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#1683416 - 08/22/05 02:02 PM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
J.J. Blair Moderator Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/22/05
Posts: 329
Loc: Hollywood, CA
L2 is evil. Don't get me started on that rant!
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#1683417 - 08/23/05 05:37 PM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
PookyNMR Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/01/04
Posts: 50
Loc: Canada
I prefer digital to analog most of the time.

I like the lower noise floor of digital. I like the clean (dare I say "transparent") replication that I can get with a good set of converters (I own Lavry, Metric Halo (and sometimes rent Apogee when I need extra channels)). I like the instant positioning of digital and not having to wait for tape to RW or FF. I guess I like the many conveniences of digitial that seem to allow for a better work flow (IME).

I really do think that it is hard to beat tape on a few things though. That natural compression can be really nice sounding on insturments when you want it there. And some of the often discussed harmonic distortions can also add a nice 'meat' to the tracks as well. I also find that using tape can be like adding cream to coffee. Makes it nice and smooth. You can try to use digital tape saturation emulators, but it's like adding milk to coffee. Sure it tastes similar, but it's not the same. Not as smooth.
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#1683418 - 08/24/05 08:56 PM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
Philip Horne Offline
Member

Registered: 08/22/05
Posts: 2
Loc: Los Angeles
Most recording engineers are human -- I say "most" because I've had my doubts about some every now and again -- and, as humans, we tend to give a lot of weight to our perceptions. A new piece of gear, or a new technique, will be perceived as 'better' if we expect that it will be better (or if it is extremely expensive!). Well, ok, not totally true every time, but the perception of a reality is, sometimes, set in place before the reality begins. I guess that means that digital is better than analog, and/or analog is better than digital, and I'm not sure I have a preference.

There are, however, a couple of things that are practically never mentioned when these discussions pop up. First, it takes a lot less space to store DAW masters than analog. In a town where square footage equals large bucks, that could be a factor, although not so much for new studios as older ones with racks and racks of tape masters.

Next, the process of setting up to record in digital is inherently different from analog. No loading of tape, no alignment, etc., and, to some, that's a good thing. Good or bad, it's still different, and these (and other) differences in technique will probably have an effect on the way the session proceeds. As to how much difference it might make in the resulting sound, I have no idea. It might be an improvement, or it might not.

Nevertheless, these are the tools we have today, and both are very good. Modern recording is probably better overall because of the old/new analog/digital diversity. However, like J.J., I do believe that certain things have marquee value, and big consoles with colored lights are just plain sexier than a DAW. Those big boards will probably survive because producers and engineers still will need a place to sit while looking through the glass.

Philip Horne

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#1683419 - 08/26/05 10:58 PM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
Mike O Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/20/01
Posts: 156
Loc: Central FL
Also rarely observed....

How many thousands, indeed tens of thousands post on audio forums with positions on digital vs analog? Now how many of those have had more than passing experience with higher grade analog?

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#1683420 - 08/27/05 08:00 AM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
miroslav Offline
Cosmic Cowboy
10k Club

Registered: 05/23/00
Posts: 14215
Loc: NY Hudson Valley, USA
That's just it Mike...

I believe that most of the knee-jerk responses against analog, come from people that may have just dabbled a bit with some dinky setup...and then digital comes along, and all of a sudden, for a few dollars more...they now have a "Pro Tools" rig in their bedroom...
…and to them, analog now sucks!

They grab a Digi box...a free copy of PTLE...their Internet computer...a mic or two...
...and they are convinced that it's a competitive or even better rig...than ANYTHING analog.
And then you get thousands of posts about how much they hate analog...yada, yada, yada. :rolleyes:

I was lucky to have spent time in a pro studio...the Neve console, 2" tape, etc, etc, etc...
...and, I got into recording back in the mid-70's...when "digital" wasn't a household word.

My own studio isn't all top-shelf...but I have good gear...and then some really good gear...and I'm always adding to it.
And even though I have and use a DAW...it's only one small part of my analog studio.
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#1683421 - 08/27/05 11:57 AM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
Philip Horne Offline
Member

Registered: 08/22/05
Posts: 2
Loc: Los Angeles
Mike and Miroslav, you make good points. An analog studio that is kept in proper alignment and calibration simply sounds great. So much so that I was very unimpressed with the first digital recording I heard -- and I heard it at a well known mastering room in Nashville quite some years ago. To those of us who listened to music through a professional analog recording system every day, digital doesn't represent any significant quality advancement, in my opinion. Digital recording is just another way of doing business -- just another tool in the toolbox.

Your observations bring up another question: How many new DAW users do you think might be operating with level mismatches -- that is, peripheral hardware interfaced at other than its nominal operating level? It's common for gear to have selectable outputs/inputs of "+4/-10" interface. Add to that the adjustable level controls and the general confusion about what represents 0vu in DAW recording and it's easy to see how a multiplicity of "sounds" can come from identical signal chains, if the levels are operating out of design limits. Expanding the question -- how many DAW users do you think run tones through their system to be sure that proper interface levels are being observed? That sort of thing was commonplace in most analog studios where machines, boards, and peripherals were (or should have been) aligned before every session.

Philip Horne

(post edited -- I had the word 'analog' where 'digital' should have been. It makes more sense now -- maybe!)

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#1683422 - 08/27/05 12:16 PM Re: "I prefer digital to analog"
J.J. Blair Moderator Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/22/05
Posts: 329
Loc: Hollywood, CA
Phillip, I went through something with a client that recorded here a couple of weeks ago that I think relates to your question.

We recorded some piano, and he told me two weeks after the fact, and after he rerecorded the piano somewhere else, that it was distorting in spots. I pulled up the original files and did not hear a single transient where the mic or mic pre ran out of headroom. He instisted that they heard it on their PT system they were working on, and when I suggested that they might have run out of headroom in PT, he didn't want to hear about it.

Regrdless, I felt obligated to discount his time and I even offered him a couple hours of free overdubs, even though I am convinced that it's their system that is fucked up. I may have ridden the headroom line, but I never crossed it. Very frustrating. I even printed at about -3db PT.

My only consolation was recalling a conversation with this guy, where I had Keith Albright, who is the master piano tuner here in LA, tuning the piano. The client scoffed at the idea that Keith, who comes only with a single tuning fork, can do anything with ears that some other tuner couldn't do with a computer. When I explained to him that a computer can't tell the difference from one piano to the next and dial each one in for the specific needs of that piano and that room, he looked at me like I was full of shit. But that's a different thread!
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