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Recording to DSD
Old 12th March 2013
  #1
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Recording to DSD

Hi Michael,

I'd love to hear your thoughts on recording to DSD, in terms of your experiences, process, work flow and resulting sonics in general. I thought this was a fascinating decision on your part wrt The Bronx record, and I agree... really fitting for a punk rock band!

I've been using Pro Tools and Apogees for many years, and, over the last couple years have integrated a couple linked/synced Korg MR2000S 5.6MHz/1-bit DSD recorders for some live tracking, bouncing and always for mixdown (analog out from PT).

I've never heard raw guitars captured "digitally" any better than at 5.6 DSD. Actually, this applies to most any source. But, the format seems perfectly suited for high energy, guitar-driven rock n roll. It's been a real ear-opening experience for me, even considering the practical limitations of the 1-bit format.

Anyway, I'm very appreciative of your distinguished work and the stellar results you've achieved in your career. I thought it might be fun to share some of your "format-related" recording experiences and considerations as well, as you highlighted this album and recording to DSD specifically (in the Soundgarden's Superunknown thread).

Thank you so much GS and Michael for this Q&A!

All the best!


Quote:
Originally Posted by fexurbis View Post
... The Bronx record ...

Funnily- we recorded to a Sonoma 24 channel DSD recorder with Meitner I/O. I thought it was really fitting to record a punk rock band to the most hi-rez system available. Unfortunately, when it came time to mix, the SMPTE option in the DSD rig wouldn't work with an SSL. We wound up mixing in Pro Tools, which was a shame.
Old 14th March 2013
  #2
Michael Beinhorn
 
fexurbis's Avatar
 

String6theory-

I feel that any high-rez format is great for music with fast transients and lots of rich harmonic information. As for DSD, I can't say enough good things about it- it's my format of choice and if money was no object, I would own a system. Obviously, there are issues with editing (at least in the Sonoma system) but the sound quality more than makes up for that. In the end, no one who listens to a record is going to hear how easy the editing was for the engineer, anyway. I feel it's always more satisfying from the perspective of a listener to hear musicians work harder when they're being recorded, instead taking the easy way out and having their performances edited after the fact.

I have only gotten to use DSD on a few projects- the mix for Untouchables (Korn- the DSD mix edged out the analog mix), The Bronx record (which was bounced to Pro Tools prior to mix) and a Courtney Love record (which was also bounced to Pro Tools after I left). It is absolutely heartbreaking to hear what gets lost when something which sounds so gorgeous gets converted to a different format. For all practical intents and purposes, DSD is analog since it won't speak to any othe recorder in the digital domain.

Because of the downsides, I've had to give up on DSD for the time being. Additionally, the cost of renting these systems is prohibitive on most recording budgets these days. The workflow aspect was brutal and I'm hoping this has changed. The main reason The Bronx record was't mixed in DSD was because the DSD system had to be SMPTE master when we tried to run it with an SSL. At that point, I would have been happy to do a non automated mix, but the record company's meter was running. I'm looking forward to using it again, when time and budget allows. I'm also interested in using the Pyramix system which seems to be a step up from the Sonoma in terms of ergonomics and interfaceability.*
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Old 14th March 2013
  #3
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RoundBadge's Avatar
Smile

Michael I still think the Bronx is one of my Benchmark rock recordings.
I get kinda depressed though when I realize I will likely never get to multitrack/mix a project in that format.
When one of the Bronx tracks pops via shuffle on my stereo its like a window being wiped crystal clean on the speakers compared to the other stuff..incredible detail.huge drums ,super wide,,transients in tact..depth beyond compare.
..stunning.
Sad I will never hear the original DSD files.
guess I'll have to settle w/ my measly Avid HD's and Atomic clock rig.lol
Old 15th March 2013
  #4
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Sounds Great's Avatar
 

Great info Michael! I love DSD, the only digital format I've heard that comes close to pure analog. I think a multitrack DSD system would be the best of both worlds as you could back up your work and also not worry about tape degradation.
Old 15th March 2013
  #5
Michael Beinhorn
 
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Rob-

If I had a choice, I'd be recording on DSD always. It is so rewarding to listen back from.
Old 15th March 2013
  #6
Michael Beinhorn
 
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Roundbadge-

I feel fortunate to have recorded on DSD but you're doing pretty well with an Atomic clock. I wouldn't mind one of those.
Old 26th March 2013
  #7
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Thread Starter
Thanks Michael! I've really been enjoying the Q&A...

I think a lot of folks share your sonic appreciation of the DSD format along with some of the frustrations from limitations you describe.

If ever a digital format deserved some additional implementation improvements and options, this is the one. Implementations that offer more cost effective multi-tracking and editing capabilities, along with streamlined workflow and "native" DAW integration and interfacing. Not to mention delivery format ubiquity/acceptance.

I mean, once one has an opportunity to really hear the sonic integrity of a high quality DSD capture/playback... one can't help but feel the format deserves more attention.

I never had an opportunity to use a Sonoma or Pyramix system, but learned about the Korg 5.6MHz DSD recorders from Terry Manning's glowing posts on the PSW and PRW forums. He swears by these for 2-track mix-down. I'm still amazed at how truly wonderful these sound. If you haven't had the opportunity, it might be worth a listenning experience.

Up to four MR2000 rack units can also be transport linked/synced via spdif, for up to 8-track DSD recording, which is pretty cool in and of itself. Along with their AudioGate software which allows for simple editing, track splicing, DSD disk creation, and of course SRC.

But, Korg's 8-track, editable, "proof of concept" DSD DAW they called Clarity, showed off in late 2010, may be the coolest advancement yet... if/when it ever hits the market. If their previous 5.6 DSD implementations and affordable price points are any indication, Clarity will be sonic nirvana, well within the reach and utilization of many.

And, I for one would just love to be able to hear and truly appreciate top level artists/engineers/producers, such as yourself, utilizing the format to its full potential. Especially when it's their preferred choice, as it is yours. From project start to finish. I can dream can't I?

Anyway, I'm very much looking forward to your future music-related endeavors... whatever the format! Keep on rocking!




Quote:
Originally Posted by fexurbis View Post
String6theory-

I feel that any high-rez format is great for music with fast transients and lots of rich harmonic information. As for DSD, I can't say enough good things about it- it's my format of choice and if money was no object, I would own a system. Obviously, there are issues with editing (at least in the Sonoma system) but the sound quality more than makes up for that. In the end, no one who listens to a record is going to hear how easy the editing was for the engineer, anyway. I feel it's always more satisfying from the perspective of a listener to hear musicians work harder when they're being recorded, instead taking the easy way out and having their performances edited after the fact.

I have only gotten to use DSD on a few projects- the mix for Untouchables (Korn- the DSD mix edged out the analog mix), The Bronx record (which was bounced to Pro Tools prior to mix) and a Courtney Love record (which was also bounced to Pro Tools after I left). It is absolutely heartbreaking to hear what gets lost when something which sounds so gorgeous gets converted to a different format. For all practical intents and purposes, DSD is analog since it won't speak to any othe recorder in the digital domain.

Because of the downsides, I've had to give up on DSD for the time being. Additionally, the cost of renting these systems is prohibitive on most recording budgets these days. The workflow aspect was brutal and I'm hoping this has changed. The main reason The Bronx record was't mixed in DSD was because the DSD system had to be SMPTE master when we tried to run it with an SSL. At that point, I would have been happy to do a non automated mix, but the record company's meter was running. I'm looking forward to using it again, when time and budget allows. I'm also interested in using the Pyramix system which seems to be a step up from the Sonoma in terms of ergonomics and interfaceability.*
Old 26th March 2013
  #8
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I never heard about the Clarity!I do hope it gets developed.

I totally agree about DSD being the highest fidelity we have available even with my MR1000 you can hear a difference and anyone saying otherwise hasn't listened.

How many MR2000s's are you using string 6? I think it is two and you bounce(other post) Reminds me of my first recording via two cassette decks!LOLOL
I am totally envious of even two and that daisy chaining four units would be a blast.
Incidentally, I record old multitrack tape style into Sonar X2 and go for as good a take as I can and do no editing except use automation to weed out bloopers.

It is better for your musicianship and that is the part I love doing the most, more than mixing.

The MR array would work for me but the Clarity DAW would be awesome and hopefully more affordable!
Old 27th March 2013
  #9
Michael Beinhorn
 
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I'm with you guys- I'm going to look into this Korg system. It will be interesting to compare them to some other DSD systems. I do hope someone will make DSD converters again as good as the EMMLabs were.
Old 27th March 2013
  #10
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string6theory's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by fexurbis View Post
I'm with you guys- I'm going to look into this Korg system. It will be interesting to compare them to some other DSD systems. I do hope someone will make DSD converters again as good as the EMMLabs were.
I (and I'm sure others) would love to hear your comparisons Michael!

Those EMMLabs / Meitners (ADC8-MKIV and DAC8-MKIV) look absolutely stellar for a multi-channel DSD solution. I haven't had the opportunity to hear them. Just checking these out online, it seems like the prices have gone down quite a bit... around $17k for 8-channels of AD and DA, which is a pretty decent per channel cost. Similarly priced as the Sonoma 8-channel kit using Mytek converters at around $15k (w/PC), although these include the mix system/software too. I haven't priced out a similarly configured Pyramix system.

It will be interesting to see where Korg lands price-wise with their 8-channel DAW/system. If they can hit the market at around $4k (8-channel AD/DA converter rack unit + DAW software), It'll blow my socks off. Sound-wise, based on their current MR units, I couldn't ask for more.

Thanks very much again for your thoughts and insights.

All the best!

Old 27th March 2013
  #11
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by jinksdingo View Post
I never heard about the Clarity!I do hope it gets developed.

I totally agree about DSD being the highest fidelity we have available even with my MR1000 you can hear a difference and anyone saying otherwise hasn't listened.

How many MR2000s's are you using string 6? I think it is two and you bounce(other post) Reminds me of my first recording via two cassette decks!LOLOL
I am totally envious of even two and that daisy chaining four units would be a blast.
Incidentally, I record old multitrack tape style into Sonar X2 and go for as good a take as I can and do no editing except use automation to weed out bloopers.

It is better for your musicianship and that is the part I love doing the most, more than mixing.

The MR array would work for me but the Clarity DAW would be awesome and hopefully more affordable!
I use 2 linked MR2000's and also still have the original MR1000 (used as another DSD bounce deck and also for mobile recording). I bought these incrementally as funds permitted and paid about $1350 for each rack unit and $650 for the mobile unit. So, at the end of the day around $3350 for the 6-channel DSD "kit". That's why I think Korg could hit an affordable price-point with an integrated 8-channel solution.

I totally agree with the "good take" concept and love that musicianship aspect as well. Plus, the old school tape-style, minimal track limited, bounce recording is a lot of fun! And, VERY challenging!

It's also great to be able to have additional mixing flexibility for editable overdubs in a DAW. I just wish I could transport sync the Korg rack units with Pro Tools. Then just leave the main "live" recorded groove tracks in DSD, record additional (editable) overdub tracks PT, and sync/play all tracks into one DSD deck at 5.6 for the final mix. Just that simple transport sync capability between the MR units and PT would be phenomenal.

In my current setup, all my front-end tracking gear and FX units feed a couple of API 8200a line mixers. Each of these has mirrored transformer-balance sum-bus outputs, which allow me to simultaneously capture through my Apogees (PCM) and Korgs (DSD), and separate dry & wet tracks. When using PT, I'll just import the DSD-recorded tracks (or not), overdub and finish the mix ITB, then stem out to one 8200A line mixer w/sum bus (or just 2-bus out of PT) through a 5500/2500 API combo, to a Korg unit at 5.6 DSD.

I'm really happy with the current setup, especially sound-wise... but, an affordable and full-blown DSD editing/mixing solution would be wonderful.

Old 28th March 2013
  #12
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Wow, you really got those way under market value. I paid $900 for my MR1000 and I think the MR 2000s were close to $2k when they were released. Good deal.

When you said you wished you could sinc to PT I wondered if it was your interface but then saw you have Apogee's.

Is there another DAW that could sinc with the DSD units I wonder?

Very nice front end btw!

Is there any news of the Korgs DSD DAW since its announcement?

My MR1000 makes a great on location sound recorder too. I haven't bothered to get the known mods for it. What about yours?
Cheers
Old 28th March 2013
  #13
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Thread Starter
Thanks... I typically try to negotiate prices well down from list, or get creative with packaged deals from local sources. Sometimes works, sometimes not. I never felt the need to mod these units. Still awaiting news on Clarity!


And, thanks very much again Michael!!!!!!! All of your Q&A responses were interesting, informative and enlightening! I'm very appreciative of your expressed ideas, approaches and results... keep on rocking!

Old 28th March 2013
  #14
Michael Beinhorn
 
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You're welcome and thanks for your perspective on DSD- you guys addressed things I wasn't aware of.
Old 29th March 2013
  #15
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Does a reasonably priced SACD burner exist? I dream of a day I can put my whole record collection on SACD's and have a portable and car player to play them back on.
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