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My theory on analog emulation....
Old 30th January 2019
My theory on analog emulation....

So I decided to go to a studio belonging to a friend of mine, a whole day uninterrupted to put to the test analog gear vs their plugin counterparts.....

Before I explain more I should point out that no UAD plugins were available which annoys me as I've heard they are quite excellent

Now the details So I recorded myself going through various bits of outboard gear, into high end apogee converters and onto a Maxed out 2018 Mac Mini......

Ill spare the boring bits and come to my conclusions

All tests only on vocals:
Real LA-2A - Sounded warm and slightly thicker or wider or more 3d ???
ClA-2A (Waves) - Decent tone similarity but not thicker/wider/3d
Ik White 2A - Slightly thicker than the Waves but didn't have the classic tone, again lacking the wide image and 3d depth
NI VC2A - Something off imo, not on the level of the other plugs let alone hardware
Black Rooster VLA-2A- Very close with the thickness, width but not the hard to explain 3d image/depth

Im quite shocking at explaining sound terms so bear with me....

At this point I felt the need to delve into how the plugins are made, all looked very complicated and so forth.... then I tried Nebula

Loaded Henry Olonga Mojo before the plugins and La dee dah I almost wet myself....

Obviously all models of vintage gear sound different and you could tell but only slightly... I now liked CLA-2A the best... More than 90% there imo....

Which made me think

For all the high tech modelling and so forth why can't a plugin manufacturer hear this difference between the hardware and software and rectify it? I know its not gonna get all the way, but it can't be hard to make the plugin create 3d depth, slightly thicken and give a slight image enhance......

Can anyone enlighten me?

I tested way more but that's for later....

Lets get this discussion going folks
Old 30th January 2019
Lives for gear

Ill prepare popcorn...gonna be long and interesting thread!
Old 30th January 2019
I have a shootout on the way of some plugins
Old 31st January 2019
Lives for gear
badmark's Avatar
As with distortion, software compressors always imho just fall slightly short of what hardware compressors do. Even on the sh¡tty old Behringer box I used to use there was a moment when the compressor just 'grabbed' the sound and shook it into place whereas, for all its virtues and the fact that I can get perfectly satisfactory 'compressory' results out of it, the FabFilter compressor (e.g.) just doesn't have that sudden, almost physical, uh, thing. If that's not too technical a way of putting it.
Old 31st January 2019
Here for the gear
pennycoolstudios's Avatar

I wish I had a whole day of my life to do this!

In my experience - and take it or leave it - bunches of engineers, producers and musicians come and go, and none of them have ever cared as long as the job got done sounding the way they wanted.

Analogue and digital are two different things. They will never sound "the same." But at this point, I'll bet about 3 people in the whole world can tell the difference with any consistency. (That's hyperbole, so don't list the 4 people you know.)

It never ceases to amuse me though.
Old 31st January 2019
Lives for gear
iLex's Avatar
Why don't we have more threads like this 10/10
Old 31st January 2019
Of course they will never sound the same as analogue but at least get the first bit right, sense of 3d depth.....

I still think it has something to do with going through outboard before the converters...
Old 31st January 2019
Lives for gear
stinkyfingers's Avatar

Unfortunately, CPU & Latency are most important to people, not quality and accuracy.
We must all suffer for their sins.
Old 31st January 2019
Lives for gear
zvukofor's Avatar
And again: define that mystical “3D”, please.
IME i don’t “lack” anything in a good digital compressors, maybe some distortions? But a lot of engineers find it good to separate desirable distortions from a compressing act. Even more: i love that i dont need 1176/la2 emulations or real things, as there’re some HW and SW compressors that do the same fast/slow/program-dependant compression in a better way. I choose a distressor or arouser vs HW/SW 1176/la2/160 anyday.
Old 31st January 2019
Gear Addict
Bouroki's Avatar

When you say width, do you mean you double tracked the vocals? You ran stereo inputs? etc...
Old 31st January 2019
I agree with some of what you are saying, but you need ideally to blind test yourself to remove the bias. We all suffer from it it is not a criticism.

The answer to the questions as far as I understand it is a complicated mix of development time/budget for plugins, ability of designers to hear and replicate the nuance, and the constraints of the digital system.

I would say significant improvements have been made over the last 10 yrs, although for me we are not quite there. That said there are significant advantages to plugins, and you can use them to do a great mix. For many that is what is important.

Personally I did not hear yet a compressor plugin emulation, that could match the low end punch and clarity of the high end under heavy compression, that it's hardware counterpart had. I did a lot of blind tests and hear it often. If anyone has a good test that can prove me wrong please link it. Unlike what is often thrown at people who say what I am saying, I actually 'want' plugins to sound as good or better than hardware - because then I don't need to invest in and use hardware!

Last edited by SWAN808; 31st January 2019 at 04:13 PM..
Old 31st January 2019
Gear Addict

Instead of emulation, why can't developers just come up with something original that sounds better and doesn't spend all the CPU cycles emulating something old?
Old 31st January 2019
Originally Posted by vitocorleone123 View Post
Instead of emulation, why can't developers just come up with something original that sounds better and doesn't spend all the CPU cycles emulating something old?
it doesn't tend to sell so well is probably one reason...look at ProAudioDSP Dynamic Spectrum Mapper...a very novel plugin from a talented developer that struggled to get traction.
Old 31st January 2019
Yea totally agree with everyone, we ain't quite there yet

Why don't waves have a shootout trying their plugins vs hardware ?

The speed of modern pc's should not be a problem for complex algorithm's........

The lads making the models obviously know more than I do.... but still disappointed

anyone know any real close plugins ?
Old 31st January 2019
Gear Maniac

Originally Posted by Bouroki View Post
When you say width, do you mean you double tracked the vocals? You ran stereo inputs? etc...
I would also like to know this. If your mono vocal track got WIDER it's hard to believe a lot of what you're hearing isn't placebo...
Old 31st January 2019
the 'width' aspect people talk about I assume is created by saturation acting on different parts of the signal creating a different stereo field...
Old 31st January 2019
Gear Guru
I don't understand the Olonga Mojo thing! Is this a plug in you add before a plug in to make it sound more analogue? I looked it up and the page is gone on the Olonga site.....
Old 1st February 2019
Yea so its a nebula patch.... get the free copy of Nebula 4 and if you look hard enough on Henry Olonga's website his all you can eat bundle is free to download and it has so much different analogue bits and pieces.... I really like it a lot

So in this case I put his MOJO of the LA-2A on the track before hitting the plug-in and it really makes some difference.... Actually Ill upload the difference.......
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