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Author Topic: George....what's the resolution of analog?  (Read 88441 times)

ted nightshade

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #60 on: May 17, 2004, 11:31:28 am »

Indeed some recordings from 45 years ago are things to stand in awe of.

I certainly do.

Bob Olhsson pointed out to me once that one of the main reasons why was that every attempt was made to procure a first generation master, straight from recording- the 3 track functioned as a safety if the engineer muffed the ride on the vocal.

What we have now is a mania for manipulation of the sound after recording it. Very different approach.

I'm very intrigued that probably the finest digital recording I've ever heard is a very early digital recording indeed- I think it's about 1984 and is a Decca recording of the Rite of Spring. I'm very intrigued to find that it is in many ways superior to any more recent digital recordings I can find! My guess is, that they created a first generation master directly from recording, and that's bit-identical to what's on the CD. That and some fantastic analog engineering on the front end.
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Jim Dugger

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #61 on: May 17, 2004, 11:40:06 am »

Nika Aldrich wrote on Mon, 17 May 2004 09:17

So going from 48KS/s to 192KS/s does, in theory, increase your dynamic range by 1 bit, but with today's converters this is mitigated in other ways.  Further, with 24 bit protocols it is irrelevant as the bit depth already exceeds the dynamic range we can hear.


Thank you.  This is becoming clearer.

To summarize:

1.  We can decrease the amount of quantization noise (error?) by doubling the sampling rate or adding bits to the sample quantity.

2.  The value of doing this tails off quickly as we push the level of the noise a few db below that of the analog electronics on either side and the sampling rate at just a bit over double where the energy is we want to capture.




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Nika Aldrich

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #62 on: May 17, 2004, 11:53:16 am »

Jim,

Close - see below:

Jim Dugger wrote on Mon, 17 May 2004 16:40


1.  We can decrease the amount of quantization noise (error?) by doubling the sampling rate or adding bits to the sample quantity.


Not quite.  We can decrease the amount of quantization error in a specific frequency band (such as the audible band) by doubling the sample rate.

Quote:

2.  The value of doing this tails off quickly as we push the level of the noise a few db below that of the analog electronics on either side and the sampling rate at just a bit over double where the energy is we want to capture.


Yes.  Add this to the fact that in current converters we do not allow the quantization error to manifest itself as white noise.  We use tricks to "reshape" it so that doubling the sample rate no longer affects the noise floor in the same way.  It is no longer an increase of 3dB per doubling of the sample frequency.  This, on top of the issues you raised above.

Nika.
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Ernie

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #63 on: May 17, 2004, 12:26:12 pm »

Quote:

What this should tell you, is that there are some infinities that are bigger than others. How is that possible? Simple:

Take simple numbers. There are an infinte number of simple numbers, right? You start counting from one...and you can count onto infinity.

Now, take just the even numbers, and just count them exclusively. If you just count the even numbers...you can count them into infinity, right?

But when you compare the infinite numbers against the infinite even-only numbers, which is the greater infinity?

It's a brain-twister, right? Counter-intuitive as it is, it makes sense. Some infinities are indeed bigger than others.

Yes and no. Some infinities are bigger than others, yes; this is the math of transfinite numbers or infinite set theory as developed by Georg Cantor. But no, the infinity of "simple" (natural) numbers is not greater than that of even-only numbers. Transfinite numbers can only be compared by placing the systems in one-to-one correspondence; in the case of natural (whole) numbers v. even numbers, you can draw the following correspondence: 1 | 2, 2 | 4, 3 | 6, 4 | 8, 5 | 10, 6 | 12, 7 | 14, etc. endlessly. In terms of infinity, a part is equal to the whole; divide infinity and you still have infinity. This extends to all integers and fractional numbers; this infinite set is known as aleph-0 (represented with the Hebrew letter aleph).

However, there is no one-to-one correspondence between all rational numbers (all integers and fractional numbers as above) and all the points on a line, plane, or in a cube; this second set is therefore known as aleph-1. Curiously, the infinite set of points on a line one inch long and a line one lightyear long is mathematically equal (i.e., infinite and uncountable); and, more so, the number of points on a plane or in a cube is no greater than that on a line. Yet larger than the infinite set of points in a line, plane or cube is the set of all possible geometrical curves, or aleph-2. (c.f. Georg Cantor on infinite sets; one source: http://mathworld.wolfram.com/Infinity.html)

How or if this applies to analog v. digital recording, I leave to you lot; this is fascinating reading to your humble webmaster.
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Bob Olhsson

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #64 on: May 17, 2004, 03:27:16 pm »

ted nightshade wrote on Mon, 17 May 2004 10:31

 I'm very intrigued to find that it is in many ways superior to any more recent digital recordings I can find! My guess is, that they created a first generation master directly from recording, and that's bit-identical to what's on the CD. That and some fantastic analog engineering on the front end.

Approach is indeed a lot of it. Unfortunately every approach to recording technology also interacts with the performers. What I see today is mostly the extremes. We either process the heck out of stuff or else people are refusing to do enough production to eliminate distractions. There's vintage this or that yet much of it is head-tripping instead of simply responding to what we hear.

Ethan Winer

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #65 on: May 17, 2004, 04:58:59 pm »

Steve,

> the only way that really matters is how it sounds <

Sure, no argument there. But please distinguish between "pleasing" and "accurate" because they're not necessarily the same. If you like the way something sounds and what you like is its inaccuracy, then that device can be considered an effect. As an extreme example, I like the way a fuzztone sounds but I sure wouldn't record all my tracks through one.

Some may like the sound of tape's compression and distortion, and that's fine. But I prefer the recording medium to simply reproduce exactly what I send to it. I'll add the effects myself separately. And the medium is really what we're discussing here, not U47 microphones or API consoles.

--Ethan

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #66 on: May 17, 2004, 05:27:44 pm »

Eliot,

> Working in those spaces one doesn't "automatically" get that sound of half a century ago. <

I never said it did. But the small rooms many people use today are a huge impediment to capturing a good sound and creating good mixes. If you put a great mike and a fabulous performer in a small room, it will still sound small. If you mix in a small untreated room you'll have a hard time hearing what you're doing, especially at the low end, and your mixes will suffer. An awful of lot of people seem to miss this basic fact, and that's all I was addressing.

> The way current digital gear offerings handle overs is entirely ungraceful <

Okay. But what's that have to do with the price of tea in China? Eventually people learn to use the tools and realize that with digital it's best to record at -10 instead of trying to slam the meter all the time. Or you patch a compressor into the recording chain and hit that instead of hitting the tape.

If someone prefers to work with analog that's fine with me. But to blame digital gear for not being more forgiving of user error is a little disingenuous, no?

--Ethan

ted nightshade

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #67 on: May 17, 2004, 06:36:35 pm »

Hey Ethan, here's the dilemma. Vocalist sings into the nicest mic I can get my hands on  (Manley Gold). Vibraphonist plays into same mic. Drummer plays into same mic. Record to the nicest digital I can get my hands on (Radar S-Nyquist), record to a modest but healthy and well-implemented analog machine (1968 Sony 854-4, 4 tracks, 1/4", 15 ips).

The analog machine sounds a whole hell of a lot more like the vocalist there in the room. This is distortion? It may represent distortion in some technical terms, from the output of one of the finest microphones around, but it sounds more like the source, by far, than a rather well-implemented and well-regarded digital machine. On any source you can name. In as fanatically purist acoustic aesthetic terms, not fuzzbox terms.

So what am I to make of that?

I'm thinking, the digital recording system needs to be a goodly bit better than a Radar S-Nyquist, to make a recording that resembles the source as much as the humble (OK, it was top of the line once) 35 year old analog machine. I imagine such things exist. I'd love to get ahold of one. I'm searching for digital converters than can make me a 2 track recording into a Masterlink that lets me breathe a sigh of relief and put away the damned splicing tape, razor blades, and head cleaner. I won't miss those things at all.

I'm not after distortion in any way. I'm after strict fidelity to the acoustic source in the room. I'd love to lose the little bit of noise, and I'd love to have something that sounded better than a healthy well-implemented analog tape machine.
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Ted Nightshade aka Cowan

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Jim Dugger

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #68 on: May 17, 2004, 08:21:46 pm »

ted nightshade wrote on Mon, 17 May 2004 17:36

I'm thinking, the digital recording system needs to be a goodly bit better than a Radar S-Nyquist


I've always approached recording with the mindset the tools were like paintbrushes and canvas.

Ever notice how different a painting can be from the source that inspired it, and yet it is still an amazing, beautiful painting, as good as the source itself?

To me, live performance and recordings are a very different media.  And, as different media, there's a very high probability a best-of-class example from each might not be all that similiar.

Maybe that helps explain how you feel?

That said, I've got an early 80s Teac A3340 with Simul-sync around here I'll be happy to trade for that RADAR system.  It's in great condition, all original.
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ted nightshade

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #69 on: May 17, 2004, 09:09:33 pm »

Jim Dugger wrote on Mon, 17 May 2004 17:21

ted nightshade wrote on Mon, 17 May 2004 17:36

I'm thinking, the digital recording system needs to be a goodly bit better than a Radar S-Nyquist


I've always approached recording with the mindset the tools were like paintbrushes and canvas.

Ever notice how different a painting can be from the source that inspired it, and yet it is still an amazing, beautiful painting, as good as the source itself?

To me, live performance and recordings are a very different media.  And, as different media, there's a very high probability a best-of-class example from each might not be all that similiar.

Maybe that helps explain how you feel?

That said, I've got an early 80s Teac A3340 with Simul-sync around here I'll be happy to trade for that RADAR system.  It's in great condition, all original.



I have high hopes for the RADAR system. I really liked what it was like to work with. I will be very interested to see how it develops in the future. I think my old Sony might smoke that Teac... you might feel different about a different tape machine. As it is, I wouldn't trade mine, although it cost me $500 and the RADAR system is at least 20 times that... and worth it I'm sure.

I know what you're saying, Jim, and I can appreciate that approach. In that case, it would be missing the point entirely to call the variation from the original "distortion"- "interpretation" would be more like it. I may yet get into that whole approach to things, but for now, my modus operandi is to create gorgeous sounds in real time in real space, and capture it onto some recording medium in a way that sheds maximum light on what it was like to be there, while sounding "like an album" (!) ...it's just that certain slices of life are more suitable for framing than others.

I just thought that it was especially ironic, in light of Ethan's "fuzzbox" comments, that deviation from a naturalistic depiction of the source was in fact not at all what lead me to prefer this analog machine to any digital I have had a chance to use so far.
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dayvel

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #70 on: May 17, 2004, 10:53:29 pm »

I've never heard a recording in any medium on any playback system that sounded like the real thing. At best, a recording can only create an illusion which requires a certain "willing suspension of disbelief". To engineers who have spent a lifetime developing the mental filters which enable them to create the best possible illusion using analog means, a digital recording may never sound "right"; they just bring a different set expectations to the listening experience. A generation raised on digital sound is likely hear things quite differently. Neither is right or wrong, they're just different.

Dave Latchaw
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Curve Dominant

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #71 on: May 18, 2004, 01:44:55 am »

Quote:

posted by Ernie:
Quote:

What this should tell you, is that there are some infinities that are bigger than others. How is that possible? Simple:

Take simple numbers. There are an infinte number of simple numbers, right? You start counting from one...and you can count onto infinity.

Now, take just the even numbers, and just count them exclusively. If you just count the even numbers...you can count them into infinity, right?

But when you compare the infinite numbers against the infinite even-only numbers, which is the greater infinity?

It's a brain-twister, right? Counter-intuitive as it is, it makes sense. Some infinities are indeed bigger than others.


Yes and no. Some infinities are bigger than others, yes; this is the math of transfinite numbers or infinite set theory as developed by Georg Cantor. But no, the infinity of "simple" (natural) numbers is not greater than that of even-only numbers. Transfinite numbers can only be compared by placing the systems in one-to-one correspondence; in the case of natural (whole) numbers v. even numbers, you can draw the following correspondence: 1 | 2, 2 | 4, 3 | 6, 4 | 8, 5 | 10, 6 | 12, 7 | 14, etc. endlessly. In terms of infinity, a part is equal to the whole; divide infinity and you still have infinity. This extends to all integers and fractional numbers; this infinite set is known as aleph-0 (represented with the Hebrew letter aleph).

However, there is no one-to-one correspondence between all rational numbers (all integers and fractional numbers as above) and all the points on a line, plane, or in a cube; this second set is therefore known as aleph-1. Curiously, the infinite set of points on a line one inch long and a line one lightyear long is mathematically equal (i.e., infinite and uncountable); and, more so, the number of points on a plane or in a cube is no greater than that on a line. Yet larger than the infinite set of points in a line, plane or cube is the set of all possible geometrical curves, or aleph-2. (c.f. Georg Cantor on infinite sets; one source: http://mathworld.wolfram.com/Infinity.html)

How or if this applies to analog v. digital recording, I leave to you lot; this is fascinating reading to your humble webmaster.

------------------------------------------------------------ ------------
Ernie, PSW Webmaster



Ernie,

Thanks for putting a finer point to that, and I'm glad to see another Stephen Wolfram fan lurking.

How I felt this applied to analog vs. digital recording, was sensing this impression we seem to have that anaolg is somehow "infinite" in "resolution," and so by default digital is not...a hypothesis which always seemed flawed to me on an intuitive level.

Fortunately this conversation has since yielded some perspective in that regard.

Reverting back to my original post...the difference between Gaussian noise and TPDF noise, much agonized over by digital audio skeptics, always seemed to me a matter of parsing degrees of infiniteness (or otherwise).

Ethan Winer

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #72 on: May 18, 2004, 11:17:49 am »

Ted,

> The analog machine sounds a whole hell of a lot more like the vocalist there in the room. <

That sure has not been my experience! When I used to own a pro studio with a 2-inch recorder I could always hear the degradation between monitoring the console while recording and tape playback later. Today, with even a modest digital sound card (Delta 66), I hear no difference.

> I'm thinking, the digital recording system needs to be a goodly bit better than a Radar S-Nyquist <

I admit I'm not familiar with that box. But I'm curious: In what way does it sound different / worse than the direct mike feed from the console? Maybe it's simply broken or faulty?

--Ethan

ted nightshade

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #73 on: May 18, 2004, 11:44:29 am »

Ethan Winer wrote on Tue, 18 May 2004 08:17

Ted,

> The analog machine sounds a whole hell of a lot more like the vocalist there in the room. <

That sure has not been my experience! When I used to own a pro studio with a 2-inch recorder I could always hear the degradation between monitoring the console while recording and tape playback later. Today, with even a modest digital sound card (Delta 66), I hear no difference.



Hi Ethan- I'm not talking about the sound of the mc through the console- I'm talking about the sound of the vocalist live in the flesh through nothing but the air. That's what I'm trying to capture.

Quote:


> I'm thinking, the digital recording system needs to be a goodly bit better than a Radar S-Nyquist <

I admit I'm not familiar with that box. But I'm curious: In what way does it sound different / worse than the direct mike feed from the console? Maybe it's simply broken or faulty?

--Ethan


It's a very nice box as digital goes. Nothing broken about the one I used. FWIW, no console, just a Manley 40dB preamp- and what I find using the tape machine is, it sounds damn near exactly off the tape like it did monitoring through the tape machine in record pause with headphones.

I have no doubt that your experience is genuine, and that whatever 2" machine you were using didn't sound as good to you as what you have now- but implementation is everything. I'd heard a few pretty-good tape machines in the past and never got that excited about it- this one I have, I fell in love with immediately.

Plus, I never use more than a few tracks, because the degradation is too much for my taste. Same with digital though, although I've never used a digital mixer better than RME Totalmix, which is pretty nicely done and very simple like I like it.

From Dave:

Quote:

I've never heard a recording in any medium on any playback system that sounded like the real thing. At best, a recording can only create an illusion which requires a certain "willing suspension of disbelief".


I've heard awfully damn close- part of the trick is, you have to play it back at genuine performance levels. Which are huge! Excellent recordings through Bose 901s and 40,000 watts of custom ultra-clean dead-silent amps- I've heard amazing, very lifelike things. More than a few people coming in were fully expecting to find the band playing live in the room. The giveaway was, no band!

But yes, that's an extremely exceptional playback situation, and you are absolutely right about the willing suspension of disbelief. Although what is it that we are disbelieving exactly when we put on an vivid album or look at an amazing photograph? I suppose to think we're actually there would be a leap- the usual disbelief with an overdubbed recording is that the event ever actually took place all at once! Still, my goal is to get it so natural that absolutely as little as possible is between the listener and the music, on whatever system they have.

Quote:

To engineers who have spent a lifetime developing the mental filters which enable them to create the best possible illusion using analog means, a digital recording may never sound "right"; they just bring a different set expectations to the listening experience. A generation raised on digital sound is likely hear things quite differently. Neither is right or wrong, they're just different.


I was an adolescent when the first CDs came out. A few of my friends' folks had super spendy stereos and we used to lay around listening to these CDs in awe... things we knew from cassette and LP, but in some ways had never heard before. Other than cassette though, I don't think I ever heard reel-to-reel tape until I was in my 20's...

On the other hand my friend with the 40,000 watt stereo had his first reel to reel when he was 10, and he likes all kinds of analog tape anomalies that I really don't care for except as an effect. Nostalgia I'm not part of!

But these kids raised on mp3s and plastic computer speakers, blowing out their ears with ipods... yeah, they're gonna hear differently alright, and not any better either.

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Ted Nightshade aka Cowan

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Bill Mueller

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #74 on: May 18, 2004, 09:22:23 pm »

Dave Latchaw
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my friends call me Ted Nightshade, but it says Edward Bruce Cowan on my birth certificate (only my dad calls me Edward)

Dear Dave, Ted and Edward

I'm a little confused here. Could you please be a little more specific. Please describe in detail the Sony analog recorder you are using. It is a consumer deck if I recall. Had a signal to noise of about 62 db at 15ips. Are you using noise reduction? Are you simul syncing with it to do overdubs? What kind of tape are you using? What bias levels are you using? At what record levels have your aligned the machine? What are the frequency response specs you are seeing through your system? Did you use the Radar on the same session as the Sony 854-4? Do you own the Radar? How many sessions did you do through the Radar if you don't own it.

If you have discovered a way to make a 1968 consumer 1/4" tape deck sound more realistic than Radar, I would sure like to know what it is. I have a Studer B67 that I will set up exactly the same.

You also made mention of a Pair of Bose 901's and 40k watts. I'm sure you are pulling our legs here but the 901's are not noted as studio monitors. I don't want to disparage Dr. Bose (I know him) but those are ancient speakers with enough IM (due to excessive speaker excursion) to raise the dead. How do those mixes translate to other listening environments?

Thanks for your insight.

BTW. If anyone is in the DC area this weekend, Bill Plummer and I are mixing the live broadcast for the HFestival on 99.1. It will be a great line up this year. I hope you enjoy the mixes.

Best Regards,

Bill
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