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How to use summing mixers
Old 12th December 2009
  #1
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How to use summing mixers

Hi,

Working exclusivly ITB, how would one use a summing mixer, and more importantly why?

Wouldn't it be the same as summing ITB?

Thanks for explaining
Fred
Old 12th December 2009
  #2
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fhl View Post
Hi,

Working exclusivly ITB, how would one use a summing mixer, and more importantly why?

Wouldn't it be the same as summing ITB?

Thanks for explaining
Fred
As far why, simply, it sounds better. ITB the summing is done using math and algorithms and stuff, and is prone to error. Also every program seems to sum a bit differently. The summing mixer uses analog summing, like what you would get on using a large format console. It uses electronics and summing amplifiers and is continuous, whereas digital is obviously finite.

To use it, you would send tracks from your DAW, or stems/submixes, out to individual or stereo channels on the summing mixer. This would depend on the size of the mixer, but say on an 8 channel mixer you could send a stereo buss of drums to 2 channels, guitars to 2 channels, vox to 2 channels, etc etc...however you want to do it. Then you let the mixer sum the separate parts together and route the output of the mixer to whatever your final medium is...be it a stereo track back inside your daw, a cd burner, a 2 tk tape machine...whatever.
Old 12th December 2009
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeFFG View Post
Also every program seems to sum a bit differently..
The rest of the post is all cool and has subjective mojo going on.... which is great. But this is just wrong. There is, in fact, only one way to sum digital audio streams.
Old 12th December 2009
  #4
+++
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"Working exclusively ITB" wouldn't allow for a physical summing mixer, would it? That is, if one is to take your question literally.

"Summing" (this term has a few different contexts in the digital audio world) is usually described as a way to break out of the box (digital) and into hardware (analog). If you have lots of outboard gear then you will have processing options (to add more color.. aka harmonic distortion, etc) for your audio. If you have lots of DACs and a killer sounding desk with racks full of processing, well, then you're in heaven! The benefits of OOtB summing depend on the hardware that you have. To understand the philosophy of the science behind the bits, you will need to read a lot more than I will post.

ITB summing is not equal to OOtB summing. ITB means exactly what it reads.

There's a plethora of information about "summing" on this site and on the rest of the web. Try searching. More importantly, do some real world testing and use those ears!

+++
Old 12th December 2009
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeFFG View Post
Also every program seems to sum a bit differently.
*seems* is the operative here.

Use two different digital calculators. Push in "2" "+" "2" "=". There's your answer.

One person might say "calculator A *seems* to be doing something different than calculator B". Which calculator's sum is more correct?

+++
Old 12th December 2009
  #6
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you say it so much better than I ....heh
Old 12th December 2009
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeFFG View Post
As far why, simply, it sounds better.
(adj) subjective (taking place within the mind and modified by individual bias) "a subjective judgment"

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeFFG View Post
ITB the summing is done using math and algorithms and stuff, and is prone to error.
Is your thesis that BECAUSE DAWs uses "math and stuff" they are prone to error? Are you saying digital is MORE prone to error than analog voltage? Cause that's really really a stretch. Copy a digital file 1000 times and an analog signal 1000 times and tell me which has more error.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeFFG View Post
Also every program seems to sum a bit differently.
Though I can't say for sure you're wrong about this I would say I have done extensive null tests I have never been able to prove a difference. Nor have I ever noticed a difference when mixing in different DAWs (which I have done extensively too). Please tell me about why you think different DAWs sum differently. Or are you just parroting something you read?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeFFG View Post
The summing mixer uses analog summing, like what you would get on using a large format console. It uses electronics and summing amplifiers and is continuous, whereas digital is obviously finite.
So... if I take a finite digital signal and run it thru an analog mixer it de-finites?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeFFG View Post
To use it, you would send tracks from your DAW, or stems/submixes, out to individual or stereo channels on the summing mixer. This would depend on the size of the mixer, but say on an 8 channel mixer you could send a stereo buss of drums to 2 channels, guitars to 2 channels, vox to 2 channels, etc etc...however you want to do it. Then you let the mixer sum the separate parts together and route the output of the mixer to whatever your final medium is...be it a stereo track back inside your daw, a cd burner, a 2 tk tape machine...whatever.
Yes. THAT part is right.
Old 12th December 2009
  #8
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Thank you all for filling me in. I guess I will wait a while before even trying this. I have to spend my money elsewhere. But I'm curious. Using cubase and a motu828mk2 (balanced TRS outs) if I were to sum eight tracks using hardware, how expensive gear would I need before the result would be better? Or is this just a matter of taste? To be honest I do not like the sound of all the colouring going on in hardware. I like to be in total control. Of course if you know your gear you know what to expect. I guess I haven't used enough analog gear to really have an opinion here
Old 12th December 2009
  #9
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Ehm, could I use my M80 for this? Or would it not yield in my favour?
Old 13th December 2009
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fhl View Post
Thank you all for filling me in. I guess I will wait a while before even trying this. I have to spend my money elsewhere. But I'm curious. Using cubase and a motu828mk2 (balanced TRS outs) if I were to sum eight tracks using hardware, how expensive gear would I need before the result would be better? Or is this just a matter of taste? To be honest I do not like the sound of all the colouring going on in hardware. I like to be in total control. Of course if you know your gear you know what to expect. I guess I haven't used enough analog gear to really have an opinion here
Audio is subjective.

I'm assuming you're recording music. Your recorded tracks are only going to be as good as what you are recording. If you're looking for results without providing any details about what you are doing, you are probably not going to get the best answer.

It still amazes me how many people ask technical questions but haven't any recordings to show for. Yes, I understand, GAS is a real psychological disorder!

Try to keep focused on making music and creating art. Ultimately, that should be the goal.

If you would like to share your recordings, I'll listen.
Old 13th December 2009
  #11
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reason I do not upload a sample, is that I am asking in general. I am no pro, but I like to compose and mix. I play alot more with music than I do with production, but I'd like to record more and gain experience.

I am working on a song just for the share experience of it. Have a listen to
this draft.
It is a bit too squashed. I'll fix that in the next master. Again this is not suppose to be anything else than my expression, and a way for me to learn the process.

Constructive critisism is welcome

Thanks for listening!
Fred
Old 14th December 2009
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeFFG View Post
ITB the summing is done using math and algorithms and stuff, and is prone to error.
Exactly what errors do you claim summing involves? Computers are pretty good at math.
Old 14th December 2009
  #13
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Depends on how much money you have to spend and how much gear you already have.
Old 14th December 2009
  #14
analog summing is cool.. but you can only really mix one song at a time unless you take pictures and/or write all the settings down

im sure i'd take some patience and a lot of compromising if you're coming from the digital world
Old 14th December 2009
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeFFG View Post
As far why, simply, it sounds better. ITB the summing is done using math and algorithms and stuff, and is prone to error. Also every program seems to sum a bit differently. The summing mixer uses analog summing, like what you would get on using a large format console. It uses electronics and summing amplifiers and is continuous, whereas digital is obviously finite.

To use it, you would send tracks from your DAW, or stems/submixes, out to individual or stereo channels on the summing mixer. This would depend on the size of the mixer, but say on an 8 channel mixer you could send a stereo buss of drums to 2 channels, guitars to 2 channels, vox to 2 channels, etc etc...however you want to do it. Then you let the mixer sum the separate parts together and route the output of the mixer to whatever your final medium is...be it a stereo track back inside your daw, a cd burner, a 2 tk tape machine...whatever.
This might be a stupid question but lets say you take all your stems out of your DAW and sum them to 2 track with a mixer....
You have your DAW playing back the stems....then is there a way to bring the 2 track back into the same project in the DAW while it's in playback without having some feedback problems or something or would you need to record the 2 trk sum onto a completely separate DAW or recorder?....has anyone done this? or is it done all the time that way??
Old 14th December 2009
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djmukilteo View Post
This might be a stupid question but lets say you take all your stems out of your DAW and sum them to 2 track with a mixer....
You have your DAW playing back the stems....then is there a way to bring the 2 track back into the same project in the DAW while it's in playback without having some feedback problems or something or would you need to record the 2 trk sum onto a completely separate DAW or recorder?....has anyone done this? or is it done all the time that way??
Using cubase/nuendo which has delay compensation, you could simply route the analog stereo signal into the DAW and record.
Old 14th December 2009
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fhl View Post
Using cubase/nuendo which has delay compensation, you could simply route the analog stereo signal into the DAW and record.
If this was to be a final mix of the project, one wouldn't need delay compensation.


As far as feedback issues are concerned, you would want to bring your 2 track mix back into your stereo ADC. You wouldn't need to monitor these. There shouldn't be any feedback issues if the routing is set up properly.
Old 14th December 2009
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by +++ View Post
If this was to be a final mix of the project, one wouldn't need delay compensation.
Good point

What do you mean by feedback in this context? I'm not familiar with the term.
Old 14th December 2009
  #19
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Say theoretically, if I was taking a mix to master, would I be best off mixing and bouncing my tracks in groups like a drum group, guitar group, vocal group etc and have the mastering engineer sum it analog?

I know I would have already compromised the benefits due to 'summing' the groups digitally, but could it still benefit from the group stage to the 2 track stero mix?

Just trying to get my head around this.
Old 14th December 2009
  #20
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It's a matter of taste. All this analog over digital is subjective. If you like the coloring, sure, analog might be the way to go. But I see no point since you can color the mix as you want to. Digital summing is not at all more error prone than analog. It's the other way around.
Old 14th December 2009
  #21
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When I first started recording on computers I mixed everything ITB. I felt that signal degradation from multiple conversions was best to avoid. For the most part I was happy with the results. One thing I noticed though, was that when I would play back a song that had not been mixed down yet on the DAW it sounded very different than the stereo mixes I would then generate from the session files. So I would print a mix listen to it and then go back and make changes that would get me as close as possible to the unmixed playback.
I read in magazine a few years later about the ITB vs. OTB debate and decided to give it a try. I felt like the mixes I created OTB sounded just like the multitrack playback. I perceived the separation between instruments was clearer and the overall result was far superior to what I had been getting from ITB mixing.
I decided to build a passive summing solution so I could use various 2-channel outboard devices to impart their flavor to the mix when used to make up gain. My current home setup features a Focusrite LS56 firewire interface. I run the output of the summer into the Liquid Pre inputs of the LS56 and that gives me that ability to select what mixdown coloration I want on the interface on the way back into the DAW. I can print as many versions with different flavors as I want in the session file and select between them for client approval prior to mastering.
One other technique I am going to try on the next mix is to sum the individual elements of a submix OTB as well as the final mixdown. This way I can sum all of the drum tracks with a different color than say guitars or vocals and then combine them with yet another different flavor if need be.

Whatever the science is behind the difference between ITB and OTB matters not to me. The sound made me a believer.
I'll never go back to ITB.
Old 14th December 2009
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by +++ View Post
If this was to be a final mix of the project, one wouldn't need delay compensation.


As far as feedback issues are concerned, you would want to bring your 2 track mix back into your stereo ADC. You wouldn't need to monitor these. There shouldn't be any feedback issues if the routing is set up properly.
That's what I was wondering....I haven't tried that but I could certainly take the 2 trk master back into the same Cubase project...set up 2 more trks and set them to record that input from my interface and have no monitor....right?
Then play the 16 trks (stems) out while recording the master 2 tracks at the same time.....is that correct?
I understand delay would not be an issue. Turning monitor off seems like that would avoid any feedback (although this is all closed loop within the sam esystem) When I was done with that I could always move the master tracks onto a new project?.
I only have the one computer and interface and DAW.
I had thought about running this master into a separate computer but alas I only have one right now.
Wondering how this is done using a console in large format studios?
Do they route and print a master at mixdown to a completely separate DAW recording system on a separate machine thru different mastering converters?
Old 14th December 2009
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by djmukilteo View Post
That's what I was wondering....I haven't tried that but I could certainly take the 2 trk master back into the same Cubase project...set up 2 more trks and set them to record that input from my interface and have no monitor....right?
Then play the 16 trks (stems) out while recording the master 2 tracks at the same time.....is that correct?
I understand delay would not be an issue. Turning monitor off seems like that would avoid any feedback (although this is all closed loop within the sam esystem) When I was done with that I could always move the master tracks onto a new project?.
I only have the one computer and interface and DAW.
I had thought about running this master into a separate computer but alas I only have one right now.
Wondering how this is done using a console in large format studios?
Do they route and print a master at mixdown to a completely separate DAW recording system on a separate machine thru different mastering converters?
most of the time, exactly as you write above. You then patch a spare pair of outputs to an external input on the desk, route the master track to these outputs, and then monitor it as if it was a dat machine.
Old 14th December 2009
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fhl View Post
Ehm, could I use my M80 for this? Or would it not yield in my favour?
using your gear would be just fine for your test/playing around. OF course just like anything better gear would get better results.. But doesn't mean you can't use your stuff...And maybe even dig it better then what you get itb.. Then from there you may decide to beef stuff up. Or your not into and you stay itb and put the dough into other stuff.

Since it seems your new to it.. Don't just try it hate it and move on.. It is a little bit different way of working.. So try a few different mixes hitting the M80 at different levels finding sweet spots and what sounds best. In the end it may not be something your into.

But you can just go into the line in (the one that's used for the inserts) and you can even use the L+R Aux inputs that will give you 10ch input. Take the main L+R outputs and go back into the motu 1+2. If you create a audio track in Cubase to print to..Make sure you click solo default holding the alt key on that track plus the output ch of whatever your using for speakers. This way when you hit solo on a track it won't mute your input of your summed 2 track mix coming back into Cubase.

Remember if you are using the line inputs on the M80 (inserts in) to pull them out a little when you go to track or there will be no output of the micpre since your breaking the signal.. Just a tip so you don't freak thinking the pre no longer works or something.

play around with it..Your not needing to spend money just to try it and have fun.
Old 14th December 2009
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alehoe View Post
analog summing is cool.. but you can only really mix one song at a time unless you take pictures and/or write all the settings down

im sure i'd take some patience and a lot of compromising if you're coming from the digital world
Good point.

If you are using a summing mixer with pans, volume, etc for each channel, then your statement is quite true.

When I used regular mixers for summing I left the eq flat, volume at unity, and pan center/hard left/hard right, leaving the pan consistent on the mixer for all songs.

I currently use a SUMMING mixer that does not have vol, pan, etc for each channel. I manage those things within my DAW so that I can recall the settings from there.
Old 14th December 2009
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishmed View Post
Good point.

If you are using a summing mixer with pans, volume, etc for each channel, then your statement is quite true.

When I used regular mixers for summing I left the eq flat, volume at unity, and pan center/hard left/hard right, leaving the pan consistent on the mixer for all songs.

I currently use a SUMMING mixer that does not have vol, pan, etc for each channel. I manage those things within my DAW so that I can recall the settings from there.
In fact, it could be argued that as soon as you start using hardware faders, pan etc you're moving towards hybrid mixing. Summing is literally the addition of channels. At worst, you should be recalling a mix buss chain.
Old 14th December 2009
  #27
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I use a DIY passive resistive summer 8 x 2 and sum the 8 busses to 2 track otb. with a 990 stereo makeup amp.

That's how I use it.
Old 14th December 2009
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alehoe View Post
analog summing is cool.. but you can only really mix one song at a time unless you take pictures and/or write all the settings down

im sure i'd take some patience and a lot of compromising if you're coming from the digital world

Not if you work to a set routing template and use the summing mixer unity gain.
Old 14th December 2009
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bitman View Post
I use a DIY passive resistive summer 8 x 2 and sum the 8 busses to 2 track otb. with a 990 stereo makeup amp.

That's how I use it.
What 990 amp do you use?
Old 14th December 2009
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
In fact, it could be argued that as soon as you start using hardware faders, pan etc you're moving towards hybrid mixing. Summing is literally the addition of channels. At worst, you should be recalling a mix buss chain.
I consider my setup to be hybrid.
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