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R/E/P => R/E/P Archives => Whatever Works => Topic started by: Bill_Urick on October 06, 2008, 07:35:50 am

Title: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Bill_Urick on October 06, 2008, 07:35:50 am
I have tended to dismiss this, but am reconsidering.

Are you doing it? Do you feel that it makes a significant difference? What are you using?

Thank you.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: MDM, on October 06, 2008, 07:41:35 am
there is something to it, aurally... the sounds have more 'space' around them than they do itb.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Bill Mueller on October 06, 2008, 11:12:54 am
MDM, wrote on Mon, 06 October 2008 07:41

there is something to it, aurally... the sounds have more 'space' around them than they do itb.

Max,

As usual, spoken like a real authority.

Now, PLEASE explain why, using technically acceptable language and a minimum of hyperbole and opinion.

Best regards,

Bill
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: marcel on October 06, 2008, 12:12:31 pm
Not to be a vibe killer (!), but there is extensive discussion about this topic here and elsewhere on the net:

here is a good start

Should keep you busy for a week or so, LOL.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Vertigo on October 06, 2008, 12:43:22 pm
Quote:

there is something to it, aurally... the sounds have more 'space' around them than they do itb.


This may not have been the authoritative answer you were looking for, but it sums up my own observations 100%.

I know that using Nuendo there is a definite difference between the sound of summed tracks ITB versus console. I find that the individual tracks seem to retain much more of their definition OTB and I really find the Nuendo mix bus to be terrible in comparison; although that's not to say that I've been entirely displeased with it. I've done ITB mixes that sound great, but I still like the sound of my analog console mixes much better.

If you're thinking about going this route I'd definitely recommend investing in some good outboard. Plug-ins tend to sound much different OTB...

-Lance

Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Harland on October 06, 2008, 02:30:32 pm
Analog summing is different than digital summing. When you experiment a little for yourself you'll soon know which you like and why.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Bill_Urick on October 06, 2008, 04:26:57 pm
marcel wrote on Mon, 06 October 2008 12:12

Not to be a vibe killer (!), but there is extensive discussion about this topic here and elsewhere on the net:

here is a good start

Should keep you busy for a week or so, LOL.



So true. But I'm really interested in the experience and practice of members of this board at this time.

A few years ago I did a comparison of the same tracks played from PT ITB and from RADAR through a Soundcraft Delta. Clearly (Edit-In my opinion  Smile )  the RADAR/Soundcraft mix was more satisfying. But this is not the same as running stems though a box.


Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: MDM, on October 06, 2008, 04:39:05 pm
Bill Mueller wrote on Mon, 06 October 2008 10:12

MDM, wrote on Mon, 06 October 2008 07:41

there is something to it, aurally... the sounds have more 'space' around them than they do itb.

Max,

As usual, spoken like a real authority.

Now, PLEASE explain why, using technically acceptable language and a minimum of hyperbole and opinion.

Best regards,

Bill



I don't need to explain why Bill, I am not a teacher by profession, and therefore am not limited in my perception by having to explain the technical aspects of what my senses tell me.. and only believing in that which I can explain..

this ain't a court of law.. tis a forum
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Bill Mueller on October 06, 2008, 04:58:44 pm
Vertigo wrote on Mon, 06 October 2008 12:43

Quote:

there is something to it, aurally... the sounds have more 'space' around them than they do itb.


This may not have been the authoritative answer you were looking for, but it sums up my own observations 100%.

I know that using Nuendo there is a definite difference between the sound of summed tracks ITB versus console. I find that the individual tracks seem to retain much more of their definition OTB and I really find the Nuendo mix bus to be terrible in comparison; although that's not to say that I've been entirely displeased with it. I've done ITB mixes that sound great, but I still like the sound of my analog console mixes much better.

If you're thinking about going this route I'd definitely recommend investing in some good outboard. Plug-ins tend to sound much different OTB...

-Lance



Hello Lance,

For the last few years I have been immersed in a culture of absolutes. If you burn so much propellant for so much time, you generate so much force which accelerates so much mass to such a speed. At the same time, the rocket scientist genius types that run the program, go to great lengths to state their opinions as OPINIONS in exactly the same way you so appropriately just did.

This forum sometimes takes me to the other extreme of the experience, with some people stating their unsubstantiated opinions as FACTS. A simple, "In my opinion", or "I believe" or "as per my observation" would take these discussions in a much more productive direction. The reason I am such a stickler for such decorum, is because this is a well respected forum and there are many young engineers coming here for knowledge and wisdom. I don't want them to get those valuable commodities confused with opinion and conjecture.

Best regards,

Bill
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Harland on October 06, 2008, 05:09:03 pm
Running stems through a box is a combination of digital and analog summing.  If pure analog summing sounds way better than pure digital, it might be worth it to make the compromise, but I guess you would reach a point of diminishing returns - like a 96 track DAW mix stemmed into 8 channels of analog summing, say. Maybe at that point it wouldn't be worth it.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: marcel on October 06, 2008, 05:14:03 pm
Bill_Urick wrote on Mon, 06 October 2008 13:26

So true. But I'm really interested in the experience and practice of members of this board at this time.

A few years ago I did a comparison of the same tracks played from PT ITB and from RADAR through a Soundcraft Delta. Clearly the RADAR/Soundcraft mix was more satisfying. But this is not the same as running stems though a box.


I think the results are going to depend on the quality of said 'box', in all fairness.  There is a massive range of quality in analogue mix busses, and probably PT is going to seem (forgive me for this, Bill Mueller) 'more satisfying' than some and 'less satisfying' than others.

If it's PT vs. a Mackie, I'll probably take PT, but if it's PT vs. track-for-track thru good converters and an API Legacy, I'll probably take the console mix.

Is your question specific to summing boxes, or do consoles count?  If consoles are used, can the console EQ's and dynamics (if onboard) be used?  I know that's not fair in the scientific sense, but mixing OTB opens up a whole lot of 'other' options in terms of workflow.

Complicated.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Bill Mueller on October 06, 2008, 05:37:04 pm
marcel wrote on Mon, 06 October 2008 17:14

Bill_Urick wrote on Mon, 06 October 2008 13:26

So true. But I'm really interested in the experience and practice of members of this board at this time.

A few years ago I did a comparison of the same tracks played from PT ITB and from RADAR through a Soundcraft Delta. Clearly the RADAR/Soundcraft mix was more satisfying. But this is not the same as running stems though a box.


I think the results are going to depend on the quality of said 'box', in all fairness.  There is a massive range of quality in analogue mix busses, and probably PT is going to seem (forgive me for this, Bill Mueller) 'more satisfying' than some and 'less satisfying' than others.

If it's PT vs. a Mackie, I'll probably take PT, but if it's PT vs. track-for-track thru good converters and an API Legacy, I'll probably take the console mix.

Is your question specific to summing boxes, or do consoles count?  If consoles are used, can the console EQ's and dynamics (if onboard) be used?  I know that's not fair in the scientific sense, but mixing OTB opens up a whole lot of 'other' options in terms of workflow.

Complicated.

Hello Marcel,

First let me say that ALL is forgiven, you can come home now. Very Happy

Also, I want to point out that you exactly define my circumstances. I record to a stand alone digital recorder through a stand alone digital console. Am I mixing ITB? I don't think so, but I'm not sure what the exact definition of ITB actually is. I can tell you that I don't experience the "crumbling" of fidelity as track count climbs, that I hear from those mixing within the DAW environment. I also don't use plug ins so I don't experience the degrading effects of them either.

Best regards,

Bill
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: trock on October 06, 2008, 06:19:54 pm
I feel kind of outclassed in this forum but i am just now starting to mix my songs back out of cubase 4.5.2 with stems thru my yamaha n12 mixer, using the comp, eq and verb on the mixer and then back into cubase on a stereo wav file "pre master"

i def hear a diff and well also use less cpu obviously. i hear more depth????? it just sound fuller and not as thin as my cubase mixes by themselves ITB.

i actually like it so much i am going to be getting another n12 so i have 16 mono and 4 stereo tracks to mix back out thru

not sure if this helps but i am also really enjoying this mixing out of the box. the fact the n12 is written for cubase makes it great because i can use cubase's automation and plugs and other plugs if needed at the same time as the tracks being routed back out thru the n12, so the combination is pretty cool

i hope that observation might help
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: MI on October 06, 2008, 06:24:22 pm
The only grain of salt I can add to this is provided I start and end in the same format (console vs ITB vs passive summing) I can achieve a nice sound with either one. Provided I don't compare between formats because each has a slightly different sound. I work to getting the final sound in my head with that format. If you switch halfway through, there will be certain elements that don't translate well.

AFAIC, it's not a competition. Merely what works best for me with a given client.

I feel I can mix quicker by using the console and outboard gear because plug-ins take a little long (for me) to set up. However the advantage I'm digging with ITB mixes is for people who want to sit during the mix but are working on an indie budget and can't get to everything at once - even though I think it's a bad idea because you're in that perpetual state of "can we change that or add this?" rather than making a proper descision, there's always a "bailout" plan (kind like society these days)...Nowadays everybody loves the recall.

MI
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Bill_Urick on October 06, 2008, 06:50:41 pm
marcel wrote on Mon, 06 October 2008 17:14



Is your question specific to summing boxes, or do consoles count?  If consoles are used, can the console EQ's and dynamics (if onboard) be used?  I know that's not fair in the scientific sense, but mixing OTB opens up a whole lot of 'other' options in terms of workflow.

Complicated.


I'm specifically referring to the practice of using automation and processing ITB and then running stems out to some device, be it a Dangerous Two Buss or an analog console. You are then doing a combination of ITB/OTB summing of course, so it's not gonna be the same as a console mix.

If you're doing this as a regular practice what are you using?
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: wwittman on October 06, 2008, 06:55:13 pm
Bill_Urick wrote on Mon, 06 October 2008 07:35

I have tended to dismiss this, but am reconsidering.

Are you doing it? Do you feel that it makes a significant difference? What are you using?

Thank you.




Huge difference.

I've been using the Dangerous 2 Buss


The BEST thing is to come out into an actual console, naturally.
But given the choice between mixing entirely ITB and using the summing box, the summing box wins by a lot, for me.


Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: jetbase on October 06, 2008, 07:16:58 pm
I always do some level of processing & automation ITB, then transfer to my HD24, to mix on my Soundworkshop Series 40 console. Sounds better to me than mixing ITB. I use console eq, outboard dynamics & fx, so not sure if that counts to what you're referring to, but I notice a difference even before I apply any of that analogue processing. The main difference apparent to me is that, through the console, the mix has more depth & clarity & so can produce the illusion of real instruments in a room much more easily. Also, I generally find eq plugins really limited in their use-ability (if that's a word). Having analogue eq is really important to me because of this.

If I was just a 'computer guy' looking to get some kind of analogue mixing capability I'd be aiming to get one of those little old Yamaha boards (the ones that are alledgedly Neve copies, if that matters) because I like their sound, they're not expensive & I would be able to use it for location recordings on occasion.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: trock on October 06, 2008, 07:24:18 pm
what you are asking about is exactly what i am doing with cubase and the n12. i track and mix in cubase, i do my automation as needed in cubase and use some plugs also. but then i send certain channels to grop channels in cubase and route them out thru the n12 since its templates are designed for this.

i then use the outboard eq, verb and comp as needed on the n12, hit the REC buttons on each track on the n12 and in cubase create a new stereo track and all ITB and OTB tracks go there for the mix

then i master that stereo file in another project

Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Bill_Urick on October 06, 2008, 10:22:58 pm
wwittman wrote on Mon, 06 October 2008 18:55

Bill_Urick wrote on Mon, 06 October 2008 07:35

I have tended to dismiss this, but am reconsidering.

Are you doing it? Do you feel that it makes a significant difference? What are you using?

Thank you.




Huge difference.

I've been using the Dangerous 2 Buss


The BEST thing is to come out into an actual console, naturally.
But given the choice between mixing entirely ITB and using the summing box, the summing box wins by a lot, for me.





One Dangerous is 16 channels, correct? Are you using just one?
How do you usually configure the stems? What is your D/A?

Questions, questions, questions...
Smile
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: wwittman on October 06, 2008, 11:33:02 pm
It varies from session to session.
I don't worry a bout it too much.

I usually set one stereo pair to monos, and use that for bass drum and bass guitar, on one, and lead vocal and solos on the other.

then usually drums in stereo, guitars in stereo, keys in stereo, backing vocals in stereo, effects in stereo, more if needed.

so for example:
Drums 1-2
guitars 3-4
keys 5-6
Bass drum and bass 7
vocal and solos 8
backing vocals 9-10
effects 11-12
etc.

as I said, I find the more you just split things out instead of it all coming down that one stereo funnel, the better it sounds.
but HOW it's split doesn't seem to be a big deal.

this system has Digi 192 IOs

goes to an A&DR compex for stereo compressor before it comes back into ProTools to record the mix
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Barry Hufker on October 07, 2008, 12:02:18 am
I have to agree with Lance about Nuendo.  I don't know why, except it must be the software's "mix engine".  But the sound I hear when I am creating the mix in Nuendo and the resultant bounce to stereo are often quite different.  Often I am startled by that difference.

Have I resorted to mixing OTB? No, I like the extremely clean quality I get ITB and can't afford the gear it would take just to do an OTB experiment.

Barry

Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Bill_Urick on October 07, 2008, 12:12:04 am
Barry Hufker wrote on Tue, 07 October 2008 00:02

I have to agree with Lance about Nuendo.  I don't know why, except it must be the software's "mix engine".  But the sound I hear when I am creating the mix in Nuendo and the resultant bounce to stereo are often quite different.  Often I am startled by that difference.

Have I resorted to mixing OTB? No, I like the extremely clean quality I get ITB and can't afford the gear it would take just to do an OTB experiment.

Barry




Have you tried just printing the mix rather than bouncing it?
Are you doing SRC and bit reduction during the bounce?
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Tomas Danko on October 07, 2008, 08:14:06 am
Bill Mueller wrote on Mon, 06 October 2008 21:58

Vertigo wrote on Mon, 06 October 2008 12:43

Quote:

there is something to it, aurally... the sounds have more 'space' around them than they do itb.


This may not have been the authoritative answer you were looking for, but it sums up my own observations 100%.

I know that using Nuendo there is a definite difference between the sound of summed tracks ITB versus console. I find that the individual tracks seem to retain much more of their definition OTB and I really find the Nuendo mix bus to be terrible in comparison; although that's not to say that I've been entirely displeased with it. I've done ITB mixes that sound great, but I still like the sound of my analog console mixes much better.

If you're thinking about going this route I'd definitely recommend investing in some good outboard. Plug-ins tend to sound much different OTB...

-Lance



Hello Lance,

For the last few years I have been immersed in a culture of absolutes. If you burn so much propellant for so much time, you generate so much force which accelerates so much mass to such a speed. At the same time, the rocket scientist genius types that run the program, go to great lengths to state their opinions as OPINIONS in exactly the same way you so appropriately just did.

This forum sometimes takes me to the other extreme of the experience, with some people stating their unsubstantiated opinions as FACTS. A simple, "In my opinion", or "I believe" or "as per my observation" would take these discussions in a much more productive direction. The reason I am such a stickler for such decorum, is because this is a well respected forum and there are many young engineers coming here for knowledge and wisdom. I don't want them to get those valuable commodities confused with opinion and conjecture.

Best regards,

Bill


Bill,

That was a very good post, to the point and about something very important that I cherish and value highly regarding PSW. I agree wholeheartedly. Maybe I should just have written +1, but that would not express my thoughts to the right extent.

Thank you.

Cheers,

Danko
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: MDM, on October 07, 2008, 08:44:00 am
from day 1 on the inferior digital systems of yesterday, I noticed that something was missing, squashed, grainy etc.

there is an analog summing 'sound' and a digital summing  'sound'

the analog summing 'sound' is more spacious.. i don't need to know why, because i hear it.

from the yamaha 01 I used when new (which sounded decent) to internal bounces of my old akai hard disk to the modern DAW's including pt etc. digital summing makes things grainy most of the time, and makes everything a bit flat..

usually as you add instruments and layers to a mix it becomes bigger.. with digital summing it seems that you can only go so far and then the mix begins to implode.. or crap out..

in other words the APPARENT resolution, or amount of light and shade, detail etc. SEEMS limited..

given that as a LISTENER the apparent end result is far more important than the scientific mechanism behind it, i value appearance above all, when judging a playback system.

I just recently did something with pt and an outboard mixer and I had the engineer spread out the stems because I liked the discrete outputs better..

it's not going to be essential for bedroom music perhaps..

Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Byra on October 07, 2008, 09:02:24 am
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
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: jyurek on October 07, 2008, 10:14:05 am
Byra wrote on Tue, 07 October 2008 09:02

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?


My anecdotal experience with this has been that things tend to sound better when the faders are higher or closer to 0.
I suppose that if you've already tracked at a nice, low level, you need not further attenuate (too much) when summing.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: marcel on October 07, 2008, 10:27:13 am
I like to come out as close as possible to track-for-track.  I will use stems (often 'keys' or 'guitars', almost always 'FX') if my track count exceeds available outputs.  

I know this is not very 'advanced' in the sense of what a DAW can do WRT making recalls easier, etc, but I made the decision at a certain point that I would make my investment in analogue equipment, which holds its value both financially and in terms of utility, rather than plugins, which are constantly being updated and must be kept current with the DAW.  

So in reality, I think this is a financial decision.  I run my own (small) place, so I'm in a different situation than, for example, William, who (I'm assuming) works in a variety of places and must be able to take his tools with him when he goes.  Further, I like to have analogue available when tracking, so why not expand my analogue options and then use them during mixing?

I think what I'm trying to say is that my decision has been made not on the basis of how the summing sounds, but on all the other things that my chosen workflow entails.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: eightyeightkeys on October 07, 2008, 11:26:15 am
MDM, wrote on Tue, 07 October 2008 08:44


...usually as you add instruments and layers to a mix it becomes bigger.. with digital summing it seems that you can only go so far and then the mix begins to implode.. or crap out..

in other words the APPARENT resolution, or amount of light and shade, detail etc. SEEMS limited..



That's a really good way of putting it.

Tracking and mixing at low-levels has dramtically improved my work though and the next step, for me at least, seems to be reducing top end, where appropriate, and just creating more "space" up there. Seems to be working so far.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: organica on October 07, 2008, 11:58:13 am
Dave @ D D wrote on Tue, 07 October 2008 11:26




Tracking and mixing at low-levels has dramtically improved my work  .....


Same here , yet with still much room for improvement .

Would anyone mind sighting an example or two of specific routing you're using when going through a summing device like the Dangerous 2 Buss ?   Somehow going back into the same DAW seems almost counter productive , yet it seems as though many do just that .
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: wwittman on October 07, 2008, 12:54:16 pm
Barry Hufker wrote on Tue, 07 October 2008 00:02

I have to agree with Lance about Nuendo.  I don't know why, except it must be the software's "mix engine".  But the sound I hear when I am creating the mix in Nuendo and the resultant bounce to stereo are often quite different.  Often I am startled by that difference.

Have I resorted to mixing OTB? No, I like the extremely clean quality I get ITB and can't afford the gear it would take just to do an OTB experiment.

Barry





same thing in ProTools (and you can write your disagreement on all the 'white paper' you like Twisted Evil )

but that's why I DON'T "Bounce To Disk" and instead RECORD the mix back in, either through two busses ITB or out to the summer and back in through two A-D channels.


Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: wwittman on October 07, 2008, 12:59:52 pm
groundhog wrote on Tue, 07 October 2008 11:58

Dave @ D D wrote on Tue, 07 October 2008 11:26




Tracking and mixing at low-levels has dramtically improved my work  .....


Same here , yet with still much room for improvement .

Would anyone mind sighting an example or two of specific routing you're using when going through a summing device like the Dangerous 2 Buss ?   Somehow going back into the same DAW seems almost counter productive , yet it seems as though many do just that .




why is it counter productive?

in a "big studio" where I'm mixing on a console anyway, I certainly much prefer to mix to 1/2" 2 track.
but in thsoe situations where I am ITB or on a summing box (semi-ITB?) then it's also unlikely that there is an analogue 2 track.

It the digital format is good enough (96/24) for the multi track, then surely it's not SO bad for the mix?

At one place where I mix a lot, I used to try also recording through a GML convertor direct to CD (an HHB) as well.
and I still do that there for refs to take home.
But I stopped bringing that to mastering as I found that the result was always better bringing analogue tape or 24 bit digital rather than MY doing the converting to 16 bit ahead of time.

Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: compasspnt on October 07, 2008, 01:32:01 pm
groundhog wrote on Tue, 07 October 2008 11:58

Somehow going back into the same DAW seems almost counter productive...



For me, it is the least of the options, even at 96/24. As Wm points out, a great two track analogue would be wonderful when available.

But I would just as much like, if not prefer, the Korg 1000 DSD recorder.

As small as a hard drive, relatively inexpensive, easily carried around and patched in, and sounds like the best two track without any noise. @ 5.6.

Far better than 96/24.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Mike P on October 07, 2008, 03:11:50 pm
I prefer out of the box mixing by a wide margin.  I've owned the Neve 8816 summing mixer for about 18 months now and I'm very pleased with the sound and the results.

A typical rock/jazz/R&B configuration coming out of Nuendo 4.2 and a DA16x is as follows:

1&2:  Rhythm guitars
3:  Bass guitar
4: Guitar Solo
5&6:  Guitar overdubs
7:  Main vocal
8,9,10:  Background vocals (or non-main vocal parts)
11&12:  Drum Kit (overheads, hats, toms)
13: Kick
14: Snare
15&16:  VST effects

At this point in time, I'm sending the two track out back into Nuendo for mixing.  At some point in future, I'd like to experiment with DSD or a two channel converter box such as the UA2192.  But for now, I'm happy and my clients are happy.

Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Throatsinger on October 08, 2008, 09:58:04 am
Terry, how are the mic inputs on this unit?

Thanks,

Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: compasspnt on October 08, 2008, 10:22:49 am
throatsinger wrote on Wed, 08 October 2008 09:58

Terry, how are the mic inputs on this unit?




I believe this question pertains to the KORG 1000 DSD recorder...

The unit is indeed designed as a ("Nagra/Uher replacement" type) field recorder.  There are both mic and line inputs, and of course built-in microphone preamplification.

Unfortunately, so far I have only used the line ins, not any mic in as yet, so I personally cannot answer.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: organica on October 08, 2008, 10:29:37 am
Anyone tried the Folcrom  ?
http://www.rollmusic.com/folcrom.php

Seems like a strong concept going passive with the box and then going with whatever style of make-up gain you choose .
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: tunetown on October 08, 2008, 10:00:18 pm
I recently purchased the API DSM24 system http://www.apiaudio.com/dsm.html . It's basically a 24 channel console in a rack less the Pre and EQ sections. It's nice to be  able to patch hardware through hardware again without those pesky computer ping things.

I'm really happy with this setup. Well worth a look.

Cheers
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Bill Mueller on October 09, 2008, 08:12:00 am
Hell all,

I don't have a personal opinion here because I have never mixed a song without a console. I'm sure this has been suggested somewhere before, but I have two questions.

Has anyone ever done a double blind study of the ITB versus OTB analog summing? Would that not resolve the question? The majority of opinion here is in favor of OTB but there are some pretty heavy hitters out there who say it is all in your heads.

Other question. Has anyone here ever made a mix OTB and then the same mix ITB or Bounce to Disc and then done a Sum comparison between them? I imagine that could be extremely informative. If the two mixes perfectly cancel, you're trippin'. If they are different, the difference is GOLD. The audio that is left over is what is BETTER! What a hugely valuable thing to know.

I don't have answers about this, only questions. But it seems to me that it should be pretty simple to determine just EXACTLY what is going on. I mean, an entire industry is growing up around the benefit of analog summing. Don't you think it should at least be proven to exist?

Best regards,

Bill
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: maxim on October 09, 2008, 08:42:33 am
another thing to consider is that in experienced hands different tools may produce the same result...
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Tomas Danko on October 09, 2008, 09:56:02 am
We already know that subtle analog distortion can make a stereo sound come out to sound wider.
We also know that background noise can help to gel things in the mix, through masking.
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.

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.

But perhaps those issues are merely scratching the surface on the differences between ITB vs OTB.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Bill Mueller on October 09, 2008, 12:26:59 pm
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?
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.

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.
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
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: trock on October 09, 2008, 12:32:35 pm
I think Korg is about to or has released their new Korg

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

Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: eightyeightkeys on October 09, 2008, 12:53:03 pm
trock wrote on Thu, 09 October 2008 12:32

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

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




Hey Tim :

This product looks very interesting, but, I'm not familiar with the technology.

Is this a stand alone type of product ? That is, it uses it's own conversion, it's own storage, it's own processing, etc...

Sorry, I'm a little lost on this.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: MDM, on October 09, 2008, 01:13:02 pm
what's this have to do with summing? you mean as a master recorder?

I hope they come out with a 4-channel version.. or 8-channel soon.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: trock on October 09, 2008, 01:40:42 pm
i just posted it in relation to Terry saying he likies the Korg 1000, so just pointing out this new box
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Vertigo 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
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Steve Hudson 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.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Bill Mueller 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
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: marcel 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?
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Vertigo 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
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Harland 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.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Devin Knutson 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).
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: marcel 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.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Tomas Danko 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
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: imdrecordings 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
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: DarinK 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

Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: rankus 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

Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: imdrecordings 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.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: thechrisl 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
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Vertigo 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
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Mike P on October 09, 2008, 04:32:30 pm
imdrecordings wrote on Thu, 09 October 2008 13:14

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.



You are incorrect.

It's got two custom Carnhill transformers on the output buss.  You can run the unit clean (faders back) or push it for more of that "Neve" sound.  The unit is based on the 88R and I've had well respected engineers in my studio that have worked on the 88R tell me sounds very much like that console.

Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Bill_Urick on October 09, 2008, 08:13:00 pm
Vertigo wrote on Thu, 09 October 2008 16:24

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



Been done:

http://www.3daudioinc.com/catalog/product_info.php/products_ id/32?osCsid=3ea933883709edfbf768373deb6cb34a
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Fibes on October 09, 2008, 09:41:34 pm
I personally have only found a measurable difference when whatever is summing in the analog realm is set up to use analog outboard.

Call me crazy but if I'm really not into the whole squeeze 16 channels into this mini mixer in some sort of stem methodology and like it mentality.

The best results IME come from using the DAW as a tape machine with automation and a real console with real outboard.

Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: compasspnt on October 10, 2008, 12:06:35 am
Fibes wrote on Thu, 09 October 2008 21:41

I personally have only found a measurable difference when whatever is summing in the analog realm is set up to use analog outboard.

Call me crazy but if I'm really not into the whole squeeze 16 channels into this mini mixer in some sort of stem methodology and like it mentality.

The best results IME come from using the DAW as a tape machine with automation and a real console with real outboard.



QFE
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Extreme Mixing on October 10, 2008, 12:38:26 am
Those of us who don't have that option, but still have real work to be done, will find a way to make things work out and mixes sound good, while others will contend that our work is inferior...

TEHO

Steve


Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: organica on October 10, 2008, 12:39:04 am
no disputing the QFE but ....

WW ?

going *semi-ITB* (ⓒwwittman) seems appealing here .
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Revolution on October 10, 2008, 01:44:42 am
Of all the summing V ITB samples iv 'e heard I have always felt there was no point to buying a summing mixer. In fact I usually prefer the ITM mixes.

BUT

As I have accumulated a few hardware compressors which I use while mixing I decided to build a passive summing mixer with copper wire and a bunch of resistors and switches (very cheep to build). The only reason was because I thought I would be doing 1 less digital conversion when busing out to my compressors then back in and out again to a stereo compressor.

This first time using this I really didn't believe this would be a winner but you could have blown me down with a feather. As has been described earlier a couple of times things seem to have there own space and be more detailed.

The mic pre I am using is the Manley Dual Mono so it may be a possibility that the pre itself may be contributing largely to this but no matter what the reason I prefer my DIY passive mixer through the Manley.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: MagnetoSound on October 10, 2008, 05:55:43 am
compasspnt wrote on Fri, 10 October 2008 05:06

Fibes wrote on Thu, 09 October 2008 21:41

I personally have only found a measurable difference when whatever is summing in the analog realm is set up to use analog outboard.

Call me crazy but if I'm really not into the whole squeeze 16 channels into this mini mixer in some sort of stem methodology and like it mentality.

The best results IME come from using the DAW as a tape machine with automation and a real console with real outboard.



QFE




Me too, and I don't believe it has anything to do with distortion, crosstalk, background noise or 'analog grit'.


Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Tomas Danko on October 10, 2008, 07:57:14 am
MagnetoSound wrote on Fri, 10 October 2008 10:55

compasspnt wrote on Fri, 10 October 2008 05:06

Fibes wrote on Thu, 09 October 2008 21:41

I personally have only found a measurable difference when whatever is summing in the analog realm is set up to use analog outboard.

Call me crazy but if I'm really not into the whole squeeze 16 channels into this mini mixer in some sort of stem methodology and like it mentality.

The best results IME come from using the DAW as a tape machine with automation and a real console with real outboard.



QFE


Me too, and I don't believe it has anything to do with distortion, crosstalk, background noise or 'analog grit'.



I agree completely with this. The setup mentioned above will give you the best of two worlds (ie DAW non-linear recorder with editing capabilities + real outboard that outperforms plug-in equivalents) but even more so a completely different work flow and operative methodology.

I think that's what makes the hybrid-scenario the best one we have today. Intuitive work flow + outboard units overshadows any other issue sound-wise, in my highly personal opinion.

But once we exchange a full format console for some passive summing device along with one or two analog compressors, passing audio from the DAW through affordable digital converters or slightly better, I personally don't feel we have preserved that much from the hybrid-scenario stated above. And so, by using the analog outboard during tracking, perhaps staying ITB during mix down is not that bad compared to using a smaller summing box.

In other words, unless you've got a fully fledged DAW+analog console thing going, maybe ITB is good enough compared to some in-between setups.

I just don't buy into some mystical and previously undiscovered reason behind analog summing sounding better, or statements that digital summing is missing something and that analog is more accurate. Some proponents of analog summing doesn't want to think that they may prefer it because of certain anomalities, personally I have no problem what so ever to accept that sometimes I prefer a lesser technical specification because it sounds a great deal better to me.

FWIW, I consider digital summing to be more accurate at times but that's not where we should be looking for answers. Super clean math is clearly not what this is about.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: organica on October 10, 2008, 08:13:35 am
Bill Mueller wrote on Thu, 09 October 2008 08:12





Other question. Has anyone here ever made a mix OTB and then the same mix ITB or Bounce to Disc and then done a Sum comparison between them? I imagine that could be extremely informative. If the two mixes perfectly cancel, you're trippin'. If they are different, the difference is GOLD. The audio that is left over is what is BETTER! What a hugely valuable thing to know.


findings from such a test this would be quite relevant and informative on a couple of levels  . me thinks .



 
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: organica on October 10, 2008, 08:21:25 am
Tomas Danko wrote on Fri, 10 October 2008 07:57

.....
FWIW, I consider digital summing to be more accurate at times but that's not where we should be looking for answers.

certainly this depends in great part upon the properties of the summing tools themselves ( if analog , what you're using for make-up gain ) as well as those of the recording ( classical opera , industrial rock , ect .)and ones technique . .
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Tomas Danko on October 10, 2008, 08:29:54 am
groundhog wrote on Fri, 10 October 2008 13:21

Tomas Danko wrote on Fri, 10 October 2008 07:57

.....
FWIW, I consider digital summing to be more accurate at times but that's not where we should be looking for answers.

certainly this depends in great part upon the properties of the summing tools themselves ( if analog , what you're using for make-up gain ) as well as those of the recording ( classical opera , industrial rock , ect .)and ones technique . .



Granted, hence my use of the expression "at times". Also, just as you said regarding musical genres and technique it is down to the audio engineer and how hard he or she pushes the equipment be it digital or analog.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: stevieeastend on October 10, 2008, 08:36:11 am
I am coming more and more to the conclusion that it really depends on the quality of the playing/music itself and the way it´s been recorded.

I cannot save a not so good recording/performance/song ITB. Here, the analog console in combination with a DAW can do wonders.

On the other hand, if there´s a great song, great performance well recorded, it really doesn´t make a big difference to my ears if it´s been mixed ITB or OTB as I would listen to the music anyway rather than the way it sounds..

I still prefer mixing with my console... simply because it´s easier for me to get the music right. As everyting is so reduced nowaydays, arrangement-wise and melody-wise, you really have to have the tools to go in every possible direction, which can only be provided by DAW + console...

cheers
St

Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: trock on October 10, 2008, 08:42:46 am
I think, at least on the Yamaha/Steinberg front, that companies are now starting to roll out analog or digital/analog boards that are WRITTEN for a particular DAW. whoch to me means you don't have to spend hours trying to coordinate setups and have issues with products not working well together

this to me is the future, havin a hybrid approach based on the DAW's partnering with hareware vendors to combine the products

the Yamaha N12 i use with cubase and nuendo

the new allen and heath Zed16 i think it is and sonar

real analog boards with pre amps, comps, eq, verb etc that come wiht templates and one FW cable to hook to your pc to allow you inbound routing and then outbound mixing thru the boards

with the yamaha you can hook 2-3 of them together and get with 3, 24 mono and 6 stereo tracks perfectly aligned with cubase or nuendo in and out

this is one area not talked about here is how great it is to have products developed together so setup and maintenence is easy.

for my setup i can have say 2 N12's with just 2 FW cables and all the connectivity, templates and in and out's i need already writeen for me, and tweakable however i want

anyway, i dig this approach if for no other reason then i do believe the sound is better, it offloads a ton of CPU from plugs i would have used, its rock solid and set up for me, and you know it forces me to use my ears again. there is no gui for the mixer eq or comp etc so i have to LISTEN

and its fun
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Eik on October 10, 2008, 08:57:24 am
Bill Mueller wrote on Thu, 09 October 2008 07:12



Has anyone ever done a double blind study of the ITB versus OTB analog summing? Would that not resolve the question? The majority of opinion here is in favor of OTB but there are some pretty heavy hitters out there who say it is all in your heads.





Didn't Digidesign provid a demo with examples of that a while ago?

As fare as I can remember, it was no differences to talk about.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Fibes on October 10, 2008, 09:25:00 am
Bill,

The 3d audio thing was an eye opener in a yawn inducing sort of way.

I'm going to contend that some DAWs have pan law issues (like some consoles) but the real downhill path is the improper use of levels, plug ins and panning within the DAW.

Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: compasspnt on October 10, 2008, 09:32:20 am
You cannot do the *same* mix through an analogue desk and "in the box."
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Kris on October 10, 2008, 09:33:24 am
If your interested, the following link has two mixes of the same song.  

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/1156477-post23.html

The first is a ProTools mix, done after several years of ProTools mixing.  The second is a mix on a Toft ATB, done after just several days of owning my first analog board (approx. a year after the ProTools mix was done).  It took me about two seconds to conclude what I like better.  Over time I have come up with lots more unscientific reasons as to why I like mixing OTB.

Though it's not quite the same mix, I can say I tried to do my best mix both times... feel free to do a 'sum comparison' though I'm not sure if it would be valid?
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: tom eaton on October 10, 2008, 09:34:32 am
But...but... I saw it on TV!  Digi proved that ProTools can do anything an analog console can do!  

Damn that liberal mainstream media.

Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Tomas Danko on October 10, 2008, 09:51:26 am
Fibes wrote on Fri, 10 October 2008 14:25

Bill,

The 3d audio thing was an eye opener in a yawn inducing sort of way.

I'm going to contend that some DAWs have pan law issues (like some consoles) but the real downhill path is the improper use of levels, plug ins and panning within the DAW.




Eye opener indeed!

I consider it required listening for anyone venturing into the world of mixing ITB.

I also have to agree wholeheartedly on everything else said above.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: phantom309 on October 10, 2008, 09:52:15 am
Kris wrote on Fri, 10 October 2008 07:33

If your interested, the following link has two mixes of the same song.  

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/1156477-post23.html

The first is a ProTools mix, done after several years of ProTools mixing.  The second is a mix on a Toft ATB, done after just several days of owning my first analog board (approx. a year after the ProTools mix was done).  It took me about two seconds to conclude what I like better.  Over time I have come up with lots more unscientific reasons as to why I like mixing OTB.

Though it's not quite the same mix, I can say I tried to do my best mix both times... feel free to do a 'sum comparison' though I'm not sure if it would be valid?


hmm...at first the drums just seemed to be a bit louder, but when the first two guitar notes came in, I heard the tonal difference. But it really didn't matter much in the end because I just really like the music. I'd buy either of them. Gotta pick your battles I guess.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Tomas Danko on October 10, 2008, 09:56:44 am
compasspnt wrote on Fri, 10 October 2008 14:32

You cannot do the *same* mix through an analogue desk and "in the box."



True words indeed.

My experience, going from a hybrid setup to full ITB production, was that come mix down session I had to figure out and learn a whole new set of ninja tricks to put in my bag'o'tools.

The way I could skew a sound into what I wanted in the analog domain didn't really translate into the digital world.

Once I started learning how to compensate during tracking, and what methods I could use in the digital domain to arrive where I wanted in a mix, everything started coming together.

Still, if someone would make an OTB mix and try and mimic that ITB (or perhaps vice versa would make this easier?) I think a null-test output would be very interesting eventhough it does not reflect the way you work ITB vs OTB and the consequences thereof.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: compasspnt on October 10, 2008, 10:08:39 am
OK.

If one did a mix through a desk (Protools > analogue desk / outboard > capture)...

And then did the same song, mixing fully ITB...

And then you did a null test (of course they would not null)...


What exactly would the leftover difference tell you...?
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Bill Mueller on October 10, 2008, 10:30:01 am
trock wrote on Fri, 10 October 2008 08:42

I think, at least on the Yamaha/Steinberg front, that companies are now starting to roll out analog or digital/analog boards that are WRITTEN for a particular DAW. whoch to me means you don't have to spend hours trying to coordinate setups and have issues with products not working well together

this to me is the future, havin a hybrid approach based on the DAW's partnering with hareware vendors to combine the products

the Yamaha N12 i use with cubase and nuendo

the new allen and heath Zed16 i think it is and sonar

real analog boards with pre amps, comps, eq, verb etc that come wiht templates and one FW cable to hook to your pc to allow you inbound routing and then outbound mixing thru the boards

with the yamaha you can hook 2-3 of them together and get with 3, 24 mono and 6 stereo tracks perfectly aligned with cubase or nuendo in and out

this is one area not talked about here is how great it is to have products developed together so setup and maintenence is easy.

for my setup i can have say 2 N12's with just 2 FW cables and all the connectivity, templates and in and out's i need already writeen for me, and tweakable however i want

anyway, i dig this approach if for no other reason then i do believe the sound is better, it offloads a ton of CPU from plugs i would have used, its rock solid and set up for me, and you know it forces me to use my ears again. there is no gui for the mixer eq or comp etc so i have to LISTEN

and its fun

Tim,

This has been my approach for about four years. I have a Yamaha DM2000 interfaced to a MX2424 and I use Pro Tools for recording mixes, album assembly and most of my game audio requirements. I feel this combination of equipment sounds as good as anything I have ever worked with, and I've worked with a LOT of big consoles. As I have said before here, the compressors on the Yamaha could be better, but the pre amps are sweet. I'm looking forward to upgrading it to the V2 software and effects package soon.

My next recorder may be a bigger Pro Tools rig, but it could just as easily be the Tascam X48.

Best regards,

bill
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Bill Mueller on October 10, 2008, 10:41:55 am
compasspnt wrote on Fri, 10 October 2008 10:08

OK.

If one did a mix through a desk (Protools > analogue desk / outboard > capture)...

And then did the same song, mixing fully ITB...

And then you did a null test (of course they would not null)...


What exactly would the leftover difference tell you...?


Hi Terry,

I'm not sure if your post is regarding my post above, but if so, what I meant was to take an ITB mix, route it both to the two buss and split it to a level matched analog summing console. Then record the outputs from both back to the DAW and compare them. I'm not talking about using an SSL with outboard reverbs and trying to match an ITB mix.

From what I gather, this has been done already and I missed it or did not have time to look into it. If anyone has any more info about these kinds of tests, I would appreciate it and might actually have time now to listen to the results. I don't believe I have a dog in this fight, because of the rig I use, but I often wonder if a dedicated digital console like mine and PT or MX rig constitute ITB? Personally, I doubt it, because I am spreading the processing load across double the processing capacity with the digital console.

Thanks,

Bill
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Tomas Danko on October 10, 2008, 10:45:08 am
compasspnt wrote on Fri, 10 October 2008 15:08

OK.

If one did a mix through a desk (Protools > analogue desk / outboard > capture)...

And then did the same song, mixing fully ITB...

And then you did a null test (of course they would not null)...


What exactly would the leftover difference tell you...?



Why, it's the difference after all said and done. Smile

Including not only the actual audio pathways, the differences between hardware outboard and plug-in emulated ditto's and summing but also the way the mixing engineer interacts in each environment.

If there's some kind of added open airy quality to mixing and summing in the analog domain, it should be apparent in the leftover.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: tom eaton on October 10, 2008, 10:46:19 am
Good point, Bill.  Would mixing on an Axiom or Capricorn or Oxford be considered ITB?  I don't think so, personally.

t
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Tomas Danko on October 10, 2008, 10:53:06 am
Bill Mueller wrote on Fri, 10 October 2008 15:41

compasspnt wrote on Fri, 10 October 2008 10:08

OK.

If one did a mix through a desk (Protools > analogue desk / outboard > capture)...

And then did the same song, mixing fully ITB...

And then you did a null test (of course they would not null)...


What exactly would the leftover difference tell you...?


Hi Terry,

I'm not sure if your post is regarding my post above, but if so, what I meant was to take an ITB mix, route it both to the two buss and split it to a level matched analog summing console. Then record the outputs from both back to the DAW and compare them. I'm not talking about using an SSL with outboard reverbs and trying to match an ITB mix.

From what I gather, this has been done already and I missed it or did not have time to look into it. If anyone has any more info about these kinds of tests, I would appreciate it and might actually have time now to listen to the results. I don't believe I have a dog in this fight, because of the rig I use, but I often wonder if a dedicated digital console like mine and PT or MX rig constitute ITB? Personally, I doubt it, because I am spreading the processing load across double the processing capacity with the digital console.

Thanks,

Bill


Hi Bill,

The ITB acronym as a definition can become a tad bit obscure once we start piping the digital audio between the computer and other external digital units such as, say, your Yamaha DM2000 console or perhaps a digital reverb etc

Still, it's all being computed inside the digital domain and unless the external units are broken they should perform math similar to or surpassing the best software available today. The recent digital Yamaha consoles are great and does not sound anywhere near broken to me but rather the opposite.

So your setup is similar to the hybrid-setup in terms of working methods and connectivity but it's a lot closer to being ITB technically speaking than routing individual tracks of audio from the DAW into an analog console.

Cheers,

Danko
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Tomas Danko on October 10, 2008, 10:56:47 am
tom eaton wrote on Fri, 10 October 2008 15:46

Good point, Bill.  Would mixing on an Axiom or Capricorn or Oxford be considered ITB?  I don't think so, personally.

t


I am totally for making the sharp line placed around the boundaries of a computer running the DAW, and calling that ITB. It would only imply that everything is kept inside the computer and that's that.

And working on an awesome Oxford would not be considered ITB.

But what happens when you hook up a bunch of UAD-2 Quad cards, SSL Duende, TC Powercore Firewire DSP farms and some digital synths running as plug-in's over USB?

How does that differ from mixing our DAW digital into an Oxford console? It's clearly still "ITB" since it all resides and rebounds into the computer, but it's got heaps of outboard processors.

Tricky question indeed. Then again, when it comes to making music it doesn't really matter. Smile
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: maxim on October 11, 2008, 01:35:15 am
"Once I started learning how to compensate ... everything started coming together."


Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: MDM, on October 11, 2008, 02:00:30 pm
compasspnt wrote on Fri, 10 October 2008 09:08

OK.

If one did a mix through a desk (Protools > analogue desk / outboard > capture)...

And then did the same song, mixing fully ITB...

And then you did a null test (of course they would not null)...


What exactly would the leftover difference tell you...?




that you think too much?
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Ross Hogarth on October 11, 2008, 09:36:47 pm
ok my 2 cents
and
i have tried to remain neutral

I pretty much hate the sound of the digi 192 i/o
it is smeared and the low end is bunched up
it is a necessary evil often for large tracking sessions but for all my overdubs i use a cranesong 192 hedd
now
as far as taking and converting my whole mix out of the digi 192 d/a
it is completely unacceptable to me
i refuse to reconvert out of that box and THEN a/d back in
no thank you
i do have my digi 192 hooked up to outboard gear so when i want to compress through a piece of hardware i can or use my dmx or 2016 or whatever outbaord
but
my mix goes d/d aes to my hedd 192 for some tape and pentode color but goes back in aes to PT and gets recorded on an audio track
i monitor the dig out of pt d to d into my avocet so my system completely ignores the analog out of protools
i find that the analog out of protools sounds nothing really like my actual mix
i am sure you guys like and hear a difference with your dangerous 2 buss but you will not get me to use that until it becomes an aes box ignoring the a/d and d/a of the digi192


here is the simple routing
index.php/fa/10131/0/
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Tomas Danko on October 12, 2008, 07:10:10 am
Ross Hogarth wrote on Sun, 12 October 2008 02:36

ok my 2 cents
and
i have tried to remain neutral

I pretty much hate the sound of the digi 192 i/o
it is smeared and the low end is bunched up
it is a necessary evil often for large tracking sessions but for all my overdubs i use a cranesong 192 hedd
now
as far as taking and converting my whole mix out of the digi 192 d/a
it is completely unacceptable to me
i refuse to reconvert out of that box and THEN a/d back in
no thank you
i do have my digi 192 hooked up to outboard gear so when i want to compress through a piece of hardware i can or use my dmx or 2016 or whatever outbaord
but
my mix goes d/d aes to my hedd 192 for some tape and pentode color but goes back in aes to PT and gets recorded on an audio track
i monitor the dig out of pt d to d into my avocet so my system completely ignores the analog out of protools
i find that the analog out of protools sounds nothing really like my actual mix
i am sure you guys like and hear a difference with your dangerous 2 buss but you will not get me to use that until it becomes an aes box ignoring the a/d and d/a of the digi192
]


Hi Ross,

Say, won't the external D-A and A-D conversion through the HEDD 192 be excluded in ProTools' automatic delay compensation, forcing you to nudge the incoming audio tracks manually?

Regarding a Dangerous 2 Buss unit with AES/EBU I/O only, that would lock the user down to that one choice of digital audio conversion. Instead of, say, being able to choose Apogee 16x's, Prism ADA8 or a bunch of Lavry Blue's. A great sounding 2 Buss digital I/O unit would probably be very cost prohibitive, and so a sellable product could end up being somewhat of a compromise regarding the conversion quality (which, as far as I know, stands totally against anything Dangerous does).

Cheers,

Danko
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Ross Hogarth on October 12, 2008, 12:33:42 pm
respectfully, i could care less about saleability and the dangerous 2 buss
i just don't want my stems converted with the digi 192
and if they were coming out aes
then the converters used by dangerous would have to be ..the shit
and
to make myself clear
the way i use my system is for ITB mixes
my mixes are recorded at the session sample rate and are not going to a analog tape machine
when i was mixing on a console i never recorded back to PT except as a safety
I always went to tape and maybe dsd or some other super high res dig format
as far as latency
the hedd has basically no latency
no artist i have ever worked with has ever noticed
and in the mix setup it is acting as a mix processor
similar to what a mastering engineer would use it for
and
when i do want to use my alan smart c1 compressor on the 2 buss
then and only then does my mix get converted out d/a and a/d
and that is through the hedd routing which is super flexible for that
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Tomas Danko on October 12, 2008, 12:50:49 pm
I see, you're sending the final stereo mix through the HEDD 192 and your analog outboard gear, then back into the computer the same way. Regardless of how small or large the latency is through the HEDD 192, it really doesn't matter in this case. It's all serial processing, so it'll work totally fine.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Ross Hogarth on October 12, 2008, 12:53:59 pm
yes
and very often these days
i am not analog processing the mix
only hedd processing which is d/d
the only analog processing would be an alan smart c1 or my 33609 or maybe a 2254 with some eq
but i am finding that no d/a - a/d is clearer
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Extreme Mixing on October 12, 2008, 01:26:50 pm
Thanks for sharing your working methods Ross.  I too have stayed out of this for the most part, except to say that those of us who have work to do inside the box will find ways to make it sound good, while others will scratch their beards and comment on how much better it could be, if only...

Steve
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: wwittman on October 15, 2008, 12:09:13 pm
compasspnt wrote on Fri, 10 October 2008 10:08

OK.

If one did a mix through a desk (Protools > analogue desk / outboard > capture)...

And then did the same song, mixing fully ITB...

And then you did a null test (of course they would not null)...


What exactly would the leftover difference tell you...?



That you need to get out more...
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Blas on October 15, 2008, 05:45:37 pm
This place and this thread is sooooooo addictive.  Last week my mother-in-law passed-away and we had to go up to Chicago over the last 5 days.
Never had time (and didn't think it too proper) to jump on my wife's family computer to check things.  So as soon as we hit home again Sunday evening, before unpacking the car, guess where I headed to?  Right here.  Just to keep up with this ongoing discussion.
Wife yelled in "where did you go? The car's still loaded!"  Just checking my email...I can be such a liar.

Blas
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: compasspnt on October 15, 2008, 10:44:07 pm
Joe,

Glad you're back.

Sorry to hear about your Mother in law.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Blas on October 16, 2008, 01:22:55 pm
Thanks Terry.

The lady was one month away from hitting 90.  She had a lot of good years, which apparently runs in my wife's family.  I lost my father at age 71.  Makes me want to make sure I enjoy all the life God gives me.

Anyway, it just is always so interesting how EVERYONE here at the forums live and breathe the desire to create better and better audio.  We're always looking for that perfect cup of coffee.  And the search will never end, which makes for good conversation between friends.

Joe
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Peter Weihe on October 17, 2008, 07:17:45 pm
wwittman wrote on Wed, 15 October 2008 18:09

compasspnt wrote on Fri, 10 October 2008 10:08

OK.

If one did a mix through a desk (Protools > analogue desk / outboard > capture)...

And then did the same song, mixing fully ITB...

And then you did a null test (of course they would not null)...


What exactly would the leftover difference tell you...?



That you need to get out more...


Yes, that's exactly what I felt when I had finished the 0-test today.
I had performed a few summing tests for a German studio magazine and a huge test of line level stages for the University of Hannover over the last years so it was a small step to do the o test Bill had asked for.
As I had expected, the 0-tests did not show anything but that each audio stage and each converter the signal has to pass through changes the sound of the signal in it's own way. Once you send the signal through more than one stage it's impossible to tell what stage is responsible for what part of the leftover. And as every analogue mix of digitally recorded signals must pass through DA converters and a summing stage there are too many variables to let you recognize the difference the analogue summing process makes in comparison to the digital summing.
Anyway I will post some of my findings in my next post.
The results are probably too theoretical to help anybody to make better mixes but they may show how ridiculous the level of most of the typical digital vs analogue summing debates is.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Bill Mueller on October 17, 2008, 07:39:27 pm
Peter Weihe wrote on Fri, 17 October 2008 19:17

wwittman wrote on Wed, 15 October 2008 18:09

compasspnt wrote on Fri, 10 October 2008 10:08

OK.

If one did a mix through a desk (Protools > analogue desk / outboard > capture)...

And then did the same song, mixing fully ITB...

And then you did a null test (of course they would not null)...


What exactly would the leftover difference tell you...?



That you need to get out more...


Yes, that's exactly what I felt when I had finished the 0-test today.
I had performed a few summing tests for a German studio magazine and a huge test of line level stages for the University of Hannover over the last years so it was a small step to do the o test Bill had asked for.
As I had expected, the 0-tests did not show anything but that each audio stage and each converter the signal has to pass through changes the sound of the signal in it's own way. Once you send the signal through more than one stage it's impossible to tell what stage is responsible for what part of the leftover. And as every analogue mix of digitally recorded signals must pass through DA converters and a summing stage there are too many variables to let you recognize the difference the analogue summing process makes in comparison to the digital summing.
Anyway I will post some of my findings in my next post.
The results are probably too theoretical to help anybody to make better mixes but they may show how ridiculous the level of most of the typical digital vs analogue summing debates is.

Peter,

Excellent! Thanks for doing this, no matter what the outcome.

Best regards,

Bill
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Peter Weihe on October 17, 2008, 08:28:24 pm
Bill Mueller wrote on Fri, 10 October 2008 16:41

 what I meant was to take an ITB mix, route it both to the two buss and split it to a level matched analog summing console. Then record the outputs from both back to the DAW and compare them. I'm not talking about using an SSL with outboard reverbs and trying to match an ITB mix.

From what I gather, this has been done already and I missed it or did not have time to look into it. If anyone has any more info about these kinds of tests, I would appreciate it and might actually have time now to listen to the results. I don't believe I have a dog in this fight, because of the rig I use, but I often wonder if a dedicated digital console like mine and PT or MX rig constitute ITB? Personally, I doubt it, because I am spreading the processing load across double the processing capacity with the digital console.

Thanks,

Bill


Hi Bill,

some years ago when the dangerous 2 Bus first appeared on the market my technician Manni and I were asked to perform the requested summing test for a German studio magazine.
Test 1
We used a Pro Tools session recorded in Abbey Road 1 performed by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. We simply used the monitor mix of the recording engineer and tried to copy the volumes and panning on three different analogue summing boxes or consoles.
First we bounced a 1 Khz sine wave and copied it to each track in the Pro Tools session. Then we soloed each track with the sine wave and measured the levels on each side of the master with the waves PAZ meter. The next step was to send the tones out of 16 individual outputs of Apogee 16x DA converters to the summing boxes and send the stereo output back through Apogee AD converters to a Pro Tools stereo track. We adjusted the master level control of the summing box until the PAZ meter on the input channel showed the same levels as in the original session. We had to fine tune some of the Apogee's output levels with the Dangerous 2 Bus. That was of coarse much easier with the console 's faders.
One was my 1976 Helios console and the other a simple passive mixer that Manni had built for this session with stereo faders used as symmetrical faders directly connected to a discrete symmetrical summing stage via summing resistors and left and right switches. The purest mixing board I have heard so far.
Each mix was clearly  sounding different from each of the others while all of the three analogue mixes had one aspect in common. The dynamic was significantly different from the digital mix. That was not only easy to hear but also easily measurable. I told the founders of Logic about our test and they came to my studio with their top development engineers and after they had heard the mixes they asked me for the files.

Beside the aesthetic differences which are obviously a matter of taste there were those dynamical differences:
The Pro Tools mix showed the lowest levels and the highest peaks. It was the most dynamic mix regarding the difference between the quietest and the loudest signal.

But the analogue mixes sounded louder. Obviously all of the analogue mixes looked and sounded slightly compressed in the quiet parts. Consequently reverb tails of the majestic Abbey Road 1 hall seemed to be more detailed in the analogue mixes.
In addition the waveforms looked as if there was a peak limiter on the loudest fast percussive signals.
That is especially funny because marketing people of analogue summing devices obviously love to praise the extra headroom of their boxes. It seemed to us that they mix it up with compression.
The most dynamic analogue mix most similar to the Pro Tools mix came out of Manni's Mixer.

However while the pp parts sounded as if they were brought up by a compressor in the analogue mixes, the ff parts sounded as if somebody pushed the master fader up and the Pro Tools Mix sounded thinner in these parts. The ff parts were clearly louder in the analogue mixes and that's what the waveforms showed.

We had the impression that the Pro Tools mix engine was not able to sum all tracks
to their full dynamic level while the peaks were still higher. Listening to the main mics (decca tree with 3 M50 ) in solo however showed this dynamic.

The analogue mixes sounded more satisfying to all of us, rockers and classical Tonmeisters. A master compressor, a peak limiter a slight broad lift in the lower midrange and riding the levels at the ff-parts brought the Pro tools miy closer to the analogue mixes.

I am not saying which mix was closer to truth.





Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Peter Weihe on October 17, 2008, 09:24:28 pm
Test 2

When the heads of the rock and pop department of the University Of Music, Hannover  asked me to help them building their new studio I played the results of the summing test. It was obvious that the design of the summing stages made a huge difference sound-wise. In order to find the the mixer they were looking for they asked me to isolate the variables from each other and reduce a new test on the pure sound-differences of different line stages.

I chose some solo instruments and some mono monitor mixes of sessions I had played on and each of them helped to reveal certain aspects. Then I send them out through Lavry Blue DA converters and recorded them back through Lavry Gold AD.
That was my DA/AD check.
Now each candidate was inserted in the Lavrys if possible carefully leveled and recorded. With some units like API eqs which alway rise the level by 1-1,5 dB we had to lower the output of the DA converter.
We collected everything the market has to offer plus all my vintage units and included them in our test. API 82oo-7800, V72, V74a, Tonelux, Chandler TG, BA 1084, Great River , different 1:1 transformers, SSL ( so called superanal..) blah blah.....

Over the years I have recorded every unit that happened to come to my place and meanwhile there are 96 tracks. It's a test and a half.

When I read Bill's post I thought, that I could quickly make the O-test with some of these files but then....

I realized that it was not possible to get the 44,1 KHz files perfectly in phase.
Even moving the files one sample I could not get them perfectly in phase because they were recorded slipped by a quarter or 1/2 sample.
That was the case with all files recorded with the Lavry Gold converters.

I opened a new session and repeated the DA/AD check with PT 192 converters.
Surprisingly they made it possible to get the recorded  files in phase with the original file and with the other newly recorded files each time.
But- the 0-Test ( one file out of phase) of the the original and the DA/AD Check file
sounded like a joke!
The leftover was -25dB. That's how close the extra DA/AD path 192 i/o sounded to the original.
However performing the 0-test with 2 AD/DA Check files ( that means 2 equally re-recorded tracks) almost perfectly nulled. There was no audible leftover.
- 75.5 dB
That means that Pro Tools is able to record two times absolutely sample accurate
and that the huge difference between the original and the path through the 192 i/o must be blamed to their sound.
I should add that almost all tracks of the the original mono mix had been recorded through Lavry Gold converters and once you have heard those tracks listening back throughPT 192 you don't want to ever leave the Box again.
I absolutely agree with Ross.
Maybe the difference would have been much less dramatic, if the files had already been recorded through the PT 192 converters as then the sound quality would have been diminished ( in comparison to first class converters) before.
On the other hand our Abbey Road Orchestra file was recorded with Pro Tools converters and the difference to the extra DA/AD path was still obvious.

My conclusion is that the DA/AD path alone makes such a big difference to the original sound that it would be impossible to analyse what extra difference would be
due to analogue summing or analogue stages when performing a 0-test digital vs analogue summing.

All those statements come to my mind where people on forums believe in the wonder of analogue summing without taking the quality of the converts into consideration.

Try it again with the new Cranesong Egret DA converters with 8 channel mixer and then there will be a real difference.

BTW. The discrete class A stage in the  Cranesong Avocet ( the same as in the Egret) was the most neutral line stage in our test. That's an incredible unit.

The guys from the University Hannover liked the line path through the Great River EQ the best followed by the API rack mixer.








Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Peter Weihe on October 17, 2008, 09:57:39 pm
Test 3

Sorry for the long posts but I did the work and now I would like to get rid of the information.

Now I had a basis to at least isolate the line stages from the rest of the equation.
As two separate passes DA/AD through the PT 192 with the same material ( one out of phase) perfectly nulled I inserted some of my line stages between the DA and DA converters and repeated the 0-test.

Now I could hear the leftover caused by one unit.

No wonder that those units that we like for their distinctive "sound" had the loudest leftover and it was funny to hear that the cliches all proved to be true.

Though we have to consider that in the leftover we do not only hear what the unit adds to the sound but also what it leaves out.

The candidate with the smallest difference was a 1:1 Malotki transformer.
Still the peak of the leftover was at -43 dB but it was even and only in the lower frequencies.

The leftover of the API 550b
was - no wonder- extremly loud in the higher midrange and treble and there was some typical sound in the 400 Hz region.
Peak level -19.5 dB

Brent Averill 1084.
Level of Leftover -18 dB.
Loud treble , but higher as the API
not as hard and a boomy low midrange.

GML 8200
Level of Leftover -33.9 dB Pretty neutral sound with some subtle high treble added.

Cransong Avocet:
Level of Leftover -31.5 dB


My conclusion : I can heard the differences much better by just listening to the A/B test of the files but it was very interesting to see what huge difference the converters alone make and what sound differences even units make that are considered as straight wire with gain.

Last time we discussed my summing test Bob Katz suggested that inserting a n API
EQ in the Master of the DAW could have the same effect as analogue summing.
I also made that test and no, for my ears it's not the same. I still like analogue summing with first class converters and a great sounding console much better.
But Bob's way sounds much better at least to my ears when the master insert is done with a great stereo converter than analogue summing with midrange converters.






Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: phantom309 on October 18, 2008, 02:30:31 am
Peter,

Thanks SO much for posting this information. It's the first time I've read an answer to this question that didn't rely purely on theory and "the maths" to explain that my ears have been lying to me all this time. Good analog designs to the converters. GOOD CONVERTERS and good D/A.

I'm going to try the Cranesong next.



Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Tomas Danko on October 18, 2008, 08:51:49 am
Peter,

What a tremendous effort! This is golden information indeed, I haven't dared wishing for this to have been done actually. I want to thank you for sharing this with us, it is highly appreciated.

Cheers,

Danko
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: tom eaton on October 18, 2008, 09:26:02 am
Peter-

Your posts on this page should be a sticky on this forum.  VERY useful and well informed.

Thank you-

tom
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Bill Mueller on October 18, 2008, 10:46:51 am
Peter,

Thanks so much for this! I have to admit that I'm going to have to sit down, copy, paste and disect some of it to truly visualize all of your tests.

Do you have any audio files from these experiments? Your descriptions of the leftover files make perfect sense to my personal experiences and are exactly what I was asking for and in a small way, expecting.

Now my question is; are the summing differences a matter of amplitude or phase?

One note. You have the groundwork for a scientific paper here. I don't know if you took the extreme precautions and documentation necessary for such, but if so (and especially if you have the files) it would sound to me like you could get a paper published.

Best regards,

Bill
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Ross Hogarth on October 18, 2008, 04:14:51 pm
very good work Peter
and
it absolutely confirms my instincts about the digi converters


I also monitor through the avocet which also confirms that in your test
my chain is again
aes to the hedd 192 and back
and then I monitor the d-d into the avocet and I am listening to the d/a of the avocet
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: organica on October 18, 2008, 07:02:06 pm
Peter Weihe wrote on Fri, 17 October 2008 21:57



Sorry for the long posts but I did the work and now I would like to get rid of the information.



Quite interesting . Thanks for doing so !
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: maxim on October 18, 2008, 08:13:44 pm
nice to see some ACTUAL science...
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Fibes on October 18, 2008, 11:24:22 pm
Thanks, I don't feel crazy for 10 minutes.

 It's nice to read what your gut feels.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Peter Weihe on October 19, 2008, 03:44:48 am
Thank you all very much for your encouraging, friendly comments.



Bill Mueller wrote on Sat, 18 October 2008 16:46


Do you have any audio files from these experiments?


Hi Bill, Yes I have saved all of the files and all of the original sessions.

However the big line stages test was made in a Logic session with the Pro Tools engine and hardware per AES in and out to and from the Lavry converters. The current versions of Logic and Pro Tools are working together ok but I have the feeling that I should better convert the test into a Pro Tools session because the Logic software doesn't record any more files. As in that experiment no mix engine was involved and all you need to adjust is volume here and there for those units that have no volume control but have fixed level changes like API Eqs it's no problem to play it back with the Pro Tools software. As long as all components during the recording process are absolutely identical it schould be fine to do so. I have never touched the trim pots on my Lavry converters since I have started the test.

Quote:

Your descriptions of the leftover files make perfect sense to my personal experiences and are exactly what I was asking for and in a small way, expecting.


I did some more 0-tests yesterday and the picture is complete when you listen to the differences between the original file and the run through one unit A/B and then listen to the 0-test. I know the files in and out and still it takes some consideration to interpret the leftover.
It is much easier to hear the differences of the DAAD- A/B tests performed with the Lavry converters than with the Pro Tools 192. It helps to not use any volume controller after the Lavry DA but plug it directly into an active monitor with input control as my Avocet was one of the candidates.
However the leftover experiment only worked sample accurate with the PT DAAD.

It is a complex matter of constant changes over time in frequency, amplitude and speed of change but there is a distinctive character that each line stage shows.

The peak level of the leftover is just one static aspect and those peaks can happen at 15 Hhz or 50 Hz. Though it is fun to make it a sport who is closest to 0.

We have a new winner in this ( nonscientific) fun competition:
The Malotki 1:1 transformer with -43 dB is now second.
New No 1 is a Haufe 1:1 transformer with -47,5 dB. I took this tranny from an old Neumann console.

Isn't it funny that an old transformer is so much closer to 0 than the best discrete audio unit? The GML 8200 had a leftover of 33,9 dB.

Some classical units : API 550b, BA 1084, Helios 1976 channel buffer, V72s

The peak level of the leftover of the API and the 1084 are pretty close to each other but the sound of the two is significantly different.
Both have a constant peak at 15 KHz.
Again that is not only caused by what the unit adds but also what it leaves out and possibly phase anomalies.
The API shows a broad leftover that falls from 15 KHz down to 400 Hz. The loudest almost biting audible part of it is in the upper midrange. The amplitude changes are fast and to my understanding that correlates with the typical API- sound as I know it.
Leftover peak -19,5 dB

The BA 1084 shows the same peak at 15 KHz but it isn't as broad ( only down to the upper midrange) and sounds more like treble. However the most sicnificant difference is the loud boomy bass which makes a big part of the level of the leftover. It peaks at about 50 - 200 Hz.
Leftover peak -18 dB

The Helios leftover sounds completely different.
I bet that David and Dan will like what I have found.
The peak level is at -31,8 dB, the same as or even a hair better than the Cranesong Avocet (31,5 dB) close to the GML.
There is no audible midrange leftover but low frequencies at 50 Hz and very high treble , pretty narrow at 15 Khz.
Again that correlates with the typical sound of my console. It has a neutral midrange but adds some low end and silky highs.
Maybe I should add that this is after we have completely rewired all channel in and outputs and inserts of the console which was one bitter consequence of my line-stages test.
The cables that we have removed had the highest capacity of all cables Manfred had ever measured.: 360 pf per meter. The new one measures about 40pf per meter.

That alone made a huge huge difference affecting transparency, dynamic and dry bass. The old highly capacitive PVC cable sounded like a mushy compressor in comparison.
( Manfred suggested to sell it as : " Vintage Warmer Cable")

My beloved original V72s and V74a had the highest leftover:
V72s -15dB
V74a -15.5dB

Typically the V72s leftover had the most energy in the high treble.
Obviously those nonlinear distortion are something our brains like.
( Except for the classical engineers in the test of coarse)

Here is a quote of Paul Wolff about audio design philosophy that I have taken from another thread:

"There are several directions that designs take:

1 Make it as clean and pure as possible because that is their goal.

2 Make it as clean and pure as possible because they aren't at a level to design for a tone.

3 Just make it and see where the sound ends up, could be good, could be bad.

4 Make it have a certain tone because that is the goal.

5 Make crap because you know that someone will only want to spend $10 on a mixer.

The clean direction works provided that you have something that is attractive to the brain going in.

The #3 may work and may not work, depending on what was going in.

The #4 adds that "thing" that the brain likes, so it makes just about everything sound "better".

The #5 makes everything sound like shit, but the owner really doesn't know or care...

Personally, I put very little emphasis on the specs, My stuff was a theory in my head and it came to be. When I listen, I may pick the cheaper mic or the tape with print through (old days) if I liked it better.

There are definitely things that turn on the brain. If you can harness those things, add to it a song that you like and record it in a way that doesn't destroy it, you have something that can make people happy and you money at the same time. Who knows, you might even get laid...
__________________
Paul Wolff "

End of quote.


Transformer and transormerless designs:
The GML, the Avocet and the Helios have in common that they are discrete transformer-less designs and they show pretty similar results.

The API, the 1084 and the V72, V74 ( both tube) are discrete transformer designs.
I wanted to find out whether that alone predicts part of the results.

I combined the two transformers in the test with my Helios channel.
Both of the transformers had proved to be overall the most neutral audio devices in the test.
The combination of the trannys with the Helios stage however raised the level of the leftover of the Helios by
1,2 dB Haufe and 3,6 dB.Malotki.
Or in other words the Helios stage raised the level of the leftover of the Haufe tranny by 16.9dB and the leftover of the Malotki by 14,8 dB.

Haufe single -47,5 dB
Helios           -31,8dB
Haufe/Helios -30,6 dB
Malotki single -43 dB
Malotki/Helios -28,2 dB

Different combinations lead to different level changes. That is probably due to nonlinear impedance changes over the frequency range.
However the results are still far away from the API/1084/V72s.
The combination transformer-discrete stage alone does not determine the result.
It's a matter of the individual design and matching of all components.


Quote:


Now my question is; are the summing differences a matter of amplitude or phase?


I can only guess and I believe it's a complex mix of everything.
One example:
Over the time Manfred had built several line stages and summing stages. He copied a typical discrete class A Siemens output stage just to show how it would sound without a transformer and he built a symmetrical version , IC based versions, we experimented with negative feedback with different designs .....

From these experiments I learned that the amount of negative feedback can have a significant effect on the amplitude or at least on what we hear or interpret as dynamic. Most designs added a sort of crack ( nonlinear distortion) in the upper midrange when negative feedback was higher. That distortion can sound like a dynamic treble resonance that adds the same upper midrange or treble to percussive instruments or even to all instruments. Suddenly the attacks of a tambourine , Hi Hat and snare all shift to the same range. But the sound of the mix is more percussive, Snare have more snap and there is an amount of that effect, that gives the impression of more transparency and more dynamic. On the other hand a solo violin or a distorted solo guitar often sounded extremely ugly through those stages to my ears and to the classical engineer involved in the test.
Alone that one artifact caused by negative feedback might be one reason for the impression of or even a measurable higher amplitude that a line stage or summing stage can add to a mix.

Transformers can milden this effect when they compress fast transients and add harmonic distortion in the low frequencies. On the other hand transformers can even enhance that effect when the impedance of the next stage is too high.
The Malotki transformers gets a very nice, silky treble resonance and attack when the following  impedance is about 20 KOhm. Most of the listeners found that effect pleasing.

Yesterday I added a little 0-test experiment with negative feedback to illustrate the effect:

I sent the signal through an GML mic pre,  added a symmetrical line pad of -15dB with very short ( almost no) cables and set the GMl on the lowest Gain 15dB.

Then I made a second run with another additional pad of -20dB and set the GML gain to 35dB in order to reduce the units negative feedback
and made the 0-Test.

The leftover of the first file was -32,6 dB
The leftover of the second file   -33,9 dB

But there was a big sound difference between the two leftover files.
Manfred said that the amount of change in this case - 1,3 dB
( although that means something as it was the same unit with just another gain setting)
was not as important as the content.
The leftover of the second file sounded much milder in the upper midrange, more even and less dynamic. In other words the frequency response of the second rerecorded file with the raised gain and lowered negative feedback soloed was closer to the original, it had a fuller, warmer midrange and more fundamentals.
And the first rerecorded file sounded more jumpy and dynamic and harder.
That's the reason why I like to use a pad of -20dB in front of some mic pres for distorted guitar sounds. It sounds healthier with lowered negative feedback.

All my tests with the line stages included one stage at a time only.
That would be the signal path of a passive summing box like the folcrom.
But a console or an active summing box has line stages in each channel, a console has many of them in each signal path. There each signal gets it's individual treatment with a mix of all of the effects discussed above and then meets the others each with it's own enhanced or diminished new set of harmonics in the mix bus.
In the analogue world this mix of harmonics can happen far above our hearing range and then the inter-modulation ( my private little theory) probably affects the audible frequency response in a dynamic way. Pure, very interesting chaos.

My tests just scratched the surface of that complex matter but I hope it showed that there
must be a significant and measurable change of sound whenever you send individual signals through a mixing board as there is already a significant measurable change even if only one mono mix is recorded through one analogue stage.

But most important!
The 0-test only worked with two files recorded with two passes trough the same converters.
The original files and one DA/AD run through converters showed that there is no way of getting those two nulled.
Midrange quality converters always take away from the sound, detail, room information, frequency response.
My vintage Helios console is much closer to the original sound than one run through
the Digi 192 converters.
And the closest to the original were two transformers, one from the mid 60s and one from the 80s.

Quote:

One note. You have the groundwork for a scientific paper here. I don't know if you took the extreme precautions and documentation necessary for such, but if so (and especially if you have the files) it would sound to me like you could get a paper published.


Thank you Bill,
I have all of the files and all of the sessions but only a few written notes because first it wasn't intended to make it such a big and long experiment.
I can remember every detail and as I have never changed the setup it is pretty easy to recall. But I didn't take the necessary precautions and documentary to make it a scientific work.

Best regards,
Peter

Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Peter Weihe on October 19, 2008, 09:05:56 am
Bill Mueller wrote on Thu, 09 October 2008 14:12


Other question. Has anyone here ever made a mix OTB and then the same mix ITB or Bounce to Disc and then done a Sum comparison between them? I imagine that could be extremely informative. If the two mixes perfectly cancel, you're trippin'. If they are different, the difference is GOLD. The audio that is left over is what is BETTER! What a hugely valuable thing to know.

I don't have answers about this, only questions. But it seems to me that it should be pretty simple to determine just EXACTLY what is going on. I mean, an entire industry is growing up around the benefit of analog summing. Don't you think it should at least be proven to exist?

Best regards,

Bill


Hi Bill,

just to complete the experiment I finanally opened the original orchestra recording session from Abbey Road with the mix test files.

1. Pro Tools Bounce
2. Dangerous 2 Bus, analogue Mix ( Apogee 16x converters)
3. Manfred's passive Mixer, analogueMix

I shifted them until they looked in phase, inserted a time adjuster Plug In on each of the stereo channels and set all analogue mixes out of phase.

The waveforms of the analogue mixes look distinctively different from the one of the Pro Tools bounce once you zoom in on the finest level.. I don't know how accurate the PT graphic is but there were differences that I interpret as a mix of slight phase differences and compression.
But that's just a guess.

When I listened to the files I first thought that I had forgotten to turn the phase on one mix. The only thing that happens is that the bass gets weaker.
I searched for the volume of maximum cancellation but a phased sound at almost full level was all I could get.
I tried it with both analogue mixes.

Pro Tools Bounce - Dangerous 2 Bus
The last ff orchestra hit with trumpets, timpani and cymbals still showed
-2,1 L. and -1.1 R
on the master Wave PAZ Meter.

The two analogue mixes cancelled out better.
Dangerous 2 Bus -  Manfred Mixer
The leftover was much thinner sounding and the final hit had a level of
-14,6 L. and - 8.1 R.

They have in common that the busses were sent through the same converters and were recorded back through the same converter. All individual levels were set perfectly the same.

Still the different design make a big enough difference that only so much cancellation is possible. And these were puristic systems both with minimal signal path.

Best regards,
Peter





Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: tom eaton on October 19, 2008, 02:06:45 pm
Peter--

Again, thanks for doing this and sharing your results.  Fascinating.

-tom
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: trock on October 19, 2008, 08:01:14 pm
thanks a ton for posting this! for me, i did hear a difference when mixing back out thru the n12, however i guess if i worked hard enough i might be able to re create that in cubase, but its so simple to get it going and really nice mixing back out

so my second n12 arrived today and my head is abotu to explode trying to hook them both up thru MLAN and graphic patchbay. my goal with the 2 is to be able to have 16 mono and 4 stereo tracks to mix back out thru, with a template i will write in cubase where there will be 16 group mono channels and 4 stereo group channels that send to the approriate n12 track

so group channel 1 ->track 1 - n12 1 etc

then i hit REC button on all 20 tracks, set up a new stereo file in cubase and record my mix back into cubase using comp, eq, verb, pan on the mixer's in addition to automation or plug ins as needed in cubase!

i got most of it going so far but can't hear anything from the second n12 back out of the first n12 where the speakers are hahaha

anyway here are a couple of pics of the 2 new mixers

index.php/fa/10198/0/
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: trock on October 19, 2008, 08:02:44 pm
close up

index.php/fa/10199/0/
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Blas on October 20, 2008, 04:18:14 pm
Thank you very much Peter, I think I'll see if I can get my dues back from AES and just continue reading here! Very Happy (I could use that money for more mic cable)

Blas
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: cerberus on November 16, 2008, 08:34:18 pm
Bill Mueller wrote on Thu, 09 October 2008 12:26

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.

bill; to "perfectly cancel" means: a bit-identical copy. otherwise the data is  different.
if someone can hear that difference in a double blind a-b test, then that is
the valid data worth investigating. not a white paper which tries to
prove that a person who "hears things" is "tripping". imo, we
ought to try and explore such phenomena rather than to
question the veracity of the observations and claims.


Vertigo wrote on Mon, 06 October 2008 12:43

I really find the Nuendo mix bus to be terrible in comparison...

lance;  i assume that you are montoring through a dither? since it would be
incorrect to judge sonics through a truncated output. if you find a sonics
bug in nuendo (or in cubase), then i would be interested in presenting it
to steinberg's beta testers and to steinberg's engineers in hamburg. t.i.a.

jeff dinces
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Peter Weihe on November 19, 2008, 03:10:14 pm
Hi all,

here is another result of the 0-test:

It can be interpreted as a support for William's and Terry's theory to better use only one kind of Mic Pre Amp on one production for more consistency in the sound of a record.
And the test clearly shows why people always hear differences in the sound of a Mic Pre amp inside a console and a single unit outside a console.

1.) The leftover of two identical line-stages in a row is almost always exactly 6 dB higher than the leftover of a single stage. That means the artifacts are doubled!

2.) When a stage with a strong character and a high level of leftover (like a 1084
-18dB with my specific program) is followed by a relatively neutral line stage ( leftover -42,5 dB) the level of the 1084's leftover is only increased by 0,5 dB and the sound of the leftover stays pretty much the same.

That may sound only logical and maybe naive to mention but I was surprised about this clear result.

I was testing what line stage would be the best buffer to preserve the sound of my V72s or in other words cause the least alterations. The best of course was no second stage but if you want to ride a fader or need a summing amp there must be another stage.

I found that there were two solutions:
1. find the most neutral line amp.
2. take the same ( in this case a second V72s)

I remembered the first summing stage that Manfred had built for the summing test.
I had chosen it as the most neutral in a double blind test some years ago.
I borrowed the little mixer from a Tonmeister who had it in his studio and again for me it was the clear winner in " What line stage changes my V72s sound the least."

The other even more charming solution was the second V72s but I noticed that certain typical aspects in the V72s sound increased.

I repeated that test with 38 combinations of mic pre amps and line stages and the results were the same to my ears.
1084 remained 1084 when it was followed by a second one.
The same was true for API , Helios, GML ....

However in some cases the typical sound of certain units was simply sounding exaggerated to my ears with some signals when I added a third unit of the same kind to the signal chain.

So I wondered whether this could be heard or seen in our 0-test.

Test:

A.) First I made a run with Manfred's first summing amp and I was very happy to see and to hear that the leftover proved that this is the most neutral stage in the test so far. ( Only the Haufe and Malotki transformers had less leftover).

GML 8200 had been the one with the lowest leftover before ,
it showed -33.9 dB with the program I used.

Manfred's stage showed -42,5 dB

Again the 0-test corresponded with the results of my subjective listening tests.
I have to admit that I had to give up one of my dogmas because this summing amp of Manni is based on ICs .( Ahemm)  It's a symmetrical design with servos, no condensers.

B.) Next I used two Brent Averill 1084 in a row and compared the leftover to the one of only one unit.
One 1084 showed -18dB
Two units showed -11. 3 dB
All aspects in the character of the leftover increased. It was the same sound, only louder and more intense.

Next were 2 API 560.
I have always heard a clear difference between the sound of the 560 and the 550b on bypass.
But I was really surprised how big the difference of the leftover between those two units really was.

The leftover of the 550b sounds sharp in the upper midrange. Level -19 dB.

The leftover of the 560 has no significant treble but a strong low midrange boost, Level - 25 dB
They could hardly sound more different.

Two of the API 560 in a row doubled the level of the leftover and kept the sound character. -19 dB . Again the level was doubled.

William Wittman has posted several times that he prefers to use one type of API Eq
only in order to get a consistent sound. This little test shows why.

I repeated the test with Helios, GML, Manfreds mixer and always the level of the leftover increased by 6dB.
(Edit) :
>Helios through Helios Bus and post fader line driver
>GML 8200 through another channel of GML 8200
>Manfreds Mixer left bus - through - right bus.
>API 560 -API 560
> The level of the leftover with each of those chains was +6dB in comparison to the leftover of a pass through a single unit.
The level increased but the sound peaks had the same specific character as a pass through a single stage.
(End of Edit.)


C.) However Manfred's summing stage increased the level of the 1084's leftover by 0,5 dB only. The 1084 was the dominating character. Or in other words a neutral stage like that can transport the sound of a unit with a strong character without significant alterations.

D.) Then I combined a 1084 with an API 550b. Both units individually had a very strong significant sounding leftover.
The sum combined both of their characters and with the strong low end boost of the 1084 and the strong high midrange boost of the 550b the leftover of the sum was all over the place only a little less than 6dB more than one unit.


One thought struck me.

If an unexperienced engineer recorded a whole record through one console filled with one sort of line stages and the same Eq on each channel, chances are high that the character of the sound of all individual signals and even the buses are pretty much the same concerning the alterations the board's circuits do to the sound.

If now the mastering engineer has to figure out where to make his boosts and cuts,
chances are much higher with this recording that he could find certain frequencies
that were consistent on all instruments than it would be on a recording that was made through all different kind of circuits.

I am not saying that an experienced engineer cannot make use of this variety of different sounding circuits in order to purposely shape his individual tracks.

I am sorry, if these findings may sound too obvious to the more experienced engineers among you.

Thanks ,
Peter



















I
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: compasspnt on November 20, 2008, 03:13:32 am
Great work, Peter.

I am slowly digesting this now.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Peter Weihe on November 20, 2008, 02:25:07 pm
Thanks Terry!

I made a striking new experience with the 0-test when I played it to students at the University Of Hannover last weekend.

One of them asked me if one could really hear differences between the sounds of different audio designs. I said sure you can and then he asked whether this could not simply be a result of imagination and that he had heard that it would be impossible to prove.

I loaded the 0-test from my hard-drive and explained how it worked.
They first heard the mix, then how the pass through the PT converters changed the sound, next how two runs through the PT converters nulled when one phase was reversed.
After they had listened to the leftovers of various examples of units that they knew from the university studio one of them said and the others agreed:

"Should we then not better start with one kind of pre amp and EQ and first learn what it does and experience how our recordings will sound in the end?
We don't know the different brands well enough to decide which one to use for what instrument." Bingo!

They suddenly really showed an enormous respect for the effect one pass through
one or the other kind of audio design had on the signal.
Before that experience on all other workshops before most of the students were really burning to try all of those nice outboard units that they probably had read about on gear slutz.






Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: compasspnt on November 20, 2008, 05:58:48 pm
Seduction is a Powerful Force.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Adam The Truck Driver on November 25, 2008, 07:47:03 pm
I know that I want to use analog, either an ATB now with meter bridge, or Elan II TT, but might find the 8816/8804 more practical & I'm expecting to have a very nice selection of outboard preamps, CLs & EQs...I do know that I only want to use the DAW as a
multitrack recording machine and as a digital efx box with all
dynamics and EQ processing done otb. That is what I want, but it doesn't really matter does it? It's an impulse...sorry.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: MDM, on December 04, 2008, 08:52:34 pm
Peter,
the leftover signal from the tests does not necessarily mean harmonic distortion etc.  It could be that the phase shift  is  due to internal coupling caps or transformers.

This means that the high leftover signal is not necessarily an indication of poor performance with audio, which is full of phase rotation etc. In nature so its not super critical.

But if the phase distortion is erratic and complex like in high feedback circuits then it is a pain to the ear for sure
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Deuce 225 on December 07, 2008, 09:01:04 pm
Like Terry said a few posts back, I am still "digesting" this thread. At the risk of sounding like a complete dope, I will admit I have read this thread several times and I'm still not sure I understand the key conclusion(s) and how best to apply the principles to improve a mix. On one hand, it seems to make an argument for tracking OTB on a console with "like" pre's and EQ's.  It also seems to suggest the possibility of improving OTB tracking by parallel chaining like pre's i.e. two GML's or 1084's etc...

Lastly it seems to make the case for performing as few AD/DA conversions as possible. The original post was entitled "External Summing of DAW mixes".  To apply "Peter's principles" to summing is where I get a little lost.  Obviously to SUM OTB will require additional AD/DA conversions.  So...unless there is "hearable" compensating value for performing the additional AD/DA steps it would be hard to build the case for summing OTB.  I have been considering purchasing an Inward Connections Mix690, but it sounds as though a better strategy is to find a good used console.  I welcome other perspectives.

Thanks Peter for all your work.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Peter Weihe on December 10, 2008, 05:14:00 pm
Deuce 225 wrote on Mon, 08 December 2008 03:01

... I will admit I have read this thread several times and I'm still not sure I understand the key conclusion(s) and how best to apply the principles to improve a mix.


Hi Tim,

I must admit that I have posted lots of results but purposely left it to the reader to
come to his individual conclusion. I will post some opinions and conclusions that I
have heard from engineers who discussed the findings of this thread with me.

I am afraid there are no universal conclusions beside the ones that the O-test proved that -

1.) there is and must be a significant difference between a mix ITB or an analogue mix with all levels and panning set to the same values. -

2.) It showed that the extra DA conversion alone changes the signal significantly ( all listeners felt that the change was to the worse with the PT converters) plus

3.) each extra circuit that the signal has to pass through changes the sound more or less, each with it's specific footprint.

But that alone doesn't say which way is objectively better for what kind of style and mix.

Bill has proposed the 0-Test because he hoped that it would bring us an objective, empirical answer instead of the common exchange of subjective opinions, which are necessarily based on different recordings, different converters, outboard equipment, rooms, monitors...
I purposely tried not to value my findings too much but just report my observations and leave my taste aside in order to stay as neutral and dare I say as "scientific" as  my little private setup allowed me.

If the test made any sense than it would have to mirror the individual findings of those of us who have tried various setups and grades of ITB or OTB scenarios and evaluated them by listening because in the end our individual ear-brain-socio-cultural history and style dependant taste is all that counts.

We have to feel comfortable with our gear, the work flow and we have to like what we hear.

I am happy that I kept my notes from the first double blind listening test that I took part in with some of the units that I included in the 0-test, because those notes mirror exactly what I heard in the leftover of Bill's 0-test.

Quote:


On one hand, it seems to make an argument for tracking OTB on a console with "like" pre's and EQ's.  It also seems to suggest the possibility of improving OTB tracking by parallel chaining like pre's i.e. two GML's or 1084's etc...


I have got lots of responses for the tests and people still come to completely different conclusions.
First this is again what I have found:

My 0-test with inserting two or more units of the same model in the path showed that:

4.) the level of the leftover raises by almost always exactly +6dB when to stages of the kind are put in series. The sound character of the leftover stays the same as with one unit but it gets more intense.

5.) when I put two different sounding units in series each with a distinctively recognizable sound in the leftover the sum showed a mix of the two characters.
For example the leftover showed the low end boom of the BA 1084 plus the high mid bite of the API 550b.

6.) I do interpret that as a prove for the observation that a module sounds different
inside a console with all cables, transformers and similar circuits following in the signal path than a single module outside the console.

Some of the engineers who listened to the files liked it a lot, when they heard the sound of two chained APIs oder 1084s and others thought that some signals were  getting too much of that character. Others felt that it was great when there were three API op-amp transformer circuits in series and said that 4 of them were too much for their taste...

7.) My conclusion is that this test supports William's and Terry's theory that you get a more consistent sound when you use just one kind of mic pre or eq or record everything through one console filled with the same type of Eqs.

Now some friends of mine come to the exact opposite conclusion.
They take this as a prove that they can purposely carve a more transparent mix when they record with different mic pre amps, use different eqs and compressors
and choose each unit for a specific character that they like to add to each instrument.

Quote:



Lastly it seems to make the case for performing as few AD/DA conversions as possible.
The original post was entitled "External Summing of DAW mixes".  To apply "Peter's principles" to summing is where I get a little lost.  Obviously to SUM OTB will require additional AD/DA conversions.  So...unless there is "hearable" compensating value for performing the additional AD/DA steps it would be hard to build the case for summing OTB.  



Yes, everyone among the listeners agreed that each extra conversion degraded the sound and stole detail.
But again there are different conclusions:
Everybody seems to  set the individual threshold for the amount of degradation on one side and the benefit of their outboard gear on the other side differently.

Some examples:

A.) Ross wrote that he does all overdubs through a Hedd 192 converter and monitors through the Cransong Avocet. He doesn't like the sound of an extra pass through the PT converters and prefers to stay digital. His master insert goes via AES to the Cranesong Hedd.

B.) I came to the same conclusion since I bought the Layry Gold. I record all overdubs through the Lavry and I monitor through a Lavry Blue and my console or through the Avocet.
For mixes in my room I try to rent the best converters I can get and let the engineer
mix through my analogue console.

C.) A friend of mine loves to mix on his SSL Duality console and his huge collection of outboard gear to a 1" stereo analogue machine . He uses the PT 192 converters although he knows from his own tests that there are better ones. But he feels that his gear and his work-flow outweighs the degradation of the extra pass through the converters.

D.) Other colleagues of mine are looking for better converters and depending on their budgets you can find a variety ot the usual suspects.

E.) One of the engineers, a tonmeister, who took part in our tests over a long period of time uses different setups for different styles of music.

He loved the API modules for rock 'n roll and hated them for classical music.
When he recorded rock bands at our university he borrowed my API lunchbox and some vintage discrete Siemens units.

For his classical recordings he uses a very puristic setup and stays in the box after the first AD conversion with high class converters.

For score mixes he likes to get some character and  he loved the sound of the 1084 in the master insert. But he needed recall and preferred the EMI Curve Bender with it's step controls.

Yesterday he told me that he would love to mix his Jazz recordings on my console.
He was very open minded during our tests, listened carefully and felt that each style of music benefited from a specific setup.


One more conclusion:
I believe that if one decides to work ITB one should try to get the best DA- converter one can afford, because those are the lenses we look through and base our decisions on. I see lots of posts from people with shitty AD and DA converters ( on other forums of coarse) who prefer to buy the seventh brand of mic pre amp and Eq " for more color" instead. Somebody should go over and tell them.


Quote:

 I welcome other perspectives.

Thanks Peter for all your work.



Thank you for your feedback,

best Peter
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: cerberus on December 12, 2008, 09:21:45 am
peter;

would you please remind people to dither when reducing bit depth?
that would apply to any d/a conversion that has been processed
in any way by the daw, including a simple gain change. it
doesn't matter if your daw is floating or fixed, since the
internal bit depth will always be greater than 24 bits.

t.i.a.

jeff dinces
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Trumpetman2 on December 17, 2008, 02:58:43 pm
wwittman wrote on Mon, 06 October 2008 18:55

Bill_Urick wrote on Mon, 06 October 2008 07:35

I have tended to dismiss this, but am reconsidering.

Are you doing it? Do you feel that it makes a significant difference? What are you using?

Thank you.




Huge difference.

I've been using the Dangerous 2 Buss


The BEST thing is to come out into an actual console, naturally.
But given the choice between mixing entirely ITB and using the summing box, the summing box wins by a lot, for me.





What about using a summing box after the mixer?  Would it "improve" the quality of the mix, or would the mixer impart its signature to everything after it...?
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: zmix on December 18, 2008, 09:59:04 am
cerberus wrote on Fri, 12 December 2008 09:21

peter;

would you please remind people to dither when reducing bit depth?
that would apply to any d/a conversion that has been processed
in any way by the daw, including a simple gain change. it
doesn't matter if your daw is floating or fixed, since the
internal bit depth will always be greater than 24 bits.

t.i.a.

jeff dinces


Jeff,

I'm confused by your comments...  Has Peter been instructing people to send you files which have been truncated without adding dither?

You might be relieved to learn that dither is added after truncation, and that most 24 bit D/A converters have enough residual noise ( above -144dBfs ) to dither the signal.

Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: tunetown on December 18, 2008, 05:05:02 pm
Hi,

Can I ask someone to clarify the difference between a DA conversion of a summed ITB mix and sending 24 channels of DA conversions to a desk and summing OTB. I assumed this was the same process.

Is it the reconversion back from the desk to ITB that is being mentioned as the extra conversion process and therefore loss of quality. I haven't noticed this to be the case.

Great topic. Thanks for all your input.

Cheers
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: cerberus on December 27, 2008, 08:06:54 pm
zmix wrote on Thu, 18 December 2008 09:59



I'm confused by your comments...  Has Peter been instructing people to send you files which have been truncated without adding dither?
hi chuck,  no. of course not.
Quote:

You might be relieved to learn that dither is added after truncation,

by definition: that woudn't be a dither; but mere noise.
Quote:

and that most 24 bit D/A converters have enough residual noise ( above -144dBfs ) to dither the signal.


and i don't get how that is relevant to production? once signals are run through more
dsp, they aren't 24 bit signals anymore. so  any low-level digititus which may have
infected the signal  due to lack of proper dithering could become multiplied.
perhaps you would think it is ok to mask it with noise, but sound is
fractal; a room has a noise floor, and there can still
be music inside of that. likewise with all gear.

maybe you like the noise floor of some analog gear even
though it is much higher than -144db? you might
find it euphonic. but  dither is not necessarily
euphonic by itself. a dither's color is
incidental to its effectiveness

it's not that dither noise sounds
good, but that it will work
(when the process is
applied correctly).

if the self-noise you refer to is analog noise, then it would be too late then to talk
about  dithering; that had to happen in the digital domain. as for digitally
induced "self-noise" ?  i think  that could be from truncation, or other
bad  maths? so that wouldn't likely turn out euphonic either.

jeff dinces
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Bob Olhsson on December 28, 2008, 03:07:22 pm
Rant on:

Adding noise is not dithering and noise added after truncation is most certainly NOT dither. Dither sounds like noise however noise does not not dither unless it is added prior to bit depth reduction and meets very specific spectral, level and randomness criteria.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that dithering requires significant computational overhead that cuts down on the number of features a dsp device can offer. Instead of being honest about this, audio marketers have made excuses like "dithering is optional for use only when you hear a problem,"  "it's self dithering" or "it's such a low level you can't hear it." Sadly even many programmers want to believe this B.S. bad enough that they don't question it. Just as with the misuse of integrated circuits, it's common to just throw building blocks of code together that have fundamental flaws when examined closely.

This has been compounded by flat out broken dither routines from time to time that sounded even worse than truncation.

Rant off.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming. Laughing Rolling Eyes  Shocked
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: compasspnt on December 28, 2008, 11:37:19 pm
Yeah, but other than that, it doesn't matter...
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Bob Olhsson on December 29, 2008, 10:46:12 am
Truncation distortion accumulates 6dB. per generation. Dither accumulates 3 dB. per generation. There is no third choice.

You can turn the bias off on an analog recorder too, but why?
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Buzz on February 16, 2009, 01:49:16 pm
Peter Thanks for the excellent scientific approach to this , it's refreshing to be able to SUM up what people hear to what is really happening !

Again this has opened my eyes BIG TIME !

LAter
Buzz

and ya of COURSE Terry and WW are right
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: BrianS on March 11, 2009, 06:28:21 pm
I'm mixing PTHD with 16 stems out to an Apogee DA16 into the Neve 8816. I like it a lot.

I've also been patching out of the 8816 into a pair of API 560's then into an Alan Smart C2 back into Apogee AD16. It feels much more like the old days of mixing on a console to me. I like it much better than bouncing or printing a bus mix to a track.

The top is sweet. The bottom is warm. Mixing is easier. It "feels" good to me. I'm having fun with the rig.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Nacho on April 14, 2009, 04:28:28 pm
Hello Guys,
I've been trying different ways of mixing for a couple of months now

I've tried ANYTHING I have had in the studio to try out the analog summing compared to ITB.

It all depends on what you are looking for.  Sometimes ITB sounds just right for some kind of music and it doesn't for other styles.

My tryouts have been with a mackie 2408, an "El Cheapo" soundcraft 12 channel mixer, and the infamous Digidesign sub group channels in the C24, they were all receiving 8 stereo stems.

I know these are not very "pro" devices to use but I just did it to try it out, so don't thrash me about it haha!.

The best sound for my taste came out of the Mackie board.  Open sound, and that 3D sensation came up to life.

I definitely liked the ease of mixing when mixing out in stems to the mackie than what I like ITB.  It seemed that I could get to a decent mix in less time and using less resources than when mixing ITB, but the final color using the mackie as an analog summing device doesn't convince me.

Im looking forward to purchase the folcrom summing box or the dangerous music summing box for that use.

Nacho
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Unwinder on April 21, 2009, 04:44:46 pm
I just slowly read through this entire thread and i'm just amazed. Total thanks to Peter for his thorough examination of these subjective matters and to Ross for sharing his experience.

I learned alot here today.

This also served to reinforce(to me) the opinions that alot of you guys have been standing by, which i continue to appreciate.

D.

Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: marctheshark on July 14, 2009, 07:45:27 pm
When I sum, out in the out board, that is...I use my favorite summing summer: the Yamaha Music Mixer Amp Speaker. It has a quality of nice that isn't in other music devices that are used by my friends Bill and me. We make the beats, and then we sell them behind the barn. We sum them because it is what summing is all about! Talk to you guys later. Keep summing.
Shocked
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: compasspnt on July 14, 2009, 11:31:11 pm
OK, if you keep Catting.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: bjornson on August 09, 2009, 09:58:22 pm
I've gone full circle. From an Otari 54c  46x24 with MF automation to HD in the box, back to 56 fader Euphonix cs2000 with 48 PT outputs. I missed my outboard...I'm staying this way for the time being.  
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Wireline on September 05, 2009, 02:50:22 pm
Question time for y'all in them thar big cities.

There's a lot of different summing schemes in a lot of different boards, etc.  What's to stop anyone from using their DAW for sub-bussing (like going to a Dangerous or whatnot), then to their analog board for compressions, EQ, external effects, and THEN to a monster cool summing unit like (fill in your favorite flavor that's better than what your board has here)?

Example:  I really like our Soundtracs Solo EQ, and my analog comps, with TC and Lexicon reverbs, but don't like (at all) the board;s summing.  If this works the way we want, then we'll look at adding whatever flavor we think is needed (if any).

It's gonna make for an interesting week, to be sure
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: jetbase on September 14, 2009, 03:03:41 am
Wireline wrote on Sun, 06 September 2009 04:50

Question time for y'all in them thar big cities.

There's a lot of different summing schemes in a lot of different boards, etc.  What's to stop anyone from using their DAW for sub-bussing (like going to a Dangerous or whatnot), then to their analog board for compressions, EQ, external effects, and THEN to a monster cool summing unit like (fill in your favorite flavor that's better than what your board has here)?

Example:  I really like our Soundtracs Solo EQ, and my analog comps, with TC and Lexicon reverbs, but don't like (at all) the board;s summing.  If this works the way we want, then we'll look at adding whatever flavor we think is needed (if any).

It's gonna make for an interesting week, to be sure


Wouldn't you be better off replacing the console than getting a summing box in addition to it? Summing is probably the most important part of an analogue console. I think the problem with the Soundtracs Solo was that there wasn't enough headroom. Everthing ended up sounding a bit small & you couldn't quite get away from a 'demo' kinda sound, in my experience anyway. I think I remember liking the eq's - it's been a long time.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Wireline on September 14, 2009, 07:49:00 pm
Might be...but its a good stopgap until the cash breaks free for the board we want, then its gonna have to do.  Even as a stop gap, the summing unit will not go to waste.

The EQs are why we are going thru this hoop jumping, BTW.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Wireline on September 19, 2009, 09:19:46 pm
If anyone is still interested, installed the summing device today.  The differences were not small.  Board that was headed to the dumpster (literally) now has a function, featuring its strongest elements and bypasses its weakest...the usual phrases of clarity, renewed punch, etc all apply, with the addition of previously unknown separation.

not a bad tradeoff, really.  


Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: ericbridenbaker on December 04, 2009, 02:32:44 pm
Wireline wrote on Mon, 14 September 2009 18:49

Might be...but its a good stopgap until the cash breaks free for the board we want, then its gonna have to do.  Even as a stop gap, the summing unit will not go to waste.

The EQs are why we are going thru this hoop jumping, BTW.

Nice to hear you found a solution that you are happy with. Have gone full circle on this one a few times... If you like the sound of your converters, and feel that the console EQs are better than plugins, and the overall sound and mixing experience is better then it's totally worth it.

I had always hoped that working entirely ITB could lead to a very streamlined workplace, but then the analog toys (and the associated cabling mess) keep coming back out... so much for that one, at least for now Smile

finding that tracking with the analog EQ and processing has been a lot of help especially if the mix is going to be ITB. Coming back out to analog for the mix through less than stellar converters can (but not always) muddy up the sound.

figuring it would actually be pretty expensive at this point (and take up a bunch of space) for me to move back to analog mixing and get a better sound than is happening now with straight up leveling of well recorded tracks in the DAW.

But really, you cant know for sure until you try it YMMV.

BIG thanks to Peter for his tests and information! Reading through it now.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: ericbridenbaker on December 04, 2009, 02:48:48 pm
also, for those that like to go out to analog for the final mix, i remember seeing somewhere some analog summing cables naiant.com ??

can't do the whole summing argument thing anymore, but summing cable might be another affordable option to try...

Best Regards,
Eric
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Peter Weihe on December 06, 2009, 03:46:28 pm
I had a conversation with the Neumann engineer Martin Schneider about the results of our 0-tests and he sent me a list that I have attached  to this post.

The list shows how much level difference between the reference signal A and the subtracted signal B causes how much level difference ( leftover) in a 0-test.

Martin sat down and wrote the list and I would like to thank him for allowing me to post it on the forum.

We agreed that the performed 0-test can prove that two signals A and B are identical if there is perfect cancellation or if not they are not identical.
That was Bill's original request. The test showed that an analog mix and a digital mix can not be identical.
As the level differences caused by various inserted circuits are frequency dependent
and in some of the units probably also due to phase shift the matter is complex.
The interpretation is tricky.

However the list shows that even with an ideal phase small level differences between signal A and B lead to big differences in the "underworld" - leftover in our 0-test.
It also shows how good some of the inserted devices like the Haufe transformers really are.

An example:
the leftover of the Haufe transformer was -43 dB in my test.
Leaving the aspect of possible phase shift aside and only looking at the level according to the list the level difference caused by the Haufe was at least not greater than 0,06 dB.

A circuit causing a leftover of -32.9 dB in the 0-test caused a level difference of 0,2 dB in real life.

Those units in the test that we love for their sound that caused leftovers of about 18, 19 dB in the "underworld" of the reversed phase-test would have a level difference of about 1dB -1.1 dB according to the list.

index.php/fa/13873/0/



Again I made the test with music and of coarse not every frequency was equally represented. The level of the leftovers was always taken at the individual peak, which was dependent on the specific nonlinearity in frequency and dynamic of each circuit.
Another musical material would probably have caused different leftovers.

Regarding the relatively small differences I am amazed that we could hear them by just comparing signal A and B.
What a great tool the ear/brain connection is.

Another interesting result is that even the tiniest differences of 0.0X dB were exactly doubled in the level of the leftover ( +6dB ) when two circuits of the same model were connected in series.
That shows how consistently individual units of the same model show the same character. Ok we  used well respected classical brands only.



Best Peter












Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Andy Simpson on December 08, 2009, 09:24:43 am
Peter Weihe wrote on Sun, 06 December 2009 21:46

...Regarding the relatively small differences I am amazed that we could hear them by just comparing signal A and B.
What a great tool the ear/brain connection is.



Hi Peter,

I would not be quite so quick to assign greatness to the ear/brain in this case.

In my opinion, the results and examination of 'leftovers' from a 'sum/cancellation test' are extremely unreliable if not totally misleading.

For example, if we take a 16bit recording and truncate it to 8bit (without dither) and do the 'inverse sum' test we find the 'leftovers' somewhere around -48dB and below.

Andy
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: ericbridenbaker on December 08, 2009, 12:01:02 pm
If i might put forth some support for the idea that null tests do have their place, to a certain degree of precision.

i'd reason that in the analog domain no two circuits can be made to be "exactly" identical (but very close). in the digital domain hardware can experience both repeated and non repeated errors in the instruction stream.

very interesting how something many decibels below peak can cause things to sound quite different.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Peter Weihe on December 08, 2009, 12:44:11 pm
Andy Simpson wrote on Tue, 08 December 2009 15:24

Peter Weihe wrote on Sun, 06 December 2009 21:46

...Regarding the relatively small differences I am amazed that we could hear them by just comparing signal A and B.
What a great tool the ear/brain connection is.



Hi Peter,

I would not be quite so quick to assign greatness to the ear/brain in this case.

In my opinion, the results and examination of 'leftovers' from a 'sum/cancellation test' are extremely unreliable if not totally misleading.

Andy


Hi Andy,

thanks for your reply.

I was not referring to the sound of the leftover when I said that I was amazed that we could hear it.
That would be easy to hear for everybody because those sounds are obvious.

When I wrote:
Peter Weihe wrote on Sun, 06 December 2009 21:46

we could hear them by just comparing signal A and B "

I was talking about a simple A-B test. We compared Signal A, the reference signal and Signal B , which was the same signal but running through an extra circuit like a transformer or a line level stage.
Those differences are subtle and some circuits like the Haufe transformers caused a leftover of -43 dB in the 0-Test which was the device with the highest cancellation that we have found so far.

Nevertheless we could clearly hear those differences in a blind A-B test before we even started the 0-test by just switching from signal A to signal B.

Regarding how small the difference between those two signals must be to cause that leftover, yes I find the ear to be a great tool. Sure it can be fooled.

But one of the reasons why we started the whole procedure was, that some of us claimed that that their ears keep telling them, that digital summing sounds different from analog summing.
Well it's not possible to isolate and examine the analog summing process without the use of converters and at least an analog summing stage, so there is no abstract summing process in a vacuum.  Our 0-test that included DA and AD converters and various analog stages and examined them separately in order to see whether or not they  left the signal unchanged so two signals would perfectly cancel out, proved that an analog mix will never be identical to a digital mix.
At least with the circuits we had in our test.

So the question was: Are they identical or not. Answer No.

Andy Simpson wrote on Tue, 08 December 2009 15:24


In my opinion, the results and examination of 'leftovers' from a 'sum/cancellation test' are extremely unreliable if not totally misleading.



They can be misleading , I agree.
And that's why I wrote in my last post:
Peter Weihe wrote on Sun, 06 December 2009 21:46


As the level differences caused by various inserted circuits are frequency dependent
and in some of the units probably also due to phase shift the matter is complex.
The interpretation is tricky



I would like to add that it is impossible to tell what the inserted circuit exactly alters!
But a 0-test can prove whether two signals are identical in every detail.
And that's what Bills's original request was about.

However I found that certain aspects in the sound of the leftover clearly corresponded to the alterations that the inserted circuit caused as we could hear them in the simple A-B test.

So yes I still find ear -brain connection an amazing and the right equipment to choose my tools for audio.

Best Peter















Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: Andy Simpson on December 08, 2009, 03:47:35 pm
Peter Weihe wrote on Tue, 08 December 2009 18:44



Hi Andy,

thanks for your reply.

I was not referring to the sound of the leftover when I said that I was amazed that we could hear it.
That would be easy to hear for everybody because those sounds are obvious.

When I wrote:
Peter Weihe wrote on Sun, 06 December 2009 21:46

we could hear them by just comparing signal A and B "

I was talking about a simple A-B test. We compared Signal A, the reference signal and Signal B , which was the same signal but running through an extra circuit like a transformer or a line level stage.
Those differences are subtle and some circuits like the Haufe transformers caused a leftover of -43 dB in the 0-Test which was the device with the highest cancellation that we have found so far.

Nevertheless we could clearly hear those differences in a blind A-B test before we even started the 0-test by just switching from signal A to signal B....



Hi Peter,

My point regarding the example of the (nasty) 8bit truncation is that the -48dB distortion products of an 8bit truncation are very far from subtle.

However, as the tabulated input of the Neumann engineer describes, simply changing the gain of one of a pair of identical inverse polarity files will alter the gain of the summed 'leftovers' in apparently drastic fashion.

Not only will very audible distortion (ie. 8bit truncation) lead to 'apparently low' leftover (-48dB) in the ideal cancellation test, but in the case of identical undistorted files, where linear gain differs by only 1dB, the leftover will be around -22dB (files that will sound essentially identical in A/B).

In other words, if the gain is not absolutely equal in the inverse-sum test, looking at the level of the leftovers will not be very useful.

Of course, I would expect the distortion introduced by the devices under test to be repeatably audible but I would not expect much correlation between leftover level and audibility of distortion, since according to the test methodology, an 8bit truncation should be less audible than the other distortion introduced in the test.

That the Haufe transformer achieved the lowest leftovers result most likely indicates that the gain was most closely matched in this case, rather than saying very much about the distortion introduced.

Andy
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: johnR on December 09, 2009, 10:43:54 am
Quote:


That the Haufe transformer achieved the lowest leftovers result most likely indicates that the gain was most closely matched in this case, rather than saying very much about the distortion introduced.

On a wide band music signal as used in the test, part of the leftover will presumably be caused by deviations in frequency response, and not just non-linear distortion. I don't think that makes the results any less useful however.
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: adoucette on October 03, 2010, 03:28:09 am
If the budget is too low to have me mix on a proper board (often the case), I mix ITB and give them the option to do final tweaks and a external summing through a large format console. I'll take the finished mix to another studio and run everything into the board, set the faders to 0, pan FX L and R and then make any final tweeks necessary before printing the mixes back into protools. I'm happy with the results, not the same as mixing entirely on the board but certainly alot of the boards character rubs off onto the tracks. I have a few favorites, the most favorite being an 80 input SSL4000G series
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: compasspnt on October 03, 2010, 08:54:00 am
Andre, how would you charactrise the differences with the "Zero Sum" method through the desk track-for-track v. the fully ITB method?
Title: Re: External summing of DAW mixes
Post by: adoucette on October 03, 2010, 02:00:27 pm
compasspnt wrote on Sun, 03 October 2010 08:54

Andre, how would you charactrise the differences with the "Zero Sum" method through the desk track-for-track v. the fully ITB method?



"Magic"

No just kidding. Well not really, it really does sound magical, but I can specify a bit more.

The biggest difference for me is the clarity of the stereo image, more control, smoothness and tightness in the low-end, and a much smoother, shinier and more natural top-end. You can literally hear the analog desk wiping away the digital "pixelation" from the top end of the digital mix. Naturally, when you bring in each track fader to fader you benefit from the components like the transformers to help color the sound in a way that you would come to expect from mixing on a desk. I also take advantage of the VCA groups which colors the sound in an even more pleasing way. This method also allows you to get a chance to make any final revisions in a different light/perspective using a machine that is nothing short of brilliant. Lastly, I am a huge fan of the 4000 series buss compressor so I like to just touch the needle with that on the way out. And if the mix is still a little dark I'll patch in a pair of EQ's to brighten it just a tad. The SSL studio has a nice pair of Lang  PEQ-2's

IMO Its a relatively in-expensive way to bring some of the benefits of a large-format console to your mixes that has a price tag that most groups will OK. Also, I like bringing business to the studios still repping the large consoles, I would like to see them around for many many many many many years to come. I actually may be doing this with some mixes soon, if that happens I will gladly upload the pre-mastered mixes with the ITB mix and the "Zero-sum" approach for people to A/B.