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Old 10-27-2006, 03:24 PM
Mixchump Mixchump is offline
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Toronto, ON
Posts: 347
Default TDM Mixer Overhaul

You know, I've been meaning to post on this for a while, but I figured today was the day...

One of my longest-standing frustrations with the TDM mixer is the lack of several things.

1. Metering at Summing Nodes

When mixing with a pile of tracks assigned to any bus or physical output, it is absolutely imperative that a master fader be visible for that bus or output. I get Protools Sessions from all kinds of people, at all different levels of experience, but one thing that most people don't understand is that most of the time, elements of the mixes or submixes are clipping all over the place, and they don't know about it. If they did, they'd probably do something about it.

When I have a master fader for my main Mix Bus, I usually have a MDW EQ as the first plugin, followed by a maybe an SSL Comp, maybe Analog Channel (or Pheonix) and an L1 or L2 (to listen to occasionally while working). Unless I deactivate every plugin, and run my mix for 5 minutes, I have NO way of knowing if the point at which the mixer goes from being 48bits (with a bit of headroom) to being a fixed-point 24bit stream arriving at the first plugin, is CLIPPING. When it IS clipping, you have no way of knowing about it, unless the first plug-in is reporting it at the input stage, and the implementation of this is still shoddy among developers.

Please DigiDesign, design a new "SubMaster" channel that contains the following
-metering is ALWAYS measuring the exact node where the 48bit mixer goes to 24bit fixed
-the Main Fader for the "SubMaster" is the last thing in the chain, defaults to 0dB (at the top), and only goes downwards.
-there is a small "trim" fader beside it, that adjusts the final level of the 48bit summing node, and has the full range of a regular "Master" fader (and it's own automation playlist). It reports clipping faithfully to the user!

2. Channel Trim

I think just about every desk that I've worked on has a line trim at the top of the module. Heck, SSL's pretty much sound like crap until you trim back the line trim by at least 6 db. I get tracks from people all the time that are absolutely slammed to the top, and it's often necessary to trim down the level before it hits a plugin that has no input trim. You lose one insert slot, just for that.

Why can't we have a small trim fader above the inserts that adjusts the level before it hits the first insert? SO many plugins have NO metering, and no way of trimming down the signal before you can boost something (Pultec anyone?). Maybe this is something that should be added into the shell of the insert window... But, even if you have NO inserts on a channel, but you want to trim down the level of the audio so that the large fader can be in the 0dB range. So what if there's a small DSP hit for this, and 4 samples of latency. If every channel has it, then who cares?

3. Polarity Switch on every channel

Digidesign needs to take more responsibility for the Insert Window. Plugin developers (with the exception of McDSP?) consistently avoid the inclusion of a Polarity Invert Button. They probably feel, maybe correctly, that the responisbility falls squarely on Digidesign to include it on the mixer stip. There's really no reason that it should be hidden in a plugin. It should be clearly visible on every mixer channel. Although Digidesign has historically included a Polarity Invert Button on every plugin, they have not included one on 'Smack', the Pultec Bundle, etc., etc. Even THEY are shirking their own responsibility on this one. There absolutely HAS to be a clear directive here. Whose responsibility is it? If we're at the point where it's not being treated as extremely important, then it puts the DigiDesign TDM mixer in the same class as a Mackie 8-bus, in my estimation (no Polarity Sw.) and we should all regard it with about that level of respect. Don't get me wrong, I'm a 100% PTHD Mix-in-the-box guy now, I'm just making a very clear point about this. How many times have all of you reached for a 'Trim' plugin, or anything else available to quickly CHECK the phase one some tracks. If you don't have Delay comp turned on, you'd better put that trim plugin across all twelve tracks so they're all delayed by 4 samples (just so you can press one polarity switch). If there is a 4 sample delay in EVERY SINGLE CHANNEL in the mixer to accomodate this (when Delay Compensation is off) then let's just do it. If the mixer is going to take a DSP hit to accomodate this, then maybe it's about time. Our computers are all getting more powerful for RTAS processing, so let's fix the TDM side!

Any comments on this are welcome. Let's have a civilized debate, so we can improve the system we're all sitting in front of every day!

Cheers, eh?
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Old 10-27-2006, 03:48 PM
Drew Mazurek's Avatar
Drew Mazurek Drew Mazurek is offline
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maryland, USA
Posts: 11,524
Default Re: TDM Mixer Overhaul

#1. I think you've made some really good points. I agree.

#2. Seems all DSP has to happen in TDM-land but they could still give us the trim and phase at the top of the channel and keep the 5 inserts. Heck, they added more sends and I think most would have preferred getting more inserts too. But would you then bemoan the loss of DSP when you don't use all those trims/phase???

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Old 10-27-2006, 05:49 PM
Jimmix Jimmix is offline
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Posts: 68
Default Re: TDM Mixer Overhaul

- Trim / Gain i would say, make it automatable and separate left and right controls for stereo faders or a true balance control.

- yes a phase switch please.

- a preference to make every parameter of a plug-in automatable from the start of instanciatoion with out going through the annoying dialog box.

– how about automatable pre or post settings for the aux sends.

- an MS stereo fader type option

- master faders with sends (this would be nice especially in post.

- an option to quickly visually see all channels that are feeding a particular bus or output.

- when looking at an aux send an button or key command to to open the first plug-in on the aux track receiving that particular bus.

- suspend-able automation by parameter on a track basis. not just read all parameters but instead like the writing options separate reads / disables for volume, mute, pan, aux sends, plug-ins (general dynamics and eq separated)

- automation history and editing between automation takes.

- separate automation play lists for each audio playlist. (thats not in 7.2 is it?...I have not checked lately)

I'll stop here but there are a ton of desirable features not that PT isn't a great platform.

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Old 10-27-2006, 08:18 PM
Tony Shepperd Tony Shepperd is offline
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 346
Default Re: TDM Mixer Overhaul

If it came to a vote, I would vote no on the phase switch.
1. For the DSP allocation.

2. In the 7 years I have been working in Pro Tools, I have needed a phase switch fewer than ten times.

And when I needed it, I had it on the EQ on that particular channel.
Mixing in the box, requires thinking outside the box.

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Old 10-28-2006, 08:05 AM
lukeyy lukeyy is offline
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Location: ch
Posts: 329
Default Re: TDM Mixer Overhaul

great post! especially the input gain thing..!!! a lot of people record to hot in PT
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Old 10-28-2006, 08:38 AM
georgia georgia is offline
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Location: NY,NY
Posts: 1,859
Default Re: TDM Mixer Overhaul

neat ideas.. Althought I think the input trim is a nice touch, it's probably a non-starter...since once the audio enters at a clipped level to any of the analog converters and is converted to digital or it enters digitally, you are basically screwed. You're just lowering the already clipped signals. I think you'd have to either add an entire gain adjustment circuit to every converter that is s/w controlled to accomplish any real meaningful gain trim on input channels utilizing outboard converters, as most DAW's do, vs. analog consoles. It can be done, my Neve Capricorn has this capability on every channel on every IO rack. But the Neve cost over a million to build new and a new massivly configured protools rig might cost $200,000!

I truly love the idea of a phase switch on channel inputs and it would be nice to have a gain trim on the "channel" input to the mixer anyway for basic gain control pre-plugins..

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Old 10-28-2006, 08:40 AM
uno1234 uno1234 is offline
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Location: New York City
Posts: 2,459
Default Re: TDM Mixer Overhaul

These are all great ideas. Many of which I have wanted for a long time. The clipping thing is a big one. I feel like sometimes it's hard to know what's going on behind the scenes in the TDM mixer. In general I've learned to keep everything at a pretty low level.

I would also love to have 10 inserts. Maybe if some of these other things were implemented I wouldn't need more than 5 inserts though.

Also, I would love plugins and sends and busses to assign FASTER. I spend so much time setting up my mixer, and if everything assigned just a little faster it would speed up my workflow so much. Although part of me wonders if the Expansion HD is the culprit. "Pre-calculating DSP usage" anyone? Or has that been fixed in PT7.2?
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Old 10-28-2006, 04:34 PM
Sound Guy Andy Sound Guy Andy is offline
Join Date: Nov 1999
Posts: 199
Default Re: TDM Mixer Overhaul

Another vote for 10 inserts. I rarely use more 2 or 3 aux sends, but I almost almost need to bus into aux tracks due to the need for more than 5 inserts. In fact, I just finished a mastering session and on several of the songs I had to use 3 aux channels per track for all the plugs I had going on.

I was really surprised when Digi added more aux sends and didn't add more inserts, but maybe they'll remedy this now that several people are requesting it.

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Old 10-28-2006, 04:42 PM
Oli P Oli P is offline
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Posts: 562
Default Re: TDM Mixer Overhaul

The Waves SSL channel strip has all these features...and has become the plug-in I use on almost all channels.
The future is this kind of channel strips...and we will see all kind of familiar desks cloned in the future.
It's really cool to be able to choose an SSL for your drums, and a classic Neve for the vocals etc...

But I'd still like to see an external source input on the master fader...so I can reference with other material whilst having plug-ins on the master fader, that won't affect the external material I reference with.

I like the idea of being able to see the output assignments at a glance.

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Old 10-28-2006, 05:58 PM
PhilBuckle PhilBuckle is offline
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 725
Default Re: TDM Mixer Overhaul


- a preference to make every parameter of a plug-in automatable from the start of instanciatoion with out going through the annoying dialog box.

This is in PT7 now. In the prefs.
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