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Author Topic: Digital tracking with low levels = better...is this new???  (Read 120343 times)

rollmottle

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Re: Digital tracking with low levels = better...is this new???
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2007, 11:52:28 am »

just so i'm clear, are we talking RMS or Peak?

what would be the recommended Peak level of tracks on an ITB mix?
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dcollins

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Re: Digital tracking with low levels = better...is this new???
« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2007, 12:53:16 am »

compasspnt wrote on Wed, 10 January 2007 06:03


I like to call it "Zoom."



You should call it iZoom.  Perhaps tZoom is better.

-6 peak should be fine, but don't be afraid to go lower......

DC

J.J. Blair

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Re: Digital tracking with low levels = better...is this new???
« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2007, 01:22:09 am »

To prove once again that Wittman and I are of the same mind, in analog, one of the concerns is noise floor.  You want a level that is high enough to have a goos S/N ratio, but that is within the headroom of the medium being used.

Now with digital, there is no inherent media noise, as with tape or vinyl.  There really isn't a headroom issue to the media either.  You are running into headroom on your converters, and the real culprit in shitty sounding digital, headroom of summing buses.  This is where the idea of recording at low levels comes in, because then the bus doesn't run out of headroom and leave you with that nasty digital distortion.  Some of us have done experiments and found that if you do the same mix at near peak levels, and then do a -15 dB trim across the whole mix, the result of the latter is much better sounding.  
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Version

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Re: Digital tracking with low levels = better...is this new???
« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2007, 01:30:21 am »

Doesn't this just make sense?



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rollmottle

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Re: Digital tracking with low levels = better...is this new???
« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2007, 01:39:12 am »

J.J. Blair wrote on Wed, 10 January 2007 22:22

 This is where the idea of recording at low levels comes in, because then the bus doesn't run out of headroom and leave you with that nasty digital distortion.  Some of us have done experiments and found that if you do the same mix at near peak levels, and then do a -15 dB trim across the whole mix, the result of the latter is much better sounding.  


to do this, is there any difference between bringing the entire mix down track by track or just slapping a trim plug across the 2 bus?

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J.J. Blair

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Re: Digital tracking with low levels = better...is this new???
« Reply #20 on: January 11, 2007, 02:05:02 am »

Yeah, there's a huge diffrence, because the weak link is in the bus.  You have to bring down the levels going TO the bus, by bringing down each track.
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They say the heart of Rock & Roll is still beating, which is amazing if you consider all the blow it's done over the years.

"The Internet enables pompous blowhards to interact with other pompous blowhards in a big circle jerk of pomposity." - Bill Maher

"The negative aspects of this business, not only will continue to prevail, but will continue to accelerate in madness. Conditions aren't going to get better, because the economics of rock and roll are getting closer and closer to the economics of Big Business America." - Bill Graham

rollmottle

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Re: Digital tracking with low levels = better...is this new???
« Reply #21 on: January 11, 2007, 02:14:08 am »

J.J. Blair wrote on Wed, 10 January 2007 23:05

Yeah, there's a huge diffrence, because the weak link is in the bus.  You have to bring down the levels going TO the bus, by bringing down each track.


word. in the process of testing all this out right now. thanks!
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zubdub

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Re: Digital tracking with low levels = better...is this new???
« Reply #22 on: January 11, 2007, 03:49:18 am »

I thought the idea of hitting a digital recorder hard was to use all of the bits...in a 16 bit recording, to get a greater S/N ratio. Giving way to the luxury of not needing to hit a 24 bit recording as hard to get above the noise floor of your analog gear such as pres. All of which allows you to mix at a suitable level without getting a digital burn.
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compasspnt

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Re: Digital tracking with low levels = better...is this new???
« Reply #23 on: January 11, 2007, 09:51:05 am »

For the thousand and second time, FORGET that stuff about "using all of the bits."  ESPECIALLY in 24 bit sessions.

Record each track at reasonably lowered levels (let's say...-12 to -20 peaks).

Then mix at a reasonably lowered level (let's say -6 to -10 peaks).

As JJ just said, this will avoid overloading the digital mix buss, one of the major concerns in "digititis."

This will allow your plug-ins more room to work properly, and avoid most overload therein (which is where much other terribleness can occur).

As for the mic pre's, gain stage them properly to begin with.

Must we point out again that no less than George Massenberg would often record even in ANALOGUE this way?  Sometimes he would have meters on a tape machine peaking at -5 to -10 ON DRUMS.

As long as you stay away from noise (and in digital, there is no real noise proplem at any level), you will be better off.

Go forth and multiply.

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Kendrix

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Re: Digital tracking with low levels = better...is this new???
« Reply #24 on: January 11, 2007, 11:01:53 am »

compasspnt wrote on Thu, 11 January 2007 14:51

For the thousand and second time, FORGET that stuff about "using all of the bits."  ESPECIALLY in 24 bit sessions.

Record each track at reasonably lowered levels (let's say...-12 to -20 peaks).

Then mix at a reasonably lowered level (let's say -6 to -10 peaks).

As JJ just said, this will avoid overloading the digital mix buss, one of the major concerns in "digititis."

This will allow your plug-ins more room to work properly, and avoid most overload therein (which is where much other terribleness can occur).

As for the mic pre's, gain stage them properly to begin with.

Must we point out again that no less than George Massenberg would often record even in ANALOGUE this way?  Sometimes he would have meters on a tape machine peaking at -5 to -10 ON DRUMS.

As long as you stay away from noise (and in digital, there is no real noise proplem at any level), you will be better off.

Go forth and multiply.




To build on this point.  Per digital sampling theory the only thing you lose when you use fewer bits is dynamic range.  There is no loss of fidelity involved.  Having more bits does not produce a "smoother waveform" after filtering (many folks seem to think it does).

With 144db of dynamic range at 24 bits the loss of some dynamic range is not an issue.  Trading off some of the dynamic range in order to avoid the digital summing bus headroom issues is virtually "all good and no bad".
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Ken Favata

CHANCE

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Re: Digital tracking with low levels = better...is this new???
« Reply #25 on: January 11, 2007, 11:07:26 am »

You lost me. How would you lose dynamic range? Recording at lower levels, the relative differences between 0db and your highest level will still be the same yes?
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Kendrix

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Re: Digital tracking with low levels = better...is this new???
« Reply #26 on: January 11, 2007, 12:28:56 pm »

CHANCE wrote on Thu, 11 January 2007 16:07

You lost me. How would you lose dynamic range? Recording at lower levels, the relative differences between 0db and your highest level will still be the same yes?


I think not.- You are effectively reducing the "highest level" by recording at a lower volume.  So, dynamic range is reduced.

If you A to D convert into a 24 bits and you turn the input or trim down so that you record say 12db below where you'd be if you peaked at zero then you are reducing the dynamic range of the signal being converted by 12db.  In doing so you are using 2 fewer bits than are available.  

The point is that the quality of the subsequently reconstructed waveform (after the D to A) does not suffer when you do this.
Since virtually any real sound source hs much less than 144db dynamic range you really dont lose anything- however you gain the benefit of digital headroom when summing.
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Ken Favata

compasspnt

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Re: Digital tracking with low levels = better...is this new???
« Reply #27 on: January 11, 2007, 12:39:35 pm »

And surely no one in today's climate is concerned with KEEPING maximum dynamic range anyway!

Seriously, if, instead of 144 dB DR, you have ONLY 132, yet at the same time you are virtually eliminating digital distortion, whilst reducing the "artifacts" commonly associated with digital recording, I think you're still doing "real good."
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thedoc

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Re: Digital tracking with low levels = better...is this new???
« Reply #28 on: January 11, 2007, 01:33:47 pm »

Time for a document entitled:

The Official PSW Digital Level Specification.
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Tomas Danko

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Re: Digital tracking with low levels = better...is this new???
« Reply #29 on: January 11, 2007, 03:00:23 pm »

Kendrix wrote on Thu, 11 January 2007 17:28

CHANCE wrote on Thu, 11 January 2007 16:07

You lost me. How would you lose dynamic range? Recording at lower levels, the relative differences between 0db and your highest level will still be the same yes?


I think not.- You are effectively reducing the "highest level" by recording at a lower volume.  So, dynamic range is reduced.

If you A to D convert into a 24 bits and you turn the input or trim down so that you record say 12db below where you'd be if you peaked at zero then you are reducing the dynamic range of the signal being converted by 12db.  In doing so you are using 2 fewer bits than are available.  

The point is that the quality of the subsequently reconstructed waveform (after the D to A) does not suffer when you do this.
Since virtually any real sound source hs much less than 144db dynamic range you really dont lose anything- however you gain the benefit of digital headroom when summing.



Not really.

The sound you record will live roughly somewhere below the incoming noise floor (ie background noise, microphone, preamp and so forth) up to the maximum peak of the sound in question.

It will most definitely be able to live between 0 dBFS and, say, -144 dBu.

Now, if you set your A-D converter to only peak at -12 dBu you will still be recording the entire dynamical span of that sound set lower within that 24 bit file.

So practically speaking, if something had, say 80 dB of total dynamic range then you can decide to record it into 0 dBFS and downwards or you could record it into -12 dBu and downwards.

Align the recordings by shifting the mantissa up or down (ie within a 32 bit floating point register) and you'll see it's all there regardless of how hot you printed it.

The difference is that if you slammed the converter there are some penalties to be had regarding the analog front end of the converter, the decimation process in it. And even more so, downstream when you apply plug-ins and a mixing engine.

That just about sums it up.

Regards,

Tomas Danko
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