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Analog Summing Boxes ?

Discussion in 'Summing / Mastering consoles' started by Tommy osuna, Nov 29, 2014.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Its all fun!


    You mean this one I'm sitting at ;)

    warehouse.jpg


    Joel or anyone for that matter, I'm not disputing you can't make world class mixes on whatever we use, including Sonar which sounds like a Tascam console lol. Just because some studio uses an analog consoles and captures to tape or vinyl, does not mean its where we are headed this century either (we haven't even discussed Spectra Audio technology and how this is going to impact us).

    I know for a fact I have a better handle in hybrid summing than most people and that includes a bunch of high profile engineers shilling gear for the questionable. I used to sit back and listen to all this nonsense about clocking, round trip processing, how Pro Tools was the best, how these $7000 vintage Pultec are so awesome, Manley comps, vintage this and vintage that... what a bunch of hype and muscle flexing, BS coming from gear pimps and blind leading blind. After the essentials, its either creative preferences or patching scars on scars.

    About 4 years ago I had enough of it and started acquiring gear supplied to me by manufacturers. Yes, I didn't need to like it.
    Learning everything I can about hybrid mixing and mastering, testing for myself and calling it all out has been something I've rather enjoyed while most definately pissing some off in the process. My goal isn't to build the best sounding system on the planet, but it sure is to see where the sound bottlenecks and the buck stops.
    I want audio examples to prove it all to me. So, prove it I say? And, in the process, I am open and transparent all through this.

    In my opinion, old school fundamentals apply but the more I dig into hybrid, the console is getting left behind.
    When you know what a DAW is capable of, its hard listening to all the hype and seeing the shilling going on too, so I have to point this out. Witnessing the shilling supported by the aging generation and fast dying manufacturers is really questionable to me.
    I have to agree, any large array of preamps is logical for tracking in big rooms but when it comes to mixing and mastering, a DAW and a competent man behind that wheel will do circles around anyone who wants to pay for the hard lesson. Show me the money :)

    The idea we have to go out and invest in a large format console to sound like the next ACDC album is nonsense. I do not believe this one bit. It was a choice but there could have been a dozen other competent methods to get close enough results.And this is where I am looking. At choices and calling out some of this questionable.

    The band, the room, the front end, the guy behind the wheel and the mastering is what matters. The gear is character shading tools and furniture playing on our emotions.
    So, I am saying to all the kids with hopes and dreams, don't be fooled into thinking you need to cough up all this money to make stellar sounding music. Its guys like me who will continue to question the past, the hype and ask for proof, even if it cost me a few extra bucks .
    Digital technology is putting man to mars. If we think we can't make an EQ or compressor sound good ITB by now, we need to stop smoking that stuff.


    When you start paying attention to the capture process, you will be where I am now. As long as we are going a round and around with this DAW meets console, you will never be progressive. You will always be patching a broken or dated system.

    Look at these video's. There are so many like this. Its part of the Ridiculous and Dated . :confused:
    http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jun10/articles/masterclocks.htm


    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNJpzaGdTjw



    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJqx5iOoq9w
     
  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    I believe I've come to the same conclusion on this. It's all so different for everybody, and everyone is going to have their own preferences, workflows, gear they like, gear they don't... it's all very subjective, and to an extent, it's a personal thing, too. I have no business critiquing anyone who has successfully recorded and released great sounding music - be it analog or digital.

    Thousands of fantastic sounding records have been tracked and mixed through consoles, and thousands of great recordings have also been done using ITB digital. Far be it for me to tell anyone "what or how" they should do something... if they are happy with the results that they are getting.

    It's also very easy to get bogged down in the minutiae, to find yourself focusing on things under a magnifying glass, many times just because you can.

    You can also become hyper-sensitive, too, I think. Maybe that "S" is a bit too hot... or that one kick note sounds a bit "whoompy" compared to the others.... or you start working on mixing a vocal track at 9 am and 7 hours later, you find yourself still working on it; only to realize when you go back and listen to the original track, and realize that it was absolutely fine to begin with.

    Just because there are so many tools available that allow us to to correct every little pimple and crease, doesn't mean you have to crawl up the ant's ass with a laser microscope to see what he ate for lunch yesterday.

    Sooner or later, you're gonna have to have something musical to show for all of your efforts. And you need to ask yourself if all of those tiny little EQ corrections on one phrase or note, or that tiny bit of pitch correction by half a cent, or gain reduction by -0.025 db, will even make a difference when all is said and done, and the track is finally tucked into the mix and rendered, for people to listen to on the whole.

    As long as you are making great sounding music, that's all that matters - and I don't care how you do it... I only care that you do do it.

    Or at least that's my own criteria, anyway.

    IMHO of course. ;)

    d.
     
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Mixing for others has helped me look at myself.
    My beef in all this is around the G.A.S. and how hype is targeting our wallets and emotions.
    I stripped my studio down so it forced me to think about what I was doing. I do this regularly. I've made it a practice to strip away clutter so I keep the eye on the art.

    So,what is the $100,000 lesson this year? I am a firm believer we are all twisting the dials too far, ITB. 1db change is 1db change. Accumulative overkill accumulates fast and before you know it, you are looking in the wrong places for help. Thus, why I think hybrid is so cool. Its really easy to screw up a mix, ITB, not as easy OTB. What we loose OTB is transparency, but what we gain is warmer and more balanced results.

    All this gear comes at a price both financially and sonically. Once you look to yourself and realize what ( "less is more" truly means) where to invest study and $ , things start making a lot more sense.
     
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    I think i need to start making better music. All the gear in the world - or lack thereof - doesn't have a thing to do with that part of it.
     
    dvdhawk and Kurt Foster like this.
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    exactly.

    good mic, good pre , good ADDA conversion, dedicated monitoring chain, keeping an eye on the gains and accumulative overkill with a DAW that doesn't distract us is all we need to get it done. All this comes at a fraction of what it used to cost in this picture of me, last century. The only thing we need to upgrade after you have the essentials is the computer or software. That is, if you choose to do so.

    $10,000 buys a pretty decent start for anyone. Your music will sound just as enjoyable as it would though this. Maybe even better if you know what you are doing.
    warehouse.jpg
     
  6. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    YES! that's why the records from the 50's sound so good. they had to play!

    on a side note, i just had the good fortune to meet Jimmy Torres from the String Alongs this last week. he bought some ADAT machines and a BRC from me ... what a hoot! a real nice guy! we had the chance to chew the fat regarding ; Waylon Jennings, Norman Petty and his studio, Buddy Holly and more. i love that sh*t!




    i think one can do it for a lot less .... even if you have to buy mic pres one could be up and running with a pretty nice system for well under $5K. i already have front end and with a new (USED) laptop, converters, passive sum mixer and new monitors i'm in a less than $1K .... !

    i'm probably going to wind up selling all my other gear... verbs outboard and alll and just keep a small bare bones minimum system ... all itb. not saying it will be the best sounding thing around but wtf it will be fine for what i need.
     
    bigtree likes this.
  7. Gette

    Gette Active Member

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    Ya know forum discussions rarely following me through out my day, however this one has kinda been in the back of mind all day long!

    A couple of things to point out, since this was in my mind all day, as i worked on deferent pieces of gear, I consciously sought out ways to either confirm or destroy myths that are generally excepted … this next one surpassed even me...

    1) Digital is sterile/transparent adds little to no distortion regardless of processing unless intentionally wanted (heat plug ins etc)…

    This is absolute BS and by far the greatest lie thus far. I had a well known and respected Digital console in today for repair, complaint, oddly enough was distortion on one of the outputs. First suspect of course is the ADC, after all distortion does not exist in the digital domain (unless it is clipped)… Well. I ran a frequency response vs THD+N @ +4dBu to try an identify what output was at fault and help verify the complaint. (Yes, we get allot of "it is broken", but in truth, the user was broken…LOL) THD+N was well below .002% from 20kHz to about 100Hz, at this point, very clean and "transparent" then it quickly ramped up to above 1% by the time it hit 20Hz! that is bad…. very bad…. Before i test anything, i go though the console to zero out everything (EQ, Dynamics, routing etc) So i re-checked before unscrewing, you know it, that damn parametric on the master L-R was not flat. It had a 5db boost centered at about 37Hz. I flatten it, re-ran the test and low and behold, .002% from 20-20kHz. I am using an Audio Precision, the world standard in testing THD etc, I can assure you it was not my gear. But just in case, I grabbed a random analog piece and ran the same test. Got the expected THD curve normally associated with transformer based gear. This my friends shows, that just by using an eq in the digital domain, does color the audio…. I should have done a phase sweep on it… damn it! The console issue was not an output but a configuration conflict on an input…. I will be testing this further,,, I do have a PTHD rig sitting at the office… Hmmm… this needs further testing in order to come to a true assessment…

    I do not need "audio" to prove it to me, I need measurement. hard cold undeniable data that is uncolored by emotion or bias.

    audiokid - Nice Pic! so i guess you would just throw that hunk of a piece of furniture out the door or sell it to the next guy as soon as possible?

    Gear is not only chosen by it's sound, the only time that is the only criteria is when budgets are not an issue. Fact of life is budgets regulate all of use (well 90% at least) and there for cost becomes a large factor in our choice of equipment and workflow. Allot of the angst against the whole analog work flow is the cost and that fact that a vast majority does not have the means to acquire or be able to house the gear. (Some would say, I could not properly house my console! LOL ) Hearing "That will never sound good because of x and you do not have y" in its basic form, hurts. It causes a rebellious response that becomes close minded to another approach, after all we are all rebels in some form. As musicians, we are always emotionally attached to what we use to create, ask any guitar player how he feels about his favorite guitar? It is no deferent form an engineers perspective, i admittedly hold the same reverence to my console that i would my Custom Jackson that I have had for years. Why? The gear and workflow you use becomes apart of who you are in essence. When we have invested allot of time and money into a particular workflow and hear that it suck/inferior or was a waste of money. Or realize that we were not getting the results we had initially desired… causes a bit of hatred…. Or, that another cheaper solution yields "close enough" results, that can cause a rift or too.

    It comes down to how we express our preference, only then could some one else truly gain insight as to what may be the right direction for them. I admit, i got into the mudslinging, why i originally posted. In the end, it helped no one.
     
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    There is a big difference between a digital console and a converter and a DAW. I don't see the correlation?
    Mic, pre amp, conversion, mixing and mastering. How does this have much to do with a digital console in comparison to what?

    Digital isn't sterile, its an image of the source. If you want distortion, you can use something before or after the source and capture it capture.

    I'm sure you find this hard to believe but emotions or bias aside, I choose what serves best.
    If I needed a console I would have one. I would buy what my clients expected. But, I would never buy a console for mixing or mastering my own projects. I would buy a Neos and Dangerous Master and do exactly what I do now.

    I will say this. If I was a commercial studio who had record labels and the circle of engineers coming through my studio, I would have a few PT rigs, this Neve, an SSL PLUS... my room all available for whomever wants what.

    But no matter what room, they would all be fitted with an independent monitor control system and a summing system like I have (y)

    Would I force anyone to use something they aren't comfortable with? No. But I'm pretty certain most who compared mixes, it would be a no brainer where they would be looking.
     
  9. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Well this is subjective and crossing into the creative. I prefer PRS 10 because I like the bridge, neck and heads much more than the Jackson USA. lol. But, were not talking about taste in this thread really, we are discussing summing boxes and how they integrate hybrid. Followed by capturing the sum and monitoring perspectives. These really aren't much to do with creative, The reason we choose summing boxes is to improve our sound. Until you've used one, its pretty hard to think these could ever rival what you have, Joel. Were talking about summing amps and why or how they work so well. I don't see them as some budget alternative either, They are simple and should have huge headroom for a reason.
     
  10. Gette

    Gette Active Member

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    Actually there isn't much deference in truth. in most high end Digital consoles you have a better scenario to mix in and dedicated hardware for the task (DSP, FPGA .. etc) Only real deference is the lack of code to retain an "Image" as you have put it. However, the Mix facilities both in sound and versatility has always out weighed any DAW as pure comparison of a mix. If only purely from a design standpoint, the dedicated digital console has a huge advantage in this way. If i were to go purely digital, i would have a dedicated digital console to handle the mixing.

    An image limited by how it was captured, limited by the processing power of the vehicle capturing. limited by physics in that it will never get a complete picture only enough it to get by and not be noticed.
     
  11. Gette

    Gette Active Member

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    LOL, that is exactly what we are talking about here, taste, opinion….:LOL:
     
  12. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    :D yes, but about summing boxes and how they work, why they work and why people are using them in comparison to consoles. The differences between colour vs transparent and how this effects our monitoring and final mixes. Where we put the monitoring and what other options there are for connecting these to our DAW's. This is what I am discussing. Which at that point, a console is really not even a contender for a mixer or mastering E. It will be colouring every mix the same way. Not all mixes or people want their music changed.

    You are welcome to dispute or question me. I like that. Just be prepared to be drilled. So far you have missed the entire thread's sweet spot.

    Just saying... ;)

    Q:
    Are you really convinced your console can sum a master like a Neos or similar design?
     
  13. Gette

    Gette Active Member

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    Actually I highjacked it, due to a comment you had made.

    My opinion on hybrid is, simple. No console? then do not waste your time, stay ITB. the whole summing market with an exception of a very few, are cheaply made overly priced crap. Why complicate your life with monitoring issues, routing issues etc… it is not worth it!

    A very simple thing to assess, if you are mixing in the faders of a DAW, do not waste your time/cash on a summing box.

    The whole hybrid thing, where you are mixing using the DAW and summing else where has always had me shacking my head. I do not know if I am just upset I did not think of it, (cash could be had apparently) or ...

    I mean the above honestly, it does not make sense to me. Much like buying an engine but using horses to pull the carriage. Half of one thing and half of the other. From a technical point of view, a summing bus is just that nothing makes it all that. The true idea behind Analog summing is the whole of the parts from input to eq, dynamics then summing, That is what makes it sound analog. All i can see of it is a lot of fighting to get a balance and fighting to get a workflow. excuse the expression, but it is literally half assed…..

    Simply decide what domain you wish to mix in and go with it. BUT to each their own..:whistle:
     
  14. Gette

    Gette Active Member

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    ANY DAY OF THE WEEK… got to remember, i know their designs well….
     
  15. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    I have to ask, have you ever used a summing system or "approach to summing and capturing like I describe? Which I might mention, is how many world class engineers do.

    You definitely are not understanding a lot of this Joel. Which isn't me insulting you, but I can clearly hear were you are locked in and missing the mark here.
    Your console is not perfect for everything. It excels tracking. After that, it falls short because its always adding distortion which accumulates. But that doesn't mean you can't get it done or this isn't right for you. But for a commercial mixer or master, its too one sided. We are talking about summing here. Do you know why I feel your console falls short for mixing or mastering and why I would prefer to NOT use a console? I would say this even if I had 10 million to spend.
     
  16. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    No, I don't believe you know their design this well or the workflow in the least.

    Sorry Joel, this is where the rubber meets the pavement now.

    You are missing it all. I have to ask, how many Neos's have you had past your studio and had the opportunity to sum with? And how many Dangerous Master consoles have you used to do M/S processing? And what converters ,interface and master hardware did you use and how did you return the sum? Did you round trip or use an uncoupled capture process?
    What monitoring system did you connect to the Neos and what converters did you use for that section? Did the Neos have detent panning or ? How did you like the Master section of the Neos and did you use the returns? How many channels did you stem into? Did you use the Master section and what did you use in that master section for gear?

    Did you appreciate the mono functions and if so, what groups of stems or instruments did you use them for? Did you notice the endless headroom? Did you compare this to any other console? Did you notice how the gain or headroom of the Neos can take or smoke anything in its path?

    I cannot wait for this answer .:cool:

    I'd post something testimonials on the Neos but there are very few in NA who even have these.
    There are a lot of engineers using the Master though, so here is a starter video for your info.

    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAp_Vf-MfW8


    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-T_NyWYEyI



    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbZtrXXVFjE

     
  17. Gette

    Gette Active Member

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    Apparently my credibility is not carrying enough weight with you to hear what i am saying. I fully hear what you are trying to explain, i get it. I do not agree, but get it.

    Now, you have me at a disadvantage because the information i wish share i cannot due to respect to SPL. Assumption is the champion of many failures and to assume my console is either stock or in your words not up to task, is some one who clearly does not understand me, my skill set or standards. Likewise, to also assume, that one must have been able to actually use these in a pristine environment in order to assess them, is sadly mistaken. If you do not understand the design and are incapable of designing the gear you so hail, how could i ever truly trust your judgement? How could i be sure that your ears have not fooled you into believing something that is not there? Have you used an AP in the measurement of what you say is transparent, Oh that's right purchasing $15,000 piece of gear just to take measurements does not make sense for a studio? does it?

    You also forget, I work on the gear so many wish they could own, From ATC to tube Tech. I know and understand what is under the hood and unfortunately, I know the truth.

    I will let this be, go back to my little thread and continue refurbishing my piece of history……
     
  18. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    No one is asking you to agree. But, the first thing I'm going to ask you is , what experience do you have in something ?
    The Dangerous Master is one of the dedicated consoles I use in my analog matrix. Which, I consider a summing type of box ;) . I use it in the last step during the mastering stage. This particular device isn't supposed to have a sound. It also has very intelligent step to monitor. (Once again, I mention monitoring) You are clearly confused why we use these.
    Take a look at all the testimonials and where they are from. This should give you an idea that this is not just my opinion or a toy. I learn with the best of them. Summing, stem summing and mastering is a whole different area to tracking. Its an Art in itself, Joel. The tools used are all related.

    http://www.dangerousmusic.com/testimonials/
     
  19. Gette

    Gette Active Member

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    i have used and have specified a number of Dangerous products to facilities and other artists looking to use this type of workflow. On here, just wanted to be a kid, (41 is the new 21 right?) just working on a console and offer up thoughts and truths i would not normally express else where. the funny thing about being online is the ability to shut down the professional side. Notice i do not speak much? it is rare i post outside the M3000 thread, rare i even post there… lol

    I do not need the testimonials, the idea of hybrid was to meet a need, satisfy the desires for an analog sound with the convenience of just using a DAW for all tasks (Mix, Auto etc). Lower cost of ownership over a console and a booming market to sell to. When you do what i do, you learn some harsh lessons about pre conceived notions of quality and truth in design. The truth really is, the ideal analog console, Summing box (for you here), Compressor, Eq etc, will never be built for sale. EVER. when you get into to the details of a design and begin to look at components, the choices forced open the designers are horrendous! BUT, who is to say that a Vishay VAR resistor at $20 a piece is not going to make a deference in signal path? There are allot of factors that decide how a piece of gear is made, ironically the designer is only the idea starter, not the final word.
     
  20. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Okay, I just went through this with MadMax.
    Unfortunately, this is where I do try but there is only so much I can convey through type.
    If you haven't used HD summing, M & S features, the concept of a little box is going to go right over your heads. And if you think this is something you grasp in a repair shop or over a weekend demo, think again. Its taken me years to understand the meaning of a straight wire and the tools to use on mono or side information, not to mention, how to even mix something worthy of the substantial investment. But, we often know more about things than opportunities allow us to demonstrate too. Not all of us are so lucky to have the best crew from talent to gear at our disposal. We work with what we get.
    Speaking for myself, I mix for people which I have no control over the source.

    If you think an analog console is your ticket to success, I feel sorry for you. The real truth is, I see one big disappointment after another facing anyone living that dream. But, dreams are sometimes all we have so on that note, enjoy your dream. I dream too. Kudo's and a big hug.:love:


    This is where emotion needs to stop and we cut through the drama.

    Joel, I'm really trying to be gentle with you but you are digging a really big hole about now.

    It appears you are looking at audio like a repair guy more than a mixing or mastering engineer looking to learn something .
    Using the word "respect" in the context of how you placed SPL in this conversation was a low blow, its pretty alarming (n). How are you being respectful putting it this way? You are being very questionable. I have a 16 year relationship with this company and Dangerous Music. Both who have a mutual respect for each other. Chris Muth is no dummy nor are the people at SPL. Legendary Engineers with awards for excellence use this process , which I was kind enough to point to for your benefit.
    They have designed some of the most impressive summing and mastering products to date.

    To clarify once again :) my statement about how a large format console, (actually most analog consoles with trannies and miles of copper) , especially of your era would be a weak summing or mastering solution for a business. Your console would in fact be detrimental when it comes to this "level" of summing or mastering.

    Why?
    If you got your head out of the solder and read why, you might actually learn something about summing and mastering. We are talking about "preserving" or improving signal and why we choose to use a summing box instead of an analog tracking console. We aren't talking about tracking. My job isn't about changing peoples music, its about respecting the tones and doing the best job I can to get their sounds across all platforms.

    Your console is a noise generator pal! It would impose unacceptable phase shift and bring the noise floor up to unacceptable levels. The monitor section on most character consoles are also unacceptable solutions from a specific standpoint because they lack transparency. In fact, your console would force accumulative distortions all through the path right into the monitor section. This is why we prefer independent monitor control systems with a transparent DA / DAW side.

    I have to call you out on how you are even familiar with the workflow of summing boxes. The 20 pages of testimonials from world class mixing and mastering engineers aren't enough for you? Summing boxes do share a common goal and workflow. We are connecting boutique hardware to a DAW with a straighter wire. I hate to point us to GS but its no clearer:
    https://www.gearslutz.com/board/mastering-forum/342471-how-essential-mastering-mastering-console.html


    However, the uncoupled DAW's may be a game changer. I'm still learning this one.


    Q"

    Please answer all those questions I asked? If you want to redeem yourself, teach me about summing. I'm listening
    Until you are able to have an intelligent conversation about the intricacies of summing and mastering consoles, monitor control systems, I can't even take you serious anymore. :cool:
     
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