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R/E/P => R/E/P Archives => Whatever Works => Topic started by: Fenris Wulf on June 26, 2010, 06:33:24 pm

Title: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fenris Wulf on June 26, 2010, 06:33:24 pm
Maybe someone who's used a lot of different 2" machines can answer this one. What sounds better: an MCI JH-24 (IC electronics) plugged directly into an analog console, or an MCI JH-16 (discrete transformer-coupled electronics) transferred into DAW through some good converters and mixed on the same console?

The JH-24 has gapless punch-in, which will allow me to stay analog for most projects. The later JH-16's have it, but they're more difficult to obtain.

I realize there's a lot of variables, but I'm stuck on this one.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: MDM, on June 26, 2010, 07:00:52 pm
I personally don't see the point of going from analog to DAW, although I am aware that people do it to get a 'sound'

I would say that the 24 track IC machine into an analog desk is going to give you more of the analog quality (which to me is performance vibe and 'liveness') so out of the two solutions it makes more artistic sense IMO.

the 16 is going to sound better overall because of the bigger slice of tape it records on and the electronics (assuming it is a good one and lives-up to the potential of discrete design).  But feeding it into a DAW will digitize the signal, and you lose the vibe somewhat.. so why not just go into the DAW? at least this way you are passing through less electronics, and the overall sound will be more direct-sounding.

if you are looking to create an effect like saturate drums and guitars and your band is going to cut and paste for sure then go with the DAW.. if you are going for a raw performance energy and are not too worried about getting a super hi-fi sound then the 24-track IC deck into the analog mixer would probably work better... if your band does not require massive amounts of edits.

Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fenris Wulf on June 26, 2010, 07:21:14 pm
A clarification: The model numbers JH-24 and JH-16 have nothing to do with track count. 16-track and 24-track headstacks were made for both models. I will be using 16-track.

I should further clarify that I don't use tape as a distortion box, I use it because it handles dynamics gracefully and makes my job much easier during mixdown.

Generally speaking (there are exceptions) a machine with discrete transformer-coupled electronics sounds better than a machine with transformerless IC electronics. The question is, does it STILL sound better after going through a digital converter?

A 2" machine is a big investment, and I'd better make the right choice because I'll be using this machine for a VERY long time.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: wwittman on June 27, 2010, 12:25:56 am
Better is better no matter what you do to it later


I'm not a big MCI fan of ANY generation, but staying all analogue is always going to sound better than a transfer.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: littlehat on June 27, 2010, 04:59:35 pm
As WW said, "Better is better..."

I AM a big MCI machine fan.
I prefer them sonically.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: kats on June 27, 2010, 06:13:21 pm
I've never used MCI machines, but I have heard that the JH16 can be troublesome. You might want to talk to people who have experience with them if your going to depend on it as much as you imply.

Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: wwittman on June 27, 2010, 08:02:52 pm
Many people have found themselves pumping a fist at the sky and cursing "molex!!!"
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Otitis Media on June 27, 2010, 08:45:37 pm
I have recommended tape in the past for its graceful handling of overload, but the thing I have found with using digital mediums is that I have such a significantly reduced noisefloor that I don't have to run as hot. Running less hot leaves room for those things that happen (usually they're great, and you want to keep them, wooly sound be damned). The thing digital gear does not do is saturate or compress or overload gracefully at all.

I guess I would prefer to NOT use tape at this point, because 99% of the time, there's no "magic" to the sound for me, it's just a noiser media. I love the machines. I love the limited track-count. I love the technique. I hate the noise, and the mojo that everyone talks about doesn't show up until you're pushing hard. Most of the time, tape sounds pretty goddamn linear.

You get the sound you want out of it, and that means you do your best work, I'm just expounding on your saying "it makes my job easier at mixdown." That may give the wrong impression, I suppose. you knowing what you're doing and how you want to get there is what makes your job easier. Tape is just the means to that end.

THese days, most people trying tape for the first time are disappointed.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fenris Wulf on June 27, 2010, 11:47:35 pm
A properly calibrated machine running 456 is the world's best peak limiter and soft-knee compressor. There's all kinds of complex behavior going on, like increased treble on softer passages. Whatever it's doing, every instrument comes back sounding better and requires less processing in mix. Some of the peak limiting and bandwidth limiting isn't immediately audible, but causes downstream compressors to behave more predictably.

At this point, if I was offered a choice of working at Skywalker Sound with huge rooms and no analog anywhere (AFAIK), or working at KDVS in a ridiculous kludged-together studio with 1" 8-track ... ho ho ho. Maybe I could smuggle in a tape machine and throw a tarp over it when "Mr. CGI" stops by.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: littlehat on June 28, 2010, 02:26:04 am
Otitis Media wrote on Sun, 27 June 2010 20:45

The thing digital gear does not do is saturate or compress or overload gracefully at all...
the mojo that everyone talks about doesn't show up until you're pushing hard...
THese days, most people trying tape for the first time are disappointed.


The thing digital does not do is sound as good as properly implemented analog.
It starts out better sounding and works its way up to mojo, then past mojo to muddy or hairy.

These days, most people trying analog for the first time treat it like a stunt piece of gear that you push until it lights up.

How good was sex your first time?
How about the hundredth time?

Not understanding something is a sure fire way to get the least out of it.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: MDM, on June 28, 2010, 06:09:03 am
Regarding analog 'feel':

I remember talking on the phone with Peter Weihe many years ago and when we touched the 'feel' argument of tape vs digital, he did say that once they recorded a rock'n'roll outfit on both tape and pro-tools and listened to playback.. the impression is that some part of the performance was lost with digital and remained with tape.. Peter can clarify this, perhaps (as I may have jumbled up the facts a bit)

My 'wake-up' moment was when I used tape for the first time in a few years and I had a sort of flashback to how it used to feel to record on tape, as far as performances.  The 'musician in the room' effect was more pronounced, regardless of sound quality.

I think that the biggest differences will be noticeable with groove and feel-oriented music.. therefore that leaves behind much of what is recorded today, which is sometimes less 'exciting' (to tap into the recent thread) to begin with in the tracking room..

I don't think you can hear it in an obvious manner on just any source material unless you are listening very attentively..

I hear it with just plain guitar and vocals, but maybe 15 years ago I might not have heard it without someone pointing it out.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Otitis Media on June 28, 2010, 06:26:02 am
littlehat wrote on Mon, 28 June 2010 02:26


The thing digital does not do is sound as good as properly implemented analog.
It starts out better sounding and works its way up to mojo, then past mojo to muddy or hairy.

These days, most people trying analog for the first time treat it like a stunt piece of gear that you push until it lights up.

How good was sex your first time?
How about the hundredth time?

Not understanding something is a sure fire way to get the least out of it.



I do understand tape, and I see the merit to the "musician in the room" vibe, but I wonder how much of that is the medium itself, rather than the the way the process runs with tape.

I disagree that digital stuff doesn't sound good. You may have to figure out a new way of getting the sound you want versus tape, but the differences are just that, differences.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: wwittman on June 28, 2010, 09:37:27 am
You're "disagreeing" with something he never said.

He never said "digital doesn't sound good"

He said properly implemented analogue sounds BETTER.

and it does.
At least for music

I agree with Littlehat.
I don't actually think it has ANYTHING to do with track limits or recording live or any other 'workflow'... I probably do that mostly the same in Pro Tools as on analogue the vast majority of the time

It's ALL about the sonics for me.
And not as an 'effect'. It's an emotionally truer representation of what is coming out of the desk

Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Jim Williams on June 28, 2010, 11:05:52 am
I choose door number 3. That is all high end analog electronics combined with the best converters. That gives me the most intimate sound. Analog tape is too noisy and lossy for me these days. I don't like the fog it produces. The transient reponse is too slow, the hf THD is too high (4~5%), the low end is thin and sloppy. I also hate digital processing (except my outboard digital reverbs like the Bricasti run in analog I/O) or anything done in a computer.

All analog here except for the tank and train, (storage and transfer). Editing is done the original way (play it again, Sam).
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Otitis Media on June 28, 2010, 12:35:28 pm
Quote:

 It's an emotionally truer representation of what is coming out of the desk


I'm not sure whether you're anthropomorphizing or what.

I don't want to pick on the poor guy who's trying to choose between tape machines and hijack his thread. I guess I'd go for the discrete transformer coupled machine AND use a desk. If you're gonna go, go big. I like discrete, I like desks.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Bill Mueller on June 28, 2010, 12:54:11 pm
littlehat wrote on Mon, 28 June 2010 02:26


How about the hundredth time?


I can't remember that far back.

Bill
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: nob turner on June 29, 2010, 02:30:30 am
regarding JH 16 or 24, talk to someone like michael gore since you're in n. cal.  he loves analog and has worked on LOTS of those.  he can probably give you the skinny on reliability and other issues.  good chance you'll need him or someone like him if you buy an old MCI.

and he ALWAYS has opinions...  whether or not you want them...  
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: wwittman on June 29, 2010, 01:04:15 pm
Otitis Media wrote on Mon, 28 June 2010 12:35

Quote:

 It's an emotionally truer representation of what is coming out of the desk


I'm not sure whether you're anthropomorphizing or what.

I don't want to pick on the poor guy who's trying to choose between tape machines and hijack his thread. I guess I'd go for the discrete transformer coupled machine AND use a desk. If you're gonna go, go big. I like discrete, I like desks.


I'm saying that it's our human perception of the result that matters; not how it may or may not measure.

As far as 'hijacking' goes, I believe it's on th point to say staying all analogue is potentially the best sounding, but that transferring to digital can still be better than digital only recording.
It's somewhat impossible to participate in the discussion WITHOUT expressing personal feelings and preferences as to the relative sonic quality of analogue versus digital.

Everything I like about digital pro audio has to do with features.
Sonically, I prefer pro analogue in every way.

Just sometimes we have to live with the compromises.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: marcel on June 29, 2010, 02:40:28 pm
The quality of the OP's A/D/A would also have an impact on whether or not the process of transfer would be sonically prohibitive.

The better the converters used, the less the transfer process is going to 'show up'.  I would do this with Apogee -16x converters, but would probably be tempted not to do it with PT hardware.

Don't want to open a whole other can of worms, just an observation...
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fenris Wulf on June 29, 2010, 09:24:11 pm
The bit about "emotional fidelity" is very true. An AE listens with his ears, but behind that he listens with his EMOTIONS. He's using a lot of psychoacoustic trickery to create the impression of power and size that isn't really there, and he knows it's working by how it affects his emotional state. Bad mix decisions produce frustration/annoyance and good mix decisions produce excitement and physical movement. Like a mad scientist jabbing electrodes into his own brain just to see what happens.  Very Happy
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fenris Wulf on June 29, 2010, 09:51:45 pm
After a lot of thought, I realized the most important factor isn't sonics, it's workflow.

I want to record good bands who don't need computer trickery. A JH-24 with quick-punch will let me stay analog and work faster. Working quickly is more important to the end result than the sonic difference between a JH-24 and a JH-16. Especially since the  microphones, the preamps, the console, and the outboard all have transformers out the wazoo.

A JH-16 only makes sense if I'm recording bands who NEED computer trickery. Buying a BETTER machine so I can record WORSE bands defeats the purpose.

JH-24 it is. And a JH-16 later on when we have more money. Very Happy

Thanks everyone for the input.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Otitis Media on June 29, 2010, 09:58:03 pm
Congrats on the decision. I like being decisive most of all. I'm sure that your choice of gear will support your workflow, instead of the common problem of the workflow being dictated by the shortcomings and frustrations of the equipment.

Working with good talent that doesn't need tons of post-trickery is damn ideal, and it makes you a hero no matter what. I always like working with bands and talent that make it easy to do my job instead of having to fix stuff and hide the crap with compromise.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: compasspnt on June 29, 2010, 10:14:39 pm
Otitis Media wrote on Tue, 29 June 2010 21:58

I like being decisive most of all.



YES!

Me too.

I think.

Sort of...
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: RMoore on June 30, 2010, 07:36:28 am
Fenris Wulf wrote on Wed, 30 June 2010 03:51

After a lot of thought, I realized the most important factor isn't sonics, it's workflow.

I want to record good bands who don't need computer trickery.  



When I was all-analog my work flow was much much faster,

As soon as a computer entered the control room, everything started taking significantly longer to do.

Not to mention a constant sense of mild to medium irritation grappling with computer-ness, dealing with file management, hitting the virtual record button even - which was never there with the analog stuff.

But yeah, editing, compatibility, cheapness...
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fletcher on June 30, 2010, 08:45:03 am
Fenris Wulf wrote on Tue, 29 June 2010 21:51

Working quickly is more important to the end result than the sonic difference between a JH-24 and a JH-16.


Whoo - hoo!!!  New to the thread, sorry I'm late.

Having worked [extensively] with both of these machines, I am pleased to tell you... with the JH-24 -- YOU GET BOTH!!  Easier work flow, and in my opinion, way better sonics.

The JH-16's transport is pretty much a nightmare -- wow & flutter city, and handles tape like ass... which is NOT good for sonics.

The JH-24 not only punches like a dream [I've done punches on a JH-24 that could NEVER be done on even an A-800 which is the second best punching machine I've ever met... like hitting the middle syllable in a 3 syllable word!!], but at least in my opinion they are one of the 2 "clearest" sounding recording decks.

An A-800 is a better mix deck [you get that lovely "head bump" around 100Hz at 30 ips... but if for some reason you should need to replace the repro head, JRF [at least at one time] had a JH-24 repro head that has MANY of the characteristics of the A-800 head.  Didn't sound the same as an A-800 [which I keep referencing because I like the sound of them much better than A-827's or A-820's]... but I dare say I liked it better.

Best of luck with your new deck... the locator is also 1/2 a joy as opposed to Studer locators which can often be 1/2 a drag.

Peace.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: kats on June 30, 2010, 09:59:56 am
You know, with the A820/827 I think the issue is those 20k hour coated heads and the wrap rather than the rest if the electronics. I swapped the heads on my A827 with flux heads, and the sound difference is pretty obvious. I can't say for sure because at the same time the flux heads are 16 rather than 24 tracks.

However, whien talking to Mike Spitz, he confirmed that the wider wrap  definatly affects the sound quality positively but at the expense of head life. The Flux heads need a lap after 3k hours.

Did the 800 also have  the coated heads ?
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fenris Wulf on June 30, 2010, 06:11:04 pm
Fletcher wrote on Wed, 30 June 2010 13:45

 The JH-24 not only punches like a dream [I've done punches on a JH-24 that could NEVER be done on even an A-800 which is the second best punching machine I've ever met... like hitting the middle syllable in a 3 syllable word!!], but at least in my opinion they are one of the 2 "clearest" sounding recording decks.


Our current machine is a JH-110C 1" 8-track with almost the same circuitry. You're right, it locates & punches like a dream and it does "hi-fi" really well. That's what sold me on MCI.  Very Happy  Very Happy  Very Happy
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: wwittman on June 30, 2010, 07:02:11 pm
Fwiw
I also disagree about jh24 being faster to drop on or out than A800s

I find quite the opp

Plus, playback and recording on the A800 is an order of magnitude better.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Blas on July 02, 2010, 04:52:53 pm
I'd recommend you getting with Randy Blevins in Nashville.  He's a king around the MCI gear, plus a nice guy to boot!
Blevins Audio...your one stop analogue shop.

Joe
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Joe Giannone on July 02, 2010, 11:57:17 pm
“Shoot-outs” like this are fun for kicks and giggles, but it‘s amazing that even in the same listening environment, folks with “good” ears disagree about which format sounds “better”.

 http://www.recordproduction.com/mpg-event-june05-video1.html
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Extreme Mixing on July 03, 2010, 12:55:53 am
Joe Giannone wrote on Fri, 02 July 2010 20:57

“Shoot-outs” like this are fun for kicks and giggles, but it‘s amazing that even in the same listening environment, folks with “good” ears disagree about which format sounds “better”.

   http://www.recordproduction.com/mpg-event-june05-video1.html


That's because at some point, it doesn't really matter.  There is not song a out there that was popular because of the recorder it was captured on or played back on for the mix.  It's just not that important.  People either like the song and connect to it emotionally, or they don't.  Tape recorders don't make hit records.  Even Pro Tools can record and mix songs that people love.  Get used to it.

Steve

Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Larrchild on July 03, 2010, 02:51:42 am
wwittman wrote on Wed, 30 June 2010 19:02

Fwiw
I also disagree about jh24 being faster to drop on or out than A800s

I find quite the opp

Plus, playback and recording on the A800 is an order of magnitude better.

preaching to the QUIOR.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Blackie Pawless on July 03, 2010, 02:52:24 am
As a complete sidebar comment:  
The fastest punching 2"machine I ever used, bar none, was a little Soundcraft 24 track.
This thing could punch in the middle of words in some cases . Physically smaller than an MX80 but sounded pretty big.
I've never seen one since then ( 88-89).
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: MDM, on July 03, 2010, 06:55:34 am
I saw one once, and it wasn't really built to last as far as I could see.. the electronics inside were also typical soundcraft

not sure about the fast punching-in thing but that sounds like a positive feature.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Jim Williams on July 03, 2010, 10:37:47 am
That was the 760 24 track deck. I still have schematics for it around here somewhere. It used all 5534 opamps, a bit above the usual console design for them. I recall some at that time experimented with moving the record/erase heads closer together for faster punching. All sorts of stuff was tried. Then digital came out and the rest (along with the decks) is history.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: ssltech on July 03, 2010, 12:01:40 pm
Larrchild wrote on Sat, 03 July 2010 02:51

preaching to the QUIOR.


...You unspeakable Bastard.





THIRTY YEARS, I've waited for the right moment to say that.

Razz
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: littlehat on July 03, 2010, 12:35:37 pm
ssltech wrote on Sat, 03 July 2010 12:01

Larrchild wrote on Sat, 03 July 2010 02:51

preaching to the QUIOR.


...You unspeakable Bastard.

THIRTY YEARS, I've waited for the right moment to say that.

Razz


So sweet!
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Edvaard on July 03, 2010, 01:50:59 pm
.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Nizzle on July 03, 2010, 04:45:18 pm
wwittman wrote on Mon, 28 June 2010 06:37



emotionally truer




What does that mean?

-t



Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fenris Wulf on July 03, 2010, 09:58:52 pm
I'm convinced that I saw our current machine (JH-110) on TV when I was 10 or 12 years old. It was in a band's home studio and they were talking about how this machine had the latest technology and it allowed them to fix mistakes with no gaps or clicks in the sound.

The punches COULDN'T be faster barring time travel. It's instantaneous and it even does a little cross-fade.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: wwittman on July 04, 2010, 07:37:37 am
It means that film FEELS and therefor seems more lifelike than video.
No matter what measurements may say about it.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: stevieeastend on July 04, 2010, 08:57:34 am
Glad to find this thread to post this although it´s not 100% on topic...

So, yesterday I bought a couple of CDs, as usual once in a month, just to have a listen to the latest music/"sound", Christina Aguilera, Them Crooked Vultures and a couple of more. In addition I bought a Ben Kweddler CD, mostly because of the artwork and price and out of curiosity.

Well, in terms of sound no surprises, all of the chart stuff has this well known, kind of crushed-digital sound, which I have gotten used over the years and usually I cannot make it listening to a whole album.

Then I put in the above mentioned Ben Kweller CD and immediately noticed a change in terms of sound and overall feel. It didnt´t "hurt" at all, highs and mids very smooth and everything sounded alive,natural and easy. I thought to myself that I knew this sound from recordings I made using tape almost 10 years ago.... I looked for the credits and -  surprise, surprise - the whole record was recorded to 2 inch analogue, as well as mixed to 1 inch.

All this came to my mind after listening to almost half way through the whole album without even noticing that I would..

Talking about how sound can ruin music and the other way around as I don´t find Ben Kweller´s arrangements to be very special or oustanding..

Will buy a tape machine again without a shadow of a doubt.

cheers
St
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: compasspnt on July 04, 2010, 10:40:39 am
Extreme Mixing wrote on Sat, 03 July 2010 00:55

...at some point, it doesn't really matter.  There is not song a out there that was popular because of the recorder it was captured on or played back on for the mix.  It's just not that important.  People either like the song and connect to it emotionally, or they don't.  Tape recorders don't make hit records.  Even Pro Tools can record and mix songs that people love.  Get used to it.



Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: compasspnt on July 04, 2010, 10:44:18 am
Yesterday I was with a couple of teenagers when they got their photos back from the 4 Hour Photo shop.

They had bought one of those cardboard Kodak cameras with the real film inside.

The first thing one of them said was "Yuk, I hate film, it just doesn't look real."
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: KB_S1 on July 04, 2010, 10:58:07 am
compasspnt wrote on Sun, 04 July 2010 15:44

Yesterday I was with a couple of teenagers when they got their photos back from the 4 Hour Photo shop.

They had bought one of those cardboard Kodak cameras with the real film inside.

The first thing one of them said was "Yuk, I hate film, it just doesn't look real."




Something I have noticed is that film appears to be far more forgiving for 'snaps' than digital.
Yes the results are generally less sharp and accurate but almost anyone could take a photo that looked 'good' whereas with digital I find more effort is required to get a pleasing photograph.

Is this something that could be applied to recording? I am not sure as it is so long since I recorded to tape and relative to digital I did very little of it.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: stevieeastend on July 04, 2010, 11:13:15 am
Extreme Mixing wrote on Sat, 03 July 2010 00:55

  Tape recorders don't make hit records.  "Even" Cool  Pro Tools can record and mix songs that people love.  Get used to it.





Of course. But they don´t have the same impact anymore, both sales-wise and in terms of being "all-over-the-place", especially in terms of rock..

Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: MDM, on July 04, 2010, 12:12:01 pm
compasspnt wrote on Sun, 04 July 2010 09:40

Extreme Mixing wrote on Sat, 03 July 2010 00:55

...at some point, it doesn't really matter.  There is not song a out there that was popular because of the recorder it was captured on or played back on for the mix.  It's just not that important.  People either like the song and connect to it emotionally, or they don't.  Tape recorders don't make hit records.  Even Pro Tools can record and mix songs that people love.  Get used to it.







I think that home listening, as opposed to radio airplay (which is so processed that source material doesn't really have to have exceptional quality) is important listening, artistically speaking..

if you only care about hooking the customer and getting them to buy the CD so that they can play it a couple of times than that's fine.

I remember on the other hand how you would listen to albums until they wore out and you had to buy another copy.. what does that do to an artist's image and emotional bond with the fans?  

records which sound (and feel) good (are pleasant to listen to for long periods of time) will probably influence whoever bought them to buy more records.. whereas bad CD's will probably motivate MP3 downloading and copies IMO (because the buyer is not improving his experience over radio and mp3 significantly)



Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: faganking on July 04, 2010, 12:34:11 pm
compasspnt wrote on Sun, 04 July 2010 10:44

Yesterday I was with a couple of teenagers when they got their photos back from the 4 Hour Photo shop.

They had bought one of those cardboard Kodak cameras with the real film inside.

The first thing one of them said was "Yuk, I hate film, it just doesn't look real."




I hear that!

It used to be that I could sit down a young band and play them vinly through my 2 McIntosh monoblocks and watch their 'wowed' reaction. No longer the case. They are simply not used to it and therefore it 'doesn't' sound better to them.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Andy Peters on July 04, 2010, 12:49:26 pm
compasspnt wrote on Sun, 04 July 2010 07:44

Yesterday I was with a couple of teenagers when they got their photos back from the 4 Hour Photo shop.

They had bought one of those cardboard Kodak cameras with the real film inside.

The first thing one of them said was "Yuk, I hate film, it just doesn't look real."



If your reference is a digital camera image (even a camera phone image), made with some serious automated exposure control and viewed on a computer monitor with all of the color balancing done behind your back, then a photo created from a disposable point-and-shoot on marginal-quality 200-speed film on marginal-quality paper with little, if any, print exposure and color correction, then yes, the digital image will look more real.

Fuji Provia in 120 or 4"x5" blown up to poster size on Crystal Archive? That sh*t is REAL.

-a
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Nizzle on July 04, 2010, 01:47:47 pm
wwittman wrote on Sun, 04 July 2010 04:37

It means that film FEELS and therefor seems more lifelike than video.
No matter what measurements may say about it.



I feel exactly the opposite. It's like watching a filmed "The Twighlight Zone" versus a video taped version(late sixties). The film version has sooo much more vibe and is, ultimately, superior. The reason it is superior is not because it is more lifelike, but precisely the opposite. It is because the film imparts huge amounts of vibe. The video taped episodes come off a "too real" and it is hard to suspend disbelief.

This analogy, for me, holds true in the audio realm. I work very hard to create some sort of "canvas" to record/ mix onto, within pro tools.

-t
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: compasspnt on July 04, 2010, 04:49:42 pm
faganking wrote on Sun, 04 July 2010 12:34

compasspnt wrote on Sun, 04 July 2010 10:44

Yesterday I was with a couple of teenagers when they got their photos back from the 4 Hour Photo shop.

They had bought one of those cardboard Kodak cameras with the real film inside.

The first thing one of them said was "Yuk, I hate film, it just doesn't look real."




I hear that!

It used to be that I could sit down a young band and play them vinly through my 2 McIntosh monoblocks and watch their 'wowed' reaction. No longer the case. They are simply not used to it and therefore it 'doesn't' sound better to them.



My point exactly.

Of course I was not referring to what I like best, in either video or audio.

When I shot all the time, I did use 6 x 9 format on Fuji, with custom prints from the lab.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: stevieeastend on July 04, 2010, 06:32:37 pm
My experience is that they don´t care as long as it´s loud enough and not distorted.

But they do notice GREAT/outstanding sound and production, which is easier to achieve with the help of great analog equipment. IMO
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: MI on July 04, 2010, 06:43:21 pm
wwittman wrote on Sun, 04 July 2010 07:37

It means that film FEELS and therefor seems more lifelike than video.
No matter what measurements may say about it.


I agree with that.

There's also something about a 35mm movie's texture, image and light which is really not the same in digital.

Having just shot part of a movie recently, I can really see how the HDV just doesn't have that same softness and ease on the eye.
It can be recreated in Final Cut of After Effects, but it's a lot more work in the Post stage.

My theory, is when we look at something with the naked eye, we "filter out" the junk...we concentrate on what is important.
We naturally soften what's not in our center of vision.

With digital although the picture quality is amazing, but it just feels too sterile sometimes and actually lacks realism. Little things pop right out like a spec or reflection in the background.

I've seen HDV video shot with 35mm lenses, and the softness it creates just looks and feels so much better.

I feel analogue tape works so much more like our ears, creating a true "sound" like our ears work and hear it. And therefore the final result is so much more pleasing.

Although digital may be more precise, you have to work so much harder to get the same "feel". And furthermore, you REALLY have to know what you're doing to get that "feel". Not to mention the time it takes to get there...

Just my 2 cents, please don't shoot me if you don't agree.

Mario
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: DarinK on July 04, 2010, 08:54:55 pm
HD video can have resolution & depth of field greater than what any human can actually see on his/her own, so it makes sense that it can seem unnatural.  And it's true that our eyes only focus on one point at a time, and the surrounding areas are more soft-focus.
This is not really a digital-v-analog point, but I am sometimes bothered by the extreme emphasis some folks & audio companies put on capturing "air".  I know what is meant by that term, and I can certainly hear it, but it's not something I've ever really noticed except through recording equipment.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: jetbase on July 04, 2010, 09:18:10 pm
Jim Williams wrote on Sun, 04 July 2010 00:37

That was the 760 24 track deck. I still have schematics for it around here somewhere. It used all 5534 opamps, a bit above the usual console design for them. I recall some at that time experimented with moving the record/erase heads closer together for faster punching. All sorts of stuff was tried. Then digital came out and the rest (along with the decks) is history.


I have one. Haven't really used it in a couple of years (other than to run mixes through it recently without tape), but I plan to get it serviced soon & use it again. I don't feel my digital setup sounds any worse, but I miss that sound.

I was not aware that it was faster than other machines for punching, having little (punching) experience on other MTR's. As far as I was concerned you still had to anticipate the drop-in, whereas digital is instant. Having said that it rarely let me down. I remember dropping in half a drum fill (2 bars), seamlessly dropping in an out of a guitar solo & countless single bass notes & single words within phrases. The only people who ever cringed when I did this were those who had experience with non-destructive editing.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fenris Wulf on July 04, 2010, 11:19:18 pm
I was delighted that the "Star Trek" reboot used completely old-school techniques. Real film and practical effects/models wherever possible.

Too bad the script, acting, and cinematography were utter garbage. Ho-ho-ho.

On a related note, I'm waiting for the day when kids walk around in Borg-like "Enhanced Reality" helmets that filter everything they see & hear through compressed digital video and audio, while subjecting them to mandatory advertisements every 12 minutes. Snatch the helmet off, and they fall to the ground writhing in horror as their senses are bombarded by unfiltered reality.

"It's ... too ... REAL .... AAAAAAAUUUUUUGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!"

A few weeks ago at the radio station, someone broke the input jack that allows the lazier DJ's to plug in their Ipods and play their whole show off the Ipod. The result was consternation and panic. Meanwhile they're surrounded by the second-largest vinyl collection in the state. I was sorely tempted to leave it broken.

On the other hand, other DJ's are mixing their own projects to 1/4" tape and releasing them on cassette or vinyl.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: littlehat on July 05, 2010, 04:01:15 am
DarinK wrote on Sun, 04 July 2010 20:54

I am sometimes bothered by the extreme emphasis some folks & audio companies put on capturing "air".


What I consider "air" is clearly heard through earbuds or in any car playback system.
It's both extension into the upper octaves and a lack of dynamics processing artifacts in this area.
It is NOT, however, just brightness.

I use the term to describe a relaxed and dynamic top end.

...and I thought the Star Trek movie was better than I'd expected.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: MDM, on July 05, 2010, 06:13:41 am
faganking wrote on Sun, 04 July 2010 11:34

compasspnt wrote on Sun, 04 July 2010 10:44

Yesterday I was with a couple of teenagers when they got their photos back from the 4 Hour Photo shop.

They had bought one of those cardboard Kodak cameras with the real film inside.

The first thing one of them said was "Yuk, I hate film, it just doesn't look real."




I hear that!

It used to be that I could sit down a young band and play them vinly through my 2 McIntosh monoblocks and watch their 'wowed' reaction. No longer the case. They are simply not used to it and therefore it 'doesn't' sound better to them.



I get wow reactions with my setup all the time, from musicians and non-musicians.

I have a cheap lenco turntable with a normal ortofon cartridge (and I will be improving on that once I get out of the recession) BUT the main thing which creates the effect is:

Vinyl records (usually) made before the mid-sixties

A preamp I built which uses a Pentode front-end, passive eq and a triode line driver with no transformer.  both tubes use chokes instead of resistive loads

A golden tube SE-40 (no network feedback) which I modified to accept better preamp tubes and has a good power supply with new film and electrolytic caps.

a couple of cheap old Celestion DL6's with modified crossovers (film caps)


I consistently get people expressing how it sounds like a live show, and how 'this is quite another experience from how I listen to music'


if you start playing 80's records, or reprints of the old records, the difference is not as evident.


it sounds AMAZING with Frank Sinatra and Nelson Riddle records.


But I found that some old 50's portable record players with one speaker had a similar effect for the VOICE, primarily.. instruments which aren't lead instruments don't come out as well..

For music of the time they sometimes can be magic though, because most of the attention was on the voice and leads anyway
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fenris Wulf on January 16, 2011, 06:42:53 am
The guy who owns "Welcome to 1979" studios just sold an ultra-rare 1979 MCI JH-16-16 on Ebay. Discrete transformer-coupled electronics, QUIOR quick-punch circuitry, good heads, and completely refurbished. It sold for $6000.

I just don't have the money right now. And I'll probably NEVER see one of those again. Gnashing my teeth.  Crying or Very Sad  Crying or Very Sad  Crying or Very Sad
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: kats on January 16, 2011, 11:34:06 am
Studio Economik in Montreal might still have  one for sale. I passed on it because people I know who own then told me that they were very unreliable. H
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Bob Olhsson on January 16, 2011, 11:48:10 am
A "wow" reaction is often short for "wow, it sounds so real!"

I fear that people who have never experienced "real" aren't likely to be very impressed.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fenris Wulf on January 17, 2011, 12:22:31 am
kats wrote on Sun, 16 January 2011 16:34

Studio Economik in Montreal might still have  one for sale. I passed on it because people I know who own then told me that they were very unreliable. H

With MCI's it depends on the model.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Eric H. on January 17, 2011, 06:44:11 am
This topic never grows old.
As far as I'm concerned, whatever the system is, I believe one cannot rely on memory for comparisons of one system to another.
It has to be in the same conditions, which also means at the same time.
It's like when you have a glorious memory of a concert and then, a few years later you go and hear it and it's not very good at all.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Silvertone on January 17, 2011, 08:19:53 am
I keep stuff from the 1" 8 track analog on the system all the time to show clients.  Keep in mind this is transfered into PT's at 24/96K.  Usually they can't believe the depth of the analog... they comment on how they can "feel" the bass and kick drum.  Switch over to the exact same digital mix and sure you can hear the bass and kick but you certainly do not feel it the same way.  The other comment I hear is how 3D the analog sounds, they put their hands up like they can touch the sound.

So I don't have to go off memory... I live it and breath it everyday.  Digital is great but analog still has a "one up" on it that will not go away... yet.

I had a couple engineers over yesterday that wanted to hear the Lucas CS-1 and CS4 mics (they loved them) but I was playing them this analog stuff and both engineers commented how they were sick of "fighting" digital and really missed what analog gave them.  I had to agree.  When recorded properly (and the same), analog wins out still in my book.

As for the film analogy,  I've used that for many, many years... film softens the edges (transients) and blurs the picture a little (magnetic tape),  just like our brain does with the real world... put a little cheese cloth over the lens (compression) and you get a euphoric effect.  I think it's why we still prefer it over the cold stark reality that is digital... we want a softer, gentler world to live in... I know I do.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Eric H. on January 17, 2011, 09:33:33 am
I wish I had the chance to compare like you do.
I confess that I never worked with analog multitrack.
Unfortunately, analog recording disappeared a few years before I started to do it. Only tape i know is the k7 4 track and the 1/4 inch 4 track. Not really what you would call good analog designs.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: MagnetoSound on January 17, 2011, 09:36:55 am

Only tape i know is the k7 4 track and the 1/4 inch 4 track.


What is a k7?


Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: yanik on January 17, 2011, 09:51:29 am
MagnetoSound wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 09:36


What is a k7?



I'm guessing cassette, sept (pronounced set) being french for seven.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: OOF! on January 17, 2011, 10:13:45 am
I've ben doing this for a looong time, but the other night had yet another one of those jaw-dropping revelations that was also incredibly discouraging for both me, as the owner of the studio/gear, and the artist who was having his music recorded.
I was recording directly to 1/2" tape thru the console and multing to the computer as well.  Once again, the difference was not only dramatic, it was heartbreaking.  We've all just gotten used to the sound of digital and appreciate its convenience.  I am using "hi-quality" converters (name starts with "A") but the sound coming off the tape machine was just so much better in every way.  The digital version sounded awful as we switched back and forth.  Interestingly, after I transferred the analog mixes thru the Korg DSD recorder, the sound quality was almost fully retained.  Yes, we could pick the two apart, but the difference was both subtle and totally acceptable. (Someone develop a multitrack DSD machine!)
My workflow and space limitations do not allow for me to run a 24 tack machine, although I would buy one tomorrow if i was only doing records.  So what is the answer?  I've worked on RADARs before and thought it sounded pretty darn good., but have not A/B'd directly with other converters- which, with my poor memory, I must do.  Are there converters that retain more of the sound or is it really just the nature of PCM conversion that fails to capture it fully?  It's not that analog adds anything, it's just that digital fails to capture it.  Getting the DSD really opened my eyes (ears) to this.
David
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Tidewater on January 17, 2011, 11:31:13 am
Stop taking advantage of the extended dynamic range provided by digital recording.

Crap songs are crap in any format.

Are there converters that retain more of the sound or is it really just the nature of PCM conversion that fails to capture it fully?

It's capturing everything that isn't filtered. That isn't where the big difference is. The big difference is the ability to NAIL your ears to a wall with impact in the highend, at least that is what I am mostly a victim of. Too much reality + hyper-reality equals brash.

I like the ommision of reality in analog.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Bill Mueller on January 17, 2011, 11:57:18 am
Silvertone wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 08:19


As for the film analogy,  I've used that for many, many years... film softens the edges (transients) and blurs the picture a little (magnetic tape),  just like our brain does with the real world... put a little cheese cloth over the lens (compression) and you get a euphoric effect.  I think it's why we still prefer it over the cold stark reality that is digital... we want a softer, gentler world to live in... I know I do.

Larry,

Don't forget the fact that most professional film formats have gray scale performance that closely matches the human eye, where as until quite recently, a video camera had typically 1/10th of that gray scale performance, making the transitions from edge to edge hard and harsh. Modern high res cameras now have 256 levels of grayscale and look much more like film.

That analogy cannot be made between analog and digital audio other than at a -60db signal and very low bit rate.

Bill
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: OOF! on January 17, 2011, 12:36:19 pm
Tidewater, I disagree that there is omission in analog.  If anything, I believe there is more information on tape.  The increased sense of dimension ("space/depth") coming off tape must be due to the presence of overtones that are lost in digital.
I know this topic has been discussed a lot, but I haven't been able to find a better digital multitrack solution.
David
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Tidewater on January 17, 2011, 01:11:11 pm
It's very hard to talk about this.

Digital has better ears than me. Analog has similar ears, and tastes. Analog allows for a spirit world.

There is no afterlife in digital.

Do to the nature of the formats, analog plays back what it heard you say, and digital plays back what you said, no matter how stark..

This is what I am talking about. Digital is a format, analog is your partner in production. I am all alone here.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: MagnetoSound on January 17, 2011, 01:21:53 pm
Tidewater wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 18:11

... analog plays back what it heard you say, and digital plays back what you said ...




Gotta say, I love this.  Smile


Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: mgod on January 17, 2011, 01:24:35 pm
MagnetoSound wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 10:21

Tidewater wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 18:11

... analog plays back what it heard you say, and digital plays back what you said ...



Gotta say, I love this.  Smile



Yes, its utterly confounding, but its pretty great.

So is digital the Asperger's of audio?
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Bill Mueller on January 17, 2011, 02:07:18 pm
Tidewater wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 13:11

It's very hard to talk about this.

Digital has better ears than me. Analog has similar ears, and tastes. Analog allows for a spirit world.

There is no afterlife in digital.

Do to the nature of the formats, analog plays back what it heard you say, and digital plays back what you said, no matter how stark..

This is what I am talking about. Digital is a format, analog is your partner in production. I am all alone here.

Miles,

You're not alone at all here. I agree with your statement and would like to further add that analog tape (the thing we are talking about when we say "analog", has a "transfer characteristic". That means that the signal that comes from the playback head is different than the one that went into the record head. This is a simple, measurable quantity of wow, flutter, harmonic distortion intermodulation distortion and broadband noise. These characteristics are a problem for some and pleasing to others.

We know that second harmonic distortion can be very pleasing to the human ear as it adds "loudness" to a signal without adding volume. The BBC studied the effect of noise on high frequency perception and concluded that noise makes the listener believe a signal is "brighter" and has more highs than it actually has, without the noise. Again, an enhancement. Who woulda thunk!

For those of us who have never really relied on tape to add those things, and want the recorder to simply play back what was put into it, we don't miss analog tape all that much. For those who love those characteristics for themselves, we now have a multi million dollar market replacing the sounds of obsolete recorders. VERY odd if you ask me.

In the end. To Each His Own.

Best regards,

Bill
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: OOF! on January 17, 2011, 02:27:10 pm
Bill,
What you're saying is fascinating to me, particularly the results of the BBC study.  So if this is true, then It's *not* that tape is capturing more information than digital, and therefore giving us a bigger picture, but rather that tape is capturing the source imperfectly and instead of sounding worse it sounds *better* or at least louder and brighter a the same volume.
I have to look into that more, because it runs counter to my own experience and feeling in the studio.  Admittedly, I have limited science here.  
Really interesting stuff,
David
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: faganking on January 17, 2011, 02:29:31 pm
Bob Olhsson wrote on Sun, 16 January 2011 11:48

A "wow" reaction is often short for "wow, it sounds so real!"

I fear that people who have never experienced "real" aren't likely to be very impressed.



compasspnt wrote on Sun, 04 July 2010 10:44

Yesterday I was with a couple of teenagers when they got their photos back from the 4 Hour Photo shop.

They had bought one of those cardboard Kodak cameras with the real film inside.

The first thing one of them said was "Yuk, I hate film, it just doesn't look real."

___________________

faganking wrote on Sun, 04 July 2010 10:48


"I hear that!

It used to be that I could sit down a young band and play them vinly through my 2 McIntosh monoblocks and watch their 'wowed' reaction. No longer the case. They are simply not used to it and therefore it 'doesn't' sound better to them."



Back in July when this thread started I wrote the above...which to me agrees with what Bob wrote a few days ago.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Tidewater on January 17, 2011, 02:50:06 pm
OOF! wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 14:27



then It's *not* that tape is capturing more information than digital, and therefore giving us a bigger picture, but rather that tape is capturing the source imperfectly and instead of sounding worse it sounds *better* or at least louder and brighter a the same volume.

Really interesting stuff,
David



Digital is actually giving us the bigger picture. I can't look at all that!

I would liken it to soft focus on a camera, but mixing metaphors is dangerous when you are dancing about architecture. Wink
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Jay Kadis on January 17, 2011, 02:54:46 pm
Bill Mueller wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 11:07


We know that second harmonic distortion can be very pleasing to the human ear as it adds "loudness" to a signal without adding volume. The BBC studied the effect of noise on high frequency perception and concluded that noise makes the listener believe a signal is "brighter" and has more highs than it actually has, without the noise. Again, an enhancement. Who woulda thunk!
I seem to recall the same conclusion about Dolby B "dulling" the sound, possible from Dolby Labs.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Bill Mueller on January 17, 2011, 03:47:22 pm
Bill Mueller wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 14:07

Tidewater wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 13:11

It's very hard to talk about this.

Digital has better ears than me. Analog has similar ears, and tastes. Analog allows for a spirit world.

There is no afterlife in digital.

Do to the nature of the formats, analog plays back what it heard you say, and digital plays back what you said, no matter how stark..

This is what I am talking about. Digital is a format, analog is your partner in production. I am all alone here.

Miles,

You're not alone at all here. I agree with your statement and would like to further add that analog tape (the thing we are talking about when we say "analog", has a "transfer characteristic". That means that the signal that comes from the playback head is different than the one that went into the record head. This is a simple, measurable quantity of wow, flutter, harmonic distortion intermodulation distortion and broadband noise. These characteristics are a problem for some and pleasing to others.

We know that second harmonic distortion can be very pleasing to the human ear as it adds "loudness" to a signal without adding volume. The BBC studied the effect of noise on high frequency perception and concluded that noise makes the listener believe a signal is "brighter" and has more highs than it actually has, without the noise. Again, an enhancement. Who woulda thunk!

For those of us who have never really relied on tape to add those things, and want the recorder to simply play back what was put into it, we don't miss analog tape all that much. For those who love those characteristics for themselves, we now have a multi million dollar market replacing the sounds of obsolete recorders. VERY odd if you ask me.

In the end. To Each His Own.

Best regards,

Bill

I left a key factor out of this post. That is the rise time associated with transients in analog tape. Analog tape rounds off sharp transients and to some this is a fault and to others, a feature.

Bill
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: MagnetoSound on January 17, 2011, 04:12:23 pm
Bill Mueller wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 20:47

I left a key factor out of this post. That is the rise time associated with transients in analog tape. Analog tape rounds off sharp transients and to some this is a fault and to others, a feature.




Yes, I think this is key to why analog sounds more 'friendly'.



Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: DarinK on January 17, 2011, 05:47:15 pm
MagnetoSound wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 13:12

Bill Mueller wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 20:47

I left a key factor out of this post. That is the rise time associated with transients in analog tape. Analog tape rounds off sharp transients and to some this is a fault and to others, a feature.



Yes, I think this is key to why analog sounds more 'friendly'.




But why do those sharp transients not bother me in the real world, or when tracking & listening to the source in the control room, but only during playback from a digital recording?  I think it's more than just the softening of transients with analog, it's something with (non-DSD) digital that makes those transients sound overly harsh or unnatural.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Bill Mueller on January 17, 2011, 09:40:46 pm
DarinK wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 17:47

MagnetoSound wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 13:12

Bill Mueller wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 20:47

I left a key factor out of this post. That is the rise time associated with transients in analog tape. Analog tape rounds off sharp transients and to some this is a fault and to others, a feature.



Yes, I think this is key to why analog sounds more 'friendly'.




But why do those sharp transients not bother me in the real world, or when tracking & listening to the source in the control room, but only during playback from a digital recording?  I think it's more than just the softening of transients with analog, it's something with (non-DSD) digital that makes those transients sound overly harsh or unnatural.


Darin,

The best we can do is to develop as many objective parameters for a qualitative experience valuation as possible. That way when something perceptual changes, we can isolate the cause experimentally and have a hope of correcting it. In the last forty years of digital audio, objective evaluation techniques have become extremely accurate, down to the minutest measurements of jitter.

However, there are no objective parameters to describe why phase and amplitude accurate peak signals sound "bad" to you from digital and smeared, laggy peaks from analog tape sounds "good".

Bill
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: rankus on January 17, 2011, 09:57:07 pm
faganking wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 11:29




compasspnt wrote on Sun, 04 July 2010 10:44

Yesterday I was with a couple of teenagers when they got their photos back from the 4 Hour Photo shop.

They had bought one of those cardboard Kodak cameras with the real film inside.

The first thing one of them said was "Yuk, I hate film, it just doesn't look real."




In conversation with my 25 year old daughter (aspiring to become an engineer), the subject of "warmer" analog recordings came up.  Her response was: "god your guys older recordings are so "spiky" they hurt my ears. I really like how our modern stuff is so smooth".

"Better" is all in the perception IMO

Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: mgod on January 17, 2011, 10:09:40 pm
rankus wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 18:57

In conversation with my 25 year old daughter (aspiring to become an engineer), the subject of "warmer" analog recordings came up.  Her response was: "god your guys older recordings are so "spiky" they hurt my ears. I really like how our modern stuff is so smooth".

"Better" is all in the perception IMO.

There may be an important age and gender factor here. Younger ears, female ears.

I have a lot to say about contemporary digital recording, but won't. My pal Bill and I would wrangle about it pointlessly. If, however, I could figure out a way for him to hear a Memory Player, then we might have a real conversation in which I'd learn and not just tilt at  windmills.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Bill Mueller on January 17, 2011, 10:24:28 pm
mgod wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 22:09

rankus wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 18:57

In conversation with my 25 year old daughter (aspiring to become an engineer), the subject of "warmer" analog recordings came up.  Her response was: "god your guys older recordings are so "spiky" they hurt my ears. I really like how our modern stuff is so smooth".

"Better" is all in the perception IMO.

There may be an important age and gender factor here. Younger ears, female ears.

I have a lot to say about contemporary digital recording, but won't. My pal Bill and I would wrangle about it pointlessly. If, however, I could figure out a way for him to hear a Memory Player, then we might have a real conversation in which I'd learn and not just tilt at  windmills.

Hey Dan,

Next time I'm in your neighborhood. I promise. BTW, Ruby Friedman played in town last night. You MUST check out this band live!

So here is an odd thing. I don't mix in Pro Tools. I use a Yamaha digital console and MX2424. Tonight I did a back up of some songs through my console and into PT (no conversions, just straight through digi). For some reason, the back up tracks, that should be identical in every way to the MX tracks, back through two inputs on the console sound BAD! Everything is synced perfectly, no extra processing, identical procedures for every track, etc, etc. But when I play them back, IN THE BOX, it's like they lost all their beauty. Really odd.

There may be sumthing (pun) to this ITB thing.

Bill
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Tidewater on January 17, 2011, 11:31:09 pm
Bill Mueller wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 15:47


I left a key factor out of this post. That is the rise time associated with transients in analog tape. Analog tape rounds off sharp transients and to some this is a fault and to others, a feature.

Bill



You don't lose points. It was a stipulation from my previous response about the hyperreality brashness.

Yeah, I got your back. Post with confidence. lol
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Tidewater on January 17, 2011, 11:53:34 pm
DarinK wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 17:47


But why do those sharp transients not bother me in the real world, or when tracking & listening to the source in the control room, but only during playback from a digital recording?  I think it's more than just the softening of transients with analog, it's something with (non-DSD) digital that makes those transients sound overly harsh or unnatural.




You compensate, that's why it isn't driving you crazy. You record a good sound that you hear, and there it is.

In the real world, your ears are tape, just like tape.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Silvertone on January 18, 2011, 07:09:57 am
Bill Mueller wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 21:24

mgod wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 22:09

rankus wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 18:57

In conversation with my 25 year old daughter (aspiring to become an engineer), the subject of "warmer" analog recordings came up.  Her response was: "god your guys older recordings are so "spiky" they hurt my ears. I really like how our modern stuff is so smooth".

"Better" is all in the perception IMO.

There may be an important age and gender factor here. Younger ears, female ears.

I have a lot to say about contemporary digital recording, but won't. My pal Bill and I would wrangle about it pointlessly. If, however, I could figure out a way for him to hear a Memory Player, then we might have a real conversation in which I'd learn and not just tilt at  windmills.

Hey Dan,

Next time I'm in your neighborhood. I promise. BTW, Ruby Friedman played in town last night. You MUST check out this band live!

So here is an odd thing. I don't mix in Pro Tools. I use a Yamaha digital console and MX2424. Tonight I did a back up of some songs through my console and into PT (no conversions, just straight through digi). For some reason, the back up tracks, that should be identical in every way to the MX tracks, back through two inputs on the console sound BAD! Everything is synced perfectly, no extra processing, identical procedures for every track, etc, etc. But when I play them back, IN THE BOX, it's like they lost all their beauty. Really odd.

There may be sumthing (pun) to this ITB thing.

Bill



Now Bill, route those tracks from PT's back to the MX2424 and see if they don't sound "good" or the same again.

I get this when working with different software... in the end everything nulls fine. If you import the tracks into the the platforms that sound different from one another, then on playback they do sound different... route the material back to the original source and they sound the same.

Fist discovery of how much PT's changed the sound (on playback only mind you... all the bits are the same)  was when I got a Sonic System about 12 years back.  Talk about a sound difference.  Then later while working in Neuendo everything sounded different as well.  I can play back all 3 systems through the same converters and even a lay person can hear the difference.

I've done enough tests over the years to know that once it hits the physical medium (CD, DVD, iPod) everything sounds the same (and will null the same).  The consumer playback D/A converters will vary more than the software (platform) does so in my mind (as long as all the bits are there) it's a moot point in digital land.

I can only guess that the "coding" must be different in these programs and that is what cause them to sound slightly different... I speak from ignorance here as I haven't done any programming since my college days.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Silvertone on January 18, 2011, 07:15:10 am
Tidewater wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 22:53

DarinK wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 17:47


But why do those sharp transients not bother me in the real world, or when tracking & listening to the source in the control room, but only during playback from a digital recording?  I think it's more than just the softening of transients with analog, it's something with (non-DSD) digital that makes those transients sound overly harsh or unnatural.




You compensate, that's why it isn't driving you crazy. You record a good sound that you hear, and there it is.

In the real world, your ears are tape, just like tape.



This is what I was talking about  when I said the brain compensates for it. It's in your minds "ear" as well.

Read the book "This is Your Brain on Music"... our minds filter out so much junk in a day we are not even aware of it... and it would drive us insane if we were aware of it Very Happy
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Tidewater on January 18, 2011, 09:49:16 am
I am insane, so it's ok to know!
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Bill Mueller on January 18, 2011, 10:14:49 am
Tidewater wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 23:31

Bill Mueller wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 15:47


I left a key factor out of this post. That is the rise time associated with transients in analog tape. Analog tape rounds off sharp transients and to some this is a fault and to others, a feature.

Bill



You don't lose points. It was a stipulation from my previous response about the hyperreality brashness.

Yeah, I got your back. Post with confidence. lol

Miles,

Tanks brudda.

Bill
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Bill Mueller on January 18, 2011, 10:16:11 am
Silvertone wrote on Tue, 18 January 2011 07:15

Tidewater wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 22:53

DarinK wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 17:47


But why do those sharp transients not bother me in the real world, or when tracking & listening to the source in the control room, but only during playback from a digital recording?  I think it's more than just the softening of transients with analog, it's something with (non-DSD) digital that makes those transients sound overly harsh or unnatural.




You compensate, that's why it isn't driving you crazy. You record a good sound that you hear, and there it is.

In the real world, your ears are tape, just like tape.



This is what I was talking about  when I said the brain compensates for it. It's in your minds "ear" as well.

Read the book "This is Your Brain on Music"... our minds filter out so much junk in a day we are not even aware of it... and it would drive us insane if we were aware of it Very Happy

Without habituation, we are autistic.

Bill
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Tidewater on January 18, 2011, 11:05:57 am
Recording autists.. I like it.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: MagnetoSound on January 18, 2011, 11:16:12 am
mgod wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 18:24

So is digital the Asperger's of audio?




Digital Autio.


Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: mgod on January 18, 2011, 11:41:07 am
Now we're getting somewhere!
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: mgod on January 18, 2011, 11:50:27 am
Tidewater wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 20:53

DarinK wrote on Mon, 17 January 2011 17:47


But why do those sharp transients not bother me in the real world, or when tracking & listening to the source in the control room, but only during playback from a digital recording?  I think it's more than just the softening of transients with analog, it's something with (non-DSD) digital that makes those transients sound overly harsh or unnatural.


You compensate, that's why it isn't driving you crazy. You record a good sound that you hear, and there it is.

In the real world, your ears are tape, just like tape.

Can't be it - speakers are in the real world too and they don't change from the source to the playback. Something IS changing.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Tidewater on January 18, 2011, 12:19:45 pm
I missed my point.

You use the same techniques in digital and analog.. you turn the knobs until it sounds a certain way. That certain way may look different between formats, but you are still going to arrive in the same zipcode.. maybe you just shelf the highs a bit to compensate for the extended top end that never flattens.... that you wouldn't think about if you had never had analog ears, you'd just accept as what an eq curve looks like normally.. typically, rather.

Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: mgod on January 18, 2011, 12:50:24 pm
That's an interesting argument.

As I've written ad tedium, I find the Memory Player has caused me to rethink digital highs. I've never heard them as extended. Now, with this gizmo to contrast the past 25 years with I'm certain of it. I was lucky enough to hear a Soundstream demo at an AES about 30 years ago. That was extended. Now we're getting there again, and surpassing it.

But we've had plenty of time to observe how different platforms treat the top end - PT vs. Radar vs. Logic. They all sound completely different - much like tape brands and tape machines. And PT with really good clocking, different again.

Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Tidewater on January 18, 2011, 01:20:42 pm
You just incorporate whatever comes down the line and it still sounds good, just not like the other thing, and you might miss a trick here and there... and the glue of tape.

This is all trickery anyhow. Hats off to the engineers that use math and electricty to create these tools, whatever format. It's far above my understanding, I just shift the levers.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fenris Wulf on January 19, 2011, 10:14:48 pm
Tidewater wrote on Tue, 18 January 2011 17:19

I missed my point.

You use the same techniques in digital and analog.. you turn the knobs until it sounds a certain way. That certain way may look different between formats, but you are still going to arrive in the same zipcode.. maybe you just shelf the highs a bit to compensate for the extended top end that never flattens.... that you wouldn't think about if you had never had analog ears, you'd just accept as what an eq curve looks like normally.. typically, rather.



If I lived in some horrible, dystopian world where analog recording never existed, I would STILL notice the blatant difference between a drum set in person and a digital recording of a drum set. I would sit around thinking, "why can't there be a recording medium that responds the way my ears do and kind of squishes as you increase the recording level." And I would sit around for years and years thinking of some way to do that. Finally I would hit upon the idea of finding some material that stores energy and becomes less compliant as you increase the amplitude of the energy.

Unfortunately, due to my lack of scientific grounding, I would conclude that a material that is physically squishy will sound squishy, and spend the next 20 years trying to perfect the wax cylinder recorder.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: jetbase on January 19, 2011, 10:50:28 pm
Fenris Wulf wrote on Thu, 20 January 2011 14:14

Unfortunately, due to my lack of scientific grounding, I would conclude that a material that is physically squishy will sound squishy, and spend the next 20 years trying to perfect the wax cylinder recorder.


That makes sense. If it were me I would also conclude that ear wax would be the most logical material to use.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Strummer on January 19, 2011, 11:27:46 pm
jetbase wrote on Wed, 19 January 2011 22:50

Fenris Wulf wrote on Thu, 20 January 2011 14:14

Unfortunately, due to my lack of scientific grounding, I would conclude that a material that is physically squishy will sound squishy, and spend the next 20 years trying to perfect the wax cylinder recorder.


That makes sense. If it were me I would also conclude that ear wax would be the most logical material to use.


Once you get past the pain from the needle in your ear it's all good.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Tidewater on January 20, 2011, 01:19:15 am
We could harvest the ear wax from prisoners, and the homeless.. but mostly men over 70 with lots of ear hair. The petrification would be better for the extreme highend.. say around 430Hz.

You know what sounds best? Baby seal ear wax. Very smooth for a club mix.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: phantom309 on January 22, 2011, 11:14:35 pm
On "Love Me Do", who's vocal line is the melody? John's or Paul's?
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fenris Wulf on January 23, 2011, 01:32:56 am
I was getting dry eyes, so I went to the drugstore and bought a bottle of artificial tears. It cost $20 for a half-ounce bottle. I asked the pharmacist, "Why is this stuff so expensive?" He said, "Do you know how hard it is to make a robot cry?"
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: New Orleans Steve on January 25, 2011, 09:28:47 pm
 

  The WEAKNESS of Analog IS the STRENGTH of Analog.

Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: fiasco ( P.M.DuMont ) on January 26, 2011, 04:49:15 pm
While I tend to stay away from these types of threads (they typically disintegrate into crap), I'm glad I decided to read this one.

The thing that got me interested in recording, and music production in general,
is that some albums I would listen to had a pronounced depth.
I've heard/read so many arguments as to why that is: room, mics, pres, reverb, EQ, early reflections, weed, convertors, clocks... on and on ad nauseum.

I think I am finally convinced, utterly, that this depth lies within the medium of the capture.

I believe that tape must capture something "around" the source that lends a particular realism or localization to a recording that digital capture cannot.
If this is the case, wouldn't that mean tape is actually more sensitive to the source than digital? Or just more natural? Or just plain ol' better?

I hear this depth on certain CD's, so I know digital storage, transfer, or delivery does not mean lifeless, but...

Can anyone point me to a song, CD, snippet that was recorded digitally that has unmistakable depth?

Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Nicky D on January 27, 2011, 02:41:53 am
I think it is because the audio is fractured...maybe i'm crazy...but after getting into DSD briefly...all other digital audio sounds fractured to me...I don't know why...and I'm not sure I care to know why....DSD (5.6)..is the answer....will it happen in multitrickland?  good chance it won't.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Silvertone on January 27, 2011, 07:27:11 am
Nicky D wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 01:41

I think it is because the audio is fractured...maybe i'm crazy...but after getting into DSD briefly...all other digital audio sounds fractured to me...I don't know why...and I'm not sure I care to know why....DSD (5.6)..is the answer....will it happen in multitrickland?  good chance it won't.



Already has Nicky... Genex 10 years ago and Korg just came out at AES with their multitrack DSD system... so there is hope yet!

I keep stuff that I recorded on analog on the system all the time to show people what we gave up "depth" wise.  Everyone is amazed at how 3D analog can sound.  DSD is our only hope IMHO.

That said I have 4 different digital platforms here and while I can't say they all sound different (some actually do), I can tell you that material recorded on any of these systems will perfectly null against any of the other disc's I cut. So to me it's just the "coding" of the playback that sounds different.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fenris Wulf on January 27, 2011, 12:27:06 pm
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.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Jim Williams on January 27, 2011, 01:37:47 pm
fiasco ( P.M.DuMont ) wrote on Wed, 26 January 2011 13:49

Can anyone point me to a song, CD, snippet that was recorded digitally that has unmistakable depth?



Check out Todd Garfinkle's MA Records. His stuff is recorded using 2 B+K mics, great wire and preamps (usually mine) and has all the 3d you would ever want.

There is one track on "Further Attempts" that has the bass player bowing the bass legato style. With headphones and a great converter, you can hear the bass rocking fowards/backwards in your head.

I've not ever had that experience with an analog multi track recording, ever.

The question is this:

How many of you believe 2" analog tape will still be in production in 25 years?

Show of hands?
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Jay Kadis on January 27, 2011, 01:49:35 pm
Several years ago I was evaluating monitors and was listening to the ADAM S3As for the first time.  I put on one of my band's self-produced/recorded CDs and was surprised to hear the drums recede behind the instruments and vocals come forward.  A sense of depth that others also noticed.  We were using a decent but standard CD player - possibly Denon.  The depth thing is not easy to explain, but I'm pretty sure imaging plays a role.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fenris Wulf on January 27, 2011, 03:03:50 pm
Jim Williams wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 18:37


How many of you believe 2" analog tape will still be in production in 25 years?

Show of hands?


So I should abandon my strongly preferred and clearly superior working method, because tape MIGHT be unavailable in 25 years?

If the demand for tape drops to the point where even ATR gives up on making it, then by the same token, used tape will be cheap and plentiful for anyone who wants it. Once I've checked the date codes to eliminate "sticky shed" years, I would trust a gently used, decades-old reel of tape over any digital format.

If the predictions of the sour-grapes digital mavens come true and analog REALLY becomes extinct, I can always become an axe murderer.

That way, at least I'd feel good about my job.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: mattrussell on January 27, 2011, 03:58:54 pm
Tidewater wrote on Tue, 18 January 2011 12:19

I missed my point.

You use the same techniques in digital and analog.. you turn the knobs until it sounds a certain way. That certain way may look different between formats, but you are still going to arrive in the same zipcode.. maybe you just shelf the highs a bit to compensate for the extended top end that never flattens.... that you wouldn't think about if you had never had analog ears, you'd just accept as what an eq curve looks like normally.. typically, rather.





as a general statement, i agree with this.  
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Nicky D on January 27, 2011, 04:48:52 pm
Silvertone wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 06:27

Nicky D wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 01:41

I think it is because the audio is fractured...maybe i'm crazy...but after getting into DSD briefly...all other digital audio sounds fractured to me...I don't know why...and I'm not sure I care to know why....DSD (5.6)..is the answer....will it happen in multitrickland?  good chance it won't.



Already has Nicky... Genex 10 years ago and Korg just came out at AES with their multitrack DSD system... so there is hope yet!

I keep stuff that I recorded on analog on the system all the time to show people what we gave up "depth" wise.  Everyone is amazed at how 3D analog can sound.  DSD is our only hope IMHO.

That said I have 4 different digital platforms here and while I can't say they all sound different (some actually do), I can tell you that material recorded on any of these systems will perfectly null against any of the other disc's I cut. So to me it's just the "coding" of the playback that sounds different.



yes of course...I meant something usable by today's standards of editing and plug in processing...which certainly isn't going away....interesting thought about coding of playback...that very well may be...makes me think about "software monitoring" on and off in Logic...which sound different..
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Bill Mueller on January 27, 2011, 05:14:34 pm
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
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Bill Mueller on January 27, 2011, 05:19:31 pm
Jim Williams wrote on Thu, 27 January 2011 13:37

fiasco ( P.M.DuMont ) wrote on Wed, 26 January 2011 13:49

Can anyone point me to a song, CD, snippet that was recorded digitally that has unmistakable depth?



Check out Todd Garfinkle's MA Records. His stuff is recorded using 2 B+K mics, great wire and preamps (usually mine) and has all the 3d you would ever want.

There is one track on "Further Attempts" that has the bass player bowing the bass legato style. With headphones and a great converter, you can hear the bass rocking fowards/backwards in your head.

I've not ever had that experience with an analog multi track recording, ever.

The question is this:

How many of you believe 2" analog tape will still be in production in 25 years?

Show of hands?


Jim,

+1.

I swear, when I talk to my studio friends who are not on this forum, NOBODY is using analog tape any more. The machines are not even sitting in the hall any more. They are gone.

I think every engineer who IS using analog tape is on this forum!  Very Happy

And BTW. I love analog tape. I have a Studer B67 that I personally restored. I can lap heads myself and handle pretty much any maintenance tweak needed. 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.

Best regards,

Bill
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Nicky D on January 27, 2011, 05:36:42 pm
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.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Bill Mueller on January 27, 2011, 05:52:20 pm
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.

(That is a very broad statement and can be contested in a variety of unique instances such as tape alignment levels, but it is fundamentally true)

The old wives tale that analog tape just automatically applies compression or limiting to anything applied to it is just that, an old wives tale.

Bill
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: MagnetoSound on January 27, 2011, 06:29:08 pm

A limiter tends to have a threshold.

Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Bill Mueller 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
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: MagnetoSound 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.

Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Nicky D 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




Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Nicky D 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
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fenris Wulf 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.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Bill Mueller 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
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Silvertone 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.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Jim Williams 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.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Bill Mueller 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
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fenris Wulf 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.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fenris Wulf 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.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Bill Mueller 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
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fenris Wulf 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.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fenris Wulf 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?"
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Bill Mueller on January 29, 2011, 06:33:12 pm
Fenris Wulf wrote on Sat, 29 January 2011 18:08

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.



Ferris,

There have been only two or three major label classical albums recorded analog in the last twenty years! When was it that labels began to "realize that digital has it's own drawbacks"?

Bill
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Bill Mueller on January 29, 2011, 06:51:14 pm
Fenris,

Are you just choosing to ignore what I said about Ross's recordings? Is his opinion just not good enough for you? How about Terry's? He is using Pro Tools at Compass Point. Come on man. People are making spectacular recordings on digital systems everywhere around you.

That does not mean you have to at all. But to ignore the facts, I don't know what to say to that. Tell me you think Ross's recordings suck and at least then I will have some point of reference for your opinion. Personally, I've been shocked by the depth and quality of his work.

Bill
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fenris Wulf on January 29, 2011, 07:01:11 pm
I didn't say that Ross's or Terry's recordings aren't great, I said that you need to spend a LOT of money to get that kind of sound with a digital setup. On my budget, analog is a better choice.

You claim that classical music was all done to two track. This is simply not true. Classical recordists have been using spot mics for a long time. Some build an on-site control room so they can mix all the mics live to stereo, while others use multi-track recording. Orchestral recording for film is nearly always multi-track. I've observed 2" tape machines in use in quite a few "making of" documentaries. And I find the sound of pre-digital films to be considerably more pleasant and less fatiguing that modern films mixed in Pro Tools.

While most classical recordists abandoned analog, they also realized that digital wasn't as "perfect" as they initially thought, and a lot of money and research was invested to develop better digital converters. Eventually they came full circle and re-introduced discrete transformer-coupled circuitry, and converters finally sounded as good as they did 30 years ago.  Laughing

I think classical recordists have a prejudice against using analog tape, and have never experienced what something like a high-end ATR multitrack with custom EQ curves and modern tape formulations can do.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Tomas Danko on January 29, 2011, 07:27:55 pm
Fenris Wulf wrote on Sun, 30 January 2011 00:01

I didn't say that Ross's or Terry's recordings aren't great, I said that you need to spend a LOT of money to get that kind of sound with a digital setup. On my budget, analog is a better choice.

You claim that classical music was all done to two track. This is simply not true. Classical recordists have been using spot mics for a long time. Some build an on-site control room so they can mix all the mics live to stereo, while others use multi-track recording. Orchestral recording for film is nearly always multi-track. I've observed 2" tape machines in use in quite a few "making of" documentaries. And I find the sound of pre-digital films to be considerably more pleasant and less fatiguing that modern films mixed in Pro Tools.

While most classical recordists abandoned analog, they also realized that digital wasn't as "perfect" as they initially thought, and a lot of money and research was invested to develop better digital converters. Eventually they came full circle and re-introduced discrete transformer-coupled circuitry, and converters finally sounded as good as they did 30 years ago.  Laughing

I think classical recordists have a prejudice against using analog tape, and have never experienced what something like a high-end ATR multitrack with custom EQ curves and modern tape formulations can do.

Perhaps a Decca tree using M50s into a calibrated Nagra tape recorder was great enough to bother searching for something else (besides "hiss-free" digital, that is)?

To this day, that formula is quite hard to beat.

Personally, I feel there are digital setups that are very close to that level of fidelity and musicality nowadays. And as with a Nagra, great digital is not exactly cheap.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fenris Wulf on January 29, 2011, 07:42:39 pm
I have a question for Bill Mueller. I see that you have an extensive background in live sound. I want to know, have live sound engineers REALLY embraced digital technology, like MIX magazine would have us believe? Or do they still prefer a good modular analog FOH console if they can get it? What's better in terms of sound, reliability, and ergonomics?

A digital console can provide complete automation of all parameters and enable you to duplicate the sound of the album. But doesn't that defeat the purpose of a live show?

What was so bad about the old way of working? What has digital technology actually done for the quality of music?
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Bill Mueller on January 30, 2011, 12:22:07 am
Fenris Wulf wrote on Sat, 29 January 2011 19:42

I have a question for Bill Mueller. I see that you have an extensive background in live sound. I want to know, have live sound engineers REALLY embraced digital technology, like MIX magazine would have us believe? Or do they still prefer a good modular analog FOH console if they can get it? What's better in terms of sound, reliability, and ergonomics?

A digital console can provide complete automation of all parameters and enable you to duplicate the sound of the album. But doesn't that defeat the purpose of a live show?

What was so bad about the old way of working? What has digital technology actually done for the quality of music?

Fenris,

Yamaha, Digico, Harrison, Soundcraft, Avid and many other digital consoles have penetrated the sound reinforcement/broadcast community for many years now. The only question has ever been reliability, not fidelity. Even church venues are switching to digi consoles. So the answer is yes digital consoles have come close to taking over the mid to upper end of live sound production.

However, sir, we are not even talking about digital or analog consoles, we are talking about the difference between digital audio recording and analog tape and in that arena, the ship sailed years ago. No one records live show on analog tape any more. At the very most it is extremely rare. No one uses multiple 2" analog machines synced with time code on track 24. It just does not happen. It is just too difficult and fraught with peril.

Also, no one is saying analog tape does not sound good. I have said many times, I have a Studer B67 that I love. It is sitting right next to me while I type this out. I did a pretty good job restoring it and lapping the heads.

This is not about how awful analog tape is. This is about people saying how awful digital audio is, lumping both cheap ITB toys and excellent sounding large format consoles together and slandering them all with the same brush. This is my only point. All digital systems are not the same and all analog tape is not automatically better.

Best regards,

Bill
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Eric H. on January 30, 2011, 10:34:43 am
Bill Mueller wrote on Sun, 30 January 2011 05:22

Fenris Wulf wrote on Sat, 29 January 2011 19:42

I have a question for Bill Mueller. I see that you have an extensive background in live sound. I want to know, have live sound engineers REALLY embraced digital technology, like MIX magazine would have us believe? Or do they still prefer a good modular analog FOH console if they can get it? What's better in terms of sound, reliability, and ergonomics?

A digital console can provide complete automation of all parameters and enable you to duplicate the sound of the album. But doesn't that defeat the purpose of a live show?

What was so bad about the old way of working? What has digital technology actually done for the quality of music?

Fenris,

Yamaha, Digico, Harrison, Soundcraft, Avid and many other digital consoles have penetrated the sound reinforcement/broadcast community for many years now. The only question has ever been reliability, not fidelity. Even church venues are switching to digi consoles. So the answer is yes digital consoles have come close to taking over the mid to upper end of live sound production.

However, sir, we are not even talking about digital or analog consoles, we are talking about the difference between digital audio recording and analog tape and in that arena, the ship sailed years ago. No one records live show on analog tape any more. At the very most it is extremely rare. No one uses multiple 2" analog machines synced with time code on track 24. It just does not happen. It is just too difficult and fraught with peril.

Also, no one is saying analog tape does not sound good. I have said many times, I have a Studer B67 that I love. It is sitting right next to me while I type this out. I did a pretty good job restoring it and lapping the heads.

This is not about how awful analog tape is. This is about people saying how awful digital audio is, lumping both cheap ITB toys and excellent sounding large format consoles together and slandering them all with the same brush. This is my only point. All digital systems are not the same and all analog tape is not automatically better.

Best regards,

Bill


+1

On my part, I feel that a lot of people felt that digital was great, because it could do everything analog did and much more for a 1/10th of the price.
Sadly, not all digital recorders or soundboards were born equal.

Digital sales point are still at this very day the convenience and the lower price. Quality was always behind, and soon some realized that good digital is as expensive or more expensive than analog, because every 5 years or so, it is outdated.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Silvertone on January 30, 2011, 10:45:50 am
Bill Mueller wrote on Sat, 29 January 2011 23:22



This is not about how awful analog tape is. This is about people saying how awful digital audio is, lumping both cheap ITB toys and excellent sounding large format consoles together and slandering them all with the same brush. This is my only point. All digital systems are not the same and all analog tape is not automatically better.

Best regards,

Bill


Ultimately this is what all these threads boil down to.

Each format has it's merits and faults.

I have no trouble getting big, fat and warm into digital.  It's just that when all things are equal it seems to come back better sounding from the analog format to me personally.  Certainly more 3D.

We aren't going back... nor should we.  But we also shouldn't discount analog or through "nostalgia" turn it into something it never was (the perfect medium).

I like tape... I miss tape... to a degree.

That said, I'm restoring that vintage Langevin 12x3 tube console and pairing it with a very old mint conditioned Presto 3 track machine to make some very "old" analog recordings.  In the end I'll let all of you be the judge as I intend to cut high bit and sample rate digital at the same time.

Hopefully she'll be up and running by springtime...
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Bill Mueller on January 30, 2011, 10:55:13 am
Silvertone wrote on Sun, 30 January 2011 10:45

Bill Mueller wrote on Sat, 29 January 2011 23:22



This is not about how awful analog tape is. This is about people saying how awful digital audio is, lumping both cheap ITB toys and excellent sounding large format consoles together and slandering them all with the same brush. This is my only point. All digital systems are not the same and all analog tape is not automatically better.

Best regards,

Bill


That said, I'm restoring that vintage Langevin 12x3 tube console and pairing it with a very old mint conditioned Presto 3 track machine to make some very "old" analog recordings.  In the end I'll let all of you be the judge as I intend to cut high bit and sample rate digital at the same time.

Hopefully she'll be up and running by springtime...


Larry,

Is that the Woodstock console? In 1975, some guys brought the Woodstock console to Flite 3 recordings in Baltimore to try and sell it. It was just a pile of parts in the back of a 12' straight bed truck. We could have had it for a couple hundred dollars. I didn't have two dimes to rub together and couldn't afford it. One of many, "Oh well's".

Bill
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fenris Wulf on January 30, 2011, 02:38:03 pm
Bill Mueller wrote on Sun, 30 January 2011 05:22



This is not about how awful analog tape is. This is about people saying how awful digital audio is, lumping both cheap ITB toys and excellent sounding large format consoles together and slandering them all with the same brush. This is my only point. All digital systems are not the same and all analog tape is not automatically better.


I've used expensive digital and I'm still not impressed. The people who get great sound out of digital are using it as a middleman. They're doing as much processing as possible in the analog realm, using tube/transformer equipment that adds saturation, and mixing OTB.

A person can have a bad experience with a tape machine and conclude that tape is unreliable ... but engineers who use tape on a daily basis, who know how to maintain their machines and what models to avoid, will tell you that tape is FAR more reliable than any DAW system. Even when synchronizing two machines. And the tapes will be playable in 50 years. Digital files won't be.

You can do almost anything on 2" tape, if you have a later machine with quick-punch circuitry. I think Mutt Lange proved that in the 80's. Now compare Lange's analog productions to his later digital productions, same engineer, same caliber of musicians. Tell me with a straight face that digital comes even CLOSE to sounding as good as analog.

The only thing tape CAN'T do is quantizing, micro-editing, and autotuning. These tools are designed for bands who can't play their own music with any degree of proficiency and don't belong in the studio in the first place.

The backlash against over-processed music has already happened. The music industry is in ruins and DAW technology helped to destroy it. DAW technology took away our ability to say "no."

I'm just waiting for audio engineers to figure out that they don't need DAW technology to get work, and manufacturers to get back to making real equipment instead of disposable toys.

Thirty years ago, vacuum tube equipment was considered to be "obsolete." Microphones and compressors worth many thousands of dollars were literally being thrown away. Now we know better. So yes, attitudes toward recording technology CAN do a 180.

There's a consensus that digital is the future and analog is never coming back and we should be happy about it. I don't agree with the consensus. This is NOT an attack on anyone's engineering skills, I'm saying that the technology that was supposed to make our lives easier is actually making our lives harder.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Bill Mueller on January 30, 2011, 06:29:30 pm
Fenris,

I can see that we are just talking around in circles and that facts do not come into play within your thought processes. So this will be it for me. Enjoy the quiet.

Best regards,

Bill
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fenris Wulf on January 30, 2011, 07:43:29 pm
Somebody needs to play devil's advocate. I'm just taking the standard argument that "analog is obsolete" and turning it on its head.

If by "facts" you mean allegedly scientific measurements of "fidelity," sorry, I'm not buying. "Fidelity" is almost totally irrelevant to real-world use. I won't be spending another penny on digital equipment, ever. And I'll continue to rant against digital technology, because I think it's a necessary balance to the "consensus."

To make an analogy, there's an entire generation of bicyclists who think it's OK for a $1200 road bike to pop spokes regularly and eventually get cracks in the frame, at which point you throw it away. I ride a 40-year-old Schwinn Continental. A Schwinn Continental uses a type of welding that makes the frame almost indestructible, and a type of tapered spoke that is almost totally immune to breakage. It's heavier than a modern bike, but this is made up for by the fact that the wheels stay in true much better. You can buy one for around $200.

My experience with 20 and 30-year old analog equipment vs. brand new digital equipment has been similar. Something is VERY wrong with our expectations.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Jason Poff on February 20, 2011, 04:06:40 pm
Fenris Wulf wrote on Sun, 30 January 2011 19:38



I've used expensive digital and I'm still not impressed.



Perspective...

Fenris Wulf wrote on Wed, 16 February 2011 06:58



I have an admission to make. When it comes to the delivery medium, I can't tell the difference between 16/44.1 and 24/96. I can't even tell the difference between a 192 kbps MP3 and linear 24/96 most of the time.



Based on the quote above, it's not surprising that you were not impressed with "expensive" digital.

These posts, combined with the "what do we need all this stuff for?"  thread about the "almost perfect" sound quality, severely erode your credibility in my view.


Glass houses.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fenris Wulf on February 20, 2011, 11:39:19 pm
My point is that ALL digital formats above a certain resolution sound very similar, and none of them sound anything like analog tape OR like "input." People who spend a lot of money on high-end converters run into the law of diminishing returns.

I always track to tape and mix on a real console. I sometimes transfer the tape to digital if I need more tracks, using fairly high-end converters. The tape and the digital transfer sound pretty similar -- until I apply EQ or compression, at which point the digital is clearly worse.

Get some experience with old-school recording techniques. Then you might be entitled to have an opinion.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Bubba#$%Kron on February 21, 2011, 12:34:47 am
A good clock makes all the difference in the world with digital!!!!    You are not gonna get good results with a PTHD clock even on the best consoles around.  And there is very rarely a eq that sounds decent these days unless its vintage or truly passive.  People do clinical eqing all the time now and it just takes out the emotion/feel of sounds.  People dont think about ear fatigue and feel, they toss a 57 on every song and just take the vibe away.  Its all about "could" we instead of "should" we these days.

The over compression with digital really brings out the bad sounds of it.  Most people are just really leaning towards the transfomers in the unit and feel they need to slam the entire sound becaus they are already there.  Why on earth anyone would compress a MIDI controlled track is way beyond me when they have complete control of the volume and even the velocity.  And why compressing a good singer on the quietest sound they have from the start is just stupid too.    

Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Podgorny on February 21, 2011, 02:27:06 am
Fenris Wulf wrote on Sun, 20 February 2011 22:39


I always track to tape and mix on a real console.



http://www.kdvs.org/studioa/console.JPG
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Jason Poff on February 21, 2011, 03:10:24 pm
Fenris Wulf wrote on Mon, 21 February 2011 04:39

 The tape and the digital transfer sound pretty similar -- until I apply EQ or compression, at which point the digital is clearly worse.







Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Fenris Wulf on February 21, 2011, 11:27:47 pm
Yo Dogporny. That's the OLD console. I bought a 36-channel fully modular console with transformer inputs last year. If I told you what I paid you'd turn purple. Haven't got around to redoing the website yet.

The old one sounds like crap in comparison. AND YET, the channel EQ's sounded better than plug-ins about 95% of the time.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: Podgorny on February 23, 2011, 12:38:24 am
Fenris Wulf wrote on Mon, 21 February 2011 22:27

Yo Dogporny.



You work professionally in a creative field, right?


You and Tony should go have a luddite circle jerk.
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: bushwick on February 23, 2011, 09:54:49 am
Hey! What'd I miss?
Title: Re: analog trade-offs
Post by: kats on February 23, 2011, 11:17:04 am
Podgorny wrote on Tue, 22 February 2011 23:38

Fenris Wulf wrote on Mon, 21 February 2011 22:27

Yo Dogporny.



You work professionally in a creative field, right?


You and Tony should go have a luddite circle jerk.


Me?? HA!

Just for the record, if you ever find a post where I have judged another engineer's choice of tools as less than professional let me know, I'll apologize ASAP. My comments on the analog vs. digital debates are most always because I want to correct what I deem to be misinformation (not that I can't be misinformed myself).

And just for the record, I work with all formats - tape, digital, console, ITB, OTB, and I can't recall ever wishing or even thinking about the grass being greener if I was working with different technology. I'm always happy during the process and wherever it leads me.

Choices are made before we start a project as far as format and workflow is concerned and it's done. Never a second thought after the fact.

But IF we're going to talk about, let's talk about it. I mean I have strong feelings about which mic cables I prefer and we can get into the weeds on that too. But it doesn't mean I think about it all day or I am detracted in any way if the particular brand is not available. But again, IF we're going to talk about it let's talk about it. I just want to keep things in perspective.