Originally Posted by peeder
These three options make sense:
1) Full analog console
2) Staying fully ITB
3) Just taking two channels out from DAW, running through an ATTY or other simple attenuator, and back through a preamp and whatever other analog goodies you like.
The option to use a summing device hasn't made sense since they fixed the ITB summing algorithms years ago. You get 8 times as much sound of your DACs (which generally isn't that good a sound, especially when you have to pay for all those DACs), which you can minimize by just running 2 channels out of them and keeping 6db of headroom. You lose precise panning control, which means that you can't use e.g. a mono analog compressor on something you want to pan anywhere other than full left right or center the entire mix. Etc.
Analog summing devices are a lose-lose proposition and will be one of the things we laugh about 10 years from now. You'll be able to buy old ones for $50 or so and use them as line mixers for old analog synths and such.
I disagree. In my private studio, where I'm doing a portion of my mix work these days, I'm using Logic, into a Radar, summed through 2 Dangerous 2 busses linked together. I have done extensive testing between mixing out 2 channels and mixing out 22 (two are reserved to print the mix), and the difference is significant. And just so we're clear, I made this determination before actually purchasing the 2-busses. And all DAWs bog down at the 2-buss. All of them. I always thought it was a PT issue. But now I know, it's a DAW issue. Not a platform issue.
Here's how I suggest everyone test it. Beg, borrow, steal, or purchase (for possible return) a summing box. Start mixing a song ITB with 2 outputs. Go beyond the point in the mix where it's pumping and you're loving it, to the point where you are beginning to struggle and hating it. At that point in the mix you should switch to multiple outputs into a summing buss (and if you want to take a break before you do this, by all means do). I've only tried the Dangerous 2 bus, so I have no basis of comparison between different brands of summing, but by using multiple outputs into a Dangerous 2-buss, there is a greater depth of field, considerably more clarity in the bottom end, a seemingly broader frequency range, and more punch. It's night and day.
Now, when you do this, your mix will have changed slightly. The reason I suggest doing it at this particular struggle point in the mix, is because that is the time that you are most in tune with what you're trying to achieve. You know the arrangement, you know the problems, you know how everything interacts. At the same time, you have quite a bit to go before your mix is in the bag. At this point in the mix, when switching to multiple outs, you should notice an immediate improvement on how your mix is working and sounding, particularly in the bottom end.
Now, I've used a whole lot of adjectives to describe this for you, and you may describe it differently, but all DAWs bog down on the 2-buss. All of them. You can argue it if you like, and if you think I'm wrong that's fine. But for those of you that have NOT tried using a summing box of any kind, you're making life more difficult for yourself. DO NOT TAKE MY OR ANYONE ELSE'S WORD ON THIS. You MUST do this experiment, as I've laid it out above, for you yourself. When you do, you'll most likely own a new piece of hardware, and you'll be sending me Festivus (the holiday for the rest of us) cards for the rest of your life.
My final disclaimer. I can't vouch for any 2-bus other than the Dangerous. So, if it doesn't work out for you, then there is something seriously wrong with that piece of kit.