In this article our friends at The Audio Hunt share their top 8 analog summing hardware units. Each of these units are available to hire at very affordable rates through The Audio Hunt website. Pro Tools Expert recently released a video showing how The Audio Hunt website works from both studios vendor and customer perspectives.
Rupert Neve Designs 5060
A perfect marriage between analog and digital technology. The 5060 is a marvel of analog power and digital workflow featuring 24 inputs coupled with a stereo bus output, flexible monitoring, DAW transport controls and a jog-wheel. In our opinion the 5060 never ceases to impress.
This little desktop beast uses custom transformers and a class A mix buss alongside two very special controls – Texture and Silk. The first allows for a richer more saturated sound commonly known as ‘that vintage sound’. The latter reduces the negative feedback on the output transformer adding harmonic content as texture is increased. There are two variations of Silk. Red - which accentuates the saturation in the mids and highs and Blue. Blue allows the saturation to be more focused on the lows and low mids.
While this is a modern-day unit the price tag is fairly steep coming in at just under $8000.
You can try the Rupert Neve 5060 for as little as $10 on your tracks here.
SSL Sigma Delta
What more can you want from a 2U magic box which provides the full SSL signature sound, world-renowned British engineering, 16 individually switchable mono/stereo inputs, 2 mix busses, monitor control, talkback system, digitally-automated fully analog gain levels, DAW and iOS connectivity, all for a reasonable price on top of all the features?
The unit allows for additional processing in the analog world through clever use of inserts points and direct outputs, parallel compression or printing of stems can be achieved with ease while also retaining SSL’s clever automated gain staging courtesy of its clever post-insert signal path design.
While the unit has been designed to suit the needs of both large scale facilities and project studios, the price range might seem steep in the eyes of those who cannot yet justify spending upwards of $4,500.
You can try the SSL Sigma Delta for as little as 15 Euros on your tracks here.
The 961 was built like a tank and was used where pristine recordings of difficult acoustic ensembles were the goal. Adored by many location engineers in the classical world, the unit soon became popular as a high end tool for analog summing.
Featuring some of the rarest and most sought-after preamp and eq sections ever built, they are, by definition extremely musical without the added coloration. Today the Studer 961 is considered ‘boutique’ pieces for achieving clean analog sounds boasting fantastic headroom, a solid bass coherence, open mids and a luxurious top end.
As they’ve been discontinued and with only a handful of units still in existence, these units can reach an upper price tag of around $10,000.
You can try the Studer 961 on your tracks here.
Thermionic Culture Fat Bustard MKII
Thermionic Culture have always been about boutique gear, presenting their products in a unique light matching their units’ individual sonic feel and vibe. The Fat Bustard is no exception. It is a passive all-valve summing mixer. if this doesn’t give you a good enough indication of its sound then add to that some special Thermionic sauce in the forms of a custom-built ‘varislope’ low and top EQ curve and you have the perfect recipe for analog sweetness.
For a classic valve design it comes with a signal-to-noise ratio of 100dBA which means it allows you to drive its inputs to taste, up to +26dBu making it an ideal candidate for loud material, rock & roll and the likes.
If you’re thinking of getting one of these MKII Bustards for your own studio, you should know that they don’t come cheap, retailing just under the $6,500.
You can try the Fat Bustard for as little as $10 on your tracks here.
The Neve 8816 is a stripped down version of the Neve 80 Series consoles (minus the preamp section which Neve can provide as a separate rack of 1081R’s). The unit sounds absolutely stunning featuring the same transformers found on any 80 Series desk, along with two custom built Carnhill transformers for the master buss, the Neve 8816 manages to spit out big, open and punchy mixes heard on many popular records these days.
The added ‘Stereo Width’ control means the unit can be used in both mixing and mastering scenarios and, in the hands of a skilled engineers, can produce pure silk from a quality recording bringing it to the next level and raising the bar for many industry professionals.
For those of you curious to experience the power of the world renowned 80 Series sound, we highly recommend getting your hands on one of these blue marvels. While reasonably priced at just over $3,500.
You can try the Fat Bustard for as little as $14 on your tracks here.
Dangerous Music 2-BUS
The 2-Bus was one of the first tools made available to engineers who wanted to bridge the gap between digital and analog audio equipment in the recording studio adding to the idea of using a ‘hybrid’ system. The active summing mixer’s 16 inputs are cleverly combined through custom built circuitry to deliver punch, detail and clarity to a mix. Ever since its introduction, the 2-Bus has and continues to impress the ears of professionals worldwide with its sonic performance and ease of use in the studio. What it did wasn’t unheard of at that time but, perhaps above all, it did it in a pleasingly musical way. It’s spatial details and impressive headroom makes the 2-Bus worthy of its name, as it delivers its dangerously analog sound to audiences across the board.
Their top-of-the-line 2-Bus+ unit retails at around $3,000 in the US
You can try the 2-BUS for as little as $5 on your tracks here.
The SPL MixDream is a modern-built 16-channel summing mixer based on the latest in analog signal processing component and newly-designed circuitry offering high-end analog summing for the digital audio workstation.
What is essentially a discrete class A unit running on a 60-volt rail, the unit manages to achieve a –97dBu noise floor with 125dB of dynamic level, meaning it can easily compete with some of the best consoles in terms of sonic performance. What’s more, the SPL is a very musical box and its controls also add to the versatility of the MixDream. Featuring SPL's sought-after stereo expander, capable of achieving great separation between each element in the mix without the added digital artefacts that plugins can impart, this box is ideal for adding a sense of depth and space to your mixes.
Competitively priced under the $4,000 mark for a brand new MixDream, this magic box sure gives you a lot of 'bang for buck'.
You can try the MixDream for as little as $10 on your tracks here.
Burl Audio B32 Vancouver
The B32 Vancouver shines on a variety of music styles adding depth and width while retaining top-end sweetness and an open yet masterfully controlled bottom when set with the transformers and gain boost switches disengaged. We found this approach suitable for a number of acoustic applications – singer-songwriter scenarios, jazz, classical, ballads and soft music in general. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the B32 really thickens things up, it focuses the mids and squeezes in the lows just the right amount to provide punch and a loud and in-your-face sound to rock and hard drums or guitar-driven tracks in general.
With a reasonable price tag to its name coming in at just under $2,500 this unit will find its way into many studios small and big
You can try the B32 for as little as $25 on your tracks here.