I’m a big fan of the ‘hybrid’ workflow becoming more common in studios today, combining the benefits of digital audio with the joys of analogue. This seems to have been the inspiration for Tony Shepperd and his ‘Mix Factory’ concept. He got some help realising this product from none other than Paul Wolff, and, of course, A-Designs. So if you’re considering the AMS Neve 8816 or something similar and wondering what other options are available, then check out Mix Factory.
Summing it up
Analogue summing really can offer a little lift when used on the right mix with the right approach. If you’re looking into implementing this technique in your workflow but haven’t used it before, then I’m sure you’ll be overjoyed but possibly surprised at the minor difference compared to doing it in-the-box. There’s certainly an ‘approach’ to your mixing that will need to be realised to reach the full potential of boxes like these.
What I really like about Mix Factory are the few features it offers to make the most of analogue summing, much as you would do on a old-school console. For example, it’s laid out as two groups of 8 which each offer insert points as well as an insert across the master bus. Therefore, in mixing desk terms, this is a 16:8:2. This makes the system really versatile and for some it will almost act like a patch bay, making use of the few choice pieces of hardware you’ve bought over time.
It’s also great to see the option to run the summing through the on-board Cinemag transformer. This should effectively give you two flavours of analogue summing from one unit. I believe that Shepperd and Wolff have encapsulated what’s great about analogue summing for the modern workflow, in a really simple but unique way.
There is one small detail that many are bound to comment on, and that’s the lack of recall. Whilst I certainly think this is a shame, it’s somewhat reassuring for the price they’re asking. All the effort here is spent on the values of analogue.
For more information visit the product webpage on A-Designs website. The recommended street price is around 2,750 USD which is cheaper than many other solutions, but it’s still a unit that requires some serious investment.
Here are two audio demo’s that A-Designs have made with the Mix Factory in ‘clean’ mode and ‘Transformer’ mode. The first is with the Transformer in:
This is without the Transformer: