Summing mixer

Discussion in 'Analog Summing' started by audiokid, Dec 4, 2009.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Staff


    I admit, I'm not fully up to snuff with it all yet. I'm still trying to understand what I should keep from the old days and what I should be adding.

    My DAW setup is getting close to operation. Its not an easy process working this site, having a family and another job all at the same time, but I'm getting there, crawling or not!

    I've asked this question before but I'm still having confusion over all the benefits of a summing box now and if its something I should invest in to improve my workflow and ultimately my sound?

    I have outboard comps, eq and processors.
    I'm using the RME FF 800 and Sequoia 11.

    Would you use one if it was given to you and how would you use it?
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Here, this is what I'm talking about?

  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Is this really only a benefit if I was mixing OTB and whereby, only using the DAW for tracking and editing?
  4. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I've definitely found external summing mixers to be a noticeable improvement over ITB summing. The difference isn't subtle either.

    My favorite boxes of choice are Dangerous Audio Summing boxes (the D-Box is simply the most amazing multi-purpose tool on the planet!)

    Granted, I haven't tried the Mix Dream and it does look like a damn nice box!

    My absolute best recordings (albeit of classical music which doesn't require a lot of level changes and automation) come from when I set the levels JUST right while recording and I don't have to alter the levels while mixing. I sum externally through the Dangerous and (occassionally to often) into the Bricasti and voila - audio chocolate!

    I'm not kidding when I say the results are stunning and not subtle!

    audiokid likes this.
  5. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    work flow and size of mix

    the smaller Jazz and Classical things do suit the Summing Box

    But for the BIG pop music mix with many many channels and sub groups and effect sends,
    it does get a little harder to know how to incorporate the Summing Box
    Some ITB mixing with the Summing Box give part of the advantages

    It's not a simple one shot answer for everyone
    it is worth getting a demonstration to show what a Summing Box can do for some mixes
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Man, I'm excited but still confused.

    Whats the chain of events here.

    You hook it up via subs from the DAW/ FF 800 outs?
    It acts as a sweetner hardware control center ( patchbay ) for your external hardware. Example 16 ins for Comps, Eq, processors?
    You somehow do some magic by using the summing box to balance everything and shape the imaging?

    Then, take the 2 outs and return them back into the DAW as a left and right ?

    Or take the outs to a DAT to further master the mix?

    Sorry, I'm sounding kinda newbie here. Its something I've never done before. There is no one in my area that has anything like this to learn from.
  7. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    a quick look at the suggested uses and wiring for some of the above mentioned boxes
    like the Dangerous
    they should have a white paper

    in it's simplest form ... kinda when the 001 was released
    NOT that it has anything directly to do with the 001 and these things have been around for years

    a simple 16 channel levels mix on the PT LE ... ITB
    compared to
    an analog 16 into 2 with a Summing Box using the 001's 8 plus say an ADAT ... another 8 outs

    the boast was
    it sounded so much better and the OLD skool stereo image just worked better

    IF you expand this to a complicate mix it all threatens to become a mixing desk again

    Finding the balance is all about work flow and project size

    not easy to give a one shot answer ... did I say that earlier ?
  8. planet10

    planet10 Active Member

    for me here is what i do
    i record to Nuendo 4.3 mix ITB somewhat, but ALWAYS mix thru my Neve 8108, recording my mix back into Nuendo. so yeah, i use summing and one hellova way to do it i must say!!
    SUM IT MAN!!! no matter what SUM IT
  9. Call me a skeptic, but I just can't grasp how making an extra trip through AD/DA can possibly improve a mix. I'd love to hear some solid explanations from folks who are believers, not just the marketing hype passed out by Dangerous or the "I can't explain it, it just sounds better" refrain.

    Degrading a single by taking it through a D-A and then back through an A-D prior to finished product makes zero sense to me. What could you possibly gain from analog summing that would overcome that degradation of signal?
  10. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Your a skeptic because you have not had any experince doing it or doing it right. When you have great outboard gear, it is very desireable and most often adds to a better mix than using half-ass crapy plugs that most people now use. With good to great converters you gain more than you loose with external gear than the signal degrade of more than one A2D and D2A conversion. Very common for pro's and those with hybrid analog/digital studios. It there was truely nothing to gain by doing it, it wouldn't be done.

    Anlalog summing is a bit different and can be argued. If your still using those half ass crapy plugs, then it won't likely make the night and day difference that people are expecting. In fact even in the the best of circumstances of plugs, converters and gear, analog summing can still often be a pretty subtle thing. But it is the small and subtle things that can take a mix to the next level.
  11. That's a pretty audacious assumption there, bro.

    This is a specious argument. People buy $50,000 solid silver speaker cables, yet there is nothing to gain by doing so. Snake oil and voodoo exists all over the audio world.

    Then please argue it, instead of offering ad hominem attacks like the above and below.

    I asked for someone to offer me a solid explanation, and you make assumptions about my level of experience and then insult me.

    Would anyone else like to try arguing for the concept instead of against the person raising the question?
  12. planet10

    planet10 Active Member

    im not sure of your experience, nor your level of expertise in the matter of recording. i tried to look up your studio and found nothing so i cant make an educated guess as to the equipment you use or the anything else for that matter. But i can offer you my reasons for mixing thru my console.
    1. because thats what i have been doing for 25 years.
    2. a mix done thru a console using its line inputs, eq, filter, aux's and inserts for my outboard gear has way more openness, space, and depth. reverbs delays and such shine more.
    3. ITB is just that a box, to me thats the sound you get, the sound inside a small box.
    4. analog circuitry, and im no techy guy here, but as explained to me, the circuit of analog products react in a way that NO digital plugin could ever emulate. when you have something inserted into a channel all that you do within that console channel will affect the way that piece of outboard gear reacts. thats why i use that method because it makes my clients really really happy.
    if yo uhave never tried a mix of yours thru a console then your truly missing out. its all about ELECTRONICS....not a digital plugin.

    your comment about taking a track out thru a D2A and back into a A2D makes no sense to me at all my friend. for one my signal from my console is analog into my A2D as a 2track mix for the mastering engineer to do his thing. if you think that taking a track and going A2d, D2A, and back to A2D is bad, well my friend, thats how it gets done, and your way it most certainly done.....even if you wanted to take your mix and run it out of protools and into a clients cd recorder or something like that, your STILL going D2A and back to A2D since the recorder has converters in it, they may be better or worse than what you have but i can assure you that my method is practiced so very lovingly by many others in our community than you think.
    REMEMBER, its not all about digital dude, analog it truly the sound of music.
  13. Console and outboard effects is one thing. That's a matter of preference, and if you have the top-drawer console and the top-drawer outboard effects to justify it, then it's a worthwhile thing for you to do if you prefer mixing in that fashion.

    A summing box has a singular purpose - to take discrete channels out of a DAW and sum to 2-channel in the analog domain. When you use a summing box, you're doing one thing: converting your numerous signals (already pre-mixed in the DAW) from D to A to sum them to 2-channel as analog, then converting it back to D on the back end to pass along to the next step in the production chain.

    That's what I don't get.

    I have no issue with actual mixing OTB. I know lots of folks who do nothing more with the DAW than comps and edits, and handle everything else OTB.

    I have an issue with doing all the pre-production in the box, then doing a conversion to analog just to run it through this one piece of equipment that does nothing more than sum the signals to two channels. I'd love to hear from folks that actually use these things as to what benefit they really get out of taking this step (as opposed to doing what you do, which is handle all your mixing in the analog domain)
  14. PS: Here's the copy on the Dangerous Audio Website:

    Dangerous 2-BUS

    On one hand, it tells you about all these enhancements to your mix, on the other, it tells you how perfectly pristine and neutral the circuitry is. It reads like snake oil. That's why I'm a skeptic, because there's no real hard truth or quantifiable explanation for why it's supposed to be so much better than taking a project that was mixed completely in the digital domain, summing it in the digital domain, and rendering it as .WAV files (maintaining digital integrity) and passing it along without going into and then back out of the analog domain.

    You can use a SPDIF cable to do the same thing with the client's CD recorder - maintain the digital integrity throughout.

    Oh - and the reason you can't find my studio anywhere is because I closed that studio down about a year or so after I joined this site, and never got around to editing my sig.
  15. planet10

    planet10 Active Member

    yeah i hear you Scott, i wasnt dissing your website AT ALL, i just like to know who im going to be chatting with and seeing what they are about, im not knocking you on that.
    thats why i use a console and not some BS little box. i know that my Neve will create a great 2 track sum, better than a dangerous or a tubetech or an spl or even the contemporary Neve summing box.
    im doing the EXACT SAME THING as these BLB's only i have a bigger advantage than those BLB's. i have filters, eq, inserts, aux's all that cool stuff. im with you on this Scott, if your going to sum it do it on a console, its made for that and its not pristine and neutral who wants that!!!! make it FAT baby. Scott i encourage you to take a session to a console and see what happens, but to make it a realistic challenge you have to make the mix decisions not the house engineer.
  16. Sounds like we're on the same page re: summing boxes.

    I've done a few mixes on consoles in the past, and I always enjoyed the results, but hated the fader-riding component. One day I'll find a great analog console with automation that doesn't force me to compromise on the sound - and I'll probably wind up taking out a second mortgage to pay for it. ;)
  17. planet10

    planet10 Active Member

    dude riding faders is FUN and creative!! thats the cool part of mixing a record. with or without automation you have to make those initial moves anyway. put a little tape next to the fader and mark your spots. ride it man!!! it makes the clients take notice of how cool it is and they want in on the riding too!!!
  18. I'm sure I would enjoy it a lot more if I didn't have such a tendency to get lost in the music and forget when I was supposed to pull that vocal track back or slam up the lead guitar. :)
  19. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Lighten up. There was no direct attack. Your statement read that since you can't grasp it, it is safe to assume that is because you have no experience doing it and doing right. Because if you did, you would then, or should be able to grasp it.

    There is nothing to argue. You come to our own conclusions based on your skills and experience. If you can't grasp it and would rather argue with no basic frame of reference, go fo it. I stand by my statements.
  20. Well, if all the summing box proponents have to offer is "you don't get it, because if you did get it, you wouldn't be arguing", then it seems my skepticism is justified.

    Your defense of the summing box sounds exactly like the audiophile defending his $50,000 speaker cables.

    All I asked for was some objective support, not voodoo and snake oil, like Dangerous Audio gives on their product page.


    If the "you have no experience doing it" was some sort of hint towards "you've never used one", I'm sorry, but I'm not inclined to drop $2700 on a piece of equipment just to "try it out", especially when the producers of said piece of equipment can't be bothered to offer anything but esoteric descriptions that could be just as easily transposed to any piece of audiophile listening equipment or accessory and still appear written for the specific product.

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