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Speck X.Sum vs. other summing units. Mixers (Analog)
Old 17th April 2009
  #1
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Kiljoy's Avatar
 

Speck X.Sum vs. other summing units.

Hi guys, I ran a quick search on this and couldn't find enough info...

I'm currently summing through an old Mackie 24-8-2 board and although it's noisy and dullish there's a certain quality to it when I pull it's headroom. I'm currently looking at better summing options and the X.Sum seems to be exactly what I'm after functionality wise but I'm wondering if it might be too clean for me. Other possible options (albeit a lot more expensive) are the SSL X Rack and Neve 8816.

Does the Speck like being pushed? Am I better off saving up and buying the Neve or SSL boxes?
Old 17th April 2009
  #2
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I have the Speck and I'm loving it although I like clean summing. I push it pretty hard and it takes it fine. I think there's a ton of headroom in it.

There's a great option which I use when i want a more colored sound and that's one of the outputs from the breakout box that bypasses the summing amp. You can then use an outboard pre to make up the gain and dirty it up. Lots of great options in this box.
Old 17th April 2009
  #3
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Cool, thanks man. The breakout box options look great.

Are there centre dedents for the pan/balance and level (for unity gain) on the knobs?
Old 17th April 2009
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiljoy View Post
Cool, thanks man. The breakout box options look great.

Are there centre dedents for the pan/balance and level (for unity gain) on the knobs?
Nope. But there are easily alignable "lines" on the knobs.
Old 17th April 2009
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiljoy View Post
Cool, thanks man. The breakout box options look great.

Are there centre dedents for the pan/balance and level (for unity gain) on the knobs?
One of the only drawbacks for me. Not too inconvenient though
Old 17th April 2009
  #6
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Max Gain's Avatar
 

I went with the Xtramix and it FREAKIN ROCKS. I was Completely surprised at how much that unit just let all my other gear breath!!! It runs as hard as you want and will do just about anything you can think of, although it does have a bit of a learning curve. Very cool stuff!!
Old 17th April 2009
  #7
Gear Nut
 

You seriously have nothing to worry about. ANYTHING will be better than the Mackie. So your gonna be happy no matter what!
Old 17th April 2009
  #8
My outboard gear has never sounded better, clearer since I added Speck to my arsenal.
Old 17th April 2009
  #9
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I used to have a Folcrom running into a Lavry pre for make up gain.

I got the Speck because of panning and the extra inputs and routing but I was wondering if it would sound as good and it sounds better IMO.

Mucho clear headroom. I'll either strap the Rupert Neve Tape Emulation across the buss or bypass the summing amp and send it to my Helios or BAE's for more color.

I was considering doing the API thing with 8200's but it's much more expensive. I don't know if anyone has compared the two but I can't see it being that much better. I'd rather use the extra dough for some slutty eq's and comps
Old 18th April 2009
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1radicalron View Post
You seriously have nothing to worry about. ANYTHING will be better than the Mackie. So your gonna be happy no matter what!
Yeah, it's weird though, I recently setup my summing on the Mackie differently by running into the tape returns rather than the line inputs on the channels and I'm not sure if I like it better or not. It's cleaner but in a bad way, the line inputs on the Mackie sound 'cooler' to me than the tape returns for summing... I think I'll get the X.Sum though. For that price you can't go wrong huh?
Old 18th April 2009
  #11
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No, you can't go wrong with the X.Sum... in fact, I personally feel it's one of the very best summing options out there, period. I currently own and use two of them. It'll blow the Mackie to smithereens (I once had a Mackie too ), and it'll surpass many other high-end summing options as well. I'm running critical mixes through the X.Sum now on a regular basis, it's truly a "secret weapon".

And I do not find it "too clean". It is indeed very clean even when pushed, but I personally enjoy the high headroom, extreme clarity and crisp dynamics... that's what "high fidelity" is all about. It's very far from the lifeless, one-dimensional, cloudy, stuffy, wet-sponge, wool blanket response you get from a Mackie or the like.

If you wish to grind things up a little and add a bit of a distorted "edge" for some "mojo", you can always add some type of colored piece after the X.Sum output, like some API eqs or whatever (5500 works well for this). It's sure nice to have the option to add whatever color you want, or to not use color at all. I usually do not add anything after the X.Sum anyway because I enjoy the clear ultra high-fidelity response. You know, it's like being there.
Old 18th April 2009
  #12
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Cool, I think I'm sold. Now what should I do with the Mackie?
Old 18th April 2009
  #13
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666666's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiljoy View Post

...Now what should I do with the Mackie?
Do you have access to a chainsaw?
Old 18th April 2009
  #14
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Need a boat anchor?
Old 18th April 2009
  #15
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I wonder if it'll fly well?
Old 18th April 2009
  #16
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666666's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiljoy View Post

I wonder if it'll fly well?
Well, there's only one way to find out. Any cliffs nearby?
Old 18th April 2009
  #17
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Only downside for summing with colored makeup gain is that the "pre-fade" output of the X.Sum is pretty hot, since all of the channels have active line amps in them. This means you can't really gun up your color pre much. I would like to have a little more flexibility in finding the sweet spot in the makeup gain, so I ordered a couple line pads, and plan to pad down the pre-fade outs (just to compare to the active fader outs, which you can also dial back, with some theoretical boost of noise floor).

Overall, great unit! Front-to-back dimension vs. summing ITB is dramatic, imo.
Old 18th April 2009
  #18
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Oh, and the level & pan pots aren't reliably calibrated with the front panel labeling on mine. But I just run tones before starting a mix to be sure.

And having a B-bus on a 1ru unit? I use it for summing drums separately, then feeding back into the A bus along with a parallel compressed version. Wildly flexible unit for such a simple feature set. Very well designed, imo.
Old 18th April 2009
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiljoy View Post
Cool, I think I'm sold. Now what should I do with the Mackie?
Gift it on the More Free Stuff Lets Do It Again thread!

Huge Xsum fan here.....
Old 18th April 2009
  #20
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666666's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by strewnshank View Post

Gift it...
Gift it????

Why would you want to do such a disservice to a fellow gearslut??? This forum is about helping others, not hurting them.

The Mackie should be terminated before it causes further sonic harm!!!
Old 18th April 2009
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by six_wax View Post
Oh, and the level & pan pots aren't reliably calibrated with the front panel labeling on mine. But I just run tones before starting a mix to be sure.

And having a B-bus on a 1ru unit? I use it for summing drums separately, then feeding back into the A bus along with a parallel compressed version. Wildly flexible unit for such a simple feature set. Very well designed, imo.
That's a great idea. Thanks!
Old 18th April 2009
  #22
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Strobian's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by six_wax View Post
Oh, and the level & pan pots aren't reliably calibrated with the front panel labeling on mine. But I just run tones before starting a mix to be sure.

And having a B-bus on a 1ru unit? I use it for summing drums separately, then feeding back into the A bus along with a parallel compressed version. Wildly flexible unit for such a simple feature set. Very well designed, imo.
Just curious here. Is there an actual bus on the unit where you can compress your Bus a, but have it summed again on the master stereo channel in one take?
Old 18th April 2009
  #23
Gear Nut
 

I'm demo'ing the 8816, and the first 2 mixes sound really, really good. I like the features (pan pots, inserts, separate controls for mon and mains, etc).

I'll report back after I have a few more hours with this thing...
Old 19th April 2009
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 666666 View Post
Gift it????

Why would you want to do such a disservice to a fellow gearslut??? This forum is about helping others, not hurting them.
Tell that to the guy whose studio just burnt down. Just sayin...


More to the point, I AB'd the Xsum to the 8816, and didn't hear much of a sonic difference. What I did hear didn't sound better or worse either way. I actually like the Xsum features better, even though there are fewer tricks up it's sleeve. But the 8816 does have a lot of cool features.

For what its worth, the build quality of the Xsum seems far superior to the 8816.
Old 19th April 2009
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by strewnshank View Post
Huge Xsum fan here.....
+1. Love mine.... thumbsup

dB
Old 20th April 2009
  #26
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rrraaalllfff's Avatar
output pre summing amp? or just pre output pot?

A question about the break out box/es on the xSum. I'm a bit confused. I see mercenary selling 3 breakout boxes. One is so that you have the output of the B bus available. The other is so you have another output of the A bus but it "bypasses the output section" of the xSum. This makes me think it's an output tapped before the output summing amplifier and not just before the output level pot (for inserting "coloring" pres for the make up gain). The third box is a combo box that gives you outputs of bus B (like the first box) and the output of bus A but "pre master level control" and not pre summing out. This makes me think that the combo box is not a combination of the first and second box. Seems the second box (the one that gives out output A pre output section) is the one we would want if we wanna insert a "coloring" preamp. The combo box seems to have the output A post summing amp, pre output pot, so, it would be different because no "make up gain" is required because it comes after the summing amp. To add to the confusion, apparently today the xSum already comes with the combo box (which is cool) and the other two aren't options anymore. So... what am I not seeing here? I have line pads, that i'm obviously gonna need if i wanna send this to a preamp from the A out of the combo break out box (because apparently it outputs line level that does not require make up gain). Or is the output of the discontinued (??) break out box that outputs A "pre output section" really actually the same thing as output A on the combo box now standard shipped with the xsum? Thanks.
Old 21st April 2009
  #27
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rrraaalllfff's Avatar
badabump. can anyone clarify?
Old 21st April 2009
  #28
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[QUOTE=NoizyNinja;4104001]I used to have a Folcrom running into a Lavry pre for make up gain.

I got the Speck because of panning and the extra inputs and routing but I was wondering if it would sound as good and it sounds better IMO.


I have the Speck and the Folcrom with Lavry blue pres here at the moment. The Speck has been in my rack for around a year and has been very useful, my stems + my outboard go through it and sum through the expander box. But I have a couple of things to think about:

The 'markers' for panning are a pain - a centre detent would be useful. The sound is nowhere near as full, clean or shiney as the lavry with Folcrom
Old 21st April 2009
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 666666 View Post
Do you have access to a chainsaw?
Why not donate it to a school with limited resources so the music students can put together a basic yet functional studio to learn on?

Then in 20 years time those kids can come on Gearslutz and present touching "I learnt to record on a 24:8" counter-arguments when some pretentious gear snob starts another "Mackie sucks" thread...
Old 21st April 2009
  #30
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[quote=jaffa;4115344]
Quote:
Originally Posted by NoizyNinja View Post

The 'markers' for panning are a pain - a centre detent would be useful. The sound is nowhere near as full, clean or shiney as the lavry with Folcrom
Nowhere near? Seriously? It isn't that I don't believe you...I'm just wondering why you'd use it at all if the folcrom sounds that much better.

Any way you could do an AB test for us?

I agree 100% about the pan detents...seems like a huge oversight. Unity markers on the masters would be nice too.
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