Summing - Nuts and Bolts

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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby ChrisW » Fri Jul 29, 2011 9:11 am

Yeah, I've been back and forth with Rob and also talking to my engineer work partner in London who's done some summing mixes. I'm at the point of ordering, but I'm still slightly in a quandary what to do, which is mostly reflected in Rob's post.
Apart from the monitoring issue, I also want to insert a compressor and final eq on my final stereo mix. How are you summing guys doing that?
My patchbay is a cheap DBX. I guess it's basically passive (with a small p) but I still don't want to run too much stuff back and forth through it when I know Rob's components are going to be so much better quality.
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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby Kurt » Fri Jul 29, 2011 9:29 am

Don't use a patchbay?
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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby Ben M » Fri Jul 29, 2011 9:59 am

ChrisW wrote:Yeah, I've been back and forth with Rob and also talking to my engineer work partner in London who's done some summing mixes. I'm at the point of ordering, but I'm still slightly in a quandary what to do, which is mostly reflected in Rob's post.
Apart from the monitoring issue, I also want to insert a compressor and final eq on my final stereo mix. How are you summing guys doing that?
My patchbay is a cheap DBX. I guess it's basically passive (with a small p) but I still don't want to run too much stuff back and forth through it when I know Rob's components are going to be so much better quality.



Chris... I would feed the output of the summing box into the eq then into the compressor then into your final recording device. Just hard patch this and give the patchbay the day off.

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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby ChrisW » Fri Jul 29, 2011 10:18 am

OK, thanks. So the make up gain mic/pres at the end of that chain?
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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby Ben M » Fri Jul 29, 2011 10:28 am

ChrisW wrote:OK, thanks. So the make up gain mic/pres at the end of that chain?

If needed Chris. That is.. if you want the colour of the pre's or just use the makeup gain on the compressor (if it has one).
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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby rob » Fri Jul 29, 2011 10:41 am

no, the chain is - passive mix - makeup gain amps - further processing ( comp, eq etc ) - stereo recorder and monitoring
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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby Ben M » Fri Jul 29, 2011 10:48 am

ChrisW wrote: end of that chain?


oops, didn't read Chris' quote "end of the chain" for the pre's.
Well picked up.
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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby chris p » Fri Jul 29, 2011 11:38 am

Ben

Been down this path myself, built 4x stereo summing box with transformer inputs and used JLM Hybrids for the negative earth summing / gain on each of the stereo outs (although I had it at a fixed gain simply to return the signal to unity - it was not a volume control). I even etched up a couple of circuit boards for it.

It all looks very good on paper, and the unit had a lovely heft to it with 10 transformers all up! Still, the real question is whether the result I achieved was better than "in the box" mixing, and my absolutely honest answer is no, it was not. It was certainly more forgiving about headroom, but the reality of cabling all the things together means that a glitch in any one cable, or even just cheaper quality cables, more than took away any benefits. I found that learning to do proper ITB mixing, with attention to signal levels and understanding how my DAW actually did its summing, provided the better way forward.

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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby ChrisW » Fri Jul 29, 2011 12:08 pm

rob wrote:no, the chain is - passive mix - makeup gain amps - further processing ( comp, eq etc ) - stereo recorder and monitoring


Yes, I was thinking in a worst case scenario the make up gain would just amplify any noise generated by my comps and eqs. Better to have highest gain on the input, as opposed to post processing.
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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby ChrisW » Fri Jul 29, 2011 12:15 pm

chris p wrote:I found that learning to do proper ITB mixing, with attention to signal levels and understanding how my DAW actually did its summing, provided the better way forward.


Discussing this with my experienced engineer partner, he recently mixed a 1970's album using 3 methods: ITB, Summing and large format desk. He ended up choosing the itb as his favourite, as the desk was not to his liking, and the summing mixer he'd hired added a colour he didn't want.
He did say in his opinion summing often opened out a mix, adding a spacial, almost 3d quality.
I'm not a professional engineer, nor even slightly experienced, so for the entry cost (which is not too much), I'm happy to try summing. I believe I've understood signal levels with regards to Logic, but I can't say I understand the theory as to Logic's outputs (aux and masters). On a recent project, the more audio I added, the less punchy and clear the final master seemed to be.
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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby Barney Loveland » Fri Jul 29, 2011 8:17 pm

I was just throwing the idea out there re auxes on a summing bus. I fully understand that it adds a lot more complexity, and really getting into desk territory.

But I was thinking a 32 channel summing box with LCR switch, and 2 switches per channel- aux 1, aux 2. I have pres not being used on mixdown that could be utilised.

I don't have enough gear to treat everything in the mix but just enough to want to use it. But also getting into lots of recall sheets!! Some projects do get itb treatment. But generally lean more to using otb.
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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby The Tasmanian » Sat Jul 30, 2011 5:51 pm

But Barney - this creates problems as you have no control over the levels going to Aux 1+2.
So if you had a few tracks to send off to a reverb - how do you adjust the send level of each one?
This is where you need a seperate gain stage for each channel's aux.

The advantage of a passive mix bus is that you don't have any console flavor at all - the only colour is from the preamp used to make up gain - and can be swapped to another pre for taste.

My setup is:
Out of Mytek D to A
Into vintage EQ's (some which have an aux send for reverb sends or parallel compression) If not I can send the source straight from the Mytek into a reverb/FX/Parallel compressor.
Then into Robs passive mixer.
Then into a pair of custom valve compressor's with heaps of gain (no need for a mic preamp) The compressors just tickle the audio.
Then into an API2500 compressor for colour / vibe / and a touch of compression.
Then back into a Mytek A to D.
Its so far beyond mixing in the box. so much more width and punchier than doing ITB mixing.
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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby Alistair » Sat Jul 30, 2011 6:24 pm

I do aux all the time. Use the Aux in your DAW, set the outputs of the aux strip to a channel or stereo pair of your D/A outputs and into the summing mixer. That way you can use your hardware/get the advantage of summing, but you've still got complete control over levels etc.
I think this is what you were getting at Chris, but not sure.
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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby Barney Loveland » Sat Jul 30, 2011 6:28 pm

I was thinking more for parallel processing, drums, guits, keys etc. I normally have one or two pairs of DAW effects outs depending on mix into summing mixer. I already have a variable aux send on the neve 8816 if i choose to use otb reverb (sonyR7).

Lynx DA
outboard
8816
vari mu or eq if required
AD

I'm thinking its a pretty convoluted way to go to get a few parallel buss'. I guess trying to get big desk functions without the desk!!
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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby The Tasmanian » Sat Jul 30, 2011 7:55 pm

Consider this though -
lets say you have a lead vocal, you are coming out of your A to D into a channel strip and you are putting on an outboard eq for "air", a touch of midrange for definition and compressing the vocal to keep it even in level - in my experience it is better (most often - but not strictly always) to want to send the EQed and compressed version to the aux reverb - not the unprocessed D to A output that is not as defined - and is more dynamic (levels jumping around) than the externally processed vocal.
If the levels are up and down then certain words will have more reverb than others. And the more defined eq version of the vocal is nicer sending to the reverb.

Same with drums and parallel compression - I would rather the EQ /compressed externally processed version sending to the Aux. (especially snare drum)
If you go straight out of the D to A then its not the same outcome.
Unless you go back into the box again post outboard eq & comp - and then send to the reverb/parallel comp, and then go into your passive mixer after this roundabout.
I'm a fan of racking channel strips and leaving the auxes on the strip - not chopping them down and losing this facility.
This is all fine if you compress and EQ ITB.
Which gets back to Barneys request for external auxes (which is a great idea) - but they would need individual level adjustment, and the setup would need to act as a mult - not more electronics for the audio to go through.
Food for thought....
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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby DwaneHollands » Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:03 am

rob wrote:i just fell over this discussion. Thanks for the thumbs up for the Broadcast Passive Mix. I've been having some email communication with Chris about this unit and incorporating it into a workflow setup. This raises the concept that I've been thinking about for a while now but keep getting distracted from by the daily thrust and parry in the workshop.
That is a Passive Mix with built in passive monitor control, metering and headphone amp. Once the lid gets lifted on this concept then its easy to get carried away with all sorts of bells and whistles. In built makeup gain amps, insert points, mid side processing blah blah. But having been inside the Nicerizer and the Chandler and having run my probes over them I wonder if things like this have missed the point. To me the point seems to be a totally passive, short, straight wire path, leaving the euphonics outside the box in the hands of the operator. So i return to the expanded Passive Mixer with monitoring with the simple all passive concept intact.
Here's a question, if such a box was a rack mount 2U case how annoying would it be if the monitor volume control was on the front of this box? If the unit is mounted in your rack, you'd have to reach over to adjust the listening volume...or would you work around this? I know what Cranesong have done, but we are talking an entirely different price point here that doesn't allow for remote control.
Hell, I might just have to build one and see what happens.... who wants the prototype?


Hey Rob,

Thought about this the other day. In the spirit of keeping things simple, what about if you built a small breakout box, that could plug into the serial connector already on the back of the passive mix. I guess it means you wouldnt be able to link two passive mixes together though. The breakout box could be the monitor controller/headphone amps. But I suppose its the signal before amplification that you would be monitoring - not post make up gain...

now that I say it out loud, it doesnt quite sound as good as in my head.
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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby ChrisW » Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:32 am

Actually I've been back and forth with Rob over this (mainly because of my own failure to picture the perfect set up).
And what I've settled on (I think) is Rob's basic summing mixer with a small breakout box to split the final processed pair - one stereo to my monitoring, the other stereo to my DAW (as the master mix).
I think Rob can build a lot of this in to his summing mixer unit, but it just seemed easier to have a separate box for my needs. He's working on a prototype with a monitor control section.
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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby Alistair » Thu Aug 11, 2011 1:10 pm

If I can make a suggestion-

At least have an option on this breakout box so you can also listen to the signal post A/D conversion (eg an Aux in from your DAW). This will let you hear if there is any big differences occurring in your conversion of the stereo summed track, as well as giving you an easy way to playback anything out of your computer into your monitoring (reference tracks, other music etc)

I actually think it's more important to hear this signal than the direct analog straight out of your summing mixer. You could be having massive clocking problems/drop outs/distorting your converters and you'd never know if you're monitoring off the output of the summing mixer.
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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby Kurt » Thu Aug 11, 2011 8:23 pm

The whole premise still seems like extraneous DA/AD conversions, unnecessary expense and extra hassle to me but if it floats your boat just monitor as you normally would through your soundcard when recording?

Alistair wrote:If I can make a suggestion-

At least have an option on this breakout box so you can also listen to the signal post A/D conversion (eg an Aux in from your DAW). This will let you hear if there is any big differences occurring in your conversion of the stereo summed track, as well as giving you an easy way to playback anything out of your computer into your monitoring (reference tracks, other music etc)

I actually think it's more important to hear this signal than the direct analog straight out of your summing mixer. You could be having massive clocking problems/drop outs/distorting your converters and you'd never know if you're monitoring off the output of the summing mixer.
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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby Alistair » Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:42 pm

If you think hearing the product that everyone else is going to hear (no extraneous AD/DA- everyone else that listens to the finished product is going to be hearing those conversion steps) is a bad thing, that's up to you!
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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby Kurt » Fri Aug 12, 2011 12:22 am

If you monitor the record in (from the summing out) that is exactly what everyone else will hear.

Alistair wrote:If you think hearing the product that everyone else is going to hear (no extraneous AD/DA- everyone else that listens to the finished product is going to be hearing those conversion steps) is a bad thing, that's up to you!
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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby ChrisW » Fri Aug 12, 2011 9:07 am

Exactly.
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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby rob » Fri Aug 19, 2011 12:46 pm

all this summing talk got the juices flowing, so I threw this together this week:

mix-plus.jpg


16 channels of passive summing mixer with an expansion port. Passive Monitor controller with options to monitor the mix, pre or post an insert chain, monitor summing inputs 1 and 2 or an external source. Stereo, Mono or mute. Two monitor outputs plus internal headphone amp. Metering with two 0VU reference points.

mix-plus-close.jpg


I'll bring it up to Integrate if you want to come and have a perv!
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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby Alistair » Fri Aug 19, 2011 1:08 pm

Very cool Rob.
I recently knocked up a passive monitor controller per your article in AT a little while back. Very happy with it, it's been great! Will have to take some pics.
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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby Drumstruck » Fri Aug 19, 2011 1:45 pm

rob wrote:all this summing talk got the juices flowing, so I threw this together this week:

mix-plus.jpg




:ymapplause:
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Re: Summing - Nuts and Bolts

Postby ChrisW » Fri Aug 19, 2011 4:24 pm

Yeah, wunderbar.
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