MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index
 FAQ & Terms of UseFAQ & Terms Of Use   Wiggler RadioMW Radio   Muff Wiggler TwitterTwitter   Support the site @ PatreonPatreon 
 SearchSearch   RegisterSign up   Log inLog in 
WIGGLING 'LITE' IN GUEST MODE

Analog mixing snake oil
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author Analog mixing snake oil
JediDJ
I dunno if this theme was ever popular here for discussion.
Any of you guys here are believers that analog summing is technically superior to digital ? Or is this only a matter of distortion and nonlinearity ?
Plattform
Well I think it depends on what gear you use, some mixer will get the sound worse, other better and maybe other will not make any differences

I used to do my mixes with analog gear, but summing in the DAW, now I have a small mixer with 8 inputs, so I can make 4 stereo groups (or 8 mono groups and everything in between), and then the main stereo output of the mixer goes in my rack for analog processing, and it does sound different.

I know sometimes this kind of things are bullshit, but depending on what gear you use, you can have interesting result.

Everybody told me that hardware synths and compressors were the same than plugins, and when I tried and experiment myself I discovered that I liked the analog ones much more, and then it was the same for EQ, reverb, tape saturation and so on... It just sounds much more musical, and you can drive everything hard and it stays solid. So I wouldn't be surprised if analog summing give you a better sound too. (but it would be much more subtle than a colorful compressors or eq for exemple)

And maybe when you use the eq of the sum mixer, or use different input level to help the seperation between instruments, maybe that help to get a different sound to ? I love to try this kind of thing
Futuresound
Why not spend $50 and find out for yourself? https://www.diyrecordingequipment.com/collections/all-products/product s/sb2-16x2-passive-summing-mixer
JediDJ
Oh... Sorry...
Passive summing mixers are even more snake oil based IMO.
Passive summing resistor chain has sooooo unpleasant crosstalk...
There's nothing even talk about.

And probably the colour people get is from a gain make up stage, that is after passive resistor matrix.

So probably you just can colour your digital buss with that preamp.

I'm talking about real mixing with active stages, auxes, eqs, inserts.
Where every input is isolated electrically from each other.
That's whole another concept and story.

And my thoughts are..... even the cheap mixers.... like Mackie, Tascam, Soundcraft can do wonders, the image and separation become vital and vivid.
When digital is just adding numbers and stays mushy and plastic.

Even cheap compressor like Alesis 3630, shit, it just have some life.
Especially in french house pumping.

Real DBX160 even with transformerless version kicks the WAVES ass.

Plugins are so static and lame....
Except the tech like Nebula/Acqua.
But it's so heavy on a CPU and no realtime monitoring.
Cause at the buffer = 1024 samples it still eats all your CPU cycles.
redmodule
There's no replacement for clipping a mix and working the sends/eq while live mixing, but yeah the goal there isn't clarity or even the often discussed "glue" necessarily
felixer
passive mixers were all the rage when summing inside a computer was faulty. nowadays it is good and you don't need that. assuming you use a recent cpu and daw. and pref work at 24 bits.
snercle
It works. I've had mixes sent through top end analog summing units and heard a big difference. It's a posher sound, not like glue, more like lube lol
But the thing is, I'm not sure how much of that is the process of sending all the separate parts out of separate D/A converters anyway, and how much of it is the summing unit. Would be good to A/B a homemade solution to test this.

I usually ended up liking the mix without analog summing more, which surprised me. Maybe i preferred the glue razz
felixer
well, your sending your signal thru some preamp. obviously that changes the sound a bit. but try sending that stereo mix from your cpu thru that same preamp. still any diffenence? i doubt it ...
The Grump
smallstonefan
JediDJ wrote:
I dunno if this theme was ever popular here for discussion.
Any of you guys here are believers that analog summing is technically superior to digital ? Or is this only a matter of distortion and non-linearity ?


I conducted a lot of tests personally in my studio and decided it was worth the effort. It's a difference - and to me different is interesting but it doesn't always equate to better. I run 16 channels from a UAD Apollo to a Midas Venice 320 to use as a summing mixer.

I also run a stereo pair out of my other Apollo and send a reverb mix to a Lexicon PCM 91 and that goes to the Midas as well. Now we've crossed the line from summing to hybrid mixing, and that's where things really get interesting. I use a pair of DBX comps for parallel drum bus and I have some really nice analog on the 2bus (SSL 4k > pair of 1073 for makeup > Elysia XFilter > UAD in) before it comes back into the PC and I've never had such a nice sound completely ITB. I also hooked up a pair of Dorrough meters on the secondary outs of the Elysia, which helps me make sure I'm properly gain staing everything.

I can't wait to record my new modular through this!

Your mileage may vary. smile
felixer
smallstonefan wrote:
JediDJ wrote:
I dunno if this theme was ever popular here for discussion.
Any of you guys here are believers that analog summing is technically superior to digital ? Or is this only a matter of distortion and non-linearity ?


I conducted a lot of tests personally in my studio and decided it was worth the effort. It's a difference - and to me different is interesting but it doesn't always equate to better. I run 16 channels from a UAD Apollo to a Midas Venice 320 to use as a summing mixer.

I also run a stereo pair out of my other Apollo and send a reverb mix to a Lexicon PCM 91 and that goes to the Midas as well. Now we've crossed the line from summing to hybrid mixing, and that's where things really get interesting. I use a pair of DBX comps for parallel drum bus and I have some really nice analog on the 2bus (SSL 4k > pair of 1073 for makeup > Elysia XFilter > UAD in) before it comes back into the PC and I've never had such a nice sound completely ITB. I also hooked up a pair of Dorrough meters on the secondary outs of the Elysia, which helps me make sure I'm properly gain staing everything.

I can't wait to record my new modular through this!

Your mileage may vary. smile

well, running a stereo mix from your interface is not the idea of analog summing. and the venice is a nice desk, but not as good as the older midas desks. i found it a bit vanilla. adding the lex might be good, depends on the programm you use. i personally never liked lexicon verbs. and after reading an interview with the guy who made the algo's i know why ... i use my mpx mainly for shimmerverbs or harmonizing on vocals ... never for straight verbs and esp never on drums.
smallstonefan
felixer wrote:
well, running a stereo mix from your interface is not the idea of analog summing. and the venice is a nice desk, but not as good as the older midas desks. i found it a bit vanilla. adding the lex might be good, depends on the programm you use. i personally never liked lexicon verbs. and after reading an interview with the guy who made the algo's i know why ... i use my mpx mainly for shimmerverbs or harmonizing on vocals ... never for straight verbs and esp never on drums.


I'm not running a stereo mix out - I run 16 channels to the desk and use it as as summer. A stereo pair goes back into the computer. The Lexicon is on it's own stereo outs and I use it for overall reverb across the mix and it gets blended in the Midas - I tend to use UAD stuff for individual tracks. I have snare and kick on their own tracks in the Midas, and everything else for drums on a stereo pair. These all feed a bus that goes to a pair of dbx comps for parallel compression. So, I started with analog summing via the Midas but it turned into a hybrid mix setup.

EDITED for clarity...
felixer
allright then ... i'm using a behringer digtal desk for that. but mainly for the luxury of having real faders to do my mixing. so much easier ...
smallstonefan
felixer wrote:
allright then ... i'm using a behringer digtal desk for that. but mainly for the luxury of having real faders to do my mixing. so much easier ...


I would LOVE to mix with real faders. smile I can't convince myself to do it all on the Midas though for obvious reasons. So those faders stay at unity and I mix in the box.

some day... screaming goo yo
3pand
on the subject of analog summing:

https://www.recordingrevolution.com/analog-summing-and-why-you-shouldn t-care/

if you have a free day, check out the article but then mainly the comment section haha. Mixerman chimes in a lot.

I also have one of those $50 diyrec summers and would recommend it without hesitation.
smallstonefan
I got into analog summing probably close to two years ago - was involved in discussions on Gearslutz, read all the articles like the one above, etc. My first foray had me thinking it didn't make a difference. But I found out I really needed to spend some time calibrating my gear (since I was using a console not a straight summer). There are also little tricks - like Ableton doesn't actually dither at your outputs so adding a dither plugin on all of my outs (over 16 in my case) makes sure you are dithering rather than truncating. I noticed this most when I put UAD Ampex plugins on all outs and then grouping the on/off of all the dithers behind them - you could hear the difference.

The difference in analog summing isn't going to be night and day. And if you do what I first did which was to run a completed mix through the summer you might not even like it as much. The real magic - in my opinion - is when you mix INTO the summer from the beginning. Once I started doing that, there was no turning back. Now that I've added hardware to the setup and made it hybrid summing - I'm more in love than ever with the process.

There IS a difference - the quality of the gear, your own experience, and your ear will tell you if it's a good difference or not. It's also not a cheap game - you need fairly decent converters since you are going to use so many.

If you like rabbit holes - as I'm guessing most do here smile - it can be a lot of fun!
3pand
What smallstonefan said about mixing into the summer is basically what the link I posted above boils down to. Also, thanks for the tip re: Ableton and dither!
smallstonefan
3pand wrote:
What smallstonefan said about mixing into the summer is basically what the link I posted above boils down to. Also, thanks for the tip re: Ableton and dither!


You bet - I only learned about that in the last month or so and it's a helpful tip! smile
calaveras
I've done a lot of combinations of ITB, OTB and summing.
I keep wanting to go back to having a decent sized mixer with EQ and aux sends.
There is something about the EQ on a decent mixer like a Soundcraft or older Yamaha PM series that is superior to all of the expensive Neve/Pultec/API modeled EQ plugins. Or maybe technically inferior due to specs, but in actual tone, timber and mixing, sounds better to me.

There is of course the whole 'sweet spot' thing. On certain mixers like the Yamaha PM1000, Soundcraft 200B and Ghost, you gain stage things a little bit aggressively and it just gels into a very huge sounding thing.
I've tried all kinds of plugins on my master buss ITB and nothing comes close.
With my UAD plugins I've even tried putting a Neve on every channel, drum buss and the master buss and its still not the cumulative thing you get with a nice mixer.

There was an article in Tape Op a couple years ago, sorry I forget who was being interviewed or the exact owriding. But they said the problem with music today isn't that it's recorded on computers or that musicians aren't good enough. It's the recording is too good, so you can hear every element of the track all the time. They then implored the reader to go listen to early Beatles, Rolling Stones and Motown and Stax artists. Notice how you can't always discern bass, guitar and horn section. How the vocals kind of glue together on unison parts.

This was not an intentional thing of course, but rather an aesthetic that developed around the limitations of the medium.
That medium being not just analog tape and discrete mixers, but the whole signal chain between the band and the audience. mic-discrete mic pre-tape-discrete mixer (with very simple EQ) tape again-vinyl master-vinyl-radio broadcast compressor-tiny radio speaker.

If you build a studio using vintage high quality mics and a big old fashioned mixer with stepped gain and maybe just hi and low shelving EQ you actually end up with a very clear sound. The simple EQ imparts little phase shift or group delay. And the simple bussing of old mixers means likewise a very solid stereo image (if it's even a stereo board!).
A lot of the glue we hear is the multiple generations of tape. Multitrack master>2 track master>vinyl master.
Then when they cut the vinyl they apply further EQ and limiting as well as RIAA curve.

My last experiments in this direction were to mixdown my stuff through a 6 input transformer balanced mixer with discrete OpAmps on the mix buss. I stemmed out the drums, vocals and everything else to 3 stereo pairs and did some slight EQ with the PM180's minimal but decent inductor EQ.
It was really good on some things, but I quickly figured out I was doing 90% of my mixing in the box to get those stems!
Right now I'm trying to get a decent Soundcraft mixer that isn't too big, but not so small that I have to compromise on inputs. I insist on the drum machine using at least 5 inputs!
smallstonefan
Very cool - thanks for sharing calaveras!
wiperactive
calaveras. An interesting perspective from somebody who sounds as if they've probably been at it for a long while. I've been through similarly lengthy trials in the past around monitoring to find something that works for me aesthetically, as well as technically, for reliable mix results.

Nice to see the Ghost mentioned as I bought a nice second-hand example a few years ago just before I had to abandon the finalisation of a promising home studio. It's currently still in storage awaiting the time when I can relocate to a more suitable premises than the one I'm in now. It was bought on the advice of a trusted and capable producer with this kind of thing in mind.

I know this mixer isn't exceptionally great, but within my budget restrictions it's probably the best I can do without stretching towards the formidably expensive flagship stuff.
felixer
calaveras wrote:

I keep wanting to go back to having a decent sized mixer with EQ and aux sends.
There is something about the EQ on a decent mixer like a Soundcraft or older Yamaha PM series that is superior to all of the expensive Neve/Pultec/API modeled EQ plugins. Or maybe technically inferior due to specs, but in actual tone, timber and mixing, sounds better to me.

There is of course the whole 'sweet spot' thing. On certain mixers like the Yamaha PM1000, Soundcraft 200B and Ghost, you gain stage things a little bit aggressively and it just gels into a very huge sounding thing.
I've tried all kinds of plugins on my master buss ITB and nothing comes close.
With my UAD plugins I've even tried putting a Neve on every channel, drum buss and the master buss and its still not the cumulative thing you get with a nice mixer.

There was an article in Tape Op a couple years ago, sorry I forget who was being interviewed or the exact owriding. But they said the problem with music today isn't that it's recorded on computers or that musicians aren't good enough. It's the recording is too good, so you can hear every element of the track all the time. They then implored the reader to go listen to early Beatles, Rolling Stones and Motown and Stax artists. Notice how you can't always discern bass, guitar and horn section. How the vocals kind of glue together on unison parts.

This was not an intentional thing of course, but rather an aesthetic that developed around the limitations of the medium.
That medium being not just analog tape and discrete mixers, but the whole signal chain between the band and the audience. mic-discrete mic pre-tape-discrete mixer (with very simple EQ) tape again-vinyl master-vinyl-radio broadcast compressor-tiny radio speaker.

If you build a studio using vintage high quality mics and a big old fashioned mixer with stepped gain and maybe just hi and low shelving EQ you actually end up with a very clear sound. The simple EQ imparts little phase shift or group delay. And the simple bussing of old mixers means likewise a very solid stereo image (if it's even a stereo board!).
A lot of the glue we hear is the multiple generations of tape. Multitrack master>2 track master>vinyl master.
Then when they cut the vinyl they apply further EQ and limiting as well as RIAA curve.

My last experiments in this direction were to mixdown my stuff through a 6 input transformer balanced mixer with discrete OpAmps on the mix buss. I stemmed out the drums, vocals and everything else to 3 stereo pairs and did some slight EQ with the PM180's minimal but decent inductor EQ.
It was really good on some things, but I quickly figured out I was doing 90% of my mixing in the box to get those stems!
Right now I'm trying to get a decent Soundcraft mixer that isn't too big, but not so small that I have to compromise on inputs. I insist on the drum machine using at least 5 inputs!

i don't get it. i was trained to get as clear and clean a sound as possible. admittedly that was in the analog age, where you were fighting noise and distortion from the tape machines. but i really haven't changed my method. i think all the talk about 'glue', is simlpy the missing of good arrangements. and good sounds to begin with. it's amazing how many people come into my studio who haven't given that any thought! they just bang their guitar with as much distortion as possible and expect it to sound any good. very hard to convince them that often 'less is more'. just listen to the guitars on, say, an AC/DC record. apart from the solo's there isn't that much distortion. it's not clean either but a 'crunch' sound. and it works! likewise a lot of presets on synth are made to impress you in the shop. i once heard some synth manufecturer say that if the first 10 sounds aren't 'convincing' it's game over ... obviously it's kind of fun to blow everybody away in the rehearsalroom. but at some point you have to get sensible ... and make things fit with the rest. so you have to listen to the others ...
and methinks this is what is missing in the 'modern recordingworld': a sense of working together for a common/greater goal. it doesn't have anything to do with digital. or cleanness. just attitude ...
Soapbox
Funch
Do multiple AD to DA - conversions degrade the signal path? For example a guitar pedal board with multiple digital effect pedals. Each time the signal goes from pedal to Pedal it has to undergo that conversion process.

Or a digital synthesizer module going into a computer and then mixdown to digital recording media.
Michael O.
Funch wrote:
Do multiple AD to DA - conversions degrade the signal path? For example a guitar pedal board with multiple digital effect pedals. Each time the signal goes from pedal to Pedal it has to undergo that conversion process.

Or a digital synthesizer module going into a computer and then mixdown to digital recording media.


Objectively yes, to some extent. But subjectively you’d probably need quite a few loops through to hear an appreciable difference (assuming modern converters at 24bit/96kHz or so).

But even then, degradation itself is subjective- yes my signals sound different going through a mid ‘70s digital device like an Eventide 1745m or a late ‘70s Lex 224, but I think the change is a euphonic one.

As for the last example you mentioned: it should sound the same once digitized assuming the medium is hard drive. From my limited experience with older media (like tape-based digital media), it was possible for the signal to change a bit, but this could have been due to the inferior converters and format.
gruebleengourd
JediDJ wrote:
I dunno if this theme was ever popular here for discussion.
Any of you guys here are believers that analog summing is technically superior to digital ? Or is this only a matter of distortion and nonlinearity ?


Distortion and nonlinearity are the only technical reasons why analog summing might be superior. By asking the question the way you did, you've already thrown away any potential real answer, which will be subjective.

In other words. A digital computer is going to add values together with greater precision than an analog mixer. Depending on what results you want that may not help you make good mixes (according to your vision) as much as using a quality analog mixer. Or perhaps it will.
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Page 1 of 2
Powered by phpBB © phpBB Group