R/E/P Community

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  

Pages: 1 2 3 [4] 5 6 ... 11   Go Down

Author Topic: External summing of DAW mixes  (Read 64967 times)

Vertigo

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1334
Re: External summing of DAW mixes
« Reply #45 on: October 09, 2008, 01:57:33 pm »

I had a bit of spare time last night so I went through my project backups and pulled up an old ITB mix that I did a few years ago. I removed all processing (plug-ins, etc), bused the tracks out to individual inputs on the console, and spent about 30 minutes getting a rough mix. Levels and EQ only - no compression at all, although I did add just a hint of verb since I have a pair of dedicated units patched into the FX channels of my console.

I then did a quick bounce, put the tracks side by side, and did a semi-blind A/B comparison (semi-blind because I wasn't looking at which track was which, but I obviously knew the source material too well to be truly unable to tell which track was ITB versus OTB). I did try to be as objective as possible though, and focused on the audible differences between the tracks only. These were my observations:

-While my 30 minute rough mix was far less polished and wasn't anything I'd send out the door, there was NO question in my mind of which mix I liked better. The finished ITB mix of course sounded more like a finished product than my rough analog version (although not by much), but it sounded muffled and squashed in comparison.

-While I wouldn't necessarily say that the stereo image improved (the width seemed roughly the same between the two mixes), the console mix definitely sounded BIGGER. Each instrument had more definition, a richer tone with more harmonic content, and more of its own "space" in the mix.

-The console added a touch of analog "grit" which I thought replaced the digital "grain" of the ITB mix nicely.

-Getting a decent sounding mix was a lot quicker on the console than it was ITB. I find that it's much faster to find what works and what doesn't when you can twirl knobs and push faders with both hands instead of clicking around with a mouse.

-I was reminded yet again of how much I love my console EQ's. I can take any knob, crank it as far as it will go, and the result will still sound musical. I've never found that to be the case with even my favorite plug-in EQ's, and I can dial in a sound as well with three bands on the console as I can with five bands using a plug-in.

-I generally find bass guitar to be a struggle ITB. I've never had this problem on the console and last night's "test" was no exception. The bass came through as much or as little as I wanted it to, with very little effort on my part. I didn't have much trouble getting the bass and kick to play well together either (another aspect of mixing that takes me much longer to accomplish ITB).

-I detected virtually NO audible signal degradation due to the additonal DA/AD conversion when recording the mix bus back Into The Box using the same converters I mixed with. It's practically like dealing with a brand new signal. Even with the additional DA/AD conversion the OTB mix sounded more "alive" to me than the ITB mix.

This test was all from a console perspective and there were of course plenty of mitigating factors that contributed to the differences between these two mixes (in addition to simply ITB versus OTB), but I thought my observations might be useful - especially to anyone considering a move from ITB to console mixing.

-Lance
Logged

Steve Hudson

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1013
Re: External summing of DAW mixes
« Reply #46 on: October 09, 2008, 02:13:25 pm »

Are any of you using more than 16 channels of summing? We have an SPL Mixdream and are thinking of adding a second so that we have 32 channels, matched one-to-one with our 32 analog outs from Pro Tools. We think this would give us and the studio's clients a bit more flexibility when using outboard processing during mixdown.
Logged
"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs.  There's also a negative side."

- Hunter S. Thompson should have said this, but didn't

http://www.myspace.com/steventoddhudson

Bill Mueller

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 4502
Re: External summing of DAW mixes
« Reply #47 on: October 09, 2008, 02:36:01 pm »

Hello Lance,

If I had a dollar for every time a band came back to me and told me that they liked one of my rough mixes better than the final mix, I would be wealthy. This kind of thing happens both in the box and out of the box by my estimate.

Just focusing on mixing can be a bad thing for the mix. I know that sounds nonsensical but when we are starting a "mix", we assume we are going to EQ, compress, limit, gate, flange, phase, add reverb and otherwise screw with our source tracks and then pack them into a "commercially" appealing loud-as-snot package. For those with plug-ins, the potential to really mess up the tracks is exponentially increased.

Just balancing the tracks and trusting your initial decision making ability, many times is the path to the best mix.

From reading your post, I imagine that these influences may be as much or more a factor than where the tracks were summed.

Best regards,

Bill
Logged
"Don't take it personally. But this shit is a science." J.J.Blair

“The Internet is only a means of communication,” he wrote. “It is not an amorphous extraterrestrial body with an entitlement to norms that run counter to the fundamental principles of human rights. There is nothing in the criminal or civil law which legalizes that which is otherwise illegal simply because the transaction takes place over the Internet.” Irish judge, Peter Charleton

marcel

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1257
Re: External summing of DAW mixes
« Reply #48 on: October 09, 2008, 03:11:50 pm »

And...

Assuming you could find a way to measure the differences between ITB and OTB (crosstalk, distortion, noise,etc), as Bill describes, then what?  What impact does that have on how a mix comes together?  What is 'better'?  It's pretty clear that 'better' specs (like those above) are not universally agreed to be 'better'...

I still think that most of us are going to make decisions like this based on a whole bunch of other factors that surround the equipment...  Finances, flexibility, our relative software/hardware investment, chosen workflow, personal preference.  People who need quick recalls and portability are going to choose ITB.  People who have a more static environment and greater hardware resources (or space for those resources), or who are just more comfortable in front of a console than a computer, are probably going to choose OTB.  Many of us will, without even thinking, fall somewhere in between.  Summing boxes are just part of that 'somewhere'.

Bottom line:  A good mix is a good mix is a good mix.  Whatever works, right?
Logged
Best, Marcel

Vertigo

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1334
Re: External summing of DAW mixes
« Reply #49 on: October 09, 2008, 03:15:45 pm »

Quote:

If I had a dollar for every time a band came back to me and told me that they liked one of my rough mixes better than the final mix, I would be wealthy. This kind of thing happens both in the box and out of the box by my estimate.


Hey Bill,

I definitely agree, but I also know from experience that the elements of the OTB mix that I preferred over the ITB mix in this test tend to stick around even after full mixdown/mastering.

I suppose I could do a more useful A/B comparison by taking a set of raw tracks and summing them through the ITB mix bus, and then again via individual inputs on the console (all EQ/FX/inserts bypassed, faders at 0). I'd be happy to post clips if anyone thinks the results might be of interest.

-Lance
Logged

Harland

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 833
Re: External summing of DAW mixes
« Reply #50 on: October 09, 2008, 03:25:10 pm »

Vertigo wrote on Thu, 09 October 2008 15:15



I suppose I could do a more useful A/B comparison by taking a set of raw tracks and summing them through the ITB mix bus, and then again via individual inputs on the console (all EQ/FX/inserts bypassed, faders at 0). I'd be happy to post clips if anyone thinks the results might be of interest.

-Lance


That sounds like the place to start, all right. I'd be very surprised if that hadn't been done as an experiment many times, although I've never seen it posted. I'd be interested in hearing that.
Logged

Devin Knutson

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 838
Re: External summing of DAW mixes
« Reply #51 on: October 09, 2008, 03:25:44 pm »

As much as I agree with double blind methodology, and the null test, I'm having trouble seeing how this could be done in this situation.

Surely, even if straight tracks were rendered ITB, and then summed analog one to one through a console, the two resulting files would never null.  The extra conversion steps, the noise floor and THD of the console, all of these would introduce subtle artifacts that would prevent a null test from having any real meaning in this context.  Wouldn't it?

So, the question is, are those artifacts desirable?  The opinion of the majority seems to be yes.  That's all I am prepared to state at this time.

For me...  I have no choice at this point.  It's either completely ITB, or out through a 20 year old Mackie 8-bus (which I still use for live work and like in that application, but not so much in the studio).
Logged
SpongeBob, reel it in, quick! Can't you hear the music?
That's a 4/4 string ostinato in D-minor!
Every sailor knows it means death!
    - Mr. Eugene H. Krabbs

marcel

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1257
Re: External summing of DAW mixes
« Reply #52 on: October 09, 2008, 03:27:25 pm »

Vertigo wrote on Thu, 09 October 2008 12:15

I suppose I could do a more useful A/B comparison by taking a set of raw tracks and summing them through the ITB mix bus, and then again via individual inputs on the console (all EQ/FX/inserts bypassed, faders at 0). I'd be happy to post clips if anyone thinks the results might be of interest.

Yes, and you could send me those same tracks, and I could run them out of the same DAW, thru the same converters, at the same levels (yadda, yadda) into my console, and I bet they would be at least 'as different'.  Assuming, of course, that we don't have the same console.

I'm not trying to be confrontational here, and I appreciate what you're saying, but I don't know that it would prove very much.  It would simply give each of us (another) chance to express our own personal preference.
Logged
Best, Marcel

Tomas Danko

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 4733
Re: External summing of DAW mixes
« Reply #53 on: October 09, 2008, 03:33:17 pm »

Hi Bill,

So what you're saying is basically that unless there is an AES paper on any subject, it can't be considered common knowledge.

I can't interprete this world we're living in that way, no matter how much I'm actually agreeing with you regarding the difference between fact and opinion.

Bill Mueller wrote on Thu, 09 October 2008 17:26

Hello Thomas,

Tomas Danko wrote on Thu, 09 October 2008 09:56

We already know that subtle analog distortion can make a stereo sound come out to sound wider.


What? Who knows this? I have never seen an AES paper on this subject in my life. Is this another example of posting an opinion as fact?


If you distort the S channel in an M/S configuration, you can yield the effect of a widened stereo image due to exxaggerated higher frequency content that differ between left and right.
No AES paper on this? Ask the question in the mastering forum and I think you will find a lot of people claiming this to be their empirical experiences. Without the M/S scenario, a multi-mic'ed drum kit with the stereo overhead mic pair cranked up through hot gain and compression could also render something similar.
It is a possible occurence within the analog domain, whereas ITB you only make the same material louder until you clip it. I hope I do not need an AES paper to prove that.

Bill Mueller wrote on Thu, 09 October 2008 17:26

Quote:


We also know that background noise can help to gel things in the mix, through masking.


I have read a BBC study that linked tape noise to perceived high frequency response, but never anything about noise being the glue that holds a mix together. Another opinion.


I'm surprised there are no AES papers stating that if you put quiet sounds beneath louder ones, at a certain point the louder individual sounds will not come out as much as separate sounds popping out of nowhere. There surely must be one.

Some people love tape hiss. At work we place carefully constructed ambient "noise" backgrounds together with reverberation into the real time 3D space mix that happens in a computer game, so that a lot of impact sounds and other louder sources won't sound as if they just triggered out of nowhere. It makes it easier to create a lot of the louder sound effects and getting away with the illusion of a cohesive world.
I chose the word "gel" to convey this, as I have seen many other engineers do in order to communicate this effect.

It's the same thing when you place a synth pad sound tucked under the other sounds, it fills up the gaps as you know.
With crosstalk all the way back in the most quiet background, and how all sorts of sounds will get the treatment of other sounds in the mix (ie effects, equalization etc) it could be seen as a free bonus that just happens. Not that it's nearly as apparent in comparison, but one could make a parallel to mic bleed and the benefits of that come the mixing session.

Bill Mueller wrote on Thu, 09 October 2008 17:26

Quote:


Furthermore, we also know we can get a euphonic bonus due to built-up cross-channel leakage in an analog mixer. When cranking up a signal through compressors and what-not, it can become a real parameter to consider.


Again, conjecture. There is not a shred of fact to this statement. I have never read an AES paper that stated that increased cross talk was desirable in an audio circuit. Please back up your statement.


There may not be an AES paper about crosstalk being desirable, but IIRC there should be AES papers stating that noise and distortion artefacts can be perceived as euphonic. And things add up, as you know, so why not include crosstalk into that equation?

Bill Mueller wrote on Thu, 09 October 2008 17:26

Quote:


And a lot of people are still running their DAW tracks very hot. We know very well how detrimental that can be to audio quality.


Absolutely! Here we agree. However, this has nothing whatsoever to do with OTB summing. Just do as Terry has taught now for four years and lower your gain.
Quote:


But perhaps those issues are merely scratching the surface on the differences between ITB vs OTB.

I will state the simple fact yet one more time. If you invert and sum your ITB mix and your OTB mix and they perfectly cancel, son yer trippin' if you think one sounds different than the other. If they don't and you can get a double blind study to confirm that the OTB mix is discernibly better, than you have the basis for an enhancement scheme. Very valuable information or more bunk.

Best regards,

Bill



What running DAW tracks hot has to do with OTB summing is that near 0 dB or even hotter OTB summing will NOT sound as bad (within reason of course) as compared to running an ITB mix hot. In other words, one potential reason for people prefering OTB mixing could be because they've tried ITB with hot levels. I'm sorry if I didn't manage to express myself clearly.

If you have read some of my posts in numerous other threads you will find that I am a big believer and borderline evangelist when it comes to null tests. If it cancels perfectly, I am at ease. I don't trip like that.

I have read a recent study (albeit small) that included blind listening where the majority prefered the OTB mix. I have, however, to say that the entire test and it's methods were found wanting to say the least. (I'm afraid the exam papers are in Swedish but just for sake of reference: http://dalea.du.se/theses/?itemId=3129)

I agree with you that a properly implemented A/B comparison between matched ITB vs OTB mixes and the rests you get after performing a cancel/null-test would be very interesting and enlighting to say the least.

Since it's probably not evident in this post, I just wanted to let you know that I always appreciate your efforts towards debunking and separating facts from opinions regardless if I'm the one in the line of fire.

Sincerely,

Danko
Logged
http://www.danko.se/site-design/dankologo4s.gif
"T(Z)= (n1+n2*Z^-1+n2*Z^-2)/(1+d1*z^-1+d2*z^-2)" - Mr. Dan Lavry
"Shaw baa laa raaw, sidle' yaa doot in dee splaa" . Mr Shooby Taylor

imdrecordings

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 146
Re: External summing of DAW mixes
« Reply #54 on: October 09, 2008, 03:42:55 pm »

trock wrote on Thu, 09 October 2008 11:32

I think Korg is about to or has released their new Korg

http://www.korg.com/mr2000S/



Thanks Tim!
Looks like a great unit.
What a great front end for a DAW, too! Smile
If  only the MR-1000s had the same digital outs....
O'well
Logged
-Scott S

DarinK

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 410
Re: External summing of DAW mixes
« Reply #55 on: October 09, 2008, 03:46:42 pm »

Here's one "shootout" that may or may not be useful.  Unfortunately the ITB is a bounce-to-disk rather than recording through busses to 2 more tracks.
http://vintageking.com/site/files/sumshoot.htm

Logged

rankus

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 5560
Re: External summing of DAW mixes
« Reply #56 on: October 09, 2008, 04:07:33 pm »

darink wrote on Thu, 09 October 2008 12:46

Here's one "shootout" that may or may not be useful.  Unfortunately the ITB is a bounce-to-disk rather than recording through busses to 2 more tracks.
http://vintageking.com/site/files/sumshoot.htm





I like the Neve and the Chandler... too bad no Dangerous 2-Bus

Logged
Rick Welin - Clark Drive Studios http://www.myspace.com/clarkdrivestudios

Ive done stuff I'm not proud of.. and the stuff I am proud of is disgusting ~ Moe Sizlack

"There is no crisis in energy, the crisis is in imagination" ~ Buckminster Fuller

imdrecordings

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 146
Re: External summing of DAW mixes
« Reply #57 on: October 09, 2008, 04:14:13 pm »

I heard the Neve wasn't Neveish at all.
It's a passive summer.
No real "Neve" components except for the logo, VUE's and paint job.
Logged
-Scott S

thechrisl

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 127
Re: External summing of DAW mixes
« Reply #58 on: October 09, 2008, 04:22:59 pm »

Byra wrote on Tue, 07 October 2008 08:02

Has anyone here checked the difference between analog summing and simply lowering the faders of each channel ITB by 12 dB or so and then summing ITB? In other words, if its a question of too much signal for the digital mix buss to handle (even if its not clipping), wouldnt this help? I know there have been lots of posts praising the virtues of tracking at lower levels, so this seems like a logical extension of that.

I havent done the comparison because I dont have a way to do it, but I know that my mixes sound better when I lower every fader equally, even though none are clipping.

--Byra


I have been doing this and feel it's contributed to an improvement in my ITB mixes over the last 10 years (after switching to 24 bit recording of course).  It has certainly prevented me from scratching my head as to why the Master Bus is suddenly in the red after performing a minor tweak.

On a similar note, I have heard a lot of theories about 64 bit mix engines (like Sonar) and how they help preserve ultra fine details during a bounce.  I have been using Sonar this way for quite a while but don't have anything to compare to objectively.

BTW this is totally different than a 64 bit OS or processor.  You can use it in a 32 bit environment.

chrisL
Logged

Vertigo

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1334
Re: External summing of DAW mixes
« Reply #59 on: October 09, 2008, 04:24:25 pm »

Quote:

Yes, and you could send me those same tracks, and I could run them out of the same DAW, thru the same converters, at the same levels (yadda, yadda) into my console, and I bet they would be at least 'as different'. Assuming, of course, that we don't have the same console.


Absolutely, and if you were to perform the same experiment with the same tracks and 10 different analog consoles/summing boxes you would no doubt get a wide variety of "differences". But I also suspect that you would find a common element between all of the analog summing platforms versus their ITB equivalents.

That said, I think it would also be an interesting experiment to sum the same set of tracks via PT, Nuendo, Radar, etc; and a few different analog consoles and summing boxes. It would make for an interesting listen at the very least.

-Lance
Logged
Pages: 1 2 3 [4] 5 6 ... 11   Go Up