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Summing boxes and transients Summing Mixers
Old 24th December 2010
  #1
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Summing boxes and transients

Hello there

I'm mixing totally ITB these days and i was looking at summing boxes to get a more cohesive and analog sound.

I read a lot of threads about it, i'm looking at 3 boxes right now : Neve 8816, TubeTech SSA2B and D-Box.

I read that these kind of summing mixers are softening the transients, now this is a bit disappointing... i need punch and impact

That said, when i hear the mixes of Jacob Hensen on the TubeTech website (with SSA2B) i can hear a very powerful sound with no "softening" at all


Any thoughts ?
Old 24th December 2010
  #2
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janjaal's Avatar
i got the dbox
i surely don't lose any punch..

my lows are tight. highs are smooth and crisp, and i get a nice wide stereo image...
it's not revolutionary, but it's very good..
Old 24th December 2010
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
Lab of Sound's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheaper View Post
I read that these kind of summing mixers are softening the transients, now this is a bit disappointing... i need punch and impact
This is new to me, would you mind sharing your source of this information? Btw I am using a D-Box and have not noticed any degradation in punch or impact myself.

Cheers,

Jack
Old 24th December 2010
  #4
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Hi
Summing boxes are 'tools' and you have to learn how to use them, just like everything else.
There is nothing inherently 'limiting' of any of these or indeed most other units but the method of working may need some more thought and consideration.
On the basis that some people claim to be able to hear the differences between different op amp circuits the difference in sound between an analogue summing bus which could be 'voltage' or 'current' summing in nature, compared to a digital summing 'bus' (ITB) will be completely different.
Careless use of either 'technique' can cause dissatisfaction.
Attention to what you group and mix and in the order of processing have marked affect on your sound and is not necessarily dependant on the gear you use.
Matt S
Old 24th December 2010
  #5
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I think its easy to misinterpret what "softening" means.

Yes its true some summing boxes will soften transients just like many other desks, consoles, line amps, mic pres and tape machines. But that doesn't mean you will lose punch. It is only softening not getting rid of them altogether. Tape softens transients, in many cases more so than a summing amp but it sounds great. Listen to some old breaks from the 70s and see if you think they lack punch.

In my experience its quite the opposite. The softening of initial spikes and transients means the "body" of, for example a snare drum will be increased in amplitude and actually give the impression of more punch.

The best thing to do would be to demo a summing mixer for yourself to see what happens. You would probably be pleasantly surprised.
Old 24th December 2010
  #6
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Do these sound too slow to you?
Attached Files

Extract from CD 4 - Track 4.mp3 (3.24 MB, 407 views)

Extract from CD 7 - Track 7.mp3 (3.48 MB, 359 views)

Old 24th December 2010
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheaper View Post

Any thoughts ?
Yeah.

I think that a lot of the advantages attributed to mixing with summing boxes are actually due to the fact that working that way sorta "forces" folks into better gain-staging practices.

.
Old 24th December 2010
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Syson View Post
Attention to what you group and mix and in the order of processing have marked affect on your sound and is not necessarily dependant on the gear you use
AMEN, Matt!
Old 24th December 2010
  #9
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thanks folks for the replies

yeah i ran through a few posts here, cant really find the exact ones but it was about Neve 8816 and SSA2B and someone popped up with that transient issue.

So apparently its just bullsh*t.

Cant wait to plug the outs of my HD IO in that Tube Tech monster


cheers
Old 24th December 2010
  #10
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Hi
It is not necessarily bullwotsit but all too often today people do not understand the gear and their 'limitations' or 'design goals' and expect uniformity of performance whatever level is thrown at them. The people who really USE the gear understand and learn so can get either 'clean' or 'coloured' performance. Analogue gear has a 'sweet spot' or preferrred range of level for operation whereas 24 bit digital or greater range within the processing has no particular 'sweet spot' until it lurches out of the final D/A stages.
The Neve unit uses a couple of transformers so it will have a level dependant response (distortion characteristics mainly). In a slightly different way the TubeTech also has transformers although deployed in a different manner and it too can be 'worked' at different levels.
Matt S
Old 24th December 2010
  #11
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mu6gr8's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Syson View Post
It is not necessarily bullwotsit but all too often today people do not understand the gear and their 'limitations' or 'design goals' and expect uniformity of performance whatever level is thrown at them. The people who really USE the gear understand and learn so can get either 'clean' or 'coloured' performance. Analogue gear has a 'sweet spot' ...
Yes! Well said. For example, some of my bus compressors are "permanently" calibrated to their sweet spots and set to get the tone I want simply by altering the level of signal I send to them. Likewise, summing mixers can be fast & clean at low input levels, or mushy & grinding at hot input levels. In between, there can be a broad range of sweet musical tones.
Old 25th December 2010
  #12
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 

You would have to slam these boxes into obvious and heavy distortion to get them to lose punch. I agree with the woodfoot that subtle transformer rounding of the leading edge of transients actually increases punch because things go from having a spiky, untamed digital 'pop' to a more satisfying, solid 'thunk' which takes further compression better.


Gregory Scott - ubk
Old 25th December 2010
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Syson View Post
Hi
It is not necessarily bullwotsit but all too often today people do not understand the gear and their 'limitations' or 'design goals' and expect uniformity of performance whatever level is thrown at them. The people who really USE the gear understand and learn so can get either 'clean' or 'coloured' performance.
I understand that.
Am i supposed to trim down all my channels in PT by -20 DBfs in order to hit the summing amp properly ? (just like a classic mixer)

thanks
Old 25th December 2010
  #14
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Hi
If you use a 'passive' summing like a Folcrom it will handle immense levels with NO significant tone change in itself. You simply need less 'make up' gain afterwards.
Other units will react differently, the point is LEARN to use your gear by experimenting, there IS NO 'RIGHT' way to do anything.
Matt S
Old 25th December 2010
  #15
Gear Maniac
 
Lab of Sound's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheaper View Post
I understand that.
Am i supposed to trim down all my channels in PT by -20 DBfs in order to hit the summing amp properly ? (just like a classic mixer)

thanks
Summing boxes have sufficient headroom so there is no need to trim the channels in your DAW.

Cheers,

Jack
Old 25th December 2010
  #16
Gear Maniac
 
Lab of Sound's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 12ax7 View Post
Yeah.

I think that a lot of the advantages attributed to mixing with summing boxes are actually due to the fact that working that way sorta "forces" folks into better gain-staging practices.

.
I guess it depends on the summing box you are using. My D-Box for instance can only sum 8 channels, so most of the time I am submixing stems in my DAW and sending the stems to the summing mixer. In that configuration, proper gain staging is as critical as it would be when summing ITB.

Cheers,

Jack
Old 25th December 2010
  #17
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12ax7's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Funkasizer View Post

I guess it depends on the summing box you are using. My D-Box for instance can only sum 8 channels, so most of the time I am submixing stems in my DAW and sending the stems to the summing mixer. In that configuration, proper gain staging is as critical as it would be when summing ITB.
Yeah, the truth is that gain-staging is ALWAYS at issue, whether ITB, OTB or hybrid.

Summing in the analog domain may add a preferred "color" for some (and that's all well and good, if that's what you're after), but we should put out of our minds the idea that summing in analog somehow avoids some kind of "digital nastiness" caused by ITB summing.

There may be nice things that happen with analog summing, but those ITB "nastys" are actually caused by improper gain-staging, and NOT by digital summing per se.

That being said, analog summing using a beefy-sounding console / mixer / summing box can be just the ticket.
.

.
Old 25th December 2010
  #18
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Summing boxes and transients

i bought a tegeler audio tube summing box a year ago or so. and the nice thing about the unit ( apart the ridicously low price i paid 1k &euro is that you you can drive the unit via inputsignal and so acoustcally shape the sound regarding harmonics. plus it has 32 inputs that can either be used as mono or 16 stereo inputs. no extrabuttons only outputrange selector. i wouldn't wanna miss it anymore
Old 25th December 2010
  #19
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Fletcher's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by woodfoot View Post
Yes its true some summing boxes will soften transients just like many other desks, consoles, line amps, mic pres and
GS Myth - #742

Yes - tape, when used incorrectly [or abused to taste] can play with transient response - but any desk, console, line amp, mic amp, op-amp, general amp, power amp [etc.] that can pass 12mv/µs ain't messing with "transient" response per se.

There are other phase relationship issues that we can perceive as a "slowing" of the signal - but if you're going to use the technical term "transient" - please understand that studies have shown that we [humans] can't perceive difference in the transient response in electronic devices once you pass 10v/µs - seeing that 12mv is more than 10mv -- 12 is generally accepted as a "minimum point". All of these devices hit that mark without a struggle.

Peace.
Old 25th December 2010
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletcher View Post
GS Myth - #742

Yes - tape, when used incorrectly [or abused to taste] can play with transient response - but any desk, console, line amp, mic amp, op-amp, general amp, power amp [etc.] that can pass 12mv/µs ain't messing with "transient" response per se.

There are other phase relationship issues that we can perceive as a "slowing" of the signal - but if you're going to use the technical term "transient" - please understand that studies have shown that we [humans] can't perceive difference in the transient response in electronic devices once you pass 10v/µs - seeing that 12mv is more than 10mv -- 12 is generally accepted as a "minimum point". All of these devices hit that mark without a struggle.

Peace.
With all due respect sir. What I was talking about isn't something I have read on here, its a technique I use daily.

However I would agree that the terminology was wrong and it isn't actually a "transient". Thats why I also said "initial spike" as the subject was regarding punch, which for me is all about how we deal with the attack portion of the sound. I use a 1084 pushed hard on snare for this exact job.

It seems to me that when many people talk about transients they mean the softening of the attack portion or crest and not technically the transient[s]. I also believe that whatever the OP has heard, pertains to this which is why I worded it the way I did. I think we're all singing from the same hymn sheet here [no pun intended]. But yes I agree with you, it isn't transient softening as such. What I was talking about is calming down that spike at the front and summing boxes or any of the things I mentioned can be good for this, UBK described it in a much more tactile way though.

Merry Xmas
Old 25th December 2010
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheaper View Post
Hello there

I'm mixing totally ITB these days and i was looking at summing boxes to get a more cohesive and analog sound


Any thoughts ?
The cohesive and "analog" sound has less to do with the boxes and instead more to do with how you hear & feel things internally and how well you can convey what you hear and feel internally. And that's really the challenge, because its based on experience knowing what to use when and where, knowledge of the tools strengths and limitations and what you personally can bring to the table yourself in terms of your style and sound and lastly taste.

A summing box or even an analog console in a lot of cases is not enough. Because the missing glue is not in the transients but in how the whole sonic picture fits and blends together. And how that comes across to the listener.
Old 26th December 2010
  #22
Gear Nut
 
naths101's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor View Post
The cohesive and "analog" sound has less to do with the boxes and instead more to do with how you hear & feel things internally and how well you can convey what you hear and feel internally. And that's really the challenge, because its based on experience knowing what to use when and where, knowledge of the tools strengths and limitations and what you personally can bring to the table yourself in terms of your style and sound and lastly taste.

A summing box or even an analog console in a lot of cases is not enough. Because the missing glue is not in the transients but in how the whole sonic picture fits and blends together. And how that comes across to the listener.

great points there thethrillfactor thumbsup
Old 26th December 2010
  #23
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Hi
I would suggest that it is the instruments you include in each 'subgroup' and the way they interact when summed, compared to summing all channels at once will have some impact on the sound as although the result should be the same I suspect it may not be either because of the relative levels of the 'subgroup' elements which may sould 'right' when auditioned as a subgroup, which then do not have the same impact when joined with the remaining channels.
This 'discrepancy' could happen in either ITB or 'analogue summing' scenarios.
Matt S
Old 26th December 2010
  #24
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Cheaper,

Get a box and don't look back!!!!! I will explain my situation FWIW.

Like you I had been ITB using a basic Stereo I/O card. Everything was being summed ITB and I was getting frustrated as hell trying to keep things from sounding squashed and "slow" as some have stated.

So, I threw down and purchased a Saffire Pro 40 and have routed 4 stereo subs into an OLD Yamaha MG10 mixer, and THAT simple little change has opened up my sound and my ears. I spent a lot of time going back and recalibrating EVERYTHING in my signal path and monitor setup using many of the recommendations from other slutz and Bob Katz at his site. I even "calibrated" my headphones to the best of my ability and I DO NOT touch ANY volume knob ANYWHERE in the chain, and I am SOOO much happier about how my mixes are starting to sound and translate.

To me, the biggest perk was that getting an OTB/Hybrid setup really helped me to understand what was actually taking place when I was only ITB and that knowledge has helped me out tremendously. I have heard people say that you CAN achieve a good mix ITB IF you know what you are doing and this is probably true. After I spend a significant amount of time OTB I might be able to go back to mix completely ITB and get good mixes,but I am quite happy with my little upgrade!!!!

As for the transient question, going to OTB was the best thing I did to keep the transients alive and kicking!


Good luck,

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