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Analog vs. digital experiment
Old 13th May 2006
  #31
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisrulesmore
Jay, I'm not knocking you for putting forth the energy to post your results, I just disagree that this is anywhere close to an analog vs. digital comparison. We are listening to two samples of source material tracked analog, both of which ultimately were converted to digital...not much of a comparison between formats.

Dark Side of the Moon still sounds incredible on CD, but are we going so far as to assert that this is a 'digital' recording, just because it was converted through a high-end converter and released on CD?
I guess if you look at it that way...

But IMNSHO it's the wrong way to view it.

Your basically saying that anyone who sits in a studio & prints a mix to both analog & digital formats or even MULTIPLE analog or digital recording formats (such as 1" 2-track vs. 1/2" 2 vs. 24/96 vs. whatever) is wasting their time & that sort of comparison isn't valid?!?

Dude...that happens ALL the time on LOTS of records.

You just don't read about it in the Rolling Stone or whatever.

So if that's not a valid comparion...I guess that hanging & trying five or six microphones on a singer to find the "right" one isn't valid unless they're all in the same spot & going through the same preamps or whatever right?



This SAME test with the SAME song was considered "valid" by the band when we made the record in 2003.

Hell man, we had picked OUR favorite going into mastering & were forced to relisten & re-evaluate our choice before delivering the record to the label.

It's as valid now as it was then.
Old 13th May 2006
  #32
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Kahrs
We spent a GOOD 30 minutes or so going over stuff like were the tones were lining up in relation to each other & we both talked to the band member who was appointed "producer" before making any kind of call on what to master the record from.

On my Studer...if 1kHz, 10Khz & 100Hz are printed at 0VU...then usually I'm up .5dB at 50Hz & 1dB at 15Khz.

50Hz & 15kHz are put down to check the direction of the headbump & azimuth respectively...IIRC there was almost no detectable difference between what I saw on my deck & what BB reported seeing on his...

All the mixes were layed down simultanouesly to analog & digtal & levels were cal'd & double checked to show ZERO difference at 1kHz & 10kHz...really dudes...that record is as REAL as it ever gets & is SOP around these parts.
WOW, you really take a lot of care with your work now I'm really curious about the result. Still wondering about the mono/stereo issue though.

Andreas
Old 13th May 2006
  #33
Lives for gear
 
DeepSpace's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Kahrs
...because lets face it...we ALL have preconcieved notions which may or may not be correct...
Agreed. But thanks for posting the files, Jay. Very interesting.

While the differences are subtle, they're certainly audible. Better definition of the bass in A, more highs (and slightly papery) in A. Better/stronger spacial illusion in A.

In B, the vocal is noticeably more intimate, highs sound more natural and less stressed, mids more blended, overall the sound imprint is little more 'live'.

B is closer to what I'd expect from the Studer. A little less stark, a little less detail, a little easier to listen to.

What is interesting is that I find that while I've a preference for the vocal sound in B, I have an equally strong preference for the bass guitar sound in A. Tough choice!
Old 13th May 2006
  #34
Lives for gear
 
True North's Avatar
 

Jay,

Thanks for setting this up. It alway bothers me when people speak in such extremes when speaking about audible differences on componenets that are not supposed to be extreme. Comments abound on this site about how much convertor A differ from convertor B, differences in DAW sound, Cable sound....etc....etc......!!!

The bigger problem of course is when people make extreme comments like; 'oh the differences were enormous' OR 'I couldn't beleive how different they sounded' without providing the readers with any audible examples to listen to. I think it sends the wrong message to those who are just getting started or are trying to conduct similar experiments themselves.

Anytime that I have seriously tried to do A/B tests, I have to be sitting down and concentrating intensely in the right listening environment to 'really' hear the differences. I think the example you provided can be a great lesson for many on this site.

Most would typically beleive that the differences the analog and digital masters would or should have been extremely noticeable when they are in fact very close. Thanks for providing the examples.
Old 13th May 2006
  #35
Lives for gear
 
mtstudios@charter's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisrulesmore
I am writing to express what I see as a misconception of the analog vs. digital argument.

Why compare two songs that have both been tracked through an analog machine but mixed down to either a Mytek or a 1/4" tape machine and call that a digital vs. analog test? For our purposes here, presumably the analog mix had to be converted to wave for it to be posted, so what is the point? Please tell me if I'm missing part of the test...

But it sounds like we are comparing two analog tracks, one of which was converted with the Mytek, and one of which was mixed down to a Studer and then converted...

Honestly, I think digital is a great format for accurately representing a master...records that are tracked to tape and then eventually converted to digital still seem WAY different than digitally tracked and mixed music.
In most part I agree with this. Moving in and out from tape to hard disk is not doing tape its justice. This is why I don't bother with tape anymore. The cost does not support the significance in improvement at the end of the day.

www.bluethumbproductions.com
Old 13th May 2006
  #36
Lives for gear
 
chrisrulesmore's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Kahrs
I guess if you look at it that way...

But IMNSHO it's the wrong way to view it.

Your basically saying that anyone who sits in a studio & prints a mix to both analog & digital formats or even MULTIPLE analog or digital recording formats (such as 1" 2-track vs. 1/2" 2 vs. 24/96 vs. whatever) is wasting their time & that sort of comparison isn't valid?!?

Dude...that happens ALL the time on LOTS of records.

You just don't read about it in the Rolling Stone or whatever.

So if that's not a valid comparion...I guess that hanging & trying five or six microphones on a singer to find the "right" one isn't valid unless they're all in the same spot & going through the same preamps or whatever right?



This SAME test with the SAME song was considered "valid" by the band when we made the record in 2003.

Hell man, we had picked OUR favorite going into mastering & were forced to relisten & re-evaluate our choice before delivering the record to the label.

It's as valid now as it was then.
This is getting nowhere, but for the sake of boredom I'll try one more time.

I am NOT saying you are wasting your time, or that your test was a waste of time when it was done. In your case, you had access to an analog two track mix and a converted digital mix.

But you are posting two digital versions of a test that was initially a comparison between an analog format and a digitial format for people here to comment on which is more 'analog' or 'digital'. To be clear, THEY ARE BOTH PRESENTED HERE AS DIGITAL WAVE FILES. THEY WERE BOTH TRACKED TO AN ANALOG MACHINE.

Take a song that was tracked in Pro Tools and listen to the same song tracked to your 2" machine and see how subtle the results are in the end. That is an analog vs. digital test...

And no, I'm not suggesting that you take time out of your hectic schedule to have 'fun' with this kind of test. But let's be clear in what we are talking about...

Seriously...
Old 13th May 2006
  #37
Lives for gear
 
T_R_S's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisrulesmore
Take a song that was tracked in Pro Tools and listen to the same song tracked to your 2" machine and see how subtle the results are in the end. That is an analog vs. digital test...
Different songs (Genres) will give you different results...
Analog: No recall
Digital: Instant Recall

How you NEED to work will determine the tools that you need.
Old 13th May 2006
  #38
Gear Guru
 
Sounds Great's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by T_R_S
Different songs (Genres) will give you different results...
Analog: No recall
Digital: Instant Recall

How you NEED to work will determine the tools that you need.

Good point. I've heard some music totally done I.T.B. that surprised me. Sounds really good.

But yes it is a different working environment. I think it depends on the type of music, band (or lack of), etc.

You can also revise what you said to:

(The tools that you use can determine how you NEED to work.) Which can be a good thing sometimes.
Old 13th May 2006
  #39
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Kahrs
I guess if you look at it that way...

But IMNSHO it's the wrong way to view it.

Your basically saying that anyone who sits in a studio & prints a mix to both analog & digital formats or even MULTIPLE analog or digital recording formats (such as 1" 2-track vs. 1/2" 2 vs. 24/96 vs. whatever) is wasting their time & that sort of comparison isn't valid?!?

Dude...that happens ALL the time on LOTS of records.

You just don't read about it in the Rolling Stone or whatever.

So if that's not a valid comparion...I guess that hanging & trying five or six microphones on a singer to find the "right" one isn't valid unless they're all in the same spot & going through the same preamps or whatever right?



This SAME test with the SAME song was considered "valid" by the band when we made the record in 2003.

Hell man, we had picked OUR favorite going into mastering & were forced to relisten & re-evaluate our choice before delivering the record to the label.

It's as valid now as it was then.
I'm waiting for the final result... Will you post the result soon?
Old 14th May 2006
  #40
Lives for gear
 
RKrizman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Kahrs
Phase issue with the heads?!

You mean the azimuth was off or something???

Maybe between my machine & Blackwoods?!?!?

Chances of that are slim to none.

We spent a GOOD 30 minutes or so going over stuff like were the tones were lining up in relation to each other
Then how do you guys account for the phase issue with track B ?

-R
Old 14th May 2006
  #41
Rep
Lives for gear
 
Rep's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkSky

I've a preference for the vocal sound in B,
I have an equally strong preference for the bass guitar sound in A.
YEP , SAME here ...
Just what i was thinking ...
Old 14th May 2006
  #42
Rep
Lives for gear
 
Rep's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RKrizman
Then how do you guys account for the phase issue with track B ?

-R
Yea...... the Vox is also off to the left ,
and the over-all seams Pleasing yet smeared,
that has Got to be the tape... heh
Old 14th May 2006
  #43
Gear Nut
 

Been a while since I heard analog tape, but the difference is fairly obvious (prepares to shoot himself in the foot...)

So I think A is mytek, b is tape for all the cliche reasons.

My favourite thing about A is articulation (clarity?) of the highs that open up to room more. B has a great bass guitar/kik combination sound, and a pleasant transient softening going on.

My girlfriend had a quick listen, and thinks that the bass sounds 'fake' on A and the main difference between the two is the hi hats, with A being brighter. Then she said;

"but its all just a matter of taste really, isn't it?"

sigh.
Old 14th May 2006
  #44
Gear Nut
 

By the way, thanks for posting the files Jay, its a great mix.
Old 14th May 2006
  #45
Lives for gear
 
shangoe's Avatar
 

i like B in every way. to me diferences was not soooo small...

thanks, jay!
Old 14th May 2006
  #46
Here for the gear
 
chezestake's Avatar
 

[QUOTE=theblotted]instead of going thru all the trouble and not getting any accurate results, why don't you simply go buy A/B CD?

it'll at least be closer in accuracy, and you'll learn a lot more than simply "analog vs. digital".

I think this is a great idea and would love to hear it. I'm not going to pay $30.00 for it. If it is offered up as science, then vitue is it's own reward. If it is entertainment then, you have a pretty limitted market. Just my thoughts, can I hear it free anywhere?

Tom
Old 14th May 2006
  #47
Lives for gear
 

[QUOTE=chezestake]
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblotted
instead of going thru all the trouble and not getting any accurate results, why don't you simply go buy A/B CD?

it'll at least be closer in accuracy, and you'll learn a lot more than simply "analog vs. digital".

I think this is a great idea and would love to hear it. I'm not going to pay $30.00 for it. If it is offered up as science, then vitue is it's own reward. If it is entertainment then, you have a pretty limitted market. Just my thoughts, can I hear it free anywhere?

Tom
Actually I did that already... heh
Old 15th May 2006
  #48
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andreas G
WOW, you really take a lot of care with your work now I'm really curious about the result. Still wondering about the mono/stereo issue though.

Andreas
Yup!

Everything that comes through my hands gets treated like that. It's how I was "trained" really!

Back in the day when I was 18 & had landed my first studio gig I was fortunate enough to be a great room with great engineers...before too long I was doing all kinds of stuff like Kiss transfers from the '70s that were tracked at the Hit Factory or wherever on one day & assisting cats like Joe Barresi or working on a Luther Vandross thing the next.

No joke.

If I hadn't gotten my **** together QUICK I would've been out on the street. It was a GREAT education...invaluable really.

I learned ALL kinds of things that you just can't get from reading boards like this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RKrizman
Then how do you guys account for the phase issue with track B ?

-R
I dunno. heh

Analog vs. digital maybe?

Some kind of cross-talk thing is the only thing I can think of.

What has you guys calling it a "phase" thing specifically?

Did you put the mixes up & look at 'em on a scope or something?

Or might it be some sort of masking thing?

Your guess is as good as mine...
Old 15th May 2006
  #49
Lives for gear
 
RKrizman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Kahrs
What has you guys calling it a "phase" thing specifically?

Did you put the mixes up & look at 'em on a scope or something?
Listen to B in mono and notice how much high end you lose. Since this happens when you flip to mono, I'm guessing there's a phase issue.

So which is which already?

-R
Old 15th May 2006
  #50
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RKrizman
Listen to B in mono and notice how much high end you lose. Since this happens when you flip to mono, I'm guessing there's a phase issue.

So which is which already?

-R
Huh. I'll check that out when I get to my shop this afternoon.

Are you hearing the high end loss mostly in the drums or all over? There's a slap delay on the drums...but if that were causing some kinda cancellation it would on both "A" & "B" 'cause it would be an inherent part of the mix...

I'll post the answers later too.

I'm pretty sure that I know how I coded them but the answer key is on the DAW! heh
Old 15th May 2006
  #51
Lives for gear
 
RKrizman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Kahrs
Are you hearing the high end loss mostly in the drums or all over?
I didn't really analyze it. Listen in mono yourself and you'll see.

-R
Old 15th May 2006
  #52
Rep
Lives for gear
 
Rep's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Kahrs

What has you guys calling it a "phase" thing specifically?

Did you put the mixes up & look at 'em on a scope or something?

...

no ...... just listening in a good Mixing room ,
with the MiniDAC- and S3's,
Shows there is a Slight image shift and bit High fq loss,
tad Vox image smear , ect...



.
Old 15th May 2006
  #53
Gear Head
 
D.T. Jambor's Avatar
 

Tape as sound generator with much heights

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/showp...&postcount=197
Old 15th May 2006
  #54
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RKrizman
I didn't really analyze it. Listen in mono yourself and you'll see.

-R
Just did that...interesting.

I'll revist this a little later...gotta get back to cracking on a mix right now...
Old 16th May 2006
  #55
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RKrizman's Avatar
 

So which is which?
Old 16th May 2006
  #56
Lives for gear
 

J:

Lets get the results brother! Dragging this out like a television mini-series (LOST, Survivor, etc) heh
Old 17th May 2006
  #57
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by GL Respect Due
J:

Lets get the results brother! Dragging this out like a television mini-series (LOST, Survivor, etc) heh
If 'ya say so...I don't watch much TV anymore outside of Mythbusters, Nascar & hockey...damn Devils!!!

Sorry it's taken me longer to get to this then I had originally planned on but the last 24-48 hours have been an adventure to say the least...

Quite the adventure in "career development" but that's whole other thing...plus I had a technical 'misadventure' when the DAW controller crashed while I was printing a mix yesterday!

As Slippy might say...

HOHOeeeh...hang me now

I could just blurt out the answer but we all know that's NO fun!

I'm beat & have the mental capacity of a marshmellow right now.

The bed is less then 20 feet away...I GOTTA get some rest.

I'll hit this in the AM when I'm fresh...

Old 18th May 2006
  #58
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Yeah, so obviously the AM (meaning early afternoon in 'Moose time') has turned into evening while I was dealing with the same freakin’ mook situation that started the other day...

Sorry for making ya'll wait. If you’re THAT impatient, skip the bottom of the post where the answers are revealed!

Otherwise keep reading onward & I'll tell 'ya how we got schooled on this one.

First of all, I'd like to give a big "Thanks!!!" to everyone who said they dug the production & engineering on the tune. You can find the band here; heropattern.com & the record is called "Cut You Out". It's a few years old, you can probably order it through 'yer local store or just order it off the bands site, if you do that tell 'em Moose sent you!

To give 'ya a bit of the history on "Cut You Out"...from the VERY first pre-production meetings the band expressed a desire to keep it all on tape & not hit a computer at any stage of the record. I guess it was half a desire to have the analog sonics & also based on a REALLY bad experience cutting stuff with a 'name' producer & Foolz Toolz.

Really, the desire was to make a rock record that sounded like it was straight outta' the 70's...because as Homer Simpson has so eloquently stated; "Everyone knows rock achieved perfection in 1976!" More so they figued that with two guitar players in the band they should avoid the wall of guitars & keep it to 2-3 tracks at any given point...no keyboards were allowed on the record because nobody plays 'em live...all that kinda stuff.

To that end it ALL stayed on 2” tape. Drums were punched & takes were cut together with a razor blade where needed which really, wasn’t too often. I even created a backwards intro on one tune by flipping the tape over & slicing away…who needs a DAW for that???

This 'Pros' Toolz


So yeah...all the music stayed on 2” tape the entire time and when we started the mixing process I decided to run the Studer & the Mytek together for a couple three reasons. We listened to the mixes coming off the console & then against the A80 on repro & the Mytek going round trip back through a DA for just about every song IIRC.

All levels were matched to within .1dB at 1kHz and 10kHz so that volume wouldn’t factor into it & influence our decisions.

In blind tests we ALL picked the tape master as being sonically superior for a multitude of reasons & the bottom line is that we agreed it was more musical and just more REAL.

We (I?) fully expected the digital prints to be used for nothing more then reference so we could listen outside the studio & as a backup in case **** happened to the reels on the way to mastering…like FedEx decided to stick ‘em next a shipment of speakers on the plane even though I ALWAYS mark those boxes “Magnetic Media” in about 5,000 places.

The day of the mastering I got a call from BB...I’ll NEVER forget it…

First words outta’ his mouth…”Where did you get the digital from?”

Immediately…my head was filled with all kinds of bad thoughts…maybe FedEx DID stick the reels next to speakers or they were dropped & bent so we gotta work from the digital ‘safeties’…

I asked him what happened to the analog & he said the reels were fine…but the digital sounded “better” then the analog.

Cue a long discussion about where the analog tones were lining up & MANY calls between Euphonic, myself & the band…

We told him to use whatever sounded best, because after all…isn’t that the WHOLE point?!

It seems like most of ya’ll picked up on the same things that we noticed, the differences in the snare, bass & hats being the ‘obvious’ differences between formats.

I’m a little surprised that nobody noticed any kind of difference in the noise floor…

I see people on here all the time (probably NOT people with actual hands-on experience!) that say running analog at 15ips is too noisy. Well, if that was REALLY the case then the slightly increased noise from running both machines at 15ips would’ve been a dead giveaway right?

But instead I see comments like “it’s hard to tell” and “a matter of taste” so I guess that theory’s out the window…

If ‘ya guessed that A is the analog you’d be wrong.

A = Digital
B = Analog


Amazing how subtle the difference is right? Granted, it's a 2-track mix...the buildup across 20-30-40 tracks is WAY more dramatic & noticeable.

Thanks ‘fer playing!

Now go record some good music that matters!

Old 18th May 2006
  #59
Lives for gear
 

J:

Thanks for posting these comparisons. It's nice to see my ears don't lie. Analog is king.. point blank!
Old 18th May 2006
  #60
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by GL Respect Due
J:

Thanks for posting these comparisons. It's nice to see my ears don't lie. Analog is king.. point blank!
'Tis no problem!!!

I did it 'cause I'm sick of seeing all these "vs." threads that have ZERO basis in reality & no solid examples of audio. I'm sure this won't end it...but maybe it'll make people think a little more and if this enlightens just one soul, then I've done my job!

Though I dunno if I'd call analog "king" all the time.

I prefer to take it on a case by case basis...and yeah...no doubt analog tape is king for tracking loud rock stuff...

But I do just as much work in digital these days & really...I don't mind it anymore. Not the way I used to anyway! Sure, it's gotten better...but good analog and good digital BOTH cost some serious dough & more importantly, a respect & understanding of the format.

A few years ago in Nashville I was fortunate enough to hang out with Dave Martin & Bob O. and talk shop on digital theory...since then I've been getting better & better tones out of it but I still like going to 2" tape whenever we can.

And if we can't...well...I'll make the best of it & not whine like a baby! heh

Here's the funny thing about that record...

We told Brad to use the digital...when we got the one tune back (that I posted the clips of) we were expecting to like the analog version more but NONE of us did!!!



Everyone preferred the digital master...granted...that song probably isn't the best example since it was lighter in the low end then most of the other tunes, but the analog just sounded kinda' muddy & while not ill-defined...there was something hipper about the digital that we all liked. If you listen to "Watch" or "Monster" then you'll have a better idea of the overall vibe of that disc.

I should also note that in all the other records I've sent to BB & done the same analog/digital thing with...the analog has ALWAYS won.

This was the only case I can think of were everyone involved with the record dug the digital more.
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