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logicll
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4th December 2006
Old 4th December 2006
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Mixing in the box, but wait.........

Well,

I have been putting quite a bit of thought into the subject of “mixing in the box”.
I realize this topic has been over-covered, however I would like to take a different approach to discussing the topic.

Lately I have not been satisfied with the mixes I have been doing (in Pro Tools).
I feel as though my Pro Tools Mixes sound plastic compeered to analog witch sound full.

My theory is that analog fills up the sonic spectrum “bandwidth” more densely and creates a better sense of space/depth.

I am attempting to answer the question, “What is analog gear doing (good and bad)?.

In order to better understand the ways in which we can apply these concepts to (ITB) mixing we must not only realize what analog is doing to the sound at the various stages from it’s inception, but how to achieve similar results in the box.
Possibility due to second and third order harmonics (adding to the richness, or density of the sound), additional factors may be operation noise, phase smearing between channels ,or track bleed.

I believe the analog “warmth” or “roundness” is the deduction of some key high frequencies and a bit of compression (regarding tape).

I also believe large factors in digital mixing are the quality of the A/D converters, especially the quality of the IR filters, I believe this has a large impact on the transient response of the converters. Plus the summing ability of the software (how was it coded)..? How does it handle large numbers? (Pro Tools has this odd top end sizzle to it.)

Most of the basic mixing techniques (stemming from analog roots) are based on “packing” sound between the speakers and creating that “density factor”. Some mixing techniques involve creating “space in the mix”. Another form of creating density is “imaging density“…aka 3D depth..

The “mysterious glue” we all seek in our mixes I believe comes from 2 sources compression and summing.
The analog process is linear, electrons flow from one point to another, the digital process doesn’t offer this (mathematical computing) is a static process. In short the “electron flow” creates random variables in our signal. One might describe this as harmonic distortion or THD in relation to input output comparisons..

So if anybody has input that would be great…wow I don’t have a life…lol sorry for the length..
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4th December 2006
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Binary Bob Puuuuleeeze

I just want to ..first apologize to the author of this thread, as I have no comment for your subject matter. I did,however , read it as I do with a lot of threads whether I have something to add or not.
This BINARY BOB crap is getting old. Its just not funny anymore. Would one of the modererators please get this guy off of here. Do I really need to explain why?
It is rude and inconsiderate and has absolutley no value whatsoever, besides the 0 and 1 s.
There are too many times I come here and follow a thread and see his garbage interupting a useful thread.
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4th December 2006
Old 4th December 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by logicll View Post
Well,

I have been putting quite a bit of thought into the subject of “mixing in the box”.
I realize this topic has been over-covered, however I would like to take a different approach to discussing the topic.

Lately I have not been satisfied with the mixes I have been doing (in Pro Tools).
I feel as though my Pro Tools Mixes sound plastic compeered to analog witch sound full.

My theory is that analog fills up the sonic spectrum “bandwidth” more densely and creates a better sense of space/depth.

I am attempting to answer the question, “What is analog gear doing (good and bad)?.

In order to better understand the ways in which we can apply these concepts to (ITB) mixing we must not only realize what analog is doing to the sound at the various stages from it’s inception, but how to achieve similar results in the box.
Possibility due to second and third order harmonics (adding to the richness, or density of the sound), additional factors may be operation noise, phase smearing between channels ,or track bleed.

I believe the analog “warmth” or “roundness” is the deduction of some key high frequencies and a bit of compression (regarding tape).

I also believe large factors in digital mixing are the quality of the A/D converters, especially the quality of the IR filters, I believe this has a large impact on the transient response of the converters. Plus the summing ability of the software (how was it coded)..? How does it handle large numbers? (Pro Tools has this odd top end sizzle to it.)

Most of the basic mixing techniques (stemming from analog roots) are based on “packing” sound between the speakers and creating that “density factor”. Some mixing techniques involve creating “space in the mix”. Another form of creating density is “imaging density“…aka 3D depth..

The “mysterious glue” we all seek in our mixes I believe comes from 2 sources compression and summing.
The analog process is linear, electrons flow from one point to another, the digital process doesn’t offer this (mathematical computing) is a static process. In short the “electron flow” creates random variables in our signal. One might describe this as harmonic distortion or THD in relation to input output comparisons..

So if anybody has input that would be great…wow I don’t have a life…lol sorry for the length..

I think you are right. I use to mix all in logic and I know it sounds like crap. That is why I am really getting into the hardware stuff now. I hope to find out the secret to the mysterious glue one day
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4th December 2006
Old 4th December 2006
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I plan to buy an SSL X rack and fill it with the 4 4 channel input modules (16 tracks) 2 eqs, 1 dynamic and a master bus and mix everything on my mini SSL. The thing is i already have a ba lunchbox so that plan is for the future once ive filled up my ba . i wish ssl modules fit in 500 series racks or vice vrsa that wud be amazing. but all i wanted to say is analog is the way forward i hate mixing on cubase and protools. i think youre on too sumin there all the stuf you wrote is 2 technical for me all i know is analog sounds much warmer, fuller and just better .
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4th December 2006
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FWIW, i'm not convinced at all mixing OTB is better than ITB. I've heard crap mixes OTB and really good ones ITB!

Mixing on a summer seems easier because you have more headroom to play with and the big advantage is that it's easier to include some outboard.

Just realize that it's not the best off both worlds, it's a consession of both worlds.
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4th December 2006
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i wasn't satisfied with summing in the nuendo so i tried with soundcraft spirit(14 channels),it was way better sound,so i didn't stop there and got a amek big,from there i'm just going in the OTB direction,and liking it more and more every day
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I'd try the idea of Bob

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4th December 2006
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Mixing in the box sounds like crap i guess......... at least mine do.

But does that mean that recording in the box sounds like crap too.

Do we really have to go back to reel to reel, cause I for one do not want to deal with tape like that, maybe A/D converters are the problem.

So do we have to wait longer for A/D to get as good as tape?

In anybody's opinion are there any good recordings that are realesed CD's that were done totaly ITB.

It seems this would end this debate.

I'l be waiting for all the fantastic recordings to be listed but I wont hold my breath.

Thanks
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4th December 2006
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There are people on this forum, everyday, who mix ITB and make it sound amazing!
Number one records that people love to listen to.

Lately, some of the worst mixing I have heard was done OTB.
Thrashed, over-compressed, dull, tubby sounding.

Maybe you're giving up to easy on mixing ITB.
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4th December 2006
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Quote:
My theory is that analog fills up the sonic spectrum “bandwidth” more densely and creates a better sense of space/depth.
I have the opposite theory. I find I get more of that "wall of sound" sound when mixing a dense mix ITB. I find myself having to "clean up" frequency wise to get that sense of space moreso than OTB.

More and more I'm a believer that ITB is a different skill set than OTB. It takes different habits and routines to make either work.
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Just another side,playing devils advocate,and not at all trying to be rude.......it seems a lot of folks are spending way too much time over issues like this......dont worry about it....Im sure everyone is out to create the best mixes they can,but at the end of the day,just do the best you can do......and continue,the more you do it,the more you learn.What level are most people mixing on?Are these major label releases?Probably not.You would be surprised at how many artists couldnt tell if its in ITB or OTB....and...couldnt care less.

It has (as stated) been beaten to death.Its been proven both ways.Pick one or the other & run with it.If your budget allows,use outboard,a console etc.If not,look at all the guys making hit records,100% ITB.

One simple point that seems to get overlooked......Think about this...If ONE guy can mix a #1 hit completely ITB.....(See DEKERNATOR's posts)....doesn't that say at least SOMETHING about his SKILLS?Is it the gear?Can the next guy use the same gear and get the same result?(using the example of a #1 hit is also "relative" to what some may feel is success,or just want great sounding mixes etc.But in theory,isnt that what most people are after anyway.)

Why is everyone "chasing" OTB mixing anyway?They are two different things.It just seems to be a constant need to "justify" mixing ITB these days.Why?As if its not good enough.Or as good as OTB.Again...Who cares?

Use WHAT you have.Use it how you want.Forget trying to replicate OTB.Dont compare it.Its not the converters,its not the summing etc.For every example,there is another example proving otherwise.

How did I get sucked into this?

Do the best you can & have fun.Too much time worring about the gear lately.
Best of luck & keep mixing.
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4th December 2006
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I know this topic is talked about alot but for a good reason.

Some people are happy with ITB

Some mix in the box with outboard gear

Some sum otb with outboard.

Great records are done itb or otb by great engineers .

I think the outboard comps eq are the greatest.

Plugs can be used well but don't have the mojo for me.

I do think analog gear does impart euphonics and digital doesn't necessarily.

I know too little about software programming to say how a program handles large

numbers.

But i'd like to hear more, my thought is that programs handle large numbers ie

summing just fine.I don't see how the computer can have a problem keeping up

unless you surpass the instructions per second which i don't think is happening in

most DAWS.

When people say the high end in PT is wierd its sounds too vague, what DA are you

using? You can't speak in a detailed way of pro tools sound without mentioning the

different AD's you've used with it .


I do think its important what your saying about analog specs, which from an

engineering point of view , which were traditionally listed as a measure of problems

or weaknesses ie, wow&flutter, THD , crosstalk s/n ratior IMD

which could now been seen as ,the ricness of subtle pitch variation, pleasing

harmonic response , glue etc.

if there is something wrong with digital summing not everyone who makes good

records agrees.

Summing (otb or itb) is loved by many and in some peoples experience has improved their

mixes. But there is more than one way to get to a good sounding mix.

Since this discussion is circular preamps mics ad room acoustics are all relevant.

Cause if some folks are getting good results itb then what are they doing?

Well Charles Dye was on this forum and with his video shows alot about one good approach.

I use outboard tracking and mixing but sum itb I also mix to 1/2 " tape and

sometimes track tape dump to pro tools.

It all sounds different and some songs are served better by different methods right.

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4th December 2006
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I to agree with bob
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Personally I feel my main two week points are the lack of high quality converters and a couple of hardware compressors. I feel that would make a significant difference.

Ironically my client’s love my work and it sounds good on the radio….but I have worked in the analog world and to me I can get the results I want, not only quicker, but elements of the mix fall into place easer. Also my mixes are not as “in your face” or wide as many commercial releases. I need a bit of salt to add that zing/…

And….I am not debating mixing ITB vs. OTB I am trying to develop a way of working that will allow me to achieve the sonic results I seek. I however would like to hear commercial releases done all in the box.!!

Worth a mention my main mic-pre is a ISA 110...clean with great EQ… INTO PTthumbsup
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4th December 2006
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one more thing.....

My objective with this thread is to objectively look at both ways of mixing. I find it very frustrating that I have to work so hard in the box to get my mixes sounding decent, but in the analog world I literally can nail the mix. I was co producing this project with this famous “rock” producer who stepped out for a while when they came back in I got complements for having “good ears”…This is from somebody who has worked with every one from the Peppers to Cash…I know if I was working straight in the box It would have not been the same…!!!

Ok….so I get Pro Tools harshness.....
Over loading??
Mixing to hot of levels??
Need better EQ choices in the high freq?
Running plug-in’s to hot?

I am using stock 888/24’s (don’t laugh).

Instead of the mix being a brick in your face it’s a piece of tissue paper..!!!

OOHH.. I am talking rock here….

Last edited by logicll; 4th December 2006 at 05:08 PM.. Reason: mis spelling
#16
4th December 2006
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I totally know what you mean about the ease of analog gear.

I think it does alot of work for us but you still know what your doing

or that wouldn't be enough.

But it is I think easier for alot of rock especially.

try some outboard. I like to mix into a hardware buss comp lightly.

tracking with good mics pre's and comps to me makes up another %33

add some good ad/da .

Have at least a 2track reel to reel for submixes or the mix or to track overdubs thru.

In digital there is way more emphasis on what goes in sounding euphonic already .

This stuff has really made me happy with mixing with PT.

Some people have a 24 track or 8 track tape machine

for evrything/or basic tracks then either way they they dump into PT for ease.


the thing is really talented folks have made ITB work really well so I think its worth

learning more, on other hand workflow isn't linear, instant recall

doesn't help if you keep changing things cause its not "sounding right"

fundamentally your waiting to hear the analog thing youre used to.

I do think cheaper gear(or staying totally itb) with a kick ass engineer/songs

produces great records.

But you've got the analog in your blood your might be screwed and have to spend

some $$$$.

Search around on this site for ITB records that are good!

Maybe you'll hear stuff that makes you go " thats it I like that i think i can do this ITB and actually like it"

#17
4th December 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by logicll View Post
My theory is that analog fills up the sonic spectrum “bandwidth” more densely and creates a better sense of space/depth.
First, I mix mostly ITB these days. As for your above comment..... ?? Not sure I understand that, but I'm not buying it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by logicll View Post
I believe the analog “warmth” or “roundness” is the deduction of some key high frequencies and a bit of compression (regarding tape).

You're wrong there. Analog passses more HF info than digital - at least 44.1/48k digital. Most hi quality analog has bandwidth specs out past 100k. Upwards of 200-300k. Digital can't touch that.


I believe the difference is in the "rounding off" of the transients. Digital's transients are just too "precise" for ears used to hearing the degraded transients that tape lend to the sound. The other issue is in the internal summing math of the program you are using. It's not that easy and not that simple. Once you start jamming your ITB buss with tons of tracks and dense info, it gets worse. Analog seems to be more forgiving in that respect.

Here's something that a buddy got from one of the head digital engineers at either Sony or Panasonic - I can't remember. They suggested putting a LPF on all tracks and closing down the upper freq response on every track so that there was more "room" in the upper freq's without un-needed info up there. Much like we have been doing with HPF's in the analog world for years. Any thoughts on this? It came from a very authoritative person who knew what he was talking about. It seems opening up the room way up high yeilded much sweeter hi's when doing this. I haven't tried it yet myself.
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Mix OTB through a digital mixer. You have the best of both worlds without another D/A - A/D conversion degrading the sound.
The funny thing about the dekerator threads (Billboard #1 mixed ITB) is the comparison of mixes on that Steve Holy CD that had the #1 singles. Some songs were mixed OTB. His were mixed ITB, and the difference is staggering. The OTB mixes sound like a home studio, all small, no depth, no stereo spread, muffled sounding. Dekerators mixes sound all in-your-face, with depth and presence to die for.
I had a similar thing happen on a project I sent out to be mixed on a SSL console. The rhythm section sounded nice, but there was so much pumping and breathing going on, it actually distracts your attention from the song. If this is the strength of analog gear, I'll stick with my 01V96 digital mixer.
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4th December 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommylicious View Post
FWIW, i'm not convinced at all mixing OTB is better than ITB. I've heard crap mixes OTB and really good ones ITB!

Mixing on a summer seems easier because you have more headroom to play with and the big advantage is that it's easier to include some outboard.

Just realize that it's not the best off both worlds, it's a consession of both worlds.
Couldn't agree with this more...I recall reading rave reviews about the Shadow Hills Equinox to the point where I was convinced I needed one. Then the dude posted a mix he did on it, and I just about laughed out loud. I'm sure it is a nice piece of gear, but the bottom line is that it always comes down to the quality of the engineer.

It is akin to putting a ****** at the wheel of a formula one car...no matter how great the car is, its potential is defined by the driver.

-Chris
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4th December 2006
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One thing analog generally has more of than digital is audible noise. Maybe that's the glue we're looking for.
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i hated the box for years !!! looks like the brain & ears need some time to get used to it ???

i dig it today a lot, nice features, cool routing possibilities etc.
its easy to blame the box for the bad sound.
i was shocked when i heard some GREAT sounding mixes all done ITB by some other cooks.

@ least i can blame myself again when it sounds like crap

GOOD LUCK
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I've been busy building some hardware compressors lately, namely an SSL and an 1176 clone. They sound great....actually make that awesome. I used high quality capacitors (Wima, Black Gate) and good transformers (Cinemag). I've even spent some time comparing them to the plugin versions that attempt to emulate those designs. What I keep finding is that there is a smoothing that occurs when using the hardware. Things are a little rounder sounding than they are when I use the plugin--there are less transients that make it through the hardware. I'm not so sure I like that in all cases. I like how transients comes off digital. There's excitement there. I don't always want everything to sound smooth and round. So I keep going back to my hardware thinking how can I make the signal path even cleaner. I imagine that's a question that the designers of these classic pieces probably asked themselves when they were creating these boxes and making design compromises. I decided the other day that I prefer my UAD 1176LN on snare drum to the actual hardware clone I built, simply because the plugin is snappier.

The bottom line is I think ITB/OTB is irrelevant for improving one's mixing ability. It really just comes down to understanding the tools you have in your arsenal and knowing howand when to use them to achieve the results you envision. If you feel like working in one realm imposes a handicap on you then make a switch and get on with making music in a way that makes you happy. For me the recallability and minimal gear footprint of digital combined with careful analog signal path choices at mixdown makes me happy. It's always going to be a compromise for most of us, though.

Brad
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Shepperd View Post
There are people on this forum, everyday, who mix ITB and make it sound amazing!
Number one records that people love to listen to.

Lately, some of the worst mixing I have heard was done OTB.
Thrashed, over-compressed, dull, tubby sounding.

Maybe you're giving up to easy on mixing ITB.
Question Tony, I read your bio and you've done some major stuff, mostly in the pop, dance and R&B vien. We do mostly hard rock and metal and I'm not hearing the ITB stuff sound like SSL mixes. Not to say that ITB mixes aren't sucessful but they just don't rip my head off. Have you heard a heavy record mixed ITB that knocked the handles off your car?
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4th December 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kats View Post
More and more I'm a believer that ITB is a different skill set than OTB. It takes different habits and routines to make either work.
YES! This is why I belive folks battling away at it for years now have NOT have been wasting their time...
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5th December 2006
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Well,

Well regard to analog it seems as though it does handle transients different than Pro Tools. I do feel that analog does something to the hi end less harsh than Pro Tools. So any tips on getting rid of the harshness??
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James, I am in the process of remixing a rock record that was originally mixed on a console.
Give me a call and I can point you in the right direction to listen to the mixes.
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I tend to think the OTB qualities can be added in mastering, but that's what I do so of course I'm biased :D I've figured out a lot of ways to address this because I'm a hard rock/prog/metal guy but my favorite period is early Seventies... not that I get to do that sound for current CDs!

James, send me an ITB mix of some sort that you think fails ITBishly and let me see if I can fix it for you. FTP only, no charge but if I succeed you gotta post to this thread that it knocked the handles off your car PM me or something.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kats View Post
I have the opposite theory. I find I get more of that "wall of sound" sound when mixing a dense mix ITB. I find myself having to "clean up" frequency wise to get that sense of space moreso than OTB.

More and more I'm a believer that ITB is a different skill set than OTB. It takes different habits and routines to make either work.
YES - my experience is the same - dense ITB mixes take more work to create depth

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jules View Post
YES! This is why I belive folks battling away at it for years now have NOT have been wasting their time...
and YES, I agree totally.

Pick your tools and make some music!
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5th December 2006
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Originally Posted by uncle duncan View Post
If this is the strength of analog gear, I'll stick with my 01V96 digital mixer.
Or the weakness of the guy mixing it.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisj View Post
James, send me an ITB mix of some sort that you think fails ITBishly and let me see if I can fix it for you...no charge but if I succeed you gotta post to this thread that it knocked the handles off your car.
I'd be willing to offer the same!!!

Brian has offered to do it too.

You know where to find us brutha.
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