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Anyone else think ADATs sound better than ProTools?

Discussion in 'Pro Tools' started by Melange, Jan 16, 2002.

  1. Melange

    Melange Guest

    I did a three piece band on ADATs, thru a Tascam board. Made a ruff mix of one of the songs on the Tascam. Then, digitally transferred the ADATs into ProTools LE, set to the same sampling rate and bit depth. Tried a ruff mix internally in ProTools, and the ruff I did off the ADATs thru the Tascam desk squashes the ProTools mix like a grape! I've got all the neato plugins and such, but it just can't touch the ADAT ruff mix. The ADAT mix sounds closer to analog tape than does the ProTools mix...better imaging, detail, width, you name it. What gives?
     
  2. erockerboy

    erockerboy Guest

    I'm not surprised at all. I've had similar experiences many times when A/B'ing my at-home "ruff mixes" done on my decrepit old Soundcraft Ghost, against the glossy all-digital mixes I do on the big rig at work, either all in PT or PT going into a pair of 02R's. There's just something about the sound of all those analog pre's and bus amplifiers in the Ghost, messing things up a bit, giving it a bit of squash and saturation on the way in... it's just more pleasing to the ear, y'know? Almost like analog tape in a way, like you said.


    I think there are pro's and con's, though. "More pleasing to the ear" doesn't mean "more accurate". There ARE things I like better about my digital mixes. Seems like the stereo spread is a bit better, reverb trails are spacier, and the separation between instruments is a bit more defined. Of course this might also translate to the digital "sterility" that is so often despised. But in general I prefer digital mixes for "spacier"/more dimensional types of music, and analog for "vibier"/more squashed/funkier types of music... if that makes any sense.

    Sure would be nice if there were a way to combine the "best of both worlds". I think Jules' mantra of "getting it right on the way in" may be the ticket... EQ'ing and comp'ing things more drastically than you otherwise would, via your favorite analog pieces, to capture that analog "vibe" and squashiness at the source while tracking... and then take advantage of digital's superior transparency and spatiality at mixdown.

    Whaddya think?
     
  3. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Guest

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2001
    I aint go no magic wand... I did a DA88 session on an Amek at 16bit .. Sounded HUGE.. better than some of my 24 bit PT / Apogee projects..

    :mad:

    But then that band was v hot

    oh well! Roll on PT/HD!!!
     
  4. Hang on a minute Melange, that's not even a vaguely valid comparison!

    You haven't compared PTLE with an ADAT, you've compared a first generation 16bit or 20bit tracked mix with a second generation 16bit or 20bit mix. PTLE has far, far better ADC's than ADATs, a far better internal clock and of course a higher resolution (24bit) but you've bypassed all these major strengths of PTLE. What's more, your digital transfer definately degraded the quality of your audio as you cannot use a dedicated masterclock to really accurately lock up PTLE to the ADATs. The "squashed" mix you mention in PTLE can easily be explained by the jitter you added from the transfer and probably has nothing whatsoever to do with PTLE itself.

    A fair test would have been to compare a mix tracked with your ADATs against a mix tracked in PTLE. Try comparing the raw tracks and you will easily hear that PTLE completely blows away the ADATs.

    Analogy time: "A Ford has better performance than a Porche." Here are the test conditions: Detune the engine and handling of the Porche to match the power output of the Ford, then put much lower octane fuel in the Porche and then race them. Not much good these Porche's are they? :)

    Greg
     
  5. Melange

    Melange Guest

    When I said "squashed" I meant that the ADAT/Tascam mix was so much superior to the PT LE mix that it "squashed" it, as in "trampled all over it". I wasn't referring to squashing as it applies to compression.

    What is the inherent problem with doing an all digital transfer via lightpipe and setting the PT LE clock to digital then locking it all up with a BRC? If jitter is such a problem and affects the sound that much, why do they give you the capability to transfer ADATs to PT LE?

    I have the option of going to a friend's studio and sending out all 16 ADAT tracks thru 16 Neve 1073s, then back into the analog inputs of a TDM system that's clocking off a LUCID GENx6. It seems to me that this would far outweigh any desire to keep everything in the digital domain. What do you think?
     
  6. erockerboy

    erockerboy Guest

    A fair test would have been to compare a mix tracked with your ADATs against a mix tracked in PTLE. Try comparing the raw tracks and you will easily hear that PTLE completely blows away the ADATs.

    Hmmm... don't you think the deciding factor in this case woulda been the "analog mixer" vs. "digital mixer" issue? I would hazard a guess that the Tascam analog board will sound substantially warmer 'n' fuzzier than PTLE's mixer... regardless of which clock and ADC's were used during tracking. I have flown ADAT's to and from ProTools on many occasions, and while it's been a long time, I seem to recall the two mediums sounding fairly comparable at the time... of course this was back in the 16-bit-only, pre-Aardsync era of ProTools for me. With better ADC's and clock, PT at 24-bit surely outclasses ADAT as a sound storage medium. But as a mixing medium, betcha the Tascam sounds more 'musical'/squishier/analogish than PTLE... and I'll betcha the differences between those two mixes have way more to do with the mixing medium than the tracking medium. Hence I have no problem believing Melange's initial thesis, which is that your ADAT/Tascam analog mixes sounded "closer to analog tape" than your all-in-PTLE mix.

    No?

    As for transferring your stuff into TDM thru all that Neve crap, hell, try it... it might be the ticket! I personally am a bit wary of that many A/D/A conversions, but you never know. Try it and see what happens, and be sure and report back!

    :)
     
  7. GZsound

    GZsound Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2001
    Location:
    Near Portland, Oregon
    Home Page:
    Because I need a more "analog" sound in my studio, I run my ADAT mixes back through my analog board for two track mixes which go directly digitally into the computer for two track mastering. They sound warmer than recording directly into the computer and doing all the mixing and mastering internally. I don't use Pro Tools but I think adding the analog process actually warms up the songs.
     
  8. Bob Olhsson

    Bob Olhsson Active Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Nashville TN
    Home Page:
    I've frequently found that the analog sound of all but the first generation of ADATs sound better than a digital feed from them. I even suspect there is some kind of eq. involved because the same thing does not happen with DA-88s.
     
  9. rubatomusic

    rubatomusic Guest

    Bob-

    Can you be a bit more specific? Do you mean that the D/A outs on the ADATs (but not the original blackface model) sound better than "a digital feed" from them? If so, what are the D/As you are using to listen to the digital feed from the ADATs? Or have I got your statement all wrong?

    rubato
     
  10. e-cue

    e-cue Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2000
    My answer: No.
     
  11. Just to clarify: Yes, I agree that you are not going to get the analog feel mixing entirely within PTLE as you would if you actually used an analog board. But I was referring to the title of the topic regarding ADATs vs PTLE.

    I've frequently found that the analog sound of all but the first generation of ADATs sound better than a digital feed from them.

    Absolutely. I've always found ADATs to be real flaky when locking them with anything else; time-code, word clock or both. The jitter I've experienced coming digitally out of ADATs is about the worst I've heard from any product on the market.

    If jitter is such a problem and affects the sound that much, why do they give you the capability to transfer ADATs to PT LE?

    Because the Alesis lightpipe specification is used by tons of different digital audio manufacturers, just about all of which don't have the jitter problems of ADATs. With PTLE you have to daisychain the word clock, PTLE is after all not designed as a fully professional tool. The professional way to transfer digital audio, ie. maintaining the highest quality, it to individually clock every piece of gear with a dedicated masterclock. However, even taking this route with ADATs, the results are less than stella.

    On pure audio performance (not mixing) taking into account the very average ADCs in ADATs, the 20bit max resolution and the flaky clocking, there is simply no comparison between ADATs and PTLE.

    But as a mixing medium, betcha the Tascam sounds more 'musical'/squishier/analogish than PTLE...

    If you are talking about mixing internally with PTLE vs mixing on an analog board that is another whole can of worms and is largely subjective. But the test that Melange did is still not accurate because PTLE wasn't being fed the same quality of source material that the tascam was.

    I have the option of going to a friend's studio and sending out all 16 ADAT tracks thru 16 Neve 1073s, then back into the analog inputs of a TDM system that's clocking off a LUCID GENx6.

    So let me get this straight. You've got 20bit source material that already has the nasty ADAT ADC anti-alias filters applied, you then want to put it through a pre to amplify it and then add the filters of an 888|24 on top? I can't see how this is going to improve the situation of your essentially poor quality source material.

    Greg
     
  12. Melange

    Melange Guest

    Okay, but these tracks need to be transferred to Pro Tools at some point. That's just one of the project parameters. The Lightpipe/PT LE method seems to have it's problems, and the analog transfer from ADATs to TDM with or without the Neve has it's own problems, so what's the best way to get these tracks into PTs?
     
  13. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2001
    Originally posted by Melange:
    ..so what's the best way to get these tracks into PTs?

    This may sound fippant but ... do you have a friend who has a TDM system with an Adat bridge? Try bouncing in through that then take it home to the PT LE.

    I'm a bit far away but would have gladly done it for you. I kept my Adats for this purpose but sadly they have not been switched on for two years and one hasn't been out of it's box.

    Anyone want 3 x AdatXT, BRC, Remote Meter .... and an XTC64 and AdatBridge .. ;)
     
  14. Bear's Gone Fission

    Bear's Gone Fission Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2001
    Anyone want 3 x AdatXT, BRC, Remote Meter .... and an XTC64 and AdatBridge

    Is that a threat, Kev?

    Bear
     
  15. bluemt

    bluemt Guest

    This kind of BS is really getting annoying. These threads rival "what's the best mic..." threads for sheer stupidity.
     
  16. Melange

    Melange Guest

    Is someone holding a gun to your head, forcing you to read it? Asshole.
     
  17. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Guest

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2001
    So, what IS the best mic for recording sheer stupidity? :roll:
     
  18. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2000
    Originally posted by littledog:
    So, what IS the best mic for recording sheer stupidity? :p )
     
  19. iluvansg

    iluvansg Guest

    I have found that mixing entirely in PT, PTLE and Digital Performer 2.7 turns out mixes that don't have that "vibe" when compared to mixes I've done using my ADAT XT20s and a Soundcraft Ghost. I often use the multiple outputs of my MOTU 2408 and submix in DP then process as much as I can in the analog domain. I've also found that the dedicated outboard effects I have, especially reverbs, sound warmer and more natural than the plugins I have (I'm using DP 2.7 and Waves plugins). I try to use this "best of both worlds" method as much as possible.
     

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