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SUMMING BOX vs Bus Compressor or Stereo Preamp EQ. Summing Mixers
Old 16th August 2007
  #1
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SUMMING BOX vs Bus Compressor or Stereo Preamp EQ.

Hi guys! If you have to choose only from one option and ONLY sounds is in consideration.
What do you think will give you more dimention,depth, warmth or anything that may improve the vibe of your ITB mix.

A good summing box o a good Stereo Buss comp o stereo preamp o a stereo eq?
Old 16th August 2007
  #2
mds
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A bus comp will change the sound a lot more than a summing box, particularly if its a fairly colored comp. A 2 bus comp will typically help gel a reording together, and tame transients, of course. A summing bus typically enhances the width of a mix, IME, but its fairly sublte compared to passing the mix through an analog compressor.

Both have their place for sure, and buying both is the typical gearslutz answer. I'd probably start with getting a comp, and then trying out a summing bus down the road....
Old 16th August 2007
  #3
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Fishmed's Avatar
Seeing you are looking at getting only one thing...

Do you already have a good Mic Pre? If not, I would get a GREAT one first. If your individual tracks do not have good definition during tracking, it will be VERY hard to get any afterwards. Then you can use the Mic pre during mix down.

If you already have have a GREAT mic pre, I would get a good Summing Box.
Old 16th August 2007
  #4
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Yes I have 2 great mic pres..but are mono...
Old 16th August 2007
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuel View Post
Hi guys! If you have to choose only from one option and ONLY sounds is in consideration.
What do you think will give you more dimention,depth, warmth or anything that may improve the vibe of your ITB mix.

A good summing box o a good Stereo Buss comp o stereo preamp o a stereo eq?
None of the above.
Old 16th August 2007
  #6
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Fishmed's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuel View Post
Yes I have 2 great mic pres..but are mono...
Are they the same or different makes/models?

If they are the same, could you not use them as dual mono?

I forgot to ask, so you already have multiple DA outs from your DAW if you decide to go with a Summing Box?
Old 16th August 2007
  #7
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Yes ..I have 16 outs aurora 16 and yes both Mic Preamps are different brands .


Thrill,,,so what do you suggest? an API . NEVE , or SSL console?

Can not affor that now....just I want the best with what I can afford
Old 16th August 2007
  #8
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Fishmed's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuel View Post
Yes ..I have 16 outs aurora 16 and yes both Mic Preamps are different brands .


Thrill,,,so what do you suggest? an API . NEVE , or SSL console?

Can not affor that now....just I want the best with what I can afford
Since you brought it up, what is your budget?
Old 16th August 2007
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuel View Post

Can not affor that now....just I want the best with what I can afford
I totally understand but if there was one piece of gear that would improve a mixes dimension, depth or warmth we would all be tripping over ourselves to get it.

There isn't one piece of gear that improves all those things at once.

Its usually a combination of a couple of things applied by your talents(how you hear things in you head basically) that contributes to these things.

I am just stating this so you don't go out and by something and then feel disappointed because it doesn't do what you want and feel mislead.
Old 16th August 2007
  #10
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Fishmed's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor View Post
I totally understand but if there was one piece of gear that would improve a mixes dimension, depth or warmth we would all be tripping over ourselves to get it.

There isn't one piece of gear that improves all those things at once.

Its usually a combination of a couple of things applied by your talents(how you hear things in you head basically) that contributes to these things.

I am just stating this so you don't go out and by something and then feel disappointed because it doesn't do what you want and feel mislead.
+1... I TOTALLY agree.

Fuel - I think you are wise though focusing your LIMITED funds for one GOOD piece of gear instead of buying several cheap pieces. Depending on your budget, there are several Summing boxes out there that will get you closer to where you want to be, and they are designed for you to add other links to your chain to improve your signal down the road when you have the funds to buy the other gear (other mic pres, compressors, EQ, etc). Seeing that you have great mic pres now, I would look into a good Summing Box. This is of course my opinion based off my experience. There are several threads about Summing boxes that I hope you have had a chance to read. There are people on both sides of the that fence.
Old 16th August 2007
  #11
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Wise words.

Seeing as you're asking people to make a choice, if I HAD to restrict myself to one piece of outboard it would be a bus compressor, and bearing the restrictions in mind it would probably be one capable of some colour...like the API for example. The reason for this choice is that I'm still yet to find a software compressor that I REALLY like whereas eq has become quite good in the box (massenburg).

Here's what I do in reality...

I have 16 outs from the Aurora. I reserve eight of those for hardware insert chains. These could be for anything. The other eight go to my Spider which is all lined up with tone back to pro tools. I put drums on 1 and 3, bass on 3, main vocal on 4, guitars on 5 and 6 and everything else on 7 and 8. The spider lets me add tape colour and fat switch on any of those as well as hardware inserts. Typically I might put an API bus compressor on the drums for example. I then have a mix bus chain on the main inserts...at the moment Neve Portico to nightpro airband to cranesong tape saturation if I want it...this all goes back to pro tools via the cranesong AD. It comes up on an Aux where I put a massenburg eq and a limiter of some sort (the limiter is for mixing into and for printing listening mixes but it gets turned off for printing masters back obviously). I can then either bounce to disk or bus to another track.

It works well for me and its a nice combination of gear that is equally useful when mixing as when tracking.

J
Old 16th August 2007
  #12
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BradM's Avatar
I would say the 2bus compressor trumps the summing box. I tried to use summing boxes twice, but then finally settled on just a 2bus compressor with some transformer balanced outputs to give me the tone I wanted to hear. It gives me plenty of color, mojo, depth, width, excitement, pick your favorite audio buzz word. During tracking I can also use this compressor to capture great sounds. Choose something versatile and you'll get the most for your money.

Brad
Old 16th August 2007
  #13
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andrewj's Avatar
Hey, maybe the following Private Message from Disco D (RIP) will help you a bit. He was one of the few guys that really gave ma some nice tips. However I still do not own the Fatso and still love analog summing, but I can not say that he was wrong! Both ways can bring you to your goal, young JEDI! May the force be with you! heh

Quote:
Originally Posted by Disco D
...analog tape head saturation which is the ****. If you want something for master bus get the Fatso - its definitely way more important than analog summing. I don't really believe full analog summing is necessary, i just run the Fatso as an insert on the master bus on Pro Tools. I actually prefer this to most of the SSL mixes I have done, which of course is a full summing job on an expensive ass console!!!
Old 16th August 2007
  #14
Great answers guys! long time I do not read a thread with so many cool answers and nice advice!

I think the situation of the 2 bus hitting some nice transformers could be actually the key of a good summing box...and that is maybe why some nice stereo gear o the Fatso are so cool...and why bring such a nice sound

I wonder also if the "Separation and Depth" that many people credit to a summing box is just the consecuence of the transformers in the Stereo bus of that summing boxes.
Old 16th August 2007
  #15
Gear Addict
 

Thanks guys!! really appreciate it.

My budget would be around $4500.

I have for example the Waves API ..and I wonder how much better can be the API 2500 Hardware against the Plug in.

Also the thought that AMIEL Stated about the transformers in the 2 bus.... maybe could make a summing box not really a better choice than something like a nice FATSO o a nice ST preamp, Eq , comp.
Old 16th August 2007
  #16
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thermos's Avatar
I would get an outboard comp. Like the portico 5043.

FWIW, I sum through a dangerous 2 bus. But the trannys on the comp make as much if not more of a difference to me.
Old 16th August 2007
  #17
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thermos's Avatar
The api 2500 is great too. I can probably safely say that it would me much better than the plug.
Old 16th August 2007
  #18
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BradM's Avatar
Buy some 1:1 steel or low nickel transformers from Cinemag and wire up input and output connectors. Then send your mix through them. For about $70 you'll have some musical coloration.

Brad
Old 17th August 2007
  #19
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anybody compared one to one the API 2500 hardware and Plug in?
Old 17th August 2007
  #20
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andrewj's Avatar
The outboard Comp does more than the summing box. Totally agreed, but you can not get that flavour from a pluggy IMO. So your API plugin from waves will never be identical with the outboard! No cables, no noise, no trannies...

What I love on analog summing: It gives you great possibillities to route some signals or busses through FX and other outboard! I integrate my Lexicons and I think about integrating some additional COMPs into the various outs (E.G.: 1176 stereo for drumoverheads and things like that! And best of all: You do not have to care for latencies!!!!!!!!!
Old 17th August 2007
  #21
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Bob Yordan's Avatar
Summing mixers are tools that summons a lot of tracks into 2.

Not something that you route one instrument via and hope for
extreme differences in sound. heh

Using summing mixers does not excludes compressors/limiters,
they can be inserted on the outputs/inputs of the summing mixer.

The differences shows up in the final mix.

Old 17th August 2007
  #22
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I know all the benefits of a summing box.....ni latency to conncet other outboard gear ...etc.

But I am talking ONLY about sound.
Old 17th August 2007
  #23
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Fishmed's Avatar
I used to have a SPL Vitalizer (wish I had not sold it), but it gave my mixes that extra something. Seeing your budget, I would go with the SPL Mix Dream. It gives you a lot of options right off the bat to work with and option to integrate extra gear later.
Old 17th August 2007
  #24
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Bob Yordan's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuel View Post
I know all the benefits of a summing box.....ni latency to conncet other outboard gear ...etc.

But I am talking ONLY about sound.
Just my point. Using a compressor has mostly more impact on a single sound than a summing mixer. They are both good tools but with different scopes of sound processing.

Adding a plug compressor on the output to a summing mixer, can also be
a cool thing to do.

I have a summing mixer from Vintage Design called SU1Jr in my recording & mixing room. It is rather cheap. And sounds good in the Neve style.

There is a bigger version of it that has some extra features like 2 separate inserts for parallel buss mixing (add eg a comp in a chain).

Old 17th August 2007
  #25
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asagaai's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Yordan View Post
Summing mixers are tools that summons a lot of tracks into 2.

Not something that you route one instrument via and hope for
extreme differences in sound. heh

Using summing mixers does not excludes compressors/limiters,
they can be inserted on the outputs/inputs of the summing mixer.

The differences shows up in the final mix.

+1

I have been until recently running final mix from DAW through pacifica (pad out) through buzz soc/speck eq/portico 5043 and been getting good mixes.

Recently been running stems from DAW through rack 8 channel line mixer and then the chain above-and I gotta say running through the 8 channel lines (even the cheapie I have) brings a width and dynamic and a liveness I was not getting before-bit like difference you feel drinking 5 beers or drinking 5 stiff scotches-I like the hyped buzzy effect. The only downer is there is a fair bit of frigging around to make sure using stems into 8 lines that it works in mono (phase cancellation is a real bummer) so you gotta essentially make sure it works in both mono/stereo-because you can get airplay on am radio-but Ive found the frigging worth it.

GJ
Newcastle/OZ
Old 18th August 2007
  #26
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andrewj's Avatar
if i mix with the sumo and my C2 i get a different sound than if i would only use one of the units! so they both do the flavour!

And also Bob Yordan is right! summing is to route your tracks and busses together! I would definately integrate some nice outboard to various stereo outs if you have a plan what you route in which way. this can give bring you nice flavours.

however if i would like to get a nice sound with low investment, get something that compresses, and somethinjg that flavours, may it be a STC-8, a Fatso, a pair of distressors or a Portico Compressor and a portico Tape head saturator.

My mixes sound better because of analofg summing and analog buss compression! I think the compression makes at least 70%.

my point of view.

ASAGAAI: yes width and dimension was what I experienced with analog summing, too!!!
Old 28th January 2010
  #27
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor View Post
I totally understand but if there was one piece of gear that would improve a mixes dimension, depth or warmth we would all be tripping over ourselves to get it.

There isn't one piece of gear that improves all those things at once.

Its usually a combination of a couple of things applied by your talents(how you hear things in you head basically) that contributes to these things.

I am just stating this so you don't go out and by something and then feel disappointed because it doesn't do what you want and feel mislead.

I run a Crane Song STC8 Comp on my Console buss or ITB buss and it improves my mixes and gives them better dimention, depth , warmth, ect..Most importantly it picks up the saggyness and makes music sit up and snap into place.
The STC 8 is a mean weapon and the most important part in my studio chain.
Yes you need good Mics - Pre amps - Hardware Comps - converters for tracking ect but without hi quality hi fi buss comp - your doomed..
Old 28th January 2010
  #28
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mu6gr8's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuel View Post
Hi guys! If you have to choose only from one option and ONLY sounds is in consideration.
What do you think will give you more dimention,depth, warmth or anything that may improve the vibe of your ITB mix.

A good summing box o a good Stereo Buss comp o stereo preamp o a stereo eq?
I'd look at this from a different angle: acoustically treat your mix room as best as you can, then find some near-field monitors that work well in your space.
Old 28th January 2010
  #29
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everythinglouder's Avatar
 

A friend of mine has demonstrated his mixes to me with and without the Anamod ATS-1, and I'd say it makes a bigger difference to his mixes than his Thermionic Culture Phoenix compressor.

There are some who say the Anamod is a glorified plug-in. I think not.
Old 30th April 2010
  #30
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Titans55's Avatar
I am very interested in this topic. I am trying to find the best 2 buss solution, but can't afford to buy everything at once. Between a comp like the obsidian or 2500, an eq like the retro 2a3, a summer like the inward mix690, and the anamod ats 1, where is the best place to start? I would love to buy it all now, but with my current life style I am about 1 - 1 1/2 yrs away from the whole list. What would make the biggest difference and warrant the 1st purchase?


Thanks
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