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Old 21st July 2011
Q & A Guest
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Originally Posted by dillweed View Post
Hi Eric,
Big fan of your work. Thank you for putting in the time and effort to share your knowledge.
In the recent Taking Back Sunday post you mentioned that all tracks were transferred to analog tape after all digital editing.
Is this the most ideal analog/digital integration method you have come to use from experimentation?
I have had the best luck doing the digital first analog second approach when combining the 2 mediums. I believe there are 2 advantages to doing it this way:

Recording directly to the computer while capturing performances takes full advantage of the benefits from the digital work flow. The benefits are obvious.... ease of editing/comping, fixing performances, virtually unlimited DSP fx etc etc. Capturing performances directly to analog tape takes a certain calibre of musician and very different kind of preparation.

the other benefit of doing digital first/analog second is the sound. One of the things that most people credit for the pleasing sound of analog is the harmonic coloration. Tape machines are adding a healthy dose of 3rd order harmonics. I believe it is these harmonics that give tape its somewhat magical airy, dense but very un harsh high end. This is what I believe is going on: lets say you have a cymbal sound that is focussed around 10K. The 3rd order harmonic that is generated by the tape machine above that is about 30K. So now you have this very hi over tone that is interacting with the original sound that will subtly change the character of the sound (there is debate about if/why/how these overtones affect things but we'll assume they do for the purpose of this example). If you then transfer the analog recording to digital lets at 48K, there is a very necessary brick wall low pass filter at 24K to eliminate the digital aliasing noise. Goodbye 30K overtone. The 30K overtone is not just filtered off. It is first devoured by hideous square wave digital noise and then filtered off. (This explanation is based on my somewhat limited knowledge of digital technology and could be better explained by a digital expert.) The one thing I have experienced over and over is the difference I feel when mixing from analog verses digital. It is way easier for me to get the high end to "open up" when mixing from analog. I can boost the high end very aggressively without it being harsh. When digital is last in the chain for some reason I feel like I am pushing against a ceiling with the EQs. Things tend to transition into harsh more easily before they open up.

Have you tried the "clasp" method or recording to analog then dumping to dig to mix approach?
The CLASP approach would not be my sonic preference for the reason I just explained. That said, I am very pleased to see people making the effort to keep analog included in the digital world. The CLASP setup is very cleaver and I know a few folks that really love it.

Have you ever thought; "screw this analog tape it's just too much work".

Thanks and best.......
ALL THE TIME!!!!! I love the work flow with digital, there's just no denying the benefits. It is just very difficult for me to let go of the most important part... turning up the speakers at the end of a mix and feeling excited about the results. I just haven't figured out how to do it without analog yet.