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Difference in Pro Tools mix engines (Mix Plus and HD) - and Analog Summing Summing Mixers
Old 23rd December 2006
  #1
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Difference in Pro Tools mix engines (Mix Plus and HD) - and Analog Summing

Hi guys,

Got a question. I've done extensive reseach on this site on the still ongoing endless debate about whether analog summing improves the sound of a mix (rather than ITB). But I was wondering specifically about that topic, when taking into account which version of Pro Tools a person is using.

I'm using Pro Tools mix plus 5.1 (which if I understand it correctly, has a different mix engine - 24 bit) than the HD mix engine (which is a 48 bit engine, which is then changed back down to 24 bit). Is this correct? Does the ITB summing happen at 48 bit in Pro Tools HD?

And if that's the case... does this have much impact on the sonic quality of a mix (with regard to summing)?

To ask the question another way.... would a person using my version of Pro Tools (5.1 Mix Plus) and analog summing, notice a much bigger difference in sonic quality... than a person using Pro Tools HD and analog summing?

Thanks.
Old 23rd December 2006
  #2
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thermos's Avatar
Just incase you aren't doing this, the biggest difference in summing (to me) is auto delay compensation for your plugs, which I don't think Mix systems have. That will improve stereo image way more than an analog summing box. If you are manually shifting every track, then nevermind.
Old 23rd December 2006
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rockman View Post

To ask the question another way.... would a person using my version of Pro Tools (5.1 Mix Plus) and analog summing, notice a much bigger difference in sonic quality... than a person using Pro Tools HD and analog summing?
Yes, some would. No, some wouldn't.

Sonics are in the ears of the beholder.

For you... there is only one way to know.
Old 24th December 2006
  #4
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I recently went from summing ITB on an LE system, to summing analog via a mid/low end board. I can only output 16 channels (Digi 002R), and therefore need to do some subgrouping ITB. The last mix I did made use of all 16 outputs, routed as such: Lead vocal stereo subgroup, backup vocal stereo subgroup, bass DI, bass mic, 2 stereo guitar subgroups (for parallel compression), 2 stereo drum subgroups (parallel compression), and drum verb stereo subgroup (from a plugin). I mainly went OTB to utilize outboard comps and EQs, and ease up my CPU load by running some outboard verb units.

Verdict: Even with some summing going on ITB, summing subgroups with a board and using analog compressors has VASTLY increased the quality of the end product. Granted, I was using PT LE, but still. I will soon upgrade to a high end board, and someday an HD system for more outputs so I won't have to subgroup as much. Sure, I made some good mixes ITB, but I like my current method much, much better.
Old 24th December 2006
  #5
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Only summing OTB instead of ITB don't change my mixes.
Processing OTB does

ruudman
Old 24th December 2006
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thermos View Post
Just incase you aren't doing this, the biggest difference in summing (to me) is auto delay compensation for your plugs, which I don't think Mix systems have. That will improve stereo image way more than an analog summing box. If you are manually shifting every track, then nevermind.
ADC really doesn't have anything to do with summing IMO. In my mind Digidesign just left out an important feature that other programs had had for years. Oops.

Brad
Old 24th December 2006
  #7
M2E
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Hey Rockman,

To answer your question at hand. I've been in your same boat many many times, (Titanic right?).
Anyway, I've done personal tests myself with everything you can imagine. Finally I did a test with me doing a straight ITB mix to "2 Amek Pure Paths" by Neve as my final summingbox then to the Masterlink as my final tape. Also, I did the same ITB Mix straight to the Masterlink.

The verdict?

I sent it to my brother in LA who produces as well and has a studio and pretty good ears, to tell me what he thinks and to see what his final judgement would be as I trust his opinion as he won't sugar coat anything.
He said, the totally ITB Mix straight to Masterlink sounded better but, the one with the summingbox mix had a very small amount of more lowend. As far as width and and depth they were about the same.
He had no idea which one was which and was very surprised at the conclusion. He's a little anti Pro Tools so he was perfect for this.
I wish I had saved those files as I could post them here but, I trashed them, so did my bro. :(
If you want, I could do the test again for you guys here to finally lay down the summingbox theory so you can make the judgement for urr self if you want?
I have to do a demo mix for my wife and this would be a perfect time to do it.
The song only has Piano/Strings/Bells and vocals. I'll also put a track I've done through this process as well so you can hear the bottomend effects like I did when I sent the files to my brother in LA.

The test would go like this...

1. I have a Mix Plus System with 5 Mix Farm Cards and a 888/24 and it's all clocked with an Apogee PSX100 and that would go out to the two (2) Amek Pure Path Mic Pres/EQ/Comp units that were designed by Rupert Neve and cost me about $3300 each when I bought them. So there pro units and sound great.


It would finally end up on the Masterlink for final mix down.

2. This mix would just go straight out to the Masterlink.

Let me know what you want to do. If you have any suggestions or if you think this is even viable to you at all. I'll have to do it after Christmas of course as I do have some sort of a life (I think).

M2E
Old 24th December 2006
  #8
M2E
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
ADC really doesn't have anything to do with summing IMO. In my mind Digidesign just left out an important feature that other programs had had for years. Oops.

Brad
Hey Brad, I totally agree. ADC has nothing to do with summing and the efx's of summing and not summing.
It does however, if urr tracking live drums have alot to do with the sound in the final stages. Major phase issues because of plugins only though. I've learned that the hard way 4sho.

M2E
Old 24th December 2006
  #9
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RoundBadge's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by M2E View Post
Hey Rockman,

To answer your question at hand. I've been in your same boat many many times, (Titanic right?).
Anyway, I've done personal tests myself with everything you can imagine. Finally I did a test with me doing a straight ITB mix to "2 Amek Pure Paths" by Neve as my final summingbox then to the Masterlink as my final tape. Also, I did the same ITB Mix straight to the Masterlink.

The verdict?

I sent it to my brother in LA who produces as well and has a studio and pretty good ears, to tell me what he thinks and to see what his final judgement would be as I trust his opinion as he won't sugar coat anything.
He said, the totally ITB Mix straight to Masterlink sounded better but, the one with the summingbox mix had a very small amount of more lowend. As far as width and and depth they were about the same.
He had no idea which one was which and was very surprised at the conclusion. He's a little anti Pro Tools so he was perfect for this.
I wish I had saved those files as I could post them here but, I trashed them, so did my bro. :(
If you want, I could do the test again for you guys here to finally lay down the summingbox theory so you can make the judgement for urr self if you want?
I have to do a demo mix for my wife and this would be a perfect time to do it.
The song only has Piano/Strings/Bells and vocals. I'll also put a track I've done through this process as well so you can hear the bottomend effects like I did when I sent the files to my brother in LA.

The test would go like this...

1. I have a Mix Plus System with 5 Mix Farm Cards and a 888/24 and it's all clocked with an Apogee PSX100 and that would go out to the two (2) Amek Pure Path Mic Pres/EQ/Comp units that were designed by Rupert Neve and cost me about $3300 each when I bought them. So there pro units and sound great.


It would finally end up on the Masterlink for final mix down.

2. This mix would just go straight out to the Masterlink.

Let me know what you want to do. If you have any suggestions or if you think this is even viable to you at all. I'll have to do it after Christmas of course as I do have some sort of a life (I think).

M2E

Unless I missed something in your post..It looks to me you're not summing anything ..but you are processing your 2 mix with outboard.

Your just running your 2 mix through 2 outboard ameks..?[Which personally to me are not what I'd condsider one of Ruperts better "Mojo" pieces..Sorry]
how would that make it a summing box?

You wanna "sum" a mix?..then take 8 to 24 channels out of good D/A then into a good console/summing do hickey ..
that will be a completely different game
Then tell me what you think
Old 24th December 2006
  #10
M2E
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoundBadge View Post
Unless I missed something in your post..It looks to me you're not summing anything ..but you are processing your 2 mix with outboard.

Your just running your 2 mix through 2 outboard ameks..?[Which personally to me are not what I'd condsider one of Ruperts better "Mojo" pieces..Sorry]
how would that make it a summing box?

You wanna "sum" a mix?..then take 8 to 24 channels out of good D/A then into a good console/summing do hickey ..
that will be a completely different game
Then tell me what you think
Sorry bout that. You are totally right. I was thinking the wrong thing. Yes, I would be running just the 2 buss out to the Amek.
But, I have to disagree about the quality on the Pure Paths. But, then that's a whole nother post altogether- you agree? I wish I had eight of them right now then I would do the test with no problem.

Sorry bout that guys...my bag...carry on....

M2E...1ne
Old 24th December 2006
  #11
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toolskid's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by M2E View Post
Sorry bout that. You are totally right. I was thinking the wrong thing. Yes, I would be running just the 2 buss out to the Amek.
But, I have to disagree about the quality on the Pure Paths. But, then that's a whole nother post altogether- you agree? I wish I had eight of them right now then I would do the test with no problem.

Sorry bout that guys...my bag...carry on....

M2E...1ne
Even having 24 of them would make no difference! You'd be looking for a console to achieve the test your thinking of!
Old 24th December 2006
  #12
Gear Addict
 

Hey guys,

Thanks for all the replies. (Sorry for the delay in mine... I was away from my computer most of yesterday).

In any case, M2E, I appreciate your offer to do the test.... but like Roundbadge suggested, this test would only be effective if you were to send out a least 16 channels out of your DAW and into a summing box (eg. Neve 8816, etc), for this to really work. That's the essence of summing (i.e. to sum your various tracks together to end up as a stereo signal). Just sending your mix through an analog box would probably not make that much of a difference (I'm only guessing, since I haven't tried it).. That could be why your brother didn't hear too much of a difference (except for the low end).

Once again, I know the topic of ITB vs OTB has been covered to death on this forum.... that's why I was specifically interested in the specifics of the summing engine of Pro Tools Mix Plus vs. the summing engine of an HD rig. I wanted to know if there was a difference at all. Since a lot of people on this forum swear that there is a difference with analog summing.... and just as many people swear that they can't hear any difference (with analog summing).... I was wondering whether the differences can be heard better if someone was using an older Pro Tools system (like I am). I'm assuming that the actual summing algorithms in Pro Tools Mix Plus and Pro Tools HD are actually different, correct?

I hope my question makes sense.

I would of course do the tests myself, but I don't have access to the gear at this point.

The real reason I'm wondering about this topic is that I tend to find that my mixes sound "small" and "thin", when compared to commercial mixes (that I know were mixed on a console). My specific problem is not a question of clarity, separation, etc... I'm specifically concerned about the "size" of the overall sound... if that makes any sense. And I was wondering whether the reason my mixes sound small had to do with the limited capability of the summing engine (24 bit processing) of the older Pro Tools system (Mix Plus)... (keeping in mind that other things could be the culprit of my small sounding mixes... for example, too much high end, not enough low end, etc).

Incidentally, regarding ADC (different topic, but since it was mentioned in this thread).... I do some parallel processing, so I manually nudge the tracks to make sure I have correct phase.

So to ... errr.. sum up the original question (pun intended... ) and to get back to the original purpose of this thread...

Everything else being equal (same AD/DA converters, same mix, same sampling rate, etc).. Is there a sonic difference between the ITB mixing/summing engine of Pro Tools Mix Plus... and the mixing/summing engine of Pro Tools HD?

Thanks for your input. Please keep it coming.
Old 24th December 2006
  #13
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RoundBadge's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by M2E View Post
Yes, I would be running just the 2 buss out to the Amek.
But, I have to disagree about the quality on the Pure Paths. But, then that's a whole nother post altogether- you agree? ...

Sorry bout that guys...my bag...carry on....

M2E...1ne
No worries mate..they are quality pieces.just not my thing
Old 31st December 2006
  #14
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Hi guys.

Just thought I would try to revive this thread. Some of you were kind enough to give me some or your input, but I still haven't gotten the info I was looking for. Sorry if I'm repeating myself, but here goes..

If you take 2 separate Pro Tools rigs... one Mix Plus and one HD... and both are recording at 24 bit, 44.1... and both are mixing ITB (using the Pro Tools summing only)... and everything else being equal (same plugs, etc)... and both are using the exact same digital converters... and let's say that for ADC purposes, the Mix Plus rig has manually shifted (nudged) the regions to allow for delay compensation, so everything is in proper phase alignment...

Would the mixes on both of these rigs sound absolutely identical? In other words, do the summing busses of these different Pro Tools rigs sound exactly the same? Same algorithms?

Once again, to elaborate on this question, I am primarily concerned with the issue of the "size" of the mix... (in other words, trying to figure out why my mixes sound really thin compared to most other stuff out there).

For the record, on my Mix Plus system, everything was recorded through Brent Averill 1084 mic pres, Apogee Rosetta 800 converters and into Pro Tools Mix Plus 5.1. All plugs (for the most part) are Waves Rennaissance (Waveshell 3.0).

Once again, thanks for any relevant info you can provide.
Old 2nd January 2007
  #15
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trustyjim's Avatar
 

I just read the Pro Tools white paper describing the 48 bit mixing engine used in Pro Tools 7. Here is a link:
http://akmedia.digidesign.com/suppor...ixer_26688.pdf

I don't know what kind of mix engine Pro Tools mix plus 5.1 uses, but if it is only 24 bit then it is possible you will lose detail in your sources when you pull faders down and then boost the signal later on. Also, it is possible that you can run out of headroom on the summing bus when doing loud mixes. If you want more info on how a 24 bit summing engine adversely affects mixing, look specifically at page 5 of the white paper.

Of course, the best way to tell might be to listen to the same mix done on both Pro Tools 7 and the older Pro Tools mix plus 5.1.
Old 3rd January 2007
  #16
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I have done the test that you are referring to.
I used to own a Mix Plus system and then upgraded to HD about 3 years ago.
As soon as I got the HD I brought up my old mixes to hear what they would sound like in HD.
There was a night and day difference.

The reverbs sound much better in HD. The main reason is the engine that drives it.
The 48 bit processing makes a huge difference in the sound.
Old 3rd January 2007
  #17
Gear Addict
 

Thanks guys. That's exactly the kind of info I was looking for. I guess I'm stuck with an inferior mixing system (24 bit)...
Old 3rd January 2007
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rockman View Post
Hi guys.

Just thought I would try to revive this thread. Some of you were kind enough to give me some or your input, but I still haven't gotten the info I was looking for. Sorry if I'm repeating myself, but here goes..

If you take 2 separate Pro Tools rigs... one Mix Plus and one HD... and both are recording at 24 bit, 44.1... and both are mixing ITB (using the Pro Tools summing only)... and everything else being equal (same plugs, etc)... and both are using the exact same digital converters... and let's say that for ADC purposes, the Mix Plus rig has manually shifted (nudged) the regions to allow for delay compensation, so everything is in proper phase alignment...

Would the mixes on both of these rigs sound absolutely identical? In other words, do the summing busses of these different Pro Tools rigs sound exactly the same? Same algorithms?

Once again, to elaborate on this question, I am primarily concerned with the issue of the "size" of the mix... (in other words, trying to figure out why my mixes sound really thin compared to most other stuff out there).

For the record, on my Mix Plus system, everything was recorded through Brent Averill 1084 mic pres, Apogee Rosetta 800 converters and into Pro Tools Mix Plus 5.1. All plugs (for the most part) are Waves Rennaissance (Waveshell 3.0).

Once again, thanks for any relevant info you can provide.
I believe the answer is no.

Since you're saying essentially "all thinkgs being equal..." let's forget delay compensation and even mixing - suming happens on playback too.

So if a session played back with all of the faders at zero (lets assume that it was tracked in a way that this was a reasonable mix) and identical panning, would a Mix system and an HD system sound different?

I didn't actaully A/B, but when I hooked up my HD system, that was mys first impression. Both systems were monitored through the same converters and console.

IF you're talking about ITB mixes, delay compensation aside, you're talking about different plug-ins. They may have the same name and graphics, but it's not the same code.

So, I think there are a lot of reasons that you will hear a difference.

Will HD be a "better" sound? That's a totally different question.


As far as external summing is concerned, here's what I think you need to keep in mind.

You've got a bunch of mono tracks, say 48 faders, that need to be combined into one stereo pair. There are two ways to do this. One is to look at mathematical representations of in mono tracks and do a mathemateicla calculation of what that should sound like when combined.

The other method is to convert those mono tracks into electricity and send the electricity down a bunch of individual wires to a cicruit where all that electricity mashes together and comes out on two wires.

Do you really think that a computer is going to calculate the exact same tone as the resulting mashup of electicity? I don't believe so.

Then the important quesiton becomes which sounds better? That's going ot be subjective. And the following, is the difference worth the expense?

I think it's pretty objective to say that the summing will sound different. The important questions will all have subjective answers.
Old 3rd January 2007
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Shepperd View Post
I have done the test that you are referring to.
I used to own a Mix Plus system and then upgraded to HD about 3 years ago.
As soon as I got the HD I brought up my old mixes to hear what they would sound like in HD.
There was a night and day difference.

The reverbs sound much better in HD. The main reason is the engine that drives it.
The 48 bit processing makes a huge difference in the sound.
I agree with this assessment. I don't think it's too subjective either all in all.

ADC in HD as I understand also covers bussing and sends, which is a huge deal. ADC in HD isn't perfect, but it is better than using timeadjuster to compensate for plugin latency.

However, the sound of the Mix system may or may not be that big of a factor in the end sound of your mixes, or the 'size' of your mixes... It could be a weak link in the chain, but not the only factor. However, it is definitely something that affects the way you have to work.
Old 3rd January 2007
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Caffrey View Post
I believe the answer is no.

Since you're saying essentially "all thinkgs being equal..." let's forget delay compensation and even mixing - suming happens on playback too.

So if a session played back with all of the faders at zero (lets assume that it was tracked in a way that this was a reasonable mix) and identical panning, would a Mix system and an HD system sound different?

I didn't actaully A/B, but when I hooked up my HD system, that was mys first impression. Both systems were monitored through the same converters and console.

IF you're talking about ITB mixes, delay compensation aside, you're talking about different plug-ins. They may have the same name and graphics, but it's not the same code.

So, I think there are a lot of reasons that you will hear a difference.

Will HD be a "better" sound? That's a totally different question.


As far as external summing is concerned, here's what I think you need to keep in mind.

You've got a bunch of mono tracks, say 48 faders, that need to be combined into one stereo pair. There are two ways to do this. One is to look at mathematical representations of in mono tracks and do a mathemateicla calculation of what that should sound like when combined.

The other method is to convert those mono tracks into electricity and send the electricity down a bunch of individual wires to a cicruit where all that electricity mashes together and comes out on two wires.

Do you really think that a computer is going to calculate the exact same tone as the resulting mashup of electicity? I don't believe so.

Then the important quesiton becomes which sounds better? That's going ot be subjective. And the following, is the difference worth the expense?

I think it's pretty objective to say that the summing will sound different. The important questions will all have subjective answers.



Your description reads like poetry to my ears, and very eloquently explains why I decided to stick with PT Mix (6 card) 5.1 and upgrade to a Trident 80 series console (recapped) instead of upgrading to PT HD!

IMO nothing beats having 48 analog outs from PT (3X- DA16x), escpecially when the material is mostly loud, aggressive, percussion-based rock n' roll.

To the poster of this thread: if you are using the "bounce to disk" feature in PT Mix 5.1 whilst using a "mastering plug-in" for loudness, and then comparing your end product to commercially released stuff --- well, it should be no suprise that it sounds thin and wimpy by comparison.

Most of the well produced commercially successful stuff, besides the fact that much of it is mixed OTB on a top end analog console, the other big factor is that it is usually mastered by a great mastering engineer who understands how to tweak whatever genre of music it is --- often with some really great analog outboard, and an experienced pair of ears who knows how far something can be taken (loudness-wise) without destroying the 3D-ness and width of the stereo mix.

I know one such mastering engineer personally, and you'd be amazed to hear what some of the stuff sounds like pre-mastering. "Night and day" would not be enough to describe how dramatic the differences can be. "Unlistenable and listenable" might be a better way of describing it. Of course, he gets alot of stuff tracked digital and mixed ITB; and the majority of it sounds pretty flat and one dimensional ("boring" might be the best adjective) until he does his magic to it.

I am very lucky to know this person !!!!!
Old 3rd January 2007
  #21
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pete's Avatar
 

funny... will there still be discussions about that in 10 years?

please define "sounds better than..."
Old 3rd January 2007
  #22
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Lynne Fuston's Awesome DAW-SUM CD has this comparison and 28 more. No processing, no plug-ins, just summing. The same set of files summed on different DAWs including PTHD, Mix, LE, Logic, Digital Performer, Nuendo, and so on. Also included are a couple of digital mixers, and some analog summing (Dangerous, SSL) as well.

in addition to summing everything at "0" a "fader damage" test was also done.
Old 3rd January 2007
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sage691 View Post
Most of the well produced commercially successful stuff, besides the fact that much of it is mixed OTB on a top end analog console, the other big factor is that it is usually mastered by a great mastering engineer who understands how to tweak whatever genre of music it is --- often with some really great analog outboard, and an experienced pair of ears who knows how far something can be taken (loudness-wise) without destroying the 3D-ness and width of the stereo mix.

I know one such mastering engineer personally, and you'd be amazed to hear what some of the stuff sounds like pre-mastering. "Night and day" would not be enough to describe how dramatic the differences can be. "Unlistenable and listenable" might be a better way of describing it. Of course, he gets alot of stuff tracked digital and mixed ITB; and the majority of it sounds pretty flat and one dimensional ("boring" might be the best adjective) until he does his magic to it.

I am very lucky to know this person !!!!!
You know what's funny is that when some of the top mix and mastering engineers on this board and others weigh in about this, they will mention that the mixes sound pretty much finished before the mastering stage, and all the mastering engineers will do is a couple subtle tweaks and done. Not that mastering can't work wonders, but there's no excuse for not having a competitive mix. The mastering engineer is not a crutch.

Since Mix is different than HD, since a console is different than either, you may have to work harder on one to get what you want or you may want to change what you're mixing on since one may not fit your working style... But don't just assume that you can fix it in the mastering.
Old 3rd January 2007
  #24
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Tony Shepperd's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by robot gigante View Post
You know what's funny is that when some of the top mix and mastering engineers on this board and others weigh in about this, they will mention that the mixes sound pretty much finished before the mastering stage, and all the mastering engineers will do is a couple subtle tweaks and done. Not that mastering can't work wonders, but there's no excuse for not having a competitive mix. The mastering engineer is not a crutch.
Excellent Post!
Truer Words Were Never Spoken.
Old 3rd January 2007
  #25
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RoundBadge's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by sage691 View Post
...Of course, he gets alot of stuff tracked digital and mixed ITB; and the majority of it sounds pretty flat and one dimensional ("boring" might be the best adjective) until he does his magic to it.

I am very lucky to know this person !!!!!
So this guy can take flat lifeless one dimensional mixes and reverse the damage?

How pray tell...who is this magician?

I have yet to meet anyone who can actually that

Louder yes,but undo the flat mixes/ bad 2 buss plugin abuse and ..No.


Wow..i'd really like to meet this guy..

Seriously, any references to his work?
Old 3rd January 2007
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
Lynne Fuston's Awesome DAW-SUM CD has this comparison and 28 more. No processing, no plug-ins, just summing. The same set of files summed on different DAWs including PTHD, Mix, LE, Logic, Digital Performer, Nuendo, and so on. Also included are a couple of digital mixers, and some analog summing (Dangerous, SSL) as well.

in addition to summing everything at "0" a "fader damage" test was also done.
Save yourself the money. All the digital platforms sounded the same and there was no "damage" from moving the faders.

-R
Old 3rd January 2007
  #27
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RoundBadge's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RKrizman View Post
Save yourself the money. All the digital platforms sounded the same and there was no "damage" from moving the faders.

-R
Yup.stike
Old 3rd January 2007
  #28
Gear Addict
 

Hey guys. I'm the one who started this thread. Thanks for all your input. As with most debates regarding pro audio, I'm not surprised that there are so many varying opinions and thoughts here.

I am curious about that DAWSUM SAMPLER CD. I hadn't heard of it before. Should be interesting.

Honestly, I am not qualified to give a valuable opinion about this topic (which is why I started this thread in the first place). I am trying to learn what I might be doing wrong. All I know is that my mixes sound very thin compared to commcerical CDs. And yes, I also know that there are many differences in how my music is mixed vs. how those commcercial CDs were mixed (ranging from an SSL, to hundreds of thousands of dollars of outboard gear, to pro mastering, etc). But I also know (or think) that some commercial CDs were mixed ITB, and they still sound fatter and bigger than mine. Anyway, since I can't afford the above-mentioned luxuries, I thought I would see if there was something else I could do, to improve the overall sound.

There are a few factors that I want to learn more about. For example, yes, I use the "bounce to disk" feature in Pro Tools 5.1. Does that step alone cause a negative effect? (as opposed to printing the mix on a separate rig?) After I do the "bounce to disk", I drag the file into Toast, and then burn a CD. These steps seem normal to me... but I wonder if there is something I'm doing that could be causing my mixes to end up sounding smaller.

And yes... I also use an L2 on the stereo buss. I've done extensive research on this forum about it, and I know that many people hate the L2 and what it does to the sound. But I'm still not sure if that alone is the problem? I know the L2 can squash the dynamic life out of a mix, but can it make things sound smaller? (I think those are 2 separate issues)...

Another factor I want to learn about are the different mixing engines in Pro Tools 5.1 and HD. Could it be that in my version of Pro Tools (5.1), since it is only a 24 bit mixing engine... that I might be overloading the stereo buss INPUT, without knowing it? (Come to think of it, how can you tell if you're overloading the input of the stereo buss? if I understand it correctly, the master fader only shows the output of the stereo buss, right?) Maybe my problem has to do with limited headroom the stereo buss?

Also, there is the issue of ADC. Since I parallel process the drums (in PT 5.1), I have to manually nudge the regions to allow for phase issues... and that works fine. However, I don't nudge any other regions at all (when using plug-ins). I have never used time adjuster, and I don't even know how to use it, or if I even have it at all. So maybe there is something there too? Some very slight phase issues that I don't hear as obviously as the drums?

Furthermore, the Waves Rennaissance plugs (which I use a lot) are also something I wonder about. I use Waveshell 3.0 (which is obviously an older version)... however, they are still 48 bit plugs. But I wonder, are they inferior in sound quality to the newer Waves plugs? Or are they identical? Could these plugs be causing the audio to sound smaller? I tend to use a lot of EQs (mostly filters) and Rennaissance compressors.

Regarding mastering, once again, I am not qualifed to comment intelligently. I have never had a project professionally mastered. I have never heard a "before and after" comparison. However, I somehow have a hard time believing that pro mastering alone can be the answer to my "thin mixes". But what do I know...

Thanks for your input
Old 3rd January 2007
  #29
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sage691 View Post
To the poster of this thread: if you are using the "bounce to disk" feature in PT Mix 5.1 whilst using a "mastering plug-in" for loudness, and then comparing your end product to commercially released stuff --- well, it should be no suprise that it sounds thin and wimpy by comparison.
Sage, can you elaborate a little more on that please? Is the 'bounce to disk' feature a problem in itself? Thanks
Old 3rd January 2007
  #30
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RKrizman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rockman View Post
There are a few factors that I want to learn more about. For example, yes, I use the "bounce to disk" feature in Pro Tools 5.1. Does that step alone cause a negative effect? (as opposed to printing the mix on a separate rig?) After I do the "bounce to disk", I drag the file into Toast, and then burn a CD. These steps seem normal to me... but I wonder if there is something I'm doing that could be causing my mixes to end up sounding smaller.
I've never found any problem with bounce-to-disc and I do exactly what you do. The only assertion I've heard about BTD that I give any creedence to is that it doesn't track automation with complete accuracy--however, it will still be more accurate than any analog automation system.

In any case, BTD won't affect your overall sound quality and make your mixes sound smaller. If you don't believe that, just do a comparison yourself between BTD versus mixing to a stereo track within the session. Drag the BTD mix back into the session, turn off any master bus processing, solo the two tracks and compare.

Digital recording comes with a different set of "givens". In the old, I mean really old days of clunky analog consoles and head-bumping multitracks and shedding Ampex 456 tape the challenge was to work past the tubbiness and boxiness and low end mush and try to carve out some clarity. You didn't have to worry about adding girth because it came with every piece of gear you used. With digital, you don't get any of those fattening compounds as a matter of course, so the challenge becomes additive rather than subtractive.

There's no silver bullet, either.

-R
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