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Ethan Winer article in Sound on Sound Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 10th December 2009
  #121
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when ethan is posting a thread often turns out like this ... ;-)

ethan seems to be a honorable man with an attitude.
his message is mostly the same: it does not matter if one uses prism ad/da or a simple 49$ sound card. more often than not he as a graph on his page to "proof" his statement. for ethan it's simple: all you need to do is to buy some more bass traps ...

heh

beside that i really enjoy ethan's posts ...
Old 10th December 2009
  #122
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Originally Posted by mobius.media View Post
And that is fine.
I'll take that as a retraction of "you should have stated it that way from the beginning."

Quote:
If you had said it can be "partially simulated" or "partially approximated", that would have been different. Why say "easily simulated" is you can't actually do it or haven't already proven it is possible?
Okay, how about this:

The sound changes made by analog tape are not complex, and are mostly distortion and to a lesser extent frequency response. These can be approximated with tape-sims, to achieve a similar effect.

Are you now satisfied?

Quote:
Even Paul Frindle had post in disagreement. I guess he was just being disagreeable as well.
Yes, in a way he was being disagreeable without helping the thread. He popped in only once:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Frindle View Post
no, no, no - it's a hell of a lot more complex than that! :-(
When I asked him to elaborate he did not. After I explained why simulating tape with 100 percent accuracy really isn't needed, he didn't reply to that either. So Yes, Paul did mostly disagree just to disagree.

Quote:
You very often talk about your artistic preferences, as do we all. I don't know why you always feel the need to insist otherwise.
Well let's be clear. When I talk about personal preferences, it's obvious that's what I'm saying. You're the one who keeps insisting that I foist my "opinions" as fact. In the "render MIDI as audio" thread I explained why I like to keep everything as MIDI, and why I never saw a reason to waste drive space with large audio files. After several people listed some valid reasons to render MIDI as audio, I agreed with them!

As for people being disagreeable, Yes, it happens all the time. But I don't think I'm the one who uses that tone first. I could link many examples, such as duvalle above, but it's tedious and a waste of time. It would be more productive to move forward. Just please stop saying I claimed things I never claimed, such as tape-sims exactly emulate tape to the point where they will null.

--Ethan
Old 10th December 2009
  #123
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Quote:
Okay, how about this:

The sound changes made by analog tape are not complex, and are mostly distortion and to a lesser extent frequency response. These can be approximated with tape-sims, to achieve a similar effect.

Are you now satisfied?
So the bottom line is it is close but can't be exact? If it is not complex then why not?
Maybe that is the root of the thread?

BTW great thread. thumbsup
Old 10th December 2009
  #124
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Originally Posted by Glenn Kuras View Post
So the bottom line is it is close but can't be exact? If it is not complex then why not?
Excellent question.

One huge problem is there's no one thing as "tape sound" because there are so many different brands of tape, brands of recorders, different tape speeds and widths, bias settings, tube versus solid state electronics, and so forth. This was already mentioned in one of the two ongoing "tape-sim" threads. I doubt a pristine condition Studer would null with a pristine condition Ampex!

Another problem is that many of the attributes of real tape are not desirable, so it seems pointless to even try to emulate tape that exactly. I don't want hiss added to my tracks, and I certainly don't want drop-outs and minor speed variations.

Yet another problem with trying to using nulling to "prove" tape-sims are exactly the same is those same speed variations will preclude nulling even if the sound is exactly the same. Someone else already pointed this out.

It's obvious that tape-sims can give a convincing tape type sound. I'm not the only person who uses tape-sims. It's a popular class of plug-ins!

Anyway, to answer your direct question, I would say that it is not difficult to emulate the sound of any given tape recorder exactly. I stand by my assertion that tape is not complex. It's mostly "soft clipping" type distortion, with frequency response changes close behind, followed by minor speed variations and drop-outs. The real issue is I don't think an exact emulation is needed for satisfying results. I'm sure I mentioned expectation bias before. This human perception "problem" is probably even more important to the discussion than how complex tape is to model.

--Ethan
Old 10th December 2009
  #125
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
Okay, how about this:

The sound changes made by analog tape are not complex, and are mostly distortion and to a lesser extent frequency response. These can be approximated with tape-sims, to achieve a similar effect.

Are you now satisfied?
Actually, yes. That will work just fine. (And it only took us five pages to get there! )
Old 10th December 2009
  #126
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Thanks Ethan thumbsup

Quote:
The real issue is I don't think an exact emulation is needed for satisfying results.
If that is their weapon of choice, who am I to say other wise?
Old 10th December 2009
  #127
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Originally Posted by Glenn Kuras View Post
If that is there weapon of choose, who am I to say other wise?
Of course! I'm sure I've mentioned in these threads more than once that I write mainly from a consumerist point of view. I see my "audience" as people with a limited budget who are trying to achieve professional results. Every day we see threads asking what gear to buy next, and whether they really need to spend big bux on a converter or preamp or external mixer/summer or analog recorder. As we all know, my opinion heh is those are not needed for professional results. Most people have a limited budget, and need to get the most value for their gear purchases. I'd rather see someone buy six audiotechnica microphones than one boutique outboard summing box. I'm certain that will give them far more value.

I never try to convince people who already bought into the high-end stuff to change their mind. Read some of these threads from the beginning and you'll see it's usually them (or gear sellers) who object when I give my advice to others. That's what starts the fights. heh

--Ethan
Old 10th December 2009
  #128
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomás Mulcahy View Post
I have a half track 15ips Revox PR99II with low mileage. I can't send it to you, but I could record test tones on it for the purpose of this experiment. Ampex 456.

Wouldn't it be more useful to record a slow sine sweep? Surely that would provide an accurate and useful transfer curve. I think it's a safe assumption that my M Audio converter is perfectly capable of reproducing a sine sweep accurately!

I have the Massey Tape sim also, so maybe I'll do my own comparisons and post them here. As Ethan points out, both recordings would have to hiss.

@mobius, I don't see how a null test is possible given the flutter of tape and the fact that accurate sync is impossible. Or are we calling it jitter? As for the phase issue, I think what Ethan was saying is that yes, there is a phase shift, but it's not audible because you don't have the original non phase shifted input signal to compare with. Is this right Ethan?

@Paul Frindle, can you post even a brief description of how complex it is?
This is a big big subject - where do I start? But very briefly:

1. The basic B/H curve of magnetisation for the tape material is indeed non-linear - but;

- it's not like the conduction curves of a couple of diodes (even though diodes are all different depending on type and design, none are like a magnetic B/H curve),
- It varies with tape type.
- It varies with temp.
- It varies with tape head type and wrap.

2. Bias is there to linearise the tape (overcome the B/H curve) but what it actually achieves in terms of non-linearity depends on:

- The level and freq of the bias
- The actual waveform of the bias
- The type of head used
- The type of tape used

3. Apart from all of the above (tape related stuff) the recording drive is pre-EQ'd - and so is the playback EQ'd, in order to produce the correct drive from the record head and compensated response from the playback head. Typically the standard freq compensation curves boost HF (depending on tape speed) to reduce noise. This means the proportionally more HF drive reaches the tape than LF (it's much more complex than that, but this simple description will do for now). The actual fine amounts of EQ in any given tape machine will depend on:

- The speed of the tape
- The tape type.
- The head type (in particular the gap width)
- The amount of bias used
- And other analogue considerations of the machine.

4. Additionally on top of all of the above, modulating tape with signal causes self-erasure. In particular HF content in the program starts to act like additional bias and starts erasing it's own signal from the tape as you record it (remember that erasing tape is just stuffing a load of HF bias into it).. This happens for several reasons and is variable depending on:

- Tape type
- Tape speed (because the EQ changes)
- Amount of bias (some people under biased to prevent it, swapping more distortion for higher HF levels)
- Other stuff like temp, age, number of plays etc,,

Note this is not harmonic distortion - it's loss of HF level.

We could go on further and talk about the actual max level on tape wrt frequency variations due to all sorts of issues, gross phase changes (that yes can be heard perfectly well) due to the nature of the whole process and so on and on - but to try and sum up the major effects of all this that make it immediately more complex than a simple transfer curve - the main issues are:

- Linearity is very different between tape types, machine types, bias settings.

- Linearity is highly frequency conscious and variable depending on tape type, bias settings, tape speeds, type of program being recorded.

- The actual compression due to tape is highly frequency conscious, changes the level and frequency content dynamically in real time, and depending on history. It is greatly different between machines, tape head design and settings within the machines.

Making analogue tape machines produce great sounding audio is a massively complex business, I know because I designed them :-(

The idea that all this can be simulated with a couple of diodes distorting the signal is obviously absurd :-(


To put this into perspective one very crude test you can try directly to illustrate just how damaging and complex all this is (whilst completely disregarding the direct non-linearity which Ethan has claimed to emulate):

Try recording white noise - playing it back and comparing it with the original (if you have simultaneous record and playback it's more convenient to switch between input and output monitor).

Then try recording at -30dB and raising it in increments noting how the sound changes. You will be amazed at how bad it all is!!

For a cassette recorder (of the highest quality) you will find that the max level you can record the noise and have it sounding quite similar to the original is significantly less than -20dB!! From then on the HF will start disappearing. You can try different tape types as well and note just how different they are and how the change the sound differently at various levels, (you may note how expensive cassette types may actually be worse than simple ferric ones too!)

For higher speeds this will improve and more level can be recorded - but even at 7.5ips you will find you can't get anywhere near 0dB.

With the 385nW/M magnetisations used in later professional set-ups at 15ips, on a really good machine set up very advantageously you may reach around -5 to -6dB before it becomes obvious. At 30ips on a good machine you may get to -3dB or so......... BTW 30ips has it's own problem at LF because the speed of the tape requires a greater head contact wrap than can normally be achieved - so the extreme LF rolls-off more than 7.5 or 15ips. To get flat at 30Hz requires a bump n the response at 80 - 100Hz (i.e. extra warmth!!)..

Ok - now just think of how that is affecting your music, the HF sibilance, cymbal crashes, percussion and saturated guitars? You can begin to see why people perceive the sound of tape as a 'softening influence' - and why by the same token, people switching to digital systems might perceive that they are comparatively harsh.... :-)

You might also ponder why any 'tape emulation' process is necessarily going to be very complicated, processing hungry and at best only contain mere facets of real tape machine behaviour...
Old 10th December 2009
  #129
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Excellent post Paul, thanks very much for spending the time to write all that. You have successfully shown how poor - and variable! - a medium analog tape really is, in the good sense as well as the bad. That's why I prefer tape-sims to real tape. You can get all the good goody goodness without the bad stuff. heh

However, all that said from both of our positions, pre-distortion in tape recorders using simple diodes does indeed reverse most of the distortion. So it can't be that large of a mismatch. Plus, it's not just a pair of diodes! It's also a variable resistor that softens the knee to be more like tape. Though to do a tape-sim using diodes would benefit from pre-emphasis before the diodes and de-emphasis after.

--Ethan
Old 10th December 2009
  #130
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Originally Posted by Paul Frindle View Post
The idea that all this can be simulated with a couple of diodes distorting the signal is obviously absurd :-(
You know, I can see where some of the misunderstanding comes from. You correctly explained that a real tape recorder is incredibly complex, with dozens of things that can go wrong, needing frequent tedious adjustment, having numerous artifacts and side-effects caused by many factors. I agree with all of that, and I agree that a pair of diodes cannot duplicate that. Obviously.

But are all of those factors the reason people prefer tape? Do they really like the LF roll-off and head bump when they use 30 IPS to overcome the hiss? Are they really after the gradual HF loss every time a tape is played? Are drop-outs ever desirable? I guess what I'm trying to say is that tape-sims can deliver the positive aspects of "tape sound" to my satisfaction, and obviously to all the others who use tape-sims. That a tape-sim is not exactly the same and will not null against real tape seems beside the point.

Indeed, there are other popular "distortions" that have a loyal following. For example, vinyl LPs and low powered tube amps. Devotees swear those give them more musical results, even though the sound of LPs is different from tape, and different from intentionally high-distortion tube amps. There are little gadgets sold to the hi-fi world that add distortion even though they call them "clarifiers" and purifiers" etc. This is why I keep focusing on the distortion aspect of analog tape as being what I think people are after. Does this make sense to anyone else? heh

--Ethan
Old 10th December 2009
  #131
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
You know, I can see where some of the misunderstanding comes from. You correctly explained that a real tape recorder is incredibly complex, with dozens of things that can go wrong, needing frequent tedious adjustment, having numerous artifacts and side-effects caused by many factors. I agree with all of that, and I agree that a pair of diodes cannot duplicate that. Obviously.

--Ethan
This is where I think the misunderstanding might reside? This is not about the theory (which is sadly more complex than most designers were ever able to control) and these are not 'things wrong' with tape in the wider sense, they are simply unavoidable parts of the process.

It is these factors that make all analogue tape machines different and produce their characters most professionals were acutely aware of - that is why the guy's Revox sounds completely different from an ATR100 or a Studer. Given the rigours and limitations of the medium, what we got were designer's best attempts at getting the best compromise - and the differences are pretty large.

The character of a tape machine is not defined by some simple non-linear transfer function - I assure you :-)

It was not that long ago - how come people seem to have forgotten this stuff already :-(

Do the noise recording test I suggested. It is not in the least sensitive to non-linearity in the sense of a transfer function, phase, or anything else you have mentioned (because it's a random signal). We are not talking about a dB or so out of alignment here - it's far more radical than that, but even so it's still far from the whole story...

It will surprise you :-)
Old 10th December 2009
  #132
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Frindle View Post
Then try recording at -30dB and raising it in increments noting how the sound changes. You will be amazed at how bad it all is!!
Just speculation on my part, but could we draw a parallel to this and human hearing? In how our ears "frequency response" changes with decibel level? Perhaps with the compromises of tape we arrived at something that behaved more similar to our ears response and therefore felt more natural and pleasing? As opposed to digital that while maybe more scientifically "accurate" is less in tune with man's physiology? Just a thought....
Old 11th December 2009
  #133
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
Another problem is that many of the attributes of real tape are not desirable, so it seems pointless to even try to emulate tape that exactly. I don't want hiss added to my tracks, and I certainly don't want drop-outs and minor speed variations.
I must say that those are all subjective opinions. There are cases where I would like a little bit of analog hiss or wow and flutter on some of my tracks. Can't really get that hypnotic King Tubby/Augustus Pablo sound any other way.

Conversely, there are lots of features and design choices that aren't for me because I just don't care, fundamentally, about accuracy. I'll take "good" over "accurate" every time. I might want a more accurate/flat sound on a particular source compared to some other choice, but accuracy as an abstract goal has no appeal for me whatsoever, I don't think it exists in the real world, and if I'm going to chase a phantom, I'd rather it be a sexier one.

IMO in the audio world there are clean and flat guys and there are color and character guys. Whichever we are, we like to think that we also understand the other mentality, but I doubt that's really true.

It doesn't really matter other than it's another grain of salt to take while listening to others (no matter their level of experience or knowledge) and in the sense that gear designers should have representatives from both camps when working on gear that they wish to appeal to both types.
Old 11th December 2009
  #134
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Originally Posted by teleharmonium View Post
I must say that those are all subjective opinions. There are cases where I would like a little bit of analog hiss or wow and flutter on some of my tracks. Can't really get that hypnotic King Tubby/Augustus Pablo sound any other way.

Conversely, there are lots of features and design choices that aren't for me because I just don't care, fundamentally, about accuracy. I'll take "good" over "accurate" every time. I might want a more accurate/flat sound on a particular source compared to some other choice, but accuracy as an abstract goal has no appeal for me whatsoever, I don't think it exists in the real world, and if I'm going to chase a phantom, I'd rather it be a sexier one.

IMO in the audio world there are clean and flat guys and there are color and character guys. Whichever we are, we like to think that we also understand the other mentality, but I doubt that's really true.

It doesn't really matter other than it's another grain of salt to take while listening to others (no matter their level of experience or knowledge) and in the sense that gear designers should have representatives from both camps when working on gear that they wish to appeal to both types.
Good points - and you are right that 'clean' is far from everything in audio, because it would dictate that you couldn't do stuff with it that was extraordinary sometimes :-(

What you need is to have reliability and control - in other words you need the clean path first so you can add the 'grit' you need to, it knowing precisely what you are doing and why :-) The last thing you want is 'grit' that comes and goes and stays around whether you like it or not - even when the fashion changes and you end up busting a gut trying to rid yourself of it :-(

The problem in the analogue field is that much of it was chance, much of it was confusing, seeming to work on one project but not another - it simply wasn't reliable. How many times have I witnessed people driven to distraction with doubts and unease when being forced to use another tape type - or on a machine lined up slightly differently - or one that had gotten tired with use. In the days of analogue studios we had whole departments of engineers trying to prevent just that!

There are really no 'clean and flat' guys in this business - all are character guys - that is what it's all about. There is no differentiation at all amongst people trying to make art :-)
Old 11th December 2009
  #135
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Originally Posted by johnnyc View Post
Just speculation on my part, but could we draw a parallel to this and human hearing? In how our ears "frequency response" changes with decibel level? Perhaps with the compromises of tape we arrived at something that behaved more similar to our ears response and therefore felt more natural and pleasing? As opposed to digital that while maybe more scientifically "accurate" is less in tune with man's physiology? Just a thought....
I understand what you are saying here - but it's not actually true. Our ears do not behave like an analogue tape machine - if they did we would not be hearing the harshness people report when switching away from it.

Truth is that analogue tape had a great ability to tame over-cooked productions and HF heavy mixes caused by engineers ear fatigue after too many hours on a session (yes I did them too) - it put a nice sheen on things if used optimally. And of course we all used this effect in the production process - often without even realising it.. :-)
Old 11th December 2009
  #136
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Originally Posted by Paul Frindle View Post
Good points - and you are right that 'clean' is far from everything in audio, because it would dictate that you couldn't do stuff with it that was extraordinary sometimes :-(

What you need is to have reliability and control - in other words you need the clean path first so you can add the 'grit' you need to, it knowing precisely what you are doing and why :-) The last thing you want is 'grit' that comes and goes and stays around whether you like it or not - even when the fashion changes and you end up busting a gut trying to rid yourself of it :-(
Maybe you need those things, Paul, and if so I respect that. I'm not saying that view isn't valid for other people, nor that my approach should be valid for everybody. But I most certainly do not need to start clean and carefully add single grains of grit later. I might want to sometimes, among other things, but it's still not an objective truism about audio recording.

If I get a sound right from the get go that is both dirty and wonderful, I am happy. No way am I going to reject that approach because the dirt was already there when I started. Too many times, I've tried to recapture the magic from a quick and imperfect take with a cleaner signal chain and recorded many takes toward that effort only to decide that the subtle charms of the original take were such that they had to be used in the mix.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Frindle View Post
The problem in the analogue field is that much of it was chance, much of it was confusing, seeming to work on one project but not another - it simply wasn't reliable.
That strikes me as a distinction without a difference. Nothing is truly reliable, it's all relative, particularly including the people that make the sounds we record. I've had at least as much downtime with digital equipment as I've had with analog equipment. I think it's the nature of music that stuff that works great for some music, doesn't work as well on other music. I'm not even sure if we should want that to change. In eastern aesthetics, imperfection and the temporary, fragile nature of things are inseparable from beauty. I think there's a lot of truth in that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Frindle View Post
There are really no 'clean and flat' guys in this business - all are character guys - that is what it's all about. There is no differentiation at all amongst people trying to make art :-)
I'm not sure if you're being entirely serious, but if so, I disagree. I was reading the Jim Williams thread in the So Much Gear... forum and I've heard similar things from many engineers that work on classical music. Many audiophiles feel that way, and I can't deny that it makes a certain amount of sense from an end user perspective. There are people that want clean and flat and honestly seem to believe that it is objectively better. It isn't, but it certainly can be subjectively better for their purposes. I don't mean to pick on them uniquely, all people have an issue with elevating their subjective views to pseudo objectivity.
Old 11th December 2009
  #137
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Originally Posted by teleharmonium View Post
Maybe you need those things, Paul, and if so I respect that. I'm not saying that view isn't valid for other people, nor that my approach should be valid for everybody. But I most certainly do not need to start clean and carefully add single grains of grit later. I might want to sometimes, among other things, but it's still not an objective truism about audio recording.

There are people that want clean and flat and honestly seem to believe that it is objectively better. It isn't, but it certainly can be subjectively better for their purposes. I don't mean to pick on them uniquely, all people have an issue with elevating their subjective views to pseudo objectivity.
So what is objectively better than accuracy to start with - before you start engineering, before you decide which character is appropriate? Surely you mean that the 'coloured slate' is 'subjectively' better - because this urges you to get better results in your opinion on the stuff you are doing? This is of course a valid personal opinion and preference, but an objective one - I'm not sure?

I re-engineered a lot of the SSL console when I was employed there precisely to obtain a different character, after the one that got it famous started to go out of fashion and sales were being lost to other manus.

Fine for the fabulously rich and successful, who could shell out for an entire new console on a whim of fashion. But surely you would agree that it would have been in everyone's best interests had the character been something that didn't inescapably 'come with' the most expensive bit of gear in your set up?

So this would be the advantage of digital too - provided that you had the means to obtain the character you preferred and needed at any one time.

That is the whole point of starting with a clean slate - it saves you an absolute fortune and frees you up to do what you want - rather than what the platform dictates :-) Having a clean slate to start with allows you to buy your character processing for a couple of hundred dollars, rather than the couple of hundred thousand dollars that even most of the top professionals can no longer afford or justify.

It is not me that needs it (unless I am after getting rich by any possible means) - it's the engineers :-)

Art is what matters above anything else, so we are trying to make technology the slave of art - and not the other way around :-)
Old 11th December 2009
  #138
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TMY - A machine that records audio to tape is in comparison complex, the effect of many mechanisms acting one upon the other create a tonality that is complex, the path compared to that of a wave emerging from a speaker is far more complex and subjected to many more variations and distortions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
What tape does is easily quantified, and not complicated. It can be easily simulated with a plug-in, or a pair of diodes as shown in the article I linked above.



This is my entire point. It is not complex! It only seems that way to people who are not schooled in electronics.

--Ethan
Quote:
Paul Frindle - The character of a tape machine is not defined by some simple non-linear transfer function - I assure you :-)


Ethan, notice when Paul Frindle says the same thing I said, about a tape machine being a complex interaction of many parts, how a large smile has developed on my face heh

Only joking, but it's nice when greater minds than I, confirm what I already new to be true.

Best
TMY
Old 11th December 2009
  #139
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Originally Posted by Paul Frindle View Post
So what is objectively better than accuracy to start with - before you start engineering, before you decide which character is appropriate? Surely you mean that the 'coloured slate' is 'subjectively' better - because this urges you to get better results in your opinion on the stuff you are doing? This is of course a valid personal opinion and preference, but an objective one - I'm not sure?
I don't think there is such a thing as an objectively better or best approach. I think the colored slate could be subjectively better to me sometimes, and when I feel that it is, I'm comfortable with that. A less colored slate is what I want other times, and I see that for others, it's what they want all the time. I don't really get that, but I get that I don't get that, so I try to accept that as a perfectly valid approach for others rather than judge it by my criteria.

Personally I prefer to see it this way; in recording we constantly make choices that affect the performances as well as the recorded sounds in ways we'll never fully understand or control. Every choice has potential positives and negatives, there's no such thing as a certain choice that allows you to avoid negatives. Advocates of the clean tabula rasa approach sometimes come across to me as if they believe that their preference is objectively better and carries no downsides. I disagree, although it may well be that the downsides of that approach are the better choice for them than my downsides. We all pick our poison.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Frindle View Post
I re-engineered a lot of the SSL console when I was employed there precisely to obtain a different character, after the one that got it famous started to go out of fashion and sales were being lost to other manus.

Fine for the fabulously rich and successful, who could shell out for an entire new console on a whim of fashion. But surely you would agree that it would have been in everyone's best interests had the character been something that didn't inescapably 'come with' the most expensive bit of gear in your set up?
Not necessarily. The console might not have been made and sold in the first place, had that character not been desirable enough at one time for someone to commit to paying top dollar for it. But yes, the financial aspects of the choice to go with character should be considered, and I would not encourage anyone to put very large amounts of money (like what an SSL desk goes for) into what is basically one character piece, unless they are totally comfortable with betting that the character will retain it's appeal throughout their life. I mean, world class string players that can get a real Strad, tend to do so; they have character in spades, but it's one that has proven itself, is if anything a great investment, and is versatile.

Conversely, going with pristine clean stuff also has its risks. Not all audio gear retains its value, especially anything digital once it becomes obsolete or becomes harder to interface to other gear. Whatever the gear, the higher the price tag, the more carefully one should think about these things; those issues are not unique to either clear or color pieces.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Frindle View Post
So this would be the advantage of digital too - provided that you had the means to obtain the character you preferred and needed at any one time.
That's the trick, though; the ability of digital stuff to emulate analog stuff done on the way in is limited, depending on what kind of equipment we're talking about, and it tends to involve lots of trial and error. A chief virtue of committing up front is the time savings, which IMO can mean a lot to the creative process. You've got to strike when the iron is hot, and being able to hear a track the way you want to hear it, right away once it is tracked, can help with the momentum of the session.

Naturally, if you are trying to commit immediately by tracking with a heavily colored sound, and you don't hit the mark, you have fewer options to fix it. But when you hit the target, there's nothing like it, and if you make this your standard approach eventually you just work with it and no longer concern yourself about the what ifs; ultimately I think it's a good discipline that over time leads to better performances. It's not the kind of thing where the benefits would be immediate and decisive in every situation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Frindle View Post
That is the whole point of starting with a clean slate - it saves you an absolute fortune and frees you up to do what you want - rather than what the platform dictates :-) Having a clean slate to start with allows you to buy your character processing for a couple of hundred dollars, rather than the couple of hundred thousand dollars that even most of the top professionals can no longer afford or justify.
Saving the money is something I can certainly appreciate, but it's not really relevant to the topic of the virtues of the various work styles we're talking about, and it is possible to go with cheaper character pieces than what a good comprehensively clean pro system costs. Personally I work on a shoestring budget, my character pieces are mostly pretty affordable vintage dynamic mics, a few effects, and lots of guitar amps and some weird instruments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Frindle View Post
Art is what matters above anything else, so we are trying to make technology the slave of art - and not the other way around :-)
I suppose I agree with that, yet in my way of looking at things, there's more art in having a good instinct and committing to it early, than leaving all options open as long as possible in what to me is a more methodical, left brain sort of approach. It could be argued that the latter approach makes one more of a slave to the technology than the former.
Old 12th December 2009
  #140
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teleharmonium View Post
I don't think there is such a thing as an objectively better or best approach. I think the colored slate could be subjectively better to me sometimes, and when I feel that it is, I'm comfortable with that. A less colored slate is what I want other times, and I see that for others, it's what they want all the time. I don't really get that, but I get that I don't get that, so I try to accept that as a perfectly valid approach for others rather than judge it by my criteria.

<snipped for brevity>


I suppose I agree with that, yet in my way of looking at things, there's more art in having a good instinct and committing to it early, than leaving all options open as long as possible in what to me is a more methodical, left brain sort of approach. It could be argued that the latter approach makes one more of a slave to the technology than the former.
Reading the comments in your posts, it's a little difficult to see what you are defending exactly? Firstly, no one is suggesting that we should abandon our character gear and instincts and simply go with what seems to be technically 'right' at any time from a purist angle. That would be an awful limitation and I agree it has no place in the creative arena at all..

The idea that one is inspired by effects of the processing (analogue or digital) is absolutely right - often just fiddling with these things intuitively gets you on the road to something special in the natural process of artistic discovery :-) This goes to the heart of what we all do - our latest very humble offering is aimed at highly artistic character manipulation and is intentionally a very long way indeed from being a perfect 'piece of wire' - a process that simply cannot be done in analogue!

On the other hand, I would not want to be limited to inescapable, ill-defined and often un-repeatable effects produced by my basic signal chain, depending on how much of this or that is connected at any one time etc... This I see as an awful limitation that all console designers were trying to avoid at all eras of technology. From a position as the designer of many of these things, much of the characters came about precisely because they could not be transparent, so decisions had to be made about which aspects to trade off - and subsequently became 'carved in stone'.. Not ideal by any means IMVHO

As an engineer I would have really loved to have had the freedom of being able to bounce, fly in and manipulate audio creatively without the dire loss of fidelity we all fought against in the analogue days.

As a listener, I would have really loved to have heard what early adopters of manipulation art such as even the Beatles would have sounded like (and produced) if not limited by such issues associated with tape machines.. What indeed would they have produced if they had access to what we all take for granted now, we can only speculate (and don't try and say in hindsight that the sound of the limitations themselves was part of what they were actually trying to do).

The point is not to lecture people with notions of technical 'righteousness' and create artificial polarisation and division. The point has always been to strive to free people from the technical limitations that hold them back artistically, whilst not throwing out the 'good stuff' in the process :-)
Old 12th December 2009
  #141
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Frindle View Post
The point is not to lecture people with notions of technical 'righteousness' and create artificial polarisation and division. The point has always been to strive to free people from the technical limitations that hold them back artistically, whilst not throwing out the 'good stuff' in the process :-)
Old 12th December 2009
  #142
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Ethan Winer's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Frindle View Post
As an engineer I would have really loved to have had the freedom of being able to bounce, fly in and manipulate audio creatively without the dire loss of fidelity we all fought against in the analogue days.
That pretty well sums it up from my perspective.

--Ethan
Old 12th December 2009
  #143
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Frindle View Post
Reading the comments in your posts, it's a little difficult to see what you are defending exactly?
I'm basically saying there is no one objectively best approach for everybody. There are only subjectively better approaches, we can either pick one to use as ours, or we can freely use different approaches according to each project.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Frindle View Post
On the other hand, I would not want to be limited to inescapable, ill-defined and often un-repeatable effects produced by my basic signal chain, depending on how much of this or that is connected at any one time etc... This I see as an awful limitation that all console designers were trying to avoid at all eras of technology. From a position as the designer of many of these things, much of the characters came about precisely because they could not be transparent, so decisions had to be made about which aspects to trade off - and subsequently became 'carved in stone'.. Not ideal by any means IMVHO

As an engineer I would have really loved to have had the freedom of being able to bounce, fly in and manipulate audio creatively without the dire loss of fidelity we all fought against in the analogue days.
I totally understand and can relate. I am not suggesting that anyone should use an approach they aren't comfortable with. But, other than the loss of fidelity from tape going down a generation, I see positive aspects to everything you described here. An excellent example is the track breakdown of "Come Together" from the BBC program that's been talked about here. Those tracks are characterized by decisions and limitations that most of us don't live with today; different instruments sharing tracks, room and direct signals mixed on the way in, effects to tape, and tape itself. And the results are fastastic, for reasons that IMO have to do in an important way with the speed of working that way and how creative people can respond to those "limitations".

The counter argument, relies on the presumption that the same result could have been achieved without those early commitments to decisions (which made the subsequent mixing stage, probably very simple). But I don't accept that convenient hypothetical. Where are all of the pop music recording, production, and mixing masterpieces from the era of unlimited tracks ? I can think of precious few (to my admittedly weird tastes), but I see too many to count from the tape era. When it comes to dub reggae, it's practically a linear progression from lots of limitations and great results, to fewer technical limits and crappy results after a couple of decades. I know there are other factors, but it's hard to ignore a clear trend like that.

Creativity tends to be triggered when people work quickly and within arbitrary limitations. IMO pop music was generally better before most engineers had the ability to postpone decisions and dedicate large numbers of tracks to single parts; there are other reasons for this as well, but I think that is part of the reason. Making music recording more of a left brain thing, which is the modern way, has the undesirable side effect of making the music being recorded also more of a left brain thing. I really think engineers and producers often fail to appreciate that relationship.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Frindle View Post
The point is not to lecture people with notions of technical 'righteousness' and create artificial polarisation and division. The point has always been to strive to free people from the technical limitations that hold them back artistically, whilst not throwing out the 'good stuff' in the process :-)
Fair enough, but I would like it to be understood that I personally don't want to be freed from technical limitations. I see them more as choices, than limitations; there's no baron standing over me forcing me to use any particular approach in recording. I just want the right kind of technical limitations because in my world they help me get to creative places I could not get any other way, and to do so pretty quickly and without a large budget or large amounts of time.
Old 13th December 2009
  #144
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Don't you just love it when the real scientists decide to end all the argumentative crap with a couple of posts of real science. Thank God.

"Popping in just to disagree" indeed. heh
Old 14th December 2009
  #145
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMarqueeYears View Post
I think his cat passed away actually ... maybe he'll get another.

Ethan's a bright guy, I have a lot of respect for him, but = I have a lot of things I completely disagree with him about, like converters and monitors.



TMY
same here he is bright man but i totally disagree with most things he say and also that he makes you believe that is the only that have the truth and the only one that manufacture good acoustic treatment products!
Old 14th December 2009
  #146
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Kuras View Post
Thanks Ethan thumbsup



If that is there weapon of choose, who am I to say other wise?
hahahahahaaaaa!!!!
Old 14th December 2009
  #147
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zak7 View Post
hahahahahaaaaa!!!!
choice!

Doing my edit now
Old 14th December 2009
  #148
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Fibes's Avatar
 

Thanks for your time and effort within this thread Paul.
Old 14th December 2009
  #149
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The Listener's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Frindle View Post

As a listener, I would have really loved to have heard what early adopters of manipulation art such as even the Beatles would have sounded like (and produced) if not limited by such issues associated with tape machines..
-------------------------------
The point is not to lecture people with notions of technical 'righteousness' and create artificial polarisation and division. The point has always been to strive to free people from the technical limitations that hold them back artistically, whilst not throwing out the 'good stuff' in the process :-)


and about what would the Beatles sound like if not limited by the tape manipulations only (judging from what they did and tried to do in their more experimental moments...) - something like this? but with vocal harmonies on top?:

YouTube - Boredoms Vision Creation Newsun
Old 14th December 2009
  #150
Gear Nut
 
pinwale's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by duvalle View Post
when ethan is posting a thread often turns out like this ... ;-)

ethan seems to be a honorable man with an attitude.
his message is mostly the same: it does not matter if one uses prism ad/da or a simple 49$ sound card. more often than not he as a graph on his page to "proof" his statement. for ethan it's simple: all you need to do is to buy some more bass traps ...
This thread is a rather perfect example of why that's so. It is, in my humble opinion, about the presentation of expertise. With Paul Frindle's participation here, we have a splendid contrast in examples.

Ethan rose to a level of prominence on the successes of manufacturing a good product, a professionally built and improved version of something which most made as DIY or acquired as bespoke. This product simply and effectively solved some acoustics problems for a lot of people. As such, many imagine Ethan as someone who must understand a lot about acoustics, and Ethan has smartly positioned himself to cultivate that image of him as an expert, posting extensively on the subject. To the more knowledgeable, this often comes off like a florist speaking as if she were an authority on botany, but it is somewhat understandable as a component of a sound business presence online.

However, Ethan also spreads this posture of expertise to areas where he might even more appropriately hold himself to the posture of an inquisitive enthusiast. He instead 'upsells' his expertise in his authoritative style and manner of posting. Gearslutz may have a lot of newbies and chaff, but threads where this dynamic is prominent dissolve into bickering because there are enough people here with sufficient knowledge to see the mismatch between the expert posture and the truths of the matter, and so call this into question.

On the other hand, for the technologies and processes that most of us understand superficially, Paul Frindle has knowledge of a breadth and depth that few could compare to or sanely require. Paul posts here often, and has a great skill in 'downselling' his expertise so that it remains conversable with people who don't know the topics as well as he does.

I tend to fancy the style of the latter.
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