Analogue summing, a method of combining multiple audio signals into one using analogue circuitry, can be a real game-changer in mastering. It has a few notable benefits that can make it a good choice over digital summing in some scenarios.
- First off, many engineers reckon that analogue summing can add a certain warmth and fullness to the sound of a mix. This comes from the introduction of subtle distortions and harmonics that just can’t be achieved with digital summing. The result? A more organic, analogue sound that many listeners and artists appreciate.
- Analogue summing also seems to work wonders for stereo imaging. It allows different audio signals to be balanced and panned in a way that feels more natural. Plus, being able to adjust the balance and panning of signals using physical controls makes the process feel more hands-on and responsive.
- Another perk of analogue summing is its ability to up the headroom and dynamic range of a mix. By avoiding digital clipping or limiting when summing the different audio signals, the mix gets a bit more room to breathe. It also allows the mix to have a broader range of loudness and dynamics, which is especially helpful in genres like dance music where loudness really matters.
That being said, how much analogue summing impacts a mix can differ from one engineer to the next. Some swear by its warmth, richness, and depth, as well as its positive effects on stereo imaging and dynamic range. Others might argue that digital methods can reproduce much of these effects.
Here at ESM, we’re pretty flexible with our approach to analogue summing. We use it on mixes when it’s called for, giving that specific type of sound and unity to the mix. But let’s be clear—there’s not much that can’t be replicated digitally! For us, analogue summing is a tool to be used when it makes sense for the mix, not a one-size-fits-all solution.