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On the analogue-style recording process.

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Re: On the analogue-style recording process.

Postby faun2500 » Sat Sep 24, 2011 4:05 pm

Arne wrote:Can`t find any enjoyment in tape hiss


lol, :) I add tape his when mastering my tracks. Love it! makes the break downs and quite passages sound like its recorded off my old rave tape packs.. :P
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Re: On the analogue-style recording process.

Postby faun2500 » Sat Sep 24, 2011 4:16 pm

CoolColJ wrote:But if you remove the noise, and analog noise is quite different to digital emulated noise, the character changes.

If dither can have an affect on percieved audio quality, so can analog noise, and it's even louder :ugeek:


As I said a above, I use tape hiss when mastering my tracks and I don't need to dither because of the hiss. :)
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Re: On the analogue-style recording process.

Postby TranscendingMusic » Sat Sep 24, 2011 5:04 pm

mathias wrote:
Digital more or less is linear: you, in essence, get what you put in.


i am not sure about that too much.
my question is about the linearity of digital converters on all levels down to let's say -80 db.

a modern delta-sigma converter is perfectly linear on higher levels, near to 0 dbfs, but looses more and more linearity, when it goes down levelwise, which leads to very minimal distortion.
in the analog world you get low levels pretty accurat, until you reach the noisefloor.

we all know from dither discussions, that our hearing-system is sensible to that.

for me, digital converters are still in their evolutionprocess, to become perfectly linear in all domains, to give us the most accurate representation of sound in digital form.
our ears will tell us, when this is achieved. :D

mathias


If you compare each system to itself then what you said applies: that the rate of change may render analog as being more linear from a given high point to its low point. But comparing them to each other, digital wins in dynamic range and linearity. In a given usable and perceptible range, you'll get a cleaner and more 1:1 representation as opposed to the different distortions, compressions, and responses in an all analog system.
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Re: On the analogue-style recording process.

Postby mathias » Sat Sep 24, 2011 6:51 pm

TranscendingMusic wrote:
mathias wrote:
Digital more or less is linear: you, in essence, get what you put in.


i am not sure about that too much.
my question is about the linearity of digital converters on all levels down to let's say -80 db.

a modern delta-sigma converter is perfectly linear on higher levels, near to 0 dbfs, but looses more and more linearity, when it goes down levelwise, which leads to very minimal distortion.
in the analog world you get low levels pretty accurat, until you reach the noisefloor.

we all know from dither discussions, that our hearing-system is sensible to that.

for me, digital converters are still in their evolutionprocess, to become perfectly linear in all domains, to give us the most accurate representation of sound in digital form.
our ears will tell us, when this is achieved. :D

mathias


If you compare each system to itself then what you said applies: that the rate of change may render analog as being more linear from a given high point to its low point. But comparing them to each other, digital wins in dynamic range and linearity. In a given usable and perceptible range, you'll get a cleaner and more 1:1 representation as opposed to the different distortions, compressions, and responses in an all analog system.


That's true. the road with digital audio is towards a clean 1:1 representation, as much as this is possible with mics - converters - speakers.
but i think we have still to find some variables (maybe overlooked at the moment, because they are not so prominent than others), that may be important, to give our hearing-system a more pleasing or more "real" experience with digital audio.
low-level nonlinearities could be one of them ...

mathias

EDIT:
It is in fact a better question to ask what do humans like to hear; what's pleasant? This is a better question than trying to quantify different perspectives in how analog vs. digital sounds.

the comparison may lead to some points, where we can improve digital converters, software, ... .
as so many find analog more pleasing, there could be an answer in the differences.
just a thought :)
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Re: On the analogue-style recording process.

Postby faun2500 » Sat Sep 24, 2011 9:32 pm

One variable is peoples ears. lol
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Re: On the analogue-style recording process.

Postby joshnur » Sat Sep 24, 2011 10:29 pm

Totally with you on this one: I'm all for reaching for what the analog chain does in terms of coloration in harmonics and dynamics but always want to avoid unwanted hiss and hum and so on.

Working with a Roland D-10 and cassette tapes made me sensitive to that: the Roland D-10 would have its own hiss on analog audio out and this would add to tape hiss. Add to these a hissy vocal track or two and it starts to get messy fast.

In contrast, later when I had my Kurzweil K2000 and K2500, I would use the optical outs. Provided you were careful not to overdrive internally with gain staging and into the sound card (a Creative Live with Optical inputs), there would be no background noise at all. Recording this digitally in a DAW gives a pure, clean sound.

Now with Nebula, I get to have the best of both worlds: even my digital synths can go through the analog-style recording/mixing and mastering chains. Note I say analog-style and not analog since it's a hybrid of analog-sounding with Nebula within my very digital Pro Tools DAW.

Another thing I tried recently is passing my Kurz's oscs through the DIY External Audio Inputs I made in a resurrected Korg Poly-800: I tested 4 tracks bypassing the Kurz DSP filters and passing each sound through the single Korg NJM2609 filter, leaving the filter mostly open but adjusting the resonance ever so slightly on the drums for instance, and nothing else in the DAW, no Nebula, no Reverb or anything.

Note that the Korg has a single filter, so you're in a paraphonic environment here rather than a true polyphonic one, and would you believe it... it's like the Kurz sounds found new life.

Now, couple this with Nebula and you have a very powerful setup.

To put things in perspective, with Nebula, a few choice synths and a DAW, you now have in your room, a vastly superior environment than what Jarre started with and recorded Oxygène with.

Empowering stuff.

Arne wrote:Can`t find any enjoyment in tape hiss or noise of bad cabling, lack of grounding, hum, crosstalk leakage, noisefloor etc. None of it adds any musicality to what I do, and never will. I try to avoid noisy analog gear regardsless of brand. After more than 20 years of album recordings I have not yet been in a recording or album situation where artifacts become a valid sound param for success. Sorry, I do not understand why this is a good to analog sound. I can however understand why analog harmonics, warmth, transparant openess, and color are an important factor in ITB recording. Yeah, I know, genres may have different requirement where tapehiss, noise, and artifacts are an important ingreadient.
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Re: On the analogue-style recording process.

Postby faun2500 » Sat Sep 24, 2011 11:05 pm

I have a Alen & Heath Xone 62 club mixer. Had it for years, maybe 8 or 9 can't remember exactly.

Its analogue and I like to run my tracks out to it (through my RME fireface) and drive the channel and eq for some saturation. This coupled with Nebula is very pleasing and lets not forget FUN. Yes that's right, FUN! lol :)

The reason we all make music no? :lol:


8-)

Edit: Also adds noise and a weird kind of crackle/hum too.
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Re: On the analogue-style recording process.

Postby joshnur » Sat Sep 24, 2011 11:16 pm

I think that's totally where we are at currently with Nebula and a whole set of seemingly similar (but we know they're not like Nebula) solutions like Satson and VCC and the CLASP system http://www.endlessanalog.com/what-is-clasp, etc..., i.e. getting the best of the digital world, and the best of the analog world and working with the two in a modern fashion.

But you have to think about the details of the analogue process and what's good about it:

1. Recording + coloration
Pre-Amp / Gate / Compressor / Console with EQ and/or Send -> Effects -> Return / To Tape

2. Mixing + coloration
Multi-tracks from Tape / Console Input with EQ, Compression, other Send -> Effects -> Return or to Buss / To Master Mix Channel and its own effects if any / Overall Mix to Tape

3. Mastering + coloration
Final Mix from Tape / Console Input / Mastering channel EQ and/or Send -> Effects ->Return / Final master To Tape

Now, for each of these steps, great engineers evolved a set of common best-practices (this apart from each one's own personal techniques)., e.g.:

1. Recording
General practice: Avoiding noise, hiss, hum etc..
To optimize Mic levels when recording, use a good pre-amp with certain microphones.
To optimize vocal levels, use a compressor when recording them. However, you wouldn't want to raise the level of the noise being caught by the mic. Therefore, use a noise gate before the compressor.
To optimize percussion/drum levels, similar things (compress)

2. Mixing
General practice: making each set of sound sound the best possible by giving each a controlled audio space, making the overall mix sound the best possible.
To let some room for other frequencies, basses were usually high-pass filtered. This allowed the listener to still hear most of the bass energy, but left enough space for other frequencies above to be heard without the bass overly occupying the whole of the mix's audio energy.
Tape has a great natural way of dealing with high frequencies and loudness, a pleasing dynamic response and compression of too loud sounds and harmonics. On the other hand, tape also attenuates some high frequency contents. This becomes especially audible when people were bouncing tracks onto tape to make room on the console or tape for additional tracks. Also, there are cases when you need to de-ess vocals to reduce sibilance.
Hence, when mixing vocals for instance, some sort of exciter or high-frequency EQing would also be done.

3. Mastering
A fresh set of ears from the mastering engineer, a different person than the mixing engineer, would put the final touches to the overall mix so that it can sound as good as possible (not as loud as possible) on several, very different listening equipment: high-end audiophile/high-fi equipment, middle-end equipment, low-end like small radios and so on...
General practice: Make it sound as good as possible!
Here again, since the sound is coming from tape, the Mastering engineer may touch up the lost high-frequencies just a bit, and also would have used a multi-band compressor for more precise work. I find it harder here to give more precise general practices because it seems to depends so much on each mix on a case-by-case basis. Perhaps a mastering engineer in our midst can pitch in :P

Now, let's consider what happens in the Digital world:

The digital realm is very unforgiving for sound which is too loud: the sound is not pleasingly compressed like with tape: it's clipped. That is, you are actually losing a good part of the actual sound at a fundamental level, the waveform, so this is to be avoided at all costs.

Therefore, it is extremely important to manage your gain staging in the DAW world properly. That means testing inter-plugin levels and reducing them where necessary. That also means leaving enough headroom when mixing in the DAW, i.e. by letting the individual faders at settings far below 0dB, e.g. at -18 so that plugins can work well and the overall mix can work well (some people seem to think they need to hit 0dB on all their faders when mixing. I let you imagine the mess that does).

In addition, the digital realm is very clinical as compared to tape: in the best DAWs like Pro Tools (and I heard Nuendo), there is no harmonic and dynamic coloration to speak of or that is detectable by a human pair of ears in the highest resolution settings available nowadays, even though having a digital resolution in both the time and space dimensions is just an approximation of analog.

So here's another key thing that is very different between digital and analog: all that high-frequency pleasing coloration, dynamics/attenuation/distortion than analog tape gives is nowhere to be found in a digital mix!

Now, in the audio world, we've seen that to provide some room for the other frequencies, we were taming the low end with a high-pass filter, and that tape obviously was already taming some of the high-frequencies.

Therefore, in the digital world, we should absolutely, resolutely, decisively tame the high frequencies too! Think about it: when people say "it sounds warmer" or "it sounds harsher, more digital", what they're really talking about is the balance between high frequencies and low frequencies, and it is the clinical rendering of all those high frequencies that make digital sound harsher.

So combine the best practices of the analogue process and the best practices of the digital world with Nebula and you have the modern way of high-quality recording, mixing and mastering.

martinez wrote: I remember hearing some people saying something about digital pulling a vail over the sound and I also remember a particular producer saying that digital is simultaniously harsh and dull souding at the same time.

When I listen to some of the older analogue recordings they seem to sound a lot darker yet clearer and I think this is because this is because of all of the accumulated saturation that has taken place.
Maybe it is all the harmonic build up that allows analogue recordings to be darker yet more present.
It might that analogue tends to roll off the top end that leads to less high end masking.

When I want something to sit up front in a mix I tend to add some saturation to it.
It maybe that digital is just to clean. it does seem to have a gloss to it that sounds a bit muffled some how.
Maybe digital recordings are like a mural that's made from bits of glass that needs some dirt on it to add some colour and make it clearer?

It certainly does sound glassy though doesn't it.
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Re: On the analogue-style recording process.

Postby the19thbear » Mon Sep 26, 2011 9:52 am

Code: Select all
I remember hearing some people saying something about digital pulling a vail over the sound and I also remember a particular producer saying that digital is simultaniously harsh and dull souding at the same time.

When I listen to some of the older analogue recordings they seem to sound a lot darker yet clearer and I think this is because this is because of all of the accumulated saturation that has taken place.
Maybe it is all the harmonic build up that allows analogue recordings to be darker yet more present.
It might that analogue tends to roll off the top end that leads to less high end masking.

When I want something to sit up front in a mix I tend to add some saturation to it.
It maybe that digital is just to clean. it does seem to have a gloss to it that sounds a bit muffled some how.
Maybe digital recordings are like a mural that's made from bits of glass that needs some dirt on it to add some colour and make it clearer?

It certainly does sound glassy though doesn't it.


-I find that tape has a more closed hi freq end, but at the extreme hi freqs it is ALOT more open than most digital things. tape in general has a very pleasent extreme hi freq response i think, and i think it has to do with (moderate) hi freq tape hiss as well. it "tickles" the ears - so to speak - to respond to hi freq content even better. I can hear 21+khz, and as i said, the Hif req end on tape stuff is many times a lot more clear sounding to me. on a normal 44.1 signal we do lose ALOT of the hi freq content.... just my thoughts and findings.
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Re: On the analogue-style recording process.

Postby joshnur » Mon Sep 26, 2011 11:01 pm

That's a good point too, so to transcribe the analog-recording process into the DAW, then maybe a complete lowpass filtering to control the high-end is not precisely what's needed. Something to ponder about.

the19thbear wrote:I find that tape has a more closed hi freq end, but at the extreme hi freqs it is ALOT more open than most digital things. tape in general has a very pleasent extreme hi freq response i think, and i think it has to do with (moderate) hi freq tape hiss as well. it "tickles" the ears - so to speak - to respond to hi freq content even better. I can hear 21+khz, and as i said, the Hif req end on tape stuff is many times a lot more clear sounding to me. on a normal 44.1 signal we do lose ALOT of the hi freq content.... just my thoughts and findings.
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