NOTE: THE ANSWERS TO THE TEST ARE GIVEN ON THE NEXT PAGE OF THIS THREAD, SO IF YOU HAVEN'T TAKEN THE CHALLANGE YET, YOU CAN STILL PLAY.
Just to see, I pitted Fatso vs. my Otari tape deck on a vocal today. Interesting results, I think.
What I did was take a 15-second segment from a song and sing it twice, first through the Otari and the next time through the Fatso. I tried to set the Fatso to sound as much like the Otari tape saturation as possible. They both sound good I think, but different.
Here's the chain:
Neumann U87 to Great River Preamp, then to 1176 compressor set at the 10/2 settings, 4:1 ratio. From there, it went to either the Otari or the Fatso to Apogee converters to Pro Tools LE.
The Otari settings were set at 3/4 for both inputs and outputs, hot but not pegged. The Fatso settings were six in and six out with warmth at 4. No compression settings were used.
You can hear this yourself if you want. I made two mp3s of the results, 15 seconds each and about two minutes per download on dialup.
So why not just record using a $300 taperecorder vs the $1800 or so Fatso? Two words: tape delay. It wasn't easy to pull this little experiment off.
I'm not sure how scientific this test is, but it's somewhat amusing. Two questions for you.
1) In your opinion, which of the two vocals sound better? Soncially, I mean.
2) Can you tell which is the Otari and which is the Fatso?
It would be a hoot if Dave took up this challenge. A bigger hoot if he got the two mixed up.
I happened to be on here when you posted this. I love it.
Theres a difference in the top end of the two recordings, even on my little sh*t speakers here. Im not gonna post publically which I think is the Fatso.
Theres so many variables in these experiments. SO MANY! Any one of them can really slant results. Heres a few.
1) Tape calibration
2) Tape used (Ampex 456 compared to even Ampex 499..)
3) Head condition
4) Input recording level to tape
5) Noise reduction used - this can alter things A LOT!
6) Reference levels between the two samples. Even a half dB can make people hear things differently between two otherwise, identical sources.
7) Fatso settings obviously
Honestly, I even often heard differences between the begiining of a reel of tape, and the end. Its pretty crazzzzzy.
Thanks for this experiment. Ill post you a personal reply.
Listening through walkman headphones plugged into cheap PC speakers, It was clear to me that the A clip was fuller and sounded more natural. I'd hope that's the fatso, but I suspect that the B clip with it's digital "thiness" is probably the fatso/pro tools combo.
I think it was U.S. Grant who said, "I know two songs. One of them is Yankee Doodle and the other one isn't."
In other words, I gave the Fatso settings. Input 6, output 6, warmth 4, no tranny, no compression (except for the 1176 preceeding it, of course). Every other variable you named centered around the Not Yankee Doodle.
But I do see your point. You've never heard my voice going through a U87 to a Great River to an 1176 to the Fatso before -- or any other audio chain for that matter. I get it.
I expect there will be variables in the responses as well.
-- I think the first MP3 is the Fatso.
-- I think the second MP3 is the Fatso.
-- I know Mike Jasper to be both a liar and a con artist, so I think they're both Fatsos.
-- I also know Mike Jasper to be a liar and a con artist, but in fact neither are Fatsos.
-- What's Otari?
These little experiements are fun anyway, right? Unfortunately, I really should have posted a third MP3 with the same chain but no saturation devices at all. The difference in that take would have been obvious to everyone. Damn.
I'll come clean with which MP3 is which at the end of the week.
Yeah, but I believe everyone's impressed that you had the cajones to admit it, Dave. I would guess that the guy who wrote in the FATSO manual, "smooth, sweet but in your face! (Reminds me of an old girlf friiend)" would have plenty of balls to spare.
Not to mention a great understanding of your target market.
Thing is, this is an A/B comparison between the FATSO and one version of tape saturation, which the FATSO strives to emulate. While the differences are there, I was really struck by the similarities. So any answer might be mistaken, but hardly wrong.
At this point, there are two responses I expected to see that I haven't yet. The first from those who don't use FATSO on vocals at all. I've seen more than a couple of posts from those who say they use the FATSO on everything but vocals, and I'm kind of curious as to why.
PS -- Oh. The second response I expected to see was, "Dude. You still use reverb on vocals? What's wrong with you?"
Originally posted by Mike Jasper At this point, there are two responses I expected to see that I haven't yet. The first from those who don't use FATSO on vocals at all. I've seen more than a couple of posts from those who say they use the FATSO on everything but vocals, and I'm kind of curious as to why.
Not everyone says that for sure. George Massenburg or Al Schmitt are two that come to mind.
At the last AES in LA, dozens of folks came up to me and asked to hear the Fatso on vocals alone. I was very curious as to why, until AL Schmitt came up to me and told me that on the Producers Panel/Convention there, he had told how he was mixing Natalie Coles Album, and was really unhappy with the sound of her vocal, due to what he suspected was a converter problem. George Massenburg happened in on the session and AL was lamenting about her vocal sound when George (BLESS HIS TALENTED SOUL!), suggested he try a FATSO to smooth it out.
To cut the story short, AL not only ended up using the FATSO on most or all her vocals to his great relief, but went on to tell and play a sample to the audience there at the AES GRAMMY PRODUCERS panel. Unless my memory fails me, Al was nominated for, or won, a Grammy for that Natalie Cole album.
And all lived happily ever after....
P.S. BOY, is it nice to have a story like that to pull out of the hat... <laughing>
Right. I'll post the identities of the MP3s Sunday, Texas time. Which is kind of like Tulsa Time, but a little lower.
<<<To me, the artifacts of the mp3 became really obnoxious the more I listened.>>>
You're probably right, but part of what you hear is undoubtedly a high, discordant ringing from the acoustic guitar. In my haste to do the test, I forgot to tie a sock around the guitar between the nut and the gears. Without the sock, the sound reverberates off those nut strings and makes that obnoxious noise.
It took me weeks to figure out where that ringing was coming from.
<<P.S. BOY, is it nice to have a story like that to pull out of the hat... <laughing>
Yeah. That's a handy one, huh? Glad you told it. I always used it on vocals, but then I read three or four posts from people who didn't and I thought, "Hmmmm. Maybe I should rethink this."
But... that's one thing this little test convinced me of. I'm going to continue to use FATSO on vocals.
I'm surprised any of you raved on mp3-b. mp3-a has attitude, and vitality. B is a smaller version of A w/fewer clear frequencies and less energy. I saw very little desirable in mp3-b. If A isn't tape then tape has finally been outvibed.
absolutely no idea about which is which, heheheh. I prefer A - it sounds warmer, older and a little bit more focused to my ears. Mind you, mp3 does often kill or obscure some of the things that are nice about top end. Looking forward to the answer. More of this type of stuff please
Originally posted by BlakeMcKibben I'm surprised any of you raved on mp3-b. mp3-a has attitude, and vitality. B is a smaller version of A w/fewer clear frequencies and less energy. I saw very little desirable in mp3-b. If A isn't tape then tape has finally been outvibed.
MP-3a -- McDSP Analog Channel 1
MP3-b -- McDSP Analog Channel 2
See what I did there?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm messing with you. For real now.
MP3-a = Fatso
MP3-b = Otari
I also just added two more MP3s from the same test session. I don't see any reason to guess on these two, but it might give you some further insights. It did for me and your comments are always appreciated. Fatso/Otari mp3s
MP3-c -- Same chain, but no Otari or Fatso. (Neumann U87 to Great River MNV to Universal Audio 1176 to NO WARMING DEVICE WHATSOEVER, to Apogee PSX100 to Pro Tools).
MP3-d -- Same chain as above, except replacing the 1176 with the FATSO running the 1176-like Tracking Compression settings. So that's U87, Great River, FATSO at Tracking Comp, to Apogee to Pro Tools.
Again, Warmth settings for every FATSO test was 4, with input six, output six. For the Otari, inputs and outputs were at 3/4 each. Hot, but definitely not overdriven.