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Author Topic: Do you mix analog?  (Read 6768 times)

breathe

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Do you mix analog?
« on: December 01, 2010, 02:37:14 am »

This is becoming like one of those extreme issues like "Are you Pro-Choice?".  If you own a studio and you have made the undeniably expensive investment into outfitting your studio with an analog mixer and processors that can, in your opinion, deliver better sound quality than plug-ins, then you are truly operating on a dissident plane of creative existence.  There are maybe a few old studios kicking around with bullshit analog gear picking up whatever gig they can, but from my vantage point, a person in this age that builds a studio from scratch with mostly analog components is making a really revolutionary decision.  Having worked for a year in a studio run by a wonderful man (Kent Gibson) who primarily did documentary film mixing but also got me into forensic audio, I can see where in many applications an analog studio would be completely impractical (Kent's studio is all-Pro Tools).  That being the case, for studios willing to sacrifice automation and total recall and also spend a shitload more money on actual hardware and take up WAY more physical space, the results can surpass the wildest dreams of any person who gives a fuck about sound.

There is a crisis going on and in my personal opinion, which I have stated before (just as any person can admit to having an ideological/religious standpoint), my personal viewpoint on it is strongly shaped by my affection for post-modernist theory, is that the commercial culture we are presently living in is gravely affecting a psychological condition whose outcome is basically unique to this era, where the entire experience of "reality" from the physical world is being violently eroded.  When I say "reality" I am referring to the world we experience that is defined by perception of and actualization of human intention.  The technology currently being used to create the communication media which contributes so much to our self-perception is destroying our notion of ourselves as "natural" beings.  I am not making this shit up.  This is actually happening RIGHT NOW.  When human intention becomes completely severed from media (i.e. print/electronic) communication, I think society will shift into a different paradigm.  One aspect of the shift that is already happening that I am personally seeing is human alienation (typically being the outcome of irreconcilable differences of diametrically opposite intentions) ceasing to be the necessary reason for powerful emotions to erupt.  THIS is affecting songwriting as I write this.

I'm getting tired because I worked hard today, but my basic hypothesis of this post is that human beings have an innate understanding of physical media vs. virtual media, and Fletcher saying his teenage daughter and her friends were now into vinyl is a vindication of this.  I certainly prefer good vinyl pressings of a record played on my stereo over any other format.  The problem with the word "fidelity" is that the entire language that got created to describe it was based on the reality of analog technology.  I barely know words to describe fidelity problems unique to digital audio and I am actually trying to learn those words.  My point is that in the near future, if not right now, the average music listener will not refer to a "good" i.e. "high fidelity" recording as one that has no self-noise or distortion or has good high frequency content, but that this audience will define "fidelity" by whether or not they believe the sound recording has any relationship to physical experience.  "Fidelity"= "Do I believe it?"  Because for me, the shit I hear on the radio now, I don't believe for one second that those sounds were largely created by human beings, which makes those sounds meaningless to me.

My 2
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Fletcher

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2010, 03:07:24 am »

Interesting philosophical dilemma - but this is not a particularly new phenomenon.  While music in the 70's was often based around "accurate capture" - starting in the 80's, between the introduction of SSL desks [which permitted all kinds of sick automation events], AMS delays and reverb. the fashion of gated reverb on drums, "triggerable" autopanners - fashion was to create product that could NEVER occur "in nature".

The tools of today have given the practitioner the ability to take this premise to new heights, while there is a bit of a hangover from the "return to nature" movement of the 90's [no blatantly blown drum samples / gated reverbs, etc.] but still exploiting the ability to produce product that could not, and did not occur in nature.

Analog mix capture could be part of this, could not be - it is but a spoke in the wheel of modern production techniques and is a decision exclusive to each and every production team.  

Peace.
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch.  
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

breathe

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2010, 03:10:29 am »

Just to sabotage my own post, I REALLY enjoy Aphex Twin's "Richard D. James Album" whose rhythm arrangements were largely created by software the brilliant man himself acquired from IRCAM, the institute of experimental sound research financed by the French government, showing how fucking cool the French are while Americans blithely drool in front of the television absorbing Dr. Phil.

Nicholas




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breathe

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2010, 03:14:07 am »

Fletcher, I can listen to 80's synth pop and still hear human beings.  I don't hear that in most modern pop productions.


Fletcher wrote on Wed, 01 December 2010 00:07

Interesting philosophical dilemma - but this is not a particularly new phenomenon.  While music in the 70's was often based around "accurate capture" - starting in the 80's, between the introduction of SSL desks [which permitted all kinds of sick automation events], AMS delays and reverb. the fashion of gated reverb on drums, "triggerable" autopanners - fashion was to create product that could NEVER occur "in nature".

The tools of today have given the practitioner the ability to take this premise to new heights, while there is a bit of a hangover from the "return to nature" movement of the 90's [no blatantly blown drum samples / gated reverbs, etc.] but still exploiting the ability to produce product that could not, and did not occur in nature.

Analog mix capture could be part of this, could not be - it is but a spoke in the wheel of modern production techniques and is a decision exclusive to each and every production team.  

Peace.


And just on another note, if record production itself is to be a representation of human intention, not just the recorded performances, where does automation and "Pro Tools-style" editing fit into this picture?  What creates a record that reflects human intention, and is this even something to desire?  Many human intentions are of base and crude foundation - I imagine many people are refreshed when they walk into a GAP clothing store, whose physical design is so carefully constructed to be free of these issues.

Nicholas
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Silvertone

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2010, 06:36:07 am »

Yes, I mix analog.  I only record real musicians playing real instruments.  

I'm lucky as I only do projects that interest me... and I'm only interested in capturing real performances made by living breathing (pun intended) musicians.  Nothing like the thrill of "live" musicians "going for it" in the studio to get my blood going.

I lived through all this in the 80's when MIDI happened... everybody ran off to their own place and made music in isolation... well does anybody really want to listen to 80's music anymore?  Certainly not like the 60's and 70's music that is still revered today... I guess that alone proves the point.

Long live analog!
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Larry DeVivo
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To see some of our work please click on any of the visual trailer montages located at... http://robertetoll.com/  (all music and sound effects were mastered by Silvertone Mastering).

seedyunderbelly.com

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2010, 08:30:29 am »

The invention of the Saxophone ruined human experience as it isolated people from their voices and did things that were not humanly possible previously...  

Really all the automation is is a glorified volume and tone knob on your bass...

Just make what you want, listen to what you wish to there is always things out there that are not our favorite --when you spend more time analyzing the herd than doing as you wish___   socialolgists gone wild musicians gone tame....

really  I like that the world is full of stuff I do not wish to hear__  my razor would get pretty dull otherwise...

and the collapse of the industry has been a shot in the arm to made music rebellion and subversion again  be thankful it is as it is everyone can participate and there is less money.

There is no big bad wolf  there is more good music being made now then ever before__  if you can not find it it is not top 40's fault --  the fact people reference "modern productions" all the time makes me laugh they must be listening to them...

I wish we all were better at doing what we like __  let the may flies drown in syrup if they wish  they are fine  getting laid eating well  __  

let go the fight and focus on your path   that is actually the only way to turn it around anyway __  not that I want anything flipped over other then  ...

MagnetoSound

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2010, 01:29:32 pm »



Wise words, John.



let go the fight and focus on your path that is actually the only way to turn it around


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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!!!
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Fig

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2010, 04:28:50 pm »

Silvertone wrote on Wed, 01 December 2010 05:36

Yes, I mix analog.  I only record real musicians playing real instruments.  

I'm lucky as I only do projects that interest me... and I'm only interested in capturing real performances made by living breathing (pun intended) musicians.  Nothing like the thrill of "live" musicians "going for it" in the studio to get my blood going.



+1

Record analog, mix analog.  Performers only.  Live as possible.  A few 3 dimensional plug-ins (120 rackspaces worth!) to boot.  Plus three thousand square feet of airspace to push around.

So much fun!
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kats

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2010, 08:31:34 pm »

Oh yeah baby!


http://empirerecording.ca/empirerecording.ca/Galleries/Pages/Summer_2010_files/Media/DSC01188/DSC01188.jpg?disposition=download




http://empirerecording.ca/empirerecording.ca/Galleries/Pages/Summer_2010_files/Media/DSC01189/DSC01189.jpg?disposition=download


http://empirerecording.ca/empirerecording.ca/Galleries/Pages/Summer_2010_files/Media/DSC01139/DSC01139.jpg?disposition=download
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Tony K.
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plughead

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2010, 09:11:01 am »

Silvertone wrote on Wed, 01 December 2010 06:36

Yes, I mix analog.  I only record real musicians playing real instruments.  

I'm lucky as I only do projects that interest me... and I'm only interested in capturing real performances made by living breathing (pun intended) musicians.  Nothing like the thrill of "live" musicians "going for it" in the studio to get my blood going.

Long live analog!


+1 on all accounts.

Although I don't have a console anymore, I mix through Folcrom and O/B to get to the end result, which occurs faster through an analog chain than it ever did through a computer.

I choose not to record/produce electronic/MIDI-based material, and tho it's not always 'top-tier' players, I feel enriched in spite of it. 'Real' is about live playing - warts and all. All one has to do is listen to those multi-track soloed sections of Gimme Shelter to know what I (we're) talking about.
 
I will NEVER conform to whatever current trends dictate. Music means more to me than compromising my goals and ideals as both a musician AND as an A/E...
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compasspnt

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2010, 09:22:58 am »

Best thing in Tony's photos...NO HEADPHONES!
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Wireline

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2010, 09:33:06 am »

When its my choice, yes...I've had specific requests to do it all ITB (strange, I know) as to eliminate the sonic influences of nasty things like transformers, external EQs and such.  (no, I'm not kidding)

On one recent project, I never could get the automations to give up the goods the way we wanted to hear them, so I brought them thru the 8 stereo buss returns of the board, and tweaked things that way.  The results turned out to be the most dynamic and 'beefiest' song on the project, IMO
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tom eaton

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2010, 11:13:50 pm »

I can not think of one instance in which a project did not sound better and come together easier mixed on the console.  Roughs along the way might be done ITB for speed, but at the end of the day if the budget is there to mix on the console (and for recalls as needed) the end result always sounds better than anything I can do in the computer.

If I had an awesome control surface with a bunch of touch sensitive faders it's possible the process of mixing ITB might become more musical, but the ability to work the faders would still not make the sonic difference the console makes.  Which is either some degree of "murk" or "glue" or "weight" or whatever the console brings to the table.  Coming one to one from the d/a converters to the console channels probably helps, too, and I've never used a summing box... soooo...

t

Nizzle

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2010, 11:59:13 pm »

tom eaton wrote on Fri, 03 December 2010 20:13

I can not think of one instance in which a project did not sound better and come together easier mixed on the console.  Roughs along the way might be done ITB for speed, but at the end of the day if the budget is there to mix on the console (and for recalls as needed) the end result always sounds better than anything I can do in the computer.

If I had an awesome control surface with a bunch of touch sensitive faders it's possible the process of mixing ITB might become more musical, but the ability to work the faders would still not make the sonic difference the console makes.  Which is either some degree of "murk" or "glue" or "weight" or whatever the console brings to the table.  Coming one to one from the d/a converters to the console channels probably helps, too, and I've never used a summing box... soooo...

t


Hand a Strat to a Les Paul player and it will still sound like the player....only not quite as good.

We get comfortable on our instrument and we perform better when playing it(most of the time).

-t

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tom eaton

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2010, 08:01:51 am »

Absolutely... my skill set and comfort level are an inescapable part of my equation.  There are guys who can do amazing stuff ITB... I just find it to be more effort for less return.

t

kats

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #15 on: December 04, 2010, 09:26:29 am »

compasspnt wrote on Fri, 03 December 2010 08:22

Best thing in Tony's photos...NO HEADPHONES!



Less headaches, better results. What I do actually is run the live mics into the console and use the monitor sends to go back out to the wedges for vocals, or eKeys. Actually I have a pzm under the grand and I do the same with that as well. This way I have the whole performance recorded, even if we're going to redo vocals or something

As you know I'm only on my third year in this studio, but the as my balls grow bigger with set ups,  you begin to realize how little bleed adversely affects anything ( actually how little bleed there really is). Just a little extra consideration on mic placements and patterns and your golden.

There is nothing to be afraid of the dark.

 
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Tony K.
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Entertainment is a bore, communication is where it's at! - Brian Jones 1967

Wireline

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #16 on: December 04, 2010, 10:13:28 am »

Quote:

you begin to realize how little bleed adversely affects anything


The only time I've found it troubling is when dealing with 'producers' who don't know any better - the ones who want PERFECT isolation on every mic/source...

You, the ones who want an individual mic on each member of a 30 piece chorale (and a separate cue mix for each one as well - but that's a different thread)

Question - how did you keep the Hiwatt out of everything else?  You mean to tell me you actually had players that understood the volume knob worked BOTH ways?

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kats

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #17 on: December 04, 2010, 09:08:08 pm »

We had a THD hotplate down one or two notches on the hiwatt... IIRC, that or it was a master volume...

I don't remember using it too much, mostly the tweed or an 18w Marshall. It's really not an issue... I know David Sardy was working with these guys and he doesn't even bother with the gobo's ( I don't blame him, it's just as good without).

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Tony K.
http://empirerecording.ca

Entertainment is a bore, communication is where it's at! - Brian Jones 1967

Nick Sevilla

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #18 on: December 04, 2010, 09:13:50 pm »

A seminar I attended at AES :

Speaker :

"To all you digital guys here, I just want to reiterate that at this level, IT'S ALL ANALOG!"

He was referencing the differences between hardware devices and how they have to either work or not work.

The "digital" part of his presentation was just different in that the signal being carried was of a Logic nature, ie full on and full off, as in a square wave, which is actually a lot harder to keep control of in the analogue domain.

And by analogue domain I mean the electrical circuits which carry the digital signal from point a to point b.

That part... is analog. electrical signals going through copper wire and other components from one place to the next.

This apparently is the hard part for these digital designers, including the software guys, who are still trying to figure out how exactly to emulate this analog electrical signal path in a software only medium.

Cheers
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cgc

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2010, 12:33:52 am »

Nick

You could also say that analog is just very primitive digital too.  Analog circuits are applying mathematics to the signal (gain is multiplication and summing is addition) and many behave as simple logic circuits (compressors and gates for example).  A tape machine is a linear hard disk and so on.

I disagree that the challenge is to bring modeling of analog into the computer since the computer does math in a way that analog can never do.  Although it seems that the fickle consumer really wants to undo all of the aspects of digital in order to make it more 'analog', but it's a fool's errand though.  Use digital for what it is good at, namely infinitely repeatable precise math, and use analog for what it is good at - non-linearity and unpredictability.  
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kats

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #20 on: December 05, 2010, 06:37:06 am »

cgc wrote on Sat, 04 December 2010 23:33

 and use analog for what it is good at - non-linearity and unpredictability.  


What's so good about that? Surely there must be other attributes...
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Tony K.
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cgc

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #21 on: December 05, 2010, 04:03:24 pm »

kats wrote on Sun, 05 December 2010 05:37

cgc wrote on Sat, 04 December 2010 23:33

 and use analog for what it is good at - non-linearity and unpredictability.  


What's so good about that? Surely there must be other attributes...



From an information theory standpoint it's not good at all and the main reason digital was invented.

From an electronic point of view it is what gives analog its wide range of sound.  Circuits for gain or filtering may have the same basic design but the choice of components, values, etc can drastically affect the output.  An API mixer is going to sum differently than an SSL just like the Trident 80EQ sounds different than a Mackie 8 buss.

In digital there are really only a set of standard algorithms to perform audio processing.  Mixing is just straight multiplication and addition, which is why mixing the same sources in any DAW gives the same result (the files will null).  Same with EQ and filtering - a biquad with the same coefficients is going to sound exactly the same in any application.  
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mell

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #22 on: January 15, 2011, 05:12:42 pm »

a never ending annalogue vs digital debate, i realy doubt that digital was invented cause of non-linearity in annalogue , where do people get these ideas from?
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mgod

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #23 on: January 16, 2011, 03:04:28 am »

cgc wrote on Sat, 04 December 2010 21:33

 Use digital for what it is good at, namely infinitely repeatable precise math,  

Except of course for when errors get into the mix or your drives won't work. My confidence in the infinite nature of them digits is not so high.
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MagnetoSound

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #24 on: January 17, 2011, 09:50:05 am »

mell wrote on Sat, 15 January 2011 22:12

a never ending annalogue vs digital debate, i realy doubt that digital was invented cause of non-linearity in annalogue , where do people get these ideas from?




Why was digital invented?


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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

mgod

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #25 on: January 17, 2011, 10:46:53 am »

To sell more stuff, like everything else.
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mell

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #26 on: January 17, 2011, 02:11:33 pm »

the rise of digital technology was the next nactural step in the evolution of minituarisation/automation imo, wether we talk about a cellphone, TV, or a recording console , annalogue didnt need to be non-linear for digital to be created, it would have been developed anyway, dont you think?

but tbh , i realy like my non-linear SM69-tube mic into my nonlinear CLASS-A pre-amplifier summed in my nonlinear summing box played back through my non-linear CLASS-A amplifier...into my non-linear ears Razz
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Jim Williams

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Re: Do you mix analog?
« Reply #27 on: January 18, 2011, 10:11:48 am »

kats wrote on Sun, 05 December 2010 03:37

cgc wrote on Sat, 04 December 2010 23:33

 and use analog for what it is good at - non-linearity and unpredictability.  


What's so good about that? Surely there must be other attributes...



Yep, like linearity and predictability. It's nice to know when I power up the console I won't ever see error warnings, blue screens, a Microsoft logo nor any crashes, ever. I won't have driver nor interface problems, clocking issues, software compatibility issues, and all those other headaches.

As to linearity, the analog console measures at the residuals of the Audio Precision test set so I really don't know how linear it really is, the test gear isn't mature enough to tell me the entire story.

Then you add the 2 hz ~ 200k hz bandwidth, no phase shift, noise well below the 16 bit limits and one begins to realize the attributes offer everything good the digital mix has to offer without any of the shortcomings. The signal is not limited by the resolution nor switching speed of the converters, latency, bandwidth limiting, etc.

It is a real signal, not a digital approximation. It's not a slice of the event, it IS the event.
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Jim Williams
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