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-   -   Is Digitally Controlled Analog the future? (https://www.gearslutz.com/board/high-end/152616-digitally-controlled-analog-future.html)

Tim Farrant 25th October 2007 10:44 AM

Digitally Controlled Analogue is something that can be done quite constructively in the interface, but devices you need to implement this under Pro Audio Conditions immediately limits your choices. BSS came pretty close with their push button/LCD/analog parametric eq, that used VCA's.

Oh ****, what was this thread about?

Yeah, we need better analogue interfaces, better performance of semiconductor audio swicthes for a start. Faster slew rates in mic preamp chips and output line drivers. To deliver hi spec analog audio in this day and age, these parameters are important.

Junkie 25th October 2007 12:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by void (Post 1585499)
I like placing my hands on faders/knobs

Steady, some people may get the wrong idea!

psycho_monkey 25th October 2007 01:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Produceher (Post 1584330)

Nah, that's just cousin Kevin's audition tape for Minority Report...

Kenny Gioia 25th October 2007 02:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by void (Post 1585499)
touchscreens FFS??? Awful. Waving hands to shape sound, what?? Virtual this, virtual that. No thank you very much. I like placing my hands on faders/knobs. Its perfectly fine like that for me. I dont desire any fancy ****e. The thought of a virtual touchtype screen like pictured above....who the hell would want to control a daw like that?? Not me.

I dont need nothing from the future that I dont have now in terms of the practical working of a studio. AFAIC, aint nothing wrong with it, and I dont see the need. However, thats JUST me or course. But I do feel lonely in my attitude to this sort of stuff and the future of music production.

Capitalism is not about fulfilling a need. It's about creating a desire.

WidgetNinja 25th October 2007 02:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tim Farrant (Post 1585510)
Yeah, we need better analogue interfaces, better performance of semiconductor audio swicthes for a start.

I dunno. I don't think I can bitch about the way my gear sounds now. I can bitch about workflow though.

Step 1: where are our midi controlled 96 pt patchbays? That's nuisance numero uno for me. Give me a simple UI for saving studio i/o configurations. People were bitching about the Toft board and switching inputs... why is this still a function of the console in people's minds today?

Step 2: Give me GUI's for all my F/X processors. I don't care if they decide I need midi, firewire, usb, or ethernet, but just let me not have to move to the little LCD screen. I know some companies are doing this, but all F/X processors should be able to not only be edited on your computer, but viewed as an insert in a DAW when used as such.

Step 3: All my new comps and EQ's that are coming with stepped pots... give me control and a simple UI for that too. I want to touch them if I want, but I should be able to bring up a project in my DAW and have it send signals to all my outboard that is "new".

Step 4: With the above done, and they are all ala carte, incremental features people want, tackle consoles. Now the console doesn't need to do is much. If it is "open" like tonelux, API, Chandler, etc. then the modules, just like the above outboard, are responsible for their own control. The only control needed for the console is snapshot of mutes, etc. and automation of pan and fader. The technology already exists for that, so let's see it mass produced so the prices drop. Tonelux' automation is cheap(ish), but Tonelux isn't buying at Mackie quantity. I'd be surprised if market forces couldn't drive the cost down to half what it is. We just need the numbers to justify production changes, new machines for manufacture, and greater quantity to allow tighter profit margins.

Clueless 25th October 2007 03:01 PM

SSL Duality
 
Is the Duality starting to make serious inroads against ICON?

JohnRoberts 25th October 2007 05:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by WidgetNinja (Post 1585754)
I dunno. I don't think I can bitch about the way my gear sounds now. I can bitch about workflow though.

Step 1: where are our midi controlled 96 pt patchbays? That's nuisance numero uno for me. Give me a simple UI for saving studio i/o configurations. People were bitching about the Toft board and switching inputs... why is this still a function of the console in people's minds today?

Funny, back in the '80s I designed a midi controlled analog pachbay (AMR MAP 8x4) Actually it accepted 4 outboard effects and allowed them to be switched into any one of 8 channel inserts, under midi control. Back in the day when digital efx were expensive and often midi controlled this allowed you to switch one processor box between different tracks using different presets within one song under midi control.

Perhaps a little ahead of it's time, and sold under a brand that didn't get much love, but it was kind of useful if you had smpte to midi or equivalent capability.

These days as plug ins and digital platforms get better, why do in hardware what you can do in code?

YMMV

JR

WidgetNinja 25th October 2007 07:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JohnRoberts (Post 1586039)
Funny, back in the '80s I designed a midi controlled analog pachbay (AMR MAP 8x4) Actually it accepted 4 outboard effects and allowed them to be switched into any one of 8 channel inserts, under midi control. Back in the day when digital efx were expensive and often midi controlled this allowed you to switch one processor box between different tracks using different presets within one song under midi control.

Exactly. This has been done. Rockman, Rocktron, Voodoo Lab (I thought it was Digital Music or something originally), and others have done this for guitarists. Why isn't there one for audio production? Instead we have "analog" UI features being held in high regard for patchbays. It should all be programable! No cards or jumpers, or even the patch cables.

Dan 25th October 2007 08:40 PM

here you go

http://www.proaudiosolutions.com/pro.../sixtyfour.htm

personally, I like only having cable in my patchbay, but this would make it easier.

raal 25th October 2007 08:49 PM

very cool Dan! thumbsup

just bought 2 of these: AudioLot MixBay - Pro Audio Sales - AudioLot Records

half normalled 192 point bays, so the majority of our outboard gear is now half normalled to the inserts in PT. works nicely. you pick your insert ITB and it's done. we have 32 inserts with outboard gear half-normalled this way, and other outboard half normalled to a Folcrom. if you want to route things differently, you then have to use a patch cable, but this is the next best thing to an automated patchbay IMHO.

Dan 25th October 2007 09:51 PM

That's basically how I do it. I built this 384 pt patchbay some years ago, and then realized for the cost and time of doing such, I could have just bought more I/O, and hardwired everything to my AD/DA, which I've basically done, but with the patchpoint in between. THEN, everything is named in my PT insert I/O setup. I thought, Duh.. there's the automated patchbay right there.
Live and learn. I thought I was going to keep 48 channels of preamps around for flexibility, not to mention all the EQ, fx, and compression Also, I wanted to be able to rout through different pieces before hitting conversion, or chain things together in mixdown. I've found it hardly necessary in practice.

studjo 25th October 2007 10:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by psycho_monkey (Post 1583737)
As for the Harrisons....did anyone ever get one of those working properly?


yup got one - 64 channels - digtally controlled analog console with router (IOW - recallalbe patchbay) - sounds friggin great - love it - kills everything I ever worked on - love it - amazes me constantly - headroom for ages - a recall is a mater of 2 seconds (when no outboard is involved - a full recall takes 15 minutes at most) - best EQ

take all I said with a bag of salt of course (but yup it works without any problems at all)



did I say I love it?




and yup it sounds great





love it

studjo 25th October 2007 10:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jindrich (Post 1583789)
Im talking about the FUTURE: AMS-NEVE Genesys and what SSL may bring along, Instant Total Recall hi-end analog consoles, that also control DAWs, and -with a proper protocol- might also control and instant recall analog outobard devices, from those manufacturers that would join such a protocol.


I don't need no DAW control when I mix analog - why should I. I won't use more than one or 2 plugs anyway ...

psycho_monkey 26th October 2007 01:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by studjo (Post 1586832)
yup got one - 64 channels - digtally controlled analog console with router (IOW - recallalbe patchbay) - sounds friggin great - love it - kills everything I ever worked on - love it - amazes me constantly - headroom for ages - a recall is a mater of 2 seconds (when no outboard is involved - a full recall takes 15 minutes at most) - best EQ

take all I said with a bag of salt of course (but yup it works without any problems at all)



did I say I love it?




and yup it sounds great





love it

That's great - I've known of 2 here in the UK, and they've both been a pain in the posterior (although both owners loved the sound).

Out of interest...do many people other than yourself (or those you employ) use it?

TRW 26th October 2007 02:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tony666 (Post 1584169)
If one company could do it it would be Audient i guess (at that price). Allthough I don't think they have much experience in digital controlled analogue.

A lot of their monitor controller products are digitally controlled and they have plenty of experience...

Lets just say they may or may not be working on something...but you are right - they 'could' do it for a good price.

And whoever thinks adding digital control is a trivial, inexpensive matter in audio - think again. Way way expensive and design intensive. Not to mention the actual audio quality and changes in signal path required to not introduce extra distortion/noise.

The trendy boutique manufacturers around these parts likely don't have the capital or experience to add it. Doing switches is one thing but doing continuously variable pots for EQs etc is another kettle of fish. The parts are really limited for audio apps.

Whoever makes a product better get the UI right - as a single focus strip to control banks of EQs is as limiting as any old DAW control surface.

I really hope we don't all end up with lots of silly little remote controlled boxes on our desk tops with no where to ergonomically store them.

Consoles rock for reason.

IMO. Hoho
-T

x99 26th October 2007 06:53 AM

Who needs a console?

HTML Code:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxMux4uEkLI

triez 26th October 2007 07:03 AM

The synthesizer industry is way ahead - digital control of analog since the 1970's / 80's...

Prophet 5
PPG & Fairlight (Curtis analog filters)
Oberheim OB xa
Roland Juno's with their DCO's

And on and on. It worked very well for these machines, so no reason for it not to work beautifully for outboard gear at least.

studjo 26th October 2007 09:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by psycho_monkey (Post 1587059)
Out of interest...do many people other than yourself (or those you employ) use it?


I'm not aware of many people - it's certainly more known under the Film guys. As you know it's not really a budget board and as someone said the whole digitally conrolled analog stuff is pretty hard to get right.
Anyway I wish more guys could copy the sound of that desk - that would make my radio listening sessions in the car at least a little more joyful.

Jo

Huptus 26th October 2007 10:01 AM

One word about this guy on YouTube: he lifts this stone slowly to 0 dB which works pretty slow ( you need to mix in advance ) and then pushes it all the way up to +15 bB and you know what, the stone does not even move.

psycho_monkey 26th October 2007 12:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by studjo (Post 1587836)
I'm not aware of many people - it's certainly more known under the Film guys. As you know it's not really a budget board and as someone said the whole digitally conrolled analog stuff is pretty hard to get right.
Anyway I wish more guys could copy the sound of that desk - that would make my radio listening sessions in the car at least a little more joyful.

Jo

Sorry - I meant do you sell your studio separate from your services - do you have freelancers coming in and using it?

That's the problem - for things to move on, someone needs to build a virtual analogue G-Series or VR or whatever...that people can use in a familiar way, yet recalls instantly, can be set up flexibly.

For example, on both the Harrison I used and the Euphonix, the monitor section was stupidly complex - as I remember, you needed to go into a sub menu on the euphonix just to mute the speakers!

studjo 26th October 2007 01:53 PM

it's a private room - but the whole thing isn't complex at all - a few stuff you should know, but if you worked on any LFAC it's a no brainer. You have to know the concept of the console - no different than with a Neve/SSL/Mackie/Toft/Behringer hjghfgg
But I never tried it with someone else - I run the board after 1 hour of reading/pressing buttons.

Jo

psycho_monkey 26th October 2007 03:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by studjo (Post 1588026)
it's a private room - but the whole thing isn't complex at all - a few stuff you should know, but if you worked on any LFAC it's a no brainer. You have to know the concept of the console - no different than with a Neve/SSL/Mackie/Toft/Behringer hjghfgg
But I never tried it with someone else - I run the board after 1 hour of reading/pressing buttons.

Jo

It's not that it's difficult (I know the Euphonix pretty well myself, and got to use the Harrison fairly well - despite it crashing often, and some channels not working properly) - it's getting people out of their NeveSL comfort zone.

The places I knew that had one just couldn't attract people to their rooms - one was an owner-operator so that was ok (but he eventually switched out for a VR since he pretty much ended up beta-testing the Harrison), one went under and one switched the euphonix for a pro-control since no-one used the console.

If SSL put the guts of a duality into a DCA desk with rotaries...that looked pretty much like an SSL (maybe 24faders for a bigger desk)...with regular-looking centre section also with rotaries...that should appeal at least! Maybe the price wouldn't...

studjo 26th October 2007 04:44 PM

it's hard to believe a Harrison S12 crashing - my desk didn't have one crash - starting up the system my need a reboot of a part of the console, but that's really no problem. When the whole thing is running it's running and all my channels work (fingers crossed).

love it


love it


love it

Jo

kats 26th October 2007 05:43 PM

Quote:

Is Digitally Controlled Analog the future?

Just to play the devils advocate:

My answer is no. I no longer think the industry can afford to sign artists that cannot perform at a high level of professionalism.

100 tracks, endless processing, endless recalls are a moot issue when dealing with high calibre artists, studios, and engineers.

So if they don't need it.....

vernier 26th October 2007 06:00 PM

http://rupertneve.com/wp-content/i/necam3.jpg

NemisisLondon 9th February 2018 02:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dan (Post 1583650)

It's a fantastice idea, but with the advancement of digital, I'd be hard pressed to lay down the type of cash I'm sure such a creation would cost.

In my dream land, everything from a 960 to a 1084 could be controlled with the DAW software, but that would take adhering to a protocol, and it was a feat just to get a few manufacturers to land on the 500 format, which is by comparison extremely simple.


Looks like your suggested ideas are now reality

Dan 9th February 2018 02:50 PM

I don’t follow. Is there a link to what you’re talking about?

Schoeller 9th February 2018 08:59 PM

Simple question for our experts: can a (preferably) digitally controlled potentiometer equivalent be designed so that it can be considered as good as an analog potentiometer, i.e. in a way the remote control functionality does not negatively influence the audio performance of a circuit?

There are lots of electronic potentiometer equivalents but I've no idea about how they perform when it comes to professional high-end audio.

Digitally controlling an analog console can basically be done in two ways:
1) Electronics designed for "remote" control (i.e. a computer is able to handle all analog settings).
2) Using motorized potentiometers and faders.

The 2nd option is trivial to implement from a technical POV but extremely expensive. A good motorized rotary pot is expensive. If say 30 are needed for each channel strip and also adding relays or electronic switches to be able to indirectly switch signals (using only momentary push-buttons with status LEDs or touch) costs explode.

IMO touchscreens work well for ON/OFF switches but for analog settings rotary encoders and faders (digital linear encoders) should be used. Touchscreens are not great for fine-tunig analog values, especially in real-time.

I'm not an audio expert but since the 90's I've designed automation and process control interfaces for various industrial domains and there have always been lots of discussions about optimizing the ergonomics of the human-machine interface (HMI).

What I mean is that the technical solutions exist, it's mostly a question of realistic costs. Having hundreds of motorized pots, or rotary encoders with OLED position indicator segments (+digital setting readout) just costs a fortune. There are also pushbuttons with integrated OLED matrix color display (monochrome LCD versions have been around since the late 80's at least, mostly used in video broadcast equipment).

Technically speaking it's not even very complex to design if it's based on a strongly modular system (typically relying on some industrial Ethernet instead of fieldbus). In theory one could even use PLCs (industrial programmable logic controllers) for the interface management but it would be way too expensive (though extremely stable and reliable both from a hardware and software POV and relying only on COTS parts).

Bassmankr 10th February 2018 12:30 AM

Your revived 10 year old thread question probably deserves it's own new thread. The digital pot has latency so dynamically it will be different.

There is also a kind of "in between" construction option to consider as employed on the Otari Concept Elite (digitally controled analog) mixer where all routing / switches / faders / mutes are under dynamic digital control automation tied to timecode for dynamic settings as the song plays. So for those functions it can be a button push or two to completely change / recall / write an automation pass on the desk. Then for the multitude of the analog pots on the desk itself there is computer assisted image recall where you go into a "null" mode where by turning a pot by hand you see where it should be set for recall via meter LED's. It's actually a fairly fast way to recall and keep costs down. So you have to manually recall the analog pots but its a simple matter of watching LED's to see where to turn it to. That desk lets you set the resolution of that process also between coarse / medium / fine. You can find the manual online for free download if you want to get into it more.

The bigger problem is what most will spend for desks and that anything new has to compete with the very low prices of used desks. Then comes the debate of actual physical construction (through hole vs. surface mount) for instant onsite servicability and the debate over capacitors used (traditional vs. surface mount ceramic).

Schoeller 10th February 2018 11:18 AM

Just to avoid any confusion, I referred to digital controlled potentiometer as a fully analog signal path design where only the control is digital (or an analog signal controlled potentiometer equivalent). Not an AD/DA conversion.

As you mention it, there are various options, the SSL Total Recall with the analog pot position sensing seems to work well even if there are discussions about the attainable precision of a recall turning buttons manually until the preset issued by the computer is matched (depends on various factors, I don't remember how D/A conversion is done for the pot positions, there are lots of basic cheap DIL analog multiplexers but I never checked their specs).

Due to cost restraints I rather expect that a mix between large touch screens (spread over the full width of the console) and traditional mechanical controls especially for often used coninuously variable settings. Touchscreens work well for ON/OFF functions but not for fine tuning of analog values.
Also I expect dynamic functional remapping to be a useful way to go, I mean using fully assignable direct controls where rotary encoder buttons are labelled dynamically with small color displays (for example the button sitting in the middle of an OLED display and the top of the button being lit in any programmable color (with user-selectable dimming control of course, but maybe not as flashy as the main button of Yamaha Montage).

Of course I'm only referring to high-end consoles costing several thousand CHF/EUR/USD per channel as the hardware user interface components for such designs are already very expensive.