diy passive summing resistor

Analogue Warmth – Analog Summing Benefits -Harmonics – Harmonic Distortion

Getting a Better Studio Mix – Analog Summing Mixer – Warm 3D sound – How  Add Harmonic Distortion for Analog Warmth

Is analog summing truly beneficial? Do summing mixer add warm analog color harmonics? How significant is analog summing? Is there a noticeable advantage to using analog summing, or is it just an optional addition? What is the role of summing mixers in audio production?

If you’ve ever had these questions cross your mind, rest assured you’re in good company. Many studio producer share the concern of maintaining audio quality and preventing degradation when ITB exporting or printing to a file in the DAW.

In short, the SUM BUS, with its summing mixer input resistor network, establishes a protective Headroom zone. This Headroom ensures a secure space for your audio content, preserving the individual instrument focus and their correct placement within the stereo field for a wide, deep 3D sound.

By proper gain staging (sending higher-level audio signals to the summing inputs from the DAW interface outputs) and gently introducing analog harmonic distortion, you retain and capture the essential harmonics within the SUM BUS, which are subsequently combined into a master stereo track.

Then pass them (main rec record master stereo) through your DAW interface preamp or a transformer amp. Here, the (VCA) amplifier uplifts and boosts fundamental harmonics (which were created in the sum bus) and introduces additional excitement and saturation, enhancing the complex harmonics and creating the warm analog color character sound… read the full version here:

Customer says: I fed my studio converters with the hottest signal in the center of the panorama and started automating the faders around it.

Soon enough, the magic happened: the summing box started purring like a happy big cat and I knew that was the sound I always struggled to reach, the famous and legendary “warmth and openness of analog” I so many times read about. “The analog sweetspot”.

Lets see what’s happen in a PASSIVE SUMMING (inputs) called SUM BUS

When the audio signal overloads the SUM BUS, it generates a pleasing, harmonically-rich distortion that adds a gentle warmth to the sound.

harmonic distortion summing mixer 1024x683
analog summing headroom harmonic distortion

How to hit the gentle analog harmonic distortion on the PASSIVE summing inputs?

Simply boost up your DAW output Level – and you get some “nice” distortion because you’re pushing the SUMMIN INPUTS (SUM BUS) – quite a bit OVER its nominal level.  (after that gain up the summed signal by your internal amp or external  mic preamps or DAW mic preamps)

Surprisingly, proper gain staging is often overlooked or disregarded by many, yet it stands as one of the most critical and indispensable aspects of the analog mixing process.

mixer warm harmonics
summing transformer saturation

Analog professional equipment such as a summing mixer is typically designed to operate at a +4dB level but has the capacity to produce output levels as high as +24dB. This means that when operating at 0 VU, you have a generous 20dB of built-in headroom (calculated as 24 – 4 = 20).

Headroom = Safe Place for transients, harmonics, instrument separation and more

analog headroom

What is the analog mixer Headroom?

Headroom, in simple terms, is a safe zone for your audio. It’s the space where transients remain undistorted and unharmed. It’s the margin your audio signal has before it faces compression and distortion. This buffer zone allows for the presence of harmonics, transients, or loud sounds without the risk of clipping, resulting in a more dynamic, open, and wide, three-dimensional sound. Additionally, headroom also accommodates gentle harmonic distortion, encompassing both harmonic and non-harmonic distortions, adding analog nonlinearities to the mix.

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analog warm harmonics How to Add Harmonic Distortion for Analog Warmth

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