The 4 Best Summing Mixers – Review 2018

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Photo by Sergiu Bacioiu / CC BY

If you are a recording engineer or if you are a musician managing your own recordings, and if your idea of an ideal sound is raw, organic, digital-free, analog-driven vibe, you’ll probably want to consider treating yourself with a summing mixer.

Summing mixer is an analog audio mixer that typically utilizes a set of four, eight or 16 channels. It’s standardly crafted to sum the signals in analog, rather than digital form.

Essentially, summing mixers force you to create a good natural sound coming directly from your instrument and amplifier. They rob you of any artificial digital tools and vibe, and leave you with the guitar’s organic audio output.

In situations like these, it’s do or die, but if you cope well, you’ll get the sound those digital dudes can only dream of. So join us for a brief rundown as we narrow down to the 4 best summing mixers on the market:

TC Electronic Studio Konnekt 48

We’ll start with the TC Electronic Studio Konnekt 48,  a very solid choice that will provide you with a professional sound at a mid-range price.

What should instantly be pointed out is the top-notch quality of built-in effects of this fella. Every FX that you can use offers great depth, warmth, and sonic power. You’ll be able to play around with them for days and are bound to get some good results guaranteed.

As for notable features, the device (see full specs) offers an extensive I/O section with a pack of Impact II preamps, mic preamps, a dozen analog inputs, and 12 analog outputs.

We’re talking about a 24/8 channel digital mixer with 48-bit double precision summing and the aforementioned top-class DSP effects.

Also included in the mix is the Dice II JetPLL technology for jitter elimination, along with such tasty tidbits as the Advanced Clock Recovery operation that ensures super stable audio streaming without any loss of quality.

Overall, if high-end effects, a fair price and high quality are what you need, treat yourself with this TC Electronic product ASAP. This is one of the best summing mixers for the money.

Mackie 802

The 802-VLZ3 is a more compact version of the company’s 1202-VLZ3 mixing board, and indeed its relatively small footprint is one of the main things that makes it stand out from the competition. It gives you two mono channels, two stereo channels, and a fifth channel that can be used for either, each with its own designated mic and line inputs as well as channel inserts. Since it also gives you a stereo auxiliary return, you could mix a total of ten different lines—pretty impressive for such a small mixer.

The 802-VLZ3 can also be used as more than just a summing mixer. It gives you an excellent variety of signal shaping options for each of the five channels, including a three-band EQ, pan, mute, and solo. There’s also an auxiliary send on each channel, in addition to the master toggle switch. There’s also a designated volume knob for the headphone jack, a feature many mixing boards don’t have that makes it perfect for both home and studio use.

The main reason the 802-VLZ3 is able to be so light-weight is because of its power supply. Unlike other Mackie mixers that have power transformers inside the chassis, the 802 requires a power supply with a mini-XLR connector. This makes it a bit trickier to replace parts if they’re lost or damaged, but considering the other ways it excels at the convenience factor, most people find this an acceptable trade-off. If you’re on a budget, the 802-VLZ3 is likely the best summing mixer for you.

Dangerous Music D-Box

The Dangerous Music company has a mission to provide solutions for typical studio problems, while still giving you top audio quality. The D-Box combines two important pieces of studio equipment into one tool, giving you an analog summing system and a monitor controller all in one.

The summing section of the D-Box gives you eight inputs with independent controls, with the first six configured as stereo pairs. You can position the last two inputs with pan pots on the front panel, offering even more options for fine-tuning your stereo image and giving you full control over your sound, tooling it specifically for your digital audio workstation. There’s also a universal level trim control, giving you an attenuation to -12dB.

In addition to analog summing, you also get headphone-level amplification controls and an array of tools for selecting speakers, converting audio, and monitoring your lines and signals.

You can get separate units to perform each of these functions, but by putting them all in one the D-Box is a life saver for cramped studio spaces or traveling recording engineers. While it’s not exactly cheap, it is an excellent value for the level of equipment and range of functions that you’re getting, making it a fantastic investment for sound professionals.

Rupert Neve Designs 5059 Satellite

If money is no object and you’re looking at the top tier of studio-worthy mixing equipment, this model from Rupert Neve will be right up your alley. It’s designed to be usable right out of the box and is rack-mountable, making it easy to fit into your set-up.

The 5059 has a total of 16 individual channels. Each one has its own level and pan controls, as well as designated sends and inputs, for truly independent channel operation. While it’s not exactly a simple interface, the layout is intuitive. Even analogue equipment is simpler to connect thanks to the aid of channel inserts.

The texture controls on the 5059 are another big selling point. It has two modes (Silk and Silk+) for more nuanced adjustments of each signal’s tone and harmonies. In Silk mode, saturation is increased in the high end, giving tracks a brighter, more sparkling quality. Silk+ mode increases saturation in the low end, perfect for beefing up basslines or adding more depth to any recording.

Rupert Neve is known for producing consistent, professional-level equipment for the discerning sound engineer. Their 5059 summing mixer certainly lives up to this reputation. In terms of sheer performance, it’s arguably the best summing mixer on this list.

Why should I buy a summing mixer?

There is hardly a definite answer for this question, since much like any thing in music, liking a specific sound is a matter of taste. But if you like your recordings free of the frequently bashed “plastic” vibe of modern digital technology, you should definitely consider one of the four gents listed above.

At a fair and even affordable price in some cases, summing mixers provide you with all the sonic power and technology you need to get an organic, raw, strong, powerful and professional recording.

They might require you to invest some extra time into mastering your craft, as there are no shortcuts here. But if you do master the craft, you will never deal with cheap-sounding digital recordings ever again.

In our personal opinion, this is the way to go, and analyzing these products was a hoot. All we can say about these products is that each is highly recommended and earns major thumbs up!

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