Summing mixer

Discussion in 'Summing / Mastering consoles' started by audiokid, Dec 4, 2009.

  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

  1. PS: Telling me that "it is safe to assume that is because you have no experience doing it and doing right" because I don't get why you'd want to D/A to use a box that does nothing more than sum, knowing that you have to A/D again (both trips being a signal degradation, BTW) is another ad homenim attack. You're basically telling me that if I don't understand why someone would do this, then I must not know anything about audio. That's absolutely an ad homenim argument.

    Moderator or not, you're way, way, way out of line here.

    Back to the summing boxes themselves:

    Dangerous audio boasts a noise floor of -83dB.

    Now you're telling me that you're reducing my SNR on top of the degradation of signal required to use your box?

    Once again, I ask the proponents of these boxes:

    why should I spend the money on a box that forces me to degrade my signal (by performing extra D/A and A/D) to use it, when the box itself increases my noise floor?

    What exactly does the summing box do to my mix (other than reduce my dynamic range) that would make me want to employ it?

    Please, give me something real, not "if you don't get it, you're just stupid" (not far from what AudioGaff is saying here)
     
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Scott ... forgive me if I am wrong, but it reads like you have a personal thing with Dangerous ( note: Dangerous Music , NOT "Dangerous Audio") . Honing in on this thread, heading for a direct hit against a very respectful company with such a pristine track record. I don't get it?
     
  3. I am "picking" on Dangerous because they have been making these boxes longer than anyone else, and their ad copy on their website is easily the most suspect.

    When someone tells me I must not have any experience recording "correctly" because I want hard facts instead of fluffy audiophile-esque ad copy as a reason to invest in a piece of equipment, I'm definitely going to go into attack mode - except I attack the issue, instead of the defender of that issue.
     
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Suspect to what?
     
  5. Have you read their ad copy?

    It literally reads like the same copy I've seen on every ridiculous $$ speaker cable website out there.

    "The solution is the 2-Bus’s pristine audio path - delivering nuance, depth and clarity to your mix without any added coloration or distortion."

    "in terms of sound quality, spatial detail and headroom"

    How does something deliver "nuance, depth, and clarity" to a mix "without any added coloration"?

    It's a summing box. It has no controls. It takes the sixteen channels you send from your DAC and sums them as they sit to a 2-channel mix. Explain to me how this box functions, without using the fluffy language in their ad copy, because their ad copy sounds a lot like this.

    Apologies in advance to anyone who owns the item I linked.
     
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    You are making a blanket statement based on an ad you read.
     
  7. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

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    currently Billings
    Well, here's how I use a summing mixer/box whatever. I don't make all my decisions based on the DAW headphone mix of my interface. Basically I send all the tracks directly to the mixer or box whichever and make my mix decisions based upon that 2-bus blend. The summed 2-bus only gets re-digitized when I'm ready for a mixdown. At heart I'm an analog guy. I crave the sliders and rotaries. It just isn't practical for what I do. I don't do any non-classical anymore so my outboard is mostly sitting in storage with desiccant bags thrown in the cases. However, if I do use outboard it's mixer time. I just don't like any of the plugs I have if I have time to go dig the gear out of storage. It's a waste of gear I know but I always intended to go back out on the road or back to the Corps. One new wife and children later.........
     
  8. No, I'm looking at the ad and going "why would I want to buy this, based on this nonsensical description"

    and hoping someone out there has a legitimate answer.
     
  9. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Based on your posts in this thread, its clear to me you have been following and hanging out with the wrong crowd. Good to see you back here.
     
  10. Just out of curiosity, what crowd would that be?

    My basic philosophy: If I'm tracking digital, I'm not coming out of the digital domain during the mix unless whatever I'm employing in analog justifies the signal degradation of going D/A and A/D. In Planet10's case, sure. Coming out of digital to mix on a Neve, with near 6 figures worth of outboard analog effects that are far superior to any plugin, yeah, that justifies what I'd lose on those two conversions.

    Why can't anyone just answer the question: What exactly does the summing box do for you that justifies having to make those two extra conversions? It can't be headroom, because these boxes have a noise floor that is higher than the board I use to track (-80dB v -105dB). It can't be coloration, because they advertise specifically that their box doesn't color the mix, and is neutral on the same level as a mastering console (whether that is true or not is up for discussion, but that's the claim). So what is it?
     
  11. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

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    Tacoma, WA
    Scott -
    A couple things -
    I think you're hanging a little bit on this whole "sonic degradation" from multiple conversions thing an awful lot.
    Yes, at a tiny level, bits of jitter and possible errors are introduced. However, this is more a matter of academia more than anything else. I would suggest that, even after a dozen trips back and forth from an AD, most people (even self-proclaimed audiophiles, golden ears, and engineering pros) wouldn't ever hear the difference. I know that opinion isn't popular, but I think that the idea of introducing one trip through an AD/DA cycle is hardly cause for alarm.

    Additionally, I don't read Dangerous's copy as being snake oil at all. First, they're suggesting that using a pristine analog chain (vice a standard, non-esoteric mixer with extra, non-defeated circuitry such as gain, EQ, effects and likely inferior OpAmps) is better than using an inherently inferior chain. As for the added depth and clarity - I can attest to this. I use a summing box on a regular basis. My weapon of choice also happens to be a Dangerous Audio box. I can hear a noticable and repeatable difference when using the box. Can I give you quantifiable specifications and measurements? No, I haven't done them. However, the mere fact that I can reproduce attainable results means that, at least for my purposes, I don't need to.

    That being said, here are two comments in your corner. I don't agree that it doesn't add color. I believe that, if you make something different, you're adding some color. For my intents and purposes, the color is that of openness and depth. Or, think "bigger." The other comment in your corner - I don't find the difference to be SO dramatic that I choose to do every album OTB. In fact, due to the complexity of the setup for me (since I'm a mobile studio guy), I only find myself mixing through this OTB solution on my best albums. If it sounds great to begin with, I'm going to notice a bigger difference in quality.

    I can't speak to the noise specifications of the unit since I've never done a recording where the noise floor was below -80dBFS, but I can tell you that I have never noticed one tiny bit of noise introduced by summing OTB.

    My process for summing is simple - first and foremost, get the levels right going into the box. I've noticed that if I don't have to modify the original recording (afterall, changing digital faders changes the bit resolution and thus the sound), then I get the greatest benefit. Of course, benefit is had regardless - even if I have hefty automation going on in the tracks.

    If I had my druthers and enough money and time, I'd get something along the lines of Speck's large line-level mixer and use it for complete summing and mix control. If you could add automation to that, it would be a dream come true. Until then, I get the results I want from my outboard summing, both predictably and repeatably.

    On a side note - you're more than welcome to come by my studio and play around with my Dangerous box instead of dropping the hard earned cash on it just to try it. I'm only a few hours away.

    Cheers-
    Jeremy
     
  12. Thank you, Jeremy, for that offering. I'm glad someone took me up on the original question instead of assuming I have some sort of hatred towards the concept - and I may just have to take you up on the offer to play around with the setup. I'll have to dump some tracks and bring them over sometime. :)

    You raised an interesting point about digital faders and bit rez. Does this all, essentially, come down to the idea of summing voltage versus summing bits? Is this the basic answer to the original question, that summing real voltage on a clean signal path in the analog domain yields a more musical result versus summing bits in the box?

    That would make a bit more sense, and that plain-English explanation goes a lot farther towards making me interested in trying it out, far more so than the gobbledy-gook on DA's website.
     
  13. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

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    That's certainly my take on the whole issue is that using good ol' voltage (with a technically/theoretically infinite sample rate, or "continuous") versus digital with 24 or 32 bits per sample is technically more accurate, smoother, etc. Of course, manipulating faders ITB works differently than manipulating faders OTB. How much is difficult to determine. Afterall, as I mentioned, I find that my best results come when I get the levels right to begin with and don't have to ride digital faders.

    Cheers-
    J.
     
  14. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

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    Sep 19, 2003
    My thoughts on the matter, whether correctly or incorrectly, came from a good discussion I had with some cat a bit earlier in either this thread or Chris' other one about his Mixdream.

    I'm not going to say it was his contention for risk of incorrectly paraphrasing him, but both his argument and a recent argument I read based on 'all plugin EQs are in fact exactly the same' were based around the fact that as you could prove unequivocally that a digital mixer would sum two or more out of phase tracks to zero, it therefore proved that it sums perfectly. He went up to something like 200 tracks and still achieved perfect zero.

    However this is talking about subtractive summing, and I think the contention in analog summing is a different one, as it is a cumulative or additive sum. With analog (correct me if my terminology is slightly wrong) having technically infinite headroom, or perhaps pushing towards a warm even-order harmonic distortion, versus digital making continual cumulative sums with bits carried forward, points rounded down etc; the contention is not that digital summing is perfect and so is analog, but that digital summing is perfect only within the accepted calculation tolerance, and analog summing may be equally imperfect, but it is imperfect in a way that is more pleasing to the ear, thereby ending up being not perfect, but the better choice of the two, assuming gear is up to scratch.

    Its the additive artifacts or lack of them (for want of a better term) that provide the sense of breadth and depth, as I understand it. In addition I believe part of the idea put forward is that some of these cumulative effects are occuring above 20kHz but they still affect the overall sense of harmonics which reach the amp/speakers?
     
  15. I was right with you until you started discussing above 20kHz. That is a can of worms that we don't want to open here, lest we wind up with another 96Khz debate. Not only has it been proven repeatedly that the human ear cannot perceive sound above 22Khz (less if you are older and/or have put your ears through more abuse), but the whole issue is moot, because modern speaker systems and amplifiers do not reproduce sounds above 20Khz, certainly not at any meaningful volume. This I have tested personally, with speakers that claimed to reproduce up to 50Khz, coupled to top-shelf class A tube amplifiers (also purported to reproduce super-high-frequencies) Dabbling in the metaphysical (and very much speculative) realm of non-auditory perception of VHF (i.e. "feeling" sounds through other parts of the body) is definitely not high on my list of debate topics.
     
  16. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

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    No, but (again, as I understand it) its something to do with the fact that an analog or alternatively, higher-resolution digital system, making calculations that are good way above 20kHz, results in a better end result between 20 and 20k. And so yes it probably pushes that to the 96kHz debate which is off-topic for this.
     
  17. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

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    As an interesting aside...also not wanting to venture down the >20kHz argument...

    I recently just picked up an Ultra Sonic cleaning tank for cleaning brass instruments (from Ultra Sonic Power Corp).

    The principle behind this is simple - put a large, powerful transducer below a tank of water with a little bit of detergent and BOOM - clean horns. That being said, the system is designed to repeat a VERY LOUD 40kHz tone into the water. Of course, it's completely inaudible (though the transducer is loud in the audible range too). However, when I use the tank for the better part of an afternoon, I get dizzy, sick to my stomach and a bad head ache. When I wear dense foam ear plugs, I can make it a LOT longer without side effects.

    Interesting...

    (BTW - I just got my hearing tested and thankfully, despite my quickly-compiling age, my sensitivity was WAY above average at all frequencies, even intra-octave ranges! WooHoo!)

    Cheers!
    J
     
  18. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

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    that sounds like great fun. all good things make you sick after too much.
     
  19. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

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    I think you're on to something Cucco. I'm not getting into the aforementioned debates either, but I do have an example to support your "experiment":

    In the late 90s, The Flaming Lips released an album called "Zaireeka". It was 4 separate discs w/ the same material on each disc.
    Well, at least the same "songs" - each disc contained different portions of the program material.
    The idea was to put each disc into a different system, attempt to start them all at the same time, and see what happens.
    Of course, the inability to start all 4 systems simultaneously, coupled w/ the notion that different systems will play back at very subtly different speeds, resulted in the 4 discs being minutely off from each other as you progressed through the material.

    The other part of this experiment was the inclusion of sub- and super-sonic frequencies. Sounds you "felt" rather than heard"
    Now, it could have been just the fact that there were multiple systems playing all around (we had a larger space to use, so you could actually walk around and hear more or less of one or the other 3), but I experienced similar effects.
    In fact, the band/label felt the need to include a warning on the packaging about the possibility of disorientation, dizziness, nausea, and in extreme cases, loss of bowel function.

    How accurate and realistic these warnings and my experiences are is up to debate. Let's just say that I can verify that something happened. And that performing this experiment while under the influence of foreign substances seems to exaggerate the effects.

    What does this have to do w/ OTB summing? In all probability, nothing at all.
     
  20. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

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    Dec 10, 2001
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    A can of worms indeed.

    Can worms hear these frequencies? They certainly respond to hyper-sonic and sub-sonic, as do I and a lot of other'humans'.

    Does this have anything to do with summing? Naw.
     

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