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Ampex ATR 102, Anamod ATS-1, UAD, Waves - Processed Files
Old 25th January 2012
  #271
Quote:
Originally Posted by mizzle View Post
I find it funny that you downplay frequency response if I bring it up, yet this whole thread seems to be a discussion on frequency response curves.

These curves are a major component to the character of any tape machine. Response Curves of Analog Recorders
Yes, they are a major component, among others. See the second paragraph in my above post for details.
Old 25th January 2012
  #272
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Quint's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
To my ear the UAD A800, Anamod A800 and Studer A810 all sound very different from each other, and neither of the modeled A800s are among my favorites. The real Studer A810 is the only one of the 3 that sounds particularly 3D to me, but less so than any of the Ampex-style samples.
Are you saying that you thought even the Ampex plugin samples sounded more 3D than the real deal Studer A810?

Also, do you ever run your plugins and/or record at 96k? I noticed a considerable increase in the smoothness of the high end when I switched to 96k from 44.1. This was the case for both raw tracks and tracks with plugins on them.
Old 25th January 2012
  #273
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quint View Post
Are you saying that you thought even the Ampex plugin samples sounded more 3D than the real deal Studer A810?

Also, do you ever run your plugins and/or record at 96k? I noticed a considerable increase in the smoothness of the high end when I switched to 96k from 44.1. This was the case for both raw tracks and tracks with plugins on them.
Yes, to me the Anamod 102 and 351, UAD 102, and Waves 351 sims all sounded more 3D than any of the Studer samples, real or not. YMMV. I still liked the smooth warm tone of the real Studer a lot, just not so much for 3D-ness. I think 3D is something that Ampex really nailed, and it comes through even in the sims.

Yes, I usually record at 96k. The samples in this thread were made at 24/96, then converted to 16/44 for upload due to GS file size limitations.
Old 25th January 2012
  #274
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BradM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
Yes, to me the Anamod 102 and 351, UAD 102, and Waves 351 sims all sounded more 3D than any of the Studer samples, real or not. YMMV. I still liked the smooth warm tone of the real Studer a lot, just not so much for 3D-ness. I think 3D is something that Ampex really nailed, and it comes through even in the sims.

Yes, I usually record at 96k. The samples in this thread were made at 24/96, then converted to 16/44 for upload due to GS file size limitations.
I believe Dave Amels has commented on this in various threads and I will reiterate it here. A real Studer tape deck has a ton of group delay. There's a gazillion capacitors in the signal path all rolling off at roughly the same frequencies. That leads to a smeary, non-3D sound. It doesn't help that some Studer models are chock full of crappy 4559 op amps (like my A807 and Justin's A810). That's like a slightly better version of the 4558 chip which is the same one used in Tubescreamer pedals. It's not exactly what I would call hi-fi by modern standards. Cheap and readily available in 1983? Certainly. Am I bashing the almighty Studer? Well, yeah, I guess I am. The reason why those machines are awesome is because they are mechanical works of art. They run like Swiss clockwork. The electronic and subassembly layouts in those machines are very well done (I do mechanical design for a living!). So if the emulations sound 2D it's because they nailed the real deal. Ha. heh

You know when I first got my Studer I A/B'd it to my Otari MX-55. Honestly--there wasn't much difference in sound. I was kind of shocked.

I'll say this...when you start upgrading the electronics of an 80's vintage Studer with modern op amps, and removing electrolytics from the signal path, you uncover a sound that is incredibly detailed and three dimensional sounding. It's night and day. I've done these upgrades to my own A807 and it was ear opening. Mixing down to ATR tape at 15ips on that deck is a DAW killer.

Brad
Old 25th January 2012
  #275
It's good to have a technical explanation that confirms what my ears tell me. Thanks Brad!
Old 26th January 2012
  #276
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Quint's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
It's good to have a technical explanation that confirms what my ears tell me. Thanks Brad!
Agreed. I was at a bit of a loss as to why the Studer, real or modeled, sounded like that. I also thought that the various Ampex's had more depth than the various Studer's.

You know I always wanted to own an Ampex MM1200 16 track. I'd be real interested to hear what that would sound like if someone modeled that. It would be the complete opposite of the Studer in terms of tape sound.
Old 26th January 2012
  #277
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BradM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quint View Post
You know I always wanted to own an Ampex MM1200 16 track. I'd be real interested to hear what that would sound like if someone modeled that. It would be the complete opposite of the Studer in terms of tape sound.
I tried to convince Will Shanks at UA to do a MM1200 over the Studer for their first multitrack model. But I think they were able to score the A800 and ATR102 at the same time from the same studio. Also I think "Studer" may be a little more marketable than "MM1200" to the average bedroom producer.

If UA would ever like to model my MCI JH-110 8-track, it's available to them. All I ask is that they keep those LED's blue.

Brad
Old 26th January 2012
  #278
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Quint's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
I tried to convince Will Shanks at UA to do a MM1200 over the Studer for their first multitrack model. But I think they were able to score the A800 and ATR102 at the same time from the same studio. Also I think "Studer" may be a little more marketable than "MM1200" to the average bedroom producer.

If UA would ever like to model my MCI JH-110 8-track, it's available to them. All I ask is that they keep those LED's blue.

Brad
The MM1200 would be cool. Too bad he didn't go for it.

An MCI would also be cool too. If UAD ever does do another 2" multitrack I do hope that it's a 16 track and not a 24 track. They could also do a 1" 8 track like your's too.
Old 26th January 2012
  #279
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Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
...when you start upgrading the electronics of an 80's vintage Studer with modern op amps, and removing electrolytics from the signal path, you uncover a sound that is incredibly detailed and three dimensional sounding. It's night and day...
A lot of major studios did extensive modifications to their Studers. The heads and transport were awesome but their electronics always left a lot to be desired.
Old 26th January 2012
  #280
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Quint's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
A lot of major studios did extensive modifications to their Studers. The heads and transport were awesome but their electronics always left a lot to be desired.
That being the case, would they have not done these modifications on the Studer used for the UAD model since it was the one at Oceanway?
Old 26th January 2012
  #281
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quint View Post
That being the case, would they have not done these modifications on the Studer used for the UAD model since it was the one at Oceanway?
The best sounding tape machines are the least interesting for coloring digital audio.
Old 26th January 2012
  #282
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Quint's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_Amels View Post
The best sounding tape machines are the least interesting for coloring digital audio.
So are you saying that the best sounding machines are the least desirable for coloring digital audio because the best sounding machines are more subtle and less obvious to the untrained ear of a potential purchaser? Alternatively, are you saying that the best sounding machines are the least desirable because they are subtle and digital audio needs all the help it can get therefore a more pronounced tape sound emulation would be better instead?

In other words, are you referring more to marketing or sound or both? I can understand why people might prefer the more pronounced emulations AND why companies might choose to model those particular machines over others. I was just a little unclear as to what you meant.

What do you consider to be the best sounding tape machine and why?
Old 26th January 2012
  #283
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_Amels View Post
The best sounding tape machines are the least interesting for coloring digital audio.
Very interesting statement from a designer of the ATS-1...
Old 27th January 2012
  #284
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BradM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quint View Post
That being the case, would they have not done these modifications on the Studer used for the UAD model since it was the one at Oceanway?
I helped Will fire up the Studer A800 when UA first acquired it--I showed him my DAW/tape deck integration techniques. While I was there I got a good look at a bunch of the record and repro cards. They looked totally stock to me. I don't recall seeing any mods on the electronics of that deck. I believe they had it aligned by a local tech before starting their modeling process and that was about it. I do recall being in awe of the tape handling though. Seriously awesome machinery!

The Studers are quite friendly to mods and repair...all the op amps are socketed. Another reason why they are super nice decks. I tried to mod my Otari and it was a nightmare.

I think Dave's point was that the best tape machines give the most linear response possible with the least amount of distortion. By definition that means less coloration. Why does the 351 card sound so cool for the ATS-1? Because it's full of non-linear goodness and all sorts of distortion and frequency dips and bumps. In other words, what goes in does not really resemble what comes out. When the average consumer pays $3k for a hardware box or $300 for a plugin they want to know that something is actually happening. A world class tape deck that is really pimped out and aligned properly is going to reproduce quite faithfully IMHO.

If someone were to model my modded Studer A807 and make a plugin of it, nobody would buy it. The input and output would be virtually indistinguishable. It's "coloration" (I'm not sure I'd even call it that) is very minimal and subtle. To someone working in the DAW that's useless. But for someone working in analog land...well, that's the holy grail: a near perfect capture that requires no A/D conversion. To my ears that equates to no loss of depth or organic richness. To me tape is less about distortion, compression, and coloration, and more about depth, space, and musically faithful reproductions of sound that are true to what I remember hearing. It's all about how I remembered hearing something. Not what I actually heard. Music is memory. And tape stores that memory the way I want.

Brad
Old 27th January 2012
  #285
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quint View Post
In other words, are you referring more to marketing or sound or both? I can understand why people might prefer the more pronounced emulations AND why companies might choose to model those particular machines over others. I was just a little unclear as to what you meant.

What do you consider to be the best sounding tape machine and why?
Stephens. They sound the most like a straight wire.

This machine would not "blur" the audio enough to conceal for the pre-echo in the delta-sigma A/Ds which is the basis for the problems with digital audio.
Old 27th January 2012
  #286
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steveschizoid's Avatar
So Dave, as cool as the ATS-1 is, you basically consider it a bandaid...have you ever considered some sort of attempt to build a better converter?
Old 27th January 2012
  #287
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BradM's Avatar
Ooh, good question!

Brad
Old 27th January 2012
  #288
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Quint's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_Amels View Post
Stephens. They sound the most like a straight wire.

This machine would not "blur" the audio enough to conceal for the pre-echo in the delta-sigma A/Ds which is the basis for the problems with digital audio.
If digital artifacts wouldn't be covered up by the best (transparent) machine emulations, comparisons between the best machines and their emulations would always mean that you were comparing the sound of the best machines not just to the sound of their emulations alone but also to the sound of the artifacts of digital recording that remained unhidden or "unblurred". It would be more of an unfair comparison.

However, for emulations of less transparent machines, where you said the digital artifacts are apparently covered up by the emulation's blur, it would appear to be much more of a fair comparison. So it would appear that you judge a tape emulation's quality not just by how accurately it models the original but also by how well it covers up digital recording artifacts.

I guess what I'm asking is, solely within the realm of less transparent machines like the Studer A800 UAD used or the machine you used for your 351 card, how well do you feel that digital recording artifacts like pre-echo are covered up by the emulations of those less transparent machines and how much more accurate does this allow the less transparent tape emulations to sound compared to the original?
Old 27th January 2012
  #289
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_Amels View Post
This machine would not "blur" the audio enough to conceal for the pre-echo in the delta-sigma A/Ds which is the basis for the problems with digital audio.
Where can I learn more about the "pre-echo in the delta-sigma A/Ds"? That's a new one to me.

Is it just coincidence that "blur" and "burl" are such similar words?
Old 27th January 2012
  #290
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BradM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quint View Post
I guess what I'm asking is, solely within the realm of less transparent machines like the Studer A800 UAD used or the machine you used for your 351 card, how well do you feel that digital recording artifacts like pre-echo are covered up by the emulations of those less transparent machines and how much more accurate does this allow the less transparent tape emulations to sound compared to the original?
I think this is exactly why the Anamod ATS-1 uniquely stands alone amongst the field. You can actually test the faithfulness of the ATS-1 emulations against the real deal in the analog domain, free of all digital artificats. You simply monitor a live analog source through the ATS-1 and the tape deck in real-time (a digital source that has been pre-converted is a lost cause...the damage is done).

I personally don't feel that you can ever "cover up" the artifacts of PCM conversion. If I did then I would sell off my MCI and track through the Anamod into the RADAR exclusively.

I think some of us are more sensitive to the effects of the pre-echo than others and we each need to make a personal decision about what we consider "good enough". I've said this before and I'll say it again: I invite anyone to come down to my studio and A/B playback of material recorded simultaneously to RADAR and tape. Once you hear this, it becomes really easy to decide which side of the fence you are on. Also If anyone wants to do an all analog shootout between the Anamod and tape (it would be a listening only shootout), perhaps Justin and I could put something together. I'm thinking we could compare his ATR102 with 456 tape to my Anamod and monitor through a Kush Audio Gain Train, which would allow us to switch transparently between the two chains. Then Main Gain straight into his monitors. Perhaps a vocalist or live drummer with a mono mic would be sufficient. Justin?

Brad
Old 27th January 2012
  #291
Bring it on!

I think a live drummer stereo-mic'd would be even more revealing. And a vocalist in mono.

I'd want to be able to compare directly to source and to AD/DA, so at least 4 inputs would be needed. How many channels on the Gain Train? Maybe we should just use my console...

Of course we couldn't capture it digitally for anyone else to hear, which also makes the whole thing fairly moot unless one plans on making an entirely analog production for vinyl, cassette or reel to reel release with no ADC anywhere along the way (now THAT would be FUN!), but I'm down to test it and report back. PM me Brad.

J~
Old 27th January 2012
  #292
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Quint's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
I personally don't feel that you can ever "cover up" the artifacts of PCM conversion. If I did then I would sell off my MCI and track through the Anamod into the RADAR exclusively.
Yeah, I'm not saying that you can necessarily cover up or "blur" all of the effects of conversion either. I was just going off of what Dave said and trying to get him to elaborate on that statement.

Apparently, he does think you can cover up or blur some of them though. I'm curious as to what extent he thinks they can be blurred and how tape emulation color achieves that.
Old 28th January 2012
  #293
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BradM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
Bring it on!

I think a live drummer stereo-mic'd would be even more revealing. And a vocalist in mono.

I'd want to be able to compare directly to source and to AD/DA, so at least 4 inputs would be needed. How many channels on the Gain Train? Maybe we should just use my console...

Of course we couldn't capture it digitally for anyone else to hear, which also makes the whole thing fairly moot unless one plans on making an entirely analog production for vinyl, cassette or reel to reel release with no ADC anywhere along the way (now THAT would be FUN!), but I'm down to test it and report back. PM me Brad.

J~
There are three stereo inputs on the Gain Train. How about this...a second Gain Train that allows us to switch between the analog and AD/DA'd version. So you'd be able to compare tape to ATS1 in the pre-converted and post-converted realms.

I'm sorry to say this--but I don't think your console would cut it for this subtle of a test. heh The Gain Train is as invisible as anyone's going to get it. I know every single component in that signal path like it's the back of my hand and can say with 110% confidence that it won't color what we are hearing.

I'm suggesting a party at your studio basically. Maybe someone can do video which we can then share here. I'll call you!

Brad
Old 28th January 2012
  #294
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
There are three stereo inputs on the Gain Train. How about this...a second Gain Train that allows us to switch between the analog and AD/DA'd version. So you'd be able to compare tape to ATS1 in the pre-converted and post-converted realms.

I'm sorry to say this--but I don't think your console would cut it for this subtle of a test. heh The Gain Train is as invisible as anyone's going to get it. I know every single component in that signal path like it's the back of my hand and can say with 110% confidence that it won't color what we are hearing.

I'm suggesting a party at your studio basically. Maybe someone can do video which we can then share here. I'll call you!

Brad
That set up sounds fine.

Do you really think the difference between Anamod and ATR 102, or between analog and digital is so subtle that a Soundcraft Ghost would obscure it?
Old 9th February 2012
  #295
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Can I please have my files included in the OP?

Mix 1 Airwindows Ampex ATR 102.wav
Mix 1 Airwindows Studer A810.wav

I've been working on this year's ToTape and it's just come out.

It sounds exactly like the real examples- either of them (I did need to use different dithers to really get each sound totally exact, but it's mainly ToTape2 using different settings for all parameters to get the different sounds) Please compare them directly to see I'm not making that up.

I'd really like to be included in this comparison and discussion, because the products I'm competing with are the UAD, AnaMod and the Slate thing that doesn't exist yet- and the hardest part is always competing with the nonexistent. Airwindows ToTape2 does exist and I'd like people to hear it- technically it is cheaper to get than the AnaMod even if you have to buy the Mac and Logic to do so, and it does sound closer to the real tape machines than any of the hardware or software emulations.
Old 12th February 2012
  #296
Airwindows
 
chrisj's Avatar
I wasn't sure it was a good idea to use (in the example) the DA/AD version, because it seemed like cheating to include a pass through a $2500 high-end converter- but I'm glad you reminded me of your methodology, and to work on the 'measurement' side getting everything level matched, because it gave me clues as to how much crest factor was getting through each machine- and let me do the bass/drums examples, as well (for which no raw-ITB file was given).

And now the previous examples sound less identical than the new ones, and I've level matched (overall) everything to within a hundredth of a DB, before dithering!

Please do listen. I hope you will consider including these new files that are correct to your methodology- there actually are ways to use Audio Units in Pro Tools though I'm not sure they'll sound as good if they're not on a floating point buss. But for the sake of people with access to multiple DAWs or mastering in 2-track editors that can run Audio Units?

Ampex

Mix 1 Airwindows Burl Ampex ATR 102.wav
Airwindows Bass Burl ATR 102.wav
Airwindows Drums Burl ATR 102.wav

Studer

Mix 1 Airwindows Burl Studer A810.wav
Old 12th February 2012
  #297
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisj View Post
Airwindows ToTape2 does exist and I'd like people to hear it- technically it is cheaper to get than the AnaMod even if you have to buy the Mac and Logic to do so, and it does sound closer to the real tape machines than any of the hardware or software emulations.

That's quite the claim you're making there. Personally, I don't believe you and neither does anyone who has actually heard an ATS-1 live or owns one.

I'd really like to hear what Dave Amels thinks about your claim...
Old 12th February 2012
  #298


One of the main purposes of posting downloadable processed files is to allow everyone to evaluate for themselves the claims of all of the emulation designers. Hopefully that makes confrontational posts unnecessary, and nobody has to try to speak for "anyone" else.



Best,

J~
Old 12th February 2012
  #299
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisj View Post
Please do listen. I hope you will consider including these new files that are correct to your methodology
OK, I'll check them out but I need a few days because I'm swamped. Thanks for your efforts!
Old 12th February 2012
  #300
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KevBonds View Post
That's quite the claim you're making there. Personally, I don't believe you and neither does anyone who has actually heard an ATS-1 live or owns one.

I'd really like to hear what Dave Amels thinks about your claim...
Interesting... never seen a tape machine go down to DC before.
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