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Uinversal Audio 1176LN shootout analog or digital?
Old 25th March 2008
  #1
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Uinversal Audio 1176LN shootout analog or digital?

Hi guys!

A colleague and me did a study on the audible differences between the UA 1176LN reissue and the 1176LN plug-in from UA's UAD-1 card, as part of our exam from the Royal University College of Music in Stockholm, Sweden. We should have done this about ten years ago but hey, better late than never
We thought that some of you slutz might find it interesting to listen to the audio examples for yourselves ..............heh

We recorded this song at my colleague’s studio using the following equipment:

DMP, Vintage design pre
Blue baby bottle mic on all tracks except Beta 52 on back of Cajon
Motu 896HD soundcard
Digital performer 5

We first put some basic eq on the tracks that needed it and then compressed them using the analog 1176, recording them back into the computer, one by one. We made thourough notes on all settings and also used a couple of bars in the song as a "marker" to determine the amount of gain reduction.
All of the tracks where compressed except for the bass. It didn’t really benefit from 1176 compression so we just passed the audio through it to add some warmth.
Then we compressed each track using the digital 1176 using the same settings as the analog 1176 used. At this stage we realized that we had to use a bit more input on the digital 1176 to get the same amount of gain reduction at our "marker" bars. We tweaked it until we had the closest gain reduction possible, compared to the analog 1176.
Then we recorded the digitally compressed tracks back into the computer using the same signal path as with the analog 1176 (minus the actual analog 1167 of course).
We then compared the tracks, one by one, analog/digital and noted if there where any gain differences we could detect using a digital meter bay. If there where any gain differences we changed the gain on the respective track that needed it.
We then mixed the song that used “analog” 1176 compression and bounced it. We then swapped all the tracks to the ones using the digital 1176 and bounced once again.
This method is of course slightly artificial as one probably never would use an 1176 on all the tracks in a mix. But for this test we had decided to focus on the 1176 ONLY, so what the hell…..

We then did a questionnaire with the music production students at a local music college to determine if they could here a difference between the two versions. We weren’t so interested in if they thought one was better then the other, just if they could here the difference.
Turns out they could just barely hear any difference at all and they really couldn’t pinpoint which version that used analog compression and which version used digital compression!

So now we’re really excited to hear what you guys think!
Have a listen and take a guess!
I’ll post the “correct answer” in a couple of weeks!

The song, “Those sweet words”, is comprised of the following nine tracks:
Lead vocals
Background vocals
Wurlitzer
Acoustic guitar
Addl. acoustic guitar
Bass
Cajon, front and back on separate tracks
Coins in pocket

Good luck!!!!
/Jonas
Attached Files

those sweet words mix 2.mp3 (3.29 MB, 6252 views)

those sweet words mix 1.mp3 (3.29 MB, 5804 views)


Last edited by P-pangdrums; 26th March 2008 at 01:44 AM.. Reason: Grammar....
Old 25th March 2008
  #2
Led
Lives for gear
 
Led's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Mix 1 sounds to me to be a little brighter or a bit harder in the top end, somewhere around the 6 - 8 K area. The thing with comparisons between hardware and software is that with smaller amounts of compression like used here the difference is not so great. It's when you start to really drive the compressors and make them saturate that the hardware really stands out. Nice recording, I like the coins in pocket.
Old 26th March 2008
  #3
Gear Nut
 
Mr. Landmark's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I think mix 2 is the analog 1176 and mix 1 the plug-in version.

Mix 2 had to my ears a little bit more emphazis on the upper mids than mix 1. Most noticable in the intro of the song. Also mix 1 sounds a bit brighter.

Last edited by Mr. Landmark; 26th March 2008 at 12:02 AM.. Reason: grammar...
Old 26th March 2008 | Show parent
  #4
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
mix 2 is definitely the 1176LN analog. Sound is more engaging.
Old 26th March 2008 | Show parent
  #5
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
I like the second mix better also. The first word that came to mind was "smoother".
Old 26th March 2008 | Show parent
  #6
Lives for gear
 
barryjohns's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
What I have discovered around here is as Jack Nicholson said "You Can't Handle the Truth". I'm not saying that one is better in this post, I didn't even listen to it, but what I have seen is most people around here are not willing to accept hearing that ITB can be better/as good as OTB or that Plugs can be better/as good as hardware. The more and more I do this; I have come to the realization that hardware is rarely justified by the cost/gain ratio. There will always be a need for "Real" Mics and "Real" preamps, and I think everyone should have one "Real" compressor for tracking, as the plugs really can't control dynamics prior to conversion.

I'm gonna get hammered for this post probably, I'm not saying I'm right, but for me, I am right for what I do.
Old 26th March 2008 | Show parent
  #7
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bcgood's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I listened to both clips and here are my observations.

Clip 1

The compression is more obvious than clip 2, (Not in a good way).

There seems to be more depth than clip 2.
__________________

Clip 2

The compression is less obvious than clip 1.

There seems to be less depth in this mix, it sounds kind of flat. I don't really like the sound of either mix.
Old 26th March 2008 | Show parent
  #8
Lives for gear
 
vernier's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
The close bright smacky back-beat thing, I'd replace it with something that doesn't collide with the vocal.
Old 26th March 2008 | Show parent
  #9
Led
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Led's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Hi, I wasn't saying that this track was lightly compressed in comparison to general compression levels, rather that the difference between hardware and software emulations becomes more obvious as the units are driven harder, as the software emulations don't to my ears saturate the way hardware does. I was just saying that the examples here aren't driven to that point.
Cheers
Old 26th March 2008 | Show parent
  #10
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RCM - Ronan's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
How much gain reduction were you doing on the individual tracks?
Old 26th March 2008
  #11
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edvdr76's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Mix one has a brighter, flatter sound....
Mix 2 sounds a bit more chunky with more depth.......
Mix 2 is definitely the hardware and mix 1 is the software.
Old 26th March 2008 | Show parent
  #12
Lives for gear
 
Fleaman's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Did the hardware 1176LN have the original style T-attenuator?

A large amount of the UA reissues didn't have them, but they recently started to build them with the t-attenuator again, as original.
Old 26th March 2008 | Show parent
  #13
Gear Addict
 
musicjon's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I don't know which one is what, but mix 2 sounds better.
Old 26th March 2008 | Show parent
  #14
Gear Maniac
 
Vatraxos's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Another way to go about this would be to only post one mix and ask..."Is this hardware or software?" That would be interesting.

I listened to this on an HP laptop. I liked mix 2 better as well.
Old 26th March 2008 | Show parent
  #15
Lives for gear
 
Outlaw Hans's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Mix 2 is far superior. mix 1 has everything I usually don't like about compression. Flat, overblown. It makes the mix sound cheaper.
It's a good recording but the compression on 1 makes it sound like a demo.
2 is hardware I suppose.
Old 26th March 2008 | Show parent
  #16
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Fidelis's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Mix 2 is better... if it's hardware or software I just don't care.
Old 27th March 2008 | Show parent
  #17
lwr
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
i say mix 2 for hardware?

they are not a million miles apart though..
mix 2 sounds like it has a little more chunkiness.
Old 27th March 2008
  #18
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danasti's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I'm interested. I like mix 2 better - It's softer an more spacious. I think mix 1 is using the analog 1176 on each track and the reason it sounds like it does is the extra conversion.

Just a guess though but based on me having similar issues/results.

Old 27th March 2008 | Show parent
  #19
Gear Maniac
 
forthemusic.com's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Side note

Good try on emulating a multi-grammy award winning song and recording, but now I appreciate their work a whole lot more.

And mix 2, whatever the heck it is, sounds better. Thanks for sharing.
Old 27th March 2008 | Show parent
  #20
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
i like mix 2 better as well, because the compression is so much more classy. the difference here is quite vast, actually

whatever mix 1 was, i think you'd have done better to use your ears rather than meters for this exercise, because the compressor is working so much harder on the first mix, and not in a good way. in particular, the fills on the gts are just lifeless and blown out, as are many of the vocal phrases.

on mix 2 it's effortless.


gregoire
del
ubk
.
Old 27th March 2008 | Show parent
  #21
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by danasti View Post
I think mix 1 is using the analog 1176 on each track and the reason it sounds like it does is the extra conversion.

i don't believe there's any extra conversion, OP claims they re-recorded the plugin tracks thru the same a/d/a loop.

which is a hell of a commitment to the task! thumbsup


gregoire
del
ubk
.
Old 27th March 2008 | Show parent
  #22
Lives for gear
 
BradM's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I think I like #2 better also. As UBK said, it sounds more "effortless". However, I'm going to put my ass on the line and say that #1 is the analog 1176 because to my ears it sounds smoother and mellower, which is the vibe I get from my hardware 1176.

Brad
Old 27th March 2008 | Show parent
  #23
Gear Addict
 
rydan's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Like nr2 better. Sounds slightly more open and effortless to me. Not a million miles apart though, at least not through my laptop audiocard and inears.

Also, have to agree that the settings doesn't sound the same, even though they might have been on the knobs and/or meters.

Which one is the hardware? No idea...
Old 27th March 2008 | Show parent
  #24
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
just headphones here, but i bet nr. 1 is the hardware.
Old 27th March 2008 | Show parent
  #25
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
HEY THIS ACTUALLY SOUNDS LIKE MUSIC!!!

I really don't care which is which I like MIX 1
  • it has a little bit more bump on the low-end
  • it allows the vocal transients to cut through a bit more
Old 27th March 2008 | Show parent
  #26
Company Rep
 
Marogru's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
+1 for mix 2, Dunno wich is what but the second had more plesat uppermids. the 1st mix was a bit "screamy".
Old 27th March 2008 | Show parent
  #27
Lives for gear
 
Autocrat's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Results?
Old 28th March 2008 | Show parent
  #28
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Hello there....
Thanks for all the input, good and not so good ;-)
I'm going to wait a little longer to post the "correct answer", just want to give a few more people the chance to have a listen with an unbiased mind.
As far as some questions go:

I don't know if the hardware 1176 had the T-attenuator or not, I'll try to check. We borrowed it brand new from a friend at a music store....

I'll try to look up our notes on all the settings, incl the amount of gain reduction, and post them here if anyone wants to know...

As far as the musical quality of the mixes go, you have to keep in mind that this was never intended as anything other than an experiment. That means that we made some choices just for the sake of a more interesting comparison. One guitar might be "over compressed" and we might have used a higher or lower ratio then musically appropriate on other tracks. The bottom line was just to try and use as many different tones and settings on the 1176 as possible.
Hopefully the result is still ok music, but that was actually not our first priority. (It should always be, except this time)

Well, thanks again for checking this thread out, and for taking the time to listen and give us your thoughts and impressions

"I'll be back"
/Jonas
Old 28th March 2008 | Show parent
  #29
Lives for gear
 
flute player's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Hello there,

Well after listening to the recordings with a formar sound engineer from the Rolling Stones we say mix 2 is the analoge 1176.
Compression always seem to make the frequencies arround 350 Hz bigger.
You might have used a precission eq to filter this away sothat the choise would be a little harder to make.
Mix 1 has more air and sound imo better.

Greetz,


Paul
Old 28th March 2008 | Show parent
  #30
Lives for gear
 
ProducerBoy's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
#2 is analog.

For me, the give away is in the highs. If I am wrong and the plug did this, then I'm gonna have to rethink picking up a pair of Actions. (which is highly unlikely)
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