Academy Dashboard Forum Production Mixing Analog Summing

  • This topic has 22 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated 7 years ago by tblizz.
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  • #7711
    tblizz
    Participant

      I’ve been always been interested in summing since the RMS216 Folcrom was released in 2003. Warren uses his SSL as a big summing box, Barry Rudolph has the SSL Sigma and Greg Wurth owns the characterful Burl B32 summing mixer. Puremix also has a free tutorial about setting up the Dangerous summing box.

      There has always been a lot of discussion if analog summing is really better than summing ITB. Well, I recently tried it on two of my ITB mixes and I’ve found that, when done right, analog summing can indeed make a difference.

      I used the service provided by The Summing Station, who let you run 12 stereo & 8 mono stems through their $10,000 chain. My overall impression was that analog summing soaked up the transients and pushed back the overall sound-field. Also the bottom-end became ‘rounder’ and more cohesive. My ITB mix sounded a little pokey and ‘in-your-face’ by comparison. I’ve uploaded both versions on my Dropbox, so you can hear for yourself:
      - Digital Summing (44.1 kHz)
      - Analog Summing (96kHz and 0.85 dB louder)

      For my mixes analog summing sounded better, but it may not be necessarily true for modern pop or EDM productions. The good news is that you can get a free 1-minute sample of your song before you commit to your purchase ($18).

      Let me know what you think!

      #7712
      Jared Sherman
      Participant

        I have debated this myself for a long time, and ultimately I do not believe that the difference is worth the inconvenience, nor do I think there is necessarily any preferential difference - especially if you use a plugin such as Avid HEAT across your mix. In this case here, you have done 2 things that automatically favor the analog summed mix a) the analog mix is louder and b) the analog mix is at 96k vs 44.1, so I don't think this is a very fair comparison. The best comparison would be to make levels and bit rate/sample rate the same, and use something like HEAT on the digital version, then use no-HEAT plus the analog summing.

        #7725
        tblizz
        Participant

          Jared, I’ve just uploaded a new file called Analog Summing Level 44. As you’ve probably guessed this file is level-matched and converted to 44.1 kHz. Mind you that my ITB mix was at 44.1 kHz and I choose the option that was given to me by The Summing Station to sum at 96 kHz. That “advantage” is included in the service.

          I’m working in Logic so I’m not familiar with HEAT, but I do use various saturation plug-ins on my tracks including Slate Virtual Console. I used to have Slate VCC on all my busses and Mixbus, but I felt they were too heavy handed and served me better on selected tracks. I have yet to try Brainwork bx_console, but priced at $299 I’m afraid to demo it. 😉

          Feel free to download my Digital Summing wave-file, strap Avid HEAT on your mixbus and create a new version of my mix. I’m looking forward to your findings.

          Cheers,
          
Martijn.

          #7810
          Steve A
          Participant

            See, now this is interesting! I was all ready to post my 'I don't think summing makes it sound better, just different' response. But after listening to both of those tracks in a proper listening mode, I think it's nothing short of magical.
            Mind you, I'm not as much focused on the 'soaking up transients' aspect of it as you are, but the 'pushed back the overall sound field' and the rounding out of the low-end is definitely there, and something I would be interested in...

            Ever since I started mixing digitally, I wondered where, in the chain, that certain polish/sheen was going to come from that I heard on some of my favorite albums..

            Like I said, very interesting. Give me a few days playing around with my assorted plugins, and let's see if I can make it sound as sweet as that analog file..

            Stay Tuned... Also, I'd be interested in Jared's...or anyone else's response.
            EDIT: Hey tblizz... Do you happen to think that the sound of this summing is diametrically opposed to an "exiting" digital mix? (very interested in your response)
            Cheers
            -Steve

            #7812
            Jared Sherman
            Participant

              Somehow I missed Tblizz's response until just now. I'll check out the new comparison and maybe test it out with HEAT on as well. The beauty of HEAT is generally that it works on all the tracks together, but I can still see what I can do nonetheless.

              #7823
              tblizz
              Participant

                It would be interesting to see if plug-ins could achieve the same effect as analog summing.

                Therefore I’ve uploaded all 10 stems that were used for summing on my Dropbox. It’s 630Mb so it’s pretty big and probably not going to stay there forever, so grab them while you can.

                @Steve, Warren often talks about film embracing digital and understanding it far longer than we have in the analog world. And indeed, if you google “How to make video look like film” you get a long list of articles and techniques.

                The first link lists 9 techniques and I think the same is true for recording. Analog summing is just 1 technique in a whole list of things you can do to get a more analog sound. That doesn’t mean one is better than the other, it depends on the track.
                The Fast and the Furious 7 was made for Digital IMAX and filmed accordingly, The H8full 8 by Quentin Tarantino was shot on Ultra Panavision 70mm film and also looks great. The Hobbit was shot in a high-frame-rate format at 48 fps, which not everybody liked.

                HFR still isn’t for everybody. Doubling the frames from the century-old standard 24 sharpens the picture considerably, giving rise to textures we’re not used to seeing. It also eliminates motion blur, which we’ve been conditioned to recognize as trailing the action; without it, objects can appear to be moving too fast. There is a pervasive attachment to 24fps’ warm and fuzzy “cinematic glow.” And at first sight, it’s easy to see why -– 24 frames looks like movies, with that illusion of detachment and magic, while 48 frames is hyper-real, like video.

                I’m 44, so I grew up with vinyl and cassette tapes. That’s probably the reason I like that ‘analog’ sound, not unlike Brad Wood. Kids growing up on music today, will not doubt have a different perspective. Maybe if all streaming music becomes Hight Quality lossless in 20 years, we’ll see the first MP3 emulator plug-ins for that authentic '2000' sound! 😉

                #7849
                Jared Sherman
                Participant

                  Cool, I'll try to download those tracks tonight and then hopefully I'll have a chance to put up some reference files in the next few days.

                  #7881
                  Steve A
                  Participant

                    Hey tblizz, you always all little hyperlinks in your posts, that's pretty cool. 🙂 I ended up looking at them, and finding quite a few things to think about. Also ended up re-watching Warren's interview with Brad Wood.

                    I downloaded the stems and will see if I can get close to the analog summing track you posted. I doubt I will be able to, but I'm certainly going to give it a try, most interesting challenge. Give it a few days though, work just started getting really busy, and I'm working 10-12 hr. days..
                    Cheers
                    -Steve

                    #7882
                    Jared Sherman
                    Participant

                      Hey @tblizz I was going to do the summing test but I only see 7 stems there. Obvious omissions are acoustic guitar and bass. Can you upload the missing stems?

                      #7892
                      tblizz
                      Participant

                        Oops, all the files should be there now. Please try again here.

                        @Steve, I do like those hyperlinks! 🙂
                        They’re also a reminder for myself, so I can easily find that random piece of information again. The Brad Wood interview is certainly one of my favourites. That man has been involved in so may great albums.

                        Good luck all with the stems!

                        #7950
                        Jared Sherman
                        Participant

                          Alright Martijn,

                          Here is the digitally-summed Avid HEAT version. HEAT is the only thing added, and I didn't touch the tone knob either which effectively does a touch of EQ, only the drive knob.

                          https://www.dropbox.com/s/twrh5ydra4qptjp/Baby%20Pin%20A%20Rose%20On%20Me.wav?dl=0

                          #7989
                          tblizz
                          Participant

                            Thanks Jared for uploading your “HEAT summing” version. After I peak-level-matched the file I noticed the following:
                            - even louder (RMS) and more upfront than the ITB version.
                            - sort of an enhanced/excited/maximized sound-quality. More pronounced high & lows, smiley-curve effect.
                            - not unpleasant, but if ‘Digital Summing’ is at the centre then the ‘Analog Summing’ and ‘HEAT summing’ are both at opposite ends of the spectrum.

                            I’ve put an HoRNet ELM128 meter on all three tracks, and you can see the results here:
                            Digital Summing
                            Analog Summing
                            HEAT Summing

                            Very geeky, but interesting! 😉

                            • This reply was modified 7 years ago by tblizz.
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