Do high end mixers matter?

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sleestack808
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Do high end mixers matter?

Post by sleestack808 » Mon Dec 21, 2020 7:53 pm

Even if you are micing maybe one amp and using a couple high end synths. Do they matter?

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Nelson Baboon
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Nelson Baboon » Mon Dec 21, 2020 8:04 pm

in general, people who spend huge $$$ on products will tell you that they matter. I have a pair of $500 socks, and I can tell you that my feet feel incredible.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by sleestack808 » Mon Dec 21, 2020 8:23 pm

I mean. big sound, separation of instruments. The shit people look for with acoustic and amp recording.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by dubonaire » Mon Dec 21, 2020 8:38 pm

sleestack808 wrote:
Mon Dec 21, 2020 7:53 pm
Even if you are micing maybe one amp and using a couple high end synths. Do they matter?
I can't really see the point for a setup like that.

My experience with a high end mixer is limited to my Condesa DJ mixer. I've not met anyone that has not noticed an amazing improvement including my girlfriend who is quite happy listening to music on an iPhone speaker, although the curve is obviously smiley.

I think like most things audio you will get many different viewpoints, some which are probably not much more than myth, like the endless debates about the SSL sound etc. But I guess what makes sense to me for 99% of people with home studios is having the cleanest shortest signal path you can reasonably afford. And these days that's pretty cheap to achieve. I think there is something to be said for analogue summing, but I think there are reasonably priced solutions for that too. I'm seduced by the Chandler Mini Rack Mixer but I don't think I will ever buy one. I've always thought it's going to be a better idea to send your stems off to a mastering engineer, unless that's something you want to do yourself and have a lot of spare cash to spend on high end mastering gear.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by bobbylandry » Mon Dec 21, 2020 8:41 pm

Over the decades where popular music and recording were developed people got music sounding great with them, and if you want that particular sound then it totally matters. I'm not super interested in it at this point anymore myself.

If I was to be in another band with loud drums and guitar then I'd probably want to work on one. If I was doing a modern neo soul album or something I'd want to work on one. Maybe for some electronic music styles as well.

But there's plenty of other awesome stuff you can do nowadays in a computer or with other hardware to get a "sound" and I'm personally interested in making more with that. That's just me, though.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by oldgearguy » Mon Dec 21, 2020 8:48 pm

Personal experience (mainly use synths, drum machines) -
Had an Allen & Heath System 8, thought it sounded pretty good.

Picked up a Trident Series 70 recapped, newer ICs, mostly done by a studio engineer. Finished the work, upgraded the power supplies, nd it was the most glorious sounding thing I ever heard. Running a TR-808 and rev 2 P-5 with a touch of Lexicon 224 and it sounded like a record. I used to run a CD player through it while I was doing wiring or repair work.

After 3 moves in 2 years and ending in a smaller space, I sold the Trident and bought a Toft ATB24.

I sent the master section out to Jim Williams for an upgrade. The board sounds good enough. If I had not heard better, it would be just fine since I'm just a hobbyist screwing around.

It's just hard to justify picking up a 7 foot long, 300+ lb hunk of metal and electronics and put all that work into it again for a hobby.

I will say though, once all the work was done to it, it was the most stable, reliable piece of equipment in my setup.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Hovercraft » Mon Dec 21, 2020 9:11 pm

sleestack808 wrote:
Mon Dec 21, 2020 7:53 pm
Even if you are micing maybe one amp and using a couple high end synths. Do they matter?
I don't know what you consider "high-end", but moving from a $200 Mackie 802VLZ4 to a $1200 SSL SiX made a big difference in my studio. Have you ever had a piece of gear you just start using less and less--and you aren't even quite sure why? The Mackie was like that--I realized I was only using it as a monitor controller. When I stopped to think about it, I realized I was constantly having noise issues--gain staging was a pain, I hated the EQ circuits, the mic pre's were serviceable at best, the workflow/routing sucked (for me), and I was vaguely dissatisfied with the sound of everything I ran through it. It only took me four years to figure that out. :doh:

The SSL SiX looked weird and over-priced, but I gave it a try, and wish I got it sooner. Tons of headroom, beautiful sounding pre's, fantastic EQ's and compressors--super flexible routing designed for the current state of small studios. The headphone amp is pristine--without the free fuzz circuit Mackie includes. I looked into 500 series outboard gear and the SiX is a bargain compared to putting anything remotely comparable together. It sounds great and I'm not fighting it every time I go into the studio. I also added a patchbay, and it's equally indispensable.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by 3hands » Mon Dec 21, 2020 9:17 pm

I have a System 8 and I love it but it’s too much for what I need. I’m going to swap it out for a 500 series lunchbox running predominately API. I feel with something like this, I can get a huge sound with very little footprint.
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by dubonaire » Mon Dec 21, 2020 11:40 pm

3hands wrote:
Mon Dec 21, 2020 9:17 pm
I have a System 8 and I love it but it’s too much for what I need. I’m going to swap it out for a 500 series lunchbox running predominately API. I feel with something like this, I can get a huge sound with very little footprint.
I'm planning to get a Cranborne ADAT500. Current plan is to put a Zahl EQ and a Shadow Hills Dual Vandergraph in it. And then probably something like Chandler or Rupert Neve pres currently undecided. I have to confess that is pure gear lust.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by mmp » Tue Dec 22, 2020 12:00 am

I don't think for most people here that a huge expensive console is a great choice. I do believe that tracking with a high quality analog front end makes for better sounding recordings, but as others have said, a couple of great pres in an API 500 rack will do that for you. In having spent the money to upgrade over the years, the biggest thing I have noticed is with better gear, the recorded individual channels command their space in a crowded recording better. The differences are not so apparent in single source A/B comparisons, but are readily apparent after stacking 30 tracks on top of one another.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by johny_gtr » Tue Dec 22, 2020 4:38 am

I guess that most of current high-end mixers are designed to be transparent and non adding any color to the sound. Some of old 70s mixers added a lot of color like Siemens but their 2 lines cost like modern mixer:)
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Thorsday » Tue Dec 22, 2020 5:06 am

sleestack808 wrote:
Mon Dec 21, 2020 7:53 pm
Even if you are micing maybe one amp and using a couple high end synths. Do they matter?
The song matters. Proper mic placement is huge factor, as well... Get a Behringer XENYX1202, some SM57's (or cheap clones of a 57) and let your moves hit like a thunderbolt!

I once heard a famous producer answer a question something like this:

Q: What is your favorite preamp?
A: The one with a talented vocalist singing into it.
Last edited by Thorsday on Mon Jan 11, 2021 8:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by wuff_miggler » Tue Dec 22, 2020 5:23 am

last time i did some drum recording in a super high end studio, i asked the engineer to record whatever was coming off the masterbuss. Every drum channel (probably 20 mics in total) was going into a Neve desk channel (no eq from memory) .

The comparison in weight/thickness/balls from the neve desk to mixing itb (this was probably 12 years ago - and things have changed a lot since) were so disappointing, felt like most things i tried were going nowhere near the sound. I've learnt a lot since - but getting that kind of "sound quality" by merely plugging in is pretty damn good if you find a desk which works with your budget and has the mojo.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by dubonaire » Tue Dec 22, 2020 5:28 am

Please share the before and after tracks w_m

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by wuff_miggler » Tue Dec 22, 2020 5:29 am

^ lol - session was from 2007. finding those scratch tracks is a big ask :P

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by oldgearguy » Tue Dec 22, 2020 5:32 am

johny_gtr wrote:
Tue Dec 22, 2020 4:38 am
I guess that most of current high-end mixers are designed to be transparent and non adding any color to the sound. Some of old 70s mixers added a lot of color like Siemens but their 2 lines cost like modern mixer:)
What I noticed the most moving between different consoles was that with the Trident, I was never worrying about the noise floor or how hard I was hitting the inputs. Everything sounded open and full, never pinched, noisy, or distorted, wih as much headroom as I needed. EQ was a nice bonus, but I never felt like every channel needed a lot of EQ. 10, 12, 16 tracks all summed and sent to the main outs just worked. I never had to fight levels or work to carve out space. Especially after the op amp and cap work, the mixer wasn't necessarily transparent, but it was musical sounding, natural, not hyped or band=limited.

Unless you're spending *a lot* of money, all the modern mixers have compromises. It comes down to knowing what they are and being able to live with them. As others have mentioned, you can mix and record with pretty much anything, sodo the research and work within your bidget and space considerations.

The plus/minus of a traditional mixer vs a 500-series (or rack mixer) is the access to the controls and the ability to quickly adjust lots of stuff. The downside is that it takes up potentially a lot of precious desk space right where you want to have you keyboard controllers, drum machines, desktop units, etc.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by wuff_miggler » Tue Dec 22, 2020 5:35 am

There are things that are quite neat, like Slate Virtual Console Collection.
add a plug on each track/buss and also on the master - and it ads things like subtle distortion, crosstalk , and a bunch of other stuff that happens on mixers. One of the neat developments in plugins.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by johny_gtr » Tue Dec 22, 2020 6:04 am

oldgearguy wrote:
Tue Dec 22, 2020 5:32 am
johny_gtr wrote:
Tue Dec 22, 2020 4:38 am
I guess that most of current high-end mixers are designed to be transparent and non adding any color to the sound. Some of old 70s mixers added a lot of color like Siemens but their 2 lines cost like modern mixer:)
What I noticed the most moving between different consoles was that with the Trident, I was never worrying about the noise floor or how hard I was hitting the inputs. Everything sounded open and full, never pinched, noisy, or distorted, wih as much headroom as I needed. EQ was a nice bonus, but I never felt like every channel needed a lot of EQ. 10, 12, 16 tracks all summed and sent to the main outs just worked. I never had to fight levels or work to carve out space. Especially after the op amp and cap work, the mixer wasn't necessarily transparent, but it was musical sounding, natural, not hyped or band=limited.

Unless you're spending *a lot* of money, all the modern mixers have compromises. It comes down to knowing what they are and being able to live with them. As others have mentioned, you can mix and record with pretty much anything, sodo the research and work within your bidget and space considerations.

The plus/minus of a traditional mixer vs a 500-series (or rack mixer) is the access to the controls and the ability to quickly adjust lots of stuff. The downside is that it takes up potentially a lot of precious desk space right where you want to have you keyboard controllers, drum machines, desktop units, etc.
500 series can provide good results but you need a lot of them if you want to record all the stuff in a one take. Old quality stuff can add some flavour to modern sound that you don't want to pass all sounds through many reverbs (it's my new test quality of new modules - if it's sounds good only with reverbs, it's problem with my understanding the module or problem of the module for my taste)
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by versipellis » Tue Dec 22, 2020 6:11 am

wuff_miggler wrote:
Tue Dec 22, 2020 5:35 am
There are things that are quite neat, like Slate Virtual Console Collection.
add a plug on each track/buss and also on the master - and it ads things like subtle distortion, crosstalk , and a bunch of other stuff that happens on mixers. One of the neat developments in plugins.
IIRC Slate VCC only does the emulation of the character (I don't believe it's a circuit or component simulation), no crosstalk or anything. You might be thinking of the brainworx one that has crosstalk.
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by wuff_miggler » Tue Dec 22, 2020 6:24 am

^ nice one versipellis
ive not looked at brainworx for a long time - looks like they have amazing things going on!

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Red Electric Rainbow » Tue Dec 22, 2020 6:36 am

wuff_miggler wrote:
Tue Dec 22, 2020 5:35 am
There are things that are quite neat, like Slate Virtual Console Collection.
add a plug on each track/buss and also on the master - and it ads things like subtle distortion, crosstalk , and a bunch of other stuff that happens on mixers. One of the neat developments in plugins.
i was pretty anti plug-ins until this year. basically started messing around with them during the pandemic. i now have the Slate Collection and it rules. its ashame i slept on everything for so long. i have most of the Valhalla stuff now too.
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by n3wt15 » Tue Dec 22, 2020 6:43 am

Ive had experience on a lot of mixers, in my own personal studio, and working in other studios, and to answer your question, thats completely up to you... Maybe If you are looking for a certain sound, But probably not.

I currently have a Mackie 24 8bus, this is my second over the years, and I used one at a recording studio many yeahs ago before that and really grew to know the board very well. It does nothing special to the sound, it doesnt seem to color it in any way, to my ears it sounds better then either VLZ mixer and onyx that I had, and I paid $350 for it used with meter bridge. I have no thoughts on buying any other board for my studio as long as this one is working.

I worked on an 01v, O2r, Toft ATB 24, allen & heath, Spec Xtramix, Soundcrafts, Midas's, and I had a few months working with a Neve 88r, and a SSL g4000...
sure some of them sounded a bit different in recordings, but they all did the same thing and could mix a solid recording.

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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Red Electric Rainbow » Tue Dec 22, 2020 6:47 am

i have 2 mixers set-up in my studio right now and im not sure i consider either of them to be high-end.

1) Midas Venice 320 pre-behringer era. i use the direct outputs post-eq for my synths. it acts as a giant pre-amp with some musical eq. its then routed into a 16A.
2) a Mackie 24:8 is basically a dedicated 8 buss drum machine mixer that gets routed to an 8 channel ART Tube Pre-Amp configured as an ADAT expander for the 16A. Most of my effects and outboard gear are linked up the Mackie.

i have a Boss BX8 on hand.
Last edited by Red Electric Rainbow on Tue Dec 22, 2020 6:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Analog Prophet » Tue Dec 22, 2020 8:49 am

Bad sound kills good synths. If invest $$$$ in great instruments it’s a pity to not let them shine as good as they can. If one appreciate the sound of well built hardware instruments one will do the same with mixers, compressors etc. If software instruments is the preferred way to go then these outboards won’t give you any excitement. The more dynamic the sound is the more difference it makes. For hard over-compressed and super squeezed Skrillex mixes it won’t make that much difference.

I have an SSL console (got it for an offer I couldn’t resist) connected my synths as well as hi quality outboards such Tubetec, DBX 160 VU, Lexicon PCM reverb etc - sounds divine to “my precious”. Recently I bought the SSL Six to my son for his 30th birthday (he is a music producer as well, but more “modern” in the box) and it sounds exactly as good as my system but for a fraction of the cost - a no brainer to invest if good sound counts.... and it’s Christmas time now...
Last edited by Analog Prophet on Tue Dec 22, 2020 9:19 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Do high end mixers matter?

Post by Ears » Tue Dec 22, 2020 9:14 am

I think it also depends upon what you think you use a “mixer” for.

Seems like the original post is a really asking about the side that records analog audio as opposed to mixes it. A mixer can do both, but you might just need a good pre-amp chain if you’re mixing in the box.

If you want the sound of OTB mixing while keeping control in the box, an analog outboard summing mixer might do the trick - but I know very few electronic musicians that do this.

How are you getting your sounds in to the box? A jack on your laptop? Or do you have a decent USB audio interface? Most interfaces have decent preamps, so unless you’re looking for analog pixie dust (and I do like analog pixie dust on vocals, drums, etc) you’re probably fine. If you want analog sound on the audio capture, a mixer is just one way to do it. If you think your mixes would sound better mixed on outboard gear, that’s a larger undertaking and a debate I don’t really want to step into.

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