Why Use an Analog Summing Mixer? | Audio Engineer Ryan West

Why Use an Analog Summing Mixer? | Audio Engineer Ryan West

September 16, 2019 26 By Kailee Schamberger


Hi, I’m Ryan West, I’m a mix engineer
based in New York city, And were back at Flux Studios,
and today we’re talking about analog summing. There’s a lot of
mystery and even some controversy around hybrid mixing
and using analog summing mixers. What’s it going to do for my mixes? If I just simply take my
‘in the box’ mix and spread all those channels out into a analog
summing mixer, is it all of a sudden gonna make my
mix magical and that much better? The answer is no, that’s not
how it works. The process is about starting
from the beginning, using high quality analog summing mixer,
so that you can hear all the detail, you can get the punch, the clarity,
the separation, the depth, the width, the front to back, 3 dimensionality
that you really want in your mixes. For me, analog summing was the answer.
When I first started mixing there seemed to be a lot of voodoo to
the process, I just couldn’t understand it seemed like a black art
I was never going to grasp. But as I learned more, I started to
figure out what the voodoo really is is that the whole is larger
than the sum of its parts and there are a lot of parts
to mixing. When we talk about hardware and the
kind of equipment we use, all of those parts are your
monitoring system. Great conversion quality, analog discreet channels so that you
can get that punchy, wide, deep sound, and those things taken together,
give you the ability to get a great mix. I think that’s how you get to
where you want to be as a mixer. You need to put all of these things
together, it’s not just the skills
you’ve in your pocket you can only utilize those skills when
you can really hear what’s going on. That’s what I think analog summing and
great DA conversion do for me. I had this client that I was working
with from Denmark, who sent me a song to mix and
I was doing it completely in the box, I got the mix to where I thought it was
time to send a reference so I did, and not too long after, he emailed me
and asked me: “Are you using any kind of analog summing
or are you just mixing in the box?” I confessed I was just mixing in-the-box I was really trying to make that work and he said:
“you might want to give it a try, I think it’s really gonna help you out”,
he said he had been using it for some time and it was helping
his mixing out and he thought that maybe what the mix I was
working on for him was lacking. When I was mixing in the box,
it seemed like this was about as wide as I
could go. When I was using summing, it seemed
like all of a sudden there was all this much more space,
there was all this stuff out here on the sides that I could
now access that I couldn’t before and, having that extra headroom
and that extra width opened up a lot more room in the mix
and all of a sudden my mixes opened up. I was hearing things differently.
I was better informed about what was going
on inside my mix, and as a result my mixes got better, they’re bigger,
badder, punchier, wider, more exciting. And so that’s when I decided that this is the way that I wanna work and I don’t wanna work any other way. Think of it this way.
When you listen to a really good mix, you can kind of, close your eyes
and almost identify where certain elements are in the mix,
you can tell where the kick drum is, it’s living right here
in this space, the guitars that are panned, left and
right, wide, they really live out here, and they
seem to come from outside the speakers a little bit,
and the the elements that live in the center
like the bass, and the vocals, they really just belong there. They’re not blurry, they just,
they sound focused. That’s what I found analog summing
was doing for me. It was allowing me to get there
so much more quickly, keeping the inspiration in the mix, and that’s so important to me
because, you know, a song, I think especially pop music,
needs to sound urgent it needs to have an energy to it. And so I really like to start from a
much better place, earlier in the mix it makes a huge difference to me
and makes it easier for me to work and a lot more fun.