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SPL MixDream analog DAW summing

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 ( [="http://www.studioreviews.com/summing-box-shootout.htm"]Summing Box Shootout[/]="http://www.studioreviews.com/summing-box-shootout.htm"]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.

[[url=http://="http://www.ma-mfg.com/adam/OTB%20Sumthang.wav"]http://www.ma-mfg.com/adam/OTB%20Sumthang.wav[/]="http://www.ma-mfg.com/adam/OTB%20Sumthang.wav"]http://www.ma-mfg.com/adam/OTB%20Sumthang.wav[/]
[[url=http://[/URL]="http://www.ma-mfg.com/adam/ITB.wav"]http://www.ma-mfg.com/adam/ITB.wav[/]="http://www.ma-mfg.com/adam/ITB.wav"]http://www.ma-mfg.com/adam/ITB.wav[/]

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

Comments

IIRs Wed, 02/24/2010 - 01:58

audiokid, post: 300596 wrote: Maybe its what makes golden ears mastering engineers.

Or perhaps "golden ears" comes from an awareness of how subjective human hearing is, and how much amazingly sophisticated processing is going on in our brains to interpret the signals we are getting. We don't hear music as a single fluctuating waveform: our brain splits it up into ensembles of distinct instruments, and assembles them into a 3 dimensional soundstage. And every time you listen to a certain piece of music you will notice something different, even if nothing has changed at all.

Proper double blind testing is the only way to determine if there really is an audible improvement. And as it happens, I think listening to a commercial radio station is a good example: you don't know which mixes were analog and which were digital, and the presenter probably doesn't know either (nor care for that matter!). Would you be able to pick out the analog mixes with any confidence?

bigtree Fri, 02/19/2010 - 12:59

Exactly, good to mention this. Headroom is what the SPL Mixdream has tons of. They do make the MixDream XP which is a scaled down version ( yes?) that may be spot on. Here is a link to mercenary [URL="(dead link removed) Audio - SPL MixDream XP[/URL] I'm pretty sure you can buy it for less but it gives more explaination.

AG, I'm confused as to using a digital consol for summing though. I have an older Yamaha O3D ( not that it compares) that I only use for a controller at best. I wouldn't dare use it for anything else. Isn't this sort of redundant to ITB and possibly a negative? I see the benefit you're having as a control surface, but don't see the audio benefit using a digital OTB summing system, unless you are using it for outboard gear, yes no?

RemyRAD Fri, 02/19/2010 - 13:29

Yeah that almost indescribable minute difference between analog summing and digital summing. It can make all the difference. I don't believe that digital summing in a digital console will re-create the analog summing. I've discussed this with some programmers. You just can't have all the numbers line up perfectly in digital summing. It's all based on time delay multiplexing. But analog summing is all real-time. And there's the real difference. Here's a little secret that folks might be interested in? In 1978 I built up a custom console. It was a split desk. The multitrack monitor mixer section was quite a passive piece. Since we were all working from +4 DBM Ampex MM 1200 outputs, no input buffer was needed. It was all passive. This would then sum into the 2 track output for monitoring. It was really pretty funny since some of the mixes sounded better than it did coming through the entire console electronics. So at times, we would use the monitor mixer mixes. Less electronics, more like a straight wire. And it was single ended as opposed to balanced inputs. Not too different from the concept that Bernie Grubman accomplished with his custom single ended mastering consoles. Sometimes we would print effects & reverb to the machine if we needed some, track availability permitting. And the tonality of the analog summing can be customized through differences in gain staging in the summing amplifier. The more open loop you go, the more opened up the sound becomes. Differences in output level can be compensated by the output amplifiers post summing amplifiers. Of course all of this affects signal-to-noise ratio, distortion & stability but hey, if you are going for a sound, go for a sound. I've heard some beautiful digitally summed mixes through the years. But since I'm still essentially working with an old console, this ain't nothing new to me. It does sort of make up for that cold reality, crispy clarity of cold heartless digital sound.

My Neve is warm & cuddly.
Mx. Remy Ann David

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jammster Wed, 02/24/2010 - 09:15

IIRs, I enjoyed your Audio Myths Workshop post, I just finished watching the whole thing.

Something comes to mind. I hope you don't mind that this is a bit OT.

The way in which we decide to go about our mixes, be it either method of summing/mixing, it is our choice in the way we go about our craft. One will take it personally when cornered on either front. When confronted one will be offended, and I would like to think that does not reflect the nature of Recording.ORG. This is a big wide world we live in, lets realize that this topic is an artistic preference. The WWW is certainly changing things, and I would like to think diversity could be honored here as well.

To me what it really boils down to is this: You have grown to be comfortable with what you use. I will testify there is something stark and void in an all digital recording, that fact that it is so perfect and does not vary and comes with a computer attached weather you like that or not. I think that it has become more popular with the use of the internet and use of MP3's as well.

Take a moment and think of all the sudden there was no other medium other than MP3.

I think I would leave the world of recording for good if there was, I mean, if that is all people want for their music collection. I find MP3's like genetically modified foods, they have temporarily blinded consumers into their quality, or lack of. But, if that is what the consumer wants that is all we get, no more CD's, no more high definition. It seems to me were on a slippery slope

The lack of some noise and variation that would come with ease in the world of analog tape recording is slowly/quickly leaving us forever. Some will agree with the use of digital mix bus and some will disagree, the fact remains that they are both very valid ways to work, like painting with watercolor vs. acrylic vs. oil.

I really don't think it matters which you use, its the colors in the painting that we are looking for. An artistic choice of any medium is valid, none is better or superior until you attach yourself to the outcome and notice which colors and methods you prefer. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. But, some will insist there is no difference between the mediums. I must say to me personally there certainly is a difference, and some of that by the way has to do with the method of the work itself, not always in the ways you hear it.

Ask yourself how the computer has been influencing your music. It is possible to work without the use of a computer, at least in the tracking? Yes, most certainly. You can use an old tape deck and a mixer, and why should that be shunned, or laughed at? I think that those that laugh are being immature, a sound is a sound and an artist can do what they prefer, its the engineer who's job it is to make the recording as good as possible, and probably has less emotional attachment about which medium is utilized.

Remember that as an artist (weather you think of yourself as one or not) you have the right to chose whichever medium you want, or even switch them up for different effects, the possibilities are endless and you can utilize them all to their full potential if you wish. And why would you want to rule the wide world of variation down to one medium anyway? Just remember that inspiration comes in many ways and at different times and that a computer does not need to be attached for them to be beautiful and effective.

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AudioGaff Sat, 02/20/2010 - 10:55

AG, I'm confused as to using a digital consol for summing though

A digital mixer doesn't give you analog summing, but it does give you a choice to do digital mixes instead of ITB. I am not saying it is absolute as being better. it may or may not be better. Just another option that is an easier and lesss expensive way to interface with external analog or digital gear than the cost of analog summing and extra converters.

IIRs Wed, 02/24/2010 - 09:56

Again, I have no argument with that. If you have a personal preference one way or the other, thats fine by me. My argument is with the assertion that there are mysterious voodoo errors in digital summing, despite the lack of any evidence to support the claim.

bigtree Sat, 02/20/2010 - 16:27

SPL MixDream

Jeemy, post: 299710 wrote: 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.

Hey Jeemy,

I just looked at the DA7 and it looks really nice. I was thinking it was an older analog model. You and AG share the same limitations as Remy and Boswell point out. I think OTB summing has to be analog or nothing.

Jeemy Mon, 02/08/2010 - 18:35

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.

bigtree Mon, 02/08/2010 - 22:09

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.

bigtree Fri, 03/26/2010 - 09:46

Mixbus

Mixbus looks really cool. Thanks for sharing this IIRs. The page shows $79 . This can't be the price?

Check out the youtube

bigtree Fri, 03/26/2010 - 09:58

interesting topic here: [[url=http://[/URL]="link removed New host from Harrison - Mixbus (for Mac)[/]="link removed New host from Harrison - Mixbus (for Mac)[/]

Excerpt from soulibertad

According to a thread at the Ableton forums, after the initial user base is built up, the cost will increase to $179.00.

Finally, one has to keep in mind Harrison's position in the market place as a manufacturer of high end hardware consoles. Combined with their use of Ardour, Harrison can market their algorithms at a much more competitive price point than those whose sole revenue stream is software development.

Ironically, I never gave much thought to Propellerheads Record before purchasing the Mixbus. After using Mixbus, however, I can see the appeal of Record much more clearly. In fact, I am keen to see a comparison between Record's SSL emulation and Harrison's algorithms in the Mixbus.

Jeemy Sun, 02/21/2010 - 16:01

yeah it will sum in digital as i understand it, not analog. it was AG's suggestion rather than yours that got me interested in bringing it to the fray.

i'm in exactly the same position as ouzo, i've always known that. i just find it interesting given the other application it opens up if i was to send 16 channels of lightpipe to it, and use it to mix digitally OTB, as opposed to mixing internally. as it then removes the need for midicontrol faders, which was how i was going to configure it. i'm interested in seeing how that sounds as it would be very very easy to A/B. we only have used it for monitoring and routing up to now.

however it does actually claim to have 8 analog buses. i'm not very clear yet as the manual is 425 pages long and doesn't reveal some of the stuff i want to know, exactly what that means.

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AudioGaff Wed, 02/24/2010 - 19:55

Perfect nulling is perfect nulling. I don't listen or record nulling. Perfect nulling doesn't mean that there are not artifacts that one can hear. There are many recordings when you can find with complete less than perfect nulling and the audio results sound fantastic.

Don't need to use nulling, doesn't matter if there are calc errors, or if the summing issues are real, my ears and experience can tell me that many times ITB mixes have less pleasant results than those that can be done with analog mixing. There are many times when you can really tell.

Do this as a test. Import a song from a CD into your DAW. Save the project. Close your DAW. Reopen your DAW, now render/mixdown that to a two channel wav file. Burn that song into a CD. Listen to the CD and the CD you made. Do you hear a difference? You may or may not. Try different songs from different CD's as results can vary. If you hear a difference, then you hear a difference.

You also have to put things into perspective. ITB is not just ITB in the sense that how your DAW will process your mix using plugs, whcih A/D converters and D/A converters are used, the levels of tracks. It all equals the final ITB results.

In addition, it also depends on your listening environment and ears. I'm one of them cave men that did quite a bit of mix recording on DAT tapes and tracked using Black face ADAT's. I also owned the best of Apogee and have used the mastering stuff from Weiss, so I have a pretty decent amount of direct experience of hearing and knowing good digital from bad. It has gotten better over the years that is for sure, and I have no doubt that one in the not too far future, ITB will one day be the glorious thing we have all have been waiting and hoping that it would be. But that day is not today.

That doesn't mean that we go backwards or we just don't use it. You work with what you have.

A thermal blanket will keep you warm, and is amazing for how well it manges energy for as thin as it is a material, and is cheap for what it does, but given the option of choice, if I was really cold I would prefer a fluffy fur coat most of the time.

Why?

Because as humans there is more to us that just being warm. There is a need and desire to also feel warm...

IIRs Wed, 02/24/2010 - 23:40

AudioGaff, post: 300691 wrote: Perfect nulling doesn't mean that there are not artifacts that one can hear.

Huh?? Again, what artifacts? Provide some evidence for this assertion please.

Perfect nulling means the numbers are identical, therefore so is the sound. I can sum 204 stereo tracks with artifacts down below -130dBFS. Are you telling me you can hear floating point errors that are 60dB below the level of 16 bit dither noise? You would need to prove that in blind testing before I would treat that claim as anything other than laughable....

Jeemy Tue, 02/16/2010 - 11:55

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....

Jeemy Thu, 02/25/2010 - 03:46

Surely nobody is claiming they can hear summing artifacts hidden below a noise floor. Perhaps mistakenly, I think people are saying that the results of such calculations impart a clinical or artificial sheen to the sound.

i.e. when you have 16 tracks in a DAW, using calculations to reach 24-bit digital audio and sum the high, low and mid frequency content into 2 channels, there is a flavour imparted by the summing process. In layman's terms, your argument is that the summing process imparts no flavour at all, and that such a thing is in fact not possible?

Fine, flip it. The digital summing process provides no flavour or resulting loss of quality, ambience, vibe, etc at all.

So is it not then reasonable to propose that if the same 16 tracks are converted to analog by good A/D converters, and then the summing is performed by an analog mixer or summing box, the circuitry by its very nature sums the high, low and mid frequency content in a different way, and some folk here and elsewhere contest that this provides a fuller and more open, spatial mix.

Perhaps the contention that analog is the more 'accurate' method is in fact not correct. Perhaps that contention should be that an inaccurately-summed analog mix feels and sounds more real to most people? and that if you move your mix process to a more accurately summed and digitally perfect mix, there is a loss of imparted warmth which results in it seeming lacking?

I don't contest that this is only part of the whole and that when one takes an excellent entirely digital system, its impossible to tell the difference from an excellent entirely analog system from song to song. However when we aren't working with entirely excellent systems, circuitry indubitably imparts flavour to audio, whether productive or destructive.

However I don't think its fair to denigrate the statement that for a semi-pro, project or professional studio with good D/A converters, one might find that switching to an analog desk or summing box provides a leap in quality to your mixes. I can believe thats true. I'm sure you're right if all other things are equal, but thats just the point, they never are. Whether its down to artistry, budget-imposed limitations or simply your preferred working methods, I don't believe a categorical mathematical argument can prove that an analog summing chain would not assist people getting better results.

bigtree Tue, 02/16/2010 - 12:19

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.

IIRs Thu, 02/25/2010 - 06:19

Jeemy, post: 300709 wrote:
Perhaps the contention that analog is the more 'accurate' method is in fact not correct. Perhaps that contention should be that an inaccurately-summed analog mix feels and sounds more real to most people? and that if you move your mix process to a more accurately summed and digitally perfect mix, there is a loss of imparted warmth which results in it seeming lacking?

This is exactly the point I made 2 pages back:

Analogue summing adds subjectively desirable colour to an otherwise too perfect digital sound.

My follow-up question was: why is that superior to summing digitally then running the whole mix through a colourful 2-channel unit? Remember: (a*x)+(b*x)+(c*x)=(a+b+c)*x

Perhaps you think that intermodulation effects will colour the sound in a different way if the whole mix is processed rather than simpler stems? In which case, why is analog summing preferable to tracking through a colourful preamp?

The test that I am very curious to run (but lack the expensive summing box to do so) would involve summing x number of stems via a summing box, then summing the same stems ITB and running the resulting stereo mix through 2 channels of the same device.

If anyone could reliably identify which mix was which under blind test conditions I would accept that analog summing had merit.

x