The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
Summing Shootout - Burl B32 vs I.C. MIX690 vs Tonelux OTB16 vs Rascal ToneBuss
Old 17th January 2013
  #1
Summing Shootout - Burl B32 vs I.C. MIX690 vs Tonelux OTB16 vs Rascal ToneBuss

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BwRx...BNaVdKdjQ/edit

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BwRx...RnWURvRms/edit


Click the above links then click "Download", then click "Download anyway" if prompted (they are virus-free). Files are all 24 bit 48kHz and levels are matched. Conversion was Burl Mothership DA and AD.

If you post your impressions then please also tell us what you were monitoring on, thanks!

There are 4 files for the Burl B32 Vancouver because it has 2 buttons yielding 4 possible settings - "BX5" in the file name means the output transformer is switched in, and "+6dB" in the name means the gain boost is switched in and the output attenuators are turned down to compensate.

The song "Magazines" is by an artist named Salet ( http://www.facebook.com/salet.ot5 ) and the song "Some Will" is by a band named Old Stock ( Old Stock ). They deserve kudos for permitting me to post their music. Seek them out and reward them with fame and fortune!

Enjoy,
Old 17th January 2013
  #2
Lives for gear
 
jamwerks's Avatar
 

Thanks for these !
Old 17th January 2013
  #3
Lives for gear
 
YOHAMI's Avatar
 

awesome!
Old 17th January 2013
  #4
A word on listening to these files: I've noticed that I have only a few useful minutes of ears before everything starts to sound the same. If I come back with fresh ears then I can hear the subtleties much better. Since there are a lot of files here I suggest limiting the number of them you try to compare in one sitting. And of course listening blind is always advisable. Cheers,
Old 17th January 2013
  #5
Gear Nut
 

Thanks for taking the time to do this. Looking forward to comparing!
Old 18th January 2013
  #6
Gear Head
 
Top Knob's Avatar
 

We are not talking giant leaps here, but definite differences. The Burl BX5 +6 dB is the most dramatic. All of the summing boxes here gave a wider stereo image as compared to the ITB mix. I would be curious to hear a shadow hills equinox in comparison. Thanks for posting these!
Old 18th January 2013
  #7
Gear Nut
 
Andy Warren's Avatar
 

Thanks for the time & expertise doing this.
Have only listened to 1 of the songs so far ("Some Will")
Listening through M-Audio Fast Track Ultra + KRK Rokit 5s

Comments:
- significant difference between ITB vs OTB
- favorite for my ears, for this song, was Burl B32 w/ the BX5 and +6db
- more excitement, more front-to-back, best vox sound, best snare, reverb tails

Others sounded great too:
- IC 690 had a warmth
- Tonelux had a power
- Rascal is all-around serious too

Disclosure:
- Happy owner of a B2 Bomber
- From Vancouver
- But I don't think there's a confirmation bias thing going on, I really felt the B32 + BX5 + 6db had that extra something special - "excitement" - is the word that comes to mind.

Questions:
- What are the connections in the back?
- Does the B32 have the ability to assign Bass, Kick, Vox, etc. to Mono channels, like Equinox and others? How important is that to you and other GSers?

thanks again.
Old 18th January 2013
  #8
Gear Addict
Sick, Downloading now,Thanks....
Old 18th January 2013
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Warren View Post
Thanks for the time & expertise doing this.
Have only listened to 1 of the songs so far ("Some Will")
Listening through M-Audio Fast Track Ultra + KRK Rokit 5s

Comments:
- significant difference between ITB vs OTB
- winner for my ears, for this song, was Burl B32 w/ the BX5 and +6db
- more excitement, more front-to-back, best vox sound, best snare, reverb tails

Others sounded great too:
- IC 690 had a warmth
- Tonelux had a power
- Rascal is all-around serious too

Disclosure:
- Happy owner of a B2 Bomber
- From Vancouver
- But I don't think there's a confirmation bias thing going on, I really felt the B32 + BX5 + 6db had that extra something special - "excitement" - is the word that comes to mind.

Questions:
- What are the connections in the back?
- Does the B32 have the ability to assign Bass, Kick, Vox, etc. to Mono channels, like Equinox and others? How important is that to you and other GSers?

thanks again.
I'm still evaluating these files myself, but yes, the B32 BX5 +6dB mix is my current favorite also. It's the only one that really stands out boldly from the pack. The combo of the harmonic excitement from the boost with the low end thump from the trannys really works for me. It's got both separation and glue with a touch of thunder. It's the sound of Rock and Roll. Reminds me of my Ampex ATR 102 a bit actually...

I don't have the B32 here anymore, I only had it for a couple of hours, but from memory, It's got 4 DSUB 8 channel inputs and 2 pairs of XLR outputs. The first 8 channels are mono, so you get 8 mono and 24 hard-panned channels (12 stereo pairs). Personally, I usually only put bass and vocals dead center (kick/snare very slightly panned), so the mono channels are more than I need, but having 12 stereo stems instead of 8 would be nice.

Cheers,
Old 18th January 2013
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Top Knob View Post
I would be curious to hear a shadow hills equinox in comparison.
Me too, but I had to draw the line somewhere, and the Equinox didn't really spin my dials in some other shootouts I heard (to each his own), so I left it out. This started as me choosing a mixer for myself, and I had to buy 2 of the units to do it. The MIX690 is what I've been using for a year or so. Best,
Old 18th January 2013
  #11
Gear Nut
 
Andy Warren's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post

I don't have the B32 here anymore, I only had it for a couple of hours, but from memory, It's got 4 DSUB 8 channel inputs and 2 pairs of XLR outputs. The first 8 channels are mono, so you get 8 mono and 24 hard-panned channels (12 stereo pairs). Personally, I usually only put bass and vocals dead center (kick/snare very slightly panned), so the mono channels are more than I need, but having 12 stereo stems instead of 8 would be nice.

Cheers,
Thanks for this info too.
Old 18th January 2013
  #12
Lives for gear
 
Ribbonmicguy's Avatar
Thanks for doing this Justin!
Old 18th January 2013
  #13
Gear Head
 
rookphase's Avatar
 

Thanks Justin - looking forward to checking them out soon!

- ben
Old 19th January 2013
  #14
Gear Maniac
 

I listened to them on Lipinski L707 + Fathom F112 and AKG 702, both through a Benchmark DAC.
Honestly, the differences between the files are that subtle, that I am not sure which file is which when doing double blind tests. My main interest has been how the ITB version compares to the OTB summing and in my opinion the ITB version does not stand out as being significantly better or worse.
Regarding these tests and the requested information, I think it is way more important to post how you have done the test, that lead you to a certain conclusion, than the equipment you have used (which might be interesting nonetheless).
Thank you for sharing theses files.
Old 19th January 2013
  #15
Lives for gear
 

Great shootout!

To my ears all 3 summing boxes sound much better than ITB. Altough I love the "Burl-Sound" (tested the B2 ADC and own the B1 and the B1D preamps) my favoite is the ToneBuss (great air, separation, clarity and punch) here followed by the to my ears more mid forward B32 (I slightly prefer the clean setting on the B32). The MIX690 sounds nice and warm too.

I am listening through Forssell DAC -> Coleman QS8 -> Bryston 2B LP pro -> Harbth M30.1 speakers.

Oliver
Old 19th January 2013
  #16
Lives for gear
 
Led Music's Avatar
I think they all hold up well. Even the itb mix sounds good. I think to be honest, once either of these hit radio, itunes and mastering i think the differences will be less and less.
That being said, some of these boxes gave a nice tone which i liked and felt brought out certain elements of the song and made it a little more exciting.
I like the low-end of the Burl but i think my favorite was the tonelux, just because i liked the tone of it and it gave the song a cool aggressiveness that i think fits this song well (song was "Magazine").
Overall i think that all of these examples were great. Just different.
I think it was a well arranged and played song so it helps me to focus on the feel and vibe of the music. I like how the instruments carry the listener along and keep my attention. At that point i could care less which box gave me better separation or tone etc.. It's a GOOD SONG!
Old 19th January 2013
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuuk View Post
Regarding these tests and the requested information, I think it is way more important to post how you have done the test, that lead you to a certain conclusion, than the equipment you have used (which might be interesting nonetheless).
Good point about how you test being important. I only asked for people to post about their monitoring in the hopes of avoiding a bunch of opinions based on laptop speakers. That's also why I made the files 24/48 - so hopefully more people will import into their DAW and listen on their best DAC/monitors. Cheers,
Old 19th January 2013
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Led Music View Post
I think they all hold up well. Even the itb mix sounds good. I think to be honest, once either of these hit radio, itunes and mastering i think the differences will be less and less.
That being said, some of these boxes gave a nice tone which i liked and felt brought out certain elements of the song and made it a little more exciting.
I like the low-end of the Burl but i think my favorite was the tonelux, just because i liked the tone of it and it gave the song a cool aggressiveness that i think fits this song well (song was "Magazine").
Overall i think that all of these examples were great. Just different.
I think it was a well arranged and played song so it helps me to focus on the feel and vibe of the music. I like how the instruments carry the listener along and keep my attention. At that point i could care less which box gave me better separation or tone etc.. It's a GOOD SONG!
I think "Magazines" benefits less from OTB summing than "Some Will" does. The less-colored cleanness of ITB suits the style better, whereas heavier music seems to like some mojo. Did you listen to "Some Will"? I hear the differences more on that song.

Genre affects it a lot IMO. I might use a cleaner mixer, cleaner setting on the Burl, or ITB for some projects, and the most colored possible for others. Options are nice to have.

I should mention that these were ITB mixes first, so in a way all of the summing mixers have the handicap of not being part of the mix decision making process.

Best,
Old 19th January 2013
  #19
Gear Maniac
 

I find this is a quite interesting topic, which actually is right now giving me a harder time than it should....
So, I was trying to figure out what the actual difference between those files are. What puzzles me most is that the difference between the OTB and ITB versions is mainly some of the FX of the vocals. Maybe that is caused by the DAWs delay compensation, which behaves differently with different routings. Just a guess into the wild as I have no clue how these files were actually made.
The difference between the different OTB files sound much more reasonable to me. Interestingly the OTB16 seems to introduce some irregularities within the panorama settings, which is mostly present within the vocals and their FX.
I think there is clearly some subtle kind of saturation added to the OTBs version, especially when driving them harder. But it is actually less than I would have expected it to be...
Damnit... I had other stuff to do today... Would have been probably better for all of us

Edit: It have been the "Some Will" recordings I am referring to...
Old 19th January 2013
  #20
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
Good point about how you test being important.
I think theses things are the things we most likely learn the hard way. I have been once sitting there for hours examining a playback device which has been supposed to sound better - only finding out that it introduced a time delay of about a second. The actual signal has been exactly the same - bit perfect. But hearing the same piece of music again for that short period of time when switching has caused most people that I showed the test to perceive much greater detail and clarity. And I still am able to fool myself with this test today if I don't watch out, btw... heh
Old 19th January 2013
  #21
Here for the gear
 

Hi, great shootout, thanks for these!

I actually like the Tonebuss more than any other. It has some widening effetc that makes everything sound more excited and sit better in the mix (on both songs)

The Mix690 has a nice low end that makes Kick and Bass sound rounder. But I don't like the tone as much as the Tonebuss.

The Otb16 is too agressive for my taste, maybe on a different type of music I would like it better.

And the Burl....I don't know....it didn't do it for me, it sounds ok, but nothing special.


I listened with protools 9 - RME UFX BLA mod - Focal Twin

Cheers

Erni
Old 19th January 2013
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuuk View Post
What puzzles me most is that the difference between the OTB and ITB versions is mainly some of the FX of the vocals. Maybe that is caused by the DAWs delay compensation, which behaves differently with different routings. Just a guess into the wild as I have no clue how these files were actually made.
I'm pretty sure delay compensation is not the cause - it was within limits for all versions. I think it might have more to do with the fact that for the OTB versions I dedicated one entire stereo stem to just the time based effects. Also, increasing depth and width tends to benefit reverbs a lot in most cases, so it make sense that you hear it there first.
Old 19th January 2013
  #23
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
Also, increasing depth and width tends to benefit reverbs a lot in most cases, so it make sense that you hear it there first.
Well, I think the question that has to be asked is how depth and width might be increased. If we consider that both are added using an external summing device, than either way the ITB summing algorithm is not capable of doing its job correctly or the summing box must have added something. Certainly most summing boxes do the latter. Especially when you drive them hard and a certain amount of saturation or distortion is introduced - which may be perceived as pleasant - nothing wrong with that. However, the levels in which the vocals are off can not be caused by a subtle amount of saturation etc... If it were, then we would be able to hear a very significant alteration of the vocals between the ITB and OTB versions. Much more than there is currently present. Another guess would be that the effects are not linear and there is a certain amount of non linearity introduced between the different test runs. However, if that would be the case than this would be present when comparing two different OTB versions, which is not the case.
Old 22nd January 2013
  #24
Lives for gear
Thanks for making the tests!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
I should mention that these were ITB mixes first, so in a way all of the summing mixers have the handicap of not being part of the mix decision making process.
Too bad you didn't make the mix through your Mix690 and then made ITB mixes of the stems, because it would most likely have shown the quality of analogue summing even better.

Still, it's an interesting shootout. I did have to do some tonal adjustments to the mixes to suit my taste, add some low-end and some upper mid-range and treble. Doing that showed the subtle differences a little more.

In my ears the most balanced mixes was the ITB mixes, which makes sense when the mixes was made ITB to begin with.

Listening more subjectively I can't help but love the Mix690. Just listen to the timbre of the guitars, they sound more vivid compared to the other mixes. Just listen to the way the snare and vocals sits in both mixes through the Mix690. Love it!

The Burl summing box with transformers engaged kind of smears the low-end too much for my taste, even though it's probably possible to make up for when mixing. And it doesn't handle the micro-dynamics as well as the others in the dense chorus of "Some Will", with or without the trannies.

The one that stood out except for the Mix690 was the Rascal Audio ToneBuss. It's a little bit thin-sounding compared to the Mix690, but I really like the up-front sound with a bit of coloration. The input and output transformers along with the discrete Class A amplification adds some needed coloration but still keep the transients pretty much intact. Great value at $2295 for sixteen channels if you ask me.

All the summing boxes in the tests are mighty fine and rubbed the right way, do provide something that ITB-mixing doesn't.

Personally I'm a very happy owner of the Inward Connections Mix690. It's just a magic box that adds that "sounds like a record"-feeling by just sending a couple of stems through it. The vivid sound it makes can't be mimicked by plug-ins, not by far. The added sense of depth is also really hard to get ITB.

By the way, I listened to the tests trough a Ross Martin Dual Bare Beast DAC -> I.J. Research Passive Monitoring System -> Quested V3110 and PSI A17-M speakers.

Thanks for doing the test!


Good Show!

Fred
Sound On Sound contributor
Old 22nd January 2013
  #25
Lives for gear
 
YOHAMI's Avatar
 

Listening on Focal CMS 50 + Sennheiser HD800 headphones:

ITB: great mix
Tonelux: reminds me of the sound of the SSL, glued and ironed
Mix690: pumpy and great lows and vivid
Rascal: amazing higher feq gaze and forward sounding, a bit thin
Burl B32: very clear, cleaner than the rest
Burl BX5: somewhat like the tonelux but more grainy, more glue and power

My fav depends on the mood. I think Im biased towards the Mix690 because I own it.

I Liked the tonelux a lot.

The most versatile is probably the Burl with the 2 output options and different sounds. But I think the tonelux has a similar switch to turn the transformers on/off?

And the Rascal is last but still good. If I was mixing with it I would compensate for the lows it is eating.

There are no losers in this group.
Old 22nd January 2013
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by frenzy View Post
Too bad you didn't make the mix through your Mix690 and then made ITB mixes of the stems, because it would most likely have shown the quality of analogue summing even better.
I think that would give the MIX690 an advantage over the other mixers. I tweaked the mix ITB before doing the test in hopes of leveling the playing field a bit, even though I know I'd have mixed slightly differently through each mixer. It's pretty much impossible to make a perfect test, but this shows the coloration of the various mixers...

Quote:
Originally Posted by frenzy View Post
Listening more subjectively I can't help but love the Mix690. Just listen to the timbre of the guitars, they sound more vivid compared to the other mixes. Just listen to the way the snare and vocals sits in both mixes through the Mix690. Love it!
Have you checked the frequency response of your MIX690? My MIX690 has a bump in the upper mids, which might be what you are liking on the guitars. I find it sounds good on some songs but isn't always what I want, hence my continued quest for summing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by frenzy View Post
The Burl summing box with transformers engaged kind of smears the low-end too much for my taste, even though it's probably possible to make up for when mixing. And it doesn't handle the micro-dynamics as well as the others in the dense chorus of "Some Will", with or without the trannies.
Hmm, I hear the opposite; to me the B32 with BX5 low end sounds punchy and tape-like but still focused. I hear some change in the dynamics with the +6dB engaged, but not with the other option. This shows how we each perceive differently...

Quote:
Originally Posted by frenzy View Post
Personally I'm a very happy owner of the Inward Connections Mix690. It's just a magic box that adds that "sounds like a record"-feeling by just sending a couple of stems through it. The vivid sound it makes can't be mimicked by plug-ins, not by far. The added sense of depth is also really hard to get ITB.
I like my MIX690 too, but I'm leaning toward switching to a Burl because it has so many tonal options, and twice the channels, at half the price. And because my MIX690's color isn't always flattering - sometimes corrective EQ is needed in the mids. The B32 sounds smoother to these ears.

But you're right - all of the mixers are very good. This shootout is about hair-splitting. But that's often what it comes down to with high end gear.

Cheers,
Old 22nd January 2013
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by YOHAMI View Post
My fav depends on the mood. I think Im biased towards the Mix690 because I own it.
This is where listening blind is most useful. Have you done that yet?

Quote:
Originally Posted by YOHAMI View Post
The most versatile is probably the Burl with the 2 output options and different sounds. But I think the tonelux has a similar switch to turn the transformers on/off?
No switch. It has a separate pair of outputs sans transformers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by YOHAMI View Post
And the Rascal is last but still good. If I was mixing with it I would compensate for the lows it is eating.
Yeah, I'm surprised the Rascal isn't nearly as warm as I was expecting!

Quote:
Originally Posted by YOHAMI View Post
There are no losers in this group.
Yep, this test is between all of the contenders that have risen to the top of my quest for summing after reading and listening to a lot of other people's samples, so it makes sense to me that they're all very good.

--------

My take: The Burl with it's sound, versatility, and high channel count takes the prize. I'm getting one. MIX690 is second, OTB16 third, then the Tonebuss. If my budget was tight then I might go with the OTB16 (great sound for the price), but the fact that it has fader pots with no detent makes it inconvenient for my workflow. It was tedious to calibrate using those smallish concentric knobs.

I am surprised at the outcome. I'd been expecting the MIX690 to "win", probably because of it's price tag I guess. It's interesting to finally compare these babys. I'm glad that some slutz are getting some benefit from this too!

Best,
Old 26th January 2013
  #28


I just realized I failed to follow my own instructions!

I monitored on Genelec 1031as with Genelec 1092a subwoofer fed by a Dangerous Monitor ST and a Burl B2 DAC.

Cheers,
Old 26th January 2013
  #29
Gear Head
 
Markoakland's Avatar
 

As mentioned before, all are winners. Many flavors.

But personaly i like the IC690 and the Burl.
Since i dont have the money for the IC690 i think the burl is the winner, the 32 ins and the different transformers make this a really versatile system for that amount of money.

I expecienced with a lot of Summing boxes, but none really caught my ear. I was saving for a Nicerizer but after this shootout i decided to order a Burl for me. So yesterday i did just that

Listening chain: SSL Alphalink -- Dangerous ST -- Event Opal+Adam sub8 and Sennheiser hd650

Regards,
Old 27th January 2013
  #30
Here for the gear
 

Just want to say THANK YOU for uploading these tracks!
Topic:
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump