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active/passive summing

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active/passive summing

Postby craigtumps » Fri Feb 15, 2019 12:00 pm

Hi guys, Im looking to start summing out of the box and need some advice on my setup.

So I have an Audient iD44 and looking to team it with a Ferrofish Pulse 16 channel AD/DA converter.

For passive I'm looking at either a Roll Folcrom or a Unit Audio summer and then run them through the iD44 Pre's. They say these are the same Mic Pres as their full size mixers. 

Question is, would this be a good setup or would I be better off with an active summer like the SPL MixDream XP or the Phoenix Nicerizer Junior (found some of these on sale for £1k).

Would be good to hear opinions from people who have tried the above units or any alternatives. I will be using it for electronic music, techno and chill out.

I dont really want to go much higher than £1k for the summing box.
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Re: active/passive summing

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Fri Feb 15, 2019 12:15 pm

Before you spend all that dosh, have you tried 'virtual analog' summing? You may find you can get the same sonic result by spending a lot less using the Airwindows setup, for example. There are threads about this.
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Re: active/passive summing

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Feb 15, 2019 12:30 pm

It's a lot of money to spend on something that you don't actually need...

If you're looking for something to add some colour and beefiness to your mixes, I'd first try one of the in-the-box analogue mix-bus emulation plugins. Some of those are really good these days.

Alternatively, if you really want shiny new hardware, you might be better off investing in a stereo processor that's designed specifically to add controllable colour -- something like the new SSL Fusion, perhaps -- or a nice stereo preamp with transformers that you can route the stereo mix through and overdrive it a bit. That's the way I'd go, anyway.

Running the digital outs of your Audient into a passive mixer like the Folcrom won't add any colour at all -- that would normally be expected from the preamp used to provide the gain make-up, but the ID44 preamps don't really do colour -- they're designed to be pretty clean-sounding, so I think you'll be disappointed with that approach.

That's not to say passive mixing is a bad thing. There are some benefits -- the impossibility of bus overload being the main one! :-)

An active summing box might give you more aural flavouring. The Nicerizer does something that many like. I've not used the SPL so can't comment on that, but everything they make is lovely! But I find it difficult to get enthusiastic about external summing and remain unconvinced that it brings any real benefits for those that know what they're doing.

It seems to me that the fashion for analogue summing came about largely because some old-school engineers didn't really understand the concept of headroom when producing ITB mixes, and so found they could get better results by sending everything out to mix on the consoles they were familiar with -- covertly benefiting from their built-in headroom. ;-)

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Re: active/passive summing

Postby craigtumps » Fri Feb 15, 2019 12:58 pm

Thanks for the replies guys. I will definitely look in to Airwindows, I never heard of that before and it looks interesting so thanks for that.
And I will look in to some stereo processors.

I'm not so much looking for the colouration but more for the separation and openess you get from analog summing. I heard some A/B examples of ITB vs analog summing and it sounds a lot nicer to me.

I'm using Bitwig DAW and I love it but not so in love with how it mixes things together sometimes.

I tried Harrison mixbus but didn't like the interruption to work flow of moving back and forth between different DAWs. I would rather have the summing box setup and kind of forget about it.
I also tried Waves NLS summing plugin but the sound was too coloured and added loads of processor overhead, so again not nice to work with.

Currently I use Britson console plugin by Sonimus to add some nice sheen. This improved things a lot, it makes things sound more 3D. It has low overhead and the VU meters help to keep gain levels under control. But yeah I heard some analog summing examples and it just sounds more open and better separation to me. Plus the added bonus of it happening away from the computer so I dont need emulations and saving the processor for other tasks is my thinking.
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