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what's the purpose of a summing mixer Summing Mixers
Old 6th May 2018
  #91
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cjogo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
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!
Sorry about that -- guess I have never mixed without a board > but yes, this is a digital board ITB -- We mix through the 48 channel faders continuing through analog gear >> to a 2 channel DAW in the PC . for rendering

Last edited by cjogo; 6th May 2018 at 05:02 PM..
Old 6th May 2018
  #92
Gear Maniac
i have neve 8816 and using it in every circumstances , it seperates the signal and gives tastefull thickness to it and little bit analog flavor too , basicly it makes mixes better )
Old 6th May 2018
  #93
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by yep View Post
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.
While most everyone else in here focuses on arguing a side, or works to form cliques to justify their personal beliefs...You're the only one here focused on the important points. And no one wants to hear it.

These arguments have been going on for decades now and we're no closer to getting an answer one way or another.

Digital has been around long enough, and has been the format and method for enough brilliant works of art that to continue to try and denigrate it as a lesser format is just silly. Analog...already proven. It's no better and no worse.

We might as well also argue over Film vs. digital photography. Impressionism vs. realism in painting. Film Noir vs. Dark Comedy in film.
Old 7th May 2018
  #94
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Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gizzmo0815 View Post
While most everyone else in here focuses on arguing a side, or works to form cliques to justify their personal beliefs...You're the only one here focused on the important points. And no one wants to hear it.

These arguments have been going on for decades now and we're no closer to getting an answer one way or another.

Digital has been around long enough, and has been the format and method for enough brilliant works of art that to continue to try and denigrate it as a lesser format is just silly. Analog...already proven. It's no better and no worse.

We might as well also argue over Film vs. digital photography. Impressionism vs. realism in painting. Film Noir vs. Dark Comedy in film.
Actually, the answer has been there all along, from the beginning of the discussion. It's 'use whatever works to get done what you need to get done'. Many here are not arguing whether one is 'better' than another in any objective way, as that is silly anyhow. But to say there are no differences that work out as one or the other being more useful to someone, depending on what they are trying to achieve, is equally silly.

The thread was called 'what's the purpose....' with the OP asking basically what pros he would gain by using one. That is entirely separate to arguing whether YOU need one or not. Or what is 'better', which is completely subjective.
Old 7th May 2018
  #95
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
Actually, the answer has been there all along, from the beginning of the discussion. It's 'use whatever works to get done what you need to get done'. Many here are not arguing whether one is 'better' than another in any objective way, as that is silly anyhow. But to say there are no differences that work out as one or the other being more useful to someone, depending on what they are trying to achieve, is equally silly.

The thread was called 'what's the purpose....' with the OP asking basically what pros he would gain by using one. That is entirely separate to arguing whether YOU need one or not. Or what is 'better', which is completely subjective.
I agree with you. But that is not where this conversation led. There are some that are sticking to the OP's question. But not many.
Old 15th May 2018
  #96
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Syson View Post
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
Spot on. You can just get on with the job on a mixer and it's all laid out in front of you instead of scrolling and losing contact with the job you're really trying to do.
Old 16th May 2018
  #97
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikey MTC View Post
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.
This makes total sense of course, but can't you do the same thing by running a digital stereo bus out through a pair of nice analog preamps and achieve a similar result without needing another piece of gear?
Old 16th May 2018
  #98
Quote:
Originally Posted by shoepedals View Post
This makes total sense of course, but can't you do the same thing by running a digital stereo bus out through a pair of nice analog preamps and achieve a similar result without needing another piece of gear?
Some would say yes (that's the concept behind @drBill's Silver Bullet for example).
Old 16th May 2018
  #99
Lives for gear
In direct response the starting post.

Besides merging the track in analog world where harmonics blend at the speed of light (electricity) vs. at a sample rate. The real advantage is being able to use analog gear on the way in/out of the summer. EQ's, compressors, efffects, etc.

The possible quality bar goes up with the new options. But so the cost in equipment, time, loss of easy recall, etc.

basically a mixer without EQ and Aux sends. Often without pan or levels.
Old 16th May 2018
  #100
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Hi
The analog 'summing' at it's heart is a bunch of resistors. The commonly used resistors will give a flat frequency response with practically no phase shift from DC to at least a few MHz. Distortion will also be very low but if you were inclined you can assemble the summing using lower distortion resistors (multiplying the cost by a factor of at least 20). As summing will ALWAYS 'lose signal level' an amplifier following the summing is needed. There are merits and disadvantages to treating this either as a 'voltage summing' or 'current summing' system. The distortion by any amplifier will be a lot greater than summing resistor distortion, making expensive resistors a moot point.
Digital summing, while not at the speed of electricity is not actually 'slower ad it is performed at the sample rate, or more accurately, the sample rate determines the response of the signals going in and out but the summing itself it totally transparent. The actual time necessary to do the calculations is part of the latency.
All of the incoming signals 'wait' while the processor calculates, then spits the results out (latency time) later.
In a response to the OP as to why you would use analog summing, if you wish to use a bunch of hardware outboard gear it can be a convenient way to hook the gear together without having to use a lot of extra convertor channels.
Matt S
Old 16th May 2018
  #101
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by shoepedals View Post
... can't you do the same thing by running a digital stereo bus out through a pair of nice analog preamps and achieve a similar result without needing another piece of gear?
Depends. Most "nice" analog preamps or other gain-type devices won't do much in that sort of situation. The ones that will are the dual-stage ones, where you can push the first stage into saturation while you use the second stage to bring the level back down to ADC-friendly territory. You can also do it, either straight through or in parallel, with a single gain stage plus passive transformers and trimmers, as I mentioned earlier.

Last edited by Brent Hahn; 16th May 2018 at 06:37 PM..
Old 16th May 2018
  #102
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Syson View Post
Hi
The analog 'summing' at it's heart is a bunch of resistors. The commonly used resistors will give a flat frequency response with practically no phase shift from DC to at least a few MHz. Distortion will also be very low but if you were inclined you can assemble the summing using lower distortion resistors (multiplying the cost by a factor of at least 20). As summing will ALWAYS 'lose signal level' an amplifier following the summing is needed. There are merits and disadvantages to treating this either as a 'voltage summing' or 'current summing' system. The distortion by any amplifier will be a lot greater than summing resistor distortion, making expensive resistors a moot point.
Digital summing, while not at the speed of electricity is not actually 'slower ad it is performed at the sample rate, or more accurately, the sample rate determines the response of the signals going in and out but the summing itself it totally transparent. The actual time necessary to do the calculations is part of the latency.
All of the incoming signals 'wait' while the processor calculates, then spits the results out (latency time) later.
In a response to the OP as to why you would use analog summing, if you wish to use a bunch of hardware outboard gear it can be a convenient way to hook the gear together without having to use a lot of extra convertor channels.
Matt S
What would these more expensive low distortion resistors you mention be? I'm curious because typically metal film resistors have very low distortion and they are also usually cheaper than carbon comp resistors (which people like because they do exhibit some degree of distortion if you are running at higher voltages such as in a tube amplifier).
Old 16th May 2018
  #103
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Hi
Bulk foil or whatever. Jim Williams extols the virtue of these. Of course it is only worth considering using them for summing if the following amplifier also uses them, and probably the ADC and then of course all your other gear.
You have to decide where you put your line.
I am not ridiculing the idea but at some point other factors take over.
Matt S
Old 16th May 2018
  #104
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Syson View Post
Hi
Bulk foil or whatever. Jim Williams extols the virtue of these. Of course it is only worth considering using them for summing if the following amplifier also uses them, and probably the ADC and then of course all your other gear.
You have to decide where you put your line.
I am not ridiculing the idea but at some point other factors take over.
Matt S
Ah ok. Yeah Vishay makes some very expensive bulk metal foil resistors. In reality, though, general metal film resistors should be totally fine for this application. They cost pennies each, typically.
Old 25th June 2018
  #105
Gear Maniac
 

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
Ah! Matt, You've left the barmy north-west for France!

When did you move?
Old 26th June 2018
  #106
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Hi Geoff
I moved in January.
Exchanged Barmy for balmy (I hope!).
Matt
Old 26th June 2018
  #107
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Syson View Post
Hi Geoff
I moved in January.
Exchanged Barmy for balmy (I hope!).
Matt
Certainly in Winter! Although we are due to have 33+ degrees later this week, which is a bit toooo much really. Just hoping for a breeze with it.

I think the food will be better down there.

Saw what you did there with barmy
Old 26th June 2018
  #108
Lives for gear
i got mine for $150 - not even that ... just an eight channel soundcraft delta that i'm redoing ....
Old 30th June 2018
  #109
Gear Nut
 
Eiko's Avatar
On a more practical note, how does analog summing look in a real life situation?
From what I’ve gathered so far analog summing only really makes sense if you send absolutely every track into the summing mixer, which of course means that not only the summing mixer would have to have vast amounts of inputs, you’d also need an interface with vasts amounts of IO, and if you also use outboard on indiv. tracks, you’ll need even more IO.
In a typical scenario you’d easily have 30-40 tracks, so do all of you, who use analog summing, have this amount of IO and a summing mixer with as many inputs? Unless you’re only running very lean projects, I don’t see how a typical summing mixer would suffice, as 16 channels would only work for small projects. A drum kit alone could easily use up most of the inputs, so the rest would have to be summed another way.
Or do you send stems to the SM? Wouldn’t that kinda defeat the purpose in a way, as a lot of summing would still be done in the digital domain?
Tell me where I’m wrong, but unless you have a huge budget for vast amounts of IO, analog summing doesn’t really make sense.
Looking at my situation, I’m using an Apollo interface, I’m typically using some outboard as well, so basically what I have is a hybrid setup, like many others do.
If I bought myself a summing mixer, I would also have to get at least one more ADAT interface, better two, because only 8 extra IOs won’t really cut it. So in addition to the costs for the summing box I’d have to be prepared to spent another huge chunk of money just to get the connectivity.
Again, I might have gotten something wrong, if so tell me where I’m making a mistake here... basically, if you want to get into the world of analog summing, be prepared that it’s not done with just buying a summing mixer. It doesn’t make much sense with your basic run-of-the-mill interface...
Old 30th June 2018
  #110
How is it that you have gathered this...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eiko View Post
From what I’ve gathered so far analog summing only really makes sense if you send absolutely every track into the summing mixer
?
Old 30th June 2018
  #111
Gear Nut
 
Eiko's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by chinesewhiteman View Post
How is it that you have gathered this...
?
Well, isn't the purpose of using a summing mixer to get the signals summed in the analog domain instead of digitally? So as soon as I don't send each individual track to the summing mixer, they at least partly get summed in the digital domain, or not?
As I said, i might have gotten the concept of summing mixers totally wrong, so please educate me.
Old 30th June 2018
  #112
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Hi
There is NO right or wrong way to do things, it is entirely up to you. You may find that analog summing the whole of the drum kit gets you the sound you want better than in the box. It would be nice to have an infinite number of convertors so you can chop and change but not essential.
Old 30th June 2018
  #113
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eiko View Post
Well, isn't the purpose of using a summing mixer to get the signals summed in the analog domain instead of digitally? So as soon as I don't send each individual track to the summing mixer, they at least partly get summed in the digital domain, or not?
As I said, i might have gotten the concept of summing mixers totally wrong, so please educate me.
Everything is very much dependent on a variety of factors. I’m of the opinion that ITB vs OTB summing (as the sole isolated function itself) is a largely benign (which seems to be the general consensus FWIW). It is worth noting that summing as a sole isolated thing is virtually non existent, but that’s another topic.

With that said, if in theory ITB summing is somehow insufficient, it should be improved by every division you add. So instead of 30 tracks going into 1 bus: you have 15 into 2, 10 into 3... you should benefit a little each division.

I also use bussing a lot, so sending each track would drastically change the way I’m working. I’d rather sent all drums to one bus and send that bus into the summing mixer. But the point for me isnt as much summing, but more so for the analog processing on that bus. Summing mixing mixer is just my preferred work flow, which brings us back to the OP. And that’s not a statement about it’s ultimate and sole purpose, as if there was just one.
Old 30th June 2018
  #114
Lives for gear
I needed a summing mixer by default as well as desire. My Burl Mothership B80 pretty much dictated that I need to sum at least 16 outputs. I have no regrets with my Oracle summing mixer (Greg Wurth). It's a fine piece of gear and offers a lot of flexibility. The sound is great as well, much wider stereo field than on a DAW summed output. The send/return inserts are another benefit, and the VF600 op amps don't hurt either.
Old 1st July 2018
  #115
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monomer's Avatar
 

Just some critical thinking..

Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinNYC View Post
Higher headroom,
Why do you think this is true?
And if your audio is 24bits or better (which it should be, really), why would you need more headroom anyway?

Quote:
ability to insert analog processing across
Why do you not have this ability without a summing box?

Quote:
, individual tracks, buses and two bus...
Do you mean that in digital you can't have individual tracks and busses?

Quote:
and(my favorite reason) coloring your tracks/stems/buses with high end line amps of different flavors...
Again, why can't you do this without a summing box?
Old 1st July 2018
  #116
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monomer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Syson View Post
The actual time necessary to do the calculations is part of the latency.
All of the incoming signals 'wait' while the processor calculates, then spits the results out (latency time) later.
Actually, digital summing is pretty much trivial (and, as you say, completely transparent). It is cheaper than changing the level!
Digital summing is simply adding the samples of the channels. CH1 + CH2 + CH3 etc.. Compare that to the level fader which implies at least one multiplication for every channel.

So the actual calculations do not add to the latency. Not with current hardware anyway. Your phone can sum thousands of channels in the time span of a single sample.

What adds to latency are the various buffers needed to make digital audio happen.
This is probably what you mean by 'waiting', but this buffering is not related to processing per se.
Old 1st July 2018
  #117
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Hi
Every single process takes 'time' in the form of machine clock cycles (not sample rate) so even a 'fader' at unity setting requires one or more master clock cycles to process, likewise EQ.
Latency is taken as a 'worst case' scenario so if a given 'mixer' has a gain stage, EQ and a 'fader' then summed it will require a certain number of 'machine cycles' to do this. If the 'EQ' processing requires 3 machine cycles then channels not using EQ have to 'wait a moment' so that all incoming signals remain in sync throughout the whole process. A 'chain' might have 3 'level' controls at 2 machine cycles per control, an EQ maybe 3 or 4 machine cycles, thus 10 or thereabouts machine cycles (512 times or more than 'sample rate'). Fetching data from the input and sending to outputs/buses also take another machine cycle or more.
The ability of hardware to multitask of course makes the whole thing 'quicker' which shows in the overall latency time.
Not looked at this for 20 years.
Matt S
Old 1st July 2018
  #118
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monomer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Syson View Post
Hi
Every single process takes 'time' in the form of machine clock cycles (not sample rate) so even a 'fader' at unity setting requires one or more master clock cycles to process, likewise EQ.
Sure, but the time needed to do an addition is very small compared to the time of a singe sample. Conversely, a typical buffer is many samples long and there are a couple of them in a typical system. So the latency from buffers far outweights any latency caused by summing. That's what i tried to say.

Quote:
Fetching data from the input and sending to outputs/buses also take another machine cycle or more.
Well, it's 'more'. Typically way more (compared to summing).
Quote:
The ability of hardware to multitask of course makes the whole thing 'quicker' which shows in the overall latency time.
Not looked at this for 20 years.
Matt S
Heh. 20 years? Well, the most important thing that changed in the meantime is that we have waaay more processing power and at a much higher clock speed.
I'm specifically isolating the sum operation here, but you can do a heck of a lot of aditions in the timespan of a single sample.
Compare that to a typical low latency audio interface that has, say, 32 whole samples of latency, just from getting the audio from the application to the analog outputs.
So the contribution from digital summing to overall latency is just small.

And how bad is latency anyway?
I mean, if you move your head by a centimeter you already create a latency in the same order.

Things, of course, do get worse when significant processing is involved (like multiple effects on every channel).
Then the daw will require bigger processing buffers and things will get delayed by much more.
Old 1st July 2018
  #119
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It may have actually been 22 years.
I was a little involved on the periphery of AMEK's DMS digital desk. There was a 'Sharc' processor almost per channel, although I can't remember how the processing was split up between them.
Waiting for data buffers that were running at 'sample rate', necessary to get all inputs and outputs 'coherent' would be a significant part of the overall timing. The backplane master clock was 512 X sample rate IIRC.
The whole operation was quite different to the small stand alone interfaces hooked up to a PC/Mac.
Latency is only really 'bad' if you are trying to sum a 'before and after' signal.
Old 1st July 2018
  #120
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinNYC View Post
Higher headroom, better depth and separation, , better glue, ability to insert analog processing across, individual tracks, buses and two bus...and(my favorite reason) coloring your tracks/stems/buses with high end line amps of different flavors...
[bold added]
Not by objective measure (on the bolded bits). There's actually less headroom, less dynamic space, and worse channel separation with analog tape and mixers, confirmable by measurement with test equipment (analog or otherwise). But that probably doesn't matter to most folks weighing such a purchase.*

They're looking for 'analog magic' of some sort or another.

Me, I grew up with 'analog magic' and got most of my freelance experience in commercial studios that were usually almost entirely analog.

When I came up, I was always looking forward to what new improvements in recording and playback quality could be achieved. I wanted to move forward. Not backward. I owned 10 analog reel decks, 5 of them multi-track. I own several racks of hardware. I haven't recorded to analog tape seriously since the early 1990s. I still use an analog compressor in my input chain and use an analog mixer for my cue and live input monitoring (because I'm highly latency-averse), but otherwise, I find myself working in the box most of the time because it does a much better job of delivering the fidelity to the original signal I always yearned for.


* And I sincerely entertain the hypothesis that many people who say they feel like the stereo imaging is better with analog are actually interpreting the lesser channel separation and greater crosstalk of analog as providing a 'better' (or 'more solid') stereo image.

Last edited by theblue1; 1st July 2018 at 06:05 PM..
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