Summing with DM3200 or 4800


Active Member
Jan 25, 2013
Gear owned
dm 4800
Has anyone here tried any analog summings with their DM3200 or DM4800, if so what was your results or experience
Sorry, I'm no help there. If my writing, playing, recording and mixing ever gets so good that I feel like the DM's own internal summing is somehow holding me back, I'll look into it.
Long winded rant to follow:...................

Prior to buying my DM3200 in May of 2009, I'd done quite a bit of research - reading reviews, asking questions. Even before I struck the deal with the studio I bought my console from, I took a long ferry ride out to Bremerton, WA where the studio was located. (we were living in the Pacific Northwest back then). I spent 1/2 a day with the engineer - demo-ing the console, running it through various outboard, D/A, etc. For purposes of comparison, their big room board was a Trident once owned by Peter Frampton - no lack of analog vibe there.:geek:

Without naming names, my previous board's summing buss was challenged in my opinion; I always suspected the 'math' wasn't right and when everything combined at -3db in the mix, clarity suffered. At least that was my suspicion. So I looked into summing mixers - costly devices alleged to impart Big Analog Board Sound To DAWs. Mercenary Audio's 'Dangerous Boxes' were of special interest. But were they worth $5000? Would it not be better to just buy an old analog board (plenty of used Soundcrafts and Mackies out there for less than 5K)?

At this point you're wondering - what's mine? Here it is: I tend to think that those who still find modern digital audio lacking in some way haven't learned how to use their system's EQs. Somehow, a lot of high end information finds its way into mixes, and when the tracks are auditioned in cars, ear buds and living rooms, that shrieking, thin audio is characterized as 'digital coldness.' So, an external summing means is sought to correct what may well be a deficiency in the original tracks. Perhaps, a few hi-pass filters, judicious bumps in low mid range, and serious attenuation of frequencies above 6khz are all that's needed. And, maybe, monitoring upgrades are in order to help users better determine how and where to apply these tools.

Another alternative is DSP; 'tape emulation' ' etc etc. How good are these solutions? Frankly, most I've used just add false harmonics without really doing much aesthetically. Some mastering plugs like Ozone5 are the exception, though; the Harmonic Exciter is a nice plug if it isn't used to band aid systemic mix deficiencies.

Finally, here's an excerpt from a DM3200 review I copied off the site. I think it pretty much 'sums' up my suspicions:

"I give it [DM3200] a 7 because it is clean. too clean. It doesn't have that full, rich, deep sound that you get with a Mackie,or say an Allen and Heath (use those as comparisons as they are in same price range). Cannot compare to Yamaha mixers and I have not mixed on them. I know that IMHO, it doesn't have as nice a deep, rich low end as a good analog console with a bus compressor. It cannot touch an SSL or Neve unless you throw in an Xl rack or UAD/Duende Cards in your PC, which is exactly what I did. I am not a big fan of the sound of digital boards, and when guitars, drums and whatnot are run straight into them, they have no depth in the low end and digital EQ is just, well, weird sounding. Unnatural to the human ear......"

I'm not against using any tool that satisfies its user. But a drill doesn't work well with a broken bit. Just sayin'. o_O

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"It doesn't have that full, rich, deep sound that you get with a Mackie..."

Oh, my god! What idiot said THAT??!?

To stay on topic, I'm not going to tell you that you don't need an analog summing matrix. But I suspect that you don't. I make great sounding recordings on my DM3200 when I am completely engaged and paying attention, and bad-sounding ones when I'm not. So... there ya go. I think the real analog is the space between the console and your ears and brain.
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[quote=" I make great sounding recordings on my DM3200 when I am completely engaged and paying attention, and bad-sounding ones when I'm not. [/quote]

I know just what you mean, sir. Every so often I review mixes I've done over the years. Some of them are painful to listen to; others - not so much. Mixing is one of the biggest challenges I've ever been happy to undertake. One thing I've learned, though: it seems the best tracks were the ones which came easily; they weren't necessarily the busiest but they conveyed depth and dynamics. The less successful ones were the hardest to listen to and not surprisingly, took the longest to get finished.

There's a moral in that story. If you find it, let me know. :)

I wired up the summing resistors in DB-25 connectors with a XLR on the end.They plug into the balanced outputs on the Analog card option.Plug into your favorite preamp for gain compensation/color
I'm in the process of figuring out the best way to integrate my DM-4800 with a Crest Century analog board I just inherited from a local club. I don't particularly think that there is anything lacking in the DM's summing abilities (or in mordern ITB summing, to be honest), but I enjoy the "process" of dialing in a mix on a big analog board- not to mention the character this particular board can lend to my mixes (channel strips are very easily modifiable!). It might not be something I will use for every single project, but it's a great tool to have at my disposal... and there's no denying that having a dedicated analog strip for each track in a Cubase project is pretty nifty!

I'm still in the early stages of this integration and have yet to figure out the optimal routing, but I'm currently leaning toward 3 IF-AN/DM cards to give me up 24 channels out from the DAW, as well as 24 (separate) channels from the Crest into the DAW (I am very open to input and suggestions on this front!) I've got a half dozen varieties of op amps to try in the Crest channel strips, so the capacity to A/B with familiar old projects in the DAW is very exciting to me.
Interesting thread. And ironic, because I'm actually going to produce a tutorial video on why mixing OTB with the DM offers very real world advantages over ITB. So I take issue with this statement:

Today, there is no scientific evidence that OTB is better than ITB, IN TERMS OF PERFORMANCE.

Science has nothing to do with it; it's about workflow and the ability to combine multiple EQs and dynamics for two purposes: 1: Gain Structuring and 2: tonal shaping and 'surgical sculpting.' I intend to demonstrate exactly those things in the video. Stay tuned.

Re: summing (again): Although I understand the attraction of using a classic analog board for mixes - if for no other reason than 'wow' factor - I'm not convinced summing to an outboard preamp or analog device (with the exception of a dedicated summing unit) is advantageous. Why? Because there's at least one, and likely two - conversions going down. First, there's a D/A from the mixer, then - if mixing back to a DAW - another conversion going back to the digital realm. With each conversion comes the side-effect potential of artifacts, degradation in clarity, and noise.

Then, there's the issue of converters; with so many conflicting opinions about whether the DM's converters are good (I think they're stellar), and whether using outboard analog solutions to 'warm up' or 'color' a mix without benefit of dedicated converter units is wise - a whole new can of worms is opened. So - it seems to me that - if one were to go that route, using a high end summing mixer with high end conversion would be the only option IF maintaining the cleanest 'dirt-free' master is the goal.

I've done some tests along these lines - using the Alesis Masterlink which, believe it or not, features some pretty decent A/D. Although there's a difference in mixes done straight across digitally and those done using the DM's analog outs to the M-Link's annie -ins, I still prefer the digital mixes. There's some definite clarity loss - at least to my ears - converting to analog. However, others may disagree, or - worse - hear no difference whatsoever.

At the end of the day (or all-nighter), use what you like. If there's a gun held to your head to do otherwise, it's not in my hand. :)

I'll admit $1200 is a damn sight more affordable than Fletcher's venerable Dangerous Box. But - are you sure you're buying this claim?:

"the DSP required to sum individual channels into a stereo pair is prone to clock-based errors and mathematically unrelated signal artifacts,..."

The operative word is 'prone.' Somehow, I seriously doubt the DM boards' math and/or clock are challenged enough to produce anything audible in that way. Now, if you're talking about a 2000 vintage Echo Layla, or maybe a $39 Sound'Blister' card, then okay.

That said, both boxes look kewel; the Black Lion Ebony sure would impress some folks who happen to drop by ye olde studio, eh? :)

I do a fair bit of external summing and use external buss inserts / external channel inserts and find that the enhancements from quality outboard far outweighs any losses from the additional DAAD conversions.

Also re the DM eq and dynamics - I use it where it will do the job, and am glad that it's on the console, but (imo) the eq is acceptable rather than great, and the dynamics are pretty average. Going though a DAAD process to access quality external analog EQ / dynamics etc. outweighs any losses imo.
Going though a DAAD process to access quality external analog EQ / dynamics etc. outweighs any losses imo.

What's next in that signal chain scenario? Back to DAW? Tape? External, digital HD? And what genre(s) of music? Any? All? And the release/delivery format(s) - CD/DVD? Vinyl? Internet? MP3? Terrestrial broadcast? Satellite?

I think these are valid questions, and don't misunderstand; if it works, it's all good. I'm just curious.

For me it's a DV-RA1000HD - it does most formats and bitrates that I need.

If there's nothing more to do on the stereo buss it's out via AES/EBU from DM4800 direct to DV-RA1000HD.
If there's more master buss (analog) processing to add it's out through the stereo analog outs, through the mastering doovers and into the DV-RA analog ins.
This adds another pair of conversions to the process, but again, if it's quality outboard the gains outweigh the losses (to me).

Sometimes it's back into PT or Reaper (i.e. new summed tracks), but I prefer to build up a "live" mixdown using the DM's automation and manual tweaking of the external kit. The 32 I/O limit hits sometimes (that's probably the main upgrade I'd like to see on the DM's successor - I'm not a fan of doing anything ITB other than using it as a tape recorder).

Distribution? CD/DVD/cloud in any format that DV-RA or Wavelab does.
Genres? No prejudices - money makes any genre sound good :)
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Thanks for the info. This is a very interesting and lively topic. I won't bore you with the controversy (unless you ask). But, having started in the analog world, I understand the attraction. Thing is, if you're mixing 'hybrid' (by that I mean 'summing' anywhere within the DM, channels originating ITB), you're introducing another element into the signal chain the moment you twist a single DM EQ knob in any direction but flat. :)

Doesn't matter; the issue is workflow, and if what you apply helps you attain a better - meaning to you and those who pay you - result. :)

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What ^He^ Said - too.

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