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During the 1990´s analog audio equipment was displaced by digital gear. At the beginning of this process most people only focused on the advantages of digital, such as automation, total recall, non-destructive editing, etc. and only a few guys complained about the loss of sound quality the early digital systems brought with them. People should have known, cause all this happened before, when broadcasting stations and studios threw away or sold their old Neumann tube mics and Telefunken V76, V72 tube modules for cheap, as soon as the first solid state gear was available. Now, years later everyone is a little bit smarter and engineers all over the world remind of that great open and transparent sound that somehow got lost in the digital revolution. History repeated.
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Vintage analog audio equipment such as mic preamps, equalizers, limiters and tube mics enjoy increasing popularity among audio engineers and users. Some of the gear is getting hard to find and prices are rising constantly, even though nowadays digital systems sound much better than the early ones. Now, since a couple of years there´s a new topic in nearly all pro audio magazines and forums: Analog summing

What does analog summing mean?

In an analogue console the channel signals are mixed together at the group, aux or main stereo mix busses. This operation is simply performed by adding the instantaneous signal voltages together. When summing your tracks in a digital system such as your DAW, the same thing is achieved by adding corresponding sample values together. So far so good, but why do more and more people take the hard road and invest in a summing box, plus a bigger converter instead of simply pressing the „bounce button“ in their DAW? The answer is: SOUND.

At the end, everyone has to decide personally if he agrees, but there are some scientific explanation which I do not want to withhold from you:

  1. Analog technique operates with infinitely high resolution whilst a digital system is always limited to the word length and sample-rate. This limitation causes rounding errors and digital distortion. Theoretically when mixing ITB (in the box), the more processing steps you have and the more tracks you add, the more errors will be summed together.

  2. The fact, that the signal is routed thru hi-end analog components, such as the huge Haufe transformers in the Sonic Summarizer PRO, makes a mix sound better to the human ear. Adding a good piece of analog gear to the master bus or your stem mixes can really help. It adds some nice harmonic distortion and often makes a mix sound warmer and just more comfortable.

Adding both, hi-end analog components and analog summing to your mix might give you that MOJO you were missing for so long.

With the Sonic Summarizer PRO, Vintagetools offers a summing amp based on refurbished, hi-quality vintage german broadcast modules. Four or even eight (PRO version) huge Haufe transformers and a strictly-no-compromise design make the Sonic Summarizer PRO what we think is the best sounding summing amp available on the market today. We would like to invite you to listen and build your own opinion.
analog vs. digital | a simple calculation
Summing up the individual tracks of your production in the analog domain offers a number of great advantages compared to the simple "bounce-function" within your DAW. While a digital system rounds off all values for level, pan, eq-ing and
compression, analog technique operates with an infinitely high resolution, causing no rounding errors or digital distortions.

Here´s a simple calculation: The amount of "sound events" in a digital stereo mix is equal to twice the sample rate. When working in 96kHz, you will hear 192.000 single events per second and side (left/right). Using a D/A converter with 32 outputs will result in 6.144.000 single events.

Our customers describe the benefit of analog summing with the Sonic Summarizer (PRO) by an improved detection of the individual acoustic sources, more transparency and more spacial depth.

Note: The positive effect of analog summing increases with a rising number of tracks!

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