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Analog vs. Digital


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Im asking this as im getting material ready to start my second CD,i have a Tascam 488 MK2 8track cassette recorder and have never recorded digital.I actually like this unit as ive done 15 or so songs on it but im willing to listen to peoples advice that have recorded more than i have or differently than i have.Thanks ahead for any input [thumbup]

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If you're wondering about sound, there is a difference between tape and digital to my ears but not everything is for the better. If I could afford to own, run and maintain a big 1" or 2" tape based multi tracker I might take that over PC/Mac/digital freestander recording. However, given that with most modern computers you can now record at 24bit/48k I'll take that over a cassette based system, with no disrespect intended to the machine you're using which I know is a fun and immediate tool to use.


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. [biggrin]

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  • 2 weeks later...

Jonnyg, it is interesting to read your posts, you often say things that are useful and necessary, thanks.


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. [thumbup]

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) [flapper]. This DAW smoothes out (in contrast other DAWs) all overloading peaks to the 0 dB and Adobe Audition makes it very correctly [thumbup].


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 [lol] . 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.

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Valeriy, nice video (I don't know how I missed that if you've posted it here before) and I must say it does have a very good sound.


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.

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Jonnyg, I’m glad you appreciated the video and sound, so I have not wasted my time on it.

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 [thumbup] . 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! [biggrin]


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 :mellow: [woot] :) . I'll be glad to help you.

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  • 1 year later...

Hello fellows,

and Jonnyg, thank you again for that link with free the Adobe Audition, I took there not only its :) .

Here a link as regards a SRC (sample rate conversion) comparison for different DAWs:



This is very convenient comparison data. Though here is only data concerning 96 kHz to 44.1 kHz, but the data can also be used for all other conversion (96 to 48 or 88.2 to 44.1 etc.) because if a DAW is good in one conversion then it is also good in all the others and, vice versa, if is bad then it is bad everywhere. For example, if to compare two DAWs Sound Forge and Adobe Audition (any versions) then the picture for the Audition will be a lot cleaner than that for the Sound Forge in the case of a sweep signal (the sweep is as a prototype of natural sound signal in the audible range). For the Sound Forge besides a line (the parabola) there is too much “trash” in its picture, this trash occurs after the said conversion and it can greatly degrade the final sound. I.e. in any case, do not use the Sound Forge in these conversions. In turn, the Adobe is not the most ideal, but it is a quite good and does not spoil the sound.


I.e., there is no need to use an ideal DAW for the conversion (as, for example, Adobe Audition ver.5.5 and some others). Some imperfection in the conversion - not necessarily that it is bad for the sound. I used old Adobe Audition ver. 1.5 in the conversion 44.1 to 48 and the sound to the ear remained quite good. While, using Sound Forge the degradation of the sound can be noticeable even with cheap computer speakers.

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  • 2 months later...

My take

Digital yes

Analog yes

It's not cheep though.

Worst thing I ever did as a musician, start a home studio.

Most of what little time I have now is devoted to building classic mic pres, compressors , eq's or mic's I am obsessed with it.

My tone and levels have gone to a new level, track with great mics and pres then dump to daw,

A 1073 or api 312, adds that little something that plug Ins just can't do, a non linear thing.

However nothing beats edits in a daw. If ya have great converters/ sound card makes it posble to dump from daw to compressor/eq back to daw , Ugggg it's never ending , but year after year my tone in the studio moves forward to pro level. Hope by the time I retire Iam there. I don't buy plug ins anymore , I build hardware,

I say stay a musician , go to a studio and pay someone to take care of this stuff. Lol

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  • 5 months later...

Im asking this as im getting material ready to start my second CD,i have a Tascam 488 MK2 8track cassette recorder and have never recorded digital.I actually like this unit as ive done 15 or so songs on it but im willing to listen to peoples advice that have recorded more than i have or differently than i have.Thanks ahead for any input [thumbup]

I have a Tascam 424 mk2,,analog cassette machine 4 trk,,which I use for most of my comedy satire material,,works well for that,,but for the music end I use a Tascam 2488 Neo 24 trk digital. I wouldnt trade it for the world,,small,,powerfull,,tons of EQ options,,effects built in,,and its about the size of a laptop puter,,you can see it on my YT page. But it makes really clear recordings,,and depending on how I set the EQ's of the input signals,,I can get an "Analog" sound,,or "Digital" Depends on the EQ settings when doing the first rythm trks,,and its only about 600$ depending on where you buy it.

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