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Record in digital - mix in analog. With the remarkable range of new analog summing amplifiers, you can do just that.

Record all your tracks, apply plug-ins and automation in your DAW. Then take the individual track outputs and mix them in the analog domain. Mouthwatering...

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Analog mixing is like a little bit of magic. Once upon a time, electronics designers didn't know how to do it. So they bodged it. Then they mixed using transformers. Finally, and comparatively recently, the virtual earth summing amplifier was discovered, which took over the world of analog mixing.

Now we have digital mixing. Take the outputs of all of your channels as binary numbers and add them.

How boring is that?

No soul, no life, no breath. Plenty of headroom maybe, but what's exciting about that?

In the early days of hard disk multitrack recording, people didn't always like software mixers. They didn't have all the right facilities and they placed limitations on what could be achieved.

So pros would record in multitrack onto Pro Tools, for instance, then take individual track outputs from multiple interfaces into a conventional SSL mixing console or similar.

They would mix the hard disk multitrack recording just as if it were an analog or digital tape recording.

And they could still use plug-ins and even automation on the Pro Tools system.

But over time, software mixers became more accepted. And hardware control surfaces began to rival conventional mixing consoles.

So software mixing became practical.

But people felt they were missing out on the analog part of the process.

So along came a procession of analog summing amplifiers including the Neve 8816, Tube-Tech SSA 2A, Roll Music Folcrom and API 8200, pictured above.

Claimed advantages include, "A revolution in sound, ergonomics, and interfacing capability". Wow indeed.

Personally, I'm skeptical. There is no reason why digital mixing should not be exactly accurate. It's just adding up, after all.

But devices such as these could potentially add to the signal, making it warmer, richer, more colorful, or maybe just more the way you like it.

I'm all for interesting new classes of equipment. And this is something I would never had expected until it actually happened.

Does anyone have one, and an opinion to go with it?

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By David Mellor Thursday November 30, 2006
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