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Recording to tape vs digital - direct audio comparison Saturation Plugins
Old 9th January 2017
  #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wwittman View Post
people "listening" from this thread can ONLY listen to digital; in the form of posted files
That wasn't the point. The point was recording to tape or recording to digital.

If you want to discuss some esoteric example where people not only record to tape but then also consume music from tape then it'll be a lonely thread. How many people consume music off of tape these days? I can't think of a single person I know, friend or business connection.
Old 10th January 2017
  #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc View Post
That wasn't the point. The point was recording to tape or recording to digital.

If you want to discuss some esoteric example where people not only record to tape but then also consume music from tape then it'll be a lonely thread. How many people consume music off of tape these days? I can't think of a single person I know, friend or business connection.
Consume, no. Listen? Well, every once in a while I still listen to cassettes. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrmmmmmmmmmm. Freaky warm, after listening to digital for so long.
Old 10th January 2017
  #33
Quote:
Originally Posted by edva View Post
Consume, no. Listen? Well, every once in a while I still listen to cassettes. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrmmmmmmmmmm. Freaky warm, after listening to digital for so long.
I have a few cassettes from mixing I did in the '80s. Somebody muted the overheads!
Old 10th January 2017
  #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edva View Post
Consume, no. Listen? Well, every once in a while I still listen to cassettes. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrmmmmmmmmmm. Freaky warm, after listening to digital for so long.
"consume" = "listen"... is what I meant...

Cassettes suck. Early CDs and CD players weren't all that great, but they weren't worse than middle-of-the-road consumer cassette tapes and players.
Old 10th January 2017
  #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wwittman View Post
people "listening" from this thread can ONLY listen to digital; in the form of posted files
true, but except perhaps* for a handful of vinyl enthusiasts, the same can be said for just about any listener who is likely to hear the recording any of us are making

If tape did not 'carry through' on some level, why would anyone go to the trouble - just to have something nicer to listen to in the control room?




*assuming the cutter does not use digital for the look-ahead

Last edited by joeq; 10th January 2017 at 03:05 AM..
Old 10th January 2017
  #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc View Post
"consume" = "listen"... is what I meant...

Cassettes suck. Early CDs and CD players weren't all that great, but they weren't worse than middle-of-the-road consumer cassette tapes and players.
I thought you meant consume = purchase. But in any case, my comment was meant in good humor.
However, following up on your comment, let me add that at the "height" of the cassettes popularity, there were formulations/recordings/machines that did offer surprisingly good quality. Not as good as half inch, but subjectively more euphonic than many early CD's and CD players. IMHO.
Old 10th January 2017
  #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edva View Post
I thought you meant consume = purchase. But in any case, my comment was meant in good humor.
However, following up on your comment, let me add that at the "height" of the cassettes popularity, there were formulations/recordings/machines that did offer surprisingly good quality. Not as good as half inch, but subjectively more euphonic than many early CD's and CD players. IMHO.
No, I think I got the gist of what you meant. And of course for a lot of different mediums there are, or were, great technology. For the average consumer though analog was just super-impractical compared to today's digital media. I ended up hating cassettes. Vinyl was cool. Sort of miss the experience of putting on an album, more so than the sound actually.
Old 10th January 2017
  #38
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That "comparison" video is not a good one and is misleading at best. The person is using a TEAC, which is a consumer level tape machine running at 15 ips max. A proper comparison would need a tape machine running 30 ips which will pretty much eliminate the hiss, and a proper pro machine by Studer, MCI, Ampex or even Otari. The high end would also be greatly improved. My opinion is to avoid that youtube video as it shows nothing but how a consumer tape machine works vs. recording straight to DAW.
Old 10th January 2017
  #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pskept View Post
The tape hiss was a pretty big give away. He said you'd have to listen carefully but it was glaring. I guess I do hear the roundness of the low end he mentions but also it seems like the tape recording is "louder" which, i assume, is easily measurable, i mean decibels yes i guess that is a quantifiable measure but it seems like there is a lot i don't understand about loudness so i assume this could just be some subjective interpretation.

edit: i really liked this video and the author's presentation.
The tape hiss is due to him using a consumer level tape machine running at 15 ips with no noise reduction.

This how properly recorded to Tape masters sound, with single digital conversion off of the master tape:

https://youtu.be/gmV9iX-Q754

https://youtu.be/w1vfnkPgFQY

Last edited by Erik Thomas; 10th January 2017 at 05:22 AM..
Old 10th January 2017
  #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc View Post
No, I think I got the gist of what you meant. And of course for a lot of different mediums there are, or were, great technology. For the average consumer though analog was just super-impractical compared to today's digital media. I ended up hating cassettes. Vinyl was cool. Sort of miss the experience of putting on an album, more so than the sound actually.
I liked the sound of vinyl, still do. The coolest thing to me was that most of the time when you played a record people would actually sit and _listen. Yes?
Old 10th January 2017
  #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wwittman View Post
I'm not saying I "strictly prefer" analogue recording.

I'm saying the REASONS I don;t always record in analogue have to do with convenience and features and editing and manipulation capabilities, and yes, budgets, and not because of audio quality.


we agree in as much as good digital recording is "a pretty good substitute"; which isn't the same thing as a "superior choice" or even "identical" or indistinguishable in sound.

we all work in digital these days, although I work in both... so arguing about it becomes pointless.
which is why I can't figure out what it remains important to some people to defend the "it's just as good!!!" position.
the defensiveness of that requirement says a lot, i think.
At least for classical music digital seems to be the superior choice, and certainly not for reasons of mere convenience. There are very few or no retakes, so splicing tape wouldn't be much of an issue. Cost is also not a deciding factor. With the best orchestras only the best gear available is used. And yet I don't know of any classical recordings of the past few years that was done to tape. Doesn't happen. Berlin Phil recorded directly to vinyl recently, but that was a one-off special project.

So no, I don't think digital is a 'pretty good substitute' for tape. I think it is a technique that sets standards in its own right, and that is truer to the source than tape. Tape introduces artifacts which can sound good. Where you want these artifacts, record to tape (or record digitally and emulate them). Where you don't, record digitally.

If somebody had comparison files from a studio class tape recorder at 30 ips that would be awesome.
Old 10th January 2017
  #42
Quote:
Originally Posted by goodkeys View Post
At least for classical music digital seems to be the superior choice, and certainly not for reasons of mere convenience. There are very few or no retakes, so splicing tape wouldn't be much of an issue. Cost is also not a deciding factor. With the best orchestras only the best gear available is used. And yet I don't know of any classical recordings of the past few years that was done to tape. Doesn't happen. Berlin Phil recorded directly to vinyl recently, but that was a one-off special project.

So no, I don't think digital is a 'pretty good substitute' for tape. I think it is a technique that sets standards in its own right, and that is truer to the source than tape. Tape introduces artifacts which can sound good. Where you want these artifacts, record to tape (or record digitally and emulate them). Where you don't, record digitally.

If somebody had comparison files from a studio class tape recorder at 30 ips that would be awesome.
https://www.gearslutz.com/board/remo...symph-2-a.html

This was apparently done to tape. Not arguing about digital vs analog, but just giving the counterpoint that some stuff, even if digital is involved, still gets recorded to tape.
Old 10th January 2017
  #43
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Thanks for the link. I'll have an eye open for that release.
Old 10th January 2017
  #44
Quote:
Originally Posted by goodkeys View Post
At least for classical music digital seems to be the superior choice, and certainly not for reasons of mere convenience.
Digital has a much wider dynamic range available for recording than tape. This is why it's used for classical. You still get details in the quiet sections.
Old 10th January 2017
  #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edva View Post
I liked the sound of vinyl, still do. The coolest thing to me was that most of the time when you played a record people would actually sit and _listen. Yes?
I don't think I minded the sound of vinyl, but it didn't tickle my ear all that much. I think a lot of it is nostalgia for those who never had high-end systems.

I agree though that actually sitting down was part of the pleasure, in addition to having to get up and switch sides. Then add to that the album art, and it was a much more.... I don't know... it was more of an 'experience' I feel.

So that I definitely miss.

But cassettes? Good riddance.
Old 10th January 2017
  #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goodkeys View Post
There are very few or no retakes, so splicing tape wouldn't be much of an issue.
I'm pretty certain a lot of orchestras actually do a lot of retakes and thus a lot of editing is required.
Old 10th January 2017
  #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc View Post
I don't think I minded the sound of vinyl, but it didn't tickle my ear all that much. I think a lot of it is nostalgia for those who never had high-end systems.

I agree though that actually sitting down was part of the pleasure, in addition to having to get up and switch sides. Then add to that the album art, and it was a much more.... I don't know... it was more of an 'experience' I feel.

So that I definitely miss.

But cassettes? Good riddance.
Vinyl is "fun" even on consumer grade systems, but on audiophile systems, it can be a real ear-opener. Just IMHO. Everything is subjective.
Old 10th January 2017
  #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc View Post
I'm pretty certain a lot of orchestras actually do a lot of retakes and thus a lot of editing is required.
At least the orchestra I work for doesn't. But it doesn't matter much. 80+ musicians doing retakes are much more expensive than one or two engineers slicing tape all week. If the conductor and the musicians were of the opinion that tape sounded better they would be recording to tape. They certainly have the means for it.
Old 10th January 2017
  #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goodkeys View Post
At least the orchestra I work for doesn't. But it doesn't matter much. 80+ musicians doing retakes are much more expensive than one or two engineers slicing tape all week. If the conductor and the musicians were of the opinion that tape sounded better they would be recording to tape. They certainly have the means for it.
hmmm, both classical musicians and recording engineers are rather underpaid, IME. I do think cost is a big factor. It is with the orchestras with whom I work anyway. Cost, practicality, time, all factors. YMMV. Good luck.
Old 10th January 2017
  #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goodkeys View Post
At least the orchestra I work for doesn't.
I searched for "classical editing" here and got this thread... I think it's probably far more common than people think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by goodkeys View Post
But it doesn't matter much. 80+ musicians doing retakes are much more expensive than one or two engineers slicing tape all week. If the conductor and the musicians were of the opinion that tape sounded better they would be recording to tape. They certainly have the means for it.
I don't think that's necessarily true at all. Have you done the math for all of that?

These days, one engineer that's comfortable doing top-notch splices on analog tape is probably an expensive engineer. Say he does one 40 hr week at at least $50 an hour, that's $2k (and I'm guessing a great engineer with splicing skills is probably more expensive these days, at least in major markets). Then we're assuming however many edits there are to be made can actually be done in that time. The problem however is probably not the engineer. In my experience I can make decisions quickly, and I can edit quickly. I'm not the bottleneck. But you're going to have 'artists' sitting in on those sessions, and producers, and anyone representing whomever is paying for it all, and there's a risk they're all going to have opinions at one point or another. In a perfect world the engineer is fantastic and just does it by himself based on notes, but in a not-so-perfect world someone else is micromanaging and making decisions.

So that one engineer for one week quickly turns into something else.

Then there's the cost of tape. How long is the piece the orchestra is recording? How many channels do you need? How many takes do you anticipate? How many extra channels and takes do you have to plan for because the planning was off?

How about the cost of studio time? After all, with digital you can just do edits in a nice house and render files for auditing the edits and email them, or use DropBox or whatever, but with tape you have to do the edits in a studio with a tape machine and then maybe record that to digital and send out for review, or spend more time reviewing in the studio.

Then everything moves along and everyone signs off on everything except for that one guy who has an opinion and it's back to getting studio time, the engineer, and then dealing with the technology to get back to where we were and then re-splice tape if it wasn't satisfactory, as opposed to clicking "open file" and have access to all edits and takes with full backwards compatibility within a minute.

So I don't think it's at all clear that it's "cheap enough" to go to tape, and I think that even if there are a lot larger costs for the orchestra there are still choices to be made when it comes to spending resources.
Old 10th January 2017
  #51
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Thanks for the link, that looks very interesting. Lots to read through, but I'm certain it'll be worth it.
Maybe things are different here in euorpe. The recording time is planned very tightly, there is simply no time to the many retakes. If a musicians screws a passage it will be recorded again. If the passage has to be recorded a third time, it's a problem. Most pieces are done without any retakes at all - after all the musicians are supposed to know the repertoire well. The biggest cost in our case is certainly having the whole orchestra there recording, so that time is as tight as possible. Other costs are definitely on a smaller scale and matter much less.
Old 10th January 2017
  #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc View Post
I agree though that actually sitting down was part of the pleasure
I remember the sitting down as well, but I wonder if that was really entirely due to the medium. There is no physical reason why we can't 'sit down' today, except that we are all so ridiculously overstimulated. The 1970's 'me' would probably have been able to 'sit down' to listen a CD or an iPod without getting ants in my pants. I own a working turntable, and even some new vinyl, but the 21st century 'me' is less inclined to sit down for anything.

Quote:
in addition to having to get up and switch sides.
Yes. To me, with the right songs, an 'album side' was often a perfect length of music. It allowed the creators to sequence the order of 4-5 songs in a meaningful way. Often Sonata form was followed. I think it was quite serendipitous that the LP turned out to have that length of side.

With CDs the order of 10 songs became far less critical or meaningful. By the time you were on song 10, song 1 was a distant memory.

Quote:
Then add to that the album art, and it was a much more.... I don't know... it was more of an 'experience' I feel.
and there were other things you could do with album covers
Old 10th January 2017
  #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
I remember the sitting down as well, but I wonder if that was really entirely due to the medium. There is no physical reason why we can't 'sit down' today, except that we are all so ridiculously overstimulated. The 1970's 'me' would probably have been able to 'sit down' to listen a CD or an iPod without getting ants in my pants. I own a working turntable, and even some new vinyl, but the 21st century 'me' is less inclined to sit down for anything.
I totally agree. I think that new mediums while certainly not requiring us to move around sort of led to us not sitting still....
Old 10th January 2017
  #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goodkeys View Post
At least the orchestra I work for doesn't. But it doesn't matter much. 80+ musicians doing retakes are much more expensive than one or two engineers slicing tape all week. If the conductor and the musicians were of the opinion that tape sounded better they would be recording to tape. They certainly have the means for it.

absolutely agree

I like the sound of analog, even still run tape from time to time, for rock. But I also record a fair amount of classical. It really burns me up to see all the analog apologists making excuses for why classical people use digital. The most demanding people around, the most critical listeners, in my experience, but no - they are compromising their sound for a few bucks. I even read one guy who claimed that the weight of analog decks was the 'prohibitive' factor! As if the guy never heard of cartage

Frankly it's insulting to see people make excuses for someone else's choice. It's as if it is inconceivable to them that someone else might actually like something that they don't like. It says "these people don't care about sound". IMO, that's incredibly rude even if you could back it up.

In any case, it is not just the classical musicians and producers who prefer digital, it is the classical audience. They hated the tape hiss and the surface noise. Absolutely hated it. After spending all that money on great speakers and powerful amps, they hated the limited dynamic range. Hated the way records had to be mastered to turn the levels up in the quiet passages and down in the loud passages. Long before digital was even an option, I remember them griping about it. When hiss-free recordings with full dynamic range were available they embraced them with joy. They drove the initial rise of CDs.

In fact, the classical world was the first to adopt digital wholeheartedly. Even at the very beginning when it was actually the more expensive option!

Last edited by joeq; 11th January 2017 at 12:22 AM..
Old 11th January 2017
  #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
I remember the sitting down as well, but I wonder if that was really entirely due to the medium. There is no physical reason why we can't 'sit down' today, except that we are all so ridiculously overstimulated. The 1970's 'me' would probably have been able to 'sit down' to listen a CD or an iPod without getting ants in my pants. I own a working turntable, and even some new vinyl, but the 21st century 'me' is less inclined to sit down for anything.


Yes. To me, with the right songs, an 'album side' was often a perfect length of music. It allowed the creators to sequence the order of 4-5 songs in a meaningful way. Often Sonata form was followed. I think it was quite serendipitous that the LP turned out to have that length of side.

With CDs the order of 10 songs became far less critical or meaningful. By the time you were on song 10, song 1 was a distant memory.


and there were other things you could do with album covers
Yes, yes, yes, and yes.
Old 11th January 2017
  #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post

absolutely agree


In any case, it is not just the classical musicians and producers who prefer digital, it is the classical audience. They hated the tape hiss and the surface noise. Absolutely hated it. After spending all that money on great speakers and powerful amps, they hated the limited dynamic range. Hated the way records had to be mastered to turn the levels up in the quiet passages and down in the loud passages. Long before digital was even an option, I remember them griping about it. When hiss-free recordings with full dynamic range were available they embraced them with joy. They drove the initial rise of CDs.

In fact, the classical world was the first to adopt digital wholeheartedly. Even at the very beginning when it was actually the more expensive option!
True.
Old 11th January 2017
  #57
Quote:
Originally Posted by edva View Post
True.
I still remember (I still have) the Telarc "Time Warp" CD... it clearly showcased the dynamic range and frequency response made possible by digital. And that was with early A/D conversion, so we might argue about whether it sounded harsh or too bright, but nobody could argue that you could pack that dynamic range (going from near silence, SILENT silence to full bore) onto tape or vinyl. The noisiest thing on that playback was probably the Crown amps driving the monitors.
Old 12th January 2017
  #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goodkeys View Post
At least for classical music digital seems to be the superior choice, and certainly not for reasons of mere convenience. There are very few or no retakes, so splicing tape wouldn't be much of an issue. Cost is also not a deciding factor. With the best orchestras only the best gear available is used. And yet I don't know of any classical recordings of the past few years that was done to tape. Doesn't happen. Berlin Phil recorded directly to vinyl recently, but that was a one-off special project.

So no, I don't think digital is a 'pretty good substitute' for tape. I think it is a technique that sets standards in its own right, and that is truer to the source than tape. Tape introduces artifacts which can sound good. Where you want these artifacts, record to tape (or record digitally and emulate them). Where you don't, record digitally.

If somebody had comparison files from a studio class tape recorder at 30 ips that would be awesome.
my first 'proper' job in audio was editing classical 1/4" masters.
Classical recording often does MUCH more editing than pop... so that's major reason for the embrace of digital as a format.
granted they also value the dynamic range in that world; whereas in pop music it goes largely unused, as people fight for the loudest record ever made...


where we differ is in that claim that it " is truer to the source than tape. Tape introduces artifacts which can sound good..."
that's the digital revisionist view.

as I've said before, I can go to mastering with a stereo master tape, and at some point press the button on the desk to listen to desk out (off tape, after the mastering eq) or switch to A-D-A...
and no one EVER has a hard time telling that it's different.

not a 'perfect reproduction of what goes in'

better or worse is a judgment call.
But digital encoding CHANGES the sound of what is fed into it, just as analogue recording inevitably does.

what's left is whether you prefer one or the other... and of course the already mentioned convenience, cost issues.
Old 12th January 2017
  #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TMetzinger View Post
I still remember (I still have) the Telarc "Time Warp" CD... it clearly showcased the dynamic range and frequency response made possible by digital. And that was with early A/D conversion, so we might argue about whether it sounded harsh or too bright, but nobody could argue that you could pack that dynamic range (going from near silence, SILENT silence to full bore) onto tape or vinyl. The noisiest thing on that playback was probably the Crown amps driving the monitors.
indeed.
and what is the average dynamic range on modern pop and rock records? <g>
Old 12th January 2017
  #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wwittman View Post
Classical recording often does MUCH more editing than pop... so that's major reason for the embrace of digital as a format.

But digital encoding CHANGES the sound of what is fed into it, just as analogue recording inevitably does.
.


My experience as well re editing classical. They want it _perfect. can be a bitch

And, you obviously have good ears and monitors. What you say is true, but the majority of people don't, or can't, hear it. But, true nonetheless. Differences between different brands of A/D/A too, as you well know I'm sure.
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