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“I fed my 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”.

audio transformer cinemag lundahl

Analog distortion happens when an audio signal goes past the maximum level capacity of a system, which, in a DAW is generally 0 dBFS. The analog summing mixer is designed to work at +4dB is capable of delivering +24dB levels.

Lets see what's happen in a PASSIVE SUMMING called SUM BUS

When the SUM BUS is overloaded by an audio signal, it produces a rich, harmonically-driven distortion gentle warmth harmonic distortion.

warm harmonics
audio harmonics summing mixer

How to hit the analog harmonic distortion on the PASSIVE side of summing?

Simply boost up your DAW output Level (master fader) – and you get some “nice” distortion because you’re pushing the SUMMIN INPUTS (SUM BUS) Passive side of Summing Mixer – 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) Many people don’t know this, or they don’t care about proper gain staging, however it is the one of the most significant and important part of analog mix procedure.

Let's see how are generated harmonic in the active transformer summing mixer (SUM BUS + Transformer amp)

mixer warm harmonics
summing transformer saturation

The analog pro gear like summing mixer is designed to work at +4dB is capable of delivering +24dB output levels, so at 0 VU, you have a 20dB (24 – 4 = 20) margin of built-in headroom.

Headroom the safe place of your overloaded audio

What is the Headroom?

Headroom is the point “the safe place” where your transients are not damaged.
Headroom is how much room has your audio signal has before it starts to get compressed and distorted.
It provides buffer zone for harmonics, transients or loud sounds without risking clipping, which result a more dynamic open and wide, depth 3D sound.
It provides space for Gentle Harmonic Distortion (harmonic and non‑harmonic distortions – analog nonlinearities)

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