Originally Posted by drcaron
Loving my ULN8... but the grass is always greener right?
Now, I've read all the analog summing threads, and listened to tons of shoot-outs. But I'm wondering if there are any ULN8 users who are summing OTB?
Of course, the MIO summing is awesome, but I can't help but wonder if there are guys out there going from a ULN8 to a Dangerous 2-Bus or 2-Bus LT?
I'd like to get my hands on a D2B to at least try it out... but then again, the ULN8 rocks - and so does Studio One 2.5. Thoughts?
lots of summing threads, but a lot of misinformation going around.
I would say that summing is only really going to make enough of a difference to overall quality of your music if your using it it in combination with a lot of outboard equipment which you know how to use properly and effectively already.
if you just plan to run your ITB stems out to a summing mixer and expect game changing results, you can expect to be disappointed. granted some summing devices out there that will colour your mix but 2 dangerous stuff it not one of them. need to spend a fair bit on a summer to get that effect.
i do analog summing for the following reasons.
(1) to integrate analog outboard gear where you are doing parallel processing and you don't want to have to worry about delay compensation and phasing issues that comes with using the equipment as a hardware insert in your DAW. When you stem out like this, the effected signal get phase distorted and even when they line up latency wise you can get some weird results. if your not doing parallel processing then hardware inserts usually works well for the most part.
(2) in situations where you like the tone the summing device brings to the table and your prepared to sacrifice some increased noise floor and headroom as compared to if you just stayed ITB totally to get access to that tone.
some things about the dangerous stuff to consider are;
if the summing mixer doesn't have volume, or an input trim, your going to rely on either your outboard gear and or your DAW to drive the levels of your mix going into the summing device. if your not using analog outboard gear then this is fine although i would question why go OTB then anyway. if you are using analog outboard if your not careful this can create a wealth of issues from the gain-stage and headroom perspectives.
your analog gear is designed to accept and operating level of -18dBFS /+4 dBU RMS. If you are setting your mix levels from the DAW with the hardware in between then this can really screw up the way your hit your analog outboard. the summing device is supposed to be used so that you fed it all your tracks at -18dBFS RMS out of the daw into it with the outboard in between. (just like a console) this lets you operate the outboard in its optimal levels and it lets you bypass your outboard gear with equal A/B comparison levels to you can regularly compare the effect of the outboard on your mix at equivalent levels.
if you mixer has faders or volume knobs you can then use that you set your mix levels, if it doesn't your reduced to using the output stage of your outboard gear to try to finalise your mix levels which not a great option. you loose automation and a whole bunch of basic functionality. if you try to drive your summer from the DAW by setting up your mix levels from inside the box then you will end up with much less headroom than if you used the summer properly and less than if you just stayed ITB. this is because your constrained to the level you need to hit your analog gear at ideally and the fact that you only have 18dB of headroom in your daw above this operating point before you start CLIPPING. you will be so scared to clip you will effectively constrain yourself to well below that. some people on this forum argue that you can simply reduce the levels out of your daw to well below -18dbFS to accommodate this, but if you do that you will need to amp that signal in the analog domain before hitting your analog gear which just increases your noise floor. even if you can manage to hit your analog gear at these low levels, as soon as you analog network is engaged by the track, when it comes back into the daw, that track will have a very average SNR because it was so low when you hit it from ITB.
bottom line is if you go outboard summing, you should have lots of outboard analog gear, and you should have a mixer with at least volume and an insert trim.
i honestly believe the basic summers are a bit of a gimmick if you don't have the outboard to justify it. some just on its own is not going to do very much.
there are some workarounds with the dangerous mixer. for example, i see most people record in their levels at -18dbFS, then sent the outputs from the daw at unity gain on the daw faders. they then use a whole bunch of analog goodies to balance their mix. works for some, but i don't like that way of working.