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Summing through Soundcraft vs In the box - worth a try?
Old 16th June 2009
  #1
Gear Maniac
Summing through Soundcraft vs In the box - worth a try?

I have an 800b Soundcraft 16x8 console and I have been thinking about trying to sum my mixes through it to achieve a little more depth from my mixes, vs doing it in the box. Do any of you think it would help any, seeing as it's not one of the cream of the crop consoles? I know one answer will be "only one way to find out," but I don't have it conveniently set up right now to do this, so I'm trying to decide on whether it'd be worth it or not to do the soldering and routing of cables to get it where I could try it out.

Any opinions are appreciated.

Swaff
Old 16th June 2009
  #2
11413
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by swaff View Post
I have an 800b Soundcraft 16x8 console and I have been thinking about trying to sum my mixes through it to achieve a little more depth from my mixes, vs doing it in the box. Do any of you think it would help any, seeing as it's not one of the cream of the crop consoles? I know one answer will be "only one way to find out," but I don't have it conveniently set up right now to do this, so I'm trying to decide on whether it'd be worth it or not to do the soldering and routing of cables to get it where I could try it out.

Any opinions are appreciated.

Swaff
how about MIXING thru the desk instead?
Old 16th June 2009
  #3
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BradM's Avatar
Yeah I'm going to second the suggestion to actually mix through the desk.

This whole "summing" nonsense has gotten out of hand. Get a console and mix through it. Use its EQ. Use its auxes. Group some stuff. Pan it. Move some faders. It's an amazing concept.

Brad
Old 17th June 2009
  #4
Gear Maniac
Ok, thanks for your expertise!

So I have 16 board channels...I just need to wire up all the line inputs on the console to the patchbay and come out of my converters and into those line ins...right? And I am guessing print back into the box via the console's monitor left/right and my 1/2 Pro Tools inputs. Please let me know if some of that doesn't sound right.

What are your guys' thoughts on how this will benefit me? Are some of you confident I will be able to get a little more width and depth in my mix, assuming it is already pretty good within Pro Tools?

Swaff
Old 17th June 2009
  #5
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syntheticrhyme's Avatar
 

It's definately more worthwhile to mix through the board with eq's and effects than just for straight summing. Do a quick summing experiment first to see if it is beneficial with the gear you have. If you have cheap converters, it might not be worth it to introduce an extra stage of conversion as it may just muddy up your mix versus just staying inside the box









Control Surfaces - Pro Audio Control Surface
Old 17th June 2009
  #6
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DeadPoet's Avatar
It's not an 800, but I have a Ghost (which i'm trading for a D&R orion as we speak) and did my own tests on summing.

The EQ's don't really do anything to me and the difference between summing ITB and OTB on 16 tracks was so small that it's not worth my hassle.




Herwig
Old 17th June 2009
  #7
11413
Guest
well... how much outboard gear do you have?

compressors, gates, fx, etc...

there are quite a few tricks you can do on an analog desk which are a pain in the butt inside the DAW... like parallel compression

if nothing more, the desk is a control surface.
Old 20th June 2009
  #8
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by 11413 View Post
well... how much outboard gear do you have?

compressors, gates, fx, etc...

there are quite a few tricks you can do on an analog desk which are a pain in the butt inside the DAW... like parallel compression

if nothing more, the desk is a control surface.
Don't have much outboard gear...only a couple EQs and one mono compressor.

Mixing through the console would be fun, but not practical for me as it has no recall other than me documenting everything, and I only have 8 high quality channels for AD/DA. I have fun mixing in the box, and not really looking to add fun, but rather sound quality.

To update, I hooked everything up and ran stems out to my console, and could never tell a difference that made me feel it is worth doing. I tried sending a 2 mix to a couple channels, sending several stems to different channels, and both keeping headroom and slamming the console to see what kind of goodness I could achieve. After all that, still nothing that wow-ed me. I guess summing to a console is console specific on whether or not it will add anything cool...a la Neve, API, SSL, etc. Not my trusty Soundcraft, though!

Thanks for everyone's replies!

Swaff
Old 20th June 2009
  #9
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rty5150's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 11413 View Post
how about MIXING thru the desk instead?
but that is soooooo bruce swedien, ever heard of charles dye?


just kidding. good luck on however you decide to use your ghost. i personally think you should mix through it as well. hybrid systems are awesome.

rich
Old 20th June 2009
  #10
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gussyg2007's Avatar
The mojo is in your head not the tools... as you said running it through a desk won't make any significant improvement to your mixes
Old 20th June 2009
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by gussyg2007 View Post
The mojo is in your head not the tools... as you said running it through a desk won't make any significant improvement to your mixes
Absolutely not true - but you won't know that till you've done it.

As far as recall goes, that's why they make grease pencils (china markers) in a variety of colors. That what big studios used in the days before automation. Put marks directly on the console, using different colors for different cues. When you're done, just wipe it down with a rag or towel.
Old 20th June 2009
  #12
11413
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by rty5150 View Post
but that is soooooo bruce swedien, ever heard of charles dye?
charles dye, what a maroon! yes, we want everything to sound like Ricky Martin.

i'm more of the Flood, Lanois, Alan Moulder school...
Old 20th June 2009
  #13
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rty5150's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 11413 View Post
charles dye, what a maroon! yes, we want everything to sound like Ricky Martin.

i'm more of the Flood, Lanois, Alan Moulder school...

so where do the "hardware plug-ins" come in?heh


rich
Old 20th June 2009
  #14
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illacov's Avatar
 

I always ask what you were expecting from summing or mixing on a console vs mixing in the box?

It also has a good deal to do with what kind of headroom you're seeing on your console. It would be interesting to note how you're bussing things out from your PT rig as far as, if you're doing all stereo stems or a mixed bag of mono and stereo. And where exactly you're jumping into the Soundcraft at?

It may sound like a lark coming from me but have you tried going in thru the mic pres and actually gaining them up so that you have a buffer between the DA and the rest of the console?

For example if you were to pull your bussed audio/hardware sends down to zilch (in PT) and then gain up each channel on your Soundcraft that had a mic pre say +20 db (which was receiving from PT), (each receiving Soundcraft channel's fader at 0db) keep the master fader on your Soundcraft at 0 db and then slowly start turning back up your bussed audio (in PT) so that you have some headroom per channel and are not stressing your DA as much, it would be interesting to see if you hear any differences that way.

This would in a way, similar to an active summing mixers topology, alot of them have a slight headroom buffer for the inputs so that you don't overdrive the DA for level and introduce distortion.

Again respects to all who've posted, I think that most of negative buzz about summing mixers revolves around their early implementation and lack of information about how to use them or for that matter ways to trick em out and use them creatively.

A summing mixer is not some magic bullet. Neither is a console. It requires a know how of the equipment in the first place that allows the guy at the helm to use his tricks of the trade to make the unit sound its best.

A guy can mix on a Neve or a Trident and its really about knowing how that particular console is going to react when you do certain things or how certain decisions are going to effect things in the long run.

True indeed summing mixers lack faders, but it isnt always a given that having faders on a console begets better results, especially if you have cheap faders on your console. Cheap faders are not always better than no faders.

To be fair, summing is a small part of the picture in a full mix.

I think that just like a console, you have also take into account the other necessary gear needed to really make an analog mix on a summing unit work.


I think that if you were seeking a major difference there are ways to accomplish that with your console.

I'd first off try getting some more headroom into the big picture.

If push came to shove, I might even say you could back off on the gain at the master buss on your Soundcraft and slap a nice 2 channel preamp across it with some color and see if that floats your boat. An 1176LN in bypass might do something for you too.

I think it goes without saying you don't just throw audio on a console/summing mixer from a DAW and magic happens. Its not THAT easy lol

I'm pretty sure if you shot one of us a PM, we could give you some help to getting your particular situation off the ground.

Peace
Illumination
Old 20th June 2009
  #15
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by illacov View Post
I always ask what you were expecting from summing or mixing on a console vs mixing in the box?

It also has a good deal to do with what kind of headroom you're seeing on your console. It would be interesting to note how you're bussing things out from your PT rig as far as, if you're doing all stereo stems or a mixed bag of mono and stereo. And where exactly you're jumping into the Soundcraft at?

It may sound like a lark coming from me but have you tried going in thru the mic pres and actually gaining them up so that you have a buffer between the DA and the rest of the console?

For example if you were to pull your bussed audio/hardware sends down to zilch (in PT) and then gain up each channel on your Soundcraft that had a mic pre say +20 db (which was receiving from PT), (each receiving Soundcraft channel's fader at 0db) keep the master fader on your Soundcraft at 0 db and then slowly start turning back up your bussed audio (in PT) so that you have some headroom per channel and are not stressing your DA as much, it would be interesting to see if you hear any differences that way.

This would in a way, similar to an active summing mixers topology, alot of them have a slight headroom buffer for the inputs so that you don't overdrive the DA for level and introduce distortion.

Again respects to all who've posted, I think that most of negative buzz about summing mixers revolves around their early implementation and lack of information about how to use them or for that matter ways to trick em out and use them creatively.

A summing mixer is not some magic bullet. Neither is a console. It requires a know how of the equipment in the first place that allows the guy at the helm to use his tricks of the trade to make the unit sound its best.

A guy can mix on a Neve or a Trident and its really about knowing how that particular console is going to react when you do certain things or how certain decisions are going to effect things in the long run.

True indeed summing mixers lack faders, but it isnt always a given that having faders on a console begets better results, especially if you have cheap faders on your console. Cheap faders are not always better than no faders.

To be fair, summing is a small part of the picture in a full mix.

I think that just like a console, you have also take into account the other necessary gear needed to really make an analog mix on a summing unit work.


I think that if you were seeking a major difference there are ways to accomplish that with your console.

I'd first off try getting some more headroom into the big picture.

If push came to shove, I might even say you could back off on the gain at the master buss on your Soundcraft and slap a nice 2 channel preamp across it with some color and see if that floats your boat. An 1176LN in bypass might do something for you too.

I think it goes without saying you don't just throw audio on a console/summing mixer from a DAW and magic happens. Its not THAT easy lol

I'm pretty sure if you shot one of us a PM, we could give you some help to getting your particular situation off the ground.

Peace
Illumination
Hey dude, thanks for the reply. I actually had read another post of yours that was very extensive on how to send to a console, and it pretty much was the same things you mentioned above, just a while back. I did give plenty of headroom with the DA, and I did go in through the Mic inputs instead of the line ins...and also gained up the inputs on the console. I also had my master fader on the console at 0 like you had said before in another post. I pretty much went by your instructions to someone else, but the end result was that I didn't notice anything being deeper or wider like a lot of people say a console can help.

I was sending out stereo sends like you would send to a mastering engineer, no mono. I tried leaving headroom within the console, and also pushing the console into the red to compare both. Neither were better than my in-the-box mix.

As far as putting a nice stereo preamp after my console to gain up some, I tried putting a pair of Vintech x73's in that position, and that did not add any magic either. It might have colored it some, but nothing that convinced me that I would want to do all this routing and patching on a regular basis.

I am very happpy with the way the mix is sounding in the box, so I am not looking for a MAJOR difference with using the console. I realize I could send out 16 stems and mix through the console, using it's EQs and I would have a totally different mix, but I am sort of just looking to have an enhancement of what I already have. Perhaps my console is not one of the best for summing enhancement, or maybe all the hype behind summing to analog is just that...hype. I am not sure? All I know is that whatever I have done currently is not an enhancement to my ears.

If you have any other ideas, I would be open to trying them. Thanks everyone for the input.

Swaff

I appreciate your help and advice.

All the best,

Swaff
Old 20th June 2009
  #16
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illacov's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by swaff View Post
Hey dude, thanks for the reply. I actually had read another post of yours that was very extensive on how to send to a console, and it pretty much was the same things you mentioned above, just a while back. I did give plenty of headroom with the DA, and I did go in through the Mic inputs instead of the line ins...and also gained up the inputs on the console. I also had my master fader on the console at 0 like you had said before in another post. I pretty much went by your instructions to someone else, but the end result was that I didn't notice anything being deeper or wider like a lot of people say a console can help.

I was sending out stereo sends like you would send to a mastering engineer, no mono. I tried leaving headroom within the console, and also pushing the console into the red to compare both. Neither were better than my in-the-box mix.

As far as putting a nice stereo preamp after my console to gain up some, I tried putting a pair of Vintech x73's in that position, and that did not add any magic either. It might have colored it some, but nothing that convinced me that I would want to do all this routing and patching on a regular basis.

I am very happpy with the way the mix is sounding in the box, so I am not looking for a MAJOR difference with using the console. I realize I could send out 16 stems and mix through the console, using it's EQs and I would have a totally different mix, but I am sort of just looking to have an enhancement of what I already have. Perhaps my console is not one of the best for summing enhancement, or maybe all the hype behind summing to analog is just that...hype. I am not sure? All I know is that whatever I have done currently is not an enhancement to my ears.

If you have any other ideas, I would be open to trying them. Thanks everyone for the input.

Swaff

I appreciate your help and advice.

All the best,

Swaff
Forgive my ignorance, but I didn't notice if you tried mono and stereo?

Like dedicated mono stems from the DAW to the console, along with stereo stems for stereo groups like guitars and possibly drum overheads.

Just a suggestion.

you can PM if you'd like to take this discussion off the thread.
I always have lots of nice suggestions for this sort of thing, but they're better in context instead of back and forthing like this lol.


Peace
Illumination
Old 20th June 2009
  #17
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Barish's Avatar
Try it and see it for yourself dude. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. It may not do anything for one while it may mean the whole world for another.

Find yourself a place somewhere in between.

B.
Old 21st June 2009
  #18
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gremlin moon's Avatar
 

FWIW, I read a Steve Roach (one of the serious ambient heavyweights) interview a while ago and he was running things back through his soundcraft, so you would at least be in good company.
Old 21st June 2009
  #19
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by swaff View Post
If you have any other ideas, I would be open to trying them.

EQ your stems. Move the faders around a bit, try playing with the relative levels of your busses. Break things out differently. Get more d/a and give the summing an actual workout.

Honestly, if you were already happy with your itb mix and just want a little more sparkle and depth, a good mix comp will serve you better. No need to squash anything, keep the attack open and the release medium, low ratio, kiss the meters. Just use the box for tone and mojo.


Gregory Scott - ubk
.
Old 21st June 2009
  #20
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gussyg2007's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
Absolutely not true - but you won't know that till you've done it.

As far as recall goes, that's why they make grease pencils (china markers) in a variety of colors. That what big studios used in the days before automation. Put marks directly on the console, using different colors for different cues. When you're done, just wipe it down with a rag or towel.
now how would you know that i haven't ??? i used to own a ghost then a mackie 32/8 ran all my 16 outs into the desk mixed on the desk,i used the desk eq's i used outboard comps/fx, ran the mix back into a dat machine but that was then ,this is now ,i produce an enormous amount of music for various music companies and i maybe juggling several tracks at one time ,constantly making minor adjustments ,change the ending a bit, more impact on the intro ,put another hook line in ,change the drums a bit ,make a 30 second edit ,using a mixer or a summing box is just not a reality for me ,my work flow would grind to a halt over night ,i think most companies expect total recall as the norm nower days ,
Old 21st June 2009
  #21
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illacov's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gussyg2007 View Post
now how would you know that i haven't ??? i used to own a ghost then a mackie 32/8 ran all my 16 outs into the desk mixed on the desk,i used the desk eq's i used outboard comps/fx, ran the mix back into a dat machine but that was then ,this is now ,i produce an enormous amount of music for various music companies and i maybe juggling several tracks at one time ,constantly making minor adjustments ,change the ending a bit, more impact on the intro ,put another hook line in ,change the drums a bit ,make a 30 second edit ,using a mixer or a summing box is just not a reality for me ,my work flow would grind to a halt over night ,i think most companies expect total recall as the norm nower days ,
Whats up with this grinding halt business?

My gosh how does anyone stay in business if they use a large format console??

Or a large format summing mixer?

Or use hardware compression during their mixes? How do they survive?

Whatever do they do if they have to recall something??

Thank god for plugins and DAWS.


Peace
Illumination
Old 21st June 2009
  #22
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by illacov View Post
My gosh how does anyone stay in business if they use a large format console??

Most post houses and guys doing soundtrack and commercial spots are completely ITB, and wouldn't be able to compete if they weren't.


Gregory Scott - ubk
.
Old 21st June 2009
  #23
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illacov's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
Most post houses and guys doing soundtrack and commercial spots are completely ITB, and wouldn't be able to compete if they weren't.


Gregory Scott - ubk
.
This is understandable.

I almost wrote down the phrase jingles and commercials but felt a bit daft doing so, considering how obvious it would be.

I was thinking for more like full album runs, etc.. 48 channels to a console that sort of thing. Nobody does that anymore???

Peace
Illumination
Old 21st June 2009
  #24
Gear Addict
 

We use a 40 channel Amek board and when mixing I generally make the best of both worlds by using some plug-ins such as compressors and fully-parametric eq's and then having each channel being sent out to the desk for further eq'ing if needed and panning etc. Then I can select which outboard processors can be used for certain channels and can also take advantage of using outboard reverb which I find more pleasing and a lot quicker and easier to adjust with 'real' aux sends. It also means that you can ride important faders for channels such as vocals. I find it a lot easier using 'real' faders for these jobs.

However, I would suggest muting any channels you are not using, bypass unused eq paths etc. Basically you want to bypass everything that is not being used including auxes and groups and all. Even though it only makes a slight difference (depending on the board), it all adds up. I once did a mix where I had all channels, eq's, pan pots, auxes, busses etc. in the stereo signal path and it was noticeably noisier on mixdown. However, then Amek is slightly noiseier than some other consoles in my opinion.
Old 12th July 2009
  #25
FX smörgåsbord user
 
Charles Dye's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 11413 View Post
charles dye, what a maroon!
I'm pretty sure you mean moron.

But I've been wrong before.
Old 12th July 2009
  #26
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dpianomn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Dye View Post
I'm pretty sure you mean moron.

But I've been wrong before.
well done charles. heh
Old 12th July 2009
  #27
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rty5150's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Dye View Post
I'm pretty sure you mean moron.

But I've been wrong before.
great to see you charles. are you still 100% ITB?
Old 12th July 2009
  #28
FX smörgåsbord user
 
Charles Dye's Avatar
 

Yep. And it works for me on alt rock, indie, pop, latin, whatever.

As Tony said elsewhere, it ain't the box it's the jox.
Old 13th July 2009
  #29
11413
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Dye View Post
I'm pretty sure you mean moron.

But I've been wrong before.
absolutely wrong... didn't you ever watch Bugs Bunny cartoons?

i think it's the Pete Puma episode...

bugs bunny "what a maroon" - Google Search
Old 13th July 2009
  #30
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by gussyg2007 View Post
The mojo is in your head not the tools... as you said running it through a desk won't make any significant improvement to your mixes
+1 Mind mojo is the most important of all mojo's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
Absolutely not true - but you won't know that till you've done it.
Been there. Done it. Hundreds of times. Mind mojo trumps board mojo - every time. hehheh
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