A while ago I decided to do what I thought was a ridiculous "shoot out" of sorts.
We were mixing an indie rock record for release on a small, indie label in the midwest and the producer and I had been reading a lot about summing busses, DAWs, etc.. The album we were working on was tracked in DP 4.6 (*NOTE: THIS WAS BEFORE I GOT DP 5.1) using all Neve 1272 and API (both Brent Averill originals, not clones) mic pres. We converted everything using Lucid AD converters. The instruments were drums, bass, guitars, vocals, some Rhodes, and keys. Pretty simple, straight ahead stuff, loud. Everything was tracked through good mics, pres, etc..
I have been working with DP for about ten years now. I've been recording for almost twenty. I've learned a lot about the bus in DP, I've learned how to manage my signal path going in to get the best resolution possible, how to manage my tracks in the mixer, how to manage the master, submix for better results, etc.. I listen to mixes today and mixes of just a couple years ago - before I started really concentrating on the master sum - and the improvements are clear.
We decided to try two mixes, one using the DP sum and one sending everything out through the MOTU 896HD D/As and into my Mackie 1604 VLZ mixer (an OLD one, circa late 90s). Every effort was made to keep the tracks exactly the same between the two mixes. All plugins were left the same and the Mackie was ONLY used for summing.
We then took the two mixes and leveled them in exactly the same way (L2) and burned them to CD. We asked seven people, NONE of whom were engineers (some were musicians who had recorded, one was a radio DJ and one a club owner, some were girlfriends, parents, etc.) to listen to the mixes and give us their impressions.
We didn't disclose which was which. While this is hardly a large enough sample size to make it statistically significant, the margin was surprising. Five of the seven people we asked preferred one mix over the other.
Can you guess which one the majority preferred? Mackie of Digital Performer? Before you scroll down I'd be interested in which one you predicted would "win." Scroll down for the "winner" .....
Five of the seven people chose the mix summed on the Mackie 1604 VLZ. The descriptions were that it "sounds better." These folks listened on their own playback device (cars, home stereos, some radio studio equipment, live PA rigs, etc..)
I've always had a hard time describing audio in terms other than physical impressions, tactile sensations. My impression was that the Mackie mix sounded softer than the DP. It had all the clarity and punch of the DP mix, but was a bit more cushioned. I can't say I'd always want to mix on the Mackie as the headroom isn't outstanding and it's not the right sound for every application, but this was a surprising result.
So, please post what you THOUGHT would be the "winner" and why you think the Mackie sounded the way it did.