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What's wrong with mixing "In The Box"? Size, Depth & Clarity

This week I came across this great interview with Producer/Engineer John Agnello over at

On the topic of the difference between mixing analog and mixing ITB he sums it up nicely: Size, Depth, and Clarity.
Now obviously this is just one dude’s opinion, and mixing all analog isn’t really an option for most of us, it is an interesting and entertaining interview nonetheless. Check out the rest (7 parts) of the interview here.

FreqControl has a bunch more cool interviews on making records on the site.


  1. kj
    kj April 2, 2010

    he’s right. and look, there are a lot of consoles options out there. it’s more of an option that n most people seem to think…

  2. Shane
    Shane April 11, 2010

    Sorry, but this guy is on the proverbial high horse. Sounds like a writer who swears that a typewriter is the ONLY way to write a novel…can’t be using one of those new, fangled computers now, can we? LOL!

    One might be tempted to believe he’s a relic…trying desperately to hold on to a bygone era (big studios and big record companies). Glad both are dying.

  3. Zachary
    Zachary April 13, 2010

    The guy doesn’t know how to mix in the box. It ain’t easy my friends. He also can’t make an ssl sound good, huh? So there you go, nuf said. …. He’s also not qualified to knock things if he simply can’t pull off mixes in formats other than the one he’s been glued to for years. This is not the guy to be asking this question unless AGZ is taking an anti ITB stance too. Which would be weird.


  4. Jon
    Jon April 13, 2010

    John A’s opinions are very similar to William Wittman’s who was “the guy I stole the most stuff from” aka his mentor. The dislike of ITB, SSL and the everything sucks attitude.

    That said, he spent his whole life making records analog, he knows how to make it sound good and Pro Tools does not in his opinion.

    I’ve mixed on a console, out of and into Pro Tools HD. I could make it sound shit quite easily.

    I think hybrid is the way to go honestly.

  5. Max
    Max December 23, 2010

    In the last days I’ve been investigating a lot about ITB versus Analog summing prior to decide if I have to mix my next project on SSL or straigt in my PTHD3 studio. I can now confirm that there is no technical problem in mixing in the box. Actually it’s even MORE precise than the analog option. But of course you get a DIFFERENT sound, not a better one by definition. I have to say that after so many years spent learning to mix in an analog environment I had to spend quite a long time to find a way to get the same spacious, warm and punchy mix from the ITB mixing. But I believe I found my way to it and now, even if I reaaly enjoy it, having an SSL for the mixing session it’s not a must anymore. But of course I had to develop a number of tricks and carefully rework the level attitude to accomodate the digital world. I have to say that for me the hardest time was finding good reverb plugins. But finally I found some that sound up to my reference standards (480 and rmx16). I now consider my first choice the TC electronics DRV2 (a nice emulation of the EMT250 classic) and Eventide 2016 suite. This are super. Then I find extremely useful the RE-VIBE and even the D-Verb. For some typical 224/480 fx I use Reverb One and I don’t really love convolution reverbs even if I use some neat RMX and 480 inpulses very faithful to the original. I found that a little Phoenix (Cranesong) plugin in the stereo master helps a lot to get that elusive “analog sound” I usually use the “luminescent” flavor. And of course if you are using PTHD just try the “dithered mixer” plugin instead of the regular one. I even like most the “Surround dithered mixer” for the 3db pan rule and I use it even for stereo mixes (if I can afford the extra dsp that eats). Anyway it’s a long learning curve to get high quality mixes either digital or analog and requires a lot of feedback, trials end errors. But frankly It’s difficult today to work without the 100%$ total recal yo get ITB. It allows me to work on different projects at once and make small corrections on request in a matter of seconds. A final word: to my ears the analog “magic” it’s only some distortion that warms up the low mids mostly. And I can find now at least 10 different options ITB to distort the mster buss… Try it by yourself.
    And let me know your impressions.
    All the best.

    • Jon
      Jon December 23, 2010

      This is great, thanks for your comment Max.

  6. online mastering
    online mastering March 11, 2011

    There are some excellent ITB mixes and mixers, it is partly to do with adjusting your working methods and of course selecting the right tools is VERY important. I use both analogue and digital tools for mastering, but analogue in itself is not a panacea for all mixing ills.


  7. Max
    Max April 15, 2011

    Just a consideration about analog: If the analog has a nice colour that means that there is some distortion and frequency response coloration involved. So that mean lack of precision. If it’s better than the sound at the input that means that is not linear. Probably what sound strange about digital is that it IS linear in response and does not add any “magic”.

  8. online mastering
    online mastering April 23, 2011

    I think it is incredibly subjective. I sometimes use a compressor as an EQ. Different boxes impart different tones and to that end it comes down to judgement and taste and as we know that in itself takes time and could be one of the most significant factors.

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