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Fatso vs. Otari MP3 challenge
Old 19th May 2003
  #1
Lives for gear
 
Mike Jasper's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Fatso vs. Otari MP3 challenge

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.

Here's where the MP3s be.

Fatso vs Otari

Jasper
PS -- The acoustic guitar track is identical in each take. No eq was applied, but both vocals have a touch of reverb, identical settings of course.
Old 19th May 2003
  #2
The Distressor's "daddy"
 
Dave Derr's Avatar
 

HEYEE MIKE

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.
Old 19th May 2003
  #3
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Unknown soldier's Avatar
 

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.

Tell me I'm wrong!!!
Old 19th May 2003
  #4
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Mike Jasper's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Yeah. I see what you're saying, Dave, but...

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.

Jasper
Old 19th May 2003
  #5
Gear maniac
 
Neve Sucks!'s Avatar
 

I´m taking a wild guess here:

Mp3a = Otari
Mp3b = Fatso

I listen to them like 20 times in my Augsperger main monitors.......just joking
Old 19th May 2003
  #6
Gear addict
 

listening on crap PC speakers:

(a) is warmer and smoother, but lacks top
(b) is brighter, more excited in the top, but not harsh

i don't know which is which, either could be either. i've gone back and forth in my own head several times about which one is more "natural" sounding.
Old 20th May 2003
  #7
Gear interested
 
dblackjedi's Avatar
 

I'd have to agree.

A-Otari
B-Fatso

Can't wait to hear the truth.

I like the sound of the vocals. Makes me want to get a Great River, well I've been wanting to get a Great River for a whileheh


Oh yeah, I liked track A better, and I own a Fatso so this is a totally unbiased opinion.

Thanks for sharing your experiment.
Old 20th May 2003
  #8
A) Sounds best & like the Fatso - controlled siblance

B) Has an untamed HF / borderline siblance issue with potential to be problamatic at mixdown time.. So I geuss this is the tape.

c) I always get these wong!
Old 20th May 2003
  #9
The Distressor's "daddy"
 
Dave Derr's Avatar
 

Im cracking up cuz I got it wrong...


That being said, I refer to my first comment on controls <laughing>

Unless I misunderstood Mike, the vocal performances are different and that could well account for the difference in sibilance or warmth (Distance from mic, etc) more than anything else.

Oh well!
Old 20th May 2003
  #10
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ray dsr's Avatar
 

I'm going with

A) Fatso- sounds a bit more processed to me
B) Tape- more natural, but I agree with Jules that this sounds more problematic

-Ray
Old 20th May 2003
  #11
Gear maniac
 

a = otari

b = fatso
Old 20th May 2003
  #12
The Distressor's "daddy"
 
Dave Derr's Avatar
 

Pssssst Mike.... I see people contradicting each other about the sources here, dont you?? Ive seen this many times before, although more commonly when people couldnt hear or see what the others said.
Old 20th May 2003
  #13
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Mike Jasper's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Im cracking up cuz I got it wrong...
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.

Jasper
PS -- Oh. The second response I expected to see was, "Dude. You still use reverb on vocals? What's wrong with you?"
Old 20th May 2003
  #14
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toledo3's Avatar
 

Well, I'll throw in and say I liked the second better, but have no idea which is which. When are we gonna find out?

To me, the artifacts of the mp3 became really obnoxious the more I listened.
Old 20th May 2003
  #15
The Distressor's "daddy"
 
Dave Derr's Avatar
 

Quote:
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....

Dave
P.S. BOY, is it nice to have a story like that to pull out of the hat... <laughing>
Old 20th May 2003
  #16
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Mike Jasper's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
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.

Jasper
Old 20th May 2003
  #17
Gear nut
 
BlakeMcKibben's Avatar
 

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.
Old 23rd May 2003
  #18
Gear Maniac
 
khai's Avatar
 

A has more character but
B sounds more linear and regular

Both sound pretty warm.


My guess:

A: Otari
B: Fatso
Old 24th May 2003
  #19
I use Fatso on vocals & often on mix, but recently skipped that and used the Sony Dynamics 'warming' instead... Still I had recorded those vocals via Fatso in the first place ....

Jules
Old 24th May 2003
  #20
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Mike Jasper's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Last chance to weigh in on the to MP3 samples. I'll post the answers tomorrow, whenever I wake up, GMT.

Jasper
Old 24th May 2003
  #21
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preben's Avatar
 

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
Old 25th May 2003
  #22
Quote:
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.
Yeah but you are talking about an Otari.

Otari's were never that great sounding anyway.

Especially the 2 track.
Old 25th May 2003
  #23
Lives for gear
 
Mike Jasper's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
thethrillfactor writes:

Quote:
Yeah but you are talking about an Otari.

Otari's were never that great sounding anyway.

Especially the 2 track.
Uh-huh.

I notice you didn't really say which mp3 was the Fatso and which was the Otari, though.

Jasper
Old 25th May 2003
  #24
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Faderjockey's Avatar
 

I'll say,

MP3 A (Fatso)

MP3 B (Otari)


Old 25th May 2003
  #25
Gear interested
 
dblackjedi's Avatar
 

OK it's Sunday.

Come'on and spill the beans alreadyheh
Old 25th May 2003
  #26
Gear nut
 

my guess is:

A Fatso
B Otari
Old 25th May 2003
  #27
Lives for gear
 
Mike Jasper's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
FATSO VS OTARI ANSWERS

Okay, here are the results as promised:

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.

Hope you guys had fun with this.

Jasper
Old 25th May 2003
  #28
Gear interested
 
dblackjedi's Avatar
 

Woah,

You've really made me feel good about my Fatso purchase.

Thanks a lot for doing this. Not only have you reconfirmed my digital direction, but I got to hear a Great River NV. I'm sold.


Thanks bro,

Lincoln Ross
Dead Black Jedis
Old 25th May 2003
  #29
Gear interested
 
dblackjedi's Avatar
 

After listening to all of the mp3s my favorite is still A. The 2nd runner up is C, the one with no warming device, go figure.

And I call myself an analog nut.
Old 25th May 2003
  #30
Gear interested
 
dblackjedi's Avatar
 

Ok I listened again, and it seems the fatso has one out again. My favorite is still A then D.
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