Good morning children, today we're gonna discuss the Dangerous 2-Bus.
What is a Dangerous 2-Bus?
It's the original analog summing box,
the original concept, the invention, the one that started everything.
What is analog summing?
Analog summing is the best of both worlds.
We all have computers and we all decided to make music with it.
DAWs: Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase, Performer,
I even know some people who use GarageBand, it's a brave new world.
Computers are awesome, they're portable (some of them),
they're great for recall, they're great for editing,
they're great for plugins, those are all wonderful things.
Some of us might have identified problems with their workflow, maybe
tonal problems, or gain management problems,
things that computers not necessarily the best at.
What a Dangerous 2-Bus does is it brings 60 years of tradition
of gain management and tone in the analog domain,
into the world of computer recording and I'm gonna show you how.
First you need converters: you bought them, you use them.
I use 16, anywhere from 8 up is good.
16 channels coming out of my DAW
into the 16 inputs of the 2-Bus,
coming out of the 2-Bus two channels of my summed material
into an A/D converter,
back into my DAW.
So really it brings back the old paradigm of having a 2" machine
a console, SSL or Neve, depending on your self-respect in aesthetics,
and then a 1/2" machine to bring back to it.
We're having 2" console-half inch - DAW-2-Bus-DAW
The difference of course is that it's modern, it fits into the 2U rack,
and you don't need a tech to maintain it.
Alright, let's take a look at the hardware.
This is a 2-Bus LT, I have a 2-Bus and a 2-Bus LT in my rack,
First let's talk about the mono buttons..why a mono button?
Well, say you send your bass drum to output 1
and your snare drum to output 2,
it's gonna go "puk-ciak, puk-ciak".
So if you hit the mono button it goes "puk-ciak, puk-ciak",
much better unless of course you're mixing a Beatles' record.
As a side note I think it would be interesting to discuss the difference
between the 2-Bus and the 2-Bus LT because I get that question a lot.
First, they sound the same.. they sound the same,
did I mention they sound the same? They sound the same.
Otherwise there are physical differences, so for example
this is a 2-Bus LT, it's 1U, the 2-Bus it's a 2U. That's pretty obvious.
This is a high-quality pot, right here,
whereas on the 2-Bus it's a stepped switch.
Another difference is here you see a switch that's not on the LT,
it's a +6dB switch for the 2-Bus.
That is used in case you're stuck in the DAW with your faders at max
and still not enough gain on something, say vocal,
you press +6dB here and now it's loud enough.
It's a plus, truly.. you should be able to gain stage without it.
In the back!
We have 2 D-Subs for the LT and we have dedicated XLRs for the 2-Bus.
This is the expansion port and that is cool because
it let's you daisy-chain several 2-Busses,
without losing any channels.
So if you have two of them you get an actual 32 channels of summing.
How would you choose between one or the other?
Well if your converter has XLRs in the back
you might wanna go with the 2-Bus; if your converter has D-Subs in the back
might make sense to go with the 2-Bus LT.
If you need +6dBs of analog gain 2-Bus is the way to go;
If you only have one space left in you rack, LT is the way to go.
That's it for hardware, let's talk about software.
If you haven't used analog summing you do everything in your session
out the same pair of converters, probably output 1-2, right?
Bass drum, snare drum, everything goes to output 1-2.
Let me show you a session that is set up for analog summing.
If you look here you'll see that my kick is going out to 2-Bus 1,
my..all my kicks, I have three kicks here,
my snare drum is going to output 2,
my overheads go to output 3-4,
my tambourine goes to output 5-6,
my bass is bussed into this aux here and goes to output 9,
my bass bow which comes on the chorus only is on 13-14,
my acoustic guitar goes to 2-Bus 7-8,
my violin goes to 13-14, my banjo - everybody needs a good banjo -
goes to output 13-14, vocal goes to output 10,
all my FX, reverbs and delays go to 15-16,
and then these two track to the right here; this is my return
which is the feedback from the 2-Bus into the computer, and then
that's printed to a track. Remember: Source-2-Bus-print.
So again the ideal is that, instead of sending everything to output 1-2,
and get this big block of sound
you use your dedicated converters, as many as you can get,
and send separate stems, as they say in movie mixing,
and in order of preference. So for example
my preference is transient-heavy stuff,
so I will separate the bass drum and the snare drum, anything percussive,
I will separate bass and the vocal (yes, vocals can be percussive).
I don't care about pad set much.
The other advantage is that I can tell my assistants
to set up that session the same way, every time.
Two advantages to that: number one, I can come to the studio later,
number two, well, I always know where my bass drum is,
and I always know where my snare drum is because they're always there,
which saves a lot of time when you're mixing.
Let's listen to some music, let's listen to this session,
because let's not forget this is all about music.
This is a Will Knox song called "Footprints on the Moon".
So what are the benefits of the Dangerous 2-Bus?
As far as I am concerned I can see four important things:
fader position and analog integration.
Let's talk about some quality first. We all spend a lot of time
trying to translate the sound we have in our heads, and
trying make it come out of the speakers and that's a hard thing to do.
Trying to achieve that mental picture and solidify it
is easier and faster for me with the 2-Bus.
I get a stronger bottom, very strong center,
and I don't get that 3k, you know that, that "mh" thing
that hurts your eyes when you're listening out, that's gone.
And then I get a nice sheen on the top-end, and
I always like it when somebody tells me: "Oh, that box sounds like a record",
I'm like, in this case it does sound like a record.
I save a lot of time and I get there much faster when I use a 2-Bus.
What about the headroom?
Well, you may have found yourself in this situation, I know,
I have mixed it in-the-box. You're mixing? Life is beautiful.
About four hours down the line,
you may find yourself getting a suntan from the clip LEDs.
Somebody sent you, somebody else not you of course,
sent you 100 tracks or stuff recorded too loud
because everybody records too loud. Your mission is to take those
100 tracks of stuff recorded too loud, and deliver
2 tracks of good-sounding stuff, good luck with that.
So you may find yourself bringing
all, taking all those faders and bringing them down 6dBs and trying to
gain some space back.
With the 2-Bus you don't have that problem,
it's designed to give you headroom.
It's designed to take a lot of heat, so you can run into it hard,
and get a good tone out of it, right away, and not have
to worry about gain management so much,
it's not a computer crushing numbers, it's copper summing audio.
If you take a look at my session you may notice that most my faders,
or actually all my faders, are hovering around 0 dB,
why is that a big deal?
If you mix in-the-box,
you'll notice that you often have to compromise with your fader position.
Say if you have a very loud instrument,
you may have to bring it all the way down here, why is that a problem?
It's a pain in the butt. If you want to change something for say .1dB,
you can't, that's really really hard. You have to like
use modifying keys and stuff, and it doesn't feel good.
On the other hand if you can have your fader here like you
do if you have your proper gain stage with the 2-Bus then
.1dB is no problem, and the precision is very good.
Also if you have a control surface like this,
I have a Command 8 or any of them really,
you'll find that it's really unpleasant to have you faders all the way down here,
It doesn't work very well, they're not very responsive.
With the 2-Bus you'll find that
your faders are gonna hang out up here, where
the resolution is good, and they respond very well,
it changes the feel of mixing with a control surface,
and it's all about the feel.
I feel like I should also talk about analog integration,
meaning the integration of analog outboard, hardware
into the workflow, the 2-Bus makes that easy.
I'm a plugin guy, I use 80-90% plugins but there are
analog outboard boxes that do things that plugins don't do.
And also there are applications that are very practical like for example,
say you have a bass-heavy mix with a lot, a big bass drum
and you want to have a push on that, it is really simple to just insert
a good EQ, like an old Pultec, in between the converter and the 2-Bus and push
5 or 6dBs at 60 Hz, you get your big bass drum,
with no headroom problems. That's nice.
Also I can insert outboard after the 2-Bus
before the DAW, say a stereo EQ or a stereo compressor
to sweeten the whole mix, and in one pass.
It's a very practical, old-school way to work in a non-school environment.
So the sound quality, the headroom, fader position
and the analog integration are four reasons why
I've been installing 2-Buses in every rig I've built since I tried that.
If you mix music today you owe to yourself to try one.