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Author Topic: The Future Without Tape  (Read 14379 times)

Lee Flier

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Re: The Future Without Tape
« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2005, 12:42:14 pm »

wwittman wrote on Mon, 07 February 2005 23:37


But I have yet to see anyone pick the digital in these comparisons, blind.


Me either.

Bob Olhsson

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Re: The Future Without Tape
« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2005, 03:15:49 pm »

I've done the same ABC with the same results.

I just think the tape often takes more of a hit when it gets digitized than the console output does, assuming really good converters. (I've never used GMLs) I'm not so sure that tape adds something as much as I think it simply retains more "effortlessness," for the lack of any better term. I also think it's a really good idea to mix to both so you always have a choice in the future.

Arf! Mastering

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Re: The Future Without Tape
« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2005, 03:24:34 pm »

Depends totally on the genre, quality of converters and accuracy of tape deck allignment - many variables.   Around here, the ratio is very close to 50/50 but then we do a lot of jazz and folk and use Lavry ad/da's.  And never under estimate the power of the head bump Wink  
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wwittman

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Re: The Future Without Tape
« Reply #18 on: February 08, 2005, 09:35:43 pm »

I'm also saying that in that A-B-C the analogue always sounds MORE like direct desk out than the digital... not that the analogue IMPROVES the desk out,,, it just loses less.

Doesn;t matter to me what the genre of music is, i still don't want part of the sound going missing if I have a choice.
Unless you're saying some genres are better off if they go missing! In which case, i;m with you. <g>
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Bill Mueller

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Re: The Future Without Tape
« Reply #19 on: February 08, 2005, 09:58:18 pm »

I posted this over on George's forum and thought it was relevant to this thread. Sorry for the double post to those who read both.

Someone on another post was speculating about an analog recorder device that could be used as an effect. Sort of like a permanent version of Terry's multi track analog tape effect. In the old days (and Terry I'm sure this will strike a bell) there was an english analog delay device called a Binson delay that was made of a metal pot with a record and playback system spinning around inside. The record medium was the inside of the pot itself. Before that, there were wire recorders. Now wire or metal plate, is a medium that in the right environment would NEVER WEAR OUT like tape must. In a modern wire or Binson type recorder, you could spin the record/play heads so fast that the bandwidth could outperform even the best digital recorders. You could also make it a 24 track system with 24 record/play heads mounted on a single spindle. If fast enough, you could design a system that could impart an analog record/play characteristic in less than 180 degrees of phase at 40khz. Therefore there would not really be any need for time compensation. If there was, you could certainly accomplish it with a couple of samples of track delay either in the digital console or DAW. This device would need to be a precision machine, but certainly not out of the realm of current technology.

Damn, I think I just had an idea.

Best Regards,

Bill
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maxdimario

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Re: The Future Without Tape
« Reply #20 on: February 08, 2005, 10:47:31 pm »

wwittman wrote on Wed, 09 February 2005 03:35

I'm also saying that in that A-B-C the analogue always sounds MORE like direct desk out than the digital... not that the analogue IMPROVES the desk out,,, it just loses less.

Doesn;t matter to me what the genre of music is, i still don't want part of the sound going missing if I have a choice.
Unless you're saying some genres are better off if they go missing! In which case, i;m with you. <g>


I second the observation.

the end result on analog retains more musical information, distortion aside.
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compasspnt

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Re: The Future Without Tape
« Reply #21 on: February 08, 2005, 11:16:37 pm »

OK, points taken.

Then if analogue indeed does retain more information than digital, is there any advantage to mixing (or any recording) first to analogue tape, then transferring through high-Q converters into digital, or will the information/quality gained by the analogue just "go away" on transfer, just as if it had never been?  In other words, is analogue a desirable, non-losable "effect" that can be utilised?

I maintain that it is.

TM
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lucey

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Re: The Future Without Tape
« Reply #22 on: February 08, 2005, 11:36:00 pm »

It is an effect for multitracking or mixing, but for multitracking especially, and assuming the multitrack machine is a real tone monster, enough of the magic is lost to make it undesirable if you have a choice to stay analog.  (It helps if you have a near perfect converter like 3 x Prism 8 ch units.  PT HD ... not good enough.)

There's just something about the MM1200 class A signal FROM tape that is SOOOooooo sweet if carried thru eqs, compression, mixing and mastering.  It's the MOST real (as in emotionally real) thing I've ever heard.

I use 16 tracks (15 and SMPTE) and do vocal comps through the Pacific HDCD converter that I use for mastering.  It's as good as Lavry or Prism ... and coming back from that to tape, or just going out and staying digital for keys or percussion only, is the best sound IMO.  15 tracks of analog and a few digi tracks that hit the 2" then were converted at a very high standard ... sound good.

The problem with multitrack digital artifacts is that they add up.  Especially in mastering I hear them vs. analog mixes.

So yes we can MASK then with tape, but some artifacts are still in there unless we're using the best available today.

Hopefully in 5-10 years every converter will sound that good, but I'm not so sure.
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Bob Olhsson

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Re: The Future Without Tape
« Reply #23 on: February 09, 2005, 12:13:49 am »

Certainly there is an obvious advantage if higher quality converters become available later on.

The biggest improvement I hear from analog is with the multi track but there is also a very non-subtitle improvement from wrapping ultra high-end converters around a digital multi track. (A very expensive proposition that I've only gotten to play around with once.) At that time the improvement of each individual track seemed smaller than I was hoping for but taken in sum it was more than what I find typical between mid and high-end converters used for a mix.

The other thing that still haunts me is the 3-track safety master playbacks at the LA AES a few years back. They had a restored Ampex 300-3, Bill Putnam's tube remote board and 3 Mac 30s along with 3 604s in the gray boxes. Left me and a bunch of others wondering if we've made any progress at all since the early '60s. Al Schmitt had tears rolling down his face as he listened to a Henry Mancini recording he had made back then. The 604s especially surprised me. They REALLY don't seem to like solid state power amps.

maxdimario

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Re: The Future Without Tape
« Reply #24 on: February 09, 2005, 06:59:30 am »

compasspnt wrote on Wed, 09 February 2005 05:16

OK, points taken.

Then if analogue indeed does retain more information than digital, is there any advantage to mixing (or any recording) first to analogue tape, then transferring through high-Q converters into digital, or will the information/quality gained by the analogue just "go away" on transfer, just as if it had never been?  In other words, is analogue a desirable, non-losable "effect" that can be utilised?

I maintain that it is.

TM



when a signal is recorded in digital, it can come out sounding 'dryer' than it came in.

a sound which is very close to the source is like a fine line drawn on paper, so to speak, digital can't seem to reproduce the fine line, similar to what happens on an lcd screen.
good analog tape will, by nature of it's distortion, reproduce transients and complex waveforms, in a similar way that some high quality film will add grain to an image and create an effect of depth etc.
the distortion and added harmonics created by tape tend to mask the defective reproduction of digital of the 'fine' information that is present in waveforms which have a lot of irregular high frequency information.

Tape also creates a distortion which is harmonically related to the input signal which I believe in a way tends to increase intelligibility.

this is also true of old un-maintained tube equipment: the old tubes and caps will smooth over detail to a point that the resolution and slew rate are reduced etc.

When the fine detail passes through digital the sound can actually be off  in a way that it sounds dull, no matter how much high freq. eq, and if you do eq a digitized waveform the sound of the high end is never going to be as smooth or detailed on those frequencies as it was before it went in.

Apparent brightness or liveliness is a result of the quality of the high frequency content as well as quantity.

the cleaner a signal goes in the easier it is to hear the limitations of the reproducer.

then there is the issue of using tape as a saturator by pushing it, or by over/under biasing etc. to create distortion to a point where it becomes a primary part of the sound and adds significant character, but that is a different story I guess..

digital really pushed the standards of the industry toward lower noise and 'broadband' sound, also due to the bottom end capability of CD, but analog is a simpler method and simplicity is important with music.

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David Kulka

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Re: The Future Without Tape
« Reply #25 on: February 09, 2005, 08:30:08 am »

Interesting thread.  Many comments support the often stated opinion that analog tape recording adds something appealing to the original signal.  Maxdimario seems to take this a step further, seeming to say that tape brings out the music in the music:

"...good analog tape will, by nature of it's distortion, reproduce transients and complex waveforms, in a similar way that some high quality film will add grain to an image...Tape also creates a distortion which is harmonically related to the input signal which I believe in a way tends to increase intelligibility."

Question: imagine great musicians in a studio expertly set up for tracking, with the control room mixing straight to 2-track tape.  The musicians play a superb take, which we listen to in the control room as it's recorded.  Now we play back the tape, and it sounds better?  I am sorry but with sincere respect to the great minds here, the engineer in me (electronics and ex-mastering) just can't accept it.  By definition, whatever happened, much as you may love it, was a kind of distortion that wasn't there in the live performance.

My hunch is that we humans, being creatures of habit, find our comfort zone in what we know best and spend the most time with.  Those of us who grew up with tape spent more time listening to tape playbacks than live sound, and subconsciously it became our reference point, the standard that other sounds are compared to.  But repro sounds truer than input?  I don't think so.

I think there's a parallel here to the way some view vinyl.  No don't get me wrong, I keep my turntable in good working order, have held on to my collection of LP's (and 45's!), and greatly enjoy listening to them.  But I know that inner diameter distortion is unavoidable, and vinyl couldn't reproduce a square wave to save its life.  In other words vinyl is wonderful but not magical, and while tape may contribute its own wonderful effect I will repeat myself and say "repro cannot sound truer than input".
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bblackwood

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Re: The Future Without Tape
« Reply #26 on: February 09, 2005, 10:00:32 am »

I'm still pessimistic about long term viability, but the new ATR-Magnetics site is up...

Man, I pray Mike is successful more than you'll ever know...
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Brad Blackwood
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compasspnt

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Re: The Future Without Tape
« Reply #27 on: February 09, 2005, 10:28:14 am »

One interesting thing to me concerning all of this...

About 1986 I got one of the Mitsubishi X-800 32 track digital recorders.  I would often use it for multitrack recording, and also often use 16 or 24 track analogue.  In many cases, I would sync the Mitsu to a 24 tr analogue, giving me effectively 54 tracks.

What I find funny is when someone will tell me, as has happened a couple of times, how they loved a certain record I had done, and that it had that great vintage analogue sound, unlike today's digital.  But I knew that recording was tracked on the 32 digital!

Did digital tape sound better than digital hard disk?  Do people often just base audio opinions on musical content, or on the vintage of a recording?

TM
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ted nightshade

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Re: The Future Without Tape
« Reply #28 on: February 09, 2005, 10:48:34 am »

Took me a long time to find digital I like, but I really do prefer the sound of a live band in a room to a couple mics to digital (SLAM!), than to ATR 1" 2 track. This with no processing whatsoever. The digital just sounds a whole lot more like being there- far more dynamic, for one thing.

I'm thinking that all the processing and mixing and all that y'all do has something to do with why y'all prefer analog- that and all the sloppy digital that's out there, some of which is quite expensive and comes from the most lauded sources (i.e., Cranesong).
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Lee Flier

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Re: The Future Without Tape
« Reply #29 on: February 09, 2005, 11:12:26 am »

compasspnt wrote on Wed, 09 February 2005 10:28


What I find funny is when someone will tell me, as has happened a couple of times, how they loved a certain record I had done, and that it had that great vintage analogue sound, unlike today's digital.  But I knew that recording was tracked on the 32 digital!

Did digital tape sound better than digital hard disk?


NO! LOL... Very Happy  Although I'm sure you mixed those records on an analog console... and I'm sure it was not an SSL. Very Happy

Quote:

Do people often just base audio opinions on musical content, or on the vintage of a recording?



Sometimes.  There are some who seem to feel that's ALL people base their opinion on, but I don't think that's entirely true either.  People often tell me that I'm getting a "great analog sound" out of my mostly cheap digital gear that I use at home, but I don't really agree with them... sure it sounds more "analog" than most of today's records because of the way I record and the type of music I normally record, but I'm positive that in a blind test I wouldn't mistake it for analog. Very Happy

The thing is... people are fond of saying things like "If the music is great, nobody cares how it was recorded." Or "People are just going to be listening to MP3's and they can't tell the difference anyway."  But that all misses the point.  Engineers always strove to make the best possible recordings even if they knew most kids would be hearing them on AM radio.  A great recording on AM radio or MP3 still sounds worlds better than a mediocre one.

We now have the capability to produce recordings quite cheaply that don't sound bad.  Given that the engineer knows what they're doing, the casual and even many not so casual listeners would be hard pressed to find anything "wrong" with the audio fidelity.  But there's a whole lot "right" that just isn't there... it's just "missing" as several here have pointed out... and that's harder to notice or identify.  Especially as the years go by and most of our ears have adjusted to digital.  We forget until we have experiences like some of you have described (and I've had several of those myself), hearing an old master tape spinning off a reel and going "Ohhhh shit... what have we been doing?"

And I really think this all affects people's overall experience of music.  The excitement and the impactfulness just isn't there, even if the music is really good... which makes it less compelling overall.  Whereas in the 1970's and earlier, even if you thought the music SUCKED it usually still SOUNDED great. Very Happy
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