digital to analog to digital..?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by joseph, Jan 5, 2005.

  1. joseph

    joseph Member

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    GP magazine, short interview with a recording engineer (G. Marino) about mastering, mentioned he uses a Prism digital-to analog converter, into an analog mastering console, then into an analog-to-digital converter.

    Of course, all CDs are digital.
    I understand that analog generated musical instruments still sound better than digital musical instruments (a diminishing gap as the sampling rates and software improve).
    My question is, how much does the analog component add to the sound quality when it all ends up digital anyway?
     
  2. Unburst

    Unburst Member

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    Depends what the analog component is, digital eq and compression has always sounded weird to my ears so maybe he prefers to use analog eq and comp.
    There is some loss by converting D/A and back but with Prism converters that loss shouldn't be noticeable and would be more than made up for by the advantage of using top end analog outboard.
     
  3. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Good question. I'm not sure how sampled instruments fit in the question, but I'll try to answer it anyway.

    Whenever you process audio in the digital realm there is some degradation of the original waveform, however slight. But if you convert to analog using the best possible algorithm (a subjective thing), then do your processing in the analog realm using great-sounding hardware, then translate it back to digital also using the best possible converters, you get a brand new waveform of your new sound rather than a slightly degraded version of the original. Besides mastering, most CDs are mixed on analog gear as well, same reasons. Is the difference audible? You better believe it.

    Every mastering engineer I know prefers to work in the analog realm for the most part. They sometimes use digital gear in the chain, but most of the good stuff happens in analog on ridiculously expensive equipment. If they're given digital files for a mix, the D/A converters used in a home or car stereo are not good enough for mastering purposes so they use the best converters money can buy, which many of them feel is Prism. After getting the best sound they can get in the analog realm, they're very meticulous about how they go back to digital to maintain that sound as closely as possible. The mastering engineer for my CD also used Prism A/D – D/A.

    For a commercial CD when there are millions of dollars at stake you really need that kind of attention to sound quality. A good engineer will give that kind of attention to any project, mastering budget permitting.
     
  4. joseph

    joseph Member

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    Thanks Michael, fascinating stuff.
    I'm looking into a pro-toolsLE/digi002r based system, willing to spend on a dual hard disk 1024 RAM etc PC for home recording (most would be 4-6 tracks), but my biggest concern would be that the tonal quality might sound "boxy" (as it has in some small local pro studios locally) or "stuffy", etc.
    I want to get that ambient presence sound, IMHO best examples being Led Zep II, Pat Metheny records...I guess, emulating the sound of a band playing live in a mid sized old wooden auditorium (don't they sound great?!) at loud but not deafening volumes.

    I'm wondering if the home stuff can do that. In other words, if the $5000 home system is only about 5% better sounding than a $1200 system, but both still sound like "this guy did this in his bedroom" - assuming using the gear as well as can be tweaked.
    Thanks!
     
  5. MickYoumans

    MickYoumans Member

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    For what it is worth, I recorded my Guitaria CD on Cakewalk Sonar 3 Producer Edition. When I mastered the CD I went from Sonar through a tube compressor with very subtle compression to "warm" the sound up a bit and then into an Alesis Masterlink to burn the Master CD. If you are working on a budget this is an inexpensive way to master without breaking the bank and still get improved results.
     
  6. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    The way to get that sound on a CD is to have that acoustic environment to start with. Then you mic it properly. Digi 002 can do the recording just fine.
     
  7. lon

    lon Supporting Member

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    Hi guys,

    I'm a newbie to the forum, but not new to home and location recording. I started with first generation ADATs, went to XT-20's and for 4-5 years completely to DAW (Logic/G5, RME & MotU HD192's and True Audio pre's (16 channels) and other "attitude" pres and mics.

    My 2 cents here is that once your gear is basically done, and it doesn't have to be super duper stuff, you will generally find that the weakness in recording at home falls into 2 categories.

    1) tracking and getting the ugliness of the room out.

    You will hear the room before you hear your gear, unless the gear is really bad. This is why the other demo studio's generally sound less than great. The easy way to test this is to listen back carefully to the room through the recording channel- with headphones if necessary. Most people are amazed at the garbage that's being printed with their sound.

    2) It's already been mentioned several times- If your going to do your own mixdown/mastering, spend some time and $ to get the monitoring system and room acoustically cleaned up. Otherwise, blow your tracks to a CD and pay someone to do it right. The cost is not that much if you are intending to publish.

    If it's for your own amusment, let it go, and enjoy it !

    For great hall sound, I'm with MichaelK- nothing beats a great hall for great hall sound.
     
  8. Igneous

    Igneous Member

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    Hey there- I understand your situation. I went to school for this stuff and freelance myself out to special clients(special meaning other than my own project that I have time for right now)

    Ive also worked with Eddie Kramer on a project. Just thought Id rub it in.

    Anyway, IM utmost HO, It depends on a couple of things.

    1. The room your recording in. What kind of music? Rock,metal,pop? Its all about the drum sound. If you can track in a room with just a little trail and no standing waves...

    2. Software/hardware- NUENDO is the BEST sounding software available PERIOD. (its worth the cash, might be a cracked version somewhere-wink)If you dont trust me just do some research. (ive worked on EVERYTHING) They have the smoothest audio engine available. Its a cpu hog but smokes the quality of protools.

    3. your mic pres. I have an aardvark q10 and those a class A all the way. Unfortunately, they went belly up, however, RME,and a few other companies are great.

    I used to be all about the analog but the technology is just so astounding these days its quickly taken over.

    Dumping down to a 2inch tape is another story.

    Hope this helps
     
  9. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    And then flatline it w/L1, so it "sounds loud." <vbg>
     
  10. Igneous

    Igneous Member

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    no no no, its L2 now!
     
  11. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Usually because they're asked to.

    "Put a smile on it, make it loud, move the good songs up front and get it out of here." – mastering studio owner who shall remain nameless
     

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