The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
what's the purpose of a summing mixer Summing Mixers
Old 28th February 2018
  #1
Here for the gear
 

what's the purpose of a summing mixer

Sorry I'm noob. Just been seeing them in high end studios and don't know why. Could someone explain it to me on why I should have one?
Old 28th February 2018
  #2
Gear Addict
 

Basically, instead of having your tracks merged digitally into a stereo mix in your DAW, you run each track individually out to the analog summing mixer and do it all there, then bring it back into your DAW. Some folks say they hear a difference when summing in analog, other's don't. It's expensive as hell to set it up for a home studio, so I bailed on my plans to do it since the improvement isn't justifiable. You can do it with just a basic analog mixer, but not sure if that is an improvement either.
Old 28th February 2018
  #3
Lives for gear
 
zvukofor's Avatar
Purpose? Money for manufacturer, pride/GAS feed for the owner.

For an engineer? - you can submix something, when you don't really need to ride faders or EQ. And it is simple and you can make one fast. I can make one for 50$ and it'll work like those costs 1000$.
Old 1st March 2018
  #4
A summing mixer is still a mixer, but it strips away all of the bells and whistles. Mine has volume/ gain for each channel along with panning. It weighs a lot less than a console, is much easier to maintain + repair and most importantly: gives your audio some hardware vibe.
Old 1st March 2018
  #5
Here for the gear
 

transfering money from you to the seller
Old 1st March 2018
  #6
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by baskervils View Post
A summing mixer is still a mixer, but it strips away all of the bells and whistles. Mine has volume/ gain for each channel along with panning. It weighs a lot less than a console, is much easier to maintain + repair and most importantly: gives your audio some hardware vibe.
Which is why I’m amazed that they cost so freakin’ much. I’m not an engineer, but it doesn’t seem like a summing mixer is very complex. No one can sell one for sub $2,000 and still make a profit?
Old 1st March 2018
  #7
Gear Addict
 

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...
Old 1st March 2018
  #8
Lives for gear
 

If this is your craving then you should definitely try it. With an analogue mixer you can try any hardware boxes you have. Even a cheap as chips alesis 3630 in parallel off the drum buss can add that certain something. You just have to try it for yourself, but yeah you start paying for cable's. Though I've not once thought to myself that I've got to stop liking this because of the cost of cable's.

But yeah it's probably easiest if you didn't bother either as so many on here will tell you.
Old 1st March 2018
  #9
Lives for gear
 
zvukofor's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinNYC View Post
Higher headroom, better depth and separation, , better glue, ...
This is very, very controversial and/or simply not true (headroom? Really?...)

Yet classic mixing console can give better "glue", as a lot of peaks and transients kind of distorted. And that's cool, if you're not recording classics.
Old 1st March 2018
  #10
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zvukofor View Post
I can make one for 50$ and it'll work like those costs 1000$.
I would buy one from you for $50
Old 1st March 2018
  #11
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drainyoo View Post
Which is why I’m amazed that they cost so freakin’ much. I’m not an engineer, but it doesn’t seem like a summing mixer is very complex. No one can sell one for sub $2,000 and still make a profit?
Designing an audio circuit for one channel of volume and pan that doesn't degrade the audio is no easy or cheap task. High quality components cost money and designing and assembling the circuit take lots of time. Now multiply that by 8 channels and then also design a summing buss that mixes those channels down to 2, again without degradation.
Old 1st March 2018
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by slut_slut View Post
transfering money from you to the seller
Like every other thing in the market.

??????

Summing mixers are cool. They make a nice difference.

Why the hate?
Old 1st March 2018
  #13
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinNYC View Post
Higher headroom, better depth and separation, , better glue,
But how much better than just summing in the DAW? $4,000 worths? I doubt it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinNYC View Post
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...
But you can do all of this without a summing mixer by just sending the track out to a hardware unit, and back in. It's what I do.
Old 1st March 2018
  #14
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by L-Fire View Post
Designing an audio circuit for one channel of volume and pan that doesn't degrade the audio is no easy or cheap task. High quality components cost money and designing and assembling the circuit take lots of time. Now multiply that by 8 channels and then also design a summing buss that mixes those channels down to 2, again without degradation.
I'm not suggesting that it's easy or cheap, but most of these summing units cost between $3k-$5k, on par with units that process dynamics and EQ using tubes and whatnot. I mean, you can buy a solid analog mixer right now for under $1k. My Mackie 1604VLZ4 is essentially a summing mixer with a bunch of bells and whistle. This thing is top quality, and sounds great. Strip away all the features, and you have a kick-ass summing mixer. My guess is it's very doable to design and produce a sub $1k summing mixer and still turn a profit.

Summing mixers are essentially targeted towards the high-end studio, so the price gets jacked with because of it. My guess is the prosumer market for summing mixers is very low, so companies don't see any reason to make them at an affordable price. It's a shame really.
Old 1st March 2018
  #15
Lives for gear
 
teleharmonium's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drainyoo View Post
My Mackie 1604VLZ4 is essentially a summing mixer with a bunch of bells and whistle. This thing is top quality, and sounds great.
What do these phrases top quality and great mean to you, exactly ?
Old 1st March 2018
  #16
Lives for gear
 
zvukofor's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by tkmin View Post
I would buy one from you for $50
Something like this:
SB2 Passive Summing Mixer Kit – DIY Recording Equipment

Summing mixer... it is tautology, every mixer is summing, that's why it called mixer.
Old 1st March 2018
  #17
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drainyoo View Post
But how much better than just summing in the DAW? $4,000 worths? I doubt it.



But you can do all of this without a summing mixer by just sending the track out to a hardware unit, and back in. It's what I do.

Both a Lamborghini and Camry will get you down the road. The beautiful thing is that we can choose based on our means and tastes. I have nothing against someone who chooses the Camry but I understand why someone would want to choose the Lamborghini...
Old 1st March 2018
  #18
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zvukofor View Post
Something like this:
SB2 Passive Summing Mixer Kit – DIY Recording Equipment

Summing mixer... it is tautology, every mixer is summing, that's why it called mixer.
But I don't want a bunch of resistors in a DI box. I want one from the ones you "can make for 50$ and it'll work like those costs 1000$."
Old 1st March 2018
  #19
Gear Head
 
TEEspresso's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mofat View Post
What's the purpose of a summing mixer: Sorry I'm noob. Just been seeing them in high end studios and don't know why. Could someone explain it to me on why I should have one?
It's an analogue summing of the discrete outputs of your DAW channels to a stereo mixdown. You will need a digital to analogue converter channel for each input of the summing mixer.

It's also an opportunity to do further analogue processing to the individual channels either before the mixer input, on an insert within the summing mixer and after the summing mixer on the 2 buss.

You may find that summing enhances each track in a manner that is pleasing that might not happen when you mix in the box. Only you can decide.

There's a 3 part video on the internet about "stem mastering" that shows the differences very well despite -14LUFS limiting and lossy compression.

Some people will not hear the differences, they might reconsider working in audio, rather than telling people there are no differences.
Old 1st March 2018
  #20
Lives for gear
 
zvukofor's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by tkmin View Post
But I don't want a bunch of resistors in a DI box. I want one from the ones you "can make for 50$ and it'll work like those costs 1000$."
It will work like those. It is a passive "summing" mixer, and it "make more depth, warm, separation, 4D, blablabla, analog". Just like what (some) people want.

If we're talking about that ones that basically a stripped line mixer - you can get one from Tascam for ~100$ on Reverb. Just a simple line level mixer, nothing else. And you can make something like this for ~30...50$/ch, no problem too, but what's the point to make one?

I've made (and sometimes still make) a special, really coloring mixers for electronic musicians, where you can overdrive a channel and it still sounds pretty musically, and where it is more an effect unit than a pure mixer...but that's another story. Some people like transformers saturated, some like them to sound as invisible as possible, and some really hate any odd components in signal path.
Old 1st March 2018
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by mofat View Post
Sorry I'm noob. Just been seeing them in high end studios and don't know why. Could someone explain it to me on why I should have one?
What other outboard (hardware) gear do you have?
Old 1st March 2018
  #22
Lives for gear
 

Of course you can make a summing mixer for $50. You can make a mic pre for $50 too. And a microphone. And probably a guitar (Jack White makes one for almost nothing in the film he was in with the Edge and Jimmy Page.)

The question is whether it will sound like anything you want to pass signal through.

The obvious reason that summing mixers start out in the thousands is that it takes a minimum level of quality to make a positive difference. In other words, if you are contemplating sending your tracks through a $50 summing mixer you'd be much better off just mixing ITB.
Old 1st March 2018
  #23
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinNYC View Post
Both a Lamborghini and Camry will get you down the road. The beautiful thing is that we can choose based on our means and tastes. I have nothing against someone who chooses the Camry but I understand why someone would want to choose the Lamborghini...
Don’t think that’s a good comparison. There’s tangible proof that a Lamborghini is much better and worth more than a Camry: performance, higher quality parts, attention to detail, state of the art tech, etc.

There is no real proof, or even a noticeable difference from what I’ve read, that suggests that summing in an analog mixer is MUCH better than summing ITB. At least not $5k worth. Listen, I’m an OTB guy, I want analog summing to really make a difference, I just don’t see that right now. Sure, a summing mixer can add warmth, but you can also do that by running your mix through a hardware saturator that costs a fraction of the price.
Old 1st March 2018
  #24
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drainyoo View Post
Don’t think that’s a good comparison. There’s tangible proof that a Lamborghini is much better and worth more than a Camry: performance, higher quality parts, attention to detail, state of the art tech, etc.

There is no real proof, or even a noticeable difference from what I’ve read, that suggests that summing in an analog mixer is MUCH better than summing ITB. At least not $5k worth. Listen, I’m an OTB guy, I want analog summing to really make a difference, I just don’t see that right now. Sure, a summing mixer can add warmth, but you can also do that by running your mix through a hardware saturator that costs a fraction of the price.

"From what I've read....."


That speaks volumes. But dude, don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to talk you into or out of anything. Do what makes you happy and gets the job done. Pretty sure others will do the same...
Old 1st March 2018
  #25
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinNYC View Post
"From what I've read....."


That speaks volumes. But dude, don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to talk you into or out of anything. Do what makes you happy and gets the job done. Pretty sure others will do the same...
I mean, you don’t research before you make a purchase? Everything I’ve read so far suggests that these things are a waste of money. That’s all we really have to go off of, other than taking a chance and making the purchase and testing it out. But that’s not always an option.
Old 1st March 2018
  #26
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drainyoo View Post
I mean, you don’t research before you make a purchase? Everything I’ve read so far suggests that these things are a waste of money. That’s all we really have to go off of, other than taking a chance and making the purchase and testing it out. But that’s not always an option.

If you're not sure if or why you need something then you don't. Save your money.
Old 1st March 2018
  #27
wait...what? Testing the gear out yourself is not a option? I can't believe my eyes....
If you read thousands of threads telling you its a waste of money, but come time when you actually get to decide for yourself, suddenly it aint worth the time?

That is absurd
Old 1st March 2018
  #28
Lives for gear
 

Hi
The actual 'summing' part is usually just a bunch of resistors so you are talking a Dollar or so. Add a suitable box and connectors and you have a practical unit.
The summing process does 'lose' a significant amount of signal level (typically around 30dB for a single 'source')
so you generally need an amplifier to recover this loss of signal level. This then gets to the realm of amplifiers, power supply and so on.
Adding 'bells and whistles' like level and panning although can be done in a 'simple passive' way creates a whole load of headaches. The question is where do you stop?
Matt S
Old 1st March 2018
  #29
Lives for gear
 

I have never used a dedicated summing mixer before, but I mix OTB into an actual mixer and can tell that it makes a noticeable difference.

But here's the thing: there is more than one way to record a cat. What one person gains from doing things one way, another can gain by doing something else...putting gear together in a different way using different pieces.

There ain't no "right" thing to do.

I mix OTB because I'm better with it. Someone else might be better ITB.
Old 1st March 2018
  #30
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Mixwell View Post
wait...what? Testing the gear out yourself is not a option? I can't believe my eyes....
If you read thousands of threads telling you its a waste of money, but come time when you actually get to decide for yourself, suddenly it aint worth the time?

That is absurd
You think it's absurd that someone might not have $5k laying around to drop on a unit just to test it, and they have to rely on their research to make a decision?
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump