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Old 05-28-2007, 07:13 PM
jhorsley jhorsley is offline
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 24
Default Does analog summing sound better? Can you tell?

After doing a lot of research, I decided to upgrade my studio with the Dangerous D-Box. If you don’t know about this unit, it is an analog summing device for DAWs (such as my Pro Tools LE 002r rig) similar to the Dangerous 2-Bus, and the details are explained at the Dangerous Music, Inc. website:


So here’s the test for you PT engineers out there:

The 24bit 48K files linked below are the same song, same mixing settings, same compression/limiting effects on the master bus, same excerpt. The only difference is that one of them is split among 8 outputs and summed in the D-Box, then returned in to Pro Tools, and the other is summed in Pro Tools (digitally, nothing going out). Incidentally, the summing configuration/groups I used was:

AN OUT 1-2 : Drums/Percussion
AN OUT 3-4 : Piano/Keys/Guitar
AN OUT 5-6 : Reverbs + Delays/Background Vocals
AN OUT 7 : Bass (panned to the middle)
AN OUT 8 : lead vocals (panned to the middle)

I would love to hear what you think sounds best, and which one you think is summed through the D-Box. I will repost to this string in a week and give the answer.

Hopefully, after this experiment, we can see if analog summing, at least with this particular unit, is beneficial.

You can download the excerpts here (they are about 15 MB AIF files):


P.S. SONG INFO: The excerpt is from the LittleHorse song “Jupiter”, which is on the upcoming LittleHorse album. It was written by E. and J. Horsley, and was mixed by Michael Galub and Joachim Horsley. ©2007 Von Starkenburg Music - http://www.LittleHorse.net, http://www.myspace.com/littlehorseband )

Feel free to email me at booking**at**littlehorsemusic.com as well if you have any questions about this.

Joachim Horsley
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Old 05-29-2007, 12:38 AM
Stiff Stiff is offline
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Lund, Sweden
Posts: 4,101
Default Re: Does analog summing sound better? Can you tell?

Who cares! It's a great song!
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Old 05-29-2007, 05:11 AM
Roey Roey is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: London
Posts: 85
Default Re: Does analog summing sound better? Can you tell?

Hi Joachim,

I prefer B. Feels better to me. It sounds a bit more coloured so I would foolishly guess it is the analog summing.

I assume you read this article (part of Digidesign Technical White Papers):

DigiZine Tech Talk — Mixing in the Box
This Digidesign Technical White Paper by Stan Cotey provides a detailed look at some of the myths and legends surrounding the mix bus in Pro Tools.

Also, 3D Audio Inc produced a CD comparing PT Mix and NEVE 8078 summing.

Roey Izhaki
Author, Mixing Audio
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Old 05-29-2007, 06:13 AM
mahler007 mahler007 is offline
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 306
Default Re: Does analog summing sound better? Can you tell?

ha ha- this is kind of fun...
Given all the words that get floated around when comparing digital vs. analog, I would also have to say that B is the analog one...
I guess time will tell...

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Old 05-29-2007, 08:35 AM
Naagzh Naagzh is offline
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,175
Default Re: Does analog summing sound better? Can you tell?

I can't tell, to be honest. I don't even care which is which, because the song comes through in both mixes. For me, there is no real difference; both are well-balanced, detailed, and effective mixes of a song I wouldn't buy, recommend, or remember.

But thanks for confirming my suspicions of summing boxes.
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Old 05-29-2007, 08:56 AM
Skyflash Skyflash is offline
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 337
Default Re: Does analog summing sound better? Can you tell?

Thats a cool little song there!

I'm gonna take a guess and say that A is the analog,and B is the Pro tools.
The differences are really subtle, but I noticed a slight roundness and
warmth in A, and a more clearness,slightly more extended higher frequencies
in B.

I've done a little bit of this myself,although I never split into stems.
I have an old Tascam 388 which I love it's channel EQ's. I've sent some
acoustic guitar through it and it always somehow smoothed the upper-mids
out of my Groove Tubes GT-55. I did send the entire mix out of PT and
recorded onto the tape once though. It needed to be hotter, but it did
sound nice.

Is that a hint of Mellotron I hear in there,or is that just an organ?
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Old 05-29-2007, 11:31 AM
Majorek Majorek is offline
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: The Blue Garbage Planet
Posts: 222
Default Re: Does analog summing sound better? Can you tell?

Well to me, the old Analogue VS Digital battle is definitly over. Just like other mediums like cinema or photography as for exemple. Nowadays, there are too many advantages using digital and too many disadvantages using only analogue... Why should I "TRY" all the time to guess and figure wich is what if the results at the end are great, and most ears can't even tell? Stiff said it well: Who cares. It sounds great, that's it!!

Here, why a director would want to use super heavy cameras with extra crew, spending thousands on film tapes, film tapes and more film tapes, developing, lighting fragility, etc, while you have digital just there wich is very mobile, lightweight, easy, creative, etc. Same thing with photography. Some mediums are completely obsolete and are from another era, and of course purists (or should I say geeks?) will continue to use them for the love, the habit and the comfort cause they know them well, and bash the new technologies coming even if they are superior in many ways. That's the way it is and the music world is not excluded and full of those...

Period for me. The battle is over.
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Old 05-29-2007, 03:46 PM
badboymusic badboymusic is offline
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Default Re: Does analog summing sound better? Can you tell?

I don't know which is which, but I prefer B.
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Old 05-29-2007, 04:28 PM
AfricanCaneKing AfricanCaneKing is offline
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: miami, florida, usa
Posts: 295
Default Re: Does analog summing sound better? Can you tell?

nice, catchy song

version B sounds better to me. i cant put my finger on it, but sonically it sounds more complete
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Old 06-04-2007, 12:09 PM
jhorsley jhorsley is offline
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 24
Default Re: Does analog summing sound better? Can you tell?

Thanks to everyone for posting, and thanks for the nice comments about the song. If you want to test it objectively still, don't read below.

Here are the results:

A was the mixed summed through the D-Box, and B was the mixed summed digitally witin Pro tools.

Roey preferred B,
mahler007 didn't say, but thought B was the analog
Skyflash guessed correctly that A was analog and B was digital, but didn't say which he necessarily preferred
Badboymusic preferred B
AfricanCaneKing preferred B
Others didn't care or couldn't tell

A few others who didn't post personally wrote me to say they thought B was better, or it was too close to tell.

So for the record, NO ONE said "A is analog summed, it I like it better" outright. Anyone feel that way?

Personally, it was very hard for me to tell the difference, and even though I feel that a slight amount of sibilance is cut out in the analog summed version, I just enjoyed version B more. Maybe it's those super-highs I'm missing in A. I just don't know.

In response to the analog/digital i.e. which is better debate, I still believe that to get the disired results you have to try different things and be open minded to old and new technology and methods. Probably using a bit of both is going to get you far. In this case, personally, I just think that the D-Box doesn't do enough "rounding" or "warming" to really be worth it, or at least to outweigh the degradation of going back to analog and then back to digital an extra time. Perhaps it would be better if I had a better 8 channel D/A than the ones in the 002.

Skyflash, there is no melotron in the track, but maybe there should be! Nice idea...

Thanks for helping me out - and hopefully this test was helpful for you as well.

Joachim Horsley
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