TABLE OF CONTENTS
1
Introduction
2
Precautions
3
Wiring and Specifications
4
Front Panel Connections Diagram
5
Front Panel Connections
6
Rear Panel Connections Diagram
7
Rear Panel Connections
8
Setting up Your System
9
Insert Processors Example
10
Audio, Speaker, Track Controls
11
Mid/Side, Parallel Processing Controls
12
Tracking Instruments and Mics
13
Playback and Summing
14
Mastering
15
Blank Patch Sheet
16
User Notes
Written by Jered Flickinger
Copyright 2012
Future Retro
www.future-retro.com
INTRODUCTION
Thank you for choosing the db. Please take time to read through the entire manual to gain a complete
understanding of the unit’s features, as well as learn helpful procedures, precautions, and tips.
OVERVIEW
The db is designed to be the core of the modern recording artist’s studio. This multifunctional device can be
used for tracking, summing, and mastering your audio tracks, as well as full control of your monitoring
system.
Only the finest quality components have been used in manufacturing this device for the best possible
performance. Each product is entirely hand soldered and assembled, inspected, and tested in-house to meet
our high-quality standards and provide trouble-free use.
All inputs and outputs are fully balanced, and internal signal routing is 99 percent balanced for the lowest
possible noise.
All summing is passive, and switching is handled by high-voltage relays, providing a color-free/noise-free
audio path, with outstanding headroom.
Up to 16 channels of audio summing are provided.
You can use your preamp of choice for desired accuracy or color, or audition different preamps to get the
right tone for each job.
Hard bypass switching is provided for eight stereo insert channels of buss processing, allowing for quick
auditioning of your favorite outboard hardware.
Mid/side processing is provided for controlling the width of your mixes and processing the mid/side signals
independently.
Parallel processing is provided on the buss processing chain and can act as a quick way to A/B the pre/post
signals of the buss.
Track control provides monitor level control for microphones or the instrument you are tracking.
The monitor section allows you to check your mixes quickly on any combination of three stereo monitor
pairs, as well as on headphones. Mixes can be auditioned as stereo or mono audio.
Monitoring output is stepped to provide quick selection of ideal mixing levels.
Delayed monitor activation at power on/off prevents transients from harming your monitors.
The db also provides latency-free monitoring of the instrument that you are tracking, versus backing tracks
playing in your digital audio workstation (DAW).
1
PRECAUTIONS
Look over the unit to make sure no damage has occurred during shipping. Never apply power to a unit that
appears damaged.
Check that the red voltage indicator on the power switch is set to the proper voltage for your country.
To change the voltage selection, first make sure the power cord has been removed from the unit. Open the
voltage selector/fuse cover (near the mounting screw). Gently pry the red fuse holder out of the enclosure,
rotate it 180 degrees and reinsert the fuse holder. Close the fuse cover and verify that the correct voltage for
your country is displayed in the window.
Use the proper pin-style IEC power cord for use in your country.
Replace the fuses only with 250V 1Amp fast-blow type.
Do not open the unit, since there are no user-serviceable parts inside. Dangerous high voltages exist within the
unit even when the unit is unplugged or turned off. Refer all servicing to qualified personnel.
Never expose the db to rain or moisture. If liquids are spilled into the unit, unplug from the power mains
immediately, and let the unit sit in a dry warm environment until all moisture has evaporated.
Avoid exposing the unit to smoke, or to dusty, or extreme hot and cold environments, as these things may
cause premature component failure.
Clean the exterior of the db with a soft dry cloth. Never use abrasive cleaners that may harm the surface and
finish of the unit.
Do not block ventilation holes in the chassis. When rackmounting the db, leave space above and below the
unit for proper ventilation.
Disclaimer
All information represented in this manual is believed to be accurate at the time of publication. Any
addendums to the manual and further product support may be found on the Support page of our Web site:
www.future-retro.com/support.html
Product specifications may be subject to change.
Future Retro assumes no responsibility for inaccuracies, errors, omissions, nor liability for any loss or damage
resulting directly or indirectly from the use, misuse, or abuse of this product.
Information in this manual may not be copied, reproduced, or distributed in any form without permission from
Future Retro.
Warranty
The db comes with a 1-year warranty covering all parts and labor.
Please register your product at: www.future-retro.com
2
WIRING
All DB-25 connectors are for use with standard D-sub 8-channel snakes. Use high-quality audio cables
whenever possible.
DB-25 wiring for SUMMING IN 1-8 connector
CHANNEL
SHIELD
+SIGNAL
-SIGNAL
1
25
24
12
2
11
10
23
3
22
21
9
4
8
7
20
5
19
18
6
6
5
4
17
7
16
15
3
8
2
1
14
DB-25 wiring for SUMMING IN 9-16 connector
CHANNEL
SHIELD
+SIGNAL
-SIGNAL
9
25
24
12
10
11
10
23
11
22
21
9
12
8
7
20
13
19
18
6
14
5
4
17
15
16
15
3
16
2
1
14
XLR jacks wiring:
PIN 1 = Ground
PIN 2 = Positive (HOT)
PIN 3 = Negative (COLD)
Instrument jacks wiring:
TIP = Positive (HOT)
RING = Negative(COLD)
SLEEVE = Ground
Headphone jack wiring:
TIP = Left channel
RING = Right channel
SLEEVE = Ground
DB-25 wiring for BUSS IN/OUT 1-4(5-8) connectors
CHANNEL
BUSS
SHIELD +SIGNAL -SIGNAL
INSERT
1
1(5) LEFT
25
24
12
2
1(5) RIGHT
11
10
23
3
2(6) LEFT
22
21
9
4
2(6) RIGHT
8
7
20
5
3(7) LEFT
19
18
6
6
3(7) RIGHT
5
4
17
7
4(8) LEFT
16
15
3
8
4(8) RIGHT
2
1
14
SPECIFICATIONS
SIGNAL LEVELS: > +28dBu
AC POWER INPUT: 115V/230V ~ 50-60Hz
AC POWER CONSUMPTION: 400mA current
FUSES: 250V 1Amp fast blow
DIMENSIONS: 15”(L) x 19”(W) x 3.5”(H)
WEIGHT: 12.5 lbs.
INPUTS
2 Microphone (XLR)
2 Instrument (1/4”)
16 Summing (DB-25)
8 Stereo buss processors (DB-25)
OUTPUTS
8 Stereo buss processors (DB-25)
2 Record (XLR)
6 Monitor (XLR)
1 Headphones (1/4”)
3
4
CONNECTIONS
Microphones should be connected to MICROPHONE inputs 1 and 2 on the
front panel.
If you are doing stereo recording, input 1 will be Left channel while input 2
will be the Right channel.
Connect the outputs of your instruments to the respective L / R INSTRUMENT inputs
on the front panel.
Connect your headphones to the front panel jack labeled HP.
The HEADPHONES control adjusts the audio sent to the headphones. The
headphones will monitor the same signal that is being sent to monitors A, B, and SUB.
The headphone amplifier has very high gain. Start with this control turned fully
counter-clockwise, and slowly rotate clockwise until the desired level is reached.
5
6
Connect channels 1-8 OUT of your DAW audio interface to SUMMING IN 1-8.
If your DAW audio interface has 16 outputs, connect channels 9-16 OUT to
SUMMING IN 9-16.
Connect the outputs of your first 4 hardware buss processors to BUSS IN 1-4.
Connect the inputs of your first 4 hardware buss processors to BUSS OUT 1-4.
Connect the outputs of your second 4 hardware buss processors to BUSS IN 5-8.
Connect the inputs of your second 4 hardware buss processors to BUSS OUT 5-8.
Connect MONITOR A outputs to your near-field monitor amplifier inputs.
Connect MONITOR B outputs to your loudspeakers (or a second set of monitors)
amplifier inputs.
Connect MONITOR SUB outputs to your subwoofer (or a third set of monitors)
amplifier inputs.
Connect the RECORD OUT outputs to inputs 1/Left and 2/Right of your DAW’s
A/D converter.
7
SETTING UP YOUR SYSTEM
Once the db is fully connected to your system, you should calibrate the sound
pressure level (SPL) of audio in your room.
Set the MONITOR control to the 0 dB setting, and set the MODE control to
PLAY.
Set your DAW master output channels to outputs 1 and 2 of your audio interface.
Play source material in your DAW (white or pink noise may be preferable), and set
the output of your DAW and audio interface so it is as close as possible to 0 dB
without clipping.
Place a SPL meter in the location where you will be when monitoring and mixing your music.
Select the appropriate set of monitors by activating the A, B, or SUB switches, while adjusting the amplifier
level for that respective monitor pair. You want to adjust your amplifier levels to achieve a SPL reading of
approximately 85 dB.
The 0 dB setting on the MODE switch will now be your ideal monitoring setting. By monitoring your audio at
this constant level, your ears will become accustomed to how music should sound at this level, and your
mixes should improve.
The –12 dB and –6 dB settings will attenuate the monitoring level to check your mix at decreased levels,
while +6 dB and +12 dB will allow you to check your mix at increased levels.
Avoid listening to audio at these higher levels for extended periods of time. Doing so can cause the ears to
fatigue, misleading your judgment when making critical choices during mixing.
LABELING SWITCHES
Once you decide how external buss processors will be connected to the db, you should consider labeling the
corresponding switches.
A transparency sheet is included for labeling these switches. When cutting out the labels, use the fine-dot grid
to guide your cuts.
* To remove the switch cap, depress the switch so it is in the outward position.
* Using your fingers, grab the top and bottom of the switch cap and pull it off.
* Use your fingernails or a thin flat blade to gently pry the clear plastic top off the white base.
* Place the transparent label on the white base and install the clear plastic top on the base.
* Reinstall the switch cap for the switch by aligning it and pressing it on the switch.
8
INSERT PROCESSORS EXAMPLE
Here is an example of how we set up our db. You can think of this as a starting point.
Obviously, your hardware requirements and/or uses may differ.
First you will notice we have stereo preamps for inserts 1 and 2.
If you are going to be doing any audio summing from your DAW, you will need a preamp for makeup gain.
Preamps in these locations will also be useful when tracking mics and instruments to get the optimum signal
level for further processing and recording.
Having two preamps is nice, as you can choose different “colors” of amplification for different sources. You
may choose one for “clean” precise work and another for “color” or adding mojo to your sound.
TIP: Activating both preamps simultaneously in the first two insert locations can also be used to generate
overdrive and distortion if “clean” just isn’t your thing.
On insert 3 we have placed a parametric EQ that can then be used on the MID/SIDE process or as normal for
stereo material. EQ is probably the most useful effect to use on the MID/SIDE process to really focus the lowfrequency spectrum to the center channel while enhancing the high-frequency spectrum in the sides.
TIP: If more processors are required on the MID/SIDE insert, you can always daisy-chain the desired number
of effects on BUSS 3 IN/OUT.
For insert 4 we placed a compressor to help tame peaks from the EQ on insert 3, or for general transient
control.
For Insert 5 we use another EQ/sonic enhancement device. Sometimes you may prefer to EQ after
compression occurs, or simply use a different “color” EQ than is setup for insert 3.
Insert 6 is another compressor, there simply for more tonal options. For instance the compressor on insert 4 in
our case is tube-based, while the compressor on insert 6 is solid state optical for two totally different results.
For insert 7 we use a multi-effects processor. By setting the effects processor to have a 100 percent wet
output, and then using the Pre/Post MIX control, we can vary the amount of effect mixed into our audio.
Insert 8 is a great place for a limiter. In this way you always maintain control over audio levels before they hit
your DAW’s A/D converters. In addition, since the limiter is after the PRE/POST MIX process, it is easier to
monitor a more constant level when checking the pre/post mix.
Keep in mind that some of the insert effects you use may be ideal for tracking purposes, while others are
intended more for the mastering process. The nice thing about the db is that you have them all in one place so
you can quickly check to see what works best for the task at hand.
9
AUDIO CONTROL
Activating the MONO AUDIO switch will take all stereo audio and convert it to a mono audio signal sent to
both left and right monitors. Only the monitor signal will be converted to mono. The audio signal going
through the BUSS PROCESSING and to the RECORD OUT will remain stereo.
This feature is useful to check the left/right phase of your stereo mix. It can also be used when tracking mono
signals so that you hear this mono audio coming out both the left and right speakers.
SPEAKER SELECT
The SPEAKER SELECT switches allow you to turn on or off any combination of monitor speakers
connected.
We recommend you have your near-field monitors as A, loudspeakers as B, and subwoofer as SUB although
any combination of speakers can be connected.
Speaker selection is instantaneous and completely silent.
NOTE: If audio is playing while speaker selection is changed, transients may be heard only because selection
was made while the waveform was at any phase other than 0. This is normal and will not harm your speakers.
TRACK CONTROL
The TRACK control allows you to adjust the monitoring level of MIC or
INSTRUMENT signals while tracking those sources.
The 12 o’clock position is an ideal starting level. Rotating the control counter
clockwise will decrease the level. Rotating the control clockwise will increase the
level.
10
MID/SIDE PROCESSING
MID/SIDE processing allows you to process the left/right in-phase audio separately
from the out-of-phase audio, allowing you to control the width of your audio stereo
image.
The MID signal is comprised of the in-phase left/right audio.
The SIDE signal is comprised of the out-of-phase left/right audio.
To hear the effect of the MID/SIDE processing, activate the M/S switch. With the
WIDTH control at the 11 o’clock setting, you will hear an even mix between the
MID and SIDE signals. As you rotate the WIDTH control counter-clockwise, the
stereo image will become more mono. Rotating the WIDTH control clockwise will
make the stereo image appear wider.
Activating BUSS PROCESSING insert switch 3 will allow you to externally process
the MID and SIDE signals independently with the processor on insert 3.
The MID signal will be processed by the Left channel, while the SIDE signal will be processed by the Right
channel.
PARALLEL PROCESSING
Parallel processing allows you to control the mix of the PRE and POST signals for
the BUSS PROCESSING chain.
The PRE signal is taken from the output of BUSS PROCESSING insert 2.
The POST signal is taken from the output of BUSS PROCESSING insert 7.
Activate the MIX switch to hear the effect of parallel processing.
As you rotate the PRE/POST control counter-clockwise, you will hear more of the
signal coming from insert 2’s output. Rotating this control clockwise will increase
the amount of signal heard that is passed through (all active) BUSS PROCESSING
inserts 3 through 7.
Parallel processing works great on EQ, compression, distortion, and even multieffects processors such as reverbs, delays, and so forth.
TIP: With the PRE/POST control in the PRE position, activating MIX is a quick way to A/B processes used
on the BUSS.
11
TRACKING
First, prepare an audio track to record to in your DAW, setting the input source to inputs 1 and 2 (for stereo
recording) or input 1 or 2 individually (for mono recording).
Mute the track that is being recorded to in the DAW to prevent feedback from occurring, and arm the track so
that the level of incoming audio can be monitored.
TRACKING MICROPHONE SOURCES
To record microphone sources, set the MODE switch to MIC.
If recording a stereo pair of mics, input 1 will be the Left mic, input 2 will be
the Right mic.
If recording from a single microphone, you may wish to activate the MONO
AUDIO switch so that audio is heard in both the left and right monitors.
Activate the buss switch for the preamp you want to use. If the microphone
requires phantom power, activate phantom power on the preamp. Increase the
gain of your preamp to achieve the ideal recording level.
You may activate/deactivate any of the buss processors and make adjustments to their settings as you monitor
the audio source. You can adjust the monitoring level of the instrument to be recorded, versus tracks playing
in the DAW by adjusting the TRACK level control.
Once all is set, you can begin recording. When done recording, turn phantom power off at the preamp!
TRACKING INSTRUMENT SOURCES
Connect the instrument you are going to record to the INSTRUMENT L/R
inputs on the front panel. Set the MODE switch to INST.
If recording mono audio source, you may wish to activate the MONO AUDIO
switch so that audio is heard in both the left and right monitors.
Activate the buss switch for the preamp you want to use. Increase the gain of
your preamp to achieve the ideal recording level. You may activate/deactivate
any of the buss processors and make adjustments to their settings as you
monitor the audio source.
You can adjust the monitoring level of the instrument to be recorded, versus tracks playing in the DAW by
adjusting the TRACK level control. Once everything is set, you can begin recording.
CAUTION: When changing MODES be aware if phantom power has been left on while recording a
microphone source. While the db does have internal circuit protection that limits phantom power to +/-18V
DC to anything connected to the INSTRUMENT and SUMMING inputs, and most professional devices will
have some output circuit protection built in to prevent damage in such a case.
Damage may occur in devices without this sort of protection. For this reason, always turn phantom power off
after recording a microphone session, or before changing modes in the db.
12
PLAYING TRACKS FROM THE DAW
Select PLAY MODE to hear what you just recorded, or to monitor any other
audio playing in the DAW. Make sure the master output of your DAW is set to
outputs 1 and 2 of your audio interface and that the track you just recorded is
unmuted.
This mode is nice as it allows you to record a track and then quickly monitor
the recording without having to disrupt the selection and settings of the
processor buss.
If you need to redo a recording, simply switch back to MIC or INST MODE,
and arm the recording track.
SUMMING
Summing allows you to take multiple audio tracks and combine them into
either a mono or stereo track.
You may notice when you listen to individual tracks in your DAW that they
sound great, but after you accumulate lots of tracks, your audio starts sounding
flat and lifeless. That’s because software has to crunch what would be a very
large number into a finite amount of space. In doing so, some details of your
audio are bound to get discarded.
Many professionals choose to use analog summing to retain the high resolution of each track through the D/A
converters. The audio is then combined with infinite resolution in the analog domain before being recorded
back into the DAW.
You should find that this method helps preserve punch, presence, and channel separation.
To prepare tracks for summing, first you will need to set the tracks you want to sum for a specific output. If
you are using an 8-channel audio interface, you can assign audio to outputs 1 through 8. With a 16 channel
interface you can assign outputs 1 through 16.
You will typically assign each track to a different output to achieve the best results.
Notice that the front panel provides four MONO SUMMING switches for the first eight summing channels.
When each switch is activated, that stereo channel then becomes two separate mono channels.
For instance, let’s say you have a kick drum on channel 1, a bass drum on channel 2. By activating the 1 / 2
switch, channels 1 and 2 will both be panned to the center. Use mono summing on all instruments you want
center panned.
13
NOTE: Selecting MONO SUMMING will make that audio input louder as it assigns a single audio input to
both the left and right audio outputs. You can compensate for this by adjusting the track output level in the
DAW.
With stereo inputs, you can use the pan control in your DAW to specify the stereo placement for that track.
Prepare an audio track to record the summed audio to in your DAW, setting the input source to inputs 1 and 2
(for stereo recording) or input 1 or 2 individually (for mono recording).
Mute the track that is being recorded to in the DAW to prevent feedback from occurring, and arm the track so
that the level of incoming audio can be monitored.
Activate the buss switch for the preamp you want to use. Increase the gain of your preamp to achieve the ideal
recording level.
You may activate/deactivate any of the buss processors and make adjustments to their settings as you monitor
the audio source although in most cases simply running the summed audio through the preamp is all that is
needed. Once you are satisfied with the overall mix levels, you can begin recording.
Now that you have just summed 8 or 16 channels of audio down to 2 channels, you can deactivate those 8 or
16 channels of audio in your DAW, freeing up tracks and CPU power.
MASTERING
Mastering allows you to take your stereo mix, process it through the db buss,
and record the final mix into the DAW.
Mastering provides that final touch to your overall mix using fine amounts of
EQ, compression, sonic enhancement, or all of the above to achieve the
optimum levels and spectral balance for your music.
Set the MODE switch to MASTER.
Prepare an audio track to record the audio to in your DAW, setting the input
source to inputs 1 and 2 (for stereo recording) or input 1 or 2 individually (for
mono recording).
Mute the track that is being recorded to in the DAW to prevent feedback from occurring, and arm the track so
that the level of incoming audio can be monitored.
Activate the buss switch for the preamp you want to use. Increase the gain of your preamp to achieve the ideal
recording level.
You may activate/deactivate any of the buss processors and make adjustments to their settings as you monitor
the audio source.
You may wish to experiment with use of the MID/SIDE processing, and parallel processing using the
PRE/POST MIX sections, as these can be essential tools for the mastering process.
To check the left/right phase of your mix, activate MONO AUDIO.
Once you are satisfied with the overall mix levels, you can begin recording.
14
15
USER NOTES
16
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