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New Toft Console Setup vs New ITB Setup Help me decide

Hi everyone,

First off, I'm a novice recording engineer, and I strive to one day become a "Pro". I've been engineering for 12 years now, making the best
out of my budget gear and I believe Its time for me to start working with a professional grade setup to further assist creating the sounds I have
in my head. I've saved up allot of money over the last two years to upgrade all my non professional pieces of gear all at once, about $17,000 to be exact. Up until about 2 months ago I've had my heart set on a completely "ITB" rig, where the chain would just go mic > preamp > a/d converter > Cubase > and processed with nothing but quality plugin s.

This "ITB" setup, setup 1 would consist of the fallowing.
1. 8 Daking Mic Pre's
2. 8 Vintech Mic Pre's
3. Apogee Symphony system

Now, a couple months ago I discovered Toft consoles. I've wanted to be able to Eq channels with quality real analog eq's, mix with real faders, and so on, for a long time. In fact its been 11 years since I've touched a real mixer, as when I first started a had a 24 track Tascam tape mixer.
Something has been missing ever since, I think its the enjoyment of the hands on experience.

Enough rambling..

Basically it comes down to the realization that for nearly the exact same price I would spend on just the 12 quality outboard preamps, I could get a Toft ATB-32A console. Yikes, what to do?

Now it all comes down to sound quality of course, I want to know if I'd be making any sacrifices sound wise, or gaining any sound wise if I were to go the console route. I fear that the preamps in the toft are not on the
same quality level as such preamps as Daking, Vintech, Api, Neve, etc etc..
Now if i went the console route, I'd have to save up for compressors, limiters, reverb units, gates, and such, but I'm more than okay with that
if the end result is better?

Please give me all the the input you have, as I need to decide which route I'm taking and take the leap soon.

Comments

audiokid Mon, 12/03/2012 - 10:53
bishopdante, post: 397274 wrote:

SPL Neos, that's more than half of the budget, and it's got no pres, and no EQs. Rather have a Thermionic Culture Fat Bustard and keep some money if going down that road. I wouldn't recommend spending $10k on faders and 8 or 12 tracks of summing in this case, though.

Like the majority, you are missing the entire concept with this beast and hybrid summing done right all together. You don't want pre's, eqing, trannies etc. Fat Bustard is not on the mark either. No use for it. Might as well buy a console. But I was confused with the concept until I set up my rig.

audiokid Mon, 12/03/2012 - 11:21
All I have to say beyond this is ( cause its going over heads ..), I am soooooooo glad I didn't waste my money (life) buying a dated console of any sort. And I have the money to be that stupid.
Other than the wonderful eye candy and old school workflow, the convenience for large project like freelance record companies bringing in their hired guns ... and live work for touring, they are a complete and utter waste of money! A HUGE step backwards in all aspects if you are using a DAW as your capture device.. Tape and a console, okay, I'lll choke that one down if you stave me for a month ( processing drums I suppose) but still so backwards. See MixDream or NEOS direct outs if you really need tape.

If you want killer sound going in and out, and the option to choose the flavour of the session and/or track(s), this can be accomplished via tracking through many Neve or API strips like this one example [[url=http://[/URL]="http://www.sweetwat…"]Vintech X73i | Sweetwater.com[/]="http://www.sweetwat…"]Vintech X73i | Sweetwater.com[/] , and most definitely during your mixing stage which is where it really gets fun and you all of a sudden go..... wow.

We are all better off going hybrid and investing in premium outboard pre's for their key elements during track or adding into a passive device like a Folcrom, a few selected comps like some 1176 or LA2A's and letting the DAW do the rest.
Adding choice hardware in the processing chain together with an ultra high headroom analog summing system, which doesn't add tranny distortion to the chain is the only way I would ever recommend someone starting up and going Pro today.
Do that, and you are golden beyond the majority ever realize. Otherwise, stay in the box, buy the pres you need, use good or stellar conversion ( not average) and save your money, tears and headaches.

Traditional consoles and all that comes with those are a dated concept taking a HUGE step backwards from today's highly advanced direction in modular sound engineering.

Kurt Foster Mon, 12/03/2012 - 11:40
bishopdante, post: 397278 wrote: Another example of a perfectly usable console with... just a few mic pres: (Dead Link Removed)
[/URL]
For the same price as 12 channels of vintech neve 1073 clones.

yeah but it won't sound as good as the Neve. plus that's an FOH board ... not really that great for recording. you would have to use it in a split configuration ... eeechhh!



bishopdante, post: 397281 wrote: Again, really can't complain about the prices.

(Dead Link Removed)

56 channel mixer, two patchbays. Few rough edges, ready to be modified and hot-rodded. $5750 buy it now.

Less than 8x vintech 1073 clones, at $3k per rack unit of 4 pres.


again, that thing looks like a maintenance nightmare. you must be able to work on these things yourself. a lot of us can't ... tech time when i closed my place was $80 per hour and the guy charged me for drive time 60 miles each way. i was forking out over $300 a month to keep the place up and going. that was fine as long as there was business but as we all know the bottom dropped out on that in 2001.

bishopdante, post: 397278 wrote:
Obviously these massive consoles are for doing big sessions. If you're doing overdubbing at home, rather than recording a whole band of substantial scale, this is probably a bad idea. For mixing, probably a little overkill. Definitely won't run out of channels.

If you've got a rack of pres, yes it'll be more portable, so those big, heavy consoles aren't ideal for location work, unless you're going to buy a truck to put it in as well.

There are smaller format desks with similar sound quality, which are equally reasonably priced, and that's what I'd really recommend. Something for $1500-ish. Quite a lot of broadcast consoles are out there, saw some great little desks going shockingly cheap at the BBC world service sell-off auctions, and there's loads more radio stations and broadcast studios which are going over to all-digital. Broadcast consoles also usually have a space in the middle which is the perfect place for a screen and keyboard. There's lots of proper quality pre-digital stuff going surplus/spare which could easily be repurposed. Give it a bit of a hack, new patchbay, maybe change the routing a bit.

Also, there doubtless are people buying up these desks, just like they were buying Neves 30 years ago, and parting them out, putting the modules into lunchboxes with new power supplies. Seems to happen a lot to Calrecs.

____

It depends how many tracks of summing, and how many tracks of front end one needs, really. Whether it needs to be portable, whether it's for tracking, mixing, overdubbing. Etc.

However, I'm convinced that second hand consoles are definitely much better value for money than new "vintage king" boutique retro-clones, or Toft made-in-China desks.

i have seen pictures of the OP's set up. he is limited on space. i doubt that anything larger than a 16 channel TOFT would fit. that's why i suggested the NEOS. what i like about the NEOS is 120 volt rails. serious headroom. just add a lunch box or two of APIs and compressors / eq's and he would be set. absolutely more cash than the TOFT but at least that would sound good. if someone had some deep pockets, i would suggest an API 1608.

audiokid Mon, 12/03/2012 - 11:46
Kurt Foster, post: 397310 wrote: that's why i suggested the NEOS. what i like about the NEOS is 120 volt rails. serious headroom. just add a lunch box or two of APIs and compressors / eq's and he would be set. absolutly more cash than the TOFT but at least that would sound good. if someone had some deep pockets, i would suggest an API 1608.

Now you getting it Kurt! The NEOS is what I have and more. Its the King.

ChrisH Thu, 09/13/2012 - 12:09
RemyRAD, post: 393545 wrote: But if all that you have is a rack full of Neve and API, I could live with that.
I could live with that too..

audiokid, post: 393547 wrote: I think he wants to put his hands on faders and less mouse.?? I can't blame him either. But sound wise, I think all our suggestions will give you the most sonic flavours and probably the best S/N while retaining or taking advantage of all the benefits of DAW editing , automation " etc" ... that comes along with ITB.
audiokid, you get what I'm saying. I definitely what to get my hands on the faders and less mouse in the near future.
One of my main concerns is Analog Eq, Compression, Gating vs the Plug-In counterparts, to me it makes all the sense in the world that a high end Analog Eq would sound better than a plug in that's just changing numbers.

audiokid, post: 393554 wrote: Its a beautiful thing, building a system with all this colour and headroom that is!
Yes, I'm way too anxious about getting this rig ordered. audiokid, how do you like your Warm Audio WA12, thinking about getting one, or two?

Kurt Foster Mon, 12/03/2012 - 11:58
well i'm not really getting there lol but i do see ther writing on the wall and the NEOS and the SSL X Racks seem to be the only thing in a small format that pushes out a big board sound with depth and dimension.

my next system is still going to be itb / laptop / StudioOne DAW with a small USB 2 interface. an extension of my home entertainment system. i will be able to sit on the couch and play around / record / mix, tweak the TV audio, play my vinyl.

i also thinking of setting up a small "radio station" to stream podcasts or even go "pirate" broadcast so i can inflict my George Jones, Merle Haggard and Beatle records on the world. i'm not going to ever get real serious into a studio again. i'm just getting too old and fat to be crawling around setting up mics and patching for sessions. plus there's no money in it any longer. it's a young persons game for sure.

audiokid Thu, 09/13/2012 - 16:00
ChrisH, post: 393580 wrote: I could live with that too..


audiokid, you get what I'm saying. I definitely what to get my hands on the faders and less mouse in the near future.
One of my main concerns is Analog Eq, Compression, Gating vs the Plug-In counterparts, to me it makes all the sense in the world that a high end Analog Eq would sound better than a plug in that's just changing numbers.


Yes, I'm way too anxious about getting this rig ordered. audiokid, how do you like your Warm Audio WA12, thinking about getting one, or two?

Okay, why I like hybrid and not so big on a console is a big topic but here's the skinny on my opinion.

An analog console to me is a dated concept, noisy, power thirsty and designed for yesteryear. But this opinion is directed towards the $50,000 and under console. I would love to have an older Neve or API in mint condition.
A Hybrid summing amp however, like the MixDream I use is designed for the DAW and has all the stuff you do and need. Big headroom and close routing possibilities with simple on/off bypass for inserts are pretty much it. Its the closest thing to a straight line for analog. When its cranked wide open, I can hardly tell its on.
The hands on faders and knobs is something we long for big time. So, the day a controller becomes available for my DAW of choice, (which happens to be Sequoia right now) that is affordable, I will be on that indeed. I want digital control. I love it. But know the secret to sonic colour and personality ( to name a few reasons) is in copper and energy. You don't need much of it to make a difference either. But I personally think you need to go about hybrid right or don't bother.

Most of all your needs are in a DAW. And that is the sound of the radio. Do you like it?

The EQ's, compressors, effects, mastering tools "plug-ins" available in my DAW, (Samplitude/Sequoia 12) sound excellent and do things outboard gear doesn't. I love how surgical it all is too.

But, I have and want more specific hardware that the digital stuff doesn't do. Yes, gear does make a difference :)
Hybrid is the ultimate. Best of both worlds. Its brilliant. And I totally believe combining the two worlds makes a better sound, that you can hear and mix faster and it is more fun.
I got into this business because I like having fun. Mixing ITB was cool 13 years ago and now its just a computer program that allows you to dissect things. To me, all the editing we are hearing is way over done and IMHO, a dated sound we will one day be ashamed of.
The marvel has long worn off. I don't miss tape. But Analog hardware, well, thats like nuclear power that makes it all glow.

So, don't give up on the DAW but don't let anyone tell you hardware and OTB mixing is going away. Its the path less traveled. The more I know about it, the less I actually feel like talking about it.

Re Warm Audio, I'm so slammed lately, I've not had a chance to even plug it in. But I plan on it soon. I'll let you know.

Member Mon, 12/03/2012 - 12:30
The points I'm making are as follows:

#1: There's a lot of pro-audio stuff out there, if you have a limited budget, do some hunting around and you can get professional gear for a lot cheaper than new or vintage-king. There's a current fashion for certain pieces of equipment and a certain sonic aesthetic, but if you step outside that you can get stuff for incredible prices. It's good to think in terms of equipment that does a job. Discrete component simpler, older stuff will be easier to maintain, but there are a lot of bits of kit that are off the mainstream / gearslutz radar.

#2: Having "the best" class A transformer-buffered microphone pres, or ±60V summing boxes isn't necessarily what it takes to produce the best mix. If you consider yourself "a novice", I'd recommend getting equipment that allows you to work fast and learn. Using a split layout on an analog board allows one to work nice & fast. Getting stuff to sound good isn't just a question of having the ultimate most expensive kit, although that helps somewhat, it's a question of user and usability. Having equipment that's "really good" will serve you well, you don't have to have "the best" to be able to produce a great sound. There's many, many more important facets of the recording process. One should look for the weakest link in the chain, putting racing wheels on a car with a busted engine won't make any difference.

#3: What's good about a mixer isn't just the summing, although that is one of the reasons. Digital summing has its issues, but it also has its advantages. One should use a bit of both if working OTB. But a big benefit of a mixer is that it's a way of working, and it's an important skill. Perhaps it's because I've done a fair amount of live engineering as well as studio work, but I find that fiddling about in the computer with edits and plugins is a process that if one isn't careful introduces a lot of friction (don't get me wrong, I love the computer and all its software capabilities, it's the one thing I'd never want to do without {the nightmare of trying to do a record using just RADAR} and I speak from some experience), but it does slow you down, you can go down the rabbit hole of confused tweak. I've seen people spend a year, fulltime, mixing an album because of fiddling encroachment, and the end result was really no better. Being agile with a mix and pushing stuff around is really important, I'm prepared to sacrifice some sound quality to have that ability. A split board doesn't bother me, I actually quite like it.

audiokid Thu, 09/13/2012 - 20:08
Check this out: I highly recommend this for everyone remotely interested in mixing otb.

[="http://www.puremix.net/video/mixing/pop/hybrid-digital-analog-mixing.html?affid=53M0N3X8QL"]Hybrid Digital/Analog Mixing - PUREMIX[/]="http://www.puremix…"]Hybrid Digital/Analog Mixing - PUREMIX[/]


Duration: 1:27:05
In this one hour and twenty seven point three minutes extravaganza Fab mixes a new track from Indie Pop band [URL=http://www.facebook… Days.
Starting from scratch and explaining every step he takes and every choice he makes (Every breath he takes, every move he makes, oh can’t you seeeeeee....), he coaxes the track from rough mix to final mix using hardware eqs and compressors, many different plugins, analog summing, and a great array of tricks to make the song shine. Instruments dealt with range from vocals to bass, drums, guitars and keyboards (Oolala).

Hardware used :
Dangerous 2-Bus, Roger Schult EQs, RockRuepel Comp1, ELI Fatso, Chandler TG1, Mercury Pultec EQH1, Dangerous BAX EQ

Software used :
ProTools HD9, Oxford EQ, Oxford Dynamics, Oxford Reverb, UAD Room Simulator, UAD EMT140, UAD Pultec, UAD 1176, UAD Fairchild, UAD Little Labs, UAD Precision EQ, Soundtoys Echoboy, Soundtoys PhaseMistress, Softube Reverb, Avid Expander Gate

The attached zip file contains the original uncompressed files of the session.
Please download it and import these files in the DAW you use to make music (It does not necessarily have to be Pro Tools!) This way you can practice your skills and mix this song using your own tastes, tools, plug-ins and the guidelines provided in this video.

audiokid Mon, 12/03/2012 - 12:50
Great points but at the end of the day, we all need to become proficient and controlled with the DAW. The DAW is the direction this industry is going, like it or not. And if you are young, you might as well get good at it and learn to control the "curse" that comes with the territory (coined by Eric ( aka mixerman) . Love that term "The curse".
After working with digital for most of my 35 years in this business, the greatest piece of advise I can offer anyone is the less digital fiddling the better. You are so right about that!

I believe the main reason music sounds so artificial today is because of oveuse and ABUSE of the editing abilities and overuse of plug-ins on every track. To mean, they all sound like ass and do something unhealthy to sound. They box the sound in right away. And before you know it, you are fiddling. So... what goes in, comes out so no piece of gear will help that.
But the basic DAW tools have a place in clinical processing. A digital comp and limiter is fast and tight. Surgical EQ,s, perfect. But rest of the gimmicks (tape simulators etc) IMHO, better for an effect over fidelity from what I hear. , ...

I do think a console sets you right though. Because it is the core and hub of sound engineering. Its right there in front of you. If you can do it on a console, the skills you get there will be an asset for the rest of your life.

Examples: One pen, one paper, write a story. Here are the chords, write a song. Here is a hammer and finishing nails, don't damage the wood.
And if we are all talking fundamentals, great advice in this thread.

Cheers!

ChrisH Thu, 09/13/2012 - 20:26
audiokid, post: 393583 wrote:
But know the secret to sonic colour and personality (to name a few reasons) is in copper and energy. You don't need much of it to make a difference either.
Analog hardware, well, thats like nuclear power that makes it all glow.
So a couple Eq's and Compressors will do the trick?

audiokid, post: 393583 wrote:
Most of all your needs are in a DAW. And that is the sound of the radio. Do you like it?
Yeah I do, I think that engineering has greatly improved in the last couple decades, theres albums that were recorded before 1970 that I wish so bad had been produced somehow with more modern techniques so the album were more
sonically enjoyable. Good music is still good music though.

Kurt Foster Mon, 12/03/2012 - 13:23
bishopdante, post: 397316 wrote: The points I'm making are as follows:

#1: There's a lot of pro-audio stuff out there, if you have a limited budget, do some hunting around and you can get professional gear for a lot cheaper than new or vintage-king. There's a current fashion for certain pieces of equipment and a certain sonic aesthetic, but if you step outside that you can get stuff for incredible prices. It's good to think in terms of equipment that does a job. Discrete component simpler, older stuff will be easier to maintain, but there are a lot of bits of kit that are off the mainstream / gearslutz radar.

#2: Having "the best" class A transformer-buffered microphone pres, or ±60V summing boxes isn't necessarily what it takes to produce the best mix. If you consider yourself "a novice", I'd recommend getting equipment that allows you to work fast and learn. Using a split layout on an analog board allows one to work nice & fast. Getting stuff to sound good isn't just a question of having the ultimate most expensive kit, although that helps somewhat, it's a question of user and usability. Having equipment that's "really good" will serve you well, you don't have to have "the best" to be able to produce a great sound. There's many, many more important facets of the recording process. One should look for the weakest link in the chain, putting racing wheels on a car with a busted engine won't make any difference.

#3: What's good about a mixer isn't just the summing, although that is one of the reasons. Digital summing has its issues, but it also has its advantages. One should use a bit of both if working OTB. But a big benefit of a mixer is that it's a way of working, and it's an important skill. Perhaps it's because I've done a fair amount of live engineering as well as studio work, but I find that fiddling about in the computer with edits and plugins is a process that if one isn't careful introduces a lot of friction (don't get me wrong, I love the computer and all its software capabilities, it's the one thing I'd never want to do without {the nightmare of trying to do a record using just RADAR} and I speak from some experience), but it does slow you down, you can go down the rabbit hole of confused tweak. I've seen people spend a year, fulltime, mixing an album because of fiddling encroachment, and the end result was really no better. Being agile with a mix and pushing stuff around is really important, I'm prepared to sacrifice some sound quality to have that ability. A split board doesn't bother me, I actually quite like it.

but you don't address the issues of maintenance. you keep dancing around it. my guess is you are tech savvey and that's great for you but remember most of us aren't. we need plug and play solutions, not ongoing maintenance schedules.

it's not a panacea of just hook it up and it runs forever. any of the used gear you are pointing towards is going to have issues. why do you think it's for sale? people are getting rid of their problems and moving on to something newer in many cases. if someone buys something like that, they better have tech skills or deep pockets. any older piece will likely need at least a partial re cap and installation in it's self will be costly not just for the interfacing but for the patch bays needed to put it to full production abilities.

audiokid Thu, 09/13/2012 - 21:42
Let me put it this way:

Summing stems OTB makes sense to me so, I searched for the best summing amp I could find that gave me the most headroom with the options to insert gear and hard bypass each channel with the straightest line possible.

When mixing ITB I group tracks with similar transients together and send them OTB as stereo tracks to a 16 channel summing amp ( 8 channels in stereo). I avoid the 2-bus in the DAW at this stage of the mix.

The DA Stem have their own channel outputs = Drums (1/2), Percussion (3/4), Bass(5/6), Keyboards (7/8), Guitars(9/10), Vocals(11/12), Effects (13/14) and so on depending how many DA channels you have available.

On each of those stems I have specific gear inserted into the MixDream (summing amp) that I find best suited for those channels. Certain gear works better for specific transients or applications like an LA-2A for vocals and Bass, Transient Designer for drums, STC-8 for master bus etc. Again, choose gear that seems to suit those stems. The hybrid world opens you up to energy. So I find gear with vibe is the better investment and leave the plugins for the boring detail and such.

As I can afford it, I add more pieces like comps, eq's effects. Hardware is not like plug-ins where you can have many instances of one analog EQ. You put those expensive analog gems on the stems or master bus during your summing stage. They could go on the master bus or on individual channels as described above.

If I was starting out, I would study long and hard and choose the most important products one at a time and go from there.

How do you know what is the most important? Well, its all based on the music you are doing , how many stems you are working with and possibly even the DAW plug-ins you have . Do they sound great and work for you? There are other reasons too but this is how I do it and the basics to hybrid summing. 90 % of all the plug-ins available to me work for the basic mix. The last 10% is done OTB using high quality products targeted for specific transients and flavour.

Mixing stems OTB, bypassing the DAW 2-bus and using the analog headroom to play with gain and colour is where the magic happens.
As I develop my hybrid chops, I learn what I need and save my pennies for more stuff for those stems.

Starting out, an analog EQ like the Hammer and comp like the Nail at the end of the chain right before you go back to the DAW is a great start. I name those because I like them but I have others and want others too. As I develop my skills I have found what I like and what I need. The SPL Transient Designer is a must for drums. The BAX EQ is wonderful for a master EQ. An API 5500 is wonderful for drums and guitars or even the 2-bus depending on the song. An STC-8 is a wonderful mastering compressor perfect at the end of the chain. You don't hear it but it works. Its awesome for acoustic music.
The Passeq is glorious for M/S processing that I insert in the Dangerous Master section. Its a killer mastering EQ that works awesome with the BAX EQ.
The Hammer is crazy as a master EQ or great on anything :An LA 2A is stellar on vocal stems both for tracking and mixing. The list goes on.

Yikes, lots of typing.... :)

Making sense?

Rather than buying a console, I do it like this, one piece at a time. smoke :

Best advice: Save your cash and buy a house. But if you are like me, without the dream, a house will never make me happy.
Attached files

pan60 Mon, 12/03/2012 - 13:39
It is my feeling anyone running a studio even a small project studio should take some time to learn a bit about service. Many an issue is miner and easily solved. A generator and scope is not that costly and should be a part of any set up I think at least, and the needed soldering tools.
I am trying to learn more about comps so I do know how it feels to be ignorant in some areas. And I am no electrical engineer but like I say many issue are not that difficult to track down and repair.
Plus lots of people out there willing to help.
I worry about service on a lot of newer gear!!! A lot of this stuff is really not designed to be serviced.

Kurt Foster Mon, 12/03/2012 - 13:58
pan60, post: 397327 wrote: It is my feeling anyone running a studio even a small project studio should take some time to learn a bit about service. Many an issue is miner and easily solved. A generator and scope is not that costly and should be a part of any set up I think at least, and the needed soldering tools.
I am trying to learn more about comps so I do know how it feels to be ignorant in some areas. And I am no electrical engineer but like I say many issue are not that difficult to track down and repair.
Plus lots of people out there willing to help.
I worry about service on a lot of newer gear!!! A lot of this stuff is really not designed to be serviced.

bad math skills, huge fat fingers and bad eyes make getting into soldering and working on circuits is out of the question for me. it's all i can do to solder an XLR neatly. but i won't let that keep me from doing audio.

comps are easy. for starters, ratio no more than 4:1 medium attack fast release, no more than 6 dB gain reduction. huyuk huyuck, i lerend that in ardio skool

RemyRAD Fri, 09/14/2012 - 01:17
Without having one, I would imagine and think that the WARM API style microphone preamp. Probably comes very close to an API microphone preamp. Many of these discrete transistor circuits are all based on similar operational amplifier electronics topology. Transistors still deliver what IC chips can't. It doesn't matter if there is 100 transistors in an IC chip. It's better when you only have five transistors. Because every time audio goes through a semi conducting transistor Junction, it adds its own distortion components. So the less the better. Most audio circuits, strive for a " straight wire ", like sound. Which simply means less sounds better than more. And, for example, balanced inputs and outputs that are transformer less, require extra circuitry. An unbalanced circuit has less circuitry and therefore can actually sound better than a like piece of balanced equipment can. But only in the short-haul of cabling and not the long haul of cabling, where balancing and balanced circuitry is necessary. Anything that's going to go more than 15 feet should be balanced circuitry. Since all operational amplifier circuitry is a low impedance output, one can shove it down. 1000 feet of cable, but only if it is balanced so as to prevent RFI and spurious electromagnetic hum. We're a balanced circuit is certainly required. Otherwise, we utilized transformer inputs and outputs that present their own distortion components, which a lot of us like. Transformers impose a certain mush quality to take the edge off of digital sound. And good Transformers sound good, where bad Transformers, just sound, like bad Transformers. Which can also be good in the land of digital. Because without the transformer, you have a baby without diapers pooping all over your sound. LOL. And you need to wrap baby with the proper transformer. LOL. To keep it warm with all of the wires and solidly in place with the core. And that's how you keep your baby from pooping on your mix.

I like a little baby poop once in a while.
Mx. Remy Ann David

ChrisH Fri, 09/14/2012 - 08:28
audiokid, thank you, I get what you're saying, $35 for that video is kinda pricy but I'll watch it anyway.
One thing I don't understand is "Summing" since I've never used outboard gear, are you talking about if you had 8 drum tracks sounding the way you wanted, you would then sum it down to 2 tracks and run it out threw your outboard gear?

Hahaha, thank you remy, very informative.

audiokid Fri, 09/14/2012 - 08:55
ChrisH, post: 393617 wrote: audiokid, thank you, I get what you're saying, $35 for that video is kinda pricy but I'll watch it anyway.
One thing I don't understand is "Summing" since I've never used outboard gear, are you talking about if you had 8 drum tracks sounding the way you wanted, you would then sum it down to 2 tracks and run it out threw your outboard gear?

Hahaha, thank you remy, very informative.

yes.

8 drum tracks sent (still ITB) to their own submix (group) which is then sent otb now called a stem to the summing amp. Now you got it! And there I may use an analog EQ, compressor, "transient designer" etc instead of doing it ITB with plug-ins.

audiokid Fri, 09/14/2012 - 09:32
explained more:

when setting up a DAW session I create audio and midi tracks, aux's and bus's . Aux for effects, bus's for groups. I group all the drums, bass, guitars, keys, vocals, percussion, effects etc, together on their own bus's and send them either to the master bus ITB or bypass the master bus (2-bus) all together and go OTB to the analog summing amp.

Grouping tracks is a good thing. (Grouping tracks together that share similar transients is a good thing)

Study up on aux's, bus's and grouping tracks. thumb

Another reason why DAW's rock over consoles are no cross talk, bleeding between channels. Console and analog tape = the more channels we created, the more added noise and crosstalk. What a nightmare. Hence, why a ( just to pull a number) 50 grand console is not comparable to a well designed hybrid DAW system.
But, as Boswell points out, he gets great results using parts of the console in a hybrid application.

audiokid Fri, 09/14/2012 - 09:46
To add some more now.

Why almost all people that try OTB summing with a console quit and stand firm that OTB summing is not worth it. That ITB sounds better.

They use a console like inserts ( DA, AD, DA, AD). They are sending individual channels I/O , back and forth to a console.
This is a bad thing. I would never do that.

audiokid Fri, 09/14/2012 - 11:15
That video explains everything you need to know. Its expensive but not in the big picture.

But, to put it simply, trying to manage 8 tracks of drums in a final mix makes more sense to subgroup those down into two tracks. There are also other reasons that involve plug-in management (less CPU), glue factors, automation, transient management and even OTB sub mixing / summing. I could go on on this subject quit a bit. Maybe others here want to chime in?

ChrisH Fri, 09/14/2012 - 12:54
audiokid, post: 393633 wrote: That video explains everything you need to know. Its expensive but not in the big picture.

But, to put it simply, trying to manage 8 tracks of drums in a final mix makes more sense to subgroup those down into two tracks. There are also other reasons that involve plug-in management (less CPU), glue factors, automation, transient management and even OTB sub mixing / summing. I could go on on this subject quit a bit. Maybe others here want to chime in?

Okay, thank you.
Glue factor? I assume you mean how well the tracks mesh together?

RemyRAD Fri, 09/14/2012 - 14:46
I think mixing with stems isn't really a necessary thing to do. It's necessary when it's asked of you to deliver that way. I'm delivering stems for a documentary film for Discovery Networks. They want the dialogue separate from the background music separate from the sound effects. This is so they can overdubbed into a foreign language, while keeping the rest of the soundtrack of this musical documentary intact. And it has no sound effects, so I don't have to worry about that.

One could however think of stems. When we used to use early automated consoles that allowed for multiple fader subgrouping to be controlled from specified master faders. So it was great to have your entire drum set, mix on a separate fader. Vocals on another fader. Guitars and keyboards on a couple of other faders. But I still had the ability to tweak each individual fader, even if it was part of a subgroup.

Stem mixing today really follows that old VCA concept without the ability to tweak. Which in some cases can be good and in others not so good. It also follows that mindset/workflow, for those that want to glean some kind of analog summing glue to the mix. And since most summing boxes have a limited amount of faders, your options are just slightly leaner, which, I guess, is why four pairs is usually most likely enacted upon. While my former Sphere console offered VCA subgrouping, my even older, all manual, Neve only offers four subgroup buses. Which still gives me the ability to produce three pairs of stems, which would typically be dialogue, music and effects, or a stereo drum mix, stereo vocals and stereo guitars and keyboards. But I'm really restricted to that on the old Neve. Of course it's a 2000 pound summing box/mixer and probably wouldn't fit on a dining room table? But I rarely work with subgroups unless I find it necessary to do. I'd rather have all 24-40 faders to deal with all of the same time, in spite of the fact I only have 10 fingers still.

So to review... if you have an analog console with a decent sound and summing network, you don't necessarily need a external summing box. Though some summing boxes such as the AMS/Neve, Dangerous and others, work well in lieu of a decent analog console.

You know folks... it's really quite easy to build a passive summing mixer, with a nice pair of API 2520 modules on Radio Shaft breadboards or a Neve 3415 pair, John Hardy/Dean Jansen couple of 990 modules, etc., for just a couple of hundred dollars. Then you could also include some used Penny and Giles, API, Alps, Duncan, faders of the straight linear variety found on real consoles. And you get those used pretty cheap today. This can be an excellent and simple DIY project. And then you also get that fabulous vintage flavor reminiscent of the actual consoles. Even outboard microphone preamps can be utilized as the active combining network and the output drive. Since any active + 4Db output can go into a couple of simple volume controls, to a couple of series resistors right into the DI input of most outboard boutique microphone preamps and voilà! World-class sounding simple passive summing mixer box. This should be a prerequisite DIY project for any aspiring audio engineer. You not only learn something, you end up with a great summing box.

Good consoles count as summing boxes and bad consoles are just bad consoles. You only need 2 summing/drive amplifier, operational amplifier outputs to do this well. Which can be done for not much more than the cost of 2-4 SM57's.

Try it. You'll like it. It's fun. And then you feel all good about yourself.
Mx. Remy Ann David

audiokid Fri, 09/14/2012 - 16:45
Fun topic and glad we have some others chiming in again.

=RemyRAD;393644]I think mixing with stems isn't really a necessary thing to do.

Remy, I'm not sure there is a better way to mix OTB. Stems are the most proficient and logical way to sum OTB via all the high end summing amps I know of. Stems are also a very current method to do remixes. In fact, I think mastering engineers are doing more stem mix/mastering than ever before. This is a seriously fun gig if you got the abilities... I definitely don't agree with this statement at all.
How would you set-up and prepare summing OTB?

One could however think of stems. When we used to use early automated consoles that allowed for multiple fader subgrouping to be controlled from specified master faders. So it was great to have your entire drum set, mix on a separate fader. Vocals on another fader. Guitars and keyboards on a couple of other faders. But I still had the ability to tweak each individual fader, even if it was part of a subgroup.

Hybrid summing = no loss in DAW automation for starters. Stereo faders = Stems. These stems are connected to analog gear specific for transient tasks and imaging to put is simple. Grouping tracks with similar sonic characters is a smart way to mix OTB :)
We could send all the individual tracks out on their own channel ( providing we have enough DAC) but still, why?
Mixing a large portion ITB, preserving the sonic excellent to its fullest, utilizing automation and processing gets done ITB, first, then if you got the glue and juice, take those tracks and group them into stems taking it all one step further before you master to the recorder of choice.
It makes absolutely no sense to do all that stuff OTB or any other way, especially through a dated console that creates noise and mud when you can keep your mix's as clean and full range as possible and only use specific analog hardware for unique things to the mix.

Stem mixing today really follows that old VCA concept without the ability to tweak. Which in some cases can be good and in others not so good. It also follows that mindset/workflow, for those that want to glean some kind of analog summing glue to the mix. And since most summing boxes have a limited amount of faders, your options are just slightly leaner, which, I guess, is why four pairs is usually most likely enacted upon. While my former Sphere console offered VCA subgrouping, my even older, all manual, Neve only offers four subgroup buses. Which still gives me the ability to produce three pairs of stems, which would typically be dialogue, music and effects, or a stereo drum mix, stereo vocals and stereo guitars and keyboards. But I'm really restricted to that on the old Neve. Of course it's a 2000 pound summing box/mixer and probably wouldn't fit on a dining room table? But I rarely work with subgroups unless I find it necessary to do. I'd rather have all 24-40 faders to deal with all of the same time, in spite of the fact I only have 10 fingers still.

So to review... if you have an analog console with a decent sound and summing network, you don't necessarily need a external summing box. Though some summing boxes such as the AMS/Neve, Dangerous and others, work well in lieu of a decent analog console.


Again, comparing a console to a pro hybrid summing amp (no offense, including some some home made box), I'll take the professional summing amp and a DAW and stem mix that song any day over trying to do faux it with a console. I know a lot of people like to think their console will be as accurate, proficient and better, but this isn't so. The console may produce a rich sound but it won't produce the same sound you get from the close relationship between a summing amp, awesome hardware and the DAW connected as close together as possible. howdy
Even the monitoring system part of any console is coloured and inferior compared to a hybrid monitoring system.
If we are talking DAW and OTB summing > stems and gear "designed to flow with a glow" is the way to go. That's music to the ears.

RemyRAD Fri, 09/14/2012 - 18:56
Chris I'm really surprised that you feel that way? The professional summing box is not an improvement upon a API or Neve summing console. It's simply there for the folks that can't have one of those. I see no need to create stems for mixing 24 tracks or more. When done correctly, everything is perfectly wonderful. When people can't get their damned levels straight, it might be a useful crutch? When and if I need to, I can create a stereo bus mix of the drums bringing those up on another pair of faders that feed the two track stereo mix bus. Coloration? You bet! I want that coloration. That coloration is a difference between Michelangelo and Robert Crumb. Both great and highly specialized artists that were very different from one another. One worked in oil-based color and the other worked with pen and ink. So if you don't like color, pen and ink would be your choice. If you like color it's Transformers and transistors and as many as you can put in the signal chain. And both are the right answer. Transparency, no coloration, neutral. What the heck does that all mean other than nothing? I want something that sounds like nothing is what it says. I don't want something that sounds like nothing. I mean how many people are out there driving generic automobiles? A white car with four black tires, no radio, no power, completely clean, transparent, clear. That doesn't sound like any fun? My audio is fun, sounding. And that comes from as much coloration as I can build into my sound. So don't confuse quality with transparency. Transparency is simply the emperors clothes. And that's not legal in public. It shouldn't be legal in your recordings, either. If you want clean transparent neutral, everybody should be utilizing B & K, scientific reference calibration microphones, and only those. And what do you get then? You get clean clear transparent sheet metal. Or I guess what they used in Star Trek known as " transparent aluminum "? Which really does not have a very "s e x y" connotation to that. That's why we also utilize such a broad spectrum of different microphone technologies. Coloration of any musical instrument is the key to its sound, and to the voice. And that's why they stuck varnish on violins. An uncolored violin would have no varnish. So your technical and clinical thought process is being clouded in transparency. And that does not make for great sounding recordings. Just technically and clinically accurate recordings. But this is an art not a science. It is art combined with science, not science, combined with art. So do the universities teach the art of recording and sciences, or do they teach the art of science and recordings? The analogy to that scenario could be trying to unzip your fly, to take a poop? And that can make for disastrous results. That's like trying to get a 50 DB bomb through a 10 DB hole, LOL. Talk about overload... underpants have only so much headroom.

Yeah, I'd rather have a summing box, than just summing digitally. Stereo faders? Sure. Two faders with a plastic tab between them, is also a stereo fader. And no problem. And the summing network inside one of those consoles is the identical summing network, you would get from a standalone summing box with similar internal circuitry. So when done on a fine console, you're golden. When done on a Mackie, it sounds like a Mackie. So gain staging is extremely important. And most folks just don't seem to get that right very often? So they can't screw up quite as bad with a summing box. Since there are no other amplification stages that need to be properly gained and matched. It simply eliminates a source of errors for folks who are not as accomplished as they want to be.

Of course, it may also be something of a necessity, when you are basically working ITB? Especially without a quality console to do your summing with. Having 30+ faders up on the console for a 24 track mix is not uncommon for me. My fingers go exactly where they need to go when I need them to go. And it's called riding a mix. You know? The way all of our favorite rock 'n roll hits were done and are still done today. That was certainly evident to me from the studios I visited in Nashville, Tennessee this past summer. Most of the mixing is still done on high-end analog consoles without the use of external summing boxes. And with that you have no worries. It's all pristine and perfect with all of the horrible coloration. So don't be confused by technique and types of equipment in use. Summing boxes are fine for the average home virtual ITB studio to substitute for a Neve, API or Trident, etc..

If everything was supposed to be clean and bright and crispy, transparent, etc., we would be utilizing metal cone speakers for everything. We would be utilizing only Class D, power amplifiers for our speakers. And we would be utilizing 1:100 microphone Transformers and no active circuitry. And that's because a transformer provides clean passive gain. Active circuitry can only provide distortion.

And if we really wanted to be green? We would go back to acoustic recording. Who took my crank? How am I suppose to record anything now, if I can't wind up my record cutter? Where are my gerbils when I need them?

They work for peanuts and other seeds.
Mx. Remy Ann David

audiokid Fri, 09/14/2012 - 19:30
I agree but we are talking about two different things here. If you are using a summing box, stems are the way to go.

If I was running a tracking studio, a console would be a great way to go. They are especially logical because the work for all the engineers coming into the studio.

But if we are talking about a music system centered around a DAW, electronic music production a console is not the ticket. It would not serve you as well as a hybrid summing system.

I think we are confusing many areas here.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

ChrisH Fri, 09/14/2012 - 19:34
RemyRAD, post: 393666 wrote: Chris I'm really surprised that you feel that way?
Sorry Remy, not sure what you mean by that?

RemyRAD, post: 393666 wrote: So your technical and clinical thought process is being clouded in transparency.
I didn't say I was worried about transparency? I like the color that high end analog circuitry can provide, and I want it.

RemyRAD, post: 393666 wrote: Summing boxes are fine for the average home virtual ITB studio to substitute for a Neve, API or Trident, etc..
Right, but I am far away from being able to afford any of those, and from my knowledge, unless you can afford a Neve, Api, or Trident you're better off sticking with high end transistor pre's with an ITB system.

RemyRAD Fri, 09/14/2012 - 19:53
Well, perhaps I am confused? Stereo stems? Sure, why not. But when you think of a home DAW -based system, where perhaps one had 24 discrete outputs from their computer audio interface, you'd only be utilizing four pairs of that 24 channel output, to create stereo stems for your analog mixing box/summing box. Which is still just fine, unless of course it was paired with a high quality console where that would not be necessary. So yeah, given a typical consumer oriented. 8 channel outputs from a computer audio interface, yeah, you might want four stereo pairs? Never utilizing the other 16 outputs. And that's cool and I understand that. Because, yeah, you can accomplish things in software, you cannot do in the analog only realm. And for that it does make sense when you want that analog summation. And especially with the flavor that the analog summing box offers. Because they are designed to have the imprint of a API or Neve or a Millennia, Crane Song, Trident, Helios, Harrison, Quad 8, Electro-Dyne, Dean Jensen et al..

Of course a good mixer can absolutely substitute for an analog summing box. It's just a bigger box. It would serve you very well and very versatility, I might add. It has nothing to do with the genre of music being recorded or mixed. A good console is just the Rolls-Royce of summing boxes. And then you have your Porsche's and Cadillacs. Followed by the Fords and Chevys. Which then is followed by the Japanese, Korean and Chinese cars. So I really don't think that we are confusing anything here? What is being confused is to the why's and wherefore's of why one needs analog summation? And if so? How to do it well and with what. So, yeah, having a Dangerous summing box would be less dangerous than trying to do it with a Mackie 1604. Which would then wreak from Mackie. Not something we would all look to as a desirable thing to do for sure. And in that scenario, the Dangerous would have it hands down.

Along with that, most folks cannot afford the high end boutiques stuff. One of the ways to impart some of that sound is through a quality analog summing box. Where it may in fact be designed similarly to a API or Neve summing network and output. And then you get that special sauce on your otherwise hamburger laden recording. Otherwise your product is just meat loaf. (Don't tell him I said that). LOL. With that summing box, you are trying to turn hamburger into filet mignon, and it actually does that. It's like alchemy.

I have a lot of iron that can be turned into gold.
Mx. Remy Ann David
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