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Post a good reference of "cold and sterile" digital track Multi-Ef­fects Plugins
Old 15th September 2011
  #1
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Post a good reference of "cold and sterile" digital track

After about a billion threads dealing with issue of "warming up ITB tracks" with analog equipment I realized I don't recall ever hearing ANY finished track that hit me in the face by being "cold and digital sounding".

I want to hear examples! Post them in this thread.
Old 15th September 2011
  #2
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YULOGY's Avatar
 

Most amateur metal.
Old 15th September 2011
  #3
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JoaT's Avatar
I want to hear extreme examples of this. It would serve us all as a reference of the problems outboard analog equipment helps to cure.

I have a mental image of what it's supposed to sound. I just can't think of any real world examples. Please post them.
Old 15th September 2011
  #4
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lectric's Avatar
 

+1
Old 15th September 2011
  #5
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Most digitally recorded classical music, what some people would call 'cold and sterile', I'd say 'clean and accurate' sounding.
Old 15th September 2011
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoaT View Post
After about a billion threads dealing with issue of "warming up ITB tracks" with analog equipment I realized I don't recall ever hearing ANY finished track that hit me in the face by being "cold and digital sounding".

.
That's because it's just a made up description so people can justify their own superiority for preferring analog.

I've heard plenty of "cold" sounding analog stuff. In the end, nobody really cares how the music gets to their ears, as long as it's enjoyable.

I read this thread because I was hoping for an example, just as you were, but I doubt you are going to be satisfied. You could post the worst sounding digital track, and someone could find a worse sounding analog track. And vice versa. So it really doesn't matter.
Old 15th September 2011
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PoorGlory View Post
That's because it's just a made up description so people can justify their own superiority for preferring analog.
That's the kind of mindset that lead me to start this thread. I'm all for busting the myths and bringing facts to the table. I'm also pretty much analog guy myself as it comes to mixing or processing. But I reached my personal treshold of bull**** when I read a thread where someone asked about "warming up" his tracks with a Mackie 1604 AND a lot of people advising him against that because the said Mackie is "not good" on "adding analog warmth".

Here we are, faced with a certain desired quality and the certain tool's inability to deliver something. Something we all have a mental image of. AND something I realized I have never heard an example of that certain quality missing from a track. An example that has "cold and lifeless digital" written all over it in such a way it is painfully obvious.

So I started this thread to bring this to all of your attention and to possibly have a great real life examples of this elusive quality we all are chasing to get rid of. Please, give me food for thought and post examples!
Old 15th September 2011
  #8
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I couldn't give you an example and I certainly won't defend the whole blanket "digital is cold and sterile" thing.

However there is something about having a tactile connection with a piece of hardware that (whether it sounds better or worse) has a massive psychological impact on me (and I'm sure many others). Surely that's pretty important?

Perhaps the whole "cold and sterile" thing originally came from the way it made people feel and not how it actually sounded. You have to remember as well that when digital first took off it was pretty rubbish in today's terms, and we are quite a stubborn, cynical bunch...heh
Old 15th September 2011
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoaT View Post
After about a billion threads dealing with issue of "warming up ITB tracks" with analog equipment I realized I don't recall ever hearing ANY finished track that hit me in the face by being "cold and digital sounding".

I want to hear examples! Post them in this thread.
My first few ADAT projects. All my analog habits came home to roost, bigtime. I pushed the treble on a lot of tracks and I was so used to the bass bump on my analog tape machines that all my new digital tracks seemed like the bass was small and 'too focused.' There was too much space in between everything. After I got used to the profoundly unsettling notion that what I put in was mostly what I was going to get out, stopped automatically boosting highs, started using some fattening (compression and EQ) on my bass instruments, and started more aggressively using compression to create a more saturated feel, I felt like I was finally getting somewhere...
Old 15th September 2011
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
My first few ADAT projects. All my analog habits came home to roost, bigtime. I pushed the treble on a lot of tracks and I was so used to the bass bump on my analog tape machines that all my new digital tracks seemed like the bass was small and 'too focused.' There was too much space in between everything. After I got used to the profoundly unsettling notion that what I put in was mostly what I was going to get out, stopped automatically boosting highs, started using some fattening (compression and EQ) on my bass instruments, and started more aggressively using compression to create a more saturated feel, I felt like I was finally getting somewhere...
Been there myself.

This is not about the differences in methods working in analog vs. working in digital. The most getting used to ever for me has had to adjust myself from the habits I learned when working with analog equipment when I started working with digital. Suddenly there was clarity and detail I was used to previously struggle to carve out from the taped material. So much so I needed to learn ways to get rid of it. That clarity and detail is not to my mind the elsuive quality this thread is about. Warmth to me is not equal to muddy or saturated.

Same goes to Syncamorea's examples. Those sound cold and sterile because of the way they are mixed and the effects used (most obvious on first example's vocal fx). I would go as far as claiming it is intentional on at least the first example provided.
Old 15th September 2011
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoaT View Post
After about a billion threads dealing with issue of "warming up ITB tracks" with analog equipment I realized I don't recall ever hearing ANY finished track that hit me in the face by being "cold and digital sounding".

I want to hear examples! Post them in this thread.
Don't bother, its mostly BS. It's a psychological thing: people finding (ridiculous) excuses for lousy arrangements/tracking/mixing.

Enjoy digital and ignore technological snobs.
Old 15th September 2011
  #13
Yeah... after I'd had my first ADAT for a month or two I went into my pro shop and said, "I foresee a real future for a device I'd call a dirtbox or warmbox -- something to make my tracks not seem so... so... damn clean." Which started me on a tour through then available, affordable pres and monkeying more with my compressors.

Here's something I did in '96. I was starting to get somewhere by then but I still wasn't where I wanted to be: ReverbNation Player The tambourine hits are particularly gruesome. But I was starting to get somewhere working my guitars into my compressors. Pardon the Americana pop punk thang...
Old 15th September 2011
  #14
what in my mind equates "analog warmth" in equipment is high voltage tube design preamps. but i personally wouldn't call it "warmth" it's just a different character, be it additional noise or whatever.

but i have heard digital pre's that sound great too.

different tools, different sounds. that's all, nothing superior.



now the effect actually touching and using a piece of gear has when mixing or creating in my opinion is far more important. be it interface or analog piece.
Old 15th September 2011
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by YULOGY View Post
Most amateur metal.
I agree....amateur recordings of band. Not just metal, generally anything rock.

Don't know if you can find a band called "2 spot gobi" on itunes, they've got an album called "everywhere you could have been". I like the songs (and know the band personally) but the album itself is very flat. Not done by an amateur, but I know it was mixed digitally - i think the engineer/producer concerned just hasn't made the move to digital very well.

the things I think of as "sterile" (not necessarily cold) are the ones where everything is perfectly in it's place, but it's all too perfect...things aren't very well blended. For me, it's to do with how things sit together, and in analogue it's a lot easier to balance AND blend, rather than just balance.

It's not impossible in digital.

I also frequently get tracks to mix where the vocals were tracked at home, and they're often in need of some serious love when it comes to making them "sit" - otherwise they just sound karaoke over a backing track.
Old 16th September 2011
  #16
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A good point made by the op here. Personally, when I think of sterile recordings, I think of stuff from the 80's like Erasure "Respect," Rush "Hold Your Fire/Power Windows," or even 1980 Prince stuff. Most likely those were all recorded analog...could be wrong. Regardless, I think the sterility of them is a result of the instrument sounds and room choices made...lot's of di keys and guitars, drum machines, dry rooms etc.
The bottom line is if a singer sounds "warm" and you don't screw it up, it's gonna sound "warm" no matter if it's done analog or digital.
Old 16th September 2011
  #17
.

Great thread. It's all marketing BS.

And I agree 100% with Elvis Christ (and Madonna GaGa).

Any serious producer/engineer with good ears, spaces, talent and good gear
can get a great sounding recording, period.

The rest is marketing and hype.

If you have ****ty gear, bad talent, crappy spaces, and producers and engineers
who don't know what they're doing, you're going to get ****ty recordings.

For all you guys who live for tube gear and tape decks, god bless you.

Personally, I'll be happy if I don't have to deal with most of that stuff ever again.

It's expensive, time consuming, and a pain in the ass.

I don't like feeling like I have to reinvent the wheel every time I want to track 10 guitar parts,
15 backing vocals, 15 drum and percussion parts, and 30 keyboard parts.

And I'm not personally convinced that Hanz Zimmer, George Martin, Mutt Lang, Max Martin,
Trevor Horn, or Roy Thomas Baker sound better in analog. Bah, Humbug!

I think all these guys would have been using as much digital gear as POSSIBLE
had it been available to them when they started their careers.

If you like the sound of tape and tubes, and like working with antiquated gear -
GREAT, knock yourself out.

FWIW, I use a tube MP LDC 67 copy, and that's as deep into ancient history as I'm willing to travel, for now.

In this day and age, the cost and logistics of dealing with tape decks and reels of tape is insane, IMO.

For the high end guys who don't have to spend their own money on machine calibration, tape stock, etc., no problem.

.
Old 16th September 2011
  #18
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I dont think the recording medium HAS to make something cold or warm.
But speaking for myself,old habits die hard
I dont know if cold is the right word anyway. Probably "upfront" seems more like it to me

If you compare some 80s pop rock(bon jovi etc) to some modern pop rock(30 sec to mars or whatever), the sound has shifted to become more "digital".
How much of that is autotune,beatdetective,sound replacer, etc, is hard to say.

I do know a great producer who has been making records for donkeys years and his mixes still sound as warm and creamy on protools as they did on 2"
Old 16th September 2011
  #19
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[QUOTE=Elvis Christ;7036311]A good point made by the op here. Personally, when I think of sterile recordings, I think of stuff from the 80's like Erasure "Respect," Rush "Hold Your Fire/Power Windows," or even 1980 Prince stuff.

(i tend to roll off around 18k, and that reduces a bit of the cold/harsh qualities of digital mixes for me...)

A friend of mine who was very active in the industry in the 80's told me those harsh 80's sounds had alot to do w/ all the blow being consumed in the studio, and it's effect on the user's perception of hi freq's... i'm sure someone out there could offer some empirical insight...
Old 16th September 2011
  #20
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Originally Posted by Sqye View Post
.

Great thread. It's all marketing BS.


FWIW, I use a tube MP LDC 67 copy, and that's as deep into ancient history as I'm willing to travel, for now.


Why bother with the LDC 67 copy ?

Everybody and their mother here know that all you need is 1 sm57, an mbox and a pair of headphones.

The rest is all talent.

If you can't get results as good as the best stuff ever done with the above mentioned gear, it's not the gear's fault heh

Now excuse me, gotta watch America's Got Rabies on the idiot tube to find that 1 in a million superstar talent.
Old 16th September 2011
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
My first few ADAT projects. All my analog habits came home to roost, bigtime. I pushed the treble on a lot of tracks and I was so used to the bass bump on my analog tape machines that all my new digital tracks seemed like the bass was small and 'too focused.' There was too much space in between everything. After I got used to the profoundly unsettling notion that what I put in was mostly what I was going to get out, stopped automatically boosting highs, started using some fattening (compression and EQ) on my bass instruments, and started more aggressively using compression to create a more saturated feel, I felt like I was finally getting somewhere...
hahaha! YES. I did this as well.

Good lord. And, I ain't afraid to admit it took me literally a couple of years to figure out that so little goes such a long way in digital

Old habits are hard to break. Like boosting top TO the tape machine and doing about 3/4 of a cut in the same place at mix...etc etc. Or even leaving it sometimes.

One of the initial allures of digital for me, was that because there was no tape hiss anymore, you could boost top on some tracks, and you only get the top end of the instrument / voice. You were no longer boosting noise as well.

At first, I thought, killer!

Soon realized that yes, it WAS a killer. That top end could get really painful really quick. Still looking for a way to get the same air outta digital that we used to get from tape. Ain't happened yet.

It also took me a while to grasp the bottom. On digital it's a little tighter, maybe a little better extension, but doesn't sound as big, and full. Or as nice

I dunno, I guess what I am trying to say is---> Great post, I can totally relate to this man. It seems we had very much the same experience.

I am certain many did.

john
Old 16th September 2011
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by sage691 View Post
Why bother with the LDC 67 copy ?

Everybody and their mother here know that all you need is 1 sm57, an mbox and a pair of headphones.

The rest is all talent.

If you can't get results as good as the best stuff ever done with the above mentioned gear, it's not the gear's fault heh

Now excuse me, gotta watch America's Got Rabies on the idiot tube to find that 1 in a million superstar talent.
ha!
Old 16th September 2011
  #23
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There's nothing wrong in using analog equipment if it suits your workflow / tastes. But if the whole "sterile digital sound" is something that's actually something that usually refers to the engineers lack of experience in mixing, there's everything wrong in offering analog equipment as a miracle cure for the problem.

For me the tactile control of my mixing process is the thing I missed the most when working ITB. Nowadays I mix with the console, and it is indeed a lot more fun. I find it about as easy to get a complete mix out of the console and fx as I did getting a complete mix out of Cubase. I need a lot less processing with the console, and that's a really good thing as I couldn't afford such amounts of HW gear I got used to use as plugins on my tracks. I don't think the console adds any particular sonic magic to the process. It does limit my options a lot and in return gives me the freedom of sculpting the mix using my hands and ears instead of my eyes (as was the case with the computer). Most importantly... It doesn't feel like spreadsheet processing. That alone has brought joy back to my music making.

Costly luxury, though. One I could not afford if I was doing this for living. No total recall, cumbersome saving of the projects, constant downtime because of a lot of old analog equipment needing service, massive undertaking on setting the studio up to a working condition, amount of money invested could have bought me a bitchin' protools rig etc..

A route I would definitely not take should I try to earn living with this. A passionate hobby, and about as practical as driving a 1979 Ferrari.
Old 16th September 2011
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sqye View Post
.


FWIW, I use a tube MP LDC 67 copy, and that's as deep into ancient history as I'm willing to travel, for now.

What is this? You are using what?
Sorry, really curious as to what piece of gear this is.

Please, excuse my ignorance.

BTW, I LOVE Trevor Horn, and although I agree with you that those producers that you named can work in whatever medium and make it sound good, I don't think any of those records would have sounded the same. No way, no how.

Even though things like 90125 that were HEAVILY digitally manipulated (Fairlight), the tape was still making an imprint on the sound.

Compare for example Yes's TALK album, to 90125. Listen to the tonal differences. Apparently on TALK when cutting that record, Trevor Rabin wanted to work all Protools, and keep it all digital. When they got to Anderson's vox, they ended up syncing the tape machine for his vocal tracks, because they were unable to get the sound they wanted, and had in the past.

I can see this happening. I spent months (years) scratching my head when we switched to using digital for a good part of our sessions.

I don't know man....ever notice the old stuff that hung around on the charts for 20 years, and the new stuff done to digital, about 8 months to a year tops? Coincidence?

Did ALL the good musicians become extinct, or was it tape and gear making sounds that were more comfortable and easy to listen to?

Just a thought.

Not trying to start a tape vs. digital argument, because I already have my mind made up anyway. Sadly, I have had to conform, and use mostly digital now.

I am more interested in trying to learn how to get the sounds we used to get, with a digital rig at this point.

Peace,
john
Old 16th September 2011
  #25
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Not sure what the recording format was, but I'd say these include plenty of digital coldness.


Old 16th September 2011
  #26
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The first CD I ever remember listening to and thinking "whoa, THAT's that 'digital' sound people talk about!" is the first Take 6 album.

Technology has come a long way since 1988. Great disc anyway!
Old 19th September 2011
  #27
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Cut highs and apply tape saturation to all tracks & 2 buss, don't squash the final mix, use quality room simulation & reverbs. That ought to sound good.

Also...having too much can have a negative effect on creativity, like a kid with lots of toys has little time for any 1 toy, same happens in music production nowadays, too many toys to play with makes us lazy I suppose.
Old 20th September 2011
  #28
Gear Head
 

I say get some analog outboard and before hitting the mix try to get some analog flavor on the tracks. Takes time to treat but it really helps. I try apply this process after recording tracks.
Old 20th September 2011
  #29
I just apply the nice hardware in the process of recording the tracks. Be a man, commit, as your fathers and their fathers before them did.
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