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Analog Summing From Cubase
Old 29th March 2018
  #1
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Progmatic-Studios's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Analog Summing From Cubase

Hi,

I've been really thinking hard lately about weather to start summing my mixes out of Cubase, into a summing mixer and record back into Cubase.

I have never done anything like this before, so by all means please correct me if i have got muddled up or misunderstood this process.

My setup is - Cubase 9 and my soundcard is the UAD Apollo 8 + ADA8000, so 16 output channels. I also got a (hardware) SSL Buscompressor, Elysia XPressor, Elysia Karakter, Lexicon reverb unit and a mastering EQ.
All these units are connected in/out to my Apollo 8 with jack cables (except for the Lexicon that has SPDIF) . I use them as "external effects" in Cubase 9.

I am looking at the Neve 8816 summing mixer, (i've heard tracks put through this and they really sounded deeper and 'warmer'). i was very impressed but this config can be about any summing mixer really.

I want to cnnect al my external hardware + the summing mixer and record all back into my Apollo interface.

I've come up with this configuration:
Quote:
UAD Apollo 8 channels --> Neve 8816 inputs 1-8
ADA8000 8 channels --> Neve 8816 inputs 9-16
This way I have 16 outputs coming from my DAW to the summing mixer.

Quote:
SSL Buscompressor + Mastering EQ <--> Neve 8816 insert 7+8
Elysia Karakter <--> Neve 8816 insert 5+6 (with blend/mix function)
Elysia Xpressor between an UAD Apollo output and Neve 8816 input.
So far so good I think.

Quote:
Neve 8816 Mix out --> UAD Apollo 8 input 1-2
So I can record the summed processed mix back into Cubase.

Quote:
UAD Apollo monitor output --> monitor speakers
This way I can hear the processed mix or play iTunes without going trough the summing mixer.

BUT

How do I have to config Cubase 9
So far I have done this:

Quote:
Devices / VST Connections / Outputs : Add Bus (8 times for stereo outputs)
Devices / VST Connections / Inputs : Add Bus (1 time for stereo input)
Then I have named all the outputs "Drums", "Leads", "Vocals" etc (some busses use the same hardware output)

In my project I have created a new audio file called "Summing" with "stereo in" as my input and "main out" as my output and "input enabled" so I can hear the input from my summing mixer.
Is this the right way to do this?
Thanks in advance for tips and advice, i really appreciate it.
Old 4th August 2018
  #2
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Progmatic-Studios ➡️
I want to cnnect al my external hardware + the summing mixer and record all back into my Apollo interface.
Well, if you want to use sixteen output to the summing mixer, and outputs and inputs for the external FX, then you need extra I/O. Or skip the external FXs and hook them up to the summing mixer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Progmatic-Studios ➡️
Is this the right way to do this?
Thanks in advance for tips and advice, i really appreciate it.
Well, that's a start.

I would dedicate at least two mono-coupled inputs on the mixer, let's say channel 1 and channel 2, and put mono bass and mono lead vocals dead mono. I call it "analog mono". Try it out, it works great.
I usually send the mono kick drum to a dedicated mono channel too, just to keep it kickin' as much as possible.

In Cubase, to be able to work really flexible, put all the output channels and the input channels to "Solo Isolate". That means that you can solo a channel in your project and listen to, let's say, just the kick drum, and the audio is still sent to and from the summing mixer.

Also, using two input channels on the Apollo to record the analogue mix is okay-ish, but I can't stress enough how important it is to have a mastering-grade AD-converter when trying to record the full glory, punch and width of an analogue mix. But, start out with the Apollo and then have a plan to upgrade the ADC to a Crane Song Quantum HEDD, Fred Forssell MADA, Dangerous Convert-AD+, Burl Bomber or similar high-quality ADC. Trust me, it's worth it.

Sounds like you're already using the Control Room functionality in Cubase, and that's great. It's such a flexible tool enabling you to put mastering plug-ins on the Stereo Out channels, and still be able to monitor reference tracks without sending them through the processing of the Main outputs.

With your setup, I think you should consider getting some extra I/O for the External FXs, that way you have full flexibility.

The sound-quality of the DACs is of course also important, and the Apollo is okay, the Behringer ADA8000, well, do try it out, but don't rule out analogue summing based on the sound-quality coming from the ADA8000.

You're interested in analogue summing, and that's great, because you really don't know if it will work for you and your music, until you have tried it yourself.
Sound-quality wise, well, start with the setup you have now, and when you evaluate the results, do consider that your whole converter chain can be upgrade, quite a lot.

But it's a good start.


Good luck
Fred
Old 4th February 2021 | Show parent
  #3
Gear Head
 
Hey Fred, are you still on here?

Sorry to drag this thread screaming from the vaults but I'm in a very similar position, I also have a cubase system based around UA (2x Apollo X8 interfaces with a Ferrofish Pulse as ADAT expansion)

I'm thinking of bringing in some kind of analog summing, and just as you suggested above, I'm keen to get a really high end d/a converter to bring the master bus back into cubase.

So... My question is:

How do you go about setting up Cubase with your main interface to get all your outputs to the summing mixer, and also take an input from your shiny AD converter? In my head this would effectively mean using 2 audio interfaces at the same time, which I wasn't aware you could do in cubase?

Also, any converters you'd recommend for this duty? I'm sure this isn't what a good gearslut would say but I'm not looking to spend any more than absolutely necessary. I know the converters in the current Gen Apollo's like mine are a step up from the previous line - is it one of these scenarios where I'll have to outlay a fair whack to get any appreciable improvement?

Any advice much appreciated!

J
Old 5th February 2021 | Show parent
  #4
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DeadPoet's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loopback Jack ➡️
How do you go about setting up Cubase with your main interface to get all your outputs to the summing mixer, and also take an input from your shiny AD converter? In my head this would effectively mean using 2 audio interfaces at the same time, which I wasn't aware you could do in cubase?
If you plan on a setup like that maybe you have a 2-channel digital input on one of your existing interfaces? Like SPDIF or AES? That way you can connect a "golden" A/D to that input and record the summed signal back into the DAW.

Quote:
Also, any converters you'd recommend for this duty? I'm sure this isn't what a good gearslut would say but I'm not looking to spend any more than absolutely necessary. I know the converters in the current Gen Apollo's like mine are a step up from the previous line - is it one of these scenarios where I'll have to outlay a fair whack to get any appreciable improvement?
I'm one of those guys that thinks that AD/DA conversion has come a really long way since the early 2000's and that a) most (if not all) AD/DA is more than "good enough" and b) there are things in a mix that are heaps more important than AD/DA conversion.

So unless you're willing to spend a lot on for instance Lavry, Burl or Prism convertors I think you're better off keeping the ones you have.


Herwig
Old 6th February 2021 | Show parent
  #5
Gear Head
 
Ah yes, the AES input on an Apollo X16 is an excellent suggestion.

Nice to hear that you are confident in the conversion on modern interfaces. Given the cost of these items I think I'll go with the conversion that the Apollo offers to begin with, with a view to possibly upgrading later on. My searching has thrown up the Dangerous Music Convert AD+ which I must say looks like an amazing bit of kit, and has utility far beyond just a simple 2 channel converter.

Let's see how I get on!

Thanks again for your input.
Old 20th February 2021 | Show parent
  #6
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loopback Jack ➡️
Hey Fred, are you still on here?
Still here but don't read GS much anymore.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Loopback Jack ➡️
How do you go about setting up Cubase with your main interface to get all your outputs to the summing mixer, and also take an input from your shiny AD converter? In my head this would effectively mean using 2 audio interfaces at the same time, which I wasn't aware you could do in cubase?
I use a bunch of outputs in Cubase and assign them to MADI outputs on my RME HDSPe MADI soundcard. To keep track of my outputs, I use a bunch of Group Tracks in Cubase, and assign their outputs to the MADI outputs. And use stems for drums minus kick, bass, synths, guitars, keyboards, lead vocals, backing vocals, vocal FX, FX tracks etc.

I use a Dangerous AD+ ADC to record my analogue mixes and listen to the result through the monitoring section of Cubase. As soon as I spread out a mix in the analogue domain, I create a stereo track in Cubase, enable the monitoring button, and listen through the recording channel - with added digital buss processing.
I think it's important to monitor through Cubase and always listen to the recorded mix.

I think it's possible to use two different audio interfaces on Mac, using aggregate device, but I'm a PC guy so I haven't tried it myself.

I think you should go for an audio interface with enough I/O and with the possibility to add external converters.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Loopback Jack ➡️
Also, any converters you'd recommend for this duty? I'm sure this isn't what a good gearslut would say but I'm not looking to spend any more than absolutely necessary. I know the converters in the current Gen Apollo's like mine are a step up from the previous line - is it one of these scenarios where I'll have to outlay a fair whack to get any appreciable improvement?
Most audio interfaces have good enough DACs. I use Dangerous Convert-8 and Crookwood converters and they are above the usual audio interfaces. But UA soundcards are good too.

ADC on the other hand, that's where you should put in some extra dime, because most ADCs on audio interfaces aren't good enough to capture the full essence of a good analogue mix.

Let me know if you have any more questions.


Have a nice weekend
Fred
Old 23rd February 2021 | Show parent
  #7
Gear Head
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by frenzy ➡️

I think you should go for an audio interface with enough I/O and with the possibility to add external converters.

Thanks Fred, that makes sense. I've just picked up a Nicerizer Jr on sale which is a real win. I have 16 outputs available from the Ferrofish Pulse ADAT expansion of my Apollo Rig. I think that should be fine for the D-> A conversion. For now I'm going to use a spare pair of inputs on the Apollo X8 to bring it all back into Cubase, but I'll be looking to upgrade that going forward. Hopefully this year I'll be expanding my I/O (currently 2x Apollo X8 with the Ferrofish Pulse as ADAT expansion) with an Apollo X16 for some extra I/O that will have a pair of AES inputs which would be perfect to feed into with a really nice pair of converters.
Old 23rd February 2021
  #8
Gear Head
 
another thought about bringing the mix back into Cubase

So my research on this is all pointing towards bringing the output of my summing mixer back into Cubase for monitoring/printing, which certainly makes sense.

I saw a post in another thread about the SSL Sigma where the user was actually setting the input to Cubase as the listen source for the control room in the Cubase Connections panel. This seems like a good idea but it had the drawback of removing all the stock metering facilities as the Cubase meters are appartently not capable of metering from an external source.

Fred above mentions that he monitors by creating an audio track and activating the monitor input. I can see that this would work too but I can foresee issues when soloing other tracks as you'd lose the monitor input.

I am thinking that one approach would be to create an 'external' effect loop in Cubase. The output/send connections could be routed directly to one of the pairs of inputs on the summing mixer, and the input/returns could be the main output of the summing mixer. If I inserted this as an insert on the master bus effectively I'd be bringing everything back into that track where it will hit the meters. This is how I currently use my master bus compressor and it works great.

It would have the added bonus of being able to use the Cubase latency compensation - for external effects loops Cubase will 'ping' the circuit to calculate the round trip latency and automatically compensate. As this compensation would be applied to everything coming out of the summing mixer it should neatly compensate for everything in the mix, assuming there isn't any other routing going on with the other inputs to the summing mixer.

I'd love to hear any thoughts on this. Is my logic sound here? Am I overthinking things?

J
Old 24th February 2021 | Show parent
  #9
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loopback Jack ➡️
So my research on this is all pointing towards bringing the output of my summing mixer back into Cubase for monitoring/printing, which certainly makes sense.
That's a good start! And it's a nice summing mixer that you've bought - vibey.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Loopback Jack ➡️
I saw a post in another thread about the SSL Sigma where the user was actually setting the input to Cubase as the listen source for the control room in the Cubase Connections panel. This seems like a good idea but it had the drawback of removing all the stock metering facilities as the Cubase meters are appartently not capable of metering from an external source.
Like I have pointed out in that thread (I believe), it's better to use a stereo track, assign the stereo input connected to the output of the summing mixer and enable the monitoring function. That way, you have proper metering (and you can use your own metering plug-in of choice) AND you can mix and apply plug-in buss processing as you mix. Win-win.
When you are done mixing, you just press record and record the analogue mix on that track.
I use a method to keep track of my mixes and which ones I send to the client, by recording the mix, name it mix 3 or mix 4, save the project as Great Song mix 4, and send the mix to the client.
I also make use of the Track Version function in Cubase, because it enables me to quickly listen back to previous mixes when the client says: "I think the vocal levels are great in mix 4 but you did something cool with the kick drum in mix two". By swapping Track Version, I can audition an old mix to the one I'm working on now, and do changes. It works like a charm as long as I don't mess around with the buss processing plug-ins (and I generally don't do that, I save it for the mastering stage).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Loopback Jack ➡️
Fred above mentions that he monitors by creating an audio track and activating the monitor input. I can see that this would work too but I can foresee issues when soloing other tracks as you'd lose the monitor input.
Only if you're a Pro Tools user. LOL! (hopefully AVID has fixed the wonky buss routing in PT).

What you need to do, is to enable [Solo Isolate] on all your output channels (including the Stereo Out) AND the stereo mix record track. That way you can solo any channel you want and all buss routing will follow accordingly. You enable it by opening the mixer windows and [ALT]+left click on the [S]-button (solo) on each output.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Loopback Jack ➡️
I am thinking that one approach would be to create an 'external' effect loop in Cubase. The output/send connections could be routed directly to one of the pairs of inputs on the summing mixer, and the input/returns could be the main output of the summing mixer.
That's not necessary and will only make your setup complicated, and you don't have any metering on the External FX plug-ins, as far as I know. I haven't checked in Cubase Pro 11 yet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Loopback Jack ➡️
If I inserted this as an insert on the master bus effectively I'd be bringing everything back into that track where it will hit the meters. This is how I currently use my master bus compressor and it works great.
If you have an analogue buss compressor, then my suggestion is to put it after the summing mixer, before hitting Cubase again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Loopback Jack ➡️
It would have the added bonus of being able to use the Cubase latency compensation - for external effects loops Cubase will 'ping' the circuit to calculate the round trip latency and automatically compensate. As this compensation would be applied to everything coming out of the summing mixer it should neatly compensate for everything in the mix, assuming there isn't any other routing going on with the other inputs to the summing mixer.
Again, you're making it too complicated. The summing mixer should receive the audio tracks after they have been processed by external FXs, and then it's not necessary to have latency compensation on the recorded mix. If you want it to play in sample sync with your digital mix, you can always apply minus delay on the stereo rec audio track. It won't play in sync while playing, but it will play in sync when recorded. If you want to mix and match your analogue mix with ITB-mixed tracks, the easiest way is to make a REC Track and an ITB-mix track, delay the ITB-mix track accordingly and then both the analogue and digital mixes will play in sync.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Loopback Jack ➡️
I'd love to hear any thoughts on this. Is my logic sound here? Am I overthinking things?
Yes, your are overthinking things, but it's fun planning your perfect setup, right? :-)

My suggestion is to start by implementing the analogue summing, get the feel of it, set the levels properly, and then just spread out a mix on the Nicerizer and listen to how it sounds and performs. And take it from there.

Regarding the use of External FX plug-ins. What I have done is to make an External FX plug-in for each of my external fxs: distortion units, reverbs etcetera. Ping the delay time, and then put them on one Group Track each.

For example: Culture Vulture, TC R4000 top, TC R4000 bottom but don't route the outputs of the Group Track to any output.
Then I make a stereo track for each of the hardware and choose the output of the equivalent Group Track as input and enable the monitoring function.

That way, I can very easy make a vocal distortion track and send the output of my Chandler Germanium Tone Control + Purple Audio MC77 processing chain and listen to the result in real-time. Better yet, I can just hit [REC] and record the external processing on a new audio track.

What can I say, Cubase is just the most inspiring and kick-a** DAW ever made!!! :-)

I hope it all makes sense to you.


Good luck
Fred
Old 1st March 2021 | Show parent
  #10
Gear Head
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by frenzy ➡️
That's a good start! And it's a nice summing mixer that you've bought - vibey...


Good luck
Fred
Nice one Fred, appreciate all your advice there. The isolating of solos is a bit of a game changer!

It'll take a bit of getting used to the new workflow I'm sure but it'll be a fun and interesting process I'm sure
Old 1st March 2021 | Show parent
  #11
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loopback Jack ➡️
Nice one Fred, appreciate all your advice there. The isolating of solos is a bit of a game changer!

It'll take a bit of getting used to the new workflow I'm sure but it'll be a fun and interesting process I'm sure
Glad to help out!

I've been summing (and sometimes mixing) in the analogue domain since 2004, and I still find it beneficial.

The trick is to make an ergonomic setup that is easy to use.

And try to figure out of the system has a level sweet spot.

I have the luxury of using two summing mixers, one super-transparent and one vibey. So I can easily decide which one to use for a certain instrument or instrument group. With the Direct Out function in Cubase, it takes two mouse clicks to change outputs.

You're starting out with a slightly vibey summing box, so you will have to learn how it might affect the transient response and the low-end dynamics etcetera.

When you have the money, do consider buying a really good ADC, because it will make a difference.


Good luck
Fred
Old 2nd March 2021 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Head
 
Yep, there'll be a good bit of feeling out the new system to be done for sure. I figure if I want a really clean sum I can still mix in the box, though I do really like the idea of having a second, less coloured analog summing option.

I'm also looking at picking up an nfLeveler from WesAudio - that way I can keep the levels passing through my DA converters nice and high, and still maintain full digital recall of the levels going into the nicerizer. I'm wondering if running everything nice and cool into it might give me a clean enough tone to avoid needing a second summing option but I'm not that hopeful to be honest.

A tasty AD converter is very much next on the shopping list!

J
Old 3rd March 2021 | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loopback Jack ➡️
Yep, there'll be a good bit of feeling out the new system to be done for sure. I figure if I want a really clean sum I can still mix in the box, though I do really like the idea of having a second, less coloured analog summing option.
It's great to have that option.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Loopback Jack ➡️
I'm also looking at picking up an ngLeveler from WesAudio - that way I can keep the levels passing through my DA converters nice and high, and still maintain full digital recall of the levels going into the nicerizer.
Once you've set your levels and learnt how to properly push the Nicerizer, I don't think a volume box in between will be needed - it will only be an extra thing to keep track of. Spend that money on a really good ADC instead.

A high-quality eight-channel DAC will also improve the result more than a volume box.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Loopback Jack ➡️
I'm wondering if running everything nice and cool into it might give me a clean enough tone to avoid needing a second summing option but I'm not that hopeful to be honest.
You will have a honeymoon for sure, pushing the levels and enjoying the Class A and output transformer mojo. After that period, you can evaluate the impact of the summing mixer. :-D

Quote:
Originally Posted by Loopback Jack ➡️
A tasty AD converter is very much next on the shopping list!
Good, because it will make a difference.

Personally, the Dangerous Convert-AD+ is the first ADC I've used, that simply isn't "in the way" - and I love it. Well worth a try!


Cheers
Fred
Old 3rd March 2021 | Show parent
  #14
Lives for gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by frenzy ➡️

That's not necessary and will only make your setup complicated, and you don't have any metering on the External FX plug-ins, as far as I know. I haven't checked in Cubase Pro 11 yet.
There's STILL no VST slot metering in Cubase (come on Steinberg!) however V11 does have SuperVision - perhaps the most comprehensive monitoring plug in I've ever seen. I still use PSP TripleMeter out of habit and becasue it has built in clean gain adjustment - but SuperVision is amazing for monitoring.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyf1HbM9ks0
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