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Author Topic: analog trade-offs  (Read 26233 times)

MagnetoSound

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Re: analog trade-offs
« Reply #120 on: January 27, 2011, 06:29:08 pm »


A limiter tends to have a threshold.

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Bill Mueller

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Re: analog trade-offs
« Reply #121 on: January 27, 2011, 06:32:37 pm »

MagnetoSound wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 18:29


A limiter tends to have a threshold.



Totally.

However the further we get from daily use of analog tape by the majority of engineers, the more the myths and misunderstandings of it grow.

Bill
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MagnetoSound

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Re: analog trade-offs
« Reply #122 on: January 27, 2011, 06:40:46 pm »

Bill Mueller wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 23:32

MagnetoSound wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 18:29


A limiter tends to have a threshold.



Totally.

However the further we get from daily use of analog tape by the majority of engineers, the more the myths and misunderstandings of it grow.

Bill



Yup.

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Music can make me get right up out of my chair and start dancing or it can get me so pumped up I have to walk around the block.
It can also knock me back and make me sit there and cry like a little baby. This shit is as powerful as any drug!!!
- Larry DeVivo

Nicky D

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Re: analog trade-offs
« Reply #123 on: January 27, 2011, 08:09:58 pm »

MagnetoSound wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 17:40

Bill Mueller wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 23:32

MagnetoSound wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 18:29


A limiter tends to have a threshold.



Totally.

However the further we get from daily use of analog tape by the majority of engineers, the more the myths and misunderstandings of it grow.

Bill



Yup.




point taken Bill and Magneto...I wouldn't want to further those olde wives tales with my silly assertion that tape feels like a limiter to me




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Nicky D

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Re: analog trade-offs
« Reply #124 on: January 27, 2011, 08:12:48 pm »

Bill Mueller wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 16:52

Nicky D wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 17:36

Bill Mueller wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 16:14

Fenris Wulf wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 12:27

fiasco ( P.M.DuMont ) wrote on Wed, 26 January 2011 21:49

 depth


It's pretty simple. Analog tape limits the peaks by as much as 20 dB. You don't see the peaks on the VU meters because they're too slow. This brings up the average level until the low-level details are well above the noise floor. This limiting is accomplished in a way that is subjectively more natural than digital processing. Track the same drum sound to tape and digital, digitize the tape and compare, and you'll see the giant spiky peaks on the direct-to-digital version. Input transformers and tubes also saturate, but not in the same way.

One of the first things GM taught me was to track drums at -20db to preserve the transients. We would sit in the control room and look at the scope before we had peak meters. So much for the theory that all analog clips transients.

Bill


I'm not sure if you are disagreeing or agreeing with the quoted post, but in my very limited use of tape I've always felt that it exhibits limiting characteristics and not compression...and not when it's (obviously) saturating either.


Nicky,

A well set up Studer or Ampex tape machine running at 15 or 30 ips can capture transient information quite accurately, without limiting or compression. However, since the transients are sometimes 20db above the VU indications, if you want to capture transients as George always did, you should not record above -20db according to him.



Bill


that makes complete sense...never thought about it that way
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Fenris Wulf

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Re: analog trade-offs
« Reply #125 on: January 28, 2011, 04:23:23 pm »

Bill Mueller wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 22:19

But if you can't get a great sound with a DM2000 and a MX2424, you need more help than an A80 can give you.


I can't get great sound with a DM2000 and a MX2424.

And yet I CAN get great sound on a live-to-stereo mix with 1 hour setup time, if I'm using an analog console.

Hilarious.
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Bill Mueller

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Re: analog trade-offs
« Reply #126 on: January 28, 2011, 08:06:57 pm »

Fenris Wulf wrote on Fri, 28 January 2011 16:23

Bill Mueller wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 22:19

But if you can't get a great sound with a DM2000 and a MX2424, you need more help than an A80 can give you.


I can't get great sound with a DM2000 and a MX2424.

And yet I CAN get great sound on a live-to-stereo mix with 1 hour setup time, if I'm using an analog console.

Hilarious.

Fenris,

That's too bad.

Bill
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Silvertone

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Re: analog trade-offs
« Reply #127 on: January 29, 2011, 09:25:33 am »

Nicky D wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 19:12

Bill Mueller wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 16:52

Nicky D wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 17:36

Bill Mueller wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 16:14

Fenris Wulf wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 12:27

fiasco ( P.M.DuMont ) wrote on Wed, 26 January 2011 21:49

 depth


It's pretty simple. Analog tape limits the peaks by as much as 20 dB. You don't see the peaks on the VU meters because they're too slow. This brings up the average level until the low-level details are well above the noise floor. This limiting is accomplished in a way that is subjectively more natural than digital processing. Track the same drum sound to tape and digital, digitize the tape and compare, and you'll see the giant spiky peaks on the direct-to-digital version. Input transformers and tubes also saturate, but not in the same way.

One of the first things GM taught me was to track drums at -20db to preserve the transients. We would sit in the control room and look at the scope before we had peak meters. So much for the theory that all analog clips transients.

Bill


I'm not sure if you are disagreeing or agreeing with the quoted post, but in my very limited use of tape I've always felt that it exhibits limiting characteristics and not compression...and not when it's (obviously) saturating either.


Nicky,

A well set up Studer or Ampex tape machine running at 15 or 30 ips can capture transient information quite accurately, without limiting or compression. However, since the transients are sometimes 20db above the VU indications, if you want to capture transients as George always did, you should not record above -20db according to him.



Bill


that makes complete sense...never thought about it that way



Yep, this is the way it was back in the day.  I don't think I ever slammed anything into the red back then.  Drums were -20, guitars bass and the rest a little hotter maybe around -16 to -12 depending on how dynamic the song was.

Funny how slamming tape really became popular AFTER digital came on the scene.  Now a days everybody thinks that slamming tape was the norm back in the day. It's just not true, at least with me or any of the engineers I knew in the Bay area back in the 80's.
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Jim Williams

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Re: analog trade-offs
« Reply #128 on: January 29, 2011, 12:00:14 pm »

Bill Mueller wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 14:52

Nicky D wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 17:36

Bill Mueller wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 16:14

Fenris Wulf wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 12:27

fiasco ( P.M.DuMont ) wrote on Wed, 26 January 2011 21:49

 depth


It's pretty simple. Analog tape limits the peaks by as much as 20 dB. You don't see the peaks on the VU meters because they're too slow. This brings up the average level until the low-level details are well above the noise floor. This limiting is accomplished in a way that is subjectively more natural than digital processing. Track the same drum sound to tape and digital, digitize the tape and compare, and you'll see the giant spiky peaks on the direct-to-digital version. Input transformers and tubes also saturate, but not in the same way.

One of the first things GM taught me was to track drums at -20db to preserve the transients. We would sit in the control room and look at the scope before we had peak meters. So much for the theory that all analog clips transients.

Bill


I'm not sure if you are disagreeing or agreeing with the quoted post, but in my very limited use of tape I've always felt that it exhibits limiting characteristics and not compression...and not when it's (obviously) saturating either.


Nicky,

A well set up Studer or Ampex tape machine running at 15 or 30 ips can capture transient information quite accurately, without limiting or compression. However, since the transients are sometimes 20db above the VU indications, if you want to capture transients as George always did, you should not record above -20db according to him.

Bill


True, BUT you must include the THD into the differences. Analog tape properly aligned will give you about 4~5% THD at 10k hz, it doesn't get any better.
Compared to my BurrBrown converters, that drops to .001% THD, quite a difference when someone bashes a cymbal. I find analog tape THD to be very objectionable on acoustic sources, almost like spit thrown onto the sound.
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Bill Mueller

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Re: analog trade-offs
« Reply #129 on: January 29, 2011, 01:02:29 pm »

Jim Williams wrote on Sat, 29 January 2011 12:00

Bill Mueller wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 14:52

Nicky D wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 17:36

Bill Mueller wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 16:14

Fenris Wulf wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 12:27

fiasco ( P.M.DuMont ) wrote on Wed, 26 January 2011 21:49

 depth


It's pretty simple. Analog tape limits the peaks by as much as 20 dB. You don't see the peaks on the VU meters because they're too slow. This brings up the average level until the low-level details are well above the noise floor. This limiting is accomplished in a way that is subjectively more natural than digital processing. Track the same drum sound to tape and digital, digitize the tape and compare, and you'll see the giant spiky peaks on the direct-to-digital version. Input transformers and tubes also saturate, but not in the same way.

One of the first things GM taught me was to track drums at -20db to preserve the transients. We would sit in the control room and look at the scope before we had peak meters. So much for the theory that all analog clips transients.

Bill


I'm not sure if you are disagreeing or agreeing with the quoted post, but in my very limited use of tape I've always felt that it exhibits limiting characteristics and not compression...and not when it's (obviously) saturating either.


Nicky,

A well set up Studer or Ampex tape machine running at 15 or 30 ips can capture transient information quite accurately, without limiting or compression. However, since the transients are sometimes 20db above the VU indications, if you want to capture transients as George always did, you should not record above -20db according to him.

Bill


True, BUT you must include the THD into the differences. Analog tape properly aligned will give you about 4~5% THD at 10k hz, it doesn't get any better.
Compared to my BurrBrown converters, that drops to .001% THD, quite a difference when someone bashes a cymbal. I find analog tape THD to be very objectionable on acoustic sources, almost like spit thrown onto the sound.

Jim,

Absolutely, but sometimes the conversation can only get too deep before we loose the original focus.

To your point, Classical labels, the MOST technically rigorous of all the music genre, adopted digital technology almost instantly through Soundstream. Why? Because of two reasons in my opinion.

First wow and flutter. Anyone who can't hear the wow and flutter in an analog recording of a piano sonata is not listening carefully enough in my opinion.

Second, your point harmonic distortion. When you record a symphony, the sound that came out of the console is the sound you want to come back from the tape machine, not a bunch of freelance compression, wow, flutter and especially DISTORTION.

These are the parameters that digital recording excels at and it was enough to move nearly the entire classical community to move to digi. After that, it was the Jazz community (again, don't give me no distortion, just play the damn thing back cleanly) and last country music. Same thing.

Rock music has clung to analog recording because of the "sound" of analog tape and the unnatural compression levels and acceptable distortion levels that have always been associated with rock.

I would bet that most of the people here who hate digital, hate it for two reasons. One they are forced to record with a mouse in a computer and do not have a traditional environment of a console and recorder both doing their appropriate jobs. And two they are trying to recreate "rock" sounds in a purposely designed "sterile" digital medium. One man's "sterile" is another man's "pristine".

Best regards,

Bill
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Fenris Wulf

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Re: analog trade-offs
« Reply #130 on: January 29, 2011, 04:47:56 pm »

Bill Mueller wrote on Sat, 29 January 2011 18:02

To your point, Classical labels, the MOST technically rigorous of all the music genre, adopted digital technology almost instantly through Soundstream. Why? Because of two reasons in my opinion.

First wow and flutter. Anyone who can't hear the wow and flutter in an analog recording of a piano sonata is not listening carefully enough in my opinion.

Second, your point harmonic distortion. When you record a symphony, the sound that came out of the console is the sound you want to come back from the tape machine, not a bunch of freelance compression, wow, flutter and especially DISTORTION.
The industry moved to 2" 24-track in the early 1970's and suddenly they had a hiss problem. Modern high-output tapes weren't introduced until several years after that. This is why classical recordists embraced digital.

The most natural recording of a cello I've ever heard, by far, is the Pablo Casals recording of the Bach cello suites done in the 1930's using a ribbon mic direct to shellac disk. Even today, many classical recordists prefer vintage tube microphones if they can get them.

I strongly prefer jazz and classical recordings made prior to the 1970's. Part of it could be the higher standards of musicianship that prevailed in the past, but the "flawed" recording medium in no way detracts from my enjoyment of the music.

I've recorded acoustic projects to Quantegy 499 at 15 ips on a stock MCI 1" 8-track. Technically it has noise and distortion and bla bla bla, but subjectively the sound is far less fatiguing than recording straight to digital.

I have no doubt that I could record classical music on the same MCI, disguise the hiss in the reverb tails, and no one would be able to identify the medium. The golden-eared audiophiles would say "that sounds great, what digital converter did you use?"

Flutter? So what? Air currents and the physical movements of the musicians produce similar timebase distortion. Flutter is OK in small amounts. Digital jitter isn't.

Quote:

And two they are trying to recreate "rock" sounds in a purposely designed "sterile" digital medium.
Yes. I want control over the sound. I want a wide range of useful sounds, instead of ONE sound which I have to fix later with plug-ins.

This is why studios end up buying a dozen different kinds of mic preamps for different music styles, and can't understand how old-school engineers got by with only the board preamps.

I strenuously object to the idea that digital is "good enough" and bad results are the fault of the engineer. I believed this myth for many years and it cost me a lot of time, money, and frustration. In my experience, digital isn't even acceptable.

I'm looking into the possibility of creating an analog recording program at the university, so that students can experience working in a real analog studio. If it ever happens, watch out. They might start asking some inconvenient questions. Like why we ever gave up analog in the first place.
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Fenris Wulf

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Re: analog trade-offs
« Reply #131 on: January 29, 2011, 04:54:33 pm »

Bill Mueller wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 22:14

One of the first things GM taught me was to track drums at -20db to preserve the transients. We would sit in the control room and look at the scope before we had peak meters. So much for the theory that all analog clips transients.

Bill


I never said that tape clips. Its behavior is much more complex than that. It's a combination of frequency-dependent compression and peak limiting that varies with recording level. At lower levels, the peak limiting in inaudible but affects the behavior of downstream compressors and EQ's. At higher levels, it can produce a very compressed signal where every drum hit peaks at exactly the same dB level, but it accomplishes this in a way that is subjectively more natural than either a hardware compressor or a software limiter.

I don't smash everything by default, I use whatever formulation/speed/level is appropriate to the music and the micing techniques. A close-miced rock drummer with inconsistent velocity needs more tape compression, a jazz drummer miced with a single overhead ribbon needs less. I like having a choice.

Old-school engineers, going back to Geoff Emerick or even earlier, routinely "abused" the tape or the mic preamps in order to manipulate the dynamic and harmonic characteristics of various instruments. Few of them ever tracked at -20 dB, that decision was a product of GM's particular esthetic goals.

As a drummer, I've found that analog tape does a fair job of mimicking the compression of my ears when I'm sitting behind the drum set. It cannot be replicated with a Portico or a Fatso or a HEDD or whatever the Band-Aid of the month is.
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Bill Mueller

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Re: analog trade-offs
« Reply #132 on: January 29, 2011, 05:30:07 pm »

Fenris Wulf wrote on Sat, 29 January 2011 16:47

Bill Mueller wrote on Sat, 29 January 2011 18:02

To your point, Classical labels, the MOST technically rigorous of all the music genre, adopted digital technology almost instantly through Soundstream. Why? Because of two reasons in my opinion.

First wow and flutter. Anyone who can't hear the wow and flutter in an analog recording of a piano sonata is not listening carefully enough in my opinion.

Second, your point harmonic distortion. When you record a symphony, the sound that came out of the console is the sound you want to come back from the tape machine, not a bunch of freelance compression, wow, flutter and especially DISTORTION.
The industry moved to 2" 24-track in the early 1970's and suddenly they had a hiss problem. Modern high-output tapes weren't introduced until several years after that. This is why classical recordists embraced digital.

The most natural recording of a cello I've ever heard, by far, is the Pablo Casals recordings of the Bach cello suites done in the 1930's using a ribbon mic direct to shellac disk. Even today, many classical recordists prefer vintage tube microphones if they can get them.

I strongly prefer jazz and classical recordings made prior to the 1970's. Part of it could be the higher standards of musicianship that prevailed in the past, but the "flawed" recording medium in no way detracts from my enjoyment of the music.

I've recorded acoustic projects to Quantegy 499 at 15 ips on a stock MCI 1" 8-track. Technically it has noise and distortion and bla bla bla, but subjectively the sound is far less fatiguing than recording straight to digital.

I have no doubt that I could record classical music on the same MCI, disguise the hiss in the reverb tails, and no one would be able to identify the medium. The golden-eared audiophiles would say "that sounds great, what digital converter did you use?"

Flutter? So what? Air currents and the physical movements of the musicians produce similar timebase distortion. Flutter is OK in small amounts. Digital jitter isn't.

Quote:

And two they are trying to recreate "rock" sounds in a purposely designed "sterile" digital medium.
Yes. I want control over the sound. I want a wide range of useful sounds, instead of ONE sound which I have to fix later with plug-ins.

This is why studios end up buying a dozen different kinds of mic preamps for different music styles, and can't understand how old-school engineers got by with only the board preamps.

I strenuously object to the idea that digital is "good enough" and bad results are the fault of the engineer. I believed this myth for many years and it cost me a lot of time, money, and frustration. In my experience, digital isn't even acceptable.

I'm looking into the possibility of creating an analog recording program at the university, so that students can experience working in a real analog studio. If it ever happens, watch out. They might start asking some inconvenient questions. Like why we ever gave up analog in the first place.

Ferris,

Multitrack recording, analog or digital had no affect at all on classical recording during the time I cited. It was all done to two track. Classical recordists went digital because of the quality of sound. I was there.

And if your willing to accept flutter in your classical recordings, that is your compromise, not mine.

And if bad results are NOT the "fault" (your term not mine) of the engineer, who IS to blame? If you don't like the media, don't use it.

I am pointing out a range of possible causes for reasons why some people don't like digital recordings even in the face of overwhelming technical superiority.

Ross has never entered this discussion, but he records quite happily in a digital environment. If Ross can get the kinds of warm and gorgeous sounds out of digital that he can, why can't you? I'm not finger pointing at you specifically, I'm pointing out that if Ross can do it, we should all be able to do it to some degree.

Best regards,

Bill
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Fenris Wulf

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Re: analog trade-offs
« Reply #133 on: January 29, 2011, 05:48:03 pm »

I can't do it. Sorry.

At least, I can't do it on my budget. If I could afford 12 diffent flavors of high-end preamps, vintage tube mics, and a $50,000 control surface, maybe I would find digital somewhat more useable. But that gives the lie to the claim that digital is more affordable, doesn't it?

My objection to digital isn't just the sound, but the ergonomics, reliability, and long-term cost. Nearly all digital equipment is built to be disposable. It isn't modular, the way a professional console or tape machine is.
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Fenris Wulf

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Re: analog trade-offs
« Reply #134 on: January 29, 2011, 06:08:38 pm »

Bill Mueller wrote on Sat, 29 January 2011 22:30

Multitrack recording, analog or digital had no affect at all on classical recording during the time I cited. It was all done to two track. Classical recordists went digital because of the quality of sound. I was there.

And if your willing to accept flutter in your classical recordings, that is your compromise, not mine.



No, they were blown away by the complete lack of hiss. It made their jobs much easier. It took them a while to realize that digital has its own drawbacks.

IIRC the early digital recorders had transformer-coupled input circuitry and analog anti-aliasing filters, and were considerably more euphonic than later, "technically superior" digital recorders.

When I listen to the playback of the MCI, I don't perceive any objectionable flutter. And its transport is FAR from being the best available. If the flutter is reasonably small and listeners don't know it's there, it doesn't disturb them. You have to set up artificial tests where you scrutinize the decay of piano notes and so forth, just to hear it. Piano is practically the only instrument that is steady enough to let you hear flutter, most other instruments have an inherent vibrato that masks it.

The most fanatical audiophiles prefer vinyl, which is absolutely filthy compared to tape. If jazz and classical recordists went back to tape, I don't think anyone would object to the sound. And the master tapes would still be playable in 50 years.

My biggest question for the digital manufacturers is, "Why do I need this? What does it do that I can't do better and faster on tape?"
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