Zen and the Art of Analog Summing

Zen and the Art of Mixing is a great read. Mixerman (AKA Eric Sarafin) has a knack for writing about a subject that normally defies the written word. However, there was one part of the book that really got my goat when I read it, and here I am, six months later, my goat still got. It can all be boiled down to this quote:

I can’t tell you why. I can’t tell you how. I can’t even prove what I’m about to tell you, and I can assure you that the DAW manufacturers, particularly Digidesign, will not only reject this claim but will actively try to persuade you otherwise through flawed white papers that most of you can’t understand and bogus comparisons that most of you wouldn’t know are bogus.

All DAWs bog down at the 2-bus.

For a book that proclaims, through its back cover blurb from Ken Scott, to teach “the Art [sic] of great mixing, not the pseudoscience,” that’s an awfully pseudoscientific claim.

Am I here to stake a claim in the never-ending summing debate? Heck no. Rather, I’m here to ask a simple question, directly related to Mixerman’s obstinate assertion: If what he says is true, why is it that analog summed mixes (or perhaps we should say mixed-with-an-analog-summing-box mixes) sound better than those done ITB? We, as a species, can put a man on the frigging moon. So why can none of the seven billion people on earth tell me why, using empirical evidence, analog summing sounds better to the human brain than digital? Is it the distortion? The re-amping? The AD/DA passes? Inherent limitations of digital audio? If so, what exactly are those limitations? Phrases and words like “bog down” and “choked” are utterly meaningless. I want science, people.

Audio engineers (and by “engineers,” I mean real engineers—not fake ones, like me), software developers, NASA scientists of the world: I call upon you to settle this debate once and for all. And not in an internet forum—in a honest-to-goodness lab. We can even break out the white coats, 1960’s Abbey Road style. Who’s with me?