January 15, 2006

Yet another summing mixer...

by Chris Randall

SM Pro Audio is gonna drop the PM8 summing buss at NAMM. I thought we would start to see more low-cost summing mixers now that everyone realizes that DAWs can't sum for shit. And lo, and furthermore hark, here we have one. No price yet, but I can't see how it will be very much, as SM Pro is not a high-end company.

There are some questions, though. It says "passive" (which is what the "P" in "PM8" stands for.) That would imply that it was like the Folcrum or something, entirely passive, and you need to provide make-up gain via mic pres. However, it also plugs in; the Folcrum doesn't need any electricity because, well, it's passive. So, I think that the summing buss itself is passive, while there are line amps for makeup gain. Thus, the potential for shitty sound exists. We'll see, of course, but if this thing is any good at all, I'll guarantee that it's gonna be an excellent deal.

I wrote to SMP, and they wrote back the following: The Master Outputs do have a MAKE-UP gain stage to eliminate the loss of the input attenuation. So there's some potential for nastiness there, but it makes it a lot easier to deal with than having to use mic pres.

In response to my second query, they just wrote to tell me the MSRP is $399. Wow. They're gonna sell a quadjillion of these things.




Jan.15.2006 @ 6:36 PM
Suit & Tie Guy
"... now that everyone realizes that DAWs can't sum for shit ..."

dude ... you guys should make a summing bus plug in. imagine the market for such a device!


Jan.15.2006 @ 10:59 PM
"...you guys should make a summing bus plug in... "


But I don't think the market for summing mixers is ever going to be huge. Analogue summing might be better, but your recordings have to be pretty top-notch to tell the difference. You'd need to be a shit-hot recording engineer using the best (expensive) gear to really hear the benefits - not a huge market I would think.

Unless it becomes the latest fad, like valve mic pre-amps.


Jan.15.2006 @ 11:11 PM
Chris Randall
I disagree strongly. You can plainly hear the difference, especially in headphones, using even a shitty summing buss and mixing to stems. I used my Soundcraft Digital328 almost exclusively for this in the last years of its life, before I gave it the parting it so richly deserved by leaving it in an alley in Chicago. Even that world-class piece of shit had a markedly and obviously better summing buss than Nuendo, which is one of the two top-of-the-line DAWs. Anyone could hear it.

You do, of course, need to have a reasonable quality convertor. If you're using, say, 4 Soundblaster cards to get eight outputs, well, you get what you pay for. Shit is shit, and it doesn't matter how it's summed. It's still shit.



Jan.16.2006 @ 10:37 AM
penzoil washington
I agree with CR.

But I'm not amazed at this price. Take a behringer eurorack, remove the mic pre's, eq's, send's, etc., and the retail price would be about 10 cents. SM Pro Audio competes with Phonic, Samson, and Behringer with their other products, I don't think D2B has much to worry about. Could be a good candidate for modding, tho.


Jan.16.2006 @ 12:25 PM
Chris Randall
"Could be a good candidate for modding, tho."

That was my thinking. Since the summing array itself is passive, nothing to be done there. But swapping out the line amps with Green Pres that have been modified for 600 ohm usage, and you're gonna be looking at a pretty slick box for not a lot of money.

Or it might be as simple as dropping in high-quality op-amps. I've never tried to solder SMT stuff, but Adam sent me a little movie that made it look not that hard.



Jan.16.2006 @ 3:19 PM
penzoil washington
hmm, speaking of SM Pro!
link [www.blacklionauio.co...]">link [www.blacklionauio.co...]
does a mod on the $100 SM Pro 8 channel pre for $275. what do you think?



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