Need advice on a console alternative for tracking.

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New member
May 21, 2021
I was looking at the box for 8-10k but will a sumbus or something similar for a bit cheaper get me even remotely close?

I know it's nice for adding color to a mix but when talking about tracking and having total control over my tonality it is looking like I am going to have to cough up 8k.

what about stacking summing mixers?

what do you all recommend?


Well-known member
Oct 14, 2010
California, US
The nice thing about a console for tracking is the no latency cue mix, that will help the performance but won't matter for the actual sonics. For the actual audio quality it will depend on the signal chain, doesn't matter if that chain is within a console or standalone.

From what you describe not sure a console is the answer.


Well-known member
Jun 8, 2005
midwest usa
the talent and the room is much more important than specific gear
tracking and summing are kind of different things

mic placement, near/far mic

lots of classics used dynamic and ribbons, good performances


Well-known member
Nov 15, 2008
México City
I love tracking with an analog console, but to me, and this is my humble opinion, there is no point on using a summing mixer just to take the signal out the PC, sum it, and back into the PC, that is why I asked you if you have a lot of OB gear, if you are going to use OB gear a summing mixer can make sense, otherwise I think its pointless, if there is something computers can do very well is add..


Active member
Mar 5, 2018
What is your current workflow like?
What is the channel count of the bands you usually record?
Do you have outboard gear already?
What problems in your studio are you trying to solve?
Monitor mixes for artists can often be created in a software that comes with your interface that is purpose built for low latency monitoring. Your mileage may vary, knobs beat mouse every day for artists mixes.
Or there are a few 4 channel headphone amps that allow one additional channel to be added to the 2 track mix, per headphone amp, so you can use a Y cable from mic pre to the singer’s aux in on the headphone amp to give a singer a zero latency vocal plus low latency backing tracks.
As for having control of the tonality of the sound before it hits your DAW, the number of channel strips you need is totally dependent on the scope of your planned recording projects. How many channels do you have vs need?
Genuinely want to help!


Well-known member
Jan 15, 2015
I'm not sure of your tonal goals, style of music etc. Or what gear you are using.
So I'll do what everyone else does on internet forums and assume your gear, wants and needs are similar to mine.
I picked up an SSL X-Desk last year, and an SSL X-Panda 6 months later.
It's an inline, line level mixer with 2 sends, inserts on all inputs and the mix buss.
It also has a handy monitor section, but only for A&B speakers, no sub control.
I'm slowly building out 500 series modules to provide dynamics and EQ for insert points.
All connections are dsub 25 Tascam standard, so it makes cabling up with patchbay and 500 series easy.
The mixer and extender ran me about $5000 USD. Snakes, patchbay and other required stuff was not cheap, but cheaper than TRS or XLR equivalents of same.
Not sure if this solves your problem. But for me, I am very comfortbable with bandwidth and dynamic range of this solution.
The SSL does add a slight hype to the sound, but not in a way that gets harsh from passing through it twice. (Once on
tracking, once on mixdown)
My workflow really benefits from being able to track plain, or patch in a comp or eq with the push of a button.
My goal was to use the DAW as a really good multitrack deck, and this is working great in that regard.

It occurs to me I should mention that the X-Desk came out years ago, and currently seems to be eclipsed by SSL's more recent products like the Six and XL-Desk.
They discontinued the X-Panda after only a couple of years, so you have to bird-dog Ebay and Reverb for one of those. You can however stack two X-Desks for 16 inline inputs (32 total) if you can't find a second hand X-Panda.
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Well-known member
Oct 10, 2004
Karlsruhe, Germany
I suppose you´re (OP) talking about the API the box. In my book the price/feature ratio of that product is way too high. If I were looking for a console I´d write down a checklist with all the features I need and which options would be helpful. Go from there and compare what is available on the market.

I´d not buy into brandname-hype. That´s for GS users with too much money.


Well-known member
Oct 4, 2004
third stone from the sun
I love tracking with an analog console, but to me, and this is my humble opinion, there is no point on using a summing mixer just to take the signal out the PC, sum it, and back into the PC, that is why I asked you if you have a lot of OB gear, if you are going to use OB gear a summing mixer can make sense, otherwise I think its pointless, if there is something computers can do very well is add..
I went down this road many times. To me you just as much of a chance to have a sonic change by going out the computer through a piece of gear then back in as you would with a summing box. I never say one is better these days, just different.
That said I have a big honking analog desk. I track and mix with it. I couldn’t imagine tracking any other way as it speeds the process up. Mixing I could do without it.


Well-known member
Aug 12, 2008
London Town
Quite often engineers will take the quickest route out of the console when tracking or bypass it altogether if using external pre's and use it purely as a monitoring device.

Technical ideology would be least amount of routing signal flow direct to recording medium. Hence why large format consoles have a lot of options to remove sections from the signal flow. I don't see any advantage of using a sumbus for tracking as you are just putting the signal in and out. Why not Just go direct to tape? Unless of course you love the Pre's and sound of that bit of gear.

As creative engineers we all know signal path can add something (not always good) however this unique to every piece of equipment and how you use it.

Not knowing your full setup I can't really give an opinion on what I would do with that budget.

For summing I would use passive DIYRE summing boxes with a couple of Don Classic 1073's either 500 series or racked as make up gains. That is going to be sonically pleasing as the summing on a vintage 1073 Neve console. You will also have 2 mic pre's for tracking and if you have the EQ add on / 1 u rack version you will have a pair of great EQ's too. If you prefer API you could use something from CAPI as your make up gain.

If you really wanted to go for it you could add one mic/line i/p on the o/p of your DAW to the i/p's of the summing mixer.

For example I run my mix through a pair of Don classic 1073's and my drums through a pair of CAPI mic/lines.

This is all really relevant to Mixing though, but it does mean you have gear that can be used for both tracking and mixing.

Some form of console would be great for setting up cue mixes and workflow. If you can setup monitoring and cue mixes from the DAW or other kit is the cost of a desk worth the potential return in smoother workflow? Or would you prefer a host of various mic pre's, compressors and EQ as outboard that is going to offer you more sonic variety than a desk.
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