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Summing - What track sounds better to you?

Discussion in 'Summing / Mastering consoles' started by audiokid, Mar 8, 2012.

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Summing - Which Track Do You Prefer?

Poll closed Apr 7, 2012.
  1. Sum 1

    2 vote(s)
    18.2%
  2. Sum 2

    7 vote(s)
    63.6%
  3. They both sound the same

    2 vote(s)
    18.2%
  1. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Congrats!


    Knowing this result, I would have two answers now. Prior to the second generation NULL test, SUM 2 is more acurate to my results and the best sounding. After the Second generation NULL test they both sound close enough that it does not matter. Digital has an effect.

    This is very interesting don't you think?
     
  2. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Rainy Roads WA USA
    I'm not sure....
    What effect do you think it is imparting on the signals.
    I need to understand what you did...

    1.) You said you recorded two mics using your RME converters which created two samples into Sequoia. 24/44.1

    2.) You took those two tracks now in Sequoia (ITB) and bused them to a stereo output right?
    And then you bounced that and exported that to a stereo wav file....

    3.) You took the same two tracks from Sequoia and output them on 2 separate tracks into an analog summing unit and then converted that again with the RME back into Sequoia and then did a bounce/export to a second stereo wav file.

    Is that correct.?
     
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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  4. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    And also NULL them both prior to bouncing them to a wave file. This is what you hear online now, which is the first generation wave. However, after downloading them and doing a second generation NULL test, I cannot tell the two apart.
     
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Explained exactly:)



    The idea with analog summing is bypass your master bus until all the tracks have been summed OTB. You use a high headroom analog system to juice up your digital mixes with quality hardware that focuses on the groups transient characters etc. (Example, an LA-2A inserted into the Vocal group.)

    In this case we didn't do anything other than record a piano in stereo and called that track finished ( plain and simple). Then took that stereo track and bused it out to the summing system then re-recorded it onto a second stereo track. So now I have 2 stereo tracks of the same performance, one that went through an analog summing amp. Follow?

    Then I inverted one of the 2 stereo tracks and got them to NULL best I could, thus only adjusting the analog track to the original so it is as close to level and timing as the original. Through this entire process I did not touch the original track. Once they NULLed as best I could do, I then bounced them both to a wave file each and uploaded them to Dropbox.

    The rest is where we are now.
     
  6. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

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    Ok..then that would suggest the analog summing unit isn't doing anything really different than Sequoia?
    But that might be because you didn't impart anything with your summing unit and that the summing portion ITB is as good as the analog by not affecting the "dry" signals....it becomes more passive and gets down to the mathematical summing engine in Sequoia. Exactly in and exactly out...and both Sequoia and your summing unit are effectively the same.....or they're not!
    Which it seems is hard to tell...there IS some difference between the two and you had 1 additional conversion pass with the summing unit didn't you?
    In my mind the digital conversion process shouldn't do anything to the signals that appears at their inputs, it will be exactly as Nyquist dictates and that's the digital part common to both setups.
    The only real detectable change would be if you manipulate the signals going through each platform before a significant difference will start to appear in the converted files...
    I'm probably wrong here but dry "should" be dry and "sauced up" is a whole other thing...
     
  7. EricIndecisive

    EricIndecisive Active Member

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    Location:
    Massachusetts
    I chose Sum1... to me it sounded a bit brighter and clearer, which I generally find in opinions is 'not warm'. I do like warm, but I love to hear that clarity too.

    It's pretty crazy though, to me it seems that the change added by different gear is SO SUBTLE. But then you stack that subtlety track over track over track and then it makes a big difference!

    If I wasn't listening for it, I wouldn't have been able to tell a difference. Actually, I'm still not sure I could lol
     
  8. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Blacksburg, VA
    That's a little better since I thought Sum 1 might be a bit louder, but 2 dB is much more than I would have guessed. A 2 dB difference in RMS levels will skew just about any listening test.
     
  9. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    You'd think, but after I summed the tracks in analog, they sounded better to me. But after I did a couple of generations of Null tests, both tracks are very hard to tell apart.

    The good in this, my analog summing system did not change the tracks for the worse. It did not add any discernible noise. In fact, to my ears it opened the tracks up. I find this test very important because I have a system that will allow me to insert other analog hardware to sound design my mixes. I have a pretty equal summing system to ITB.

    This all being said, re recording these tracks into a digital system starts to remove the things I find pleasant in the analog domain. Rather than the analog being the culprit, its the digital domain that is changing the analog back to not being able to tell which is which as we are hearing now.

    Follow?
     
  10. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

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    I did a +1db gain process, checked the track meters and zoomed in visually on the waveforms and then did another +1db process.
    Of course I don't know how accurate that was with Cubase and the meters, but they matched bang on with peak and hold bars as an indicator after doing the gain and timing. That was how I discovered they were different to begin with...they bounced at different times and the peak and hold were at different levels....so they were never really that close enough to sum to zero.
    Isn't there a plugin like SPAN or something that can be used to check this stuff?
    I'm not a mastering guru at all but I thought there were tools that get into 1/10th db or something and you can see the exact differences.
    There was a difference....no question especially if your talking about the files as downloaded...actual listening...very subtle...I guess the null test proved that...because without mucking around with Sum2 there was no nullin' going on and so the test may still be skewed by the two different files whatever the cause..
    I'm starting to question if you can make any real conclusions....good or bad...
     
  11. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

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    I think I have to disagree with that....when I did a mixdown using the ZEDR16 and bounced/printed that back into Cubase and then compared that to the same straight ITB summation I had originally everything that the analog had imparted through the ZED mix was there 100%.
    It didn't revert my open hot warm mixdown back to the sterile bland ITB mix that was in there originally...
    After that experience I will never leave a mix in the box.
     
  12. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

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    Well, it's no surprise that they don't null exactly. There are two different signal chains after all. On the other hand, we aren't talking about 8 or 16 stems here. This should be the smallest difference we would expect between hybrid and itb. It's crucial to get the rms levels as close as possible to do a valid test.
     
  13. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

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    Um, if the stereo recording stayed fully panned throughout the process, what summing actually occurred?
     
  14. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

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    audiokid said he took two mics X/Y and recorded those two mono signals to a stereo track, 1 mic L and 1 R.
    I don't know if he said he panned them though....maybe
    The wav files that were posted were a single waveform, not stereo....so I assumed that single waveform were the two tracks summed together.....but I don't know and I'm confused now...LOL
     
  15. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

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    What says it isn't the second pass through the converters that's responsible for the difference?
     
  16. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

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    Soundcloud always shows a single waveform. The waves from Dropbox are stereo and there is an audible difference between left and right.
     
  17. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

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    This was something I wondered as well, and according to audiokid that was the procedure..
    but we need more detail from him.
     
  18. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

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    This is why you have to beware of "studies", because the people who run them are generally trying to prove something and unconsciously build their biases into the protocol.
     
  19. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

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    Well this is "Track Talk" and the first installment of said segment so it wouldn't really be a good start without some controversy...LOL
    These always seem to turn out this way!
    I think it's because it's "audio" and even though there is a perfectly rational logical explanation for anything technical like this, we continue to allow human involvement to somehow form opinions or decide by some majority.
    So it ineveitably ends up with a he said she said or he said he said or vice versa and no one actually just does the technical analysis and calls it good.
    Science has rules for this...it just needs to be developed, tested and retested to discover the facts.
     
  20. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

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    I'm not aiming to cause controversy or disprove anything in particular, just giving the experiment opportunities to show itself as sound or not.
     

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