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PT summing again - this time w/files
Old 4th March 2003
  #31
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CrazyBeast's Avatar
 

I could give some info about the summing box, but since Justin has registered now I'll let him speak on his own behalf.

I've had some time to run more tests with different mixes I'm working on in the last few days so I thought I'd post some of my thoughts on everything.

As far as the original files that I posted:
I preferred (after correcting the phase of course) #3 (I guess one mans fizzy is anothers champagne!) I felt that everything, but especially the vocals, were pushed towards the listener in a way I felt was compelling.

Next up I liked #5 - it had a clarity in the lower mids that complemented the guitars and clarified the kick.

After that I felt pretty evenly about #1 and #4, slightly preferring #4 - even, the soundstage felt wide and deep.

#2 sounded rather cloudy, like there was a veil between the mix and the listener. I have always felt this way about BTD and is how I ended up using this approach in the first place....

----
Now after doing several more different tracks I am even more confused!

On a sort of rootsy/chunky type track I'm finishing up, so far I am liking the GR/summing combination the best, and on this track the improvement between the summed/Studer tracks and the BTD is even more noticable.

But on a electronic/experimental type track, I tried the GR/sum combination and BTD, in this case there was less of a difference - still there but not as conclusive...

----
Overall thoughts-

1. Getting volume matched perfectly is tough. As I said before, I used a signal generator to set all the output levels of the pres/board. They all respond differently to different inputs though (tube compression, slew rate I suppose, etc) and that is part of the fun of it, just like the selection of pres in tracking...

2. When I use any of these analog approaches I seem to regain a lot of headroom. My theory (completely conjecture and coming from a non-techie) is that some of the very low frequency energy and transient "spikes" when combined in analog circuitry are attenuated in a way that is pleasing to the ear (mine at least).

3. The style of music, frequency content, etc come into play in all of this in a way that is hard for me to put pinpoint yet. I could see making some choices in the mixing process as far as choosing a signal path - sort of like the choice of a bus compressor - and working that way from early on in a mix.

4. I want to go back and remix everything I worked on prior to using one of these approaches... aargh!


Keep in mind with all of this that I am using Pro Tools LE - not HD or TDM and I don't expect to change that in the near future. I'm curious how that would impact everything.


There you have it! Fire away.
Old 5th March 2003
  #32
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mig27's Avatar
everything crazy says here sounds very reasonable to me.

I only have four channels of D/A but did a similar test yesterday night:
a mix was split up into bass, kick and the rest (stereo file).
levels were matched as closely as possible.
I compared the internal summing of cubase SX to an old tascam M-50 board.

my findings:
there was almost 2dB more headroom on the tascam files.
kick and bass blended way better with analog summing.
the internal SX-mixdown seemed to be badly lacking transients - everything sounded a bit veiled and muddy, although the spectral integrity seemed to be there.

this was just a short test and I haven't even fired up my pair of tele V74 line pres.
I was shocked how noticeable the differences were: we're not talking about details here.

consequence: I definitely need more and better D/A.
welcome to gearslutism at its best.
oh dear...

my 2 cents.


michael

Old 5th March 2003
  #33
Gear Nut
 

I took stems from PTHD 96KHz 24 bit into 8 D-A outputs as follows:

1/2 L-R Drums
3 L Guitar
4 R Keys
5 Mono Bass
6 Mono Vox
7/8 Effects Sends to 2 PCM90's and the returns went analog back to the analog mixer

Mixer = Mackie 1202 (didn't want to go overboard here - hehe). tried to balance gains to be the same with the "in the box" mix - - kinda hard to get it exact, but this was far from a sceintific test, it was more to get a rough idea on how deep do I want to go toward a summing box of some sort...

Output of the Mackie back to a stereo input on PTHD and recorded at 96K 24 bit...

Compared the PT BTD (96K 24 bit) from the original 2 bus mix versus the stem mix thru the Mackie 1202, and the Mackie version wasn't bad... Liked what it did for drums and bass much more. Things are a bit less smooth and accurate, but a good summing box would probably do much more than the Mackie line inputs and summing mix bus on a $200 mixer. Certainly proved what I wanted in a mini test in deciding to pursue getting more D-A channels and going for a decent summing box....
Old 6th March 2003
  #34
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I recently bought a small Calrec broadcast console. Despite going nearly crazy with the wiring (XLR ins but then 12x 50 pin dsubs for the rest) I have really noticed a difference. I suppose one way to put it is that things still sound like they did at the start. I dont know about you guys but I've always found that when working on things in the box, by the time you get to the end, you feel that the sources sounded rather stronger when you tracked them. Maybe thats the veil that everyone talks about. Anyway its gone now, so that s nice! Obviously having gone to all this trouble and expense I'm going to be desperately listening for improvements, but a mate of mine who was over last night immediately noticed a difference. He's recently sold off a load of analog gear and switched to DP on a laptop mixing internally...so he was desperately hoping it wouldnt sound any better. Oh well...
J
Old 6th March 2003
  #35
Ohhh my god... here we go again... now I don't want to get rid of my old Tascam 2524 anymore.
Old 8th March 2003
  #36
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ulysses's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by mig27
could you kindly post some more information on this summing box you designed?
Quote:
Originally posted by CrazyBeast
I could give some info about the summing box, but since Justin has registered now I'll let him speak on his own behalf.
Woah, hey that's me. Sorry to pick this up so late, I hope somebody's still reading. I have a little propaganda prepared that I'll post here tomorrow if it's not too blatantly self-promotional. In the meantime here's the basic concept of the RMS FolcroM...

I began this project as a commission for Bang Audio in Boston. I got a lot of help from Dan Kennedy of Great River Electronics here in Minnesota. I've build four summing boxes so far. The first two were 16x2 boxes in 2 rack spaces and I sold them for $1200 each. The third is an 8x2 in one rackspace and it's in Crazybeast studio now. I'm putting the finishing touches on the 4th box which will be essentially identical to the 3rd. I'm looking for buyers for these two at $750 each. I would call these four units prototypes, and I've basically been waiting for one to sell to fund construction of the next. The next batch will be more "standardized" with regard to chassis details and graphics, and I would love to build a lot more of them if there's enough interest.

This summing buss is entirely passive. The signal path is purely resistive. The inputs and outputs are balanced, each input has a switch to assign it to the left, right, both, or neither output. The outputs are 150-ohm balanced signals that require about 42dB of makeup gain. In other words, the outputs are "microphone level" and are meant to feed a mic preamp. By leaving the makeup gain out of the box, a wide range of tonal variations are available through the use of various makeup gain amplifiers. This also allowed me to use a "no compromise" approach to design, construction, and component selection without sending the cost through the roof. Each channel is switched by a pair of very high quality sealed relays and all of the summing resistors are hand-mathced to within 0.1% to preserve CMRR and channel matching.

There are some photos of box #2 here:
http://www.rollmusic.com/projects/images/RMS216-2.jpg
http://www.rollmusic.com/projects/images/RMS216-6.jpg

I think Ben has a photo of box #3. Ben, could you post a link or send me that pictiure?
Old 8th March 2003
  #37
So basically it needs a preamp on the outs...
Old 9th March 2003
  #38
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Quote:
Originally posted by jeronimo
So basically it needs a preamp on the outs...
Yep. That's why I had done the test using my different pres for makeup gain. It's a really cool idea assuming you have a couple nice 2 channel pres to work with...
Old 9th March 2003
  #39
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sly
I recently bought a small Calrec broadcast console. Despite going nearly crazy with the wiring (XLR ins but then 12x 50 pin dsubs for the rest)
J
Sounds like a cool little board! I've always been curious about those. Which channel strips does yours have?

I'm glad it's working out for you.

BTW - for anyone interested, the D/A I used in the tests was a Lucid 8824. I think I'd forgotten to mention that before.
Old 9th March 2003
  #40
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Yeah its cool. It has 12 mono channels (pq2646), 12 stereo channels (bq2560), 8 groups (xc2654), and 2 stereo master channels. Theres also a talkback module, and a monitoring module with about a million options. There is a compressor (but no eq) on every group module. There are also 4 stereo compressors in the upstand. I'm really loving it. On the down side, I had to build a remote extraction unit...The stereo channels run very hot and fans are needed on that section. I didnt want the fan noise, so I attached flexible ducting to the (now empty) fan holes. The ducting runs to a plywood box where 3 quiet pc fans pull air through. It works very well, and all I can hear is a little air turbulence. You cant see the ducting as it is down behind the upstand. The only other thing about the particular desk I have is that it has only 2 ppm's. I'd like to have some more meters. I'm thinging of sticking some in one of the blank upstand panels. I think RS do some ready calibrated units. I'm wondering if its that simple. I was thinking of taking a send from the channel insert points. The other option is to find one of those meter bridges that connects with a jack on every channel. I could just insert the meters when and where I needed them. Anyway...If anyone has any good ideas about the whole metering thing, please let me know. I dont want to spend a huge amount of cash on this though.
Thanks
Jack
Old 10th March 2003
  #41
Hey guys, I just sent 8 ch D/A out from my 001 to my Tascam 2524 like this:
1&2 drums w/o kick w/ verb
3 bass
4 kick
5&6 guitars
7&8 vox w/ fx
and I could hear an improvement in my stereo image... now my guitars are even harder left and right and this cleared my vocals a little and my kick is punchier... I like the results...
Now, have anyone heard those octamix?
I would like to sell my board anyways, and get some Syteks and a summing hardware... what units worth it? I would spend $1.5 K max... suggestions?
Old 11th March 2003
  #42
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Yo, Crazy dude:

I just saw this thread for the first time. Are the files no longer up? I sure would like to hear them.

A few points:

first, regarding you Marquett-modded V78's: be aware that the three best Telefunken experts I know all think Marquette does this mod wrong. At the least, it lowers your s/n ratio. at worst, it also changes the impedance of the critical first stage, which can give frequency anomolies (and problems with ribbon mics, as you mention) You might want to talk to Oliver at Tab-Funkwerk about this, or Gunter Wagner in Europe. YMMV, I guess.

-for the record, david Marquet is not a fool. He's a cool guy and quite knowledgeable. it's just that the Tele pres are very tricky little beasties.
------------------------

About your tests:

You don't mention what Protools software version you're running. this makes a difference, as things got MUCH better after 5.1.3 came out.

The fact that you're running LE also makes a difference. In fact, it probably makes enough difference to make your whole test meaningless to an HD user. ( The differences between summing amps is still cool, though.) I once did a comparison between a large, complex session mixed on my HD7 system vs LE. I kept as many plugins active as possible. the difference was noticeable. Yes, the LE mix was a little cloudy and lack some depth as well, exactly as you descibe. The HD mix did not have these problems.

Add Analog-Channel to the HD 2-mix, and the differences betrween B-T-D and external mixing dissapears, unless you're mixing to an ATR-102, or going through an analog comp or something.

And, of course, you ran all the external mixes through the Hedd. Well, duh. of course they sound better than a straight B-T-D mix! For the B-T-D, try adding DuyTape, or AC-2, or the Phoenix plugin, or an aphex exciter set on full-even harmonics, or that new Antares tooob thang, or something similar. That should get you in the same area, well maybe not with LE, but still close.
-------------------------------

Also, when doing the B-T-D, were you anal about keeping individual track volumes low, so there was plenty of 2-mix headroom? With LE especially, that's incredibly important.

Last, what dither did you use?

-thanks.
Old 11th March 2003
  #43
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ulysses,

I'm VERY interested in your custom 16 X 2 summing boxes. I'm looking for something killer for my live rig. Can you make custom jobs? Something with one or two aux sends?

let me know here or at: [email protected]

thanks.
Old 12th March 2003
  #44
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Quote:
Originally posted by speerchucker
Yo, Crazy dude:

I just saw this thread for the first time. Are the files no longer up? I sure would like to hear them.

A few points:

first, regarding you Marquett-modded V78's: be aware that the three best Telefunken experts I know all think Marquette does this mod wrong. At the least, it lowers your s/n ratio. at worst, it also changes the impedance of the critical first stage, which can give frequency anomolies (and problems with ribbon mics, as you mention) You might want to talk to Oliver at Tab-Funkwerk about this, or Gunter Wagner in Europe. YMMV, I guess.

-for the record, david Marquet is not a fool. He's a cool guy and quite knowledgeable. it's just that the Tele pres are very tricky little beasties.
------------------------

About your tests:

You don't mention what Protools software version you're running. this makes a difference, as things got MUCH better after 5.1.3 came out.

The fact that you're running LE also makes a difference. In fact, it probably makes enough difference to make your whole test meaningless to an HD user. ( The differences between summing amps is still cool, though.) I once did a comparison between a large, complex session mixed on my HD7 system vs LE. I kept as many plugins active as possible. the difference was noticeable. Yes, the LE mix was a little cloudy and lack some depth as well, exactly as you descibe. The HD mix did not have these problems.

Add Analog-Channel to the HD 2-mix, and the differences betrween B-T-D and external mixing dissapears, unless you're mixing to an ATR-102, or going through an analog comp or something.

And, of course, you ran all the external mixes through the Hedd. Well, duh. of course they sound better than a straight B-T-D mix! For the B-T-D, try adding DuyTape, or AC-2, or the Phoenix plugin, or an aphex exciter set on full-even harmonics, or that new Antares tooob thang, or something similar. That should get you in the same area, well maybe not with LE, but still close.
-------------------------------

Also, when doing the B-T-D, were you anal about keeping individual track volumes low, so there was plenty of 2-mix headroom? With LE especially, that's incredibly important.

Last, what dither did you use?

-thanks.

Whew. Lot's of questions! I'll try to respond in order...

First - thanks for the tip on the V78. I love the sound of it, but you're right there are things about it that seem a little unstable (?) sometimes. I'd always thought that one of the tubes may be beginning to go south. Off hand, do you know if the fixes are things that a local technician could do fairly easily or would it require shipping to one of them??

As far as the test files - I just archived everything a few days ago in preperation for some upcoming work. When I get a chance I'll restore them and send you a message.

I'm running PT LE 5.1. Will 5.1.3 run on System 8.6? I've been sticking to 8.6 because it's been really stable for me and I've heard some not so great things about 9.xxx.

I did apply the exact same dither and HEDD settings to all of the tests (internal and external summing) and the dither was from the Cranesong Analog dither CD. And yes, I was careful with the gain structuring - I'm pretty used to having to deal with that!

I find it a little hard to believe putting any of the plugins you mention (none of which I have BTW, and several are TDM only I think) across the 2 would make as much of a difference as what I'm hearing in my tests. Switching to HD may be more of a solution for me, but that might be a while. On that note - if you had any samples of mixes you did within LE and then in HD I'd be very curious to hear them!!

Cheers.
Old 13th March 2003
  #45
I would also love to hear some of those mixes mixes... I have PT LE by the way
Old 1st February 2004
  #46
"And, of course, you ran all the external mixes through the Hedd. Well, duh. of course they sound better than a straight B-T-D mix! "

You can BTD with the Head on a 'hardware' digital insert (SPDIF or AES) on the DAW mix bus doing this would make for a valid 'in the box' / analog summing comparison.
Old 1st February 2004
  #47
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s0nguy's Avatar
 

SUmming Bus....

SO, if everyone complains about the summing bus in PT how do you get around it? Do most of you take the stereo output and run it through some device and then burn it that way?

Im on LE 6.1.1

Old 1st February 2004
  #48
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There are three issues really....

One is software mix busses which are considered by a lot of us to be generally less pleasing that good analogue mixers and certain digital mixers. The way around this is obviously to send tracks out either individually or as stems for summing out of the box, either on a console or a dedicated summing device. The problems for you in this scenario are going to be outputs. If you are running LE you are going to be limited, and so you might ask yourself whether its worth it, as so much would have to be internally summed anyway. I think most people accept that SOME summing in the computer will happen fairly regularly as you send grouped up tracks to the desk. Usually you try to make sure that its synths or samples, reserving individual outputs for more crucial elements.

Everyone has an opinion and mine is that a console is preferable. I find that it not only sounds better but its much better experience than fighting with a mouse and the misery of plug in eqs.

The second issue is the bounce to disk function. There are various opinions on this one too....does it degrade the sound? Does it not? Personally I've never had a problem with it when working internally, but if you're worried just print the mix in real time.

The final thought concerns digital recording as a medium. Obviously its designed to impart nothing of its own charachter at all onto the source material. Consequently, if you mix entirely in software, you are going to rely on plug ins to provide your colour. As many of these are slightly dubious, people often prefer to send their mixes to outboard for a bit of processing rather than rely on McDSP, PSP or whoever. The cranesong HEDD is a real favourite to name just one, but people quite often mention just running stuff through outboard in bypass.

J
Old 1st February 2004
  #49
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quote:

"SO, if everyone complains about the summing bus in PT how do you get around it? "

Everyone DOESN'T complain. Lots of us think it sounds great, and don't follow sheep mentality.

It's true about the plugins, though. There are still no really good digital compressors, so you need to factor this into your mix methodology.

Likewise, most analog consoles add a certain amount of distortion, which many consider sonically pleasing. If you do, ad you are aware of this, then there are several ways to create a similar if not superior result within the DAW. Really.
Old 1st February 2004
  #50
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Quote:
Originally posted by speerchucker
quote:

There are still no really good digital compressors, so you need to factor this into your mix methodology.
I dont agree. I think the Sony dynamics plug is really good. I feel that there are no really good plug in eqs. In fact I dont think there are even any moderately good ones, but I haven't tried the massenburg yet. I heard rumours that its excellent.

J
Old 1st February 2004
  #51
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Absolute's Avatar
 

dont you love only a few people commented before you told them which was which?

then suddenly everyone starts commenting when they know they wont be proved wrong. I guess its human nature--but I find when people know what they are hearing the add their bias to the equation--you should of posted a mock list---
Old 1st February 2004
  #52
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Sly,

this is all subjective, of course, but IMO the Sony compressor, while arguably the best plugin compressor to date, desn't even come close to good analog models from Manley, Pendulum, Cranesong, etc Not even close.

As for eq, you are correct, you need to try the MDW. It is the one to beat. I actually prefer it to several of my best analog eq's, I'm not exaggerating. The new API plugin from Unique is also a kick in the pants, easily as useful, and having as much character, as the real thing.
Old 1st February 2004
  #53
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Its exciting to read that. I really hope I like them as much as you...I was so dissappointed by the sony eq. I will get demoing.

J
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