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I'm frustrated with the lack of mix space ITB...! DAW Software
Old 27th December 2010
  #1
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I'm frustrated with the lack of mix space ITB...!

I'm talking about mixes containing over 20 tracks...

My frustration comes from trying various approaches from the way I track to trying different FX's, panning etc, but in the end, I'm not getting the separation that I'd like to hear in a mix. I have an H8000 and PCM92 which I use quite a bit for reverbs and delays and it helps some but they can't perform miracles.

I'm considering a summing box or buying a console. Maybe I'm getting a bit picky here since nobody I work with has mentioned this or has turned down my material for this reason, but I know it can be better.

Am I the only one here who feels this way ?
Old 27th December 2010
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dreamsongs View Post
I'm talking about mixes containing over 20 tracks...
I have an H8000 and PCM92 which I use quite a bit for reverbs and delays and it helps some but they can't perform miracles.

lose or at least ease up on the reverb and the delays if you are lacking "space". Your lack of space has little to do with your medium.
Old 27th December 2010
  #3
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a lot of people have mentioned you have to work harder ITB. I don't know that for sure but I do find myself carving out a lot with EQ to make it all fit.

Maybe one of the side benifits of tape is the compression characterisitics and saturation. In both cases they make the signal more compact. ITB every signal is as wide open as you captured it. I think this is compunded when you send these signals to FX devices.

Are you EQ'ing your returns?
Old 27th December 2010
  #4
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Jonathawkes's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dreamsongs View Post
I'm talking about mixes containing over 20 tracks...

My frustration comes from trying various approaches from the way I track to trying different FX's, panning etc, but in the end, I'm not getting the separation that I'd like to hear in a mix. I have an H8000 and PCM92 which I use quite a bit for reverbs and delays and it helps some but they can't perform miracles.

I'm considering a summing box or buying a console. Maybe I'm getting a bit picky here since nobody I work with has mentioned this or has turned down my material for this reason, but I know it can be better.

Am I the only one here who feels this way ?
Investigating the claims of analog summing advocates
Old 27th December 2010
  #5
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kooz's Avatar
 

Only 20 tracks?
Are you sure your troubles are not before the box? room/micing, I mean?
I've found that if you take care of those things, then add some filtering like Brainworx's CleanSweep (FREE!!) and saturation like Massey's TapeHead (<$70) and you get the best of all worlds.
Also, see the second quote in my sig.
Old 27th December 2010
  #6
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Eq will be the most important thing in what you're trying to do. Properly eq'ing each track to fit just right in the mix, will give it clarity, depth, and balance. Frequencies fighting each other will kill a mix.
Old 27th December 2010
  #7
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The reason why OTB is easier is because of natural compression and saturation that takes place. You do have to work harder ITB, but it's also less expensive and more convenient. It can surely be done with great results.
Old 27th December 2010
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dreamsongs View Post
I'm frustrated with the lack of mix space ITB...! I'm talking about mixes containing over 20 tracks...
...

How long ago did you switch from mixing on consoles to mixing ITB?
Old 27th December 2010
  #9
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I spend countless hours on my mixes, equing, compressing, panning all the elements. But as I start adding tracks, I always I start losing the space that was there with only say...7-8 tracks.

This is where it gets harder, when you have aside from LV, 3 guitars, 2-3 keyboards, drums, percussion and BV's all fighting for space it gets a little crowded...
Old 27th December 2010
  #10
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dreamsongs's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
How long ago did you switch from mixing on consoles to mixing ITB?
About 6 years ago and I haven't slept well ever since...heh
Old 27th December 2010
  #11
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When it comes to summing it really is a personal thing. After Fab from Dangerous sent me a 2-BUS unit to try out for a few weeks, I was hooked. Now let me state that my mixes are typically LARGE productions where I have roughly 100-channels of audio. These are intense, large-scale gospel concerts where I am already submixing busses to keep control of the final mix (Drums and Bass, Strings, Brass, Choir, Leads, Instruments/Band, Ambience). When I started breaking out my busses I was amazed at how much more headroom I had before clipping! This is much more significant than you might realize with live concert recordings as there is so much energy going on, the tracks fill up and get more intense. Often I would find myself running out of headroom---that problem pretty much went away. This also gave me better stereo separation, which again is critical with such a dense mix.

The idea of summing is to take the digital headroom limitations out of the picture by eliminating the intense mathmatical algorhythms in-place that often suck the life out of the over-all mix. Not all programs are the same, some are better than others while some just suck--literally. This is one of the things that I have long thought wouldn't matter being a ProTools HD user but sure enough even with PTHD, it does make a difference. I'm a firm believer in the Dangerous Music product line, it really does work. HOWEVER, summing isn't the answer for everyone. I've received calls and inquiries over the years about summing when what they really needed was better converters FIRST. IMHO before you can even think about having a summing solution for the benefit of what external analog summing provides---you must have the converters and monitors in-place, otherwise you're putting the cart before the horse. Okay, it's a nice cart mind you--but there should be a process here.

Others prefer summing even with low-track counts----and to certain ears with high-end gear already, there is a benefit to that user. Not everyone will experience the same results--it comes down to YOUR experience level and the level of gear that you're using.

With all of this said--would you please be so kind to let us know what you're using for your AD/DA conversion and what you're recording through? Likewise, what monitors are you using and how are you controlling them?
Old 27th December 2010
  #12
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djanthonyw's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BradLyons View Post
by eliminating the intense mathmatical algorhythms in-place that often suck the life out of the over-all mix.
Have you ever played a project in a sequencer that had numerous tracks of just audio? What does the CPU meter display? Digital summing has nothing to do with "intense mathmatical algorhythms". Summing is not processor intensive. Digital is simply accurate and clean, and by nature we usually enjoy the listening to the opposite which is not so precise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BradLyons View Post
Not all programs are the same, some are better than others while some just suck
tutt

You're right, but you obviously must not be talking about how they handle audio.
Old 27th December 2010
  #13
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use as few plugins as possible, and use the best of them.

too much digital processing = 2D sound

when using a summer, don't forget you'll have a DA to AD trip...
Old 27th December 2010
  #14
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BradLyons's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by djanthonyw View Post
Have you ever played a project in a sequencer that had numerous tracks of just audio? What does the CPU meter display? Digital summing has nothing to do with "intense mathmatical algorhythms". Summing is not processor intensive. Digital is simply accurate and clean, and by nature we usually enjoy the listening to the opposite which is not so precise.

tutt

You're right, but you obviously must not be talking about how they handle audio.
Maybe what I said didn't come out clear enough.... hmmmm let me try it again. What I'm saying is the more you push it internally, the more problems arise. There are many that do not experience the issues of ITB summing (as I stated) due to the fact that they are just not pushing it heavy, don't have as much audio fighting for space and headroom, and frankly don't have the gear or even ears to distinguish it. Summing is very much a personal choice and even a battle----so the point about the "math" is simple---the more complex, the more of a problem it can become. Now, start throwing in lots of automation (which often induces dither) and you have a whole new level of summing problems.
Old 27th December 2010
  #15
Whenever I hear/read folks talk about differences in stereo field issues between analog mixes and digital mixes my mind moves inexorably to the quite marked differences in crosstalk between analog mixers/summers and digital. For instance, the Dangerous Buss has these crosstalk specs:
  • Crosstalk @ 1 kHz: -97 dB
  • Crosstalk @ 10 kHz: **** dB
While most DA units don't even bother giving a crosstalk or other channel sep spec, presumably because it's assumed that it will be essentially the same as the unit's S/N ratio.

(I did find a channel separation @1kHz spec on the Prism Sound ADA-8XR of >120 dB. But I'm not sure that $10K+ unit is a fair stand in for all the sub $1K units that many, possibly most folks are running. heh )


It may seem, at first, paradoxical to suggest that less actual channel separation might be enhancing stereo field imaging and a perception of separation, but it might be worth exploring. Maybe LCR approaches should re-investigated when one brings them to digital mixing.

Of course, it may just be that channel separation figures like the Dangerous Buss's >90 dB figures* are, themselves, so good as to be all but negligible and that the difference in stereo separation/imaging perception is coming from somewhere else.


*It's possibly worth noting that many affordable mixers now have fairly low crosstalk figures, too. A Mackie SR24-4 has crosstalk figures around -89 dB.
Old 27th December 2010
  #16
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ryst's Avatar
 

I have no idea why no one has bothered to ask you for an example of the source tracks yet.

Can you upload your current mix? Or a PT session so we can listen to the raw tracks? I say we start there before talking about summing, mixing OTB, or even converters.
Old 27th December 2010
  #17
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Unclenny's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by lord_bunny View Post
I do find myself carving out a lot with EQ to make it all fit.
Me too.

Careful panning is important as well. I pan my stereo tracks so that they sum in very particular places and then I pan the reverb returns on those tracks to the same spots.

....and some tracks need to be mono.

Quote:
Originally Posted by taa4j6 View Post
use as few plugins as possible
This is a big one for me. I really think it makes a difference.

I try to get as much happening as possible on the way in. I like to use PT as a recorder as much as possible.

That's easy for me, though.....I keep my stuff pretty bare bones.
Old 27th December 2010
  #18
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RCM - Ronan's Avatar
Space and depth is one of the reasons I still mix almost entirely OTB, but if you are going to make the switch, I would recommend a console instead of a summing box. My very non-scientific opinion is that it has more to do with Analog EQ and compression as well as consistent truly phase coherent parallel processing than the summing aspect. Even running analog EQ on a stereo mix creates perceived depth and separation more than the digital counterparts.
Old 27th December 2010
  #19
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be carefull with your digital levels and summing is fine
analog eqs + comps open the dimension, it´s far more important than anything else imo
if you´re on a budget, get just one good EQ (Trident DIY) and a o good compressor pair (1176, comp54, Overstayer and so on) and "reamp"...it´s not the most comfortable way, but it can take a mix to another dimension imo
outboard fx like chorus, dmx and so on are also different than itb counterparts, but i´d say eqs and comps first
like mentioned here, better get a real desk with eqs than a summing box
toft eqs are very very good imo
i got a D&R Orion which was a steal, maybe you could also look fo something like this. many options out there. if i only engage the EQ without setting anything, the tracks get more alive (well,there must be still something happening)
Old 27th December 2010
  #20
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I own a Dangerous 2-bus and I've mixed tons ITB and hybrid. Here's what I've found makes my ITB work to the point that I no longer really use the 2bus.

Insert a trim plugin on every track as your first insert.
Bring your faders to unity
Use the trim to Trim down all the audio to a basic rough mix where all instruments are peaking at ~ -20db.
Then use your fader's to fine tune.

There are too many reasons to list why this gain staging is better for ITB mixing. But I urge you to try it. My mixes opened way up.
Old 27th December 2010
  #21
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djanthonyw's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BradLyons View Post
What I'm saying is the more you push it internally, the more problems arise.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BradLyons View Post
Summing is very much a personal choice and even a battle----so the point about the "math" is simple---the more complex, the more of a problem it can become.
Well as I said in my first post of the thread, you get natural compression and saturation with analog vs going right to clipping with digital. It's not because there is a problem with digital, digital is neutral and non flattering, where as analog adds pleasing nonlinearities to the signal. Spreading false information about there being 'math problems' with digital isn't cool.
Old 27th December 2010
  #22
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kennybro's Avatar
So just to ask... you're arrangements were the same when you were on tape. Like, 3 guitars, 2-3 keyboards, BV, and then some, with a lot of verb and echo, etc... and you had space and separation back then. And as soon as you went ITB, you lost all that space and separation, and you've been trying to fix this SNAFU now for 6 years with no luck?
Old 27th December 2010
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dreamsongs View Post
Am I the only one here who feels this way ?
You are not alone. Not to rile up the "ITB is great, don't you dare say anything disparaging" gang, but for those who aren't fully digging ITB, this is a major reason why. I won't speak for anyone else, but this issue went away for me with a summing box (dangerous).
Try one and see what you think is the best advice I can think of.
Good luck,
Sean
Old 28th December 2010
  #24
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by RCM - Ronan View Post
... My very non-scientific opinion is that it has more to do with Analog EQ and compression as well as consistent truly phase coherent parallel processing than the summing aspect....
+1000000. I don't know why these OTB vs ITB rants all focus on the summing bus.

Most people can agree that digital eq is more "hard work" than analog eq. The idea that you have to carve out more stuff with eq when working ITB is probably simply due to this fact alone.

Idea: make more use of All Pass filters ... set them to varying degrees of phase shift for each track ... solo'd, you won't think they are doing anything ...
Old 28th December 2010
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by dreamsongs View Post
I'm talking about mixes containing over 20 tracks...

My frustration comes from trying various approaches from the way I track to trying different FX's, panning etc, but in the end, I'm not getting the separation that I'd like to hear in a mix. I have an H8000 and PCM92 which I use quite a bit for reverbs and delays and it helps some but they can't perform miracles.

I'm considering a summing box or buying a console. Maybe I'm getting a bit picky here since nobody I work with has mentioned this or has turned down my material for this reason, but I know it can be better.

Am I the only one here who feels this way ?

Join the club.
I feel the same way.
It's killing me.
Just listening to the preproductions i did at home when i still had Soundtracs Solo and couple of stereo comps makes me sick.
It just sounds huge, well defined, there is separation,there is up and down, there is back and front, there is air around each sound, if i panned something 35% left it was 35% left and not just left like when panning ITB.
I am very,very close to getting A&H R24 mixing console with ADAT inputs and just using ITB as replay and record device.
I really can't be bothered anymore with learning how to mix ITB to get 50% of sound i was getting naturally and in no time on cheap analog console.
Old 28th December 2010
  #26
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David Watts's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dreamsongs View Post
I spend countless hours on my mixes, equing, compressing, panning all the elements. But as I start adding tracks, I always I start losing the space that was there with only say...7-8 tracks.

This is where it gets harder, when you have aside from LV, 3 guitars, 2-3 keyboards, drums, percussion and BV's all fighting for space it gets a little crowded...
I love the fact you maintained the rule of following a 'q' with a 'u'... respect man, respect. thumbsup
Old 28th December 2010
  #27
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dreamsongs's Avatar
 

OK, I've been working on a mix just now so I've refueled my bitching...heh

Like some said here, maybe it's the summing and maybe it's the whole thing I'm not entirely happy with. And maybe I shouldn't be comparing my mixes to major releases either which certainly depresses me further.

Or perhaps it's because on many of my songs I play all the instruments and since I know what I played, I then struggle to hear all the parts clearly and with enough separation to hear the details.

Sometimes if I have a few stereo tracks panned at 35-50-65 even with different eq's, reverbs and delay settings it sounds like there's not a whole lot of separation and space in the tracks.

And to answer a previous post, yes, I've been ITB and I do like many things about it but after mixing, summing and mastering (which I send out) I don't get the space in the mix I'm looking for. I record mainly thru my GR MP-2NV and Rosetta at 44.1 k and Event Prec 8 monitors. Sometimes I use the Distressors on the way in and I have good mics, amps, guitars, keyboards, FX boxes etc., so I know it's not the gear. I really don't have any cheap gear that I record thru or use at all.

I used to have a Trident 80b and maybe I miss that sound, I don't know. Maybe I need to cut down and record less tracks...maybe I'm too obsessed with perfection...who knows. I like my recordings for the most part and how the vocals and instruments sound but the lack of space and separation is my main complaint.

Nobody I work with or send songs to ever mentioned these things but I hear it and it bothers me that I can't get it like I'm hearing it in my head...
Old 28th December 2010
  #28
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carllock's Avatar
 

Great post guys but no one has commented on two new tools to deal with the issue at hand:
  • Slate VCC
  • UAD A800

I know they are two different ITB tools (Sat vs console emu's) but I have orders pending on both I am waiting to see if they bring things closer to analog path headroom and fullness.

I have a hunch that using both (in combination) will limit the need for more plugs on a ITB track...like it was said above with plugins, high quality and low instance count does matter.
Old 28th December 2010
  #29
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recordinghopkins's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jumpnyc View Post
I own a Dangerous 2-bus and I've mixed tons ITB and hybrid. Here's what I've found makes my ITB work to the point that I no longer really use the 2bus.

Insert a trim plugin on every track as your first insert.
Bring your faders to unity
Use the trim to Trim down all the audio to a basic rough mix where all instruments are peaking at ~ -20db.
Then use your fader's to fine tune.

There are too many reasons to list why this gain staging is better for ITB mixing. But I urge you to try it. My mixes opened way up.
+1 for mixing with trims when ITB. Also, it's good idea to mix with everything peaking around -20 to -12db. There is really no reason to go any hotter with 24 bits of dynamic range available to you.
Old 28th December 2010
  #30
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As a keyboard player myself, I would suggest turning the keyboard tracks off. See? Already the mix is better. heh

Okay, now, when you bring them back into the mix, experiment with narrowing the stereo width of the keyboard. Sometimes, making it a mono track, or a very narrow stereo track makes it easier to fit into a mix. Acoustic piano patches especially are difficult to fit into a mix without turning the whole enchilada into mud. (I wonder if that's what Ivory is for?)

In the new issue of TapeOp, there's a analog purist reviewing a Presonus digital mixing board. He loves it. This is a guy who usually records with a tape deck and a analog mixer. While you don't get the advantage of "analog goodness" with a digital mixer, you do get pristine sound quality with eq, compression, gates, phase, and time delay on each channel. This means you can spend less time ITB fiddling with plugins and more time fiddling with faders. You can also setup 4 discreet headphone mixes for tracking - at zero latency - just like the old days.
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