Music Player Network Home Guitar Player Magazine Keyboard Magazine Bass Player Magazine EQ Magazine
Topic Options
#2398839 - 03/27/12 09:50 AM Summing box
Russkull Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 647
Loc: So Cal
I tried searching for this, but just got bogged down. So....

I'm reading Mixerman's Zen and the Art of Mixing, which I found through a review in Tape Op. Almost done and I love the book (minus the language, but that's my personal conviction). It is written more to people doing or wanting to do mixing for a living, but I think there is a lot of helpful info for us DIY'ers.

The author makes many, many blanket statements and one of them is that in the box (digital) summing (last finished output of a mix, before mastering?) will never sound as good as analog. He believes that no plug in can truly emulate analog gear. To that end, my understanding of his recommendation: Take the signal out of your computer to a high-end D/A converter (he likes MOTU) to a summing box (Dangerous 2-bus). From there I lost the path - I'm guessing back to the computer? Unsure.

Anyway, I'm not even going to ask the actual mechanics of doing all this, since I do not have 4 grand to implement his recommendation. I will ask if this is common practice among you who mix solely on your computer? Does it truly change your mixes for the better?
_________________________
"Of all the world's bassists, I'm one of them!" - Lug

Top
#2398883 - 03/27/12 11:34 AM Re: Summing box [Re: Russkull]
Griffinator Moderator Offline
TPS cook & bottle washer
20k Club

Registered: 03/28/02
Posts: 20318
Loc: Lynchburg, VA, USA
To answer your question, the theory is that you send through D-A at the desired volume, sum in the analog domain, then port back through A-D to a CD deck or whatever other digital storage medium you choose.

The premise: Voltage summing has a dramatically different character than bit summing, in that voltage summing has infinite resolution, where bit summing introduces rounding and truncation errors.

My opinion: It's really an expansion on the old fallacy that higher resolution AD converters give more accurate pictures of waveforms, which is demonstrably false, although there is no question that IM distortion is created when a signal sent to a speaker exceeds that speaker's functional limits.

Miroslav (former regular here) stated on many occasions that he mixed his DAW recordings on an analog desk, and preferred the format. However, he also admitted that his was a tactile preference, not necessarily an audible one. I want to say he owned a Soundcraft Sapphyre, but don't quote me on that.

I am not convinced that the losses incurred from making multiple additional DA and AD stops are overcome by whatever is supposedly gained by summing in the analog domain. If one were dumping out to a high-end analog desk (Neve, SSL, etc) to actually mix the final product, I could see the potential benefits. I can't see it for just summing. The Dangerous 2-bus, in my opinion, is a really, really, really expensive glorified line mixer. As such, I'd have to hear (and see with my own eyes that nothing else is in the chain) it to believe it.

Top
#2399143 - 03/28/12 08:59 AM Re: Summing box [Re: Griffinator]
Russkull Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 647
Loc: So Cal
Thanks Griff. I'm always suspicious when the opinion expressed is so hard-nosed. But at the same time, I was almost hoping this was a magic bullet, because I have yet to get my music sounding close to professional.

Been recording for 8+ years and I'm on my fourth album. It's just for fun and I only distribute to family and friends who want it. I've come a long way in that time in techniques, gear, and recording methods, but my finished product is always lacking a polished touch, or sheen, or whatever you call it. It sounds ok on its own, but play it back to back with any retail CD and the differences are immediately apparent.

I always chalked that up to a lack of professional mastering and the gear they would use. I know this is a common occurance (all those ads proclaiming "Your music will never sound like the pros until you use our [insert name of gear here].") And really, deep down I think it must be higher end gear in better recording spaces with people who do it for a living vs. me in my garage. But that doesn't mean I stop hoping for a single-stop solution! wink
_________________________
"Of all the world's bassists, I'm one of them!" - Lug

Top
#2399251 - 03/28/12 02:31 PM Re: Summing box [Re: Russkull]
Griffinator Moderator Offline
TPS cook & bottle washer
20k Club

Registered: 03/28/02
Posts: 20318
Loc: Lynchburg, VA, USA
Better recording spaces? Yes. Room makes such a difference. Better gear? There is such a thing as diminishing returns.

Techniques and room, along with appropriate mic choices, will go a hell of a lot farther than high-end gear. Not saying you can get away with using the mic input on the motherboard and still get good quality sound, but you can spend a grand on a MOTU box and get 85-90% of what someone who dropped $5K on an Apogee 8x8 gets.

Top
#2399325 - 03/28/12 09:55 PM Re: Summing box [Re: Griffinator]
J. Dan Offline
10k Club

Registered: 07/25/08
Posts: 10281
Loc: St. Louis, MO
I'll add that you are much better off getting it right on the front end than trying to "fix it in the mastering". Most of that is experience. Keep at it! Shit in, shit out - but as Griff alludes, you can get great results on a budget. Professional mastering is great, but no magic bullet. Work on getting it right on the front end. A good understanding for dynamics processing, EQ, panning and mix can yield a product that stands on its own without mastering.
_________________________
Dan

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

Top
#2405588 - 04/21/12 10:53 AM Re: Summing box [Re: Griffinator]
Mixerman Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 10/20/01
Posts: 163
Loc: Los Angeles,CA,UNITED STATES
Originally Posted By: Griffinator
To answer your question, the theory is that you send through D-A at the desired volume, sum in the analog domain, then port back through A-D to a CD deck or whatever other digital storage medium you choose.

The premise: Voltage summing has a dramatically different character than bit summing, in that voltage summing has infinite resolution, where bit summing introduces rounding and truncation errors.


Well, I'm not sure where that "premise" comes from, but it's not me. I only explain the obvious sonic differences between analog and digital summing.

Quote:
My opinion: It's really an expansion on the old fallacy that higher resolution AD converters give more accurate pictures of waveforms, which is demonstrably false, although there is no question that IM distortion is created when a signal sent to a speaker exceeds that speaker's functional limits.


Right, so a Soundblaster card is just as accurate as a Lavry Gold MKIII. That would be correct, according to your statement. Or am I misunderstanding?

Quote:
Miroslav (former regular here) stated on many occasions that he mixed his DAW recordings on an analog desk, and preferred the format. However, he also admitted that his was a tactile preference, not necessarily an audible one. I want to say he owned a Soundcraft Sapphyre, but don't quote me on that.


Mixing on a console certainly offers a tactile difference. Mixing in Logic, through 24 Radar converters, into two Dangerous summing boxes (add in an SSL G384 and you have my chain) is no different ergonomically from mixing purely ITB. It's identical. The only difference is a sonic one.

If you go through the Discovery phase and fully frame your mix ITB, then switch to analog summing, you will notice an enormous difference in how the music and audio react. So long as you have accurate monitoring, everyone can notice this difference, even a neophyte. Aside from accurate monitoring (which includes the control room itself) all you need is a stake in the product, and a basis of comparison that brings the mixing process into the evaluation.

Quote:
I am not convinced that the losses incurred from making multiple additional DA and AD stops are overcome by whatever is supposedly gained by summing in the analog domain. If one were dumping out to a high-end analog desk (Neve, SSL, etc) to actually mix the final product, I could see the potential benefits. I can't see it for just summing. The Dangerous 2-bus, in my opinion, is a really, really, really expensive glorified line mixer. As such, I'd have to hear (and see with my own eyes that nothing else is in the chain) it to believe it.


Yes. A basis of comparison is kind of necessary to make judgments like this. You can be dubious if you like, but really, you'd be better off putting yourself in position to judge for yourself before you go on the internet suggesting others are wrong about something you have no personal experience with.

At the end of the day gear only makes life easier or more difficult. I'm suggesting that at some point in your development, you're going to want to branch out into more professional alternatives, mostly because it will make mixing easier and faster. In the case of summing, it can be the difference between a mix that connects emotionally and not, and when you prosper by delivering songs that connect, you don't take such important things for granted.

From Zen and the Art of Mixing:

"This doesnít mean there arenít real-world consequences to the gear we choose. Gear surely matters, and weíll be discussing exactly what gear matters and why. But if you havenít developed your ears enough to readily identify the differences youíre hearing and how they actually affect sound, then what does it really matter? As you get better at mixing, as you become more adept at hearing and more sensitive to emotional impact, youíll naturally become more sensitive to what you want out of your gear. You could have the greatest, most accurate mixing setup in the world, but until you have some years under your belt youíre not going to hear even half the things that I do. The good news is that your hearing and mixing will improve concurrently with your gear. Even the most modest mixing setup should be good enough for now, and certainly wonít preclude you from this book. Iíll bet youíre glad to read that!"

The most important sentence in that paragraph is "The good news is that your hearing and mixing will improve concurrently with your gear." This forum is for Project Studios, and when it comes to programming my own music for fun, I don't even bother with the external summing. It's not necessary until I decide I'm making a record, at which point, I'll take every advantage I can. If that only serves to keep the technology completely out of my way so that I can focus on the music and performances, then both my artist and I gained. The less you have to fight your gear, the more you can concentrate on what's important. The music.

Enjoy,

Mixerman
_________________________

Zen Producing

Top
#2405662 - 04/21/12 08:12 PM Re: Summing box [Re: Mixerman]
Griffinator Moderator Offline
TPS cook & bottle washer
20k Club

Registered: 03/28/02
Posts: 20318
Loc: Lynchburg, VA, USA
Hooo boy. Where to begin?

Originally Posted By: Mixerman
Originally Posted By: Griffinator
To answer your question, the theory is that you send through D-A at the desired volume, sum in the analog domain, then port back through A-D to a CD deck or whatever other digital storage medium you choose.

The premise: Voltage summing has a dramatically different character than bit summing, in that voltage summing has infinite resolution, where bit summing introduces rounding and truncation errors.


Well, I'm not sure where that "premise" comes from, but it's not me. I only explain the obvious sonic differences between analog and digital summing.


Well, I tend to look for the theory/premise behind a piece of equipment before I even consider breaking out my wallet, and this is the premise.

Quote:
Quote:
My opinion: It's really an expansion on the old fallacy that higher resolution AD converters give more accurate pictures of waveforms, which is demonstrably false, although there is no question that IM distortion is created when a signal sent to a speaker exceeds that speaker's functional limits.


Right, so a Soundblaster card is just as accurate as a Lavry Gold MKIII. That would be correct, according to your statement. Or am I misunderstanding?


You're completely misunderstanding. The quality of the electronics in a Lavry Gold MKIII are infinitely superior to that of a Soundblaster. Whether one converts A to D at a higher resolution is functionally irrelevant. It's the quality of the conversion that matters, and what actually makes the difference in price in converters, not the resolution. It has been proven repeatedly that 24/48 A-D on top-quality converters is identical to 24/96 or 24/192 on the output side, save the IM distortion introduced to the speaker system when 24/192 output demands it reproduce frequencies outside of its functional limits.

Quote:
Quote:
Miroslav (former regular here) stated on many occasions that he mixed his DAW recordings on an analog desk, and preferred the format. However, he also admitted that his was a tactile preference, not necessarily an audible one. I want to say he owned a Soundcraft Sapphyre, but don't quote me on that.


Mixing on a console certainly offers a tactile difference. Mixing in Logic, through 24 Radar converters, into two Dangerous summing boxes (add in an SSL G384 and you have my chain) is no different ergonomically from mixing purely ITB. It's identical. The only difference is a sonic one.


Tell you what. Record the output of your Dangerous summing boxes (back through the Radar box if you like), then show me the spectrum analysis of that and the digitally summed Logic product rendered to wave, so we can take a look at what exactly is different.

Quote:
Quote:
I am not convinced that the losses incurred from making multiple additional DA and AD stops are overcome by whatever is supposedly gained by summing in the analog domain. If one were dumping out to a high-end analog desk (Neve, SSL, etc) to actually mix the final product, I could see the potential benefits. I can't see it for just summing. The Dangerous 2-bus, in my opinion, is a really, really, really expensive glorified line mixer. As such, I'd have to hear (and see with my own eyes that nothing else is in the chain) it to believe it.


Yes. A basis of comparison is kind of necessary to make judgments like this. You can be dubious if you like, but really, you'd be better off putting yourself in position to judge for yourself before you go on the internet suggesting others are wrong about something you have no personal experience with.


I don't doubt that you hear a difference that you find pleasing to the ear. My skepticism is rooted in Dangerous' claim regarding what exactly their box does, because I don't believe for one minute that the Dangerous doesn't add a color to the final product - meaning that it is not transparent, any more than an SSL desk is transparent. No hard data has been released by Dangerous to back up their claim that voltage summing produces a more accurate result than bit summing.

I'm sorry you took this skepticism personally, because it wasn't aimed at you. I'm shocked, honestly, that the opinion of an insignificant nothing like me was enough to bring a heavyweight like you to this insignificant nothing of a forum to respond to a perceived slight... wink

Top
#2405738 - 04/22/12 12:41 PM Re: Summing box [Re: Griffinator]
Mixerman Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 10/20/01
Posts: 163
Loc: Los Angeles,CA,UNITED STATES
Originally Posted By: Griffinator
Hooo boy. Where to begin?

Originally Posted By: Mixerman
Originally Posted By: Griffinator
To answer your question, the theory is that you send through D-A at the desired volume, sum in the analog domain, then port back through A-D to a CD deck or whatever other digital storage medium you choose.

The premise: Voltage summing has a dramatically different character than bit summing, in that voltage summing has infinite resolution, where bit summing introduces rounding and truncation errors.


Well, I'm not sure where that "premise" comes from, but it's not me. I only explain the obvious sonic differences between analog and digital summing.


Well, I tend to look for the theory/premise behind a piece of equipment before I even consider breaking out my wallet, and this is the premise.

Quote:
Quote:
My opinion: It's really an expansion on the old fallacy that higher resolution AD converters give more accurate pictures of waveforms, which is demonstrably false, although there is no question that IM distortion is created when a signal sent to a speaker exceeds that speaker's functional limits.


Right, so a Soundblaster card is just as accurate as a Lavry Gold MKIII. That would be correct, according to your statement. Or am I misunderstanding?


You're completely misunderstanding. The quality of the electronics in a Lavry Gold MKIII are infinitely superior to that of a Soundblaster. Whether one converts A to D at a higher resolution is functionally irrelevant. It's the quality of the conversion that matters, and what actually makes the difference in price in converters, not the resolution. It has been proven repeatedly that 24/48 A-D on top-quality converters is identical to 24/96 or 24/192 on the output side, save the IM distortion introduced to the speaker system when 24/192 output demands it reproduce frequencies outside of its functional limits.


I wouldn't know anything about this. The final product is currently delivered at 44.1/16bit. Until this changes, that's the only resolution I care about. I'll work in 24 bit, because I believe I gain some advantage on the final product.

Quote:
Quote:
Miroslav (former regular here) stated on many occasions that he mixed his DAW recordings on an analog desk, and preferred the format. However, he also admitted that his was a tactile preference, not necessarily an audible one. I want to say he owned a Soundcraft Sapphyre, but don't quote me on that.


Mixing on a console certainly offers a tactile difference. Mixing in Logic, through 24 Radar converters, into two Dangerous summing boxes (add in an SSL G384 and you have my chain) is no different ergonomically from mixing purely ITB. It's identical. The only difference is a sonic one.


Quote:
Tell you what. Record the output of your Dangerous summing boxes (back through the Radar box if you like), then show me the spectrum analysis of that and the digitally summed Logic product rendered to wave, so we can take a look at what exactly is different.


Use your ears. It's so obvious, it doesn't much matter how it measures. That's the point.

Quote:
Quote:
I am not convinced that the losses incurred from making multiple additional DA and AD stops are overcome by whatever is supposedly gained by summing in the analog domain. If one were dumping out to a high-end analog desk (Neve, SSL, etc) to actually mix the final product, I could see the potential benefits. I can't see it for just summing. The Dangerous 2-bus, in my opinion, is a really, really, really expensive glorified line mixer. As such, I'd have to hear (and see with my own eyes that nothing else is in the chain) it to believe it.


Yes. A basis of comparison is kind of necessary to make judgments like this. You can be dubious if you like, but really, you'd be better off putting yourself in position to judge for yourself before you go on the internet suggesting others are wrong about something you have no personal experience with.


Quote:
I don't doubt that you hear a difference that you find pleasing to the ear. My skepticism is rooted in Dangerous' claim regarding what exactly their box does, because I don't believe for one minute that the Dangerous doesn't add a color to the final product - meaning that it is not transparent, any more than an SSL desk is transparent. No hard data has been released by Dangerous to back up their claim that voltage summing produces a more accurate result than bit summing.

I'm sorry you took this skepticism personally, because it wasn't aimed at you. I'm shocked, honestly, that the opinion of an insignificant nothing like me was enough to bring a heavyweight like you to this insignificant nothing of a forum to respond to a perceived slight... wink


I wasn't feeling slighted in the least. I did feel that your post somewhat misrepresents my thinking where gear is concerned. Hence the reply, and the quoting of that paragraph from Zen and the Art of Mixing.

No analog signal path is transparent. Same with digital. No one knows this better than Chris Muth of Dangerous. If they use the word "transparent," it's in comparison to other analog consoles, and in relative terms, that would be an accurate description of the Dangerous 2-bus.

I've been making records for twenty years now, and I have never, ever relied on electronic measurements. If you privately compare your work to mine, and if it falls short in comparison, then you might consider rethinking the whole "measure by electronics" sort of thing, until you can use your ears to create similar results. I spell out exactly what I think about when I mix and produce in those books. The only gear I discuss is summing and 2-bus compression, because I have a deep understanding of how those two particular items will keep the technology out of your way. Yes, they are too expensive to consider for the weekend warrior. Yes, they are unnecessary for making compelling music (all gear is). But when you make music for a living, day in and day out, you start to realize what gets in your way, and what doesn't. When sonics get in the way, it's energy that is misplaced. Anytime I have to think about the gear, I'm not thinking about the music.

You can be as dubious as you like about summing, but if you're a professional, you need only try it once to realize how much easier your life will be. Whether that can be measured electronically is irrelevant as it ignores emotional impact.

Most people can't hear the difference between an MP3 and a full wave file. If you find someone who fits that description, and you give them a full wave to listen to for a month, and then switch it to an MP3 without telling them, they will notice it immediately. Why? Because they have a basis of comparison, and an emotional stake in the product. Your test subject won't necessarily be able to tell you in a back and forth switch , which file is which. But if they listen from the beginning to one and then from the beginning to the other, they'll be able to pick the wave file with absolute accuracy. Not because of sonic differences. But rather because of how the music makes them FEEL.

You cannot measure this electronically. Not at this time.

Enjoy,

Mixerman
_________________________

Zen Producing

Top
#2405747 - 04/22/12 01:06 PM Re: Summing box [Re: Mixerman]
audiofreek Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 05/09/01
Posts: 782
Loc: Prince George,CANADA
I have a question,would it not be a benefit to do as much panning in the analog domain as well(track count permitting).
From what I understand,one of the main benefits of analog summing is,the imaging of the stereo field is far superior.The dangerous 2 buss doesn't have a pan control for each channel,only a mono button.Wouldn't a box like the Neve 8816 be a better option,or even a similar quality analog board.


Edited by audiofreek (04/22/12 01:11 PM)

Top
#2405760 - 04/22/12 01:42 PM Re: Summing box [Re: audiofreek]
Mixerman Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 10/20/01
Posts: 163
Loc: Los Angeles,CA,UNITED STATES
Originally Posted By: audiofreek
I have a question,would it not be a benefit to do as much panning in the analog domain as well(track count permitting).
From what I understand,one of the main benefits of analog summing is,the imaging of the stereo field is far superior.The dangerous 2 buss doesn't have a pan control for each channel,only a mono button.Wouldn't a box like the Neve 8816 be a better option,or even a similar quality analog board.


Ha. I doubt most people even know about those imaging issues. I find it weird, weird, weird to pan in the box. But only when summing digitally.

When you think about it, pan position should be defined mathematically. If I send 25% of the volume to the left and 75% of the volume to the right, there is no reason for there to be an imaging problem. This means the whole digital imaging issue must be a phase coherency issue, and as such, it only occurs when summing digitally.

When summing analog, that imaging problem goes away.

The panning occurs in the box, which is basically nothing more than a designation of audio. Send 25% to the left, send 75% to the right. The analog path of the D2B represents that simple formula accurately. Therefore, there's no reason to use interior pan positions on the analog side. You're either stereo or mono on the analog side.

Practically speaking, panning in the digital realm, to me anyway, is somewhat of a non-issue, since for the most part I suggest people mix LCR. I think it's odd that no one tries to fix it, and you're the first person I've ever seen mention it on the internet, which means to me it doesn't come up often. But there are so many bigger fish to fry when it comes to improving digital audio, I don't ever bother.

As to the Neve 8816, it won't make a bit of difference where accurate pan imaging is concerned. In fact, I would recommend you pan them into stereo pairs, and use the DAW for panning. This takes out analog variables for recall purposes.

If the 8816 sounds anything like an 80 series console (as they imply) then that would be an exceptionally good option. The 8068 is my favorite mix desk.

Enjoy,

Mixerman

_________________________

Zen Producing

Top
#2406360 - 04/24/12 10:18 AM Re: Summing box [Re: Mixerman]
Russkull Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 647
Loc: So Cal
Well, my jaw kind of dropped when I clicked back on this thread. That's the joy of the internet, I guess, that the author of the book being discussed drops by to comment.

Originally Posted By: Mixerman
This forum is for Project Studios, and when it comes to programming my own music for fun, I don't even bother with the external summing. It's not necessary until I decide I'm making a record, at which point, I'll take every advantage I can.

This was the most heartening thing I read in these posts, and probably the one thing I understood the most - frankly the whole technical discussion is over my head. Bearing that in mind and speaking of panning...

One of the most helpful things in the book to me was the panning discussion and where you place each track in the field, leaving only the vocals and a few select things in the center. I've been trying to do this and it does leave more room and let the song feel wider.

But, when I listen to some of my favorite albums (post Beatles era, anyway) I don't hear anything hard-panned. Some items may be a little louder on one side or the other, but mostly the left and right images sound the same. I understand that this is a byproduct of songs needing to sound the same in mono for consumer products. What I don't understand is how I can achieve the same results if I have hard-panned something (acoustic guitar, for instance) to one side? Should I duplicate the track and pan to both sides? Add an echo of the guitar that comes in on the opposite side? Am I making any sense? grin

I do have a little mono plugin on my DAW that lets me switch back and forth, which achieves the result but of course takes away the stereo field. I just didn't think I should mix that way.
_________________________
"Of all the world's bassists, I'm one of them!" - Lug

Top
#2406374 - 04/24/12 11:23 AM Re: Summing box [Re: Russkull]
Griffinator Moderator Offline
TPS cook & bottle washer
20k Club

Registered: 03/28/02
Posts: 20318
Loc: Lynchburg, VA, USA
Originally Posted By: Russkull
What I don't understand is how I can achieve the same results if I have hard-panned something (acoustic guitar, for instance) to one side? Should I duplicate the track and pan to both sides? Add an echo of the guitar that comes in on the opposite side? Am I making any sense? grin

I do have a little mono plugin on my DAW that lets me switch back and forth, which achieves the result but of course takes away the stereo field. I just didn't think I should mix that way.


Actually, that's precisely the purpose of the mono plugin - so you can evaluate the balance of your mix in a mono environment and make corrections to levels (particularly hard-panned levels) to compensate.

Regarding cloning tracks:

A hard-panned guitar is probably 90% one channel, 10% the other. If you clone it and hard pan the other way, you'll wind up with 100% both sides - which is the same as a single copy panned to the center - completely defeating the purpose.

Now, what you can do is clone the track and put a slight delay (around 150ms) on the copy. This will give you the effect of a wide-field guitar without stepping on whatever is sitting in the center of the stereo field.

Top
#2406391 - 04/24/12 11:54 AM Re: Summing box [Re: Griffinator]
Mixerman Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 10/20/01
Posts: 163
Loc: Los Angeles,CA,UNITED STATES
Originally Posted By: Russkull
Well, my jaw kind of dropped when I clicked back on this thread. That's the joy of the internet, I guess, that the author of the book being discussed drops by to comment.

Originally Posted By: Mixerman
This forum is for Project Studios, and when it comes to programming my own music for fun, I don't even bother with the external summing. It's not necessary until I decide I'm making a record, at which point, I'll take every advantage I can.

This was the most heartening thing I read in these posts, and probably the one thing I understood the most - frankly the whole technical discussion is over my head. Bearing that in mind and speaking of panning...

One of the most helpful things in the book to me was the panning discussion and where you place each track in the field, leaving only the vocals and a few select things in the center. I've been trying to do this and it does leave more room and let the song feel wider.

But, when I listen to some of my favorite albums (post Beatles era, anyway) I don't hear anything hard-panned. Some items may be a little louder on one side or the other, but mostly the left and right images sound the same. I understand that this is a byproduct of songs needing to sound the same in mono for consumer products. What I don't understand is how I can achieve the same results if I have hard-panned something (acoustic guitar, for instance) to one side? Should I duplicate the track and pan to both sides? Add an echo of the guitar that comes in on the opposite side? Am I making any sense? grin

I do have a little mono plugin on my DAW that lets me switch back and forth, which achieves the result but of course takes away the stereo field. I just didn't think I should mix that way.


When you take a mono signal, and you pan it to the left, that part is playing 100% in the left and 0% in the right. When you put that signal in the center, you are designating the identical amount of signal to each speaker. Right? So if you take a guitar track, copy it then hard pan them sending equal amounts of those tracks to the left and right, they will appear center. It's the same thing, just performed in two different ways.

If you want guitars to sound wide, you need two of them. That way they appear left and right.

There was a time when mixers were tending to pan less than hard, mostly because they thought it would help the ME maximize gain. That's been borne out as a fallacy.

Like I say in the book: "Thereís only so much space available to us in our mixing palette. Using the full spectrum of left and right is just as important as using the full spectrum of the frequency range. As far as Iím concerned, anyone who would consider using less than the full width of panning available to them might as well also consider using filters to cut off the very top and bottom frequencies of the mix."

Think about that for a moment. WOULD YOU cut off the top and bottom frequencies on most mixes? No. So why would you essentially "filter" the sides of your mix in that way.Yes, I realize it's not actually filtering, but the end result is the same. You have reduced the extent of your range, you've just done it on the side plane, not the up and down plane. I don't know any professional mixers who are not completely comfortable with hard panning.

Originally Posted By: Griffinator


Regarding cloning tracks:

A hard-panned guitar is probably 90% one channel, 10% the other. If you clone it and hard pan the other way, you'll wind up with 100% both sides - which is the same as a single copy panned to the center - completely defeating the purpose.


The definition of "hard panned" is "panned to one speaker." So, a hard panned guitar is, in fact, playing back 100% out of one speaker and 0% out of the other. Anything less than 100% panning, and you are no longer "hard" panning. You're using internal pan positions.

Quote:
Now, what you can do is clone the track and put a slight delay (around 150ms) on the copy. This will give you the effect of a wide-field guitar without stepping on whatever is sitting in the center of the stereo field.


150ms delay is a massive delay and will result in one guitar sounding ridiculously late. How late depends on the tempo, but at 100BPM that's a full sixteenth note late!

You can throw an identical signal to the other side with as small as a 22ms delay between them, but there WILL be some cancellation in mono because that time differential isn't quite enough to eradicate cancellation. It also sounds kind of weird even in stereo, and you risk distracting the listener. Anytime the listener notices the mix, you've made a bad mix. Given this, it's best to record two parts for a symmetrical arrangement, and leave the mix asymmetrical if the track works best with one guitar.

Enjoy,

Mixerman


Edited by Mixerman (04/24/12 12:14 PM)
_________________________

Zen Producing

Top
#2406707 - 04/25/12 09:57 AM Re: Summing box [Re: Mixerman]
Russkull Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 647
Loc: So Cal
Thanks for the great input guys.

After thinking it over, maybe part of my problem is that my mixes have a relatively small number of tracks and a less busy overall sound, so anything hard panned really stands out. I have tried balancing out by putting acoustic on one side and electric on the other, for instance, but I don't notice that tactic on any professional recordings I listen to. I guess hard panning is ok in a Coldplay song or something when you're not going to notice that small piece of acoustic playing out of the right speaker as much.

Maybe I can actually post some mixes and get honest feedback (where have I heard that phrase before? smile ). Anyone do that around these parts? Maybe there's a separate forum for that, I'll have to look.
_________________________
"Of all the world's bassists, I'm one of them!" - Lug

Top
#2406777 - 04/25/12 12:21 PM Re: Summing box [Re: Russkull]
Griffinator Moderator Offline
TPS cook & bottle washer
20k Club

Registered: 03/28/02
Posts: 20318
Loc: Lynchburg, VA, USA
Nah, we don't get much in the way of feedback requests here, so I wouldn't have an issue with it, so long as you keep all your stuff in 1 thread.

Top


Moderator:  Griffinator, Griffinator