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First Summing Box - Four Options
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
Here for the gear
First Summing Box - Four Options

Hello all! I’m about to make my first leap into analog processing my purchasing a summing mixer. Thus far I’ve identified the following four options:

Dangerous 2Bus+ - This seems to be the go to for everyone and the option my Sweetwater folks keep pushing me towards. I’ve listened to demos online, and while with the full suite of options engaged it imparts a sound, to me it sometimes comes across as too clean, which I’m not sure is the sound I’m going for.

Tube Tech SSA 2B - This is where I’m leaning at the moment. I’ve listened to the demos on the Tube Tech site and *quite* like what just the summing box does to the sound. My fears are that there’s comparatively far less literature and demos with the unit, and what research I’ve found seems to cite that while it’s a solid unit with phenomenal low end, it can smooth the top end too much, and just doesn’t impart the sort of separation that other summing boxes might.

SSL Sigma - Six months ago I think this would have been my first choice, but research seems to point that the Sigma has a very modern, upper-mid forward sort of sound that the music I work on may not gel with. Additionally, the mix automation and networking reciece mixed reviews in terms of stability and/or ease of use.

Thermionic Culture Fat Bustard MKII Green - this has the least channel count, but Thermionic has an incredible reputation for amazing sound. Some of what I’ve read seems to indicate that these units can impart too much of a sound (more than the SSA 2B anyway). It’s also the most expensive option at this point and I’d like to purchase some other gear down the road.

Ideally, I’d like this mixer to work with the likes of an SPL Iron, SPL PQ, Chandler Curve Bender, and Chandler TG-1 (as well as possibly the Tube Tech multiband mastering and a Chandler Zenner).

I’d appreciate any feedback you have, and if you happen to own the SSA 2B or Fat Bustard in particular and could leave an A/B demo, I’d be forever thankful.

Cheers!
-SC

Note: I also checked out the summing mega thread but couldn’t find much talk of or any demos of two of the four units here (the SSA 2B or Fat Bustard) for the life of me. I also know there are other options (a la Neve, etc.), but I’d like to keep it focused on these four for now.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
Gear Head
 

I used to own the black Thermionic Bustard MKII, loved it. Was offered way more than I paid for it so sold it. Bought a Dangerous 2-Bus LT thinking it would be fine, but it was way too clean and lifeless. Never tried the 2Bus+.

I now use a older, black Little Bustard and love it.

Have you considered the Burl B32 Bomber? Seems like it could be flexible, depending on gainstaging and transformer in/out.

Either way, if the Dangerous might be too clean for what you’re looking for, the Bustard is also clean with the Attitude control low, and sounds a bit like a pushed console the more you bring up the Attitude. I loved the bass to center, width control, and ew of the Bustard MKII, but I use a Curve Bender for post summing EQ now.

Consider the Little Bustard as well; that’s what I’m using these days and it sounds every bit as good as the Fat Bustard MKII, just without bass to center, width, and most of the eq facility.

I feel like the Bustard has a color, but it isn’t in your face unless you drive it hard. It’s great for working on lots of different genres and sounds warm without being tubby or sounding “slow”. If you’re looking for a summing mixer that imparts a beautiful tone and has channel on/off switches, which I love for tracking down issues or building a mix back up without finding all the mutes in the DAW, you could do a lot worse than the Bustard MKII or Little Bustard.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
drewbonez's Avatar
 

Just got a capi sumbus and I highly recommend it!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drewbonez View Post
Just got a capi sumbus and I highly recommend it!
I’ve been interested in those. Could you compare it to or against anything? What is it doing to your mix?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
I previously used a Burl B32 and switched to the 2-BUS+ a while ago. The Dangerous is definitely on the clean side but not in a sterile or featureless kind of way. It's big, open, fast, detailed with headroom for daaays. I use the Harmonic color option at about 9 o'clock to give things more texture. I never use the Paralimit because it sounds cheap and splatty. Rarely use the X-former insert because it leans into crusty more than hefty with a lot of what I'm working on. None of the options seem to 'juice' the signal from within like the Thermionic stuff (though I don't own a one of their summing mixers just a Rooster, Culture Vulture super15, Phoenix and Swift) but it does its job very well and has a build quality to match.

The Burl was pretty cool. I still use it to sum other things but find that it lacks the detail and dimension of the 2-BUS+. It's great if you just want things to smack a bit harder. Its feature set doesn't help you reach much farther than that.

I haven't heard the Tube Tech but at that cost I'd be looking for a few more features, which is why I'm eyeing the Fat / Little Bustard myself.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
drewbonez's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterLarkin View Post
I’ve been interested in those. Could you compare it to or against anything? What is it doing to your mix?
Warm and open is what my client described the first mix balance I just did with it (first time using it). It’s quite a bit different than most summing mixers too as it has opamps and xfo on every channel
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
Here for the gear
Interesting. The capi looks quite cool! Is there any general feedback on the SSA2B? I'd also like to introduce the 5059, as I know it's right up there with the best and has some incredible functionality.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
Summing boxes are a waste of time and money.

They aren't very flexible, are a routing headache that wastes time, and produce something that for thousands of dollars is very subjectively better only some of the time.

Spend your $ on great tracking gear.

You can do the rest of the summing stuff ITB between a good spatial processor (such as DrMS), a multiband saturator (such as Saturn) and optionally one of the console emulators (such as VCC). Build a few presets and it's like having MANY different summing boxes, without the cost or hassle.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
Here for the gear
I'd disagree with that in that the summing mixer purchased here will serve a dual duty of allowing easier connection to the above mentioned outboard, and that I have no room for a full console. Likewise, in terms of tracking I mostly use synthesizers through two Apollo x16s and an x8p, so while clean I feel I'm quite set to go in that regard. This is solidly for mastering usage, where that extra 1.5% counts.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bambamboom View Post
Summing boxes are a waste of time and money.

They aren't very flexible, are a routing headache that wastes time, and produce something that for thousands of dollars is very subjectively better only some of the time.

Spend your $ on great tracking gear.

You can do the rest of the summing stuff ITB between a good spatial processor (such as DrMS), a multiband saturator (such as Saturn) and optionally one of the console emulators (such as VCC). Build a few presets and it's like having MANY different summing boxes, without the cost or hassle.
For my workflow a summing mixer has been more beneficial to me than the consoles that I’ve owned in that I can still get my hardware involved in real time without unnecessary ADDA trips and it takes up less space while imparting a sound.

Went from the Fat Bustard to the Little Bustard, 8 outputs from my interface, but I use some of the mono and stereo inputs for compression mult blends from stems or mono tracks out of the DAW mixing to taste. I couldn’t get the same results ITB, so for me, my summing mixer is one of my most valued bits of equipment.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
The extra 1.5% is a very subjective thing.

I used to own a summing mixer (Neve) so I'm speaking from experience. I now am much HAPPIER with what I can do ITB in this regard. On top of this, I can take my Macbook Pro on the road and keep mixing. Not being tied to one studio is a big deal for me.

People saying they can't get the same results ITB should re-read my earlier post and actually try it.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bambamboom View Post
The extra 1.5% is a very subjective thing.

I used to own a summing mixer, so I'm speaking from experience. I now am HAPPIER with what I can do ITB in this regard.
That’s cool, I wish I got the results I’m after mixing in the box. It would free up some space and cash towards other things, for sure.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterLarkin View Post
That’s cool, I wish I got the results I’m after mixing in the box. It would free up some space and cash towards other things, for sure.
Did you actually try what I suggested? I honestly believe most people would think about ditching their summing mixers if they actually took the time to test my recommendation. It personally saved me $3000, not even factoring in my time savings, the cabling, etc). It's only 3 plugins.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bambamboom View Post
Did you actually try what I suggested?
Are you talking about this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bambamboom View Post
Summing boxes are a waste of time and money.

They aren't very flexible, are a routing headache that wastes time, and produce something that for thousands of dollars is very subjectively better only some of the time.

Spend your $ on great tracking gear.

You can do the rest of the summing stuff ITB between a good spatial processor (such as DrMS), a multiband saturator (such as Saturn) and optionally one of the console emulators (such as VCC). Build a few presets and it's like having MANY different summing boxes, without the cost or hassle.
I used to work in a similar way, yes. I was in the box for many years. Then I started doing HW inserts and then mixing out into a console using my hardware, and now I use a summing mixer.

There are hardware mults I want to use, plus my stereo bus processing is all analog.

This is just my opinion, that for me, a summing mixer is beneficial to do the things I want to do.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterLarkin View Post
I used to work in a similar way, yes. I was in the box for many years.
To be specific - you were using multi-band saturation, advanced spatial processing (few plugs can do things like what DrMS can do), and console emulator on each channel, and on the mixbus?

Because that is what it can take to do what some of the more colored summing boxes are doing, depending on what you are going for.

The multi-band saturation and DrMS are the critical part of the equation IMHO.

Here is an example of the concept:

Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
I used to be pro summing mixer but if it doesn’t have a ton of color there isn’t much point IME. Get a console for functionality or just run your multichannel DAC with colored outboard hybrid with DAW integration. Then you can recall automation in the DAW and use the outboard for color and depth.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bambamboom View Post
To be specific - you were using multi-band saturation, advanced spatial processing (few plugs can do things like what DrMS can do), and console emulator on each channel, and on the mixbus?

Because that is what it can take to do what some of the more colored summing boxes are doing, depending on what you are going for.

The multi-band saturation and DrMS are the critical part of the equation IMHO.
Well, not exactly those plugins, but something similar. When I was all the way in the box I'd use things like VCC (which I got when it came out and still use), tape emulators, multiband comps, Waves S1, etc. This was back in 2007 or so? From around 2000-2009 I was all ITB and my plugin list grew with time. I've done some records in the box since then, but for me I always got the results I was looking for faster with my summing mixer and incorporating hardware. And I have a DA converter that imparts a sound I like, so I get to use that on the mix, too.

I'll give mixing in the box another go and see what happens, but right now I have a system going that I really like and mixing into it is like putting on a broken-in pair of gloves.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #18
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanEldred View Post
I used to be pro summing mixer but if it doesn’t have a ton of color there isn’t much point IME. Get a console for functionality or just run your multichannel DAC with colored outboard hybrid with DAW integration. Then you can recall automation in the DAW and use the outboard for color and depth.
But that's what I like about my summing mixer, that it doesn't have a ton of color. It has color, but nothing I can't live with. It just lets me use my hardware during mix in ways that I like, which has been important to me. I lost my commercial space a couple years ago and work from home now. My console lives in the garage. I just don't have the space for it in my home right now and the Little Bustard is two rack spaces and sounds great, to me.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #19
Gear Maniac
 

The Neve 5060 is an interesting device. It has four stereo faders, a lot of additional stereo channels with knobs rather than faders, a master fader, vu meters, talkback and montoring control.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #20
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by bambamboom View Post
They aren't very flexible,
What would you expect? A job of a summing mixer is to sum signals, nothing else.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by elcct View Post
What would you expect? A job of a summing mixer is to sum signals, nothing else.
If summing mixers were cheap I'd have less of an issue. Why these can command premium money (mine was about $5000 at the time - new with cabling) for a one trick pony is crazy to me.

If you have analog color outboard gear that you want to integrate with there are other easy ways to do that.

The marketing around summing units is always "get classic amazing analog console tone and depth/3D" stuff, not so much about signal routing. That's where my previous comments are squarely directed at. I felt the sonic results were as good as and more flexible than my hardware, so I sold the hardware. YMMV.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterLarkin View Post
Well, not exactly those plugins, but something similar. When I was all the way in the box I'd use things like VCC (which I got when it came out and still use), tape emulators, multiband comps, Waves S1, etc. This was back in 2007 or so?
I don't intend to push you out of what's working for you. But know that 2007 was a very different time, and it has only been in the last few years that I have felt that ITB is good enough. Back then I was rocking a 48ch analog console etc and very hybrid for the same sorts of reasons you express. It's been a real journey.

In particular Waves S1 compared to DrMS is like comparing a bicycle to a Ferrari.

It does a lot of the heavy lifting with regard to what I'm talking about.

Be warned, with all the heavy lifting comes the need for a robust CPU. If I use my PT template for a "summing ON Neve style" mix (which is using DrMS to do some depth and widening, Saturn to saturate the highs and mids slightly and fatten things subtly, and a touch of VCC to provide a bit more Neve-ish flavor), there would be up to 147 plugins for a 48 track recording JUST to do the fairly subtle summing sonics. That will make a wimpy PT rig fall over in a hurry. I can't stress enough the importance of presets and templates if you want to do this - that many plugins can seem overwhelming unless they are basically set and forget.

This is why I usually probe at people who say they haven't been able to achieve summing type sonics ITB. Their experiences tend not to have been to the level I am talking about. I hope this clarifies.

Last edited by bambamboom; 4 weeks ago at 01:44 AM.. Reason: Additional details
Old 4 weeks ago
  #23
7+1
Lives for gear
 
7+1's Avatar
 

I would say the SSL Sigma is the better sounding of the ones Ive tried, and ive tried almost all of them.

I dont at all hear a mid forward thing at all.

Would be really interested in hearing the CAPI

Last edited by 7+1; 4 weeks ago at 01:43 AM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #24
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bambamboom View Post
I don't intend to push you out of what's working for you. But know that 2007 was a very different time, and it has only been in the last few years that I have felt that ITB is good enough. Back then I was rocking a 48ch analog console etc and very hybrid for the same sorts of reasons you express. It's been a real journey.

In particular Waves S1 compared to DrMS is like comparing a bicycle to a Ferrari.

It does a lot of the heavy lifting with regard to what I'm talking about.

Be warned, with all the heavy lifting comes the need for a robust CPU. If I use my PT template for a "summing ON Neve style" mix (which is using DrMS to do some depth and widening, Saturn to saturate the highs and mids slightly and fatten things subtly, and a touch of VCC to provide a bit more Neve-ish flavor), there would be up to 147 plugins for a 48 track recording JUST to do the fairly subtle summing sonics. That will make a wimpy PT rig fall over in a hurry. I can't stress enough the importance of presets and templates if you want to do this - that many plugins can seem overwhelming unless they are basically set and forget.

This is why I usually probe at people who say they haven't been able to achieve summing type sonics ITB. Their experiences tend not to have been to the level I am talking about. I hope this clarifies.
I’m down to give ITB another shot, but not sure I’ll be able to give up hardware in mixing to be honest; I like and trust mixing into my analog mix bus chain at the very least. I think the last record I mixed fully in the box was 2013, but plugins have come a long way even from then. I’ll give it another go, though, and see what happens..

Last edited by PeterLarkin; 4 weeks ago at 05:31 AM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #25
Gear Nut
The DIYRE SB2 passive summing mixer into a Silver Bullet is quite nice, I prefer it to my API 8200a. Lots of tonal flexibility and you can use the Silver Bullet in other places.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by bambamboom View Post
I don't intend to push you out of what's working for you. But know that 2007 was a very different time, and it has only been in the last few years that I have felt that ITB is good enough. Back then I was rocking a 48ch analog console etc and very hybrid for the same sorts of reasons you express. It's been a real journey.

In particular Waves S1 compared to DrMS is like comparing a bicycle to a Ferrari.

It does a lot of the heavy lifting with regard to what I'm talking about.

Be warned, with all the heavy lifting comes the need for a robust CPU. If I use my PT template for a "summing ON Neve style" mix (which is using DrMS to do some depth and widening, Saturn to saturate the highs and mids slightly and fatten things subtly, and a touch of VCC to provide a bit more Neve-ish flavor), there would be up to 147 plugins for a 48 track recording JUST to do the fairly subtle summing sonics. That will make a wimpy PT rig fall over in a hurry. I can't stress enough the importance of presets and templates if you want to do this - that many plugins can seem overwhelming unless they are basically set and forget.

This is why I usually probe at people who say they haven't been able to achieve summing type sonics ITB. Their experiences tend not to have been to the level I am talking about. I hope this clarifies.
147 instances of a bunch of different **** running just to try to fake the summing sound...

Or just turn a summing mixer on...

Hmmmmmmm, tough call.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #27
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by bambamboom View Post
If summing mixers were cheap I'd have less of an issue. Why these can command premium money (mine was about $5000 at the time - new with cabling) for a one trick pony is crazy to me.
There are different types of summing mixers. To create one that is essentially a stripped down console (no faders, no EQ, no sends etc, simplified or no monitoring) still requires a substantial amount of components to retain the sonic qualities. So these will not be "cheap".
But I understand there are summing mixers where inside you have just few wires and a rather simple make up gain stage that seem to cost too much for what they are.
In the end, read the specs, have a look under the bonnet and most importantly run it through your material to see if it is worth it for you.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #28
Here for the gear
I’m definitely understanding a lot of the points here. I actually use a combination of Brainworx TMT followed by Slate VMC currently, and it can do stellar things! The goal here of the box is to impart some slight sound, but the majority will likely be imparted by the following gear. No doubt though, as an I’d individual investment summing boxes are terribly expensive, hence all my asking!

The SSL Sigma definitely seems like an interesting box, and it and the 5059 are one of the few Incan essentially “try” and return if unwanted. The Tube Tech remains largely a mystery! I would love to grab a 5060, however I already have a Grace m905 (aka invisible volume wire) and a pie of Slate Ravens for much of what it does, hence looking at the 5059!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #29
Here for the gear
As for the console bit, I wish I could, but I just don’t have the space. Period.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #30
Village Idiot
 
Labs's Avatar
 

Is summing still a thing?

I would recommend this, when its ready.

https://www.pcbgrinder.com/blog/stem...usscomp-matrix

Gustav
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