Originally Posted by tekn0
Heya Eric, thanks for taking the time to do this, I was wondering what sample rates you like to record at, and do you find one better then others for transferring to tape before you mix, and also what sample rate you like your final mixes at if your going back to digital.
Typically, If I am recording something that is going to incorporate tape machines I use 88.2. I would probably use 96K if stupid Pro Tools would give me the full vari-speed range at that sample rate. Sometimes I like to varispeed things and have people play performances in different keys to get a particular part to a have different quality to it. Pro Tools only allows you to pitch things up 50 cents at 48 and 96K. At 44.1 and 88.2 you can pitch things up 200 cents. I don't think there a sonic difference between 88.2K and 96K anyway so it probably doesn't matter. i always like to print the digital versions of the mixes back into the same Pro Tools session that is playing back the multitrack. It makes it easy to keep all of the mix passes and stems locked together.
Sample rate hasn't been a big issue for me sonically. I have done blind A/B between 44.1K and 192K and the differences are not dramatic and in some types of music aren't really audible at all. I think the higher sample rates mostly give a slightly clearer sense of depth in the sound. If I was recording a classical record or a Jazz record I might be more inclined to make use of it. On a lot of modern rock/pop music that sense of distance isn't necessarily better. Modern popular music tends to want to sound very in your face and having things sound more naturally distant sometimes isn't as good. The slightly more two dimensional quality of a 44.1K recording can be a good thing sometimes. In addition to that, the amount of compression and limiting going on with modern records tends to mask the potential benefits of higher sample rates.
When I first really learned about and understood how the sample rates were affecting the higher frequencies in a technical sense I was really concerned with the issue. I was convinced that this has got to be a huge issue. When you look at it on paper it is really is pretty horrifying. Ultimately, when I started doing blind A/B tests I realized that the actual audible difference for the type of recordings i am doing wasn't that dramatic. If I am doing a more pop type thing that has a lot of tracks, dsp processing and virtual instruments going on, i always use 44.1 or 48. The creative benefits of the extra processing power far out way the very very small sonic benefit that might not even be that flattering to a pop production.
On a similar note I wonder what converters you use??
i am also not that picky about converters either. I still use the same 192s I got probably 10 years ago. I have experimented with other converters for multitrack conversion over the years (Genex, Lavry Blue, Lynx) and nothing has ever justified the price for me. i also find the system to be a bit finicky and clumsy when driving a bunch third party converters. I like to varispeed things a lot. i use it all the time the same as I always have with my tape machines. in addition to what I mentioned earlier, I use it to keep things in tune. guitars are a bitch to get in tune and sometimes it is easier/faster to change the pitch of the track than to retune all six string of an electric guitar to get something in tune. I used to it all the time on my Studer tape machine and it is just a permanent part of my tracking process.
It is easy to get caught up in the idea that "if only had this converter or that clock or did this at a higher sample rate my mix would be sounding bigger, clearer, wider, better image, just better....etc" I have definitely caught myself making those excuses for myself at times. I believe they are just excuses though. Especially in the digital domain, I believe 99.99% of the end result comes from how things are recorded, how they are EQ'd, compressed and balanced. And of those 4 things EQing is by far the most important. I call it "voicing". The voicing of a mix has the most significant impact on how clear, punchy, big, open, wide things sound. I have to remind myself this all the time, but if I am struggling with a mix it is not the equipment's fault it is my fault.
That said it is our responsibility as engineers to always at least be shooting for that 100% and I will chase that .01% at times. I am always trying to find a happy balance between cost, work flow and tangible sonic benefit.