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DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

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DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby ManFromGlass » Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:14 pm

This concept has been around awhile but I have just come across it. Supposedly current DAW technology does a fair to poor job of summing to stereo. (I did say supposedly) If one mixes through an analogue summing mixer one supposedly gets all these subtle and not so subtle improvements, assuming the summing mixer is of a good quality. Do any of you go this route? Do you really hear a difference?
Last year the studio down the hall borrowed one of the new small SSL desks. They did some tests of running a mix through it flat and then bypassing the board from Pro Tools. Even my old ears could hear a wonderful difference. I assume a summing mixer would not give me that but could I possibly get close to that?
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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby chris... » Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:27 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:Supposedly current DAW technology does a fair to poor job of summing to stereo. (I did say supposedly)
A DAW does a perfect job of summing to stereo (which may or may not be to your taste).

Analog kit does an imperfect job, and adds distortion (which may or may not be to your taste).
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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby The Elf » Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:56 pm

^^^ Wot he said!

ManFromGlass wrote:Supposedly current DAW technology does a fair to poor job of summing to stereo.
Utter bunkum. This is the sort of nonsense put about by wannabees and wanna-protect-my-investments-in-expensive-hardware-so-propogate-a-culture-of-mystery-ees. It's the same process that leads people to believe that they have to have Mic A and pre Z before they can make a record, because everything else 'sucks'.

As Chris says, there may be something that analogue can bring to your ears that you like (and I like pushing many of mixes through valves at the end of the process), but digital summing is just fine.
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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Nov 20, 2013 4:09 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:Supposedly current DAW technology does a fair to poor job of summing to stereo. (I did say supposedly) If one mixes through an analogue summing mixer one supposedly gets all these subtle and not so subtle improvements...


Actually, it's the reverse. DAW summing is perfect because it is literally just adding up numbers which computers are really quite good at. Analogue summing, in contrast isn't very accurate, adding all manner of noise, distortion, non-linearities and crosstalk which mess up the mix....

The argument centres on whether we like those inaccuracies, whether they add something we call 'musical' to the mix, and whether we miss them when they aren't present!

As always, if you like what it does, use it, but I've often found that I can achieve similar benefits simply by running the DAW mix through a nice bit of analogue outboard (something with transformers and plenty of headroom).

One of the common misdirections that happens when comparing DAW mixes with console mixes is about driving the DAW monitoring system much too hard. Most converter outputs put out close to +24dBu at peak level, while most analogue hardware (including monitor controllers) expects stuff to be a lot lower than that. Over-driving analogue equipment often makes it sound harsh and strained -- especially budget gear.

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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby Ben Asaro » Wed Nov 20, 2013 10:11 pm

For the progressive rock project I am currently working on, I have begun mixing in the analogue domain. Not entirely, as I am using a combination of plugins and outboard gear.

I am doing all of the panning, effects sends, and fader moves in real time (no automation). There is definitely a trade off versus mixing in the box, and you would have to try both to see if it is worth it for you. Noise and gain structure become critical.

Summing is something else, though. I think that the general consensus is as stated above, it will change the sound, but whether you think that change is an advantage is up to you.
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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Thu Nov 21, 2013 2:10 pm

I have just had a terrible vision of a digital plugin that models an analog summing mixer. Please tell me it doesn't already exist...
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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby Richie Royale » Thu Nov 21, 2013 2:18 pm

Huge Longjohns wrote:I have just had a terrible vision of a digital plugin that models an analog summing mixer. Please tell me it doesn't already exist...

This is kind of that

http://www.slatedigital.com/products/vcc/

But it doesn't claim to be an analogue summing mixer.
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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby A. AuCr » Thu Nov 21, 2013 3:47 pm

Huge Longjohns wrote:I have just had a terrible vision of a digital plugin that models an analog summing mixer. Please tell me it doesn't already exist...

Badbusmojo, inluded with Reaper... Sorry! I'm sure there are many others as well.
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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby molecular » Thu Nov 21, 2013 3:56 pm

Richie Royale wrote:
Huge Longjohns wrote:I have just had a terrible vision of a digital plugin that models an analog summing mixer. Please tell me it doesn't already exist...

This is kind of that

http://www.slatedigital.com/products/vcc/

But it doesn't claim to be an analogue summing mixer.

Yes, I have the cheap tube only version of that, and actually really like what it does - but you can clearly hear a difference to the mix with a noticeable low end boost and a general unfocussing of everything if that's what you want.

In light of HL's question, it does sound a bit perverse to use it, but it certainly doesn't do nothing!
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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby damoore » Thu Nov 21, 2013 3:59 pm

Huge Longjohns wrote:I have just had a terrible vision of a digital plugin that models an analog summing mixer. Please tell me it doesn't already exist...

Why terrible? How is this fundamentally different from the digital "exciters" that add small amounts of distortion to sheen up your tracks at mastering time? What am I missing?
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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby mhaigh » Thu Nov 21, 2013 4:17 pm

Huge Longjohns wrote:I have just had a terrible vision of a digital plugin that models an analog summing mixer. Please tell me it doesn't already exist...

http://www.harrisonconsoles.com/mixbus/website/index.html though it is made by an actual console manufacturer...
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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Thu Nov 21, 2013 4:37 pm

Why terrible?


You can't see the hilarious irony here?
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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby ManFromGlass » Fri Nov 22, 2013 3:10 am

Huge Longjohns wrote:
Why terrible?


You can't see the hilarious irony here?

I find it amusing that some of the unremarkable hardware achieves a change in status when making an appearance in plug-in form. That being said there was this really cheap spring reverb emulator made in North America by Radio Shack that had a ton of character. Waiting with baited breath . . . . . . .
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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby charlie chalk » Sun Nov 24, 2013 1:05 pm

Hi Hugh,

I have a question regarding your comment about running the DAW mix through a nice piece of analogue gear.

I have a purely digital setup, but I'd really like to add some hardware to it. what you mention above is exactly what I have in mind. My question is, is what would you recommend? My current setup is PC running ableton 9 with a motu audio express s/c. My music is mostly make breakbeat and trip hop etc.

thanks

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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby BJG145 » Sun Nov 24, 2013 2:28 pm

Huge Longjohns wrote:I have just had a terrible vision of a digital plugin that models an analog summing mixer. Please tell me it doesn't already exist


Loads of them. Here's another...

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov12/a ... es-nls.htm
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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby SafeandSound Mastering » Sun Nov 24, 2013 3:14 pm

For analogue I feel it is really about things sounding all together and having space at the same time. I think the really good analogue recordings of the 70's and 80's seem to gel and have punch and never get too harsh "up top". I think it was to do with recording in great studios, having really great musicians and engineers and the high end analogue equipment including a pretty phenomenal mixing console and tape in most cases was really just "standard" at that point. It is wishful thinking to replace the entire chains of skill and equipment with any one isolated part.

And it's never mentioned but this stuff never even knew what a limiter was. Instead of all that subtle "alive" analogue interaction having room to breath now it's often just blurred out in a sea of harsh sounding artifacts. If we can get back to that it is going to be fantastic for a lot of musical styles.

Something that fits this bill that I was pointed towards recently was an album called Levitation by Hawkwind, sounds good. Of course not everyone is making spaced out prog rock these days ! Such awesome sound rock music had in those days.

Though interestingly Wiki is giving me "The studio had been newly equipped with a 3M Digital Mastering System by Bronze Records, making this one of the earliest rock albums to be recorded with the burgeoning digital recording technology."

I am guessing thats a tape machine ? (A quick Google suggest thats a yes)
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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby Jeraldo » Sun Nov 24, 2013 10:18 pm

Huge Longjohns wrote:I have just had a terrible vision of a digital plugin that models an analog summing mixer. Please tell me it doesn't already exist...


Harrison Mixbuss

SOS article

This product has gone through a few iterations. First it was purchase only, then for a time there was a trial version, and now it seems purchase or "lease". Current marketing info doesn't seem to stress the "sound" as much as in the past. Not trying to enter an old debate here!

Does their video match your vision?
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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Mon Nov 25, 2013 12:05 am

SafeandSound Mastering wrote:For analogue I feel it is really about things sounding all together and having space at the same time. I think the really good analogue recordings of the 70's and 80's seem to gel and have punch and never get too harsh "up top". I think it was to do with recording in great studios, having really great musicians and engineers and the high end analogue equipment including a pretty phenomenal mixing console and tape in most cases was really just "standard" at that point. It is wishful thinking to replace the entire chains of skill and equipment with any one isolated part.

And it's never mentioned but this stuff never even knew what a limiter was.

Sure it did. It was what happened when you slammed the needle right over while recording to tape. You had to, because those "phenomenal mixing consoles" were pretty noisy.
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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby charlie chalk » Mon Nov 25, 2013 11:37 am

Hey peeps,

I wanted to get some info on what hugh said above about running the DAW mix through a nice piece of analogue gear. Hugh, if your out there???

I have a purely digital setup, but I'd really like to add some hardware to it (or one thing as I'm on a budget). The idea of running a mix through a bit of hardware seems like a great idea, I'm just a little baffled as to what to go for.

My current setup is PC running ableton 9 with a motu audio express s/c and a small selection of UAD software. My music is mostly make breakbeat and trip hop etc.

thanks

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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Nov 25, 2013 11:51 am

Almost anything you like that adds some audio flavour. I've used compressors, EQs, (both with minimal compression or EQ curves elected -- it's about passing the signal through the analogue circuitry rather than re-shaping the sound) and preamps (in line mode) before now with good results. Valves, class-A discrete, transformers... whatever you like that gives the sound you like.

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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby charlie chalk » Mon Nov 25, 2013 12:00 pm

Hey hugh,

thanks for your response as always

If you had to recommend one piece of kit (lowish budget) as a nice little 'all rounder' if you will...what would it be?

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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby Guy Johnson » Mon Nov 25, 2013 12:55 pm

Seriously ... one bit of kit? Ears, and knowing what you want.
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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Nov 25, 2013 12:59 pm

I'm not sure low budget will do it. it needs to be something with nice analogue circuitry, lots of headroom, and quality components, not cheap chips on low power rails.

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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby charlie chalk » Mon Nov 25, 2013 1:11 pm

Believe me, I'd love to get a few nice bits of kit...but I just dont have the money at the moment! saving hard and I'm simply looking for something to start with.

I realize that I maybe need to aim at the £2000/£4000 region(?) to get something half decent, I just need something to aim for as a starting point ..

cheers

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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby The Elf » Mon Nov 25, 2013 1:37 pm

Try a TLA EQ-1 (or EQ-2 if you can run to it). Instant valvey goodness for not a silly price...
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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby charlie chalk » Mon Nov 25, 2013 2:14 pm

Whey! thanks elf

very much appreciated!

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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby SafeandSound Mastering » Mon Nov 25, 2013 2:33 pm

Exalted Wombat wrote:
SafeandSound Mastering wrote:For analogue I feel it is really about things sounding all together and having space at the same time. I think the really good analogue recordings of the 70's and 80's seem to gel and have punch and never get too harsh "up top". I think it was to do with recording in great studios, having really great musicians and engineers and the high end analogue equipment including a pretty phenomenal mixing console and tape in most cases was really just "standard" at that point. It is wishful thinking to replace the entire chains of skill and equipment with any one isolated part.

And it's never mentioned but this stuff never even knew what a limiter was.

Sure it did. It was what happened when you slammed the needle right over while recording to tape. You had to, because those "phenomenal mixing consoles" were pretty noisy.

Not so sure. I suspect most console noise from SSL's and NEVE's of the day would pale into near insignificance compared to tape formulations of the day. Thus Dolby NR for tape machines.

I sure did not think the 4000 was noisy in any way shape or form when I trained on one. Even modern 456 formulations was not exactly "hiss" free and this was in the 90's.

I do not recall Dolby for mixing consoles.
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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby damoore » Mon Nov 25, 2013 2:37 pm

Huge Longjohns wrote:
Why terrible?


You can't see the hilarious irony here?

I can only do goldy and bronzy.
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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Nov 25, 2013 2:49 pm

Exalted Wombat wrote:You had to, because those "phenomenal mixing consoles" were pretty noisy.


Really? Can't say that was my experience. In my earliest BBC maintenance engineer days we were routinely measuring console noise floors (even in BBC designs with Germanium transistors) well below -75dBu, more typically >90dB and with 20dB or more of headroom. Which is about the same dynamic range as a modern budget interface.

Tape noise was the dominant factor -- even with NR systems -- not the console.

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Re: DAW into Summing mixer. Would even I hear a difference?

Postby Jeraldo » Mon Nov 25, 2013 4:32 pm

The Elf wrote:Try a TLA EQ-1 (or EQ-2 if you can run to it). Instant valvey goodness for not a silly price...


Experiences vary, as many are fond of TLA products.

However, of all the gear I've had in my life, I've made two mistakes. One was receiving a solid state TLA EQ which had problems out of the box, and a bigger mistake was exchanging it for something "better," a valve EQ-that one at a reasonably hefty price.

Its performance degraded seriously after about three months. It came with terrible valves, a channel imbalance developed very soon which didn't have anything to do with the valves. The two main channel faders both eventually failed, and the whole thing was a noise box. BTW, the thing never left my house and was rarely even moved. , After a year or so,I sold it to a chain at a 90% loss (though I was happy to get rid of it!) because I couldn't bring myself to put this box of problems on anyone.

It's the only gear (I think) that I have thoroughly dissed, but these two EQ's (Crimson-especially) were beyond the pale in every way.

To be fair, that was a long time ago, and maybe their newer products are built to a much better standard, whatever the price point. At that time, all dealers (US) seemed to have stopped selling TLA products. They may be back on the market now (or have been for a long time) with very happy customers.

YMMV.

You might look look at a good solid state box, perhaps with or w/o transformers, something like a current processor box by Neve. There are occasionally demo units available directly from the company at very attractive prices (in the US, anyway). Stereo Field editor might be interesting.
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