Analogue vs digital mixing

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by Hammer, Feb 5, 2003.

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  1. Hammer

    Hammer Guest

    I'm a digital daw kinda guy. I love editing audio and working with plugs etc. I love all that is good with digital...what PISSES me off about it all is mixing. It seems to take forever to get the mix happening, then when you get it, it's not quite there...there's something missing. Most stuff mixed on DAWs that I have heard has it. I don't want my stuff to have it any more. I have been given a soundtracs PC midi 48 channel console, which I'm lead to believe is no ssl but a bit better than a mackie 8 bus. Will I hear a benefit from mixing on this console as opposed to inside the computer. All my inserts are still going to be plugs. Hardware is going to be a couple of verb boxes and maybe an RNC or 3. (I have a fully class signal path for recording, all good eq's pres compressors - that's not the prob here.) Anyone got a similar setup? Is it worth the hassle? and the big one...Does it sound better and make things easier to mix?
    Cheers H
  2. Marcus Black

    Marcus Black Guest

    Using an analog mixer helps. What sucks in all DAW´s is the summing of the recorded tracks. If you, say, have a song with some 40-50 audiotracks and run them all to one stereo output in the computer, it kind of chokes. Mainly because there´s no headroom in the DAW. Use as many separate outputs as possible and let the analog desk do the summing. If you like to keep the comfort of recalling an entire mix instantly in the DAW, simply let all faders be at 0dB at all time and the mixers channels in stereo pairs. For this purpose you could get along with a much smaller but still good sounding desk, ie the small 16-channel (8 stereo pairs) TL Audio tube desk. You will notice a difference in more depth in the mix, also if you pan stuff say a bit to the left it will feel more "in place", not floating around somewhere in the soundscape. You will also find it much easier to get more punch and better separation in your mixes.
  3. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    Mar 28, 2001
    I am in agreement that mixing analog is still superior to mixing digitally. I'm not familliar with your desk, so I can't comment on that.
  4. Hammer

    Hammer Guest

    Well, decided to find out for myself. A session i was producing on the weekend was booked into a studio wih a tascam m37oo desk, not by ant stretch of the imagination a great desk but a desk just the same. I set up a mix in my DAW and savedd it. Then, using the plugs for comp and eq, I simply bused each track out to the desk and set up a mix there. For all of you out there mixing on DAWs...Don't! Even on this crappy old tascam, the mix was fuller and had way more seperation. There is no comparison. Analogue summing is the way to go. It;s like going from using the pres on your DIGI to using neves. All the old skool guys will be going .. Duh! but for all of you young ones out there who have grown up in a Alshihad world I urge you to try it out for yourselves. I'm never going back to summing in a DAW again. H.
  5. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Jun 29, 2001
    We are getting somewhere!

    All I want to do is have you do your work the best it can be. Effort is worth achievement. If this is what it takes, do it to it.

    Right on! (from an oldschooler that uses the best of all worlds)
  6. locust

    locust Guest

    Just had to say I couldn't agree more. For us semi-professionals who can't afford a board that sounds really great I'd like to put emphasis on the fact that it's so much more fun to mix on a board! It's a bit of a hassle getting used to not having total recall on every project but the sheer fun of it makes up for that big time.

    I use a A&H GS3 with a nifty MIDI feature which allows me to configure 7 buttons on the mixer to send any note on/off message I want. This way I don't have reach for the mouse all the time, which has been extremely good for my shoulders.

    Buy a mixer to use with your DAW and you will definately have more fun mixing as well as the possibility of automation in whatever software you're using.

    Henrik Wikner, Sweden
  7. Pez

    Pez Active Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    Hammer, What daw software are you running?
  8. Hammer

    Hammer Guest

    I'm using SONAR and tools. I use them both for different projects - it just depends which studio I'm in and what style of music I'm producing. Protools is great for recording, Sonar is a real creative tool. I've mixed on both platforms and had the same digital summing problems on both. SONAR even has automatic delay compensation (for plug-induced latencies) and it still sucks (for mixing).
  9. Smooth

    Smooth Guest

    I find this analog desk phenom to be mostly attributed to all the different equipment used--especially the room and monitors. You listen to it with your limited setup and then somewhere else and you say wow--way more separation--this and that--but how much real differnce is there?

    some yes---but take the mix and listen to it on you own stuff again and the difference aint that much anymore. It the grasses greener on the other side syndrome

    The last point is where is the mixes?
    Post them
    Why is it always words that are supposed to convince us--let us hear both mixes. Why do we never hear these mixes on these forums?
  10. Doug Milton

    Doug Milton Active Member

    Sep 23, 2002
    While there are always multiple routes to equally satisfying results, I think the ultimate question is: What works best for you?

    We spend a lot of energy talking about gear and debating choices, but little time talking about creativity and work flow. The best combinations of tools are the ones that allow you to capture and express your creative statement with the most joy and the least frustration. I’ve heard songs come off a 4 track cassette that had real power and songs that came out of $3500 a day studios that were lifeless.

    Use what works best for you and go make great music….
  11. I gotta chime in on this one. I have had a HUGE amount of experience mixing on big analog consoles in cushy studios, Also have a HUGE amount of experience mixing strictly in the digital domain with a pretty suped up pro tools system.
    I've mixed a plethora of rock, hip hop, R&B, you name it both ways. Here's what i think.
    Money being absolutely no object, sure i'd rather mix on a 15 foot long SSL 9000. Any one of us would choose this option. And if you have several grand per song to blow on a mix, i highly reccomend it.
    However, it is my opinion that you can mix at times every bit as well on a good pro tools system given certain circumstances.
    First element is time. Working strictly in the digital domain you can build a song and a mix over time, live with it, make changes over the course of days, weeks, or??? This is a super powerful feature and can really help with the creative process. Once you leave that big SSL room, its really expensive to go back and make changes, you'd better get it right the first time. recalling is a super big pain in the....
    Second major element is experience. Nobody can possibly expect to only have done even several dozen mixes all in the digital domain (after being used to an analog mixing environment) and expect them to compare. Its taken me a very long time to mix well in the digital domain. It requires a completely different mind set, a completely different tool set, and a ton of experience to really avoid the potential pitfalls and maximize the positives. But this is very possible to do.
    Gain structure. sure its different. it takes alot of getting used to, but it is completely possible to keep your gain structure completely under control. I dont find digital summing of tons of tracks a problem. In fact, I think digital panning is far superior to analog pan pots. You can certainly manipulate sound very extensively digitally and do things you absolutely cant do in analog (yes analog does things you cant do in digital too, I do love them both).
    Power. The horsepower of your system can definitely have an impact on the outcome of your mix. If your running out of processing all the time, then you probably wont get a great mix because you'll be looking for compromises, workarounds, etc.... If DSP is not a problem, you can focus on mixing and not working around problems. Also, I'd rather spend $1600 on a Mix Farm and get a ton more processing than $1600 on a Lexicon reverb and get one more effect.
    Myth. things sound sterile and thin in digital. Bull$hit. maybe when 16 bit was the norm, things have changed.
    Someone wanted to hear a mix. Sorry i didnt mix this one analog as well, but here's an all digital, pretty high res MP3 of a mix i did. You guys tell me what you think.
    goto the "Listen" link and download the MP3 of "Old School Master".

    this song was recorded on an SSL 9000 also using lots of great outboard mic pre's compressors and EQ's, going straight into Pro tools. (yes i still LOVE recording with great analog gear). But this song was recorded straight to digital. 24 bit 44.1 and mixed all digital internally, no console. This song has not been mastered. Give it a listen and tell me what you think. Good bad or otherwise. I can take critisicm. Just please listen to it on a decent system.
    Now you'll notice i have not spoken poorly at all about mixing in the analog world. I love to do that too, and i'd never try to convince anyone that they shouldnt if thats your choice. I'm only offering a counter opinion to those who say all digital mixing isnt as good, or cant come out top notch. That i disagree with.
    anyway, i have to get back to my all digital mix in progress.
    -Ken Lewis
  12. Pez

    Pez Active Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    For certain applications analog is better and for others digital will do the trick. It's like having different colors in your paint box. Use whichever tool you have on hand that will do the job. There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods. Nice arrangement of your tune BTW.
  13. well, you can save a mix on some analog consoles, so that would help with building a mix as mentioned above .... mixes done sometimes in the large studios will also have a few too many cooks there, from my experience, and that makes time prolonged too. For me, I'm in for the long haul on being able to grab a fader(s) with fingers and hands. I would have to imagine that the focus of each engineer is somehow different and so what works best does, just never discount anything. I find that tweeking some things on a DAW is way easier, but the old riding a fader is not (for me).
    I'd also strongly suggest that good sounds and good minds maixing can produce stunningly similar results (to most everyone's ear) in either analog or digital domain. It's just requires altering your style and signal chains differntly .. again, to me.
  14. JPH

    JPH Guest

    I disagree. Depends on what DAW you are useing, how you use it, how it's interfaced to the other equipment.

    I have heard the narrow stereo imaging from some DAWs your talking about. After alittle experementing in Digital Performer, the stereo imaging is great. I use a Motu 308 and AES out into WaveLab.

    I discovered that useing a master fader in the mixer, narrowed the stereo imaging and degraded the sound. After removing it, and doing a side by side comparison of the same tracks on a digital console, the imaging was actually wider after removing the master fader.

    I use the UAD-1 card with this. How many analog boards out there allow you to have a Pultic EQ on every track, or LA2A compressor?

    I'm totally happy with the sound out of DP now, it is as good as any analog board i've heard.
    Like I said, it depeneds on what DAW, how you use it and how it's interfaced.
  15. Hi K Sounds,
    While i agree with alot of what your saying, yes you can save a mix on some analog consoles, it just takes a very long time to bring it back to where you had it, and thru my own experience, i find recalls often do not come back exactly the same each time, whereas recalling a digital mix is not only instantaneous, but exactly how you left it. My favorite part of this feature is the ability to tweek several mixes, (or do overdubs on several mixes, etc....) in a very short period of time and know exactly what your listening to.
    The other thing you mentioned about grabbing faders, again, i agree, one of my favorite things about analog desks as well, can be virtually the same in the digital world. The pro tools Pro control has really nice faders as does the Logic Control with P&G long throw faders that feel just like the analog desks. I do all my fader riding with real faders.
    You can also set up those control surfaces to be able to twist knobs on eq's compressors, etc... Although i have to say from this astetic, the analog world feels much better. The only big difference about twisting knobs in the digital world is that you never have to leave the sweet spot of the speakers while you mix and while you EQ. Often in a big room, i'm 10 feet away from the center of my speakers as i adjust gear.
    Again, i do love mixing in the analog world. and again, i'd never discourage doing so if thats what gets you there. I just think alot of people have alot of pre conceived notions about mixing digitally that just arent true, at least not true to my ears and experience. Hopefully this entire thread will get people thinking each way.
    Happy Mixing
    Full Time Dreamer
  16. JPH

    JPH Guest

    I havn't missed "grabbing faders" like everyone else seems to have, though I do have a digital console. I just don't mix with it.
  17. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    I don't usually “play the faders” even when I am working on an analog console. The only time I have found this to be a necessary approach is if I am in a situation where there is no automation. If I am working on an automated mix, then I am usually focusing on one or two elements of the mix at a time. I don't have any problem doing this with a mouse. I do find using the mouse to be cumbersome however for transport control, so I like to set up the computer keyboard for this. The <- for "rewind", the -> for "fast forward" the down key for "stop". 0, on the number pad is "play" and the enter key is "Record". I printed out a legend I taped to the keyboard under the keys. Mo'fessional... :D ... Kurt
  18. Full Time .. I should make a couple of points I missed making before, which is that you must get up in the higher levels of digital consoles for the tactile feel of analog .. I'm thinking of getting the Sony DMXR-100, for the very same reasons as mentioned above .. you can get your saved mixes on analog, but not like digital. So, I'm not in disagreement on any of these issues, except that, for me, I'm not accurate with a mouse!
  19. Hey K Sounds,
    I'll offer you two suggestions. I've done a couple dozen on the Sony digital board and generally i like what i hear sonically, its a pretty easy board to use, etc.... But kinda pricey and with definite limitations.
    If you really want a digital mixer, you should look into the new Yamaha DM2000. Its supposed to be way better and have a ton more features, although admittedly i have not used it, but this comes from reliable sources.
    Your other alternative would be something like a pro control, which is laid out nicely and the faders feel great, and spend the left over money either on a nice Pro Tools HD system or a really suped up TDM system with a ton of processing. I'm personally doing the TDM with a ton of processing for my own studio and its worked great. Of course you dont get all those mic pre's, i guess it depends realy what your ultimate goals are.
    just a few suggestions. good luck!!!
  20. FD, this is the issue isn't it? Computers and digital mixers share that same reality of rapid technology advancement .. so the Sony was the best I'd seen (for me) compared to the, say, Mackie, however, the Yamaha DM shows up, as does the Focusrite interface. So, I'm sitting here thinking, "well I can grab some more time from my console at this pace...let's see where the cards fall on dynamics and mic pre's and these kinds of issues .. looks like choices are arriving." For me, any of these would be a route simply because of my (very personal, but real for me) hate of a mouse.
    (Watch everyone go nuts now....)... The mouse kinda feels like a bar of soap I'd drop in the shower, and that shower, with my luck, I'd be in the shower that Bubba uses, bent over, picking up the soap .. we all all know what comes next, eh?!

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