music technology recording

analog vs digital summing

I’m convinced! Analog summing works better for me than digital summing.

I’m working on an album and wasn’t happy the way Logic did handle the mixdown. It sounded flat and messy. I then did a mix on my Soundtracs PC MIDI desk and I was really surprised, it sounded a lot better. More definition, better stereo imaging, etc. Lowering the levels in Logic did improve things, giving it more headroom, but I had to work very hard to get it to sound a bit like the “analog” mix (the digital mix was done in Logic using the SSL Duende Channel strip mostly for EQing and compression, the TC Electronic System 6000 for reverb). The mix on the Soundtracs was done very fast, only using one compressor (a Behringer T1952) for drum, bass and guitars and also one reverb (Korg A1) for most parts (using the auxes).

Because the fast Soundtracs mix did sound so much better I thought it could have something to do with analog vs digital summing. It always seemed a bit of a myth to me, but I wanted to hear it for myself:-) I made a submix trough the TC System 6000, returning in Logic (4 stereo busses) and send it into the Soundtracs. I’m also a proud owner of the Crane Song Spider, an very high quality 8 channel mic-pre/mixer. The same submix was also send trough the Spider for analog summing. So I ended up having 3 mixes:

1.) the digital summed mix in Logic.

2.) the analog summed mix using the Soundtracs console.

3.) the analog summed mix using the Crane Song Spider

As I expected in the meanwhile the Logic mix was the worst one. The Soundtracs did sound a lot better, which is actually pretty amazing when you consider it’s age (late 80-ties model). The Spider mix was a bit better than the Soundtracs mix, more focussed sound, especially the snare had more punch and detail, the same for the acoustic guitar. The Soundtracs mix had a bit more bass in it, but not necessarily better than the Spider, a matter of taste…..

If you have a decent mixer somewhere and you haven’t tried it using as a summing device, just do so, it could make an improvement to your mixes!