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Oh man, I am a happy man. A http://spl.info/pro… NEOS will be at my door soon. I look forward to finding more hybrid thinking engineers out there. Any questions, don't hesitate to chime in.
After a few years of real hands on use, there is no doubt about the benefits hybrid analog summing has and which products I lean towards. SPL and Dangerous Music Rock.

For those lurking and wondering, "should I dive into a lush analog summing system"? Hell Ya!

I will be selling my loved MixDream only because I upgraded to this beast. The MixDream is an awesome 16 channel summing amp. I think its the next best choice to the NEOS. Any question on any of this, I'll be happy to share what I have learned. I have a NEOS so I won't be holding back the thrill. Stay tuned...

  • SPL Neos

Comments

audiokid Sat, 01/05/2013 - 11:54

NOTE to those just chiming in: These examples I'm doing here are a 2nd generation "recording of a recording" tracked off of soundcloud. They are compressed MP3 that have gone through the internet and back. Far from full bandwidth.

Nice track.

Just As Crazy

Original:
[MEDIA=soundcloud]donny-thompson-4/just-as-crazy

NEOS
[MEDIA=soundcloud]audiokid/donny-just-as-crazy-master

Would you like to discuss the track a bit. Might be fun?

Let Me Go, I like it. very 80's, my favourite era! :)

audiokid Sat, 01/05/2013 - 12:37

NOTE to those just chiming in: These examples I'm doing here are a "recording of a recording" tracked off of soundcloud. They are compressed MP3 that have gone through the internet and back. Far from full bandwidth.

Donny, Let Me Go is a great song. Love your voice. I would love to remix this one some time. Did you get air play with it? Tell me more about it?

recorded in 1995; one of the last songs I recorded using all analog technology.
1" 16 track

The upper mids (6k) sound glassy, like early pro tools. ?

Let Me Go:

Original
[MEDIA=soundcloud]donny-thompson-4/let-me-go
[[url=http://[/URL]="https://soundcloud…"]View: https://soundcloud…]="https://soundcloud…"]View: https://soundcloud…]

Neos Mix:
Basic Process

Internet/soundcloud> Lavry DA11> RME ADI-8 QS> AD> DAW> Basic fast Sequoia EQ/ a few db here and there> DA> Neos > touch of Bricasti M7 on an aux> 2-bus> Dangerous Master> STC-8 kissing it>Dangerous BAX> 2-bus AD > capture DAW> Comp/Limiter Internet.

6 versions in 2 db increments here. I strapped on a plug-in comp, a lame example but had to test something on the master DAW because I am craving a modern "Nickel Back" API style comp on the drums. The low end isn't coming through enough. A Transient Designer in the original mix would actually do the trick. Oooh, a remix would kick this into glory land. Lots of ideas evolving as I listen to this.

DonnyThompson Sat, 01/05/2013 - 13:38

Chris...

I'm really diggin' the version of Let Me Go with the compressor. It sounds to me like it would have sounded - well, like it did sound, actually, when it was getting some airplay -when for a very short time I had a deal with a record label named Giant - mostly played in the midwest and parts of Ontario in the early 90's. This version sounds to me to be the closest to what it sounded like coming off those radio station's compressors. ;)

And by all means you can remix it... do you have a 16 track 1" Deck? LOL

Yup, this one was analog. One of the last things I did before I went kicking and screaming into digital... LOL

I think the last version with the comp and limiter is probably a bit too squashed for my tastes, although I won't doubt that all of them are warmer than a prom queen's..... welll.. you get the idea. ;)

Just As Crazy... again... so warm, and it sounds to me as if you've tamed some of the top end sibilance a bit and made it silkier. Am I wrong or have I just heard the song too much? LOL

Here's the thing... I haven't disliked anything you've done with any of my tracks yet... they are all just different flavors that all work, it just becomes a matter of personal taste.

I think for me, because I wrote them, arranged them, recorded them mixed them, well, I think I've probably lost more than a little objectivity and would instead rely on other pro ears here - including yours - to make a decision and discuss the wherefore's and whys...

But by all means, there's not a bad version in the bunch, at least to my ears.... just a matter of personal taste.

Thanks for taking the time to play with these... this was fun...

now... what do YOU think?

-D.

audiokid Sat, 01/05/2013 - 14:06

Hey, thanks Donny!

Just saw your post. I've been updating my process while you were writing too. I added 6 total now and will stop..

I used to have a 16 track but she's gone. Sad, because I would love to tear this one apart and redo some of my stuff now too. Well, More like listen to each track and redo it in high fidelity. But I can't sing or play like I used to. Time goes by... Remixing is more my thing.

Nice to read your comments. The Neos makes everything silkier. Well Hybrid does to my ears. .
Just working quickly with both I noticed an area at 240hz that would sound better removed and a bit more low end added. But back then we couldn't do that like now. 6k is glassy on the Vox. Sounds like a converter edginess? Not the ribbon you later used?

Great songs though. I don't have much to say really. Today we have so much more to work with. Everything today is bigger. Too bad we are all smashing the shit out of music though. It would all sound so much better if there were limits to all this eh.

The stems I work with are so terrible, they actually hurt my ears.

audiokid Sat, 01/05/2013 - 14:23

What I did to each version was all the same except : added 2 db increments of limiter makeup gain until it brickwalled.

None of these are actually "mastered" or in other words, did I attempt to eq to bring anything out. It was more a quick overall tweak that took less than 30 sec of my time. So in other words, pretty close to your mix. More like trying to recover what we loose in tape, but it does change something. Glad you like it and invited me.

This is basically the example of going OTB and back in DAAD through the summing rig with very little change to anything you did. But, some of you guys have incredible hearing and notice so much more. I think you are one of them! thumb We seem to be picking up on similar critiques with the members songs eh?

In the DAW I added a bell of .5 db in the mids, pulled a notch where there was a esssy area at 6k and a slight lower freq boots 40 hz to help the bottom. On the 2-bus in the analog stage I added the BAX for a bit more top and bottom which would have been there in your original 16 track as you pointed out. Thats the common area's that rolled off back then. yes? .

audiokid Sat, 01/05/2013 - 14:33

Hey! It would be interesting to have the high quality version of this and do it better than a second generation soundcloud recording ? This would make a huge improvement. The Neos is really not proving what it could.

How did you convert this for the internet? This is where I'm hearing the 6k glass from I think?

DonnyThompson Sun, 01/06/2013 - 03:46

Chris, I'd be more than happy to drop the original wave file into drop box for you to play around with if you want, although again, this was tracked in the early 90's on analog but sadly, probably saw a DAT conversion somewhere along the line, so yeah, you might be hearing that cheaper converter edge there that, unless we dug out the old 1" master and remixed, is probably part of the file.

Let me know what yuo'd like to do, I'd be glad to put the wave file into DB for you, just need an email... by the way, my email is DonnyThompson AT neo dot rr dot com...

audiokid Mon, 01/07/2013 - 11:54

Original vs Neos, Loop Comparison

Original vs Neos, Loop Comparison

Basic concept & Process
. to track a mastered song through the Neos and compare. History of the song, Original analog master converted to a Wave.

Used 2 DAW's. > DAW# 1 is a tracking and mixing DAW > DA> NEOS Hybrid> AD> DAW# 2 Mastering DAW (Neos sum). (Both DAW's are loaded with Sequoia 12 44.1/16)

  1. Created a new session and imported a previously summed 44.1/16bit wave file into Sequoia 12 (DAW1). Ran it through the Neos and recorded that to (DAW #2) mastering recorder (44.1/16 bit). (In and out) No processing at all. I then Normalized the Neos version and saved it.
  2. Created a new session and imported both original and Neos version to have their own tracks. I lined them and performing a null. What remained was a noticeable amount including some low end snap and punch from the Neos. [MEDIA=soundcloud]audiokid/neos-null-loop
  3. I then Chopped 1 bar from each version and normalized each one of those bars so the transients were peaking exact to each other. Looped them together and uploaded it to soundcloud.
    class="xf-ul">

    The result is original vs Neos. [MEDIA=soundcloud]audiokid/itb-vs-otb-song-let-it-go-neos

audiokid Mon, 01/07/2013 - 12:00

The next test should definitely be a full track session prior to any summing, SRC or mastering for the NEOS version because its impossible to improve or to demonstrative what this thing is capable of.
If anyone has a Mastered song that could provide me with good stems or ideally full track count with a master version as well, I would be happy to test this further. I'm certain this would prove to be interesting to astonishing.

audiokid Mon, 01/07/2013 - 16:00

Back in the studio.

Found it. The tempo was different on the capture DAW#2 so when I imported it back to the main DAW#1 for the null test, it was out. Glad thats sorted :) So the null example was off. New version won't be so extreme now.
The loop is fine.

Working on the MixDream now and a new null test.

audiokid Mon, 01/07/2013 - 17:30

Three attempts I'm still getting a strong phase against your song on both analog version (MixDream or Neos) in the null test. Performing a null test between the Neos and MixDream however, its tight, not phasing. They almost null perfectly compared to the original.

Ironically something is slighting shifting the audio between both recorders. You'd think 120BPM on one box is the same on another. I've never found this issue before but I've never tried to null test like this either so... I'm obviously discovering new things. I'll keep working on this but in the mean time...

After tweaking and tweaking I'm finding the MixDream and the Neos are extremely close. There appears to be an overall sheen throughout the entire bandwidth on the Neos.

Wow, I'm learning new things from this.

audiokid Mon, 01/07/2013 - 18:39

DonnyThompson, post: 398654 wrote: Chris, I'd be more than happy to drop the original wave file into drop box for you to play around with if you want, although again, this was tracked in the early 90's on analog but sadly, probably saw a DAT conversion somewhere along the line, so yeah, you might be hearing that cheaper converter edge there that, unless we dug out the old 1" master and remixed, is probably part of the file.

Let me know what yuo'd like to do, I'd be glad to put the wave file into DB for you, just need an email... by the way, my email is DonnyThompson AT neo dot rr dot com...

Hey Donny, How did you get it to a wave file from the DAT?

Here is the test one more time but adding the MixDream to it now. So it goes like this now:
Original > MixDream > Neos, loop
http://SoundCloud.c…

To those following this:
Again, each bar was normalized first then looped together. The original is a bit lower in volume where the two analog versions are so close I cannot hear much difference.
I can lower the volume of the two analog bars to match better to the original but that would be cheating in regards to true results based on transient peaks.

So, even though there isn't much difference sonically here to rave about, this simple test personally tells me that the analog sums are fuller and louder before processing.

My goal at the end of the day is how to achieve the highest volume without compromising quality, or in this case, actually increasing quality. If I were to process these and add some analog spice, I would easily get an additional 10db more volume which would be on par with commercial releases. I'm pretty confident the analog mixes would trump the majority of whats being spit out today (Volume and sound quality).

My conclusion between these two summer so far, The MixDream is definitely a very cool box.
Its imposable to know what the Neos is going to sound like until I get some stems. We're not even touching the potential of this beast. It has 24 channels, panning and faders that go from cool to electric energy once you start pushing them.

DonnyThompson Tue, 01/08/2013 - 05:36

Hey Donny, How did you get it to a wave file from the DAT?

It's been so long now, Chris....best guess is that I probably took it from a DA30 to a Digital Audio Labs PCI interface, which as I recall, was what I was using on an ancient Pentium 2 back in those days.

I know I didn't have anywhere near a "pro" spec audio I/O like an Apogee or MOTU or anything at that time.

The console I was using at that time was a Neotek Elan', and it was a pure analog desk, so I know there was no digital I/O on it. Ya, know, I'm beginning to wonder now if at some point this baby also might have seen a 1/4" 2 track....

Yeah, like every studio in those days, I had a DAT machine ( Tascam DA30) but... I was still doing plenty of backup safety mixes to a Revox B77 as well... wouldn't that be interesting to hear!

And, believe it or not, I still have that B77, although it's been in storage for so long now ( safely, but for a very long time) and I'm not sure that the lifters or capstans would function correctly even if I could find the 2 track reel - going through the CRATES of 1/4", 1/2", and 1" masters I have in the attic LOL)

I'm still convinced that I have a mastered version of this somewhere on disc, because this track did get light to moderate airplay and I know they would have never accepted an unmastered copy.

I just need to plow through the library and look... and I will. It's just gonna take a little time.

In the meantime, if you wanna have more fun, I'm gonna upload another track done on analog, and this one has been mastered... in fact, there are two mastered versions (same engineer) to choose from.

Check DB in about an hour or so. ;)

audiokid Tue, 01/08/2013 - 11:14

Man, you've got some great songs!

FWIW, Let it Go could be remixed with great possibilities to be re released.
Thanks for sharing your songs with me, Donny. Its been awesome getting to know you better and I love your sound. I see why we hear things the same too, we grew up in the same era and share a similar mix in mind. I can also tell your monitoring and hearing is of a seasoned Pop artist, and this is a compliment of the highest order from me. :) You put the right people together like this and they go platinum, or make new people go platinum. Time and finding each other is our enemy in life, not talent.

I'm going to pass on doing any more 2 track songs here. I needed to hear a few things for myself.
These summing systems excels when summing large track counts grouped into stems followed by mastering. As an example, I can't reach in and grab the kick or bass. Its like trying to make potatoes hard and larger in soup that's been cooked and put in a bowl. I can make the blow larger but I can't make the potatoes larger in the mix, it is what it is.
And the volume I'm able to achieve isn't worth mentioning at this stage.

What I know, I'm so confident with this system now and certain I could open most ITB mixes significantly without losing volume at the master end. That's where these high end hybrid systems really excel and where so many go wrong, or only half way and then screw it up. This is where my focus has been since I started building this.
I think I've got it down to where I just need to refine my skills now.

Even though this particular system is incredibly High Definition, it isn't why I solely built it. Surprisingly, its about making online music , crap or classical loud and clear(er), Most online music ( even CD's) today sounds pretty awful and we know that and the internet isn't helping. To my ear's, digital music has a sound to it and an unforgiving tolerance when you cram it up, and cram it even more, online. We all know we don't like it.
All this hype about the unlimited headroom digital has, I don't buy that anymore. At least not in the near future, if ever. Variation is a benefit even if it adds noise so hybrid may always have its benefits even when we hit above 500k SR.
I do however believe a straight ITB mix to be true if we are producing dance music using electronics, but when it comes to rich acoustic information, and volume wars at the end of the day, the game changes and things start to get more complicated.
Analog seems to react more forgiving with rich transient music and volume. However, it makes no difference if you can't upload this HD sound to the population. No wonder so may are getting out of the business or settling for a simple and cheap monitoring and DAW.

Donny, you and I know even more today, most people around the world are using terrible monitoring systems. Even if we produce a great track, they can't even hear it. They might think our mix sucks because its too bassy or to clear etc. Who do you trust!
This is apparent right here on RO, Gearslutz, everywhere and its why no one but a few will even let us hear what they are doing. I have so much respect for those who share their tracks.
Its a serious issue gone rampant and its really effecting manufacturers that make gear too.. Look at that last guy mixing his track with two subs that you and I chimmed in on. This is so common and getting worse. How may people would be telling him to try another pre amp, mic, plug-in! Or how many people are saying something sucks when its really their system and monitoring.
Look how many so called engineers are spreading misinformation about gear they use when its really about how they are using it and hearing. What a total nightmare being a ME these days. But, I get it now. Figure this out and you are home free! Monitoring and acoustics!

My research goes deeper than just trying to make an HD system.

Without going on...
I'm pretty sure this decade is going to be about higher quality sound that is loud and clearer. We all know that louder digital music isn't better sounding, but it impresses the mass and sells. I don't think we are going to be turning it down anytime soon to compensate. . What I've been discovering from my hybrid system is how to make volume sound better. Being able to help crap or classical sound more precisely better at higher volume.

To make a mix stand out better.

DonnyThompson Tue, 01/08/2013 - 11:35

Kind words indeed Chris, I appreciate everything you've said.

That being said, I do have a Sonar project with 32 discreet tracks that I could stem down for you if you want to push and test your system with some well recorded discreet tracks or stems..... it's gonna be a pretty big file though.

I could save it as an OMF if you'd like... and if you don't wanna mess with it, that's fine too. I understand we are all busy, just thought these tracks might help you get to know your NEOS better.

Let me know....and thanks again for all your creative work.. ;)

-d.

audiokid Tue, 01/08/2013 - 13:04

Yes, lets do that!

I just ordered an SSL X-Patch. Check that out. I have a rack of gear that I've not been able to insert the way I want so this will be an even more fun process. If you are up for it, lets have out own party here.

Lets try the stems first, if its going good and I still have time, maybe we can try all the tracks and have a few choices to critique.

Is it a finished project? I want a master or a mix down of it to give me an example of what you are shooting for along with the stems. A comparison of ITB vs OTB is also interesting.
Can you do this? Can we do it all online like above, openly so others can follow along? I am open for serious critiquing as well. Maybe this will encourage others to start more of this around here. I think this makes great learning for us all.

Generally speaking directed to anyone now:

Have you done stems like this before?

Main thing is to line them all up to zero before saving them. This is so they line up for me when I import the wave files of each stem. Save them as wave files. Don't do any SRC. If they are 96 or 88.2, I take that! If they are 44.1, I take that. Give me exactly what your session is at. Do not bounce down to a lower SR. The benefit here is I do not do any SRC. This process is where detail lives and why it costs $20 grand more lol! lets use it.

I know I don't have to ask Donny but anyone reading this, hold off on any unnecessary compression or extreme eqing that can be applied by me on the stem.

Sub Groups = Stems >
Drums / Bass / Guitars (Note: separate stems for (electric) (acoustics) / Main Vocal / Harmonies Vocals / Keys / Effects / Percussion / Hi hats / Cymbals
/ NOTE: this includes VSTi as audio tracks.

How to make stems?
Not sure how its done on your DAW but be sure the stem is that subgroup and nothing else added that may be part of the master track.
The way I make a stem if whatever isn't muted, gets saved as that stem.
So in other words, I create subgroups and those are what the stem becomes. I mute all the other subgroups but the one I am making and export. I do this one at a time until all the stems are saved.
Be sure you don't have something added like dithering or wave compression sitting in the background ready to add when saving/exporting the stem. We want everything to be as unscathed as possible.

Remember I don't have your VSTi, midi editing etc so give it to me proud and finished, as a wave.
Tracks that you want specific effects on, do it on your end as I won't have the plug-in effect here.

And always remember, less is more as we will discover. Keep your project open for this as I may ask you to fix or adjust something on the track for a particular stem or even send what I have done back to you. This can be a collaboration too.

Sound good, sound fun! Its aways got to be fun!!!

NOTE: If someone can add to my wording, please do. We may be using this as a tutorial one day.

And finally, I'm sure there are others lurking here that could kick my ass down the block and school me on some or all of this. There is nothing more I would love than to see this all go viral in a positive learning way. I'm doing this to learn, not show off what I have or can do. My clock is running out. I want to become awesome, to impress myself before I leave this place. So please, feel more than welcome to join in on our party!

DonnyThompson Wed, 01/09/2013 - 05:27

And finally, I'm sure there are others lurking here that could kick my ass down the block and school me on some or all of this. There is nothing more I would love than to see this all go viral in a positive learning way. I'm doing this to learn, not show off what I have or can do. My clock is running out. I want to become awesome, to impress myself before I leave this place. So please, feel more than welcome to join in on our party!

LOL... mine too Chris...

The one thing that I think has kept me alive in this game for over 30 years now is to never stop learning - and to never give up the desire to do so.

I'll start condensing some stems after the percolator has my coffee ready. :)

I'll shoot you messages throughout the day as to progress.

This should be a lot of fun. :)

-d.

audiokid Wed, 01/09/2013 - 15:53

At 104:00 the whole session gets louder and fuller. But I don't know if its better "fuller", either? Like a parallel process added in abruptly, which also increased some lower mid problems . Check that out? How did you do that? We need to fix that one though, one or the other :)
I'm cool to reload this all because of that and at the same time, remove any verbs you can and we should be rolling.

audiokid Wed, 01/09/2013 - 16:03

More thoughts :

The 12 string, is that two takes, one on the left and one on right? More on right? Is there some delay added? I like it but would almost like to have way more control on it and spread it out wider and back in layers.
Did you ever listen the The Strawbs. UK band from the 70's. Killer 12 string engineering. I'm shooting for that here. Can you give me those individually? I think its going to be special.

Update:

I'm liking this so much, Donny, screw the stems and as many individual tracks the better.

audiokid Wed, 01/09/2013 - 16:28

While waiting for Donny to read all this and update things, I might a well share some more on the Neos.

I've been going and back between my MixDream and the Neos. Its real easy. All I do is swap the db25 cables from my converters DA plus the master outs that go to my capture DAW on each unit and its switched and running. Takes 30 sec.
The two summing rigs are so close when you do a stereo AB and null it, it makes me wonder if the extra $ is worth the cost. Like $7000 difference. But it has 8 more channels and double the v rails. That all said, once you start cranking the faders, things start getting more interesting. At this level, high end is baby steps in 2% increments. But those tiny % are are what hooked me in the journey long ago. Its actually the space that separates everything from bleeding into each other. Where the silk is or the reverb tails roll off just that much more gently. Separation and space is the simple way to put it. Makes it more fun and easier to mix.

Sometimes new gear fools me, and I want it to sound better than it is. So I'm being very critical here, taking baby steps, listening and thinking. The MixDream is no slouch. Its a killer system, but I can hear a space that is developing as I start adding all the stems here. And having faders is proving to be pretty cool again. Plus, from 0 to +6 an electric vibe starts happening. Makes me smile actually. Cranking them all to +6 doesn't even phase this thing. Its cool indeed.

Stay tuned ...

audiokid Wed, 01/09/2013 - 19:35

Ah, loving this. Here is my rough mix! Ears are tired now. Tomorrow will be fun.
How do you like it so far?
NOTE: what happens at 104:00.
Your first rough mix:
[MEDIA=soundcloud]audiokid/one-too-many-times-rough-mix

Neos:
Mix1:
[MEDIA=soundcloud]audiokid/one-too-many-times
Mix Three: Cleaned up hiss and more tweaks.
[MEDIA=soundcloud]audiokid/one-too-many-times-3
In a few days I will get the X-Patch and start inserting gear which may make this more interesting.

More idea's to toss in.

I would actually like to replace the Kick. One that would hug the Bass more and that is a bit deeper punch would rock. There isn't much going on below 100hz and the two are sort of competing. How do you feel about that? smoke I'll do a few version of this for sure.

There is a fair amount of hiss in the background. Is that you or me? New analog gear, erk... adds more noise maybe, need to look at gains.

DonnyThompson Thu, 01/10/2013 - 05:39

Chris, I have NO idea what happened with that volume change... none...

I had no automation on any of the tracks, no volume envelopes, and it's not happening on the project file my end... very weird...

I will upload more tracks today as you asked for. :)

so far, I actually prefer mix 1 ( LOL without the volume change at 1:04... man, that's weird) over mix 3... mix 1 seems to breathe more, at least to my ears...more open-ness.

I can replace the kick if you want on my end, or if you have something specific in mind, you can do whatever you want. :)

No hiss on my end, btw...

this is fun.

-d.