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Thread: Cubase Summing

  1. #1
    Bass Jas's Avatar
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    Cubase Summing

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    This is my habit when mixing ITB (from years of mixing on my 32x8 Mackie):
    I assign sub groups in Cubase, 4 stereo ie: Drums, Vocals, Guitar, Bass.
    I've heard alot of talk about ITB summing being horrible. I have a Firepod that can now output 8 channels from Cubase w/new drivers.
    My questions are: what would you do? Stay with the automation and extreme control?
    Should I send my subs from Cubase to the subs on the Mackie and LR out to (options: old DAT, back into Firepod to stereo track in same project in Cubase, if I can even do that?)
    Sorry if this sounds dis-jointed, I'm thinking on the fly right now. Oh, another LR out of the Mack could go into my HD24XR.
    After a year of recording my band, it's down to the final stage. I have crappy monitors, a bad mixing environment, anyway.....
    Your thoughts?

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    Farview's Avatar
    Farview is offline www.farviewrecording.com
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    Sometimes I send my channels to the board, sometimes I mix in the box. Neither one is terrible. Try it both ways and see what you like. I would just go back into the firepod.
    Jay Walsh
    Farview Recording and HERE!!!!

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    Chris Shaeffer's Avatar
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    I do both, actually. For pre-pro work and just farting around I generally stay either in the box or use a reel to reel machine for the fun of it.

    For final mixes in the DAW, though, I pipe the tracks out to the mixer for analog panning, some level control, and using outboard effects. Do fine automation in the DAW and even use some plugins where it makes sense to. You can even set up (at least in pro tools) an effect send that goes to a hardware output and hook that into a hardware verb, or whatever, which is routed back into the mixer. Voila- if your mixer didn't have a pre-fader send before it does now.

    Works with internal effects sends, too- just route the effect channel out a hardware output to an effect return or open channel on your mixer. If you have S/PDIF I/O on your interface and an effects box with S/PDIF I/O.... route a send out the S/PDIF and patch the boxes analog outs to the mixer. Or back into the DAW via S/PDIF for a latency free hardware send and return.

    Its the best of both worlds, really. I've never minded the ITB summing with the systems I work with. Most of the ITB summing "myths" stem from the now obsolete Pro Tools Mix|24 mix buss bug. It really did suck, but the problem has been fixed in all subsequent versions of Digi hardware and is the reason Digi is so keen on getting all the old Mix systems out of circulation. I just like mixing analog for the options it offers, the opportunity to use fun boxes with knobs, switches and cool lights, and I think many of the analog devices sound better than the digital equivalents *that I have*, even if they offer less control.

    Besides, I'd rather spend $500 on a hardware compressor that will last forever if I take care of it than on a bit of software that's going to last maybe 5 years. Just my preference.

    Take care.
    Chris

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    Bass Jas's Avatar
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    Thanks Farview and Chris, I'll try it later tonight.
    Here's the root of the question that I didn't get across:
    If I am creating sub-groups in Cubase, is the subgroup suffering from the summing of the tracks into it? Or does the actual summing occur from the subs to the master only? Or should I listen for myself and forget about reading the rantings of the posters here? Nevermind, I'll listen for myself. lol
    I am old-school as far as mixing, but I am addicted to the power of the DAW, however I have 8 outs, and s/pdif out and in on the firepod. I have nothing in the realm of compressors or reverbs (hardware) that would improve the analog chain, certainly nothing with s/pdif (alesis quadraverb, srry).
    Thanks for the suggestions, now I just gotta get off this chair and go for it.

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    Chris Shaeffer's Avatar
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    Digital summing happens whenever you mix tracks together. (shrug) Same thing happens when you mix analog signals- its just that one is a methematical process and the other is an electrical process.

    The theory is that the less you demand of the mathematical summing, the less mistakes it will make.

    However, I suppose I wasn't clear enough in my first post. There are no audible mix summing errors in today's DAWs. I can't remember where I read it, but most, if not all, of the summing "errors" happen below the noise floor of the system anyway. The Pro Tools Mix system did have a hardware bug that made its summing suck and that's where all the "Digital summing SUCKS!" stories come from.

    Either way, its all about what your ears tell you. I've never had any issues with my digital mixes, but even bussing it out to a cheapo Alesis Studio 24 mixer makes its sound different and fat. That's not because the digital process is harming the sound, its because the electronics in the mixer are changing the sound. In some cases it sounds better, in some cases it doesn't. So yeah, trust your own ears. And have fun with it.

    Chris

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    Farview's Avatar
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    Any time you mix tracks together, you are summing. The bottom line is that you don't have to worry about it. Analog summing does sound different than summing ITB, but neither is bad, just different. A lot of the differences is caused by the engineer relating differently to the interface. I know that I tend to do more EQing on a board than ITB.
    Jay Walsh
    Farview Recording and HERE!!!!

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    Bass Jas's Avatar
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    Thanks for the encouragement guys, I suppose I'm a bit overwhelmed with Cubase (throwing presets of multiband comp on everything, then laying restless because I feel cheap and lazy, like I haven't worked hard enough on it) I do hear when that doesn't work, I need to start all over with the mix, get happy, then try the sub outs to the Mackie and back in (I do understand Chris's point about PT being the source of the sum prob, not in Cubase.) but I'll give it a shot anyway, because it does sound better to me coming from the HD24XR through the Mack even with my garbage dbx comps and alesis verbs.

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    Farview's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bass Jas
    (throwing presets of multiband comp on everything,
    Stop with the multiband comps! They do more harm than good most of the time and should never be your default plugin on anything.
    Jay Walsh
    Farview Recording and HERE!!!!

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    Bass Jas's Avatar
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    Farview- I needed that, like a smack on the hand, I knew it was wrong, but it sorta sounded LOUD and the guitar players like it. In the end it's wrong.
    It's been a year with the Cubase, the editing is my primary focus to clean things up, and ofcourse the automation.
    I record basic tracks through the Mack into the HD24XR, when I play back through the Mack everyone is all "Holy S, that is the best drum sound ever!"
    So when I cubase it all up, drums are lacking, no power punch until I get very radical with the comps and the EQ, which btw does not feel right or sound right, Cubase EQ is bizarre to me.
    The only thing that translated were the guitars, I used the singer's Aphex 107 with Sennheiser 609's on the guitar cabs.
    Man i'm killin myself, I know where it should be, but it ain't there....

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    Chris Shaeffer's Avatar
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    Sounds to me like you have your answer: you like the sound of analog mixing.

    I'm not saying analog mixing is *easy* but digital mixing is a distinctly different skill and tends to be harder. If you aren't getting the sound you want out of a digital mix you either need to be *sure* you get *really* close to the sound you want on the way in....

    ...or mix analog and call it done. At least that seems to be what you're saying.

    My personal experience with Cubase (VST 32, SX 1, & SX 2) is that the built in effects are so-so. I never liked the dynamics plugs and reverbs particularly, but the EQ was ok if used lightly. Digital EQ is not like analog EQ: analog you can just twist away and it works. Digital tends to cause more problems than it solves if you cutting or boosting more than 4 or so dB. There are good ones, but the aren't free that I know of.

    I recall working on an original bluegrass album on a tight budget. They decided to mix ITB (Pro Tools in this case, not Cubase) to save time. Everything worked well except the bass. Upright basses are tough to get right and this one just didn't have enough authority to match the rest of the instruments. Looking to increase both attack and fullness I was trying every EQ and compressor plug I had. No luck. Oh, I could get it close, but we all knew it wasn't *right*.

    I said to the producer "lets try something" and routed the tracks out to the board leaving all the levels in the DAW and just setting the board faders to unity gain. I patched a DBX 166a into the bass and set the board EQ the same way I had it in Pro Tools and hit play.

    The producer sat bolt upright and said 'That's IT!" and insisted that we mix everything analog. It really was that obvious. I worked quickly, but the project still went over budget by 3 hours. And the band was ecstatic about the sound.

    (shrug) Just my experience with it. I appreciate having both analog and digital options. And I'll use whichever works best in a given situation.

    Have fun!
    Chris

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