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Tonelux Test...
Old 2nd February 2007
  #1
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Tony Shepperd's Avatar
Tonelux Test...

I recently completed the ITB vs. Summing of Tonelux shoot-out and thought I would post the results.
FYI: The Tonelux rack was filled with 8-MX2 line input modules and 1-SM2 Stereo Master.
I posted the results HERE on my website because it required about 50 MB of MP3's and that wasn't practical to post on GS.

I would like to thank Mike Shipley for this new test. I met him at the Gearslutz NAMM party in LA.
He told me to try the additional outputs of the 192. If I did, he felt the difference would be more dramatic than the stereo mix out.
He was right. Of course everyone has a different reaction to the listening test. YMMV.

Typically the assignments were drums output 1 and 2, keyboards and bass out 3 and 4, guitars out 5 and 6 and vocals out 7 and 8.
All the associated reverbs and efx were summed out of their respective outputs.
Since the initial posting of this test a few weeks ago, the new addition is Test C.

Everafter is a 24 Bit/96k session.
Just Listen is a 24Bit/48k session.
Save a Place is a 24 Bit/48k session.
All the mixes/songs used Apogee Big Ben as the external clock.

JUST SO YOU KNOW
Song A is always ITB.
Song B is always TONELUX 2 Outputs
Song C is always TONELUX 8 Outputs.
Old 2nd February 2007
  #2
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Shepperd View Post
...He told me to try the additional outputs of the 192. If I did, he felt the difference would be more dramatic than the stereo mix out.
He was right...
Could you explain further? Thanks Tony.
Old 2nd February 2007
  #3
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Blast9's Avatar
Hi Tony... You have a gorgeous studio!


From a "consumer" listening environment:


Everafter


Listening on my Dell PC with generic on-board soundcard, using iTunes as per usual >>> Sennheiser HD25 hedfones,

Sum A seems slightly louder.

Sum A vox sound ever so slightly more "sharp"... Not more sibilant or harsher, just more edgy.

Sum B --- the intro guitars seem to have more harmonics and bite.

Sum B --- The snare sometimes sounds slightly more buried, with less "pop". But this is really minimal

Sum B sounds slightly softer

The rest I simply heard no difference whatsoever: the toms were nice and meaty with both.

The kick was nice and deep with both.

To me they both had the same perceived width.

Summary
--- On a consumer system, the differences are extremely minimal. One did not sound thicker or more euphonic than the other.

Cheers

Andy

PS FWIW, I've only heard 2 rock acts recorded with tonelux console, i.e. Chili Peppers, and Glen Hughes --- Both recorded by Ryan Hewitt, and I can hear a similar flavour between those, which I presume is the Tonelux console as a whole, and not the summing section
Old 2nd February 2007
  #4
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Slaytex's Avatar
 

I have never to this day been sold on the idea that OTB summing is "always" the way to go. On "R&B" I personally feel that the ITB mix is the best because it has retained a lot of it's transient attack. I feel that the Tonelux kinda of compresses the transients down a bit, which seems to glue things together but takes away a lot of the feel atleast to me. This doesn't mean that I think Tonelux is bad at all, it just shows that summing boxes are tools and no one tool is going to fix everything. I feel that the Tonelux takes away some low end bass but does add a foward punch, I also hear it taking away the highs slightly and compressing the transients. Again this sound could be cool for certain things, but I feel that it takes a lot away from the R&B song. As always this is just my opinion.

Flame away!

Thanks for posting.
Old 2nd February 2007
  #5
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Tony Shepperd's Avatar
Mike said he felt the real benefit to the summing was breaking out the tracks into more than just a stereo pair.
He felt the more you broke it out the more of the console flavor you would hear.

One of the reasons I did this test was because on an earlier post, darkwater said he ran his mix though a Fulcrom and that the difference from his ITB mix was a HUGE difference.
So a number of us ask if he could post the files. No files were posted.

So I decided to do a listening test and post the files. It seems people had done the Fulcrom test already, so I called Jeff Goodman from Tonelux.
I have known Jeff for a number of years since he worked for Otari and I was the poster boy for RADAR.
Jeff brought over a rack of Tonelux for me to try for only a week. It ended staying for 3. LOL

IMO, the summing is not for all styles of music. However, I would get the Tonelux rack just on the chance that I might need the flavor.
But that was the whole point of the test really. People are speaking in theory about what these boxes do and don't do, but ultimately it's listening that provides the greatest benefits/results.
Like I said, try the test for yourself. YMMV.
Old 2nd February 2007
  #6
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dim light's Avatar
 

thanks Tony -
Old 2nd February 2007
  #7
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Blast9's Avatar
Ok... I just had to ask

PT phone home?
Old 2nd February 2007
  #8
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There's a difference between the ITB and OTB, but i would not say the OTB mix is better, just different. The biggest being in the highs, the OTB highs seems not as pronounced and there's more of a smear wich might be better suited for some style of music than others. Actually, the R&B mix sounded better ITB. I've always thought that there's nothing wrong with ITB mix buss once you learn how to work with it and stop using some of those awful sounding plug-ins. Thanks for the test.
Old 2nd February 2007
  #9
Gear Head
 

Did anyone else hear the ITB sum of song A as MUCH wider than either OTB?
Old 2nd February 2007
  #10
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Blast9's Avatar
Hey JPJ, of course this begs the question: how would Zep have sounded ITB?

My guess is "Just like Zep"
Old 2nd February 2007
  #11
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I think the A mixes all sounded cleaner than the Tonelux mixes. Not saying they sound better, but they do sound cleaner to me.

I still am not a big fan of doing an ITB mix and only summing OTB. I find a bigger difference simply sending the 2 bus through a decent OTB bus compressor.

I sum OTB because I use ALOT of outboard gear. This way I can use one very high end stereo converter to get back ITB, as opposed to needing 16 or 24 additional ADCs.

That said, the Tonelux is more than just a summing box. It's a complete OTB solution. It is a way to work COMPLETELY out of the box, using REAL gear. This is what appeals to me about the system.
Old 2nd February 2007
  #12
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blast9 View Post
Hey JPJ, of course this begs the question: how would Zep have sounded ITB?

My guess is "Just like Zep"
I was afraid you were going to say "Just like Lincoln Park"
Old 2nd February 2007
  #13
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Slaytex's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnPaulJones View Post
Did anyone else hear the ITB sum of song A as MUCH wider than either OTB?
Yes, I feel that the ITB mixes jump out both image wise and dynamically if that makes sense. I wonder how hard the Tonelux modules were hit. Tony, have you noticed a difference in the gain staging of the Tonelux. It sounds like how transformers saturate and it seems to kill some transients and slightly compress the mix.

Thanks
Old 2nd February 2007
  #14
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sizzleboy View Post
That said, the Tonelux is more than just a summing box. It's a complete OTB solution. It is a way to work COMPLETELY out of the box, using REAL gear. This is what appeals to me about the system.
In that vein, I’d love to see a A/B where the ITB used only plugs and the OTB used only outboard effects. I know it wouldn’t be scientific, but it seems this is where the largest sound variation would occur.
Old 2nd February 2007
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slaytex View Post
Yes, I feel that the ITB mixes jump out both image wise and dynamically if that makes sense. I wonder how hard the Tonelux modules were hit. Tony, have you noticed a difference in the gain staging of the Tonelux. It sounds like how transformers saturate and it seems to kill some transients and slightly compress the mix.

Thanks
I also noticed that levels were matched with a limiter. How exactly was this accomplished? If the limiter had different input levels from the source, the end result would be more limiting on the louder source.
Old 2nd February 2007
  #16
Well, this is what I hear. I opened 3 windows so I could play sections of each. I listened to the ROCK set for now.

A It has that perceived clarity, which I find most people pick the first time, but then after a few more comparisons, they tend to go towards another OTB. The cymbals were bright, but seemed a bit grainy, not uncommon with digital summing. Most of the top end appeared that way to me. Near the end, when she sings "give me a chance" and really opens up, it gets very bright and sizzley.

B Was lower in level, but when I set it the same, this is what I heard. The cymbals were a lot softer sounding, but not in level compared to the mix, but in smoothness. Again the perceived loudness was a result of the high end clarity. The low end did sound different but I think it was because the click isn't as apparent in the OTB version, so the perception was that some low end was lost. I also felt that when the echo part went back and fourth, it had more depth, or distance from the mix. The ITB one was clearer, but seemed to be at the same plane as the rest of the mix. The little synth part also sounded fatter. Near the end when she sings "give me a chance" it doesn't sizzle like A and sounds more natural. It doesn't get annoying.

C Very similar to B, maybe a little more separation with some of the instruments, but that may be because of the stems. The "make you see" echo near the end was much different. I could feel it pass over me instead of just moving from left to right. I found this in B also, but A was kind of a flat path, straight across the middle, where B and C seemed to move in an arc.

Quickly listening to the other mixes, I found pretty much the same, the cymbals were harsh on A and the reverb seemed to decay longer with B and C

But, that's just me...
Old 2nd February 2007
  #17
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RKrizman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnPaulJones View Post
Did anyone else hear the ITB sum of song A as MUCH wider than either OTB?
Yes, definitely. Something was lost in B and C and it's not just a volume difference. A has a much more extended low end and greater clarity. That opening guitar just grabs you. To my ears B and C have a murky low midrange and just less overall impact, detail and musicality.

I tried a Tonelux summing system for awhile and didn't notice such an extreme difference. Are you sure your cabling and analog interfacing is all up to par?

-R
Old 2nd February 2007
  #18
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RKrizman's Avatar
 

I just noticed on your site that you used a Massey limiter to level match the tracks. That thing is anything but transparent. I can't help but think that something besides summing is responsible for these differences, particularly the radically different low end.
(which I hear quite clearly on my S3As).

-R
Old 2nd February 2007
  #19
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GYang's Avatar
Strange and opposite to any of my experiences with OTB.
First, I don't have Tonelux so can't say exactly what is going on here, but:

1. Low end damped in such way is WHAT NEVER OCCURED neither on my Mixdream or Nicerizer.
2. Smoothening high-end is what we OTB fans especially like is again not so nice here as I used to hear in my routine work. Nicerizer is different to Mixdream, but it's hard to believe that Tonelux could deliver less clarity and definition.

If above would be real result of Tonelux sonical capabilities I would not look at that system even at 20% of its price.

Second opinion:

Several Tonelux vs anything comparison tests quite often reflected some mixed and confusing results (specially famous RoundBadges Nicerizer vs Tonelux vs ITB in which Tonelux and ITB killed Nicerizer in low-end what I put under strong doubt as not conforming my direct experience in ITB vs Nicerizer).

Conclusion

So many variables as level matching, cabling, adding plug-ins or anything to pure track etc. can add many nuances and bring to wrong conclusions.
On the other hand, we still didn't see here ITB vs Tonelux (min. 16 channels) vs console comparison done in good studio what could be real eye-opener.
Old 2nd February 2007
  #20
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Shepperd View Post
Mike said he felt the real benefit to the summing was breaking out the tracks into more than just a stereo pair.
He felt the more you broke it out the more of the console flavor you would hear.
I see. I thought he might have had a preferred set of outputs (i.e. analog outputs 13 & 14 sound better than 15 & 16 - hey, in this day and age, you never know what people might claim).

Quote:
...and I was the poster boy for RADAR...
I knew I met you somewhere... I've still got 2 of 'em at my place

Quote:
IMO, the summing is not for all styles of music. However, I would get the Tonelux rack just on the chance that I might need the flavor.
But that was the whole point of the test really. People are speaking in theory about what these boxes do and don't do, but ultimately it's listening that provides the greatest benefits/results.
Like I said, try the test for yourself. YMMV.
Tony, you hit the nail right on the head. And thanks for taking the time to post this. Interesting how ToneLux's perception differs from a few other listeners here - and, of course, they make a great product. But in audio, as in life, there isn't a "one size fits all"...
Old 2nd February 2007
  #21
84K
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84K's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ToneLux View Post
Quickly listening to the other mixes, I found pretty much the same, the cymbals were harsh on A and the reverb seemed to decay longer with B and C

But, that's just me...

Nope.... Not just you.


Hey, stop fukkin around with posts and get me the specs on our 16X4X2 we talked about earlier! The Reduction Room is anxiously waiting for its side car.
Old 3rd February 2007
  #22
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Tony Shepperd's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RKrizman View Post
I just noticed on your site that you used a Massey limiter to level match the tracks. That thing is anything but transparent. I can't help but think that something besides summing is responsible for these differences, particularly the radically different low end.
(which I hear quite clearly on my S3As). -R
Yes, I am sure my Mogami cabling is up to par.
If you don't believe me you can ask Jeff Goodman who works for Tonelux.
He helped me set it up the rack and has been in my room numerous times.

As for the Massey, I like the plugin a lot. It also happens to be one of the same plugins I have on my ITB mix.
So it would make the perfect limiter to even out the gain on the Tonelux.
I could put an L3 on it if you want to hear it with that.

I love having the Tonelux, it gives me the best of both worlds.
If a client comes in and wants that console sound, boom, I can sub it out and we can print back to Pro Tools.

The best part for me is that I can still mix ITB.
Old 3rd February 2007
  #23
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RKrizman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Shepperd View Post
Yes, I am sure my Mogami cabling is up to par.
If you don't believe me you can ask Jeff Goodman who works for Tonelux.
He helped me set it up the rack and has been in my room numerous times.

As for the Massey, I like the plugin a lot. It also happens to be one of the same plugins I have on my ITB mix.
So it would make the perfect limiter to even out the gain on the Tonelux.
Yeah, I like the Massey too. My point was just that the amount of coloration will vary with the amount of gain increase or reduction, so if you're using it to level match files for comparison purposes then it becomes an additional variable. No offense meant about the cable comment. i don't know you from Adam, and stranger things have happened. (I mean, I even heard stories about one notable engineer would lose all the bottom end from his Protools files every time he tried to output them analog )

When I used the Tonelux rig, also delivered by Jeff, I rather liked it, especially when I dug into it a bit. But I never heard such a stark difference just from running through the modules.

Peace,
R
Old 3rd February 2007
  #24
Here for the gear
 

Now if you can run the ITB stems into an SSL so we can see how the Tonelux
compares to an SSL under the same circumstances

I’m sure everyone would like to hear this!
Old 3rd February 2007
  #25
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RKrizman's Avatar
 

Hey, talk is cheap. Here's a thread from last year where I compared ITB with the Nicerizer16 with the Tonelux. The OTB mixes are stereo stems fed into 8 channels of the summing boxes, panned hard so the panning laws are not a factor. Each of the 8 tracks was tone balanced to within .1 db.

The thread starts with excerpts of a tune called Chicken Wings, and then later in the thread I do it again with a track called Blues.

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/showthrea...ming+Nicerizer

The answers are given later in the thread.

-R
Old 3rd February 2007
  #26
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RoundBadge's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Shepperd View Post

I love having the Tonelux, it gives me the best of both worlds.
If a client comes in and wants that console sound, boom, I can sub it out and we can print back to Pro Tools.

The best part for me is that I can still mix ITB.

thumbsup Same here
Old 3rd February 2007
  #27
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TheSweetener's Avatar
 

I listened to the rock mix and I was shocked about the difference. Never heard such a big difference between different summing busses.

I was also shocked about the extreme colour of the Tonelux system. I would not do that to my mixes, perhaps once a year if it fits by accident.

I was shocked again how small, dull and narrow it sounded compared to ITB!
Yeah, it's always a matter of taste, but you need an extreme taste to prefer this.
Old 3rd February 2007
  #28
w2w
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Quote:
I was also shocked about the extreme colour of the Tonelux system. I would not do that to my mixes, perhaps once a year if it fits by accident.

I was shocked again how small, dull and narrow it sounded compared to ITB!
Yeah, it's always a matter of taste, but you need an extreme taste to prefer this.
It just goes to show how everyone hears things differently.(and thats not meant as a bad thing).I dont hear it that way,as Im sure others who listen hear it even another way.(maybe worse,maybe better).

I think with ANY product,you need to have it in your own room,with your setup,your tracks,your mixes...and make YOUR own tests and decide with your ears.

I enjoy hearing others test files & results,but I could never come to a conclusion one way or the other without actually having the gear in my room & trying it.At that point I could post what I liked,or didnt like using the gear in MY room,in my situation. And without a doubt,would be entirely different than the next guys experience.

I have checked Tonelux gear out,but it was not in my room.I think the quality of it is excellent.The concept is brilliant,and probably most important,is that you can reach Paul just about anytime.THAT to me is what is missing these days.Besides Wade & Chandler,Peter from A-Designs (and I'll even throw in Alan from PMI),There are not too many companies that you can talk to that easy,who listen,and actually try to make products that the market asks for.And as with everything....Its not always for everyone.
Old 3rd February 2007
  #29
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TheSweetener's Avatar
 

No disrespect to Tonelux! Don't get me wrong.
I also remeber another test here on GS where the differences were somehow smaller to ITB and where I preferred the Tonelux summing.
You're right, everyone should check that stuff at home to make decisions! And of course everyone who will spend that money will do that before purchasing!

Anyway, listening to these files the Tonelux system sounds very special and I don't think in a good way. But of course opinions are like assholes...
Old 3rd February 2007
  #30
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GYang's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by w2w View Post
The concept is brilliant,and probably most important,is that you can reach Paul just about anytime.THAT to me is what is missing these days.Besides Wade & Chandler,Peter from A-Designs (and I'll even throw in Alan from PMI),There are not too many companies that you can talk to that easy,who listen,and actually try to make products that the market asks for.And as with everything....Its not always for everyone.


Fully agree with you.
BUT HERE WE TALK ABOUT SONIC EXPECTATIONS AND RESULTS.
If test was done correctly it was third time out of three that I didn't hear what I expected from OTB system compared to ITB reference ( although I theoretically appreciate Tonelux very much). Its concept, designer, support bla, bla...
Unfortunately before I can hear it in real situation I can make preliminary conclusions (not final of course) based on several comparison files.
In the past it was similar with Nicerizer (which fully satisfied my expectations) and Mixdream (that I heard in studio before purchase).
I think that as Tonelux mixing solution looks rather attractive to many potential buyers assuming 30-40 k middle size conosle budget, it would be very useful if some of experienced gearslutz in located US, not affiliated with anyone, would done unbiased, professionally level matched and professional test ITB vs Tonelux 16-24 ch vs high quality console with same track number.
Someone like ubk, thrillfactor thumbsup
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