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Summing units: some people compare apples to oranges IMHO
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2nd April 2012
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Summing units: some people compare apples to oranges IMHO

I read all of the posts on the High end Summing units thread for me to come to the one or two boxes I would need to demo/buy.... but some people seem to forget that the more pricey boxes have each channel either electronically balanced or transformer balanced.

So how come to even think comparing these to a sub 4K console like a Midas or AH ZED console ?
I mean, big console sound comes from transformers or tubes PER CHANNEL.

You cannot find this in either the Neve 8816 (just Neve output tranformers) or Nicerizer N16. Even cleaner are the Speck Xsum and SSL Xdesk.
And the Folcrom with either LEVR or a coloured preamp cannot match the sound of transformers/tubes per channel.

So I conclude that only a bigger channel count console or summing box with the coloring goods per channel will outclass a Mix690 or Mixmaster 20 sonically with only have 16 or 20 channels.

In overview:

Little color = $1000-2000 : Folcrum with color pre/LEVR, Xsum with color pre, Tonelux OTB16
Medium color = $2000-3000 : Nicerizer N16, Neve 8816, rascal Tonebuss, SH Equinox
Closest console sound = $4000-5000 : Mix690, Mixmaster 20 with nicest input channel and mixbus output transformers. The mixmaster adds micpres and a master fader.

That said I want analog pan and level per channel and not pay premium $$$ for the Mix690 or Mixmaster, and then unfortunately the Tonebuss looses in the medium color against the 8816 and N16 which are my left choices.
In favor of the Tonebuss are the 16+ channel configurations.

If you read all this, its understandeable to say 'wow $3k for only a summing box??'.. better get a console then. But then you forget what really makes the console sound: the per channel electronics, transformers or tubes.
No ZED R16 console, no Xdesk, no soundcraft Ghost will give you that.

Am I right ?
I am all ears (eyes)
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3rd April 2012
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I'm not quite following what you are asking. Why is a significant amount of coloration indicative of quality? Many high quality big format consoles do not have transformers on each line input channel: SSL, modern vintage Neve (Genesys?), Neotek, Audient, D&R, Harrison. Some do like vintage Neve, API, Trident. I don't see how electronically balanced (but still transformerless) is going to provide more coloration, or necessarily higher quality sonically speaking.

If I had the $$ (and the energy to still run a full blown commercial studio on top of the pro audio) I'd be doing flips for an SSL AWS 948 (with colorful and clean outboard attached). It is completely transformerless and definitely qualifies as a bad ass console. The Nicerizer definitely sounds like a quality console even though its only moderately colored. The core differences between quality summing and quality console are feature set, not sonics IMHO.

If the Great River or Chandler summing mixer is out of reach budget-wise, then consider the Nicerizer or the X-desk and invest in quality colored outboard. Or a Folcrom with a pair of 1073's or Chandler Channels strapped to the output. Something like a Chandler TG-1 strapped to the output of a clean console or +4dbu outputting clean summing box will give you a ton of color.
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3rd April 2012
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I think you are making a couple assumptions which not everyone here would necessarily agree with.

First of all, i do not buy into this "the more colour = the better" thing, at least not when thinking of a console.

Secondly, there are dozens of console models out there that have always been loved more for the routing capabilities or the workflow they provide - and not so much for their sonics. (Think of SSL 9k vs. discrete class a Neve...).

So there are more valid ways to use a large console apart from some elusive coloration - and there is certainly no such thing as a "console sound".

Personally I have chosen a Speck LiLo for a number of reasons. One of them is that it does not have any transformers at all in the signal path. A console without any overly apparent coloration - how cool ist that!
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3rd April 2012
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Or, in other words: Today I have finished a folk rock mix, then I have mixed an experimental hip hop tune, and finally I have prepared a deep house mix I am going to finish tomorrow.

Working successfully with such a wide gamut of genres would not be possible with a highly colored summing device. Most of the "more colored" units are way too slow sounding for any modern electronic genre. I'd rather start out with a canvas that it as blank as possible. There is enough outboard at hand to impart any color if necessary.
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3rd April 2012
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I've been reading your post several times and I'm not sure what you are trying to say, or what your question really is. But I do seem to read that you are looking for a summing mixer with analog pan and level per channel and an analog master fader. Right? Whether you want to mix in color during mixing is not clear to me.

I personally think that a summing box should be as neutral as possible and that any coloration should be done either during tracking with a channel strip/preamp, or by using outboard on the inserts or aux'es of the mixer, so that you have full control over it. A coloring mixer would mean that you cannot get rid of its sonic signature. Analog mixing should be done in order to get better depth and width in a mix, and in order to be able to use analog outboard, IMO.

If you agree with what I just said, I suggest you take a look at the ADT-Audio Toolmix series of summing mixers. They have a headroom of 30dB! All fully balanced channels each have a 0dB calibrated input amp, analog 0dB calibrated faders, analog panning, post-amp/pre-fader inserts, aux 1 and 2 faders per channel, PFL and there is an analog master fader. I have a Toolmix8 unit and it is a dream to work with. Exactly what I needed for my analog summing needs.
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3rd April 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanEldred View Post
The Nicerizer definitely sounds like a quality console even though its only moderately colored.
I don't agree that the Nicerizer sounds like a quality console. I ultimately found it frustrating to mix through, and more often than not I'd repatch the mix to ITB and things would all open up nicely. I was happy to let it, and it's reliability issues, go. (And believe me, I want the magic bullet just as much as anyone else.)

I think ultimately it's nice to have your signal exist and be manipulated as electricity, and summing boxes are certainly one way to do it. One of many ways. I mean we should be comparing apples to oranges to broccoli

-R
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Quote:
So how come to even think comparing these to a sub 4K console like a Midas or AH ZED console ?
I mean, big console sound comes from transformers or tubes PER CHANNEL.
For some people, they NEED to throw up faders and drive. I can understand that and sometimes when these people attempt to mix digitally it becomes a drag, and that affects their attitude which turns into a self fulfilling prophecy regarding digital capabilities. I'm not saying that either camp is wrong but with just a summing box you're still mixing ITB with plugins and that's just not going to work for some people. For those people, they need a console, hell a Behringer or an 8buss will get the job done quicker than the computer. Fair enough, I just gag when these people say digital "isn't there" or "sounds sterile" when countless engineers have debunked such claims years ago.


Quote:
You cannot find this in either the Neve 8816 (just Neve output tranformers)
I looked long and hard at the 8816 with the fader pack. A very cool solution but the lack of Xformers on the inputs and a lot of negative claims regarding build quality put me off. The fact that I couldn't demo it anywhere and Joel Cameron's commitment to analog tone, patience and trial period also played a big part in my decision. I still think the Neve is pretty cool. No it may not have some of the huge transformer/tube sound as some of the other boxes but you get recall, sends and faders at a very reasonable price point.

Quote:
or Nicerizer N16. Even cleaner are the Speck Xsum and SSL Xdesk.
Xdesk was designed to be used with the Xrack gear and I'm sure that once you start incorporating that into the setup it will open up. I've heard some really good stuff done on it. I don't like the lack of recall and on a superficial level, the fact that the colors of the Xrack and the Xdesk don't match. You also have the option of expanding it now and having more busses.


Quote:
So I conclude that only a bigger channel count console or summing box with the coloring goods per channel will outclass a Mix690 or Mixmaster 20 sonically with only have 16 or 20 channels.
That would be your conclusion, I haven't used either of those boxes but given their price tags I wouldn't bother as I wouldn't shell out for either of them. Mix Master has preamps included IIRC and when I'm going to drop big bucks on a summing bus (friendly reminder to gearslutz members these prices are actually a lot of money) I want that money to be going to quality circuitry, build quality and support for when I need it. Not preamps, Ipod inputs, brand name, or other little flashy things that aren't what I need. I'm sure they're both great boxes in their own right.


Quote:
That said I want analog pan and level per channel and not pay premium $$$ for the Mix690 or Mixmaster,
Then I think you want a console, Summing mixers sum. The ones with analog pan and level are not really summing mixers, they're inching closer to the more traditional mixer.
Quote:
and then unfortunately the Tonebuss looses in the medium color against the 8816 and N16 which are my left choices
.
I'm ever so slightly justifying my purchase here but the Tonebuss is a phenomenal piece. Custom wound Carnhill transformers on the inputs and outputs. Really, really nice sounding no frills box.

Quote:
In favor of the Tonebuss are the 16+ channel configurations.
I own the 24 channel version, and I recall Joel saying something about a scalable set up. I only use and love the thing, he'd be the guy to ask.

Quote:
If you read all this, its understandeable to say 'wow $3k for only a summing box??'.. better get a console then.
A really nice console is going to be a little more than that. There are exceptions like the Toft, some of the used AMEK's (just saw an ad for a Big for $7000), Soundcrafts etc. but I'd rather own a really high end summing box than one of these due to things like maintenance, recall and the fact that I like working with plugins and ITB workflow. That's what I'm used to.
Quote:
But then you forget what really makes the console sound: the per channel electronics, transformers or tubes.
No ZED R16 console, no Xdesk, no soundcraft Ghost will give you that.
Correct but they will give you an analog workflow which to a lot of people is worth it (not me) and still sound very good.

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Am I right ?
I am all ears (eyes)
I'll disagree with you here and there. Good enough for the girls I go out with.
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I'm ever so slightly justifying my purchase here but the Tonebuss is a phenomenal piece. Custom wound Carnhill transformers on the inputs and outputs. Really, really nice sounding no frills box.

I own the 24 channel version, and I recall Joel saying something about a scalable set up. I only use and love the thing, he'd be the guy to ask.



I bought a ToneBuss for a few reasons (a) tone (b) LACK of options... i want a summing box to sum and (c) TONE

I spoke to Joel and he makes a cable thing that allows you to add boxes and scale the system.
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3rd April 2012
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I mean, big console sound comes from transformers or tubes PER CHANNEL.
No. SSL consoles have neither.
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4th April 2012
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It appears that either I dont get it all correctly or you guys misunderstand what I try to say here.

Ok ok , granted: I want a summing solution with a not so clean console sound, but no dark sound.
And I would like indeed analog panning at the very least, followed by -if possible- level control per channel.
The problem is a console is a) too big for my room 2) too expensive mostly esp for 24+ channels.

And so can you pls explain what then is the benefit of either electronically or transformer balanced channels costing lots more $$ over transformerless stuff or even a cheaper desk like a ZED R16??

Why eg. buying a Mix690 over a speck Xsum since they both have 16 channels ?

I want to understand this fully.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earcatcher View Post
I've been reading your post several times and I'm not sure what you are trying to say, or what your question really is. But I do seem to read that you are looking for a summing mixer with analog pan and level per channel and an analog master fader. Right? Whether you want to mix in color during mixing is not clear to me.

I personally think that a summing box should be as neutral as possible and that any coloration should be done either during tracking with a channel strip/preamp, or by using outboard on the inserts or aux'es of the mixer, so that you have full control over it. A coloring mixer would mean that you cannot get rid of its sonic signature. Analog mixing should be done in order to get better depth and width in a mix, and in order to be able to use analog outboard, IMO.

If you agree with what I just said, I suggest you take a look at the ADT-Audio Toolmix series of summing mixers. They have a headroom of 30dB! All fully balanced channels each have a 0dB calibrated input amp, analog 0dB calibrated faders, analog panning, post-amp/pre-fader inserts, aux 1 and 2 faders per channel, PFL and there is an analog master fader. I have a Toolmix8 unit and it is a dream to work with. Exactly what I needed for my analog summing needs.

ADT doesnt rock my boat, thanks
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4th April 2012
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Originally Posted by RKrizman View Post
I don't agree that the Nicerizer sounds like a quality console. I ultimately found it frustrating to mix through, and more often than not I'd repatch the mix to ITB and things would all open up nicely. I was happy to let it, and it's reliability issues, go. (And believe me, I want the magic bullet just as much as anyone else.)

I think ultimately it's nice to have your signal exist and be manipulated as electricity, and summing boxes are certainly one way to do it. One of many ways. I mean we should be comparing apples to oranges to broccoli

-R
what did you get in the end that works for you?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MediaMix View Post
No. SSL consoles have neither.
SSL is a bit too clean for my taste but punchy yes
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Googlyman View Post
It appears that either I dont get it all correctly or you guys misunderstand what I try to say here.

Ok ok , granted: I want a summing solution with a not so clean console sound, but no dark sound.
And I would like indeed analog panning at the very least, followed by -if possible- level control per channel.
The problem is a console is a) too big for my room 2) too expensive mostly esp for 24+ channels.

And so can you pls explain what then is the benefit of either electronically or transformer balanced channels costing lots more $$ over transformerless stuff or even a cheaper desk like a ZED R16??

Why eg. buying a Mix690 over a speck Xsum since they both have 16 channels ?

I want to understand this fully.
The Speck xsum is 32 channels...16 stereo....32 inputs. I love the Xsum but it isn't colored.

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summing is overrated.
It took me years to understand this.

happy discussion

P.S. did I mention I have a mix dream for sale ?
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Hi
Is the ADT unit 'wrong' because of it's technical specification, or that the signal path capabilities are not right for the way you want to work?
Summing is not a magical process, it is in essence a bunch of resistors. Some manufacturers get this simple process 'right' and others 'don't' but it is not necessarily for the reasons that are immediately obvious.
Simple 'desks' with physical space inside and carefully thought out signal paths should be 'clean' but the process of piling a load of 'stuff' in there 'because we can and think customers want it' does tend to mess things up somewhat.
For what it is worth the Neve 8816 has 2 transformers (left and right) and they are on the mix bus not on the outputs. All the rest is surface mount ICs and assorted other components.
There is also a significant issue of ergonomics, having the controls where you want them and 'logically laid out' and at a 'comfortable angle' to work with. If are not comfortable you will possibly 'hate' a given desk, even though it's technical capabilities and 'perrformance' may be above others.
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4th April 2012
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P.S. did I mention I have a mix dream for sale ?
This unit is probably the closest the OP will come to what he is describing in terms of tonal quality [though the OP unfortunately has put more than enough bullshit buzz words into his post to re-sink the USS Arizona].

I don't know why the Nicerizer 16 didn't work for Rick... but over the years [decades?] I've come to learn that Rick has a very unique sense of aesthetic, and definite opinions on how to achieve his goals. Neither here nor there, as I have found I agree with Rick's observations about 65-70% of the time [which is probably rare for me as I too have a very unique sense of aesthetic, and definite opinions on how to achieve my goals - that my take and Rick's take line up 65-70% of the time is actually pretty cool!!].

We have the N-16 in our CR and I have been loving the audio in no small way. Its not a "Mix-Dream" [which in my world is the shiznet!!], but its a damn competent unit... and does exactly what I hope it will do [which is give my final balance a fair measure more "size"].

While the N-16 has panning - I rarely use it. I prefer the way Roll Music [Folcrom] approached the subject with dedicated "L" - "R" or "C"... but I suppose that if I wanted to bring something in a bit I could do it on the summing box instead of in the DAW box - but I personally prefer to do that kind of stuff in the DAW box.

Back to the matter at hand -- most of the "consoles" the OP had on his potential list have serious issues... from lack of headroom to lack of linear phase response to a combination of both that produce a crappier tone than just staying "ITB" and printing that way. If the OP is really looking for something along the lines of the summing capabilities from a "classic" desk... then the MixDream or the N-16 would be my first recommendations.

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4th April 2012
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Quote:
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I want to understand this fully.
Prepare to spend the next few years studying the designs and a few more listening to them. You will not find your answers here in a few short threads.
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4th April 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletcher View Post
If the OP is really looking for something along the lines of the summing capabilities from a "classic" desk... then the MixDream or the N-16 would be my first recommendations.
The point of the "classic (desk )" sound to me is -it´s just a random part
of a whole sum of things. The others are:

musicians & engineers who know the **** what they are doing.
Like doing great arrangements, tracking with taste and experience,
making decisions, having budgets, having identity, mixing with taste
and experience.

These days the missing part mostly is lack of experience and identity in my eyes
and not whatever piece of "legendary" equipment.

Digital summing is available today for anyone.
George Massenburg who probably built the most advanced analogue board ever uses it -
Tchad Blake uses it, Mike Shipley uses it - they all have great taste, identity
and know the **** what they are doing instead of getting lost in random technology.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Googlyman View Post
what did you get in the end that works for you?
First of all there is no "in the end" because it's all still ongoing. To answer you and Fletcher, part of what I didn't like about the Nicerizer was reliability problems. The image seemed to shift to one side at times, and one channel intermittently cut out and/or gave me crackling sounds. So there was a trust issue. You don't want to be spending hours getting the smallest detail correct and then have to second guess yourself as to whether it's being reproduced correctly. So I ultimately ended up getting one of these passive summing networks, which seems to be more or less a "Folcrum in a cable".
PASSIVE SUMMING Network for ProTools HD 192 | eBay

So I was running that into my Phoenix audio DRS-2 for makeup gain. At one point I had to deliver a mix for a tv theme opportunity and when I put up the mix I had already completed the DRS was crackling out of the right channel. Jeez, not again! (Fletcher knows about Phoenix's history of reliability problems) So I had to bus the mix back into the computer and rebalance everything, and was slow on the draw getting my submission in. Since then I just haven't bothered and am getting fine results in the box. I sometimes use Slate VCC, but that's not the game changer I had hoped for.

As far as sonically, I thought the Nicerizer did bring some weight and cream, but at the expense of detail. A lot of what I was doing at the time was complex orchestration/rock pieces for news themes, and I just had trouble achieving the clarity I desired. As Fletcher says, it's about your personal aesthetic. All in all, just not worth the opportunity cost, as they say in business school.

Another factor in all this was I began to acquire some new gear that made a REAL difference magnitudes greater than any summing box I'd experienced. Mohog Mofet, TLA-100A, Flea vintage-styled tube microphones, etc. You don't need any blindfold tests to hear what this stuff does, and it puts the whole summing thing into perspective. In fact the better my recording chain gets the more reluctant I am to have it messed with by running it through a perhaps-arbitrary analog device like a summing box, which at any given time may or may not be the right thing.

Still open to the possibility, however, but it has to make a difference on the order of the other differences I'm making. I'm getting way more mojo by bouncing tracks to tape or inserting analog gear on my PT sessions than going through the drudgery of using a summing box.

-R
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Originally Posted by RKrizman View Post
In fact the better my recording chain gets the more reluctant I am to have it messed with by running it through a perhaps-arbitrary analog device like a summing box, which at any given time may or may not be the right thing.
+2
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ADT doesnt rock my boat, thanks
Obviously you are not interested in reason at all. I should have known after that first post of yours.
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9th April 2012
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Originally Posted by buffalobill View Post
People think they will replicate the sound of passing through dozens of transformers and tubes in both the tracking and mixing phase by running their audio through one box filled with cheap opamps on the back end of the project.

Out of curiosity, which summing box is filled with cheap op-amps?


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Out of curiosity, which summing box is filled with cheap op-amps?


Gregory Scott - ubk
In the vast scheme of things aren't most op amps pretty cheap? I had one replaced in my DRS-2 and the cost TO ME was $40, I suspect the actual cost to the manufacturer was much less.

-R
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A discrete op amp is considerably more expensive than a monolithic chip (which is what I think Greg was referring to).
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All I know is that a Pacifica strapped to the back of a passive unit fed from Lynx converters sounds stellar. Don't know how someone would not feel theyr'e in console territory with that setup if they know what they're doing...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanEldred View Post
A discrete op amp is considerably more expensive than a monolithic chip (which is what I think Greg was referring to).
Right. I think the Dangerous 2-bus uses the TL-072 chip if I'm not mistaken (and I could be).

-R
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slikjmuzik View Post
All I know is that a Pacifica strapped to the back of a passive unit fed from Lynx converters sounds stellar. Don't know how someone would not feel theyr'e in console territory with that setup if they know what they're doing...
I haven't tried that, but in all the summing bus files I've ever heard posted here, somebody posted one with that setup and it sounded absolutely fantastic.

-R
#29
9th April 2012
Old 9th April 2012
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RKrizman View Post
I haven't tried that, but in all the summing bus files I've ever heard posted here, somebody posted one with that setup and it sounded absolutely fantastic.

-R
I think you and I are talking about the same one. He also sent a file comparing that setup with the Tonebuss and as much as I wanted to like that one more, I actually liked the tone of the Pacifca. It just felt big and wide. Would love to try it on some of the rock stuff I do.
#30
10th April 2012
Old 10th April 2012
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RKrizman View Post
In the vast scheme of things aren't most op amps pretty cheap?

Well, in the most raw sense, everything about these boxes is cheap when you look at cost of parts at scale. But I can tell you that adding a $10 part raises the street price of a unit by about $40-50, so if you've got 16 of those in a unit vs. 16 of a $0.99 chip, it's easy to see why some summing boxes cost what they do vs. less expensive ones.


Gregory Scott - ubk
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