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Delibarately clipping DAs
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jam3s
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9th October 2008
Old 9th October 2008
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Delibarately clipping DAs

Could anyone explain why clipping high quality DAs results in less audible distortion than a lower quality DA, and also about the general process of deliberately clipping a DA rather than using a limiter? Surely when something clips, it clips?

I tried doing a search but as you can imagine "clipping" comes up with a vast amount of material!
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9th October 2008
Old 9th October 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jam3s View Post
Could anyone explain why clipping high quality DAs results in less audible distortion than a lower quality DA, and also about the general process of deliberately clipping a DA rather than using a limiter? Surely when something clips, it clips?

I tried doing a search but as you can imagine "clipping" comes up with a vast amount of material!
Do you mean A/D?
jam3s
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9th October 2008
Old 9th October 2008
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yes, thats the one! apologies
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9th October 2008
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Well, limiting is kinda like quantum mechanics. In quantum mechanics, you can either know the exact velocity or exact position of a particle, but never both at once. In limiting, you can either have something that is time accurate or spectrum accurate, but not both at once.

Clipping is basically a limiter with an infinitely fast attack and release. It is perfectly time accurate (there is no change to the length of the envelope) but because you are turning peaks into square waves, there is lotf of spectral distortion.

If you take a limiter with a gentle attack and release, you will make substantial changes to the envelope but preserve the spectrum of the sound.

Sometimes one is the right tool. Sometimes the other is. Usually, it's something in between. Sometimes slight clipping (say, 2 or 3 clipped samples) and slight limiting sounds better than moderate limiting. Sometimes just clipping or just limiting sounds best. And of course, all this depends on how your A/D sounds when it's pushed, some (generally ones with very high quality analog front-ends to the converter) sound good when used aggressively, some break up right away.

I have personally done work where 1dB of clipping and 2dB of limiting sounded cleaner than 3dB of limiting. That bit about "sounded cleaner" is the catch though. Any time you are making the decision to stray from best-practices (clipping, heavy eq, heavy compression, etc.) you really need to make sure you are listening all the way through your work to make sure that what you are doing is actually the best possible solution, and not just a gimmick you saw on a forum.

Happy listening!
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