Analog vs. Digital home studio recordings,which do you prefer?
Posted 29 February 2012 - 05:55 PM
Posted 01 March 2012 - 06:35 AM
If you're wondering about usage, then there's no way I'm going back to tape or even a digital stand alone machine. Want a six part harmony chorus or guitar part? No problem. Record six tracks bounce to stereo (or not - whatever suits you) with no loss of quality. Want to repeat that two or three times in a song? Copy and paste it just like you would use a word processor. You can also get totally automated punch ins/outs with no clicks, volume/pan/FX automation and a ton of other facilities you can only dream of with tape. You do lack a physical mixer but you can buy a USB controller for around $50.00 for controlling levels, while stuff like EQ/FX sends/returns etc you can do on plugins. You also really need a reasonable sound card with ASIO if latency is to be kept to a minimum, but even a reasonably cheap M-Audio 24/96 is more than adequate for someone working alone assuming you have a small mixer.
To sum up (my own opinion only)
Tape - slightly warmer sound, handles high peaks well but a very limited number of tracks, poor editing facilities, quality loss when bouncing, alignment problems and general physical wear of the tape itself.
Digital - clearer possibly more "brittle" sound with harsh distortion if 0db is exceeded (unlikely at 24bit/48k) but no hiss, no noise reduction, superb editing facilities, bit perfect cheap digital backups and easy transfer to CD.
I'll stick with digital until I make my first multi-platinum selling album and then I'll put an offer in for Abbey Road.
Posted 15 March 2012 - 05:21 AM
Although now I would like to add, in my opinion, an interesting thing as regards digital, in particular about the overload and clipping.
Recently I finally finished my work on the sound for the video that we recorded with a musician from the NY in 2010.
I've shown this video before, but good sound came just now. And this time I was studying some tricks in mastering & mixing.
In digital, it turned out, many DAWs have an adequate margin for overload more 0 dB at the input of the master channel in contrast an analog console.
I.e. if in a DAW (Cubase, Nuendo, I think also Samplitude etc) you have done mixing the tracks and the master level shows “clipping”, here in digital it is enough to eliminate only by reducing the output level (by the output fader) on the master.
Because these DAWs have not any overload (i.e. there is the said overload margin) as regards the input of the master. It is very convenient. In the analog in this case would have to reduce levels in tracks ( buses) i.e. to affect mixed work.
And there is another striking feature in digital. Now the final stage of mastering has, as we know, a need to make louder to an absolute maximum of 0dB and herewith to preserve transparency, the dynamics and the nuance etc.
And again, it turned out, it is very easy to do by means of one of the known DAWs, namely in Adobe Audition.
After mixdown (remain in 32 or 24 bits and without dither) done by means of any DAWs, in which you are accustomed to work, you can download the resulting stereo file (with insufficient loudness ) in this DAW (Adobe Audition) in multitrack part. And after that you just need to increase the volume of this track with your stereo file by 2-3 dB and even more and to click the "export" audio and then the “save” ( with to 16 bits and with dither in setting) . This DAW smoothes out (in contrast other DAWs) all overloading peaks to the 0 dB and Adobe Audition makes it very correctly .
My friend from NY was very surprised when I have sent to him our video with new sound, that this new sound, done by means of my home PC (mixing and mastering), became no worse than his various brand CDs, in particular as regards loudness. He even told me the answer that everything is perfect and that I, for God's sake, have not changed anything in the sound project in my DAW . Obviously, I should tell him about the said simple trick with the overload in the Adobe .
Here is this video with the said new sound:
Of course, guys, would be interested to know your opinion about the new sound. Recording the tracks was in a prof studio (in format 44.1 kHz – 24 bit) , and mixing & mastering were done in my home PC by means of DAW Samplitude 11 with its EQs and DELAYs etc. And the increase in the loudness to the commercial level was done in the Adobe as I described above. Also there was an error at that time at studio in the tracking, it was necessary to record in format 48 kHz for video, but then I did not know what will be the video. But again, this error was corrected by the Adobe, it is the best of the DAWs to convert from one frequency to another.
So, obviously, to work successfully in digital, we must be well aware of the possibilities of different DAWs.
Posted 15 March 2012 - 03:39 PM
I didn't really completely understand what you are doing in Audition but it seems I have a similar facility in Wavelab. If I'm going for maximum volume (not something I do often) I can generally get away with adding 2-3dB to bring the average volume up, depends on what instruments are peaking really. It's generally some stray drum parts that I hadn't tamed, but a bit of overload on those isn't always that noticable for the benefit of bringing up the level of the overall sound. Failing that I'll just put a limiter across the output and render it.
I'd love to give Audition a try but (as merely a hobby recordist) £350.00 UK is a bit rich for me for a sound editor.
Interesting read though Valeriy and thanks for the video. Good to see a Burns Double Six in action as well.
Posted 16 March 2012 - 03:19 PM
This video is in the next section (Lessons, Playing Tips and Tunings) a long time, there is my top on the 2-nd page, an interesting question too...
About Audition, sorry, now I'll try to explain more clearly. This is a really interesting feature as regards overload in this DAW.
In general it works the same as other well-known DAWs, but when you do to “save” your WAVE file in Audition (may be also a project, I have not tested a multitrack project), it will gently smooth all overloads exactly down to 0 dB. And there will be no noticeable distortion in the file after “save”. And it is possible to do overload at 5-6 dB above the 0 dB and again Audition will gently and correctly smooth all overload peaks exactly down to 0 dB after clicking the “save”.
I.e. in fact here it works like a professional limiter, but Audition does this by using its render algorithm . It is very convenient. For example, you have made mixing to 0 dB with a limiter & a compressor on the master output. And you have all well in sound. But the average volume is still less than that of brand CDs. However you do not want to change anything in sound after mixing and mastering (or are afraid to break something in sound). And it is often such a situation when the sound are ready and good, but insufficient in the average volume in comparison with brand CDs.
Other DAWs retain all overloads after “save” (after mix down) that, of course, are not suitable for the final master. Only Audition has such a unique feature to do overload peaks down to the 0 dB by just the button “save”. Although I don’t know as regards WaveLabe. Generally speaking, Audition is one of the most correct with regard to conversion (rendering), especially when from the whole to fractional numbers conversation, for example if it is necessary from 48 kHz to 44.1 etc. It even has an adjustable control for degree of accuracy for such conversation, I do it usually on the max.
And in more detail: I said above that I put a stereo file (in 24 or 32-bit form) in Audition multitrack part, this is because there is Audition mixer. And the fader of the 1st channel (where is the file) is risen on 2-3 (5-6) dB above 0 dB and to click the “export” audio ( mix down to 16 bit and with dither), in first there will be the question regarding saving the current multitrack session (or "Would you like to activate the Embed project link data for edit...") - click "no", and then the Export Audio (16 bit mix down) - indicate the location and click the “save” . And enjoy!
That's what I was doing the sound for this video. And it was the old version of Audition (ver 1.5). I think that this feature may be even in older versions of this DAW.
Of course, Jonnyg, you can send me any file you want to try to do so the average volume if you have not this DAW now.
Abbey Road is a fairy tale . I'll be glad to help you.