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Could this be the Best way to mix ITBs? (Plural) Consoles
Old 2nd September 2011
  #1
Could this be the Best way to mix ITBs? (Plural)

I could have discovered a new and maybe important improvement in the way to mix ITBs. If this is old news please forgive my enthusiasm and making myself look like a fool. If this is new and news, I would love to get other people thoughts and possible experiments with the technique. First I would like to share a brief overview of my reasons for this discovery.

I am a rather old school engineer/producer. Started recording on a 2 track Revox and then moved up to a 4 track, then 8 track, then 16 track Tascams. Finally graduated to a 24 track Otari with a Trident board and too much outboard gear. I have recorded 100's of albums over the somewhat long years of my career. I have fought hard to keep the analog sound alive but at the same time invested in some pretty good Black Lion Converter upgrades, Wave plugins, TC Powercore 6000 and most recently the Wave MPX and Slates VCC. I am happy to report that the VCC and MPX have taken away the digital edge and added that stereo imaging and mid range fullness I was used to hearing off the board.

Finally the ITB mixes are sounding as good (to me) as my analog mixes and sometime even better.

But I found I still had a problem. My mixes are often large and also have many virtual keyboards so I am pushing my CPU and usually have to run the buffer at 1024. The sound of the mix coming out of the speakers is fantastic but when I bounce to disk the stereo imaging goes out the window and somehow some of the harsh digital sounds seems to come back which the VCC and MPX so elegantly improved.

Then I tried the obvious which was to play the DAW into the converter and record the song as it played in real time. Comparing this mix to the bounced version showed that the real-time playback through the converter a/d then d/a sounded a little better in the stereo imaging department but had added digital edginess. Not a slam dunk. Then I got to thinking about when I transfer DATS to the DAW, I use the AES/EBU out of the DAT into the converter which other than a few errors along the way is a pretty exact copy of the DAT and avoids going through converters. Could this be done for mixing off a DAW?

1. How I created a real-time digital mix (without bouncing and not going through any a/d or d/a conversion process) is thus:

2. Be warned: This takes 2 computers and 2 converters. Computer 1 is connected to converter 1 and computer 2 is connected to converter 2.

3. The 2 converters are best timed using the same Clock source (any good timer will do) for both DAWs. If you do not have a timer, then select converter 1 as the clock source in both DAWs (or visa versa - not really sure on this one).

4. Use a digital grade cable and connect the AES/EBU output of converter 1 into the AES/EBU input of converter 2.

5. Computer 1 is for playback and Computer 2 is for recording. Make sure your DAWs on the 2 computers can see the AES/EBU connections.

6. Set all the main DAW mix track outputs in computer 1 to be AES/EBU. Set the input of the computer 2 to be AES/EBU. Both DAWs need to be set at the same sample and bit rate that the project is in.

7. Set the playback computer (1) at the highest buffer setting available. From my experience, the higher the setting, the better the playback quality.

8. Set the recording computer (2) and the lowest buffer setting. From my experience, this gives the best recording quality.

9. Finally start recording on computer 2 and then start playback off of computer 1.

10. This new recorded mix has avoided any a/d or d/a conversions, the pitfalls of bounces, and from what I hear sounds exactly like the original mixing coming off the DAW.

If I am off my rocker on this please let me know but I am liking what I am hearing.

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Old 2nd September 2011
  #2
007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AudioSoundzz View Post
If I am off my rocker on this please let me know but I am liking what I am hearing.
You're not off your rocker, although truth be told, the idea is far from novel.
Your approach might deviate slightly from the computer-to-computer mixdown methods I have read about.
However, if I can be honest about a few things.

It's quite a workaround to do do all of that, personally, not for me.
My mixes sound just as they did in the DAW session pre-bounce.
No stereo image, or resolution, or openness or whatever else is lost.

I record at 24bit/44.1 in Logic, and I make sure to have a dither when ready to bounce.
I notice a lot of people mentioning the same qualms you are referring to and I fail to see why this is happening to them.

Good luck on your new approach and glad to see it's working wonders for you.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #3
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popmann's Avatar
What on earth does your buffer setting have to do with recording quality(fidelity)? Shouldn't have any bearing at all.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #4
Quote:
What on earth does your buffer setting have to do with recording quality(fidelity)? Shouldn't have any bearing at all.
I think you may be correct regarding this but not for sure knowing myself.

(edit) I am thinking your meaning buffer size does not affect recording quality (not payback quality). It does have a big affect playback quality and bounce quality from my experience. Regarding the person saying he does not hear any problems with bounces. It was not that noticeable to me until I started use VCC and MPX which have taken the mixes to a new level. Also many of the projects I work on will only playback cleanly with a 1024 buffer (many virtual instruments and tracks) and bouncing these simply sounds bad for me.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #5
M2E
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Quote:
Originally Posted by popmann View Post
What on earth does your buffer setting have to do with recording quality(fidelity)? Shouldn't have any bearing at all.
Not true. I have noticed this in Pro Tools HD when I have a huge mix. I usually leave it at 256 when mixing until, I get it to choke some what.
then I move the buffer size to 512 and not only does it sound more open but, of course I have more power.
Due to the fact that I'm using alot of RTAS as well as TDM plugins. When using RTAS, it seems to choke the sound when you are working the CPU to the tip of stopping and giving you an error.
I guess to play all the plugins, it's the trade off.
So, my experience as well. Your not going insane my friend...

Marc
Old 2nd September 2011
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M2E View Post
then I move the buffer size to 512 and not only does it sound more open but, of course I have more power.
Due to the fact that I'm using alot of RTAS as well as TDM plugins. When using RTAS, it seems to choke the sound when you are working the CPU to the tip of stopping and giving you an error.
Marc
no.

you may get some pops/clicks if you set the playback engine to "ignore buffer overloads" or whatever.

but the buffer size does not change the sound.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #7
Registered User
What DAW and Host? Protools on a Mac?

What you are describing seems to be basically proof that your DAW bouncing is somehow defective.

I use Cubase, so I don't understand this problem. Cubase is a good sounding DAW that bounces mixes very well - I don't believe i've ever heard a complaint about Cubase bounces. Whether they are in realtime or not.

I don't use Protools - but I understood it is constrained to real time bounces? I don't see why a bounce should sound any different from streaming it and re-recording it as you suggest.

In theory - what you are doing is subject to clock stability, whereas bouncing should be perfect. But never underestimate the ability of a software developer to screw up code somewhere, and for the problem to remain unresolved.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #8
Quote:
What you are describing seems to be basically proof that your DAW bouncing is somehow defective.

I use Cubase, so I don't understand this problem. Cubase is a good sounding DAW that bounces mixes very well - I don't believe i've ever heard a complaint about Cubase bounces. Whether they are in realtime or not.
Many of my label projects have to be played back with a buffer of 1024 (many tracks and virtual keys) which does not make for very good sounding bounces, at least on my setup. From what I understand, the higher the buffer, the more errors when bouncing. Others may chime in. I am going with my ears and I hear problems with bounces, especially with the 1024 buffer. I am not attached to any theory and just want the mix to sound as good as what I am hearing during the DAW mix playback. (edit) I have no problems bouncing small projects. Its the large ones that have the sonic issues.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #9
Registered User
What DAW? What host?

If a DAW is not constrained to a realtime bounce, it should take as long as it takes to compute the math, with zero errors and zero need for any buffer.

I guess this is why I like Cubase. Some plugins have high quality rendering options, and a bounce down might take LONGER than realtime - but it gets it right. Other simples bounces can take considerably less than real time, and still sounds good.

So what DAW? What host?
Old 2nd September 2011
  #10
Quote:
If a DAW is not constrained to a realtime bounce, it should take as long as it takes to compute the math, with zero errors and zero need for any buffer.

I guess this is why I like Cuebase. Some plugins have high quality rendering options, and a bounce down might take LONGER than realtime - but it gets it right. Other simples bounces can take considerably less than real time, and still sounds good.
Thats very cool Kiwi that cubase has as option to change the bounce speed. I am not in a position to change DAWs for this one feature and all our platforms render in realtime (we use Powercore which forces DAWS to render in realtime). We use protools and digital performer and have similar bounce quality issues with very large projects on both platforms. But again, the CPU can be close to max at the highest buffer rate on a 8 core mac pro with 10 gigs of ram. The problems became more noticeable when I started using MPX and VCC which finally have my mixes sounding like they have gone through the board. On more moderate project sized bouncing is not an issue at all.

(Edit added): I checked out the Cubase manual and see that it is very smart regarding bouncing large projects to disk if it discovers errors. Lucky for those who use it!
Old 2nd September 2011
  #11
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So, some are claiming higher buffers sound better and other claiming the bigger the worse.

Where are the "null crowd" when you need them?

If either is true, it's yet another reason we shouldn't be using software at all.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by popmann View Post
So, some are claiming higher buffers sound better and other claiming the bigger the worse.

Where are the "null crowd" when you need them?

If either is true, it's yet another reason we shouldn't be using software at all.
Lol I don't want to troll,but you are right.

Only thing I have to say is buffer size on playback, if you have a small buffer "on" a slow computer it can click and POP .

As far as bounce just make sure you insert the apogee dither in cubase.

I haven't experience that poor quality issue...

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Old 2nd September 2011
  #13
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by popmann View Post
So, some are claiming higher buffers sound better and other claiming the bigger the worse.

Where are the "null crowd" when you need them?
*sigh*
what's the use?
people are obviously going to "hear" what they have decided they will hear. Something as silly as proof isn't going to convince them.

never mind the null tests, where are the blindfolds in the judgments of these 'problems' between playback and render?


Quote:
If either is true, it's yet another reason we shouldn't be using software at all.
let's start a new thread- "How many hit albums were bounced to disk?"

Forget recording in an apartment, or using sampled drums, long intros, or tracking to a Portastudio. Clearly the biggest handicap any project has to overcome is the way your DAW secretly destroys your mix when you aren't looking.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #14
So far it seems Cubase has gotten around the problem that the other DAWs seem to have of choking on large projects when they are bouncing to disk (never tested Cubase myself though - and I tend to push software to the max). As they say "good on ya mate" and I am glad for the Cubase users. For myself this solution seems to work well from my limited testing although it does take extra hardware to do. I am not suggesting anyone run out a purchase an extra computer or converter to do this. I happen to have the extra gear in the studio so why not use it if it works for those huge problem mixes?

edit:
Quote:
Clearly the biggest handicap any project has to overcome is the way your DAW secretly destroys your mix when you aren't looking.
I love this comment and yes I am always looking for a way to make ITB sound better. I have gone down the dusty trail of converting mostly to digital and it is a never ending fight to compete with the SSL, tape, and for that matter the Trident siting right in front of me.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #15
Just record to disk instead of bouncing to disk.

You record what you hear, in real time, exactly as with your method, just a lot simpler.

Buffer size doesn't affect audio quality in pt, hd or native, unless your computer is at the tipping point, in which case in native you might get clicks and pops.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
Just record to disk instead of bouncing to disk.

You record what you hear, in real time, exactly as with your method, just a lot simpler.

Buffer size doesn't affect audio quality in pt, hd or native, unless your computer is at the tipping point, in which case in native you might get clicks and pops.
Yes, yes, and yes.

A straight digital transfer (as the OP suggested) shouldn't impart any change in sound. Yes, you're using two different converters - but nothing's being converted. It's just transferring 1's and 0's from one track to another.

Buffer size has no bearing on audio quality unless the computer can't keep up because the buffer is set too low (cue the pops and clicks).
Old 2nd September 2011
  #17
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Why not just render a single VSTi track to a recorded stereo track? If you are worried about latency and a big project just mute all the other tracks when doing so (do it one VSTi at a time if you have to). Then just play all your rendered stereo tracks at mix time on the DAW instead of VSTi's. By not having to run that VSTi live you then free up CPU cycles. There is nothing wrong with running multiple computers running their share of VSTi's (it's the way it was done to run an orchestra when computers didn't have as much power) but using an analog mixer in that process helped quite a bit so you were only bringing in a few tracks back into your main DAW. Thanks for sharing your work around though.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AudioSoundzz View Post
Thats very cool Kiwi that cubase has as option to change the bounce speed. I am not in a position to change DAWs for this one feature and all our platforms render in realtime (we use Powercore which forces DAWS to render in realtime). We use protools and digital performer and have similar bounce quality issues with very large projects on both platforms. But again, the CPU can be close to max at the highest buffer rate on a 8 core mac pro with 10 gigs of ram. The problems became more noticeable when I started using MPX and VCC which finally have my mixes sounding like they have gone through the board. On more moderate project sized bouncing is not an issue at all.

(Edit added): I checked out the Cubase manual and see that it is very smart regarding bouncing large projects to disk if it discovers errors. Lucky for those who use it!
Ok 1 .. if ur mixing with plugins ur supposed to mix with the highest buffer setting 1024 and this is according to the pro tools hand book and any other daw I've used ever since I wuz on cubase vst back on pc .. the reason because the CPU is more optimized for mixing at higher buffer settings ... 2 to the OP I mix with VCC on every project in pro tools and I don't get that when I bounce my track .. it sounds exactly the same to my ears no matter where I play it ..
My virtual ssl board goes like this ... I put vcc first on my individual channels (ssl setting) UAD ssl strips on those channels .. then (if I use tape sim) tape sim plug first on the master fader followed by vcc master bus then the ssl 4G+ buss compressor
Also if u feel that the mix is not as wide as u want it I'd throw a lil stereo widener on the mix b4 bouncing or record ur track Str8 to a cd recorder

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Old 2nd September 2011
  #19
Gear Maniac
 

This is nonsensical.

If you are not bouncing in real time, the buffer (which is part of the sound card driver) isn't even used - either is the sound card.

So, it's impossible for it to affect the sound.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by mactac View Post
This is nonsensical.

If you are not bouncing in real time, the buffer (which is part of the sound card driver) isn't even used - either is the sound card.

So, it's impossible for it to affect the sound.
Thanks.......I was getting very confused!
Old 2nd September 2011
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpjohns0007 View Post
Ok 1 .. if ur mixing with plugins ur supposed to mix with the highest buffer setting 1024 and this is according to the pro tools hand book and any other daw I've used ever since I wuz on cubase vst back on pc .. the reason because the CPU is more optimized for mixing at higher buffer settings
Kind of.

The whole buffer size thing is just a trade off with processing power.

When you set it low, the latency is low. The trade off is that you have less power for plugins, so your mix will choke quicker.

Which is why when mixing, most people tend to set the buffer higher, so they have more plugin power available.

If you've got a low buffer setting, and your mix is still playing back fine...no worries. It won't sound any different if you change the buffer size.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #22
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1) I have heard many people complain about bounces sounding different, and they are all PT people. Cubase does not have this issue. I don't know about Logic.

2) I don't understand the need for 2 computers. Why don't you just connect a digital out to a digital in and record onto a new track that way?
Old 2nd September 2011
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by chris carter View Post
1) I have heard many people complain about bounces sounding different, and they are all PT people. Cubase does not have this issue. I don't know about Logic.

2) I don't understand the need for 2 computers. Why don't you just connect a digital out to a digital in and record onto a new track that way?
I'm a PT person, and I don't have this problem!
Old 2nd September 2011
  #24
007
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OP...

Are you adding a Dither plugin on your master fader before you bounce?
Old 2nd September 2011
  #25
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filipv's Avatar
Buffer sizes have nothing to do with playback quality.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #26
Thanks everyone for your thoughtful responses and insights. I have done some more testing in Digital Performer and used a smaller project that has no virtual keyboards used. I set the buffer to 64 with created a situation where a lot of clicks are heard during playback. This project used VCC, Waves and Powercore Plugs and mastering plugs on the master buss. I then did a bounce to disk and the mix file created had no clicks or problems. The stereo imaging and sound was the same as the mix. I then changed the buffer to 1024 and created a bounce and this file sounded exactly the same as the mix and the 64 buffer file. So small projects bounce great no matter the buffer size.

One thing I have noticed in Digital Performer if I am not using Powercore (which for some reason makes bounces go to realtime speed or slower) the higher the buffer, the slower the bounce time. But Protool speed does not seem to change with the buffer size changes.

I have sessions in a few minutes but later on I will go back to my problem projects and try to find the actual culprit in the bounce mixes. I am thinking it may be virtual keyboard instruments being routed to sub channels that have plugin on them.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #27
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tomf's Avatar
 

Speaking from someone who uses logic, I've never had any issue of bounces sounding different to the mix, and I've really maxed out my CPU on quite a few mixes.
Changing buffer size will not affect your mixdown.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by AudioSoundzz View Post
One thing I have noticed in Digital Performer if I am not using Powercore (which for some reason makes bounces go to realtime speed or slower) the higher the buffer, the slower the bounce time. But Protool speed does not seem to change with the buffer size changes.
Pro Tools "speed" can't change with buffer size, because you can only bounce in realtime, no faster, no slower.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #29
Gear Maniac
 

Why don't you route all your tracks to a stereo bus, create a new stereo track with the input on that bus and then hit record and export the recorded file after that.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #30
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
I'm a PT person, and I don't have this problem!
me neither!

there is a different commonality to all the people who have this "problem", and it is not their choice of software brand.
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