Digital Sample Rates
Old 9th August 2011
  #1
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Thread Starter
Digital Sample Rates

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.

thanks again
Old 9th August 2011
  #2
Gear maniac
 

On a similar note I wonder what converters you use??
Old 10th August 2011
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tekn0 View Post
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.

thanks again
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.

Quote:
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.

EV
Old 10th August 2011
  #4
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ev33 View Post
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.



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.

EV
hey eric, big fan, really enjoying reading all of your responses to questions, would you mind elaborating on your varispeed technique?
Old 11th August 2011
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by frankie View Post
hey eric, big fan, really enjoying reading all of your responses to questions, would you mind elaborating on your varispeed technique?
+1, i'd like to hear more about this as well.
Old 11th August 2011
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frankie View Post
hey eric, big fan, really enjoying reading all of your responses to questions, would you mind elaborating on your varispeed technique?
There are 2 ways I use the varispeed thing. One is for a sonic effect and one is just to help keep things in tune. The sonic effect thing is speeding up or slowing down a song and having the player actually play their part at a different speed and in a different key. In that case I would speed up or slow down the master an exact 1/2 tone increments. Having someone play their part a whole step higher and then having it get slowed down when you put the tape machine back to the original pitch, has very cool, dark ominous sound to it. On distorted guitar or bass what happens is all of the overtones get shifted down and it creates a totally different quality to the sound. There is a song on the TBS album Louder Now where I used the speed up while playing to make something sound dark and heavy trick. It is the song "I'll Let You Live". At about 1:40 there are some distorted bass chords that used that effect.

Using varispeed to keep things in tune is pretty straight forward. Guitars and Basses are a total pain in the ass to keep in tune. There are times when the guitar will drift flat because of tempture changes in the room or strings stretching. Sometimes the guitar is in tune with itself but the whole things is just 4 or 5 cents flat. It is way faster/easier to simply varispeed Pro Tools down 4 or 5 cents instead of having to retune all 6 strings of the guitar to get it back in tune. There are also times when someone is playing really hard on the bass or guitar and causing it to go sharp. Sometimes very sharp.. like 10 or 20 cents sharp. In that case it is also way easier to varispeed the computer for that section than retune all the strings of the instrument.

EV
Old 11th August 2011
  #7
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varispeed technique

as is done in pro tools?

tnx
Old 11th August 2011
  #8
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ev33's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by lucalucky View Post
as is done in pro tools?

tnx
I'm guessing you are asking if it is possible to varispeed in pro tools. If that is the case then the answer is yes. When you use a Sync I/O with an Pro tools HD system it adds the "VSO" or varispeed feature. In the session setup window you can engage VSO and pitch the entire session up or down.

EV
Old 11th August 2011
  #9
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ever encounter problems using varispeed techniques with people that have perfect pitch?
Old 11th August 2011
  #10
Gear Head
 

but you must have the sync card or I can do in pro tools with only 192? Tnx
Old 11th August 2011
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by j2dafo View Post
ever encounter problems using varispeed techniques with people that have perfect pitch?
Good question!! I have worked with several people that have perfect or "absolute pitch"... I wish I was one of them. It is an incredibly powerful skill to have. I had a very close friend who was a musician and engineer that worked in my studio a long time ago. he had absolute pitch in the purest form. It was so handy to have around. There were times when we would be banging on a mic stand base to get a metallic clanging percussion sound on something and I could just ask Mike.. "hey what pitch is that?". He would respond "That is mostly an F# but its a little flat maybe about 10 or 15 cents and there is a lot of C overtone in there... thats why it sounds so ugly" It was amazing and peoples jaws would hit the floor whenever someone witnessed it for the first time. We worked together for years and I had plenty of time to ask him questions and understand how it affected his perception of music. He was very adamant that the idea of things sounding out of tune to a person with absolute pitch because they are not at a 440 tonal center is a misconception. he said it absolutely did not bother him. So far all the folks I have encountered with absolute pitch seem to be of the same opinion.

So I guess the answer is that no it has never been a problem when varispeeding.

good question though!

EV
Old 11th August 2011
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucalucky View Post
but you must have the sync card or I can do in pro tools with only 192? Tnx
My understanding is that it can not be done with a 192 by itself. you have to have a SYNC I/O rack mount device connected as a peripheral to the system in order to have that feature available.

EV
Old 11th August 2011
  #13
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Thanks Eric for taking the time to do this...

Your comments about gear as an excuse is inspiring for me! I´ll keep trying to learn the craft (I play drum for a living)...

btw, I know this may sound a little noobish, but if you had to choose between decent mics or decent pres... why would you choose and why?

Saludos desde Argentina!
Old 12th August 2011
  #14
soulstudios
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ev33 View Post
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.
Thank you, you just articulated clearly what I've been subconsciously 'feeling' but couldn't articulate from using different samplerates over the past two years-
Matt
Old 12th August 2011
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JulianFernandez View Post
Thanks Eric for taking the time to do this...

Your comments about gear as an excuse is inspiring for me! I´ll keep trying to learn the craft (I play drum for a living)...

btw, I know this may sound a little noobish, but if you had to choose between decent mics or decent pres... why would you choose and why?

Saludos desde Argentina!
I would definitely go for mics. It is very very easy to design and sell very inexpensive mic pre that will definitely capture all of the emotion and important nuance of a performance. I know a bunch of people on the forum are about to vomit but I think the reality is that the differences between a Mackie mic pre and a Vintage Neve mic pre are relatively subtle. I feel I could make a record I was perfectly happy with using either mic pre. Microphones on the other hand are not like that for me. The differences between mics are not subtle and I would find it very difficult to get certain sounds without certain microphones. For example, I couldn't get the vocal sound I like for Adam Lazzara without an SM7 and there is no mic pre on the planet that could make another mic sound like that.

EV
Old 12th August 2011
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ev33 View Post
For example, I couldn't get the vocal sound I like for Adam Lazzara without an SM7 and there is no mic pre on the planet that could make another mic sound like that.

EV
hallelujah!
Old 16th August 2011
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ev33 View Post
I know a bunch of people on the forum are about to vomit but I think the reality is that the differences between a Mackie mic pre and a Vintage Neve mic pre are relatively subtle.

EV
Hey Eric

That is one huge statement there! Mind elaborating a bit on that? I mean, obviously I do understand what you're getting at, any pre that gains a right choice of mic and placement with a good perfomance will render an excellent result. But would you mind giving us a more practical situation where a boutique/high end pre will harness that extra "X Factor" as opposed to a situation where (for instance) a Mackie vs a Neve would not?

By the way, have ever you tried the Antares Mic Modeler? I hear it does wonders turning an SM57 into an SM7
Old 16th August 2011
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big_Bang View Post
Hey Eric

That is one huge statement there! Mind elaborating a bit on that? I mean, obviously I do understand what you're getting at, any pre that gains a right choice of mic and placement with a good perfomance will render an excellent result. But would you mind giving us a more practical situation where a boutique/high end pre will harness that extra "X Factor" as opposed to a situation where (for instance) a Mackie vs a Neve would not?

By the way, have ever you tried the Antares Mic Modeler? I hear it does wonders turning an SM57 into an SM7
there is a point where the subtleties of different mic pres do start to become meaningful for me. A good example again would be Adam Lazzara's vocal. On Louder Now, early in the tracking process a friend, Garen Avetisyan brought by a custom tube mic pre. It was a recreation of an old Pultec mic pre circuit he had found a schematic for. it showed up literally in a cookie tin with wires hanging out of it. I had been using a Neve 1064 for vocals but I decided to try the custom tube pre on Adams vocals. I found I really liked it. It tended to get thicker sounding when it started to distort instead of the slightly scratchier sound of the Neve. I used it for all the remaining vocals of the album. Was it a significant enough difference for me to re-record the vocals we had already finished... no, but it did have a quality that was slightly more flattering on Adams voice when he really started screaming.

Garen ultimately built me a properly racked 2 channel version of that Pultec style mic pre and I used it again for Adam's vocals on the recent TBS record.


EV
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