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Help me Clip my A/D converter!
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bryan k
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16th April 2011
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Help me Clip my A/D converter!

ive never done it before....and i cant seem to wrap my head around how to connect/hook things up to do it.

Ive got:
  • Presonus Firestudio as my main connection to my computer (DAW) via firewire
  • RME ADI-2 connected to Firestudio via SPDIF
  • Studio monitors connected to the Analog outs of the RME
How the hell do i do this? Ive got my DAW open and i want to try to clip the A/D to my RME to see if i can get some more volume out of the mix.....but im lost!

do i need to do some weird connections to the RME (connecting the analog outputs back into the inputs)? How do i do it in the DAW itself?

please help......im trying to do this as a test to see if the RME converters are any good for clipping/bringing up more volume to a mix to commercial CD volumes.
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ummm, with those converters, most likely you really don't want to clip them, as the results are very likely not to sound so pretty - i.e. you'll most likely get a bit of crackling.

But if you are still dead set on trying this - probably a simple analog gain stage after the DAC will bring things up to a level that will clip at the inputs of your ADC, if some reason the output of the DAC and the input sensitivity of the ADC can not be brought up to a point where it will clip at your current nominal standard line levels.

Anyway - the signal path should generally just go balanced line outs of DAC -> balanced inputs of ADC.
Optionally you can just insert any analog processor you wish in between.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
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16th April 2011
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To get it to clip, you turn the knobs up higher and put louder sounds in.

But you have to ask yourself whether that's really the sound you want.
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bryan k
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16th April 2011
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Ok, so then hook up the Presonus analog outputs into the rme inputs? Or do I run it as an insert on one of the channels of the presonus?

Bare with me, I'm an ITB guy....I don't mess with outboard gear.
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Well, you're going to need something in there to increase the volume... The PS outputs aren't going to "willingly" exceed full-scale at the output and if there's no additional volume, that's exactly what the RME will receive.

You generally push the converters at the tail end of your analog chain.

I'm also with Steve...
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16th April 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bryan k View Post
Ok, so then hook up the Presonus analog outputs into the rme inputs?
Yes.

Have fun butchering your audio!

Best regards,
Steve Berson
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If you going to do this your going to want to use in the inputs and outputs on the rme. Just monitor through the presonus. Your gonna need a fully analog gain stage after the rme output. Like a stereo preamp or compressor. The idea is to crank the gain at that analog stage and clip the a/d going back in.
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I wouldn't be clipping either of those converters, just use a software clipper ITB if you really want to experiment with clipping.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben F View Post
I wouldn't be clipping either of those converters, just use a software clipper ITB if you really want to experiment with clipping.
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Just flashed backed to my first job in a mastering studio circa 1992 where I'd be required to rerun something like an entire 60 minute DAT copy because there had been a single incidence of clipping in it. So you'd back things down a tiny bit - and run it all over again - in real time. I don't miss DAT's - but I sure as heck sometime miss some of the attitudes as to what you were supposed to do in order to do your job correctly!

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cellotron View Post
Just flashed backed to my first job in a mastering studio circa 1992 where I'd be required to rerun something like an entire 60 minute DAT copy because there had been a single incidence of clipping in it. So you'd back things down a tiny bit - and run it all over again - in real time. I don't miss DAT's - but I sure as heck sometime miss some of the attitudes as to what you were supposed to do in order to do your job correctly!

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Steve Berson
i so remember those days. eyes glued to the meters.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by editronmaximon View Post
No kidding, man.

With this thread a new low point is established.
Hey Ed let's limbo!!!
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16th April 2011
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I have those converters, they sound wack clipped, don't bother.
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16th April 2011
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Come now Editron,

Surely you don't think this guy wants to clip his converters purely for more loudness....



Seriously though - to clip converters you'll need some sort of amplifier stage that can produce enough voltage on its output to overdrive the input. Not all preamps will do this. I tried doing this with a Neve 1073 DPA preamp but it doesn't give out enough signal to clip my Lynx Aurora - the Neve clips itself (nastily) before it'll drive the Aurora's inputs hard enough to clip. Look for something that has a high output level.

I suspect Joe is right that it won't be particularly worthwhile with your particular converter however. To make this idea work you may need to do some shopping....
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Quote:
Originally Posted by editronmaximon View Post
I don't know, man. Maybe we should just hold the pole for this round. Or, better yet, just observe.

I mean, "Help me clip my converters"????

Not, "Please explain to me how to clip converters so I can do it", mind you. No, its going right past that to the next stop, basically, "Hey mastering guys, just clip my converters for me, already, O.K.?"

I'm not sure, but I really think we could be witnessing the dawning of a new age of "Who gives a ***k about doing any work on anything anyway?"

The next level could be, "Hey mastering guys, please help me ***k my girlfriend, so I don't get tired".

Followed by, "Hey mastering guys, please help me sit on my couch and watch television".

Observation suits me fine Ed.......satisfies my voyueristic tendencies......

Whilst I enjoy the jocular nature of your post......I also can appreciate the frustration woven through it......

My theory is that it's a different culture and mindset we are dealing with these days where everything is easier to attain & more disposable than ever before.....

All we can do is try to help as best as we can.......actually I have faith in the next generation coming through.....

There's a pretty serious couch here that would be conducive to watching TV.....maybe we can find a niche for ourselves.......after the limbo party.....
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Ben F
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Quote:
Originally Posted by editronmaximon View Post
No kidding, man.

With this thread a new low point is established.
Must be difficult viewing it from your ivory tower.
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16th April 2011
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Just grab some sorty of outboard processor with line gain.. 10 years ago i had an RME converter and would go out two of the A/Ds and into my Roll Music 755 comp (the first one made!) and then i'd drive the output gain and clip in the input of the RME to get loudness. It worked fine and despite the fact that it doesn't say Lavry or Prism on it, it works. I'd bet your RME would clip fine despite what some have said here.

Clipping is still a very popular method of many pro mastering engineers and many rock records that you've listened to over the years have acheived their loudness this way. But after -10RMS, it severely alters the sound of the low end due to fullscale shape.. So you always have to EQ into it to fix what it screws up. Broader curves (sometimes very broad shaped curves) work better for low end. This is why the FG-X changes the shape of the curve according to what type of frequencies dominate the transient.

So find some outboard with a line output gain and try it out. Its still about 1000 times better than any brickwall peak limiter if we're talking about most rock and pop music. It would be good to experiment.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackthebear View Post
the words "cook", "book" & "work" were all within the guidelines.......
Pimpin' ain't easy! Give him 20%.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cellotron View Post
Just flashed backed to my first job in a mastering studio circa 1992 where I'd be required to rerun something like an entire 60 minute DAT copy because there had been a single incidence of clipping in it.
I tell people some of the things I'm hired to do today would have gotten me fired 15 years ago. I guess I need to revise that date!


GR
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17th April 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Gold View Post
Pimpin' ain't easy! Give him 20%.
Ain't that the truth Paul.......I think in Ed's case he's entitled to a 50% cut...it's only fair and just......after all......we limbo together......
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SafeandSound View Post
Entirely dependent on what you need/want to do to a mix, much more complex than this statement suggests IMO.
I'll clarify.. If I need/want to make a mix louder while keeping transients and not losing dynamics, I will definitely not use a peak limiter. If I want to kill my snare and slightly alter the balance while making the entire sound a bit spongey and squashy, then yes it is a great tool for that.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Reierson View Post
I tell people some of the things I'm hired to do today would have gotten me fired 15 years ago.
Absolutely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cellotron
Just flashed backed to my first job in a mastering studio circa 1992 where I'd be required to rerun something like an entire 60 minute DAT copy because there had been a single incidence of clipping in it.
The only thing worse and more frustrating were DATs submitted unchecked (ie rarely monitored off-tape, unless you had a Sony 4 head machine) to 1/4" for C-90 cassette masters, and then after running it again, being informed the client requested no Dolby. And 1630 master tapes, with 1 word = an over (unlike many peak meters reading only 4 consecutive words = over).
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Cellotron
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SafeandSound View Post
Entirely dependent on what you need/want to do to a mix, much more complex than this statement suggests IMO.
I completely agree. Clipping is not necessarily a panacea for increasing average relative to digital limiting even for genres such as pop and rock by any means. It varies from track to track, and with the desires for the end result. It's just one of those things where you can't ever state there are any absolutes - because in my experience there really aren't. And sometimes combinations of both methods can work to give the desired result more than just using one.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slate Press View Post
I'll clarify.. If I need/want to make a mix louder while keeping transients and not losing dynamics, I will definitely not use a peak limiter. If I want to kill my snare and slightly alter the balance while making the entire sound a bit spongey and squashy, then yes it is a great tool for that.
I disagree. There's more variables than simply either/or in this - based on the application and processor(s) used.

Important to note that with heavily clipped audio after further processing is done to it - for broadcast or for conversion to lossy compression codecs (such as mp3 or aac) - will often crackle on playback way more than "intelligently" limited audio put through the same additional processing will.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
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17th April 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cellotron View Post
I disagree. There's more variables than simply either/or in this - based on the application and processor(s) used.

Important to note that with heavily clipped audio after further processing is done to it - for broadcast or for conversion to lossy compression codecs (such as mp3 or aac) - will often crackle on playback way more than "intelligently" limited audio put through the same additional processing will.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Do you have an example? Can you post a song that i can listen to in full res 16bit 44.1khz wav that i can change into an mp3 and hear crackles? I'm not saying you are wrong.. but given that for so many years, most top mastering engineers would clip the input of their A/D's to get loudness, and that AAC and MP3 have been the dominant music format for years now, I would have thought we'd hear more of this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SafeandSound View Post
I think the details are in the listening to any unique mix that is presented. It's a blanket statement which is in no way applicable to all mixes. And the alternative needs to be addressed with the same (if not more) diligence as it's technically "illegal" so to speak.
When someone can actually post a mix that has transients and dynamics that is around -20 to -16RMS, and can then show me how a brickwall peak limiter can bring it to -9RMS better than some sort of saturation or clipping, then i'll jump on your bandwagon. Until then, I'm sleeping under my blanket statement.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slate Press View Post
Do you have an example? Can you post a song that i can listen to in full res 16bit 44.1khz wav that i can change into an mp3 and hear crackles?
No time today - got to get through mastering a jazz fusion album first - and then want to work on a few things on the Fairchild lathe I'm restoring after.

I'll see whether there is any of my own material I can find that I can clip for you that would fit the bill sometime later in the week - I make it a strict policy not to upload clients files or tracks where I don't hold the copyright ever.

Quote:
I'm not saying you are wrong.. but given that for so many years, most top mastering engineers would clip the input of their A/D's to get loudness, and that AAC and MP3 have been the dominant music format for years now, I would have thought we'd hear more of this.
Really??? Not to be mean about this - but it almost sounds like you've been hiding under a rock regarding this. Honestly you can easily hear this on tons of clipped pop and rock tracks when played via a lossy data compressed format on a great deal of "consumer" systems - and yes - tons of folks have made a big deal about it in the past 10 years or so.

Frank Foti & Roger Orban's article on the downsides of clipped audio when reprocessed via typical broadcast processing chains first came out almost exactly 10 years ago in fact -
http://omniaaudio.com/downloads/whit...-june-2001.pdf

Quote:
When someone can actually post a mix that has transients and dynamics that is around -20 to -16RMS, and can then show me how a brickwall peak limiter can bring it to -9RMS better than some sort of saturation or clipping, then i'll jump on your bandwagon. Until then, I'm sleeping under my blanket statement.
Well - I definitely agree with you that some amount of clipping can often preserve the perception of punch and snap relative to using digital brickwall limiters - and admittedly I almost never crush anything to the level you are proposing ever just using a single digital brickwall limiter (usually I use a variety of tools, including: eq, analog broadband compression, transformer based saturation, a variety of clipping methods - including at the input of the ADC and at a number of digital gain stages, and a variety of digital brickwall peak limiters).

What I strongly object to is the idea that clipping is some kind of "free lunch" - and the idea that there is no role for brickwall limiters when doing extreme loudness maximization (especially in terms of attempting to minimize distortion you would otherwise get from pure clipping). Again - there is no absolute in this as to what methods or combination of methods is "best" - and no need to make this either/or.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
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18th April 2011
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If I've been hiding under a rock, then you'll easily be be able to name a few songs that are ok in wav but crackle in mp3 or aac. I'm very eager to examine this.
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It would depend on the D/A - I know that I have noticed a lot of tracks clipping when converted to MP3 from the CD audio. I have read that this is due to intersample peaks created during the encoding process.

A really heavily crushed track will be peaking/clipping the D/A the whole time the track plays & a cheap D/A will not do this gracefully.


My Apogee Ensemble sounds ok playing back these kind of tracks, however, my four year olds ghetto blaster, not so much...
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Originally Posted by Slate Press View Post
If I've been hiding under a rock, then you'll easily be be able to name a few songs that are ok in wav but crackle in mp3 or aac. I'm very eager to examine this.
It can happen. An MP3 encoder can certainly make larger signals than you started with.

This chart doesn't read in crackle, just dB, and the tc paper its from (Neilsen and Lund) has audio examples of distortion after MP3 encoding.



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Originally Posted by Slate Press View Post
If I've been hiding under a rock, then you'll easily be be able to name a few songs that are ok in wav but crackle in mp3 or aac. I'm very eager to examine this.
Steven, not to dig up the past but how is it that you couldn't hear the crackling artifacts in FG-X before releasing it? Even your own FG-X demo sample posted on GS had crackle.

Even Fabrice mentioned to you from the start that a limiter needs to cater to all types of mixes, quality or otherwise but this was not your primary focus, drum punch was. ME's have to deal with a wide range of mix quality day in day out, so simply blaming a mix for the crackles when another limiter sounds cleaner on the same track is not addressing the real issues at hand imo.

Fact is some limiters are better at certain things than others. There is no one size fits all. While I agree that retaining punch & drum transients are an important thing it shouldn't be the only consideration for a mastering engineer (drummer or otherwise). No point in having punchy drums if the guitars, piano or other fundamental instruments are crackling away in the background.

I'll say it before & I'll say it again.. there is no free lunch to be had with clipping converters or saturating through plug-ins. At some point it simply needs to be backed off or to try a different approach if max level with some semblance of transparency is the key.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slate Press View Post
Its still about 1000 times better than any brickwall peak limiter if we're talking about most rock and pop music. It would be good to experiment.
in your unbiased opinion of course... I would question that statement to the point of saying, some aspects of FG-X are an improvement on some of the other limiters out there but there are other serious issues that have been largely ignored & this is where some of the competition excel. FG-X does drum punch well but transparency & predictability is a real issue.
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