very soon is that I have to get a 2nd 30-inch monitor because of screen clutter. I really thought one 30-inch would be enough and better than two smaller ones, but one 30-inch is just not enough. And I'll have to buy some furniture and change my stereo image if I expect to use two 30-inch next to one another so I'll need to park oneoff to the side unit I figure that out.

    These are the kinds of things you don't really think that much about or think all the way through until the you encounter all the work flow obstacles.

    Since I am still not commited, I have things kind of hazzardly setup so I can give the desk a real workout to know if it is going to work out for me. I still have the big-O-hunking Tascam box taking up space if I need to get rid of it. I'll see if I can tidy up enough to take a few shots.

    While I'm still not 100% commited to a digital mixer over an analog one, I am just about ready to pull the trigger and go from Quadcore to an I7. With two PowerCore cards, a UAD-2 QUAD and the various native plug stuff I want or need to use, I can't stand having the computer start to spit and choke right when I am the final stages of being done with a mix. The I7 may not cure all that, but it should big a help .

    If I could afford it, I would love to have 24+ channels of analog summing capability. If you go high end about it and add it all up, I think it quickly gets close to what a good and decent analog console costs. Of course you also have to have the space/room for decent console with 24+ channels and I can see where that can be deal breaker for some. This is another area where the digital mixer shines. Many channels, small foot print.
  11. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    i'm also interested in analog summing, but can't really afford the good mixers.
    what would you guys recommend for a budget 8ch mixer for summing? or would it make things worse than better?
  12. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Budget, yes, but how much? External analog summing is not worth doing over ITB digital summing unless (a) the D-A-D conversion and (b) the summation are both up to the job.

    If you are thinking of external summing using conventional mixers, I have in the past got good results using a pair of Alesis HD24XRs for I/O feeding a Midas Venice for summation and sampling rate conversion. These days, the whole of that chain can be done (fixed rate) at similar quality but at a fraction of the cost by a single A+H Zed-R16 Firewire-equipped analog mixer.

    If you already have good I/O, then the Audient or Dangerous Music summing units are worth looking at. There are also designs around for constructing your own resistive summing box if you are into electronic projects.

    Just to repeat: external analog summing is only as good as your D-A and A-D conversion. If that's not up to scratch, you are better off staying ITB.
  13. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Well it also depends where its going after that. This is not my strong point but as I understand it:

    I have a 16-channel mix in Cubase. I output this over 16 channels of lightpipe to the Ramsa via my Fireface 800, which has no effect on the signal chain bar clocking and Firewire --> digital conversion.

    I'm therefore subject to the following signal chain:

    16 x Ramsa D/A converters ---> Ramsa analog summing bus. Then onwards via Ramsa 2 x main outs back to the fireface to convert to digital once more, and record back into Cubase (or perhaps a better, simpler, stereo DAW ? I must admit I'm a little shaky on how that would work, especially if its running concurrently.

    Obviously the analog format 2CH could then go onwards to tape, or back through the fireface and back to Cubase (the source of the perceived problem) or straight through the fireface and into SPDIF and on to a CD recorder.

    The Venice was voted past the Mixdream in some of these shootouts noted above. I'll be able to do a similar A/B in my studio and see where that leaves me; fascinated for sure, and with the ability to use the Ramsa not as a digital MIDI controller but a genuine mixing desk with recall. Its certainly another facet.
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I believe the MixDream has had some improvements since the majority of these comparisons ( at least 3 years). Keep in mind that Fletcher pointed out some discrepancieswith the levels set during that comparison.
    From what I understand summing from the start of a session has the greatest impact and I'd like to hear more about this?

    The Midas sure received the majority, possibly coloured which may be a good thing or not.
  15. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Obviously I'm old school here and combining DAW and OTB is green to me until I actually start doing this for myself.

    My signal chain will be ( help me here) MixDream and hardware together with Sequoia 11 out of the ( help me here again) Either FireFace 800 again to MixDream or I have Lavry Blacks (AD 10 and DA 11 ) that I'm not sure here as I haven't used them for anything other than improving Pro Tools Mix plus), but I think they should fit into this sequence in a good way for the final mix to whatever I print to?
  16. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Yeah as I understand it you'd RME to the mixdream, then take the 2 channels back through the lavry AD so you're effectively bouncing via a summing box to 2 channels. I've got the 2010 mic shootout to do first but once we've done that I should get some A/Bs sometime in March.
  17. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    i was thinking about something like this:
    MACKIE 802 VLZ3 - U.K. International Cyberstore

    i have a focusrite saffire pro 24 dsp interface with 8 outputs, so i would send stems to the mixer (drums and bass - guitars - keyboards - vocals). would this make any sense?
    the converters of the saffire are good, but not in the rme or apogee league.

    audiokid, sorry if i disturbed your thread. if you want me to make a new one, let me know.
  18. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    I can't see the Mackie & Saffires providing enough of an improvement (if any) to justify this; especially given the downsides of limited output channels that you have meaning you will end up blending ITB and OTB sums. I wouldn't purchase the Mackie just to try this out (unless you did so secondhand) but if you are gonna get it for another reason anyway, it would be a great portable live desk for a small band for example, then there's no harm in trying. This is the situation I find myself in with the Ramsa - I already have it as a routing, midi controller and monitor control desk so there's no harm in experimenting.
  19. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    thanks Jeemy.

    i'm thinking about analog summing for quite awhile now, but it seems i'd have to spend more money to get what i want...
    that spl mixdream seems to be really nice, though. german craftmanship! ;-)
  20. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Jeemy's right - you could get some practice in using the Mackie and the Saffire, but don't expect it to sound better than your ITB mix. One of the major requirements for an external summing unit is large headroom (passive summers have infinite headroom), and the 802 VLZ3 does not quite get there. So, don't buy the Mackie if all you would want it for is analog summing.

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