Dangerous Music D-Box by Glenn Bucci
The Dangerous D-Box offers a monitor speaker controller, 2 headphone amplifiers, a talk back system, 8 channels of summing, two sets of speaker outputs, and a high quality D/A converter that rivals Lynx and Apogee. This unit has very good specifications and is up there with other higher end monitor units. All the knobs and buttons are of high quality. Besides two headphone inputs, there is a talkback, mono button and alternate speaker selection. The unit has 4 inputs in the front; Sum, Analog, DAW, and CD. The best way to route your main 2 bus from your DAW is to connect into the digital DAW connector. With my RME 96/52 card, there is a S/PDIF connector that can go directly into the DAW connector. The Analog inputs are +4 but through the setup mode you can change them to -10dB. The Sum button is for you to hear how your mix sounds from your 8 outputs from your DAW into the unit with a D sub cable. To keep the price down, they eliminated some things like a dim button.
I was able to compare the D-Box against my Presonus Central Station. Instead of using the D/A converter inside the Dangerous, I used my Apogee Rosetta 800 D/A with the D-Box and Central Station so I would have a more accurate comparison.
In listening to a mix I did in Cubase, the D-Box offered a clearer low end while the Central Station was almost a little clouded in comparison. In the past many of my mixes had a little too much bass when I tested them on different sources with my Focal Twin monitors and decent amount of acoustic treatment in my studio. I was a little confused as why I was having this problem. As soon as I heard the music through the D-Box, it revealed the low-end rumble on some instruments that I did not hear with the Central Station. I knew now why I had issues with my mixes. It seems the Central Station remote had something to with the quality of the signal losing some definition by the way.
The mid and highs on the D-Box also gave a crystal clear sound. With the color and less clarity of the CS, it reminded me of when I had lower end monitors the then upgraded to better ones. There are details in the music that I heard for the first time with the D-Box. When I switched back quickly to my Central Station, I found I could no longer could keep the Central Station in my rack. Out it went and the Dangerous took its place.
The headphone amps are crystal clean and offer wonderful clarity as well. There are two connectors on the unit. I found it interesting that the top insert for the headphone jack was connected to the 2nd volume knob and not the first. If you need more than two headphone jacks, you could connect one of the headphone outputs into a headphone amp as the volume in the headphone amps are plenty loud.
If the D-Box had no summing capabilities, the unit would still be well worth it’s current price. Though they cut some corners like no dim button or mute button, by pushing the DAW button in and out, it acts like a mute. This is helpful as you may want to talk to a client in your studio and you don’t want to change the volume on anything.
Summing out of the Box: Many feel the benefit of summing out of the box is due to the pleasant harmonic distortion that the box gives from the internal transformers. If this is the case, you could just run your 2 bus through some mic pre’s, EQ, or compressor and add a character from it’s transformers and internal parts. I have done the later many times with my Manley and Portico gear as I prefer the added character they offered to my mixes.
I then tried summing out of the box with the D-Box. First I just summed a 2 bus through the summing and back into Cubase. To be honest, there was almost no difference between a 2 channel ITB mix and the 2 bus that went into the Dangerous D-Box. I then took an entire mix, routed them through the 8 channels of the Dangerous and created a new 2-bus mix in Cubase. There are green lights that show which channels are receiving signal, and channels 7 and 8 have a separate pan control. The result when I A/B the two mixes was something I never heard with routing a 2 bus through analog gear. The mixes sounded more spread out, a little deeper and a little more 3D. My mixes through the D-Box have a more professional sound with its spacial and enhanced sound. I heard all the instruments better as they are more defined. The D-Box gave the instruments and vocals more space in the mix. The ITB mix sounded tighter and more cluttered. Out of curiosity, I took my ITB mix and added a spacial enhancer that came with Cubase. Though it spread out the mix and subjectively it sounded better when done with care, it did not sound the same as the Dangerous Summing. The placement of the instruments seemed to be done at the source with the D-Box, while the plug seem to add something on top of the mix.
Though many have different opinions on summing out of the box and what takes place to change the sound, each type of box will offer something a little different. My advise to try it out for yourself in your studio to hear if it works with your gear and setup. For me, I will always sum my mixes through the D-Box to hear the instruments have their own space in a mix and to hear the wider sensation of the music. It just sounds more polished and closer to the music you hear on the radio. This unit is really a great option for those who want a great monitor and summing unit all wrapped up in one at a decent price.
Dangerous also provides great customer service.
Pro: Clear sound, amazing definition in your mixes. Summing through 8 channels allows you to hear each instrument more defined and spread out.
Con: Lack of a dim button, no separate cue and main monitoring controls. Some DAWS like Cubase/Nuendo with a Control Room features though can help a little in this area.