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what's the purpose of a summing mixer Summing Mixers
Old 3rd March 2018
  #61
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Hi
Thanks, yes exactly. The same way as a gallon of petrol will 'perform' differently in a Lotus compared to a Nissan Micra. The 'summing' bit is just a bunch of resistors.
Matt S
Old 3rd March 2018
  #62
Quote:
Originally Posted by TEEspresso View Post
Just to be clear, are you saying that X imaginary resistor summing unit will "SOUND exactly the same as..." an SSL which will also "SOUND exactly the same as..." a NEVE which will also "SOUND exactly the same as..." whatever?

Because SSL and Neve summing units do not "SOUND exactly the same" to my ears, and I'd wager I'm not alone in the set of people who can hear a difference.

Not that I think there isn't a set of folks who can't hear the differences between equipment, there are after all a shedload of crap recordings in the world that someone thought sounded wonderful.

Surely, just because they think everything sounds exactly the same, it does not mean everything sounds exactly the same as everything else.

The original poster is advised to listen for themselves to a variety of summing units of all types to see if it's a change or improvement or worse or maybe; they will all sound the same.
I don't think he's saying that. He's just talking about a passive summing network, the point of which is to be transparent... but then come amps for make up gain, which are your first factor of character.

A lot of this really is about digital vs analog. Now when comparing x, y, or z mixer you're of course going to have differences because they'll all have different designs, circuits and components surrounding the summing. WE GET IT! If you strip "summing" down to JUST the summing portion of a given mixer...there is maybe a minuet difference OTB vs. ITB, but it's irrelevant as there is no real world means of stripping away all the components and that's never what we're actually talking about, nor trying to do when those of us who use analog mixers go OTB.

Even though it's subjective, let's say hypothetically the sonic differences are negligible between x and y...there are other factors/features/design etc. that each piece will have that will inform, or inspire you to work a certain way and make certain decisions when mixing. That's why you really have to get your hands on something in order to judge it. Plus everyone's perception and perspective is different so I can only put so much weight on what Joe Schmo says about x, or y, even if he has mixed dozens of platinum records.

Like I said before, just as with components and their implementation surrounding (it's summing network) being paramount in differentiating mixers; what you put/do before and after the mixer is what matters most. That's why I really like a simple passive summing box like the DIYRE SB2 because it allows you to customize exactly what that is going to be. And to me that's the idea of a summing mixer, whether it's something as stripped down as the SB2, or something like the Chandler mini mixer, you're tailoring what your setup is based on what is optimal for your own means and workflow.
Old 3rd March 2018
  #63
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TEEspresso's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Syson View Post
Hi
Thanks, yes exactly. The same way as a gallon of petrol will 'perform' differently in a Lotus compared to a Nissan Micra. The 'summing' bit is just a bunch of resistors.
Matt S
And I'll agree that if one took a bunch of spark plugs from a lotus and a nissan and poured the same amount of gasoline over them in the street and lit it on fire they would have an identical 0-60 time, it would measure the same on an oscilloscope and sound nearly the same to boot.

Still doesn't make summing mixers sound exactly the same or like in the box.

Because people don't hear them the same, even the passive ones.
Old 3rd March 2018
  #64
Gear Addict
 

On a side note, just discovered the Burl B32 summing mixer. Seems to offer a good deal of channels for a reasonable price. Anyone using this? Wondering if it’s quality. Maybe this is the one that will convert me.
Old 3rd March 2018
  #65
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drumsandcymbals8's Avatar
 

SB2 Passive Summing

Thought I'd post a quick demo of a song from my band Goldtone to highlight the difference between analog and digital summing for me. I'm using an Antelope Orion Studio 2017, clocked by a Grimm CC2, to send 16 stems out to a SB2 Passive Summing Mixer, back into the Antelope microphone preamps hitting 31db's of gain. I use ReaInsert as the first plugin on my master bus to bring in the analog summed mix--which allows me to quickly audition the digital sum vs the analog sum at the same volume by disabling this plugin.

To my ears, the analog summing makes the mix feel deeper and more relaxed. Bass sounds more convincing. Its subtle for sure but I like it a lot. I gain matched the files below as close as possible.
Attached Files

Holiday Analog Sum.mp3 (2.61 MB, 1841 views)

Holiday Digital Sum.mp3 (2.61 MB, 1824 views)

Old 4th March 2018
  #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drumsandcymbals8 View Post
Thought I'd post a quick demo of a song from my band Goldtone to highlight the difference between analog and digital summing for me. I'm using an Antelope Orion Studio 2017, clocked by a Grimm CC2, to send 16 stems out to a SB2 Passive Summing Mixer, back into the Antelope microphone preamps hitting 31db's of gain. I use ReaInsert as the first plugin on my master bus to bring in the analog summed mix--which allows me to quickly audition the digital sum vs the analog sum at the same volume by disabling this plugin.

To my ears, the analog summing makes the mix feel deeper and more relaxed. Bass sounds more convincing. Its subtle for sure but I like it a lot. I gain matched the files below as close as possible.
Whoa! Whoa! Just listened on my studio monitors and the analog summed version sounds a hell of a lot better to me. The synth(?) in the background has more depth and width. Wow. Of all the A/Bs I've heard, this is the first one where I've heard a noticeable difference. I think you just convinced me to invest in a summing mixer. Damn you!

BTW, which DAW was the digital version done in?
Old 4th March 2018
  #67
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drumsandcymbals8's Avatar
 

Thanks! Both mixes were done from the exact same Reaper session. Only difference was the summing scheme.

I also must mention that I'm using an auto-panner plugin on some of the sythn parts. This auto-panner rarely behaves the same each bounce down so there will be differences between the two mixes there.
Old 4th March 2018
  #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drumsandcymbals8 View Post
Thanks! Both mixes were done from the exact same Reaper session. Only difference was the summing scheme.

I also must mention that I'm using an auto-panner plugin on some of the sythn parts. This auto-panner rarely behaves the same each bounce down so there will be differences between the two mixes there.
Hmmm. The part that I hear the biggest difference in is the synth pattern that starts at 00:16. The one in the analog summed sounds much better to me. Is this the auto-pan plugin or the summing?

Nice track by the way.
Old 4th March 2018
  #69
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zvukofor's Avatar
One thing to mention: mixing via so called "summing" mixer - i.e. passive summing buss plus gain makeup amp - gives you lower signal to noise ratio vs mixing in digital domain. I've read that low noise levels gives a sense of deeper/wider soundstage, that's a psychoacoustic trick. Maybe this effect plays the biggest role here?
Old 4th March 2018
  #70
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Mikey MTC's Avatar
 

Analog summing is DISTORTION ........ beautiful, desirable distortion.

Why would you want transparent summing? Transparent means invisible or no change. If you were going to drop big cash on one of these, you want to hear a difference!

All the cliches, "depth", "width", etc are more than likely very subtle phase shifts. These often sound great to us, but make no mistake, they're distortions from the original signal.

My personal bug bear with the summing box debate has always been the implication that they're fixing imperfections with digital when the reality is they're skewing the (sometimes undesirable) accuracy of digital.
Old 17th March 2018
  #71
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Just hooked up my B32, and tested out a mix. Consider me converted. Noticible difference, especially in the depth. The DAW mix sounds flat compared to the summed mix. Also the drums just jump out. Damn. Can’t wait to use this on some new tracks.
Old 28th April 2018
  #72
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While I agree that a summing device will be a bit different in sound than summing in a DAW of choice, this is mostly due to the amplifier used to crank the gain of the summed signal. These usually have some kind of transformer which adds some harmonics and distortion to the signal, hence a difference.

But the other part of the debate is if such a summing device is like summing on a console. For that, the answer is probably not. The point with analog consoles is that they are filled with transformers and other circuits for every channel on the board, and then have that too on the bus. The sound from the console comes from the signal entering the input stage with its associated transformers, through the EQ and (if also present) dynamics sections, then to the master bus (sometimes to a group). There are multiple stages per channel where the sound is altered, to be altered again at the master bus. That is something that is not usually replicated in summing mixers, these only have such circuits (often a transformer) on the final bus but not the individual channels.
Logic would dictate that running your stereo mix out of a good converter, into some kind of transformer or tube based unit (be it a line amp, EQ, compressor) and then to print would give you a very similar result, if not maybe better/more flexible when it comes to sonic options.
Old 28th April 2018
  #73
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by santibanks View Post
While I agree that a summing device will be a bit different in sound than summing in a DAW of choice, this is mostly due to the amplifier used to crank the gain of the summed signal. These usually have some kind of transformer which adds some harmonics and distortion to the signal, hence a difference.

But the other part of the debate is if such a summing device is like summing on a console. For that, the answer is probably not. The point with analog consoles is that they are filled with transformers and other circuits for every channel on the board, and then have that too on the bus. The sound from the console comes from the signal entering the input stage with its associated transformers, through the EQ and (if also present) dynamics sections, then to the master bus (sometimes to a group). There are multiple stages per channel where the sound is altered, to be altered again at the master bus. That is something that is not usually replicated in summing mixers, these only have such circuits (often a transformer) on the final bus but not the individual channels.
Logic would dictate that running your stereo mix out of a good converter, into some kind of transformer or tube based unit (be it a line amp, EQ, compressor) and then to print would give you a very similar result, if not maybe better/more flexible when it comes to sonic options.
I thought this thread was about the purpose of summing. Why do these types of threads go from that to this? In the Harley forums this is the same discussion on oil threads. its like a lime that has been pressed 10 times over. Don't you think we would just employ a couple 500 series preamps if it achieved the same result?
Old 28th April 2018
  #74
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I've personally been ITB for about 15 years and now gradually moving OTB, with a few comps and eqs and a summing thing (all high end gear or close enough). The results to me are much more satisfying and the job is easier, everything sounds deeper, more open, more divided. But above all, moving to analog means to me a faster work: less plugins (much less), less corrections over corrections, more "instant satisfaction". I don't think I'll go back easily.
Old 29th April 2018
  #75
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cjogo's Avatar
Never worked without a mixer -- since the 70's .. What ever the recording media > always mixed via a multi-channel fader .... wouldn't know how to record and produce a final mix == without one /\

Here's the studio in 95 --
Attached Thumbnails
what's the purpose of a summing mixer-enlarge_1.jpg  

Last edited by cjogo; 30th April 2018 at 05:18 PM..
Old 29th April 2018
  #76
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analog summing = very expensive way to improve a mix by 5%
Old 29th April 2018
  #77
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpookSound View Post
analog summing = very expensive way to improve a mix by 5%
It's expensive, indeed it is. But it isn't a 5% improvement only.
Old 29th April 2018
  #78
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Hi
It is probably a different mindset that makes some difference. The hardware might 'add' a few percent in terms of 'sound' but using a 'real' mixer is like playing a keyboard, you can do it blindfolded. There are restrictions in that you don't necessarily have a massive toolbox of plugins so you are more likely to use the channels as they are. Using a computer screen requires you to focus carefully on what you are altering, distracting you from listening to the sound you are adjusting.
Matt S
Old 29th April 2018
  #79
Quote:
Originally Posted by mofat View Post
Im just a hobbyist, singing karaoke but I want to sound professional with gear manipulation.
I'm using Apollo twin with a few plugins I bought but I do have some hardware LA2A and 1176 knockoffs and la610mk2 and vintech x73i preamps. Some eqp-kt and a patchbay.
With that gear, you can certainly sound professional. The limitation will not be a “summing mixer” - that will not be the most efficient way to improve mixes.

In your situation I’d drop money in room treatment and monitoring, and then improving your skills (by signing up to courses if you need to).

I’m making a slight assumption as to your situation, but for most something like a lack of “analogue summing” will not be the weak link in their chain.

I’m not saying they don’t do anything (although this whole $50 idea is misleading, since you still need $2k of decent preamp for makeup gain - and its that that gives you the improvement/difference!). But with skill you can certainly do the same thing ITB, it’s just that some prefer a different workflow.

It’s simply not the thing to worry about yet. Unless you’re rocking a reliable monitoring setup and you ca gear exactly what you’re missing, this isn’t the missing link.
Old 29th April 2018
  #80
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dights's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mofat View Post
Im just a hobbyist, singing karaoke but I want to sound professional with gear manipulation.
I'm using Apollo twin with a few plugins I bought but I do have some hardware LA2A and 1176 knockoffs and la610mk2 and vintech x73i preamps. Some eqp-kt and a patchbay.
I'd agree with psycho_monkey.

I'd also say that if you were of the inclination to drop money on analogue gear for your mix bus, that a chain of a decent mix bus compressor and EQ will give you more bang for your buck than a summing mixer and is probably a better starting point.
Old 29th April 2018
  #81
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Josh@AEA's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by santibanks View Post
While I agree that a summing device will be a bit different in sound than summing in a DAW of choice, this is mostly due to the amplifier used to crank the gain of the summed signal. These usually have some kind of transformer which adds some harmonics and distortion to the signal, hence a difference.

But the other part of the debate is if such a summing device is like summing on a console. For that, the answer is probably not. The point with analog consoles is that they are filled with transformers and other circuits for every channel on the board, and then have that too on the bus. The sound from the console comes from the signal entering the input stage with its associated transformers, through the EQ and (if also present) dynamics sections, then to the master bus (sometimes to a group). There are multiple stages per channel where the sound is altered, to be altered again at the master bus. That is something that is not usually replicated in summing mixers, these only have such circuits (often a transformer) on the final bus but not the individual channels.
Logic would dictate that running your stereo mix out of a good converter, into some kind of transformer or tube based unit (be it a line amp, EQ, compressor) and then to print would give you a very similar result, if not maybe better/more flexible when it comes to sonic options.
Keep in mind, there are many summing mixers that offer manny transformers, line amplifiers, etc. I have a Chandler Mini Mixer and it has 20 discrete amplifiers and 22 custom wound transformers. Same could be said for the Great River and Rupert Neve units and others.
Old 5th May 2018
  #82
yep
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpookSound View Post
analog summing = very expensive way to improve a mix by 5%
I think it's a mistake to look at it this way.

You don't need analog summing to make a great mix. Tchad Blake mixes 100% in the box, and if your mixes are 5% better than his, I don't think it's because of of analog summing.

Analog is not better than digital, it's different. It's like salt versus saffron versus maple syrup. The more expensive seasoning is not necessarily better, nor more useful.

Most of us have to work in world of practical constraints and compromises. Budgets, space, time, etc. But it is great to hear from those who can work without compromise, and to see how they do things.

The two don't have to be, and should not be, opposed. If you work in a restaurant where the surf and turf is lobster claws over filet mignon, and if I work in a place where it's shrimp over sirloin, then we can often both learn from each other how to deliver better results. Cooking techniques exist independent from ingredients, and some people make ****ty recordings with very expensive equipment, and others make great records with very little.

The very best records usually come from the most-talented people using the best equipment, but it's not a perfect formula.
Old 5th May 2018
  #83
I found this video on SSl summing very helpful to get better insight on the difference.

YouTube
Old 5th May 2018
  #84
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cjogo's Avatar
I guess I "sum" all our mixes through a digital board, these days ,,, then send the final two track to be rendered -- but, all tracks are mixed/summed through the physical faders >> and then the mixdown to a stereo Reaper track..

Last edited by cjogo; 5th May 2018 at 10:09 PM..
Old 5th May 2018
  #85
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Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpookSound View Post
analog summing = very expensive way to improve a mix by 5%
Entirely dependant on your workflow. Might be true about your workflow. Definitely isn't in true in mine.
Old 5th May 2018
  #86
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
Entirely dependant on your workflow. Might be true about your workflow. Definitely isn't in true in mine.
Meaning... a). You don't use summing?, or b). You do, and it's worth more than 5%?. I guess there could be a c)., You do and it's worth 5% but you don't see it as expensive.
Old 5th May 2018
  #87
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Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Meaning... a). You don't use summing?, or b). You do, and it's worth more than 5%?. I guess there could be a c)., You do and it's worth 5% but you don't see it as expensive.
B, but it also doesn't have to be expensive at all. I mean, you can build a passive summer of 16 ins for 40 quid or so all in in an afternoon. Add a couple of pres costs a little more, but still. Not if you already have them

I think people are too stuck staring at the difference of doing the actual summing either itb or analog. That is only one parameter here. Another is definitely to be able to share some of the signal out of different outs of an interface. Just splitting out bass separately and maybe vocal and kick and snare does do something before it even gets summed back together because the analog stages of the converter outputs don't have to play the entire mix back.

And that might be perceived as a small thing, which is fair. What isn't a small thing to me is being able to run fx sends from DAW out to hardware and back up the summing, creating a) a send to hardware situation that is completely phase smear free at all times without me worrying about anything and b) a load of hardware that goes straight to my mix bus VIRGIN stylee, not having been converted even ONCE before printing the mix. That. Sounds. Good.

And all this whilst keeping perfect recall if you hang the right bits off your sends.

What's not to like? It isn't just about the sound of the amps in stereo people, if you drive the wee fecker right.
Old 6th May 2018
  #88
Quote:
Originally Posted by cjogo View Post
I guess I "sum" all our mixes through a digital board, these days ,,, then send the final two track to be rendered -- but, all tracks are mixed/summed through the physical faders >> and then the mixdown to a stereo Reaper track..
That’s not “summing” in the context here. It’s not analogue - it’s still ITB, you just have a slightly different box.

Let’s keep the terms clear!
Old 6th May 2018
  #89
Here for the gear
Just gonna drop this here
Prime Studio(R) - Prime Studio(R) Charly

Here's an example of how it works/sounds
YouTube

The company makes plugins in collaboration with Acustica Audio.
This one is based on Tube-Tech SSA 2B summing box.

The plugin is free and it works great, obviously not for every purpose and completely dependent upon one's taste, but it definitely adds depth/dimension and space with a tubey vibe to the track.

Try it for yourself. Cheers

Last edited by ade2; 6th May 2018 at 01:05 PM.. Reason: additional information about the plugin
Old 6th May 2018
  #90
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

I borrowed a passive summer for a while, going into 2 API pres. Gave back the summer, tried 2 reamp boxes into the same two pres, pretty much the same. Then tried the same thing with two ancient UTC transformers on the back end. Definitely better, to me at least. Then ditched the reamp boxes and mic pres and swapped in dbx 560a's serving as line drivers. Also put balanced output trims on the transformers. This is the best yet, for me.

At this point, I have 4 different pairs of transformer/trimmer modules and they all sound different, especially when pushed. And there's two different kinds of "pushed," one where the mix bus passes directly through and you lean on the transformers just a little, and the other where you run the transformers in parallel and pound them and just add a little bit into the clean signal. Actually there's a third option, which is the second option but you hi-pass the signal hitting the transformers so the low end doesn't break up because there isn't any, and you still get a nice added texture in the mid and highs, and your kick and bass don't "splat."

At this point I haven't spent any significant money on any of this, but the next step would be to lose the 560a's in favor of a pair of high-quality dedicated two-stage line amps. The API 535 and the Louder Than Liftoff Chroma both look like they'd be good. But I'm cheap and this isn't a money-making deal for me and so far I've managed to do this without really spending for anything other than XLR's and pots and wire and boxes (and -- okay -- those yummy 1949 Stancor transformers that are the size of a softball) so I'll probably stand pat for a while.

Last edited by Brent Hahn; 6th May 2018 at 08:22 PM..
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