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#1683386 - 07/26/05 05:35 PM "I prefer digital to analog"
J.J. Blair Moderator Offline
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Registered: 07/22/05
Posts: 329
Loc: Hollywood, CA
That would not be me, saying that, but I noticed that a number of you mentioned that you work in both mediums yet prefer digital. Most of the people I work with either never say that or won't admit it, so I'm really curious as to why some of you feel that way.

BTW, as I always say, there's no right or wrong on this. Most of our decisions boil down to issues of taste and practicality. So you digiphiles should speak up. Let's hear it.
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#1683387 - 07/26/05 06:42 PM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
the stranger Offline
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I prefer analog, but the capabilities of digital are just too good. Once I started working with audio in the computer realm, I was hooked.

Nothing beats a good live-to-2 track tape recording,
but digital opens up all these other avenues of manipulation. A lot of which is mis-used, but it still is unreal what a person can do with audio these days.

Like that first time you burned a cdr. It's amazing how digital has empowered the indie scene.

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#1683388 - 07/26/05 06:53 PM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
AudioMaverick Offline
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Loc: Outskirts of Big Bear, CA,UNIT...
Ditto... I spent most my life embracing technology, and steering away from tubes. It's my vocational direction. Analog & digital have their places. And, in some means, they uniquely serve a function the other can't.

It took a while. But, I finally agree about the tape warmth thing (2nd & 3rd harmonics and such). But, the bottom line is that the final product is what it was intended to be.

Technology is going to obsolete some things. Demand is going to keep other things alive. As computers become more capable, there will be fewer anaolg tape machines around. But, they won't die out. Neither will the vinyl record... yet. And, the 12AX7, 6L6 and similar tubes will live in preamps and guitar amps for some time to come.

And, if a client wants that analog warmth in a production of mine, it'll be done.
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#1683389 - 07/26/05 07:36 PM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
J.J. Blair Moderator Offline
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Registered: 07/22/05
Posts: 329
Loc: Hollywood, CA
Well, I will say the good thing and the bad thing about digital is that you can fix bad performances. I'll let that statement explain itself. The other nice thing about digital, considering that your A/D conversion is solid, is that you get a reasonably exact replication of what you put into it. There aren't as many artifacts added as with tape.

However, some of the artifacts of analog are considered desirable, like tape compression, harmonic distortion, cross talk, etc. I never find myself lacking 'warmth' in digital, but I do tend to use discreet signal paths and high quality converters. But the main reason I like to track to analog is unquantifiable and purely anecdotal, though: A period of time will pass when I've been doing digital recording only, and then we start tracking to tape, and on listening back, there's a 3rd dimension that was not present in digital. I didn't know I was missing it until we were back in analog.

There was a particular instance, we had been tracking upright bass to PT, and the next day with the very same player, the same bass and signal path, etc. we tracked to tape, and the difference was undeniable. We were like, "Wow. This sounds so much better." I know that it always begs the question, does that 3rd dimension still translate by the time they master the CD, and you hear it back at 44.1 khz 16 bit or especially when you listen to an mp3 on your iPod? I think it does. Bit as I said, it always boils down to preference. Plenty or records that I enjoy were made with methods I would never choose to employ.
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#1683390 - 07/26/05 10:14 PM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
FIBES Offline
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Give me a great band, great songs, a great room, a great desk and some mics and i'd stop cutting myself nightly.

One can take out a loan for most of 'em but the firsat two are so hard to come by i'd be a depressed tape waster.
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#1683391 - 07/27/05 01:44 AM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
mixfix Offline
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Registered: 07/03/05
Posts: 22
Loc: Hollywood/Burbank
Both formats have their place and strong/weak points. I try to use the best attributes of each...however...

digital is just SO damn handy.....so
record with good stuff AND with good technique, and do not over Frindle your levels....

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#1683392 - 07/27/05 02:39 AM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
J.J. Blair Moderator Offline
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Registered: 07/22/05
Posts: 329
Loc: Hollywood, CA
Quote:
do not over Frindle your levels....
Please explain. I could read that a few ways.
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#1683393 - 07/27/05 03:03 AM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
Bunny Knutson Offline
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I love recording on analog tape, but digital recording is SO efficient and inexpensive now that I really have no choice. Add to that the fact that archiving and storage are so much cheaper and more compact with digital formats, and it's no wonder why the demand for tape has decreased in the last decade.

It's kind of sad to see analog recording go "out of style," but it's not difficult to see why it's happening.

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#1683394 - 07/27/05 05:42 AM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
BrianK Moderator Offline
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True - but I feel it's a bit like MacDonalds - everyone knows it and it's SO easy, that you just accept.

Obviously many people here have made format choices from experience, but almost weekly I find people who have never recorded any other way than ProTools. Other digi formats have much to offer (even the linear tape-based ones) as do the various versions of analog. It REALLY is eye opening to compare things sometimes. I generally find no CLEAR winners, just 'preferences of sound' you select to create your own world.

The main answer to this thread is almost certainly - "power to control".
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#1683395 - 07/27/05 01:26 PM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
mixfix Offline
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Registered: 07/03/05
Posts: 22
Loc: Hollywood/Burbank
"do not over Frindle your levels.... "

Referring to a thread featuring Paul Frindle on a different forum regarding an issue where digital clipping can occur without the workstation metering showing overs. (I hate when that happens).
I keep at least 6dB below full scale to avoid that sort of thing. (good thing I'm not a Mastering Engineer...)

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#1683396 - 07/27/05 02:57 PM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
miroslav Offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by J.J. Blair:
But the main reason I like to track to analog is unquantifiable and purely anecdotal, though: A period of time will pass when I've been doing digital recording only, and then we start tracking to tape, and on listening back, there's a 3rd dimension that was not present in digital. I didn't know I was missing it until we were back in analog.
I think it's only unquantifiable and anecdotal if you try and argue purely from a hard-nosed, "analog is better than digital" point of view. But like you, there are a lot of people that find missing "stuff" when switching back from digital...
..though of course...many digital-purists will say that "stuff" is what they were trying to get away from in the first place, when they left analog!!! \:D

If I can get it all on tape...and no need for serious edits...I usually will skip the DAW altogether.
But in other cases...I'll record to tape...dump to DAW...edit...then back out to the console/outboard gear for final mix.

There is almost a sinister draw to using a DAW…it’s like giving in to the “dark force”…because the damn things make a LOT of stuff just too easy to do…
…but you have to be careful about letting that whole process control things.
That’s the “I did it because I CAN” instead of “because I needed to” dark side of DAW and ITB recording/mixing.

I find the limitations of tape and working mostly in the analog domain…to be quite liberating in many ways…though the process does require a bit more planning, and it can be a lot slower…
…but then, I like working slowly and deliberately.
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#1683397 - 07/27/05 06:04 PM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
J.J. Blair Moderator Offline
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Registered: 07/22/05
Posts: 329
Loc: Hollywood, CA
Mixfix, I thought that's what you meant. i wasn't sure if you meant pulling the level way too far down to avoid said clipping or allowing too much non metered clipping.

Miroslav, I think that when it comes to rock and roll, the limitations of analog are part of why is sounds so good. Especially with drums. The thing I miss most, when recording to digital, is getting tape compression on the kick and snare. Sure, I could ljust compress the kick and snare, but it's never the same sound.
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#1683398 - 07/28/05 03:32 AM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
Curve Dominant Offline
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Registered: 10/29/00
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Loc: Philadelphia USA
I prefer digital to analog. I do, truly.

When I was a little kid, I was taken on a field trip to Palo Alto Research Center (Xerox PARC), and there, I saw the future, and fell in love with it.

DAW's were a long way off at that time, but I saw the possibilities, and imagined what I could do with digital audio.

It made me hate tape. I used tape, and did whatever I could do with it, but I hated it. It was like a splinter in my mind, driving me mad, knowing what I could do if only I had digital audio.

I love digital audio. I don't just prefer it. I LOVE it.
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#1683399 - 07/28/05 07:25 AM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
miroslav Offline
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To me…the difference between digital and analog is something like this:

If digital and analog were roads to travel…

Digital is a multi-lane highway…wide open and often pretty straight…nice crisp lines…no potholes…no cracks in the pavement…
…plenty of rest stops along the way, loaded with all the amenities anyone could need while traveling from point A-B.
And yeah, as you look out the window…there is scenery that you pass by…
…though it tends to be a homogenized blur…just a momentary eye-catcher…as you move along at 80+ MPH, trying to get from A-to-B as fast as you can.

Analog is more of a single lane road…almost a side/back road. It tends to meander a bit, following the natural curves of the countryside, rather than mechanically slicing its path through anything that comes in its way, like multilane highways tend to do.
There may be some cracks in the pavement…and no hi-tech guardrails and big green signs telling you about every upcoming turn-off option and event.
The speeds are a bit slower…and sometimes you have to wait for the right opportunity to pass someone.
But…the scenery and the ride usually make it all very rewarding.

When I go to work every day…nothing beats the highway…1-2-3…point A-to-B….done!
When I like to kick-back a bit…and not worry so much about the destination, or how fast I need to get there…I take a side road.

There is some music and some types of music production…that would be very difficult to do with analog tape. If you rely heavily on sequencing/looping/slicing-n-dicing in order to create something…then digital is king.
But…take some drums/bass/guitar/keys doing R&R…analog tape is just so much more “natural”…IMO.

Oh…and I never quite understand why people who claim to “prefer digital to analog”…(as though it is one or the other)…are always reducing “analog” ...to just rolling tape…???
Analog audio is NOT just open reel tape recording!!!

No matter ho much you prefer digital…
…at this time…all music begins and ends in the analog domain.
And…some of the most important pieces of audio and steps in the recording process…(even for you “digital-only” folks)…still happen to be…ANALOG!
Mics…pre’s…monitors…and lets not forget our ears (at the “front-end”)…
…all are ANALOG DEVICES…and all work in the analog domain.
And then there is also the medium the lets us hear sound…AIR…
It is also analog.

So…while digital is a great “intermediate” tool…that lets you manipulate audio…it can’t exist on it’s own.
On the other hand…when all the zeros and ones are taken away…you can still do audio entirely in the analog domain…start to finish…which to me, just has a more natural feel about it.
But…I have digital…I use digital…and I don’t hate digital…
…I just happen to LOVE analog!
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#1683400 - 07/28/05 10:00 AM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
starscream2010 Offline
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Registered: 07/26/05
Posts: 12
Loc: Dallas,TX
I use digital mainly because I feel that I get more features and "bang for my buck". As much as I would LOVE to own a 2" machine with tons of killer outboard comps, eq's and fx units, I couldn't afford it (I could, but I would have to live off ramen and my wife would divorce me ;\) ). I have a few nice pres, mics, compressors and decent a/d conversion that allow me to produce results that 5yrs ago I had to people $75 and hour to get. I probably only record 1/4 of the projects that most of you here do, so I’m probably not even playing the same ‘sport’ as the rest of you but for someone in my position it doesn’t make any sense to go analog.

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#1683401 - 07/28/05 10:44 AM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
miroslav Offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by starscream2010:
...for someone in my position it doesn’t make any sense to go analog.
But you are already using quite of bit of analog gear...aren't you? \:\)

If we reduce the analog/digital comparison where only open reel tape recording is referred to as "analog"....
...and everything else as "digital" recording...
...then it can be agreed that most people would not be able to follow THAT "analog" path.
Those big decks are still quite pricey…even on eBay! ;\)

But...there are a lot of other analog options besides tape decks.
Along with mics/pres/monitrs...you can also have great analog outboard gear...not to mention analog consoles.
And many of those items contribute greatly to the finished product quality.

If you have great front and back end analog gear...and in the middle a digital rig...
...it will still sound different than if you do it all ITB, with only plugs.
But you CAN do a lot of good stuff staying ITB...
...though you still need analog mics/pres/monitors of good quality...even if you do everything else ITB...IMO.

Don’t you agree?
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#1683402 - 07/28/05 10:48 AM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
starscream2010 Offline
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Registered: 07/26/05
Posts: 12
Loc: Dallas,TX
I agree with you 100% Miroslav \:\)

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#1683403 - 07/30/05 07:45 AM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
BrianK Moderator Offline
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Registered: 12/17/00
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Loc: Los Angeles,CA,UNITED STATES
There are SO many formats, and combinations fo formats, that there are thousands of sonic ranges available. However, I have to say that there's a thing I keep hearing on older recordings done to 8-track in the late 60's and early 70's.

They have a "vibe" that i don't think comes across on 2" 16, live to 2-track, and certainly not 24 track. I have NEVER heard any other gear do that sound. It sounds like "a record".

I can't figure it out - but it has LOTS of the characteristics of some analog: noticeably limited bandwidth, compression artifacts, a colored sound. I STILL can't figure out how it happens, although I've used the same type of gear on many sessions. It may have to do with tape bias back then, or the rudimentary consoles...
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#1683404 - 07/30/05 08:38 AM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
miroslav Offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by BrianK:
...it has LOTS of the characteristics of some analog: noticeably limited bandwidth, compression artifacts, a colored sound.
I think this is what the folks who have only known digital, miss out on...or don't comprehend, when they hear all the analog/tape users talk about "that sound" that they can't get with digital.

There is always that argument about the cleanliness and exactness and huge dynamic range that digital has...and the question is always asked, "Why would anyone use "inferior" analog, when digital captures the original so much better?"...etc.
But, it IS that limited, colored sound, that imparts a certain kind of uniqueness, which is never possible digitally...that some people prefer.

I think it is easy to get use to the "digital" sound...and I don't think there is anything wrong with it...it is just a different flavor, that's all. And when you add in the endless editing capabilities of digital...it's no wonder why so many embrace it.

Though it would be really great if all the "new kids" would be able to experience "old style/old school" recording...at least for a short period of time...before moving on to a DAW-only world…just so there is no doubt in their minds about which flavor they prefer, and the best way to go about getting it.

It's just like some of the MP3 crowd, never sitting down in front of a high-end system, and listening to something in all its glory.
I'm sure over time, you can get use to the MP3 sound...just like those small, hand-held transistor radios back in the 60's, and you will end up becoming ear-trained to THAT sound...and after awhile, you focus back on only the musical content, your ears having adjusted to the limited audio quality.

But if you can experience various sounds...various formats...various methods...
...at least then, you will make conscious choices, rather than just going with what is only affordable or immediately available to you.
But I know it's not easy or realistic for everyone who is getting into recording, to actually go around and experience everything that is possible, before settling down with their final, conscious choices.
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#1683405 - 07/30/05 11:32 AM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
the stranger Offline
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Registered: 09/18/00
Posts: 5760
Loc: THE TOP
Quote:
Originally posted by Curve Dominant:
...It was like a splinter in my mind, driving me mad...
So I'm guessing you ate the red pill? \:D

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#1683406 - 07/30/05 04:49 PM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
AudioMaverick Offline
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Registered: 05/19/01
Posts: 1794
Loc: Outskirts of Big Bear, CA,UNIT...
I agree with most of your comments, Miroslav. I think I sit along the same ideal, even though I've tried to deviate from it to favor digital.

I was lucky enough to have some experience sitting in an analog mixing room in the late 1980s. Watching the engineers do their thing, and hearing the result, and seeing the environment that allows it to happen.

When I went to my first AES show, 5 or 6 years ago, I sat in on a demonstration of an old 3-track. Listening to the presenter talk about the recordings and what it was like to use the system. It was all a good baseline to build from.

I think the "splinter in my mind" came when I overheard a conversation between two people (probably industry cornerstones). One commented to the other that he really missed that essence of the old gear compared to the new gear. When asked to give an example, he mentioned the *blatty* sound trombones had in recordings of the 50s & 60s were not there in newer digital recordings. I almost asked out loud for this guy to explain this. But, I stopped myself. To answer why digital couldn't, in its more capable ability, reproduce analog properties... I started casually researching things. I have stumbled across those little discoveries one has to make on their own.

I think it is true that most people who don't experience these things on their own will be hard-pressed to relate it. It goes beyond great specs on paper, or a meter reading. The first time I recorded a vinyl LP and put it on CD, and found it sounded better than a CD remaster -- that blew my mind, for a while. The first audio preamp I tested that faithfully reproduced a capacitance ring on a tone generator at 100kHz did, too. The first time I ran a Rode mic through a tube preamp and liked the difference in character, open my eyes even more. And, I expect that when I get my new space in place, I'll do another thing to get that right sound... and, it will undoubtedly amaze me.

Similar to what you said... From the microphone to the speaker (and ear), the digital part is not really that much.
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#1683407 - 08/02/05 08:07 PM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
seclusion Offline
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Registered: 04/11/01
Posts: 612
Loc: Orillia, CANADA
On that 8 track part. I was thinking that after that era, overdubs became the norm. So performers knew they could "fill in the blanks" on another pass... Where before they really had to nail the take. Each person had a role and no one was doing double duty! As in the artist/ player "used" to play, write etc. They weren't programming, downloading drivers, backing sessions up etc. I've had the oportunity to perform live myself and as well with a bass player. No bells and whistles. Nothing else to be concerned with, just play... Nobody fixing... Never mind the engineering crew in the past 4-5 guys used to spend hours micing a kit cause it had to be done in 1 take, off the floor. Now some just use samples with quantizing. Sort of forcing a writer to conform to a set pace.
I'll leave it there
Later
Brian
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#1683408 - 08/02/05 08:55 PM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
Editor Boy Offline
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Registered: 05/14/01
Posts: 368
Loc: San Mateo,CA,UNITED STATES
I hated biasing tape decks -- both as a second engineer and as a studio owner -- but, otherwise, I loved analog tape. But it's not just for whatever sonic attributes one might assign to analog tape -- I dug the CULTURE of analog. Which, in my case, meant track limitations, extreme care and craft in recording source sounds, and getting good stuff down real quick.

Now, I absolutely love digital, but I don't love the digital culture, as much. For some, it can be a very introspective and overly detail-oriented world of limitless possibilities and option anxiety. When I work on my own, and can control the environment, I have a pretty good time with DAWs. But if I'm trapped in someone else's vortex, spending days in front of screens dissecting teensy bits of audio goodness and badness to construct "stuff," then I just want to run a chainsaw across my brow. Call me selfish, but that ain't fun to me. And I felt the same way in the analog late-70s when some producers would often spend 20 hours miking a snare drum. "Hey, tomorrow we'll start on the kick!" Arrghhhh.

Admittedly, I'm a rock guy. I have no patience. I like energy and vibe and the sweet bliss of nailing a beautiful performance in under three takes. The digital medium doesn't necessarily IMPEDE such a work dream, but, man, finding cohorts who buzz into the digital medium like rapid-fire excitement machines can be difficult. Yeah...it's a cultural thing.

The only other bit I'll say about the sonic aspects of analog and digital is that every mastering engineer I've ever worked with goes bliss bonkers when they're working with a master that was originally recorded on analog tape. I don't have their ears, but they're hearing SOMETHING.

Cheers to all,
Mike M

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#1683409 - 08/05/05 03:43 AM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
BrianK Moderator Offline
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Registered: 12/17/00
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Loc: Los Angeles,CA,UNITED STATES
I'd have to say - I'm going more and more to thinking - Forget the specs, does it have "A SOUND"?

Nuetral is boring to me in almost every case. I love records where every sound has significant character. I love the coloration of almost all my gear. "Clean" is rarely useful in my world 0 maybe most in mixdown.

Sometimes I bounce a lead vocal top a new track (tape), and almost always the singer says "Whoa - it just got better!" No idea WHAT is better - I don't analyze it, but it is, and it sits in the mix easier too.

I am rarely tempted to bounce it more, but maybe I should....
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#1683410 - 08/05/05 08:00 AM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
George Necola Offline
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Registered: 08/05/05
Posts: 2
Loc: Switzerland
I think today where you don't have booked your studio with Metallica for 2 years, it's a lot better for your bankaccount to do things in digital. Maybe this is also a reason for most of us JJ.

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#1683411 - 08/05/05 05:47 PM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
J.J. Blair Moderator Offline
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Registered: 07/22/05
Posts: 329
Loc: Hollywood, CA
That's a very valid point, George. I'm mostly curious about why people prefer the recording medium of digital. Cost is certainly a worthy factor. I was wondering specifically if there was something sonically or technically that made people answer that way.
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#1683412 - 08/05/05 09:21 PM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
AudioMaverick Offline
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Loc: Outskirts of Big Bear, CA,UNIT...
Quote:
Originally posted by BrianK:
I'd have to say - I'm going more and more to thinking - Forget the specs, does it have "A SOUND"?
Exactly!!! That's my slogan (see below). I have never had someone say that they didn't like a song because of what was used to record it. Either they like the tune for som e reason, or they don't. And, it has mostly to do with the delivery/emotion of it. The playback quality of the song comes into play as a secondary factor. I can play a Jan & Dean tune and get good responses. But, I haven't found anyone who didn't dislike Steve Howe singing on his album (great guitar, though).

If you get the sound that works, it is a viable thing to do, IMO.
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#1683413 - 08/06/05 04:27 AM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
BrianK Moderator Offline
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Registered: 12/17/00
Posts: 228
Loc: Los Angeles,CA,UNITED STATES
You rarely hear someone selling their gear in that it has a "sound". People are trying to pass everything off as HiFi - as an all-around product. When we all like things that do "one thing" well and will buy for that reliability.

I love editing on digital and especially lossless (usually) copies. However, copies themselves become dangerous... too many can be saved.
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#1683414 - 08/06/05 12:05 PM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
miroslav Offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by AudioMaverick:
I have never had someone say that they didn't like a song because of what was used to record it.
You are right...the general public rarely cares or even understands about the type of gear or techniques that are use to record the music that they love to listen to.

But...for those of us on the front end...well, we do care, and it does make for interesting debate and discussion. \:\)

If you can find the right combination of talent, gear and technique...
...the end-product will always show it.
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#1683415 - 08/22/05 12:26 PM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
philbo_Tangent Offline
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Registered: 10/08/00
Posts: 1175
Loc: Iowa
Depending on the song and the context it lives in (a single, a cut on a CD, a radio jingle, whatever) I like to be able to pick either or both.

I do always track to digital, but quite often I squirt 3 or 4 tracks to my tape machine, and record off the play head back into the DAW, to get the 'magic' compression effects of tape on selected instruments, or sometimes the whole mix (as an alternative to the Waves L1, L2 or C4 'squashed' sound).

Each thing is a tool, and I consider what tool works best for each job.

Just because hammers are old technology doesn't mean an electric screwdriver will do a better job at putting a nail through a plank...
_________________________
Phil
Tangent Studios
http://artists.iuma.com/IUMA/Bands/Tangent2/

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