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Analog vs. digital experiment
Old 18th May 2006
  #61
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Sharp11's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RainbowStorm
Could we arrange some kind of analog vs. digital experiment so those who aren't familiar with both of them (like me) can get a clue on the difference in terms of final sound. I only know what the difference is theoretically, but I would like to hear the sound of it as well.

.
If you want to hear analog, go out and buy a turntable and some vinyl records at a tag sale. Then, kick back, open a brew and revel in the massive surface noise, wow and flutter and distortion the dynamically limited format brings to you.

Many of us who grew up on analog gave it up in the late 80's, never to look back.

Ed
Old 18th May 2006
  #62
Gear Guru
 
Sounds Great's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11
If you want to hear analog, go out and buy a turntable and some vinyl records at a tag sale. Then, kick back, open a brew and revel in the massive surface noise, wow and flutter and distortion the dynamically limited format brings to you.

Many of us who grew up on analog gave it up in the late 80's, never to look back.

Ed

Sure, there are trade offs. Though most of my records don't have the problems you mentioned to a distractable level. Some do, I keep them for the wonderful record covers and inserts.

But they have something that the digital version doesn't. Something that gives the music more life and intimacy. I choose the record.

Old 18th May 2006
  #63
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RKrizman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Kahrs
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.
Actually some of us picked up on phase problems with B that you'd never encounter with digital.

-R
Old 18th May 2006
  #64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sounds Great
Something that gives the music more life and intimacy.
Nicely put words there, those properties are very important for a good sounding record! I do struggle with this in the digital realm, I have NOT found a solution to that problem yet other than trying to incorporate some analog gear in the mix and choose samples that are processed with warmth, to come closer. I'm sure a good analog compressor would make the sound "intimate" enough... But I've come pretty close to those properties ITB, but not close enough to be satisfied enough.
Old 18th May 2006
  #65
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RKrizman
Actually some of us picked up on phase problems with B that you'd never encounter with digital.

-R
'Ya know, I listened to 'B' in mono & your right...there IS some whackyness there!

I have no idea what could account for that other then maybe some sort of head mis-alignment thing...we all know they only need to be off by a fraction of an inch in any one direction between the two machines (record @ my shop & the mastering house) to cause that kind of stuff.

Still...

I didn't hear anything in the mono analog that was "deal breaking."

Wonky? Sure.

But everything was still there, all instruments & vocals were audible & accounted for if not slighty muddier. Hey, maybe that's why Brad liked the digital mixes more!

What some of ya'll are calling "problems" though has me TOTALLY flummoxed...

'Case in point...and I can't name names here...but there was a record released by a well known band in 2005 that happened to be produced & engineered by one of the more established & esteemed members of this 'slutz' cul...errr...community!

A release that as a HUGE fan of the band I was REALLY looking forward to hearing...especially after all the hype around the project.

The truth is that I can't fukkin' STAND listening to it. In the words of one innocent bystander who heard about 30 seconds of the record while I was listening to it at home, and she’s not an engineer…knows nothing about this stuff other then it being my occupation of choice;

“It sounds like it was mixed with a snow-cone machine.”

Now THAT release has some REAL problems in mono.

Like the guitars COMPLETELY disappearing.

There's other stuff too...like the snare dropping it’s volume by about 80% and turning into a small blip that resembles a piece of paper being crumpled, lead & harmony backgrounds that pop outta' nowhere & are tucked WAY back in the stereo mixes & other wonkiness that would make for one helluva light show on a scope!

Now, I dunno what ya'll might think about things like that but to me, THAT'S a HUGE problem.

How do you explain that to a band or the A&R mooks when the single shows up on MTV or FM radio which typically fold or collapse the stereo signal to mono???

"Oh, yeah...sorry the guitars on gone on the video. It's OK though, they'll be there when they listen to the CD at home or in the car."

I wouldn't wanna' be on the receiving end of that because I'd lose the NEXT record!!!

Granted, it’s all there in stereo...

But it's really shocking considering the team that was on it & the MASSIVE wall of gear that they used...they've all got 'real' cred...gold & platinum records on the walls of everyone involved.

I've only assisted on records that huge & even then I can count ‘em on one hand.

And I’m not trying to preach or come off as some ‘golden eared god’ of audio engineering either, there are other cats on out there that FAR more skilled then me. I listen to Mixerman's stuff and I wanna switch careers, maybe be a short-order cook or something!

But you'd think that while they were all sitting around the control room & patting each other on the back & stroking each other over the press releases that someone would’ve been bright enough to think of checking the mixes on some kinda ghetto blaster or Horrortones...just a little 4" speaker rather then just grooving on the $5K Adam's.

I'd LOVE to ask the producer in question what the hell happened on that record and I probably would if I didn't think it would cause a HUGE **** storm or get some kind of half-assed answer...

-Moose
Old 18th May 2006
  #66
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DeepSpace's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Kahrs
...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!!!
Thanks for that Jay. Very interesting results and illustrates quite well that combining analog and digital (as in this case - analog tracking to digital stereo mix) can produce a superb result.

I would be interested to know if you've had a chance to evaluate the portico 5042 and, if so, how you think it sits in all of this.
Old 18th May 2006
  #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Kahrs
'Ya know, I listened to 'B' in mono & your right...there IS some whackyness there!

I have no idea what could account for that other then maybe some sort of head mis-alignment thing...we all know they only need to be off by a fraction of an inch in any one direction between the two machines (record @ my shop & the mastering house) to cause that kind of stuff.

Still...

I didn't hear anything in the mono analog that was "deal breaking."

Wonky? Sure.

But everything was still there, all instruments & vocals were audible & accounted for if not slighty muddier. Hey, maybe that's why Brad liked the digital mixes more!

What some of ya'll are calling "problems" though has me TOTALLY flummoxed...

'Case in point...and I can't name names here...but there was a record released by a well known band in 2005 that happened to be produced & engineered by one of the more established & esteemed members of this 'slutz' cul...errr...community!

A release that as a HUGE fan of the band I was REALLY looking forward to hearing...especially after all the hype around the project.

The truth is that I can't fukkin' STAND listening to it. In the words of one innocent bystander who heard about 30 seconds of the record while I was listening to it at home, and she’s not an engineer…knows nothing about this stuff other then it being my occupation of choice;

“It sounds like it was mixed with a snow-cone machine.”

Now THAT release has some REAL problems in mono.

Like the guitars COMPLETELY disappearing.

There's other stuff too...like the snare dropping it’s volume by about 80% and turning into a small blip that resembles a piece of paper being crumpled, lead & harmony backgrounds that pop outta' nowhere & are tucked WAY back in the stereo mixes & other wonkiness that would make for one helluva light show on a scope!

Now, I dunno what ya'll might think about things like that but to me, THAT'S a HUGE problem.

How do you explain that to a band or the A&R mooks when the single shows up on MTV or FM radio which typically fold or collapse the stereo signal to mono???

"Oh, yeah...sorry the guitars on gone on the video. It's OK though, they'll be there when they listen to the CD at home or in the car."

I wouldn't wanna' be on the receiving end of that because I'd lose the NEXT record!!!

Granted, it’s all there in stereo...

But it's really shocking considering the team that was on it & the MASSIVE wall of gear that they used...they've all got 'real' cred...gold & platinum records on the walls of everyone involved.

I've only assisted on records that huge & even then I can count ‘em on one hand.

And I’m not trying to preach or come off as some ‘golden eared god’ of audio engineering either, there are other cats on out there that FAR more skilled then me. I listen to Mixerman's stuff and I wanna switch careers, maybe be a short-order cook or something!

But you'd think that while they were all sitting around the control room & patting each other on the back & stroking each other over the press releases that someone would’ve been bright enough to think of checking the mixes on some kinda ghetto blaster or Horrortones...just a little 4" speaker rather then just grooving on the $5K Adam's.

I'd LOVE to ask the producer in question what the hell happened on that record and I probably would if I didn't think it would cause a HUGE **** storm or get some kind of half-assed answer...

-Moose
>Shows there is a Slight image shift and bit High fq loss, tad Vox image smear , ect...

I have actually not heard this in mono so I can't comment that much about it, but I would instinctively think that it is not even a problem. In the first version the treble is thicker, THAT might be the real problem, caused by artifacts in the AD conversion.
Old 18th May 2006
  #68
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RKrizman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Kahrs
'Ya know, I listened to 'B' in mono & your right...there IS some whackyness there!

I have no idea what could account for that other then maybe some sort of head mis-alignment thing...we all know they only need to be off by a fraction of an inch in any one direction between the two machines (record @ my shop & the mastering house) to cause that kind of stuff.

Still...

I didn't hear anything in the mono analog that was "deal breaking."

Wonky? Sure.

But everything was still there, all instruments & vocals were audible & accounted for if not slighty muddier. Hey, maybe that's why Brad liked the digital mixes more!

What some of ya'll are calling "problems" though has me TOTALLY flummoxed...
It's only a problem in terms of putting up a blind comparison like this when people are looking for a way to distinguish the tracks. To me the phase issue was the biggest sonic difference between the two, and was probably caused by some sort of slight analog misalignment or malfunction. Point being, you can't draw much of a conclusion from these files regarding comparing analog and digital as mix platforms.

In the big picture, they both sound great--very nice work on your part.

-R
Old 18th May 2006
  #69
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkSky
Thanks for that Jay. Very interesting results and illustrates quite well that combining analog and digital (as in this case - analog tracking to digital stereo mix) can produce a superb result.

I would be interested to know if you've had a chance to evaluate the portico 5042 and, if so, how you think it sits in all of this.
Nope, I haven't run across any of the Portico stuff in my travels yet. I'm sure it's a good piece & all but really...I've got enough stuff here that's all bought & paid for and that works for me on a daily basis. At this point if I hear something in my head or more importantly, something the client wants to hear I can usually get out of the gear I already have & if not, we'll rent in whatever or go to a shop that DOES have what we need.

That's the great thing about being an independent...being able to pick different rooms to fit around a clients individual needs for THAT specific record rather then 'forcing' them to work in a place that may or may not be ideal for their music.

Plus it lets me travel when someone is willing to foot the bill! heh

If I add another piece of kit to my arsenal it's GOTTA pull weight & offer something either entirely unique or provide some sort of indespensible advantage. Sure, there's stuff that I would LOVE to own but it's not stopping me from getting work done.

At this point in my career I've learned to work with both digital & analog and while I DO have a preference, at the end of the day it just doesn't matter in any huge way...picking one over the other won't help the records sell any better or worse.

If the human factor adds too much "suck"...well...that will affect sales, but that's NEVER the gears fault.

After all, you've gotta have it in your head to get it out.

The gear is just a medium.
Old 18th May 2006
  #70
Hey Jay, thanks for the experiment.

The funny thing is I have been skipping this thread because I was sure it was going to turn into a digital vs. analog flame war and I did not want to even bother going there. This turned out to be very interesting.

Nice tracks by the way. No point in my pick now that the cat is out of the bag but I liked both, maybe B a little more and I would probably have said that was the digital track, what do I know. I would not say that I could pick A or B out 9 out of 10 times in a blind test... they are pretty close. Outside of the mono issues I think this is splitting hairs at some point and personal preference comes into play.

As far as the whole digital vs. analog mess, I have worked on both and digital has come a long way baby. Many of the digital detractors are thinking digital like ADAT / DA88 I believe. For me, I would love to go analog, I do think it is slightly better still but it is not night and day now like some want to make it out to be.

In the end the only thing that matters is making good music so the whole digital vs. analog flame war is useless.
Old 19th May 2006
  #71
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by not_so_new
As far as the whole digital vs. analog mess, I have worked on both and digital has come a long way baby. Many of the digital detractors are thinking digital like ADAT / DA88 I believe. For me, I would love to go analog, I do think it is slightly better still but it is not night and day now like some want to make it out to be.

In the end the only thing that matters is making good music so the whole digital vs. analog flame war is useless.
Well said!

Personally, I started diggin' digital A LOT more when I started backing the levels down & stopped 'automaticlly' putting a compressor on everything.

Now I'm using -16dBfs as my 0VU point...things with sharp transients like drums get pushed up to -5 or -4dBfs (maybe a little more) but everything else, including guitars is about as low as I can get 'em...sometimes averaging -10 or -12dBfs.

And now it ounds WAY better!!! All the headroom & transient information is intact and the ****'s got life again. Granted it's not tape...but it's totally workable.

Music is pretty dumb really, about as smart as a rock.

It doesn't know if it's being captured on analog or digital. The average listener on the street is pretty dumb in the same regard...they don't know from formats.

They either like the music or they don't & they'll know if it sounds good or bad.

Beyond that, they average dude doesn't have a clue and 'ya know...I LIKE that approach!!!

It makes me make better records.
Old 19th May 2006
  #72
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I got the A/B CD today, it's great! They analyze a lot of things, like elements of production, mastering, the difference between analog and digital etc... It's really ear opening!

When it comes to the difference between analog and digital I sometimes don't hear any difference and sometimes the digital version sounds better to me... But I'm still listening here and I have not listened that carefully yet...

I recommend this CD. Thanks for the advice, worth every penny...!
Old 19th May 2006
  #73
Gear Guru
 
Sounds Great's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RainbowStorm
When it comes to the difference between analog and digital I sometimes don't hear any difference and sometimes the digital version sounds better to me...

But you are listening for the difference on a CD?
Old 19th May 2006
  #74
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Kahrs
Well said!

Personally, I started diggin' digital A LOT more when I started backing the levels down & stopped 'automaticlly' putting a compressor on everything.

Now I'm using -16dBfs as my 0VU point...things with sharp transients like drums get pushed up to -5 or -4dBfs (maybe a little more) but everything else, including guitars is about as low as I can get 'em...sometimes averaging -10 or -12dBfs.

And now it ounds WAY better!!! All the headroom & transient information is intact and the ****'s got life again. Granted it's not tape...but it's totally workable.

Music is pretty dumb really, about as smart as a rock.

It doesn't know if it's being captured on analog or digital. The average listener on the street is pretty dumb in the same regard...they don't know from formats.

They either like the music or they don't & they'll know if it sounds good or bad.

Beyond that, they average dude doesn't have a clue and 'ya know...I LIKE that approach!!!

It makes me make better records.
Exactly... 1010% agree with everything above.

My problem is the whole levels thing with digital. I know in my mind that I should not push too hard and give some room to the converters but my analog days are still there..... I feel if I don't push it I am doing something wrong but in digital that is the backwards. I know I have to get over it but it takes a conscious decision to pull back on the output of the channel to "tape" and some times I just get caught up in the heat of the battle.



Great points above Jay.
Old 20th May 2006
  #75
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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".

http://www.theabcd.com/index.html
Did you find track 27 to be realistic? They compare a home studio with a commercial studio and the home studio sounds 20 times better. How is that possible?!
Old 20th May 2006
  #76
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Sharp11's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sounds Great
But you are listening for the difference on a CD?
That's why I suggested the vinyl/turntable experiment.

I suppose one could track down an old Teac machine cheap and do some recording.

A used 2408 is probably achievable in the 150 dollar range - not too much money for true analog and it would give the young guys a chance to experience the joys of razor-blade editing, long rewind times and the wonders of tape machine maintenance.

Ed
Old 20th May 2006
  #77
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11

A used 2408 is probably achievable in the 150 dollar range - not too much money for true analog and it would give the young guys a chance to experience the joys of razor-blade editing, long rewind times and the wonders of tape machine maintenance.

Ed
Hehe, it's not worth it...!
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