Recording - September 2015 - 36

Once upon a time, in the good old days of recorded music,
every album was mixed through an analog console, often big
and costly. Then digital came along, and somewhere along the
line we chose cost and convenience over quality and full sonic
spectrum. Now we can mix albums on our laptops, which is
great, but we use plug-ins instead of analog processors and we
mouse around and draw lines instead of pushing faders and
tweaking knobs. Trading in knobs and faders is one thing, but
when we started mixing in-the-box and cramming all that harmonic content of our separate tracks down a digital stereo bus,
unfortunately we also traded in a fair bit of quality.
Digital audio technology has admittedly gotten much better;
the loss of quality we are accepting when mixing in-the-box is
definitely less dramatic. However, those folks who are unwilling to compromise on audio quality often still want the ability
to mix down in analog. Fortunately for those with limited cash
and studio space, we now have an option which is reasonably
affordable and represents an in-between solution. In a way,
this solution offers a bit of the best of both worlds: analog summing with the versatility and convenience of digital recall!

Summing mixers-what and why
Analog summing mixers (also called summing amplifiers) are
basically the last part of an analog console's signal chain, where
all the signals of all the tracks get mixed into two (left & right).
They're usually rackmount boxes. To use them, one has to have
an audio interface with multiple outputs that are then routed to the
inputs of the summing mixer, usually via DB25 connections or XLR
connectors. These summing mixers don't have channel strips, so
you will still have to mouse around and make do without faders
(unless you've added a control surface to your DAW), and you
will still have to use plug-in effects on your tracks (unless your interface has insert capability for external analog audio effects). Even
so, a summing mixer means that your tracks will be summed in
the analog domain, retaining the depth, fullness, detail, and
body of what a mix would have been in the old days.
36

RECORDING September 2015

By Marc Urselli
In my 15-year tenure working as the chief engineer at the historic New York recording studio EastSide Sound, I've enjoyed
working on a Harrison mixing console with 100% fully analog
sound with total digital recall and full automation. This means that
the sound never gets converted to digital and gets summed in the
analog domain, even though I can do all the things one can do
on a digital console-automate faders, EQs, sends, inserts, etc.
That is the ideal situation for me, of course, but analog summing
mixers try to approximate what a console like this does.
I'd love to use this console for every mix. However, some of
the independent artists I work with can't afford to use EastSide
Sound for both tracking and mixing. Usually I try to get them to
track in this beautiful studio, since uncompromising audio quality is the first step toward a great-sounding record. Then, in
order to make it possible for them to finish their record within
budget, I've started doing mixes in the box at my home studio-
my computer, two sets of good speakers, tons of plug-ins, and
of course the most important tool for the job... my ears.
I began to consider buying a summing mixer to give my athome in-the-box mixes that extra detail, oomph, and gloss that
digital struggles to convey. To that end, I decided to test three of
the major analog summing boxes on the market: the Dangerous
Music 2-BUS LT, the Solid State Logic Sigma, and the Rupert Neve
Designs 5059 Satellite. Because of my particular needs, these
are among the highest of the high end in terms of size and features, but still way cheaper than a console; in these tests I hope
I'll give you ideas as to how to test the many more affordable
summing mixers out there for your own needs.
I planned to compare their sound to in-the-box mixes from my
Avid Pro Tools Native home setup, as well as to an in-the-box
mix made on an Avid Pro Tools | HDX system and to the output
of the Harrison console at EastSide Sound. I'd like to thank Dale
Pro Audio in New York, which was kind enough to loan me the
three units for testing, and particularly Dan Ross.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - September 2015

Contents
Recording - September 2015 - Intro
Recording - September 2015 - Cover1
Recording - September 2015 - Cover2
Recording - September 2015 - 1
Recording - September 2015 - 2
Recording - September 2015 - 3
Recording - September 2015 - 4
Recording - September 2015 - 5
Recording - September 2015 - Contents
Recording - September 2015 - 7
Recording - September 2015 - 8
Recording - September 2015 - 9
Recording - September 2015 - 10
Recording - September 2015 - 11
Recording - September 2015 - 12
Recording - September 2015 - 13
Recording - September 2015 - 14
Recording - September 2015 - 15
Recording - September 2015 - 16
Recording - September 2015 - 17
Recording - September 2015 - 18
Recording - September 2015 - 19
Recording - September 2015 - 20
Recording - September 2015 - 21
Recording - September 2015 - 22
Recording - September 2015 - 23
Recording - September 2015 - 24
Recording - September 2015 - 25
Recording - September 2015 - 26
Recording - September 2015 - 27
Recording - September 2015 - 28
Recording - September 2015 - 29
Recording - September 2015 - 30
Recording - September 2015 - 31
Recording - September 2015 - 32
Recording - September 2015 - 33
Recording - September 2015 - 34
Recording - September 2015 - 35
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Recording - September 2015 - Cover3
Recording - September 2015 - Cover4
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