Imagine Cubase with a built-in option for analog-style summing. The summing would occur in-the-box but would approximate (or, if high-quality enough, fully replace the need for) outboard summing mixers such as those manufactured by Dangerous Music, Burl, Tube-Tech and others.
Brainworx produces the E, G and N versions of their bx_console series, with “Tolerance Modeling Technology” to help ensure each virtual console channel has slight differences (per a variety of console hardware component manufacturing tolerances) that would occur in real hardware. Slate Digital produces the Virtual Console Collection, which can add console flavor to each DAW channel. One limitation of these products and others like them is that they operate on individual channels (and the mix buss, if you configure them accordingly). They can influence the sound of a mix via interaction between individual channels and the mix buss. I know some purists might say, “In-the-box summing in a DAW should be simple addition, so theoretically that should be enough.” But in actual implementation, if a DAW’s summing process involves anything more sophisticated than a brute-force additive algorithm, products like the aforementioned Brainworx and Slate Digital plugins won’t be able to operate directly on the summing process itself because they’re plugins applied as inserts or sends. Another detracting aspect of these products is that they must be manually applied to each channel; a user cannot simply configure a “virtual console” once and apply its effect to all channels in the DAW without using some sort of DAW configuration automation.
PreSonus Studio One has a CTC 1 Pro Console Shaper mix engine plugin which is a good step down this path. Its implementation as a “mix engine effect” - a new category of effect different from inserts and sends - means it it can be automatically applied to all channels in a Studio One project, with variances applied automatically to each channel.
But Steinberg could take this concept further sonically and feature-wise to offer true analog summing mixer emulation (and perhaps replacement) with at least one hardware emulation included in Cubase. This analog summing would be optional; the user could choose to continue to use the existing digital summing, or to apply the analog emulation to the Cubase summing process. Perhaps this feature would only be included in the Pro edition. Steinberg could code this feature to support add-in emulations from other manufacturers. Once the new feature was in place, Brainworx, Slate Digital and others could provide new releases of their plugins for use in this context, greatly enhancing the usability of their existing products.
It would be fabulous to see a number of devices and consoles available as emulations direct from Steinberg. I’d personally like to see API console emulations available.