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A Gearslutz SSL X-Rack, Dynamics, Line in and Summing Review
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stevetgn
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#61
29th January 2008
Old 29th January 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RKrizman View Post
I'm thinking this guy Siddhu is looking for some real information, not this self-serving nonsense you're dishing up. Come on, this whole issue of fader moves being problematic was dismissed as mythology years ago.

It's possible to prefer the sound of analog wiithout having to justify your pereference with junk science.

-R
While I agree with kittonian on many points, on modern DAWs it is now incorrect to say software fader position will degradate the sound. As I understand it the maths used in calculating DAW fader position in current versions of Nuendo/Cubase & PT etc has no bearing on the resulting sound. The benefits of summing through the X-Rack (and there are many!) lay else where.
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29th January 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevetgn View Post
While I agree with kittonian on many points, on modern DAWs it is now incorrect to say software fader position will degradate the sound. As I understand it the maths used in calculating DAW fader position in current versions of Nuendo/Cubase & PT etc has no bearing on the resulting sound. The benefits of summing through the X-Rack (and there are many!) lay else where.
This is true unless you are lowering your faders to -18 or below. The sound difference does still exist and gets worse as you lower the fader beyond that point. This is the same reason why it's just fine to do your automation ITB as long as you are within 6db of unity when using the X-Rack for the fader position. You really won't have any signal degradation at that point and things work wonderfully. Things are definitely getting better, and using the Stereo Dithered Mixer with PT|HD does do things a bit better, but we're still not yet at the the point where a digital fader sounds identical to an analog fader.
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#63
29th January 2008
Old 29th January 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kittonian View Post
This is true unless you are lowering your faders to -18 or below. The sound difference does still exist and gets worse as you lower the fader beyond that point. This is the same reason why it's just fine to do your automation ITB as long as you are within 6db of unity when using the X-Rack for the fader position. You really won't have any signal degradation at that point and things work wonderfully. Things are definitely getting better, and using the Stereo Dithered Mixer with PT|HD does do things a bit better, but we're still not yet at the the point where a digital fader sounds identical to an analog fader.
Is there science to back this up?

How is it it that Paul Frindle designer of the Sony Oxford console + the highly regarded plug-ins says that at 24bit there is no loss of resolution?
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29th January 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by siddhu View Post
Is there science to back this up?

How is it it that Paul Frindle designer of the Sony Oxford console + the highly regarded plug-ins says that at 24bit there is no loss of resolution?
Here's the thing, I believed all the hype about one of the top summing boxes a few years back and bought one (one that is still talked about today and is of the highest calibar, although I do not want to mention the name or hurt any manufacturer with this post). When I was using it all was well, but then I had a few free days and did a test to see if it was really doing anything worthwhile or not. I found that there was little to no sound difference and even went as far as to post a comparison on another message board (sorry I don't have the files any longer as it has been a few years). When people responded, no one could accurately tell which was which. Some people were certain that the ITB mix was the summing box and vice versa. Needless to say, that summing box was soon sold.

So, no, I have no science to back that up. I only have my ears and what I've heard when I've done the tests. Paul is a brilliant man and perhaps with his coding on the Oxford he was able to alleviate the sonic differences. I have never used an Oxford console and therefore I can't speak to that. I do use the Sony plug-ins and they sound great. I know that a lot of plug-ins use 48-bit floating point math and perhaps that's why some plug-in manufacturers will tell you that it's better to use their output faders rather than the ones inside your DAW. However, I know from my experience and my tests that analog faders, lowered to a low level, sound better to me than the same fader lowered ITB.
stevetgn
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29th January 2008
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Just to add to what Joshua said above and to get back to the point of the thread somewhat. There are many summing mixers, I have tried several, but for my needs the X-Rack really does sound excellent and I've had over 6 months with it now, so there is no longer a "new toy novelty factor" involved... just a great product! I have 16 channels so far soon to become 24. All "fader" levels are set on the X-Rack with any rides automated in the DAW and I'm lovin' the results. My Soundcraft Ghost provides all the monitor mixes and also doubles up as a sub mixer into the X-Rack and they'll continue to work together well until I get my AWS900+... it will be mine, oh yes, it will be mine!
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29th January 2008
Old 29th January 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kittonian View Post
Here's the thing, I believed all the hype about one of the top summing boxes a few years back and bought one (one that is still talked about today and is of the highest calibar, although I do not want to mention the name or hurt any manufacturer with this post)
That's what I hate at music magazines...they only say the positive things of a unit but never mention the bad ones. So people kinda get pissed...
I think we all are here at Gearslutz to exchange experiences and not to talk only positive about some products. So better buy a music magazine if we end like this now...... (Sorry about the rude comment but it is like it is....)

Well back to the topic: Thanks for the nice review stevetgn, I hope that i can affort such a summing box one day. Well this thing is really expensive if you add some input chanals, eq,comp,.... how much did you end up paying if i may ask? Just wondering if you can get something useable for under 4k-5k or something.
Hope you have the time to post an audio clip with itb vs otb summing on ssl soon.
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29th January 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kittonian View Post
Here's the thing, I believed all the hype about one of the top summing boxes a few years back and bought one (one that is still talked about today and is of the highest calibar, although I do not want to mention the name or hurt any manufacturer with this post). When I was using it all was well, but then I had a few free days and did a test to see if it was really doing anything worthwhile or not. I found that there was little to no sound difference and even went as far as to post a comparison on another message board (sorry I don't have the files any longer as it has been a few years). When people responded, no one could accurately tell which was which. Some people were certain that the ITB mix was the summing box and vice versa. Needless to say, that summing box was soon sold.

So, no, I have no science to back that up. I only have my ears and what I've heard when I've done the tests. Paul is a brilliant man and perhaps with his coding on the Oxford he was able to alleviate the sonic differences. I have never used an Oxford console and therefore I can't speak to that. I do use the Sony plug-ins and they sound great. I know that a lot of plug-ins use 48-bit floating point math and perhaps that's why some plug-in manufacturers will tell you that it's better to use their output faders rather than the ones inside your DAW. However, I know from my experience and my tests that analog faders, lowered to a low level, sound better to me than the same fader lowered ITB.
Hi Kittonian, thanks for having this dialogue with me.

However, I'm going to go with Paul Frindle views vis a vis no loss of resolution issue with fader moves in a DAW.

I think such a highly regarded engineer/scientist specialising in digital audio probably understands the math better than most people.

However that does not change the fact that the OTB summing can definately improve a mix sonically due to a number of reasons such as sonically pleasing coloration and distortion.

S
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29th January 2008
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Anybody can test this fader thing for themselves in their own DAW. Take a track you've recorded and duplicate it in the DAW. Lower the second track radically, say 24 db or so just to really kick the tires. Then run it through a few aux inputs in series (however many it takes) to bring the volume back up to the original. Compare it to the original not-messed-with track and I promise you won't hear a difference.

If you prefer the sound of an analog fader that's all good and well, but technically it's doing way more damage to the sound than a digital fader.

-R
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30th January 2008
Old 30th January 2008
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I suggest you read http://akmedia.digidesign.com/suppor...ixer_26688.pdf
It appears that to some extend Kittonian is right. probably switching to master faders in PTHD solves the degradation problem. Any thoughts?

thx,

chris

P.S. Kittonian, I'm using SSL Alpha Link/Delta Link going to/from PTHD 3 to X-Rack with 2 four channel input modules and 2 eight channel input modules (total of 24 channel summing). Could you tell me what would be the best routing to get the cue mixes to live room?
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30th January 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3dchris View Post
P.S. Kittonian, I'm using SSL Alpha Link/Delta Link going to/from PTHD 3 to X-Rack with 2 four channel input modules and 2 eight channel input modules (total of 24 channel summing). Could you tell me what would be the best routing to get the cue mixes to live room?
The way I do it is by multing via the Mixbay into a Furman HDS16 with the HRM16 remote units. Works really well and each band member can separately dial in their own headphone mixes as they see fit. Plus, you don't need extra channels of D/A to accomplish this (just lots of TT cables).
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30th January 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kittonian View Post
The way I do it is by multing via the Mixbay into a Furman HDS16 with the HRM16 remote units. Works really well and each band member can separately dial in their own headphone mixes as they see fit. Plus, you don't need extra channels of D/A to accomplish this (just lots of TT cables).
I don't have a Mixbay but instead I'm using standard Neutrik patchbays that work well at the moment. My problem is that I have to compromise between the signal that I'm sending to X-Rack for summing with the cue mixes. I can either send the output from my alpha link to x-rack or I have to send some to x-rack and some to cue mixes. is there a way to have all 24 channels going to x-rack for summing while having it sent to cue mixes too?

thx,

chris
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30th January 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3dchris View Post
I suggest you read http://akmedia.digidesign.com/suppor...ixer_26688.pdf
It appears that to some extend Kittonian is right. probably switching to master faders in PTHD solves the degradation problem. Any thoughts?

thx,

chris
I'm very familiar with that paper, and I think it shows why this whole fader loss thing is a myth. Here's a quote from the paper:

<Similar to analog mixers, the Pro Tools mixer is comprised of
individual input channels and a summing stage. At the input
stage, each channel’s 24-bit word is multiplied by 24-bit gain
and pan coefficients to create a 48-bit result. The new 48-bit
word contains the original 24 bits “shifted” lower in the 56-bit
register to allow for headroom and “footroom” below unity
gain, enabling channels to be turned down without losing
precision. Specifically, it’s possible to pull any channel fader
down to -90 dB and its signal still retains 24 bits of precision.
As channel faders are pulled down, there is a loss to the lower
bits of the newly extended 48-bit word which represent signals
down to about -240 dB—but a full 24 bits of precision is main-
tained down to -90 dB. >

In other words, your full 24 bit resolution is maintained as you lower the fader. It just sounds softer. There is no loss of resolution, or signal degradation. I don't understand your comment about "switching to master faders". Master faders are already always in place in Protools, and when you turn one on or "create" one you are simply revealing a piece of the architecture that is already there.

If someone likes analog faders better it's probably because they like the increased noise-to-signal ratio as the fader comes down. I mean, why dick around with little dabs of dither.

-R
stevetgn
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30th January 2008
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Originally Posted by Zuewi View Post
how much did you end up paying if i may ask? Just wondering if you can get something useable for under 4k-5k or something.
.
UK prices you get these approx deals:
Chassis about £800
EQ/Dyn/8 line about £500 each
4 line input modules about £550
Master Bus Module £650

If you are filling a rack most retailers will offer a deal.

So far I've got:
2 x 4 line
1 x 8 line
2 x dynamics modules
1 x master bus module
and obvioulsy the rack

This summer I hope to fill the first rack with 4 line modules and get a second rack to fill with 2 EQs, 2 SuperAnalgue mic pres (mainly for the Hi/lo pass filters as strange as it may sound!) and fill the other slots with more dynamic modules.

Yes... I love the X-Rack format
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30th January 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RKrizman View Post
I don't understand your comment about "switching to master faders". Master faders are already always in place in Protools, and when you turn one on or "create" one you are simply revealing a piece of the architecture that is already there.
-R
I'm sorry... I was confused by the document until I read it again... you're right, it appears to be absolutely no loss of quality as the whole mixer is 48 bit. At first I understood that only the master section of the mixer is 48bit (stupid me!) . I beg for forgiveness!

thx,

chris
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3dchris View Post
I'm sorry... I was confused by the document until I read it again... you're right, it appears to be absolutely no loss of quality as the whole mixer is 48 bit. At first I understood that only the master section of the mixer is 48bit .
Fine, now just apply this new understanding to all the claims by gear pushers who use the mistaken notion that there's a problem with DAW faders to sell you some kind of analog summing snake oil. In short, if you get a summing box get one that brings something to the party. Just the fact that you're summing outside the computer means nothing.

-R
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30th January 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by siddhu View Post
However that does not change the fact that the OTB summing can definately improve a mix sonically due to a number of reasons such as sonically pleasing coloration and distortion.

S
Is that because of the analog outboard used with the OTB summing unit? I've tried a few. all but the chandler had a real effect on the sound- made it softer which i didnt need. I demo'd the neve 8816, dangerous 2buss, mixdream and x-rack so far. They all sounded super clean when just running the 16 channels from lynx aurora into them. No added color, 3D spread, or anything until I patched in a few analog pieces.
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31st January 2008
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Originally Posted by computa View Post
No added color, 3D spread, or anything until I patched in a few analog pieces.
That's kind of the point for me though with the X-Rack. I want a super clean, super wide bandwidth summer, with quality "balanced" inserts that I can then add colour when and where needed via my API EQs, Massive Passive, 1176, Buzz Audio Potion, P38 etc etc
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2nd February 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RKrizman View Post
Fine, now just apply this new understanding to all the claims by gear pushers who use the mistaken notion that there's a problem with DAW faders to sell you some kind of analog summing snake oil. In short, if you get a summing box get one that brings something to the party. Just the fact that you're summing outside the computer means nothing.

-R
I bought X-Rack with 2 x 4IN modules and 2 x 8 IN modules. It's superclean sounding, the headroom is fantastic and I just love it.

chris
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10th February 2008
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10th February 2008
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The X-Rack really is the best rack based summing mixer available...

It's not.

Maybe for you, maybe for some, but not for everyone.

You sell X-Racks, right?
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10th February 2008
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In short, if you get a summing box get one that brings something to the party. Just the fact that you're summing outside the computer means nothing.

-R
That's how I see it. The XRack being ultra clean, I don't see the point of using one, except if I want to sum two or more already 'right-sounding' signals down to one without adding or loosing something, which is not what DAW people want, because you can do just that in the box.
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10th February 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevetgn View Post
This link was posted in another thread and I thought it might be relevant here too.
Check it out here:
SSL X-Rack: Digital Vs Analog Summing Video | Gearwire

GS user dannycurtean@yah needs to take credit for finding the link!
That comparison must be a joke, right ?

Summing through the XXL-Rack makes the lead guitar approximately 7000 dB louder and brings it to the center ?

Great box, then
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10th February 2008
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Originally Posted by theother View Post
It's not.

Maybe for you, maybe for some, but not for everyone.

You sell X-Racks, right?
Quote:
Originally Posted by theother View Post
That's how I see it. The XRack being ultra clean, I don't see the point of using one, except if I want to sum two or more already 'right-sounding' signals down to one without adding or loosing something, which is not what DAW people want, because you can do just that in the box.
I don't sell the X-Rack I just use it day in day out, and despite being super clean it adds something very special to the sound that isn't there when you mix ITB. You say you don't see the point in using one because its "ultra clean" I'm sure you wouldn't say that about an SSL Duality, yet the X-Rack uses exactly the same summing amps & circuitry. I was lucky enough to spend a day with Jim at the SSL factory and see the two being made. Its the same stuff in both!

There is an awful lot of point to using the X-Rack, it sounds great, you can add eq and dynamics as well as summing to the rack and you get Total Recall for all parameters. With the exception of DAW control, a multi rack X-Rack system can be well on its way to being a AWS900+

I don't benifit from sales making these comments, they are just my experiences from using the gear. The X-Rack won't be the right solution for everyone but its still an excellent bit of gear.
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10th February 2008
Old 10th February 2008
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Originally Posted by van Overhalen View Post
That comparison must be a joke, right ?

Summing through the XXL-Rack makes the lead guitar approximately 7000 dB louder and brings it to the center ?

Great box, then
aahhhh - that will be the special module we made for lead guitarists!
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10th February 2008
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That comparison must be a joke, right ?

Summing through the XXL-Rack makes the lead guitar approximately 7000 dB louder and brings it to the center ?

Great box, then
lol its not the best example is it
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11th February 2008
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Well, as a matter of fact I AM a lead guitarist
so I will order a SSL-Rack immediately.

(Searched for a box to make my solos louder for ages ! )
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11th February 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by van Overhalen View Post
That comparison must be a joke, right ?

Summing through the XXL-Rack makes the lead guitar approximately 7000 dB louder and brings it to the center ?

Great box, then
Sounds like they either are intentionally skewing the resutls, were sloppy with matching levels, or the panning laws caused a difference.

But you can be sure someone will hear this and say," hey, you can analyze this to death but I know that I like what I hear and that's good enough for me."

Of course, if you analyze it to death, or maybe just a little, you can conclude that you can just turn up the guitar instead of investing in the whole summing box thing.

-R
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12th February 2008
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The mix in the gearwire video has been clearly modified in terms of lead guitar panning and volume.

Why is this ? Why not just play it straight ? (Jim, do you have an explanation by any chance ?)

As someone in the field of marketing, I still don't understand why many gear companies, who one would assume would WANT to sell products, don't offer examples of what their gear can do as a starting point for potential customers. Don't expect people to be turned on to your products by hiding information ! When search costs for product information are too high, potential customers get turned off. Make it easy for them. Give them an apetizer at least !

In my case, I've been thinking of the X-Rack for summing but I would have to purchase converters + the X-Rack to try it out and have not really heard an example of what it does, i.e. if it's worth looking into it more and buying it.

It looks great though. Are there any X-Rack users who have used it for summing that would be willing to post examples ? I'm sure I wouldn't be the only person on this board who would be appreciative of this.
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12th February 2008
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Originally Posted by van Overhalen View Post
Well, as a matter of fact I AM a lead guitarist
so I will order a SSL-Rack immediately.

(Searched for a box to make my solos louder for ages ! )
Great, do they make one for keyboards?



-R
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13th February 2008
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Like other great gear, when used properly it adds a small percentage improvement to my mixes. Not 10%...20%... but maybe 5%-6%.. and that's WELL worth it to me

One of the nicest surprises for me was the G-series stereo compressor at such a low price point for it!!! That compressor is flat out great.
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