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Folcrom, Speck, Dangerous, etc Summing Dual-Channel Preamps
Old 6th September 2007
  #1
Gear Addict
 

Folcrom, Speck, Dangerous, etc Summing

Folks, I've been wondering about these summing boxes. The Speck and Folcrom look great since they both allow gain to be made up via stereo preamps of the user's choosing. The Folcrom looks minimal, which is great, but I'm even initially trying to avoid panning and gain in the PC too! Since this is analog summing out of the box per channel, it makes me wonder about digital gain in the PC vs. external gain (like on the Speck X.Sum (or X.Mix?)). The Speck allows gain and pan controls, Folcrom just has L/R. Also, since gain is made up by your preamp(s), I'm wondering what the Speck's gain is doing since later gain is made up?! Is this pre gain gain? For starting out, I'm really just trying to use the PC as a tape machine. Later on, some Tonelux looks KILLER, though I'll probably order 2 pres, 2 EQs, and 2 compressors from Tonelux. Where is that credit card...

Last edited by GrooveMerchant; 7th September 2007 at 06:06 PM.. Reason: Grammer fix.
Old 7th September 2007
  #2
I'm not too sure what you're actually asking.

FWIW, the Speck units don't require a pre for gain make up. The Folcrum, Dangerous and SM Pro boxes do.

If you're just starting out on a budget making music mostly with your PC, spend your money on software and develope your ITB skills.

A summing box is not a magic wand; its just one part of the big picture.

Good luck.



[Edit: Sorry if my post sounds a bit patronising, its just you said, 'For starting out, I'm really just trying to use the PC as a tape machine.']
Old 7th September 2007
  #3
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electric's Avatar
 

i use a combination of the xsum and folcrom so i have flexibility. the xsum has more amplifier stages than if you just go through just one summing amp on folcrom but much more mixing flexibility. dont get worried about this as you go through many more on a console. the xsum sounds great for most of my production. (hiphop)


i can

A) use xsum for summing and use the folcrom to sum 2 mono busses or 1 stereo that feeds 2 xsum inputs (or 2 compressors that feed xsum)

or

B) sum with folcrom for flavor on entire mix and use xsum to pan any analog tracks that are outside the DAW and patch into stereo input on folcrom. also the xsum actually has 2 mix buses. one is balanced , the other is unbalanced. i have also used XSUM unbalanced for summing unbalanced synth tracks before hitting compressor. very handy.

i often have an ssl compressor on the 2bus. different tracks sound better with different combinations. (thank god for patchbays)

the xsum is a very underrated summing mixer for its price point imo. i think it is the best style summer for hiphop tracks. (assuming you have some good outboard eq's, comps). i can understand why the rock guys are not running out and buying them without any discrete electronics or tranny's in it but i think it is a terrific product. plus its built well and vince gives the best support out there in the biz.

best
electric

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrooveMerchant View Post
Folks, I been wondering about these summing boxes. The Speck and Folcrom look great since they both allow gain to be made up via stereo
preamps of the user's choosing. The Folcrom looks minimal, which is great, but I'm even initially trying to avoid panning and gain in the PC too! Since this is analog summing out of the box per channel, it makes me wonder about digital gain in the PC vs. external gain (like on the Speck X.Sum (or X.Mix?)). The Speck allows gain and pan controls, Folcrom just has L/R. Also, since gain is made up by your preamp(s), I'm wondering what the Speck's gain is doing since later gain is made up?! Is this pre gain gain? For starting out, I'm really just trying to use the PC as a tape machine. Later on, some Tonelux looks KILLER, though I'll probably order 2 pres, 2 EQs, and 2 compressors from Tonelux. Where is that credit card...
Old 7th September 2007
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by TEMAS View Post
I'm not too sure what you're actually asking.

FWIW, the Speck units don't require a pre for gain make up. The Folcrum, Dangerous and SM Pro boxes do.

If you're just starting out on a budget making music mostly with your PC, spend your money on software and develope your ITB skills.

A summing box is not a magic wand; its just one part of the big picture.

Good luck.
Just for the record, the Dangerous 2-Bus does not require a pre for make-up gain.
Old 7th September 2007
  #5
Lives for gear
 
ulysses's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by GrooveMerchant View Post
Folks, I been wondering about these summing boxes. The Speck and Folcrom look great since they both allow gain to be made up via stereo
preamps of the user's choosing. The Folcrom looks minimal, which is great, but I'm even initially trying to avoid panning and gain in the PC too! Since this is analog summing out of the box per channel, it makes me wonder about digital gain in the PC vs. external gain (like on the Speck X.Sum (or X.Mix?)). The Speck allows gain and pan controls, Folcrom just has L/R. Also, since gain is made up by your preamp(s), I'm wondering what the Speck's gain is doing since later gain is made up?! Is this pre gain gain? For starting out, I'm really just trying to use the PC as a tape machine. Later on, some Tonelux looks KILLER, though I'll probably order 2 pres, 2 EQs, and 2 compressors from Tonelux. Where is that credit card...
First of all, we need to differentiate between controlling the volume levels of individual channels, and controlling (and boosting) the final stereo mix's signal level. The Folcrom (which I designed) is the only box out there that requires external makeup gain after it, and that's something that should not confuse the other issue. The external makeup gain on the Folcrom simply allows you to choose a sonic flavor of the mixbus. Once you combine it with a stereo mike preamp, the Folcrom system behaves essentially the same as the Dangerous and other dedicated summing devices.

Now, it sounds like you're saying that you do not want to control the volume level (and panning) of individual channels from within the computer. It sounds like you're saying you would like to buy an analog device to do this. If so, then what you're looking for is not a "dedicated summing device". What you want is a mixing console. Summing devices are for people who want/need to maintain the recall ability of the DAW. That is, when you control the volume and pan of each track from within the computer, you get to save all your settings, automate the fader/pan moves, and resurrect a mix exactly the same on another occasion. For some users, this is an absolutely critical feature for their workflow. For them, a mixing console presents a problem because it has lots of continuously-variable controls that cannot be precisely recalled, and cannot be automated.

As much as I like selling Folcroms, I don't want to see you buy the wrong thing and then be unhappy with it. If you want to put your hands on faders and pan knobs in the real world, you should be looking at either a digital control surface for your DAW, or else an analog mixer. If at some point in the future you decide you do in fact need a summing box, we'll be here.
Old 7th September 2007
  #6
Gear Addict
 

More DAW/Summing Ideas

People, thanks for those comments. I like the concept of DAW recallability as I progress towards having some DAW skills. Lately, I track 8 channels (4 drums, gtr1, gtr2 or vocal, bass) and mix it internally with Logic EQ. No compression, gates, or verb yet. Thing is, if I come in with individual tracks unbalanced, I'll need to raise/lower them a bit in Logic. Just as I'm not clear on the software of digital EQ vs. electronics of analog EQ (as well as being unclear on digital vs. analog panning), I also don't understand (maybe the similar) digital gain in the DAW per channel. Maybe DAW gain and pan are much simpler than DAW EQ, I don't know those details. I'm thinking I can come into Logic with analog EQd drum tracks, then use those future 4 outboard analog EQs also, if necessary, for guitar, bass, vocals at mix time on the way to the Folcrom. Seems to be more of a balance engineer role vs. hard core audio engineer role. Simple approach for now. A digital control surface would be great. This combo of DAW/ext summing/outboard gear may be what I'm looking for. I thought the Speck allowed your preamp(s) gain via a breakout box. If so, both Folcrom and Speck look good. Folcrom's more minimal. The main question seems to be the quality of individual channel DAW gain and pan vs. analog gain/pan quality. I'm taking a guess that the quality difference b/w those two isn't big, but I don't know. Allowing stereo preamp flavor on the mixbus though seems like it allows good mix variation. Even a mid-sized console will probably remain out of my reach.

Last edited by GrooveMerchant; 7th September 2007 at 06:07 PM.. Reason: Grammar fix.
Old 7th September 2007
  #7
You get the best flexibility, and least expense, with the Folcrom. Justin's box is indeed a solid, clean machine, very well built and being passive, no added signal distortion. I use it with an ADL 600, and will be getting an API A2D as an option for non-tube gain (hopefully next week!).

I picked up a Folcrom at Tape Op Con and am really glad I did not drop 2K on an amplified summing box. Mixing ITB (using a control surface) and sending out your mixdown to an analog chain for final master, to me that is the best of both worlds. But then I have never used a console. For DAW users this is the way to go, as Justin points out.
Old 7th September 2007
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by kittonian View Post
Just for the record, the Dangerous 2-Bus does not require a pre for make-up gain.
Whoops! Sorry, I thought it had a passive output. And I suppose if we're being picky the SM Pro unit has a passive output which can be used with a pre AND an active one which doesn't require one.

I unplugged my Nicerizer for the first time yesterday and did a mix without it. Everything sounds really flat and dull.

Last edited by TEMAS; 8th September 2007 at 10:11 PM.. Reason: spelling
Old 8th September 2007
  #9
Gear Addict
 

The Woolly Mammoth Sound via Folcrom

Justin makes a good point about that DAW recallability. Speck looks killer, but you'll have to remember the pans and levels later. I'm still wondering about quality differences b/w DAW gain/pan and analog gain/pan. Realistically, some combo of plugins and analog outboard gear is what I'll eventually do. I read about an older Justin reply on intermediate stereo field panning using two tracks on the Folcrom (nice naming process for the Folcrom by the way). Using up those two tracks isn't a big deal, I mean 16 tracks is smokin' even though I've been on recordings with 40 or 50 tracks. Man, that's too many tracks - opinions will vary I'm sure, but that's huge. For an orchestra, I can see the point, but for the 4-piece rock outfit, it's mammoth. I need a Folcrom, then I'll get Woolly Mammoth recordings I'd say?
Old 8th September 2007
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by GrooveMerchant View Post
I need a Folcrom, then I'll get Woolly Mammoth recordings I'd say?
For a minute there I thought you meant use a Zvex Woolly Mammoth pedal for Folcrom gain make-up. That would rock!! stike
Old 8th September 2007
  #11
If you want Total Recall save up a little more and go with the SSL X-Rack. Analog gain staging and panning, the ability to use outboard gear as inserts in each channel (at least on the 4-input modules) and a modular approach that lets you buy only what you want/need. Recall across all knobs/buttons, plus a heck of a monitoring setup built in that you can automate via MIDI.
Old 8th September 2007
  #12
Gear Addict
 

Folcrom, Tonelux, SSL Xrack, beyond...

Man, I was just checking out a Temas comment on another thread regarding Tonelux. They were discussing that and the SSL Xrack and consoles. The modular Tonelux quality looks superb, nice youtubes too, I just need to understand Tonelux routing. I asked Paul Wolff if I could gain his outs via my other preamps, getting a Folcrom style thing going with Tonelux as the passive summing mixer. Maybe that would come from something like the FX2s then substitute the FX2+ with my preamps? I'm also trying to consider surround vs. stereo Tonelux, scale to use both someday. For snare or if I put up a hat mic, his tilt func on the Tonelux preamp seems like it could bypass need for EQ. I'll scope out the Xrack. Anybody got a recommendation on where to get quality cable material - I need to learn how to make cables, my 6U rack connections using XLR to 1/4 3 foot lengths aren't too cool - I gotta go under a foot.
Old 10th September 2007
  #13
Gear Addict
 

More Speck / Folcrom

The Speck X.Sum looks good too, pretty minimal. That or the Folcrom looks like a good start.
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