Clipping your converters.
heathen
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#1
3rd April 2006
Old 3rd April 2006
  #1
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Clipping your converters.

WHY? Is all I can ask. I find the sound of mildly clipped converters ugly above a monitoring level of say 75-80 dbspl in almost any mastered record. I read all these ideas on getting THAT sound by clipping converters. Why not distort and clip a drum (or whatever sound)with a marshall pre amp and quad box mic it up and record it on a channel and balance a mix between original and distorted to get THAT sound. Is it laziness or lack of imagination?Or am I seriously missing some sort of magical point in clipping converters as some sort of magical cure for a lazy un-imaginative mix.I don't think so.

To me clipping converters in mastering is like smashing all your nice plates just before your dinner guests arrive and then having to serve dinner on plastic plates.

As far as I'm aware every consumer stereo system has a volume knob. Inconsistant monitoring levels during mastering sessions seem to be one of the main problems I could think of in attaining a good realistic level,which will translate well everywhere. Which seems to be the reason/idea behind clipping converters (attaining that last 0.00000231%) ,every thread with a loudness question will have 5 posts saying "oh I clip my converters".

Ok then well, WHY? I see no benefit. Flame me all you like everyone but........seriously think about it. Why not record all your distortion in the mix and leave all your transients still intact. Or just run your final mix through the Timeworks master comp which clips nearly anything and everything which hits it.
Maybe I'm just old ,hmmmm thats right im only 33.
Seriously I don't think anyone has mentioned this or did I miss it.

Clipping converters in mastering is not good practice as far as im concerned. What does everyone else say. To clip or not to clip. Im not a clipper.

Heath
#2
3rd April 2006
Old 3rd April 2006
  #2
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msrecprod's Avatar
 

Well, just speaking from my own point of view. When I print stuff through my HEDD, it just sounds better with it hot. I think most high end converters don't distort much when you clip them anyway, it's the analog stage in the cheaper converters that start having real distortion issues. I do mostly rock stuff that's pushed to the limit anyway, if I was doing a more laid back genre, I don't think I would be smaking the converter that hard.
#3
3rd April 2006
Old 3rd April 2006
  #3
Gear addict
 

You're right but your talking as if there are tons of alternatives. For me personally i have no choice but to make things LOUD very LOUD. Thats what every band wants. When i band brings me in the last Foo Fighters record and says "its gotta be this loud" im not gonna argue pristine audio quality with them.

You either limit like crazy or clip the audio whether its clipping converters, or using clip plugs like timeworks there is virtually no other way to obtain volume like that. I for one like alot of people find clipping to sound better then crazy limiting. Hey man much respect for you if you wanna fight the battle against loudness, i need the money though so im gonna give people "that sound".
heathen
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#4
3rd April 2006
Old 3rd April 2006
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Clipping is clipping is clipping its almost a squarewave. How far can it go before everything is unintelligable,who know's. I'm not just talking about a few clips I'm talking about bang straight into the red and staying there,it just sounds bad. How can any band on a small budget expect to sound like Foo Fighters anyway.
If its going to be broadcast on radio at these levels it will sound like mess. I'm not fighting any battle I'm just after different opinions.
#5
3rd April 2006
Old 3rd April 2006
  #5
Gear Head
 
Nigel Jopson's Avatar
 

An explanation:
This idea of "clipping the converter" seems to have developed from some comments made by top mastering engineers in interviews. ALL of these guys have at their disposal converters with an EXTRA function, either on the analogue or digital side. The extra function is a BUILT IN LIMITER. The converters are:

PRISM ADA: 'Over-killer' selectable on analogue inputs ["the best-sounding gentle limiting for louder masters - with no 'overs'"]

LAVRY: Analog Soft Saturation (default setting = starts at -3dBFS). Digital Soft Saturation ["Provides 6dB more output level, while emulating an overdrive condition into magnetic tape"]

APOGEE: Their so called SoftLimit ["Maximize Levels, Minimize Overs"] See also the "Aptomizer"

CRANESONG HEDD: Has special Triode, Pentode and Tape knobs ["The HEDD process will not cause any overs ... Think of it as a tube or tape doing soft clipping i.e. "squashing" the peaks and causing analog compression"]

All these devices have built in limiters! So let's stop comparing them to other converters which have no built-in automatic level controls. Please note that most of the above converters default to some form of soft limiting, in order to cushion inexperienced users.

Clipping is distortion. Limiting is limiting.

Text in [brackets] is either from the manual or manufacturers brochure.
heathen
Thread Starter
#6
4th April 2006
Old 4th April 2006
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I think so too Nigel,thats right the analog input circuitry are the part people are driving hard. I own the Rosetta 200 and only very rarely (actually can't even remember the last time) use the soft limit or aptomiser functions,they are a great converter,though not the best by a long shot. The soft limit does sound different when switched in and I personally don't like it. Clipping is clipping and limiting is limiting,yep. All I can say is K14 calibration for monitoring.

Heath
#7
4th April 2006
Old 4th April 2006
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robot gigante's Avatar
FWIW the HEDD process is not a limiter. It does act like a compressor... kinda, but when you clip the A/D the HEDD process itself is not 'limiting' per se. I actually don't like the sound of the process when it's hot (so there!).

I have no idea what people are going on about as if clipping (even with a good) A/D were some kind of magic loudness tool.

Not any more than an L2, I'd say!
#8
4th April 2006
Old 4th April 2006
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indie's Avatar
 

Well maybe my Radar24 has limiters on the AD that they've told no one about...because it doesn't distort and I keep hitting the red ALL the time. It just sounds so much better to hit it hard like one of the previous posters said about his converters.
#9
4th April 2006
Old 4th April 2006
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AlexLakis's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nigel Jopson
An explanation:
This idea of "clipping the converter" seems to have developed from some comments made by top mastering engineers in interviews. ALL of these guys have at their disposal converters with an EXTRA function, either on the analogue or digital side. The extra function is a BUILT IN LIMITER.
If you search just this mastering forum, you'll find mastering engineers explaining that they clip their converters WITHOUT the use of these "soft limit" features. Most don't even use these features. I don't personally know anybody who does.

I have two RME ADI-8 DSs that I've been clipping for quite some time because IT SOUNDS GOOD. There's no limiter in there as far as I know! I usually do it when I'm squashing something with an outboard limiter or compressor. I wouldn't do it, say, on a quiet, clean acoustic guitar track. Wouldn't want to. Cutting off the tops of the peaks can result in a squishy kind of impact that can be pleasing and desireable (speaking mainly about drums here,) depending on what you're going for.
#10
4th April 2006
Old 4th April 2006
  #10
Gear Head
 
Nigel Jopson's Avatar
 

My point was that the pro devices I mentioned have very special features, and are purposely designed with enhanced headroom through the analogue circuitry. It was an attempt to answer the question posed by the thread-starter, 'heathen.'

Driving a piece of pro gear hard so all the lights come on and clipping an electrical circuit are not necessarily the same thing. I don't think it's particularly helpful to discuss "converter clipping" as if it were a useful and accepted technique. It is encouraging recording neophytes to distort audio with their less well-specified systems, just as the "using up full 24 bit range" idea encouraged musicians and project-recordists to compromise the internal digital gain structure within their DAWs. By the time the audio arrives in the hands of professional finishers with expensive converters it is often, sadly, beyond repair.

The pros discussed doing it with their Radars, then someone tried it with an RME, next they'll think they have to do it on their Edirols and Creative Labs. At the end of the line, the A&R will say to the ME: "we know YOU can fix it up!"
#11
4th April 2006
Old 4th April 2006
  #11
MonsterIsland.com
 

According to Dale at IZ, Radar does not have any limiters infront of the converters.

Beyong that, my undestanding is that in general, most converters _do_ have limiters, separate from and soft limiting functions that are switchable. They have to have them just like the have to have the brick wall low pass filters.

So why have two sets? I assume that the differnce is the slope with the "soft limt" have a little bit of a knee as opposed to just being on or off.
#12
4th April 2006
Old 4th April 2006
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jacko's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexLakis
I have two RME ADI-8 DSs that I've been clipping for quite some time because IT SOUNDS GOOD. There's no limiter in there as far as I know!
I do exactly the same on Fireface 800. I had Yamaha 01V96 and it did not work! Yamaha clipping was very significant distortion with cracks. RME is a different story. This year I'm looking forward HEDD or Mytek hoping to improve my mastering chain and clip more
#13
4th April 2006
Old 4th April 2006
  #13
Mastering
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Caffrey
According to Dale at IZ, Radar does not have any limiters infront of the converters.

Beyong that, my undestanding is that in general, most converters _do_ have limiters, separate from and soft limiting functions that are switchable. They have to have them just like the have to have the brick wall low pass filters.

So why have two sets? I assume that the differnce is the slope with the "soft limt" have a little bit of a knee as opposed to just being on or off.

Most converters? I've seen and tested many converters and most do not have soft-limit features. Another poster is absolutely right that when we say "clipping", we're talking about literally clipping the analog stage of the A/D. Is that a good practice? Well, in the loudness race, if you have to make it "loud" (in front of the volume control) analog-domain clipping (especially if it's a hair of clipping on just on a few or one peak transient) can produce fewer artifacts than digital-domain peak limiting or clipping. Excess in any practice can produce bad-sounding results.

BK
#14
4th April 2006
Old 4th April 2006
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nigel Jopson
Driving a piece of pro gear hard so all the lights come on and clipping an electrical circuit are not necessarily the same thing. I don't think it's particularly helpful to discuss "converter clipping" as if it were a useful and accepted technique.
Actually, it is a very useful technique and its the most use loudening technique for rock, and with the right A/D, its far far far more transparent then even 2db of a peak limiter like the L2. Once a mix is eq'd and balanced dynamically, you can load it into a good A/D like lavry or in my case, Aurora, until the RMS of the mix is about -8.5.
#15
4th April 2006
Old 4th April 2006
  #15
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caseyLA's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nigel Jopson
I don't think it's particularly helpful to discuss "converter clipping" as if it were a useful and accepted technique.
But it IS a useful and accepted technique.

#16
4th April 2006
Old 4th April 2006
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andre tchmil's Avatar
 

Question:
After Convertor clipping , do you add additional limiting with say an L2 plug ?
heathen
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#17
4th April 2006
Old 4th April 2006
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Thread Starter
Quote by Bob Katz "Well, in the loudness race, if you have to make it "loud" (in front of the volume control) analog-domain clipping (especially if it's a hair of clipping on just on a few or one peak transient) can produce fewer artifacts than digital-domain peak limiting or clipping. Excess in any practice can produce bad-sounding results."

This is exactly what I meant,a few overs here and there on the input stage and no one will notice (headroom is the essence of this topic) , but once every wave starts being decapitated it just sounds wrong.

I guess some people like to be deaffened,with the advent of the pocket cassette decks and ipods and such manufacturers have to set a standard listening environment otherwise they will be sued by all the kids who are going deaf from listening too loud. So I guess making music really loud is the result to overcome conservative headphone output levels.

Using great converters to record loud music is a great idea only to be sabotaged by cheap 50c DA converters in most digital consumer playback devices.The cheaper the player the worse the converters and lesser headroom. We are trying to finalise for manufacture recorded audio/music which translates everywhere on any system with intelligability. My understanding of mastering. This should always be taken into account.

Off topic.
I guess at a few Van Halen concerts the last thing some people ever heard would have been Eddie Van Halens pinch harmonics at 140 db or probably louder. I bet they still regret now more than ever turning up at the show.

It's becoming an even finer line between pleasure and pain these days I guess.

Anyway it's good to read some differing opinions,as it is all a matter of taste and there are no rules when it comes to being creative with music. Though I like to follow some. Keep the opinions coming anyone,I'm still interested on some differing views.

Heath
#18
5th April 2006
Old 5th April 2006
  #18
Mastering
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by heathen
Quote by Bob Katz "Well, in the loudness race, if you have to make it "loud" (in front of the volume control) analog-domain clipping (especially if it's a hair of clipping on just on a few or one peak transient) can produce fewer artifacts than digital-domain peak limiting or clipping. Excess in any practice can produce bad-sounding results."

This is exactly what I meant,a few overs here and there on the input stage and no one will notice (headroom is the essence of this topic) , but once every wave starts being decapitated it just sounds wrong.

I guess some people like to be deaffened,with the advent of the pocket cassette decks and ipods and such manufacturers have to set a standard listening environment otherwise they will be sued by all the kids who are going deaf from listening too loud. So I guess making music really loud is the result to overcome conservative headphone output levels.
Nawww.... There's plenty of gain in the Ipod headphone amp for anyone to go deaf and to play anything from soft acoustic material to banging material.

There is, however, some possible explanation for the increase in compression due to the noisy environments where the Ipod is used. But for that it would be much nicer for the Ipod to have its own compressor. It does have a "soundcheck" feature, which I have not tried, which will bring up soft material and bring down loud, but on a song-by-song basis, not a compressor.

Has anyone any experience with the Ipod and Itunes' Soundcheck? I hear it's pretty good, especially since it is not a dynamics processor per se, just an "automatic volume control".

I'd much rather see "environment-dealing" compression dealt with at the medium (e.g. car, Ipod, Barnes and Noble/Virgin Megastore) rather than in the recording itself! Dream on, Bob :-)
heathen
Thread Starter
#19
5th April 2006
Old 5th April 2006
  #19
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Thread Starter
Thanks for that Bob it's very interesting as I've never played with an Ipod,I've no experience at all with them. Auto volume control and "soundcheck" seems like a pretty cool feature. Well it's all good i guess people in a fee society should be able to deafen themselves at will, if they choose, without fear of retribution.Hahaha.

Cheers
Heath
#20
5th April 2006
Old 5th April 2006
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heathen
WHY? Is all I can ask. I find the sound of mildly clipped converters ugly above a monitoring level of say 75-80 dbspl in almost any mastered record. I read all these ideas on getting THAT sound by clipping converters. Why not distort and clip a drum (or whatever sound)with a marshall pre amp and quad box mic it up and record it on a channel and balance a mix between original and distorted to get THAT sound. Is it laziness or lack of imagination?Or am I seriously missing some sort of magical point in clipping converters as some sort of magical cure for a lazy un-imaginative mix.I don't think so.

To me clipping converters in mastering is like smashing all your nice plates just before your dinner guests arrive and then having to serve dinner on plastic plates.

As far as I'm aware every consumer stereo system has a volume knob. Inconsistant monitoring levels during mastering sessions seem to be one of the main problems I could think of in attaining a good realistic level,which will translate well everywhere. Which seems to be the reason/idea behind clipping converters (attaining that last 0.00000231%) ,every thread with a loudness question will have 5 posts saying "oh I clip my converters".

Ok then well, WHY? I see no benefit. Flame me all you like everyone but........seriously think about it. Why not record all your distortion in the mix and leave all your transients still intact. Or just run your final mix through the Timeworks master comp which clips nearly anything and everything which hits it.
Maybe I'm just old ,hmmmm thats right im only 33.
Seriously I don't think anyone has mentioned this or did I miss it.

Clipping converters in mastering is not good practice as far as im concerned. What does everyone else say. To clip or not to clip. Im not a clipper.

Heath
If you can actually HEAR the clipping going on, its not done right. It shouldn't sound distorted like an amp. Its inaudible on most consumer systems really. Listen to the Alterbridge album. Those transients are chopped and the kick and snare sound great. I don't think you get clipping, its not distortion, its actually much more transparent then getting gain via an L2 or other limiter.
Bob Olhsson
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#21
5th April 2006
Old 5th April 2006
  #21
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You can actually hear clipping when it hits a broadcast processor.

It turns the average level down several dB from what it would otherwise be no matter what the level of the original CD. Just compare an old '80s video on VH-1 with the latest clipped stuff on MTV.
Rep
#22
5th April 2006
Old 5th April 2006
  #22
Rep
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob katz
It does have a "soundcheck" feature, which I have not tried, which will bring up soft material and bring down loud, but on a song-by-song basis, not a compressor.
... rather than in the recording itself! Dream on, Bob :-)
It would be great to see some kind of Automatic volume control ,
so then everyone would Mix to sound Good NOT Loud ...
#23
5th April 2006
Old 5th April 2006
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson
You can actually hear clipping when it hits a broadcast processor.

It turns the average level down several dB from what it would otherwise be no matter what the level of the original CD. Just compare an old '80s video on VH-1 with the latest clipped stuff on MTV.
Even if you put a digital ceiling limiter (like the L2 with no threshold at -.03) to prevent the clipped signal from over slamming 0?
Jerry Tubb
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#24
5th April 2006
Old 5th April 2006
  #24
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Yep... I have to admit it.

Yesterday afternoon, mastering a loud rock project, I let the drum transients clip the ADC... then hit the L2 at -3dB... and it sounded great... think the final RMS level sat around -10... I'm just not going to -8dB RMS, I'd rather lose the gig.

Never even thought of clipping the ADC until I started reading about it on the forums, always left the soft limit on by default... guess I'm ruined now.

If it's a loud rock project, I'll try it both ways, see which sounds the best, and go with it... sometimes soft limit, with no clipping, still wins.

cheers
#25
5th April 2006
Old 5th April 2006
  #25
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-10 RMS is pretty nice. My album averages about -9.5, thats the limit to my ears before you start really compromising sound. BTW, anyone recommend some good software meters that show RMS?
#26
5th April 2006
Old 5th April 2006
  #26
Gear nut
 

"If you can actually HEAR the clipping going on, its not done right. It shouldn't sound distorted like an amp. Its inaudible on most consumer systems really. "

Unfortunately you can hear it on many commercial releases. Check out the most recent Death Cab for Cutie CD and there is distortion all over the place. Some of it doesn't sound terribly bad, but there is one tune with just acoustic and voice where you can hear distortion kick in when he sings louder. Personally, I think mellower tracks like that would sound WAY better treated some other way than clipping. Maybe it's easier to treat the whole album the same way, but it's not the type of mastering I would choose for my projects.
#27
5th April 2006
Old 5th April 2006
  #27
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It has to be done properly. Nothing except the kick snare and sometimes toms on my masters ever clip. If the vocal or even worse guitar is clipping, then something isn't right. If you have a mix that is well balanced dynamically and frequency wise, you can load it up to -9RMS and it should sound ok with no audible distortion. Sometimes there will be some added harmonics on the kick due to the analog section not handling it, but it some rock songs it sounds ok.
#28
5th April 2006
Old 5th April 2006
  #28
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vaesion's Avatar
 

what are the best converters to clip?
Is my apogee rosetta 800 about as good as it gets?

Bryan
Thank u
#29
5th April 2006
Old 5th April 2006
  #29
Gear Head
 
Nigel Jopson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson
You can actually hear clipping when it hits a broadcast processor.
Thank you, Bob.

And it can have un-expected consequences.
For example: Eric Prydz single "Call On Me" actually sounded quieter on radio than most tracks ... surely an unfortunate outcome for a dancefloor hit. Station processing chains also contributed a nice selection of swishing and pumping to the tune.
Bob Olhsson
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#30
6th April 2006
Old 6th April 2006
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bang
Even if you put a digital ceiling limiter (like the L2 with no threshold at -.03) to prevent the clipped signal from over slamming 0?
The problem is the extra high frequency information that's created hitting the pre-emphasis in the broadcast processor.
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