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How to get the analog experience we all crave. Monitor Controllers
Old 29th June 2017
  #1
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TMetzinger's Avatar
 

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How to get the analog experience we all crave.

Old 29th June 2017
  #2
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I'd forgotten all those wonderful analog hurdles I used to jump until reading this...amazingly a lot of these are now marketed as 'virtues' of many tape-sim plugins....
Old 29th June 2017
  #3
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I was totally buying it for the 1st little while
Old 29th June 2017
  #4
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Yannick's Avatar
 

I think it would be a worthwhile upgrade for Protools.
Old 29th June 2017
  #5
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Seems like it would certainly add to their revenue stream and follow the typical pattern of completely messing up your whole rig with every upgrade,

D,
Old 29th June 2017
  #6
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It sounds like the audio equivalent of regression to a Paleo Diet
Old 29th June 2017
  #7
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Old 29th June 2017
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
I'd forgotten all those wonderful analog hurdles I used to jump until reading this...amazingly a lot of these are now marketed as 'virtues' of many tape-sim plugins....
Serious question: Why do so many people still seek out this so-called "analog" sound, let alone tracking to tape? I understand that early digital recording had its share of problems, but wouldn't most people agree that at this point, pro-level digital recording quality has exceeded analog, not to mention being light years ahead in convenience, usability, and longevity?

Other than nostalgia, why are people so obsessed with making recordings sound like they were made with old equipment that sounds worse than what you could have today? Or running your tracks from a DAW in and out through an analog console to "smooth things out" or "glue everything together"? I don't get it.
Old 29th June 2017
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by voltronic View Post
Serious question: Why do so many people still seek out this so-called "analog" sound, let alone tracking to tape? I understand that early digital recording had its share of problems, but wouldn't most people agree that at this point, pro-level digital recording quality has exceeded analog, not to mention being light years ahead in convenience, usability, and longevity?

Other than nostalgia, why are people so obsessed with making recordings sound like they were made with old equipment that sounds worse than what you could have today? Or running your tracks from a DAW in and out through an analog console to "smooth things out" or "glue everything together"? I don't get it.
The successful producers and mix engineers, often are those who have a foot (age and experience wise) in both the digital and analog camps, and wisely aim to lasso the strengths of each, as you describe in the "glue everything together" scenario.

For a large % of the population, though maybe diminishing as they age and die, their 'cherished golden landmark' recordings still come from an earlier era, when tape was the only game. That changes as time marches on, and digital ascends the throne.

Did the old gear, correctly maintained and aligned (maybe pushed beyond its operating guidelines into benign saturation) really 'sound worse than what you could have today' ? To the average listener...on a car or table radio, or a record player ? Would you take a limited to the max, brickwalled Metallica CD on an iPod, above a Dark Side or Supertramp or (name your nostalgia audiophile hit) ?

I think the old maxim about working within your limitations and succeeding in spite of them came to full fruition in the tape era, and now other holy grails like maximum loudness have been revered...and discarded. Good sound and good production will always win out eventually, and last thru time, no matter what the medium used to capture and distribute it. The domestic (or personal) replay chain was, and remains, the Achilles Heel
Old 29th June 2017
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Did the old gear, correctly maintained and aligned (maybe pushed beyond its operating guidelines into benign saturation) really 'sound worse than what you could have today' ? To the average listener...on a car or table radio, or a record player ? Would you take a limited to the max, brickwalled Metallica CD on an iPod, above a Dark Side or Supertramp or (name your nostalgia audiophile hit) ?

I think the old maxim about working within your limitations and succeeding in spite of them came to full fruition in the tape era, and now other holy grails like maximum loudness have been revered...and discarded. Good sound and good production will always win out eventually, and last thru time, no matter what the medium used to capture and distribute it. The domestic (or personal) replay chain was, and remains, the Achilles Heel
That's an excellent point. Most of those old rock / pop recordings do sound better than their modern counterparts (and modern remasters) simply because you can't push the Loudness Wars style of mastering for vinyl to near the levels you can with CD. It's possible that the wider dynamic range of older recordings may be conflated with the saturated / distorted analog sound. While related, the two are of course different things but I suppose people put them together out of coincidence of well-made recordings and lots of great music happening within a certain time period.

My point is that no amount of tube distortion or tape saturation is going to fix your lousy intonation or timing. The main things that made those old records great was great writing and great performances.

"Working within your limitations" is tough when the sky is the limit. I could see that as being a decent reason for tracking to tape nowadays, though you could just as easily accomplish the same thing if you had the discipline to limit your number of takes / overdubs. I'm reminded of this quote from Stravinsky:
Quote:
My freedom will be so much the greater and more meaningful the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles. Whatever diminishes constraint diminishes strength. The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one's self of the chains that shackle the spirit.
Old 29th June 2017
  #11
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If analog(ue) were the better path we would still be using it. The decision was made in the market. One of the major digital mixing benefits I have read of is the mix board setup. In analog you pull out your notebook and spend an hour or so trying to get what you wrote down, if you wrote it correctly. In digital you just click on the saved settings and get exactly what you had before.

How about not needing razor blades anymore?

I cannot condemn the nostalgists too much. I am nostalgic, too. But in the realm of recording engineering, digital has won. The plug-ins add a smooth, soft sound, to digital sound. And then there is Bricasti. Oh, well, it is used with a digital setup.
Old 29th June 2017
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by voltronic View Post
...Most of those old rock / pop recordings do sound better than their modern counterparts (and modern remasters) simply because you can't push the Loudness Wars style of mastering for vinyl to near the levels you can with CD...
There is that, but there is also the fact that those of us of a certain age group grew up listening to recordings made on tape and pressed to vinyl - that sound is our reference and its what we like. I like the sound of analogue, whether its "Decca -the Analog Years" or Carly Simon's "No Secrets" album. Unfortunately this also explains why so many under 30s prefer the sound of MP3s
Old 29th June 2017
  #13
Gear Maniac
 

The latest recording I did with all mics with APES was soo bright so for the first time I used the middle tape formulation in the J37 tape sim to knock it down.
For those familiar with the three choices, it goes from 'dullest to cleanest'.
Normally when I use it, it's always the cleanest one, but this mix was soo bright that I choose the middle one.



Old 29th June 2017
  #14
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jwh1192's Avatar
as usual .. as soon as Porn went Digital we all had to follow .. like VHS and BlueRay !!!
Old 29th June 2017
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TMetzinger View Post
How to get the analog experience we all crave.
Who is this "we" that you reference? I for one don't really crave either an analog or digital experience. What I crave is excellent music, well played, and well captured. My personal trifecta.
Old 30th June 2017
  #16
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Oh boy.

I know where this thread is going. Over on the mastering board there are some kindred spirits.

Quote:
Originally Posted by StevenLMorgan View Post
Life is analog. Music is analog. Hearing is analog. Emotions are analog.
Modern digital audio is an analog system. Analog goes in, analog comes out.

Quote:
I capture in digital and bring music to life again using analog processing to compensate for the loss of life when it hits digital again.
Huh?
Old 30th June 2017
  #17
Gear Nut
 

"Modern digital audio is an analog system. Analog goes in, analog comes out."

Huh?
Old 30th June 2017
  #18
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jwh1192's Avatar
i do not like either one .. Analog or Digital !!! figure that one out Grasshopper ..
Old 30th June 2017
  #19
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jimjazzdad's Avatar
Here we go again
Old 30th June 2017
  #20
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jwh1192's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimjazzdad View Post
Here we go again
continue your nap !!!! we will call you when the smoke clears !!!! haha ..
Old 30th June 2017
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boojum View Post
If analog(ue) were the better path we would still be using it. The decision was made in the market. One of the major digital mixing benefits I have read of is the mix board setup. In analog you pull out your notebook and spend an hour or so trying to get what you wrote down, if you wrote it correctly. In digital you just click on the saved settings and get exactly what you had before.

How about not needing razor blades anymore?

I cannot condemn the nostalgists too much. I am nostalgic, too. But in the realm of recording engineering, digital has won. The plug-ins add a smooth, soft sound, to digital sound. And then there is Bricasti. Oh, well, it is used with a digital setup.
I'm not completely sure of my facts here, but it seems there was a golden era of mixing consoles around the time that Neve brought out the motorized 'flying faders' which were tied to memory (ie had recall), yet it was still an analog desk...best of both worlds.

Before that there were a multitude of methods...yes, the notebook, or else all members of the band were conscripted to fade, mute and otherwise have 100% 'hands on deck' participation in the mix.

Or else...you just had skilled, confident mixers who didn't need the notebook...because they got the mix done in one session, or at most a day.
Digital gives the mixer today the chance to procrastinate, tinker, defer decision making, recall-revise-undo....I think we call that progress, don't we ?

Razor blades...hmmm, I think we'd call that non-destructive editing now, as you could always re-stick the tape back in the original configuration if you didn't like the revision. Skilled slicers made neat, inaudible edits...botchers made a mess of them...same as today with plug-ins and unlimited-undo.
If you were transported to a time-warp desert isle with nothing but analog gear, you'd adapt and thrive....because that's what humans do with imposed limitations.

Back in the tape/vinyl era, you'd expect the practitioners would have every reason to screw up and produce sub-standard work, given the 'primitive' tools at hand. That they didn't, and in fact produced some major works of enduring art...makes you think ?

Today, we have pristine precise everything, at every step of the chain, which is why every digital production now is totally perfect, isn't it ?
Old 30th June 2017
  #22
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jwh1192's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
I'm not completely sure of my facts here, but it seems there was a golden era of mixing consoles around the time that Neve brought out the motorized 'flying faders' which were tied to memory (ie had recall), yet it was still an analog desk...best of both worlds.

Before that there were a multitude of methods...yes, the notebook, or else all members of the band were conscripted to fade, mute and otherwise have 100% 'hands on deck' participation in the mix.

Or else...you just had skilled, confident mixers who didn't need the notebook...because they got the mix done in one session, or at most a day.
Digital gives the mixer today the chance to procrastinate, tinker, defer decision making, recall-revise-undo....I think we call that progress, don't we ?

Razor blades...hmmm, I think we'd call that non-destructive editing now, as you could always re-stick the tape back in the original configuration if you didn't like the revision. Skilled slicers made neat, inaudible edits...botchers made a mess of them...same as today with plug-ins and unlimited-undo.
If you were transported to a time-warp desert isle with nothing but analog gear, you'd adapt and thrive....because that's what humans do with imposed limitations.

Back in the tape/vinyl era, you'd expect the practitioners would have every reason to screw up and produce sub-standard work, given the 'primitive' tools at hand. That they didn't, and in fact produced some major works of enduring art...makes you think ?

Today, we have pristine precise everything, at every step of the chain, which is why every digital production now is totally perfect, isn't it ?
you just inspired me to create a new product .. the Sh_TBox .. "Feel like everything you MIx is Too Pristine" .. "Enter the Sh_TBox" .. Precise and Pristine in and Sh_t out !!!" ...

Old 30th June 2017
  #23
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Originally Posted by jwh1192 View Post
you just inspired me to create a new product .. the Sh_TBox .. "Feel like everything you MIx is Too Pristine" .. "Enter the Sh_TBox" .. Precise and Pristine in and Sh_t out !!!" ...

You'd want to engineer some element of 'roll of the dice/toss the coin' randomness to it, so the output was somewhat unpredictable. Otherwise you'd get a Landr-like uniformity result every time....
Old 30th June 2017
  #24
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jwh1192's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
You'd want to engineer some element of 'roll of the dice/toss the coin' randomness to it, so the output was somewhat unpredictable. Otherwise you'd get a Landr-like uniformity result every time....
oh, yeah makes sense .. the Sh_tbox needs a Big Knob to Dial in as much Sh_T as you want !!!! some tasty cool Random Sh_T ..

Landr -
Old 30th June 2017
  #25
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TMetzinger's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
Who is this "we" that you reference? I for one don't really crave either an analog or digital experience. What I crave is excellent music, well played, and well captured. My personal trifecta.
Sorry that you missed the sarcasm/tongue in cheek. My post was meant to be in the same sort of "you really miss this $h1t?" style as the link I posted.
Old 30th June 2017
  #26
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FWIW I have listened to the old analog music, LP's. They do not sound that good to me. Digital is way out front. And while there may be some OTB analog(ue) added it is done to digital recordings, not analog.

Now SONY is going to start making LP's again. What will they be pressed from? Analog(ue) or digital?
Old 2nd July 2017
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by voltronic View Post
Serious question: Why do so many people still seek out this so-called "analog" sound, let alone tracking to tape? I understand that early digital recording had its share of problems, but wouldn't most people agree that at this point, pro-level digital recording quality has exceeded analog, not to mention being light years ahead in convenience, usability, and longevity?
First, let me be clear that I mix entirely in the box and think in the end that approach can yield as good as doing things the old analog ways.

Second, as far as pro-level digital recording quality exceeding analog recording quality , it's difficult to have an objective standard of quality that doesn't rely on one's subject appreciation of certain sonic characteristics. Purely in terms of the accuracy of sound capture, a high-end digital system is of course as good if not better than it's analog counterparts--but unadulterated capture of the source sound is not why people typically use tape machines, valves, or vintage consoles to begin with.

As I see it, there are three basic reasons:

1) Saturation helps bring clarity and fullness to many sources.
2) Some of the plugins and outboard gear also tame the transients and make it easier to use limiters to raise the overall volume level and get a fat, meaty track, without introducing a mid-range "crunchiness."
3) The combination of the two preceding factors makes sound masking and phasing less of a problem so that mixing itself becomes considerably easier.

This is of course, by no means a general rule. For example, from what I've seen, a rock song featuring mostly distorted electric guitars will benefit more from saturation than a country or folk ballad with only acoustic instruments (although even those might benefit a little). The reason for this might be that one can "get away" more with saturation on things like distorted guitars and synths that already are distorted, without really altering the sound of the source, but that's just a guess.

Quote:
Originally Posted by voltronic View Post
Other than nostalgia, why are people so obsessed with making recordings sound like they were made with old equipment that sounds worse than what you could have today?
I don't think that's really the objective for most people. The assumption here seems to be that introducing distortion will make it sound worse, which is not self-evident. Distortion/saturation can also introduce harmonics and give more "feeling" and "cohesion" to tracks. And it clearly helps to reduce sound masking, which can be a problem even after eq and panning in a dense pop or rock mix. I would venture to say that most recordings that rely either on vintage equipment or plugin emulations are not striving for a low-fi sound so much as a "warm", "fat", or "big" sound for specific instruments, and better "glue" between tracks, so that all of the instruments can be heard more distinctly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by voltronic View Post
Or running your tracks from a DAW in and out through an analog console to "smooth things out" or "glue everything together"? I don't get it.
IMHO,To get all the sonic benefits of the tools one would find in a high-end analog studio is still actually a good deal more difficult than people usually realize. It is difficult--or at least costly, from a CPU perspective-- in proportion to the degree that one relies on saturation as a tone-shaping instrument. Basically, the better saturators and limiters are CPU hogs. Add to that, it requires several stages with careful gain staging, and oversampling, to avoid the unpleasant kind of distortion. Which gives us the answer to the last part of your question:

Quote:
Originally Posted by voltronic View Post
...Not to
mention being light years ahead in convenience, usability, and longevity?"
Are they really that more convenient though? If I can get 70% there going in through a big rack full of gear or a console, is that so much worse than having to wait to freeze(render) each track? The answer( of course) is : it depends on how much and what one has in the plugin chain. With things like saturators and limiters, it can get costly (from a CPU standpoint) very quickly. Usually much of the chain is doing nothing more than emulating older gear like reel-to-reel tape or consoles. It's understandable why those with the means might get fed up with all of the waiting on bounce times and software failing to deliver the same tried-and-true result. By the same token, the longevity is not so well-guaranteed, either. Manufacturers can stop supporting plugins after a time. New ones come around that require more time to become familiar with. Even sticking to the old ones isn't always so easy, if Windows itself doesn't play nice with them.

Nowadays, I think it's clear to most people there are enough good plugins that a comparable result can be had using only plugins at the mixing stage. I don't mean an identical result as an anolog-only mix; I just mean one that is on par , and close enough that the extra cost of outboard analog is hard to justify . But I also think the reasons some might return to the older approaches goes beyond nostalgia. It's a question of going with a tried and true method, without all of fuss of software update hassles or waiting on bounce times. I have an i7-7700k and still regularly find myself waiting on track freezes and bounces in a dense rock mix.

Some genres need/benefit from that sort of thing; others don't. Enough people hear something beneficial in analog saturation (and emulations of analog saturation in the digital domain), that they see a need to "dirty up" the mix. I'm not one who believes that analog saturation is inherently superior to the ITB variety. I do think, however, if one relies on saturation or any other dsp processing extensively, many of the convenience arguments disappear, so that what we're left with in the end is mainly a trade-off between time and money. Some have more money than time, and so try to spend it to get it as close as possibly on the way in or route to device that prints the result in real-time , rather than to spend extra time accomplishing the same later on in the mix.

My 2 pennies.

Last edited by RedBaaron; 2nd July 2017 at 07:31 PM..
Old 2nd July 2017
  #28
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Thanks for that illuminating explanation!
Old 4th July 2017
  #29
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zvukofor's Avatar
Yet, the best analogue consoles has as low THD levels as it was possible... so, what about distortion?
Old 5th July 2017
  #30
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RedBaaron, thanks for that very thorough explanation. Your point about CPU power is something I had not considered.
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