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From what I gather there are around 3 or 4 methods to try to model real world analog devices. From all the software plug-ins out there we see that most, if not all, claim they nailed it. I don't know if that's true, but it does seem like the plugs and simulators keep getting better and better. I'd like to know what people think about the modeling and emulations and if anyone has any expericne actually coding the software. It would be great if they could descibe the process.

For me, it seems like a daunting task to attempt to model the real world behavior of tubes, transistors, ICs, pots, resistors, and what not. From what I understand, Bill Putnam Jrs' group at UA did a good job with the UAD1, in that it is supposed to be like the real deal, but other companies only seem to be getting close but are not quite there yet. This does not mean that what they have done does not sound good or is not usable, just that they do not perfom like the real thing yet. I would guess the difference in results is in the way these companies choose the methods by which they approach the modleing problem.

So, "How is it done?"

Do you like what's been done so far?

Do we have further to go with the technology?

Which models do you like best, if any?

Anyway, I'd appreciate it if you would share your thoughts and knowledge on modeling.

Thanks. \:\)

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O another related question which someone here might be able to answer.

If it were possible to accurately model the characteristics of a compressor, say a GML 8900, how much DSP horsepower would it take? Could it be done on one SHARC? Two? Three? More?

Would it be possible for the model not to be compromised at all?

Would it be cheaper to build it than its hardware equivalent?

What kind of bandwidth (Fs) would be needed?


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Lynn,

Good points.

I could be wrong, but if you had a good software template, you could just start plugging known values into it. I'm probably not saying this very well, but you could do things like place a resistor in a circuit and then try one with a different value and compare the two. In other words, there might be software tools that help you do things, kind of like the circuit design software out there. It's just a guess, but if you had a good tool, then it would be a lot easier to model different things and cut down on costs.

I'd like to hear about how the modleling is done from someone who really knows based on their experience.

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Quote:
Originally posted by Johnny B:
Lynn,

Good points.

I could be wrong, but if you had a good software template, you could just start plugging known values into it. I'm probably not saying this very well, but you could do things like place a resistor in a circuit and then try one with a different value and compare the two..
Emulating opto-electrical circuits is not trivial...


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Ain't nuthin' like the real thing, baby.

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Ever since the 24/96 craze started, I have a new saying.

"It's a great time for buying analog. It's obsolesence proof."


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JB,

I fear that my opinon of anyone's emulation of analog circuits, including those of UAD, varies considerably from yours.

Two things:

1. I know several specific pieces of analog and digital electronics that are either sufficiently wide-band, or wide-dynamic-range, or deeply complex or sufficiently chaotic or all together to make emulation extraordinarily difficult if not impossible. Therefore, it's a sham. For one example that's claimed to be emulated, the GML 8900 requires a great many mips to re-craft directly in digital...and that's if you know the algorithm, which is extraordinarily detailed. One box that I know of that make a claim to emulation has far less mips than this. The only similarity is the name.

2. The claims for emulation algorithms are outlandish and outrageous. We should all be deeply suspicious of something that's advertised as sounding "pretty close" for alot less money. I mean, who's evaluating this stuff? In general, most of what I hear sounds worse than no processing at all...


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See, I guess that's where I'm failing to understand the guts.

It would seem to me that a simple resistor's output is predictable. So is a simple capacitor, transformer, etc. Therefore, there must be a certain level of predictability to a complex circuit, despite the complexity of the behavior.

Would it take an absolutely obscene amount of MIPS to literally run a simulation of a known schematic (the LA-2A, for example, of which schematics are freely available all over the place) - with the modeling taking place at the actual component level?

Is this a completely unrealistic imagination? I really don't know the ins and outs of DSP well enough to understand how far removed this is from reality.

It would seem to me that this is the only way for anyone to even hope to accurately reproduce digitally what happens in an analog system.

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Quote:
Originally posted by Griffinator:
See, I guess that's where I'm failing to understand the guts.

It would seem to me that a simple resistor's output is predictable. So is a simple capacitor, transformer, etc. Therefore, there must be a certain level of predictability to a complex circuit, despite the complexity of the behavior.

Would it take an absolutely obscene amount of MIPS to literally run a simulation of a known schematic (the LA-2A, for example, of which schematics are freely available all over the place) - with the modeling taking place at the actual component level?
The characteristics of the components of the LA-2A were non-linear and tended to change specs as the unit warmed up! The compression characteristics of the sealed electro-luminescent panel with a cadmium sulphide opto-resistor varied wildly with types of program material and levels. The schematic is only part of the equation. The varying response curves for different parameters are the complex part. In fact, the unpredictability of the LA-2A is a large part of its charm, I think.


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Quote:
Originally posted by kk@jamsync.com:
The characteristics of the components of the LA-2A were non-linear and tended to change specs as the unit warmed up! The compression characteristics of the sealed electro-luminescent panel with a cadmium sulphide opto-resistor varied wildly with types of program material and levels. The schematic is only part of the equation. The varying response curves for different parameters are the complex part. In fact, the unpredictability of the LA-2A is a large part of its charm, I think.
OK, bad example.

Back to my point - is the concept just too far advanced for the current DSP technology? Is the instruction set necessary to literally model the behavior of each and every component in a complex circuit (like a compressor or an EQ) just way too big?

Or will it just not work for some reason you're about to point out to me?

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Quote:
Originally posted by Griffinator:


Back to my point - is the concept just too far advanced for the current DSP technology? Is the instruction set necessary to literally model the behavior of each and every component in a complex circuit (like a compressor or an EQ) just way too big?

Or will it just not work for some reason you're about to point out to me?
One really important problem is return on investment for hours spent in development in plug-ins. They simply don't provide enough revenue for the developers to spend the hours needed to develop the algorithms and write the code. You have to sell a lot of $800 plugs to make up for advertising, engineering payroll and enough platforms in house to test the product.

Beta testers are somewhat helpful, but the best ones have been in the biz for a long time and expect to have compensation for taking up their time and putting their systems in jeopardy (especially those of us brave enough to take the plunge with Panther!), so the manufacturer winds up giving away product for beta testers. Those who don't go through this process can have extraordinarily painful results when the product hits the market.

It all adds up to an extremely competitive market with rather small returns for the sw developer, so even if the theoretical requirements for algorithmic complexity and computing power were met, these economic restrictions would still be a reason why sw is usually not able to completely emulate hw.


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I have been play with this stuff for almost 10 years. Contrary to what George said, (first time I have disagreed with him), it is not that difficult if one is pragmatic. True modeling is extremely difficult, as I have tried it. Black box modeling is easy and useful. This is how it works.

1. You loop your digital music through an analog mastering eq and record it. Then subtract it from the non-eqed raw digital signal. What you get is the impulse.

2. If you apply this impulse signal like a reverb set to full wet to the raw digital, the output should be exactly like the raw signal + DA + the analog eq +AD.

3. If the mastering eq had dented pots, you can get the measurement for the whole frequency range, all the q values, and +/- 15db range. With all this data you can build a pretty good model.

While it would be almost impossible to do an accurate GML 8900, and difficult to do a 8200, it should be easy to do an accurate MDW in the digital domain. Just be pragmatic and pick the same frequency, q, and gain settings as the 9500. Now the MDW is priced so cheap that this might not be worth doing, but it can be done. I have left out a lot of fine details, but those that understand what I am talking about should get the point.

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Tony,

Not that I disagree at all with the methodology behind deriving a static imprint of artifacts. But in the case of the MDW dig eq, the "artifacts" are below the 24bit level (it's a 48bit-internal device). Way below. What does it mean then except that the name has been used to misidentify an mislead a user into thinking that (s)he is getting something for nothing? And about that much more common case of time-variant black-box behaviors? I mean, it's not like the Amp Farm modelling where at most you'd have to several different static state imprints at different levels - even that weird effect that comes from 50Hz (or 60Hz) hum getting into the signals at overload can be modeled. No, as you point out, with devices like compressors it's damn near impossible.

Yes, I use Amp Farm all the time. No, I don't use modellers - I think there're misleading.

George


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Hi,

Overall two different approaches exists when modelling analog equipment. Several variations of these approaches exists:

Approach one: black box modelling.
Using this method you disregard all knowledge of the equipment that you want to model. An example is convolution reverb. This process is just a linear black box model. No time variations can be modelled.
This simple approach cannot be used to model non linearities that exists in tubes etc.
By extending the model by a few dimensions this problem can be overcome. In the linear example the model is an array of numbers. The 2nd dimension of the model is also an impulse response but in two dimensions, a matrix containing the filter values for x*x. Similar the 3rd dimension holds values for x*x*x.
The main disadvantage for this approach is mips consumption. I don't know how many samples are used in convolution reverbs but lets use 1000 as an example. This requires 1000 operations per sample (ops) to implement. If we added a 2nd dimension of just 100 samples (2nd order impulse is 100 x 100), we increase our ops by 100000 which is impossible to compute on even a G5 or whatever. These impulse responses can be trimmed in size to model the equipment acuately enough.

Approach two:
Use the knowledge of the equipment (schematics etc.) to write down the differential equations of the system. Solve these equations numerical and you're done!
This method is by far the most complex: which nonlinearities are relevant for the problem (adding to few and your model is too inacuate, add to many and your equations explode in size). Which parameters to use in the equations. Not all are directly measurable.

Hope this small overview made any sence!?!

cheers,
Lars

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Quote:
Originally posted by kk@jamsync.com:
One really important problem is return on investment for hours spent in development in plug-ins. They simply don't provide enough revenue for the developers to spend the hours needed to develop the algorithms and write the code. You have to sell a lot of $800 plugs to make up for advertising, engineering payroll and enough platforms in house to test the product.

Beta testers are somewhat helpful, but the best ones have been in the biz for a long time and expect to have compensation for taking up their time and putting their systems in jeopardy (especially those of us brave enough to take the plunge with Panther!), so the manufacturer winds up giving away product for beta testers. Those who don't go through this process can have extraordinarily painful results when the product hits the market.

It all adds up to an extremely competitive market with rather small returns for the sw developer, so even if the theoretical requirements for algorithmic complexity and computing power were met, these economic restrictions would still be a reason why sw is usually not able to completely emulate hw.
OK, so the budget constraints hamper the whole process.

As a user of plugins (and a heavy one at that) I would gleefully purchase simulators that went beyond the "snapshots" Tony refers to and got deep into the character of the units they deign to model. Frankly, I'm sick of tube emulators that don't sound tubey, room emulators that still sound phoney and metallic, tape saturation sims that don't sound like tape, etc.

I had a wacky idea, actually, that one could take this method of modeling to a whole new level by creating a plugin (be it a compressor, EQ, whatever) that the user could "open up" and replace parts, change circuit paths, etc. to create the precisely the sound they want out of the system (I actually sent off a patent application for this one, albeit it doesn't sound like the current state of software manufacturing would go for it)

Think about it, for a moment, though - if properly implemented, this could very well be the ultimate in professional-grade DSP - 100% user control over exactly how a given plug sounds. Those of us with sufficient understanding of the circuitry and the way it behaves could dial in anything they could possibly imagine for a design. I know I'd be first in line to buy the complete set, regardless of the cost.

Pipe dream? Maybe.

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George,

Not really something for nothing, but "a piece of the big time". I don't believe that any ethical line is crossed when a company samples, a keyboard or a reverb and sells it. Why is selling an impulse any different that processing a voice through a box and selling it. To me there is no difference except marketing when someone sells and impulse + voice vs just the impulse. It is interesting that the raw voice itself may not sell, but the impulse itself is worth something.

If a person was careful and samples all the initial stereo presets of a lexicon 960 and a TC6000 with static decays from 1sec to 2.5sec in 0.2sec time intervals, and appropriate predelays, it would give a piece of the big time at a lower cost.

Having developed code, you should understand that this sampling process can be very much automated.
1. figure our how the DAW scripting works
2. write a script that will automatically change the settings on digital device or plugin you are trying to sample to automate the process.
3. Once auto sampling working for one device, it would be easy to make it work for other devices. Just let the program run over night.

This process is faster and cheaper than developing your own algorythms, and is a legal way of reverse engineering a product.

As for a 48bit depth, it may not matter. We have:
a) 24bit impulse
b) 24bit impulse + plugin at 48bit depth truncated to 24bits
c) a-b should equal the plugin frequency and phase response minus all the artifact below 24bits. If the artifacts below 24bits are important for the sound of the plugin, the static sampling will remove all of them possibly making them cleaner than the original.

The only difference between static sampling and modeling is interpolating the value in between. Modeling is required for outboard boxes because of cpu and storage limitations. With computers, ram and hardrives being cheap modeling is unnecessary. Just load the static samples into your 100 Gig harddrive. Having played with this for so long I know what I would do if I was to make a product. It would be a hybrid. For an eq, I would never model the q, or amplitude but I think modeling the frequency would be okay.

Tony

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But it doesn't work, all you have to do is listen. Impulse this, convolution that, those are just intellectual exercises. Use your ears and you can hear that modelling does not compare to the analog originals. It does just what you say it will: provide "a piece of the big time". That's like having a bottle of grease off an F-16 fighter, it might be cool knowing where it is from, but it won't fly.

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Albert,

Then the queston is how close you need it to be before it sells. Your remark about "That's like having a bottle of grease off an F-16 fighter" show you have no clue what you are talking about. Sorry. The better analogy is people are willing to pay money to ride in the back of seat an F16 because they can never beable to own or fly one.

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Quote:
Originally posted by gm:
I mean, it's not like the Amp Farm modelling where at most you'd have to several different static state imprints at different levels - even that weird effect that comes from 50Hz (or 60Hz) hum getting into the signals at overload can be modeled. No, as you point out, with devices like compressors it's damn near impossible.

Yes, I use Amp Farm all the time. No, I don't use modellers - I think there're misleading.
Hmmph. I guess you're not an electric guitar player. \:D There are characteristics of tube guitar amps that are just as difficult to model as those in compressors - some amps much more than others. The tube distortion in amps varies greatly with the type of tubes, the age of the tubes, the speaker type, whether or not the amp is warmed up and for how long, the temperature and humidity level of the room, etc. Tube "sag" feels different to the guitar player and responds differently to their fingerings, than a model. Being a guitar player I find Amp Farm just as distasteful as you (and I) find plugin emulations of hardware. I occasionally use Amp Farm, the POD and similar, but mainly for the effects (as coloration) and often on stuff other than guitar tracks. As a substitute for an actual amp on an actual keeper guitar track, no way.

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Quote:
Originally posted by Tony Mah:

Then the queston is how close you need it to be before it sells.
Do you really think that's the only question on any musician's or engineer's mind who is actually trying to make the best record they can make? If all you're interested in is "close enough to sell," then by all means, have fun with your plugins.

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Quote:
Originally posted by Lee Flier:
Quote:
Originally posted by gm:
I mean, it's not like the Amp Farm modelling where at most you'd have to several different static state imprints at different levels - even that weird effect that comes from 50Hz (or 60Hz) hum getting into the signals at overload can be modeled. No, as you point out, with devices like compressors it's damn near impossible.

Yes, I use Amp Farm all the time. No, I don't use modellers - I think there're misleading.
Hmmph. I guess you're not an electric guitar player. \:D There are characteristics of tube guitar amps that are just as difficult to model as those in compressors - some amps much more than others. The tube distortion in amps varies greatly with the type of tubes, the age of the tubes, the speaker type, whether or not the amp is warmed up and for how long, the temperature and humidity level of the room, etc. Tube "sag" feels different to the guitar player and responds differently to their fingerings, than a model. Being a guitar player I find Amp Farm just as distasteful as you (and I) find plugin emulations of hardware. I occasionally use Amp Farm, the POD and similar, but mainly for the effects (as coloration) and often on stuff other than guitar tracks. As a substitute for an actual amp on an actual keeper guitar track, no way.
The two big problems with Amp Farm are

1) the plug-in delay, so you can't play along unless you jump the beat

and

2) You can't really feedback surf due to the different response of the plug from real tubes.

It's an OK effect, but you can't really use it as an amp. Makes for some interesting vocal FX, though.

The delay through the electronics bothers me with most of the Line6 products. I can work with them, but it's not the same cool physical experience I get with analog. I always feel like I'm pushing the unit to do something rather than having the sound right at the tips of my fingers.


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Yeah, exactly what KK said. \:D

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If you're recording digitally, don't computer models of analog dynamics processors sort of miss the point, at least on the front end? By definition, they'll always be useless for compression while tracking in order to hit your A/D's as hot as possible without digital overloads.

I can see using a plug-in in a blatant effects context, like to get some "1176 squoosh" on a bass guitar or kick drum. The models keep getting better, and some are excellent at evoking our collective memory, if you will, of the sound of this or that classic box.

My induction into the music technology world was through keyboards, and there's a lot of parallels to what's going on here in the keyboard world. I think we may be a bit behind both the guitarists and the AE's when it comes to obsession over tone. When affordable, portable emulations of Hammonds, Rhodes pianos, and acoustic pianos hit, we were delighted that they came anywhere near close, because it made our lives so much easier. I think that's made keyboardists big cheerleaders for the whole concept of modelling stuff digitally. When we get into the recording thing and put project studios together, it's natural for us to go "wow, these plug-ins are great."

Take a Hammond, which is a complex enough electro-mechanical system that I'd be surprised if a bit of chaos theory didn't apply. There's at least half a dozen excellent "B3 clones" on the market; a couple are software-only. It's paradoxically true that all of them sound like the real thing, and yet none do. Also, the physical experience of interacting with the real 400-lb beast and hearing the musical results in real time can't be duplicated, and there's a parallel there to lovingly turning the knobs on your GML EQ or other high-end box and hearing the effect on the mix.

I can't define it in technical terms, and for that reason, a lot of people might say I don't know what I'm talking about, but at the end of the chain, it's voltage that's making that speaker cone move, and however good the convertors and algorithms are, something seems lost to my ears when you turn voltage into 1's and 0's for part of the process.


"I'm just a confused musician who got sidetracked into this damned word business..." -Hunter S. Thompson

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While amp modelers won't replace guitar amps, I'm curious about the concern with plugin delay.

Am I remembering incorrectly...isn't the delay of the Ampfarm like 60 samples? That's like just over 1 millisecond.

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Quote:
Originally posted by Tony Mah:
Albert,

Then the queston is how close you need it to be before it sells. Your remark about "That's like having a bottle of grease off an F-16 fighter" show you have no clue what you are talking about. Sorry. The better analogy is people are willing to pay money to ride in the back of seat an F16 because they can never beable to own or fly one.

Tony
Frankly, with the software-based "modeling" I've listened to, the ad says "ride in the back of an F-16" - but when you get to the airstrip, all they have is a twin-prop Cessna.

What's worse about it is that software is non-returnable - so after you get screwed by another "modeling" plugin that doesn't sound like it claims to, you're stuck with it.

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Quote:
Then the queston is how close you need it to be before it sells. Your remark about "That's like having a bottle of grease off an F-16 fighter" show you have no clue what you are talking about. Sorry.
But I don't think you understand what I'm saying: I don't give a rats ass about "how close you need it to be before it sells". I'm not talking about sales, and I'm not talking about "close", I'm talking about the real thing: about sound and sound alone. Those little waves that go in your ears and make you happy or sad.

How is the concept of "close" even relevant when working on music? I've heard many plugins that were "close", but they don't do anything extra for the sound and always do something undesirable. I'm talking about really detailed listening, not "that's good enough" type listening.

Quote:
The better analogy is people are willing to pay money to ride in the back of seat an F16 because they can never beable to own or fly one.
If you mean "get taken for a ride" then I whole-heartedly agree.

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i'm kinda surprised GM uses amp farm. i like it for freaking things out, like drums and vocals and distorting bass. but as far as the marshall amp sounding like a marshall. (or any other model amp)it's not even close. it doesn't even sound like a real amp to me. that said. some of the cleaner fender sounds are at least usable.
and i've heard that line 6 has greatly improved this technology since then. the new vetta and pod xt are supposed to be much better sounding.
but i hate using amp farm for anything other than a quick scratch guitar.

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Check this link out, All Amp Farm guitars
http://intoeternity.sytes.net/mp3/splinteredvisions.mp3

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Would it make sense to have any comment here about convolution devices, as an example the Sintefex Replicator?

Obviously many static points have to be taken at some given set of frequencies and levels but at least a portion of a particular setting might get represented (this should be "heard" as a question and not a statement of fact). I have "heard" good things said about the replicator and I believe KK Proffitt did a review for Audio Media? awhile back. Is there any points those who are familiar with both modeling and convolution would make while this is being discussed here?


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BTW, regarding Amp Farm (and for that matter Sans Amp), I too am a guitarist and wanted so much for either to live up to the "sexy" claims. Sadly for guitar they simply don't but sure are great for other things (ala Dust Brothers drums or "nasty" and aggresive vox (as I believe has been noted). Though in a pinch I prefer either over a Big Muff or MXR distortion as these were what my first distortion boxes were (along with a misinformed choice of a solid state amp!) Don't miss that sound or that "aural" period of my life (that particular combination anyway). ;\)


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Quote:
Originally posted by Paul Frindle:
[...] Now in my book any plug-in that purports to emulate a guitar amp chain has to operate on this level of performer immersion. A tall order perhaps - and it sure won't be produced by simple convolution model of this or that amp. It'll have to be fashioned lovingly and meticulously by a 'performer' who actually percieves and understands the sensitivity of the whole experience of playing, with enough technical snout, tenacity and perception to somehow work out how to get this from a collection of largely disconnected and highly non-linear processes. [...]
You know, at some point in the modeling/emulation quest, you're probably going to ask yourself if you're puting in as much time getting it right in emulation as any of us have spent designing a box in the first place.

I should like to take this opportunity to re-state a very important fact of life, newly revealed to apply to the digital electronics paradigm as it has been recently learned regarding the "new" Internet economy:

There's no such thing as a free lunch.

Period.

George


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Originally posted by gm:
Quote:


There's no such thing as a free lunch.

Period.

George
Ain't that the truth. The amount of people I meet that seem to think plug-ins offer comparable performance to the real thing astounds me, maybe they should upgrade their monitoring...(or their ears).

The analogy I trot out is if they're achieving the performance of say, a $3000 compressor with a $300 plug-in, then THAT'S THE GREATEST BARGAIN I'VE EVER SEEN! You're getting a Porsche for Peugeot money! What a wonderful World that would be! If only.

Regards,
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Quote:
Originally posted by gm:
Quote:
Originally posted by Paul Frindle:
[...] Now in my book any plug-in that purports to emulate a guitar amp chain has to operate on this level of performer immersion. A tall order perhaps - and it sure won't be produced by simple convolution model of this or that amp. It'll have to be fashioned lovingly and meticulously by a 'performer' who actually percieves and understands the sensitivity of the whole experience of playing, with enough technical snout, tenacity and perception to somehow work out how to get this from a collection of largely disconnected and highly non-linear processes. [...]
You know, at some point in the modeling/emulation quest, you're probably going to ask yourself if you're puting in as much time getting it right in emulation as any of us have spent designing a box in the first place.

I should like to take this opportunity to re-state a very important fact of life, newly revealed to apply to the digital electronics paradigm as it has been recently learned regarding the "new" Internet economy:

There's no such thing as a free lunch.

Period.

George
Yep - totally agree. The fact is that the whole point IS to put as much energy into making it as it deserves - whether emulation - or more honestly, a new application with it's own unique merits.
But I also fully agree with what you are saying about the restrictions posed by the new financial paradigm we are living in now. I too believe that this industry has become somewhat under-valued in the present scheme of things. But the challenge is to recreate that value in a new world by doing artistic stuff that could never have been done before - rather than gravitating towards the lowest common denominator and doing almost as good for 'next to nothing'.
In my (admittedly rather idealistic) way I am somewhat encouraged that this stuff has become cheaper, because it enables more people to use it - and there is greater chance of someone doing something fresh, new and astounding :-)
I believe that if we embrace it rather than resist it, the art and it's market will eventually find it's own new level. Old ideas are under attack - but the new one's will replace them, because in the end this is human endeavour.

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Quote:
Originally posted by Loopy C:
Would it make sense to have any comment here about convolution devices, as an example the Sintefex Replicator?

Obviously many static points have to be taken at some given set of frequencies and levels but at least a portion of a particular setting might get represented (this should be "heard" as a question and not a statement of fact). I have "heard" good things said about the replicator and I believe KK Proffitt did a review for Audio Media? awhile back. Is there any points those who are familiar with both modeling and convolution would make while this is being discussed here?
I have the FX2000 and like it very much. I especially like the Pultec and Fairchild. Does it sound like the "real thing"? Well the "real things" often didn't sound like themselves on certain days either! I do like the FX2000 for a lot of things. I'm involved with development of convolution products (not for Sintefex), so I'm familiar with the limitations and benefits of convolution.

Are convolution-based products the "same thing as" the "real" ones? No, obviously not. Can they be useful tools that sound good? In the case of Sintefex, definitely YES.

I've collected noise makers and noise shapers for nearly 30 years. I still have a TR-808 in working condition. Does it sound like real drums? No. I still love the hand clap sound on it (but I use samples of it these days). I can love stuff that doesn't sound "real" if I can use it...


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I'm personally biased towards cheap gear, because it's allowing me to succeed. There are at least two other biases active in this thread- people who make money from creating/selling expensive gear, and people who have expensive gear and want to protect their market share and the value of their investments. We could all do a lot by admitting these things to ourselves.

OK then- on with my biased post.

Look at it another way.

I personally love bombfactory's 660 compressor plug.

I've never heard a real 660 in use in my life. Probably never will.

Anyone who actually has the dough for a real 660 probably won't be replacing it with a plug-in anytime soon. But anyone who would sink the money into a real 660 in this market has a real gung-ho business model or else a lot of corporate clients.

Music has never been worth less than it is right now. Expenses to make music have to come down for anyone to even hope to stay in the game. We went from how many majors to how many? And they're still hemorrhaging money.

I agree that false advertising sucks. On the other hand, there's no point in throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Would the 660 plug sound so good if it didn't have the 660 in mind when they designed it? If you guys are just railing on the fact that such claims are overblown- you would know better than I do. But for me, the end-user small-guy- I love it, and I'll keep using it. Good luck improving the process, because I'm all for better sound. But if you end up with something that costs ten times as much and sounds similar, I'll stick with the BF660 rather than saddle myself and my clients with that kind of expense.

Here's a question for folks recording music. Who, besides the gear manufacturers, are you helping by purchasing into an enormous operating expense that forces you to set rates at $100 an hour? Did you get into this business to make good music? Can good musicians afford those rates? Are you enabling the musicians that you work with, or are you pricing many of the best ones right out of the game? Which is a better goal, that last 5% difference in fidelity that quadruples your hourly rate, or never having to turn away talent? Do you like doing drug company narrations and shitty demos for wanna-be dentists and lawyers?

People are making a living at lots of different levels in this industry and sometimes it seems like everyone is isolated in their own corner and forgets about the rest of the world.

The bar to getting a good recording is a financial one, when it should be an artistic one. Capitalism and art are uncomfortable bedmates at best.

Plummeting equipment prices are changing the equation. It sounded idealistic ten years ago but it's happening now.

Generally, good music isn't coming from the $100+ studio rate business model any longer. I think that we're seeing that now pretty clearly, in the decline of the record industry, in the decline of people's enthusiasm for music, in the absence of any sort of popular artistic movements. I believe that music will recover, but that the way it comes to us is going to look different. The halcyon days of big music have passed.

I do not believe that good music relies on expensive equipment. It's a mind game, a false idol.

First, the growth of the MP3 phenomenon shows that to the audience, musical ideas & communication are the primary concern, and that after a certain level of sonic quality is reached, additional quality matters much less than the actual musical content.

Second, there is a lot of good-sounding gear available at low prices. Good ears can make inexpensive recordings without compromising.

This is all essentially heresy in these parts, but so be it.


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Quote:
Originally posted by Thermionic:

Ain't that the truth. The amount of people I meet that seem to think plug-ins offer comparable performance to the real thing astounds me, maybe they should upgrade their monitoring...(or their ears).

The analogy I trot out is if they're achieving the performance of say, a $3000 compressor with a $300 plug-in, then THAT'S THE GREATEST BARGAIN I'VE EVER SEEN! You're getting a Porsche for Peugeot money! What a wonderful World that would be! If only.

Regards,
Justin[/QB]
The oddest thing is that this may indeed be exactly what it is :-)

I can honestly say, that for instance the S/W EQs I have been involved in making, achieve performances far and way beyond anything I could have ever dreamed of in the analogue designs I have struggled with over several previous decades. In fact such performance is not even theoretically possible within analogue electronics because it is constrained by the physical world.
As an 'old hand' designer it was only the advent of digital processing that allowed me to finally make the console EQ of my dreams - what a complete honour it was for me :-) And this is indeed on sale for $100s not $1000s - and you can run as many simultaneously as you can find processing for.

The only issue is whether you can realise this performance within the system peripherals (converters and such) being used to interface with the real world.

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Quote:
Originally posted by Philter:
I'm personally biased towards cheap gear, because it's allowing me to succeed. There are at least two other biases active in this thread- people who make money from creating/selling expensive gear, and people who have expensive gear and want to protect their market share and the value of their investments. We could all do a lot by admitting these things to ourselves.

OK then- on with my biased post.

Look at it another way.

I personally love bombfactory's 660 compressor plug.

I've never heard a real 660 in use in my life. Probably never will.

Anyone who actually has the dough for a real 660 probably won't be replacing it with a plug-in anytime soon. But anyone who would sink the money into a real 660 in this market has a real gung-ho business model or else a lot of corporate clients.

Music has never been worth less than it is right now. Expenses to make music have to come down for anyone to even hope to stay in the game. We went from how many majors to how many? And they're still hemorrhaging money.

I agree that false advertising sucks. On the other hand, there's no point in throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Would the 660 plug sound so good if it didn't have the 660 in mind when they designed it? If you guys are just railing on the fact that such claims are overblown- you would know better than I do. But for me, the end-user small-guy- I love it, and I'll keep using it. Good luck improving the process, because I'm all for better sound. But if you end up with something that costs ten times as much and sounds similar, I'll stick with the BF660 rather than saddle myself and my clients with that kind of expense.

Here's a question for folks recording music. Who, besides the gear manufacturers, are you helping by purchasing into an enormous operating expense that forces you to set rates at $100 an hour? Did you get into this business to make good music? Can good musicians afford those rates? Are you enabling the musicians that you work with, or are you pricing many of the best ones right out of the game? Which is a better goal, that last 5% difference in fidelity that quadruples your hourly rate, or never having to turn away talent? Do you like doing drug company narrations and shitty demos for wanna-be dentists and lawyers?

People are making a living at lots of different levels in this industry and sometimes it seems like everyone is isolated in their own corner and forgets about the rest of the world.

The bar to getting a good recording is a financial one, when it should be an artistic one. Capitalism and art are uncomfortable bedmates at best.

Plummeting equipment prices are changing the equation. It sounded idealistic ten years ago but it's happening now.

Generally, good music isn't coming from the $100+ studio rate business model any longer. I think that we're seeing that now pretty clearly, in the decline of the record industry, in the decline of people's enthusiasm for music, in the absence of any sort of popular artistic movements. I believe that music will recover, but that the way it comes to us is going to look different. The halcyon days of big music have passed.

I do not believe that good music relies on expensive equipment. It's a mind game, a false idol.

First, the growth of the MP3 phenomenon shows that to the audience, musical ideas & communication are the primary concern, and that after a certain level of sonic quality is reached, additional quality matters much less than the actual musical content.

Second, there is a lot of good-sounding gear available at low prices. Good ears can make inexpensive recordings without compromising.

This is all essentially heresy in these parts, but so be it.
Damn good points :-)
But please bear in mind that the plumetting cost of producing the music isn't actually being accompanied by a similar plummet in potential sound quality at all :-) That's what everybody expects and assumes in this world of spin and economics - but for once it isn't actually the case - things really are better AND cheaper :-)

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Quote:
Originally posted by Thermionic:
The amount of people I meet that seem to think plug-ins offer comparable performance to the real thing astounds me, maybe they should upgrade their monitoring...(or their ears).

The analogy I trot out is if they're achieving the performance of say, a $3000 compressor with a $300 plug-in, then THAT'S THE GREATEST BARGAIN I'VE EVER SEEN! You're getting a Porsche for Peugeot money! What a wonderful World that would be! If only.
While I agree that many plug-ins are of extremely low quality, there are some that are absolutely amazing. I don't think you'll find that George or Paul think their plug-ins are compromised in any way.

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I also like the Bomb Factory 660. It has more character than most of the other "in the box" alternatives. But I will say that I wish the designers would get back to designing the best EQs, compressors and effects that they can, rather than emulating things that already exist.

It seems to me that that is what Paul is talking about when he designed the Oxford EQ; throwing out the old analog limitations and trying to design something new and better. When Bill Putnam designed the 1176LN, he was innovating and looking for new solutions to solve his audio problems. Same with George when he INVENTED the parametric EQ!

This "monkey see, monkey do" style of designing has to end, doesn't it? I love the sound of the GML EQ. But when I buy an new TDM plug, I just want it to sound musical and fit into my palate of tools. I want it to inspire me to make new creative choices.

I guess that is a hard thing to do...Never mind.

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Quote:
Originally posted by Paul Frindle:
In my (admittedly rather idealistic) way I am somewhat encouraged that this stuff has become cheaper, because it enables more people to use it - and there is greater chance of someone doing something fresh, new and astounding :-)
While this can be a good thing, it's my opinion that it can also be very dangerous. The lower cost of equipment has put quality gear into the hands of people that don't know what they are doing. Some people with the gear lack the ears and experience to use it correctly and the results can be horrendous. I don't know if you recall the phase we experienced a few years ago when ADAT's first came out. Some artists started using their recording budgets to set up cheap home studios and do most of the work themselves or with acquaintances with an "engineering" background. The results were awful. While this still goes on to some extent, at least most of the artists and labels recognize the need for legitimate engineers to be at the controls. You can't get great sounds out of this less expensive gear unless the person behind the controls has the training and experience to get the job done. Sometimes I think some kind of background check or license should be required before selling audio gear to customers.
;\)

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The bar to getting a good recording is a financial one, when it should be an artistic one. Capitalism and art are uncomfortable bedmates at best.
I want to make a point here. Most recording (I stress recording) of music is primarily a "bourgeois" activity. I use the term loosely in reference to a middle class/leisure society where the activity of recording is not required for daily survival. And it has little to do with the traditional ritualistic expression of music that is part of the cultural structure of our society, except as an act of archiving.

It is meant for entertainment, much as the classical composers provided scores for their patrons who performed the composed music for their own entertainment. The music itself can, and has occasionally, transcended its environment, but for better or worst, it was and is a commodity.

However, for those moments when people create music that becomes a transcendental experience (do not necessarily read religious,) even if the music is created within a commercial framework, the impeccable capturing of the performance becomes an imperative. So here I ask the question. Are modern, great recordings the way we can define our lack of a "single cohesive culture" society? Could listening to these recordings be a new musical ritual? I believe for a while it was.

And in that instance do we go with "cheap" or do we put together the resources and results of the best minds in the field? Do we go with what will capture the event as closely as possible to that of the event actually happening? I would argue yes, and in this case, the issue does become a financial one. Not as an over riding principle, but rather how can we accumulate the necessary resources to achieve the goal.

A good room or environment costs money. The argument over whether tape or digital is the better medium will go on and on, but the best of both is still expensive, and will continue to be so. Capturing these moments is serious business in my humble opinion, whereas recording a pop hit, while considered by some to be serious, is as often as not, simply a commercial venture (which is serious for some.) In the latter instance the equations of economics come into play, and the choice is less about artistry and more about the financial end result.

So, I would argue, achieving a good recording of an extraordinary performance is both a financial and an artistic endeavor. The later is hopefully taken care off by the performer/s and by those that have been entrusted to capture the event. The former is merely the means by which to do so.

And it is in this very area that the keepers of the "resources" have failed us all miserably by continuing to see music strictly as a commodity. Some would argue that this viewpoint is elitist. That this will return to the time when only the best have access to the tools of capture.

My argument is that I would rather hear beautiful music rather than worrying if I can join the club. In the end, in any given age, there are only so many great artists.

Sorry to be slightly off-topic. But I feel that while our desire as a society is to constantly "even the playing field" by employing the economics of mass distribution, we should not forget that great art needs great resources. I am sure that the R&D costs for Paul's Oxford console where not on the smaller scale of funding. Nor was the price of the result. Nor should they have been. The benefits of his work have become available to many more. But the addition of a plug-in still does not make the standard DAW a first class recording environment.


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Quote:
Originally posted by kk@jamsync.com:


I've collected noise makers and noise shapers for nearly 30 years. I still have a TR-808 in working condition. Does it sound like real drums? No. I still love the hand clap sound on it (but I use samples of it these days). I can love stuff that doesn't sound "real" if I can use it...
Thank you for the response, certainly your attitude is in line with mine (my 808 is still working also) and I appreciate the additional comments concerning the Sintefex, a box I see in my future. Some good points here by all, there may not be such a thing as a free lunch but certainly this thread has provided "food" for thought at no additional charge.


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Wow, this turned into a great thread. So much great info here.

For the guitar players, yup, so far nothing I've seen or played with "behaves" the same as an old tube job. But those plug things are getting better and better all the time.

For the keyboard players, yup, it is diffenrt playing a real Hammond or grand or Rhodes, they still "behave" differently, but I too am constantly amazed by how good and how close the "sounds," if not the "behavior," have become. Even a cheap Casio amazes me. But, I've had fun playing on toy pianos, the kind with the tongs inside, I actually blew a few musician friends away. So sometimes it's the player and not the box he's banging. The same can be said for cheap guitars, in the right hands they can sound great.

So I'm not sure if the quality of the sound you get is completely dependent on price. I mean look at all the great stuff done with just a Shure SM57.

So here's what I'm getting from all you, the plugs may not actually model the "behavior" of the real deal, but they can still sound good, and some, like Paul's, can have their own new flavor.
I like to try new flavors, but it does not mean I will never have authentic vanilla again.

What we are really talking about are tools to get a job done, some like a hand saw, some would only use a worm-drive power saw, and some will want a table saw. They all cut wood. That is, if we keep them polished and sharp.

But there is no question that some saws are made better than other saws, better metal, nicer handles and so forth, but it still all comes down to getting the job done. And the job should be complete in workmanlike or craftsmanlike manner, no cutting corners, no bad cuts or jagged edges.

Is it easy and nice to work with?

Does it sound good when you are done?

A 25K compressor for a 100 bucks because it's software? Well, maybe.

Paul,

Maybe you can describe for us how you went about designing what you did.

And George,
Same question re: plugs.

And maybe others would like to chime in with their thoughts. Thanks. \:\)

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Interesting thought from this month's Tape Op:

Larry Fast re: digital vs. analog...

Quote:
the good part about analog synthesis was that there were some rather pure sounds that were created there. So, you knew what it sounded like coming out of the instrument. But, when it went to tape, the sound wouldn't come back quite the same because tape had a lot of non-linearities in it its recording process. Repeat that with a number of overdubs in the arrangement and the discontinuities would multiply. When it went to LP disc, it got mangled even more. So what transformed between what was going on at the instrument output in the studio to what was finally out there for the record-buying public to take home was a pretty inaccurate version of what the original studio vision was supposed to be...
Perhaps our love-affair with that "mangling" indicates our failure as producers to make sure the sound coming out of the instruments is right in the first place?

Something to think about as we lust for digital simulations of old analog gear.

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First, the growth of the MP3 phenomenon shows that to the audience, musical ideas & communication are the primary concern
I don´t know.

If I take a look at all the people I know, there are a few real music lovers - and, strange or not, they do not have or hear a lot of MP3s.
The other group, which collects MP3 files like crazy often don´t hear all their crap - they mostly count how much crap they have instead of listening.

So I don´t know if the audience collecting MP3s has an idea of the musical ideas & communication.

If you offer this crowd data compressed movie files they switch to that and start collecting visual garbage and don´t care too much about content.

On the contrary, the problems of the music industrie is that the productions they relaease are not able to have emotional effects to the audience.

Emotional strength has of course nothing to do with the technical quality, but because of the ease of making a recording/CD there is so much low level music on the market that the real music gets lost in the see of mediocrity.

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Sure the song is important, the emotion of the performance is important, and I guess the last priority is the sound, but we are all drifting off the topic.

So back to the basic topic: Modeling.

Perhaps, Paul can talk about his design and George can talk about his EQ plugs.

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Quote:
Originally posted by Griffinator:
...Perhaps our love-affair with that "mangling" indicates our failure as producers to make sure the sound coming out of the instruments is right in the first place?
The supreme irony is that the main thing wrong with the sound of many early CDs was too many analog tape generations because the label couldn't find the original master! Analog tape and disk weren't nearly as "mangled" as most people today seem to assume they were.


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Quote:
Originally posted by Paul Frindle:
Quote:
Originally posted by Thermionic:

Ain't that the truth. The amount of people I meet that seem to think plug-ins offer comparable performance to the real thing astounds me, maybe they should upgrade their monitoring...(or their ears).

The analogy I trot out is if they're achieving the performance of say, a $3000 compressor with a $300 plug-in, then THAT'S THE GREATEST BARGAIN I'VE EVER SEEN! You're getting a Porsche for Peugeot money! What a wonderful World that would be! If only.

Regards,
Justin
The oddest thing is that this may indeed be exactly what it is :-)

I can honestly say, that for instance the S/W EQs I have been involved in making, achieve performances far and way beyond anything I could have ever dreamed of in the analogue designs I have struggled with over several previous decades. In fact such performance is not even theoretically possible within analogue electronics because it is constrained by the physical world.
As an 'old hand' designer it was only the advent of digital processing that allowed me to finally make the console EQ of my dreams - what a complete honour it was for me :-) And this is indeed on sale for $100s not $1000s - and you can run as many simultaneously as you can find processing for.

The only issue is whether you can realise this performance within the system peripherals (converters and such) being used to interface with the real world.[/QB]
Please except my excuses for such a candidly written post... It was geared towards criticising vintage emulation plugs, which can be entertaining in their own right, but would make my life easier if they behaved genuinely like their real-world counterparts in some circumstances.

Plugs / soft-emulations are regularly useful to me, they are great in their own right. I'm sure the Oxford eq is superb, as are many soft-apps these days. I guess there could be bias on my behalf towards some soft-apps as traditionally a lot of the finest algorithm code has been available in hardware form (Eventide / TC / Lex etc). I highly rate many plugs, Altiverb is one for instance.

Excuse incoherence, late in UK, have had a few.

Regards,
Justin

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BTW, effing good thread, Thanks to all! \:D

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Quote:
Originally posted by Bob Olhsson:
Quote:
Originally posted by Griffinator:
...Perhaps our love-affair with that "mangling" indicates our failure as producers to make sure the sound coming out of the instruments is right in the first place?
The supreme irony is that the main thing wrong with the sound of many early CDs was too many analog tape generations because the label couldn't find the original master! Analog tape and disk weren't nearly as "mangled" as most people today seem to assume they were.
Bear in mind, Bob, that quote came from a guy who's done it both ways - his efforts with the Moog synths date back to when they first hit the market, around 1970.

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Quote:
Originally posted by blairl:
Quote:
Originally posted by Paul Frindle:
In my (admittedly rather idealistic) way I am somewhat encouraged that this stuff has become cheaper, because it enables more people to use it - and there is greater chance of someone doing something fresh, new and astounding :-)
While this can be a good thing, it's my opinion that it can also be very dangerous. The lower cost of equipment has put quality gear into the hands of people that don't know what they are doing. Some people with the gear lack the ears and experience to use it correctly and the results can be horrendous. I don't know if you recall the phase we experienced a few years ago when ADAT's first came out. Some artists started using their recording budgets to set up cheap home studios and do most of the work themselves or with acquaintances with an "engineering" background. The results were awful. While this still goes on to some extent, at least most of the artists and labels recognize the need for legitimate engineers to be at the controls. You can't get great sounds out of this less expensive gear unless the person behind the controls has the training and experience to get the job done. Sometimes I think some kind of background check or license should be required before selling audio gear to customers.
;\)
A 'licence to engineer" - hmm.. There are lots of great points being made in this thread. But - I dunno - I just cannot force myself to be sympathetic with the idea that empowering people to do creative things can ever be a bad thing?

If I think back to my first years as an engineer in the 1970's in a studio packed with what was then considered moderately serious gear, which some rich fat-cat had paid the equivalent of a pretty grand residence on. There was a Scully 16track tape machine that struggled to achieve -60dB noise below operating level. A (semi home made) console that sported 24 channels with 'bass and treble' tone controls and a couple of sends per channel. An entirely separate monitor mixer built by my predecessor cos the console had no means of properly monitoring off tape, the whole of which hummed and picked up taxis cos it unbalanced all the feeds. A load of highly expensive outboard gear (costing more than whole systems at todays prices) that we used ever-so sparingly cos the slightest boost of anything resulted in some of those 16 noisy channels getting too much. The whole recording chain was down -3dB at 30Hz and 18KHz, the upper freqs of which could only be recorded at low level cos of the tape machine (which precluded EQing and serious trafficking in record as well). The whole LF response was horrifically variable depending on level - not to mention incredible phase responses at both end of the spectrum. There were no gates, noise reduction that squashed the transients so you only wanted to use it on things that didn't need it anyway!

Although some people were miraculously making great sounds on kit like this - for me the main struggle was getting anything sounding remotely tolerable! But like everyone, I had to start somewhere and I had all the ideas in the world, but every darned one was subject to the 'devil of degradation' before I could even try to use them. I wouldn't wish it all on any creatively motivated person who had only human levels of patience. It took great men indeed to wring anything remarkable from all this stuff - and only great men could ever get the chance to attempt it. I got the chance (even though I couldn't have started out great) - but failed to become great in the face of adversity. Perhaps hampered too greatly by the love of what I could hear BEFORE I tried to record it, my patience ran out after only a couple of years. I ran off vowing to end the misery I had experienced by hell or high water (or even digits if necessary) - it was an unstoppable darned personal goal.

So now 30 years on, with a domestic PC and some affordable S/W I can run a system, that although not perfect, I could only dream of in those fraught days. Instead of wondering how to do anything at all without intolerable noise and degradation and the accompanying depression, in these days when generation loss is a distant memory we now ponder on whether SNR of -140dB is really good enough (i.e. 10000 times better literally). And with responses ruler flat from 10Hz to 20KHz even at full level we wonder if the loss of response beyond 30KHz is something to panic about? This is as maybe - but to behold all this and then actually complain about the fact that 'just anyone' can have a go with this kit (as though we somehow begrudge them the chance) and then criticise them for being amateur when they fail muster at 'greatness', seems a bit rich to me and smacks of indulgence? Why can't we just rejoice that in the grand scheme of unselfishly improving the human condition for everyone - a very great deal has been achieved - even if currently we don't much like lots of what people are currently doing with it? The more people that get to use something that doesn't need an engineering degree or super human patience to slam into submission - the more likely we are to hear other people's interpretation of 'art' - eventually. Surely this can never be a bad thing?

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Paul,

Would you be kind enough to describe how you went about the design process? Thanks.

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Quote:
Originally posted by Griffinator:
Interesting thought from this month's Tape Op:

Larry Fast re: digital vs. analog...

Quote:
the good part about analog synthesis was that there were some rather pure sounds that were created there. So, you knew what it sounded like coming out of the instrument. But, when it went to tape, the sound wouldn't come back quite the same because tape had a lot of non-linearities in it its recording process. Repeat that with a number of overdubs in the arrangement and the discontinuities would multiply. When it went to LP disc, it got mangled even more. So what transformed between what was going on at the instrument output in the studio to what was finally out there for the record-buying public to take home was a pretty inaccurate version of what the original studio vision was supposed to be...
Perhaps our love-affair with that "mangling" indicates our failure as producers to make sure the sound coming out of the instruments is right in the first place?

Something to think about as we lust for digital simulations of old analog gear.
Man, talk about synchronicity, I too just got done reading the Tape Op/Larry Fast issue and was thinking the same thing. I have been transferring many records (I have over 5000) over the last month and as with CD I have heard everything from pure genius to some real BAD sound coming from this "cherished" medium called vinyl. As people debate over Stevie Wonder's remastering I am listening to the vinyl I own of Stevie and wondering how close this ever was to it's intended sound and what a terrible benchmark it probably is. I assert no statement concerning anything versus anything, but as a owner of all of Larry Fast's wonderful Synergy catalog and many of his other projects I think he is a valid "old school" source of opinion and is expressing something I also have felt. What a timely appearance (the article), glad you posted the excerpt Griffinator.


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Quote:
Originally posted by Paul Frindle:
A 'licence to engineer" - hmm.. There are lots of great points being made in this thread. But - I dunno - I just cannot force myself to be sympathetic with the idea that empowering people to do creative things can ever be a bad thing?
The license thing was of course meant as a joke. I tried to get that ;\) graemlin in there, but it went on the wrong line.

Quote:
...but to behold all this and then actually complain about the fact that 'just anyone' can have a go with this kit (as though we somehow begrudge them the chance) and then criticise them for being amateur when they fail muster at 'greatness', seems a bit rich to me and smacks of indulgence? Why can't we just rejoice that in the grand scheme of unselfishly improving the human condition for everyone - a very great deal has been achieved - even if currently we don't much like lots of what people are currently doing with it? The more people that get to use something that doesn't need an engineering degree or super human patience to slam into submission - the more likely we are to hear other people's interpretation of 'art' - eventually. Surely this can never be a bad thing?
My short post above failed to express all of my feelings on this subject, so I will clarify a little bit here. I certainly don't want to discourage anyone from pursing their own artistic interpretations and apologize if that is how it came across.

I and everyone else here had to start somewhere and I'm sure we all cringe at our first attempts at recording. Through the years we live and learn. Knowing this, I hope that nobody ever reaches a point in their lives where they think, "I now know everything there is to know about audio." People with an open mind and some sense of humility will always be searching for new ideas and techniques. I applaud anyone from beginner to expert who possesses this kind of mentality.

The thing that I have a hard time with is when a beginner has the funds to buy some decent gear and then without training and without searching for ideas and answers from people in the know; without searching out and listening to quality examples; without experimenting and finding solutions through trial and error, they declare themselves a "professional" engineer and then blindly accept their early efforts as top notch. They close their minds to new ideas and other opinions. Contrary to the type of person with an open mind and sense of humility, there are some with a closed mind, proud of their mediocrity. While this type of person might be rare, there were some in the early days of affordable, quality gear and unfortunately there are some still out there. I don't think we'll find any here in this forum. If they are here, they are searching for ideas and answers.

Kudos to anyone willing to learn from scratch who will experiment, listen and grow along the way by keeping an open mind and continuing to learn until the very end.

So how ‘bout those modeling plug-ins...

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gm wrote:

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I should like to take this opportunity to re-state a very important fact of life, newly revealed to apply to the digital electronics paradigm as it has been recently learned regarding the "new" Internet economy:

There's no such thing as a free lunch.
OTOH, the cost of lunch seems to keep decreasing year after year. ;\)

Imagine where emulation will be 10 or 20 years from now. Think of the stuff we were using in the eighties and nineties compared to what we have today.

No matter what device you're talking about, at some point, they ARE going to nail it. It's just a question of when. You can also be sure that once they nail it, there are going to be people waxing eloquently about how they prefer the early emulation stuff that didn't quite nail it.

Thinking back on the things that were available when I started in this biz in the mid-seventies compared to now, it's hard not to be totally thrilled.

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Quote:
Originally posted by Bob Olhsson:
[The supreme irony is that the main thing wrong with the sound of many early CDs was too many analog tape generations because the label couldn't find the original master! Analog tape and disk weren't nearly as "mangled" as most people today seem to assume they were.
Also, early converters were often downright nasty. I much prefer the sound of 1/2" masters I did in the mid 80's to the DATs I did directly from the board (I used to do simultaneous mixes to both).


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Originally posted by blairl:
The license thing was of course meant as a joke. I tried to get that ;\) graemlin in there, but it went on the wrong line.

My short post above failed to express all of my feelings on this subject, so I will clarify a little bit here. I certainly don't want to discourage anyone from pursing their own artistic interpretations and apologize if that is how it came across.

I and everyone else here had to start somewhere and I'm sure we all cringe at our first attempts at recording. Through the years we live and learn. Knowing this, I hope that nobody ever reaches a point in their lives where they think, "I now know everything there is to know about audio." People with an open mind and some sense of humility will always be searching for new ideas and techniques. I applaud anyone from beginner to expert who possesses this kind of mentality.

The thing that I have a hard time with is when a beginner has the funds to buy some decent gear and then without training and without searching for ideas and answers from people in the know; without searching out and listening to quality examples; without experimenting and finding solutions through trial and error, they declare themselves a "professional" engineer and then blindly accept their early efforts as top notch. They close their minds to new ideas and other opinions. Contrary to the type of person with an open mind and sense of humility, there are some with a closed mind, proud of their mediocrity. While this type of person might be rare, there were some in the early days of affordable, quality gear and unfortunately there are some still out there. I don't think we'll find any here in this forum. If they are here, they are searching for ideas and answers.

Kudos to anyone willing to learn from scratch who will experiment, listen and grow along the way by keeping an open mind and continuing to learn until the very end.

So how ‘bout those modeling plug-ins...
Dear Blairl. Yes I know you were saying this with a large smattering of irony. No offense has been taken and my response wasn't intended as an angry one in the least :-) It was only intended to illustrate just how much we take for granted and crucially (and paradoxically) trying to reverse the in-built perception bestowed on us by the current social paradigm - that cheap must always mean bad! We have become such slaves to our own marketing propaganda that we are actually missing that which is good. Even more paradoxically, it is the very financial machines that have been manipulating our perceptions so effectively, that have actually provided us with the ability to do these things - largely as a by product of their efforts to induce us to throw away last year's technology.
There actually still is such a thing as 'absolute human value' that can exist beyond and outside of the twisted value perceptions of our time. It is good to remind ourselves of this occasionally :-)

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Quote:
Originally posted by Johnny B:
Paul,

Would you be kind enough to describe how you went about the design process? Thanks.
Oh heck - thats a pretty wide open request :-) What aspect of it is of interest?

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Quote:
Originally posted by Paul Frindle:
Quote:
Originally posted by Johnny B:
Paul,

Would you be kind enough to describe how you went about the design process? Thanks.
Oh heck - thats a pretty wide open request :-) What aspect of it is of interest?
Paul, I think what Johnny B. wants to know is how something is "designed". Let me help...

Forgetting for the moment about the mysterious processes of productization, of endless hours/days/weeks/months (and years!) of iterative testing and re-coding, not to mention the oh-so boring jobs of doing the packaging, the descriptive languages, the manual. GEEZ does anyone out there appreciate how utterly BORING it is for a designer to write the damn manual...

But forgetting all that...

I think that the picture that I'd eventually paint for Johnny B is that design experience is a life-long process, and that one accumulates a plethora - a universe - of details that go into the designer's decision tree.

And, yes, you'd eventually arrive at the big secret – that at least in part we're offended by the notion of high-quality design being a simple, if not a push-button, process. Not that we don't get myopic mind you, and need correction...but...

Hey he didn't ask me...

George


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Quote:
Originally posted by Lee Blaske:
gm wrote:
Quote:

There's no such thing as a free lunch.
OTOH, the cost of lunch seems to keep decreasing year after year. ;\)

Imagine where emulation will be 10 or 20 years from now. Think of the stuff we were using in the eighties and nineties compared to what we have today.

No matter what device you're talking about, at some point, they ARE going to nail it. It's just a question of when. [...]
Incorrect. Yes, as fast as technology is moving emulation is going to get increasingly accurate. But at the same time, that same increase in power is going to provide the same expanding opportunities to the original designer. It comes down to a philosophical point where we have to decide whether the original DSP code can ever be emulated with 100% efficiency. I would propose that it simply can't.

In fact, it can never be close to 100%. Now, I don't really know what that number is. But that's not the point. The point is that someone, somewhere has to put in the blood, sweat, and tears to do the original work. And that it's not trivial.

And, no, there's no such thing as a free lunch.

George


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Modelling may get the sound one day, but there are more aspects for a human while mixing:

The haptic feel of turning knobs and involved with that, the intuitive use of these knob while your are mixing.
Especially true while mixing with real consoles and not in the daw.

The psycological benefit of ownership of the unit.

The physical benefit for turning away to the siderack, and use your muscles and get the blood circulating going for a while instead of staring to a screen for hours and hours.

Just to name some stuff.....
Where does this end: In a "total recall" or "matrix" movie like situation, where you put a cap on that simulates it all ?

On the other side I´m sometimes wondering, if you already get so close to the original gear (fill in the percentage of reached soundemulation for yourself), if gear like the fairchild is economically justified ?

Anyway, I think that dynamic dependent convolution with combined DSP code for randomizing will get strong in the next 10 years.

All the best

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Quote:
Originally posted by Johnny B:
Do you like what's been done so far?

Do we have further to go with the technology?

Which models do you like best, if any?
Thanks. \:\)
1.Most of what has been done soo far I do not like...simply because to my ears..it fucks up audio..!!! ymmv

2. Yes offcause we should go further with the technology...I mean who knows what tommorow brings..some briliant mind out there has the next step in his/hers hand...it should never stop..think of all the things we never could have done today if somebody desided to stop technology in the year 1900..

3. The Sony Oxford compressor, and the MDW high def eq

Kind regards

Peter


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I'm not excusing early converters but some of the better early ones were significantly better than the most popular DAT machines and even some current products. It isn't like there were no great sounding CDs during the first year. There were just a lot of popular titles that sounded considerably worse than their vinyl counterparts.


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Quote:
Originally posted by Bob Olhsson:
I'm not excusing early converters but some of the better early ones were significantly better than the most popular DAT machines and even some current products. It isn't like there were no great sounding CDs during the first year. There were just a lot of popular titles that sounded considerably worse than their vinyl counterparts.
Bearing in mind, of course, that it's not mandatory to use the converters on the DAT! I remember well opening up a 3500 to change that "hidden" switch inside to make it both 44.1 and 48K...


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"Instantiation?" Sounds like someone is doing some "C" language programming. Wish I were a good programmer 'cuz I've certainly got concepts, including one for an EQ that would be radically different from anything commercially out there. I "feel" it would sound good, but I don't have the enginereering or software and hardware talent to make it a reality. This EQ concept just sort of stays there, rattling around in my head. It involves some FFT and lookup tables burned into ROM.

George and Paul,

I was asking about the design process in relation to plugs, whether a so-called model or just one that does the job without any claim to being just like some vintage piece. Let's say an EQ or a comp. How would go about doing that in software? You can add chips too, if you'd like. George has an EQ plug with his name on it, and Paul you have an EQ too. Perhaps, you could talk about this a little. Thanks

Here's something interesting I just found:

There's a guy called Dan Mapes-Riordan who did an AES whitepaper (AES # 4766) which documents how digital audio would have to be sampled 5Mhz in order to be as clean as an analogue processor.

And according to TI/Burr-Brown, they have the world's higest performance sample rate converter IC clocking at 212Khz (SRC4192/SRC4193) see http://www.ti.com/src4192

Seems the chip world has a way to go before they can hit those higher speeds, I could be wrong. But given enough time, they will hit it, and then perhaps the models will be exactly the same as the real world analogue devices. Moore's Law and all that could mean we'll be there sooner than you think. \:\)

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Quote:
Originally posted by Johnny B:
"Instantiation?" Sounds like someone is doing some "C" language programming)
Actually, I believe it's Digidesign speak. It refers to "instances" of a plug-in that may occur. Somehow, those of us who drank the kool-aid years ago began referring to loading an instance of a plug-in as "instantiation". I think this happened around PT 4.3 or thereabouts.

I'm not a developer for Digi, but from what I understand, the real trick is trying to make stuff work with the SDK they give you. I have a grad degree in sw engineering (including stuff like C++ and assembler) and working with DSP requires a lot of knowledge beyond that. Strangely enough, my perception is that most plug-ins that have problems fail due to a lack of understanding of *analog* processes rather than digital ones.

I was working with a company that shall remain nameless and I suggested adding bandwidth-limited pink for testing. Later on I found out my suggestion was totally ignored because "our equipment does full-bandwidth, so why bother?"


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Perhaps, the Didi lingo originated with the programmers. It's a bitch being ingnored by a team when it turns out you are right, isn't it? But as they say, "No guts--No Air Medal." Sometimes you have stand up and say "See...I told you...." It's also true that without mistakes there would be no progress so it's "Fail, Forward, Faster." That way we arrive at the success sooner. That's Silicon Valley talk. Cheers. \:\)

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Computer Modeling of Analog Devices...

We're on the frontlines, and we don't give a flying fook if the kit sounds like the "physical" or not. Plugins are virtual stompboxes. Nothing more, nothing less.

I have seen peeps with absolutely no academic musical or engineering knowledge bring mixes to my studio that sound stunning in originality.

These folks are artists, in the purist sense. They literally make something out of nothing, with tools they do not comprehend on any traditional engineering level.

Based upon this experience, I view peeps who dis "Computer Modeling of Analog Devices" like paint manufactureres who moonlight as art critics.

There is a point where the engineer has to get out of the way of the artisitic process.


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Quote:
Originally posted by Curve Dominant:
[...]I have seen peeps with absolutely no academic musical or engineering knowledge bring mixes to my studio that sound stunning in originality.
I have, too. And musicians that are bypassing traditional "engineering" and pursuing very cool sounds. And they're getting them out there. Check out Steve Ripley's CD.

I myself am back to coercing music sessions towards live performances.

None of this has anything to do with my gripe in this thread.
Quote:

These folks are artists, in the purist sense. They literally make something out of nothing, with tools they do not comprehend on any traditional engineering level.
...and that's good.
Quote:

Based upon this experience, I view peeps who dis "Computer Modeling of Analog Devices" like paint manufactureres who moonlight as art critics.

There is a point where the engineer has to get out of the way of the artisitic process.
And that point is when the artist walks in the door. Agreed.

Eric, none of this has anything to do with what I'm saying about emulation. I'm challenged in my heart and soul with the unsupportable claims - the lies - that swarm around marketing new boxes - marketing which now has sort-of a frenzied carnival atmosphere to it. Even then I want to be careful not to go too far because I myself use the boxes (AmpFarm, in particular, as I've pointed out).

I think it's gone overboard.

Two goals of mine: 1> the importance of an individual doing his own listening & 2> integrity, as much as possible, in making claims for performance. I'll be honest and tell you that I don't always get it right, but I'd at least like to.

George


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Quote:
Originally posted by Johnny B:
"Instantiation?" Sounds like someone is doing some "C" language programming. Wish I were a good programmer 'cuz I've certainly got concepts, including one for an EQ that would be radically different from anything commercially out there. I "feel" it would sound good, but I don't have the enginereering or software and hardware talent to make it a reality. This EQ concept just sort of stays there, rattling around in my head. It involves some FFT and lookup tables burned into ROM.

George and Paul,

I was asking about the design process in relation to plugs, whether a so-called model or just one that does the job without any claim to being just like some vintage piece. Let's say an EQ or a comp. How would go about doing that in software? You can add chips too, if you'd like. George has an EQ plug with his name on it, and Paul you have an EQ too. Perhaps, you could talk about this a little. Thanks

Here's something interesting I just found:

There's a guy called Dan Mapes-Riordan who did an AES whitepaper (AES # 4766) which documents how digital audio would have to be sampled 5Mhz in order to be as clean as an analogue processor.

And according to TI/Burr-Brown, they have the world's higest performance sample rate converter IC clocking at 212Khz (SRC4192/SRC4193) see http://www.ti.com/src4192

Seems the chip world has a way to go before they can hit those higher speeds, I could be wrong. But given enough time, they will hit it, and then perhaps the models will be exactly the same as the real world analogue devices. Moore's Law and all that could mean we'll be there sooner than you think. \:\)
An instantiation is only a bit of S/W that is autonomous and is run within the environment when called for by the host application. For instance if we offer a few varieties of say the Dynamics which allow you to save processing by running various parts of it without all the rest - each one of those is actually a different application that gets run on it's own and so needs completely testing etc..

The only emulations I have ever done in my whole life are George's EQ and Compressor for the R3.

None of our other applications in the R3 (or those now offered as Plug-ins) are emulations of anything at all. They are all concieved and designed from the ground up using nothing but experience and a kind of 'sound and operation plan' derived from what range of sounds we want people to hear and how we think they will be most able to get it intuitively. For instance for the EQ and Dynamics the goal was to get the maximum quality, artistic power and flexibility of use from single applications - as these are general purpose tools that kind of define the quality of the basic work flow for most people. More recently however I have managed to make more specific applications that do something 'I've always wanted' that can't be achieved in the general purpose tools we traditionally use everyday etc..

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George,

Sounds like your gripe is with puffing the products and making false or wildly exagerated claims. A little honesty is good and certainly called for.

Paul,

I've taken more than a few looks into "C" programming books, and although I get some of the basic principles such as the "erector set" approach of inheritance and whatnot, after looking at the code, I know I have neither the talent nor the inclination to become a programer. At least "C" is more english-like, unlike Assembly language. Ugh! But boy does that assembly code stuff fly!

I think what I'm getting is that the modeling is sort of on the fake side as to the claims of being just like the real deal, not that it is totally unusable. I know the guys down at CCRMA labs (Karma) at Stanford University have done a lot of work on trying to develop the technology. I understand that some of the algos are big, and not particularly efficient yet. Perhaps, when the chips get better it will be closer to the mark.

And here, I'm assuming that people will contune to want and enjoy analogue devices from the past.
It could be that "built-from-the-ground-up" plugs with no pretense of being like analogue devices will surpass what has ever existed.

And Paul, hearing something that has never existed, has never been done before, and can't be done with existing products is something I can appreciate, that's exactly where my radically new EQ idea sits. \:\)

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Paul, check your PM.

I'm pretty much right in line with George's attitude about truth in advertising on "emulator" plugins - especially with the revelations about people just taking "snapshots" of how something sounds on the back end of a device vs. the front end instead of really getting into the device's overall behavioral patterns.

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Grif,

Perhaps they could do things like model a particular resistor, and make that one of the little apps they chain together with other little models of certain caps and tubes and what not. Eventully you might get lucky and arrive at something approaching the analogue device's "behavior." It still seems really hard to me to even come up with a way of approaching the model. Whether it is the individual components or a combo of them, I'm still puzzled of how they do this, let alone make "outlandish" claims.

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Quote:
Originally posted by Johnny B:
Grif,

Perhaps they could do things like model a particular resistor, and make that one of the little apps they chain together with other little models of certain caps and tubes and what not. Eventully you might get lucky and arrive at something approaching the analogue device's "behavior."
This is exactly what I was talking about a couple pages ago - no one seemed to pick up on it. My logical mind tells me that this is the most likely path to emulation of the gear - to emulate the component behavior.

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Originally posted by Johnny B:

Paul,

I've taken more than a few looks into "C" programming books, and although I get some of the basic principles such as the "erector set" approach of inheritance and whatnot, after looking at the code, I know I have neither the talent nor the inclination to become a programer. At least "C" is more english-like, unlike Assembly language. Ugh! But boy does that assembly code stuff fly!

I think what I'm getting is that the modeling is sort of on the fake side as to the claims of being just like the real deal, not that it is totally unusable. I know the guys down at CCRMA labs (Karma) at Stanford University have done a lot of work on trying to develop the technology. I understand that some of the algos are big, and not particularly efficient yet. Perhaps, when the chips get better it will be closer to the mark.

And here, I'm assuming that people will contune to want and enjoy analogue devices from the past.
It could be that "built-from-the-ground-up" plugs with no pretense of being like analogue devices will surpass what has ever existed.

And Paul, hearing something that has never existed, has never been done before, and can't be done with existing products is something I can appreciate, that's exactly where my radically new EQ idea sits. \:\)
Whilst I can enviseage the possibility that anything can ultimately be modelled given sufficient processing and effort, I share George's unease with the fundamental concept of blind emulation.
In essence I think it is a potential loss to art and an insult to wider human advance to simply get a computer to dumbly copy a device without ever understanding how it works and what makes it good. For me this would seem unsatisfactory because without an understanding we can't re-use what we learn from the process to innovate new ideas - and that would seem to be denying us the chance to move things on from where they are.
The whole concept of convolution emulation seems to me particularly intellectually barren, since it gives us much less insight into the device or system being modelled - even if it's final workings are made available to us after the event. It's not just the result thats important to us humans - there is also great value in understanding why we wanted it and how it was achieved. Because it's this process of understanding that puts in place the neuronal pathways that increase our intellects in order to enable us to innovate further.

Likewise I feel uneasy about similar concepts that use 'itterative genetic fitness selection' to make something happen by using clever algorithms that compare the outputs from successive partially randomised trial attempts with an example of what is wanted - re-cycling only those attempts that appear to have come closest. This kind of self-selection/learning system appears quite a bright idea until you remember that without a prior example of a 'wanted result' - it is pointless. However useful such a method might be, it kind of puts the hat on discovery and innovation because without a prior known aim you cannot know if any result is significant or not. And furthermore, even if you do get a useful result in the end, you may have learned little about the phenomenon you are working with.
So for instance if I had hypothetically used this method to emulate say George's compressor, I wouldn't be left with any enlightenment about why he made what he did, how he did it and what aspect of it caused him to gravitate on this solution. Such methods might be a good way (out of desperation) to provide a long-awaited solution to Fermat's last theorem - but it's sure as hell not the thought process Fermat used to concieve of the postulate in the first place.

One can imagine that a completely crazy furistic end point of this idea might be that humans no longer designed anything much at all - being relegated instead to re-running the 'Acme Fitness For Task design system' with some slight random change to the input to see if something more useful came out - entirely by chance. If it didn't, well bad luck - try again. A good theme for a futuristic Sci-Fi plot perhaps :-)

Snip - off topic ramble edited

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Quote:
Originally posted by Curve Dominant:
Computer Modeling of Analog Devices...

We're on the frontlines, and we don't give a flying fook if the kit sounds like the "physical" or not. Plugins are virtual stompboxes. Nothing more, nothing less.

I have seen peeps with absolutely no academic musical or engineering knowledge bring mixes to my studio that sound stunning in originality.

These folks are artists, in the purist sense. They literally make something out of nothing, with tools they do not comprehend on any traditional engineering level.

Based upon this experience, I view peeps who dis "Computer Modeling of Analog Devices" like paint manufactureres who moonlight as art critics.

There is a point where the engineer has to get out of the way of the artisitic process.
I agree Curve, but for mixers in digital, those digital stomp boxes are going to convey the vibe and essence of the track. There is no noise in the noise floor. All of the ambience in the track is being created by you, at least down to -144 db or so. I happen to like most of the sounds that I have found in Pro Tools, but since I'm not a world famous guy, you probably haven't even heard of me or any of my mixes. I have a feeling that there are others who are finding good stuff, too.

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Quote:
Originally posted by Paul Frindle:
The only emulations I have ever done in my whole life are George's EQ and Compressor for the R3.
I notice that you included George's EQ as an option in your Pro Tools EQ plug-in, but you did not include his compressor as an option in the dynamics plug-in. Was this because of a lack of DSP? If it was, does the new "Acell" card have sufficient DSP to include it now as an option?

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Quote:
Originally posted by blairl:
Quote:
Originally posted by Paul Frindle:
The only emulations I have ever done in my whole life are George's EQ and Compressor for the R3.
I notice that you included George's EQ as an option in your Pro Tools EQ plug-in, but you did not include his compressor as an option in the dynamics plug-in. Was this because of a lack of DSP? If it was, does the new "Accel" card have sufficient DSP to include it now as an option?
We (MDW) have done the basic (i.e., 8900) detector algorithm for the compressor, and have added a few little enhancements and one long-awaited big enhancement (which I've been dreaming of doing for years).

Unfortunately, it's still extremely mips-hungry, and we feel strongly that we have to squeeze it into one Accel chip (two instantiations at 192, four at 96k & etc, with an eye to being able to fit it in at 384).

More on this soon,
George


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Quote:
Originally posted by Paul Frindle:
The only emulations I have ever done in my whole life are George's EQ and Compressor for the R3.
Paul, in the current sense of the thread, those don't really count as emulations, or black-box replications of some other, hidden, process. The code that's executed in the OXF-R3 is more-or-less a direct IIR filter-form, not FIR...not a look-up table of differential responses...not convolution.

Maybe we should be renaming things...

George


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On my latest project, we only used real amps were proposed but the Sintefex stayed and..... Everyone loves the album but I would be much happier had we stayed away from "love dolls".

Just my $.02

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Quote:
Originally posted by gm:
Quote:
Originally posted by blairl:
I notice that you included George's EQ as an option in your Pro Tools EQ plug-in, but you did not include his compressor as an option in the dynamics plug-in. Was this because of a lack of DSP? If it was, does the new "Accel" card have sufficient DSP to include it now as an option?
We (MDW) have done the basic (i.e., 8900) detector algorithm for the compressor, and have added a few little enhancements and one long-awaited big enhancement (which I've been dreaming of doing for years).
Any chance of seeing the MDW stuff ported to the the PowerCore architecture? I'd buy a PowerCore FireWire in a hot second for that.


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Quote:
Originally posted by blairl:
Quote:
Originally posted by Paul Frindle:
The only emulations I have ever done in my whole life are George's EQ and Compressor for the R3.
I notice that you included George's EQ as an option in your Pro Tools EQ plug-in, but you did not include his compressor as an option in the dynamics plug-in. Was this because of a lack of DSP? If it was, does the new "Acell" card have sufficient DSP to include it now as an option?
Yes you are right that it seems like an oversight on the face of it. But in reality the GML compressor is a very different application to the general purpose R3 compressor. And although in many ways it uses similar processing 'parts', in fact everything from the control parameters, interactions and laws all the way to the actual side chain and processing architecture and even the order of processing is quite different. So when we select the GML option in the R3, a mass of stuff changes and the cost of it in processing is very high - so much so that we couldn't offer a full complement of GML compressor options per channel and still maintain the required channel quantity - even in the R3 system. In fact shoe-horning the R3 compressor into the PT system has been far and away the most challenging plug-in effort we have made to date and the overhead of all the sub-applications we need to save people the cost of processing the whole thing still causes us major headache. So whilst it was technically feasible to do a digital version of the GML application, it would need to have been a stand alone plug-in in it's own right rather than an option selection on the Oxford dynamics plug-in.

Although the Accel card has increased the potential processing power of PT markedly, the trend for higher sampling rates largely undoes the benefit, particularly if you want to offer people the same applications under all possible sample rate conditions.

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Quote:
Originally posted by gm:
Quote:
Originally posted by Paul Frindle:
The only emulations I have ever done in my whole life are George's EQ and Compressor for the R3.
Paul, in the current sense of the thread, those don't really count as emulations, or black-box replications of some other, hidden, process. The code that's executed in the OXF-R3 is more-or-less a direct IIR filter-form, not FIR...not a look-up table of differential responses...not convolution.

Maybe we should be renaming things...

George
Yes, a good point.
But by emulation I am referring to the intention and result of the project and not the chosen method of achieving it :-) Any number of methods could have been (and in fact were) used to produce this result, which was to produce something as close to the original as possible. Making an implicit distinction between convolution and any other method I think may be unsafe?

>>>>
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=emulate

tr.v. em·u·lat·ed, em·u·lat·ing, em·u·lates

To strive to equal or excel, especially through imitation: an older pupil whose accomplishments and style I emulated.

To compete with successfully; approach or attain equality with.

Computer Science. To imitate the function of (another system), as by modifications to hardware or software that allow the imitating system to accept the same data, execute the same programs, and achieve the same results as the imitated system.
>>>>

Even if we try to make a terminology distinction based on a 'hidden black box' analysis concept we have difficulites since, never having seen a circuit diagram for either of these units, the process largely consisted of measurement comparison, experience and trial itteration.

The only real distinction we can sensibly attempt to make is to describe a process as 'blind' without any input in the form of human knowledge or experience. In this case I would propose we use a term that explicitly expresses this salient aspect? But still there are yet other methods to achieve this without resorting to convolution.

Generally I worry about the process of assigning connotations to a general word when used in another context, because I think this can be misleading and may result in inppropriate perceptions amongst readers? Especially so if readers have not been party to the whole interchange and are therefore uninitiated? I would propose that this may be what has effectively happened to the term 'resolution', which in most people's minds no longer describes a true picture of what is actually happening?

In particular, I would want to avoid any notion that any particular method used to achieve a result could somehow confer inherant advantage that could not be discriminated by comparative analysis of the result?

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Is there a reason you don't like convolution, if so, can you describe it for us? What are the other approachs that you have tried, either successfully on unsuccessfully? What works, what don't?

Let's say you had enough computer horsepower to do zillions of MIPs, in others words, let's imagine that you have more computer, DSP, and converter power than you could possibly ever need. So the hardware is now not a factor, under this scenario, how would you approach doing an emulation or a model of an EQ? Would you attempt to deconstruct and understand every possible permutation of the existing box, in other words, document every possible setting with every possible input and output value, or would you use some other approach?

In addition, could you discuss how you might approach a "design-from-the ground-up" in order to compare and contrast the two different goals. Thanks. \:\)

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Quote:
Originally posted by Johnny B:
Is there a reason you don't like convolution, if so, can you describe it for us? What are the other approachs that you have tried, either successfully on unsuccessfully? What works, what don't?

Let's say you had enough computer horsepower to do zillions of MIPs, in others words, let's imagine that you have more computer, DSP, and converter power than you could possibly ever need. So the hardware is now not a factor, under this scenario, how would you approach doing an emulation or a model of an EQ? Would you attempt to deconstruct and understand every possible permutation of the existing box, in other words, document every possible setting with every possible input and output value, or would you use some other approach?

In addition, could you discuss how you might approach a "design-from-the ground-up" in order to compare and contrast the two different goals. Thanks. \:\)
It's getting late here and I must be brief.

Firstly. I would never attempt to do an emulation or a copy of anyone else's applications or realisations, unless explicitly requested to do so within a mutually agreed arrangement, where the originators benefitted from their own ingenuity.

Secondly. I would use whatever method was required or convenient to model the processing (without prejudice), for the sole purpose of gaining sufficient understanding of the application and it's inner workings to be able to RE-CREATE it as accurately and efficiently as possible, using whatever processing was most expedient. That of course means EVERY single parameter and dependancy.

Thirdly. If (or more likely when) I found that significant portions of it's character were produced by external factors beyond my control (i.e. interconnections or follow-up variables), I would recalibrate expectations and seek to understand what was the essential character of the unit that everyone prefered and settle for making this happen at least.

One does not 'like' or 'dislike' convolution as it is only a tool like any other. There is no inherant phylosophical advantage to any particular method over another. All that matters is the end result. The result characterises the application - not the method used to get it. I know this is an obvious statement but sadly I have had need to argue at this level too often before (i.e. audio quality math :-(().

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Ok, thanks Paul.

As I said when the thread started, some of these plugs seem to work better than others. One possible reason the quality difference was the approach the modelers/emulators took to find a solution. I was hoping to try to figure out which companies where taking the best or most successful approach.

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Quote:
Originally posted by Johnny B:
Ok, thanks Paul.

As I said when the thread started, some of these plugs seem to work better than others. One possible reason the quality difference was the approach the modelers/emulators took to find a solution. I was hoping to try to figure out which companies where taking the best or most successful approach.
Sorry I may be getting lost here? When you say that some plugs work better than others - this surely would be expected in the grand scheme of things? But was does emulation have to do with it? Do you think that all plugs are emulations of something that already exists? Or are you referring to the success (or otherwise) of 'computer emulation systems' to dumbly model someone else's application?

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Quote:
Originally posted by gm:
We (MDW) have done the basic (i.e., 8900) detector algorithm for the compressor, and have added a few little enhancements and one long-awaited big enhancement (which I've been dreaming of doing for years).

Unfortunately, it's still extremely mips-hungry, and we feel strongly that we have to squeeze it into one Accel chip (two instantiations at 192, four at 96k & etc, with an eye to being able to fit it in at 384).

More on this soon,
George
I've got two interpretations of what you posted here. The first is that unfortunately the compressor is extremely mips-hungry but that it in fact will fit on an Accel chip and you are in fact developing this plug-in as we speak and it will soon be available for sale to the public.

The second interpretation is that you would like to fit it on the Acell chip in the configurations that you listed but unfortunately it is too mips-hungry to work.

I sure hope the first interpreation is the correct one. \:\) Are you going to be able to make it a reality?

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Quote:
Originally posted by blairl:
Quote:
Originally posted by gm:
[...]

Unfortunately, it's still extremely mips-hungry, and we feel strongly that we have to squeeze it into one Accel chip (two instantiations at 192, four at 96k & etc, with an eye to being able to fit it in at 384).
I've got two interpretations of what you posted here. The first is that unfortunately the compressor is extremely mips-hungry but that it in fact will fit on an Accel chip and you are in fact developing this plug-in as we speak and it will soon be available for sale to the public.

The second interpretation is that you would like to fit it on the Acell chip in the configurations that you listed but unfortunately it is too mips-hungry to work.

I sure hope the first interpreation is the correct one. \:\) Are you going to be able to make it a reality?
Unfortunately, the second is true. We are trying to "neck it down" to fit 4 instantiations on one Accel chip at 96k.

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384? Tell me it ain't so. When does it end? And when do I get called out for refusing to go beyond 44/48?


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Phil,

According to the AES whitepaper above, it "should" stop at around 5Mz. But we know they will still push it higher, chipmakers never stop. Incidently, I used to have a sign taped on my fridge that read: "Today, I promise not to 'should' on myself." LOL

Paul,

Sorry I'm so imprecise in my writing, I'm not that great a typist, can't speak well either.

Anyway, let's take Amp Farm as an example, what modeling/emulation approach did they use vs. say, someone like Vox's stompbox or Fender's CyberTwin Amp. Without getting into whether they might be useful whether or not they are like the real deal, most would probably prefer one of these over the other. As you seem to dislike the convolution approach, I'm still not clear why, I'm wondering if perhaps the ones that people find more pleasing do not use the convolution approach to modeling. In other words, I'm trying to account for the differences in perceived quality based upon they way they did the modeling. Does that make more sense?

What it all comes down to is trying to answer the question: Why are some models better than others?

So if you or George can help answer this question, I think we'd all be grateful. Thanks. \:\)

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Quote:
Originally posted by Johnny B:
Phil,

Paul,

Sorry I'm so imprecise in my writing, I'm not that great a typist, can't speak well either.

Anyway, let's take Amp Farm as an example, what modeling/emulation approach did they use vs. say, someone like Vox's stompbox or Fender's CyberTwin Amp. Without getting into whether they might be useful whether or not they are like the real deal, most would probably prefer one of these over the other. As you seem to dislike the convolution approach, I'm still not clear why, I'm wondering if perhaps the ones that people find more pleasing do not use the convolution approach to modeling. In other words, I'm trying to account for the differences in perceived quality based upon they way they did the modeling. Does that make more sense?

What it all comes down to is trying to answer the question: Why are some models better than others?

So if you or George can help answer this question, I think we'd all be grateful. Thanks. \:\)
Ok. I really don't know which modelling technique these guy's used - although I suspect that the amp farm may have some convolution modelling in it somewhere?

The problem I am having understanding what you are asking stems from the suggestion that one method may be better than another. This suggests that you think that people are (religiously) using just one method only to model things. This is very unlikey to be the case for designers since the effectiveness of a particular method will depend on what aspect of an application you are trying to model.

For example, if you limited yourself to 'automatic convolution' only you might make a reasonable model of say an EQ at mid and high freq settings. But you would be extremely unlikely to get a useable model of anything that had long-term and complex signal dependent dynamic behaviour (i.e. compressors and such). And in any case, as a design tool it wouldn't help much since it is hopelessly inefficient and gives you no understanding about the application that would allow you to make a sensible design.

A 'shoot-out' of modelling techniques doesn't make sense to a actual designer. The only people that may be relying on one method only are those trying to use commercial automatic modelling applications to blindly copy existing units without any understanding of what goes on inside them.

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Quote:
Originally posted by Johnny B:
What it all comes down to is trying to answer the question: Why are some models better than others?
Forgive me..obvious I`m not Paul or George!!! Not even a pimpel on their butt...but this question should/could be answered by someone like yourself...!!!

Soo why do you like Model "A"...over model "B"..??? Or is it the other way around..???...what is it that makes you "tick" in the controlroom..??? why do you choose mic "a" over mic "b", or even "c"...??? As an recording engineer...!!! on what ground do you make your choices...???

Kind regards

Peter


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Johnny B,

I hear you when I read your posts.
Email me at vst@editions-ihs.com

I may have aready done what you have in mind...

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It's funny how people don't consider the complexity of a device as a whole in conjunction with the parts.

There's things going on in analog devices that are not being modeled. You can model the non-linearity of one component in a circuit, but then you have to model backwards in the circuit what effect that has on the previous component. For instance, if you have something with an inductor at one end of a circuit and some sort of impedence sensitive component on the other end, is anyone modeling the interaction of the whole? I don't think so.

Guitar amps are mysterious chaos engines. Line6 has done a good job on some things, but it's not the same. It can fool you, but not the same.

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Surely you could use a lot of mips just emulating the characteristics of vintage transformers let alone the whole gammut? What about thermal drift, particularly with regard to valves, and carbon resistors? Let alone the "chain reaction" Jim Novak talks about...

I'm not anti plug-in, but I suspect they are best suited to new inventive apps that have functional advantage when performed in the digital domain at this moment in time.

Justin

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These are all good points.

I just visited the Sineteflex site, did not stay very long, just a quick peak, I guess they have done a lot of modeling and some work for focusright, I saw Pultec, GML, Neve and other names listed. Apparently, they have some kind of system that uses "AI" (Artificial Intelligence) to do "learning." Now I don't know how good or bad their "Expert System" or "AI" stuff is, I do know that in other fields like medicine this stuff can be made to help doctors do better diagnostic work. The human body is certainly more complex than pro-audio, how much more complex is open to debate.

But maybe Sineteflex is using the "automatic" system that Paul mentioned. I dunno.

Perhaps, we could break it down into the different ways people might approach doing a model, and advance the discussion that way.
How's that sound?

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Quote:
Originally posted by Johnny B:
These are all good points.

I just visited the Sineteflex site, did not stay very long, just a quick peak, I guess they have done a lot of modeling and some work for focusright, I saw Pultec, GML, Neve and other names listed. Apparently, they have some kind of system that uses "AI" (Artificial Intelligence) to do "learning." Now I don't know how good or bad their "Expert System" or "AI" stuff is, I do know that in other fields like medicine this stuff can be made to help doctors do better diagnostic work. The human body is certainly more complex than pro-audio, how much more complex is open to debate.

But maybe Sineteflex is using the "automatic" system that Paul mentioned. I dunno.

Perhaps, we could break it down into the different ways people might approach doing a model, and advance the discussion that way.
How's that sound?
Sorry. It sounds like they're making unsupportable claims for all of the reasons I've already given - I'd just be repeating myself to write it again.

In short:

1. For static modeling: it simply makes sense that they would have to have far greater resolution than the system they're modeling. They don't.

2. For dynamics modeling: for very complex attack characteristics, they'd have to have at least processing power at least as capable as the system they're modeling. It's not.

Think about it this way: philosophically, a system of a given complexity may only be "understood" by another system more complex than itself.

Again, I'm not saying that emulation/modeling isn't worth something. I am saying that they are lying to one extent or another in the claims that I'm reading. And I'm simply not going to pretend it's cool. It's not - it's wrong.

George


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Well I do think at some point techology will make it possible. Hey they put a man on the moon. How hard can it be to emulate a Neve 1073?

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Thanks George,

I totally agree with the integrity issue. And if I understand what you are now saying, the chips are not yet fully up to the task. That makes total sense to me, not fast enough, and not enough horsepower. I suppose I should have gotten this when you earlier used the term "MIPS." Sounds like you'd need megaflops or something way more potent to do the job right.

Nevertheless, can we still talk just a little about the attempts to date. Failures can provide furtile ground for learning and eventually advancing the technology of the future.

Maybe we could even reduce the complexity of the language a little such as the following:

"Ok, you get the equipment into a certain static state and you take a still picture of it, and then you try to recreate that moment in software."

Sort of an oversimplified KISS method.

Then you can make a comment of why this is not a ideal solution. Maybe we can advance the discussion that way.

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Quote:
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[QUOTE]
In short:

1. For static modeling: it simply makes sense that they would have to have far greater resolution than the system they're modeling. They don't.

2. For dynamics modeling: for very complex attack characteristics, they'd have to have at least processing power at least as capable as the system they're modeling. It's not.

Think about it this way: philosophically, a system of a given complexity may only be "understood" by another system more complex than itself.

Again, I'm not saying that emulation/modeling isn't worth something. I am saying that they are lying to one extent or another in the claims that I'm reading. And I'm simply not going to pretend it's cool. It's not - it's wrong.

George
George,

Reading your post, I'm asking if you have personal experience with Sintefex gear ? Do you ?
If so, I'll be glad if you share what you hear when listening the 8200 model they have done.

I have listened the 8200 model from Sintefex and I was impressed. Though I've no experience with the 8200 Hardware but only with the MDW software version in my TC6000.

Personally, I found the sintefex to be really cool.

I've tried an sampled 8900 too but it not as impressive. I remember earing artifacts mainly in the attack/release characteristics.

I remember you saying that you prefer the software version because it was close enough to the original and had recall.

If I am correct, the stereo SW version use one DSP of the TC while the sintefex I have use 9 DSP SHARC for stereo application. So I don't understand your point about horsepower. Please tell me...


Best regards,

Salvator


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How about a quick and dirty explanation of "convolution?" And then some comment on its strengths and weaknesses.

Paul you said,
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The only accurate way to simulate such a device is to model the actual algorithm and math inside the box - so it behaves to ALL and ANY programme correctly.
If I'm not mistaken that's what the fellas down at Stanford University's CCRMA Labs do, or are trying to do, and that may have been the approach that UA used. I dunno.

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I think the point that is that it is not modeling, it is a complex system sample that is recreated using the samples impulse response of the device.  It may not be able to exactly copy the device in infinite detail, but then again our hearing doesn't have the resolution we are talking about.  Take a digital reverb for example, does it have anything to do with the actual infinitely detailed response of a room? . . . .  No, it is an approximation.  Take digital audio in general and try to apply those comments, they don't apply.  The very point that they keep talking about modeling implies that they do not understand the process by which this device operates.

 

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Quote:
Originally posted by ptuzer:
I think the point that is that it is not modeling, it is a complex system sample that is recreated using the samples impulse response of the device.  It may not be able to exactly copy the device in infinite detail, but then again our hearing doesn't have the resolution we are talking about.  Take a digital reverb for example, does it have anything to do with the actual infinitely detailed response of a room? . . . .  No, it is an approximation.  Take digital audio in general and try to apply those comments, they don't apply.  The very point that they keep talking about modeling implies that they do not understand the process by which this device operates.

 
Look, at the risk of repeating myself over and over, please read the thread up to this point.

Aside from the point that I keep making about resolution, both frequency and dynamic range...

The performance of most of the analog boxes that you all want to model is not static! You cannot simply take a snapshot of the artifacts - the transfer function - at one given point in time even if you analyze and replicate performance at multiple, discrete signal levels and call it any kind of a model of the dynamic performance of the device. And that's tremendously more complicated.

It's a big subject, and you'll have to do some big reading. Even if every impulse in your brain is telling you to just believe manufacturers' insipid, unsupportable claims.

George


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I guess there are always 2 sides to every point, making comments without using it and hearing it is a bit self serving, especially if you are in the business of selling that box that it recreates.- I am not trying to start a flame war I just like to keep an open viewpoint on everything.

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So the false advertising must go. Good idea, and the law too.

And it can't quite be done with existing technology, is that it?

What if they did not make the false claims and did a proper disclosure to the purchaser.

Something like,

"We tried to model/emulate this (fill-in-the-blank) device using the best available technologies, and although not an exact duplicate of the original device, it gave us the framework on which to build what we believe is a truly fine software product in its own right. Try if for yourself, and if your are not totally satisfied with our product's performance we will refund your entire purchase price. We stand behind every product we make and want every customer to be satisfied."

Would that be more honest?

Perhaps, with a little editing some kind of honest disclosure language could get rid of the fraud.

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Quote:
Originally posted by ptuzer:
I guess there are always 2 sides to every point, making comments without using it and hearing it is a bit self serving, especially if you are in the business of selling that box that it recreates.- I am not trying to start a flame war I just like to keep an open viewpoint on everything.
Post deleted - no point.

Whilst generally it's good to keep an open mind on things, sadly in this case what you are proposing cannot be done in this way.

I can think of ways that automatic modelling using different methods that might work with dynamic responses - but such a system may end up homing in on the exact math as used in the original box. Therefore a working copy made this way could potentially represent plaguerism via computer. It should be noted that deliberately setting out to unravel unpublished IPR - by whatever method - for the purposes of copying it and using it is actually illegal.

This raises and interesting point - to what extent is it possible to emulate something this way before the perpetrators risk being sued? And conversely - is it possible that the only reason emulation systems remain legal is because they cannot - even theoretically provide a replacement for the application being copied?

BTW although your point about reverb, real spaces and accuracy was somewhat off-beat - paradoxically you have actually hit on the one thing that convolution modelling actually does well :-)

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Quote:
Originally posted by ptuzer:
I guess there are always 2 sides to every point, making comments without using it and hearing it is a bit self serving, especially if you are in the business of selling that box that it recreates.- I am not trying to start a flame war I just like to keep an open viewpoint on everything.
I dunno - a bit stong perhaps? I think people are being remarkably up-front and restrained about this considering the implications :-)

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I find it no different than big console employees going on the internet and telling people that mixing in a DAW is bad and you will always get bad audio from a DAW and you can't "Mix in the Box"
Look at what happened to New England Digital in the 80's they were the "King".
I guess everyone has to protect their domain.
You just have to judge for yourself if it works for you.
It may not be perfect - but hey who is.

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Paul,

"IPR" explain please?

I guess the convolution reverbs do work well.

As to lawsuits, companies reverse engineer products all the time, if done well and documented correctly, lawsuits will normaly be dismissed by a court. Microsoft Windows being ripped off from Apple comes to mind, as does certain BIOS implemations such as Compac's of the original IBM PC's BIOS.

It is interesting that you can imagine some kind of automatic system that may work. How long will it be that you predict that such systems become common? 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, more?

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Quote:
Originally posted by Johnny B:
Paul,

"IPR" explain please?

Intellectual Property Rights


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Quote:
Originally posted by ptuzer:
I guess there are always 2 sides to every point, making comments without using it and hearing it is a bit self serving, especially if you are in the business of selling that box that it recreates.- I am not trying to start a flame war I just like to keep an open viewpoint on everything.
This is so not the point. You're saying that those of us who are adamantly against...and let me put this clearly and succinctly...Liquid Channel and the outrageous claims and unconscionable ripping off of IP that they're pursuing - those of us who object to that are misinformed because we haven't heard it?

As far as I'm concerned you can make art out of anything, and emulations like Amp Farm are irreplaceble to many, and invaluable to me.

But it is what it is. It is not a panacea and shouldn't be marketted as such. In the short term, it simply doesn't work that well. But as Paul points out, the long term effect of it's commercial success is much more heinous. Pure, automatic emulation doesn't produce anything new (and may I go so far as to say that the record companys' gross pursuit...emulation!...of "what's already hip" has alot to do with stagnation in the industry) and the use of other manufacturers' trademarks will probably be illegal in a few years.

George


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Quote:
Originally posted by ptuzer:
Well I do think at some point techology will make it possible. Hey they put a man on the moon. How hard can it be to emulate a Neve 1073?
Are you sure they DID put a man on the moon? Wasn't it emulated? Maybe the first time was Apollo 14....


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Hey hey, so let's hear it for original creative work!

As far as the rehashes go in music, you certainly can play exactly what was played through the exact gear, etc., and there's no way you will ever capture the spirit if what you're copying was not a slavish imitation to begin with...

Now go out there and take some chances!


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I always heard it discussed as "IP" and not "IPR" which sounds like "IQR" and is an area I hate. So I like the term "IP" better. But thanks for clearing that up for me.

More valid points are coming up, but here is a summary:

1) The chips, software, and technology have not advanced to the point where anyone can honestly claim the have a model of the real deal analogue box.

2) Some people lie and commit fraud in their marketing puffry.

3)Some so-called models and emulations are still usful, despite the lies.

4) Some software plugs do not make false claims and are built from the ground up.

5) When the modeling technology gets to the point of being able to really perform and behave like the real deal, it is akin to theft of IP.

6) Simply modelling old analogue devices does nothing to advance having new and better sound, it's just more of the same and a version of "me too." It's old and stale because nothing unique, nothing truly original occurs.

Have I missed anything? \:\)

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Quote:
Originally posted by Johnny B:
Paul,

"IPR" explain please?

I guess the convolution reverbs do work well.

As to lawsuits, companies reverse engineer products all the time, if done well and documented correctly, lawsuits will normaly be dismissed by a court. Microsoft Windows being ripped off from Apple comes to mind, as does certain BIOS implemations such as Compac's of the original IBM PC's BIOS.

It is interesting that you can imagine some kind of automatic system that may work. How long will it be that you predict that such systems become common? 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, more?
When I say 'imagine' that's basically what it is. I don't know anyone who is specifically trying to do this. It's just that if I am able to make a model of a dynamics section using various methods and experience, it must ultimately be possible for a computer to do so. For the basic dynamic activity aspect the idea might be that the computer has various internal models from which it can compare trial and error fashion to get overall dynamic dependancy and then calibrate the scaling and settings after that. However even this wouldn't get you something like the LA2A because it's actually a complex mixture of several basic possible models which interact with each other. Kit like this presents a challenge even if you do know what's in it and have a complete set of measurements to start with. In fact the whole thing is so idiosyncratic I would doubt that even a model carefully crafted by humans with maximum inside information would actually perform and sound the same.

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As long as "engineers", keep pretending that they can get the equivalant of a fullblown stuio, inside a friggin' computer, this whole "convolution" and "emulation" nonsense will continue to spread.

Most plug-ins are really crappy copies of the real thing. Plugin reverbs, suck too.

If you think a bombfactory plug-in sounds as good as the real thing, or a Neve "plug-in" copy can sound as good as the real thing, then you'll probably like coolwhip better instead of real whipping cream
You think margarine kicks ass over real butter, And that the frozen pizza "really does taste like delivery".

Fuckin' Pizza Hut taste better than that frozen shit.

get my drift?

Problem is, that most "audio-engineers" really are glorified computer geeks. Who really want to believe that the almighty computer is the cat's ass.

Your new shiny PT Accel cannot and still will not do as good a job as the real thing. The plug-ins are still crap copies, and the reverbs lack depth.

get over it.


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I'm sure we can all come down on the side of Paul and George as to the complexities and inaccuracies of digital modeling. I'm sure it sucks. But the next logical step is not that all work done in the box sucks, too. I find use for them much in the same way as George does with the Amp Farm. It's not quite the same, but many times I can make it work to a point where few people would care about or notice the difference.

I find that I like the plugins that do something new, rather than emulate something in the hardware world. The Oxford EQ falls into that category. If you're going to mix in the box, you have to analyze the tools in terms of what you could do with them, rather than which have a one to one match with something in the real world.

In other words, plugins probably ARE crap, but I have no other choice to use them, and sometimes I'm quite happy with the sound I get from them.

As far as emulations sounding the same as the originals, forget it. I've used the real thing and it's not the same. But you might be able to do something useful or even artistic with them just the same, and that may be all that really matters.

Steve

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Paul, thanks. I dunno, seems to me that someday they will get a computer to model the real deal, just not yet. I mean they try to model the world's climate and various economies of the world, and if I'm not mistaken the algo in Autotune came from a geophysist who normally did oil exploration with FFT and so on. So you never know where the tech may be developed and then someone comes along and adapts it to another use.

Hench,

No mealy-mouthed, lawyer-like "weasel words" from you, aay? Gotta tell, PH pizza sucks too. I like to find a good NY place, or my fav, a Chicago place. The real deal. \:\)

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Quote:
Originally posted by Johnny B:
Paul, thanks. I dunno, seems to me that someday they will get a computer to model the real deal, just not yet.
That's like the Turing test for psychiatry, isn't it? I mean the guy on the other side isn't really a person, but a program that asks the same questions and gives the same responses. I didn't agree with Turing in that regard years ago, and I don't really agree that *predictable* results are the point as far as the LA2A goes. As I said earlier, its unpredictable personality was/is part of its charm (as well as part of its madness).


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Quote:
Originally posted by Johnny B:
Gotta tell, PH pizza sucks too. I like to find a good NY place, or my fav, a Chicago place. The real deal. \:\)
That's my point. No matter how bad PH pizza is. is still better than pre-frozen crap at the local store. The real thing is ALWAYS better.


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KK, you have a CS degree, suppose you try and explain the different ways to "try" to model something complex like an analogue device. But please keep it to the KISS level, I'm not too bright. \:\)

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Quote:
Originally posted by Johnny B:
KK, you have a CS degree, suppose you try and explain the different ways to "try" to model something complex like an analogue device. But please keep it to the KISS level, I'm not too bright. \:\)
Sorry, but I'll happily defer to George and Paul .


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Good move! \:\)

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Read this on SOS from Hugh Robjohns. Though I dislike Pod's, and love tube amps and high quality gear, I am keeping an open mind, (though not convinced, yet)

Convolutional processing has been around in an academic form for a long time, but it was the rapid advances in DSP technology about five years ago that enabled the first practical products using this technology to reach the pro-audio market. I'm thinking here of devices like Sony's DRE S777 and Yamaha's SREV1 — both sampling reverb units — and the mighty Sintefex FX8000 'Replicator' and its siblings, the FX2000 equaliser and CX2000 compressor. All of these products employ very sophisticated digital signal processing to 'convolve' the input audio signal with a 'sample' derived from some desired process. If you're not familiar with the principles of DSP convolution, it's worth checking out the Sony preview and Sintefex review, which contain a lot of background material (see SOS June 1999 and September 2002 respectively, or see http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jun99/articles/sonydres.htm and http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/sep02/articles/sintefex2000.asp).

In essence, the characteristics of an audio signal processor (or indeed an acoustic environment, in the case of the convolutional reverb units) are captured by measuring their unique impulse response. An impulse — a click to you and me — theoretically contains all signal frequencies at the same time, and if an impulse is fed into an audio signal processor, the output signal will be a modified impulse. The impulse level may change, there may be 'echoes' or phase-shifts, and the impulse may be stretched in time. The nature of these variations is unique to each process and so defines every aspect of the signal processing in a precise way — it is the sonic equivalent of a fingerprint.


The Liquid Channel's stylish chrome rack ears.
Since a single digital sample is very similar in its form to a single impulse, this convolution technique is well suited to digital signal processing. In essence, all that is required is that each digital sample input to the convolutional processor has to be modified to replicate the same impulse pattern obtained from the test described above, which means that a single input sample may have to generate a vast train of output samples of different levels — all of which have to be added to the train of samples generated by the preceding and following samples. Consequently, convolution is an extremely DSP-hungry technology, requiring a huge amount of high-resolution digital signal processing. The Sintefex FX8000, for example, employs 44 SHARC DSP chips.

However, provided this is all done with sufficient precision, when the new input signal is convolved with the impulse response of the required audio process, the resulting output will provide a perfect replica of the required sound, just as if the input signal had been processed through the original device. This approach enables a degree of fidelity and accuracy that can not be achieved in any other way, which is why the technique is becoming so popular. It also explains why those companies who make use of these techniques tend to speak of digital 'replication' rather than 'modelling'. The latter uses conventional digital signal processing to provide a sound similar to the intended original unit by 'modelling' its characteristics. 'Replication', on the other hand, uses the more sophisticated convolutional signal processing to provide a precise and totally accurate recreation of the intended unit's characteristics.

More Than Convolution
A convolutional processor requires a huge amount of data to define the characteristics of the product it is intended to replicate. If you consider an EQ, different impulse responses have to be taken for every possible variation of control setting — every frequency value, every gain increment, and every Q value. Devices with non-linear characteristics — those with transformers, valves, or level-dependent distortion effects, for example — also have to be analysed at a variety of different input signal levels to produce an accurate replication.
A compressor is even more of a challenge to analyse, because of the dynamic nature of the device — its performance changes intentionally with both input signal level and the signal envelope. So, in addition to taking impulse responses for every possible control parameter setting, each one has to be repeated for a wide range of input levels, and the dynamic response has to be analysed too.
However, complex though all this is, the problem actually gets a lot harder when trying to replicate a mic preamp. Not only are there all the sonic characteristics associated with the circuit topology, active devices, input transformers and so on to analyse, measure and replicate, but there is also the interaction between the microphone's output circuitry and the preamp's input impedance and circuit design. This interaction affects the sonic characteristics of a preamp in a significant way, as anyone who has played with a switchable-impedance preamp can attest, and varies with different microphones because of their own impedance characteristics. So, the only way to accurately replicate a particular preamp is to match its input impedance characteristics exactly — the precise resistance, capacitance and inductance — as well as the electronic or transformer-coupled input topology, and all the other characteristics associated with its amplification circuitry. Naturally, this adds another suite of analytical tests when collecting data on a preamp for replication.
The solution Focusrite have developed mimics the actual input-impedance characteristics of each replicated preamp directly at the analogue input of the Liquid Channel. Using an incredibly elaborate arrangement of extremely high-quality signal relays, various inductors, capacitors, resistors and a special transformer can be switched into the input circuitry. This is what led to the idea of a 'liquid' channel — the fluid way in which the input stage can be altered. Using this unique technology, the microphone will 'see' the precise input impedance of the genuine preamp, and thus the tonality created by the input stage's loading of the microphone will be replicated accurately as well.
One problem encountered when trying to replicate vintage equipment is that no two units sound the same. These inherent variances are caused by the ageing of components, or where components have been substituted by others of slightly different characteristics (eg. different valves). Such variances generally result in a different level of harmonic distortion, and so Focusrite have incorporated a facility for the user to dial in a controlled amount of second-harmonic distortion to control the perceived 'warmth' of the replication.

Beauty Is In The Detail

In theory, there is no limit to the kinds of signal processing that can be replicated using convolution as the heart of the processing — although the legal aspects of this kind of technique are yet to be formally addressed. The existing convolutional reverb units demonstrate the startling accuracy that can be achieved in replicating the acoustic signatures of real environments, and the Sintefex products have provided stunningly accurate and very cost-effective replicas of a wide variety of classic EQs and compressors.

However, the one other item of revered studio outboard that frequently carries the 'classic' title is the mic preamp. Whether modern or vintage, valve or solid-state, electronically or transformer balanced, different mic preamps sound very different, and engineers and producers often go to extraordinary lengths to find the best-sounding preamp for each project.

So, wouldn't it be nice if the convolution technique could be applied to replicating the best classic mic preamps? Well, that is exactly what Focusrite have done with their new 'Liquid Channel', which was officially launched at the AES Convention in New York in October, and mentioned in last month's SOS News pages. The production units should be in the shops by the New Year, but shortly before the AES launch, I was given a privileged preview of a production prototype, and the opportunity to learn more about this revolutionary product directly from the designers.

The Liquid Look
The Liquid Channel's front-panel styling is pleasing to the eyes, with its attractive rotary encoders and subtly illuminated buttons.
The preamp section starts with a vertical bar-graph meter showing input levels over a 20dB range, with a separate Clip LED. A button cycles the input selection between analogue mic or line level and the digital input, while a fourth LED illuminates when the selected preamp replication is using the input transformer.
A rotary encoder determines the input gain, with a ring of LEDs to show the current setting. The mic input gain spans +6 to +80dB (even if the original preamps being replicated didn't), and line inputs span ±10dB. Phantom power, polarity inversion and a high-pass filter are enabled by three more buttons at the bottom of the panel section.


The next part of the front panel is concerned with clocking. A button cycles through the available internal clock rates (from 44.1 to 192kHz), while another selects internal or external word-clocks, or the digital input as the clock reference. A button at the top of the section activates the 'session saver' function — essentially an automatic gain control which prevents digital clipping of the output of the device, regardless of compressor or EQ settings.
The central portion of the unit is dominated by a large, two-line, backlit LCD window and six associated rotary encoders, each with a ring of LEDs to give an idea of the current settings. The first encoder determines the amount of second-order distortion introduced to provide a controllable degree of 'warmth' (as explained in the other box elsewhere in this article). The next five controls handle the compressor parameters: Threshold, Ratio, Attack, Release and Gain makeup. The numeric values of each of these six parameters are presented clearly above each encoder knob. The top line of the display shows the name of the preamp replication, the preamp gain, the preset program name and number, and the compressor replication.
The preamp and compressor replications are selected by first pressing the associated button at each end of the window to indicate which element to change. The data-encoder wheel in the bottom right-hand corner of the unit is then rotated to scroll through the available options. Pressing the data encoder enters the selection, and there is a brief mute while the new convolution data is loaded and the input circuitry is reconfigured.
A second vertical bar-graph meter to the right of the LCD shows the amount of gain reduction, along with two further buttons to activate the stereo link function with a second unit, and to switch the compressor into circuit. The gain-reduction meter is a rather odd because of its unusual scaling — more than half the display spans 3dB, and a quarter covers just the first dB. Although extremely precise, the result is a strange visual illusion where the meter appears to lag behind the audio peaks.
The next element of the front panel concerns the simple three-band equaliser. There are six rotary encoders, again with LED rings, arranged in pairs for each band. The high shelf at the top features a frequency control spanning 200Hz to 20kHz with ±18dB of boost or cut range. The mid-range section covers 100Hz to 10kHz with the same gain range, while the low-frequency shelf ranges between 10Hz and 1kHz. The mid-range section can also be switched to a high-Q setting for more surgical duties, and the entire EQ section is switched into circuit using an illuminated button. Other buttons allow the EQ to operate before the compressor if required, or for it to act in the compressor side-chain (with a Listen facility to aid in tuning). If accurate EQ values are required, another button calls the current parameter values to the LCD window.
The last control section on the right-hand side provides all the housekeeping facilities. Three buttons at the top provide a global Bypass mode, with Compare and Revert facilities so that you can try out different parameter settings in a non-destructive way. The lower part of the panel carries the preset Save and Recall buttons, and a preset-naming facility. There are also Clear and Setup buttons to configure the unit, and the Data knob already mentioned, with its over-press function to act as the Enter button.
I found the operation of the unit very intuitive with clear and informative metering. The LCD display also provides all the critical information in a very understandable way.

The Liquid Channel

The Liquid Channel is essentially a channel strip in a 2U rackmounting box that precisely replicates (rather than models) a wide range of classic mic preamps and compressors, in combination with a new Focusrite digital EQ and some top-grade digital converters thrown in for good measure. It uses digital convolution with some very sophisticated analogue techniques (see the box below) and is the product of almost three years of joint R&D effort between Sintefex — a company known for its experience in convolutional processing, of course — and Focusrite, who bring their knowledge of class-leading mic preamp technology to the party.

The Liquid Channel features stunning chrome rack ears and a distinctive new fascia style which will be continued on future Liquid series products (several are apparently planned). This is a single-channel processor equipped with analogue mic and line input connections (but no DI input), plus an AES-EBU digital input, and both analogue and digital outputs. It is also equipped with word-clock in and out, and a USB port for both remote control and data transfers to and from a Mac or PC. A pair of phono connectors is also provided to couple two units together for stereo working.

The signal path comprises a mic preamp — the most sophisticated Focusrite has ever built — followed by an A-D stage. The subsequent digital processing provides a convolutional preamp and compressor, plus a newly designed digital EQ stage. The processing order of the compressor and EQ can be reversed, or the equaliser can be allocated to the side-chain of the compressor.

The rapid advances in DSP technology are illustrated by the fact that the first Liquid Channel prototypes produced two years ago employed four SHARC DSP chips with a maximum audio sample rate of 96kHz. The production unit uses a single, high-powered SHARC chip for all its processing, and supports audio sample rates up to 192kHz!

With its digital I/O facilities, the Liquid Channel can be used entirely in the digital domain — but not only for the replications of analogue compressors. Another converter enables the digital input to be routed through the analogue preamp as a line-level signal, to benefit from a chosen preamp's character, if required.

By the time the product is in production, it will contain the convolutional data for 40 different mic preamps and 40 compressors, and even when fully loaded, the user will be able to change the library of preamps and compressors using the USB download facility to obtain new data from the Focusrite web site. As mentioned in last month's News item, Focusrite are being coy about exactly which vintage models will be available in replicated form, but it's not hard to draw up a shortlist of models — both discontinued and current, esoteric and familar — that could fill the wishlists of most engineers and producers. Names like the Neve 1073, Pultec MBI, API 3124 and Focusrite's own ISA110, plus compressors such as the Urei 1176 black face, Teletronix LA2A, Fairchild 660, and Amek 9098 spring to mind — well, to my mind, anyway!

The unit also provides 99 user preset memories, which can also be stored externally via a USB transfer to a computer. These enable every parameter — including mic gain — to be stored or recalled in an instant. The unit can also be operated remotely via the USB interface but there is, surprisingly, no MIDI facility at all.

Despite my short time with the Liquid Channel prototype (and despite not being in ideal conditions for a listening test), I was able to compare the Liquid Channel running its Focusrite ISA110 replication with a real ISA110 sitting next to it. The preamp replication seemed remarkably accurate; I was unable to tell them apart.

The Liquid Channel promises to be a producer's dream, providing accurate renditions of a wide range of hard-to-find or unaffordable preamps and compressors, in an easy-to-use format and with repeatable settings. Assuming the production units live up to the promise of the model I played with, I can see the Liquid Channel appearing in racks all over the world in double-quick time. Watch this space!

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It's time to crawl under the desk and take cover.


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Quote:
Originally posted by StoneinaPond:
It's time to crawl under the desk and take cover.
From a previous post:

>>>>
A compressor is even more of a challenge to analyse, because of the dynamic nature of the device — its performance changes intentionally with both input signal level and the signal envelope. So, in addition to taking impulse responses for every possible control parameter setting, each one has to be repeated for a wide range of input levels, and the dynamic response has to be analysed too.

However, provided this is all done with sufficient precision, when the new input signal is convolved with the impulse response of the required audio process, the resulting output will provide a perfect replica of the required sound, just as if the input signal had been processed through the original device.
>>>>

"Perfect replica!"

Not so - this is contestable because it isn't possible to develop a convolution of the actual signal you happen to be using each time you use it :-) All that can be made is a rough approximation using a sample set of stimuli. An accurately built conventional model of the process would be a more accurate representation of the devices true characteristics.

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There is another reason why I think boxes like the Liquid Channel will take off.

The people that buy the most music, are content with MP3 recordings. Most people do not have high end stereo's and don't care if someone uses a SM58 or Neumann U87 mic. As long as the music is good. It's only people like us who truly appreciate crystal clean vocals, drums, and high end reverbs. Too bad it's true. Of course there are some out there who like high quality recordings as well, but they are in the minority.

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Quote:
Originally posted by System 8:
The people that buy the most music, are content with MP3 recordings. Most people do not have high end stereo's and don't care if someone uses a SM58 or Neumann U87 mic. As long as the music is good. It's only people like us who truly appreciate crystal clean vocals, drums, and high end reverbs. Too bad it's true.
Actually it's really not true, and I'm getting sick of hearing people say this. You don't need a high end stereo to appreciate something that was recorded well. A great recording on MP3 is still going to sound much better than a shitty recording on MP3. And being "clean" is not the only hallmark of a great recording, in fact it sometimes isn't a hallmark at all. The fact is that you often need high end gear to capture the true depth and impact of an instrument, and that definitely WILL have an effect on how the listener perceives the song, even if they end up listening to it on an MP3 or a crappy boom box or AM radio.

And of COURSE the listener doesn't care whether a U87 was used in the recording, that's OUR job. It doesn't make it any less important to the listener's actual experience of the end result.

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Quote:
Originally posted by Lee Flier:
Quote:
Originally posted by System 8:
The people that buy the most music, are content with MP3 recordings. Most people do not have high end stereo's and don't care if someone uses a SM58 or Neumann U87 mic. As long as the music is good. It's only people like us who truly appreciate crystal clean vocals, drums, and high end reverbs. Too bad it's true.
Actually it's really not true, and I'm getting sick of hearing people say this. You don't need a high end stereo to appreciate something that was recorded well. A great recording on MP3 is still going to sound much better than a shitty recording on MP3. And being "clean" is not the only hallmark of a great recording, in fact it sometimes isn't a hallmark at all. The fact is that you often need high end gear to capture the true depth and impact of an instrument, and that definitely WILL have an effect on how the listener perceives the song, even if they end up listening to it on an MP3 or a crappy boom box or AM radio.

And of COURSE the listener doesn't care whether a U87 was used in the recording, that's OUR job. It doesn't make it any less important to the listener's actual experience of the end result.
Totally agree :-) In this world of descending values, it's a good thing to remind ourselves why we care so much about the tools we use. And we should resist being lulled into thinking that they don't matter - however much certain factions of the music industry would like us to believe it.

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I completely agree with that, Paul. I have the cool gear that I own because I wanted it really badly; not because I make so much money from it, but because it sounds so good. I would never trade it for a Pro Tools rig because in three years, the PT rig will be junk while I'll still love using the Neves and the C-12.

But to stay working and current in this business, I have to use Pro Tools. Many times that means mixing in the box, too. I just can't spend all my time thinking about how crappy it is. I need to see the glass as half full. I take what I have, do the best I can with it and look toward the future.

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Quote:
Originally posted by System 8:


The people that buy the most music, are content with MP3 recordings. :
That doesn't mean that we, audio-engineers, should be thought. Because otherwise we should just start recording directly into MP3 format.


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I agree with you guys 100% on having good gear, and of course not recording on MP3. It just seems that the average 13-26 year old (who buy most of the Cd's) don't care if your using a U87 or SM 58. A copy mic pre or the real thing. As long as it sounds good. I don't agree with this thinking at all, but many I talk to in that age bracket think otherwise.

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I don't tend to take direction from 13 year olds that much.


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Great post, Lee.

I wanted to say something similar, but you found the perfect words.

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Quote:
Originally posted by Paul Frindle:
In this world of descending values, it's a good thing to remind ourselves why we care so much about the tools we use. And we should resist being lulled into thinking that they don't matter - however much certain factions of the music industry would like us to believe it.
Yeah, not to mention certain factions of engineers and artists in their basements who would like to believe their stuff is "world class." Keep lowering the standard for what "world class audio" is, and it WILL be. That would be sad.

I say this as someone who these days mostly records in my basement with cheap gear. I enjoy it and think I've made some good records that way, which couldn't have been made at all otherwise. So one could say I have a vested interest in saying it's "as good as the real thing" - but having worked with the real thing, honesty compels me to report that it ain't.

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I think we got off the topic a bit. But the whole issue on this modeling is allowing us to get a good sounds (though maybe not as good as the real hardware unit) but good enough that people will buy it which will hurt the company's that make the great gear. Even George's eq is a plug in for Pro Tools. Heck with the music industry slump, I would opt for his plug ins, unless money was rolling in all the time, and was not an issue.

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Quote:
Originally posted by System 8:
I agree with you guys 100% on having good gear, and of course not recording on MP3. It just seems that the average 13-26 year old (who buy most of the Cd's) don't care if your using a U87 or SM 58. A copy mic pre or the real thing. As long as it sounds good.
You're still missing the point. Of COURSE they don't care. They wouldn't even know what those things were in all likelihood. That doesn't mean they couldn't tell the difference if you played them a song recorded with great gear vs. the same song with crap gear. Most of them don't get the opportunity to choose, because WE choose for them.

You say that plugins and emulation are "close enough for people to buy" but sales figures would indicate otherwise. People are not buying music as much as they used to. This can only mean that what they're hearing isn't compelling enough for them to buy, and the quality of the recording certainly has a bearing on how compelling it is to the listener. Sure there are "low fi" recordings of great songs or bands that are successful, but I've also seen great performances ruined by terrible audio.

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"People are not buying music as much as they used to. This can only mean that what they're hearing isn't compelling enough for them to buy, and the quality of the recording certainly has a bearing on how compelling it is to the listener"

I think this is true because the record company's are not paying attention to the baby boomers who did spend tons of money 20 years ago on music. They don't care what we want to hear. There is so much great music being recorded that is not being played on the radio. If it is not being played, you don't know about it unless you search and try to find it yourself. I believe if you like Lynard Skinner from the 1970's that their last 4 Cd's, (at least one)that they have come out with you would like and buy. But again, when Lynard have a new CD, no one plays it.
Same thing when Hootie and the Blow fish, Allman Brothers, BB King, Robert Cray or Peter Frampton. If you liked Frampton Comes Alive, you would also love his Live in Detroit. But the radio stations will not play any of these artist from the 70's and 80's that have new music. Did you even hear the George Harrison CD when it came out on the radio? I never did in NY. The Classic Rock stations will play the classic songs from the rock bands, but not the new stuff for the most part. These damm record companies just want to play new bands. With the exception of Aero Smith and some others. Personally I am burned out on the same 10 Led Zep songs that are played on the radio non stop.
Didn't the Bangels come out with a new CD as well. I saw them in the studio on Behind the Music on VH1 working on it.

I'm telling you, the music industry is blowing off the Baby Boomers. They don't want to play new music of old bands. \:o

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It would be wrong to think that just because DAWs are inferior to the best of the analog world, that music can't be expressed there. All these little stomp boxes, as they have been called, have parameters that can be adjusted to taste, sometimes with pleasing results. That is what we do.

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Sure Steve, all these things do have their usefulness and you certainly could like what they do and make good music with them - but like George and Paul have said several times now, they still don't sound like what they claim to sound like, and for anyone to say they do is just wrong.

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Quote:
Originally posted by System 8:

I think this is true because the record company's are not paying attention to the baby boomers who did spend tons of money 20 years ago on music. They don't care what we want to hear.
Boy ain't that the truth. Hell, boomers are still spending tons of money on music TODAY. People are paying $1500 for Simon and Garfunkel tickets, and the clueless labels and radio stations aren't marketing any new stuff to them. They're still clinging to the notion that only teenagers will buy records. Well sure, if you only promote records that only teenagers want to hear!

Quote:
There is so much great music being recorded that is not being played on the radio. If it is not being played, you don't know about it unless you search and try to find it yourself.
Yep. That's why so many people now would rather get their music off the Internet.

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I'm telling you, the music industry is blowing off the Baby Boomers. They don't want to play new music of old bands. \:o
Or even new music that has some of the hallmarks of old bands. There are tons of new acts out there playing stuff that boomers would love, but have never heard of.

That isn't really what I meant by people not feeling compelled to buy music, but it's certainly one more factor in the decline of the industry.

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It's the economy stupid. Well at least in part.
There are good points being made: Record Cos who don't take risks; not enough well-recorded material, and on and on. But I have to agree with System 8, the record company who finally taps that Baby Boomer market will rake in the dough.

Also, thanks for the Focusright propaganda, it helps explain a lot, and some of the claims may be true. 44 DSP chips is a lot to handle, got to hand it to the Sinetefex folks for that little trick alone.

Shootout anyone? With some scientific measurements. A well-designed and independent "shootout" will tell if the stuff "replicates" the real deal.

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Quote:
Originally posted by Lee Flier:
Sure Steve, all these things do have their usefulness and you certainly could like what they do and make good music with them - but like George and Paul have said several times now, they still don't sound like what they claim to sound like, and for anyone to say they do is just wrong.
I think we're in agreement, Lee. MicMod certainly won't change a 57 into a U47. No question about it. But you just might get a very cool, wild effect out of Pitch Blender. There's always a chance that monkeys will type Shakespere, given enough time.

As far as IP rights go, I have always wondered why Neuman and the others legitimize Antares claims by letting them use their mic model numbers on the list inside the software. That seems like a crime to me. And why do Fender and Vox and Marshall let Amp Farm use their names? Did they get paid a license?

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<
You say that plugins and emulation are "close enough for people to buy" but sales figures would indicate otherwise. People are not buying music as much as they used to. This can only mean that what they're hearing isn't compelling enough for them to buy,>>

I disagree partly. People not buying has nothing to do with what gear was used, or whether the project had $100 expendable to them, or $100 000; THE bottom line is ... is the song great? Is the music great? If yes, then it will be bought. The average public (which happen to be the masses that purchase the music we try to sell/labels try to sell)never walked into a store to buy a record because the mix was phenomenal. A great piece of song/music will more than likely sell, even if the production and the mix were no up to par; but if the production and the mix were great and the song 'sucked' then generally speaking, the record won't move off the shelf. We are talking about the 'masses'.


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Yeah, song, performance, and then sound.

But can we get back on topic:

Computer Modeling of Analogue Devices.

Does anyone have anything to say about Sinefex?

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Dude, why are you asking us? You are so obviously anxious to have this unit of your dreams - what's stopping you from buying the Sintefex? You could do us all a favor, and check it out. Then you could tell us how great it is.

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GM, \:\)

I was just wondering if anyone had one, but I guess I could check it out somehow. I thought I'd come to the master and see what he said. In fact, I'd trust your opinion more than I would my own. But I guess you have already spoken, sorry. \:\)

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Quote:
Originally posted by Johnny B:
GM, \:\)

I was just wondering if anyone had one, but I guess I could check it out somehow. I thought I'd come to the master and see what he said. In fact, I'd trust your opinion more than I would my own. But I guess you have already spoken. Sorry. \:\)
No, man. It's up to you.

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Someone just pointed out to me what may be a glaring problem with some of this modeling stuff.

Let's say you are trying to model a vintage analogue box of some kind, to do so in some systems, you have to look at the box's output's after the signals have gone thru a degraded signal chain (converters, op amps, and whatnot) Thus, you could easily end up with data that models the additional bad parts of the signal chain which you needed to use to capture the data. It's an interesting and valid point.

I've also heard some other funny names being bandied about, such as "Focuswrong, Liquered Chunnel, and Fluid Fools." No comment there.

So if we are really honest, there ain't no substitute for the genuine article, and the real deal still rules.

I got this advice from that same "someone"(who shall remain nameless): "Just keep it simple with a good mic thru a good pre, good eq, and a good comp."

I guess it's always been that way and will continue to be that way for the foreseeable future. That is, if you want "That" sound. LOL

Thanks to all who posted.

And have a Merry X-mas. \:\)

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I too would love to hear that I could have $1,000,000 worth of outboard for only a few hundred bucks. There always has and always will be people who make fantastic claims about how they can show you "the easy way". Whether it's a fast cash scam or a lose 100 lbs in one week infomercial, you have to be able to distinguish fact from fiction. The simple fact is that these emulation devices (even the ones which are usefull), do not perform like their "real" counterparts. Nor is there any sort of standard to compare them by. In my opinion these companies are taking advantage of young wide eyed kids with dreams of rock and roll. I hate to see kids who might be the future of recording, blow all their cash on junk. I guess I wouldn't have a problem with it if the companies wouldn't make the dishonest (unreallistic at best) claims and perhaps put that B.S. marketing money into R&D for something with a unique sound to take us into the next generation of gear.

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Once you use the real stuff (like George's mic pre's, and other's) I can see not being interested in these boxes that copy the sound of high end gear. I think it will appeal more to people who cannot afford to get several great mic pre's and their budget forces them to get it.

Overall they will be pleased with it, just as the users of UAD and Powercore are with the compressors that it comes with. With they rather have a real 1176 or LA2, of course they would. I am also convinced the real deal sounds better as well.

The big question is, is the dedicated high end units so much better than the copy boxes that it's sound is justify-able on cost over quality. If you have a pro studio, the answer is yes. If you are in your basement working for fun, well you have to make your own decision on that.

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Quote:
Originally posted by System 8:
Once you use the real stuff (like George's mic pre's, and other's) I can see not being interested in these boxes that copy the sound of high end gear. I think it will appeal more to people who cannot afford to get several great mic pre's and their budget forces them to get it.
System 8,

While I agree greatly with you on the fact that "Once you use the real stuff"...I..eer would like to turn the thing about "not beeing able to afford several great mic pres" around..!!

I think if one is serius about audio..Hmmm I can not see how one can " afford not to buy the highend stuff"..*S'

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Quote:
Originally posted by axis:
[QB
While I agree greatly with you on the fact that "Once you use the real stuff"...I..eer would like to turn the thing about "not beeing able to afford several great mic pres" around..!!

I think if one is serius about audio..Hmmm I can not see how one can " afford not to buy the highend stuff"..*S'

Kind regards

Peter[/QB]
I had a hard enough time getting my Langevin DVC without me wife knowing the full cost. Since Guitar Center had no interest for 16 months, I can swing the $150 a month payments with no interest. But unless I get customers coming in on a regular basis, I most likely will not be able to do a big purchase like that again. \:\(

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Overall they will be pleased with it, just as the users of UAD and Powercore are with the compressors that it comes with. With they rather have a real 1176 or LA2, of course they would. I am also convinced the real deal sounds better as well.
I am a happy owner of a stack of vintage gear.
I am also a happy owner of UAD-Card.

The bottom line is that the UAD 1176 and LA2 are some of the very best plugins available.
Every time I use them, I am not comparing them with the real stuff.

It is my guess that 99% of the users don't care if it sounds close to the original or not.
As long as these things sound better than other plugins, it will make people happy.

I agree that marketing is wrong/dishonest by selling them as perfect replicas.


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Quote:
Originally posted by patrox247:
I too would love to hear that I could have $1,000,000 worth of outboard for only a few hundred bucks. There always has and always will be people who make fantastic claims about how they can show you "the easy way". Whether it's a fast cash scam or a lose 100 lbs in one week infomercial, you have to be able to distinguish fact from fiction. The simple fact is that these emulation devices (even the ones which are usefull), do not perform like their "real" counterparts. Nor is there any sort of standard to compare them by. In my opinion these companies are taking advantage of young wide eyed kids with dreams of rock and roll. I hate to see kids who might be the future of recording, blow all their cash on junk. I guess I wouldn't have a problem with it if the companies wouldn't make the dishonest (unreallistic at best) claims and perhaps put that B.S. marketing money into R&D for something with a unique sound to take us into the next generation of gear.
It kills me to think of all the people slaving at whatever mcjob to spend hundreds and thousands of dollars, hard earned under usually quite degrading circumstances, on *expensive* knock-offs of what ought to be durable high-quality equipment. People going way into debt (no payments until 2006!) for mediocre ultimately disposable gear... and when they find out how they've been burnt, they will not be able to sell it for much and they won't likely be able to pursue worthwhile durable gear of lasting value.

Not to say anything in particular about the Liquid Channel, which I know little about, but all this *very expensive* compromised gear optomized mainly for marketing...


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I'd like to point out that convolution as a means of reproducing the transfer function of what happens to *sound* as it reflects off of a complex surface is more likely to be successful at reproducing that characteristic than reproducing a complex system that is interactive.

It would be akin to trying to model the ambience of a room whose walls are changing dimension, texture and contour constantly and interdependently. Walls are immobile as is their construction. Parts of a circuit are effectively dependent on each other to determine their state, there's the hysteresis of the whole as well as the individual components to take into account. Impulse convolution can't do that by it's very nature.

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Having given it further thought, I'm confident that Moore's law will prevail within a relatively short period of time, therefore making the mips argument a non-issue with regards to actually having the processing power available to accurately replicate analogue behaviour.

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I'd like to point out that convolution as a means of reproducing the transfer function of what happens to *sound* as it reflects off of a complex surface is more likely to be successful at reproducing that characteristic than reproducing a complex system that is interactive.

It would be akin to trying to model the ambience of a room whose walls are changing dimension, texture and contour constantly and interdependently. Walls are immobile as is their construction. Parts of a circuit are effectively dependent on each other to determine their state, there's the hysteresis of the whole as well as the individual components to take into account. Impulse convolution can't do that by it's very nature.
Thing is, if you take the above points into consideration, the code required may have to be so complex that one could argue it could be more commercially prudent for a company to build a unit from a bunch of coils and transistors...

Regards,
Justin

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Ray Kurzweil presented this at the Heyser Lecture at the last AES. I don't agree with all of his conclusions (spiritual? give me a break) but his numbers expressing how evolution in technology is speeding up are pretty clear.

KurzweilAI Web page (www.kurzweilAI.net)

Just to reiterate: I'm completely convinced with convolution as a methodology, and an increasingly useful tool given the extraordinary power that's becoming available. I have a very hard time believing the more extraordinary claims make for the Liquid Channel, especially for the modeling of dynamic processes.

George


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George,

I think it would be nearly impossible to model any of the more sophisticated analog circuits. I say that because I have used a great many of the emulations, and while they can be quite useful, thinking that they are the same would be a big mistake.

I always keep in mind how hard it is to reset a gml eq and comp to sound the same during a mix recall. Even with the same units and very accurate notes, it's nearly impossible to get it exactly the same next time around. It seems there is an infinite amount of variety available between the tolerance of the pots and the interrelationships that are created inside the devices. It would be very hard to model that because nothing happens in isolation. EVERYTHING is interrelated and nothing is set exactly like you think it is because you can't trust the paint.

Plugins are useful. Good sounds can be gotten from them and they will keep getting better. I am pretty bored with most of the emulations that I have used. Can't we just get some original new stuff that sounds great?

Steve

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Well the AI and Expert System guys have been hard at work over the last 25 years or so, they have made some significant inroads. So I would never go off and say it was impossible to do, difficult yes, not impossible. It's fun to future trip, but we have to come back down to reality and live in the "here and now" world of today.

And the current consensus seems to be that some claims are false and misleading marketing hype.

Convolution does seem to work well in modeling spaces like halls to do reverbs, but may not have reached its full potential as to other applications.

GM, thanks for the link to R.K's and J.L's articles. Zoo-heads often change the world don't they. Maybe we need more of them. \:\)

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With all this talk of the Sintefex / Focusrite collaboration on the Liquid project, I found a quote that is rather telling and somewhat amusing. While thumbing through my annual "Pro Sound News" calendar, I noticed that they have various quotes from different audio personalities scattered throughout the months. One of November's quotes is from Rob Jenkins of Focusrite. He says, "You can't simply make a model of a mic pre; it's too complex."

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I would venture this in reference to the other part of the puzzle of the Focusrite, the input section which is doing the loading and transformer characteristics, etc. It is their claim that is what is unique to the Liquid Channel, using both of these technologies together. In the interest of pure science I will be very much interested in what this *combination* will yield.


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Quote:
Originally posted by blairl:
With all this talk of the Sintefex / Focusrite collaboration on the Liquid project, I found a quote that is rather telling and somewhat amusing. While thumbing through my annual "Pro Sound News" calendar, I noticed that they have various quotes from different audio personalities scattered throughout the months. One of November's quotes is from Rob Jenkins of Focusrite. He says, "You can't simply make a model of a mic pre; it's too complex."
I will send this immediately to my old, old friend Phil Dudderidge. He and I don't see eye to eye on this, to say the least.

George


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Quote:

You say that plugins and emulation are "close enough for people to buy" but sales figures would indicate otherwise. People are not buying music as much as they used to.
It seems that in the UK they are buying more albums than ever:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/music/3391979.stm

Back to the topic: why don't plugin developers spend more time on NEW sounds and NEW possibilities instead of trying to recreate vintage glories? I know there are wonderful "preamp sounds" out there waiting to be invented, but too much time is wasted recreating the sounds of the past.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE vintage gear. But slavishly copying it as best one can is NOT the way forward. Modern technology is wonderful. Please developers - USE IT!

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You probably can't make an exact model of a particular room with a digital reverb either. But it's still probably "CLOSE" enough to be useable. I am sure that most everyone here has used a digital reverb/ Amp Farm (or something similar) at some point. I really think that's the point that people are missing it may not be exact BUT it's still usable.

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