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Define Analog Recording

Discussion in 'Recording' started by audiokid, Jul 2, 2011.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Man, have I been slightly off here. I mean, I have always thought when stating I love analog, I'm understood that its "using" nice outboard analog gear "in combination" with a DAW system = Hybrid also. To me it just doesn't mean recording to TAPE.

    But, searching for info on analog, I'm now thinking the reason I have received much negativity when talking about how I am into analog, could it be the majority are thinking analog solely means "Tape" and I am stating that I think tape is the better of the two for recording music today?

    If so, I need to curve my lingo and set the record straight. :redface:

    Personally, you couldn't get me to buy a tape machine for anything. I sold my 16 track, 20 years ago and never looked back ( glad I found someone that wanted it before it was worthless). Now that I have the means, going hybrid, running stems out to some analog gear is what I like and what I mean when I talk about analog. I didn't think analog was so cut and dry.

    What is your interpretation of analog?
    What is your interpretation of hybrid?
     
  2. Shanesaw

    Shanesaw Active Member

    Im thinking if we are talking pure analog, than we would never hit a digital converter in the recording and/or mixdown stage. Hybrid Analog, i think is what i consider myself doing as i am going into converters and a DAW at some point...
     
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Yikes! this is what I feared. I've never used the term pure analog, just that I like analog gear and analog summing, transformers etc. I'm not totally sold on plug-ins for every step and feel the combination of both analog and digital it where its at. Tape.... forget it but its only because I love digital editing and all the convenience that goes along with it. I've not had the luxury of owning a 2 inch so its impossible for me to even have an opinion on it. Never the less, I thought analog gear was considered " analog" too.
     
  4. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    When I hear the word analog, I immediately think of resistors, capacitors, transistors, opamps, diodes etcetc again with no digital influence... real tangible parts not controlled by signal pulses or some piece of software. Words that come to mind are natural compression, warmth, mojo, parts subject to variations in environmental thermal drift... to me that is the heart of analog, but I have been told that my opinion on this is wrong as well. I guess I am in the same boat.
     
  5. Shanesaw

    Shanesaw Active Member

    Agree, thats all as analog as it gets. Now digital recording, is these guys that dont even own a instrument and make "music" with their computer. There is a always a conservative and extreme version of anything that has no defintion in stone.... I remember when i recorded at some known house studio up in Joshua Tree, it was known for its vibe and analog reel to reel recording. It was cool seeing session reels of Kyuss who was the Queens of the Stone Age guys first band, Dave Grohl and a few other reels sitting on bookshelves. Well of course someone could say well it wasnt all analog because it ended up on cd and not vinyl from the reel...
     
  6. Shanesaw

    Shanesaw Active Member

    It would be interesting to know a list of albums that were recorded on vinyl, and never at any point were tranformed from or into 0s and 1s, digital... That would be Pure Analog.
     
  7. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Isn't there some sort of conversion even with vinyl?

    Nightfly, Donald Fagen on vinyl sounds pretty sweet. I don't think there were CD's then. Most of my album collection was pre CD era.
     
  8. Shanesaw

    Shanesaw Active Member

    I was thinking there has to be some conversion even then as well. I grew up about when 8 track was fading out, before my time i guess...

    Here is a cool link a little about the process...

    TRUTONE MASTERING LABS | Vinyl Mastering
     
  9. Shanesaw

    Shanesaw Active Member

    Maybe if i can ever produce a worthy band demo of my band, it will include a vinyl, 8 track, reel, ADAT tape, cassete tape, cd, and a MP3 (or include the usb stick itself). Im sure a left out a few Sony formats too. LOL. ;)
     
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    VHS and Sony Beta was also very sweet.
    I used to DJ back around 1980 for experience in dance music and the long play vinyl that spin at 45 RPM sounded the best I've ever heard.
     
  11. Shanesaw

    Shanesaw Active Member

    Yeah the low end spectrum definately has a round full sound that digital just cant do, im sure it sounded sweet. That was when it was actually really spinning, now its about a Ipod with a plastic cd looking thing the "DJs" are "spinning"... I guess at least its shock resistant now when drunk people bump your table...
     
  12. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Analog would have to be lack of processing that involves conversion of any sort. Even DAT machines had digital converters. I have some MIX magazines dated around the turn of the 80's and most of the ads are spouting about the 'digital revolution'. There are no DAW ads at all. Synclavier ads, Oxford ads, New England Digital, etc etc. Digital at that time was still to tape. Computers were used to sync and some MIDI programming.....@6 and 8 bits!!

    The majority of music made before 1980 was analog. A look on your CD cover will tell you the process. AAD= analog through mastering and the CD you're holding is the 'D'. ADD= analog tracking, digital mastering, digital printing. If its all digital and its an older CD then it will have the digital stamp on it.

    The records made before this time are the sounds that we are all still trying to achieve. Its a tribute to the amazing rooms and the highest end analog gear available. MOST of the preamps were all in the board. About the only thing I remember from this time as an outboard pre was usually something the engineer built for a specific purpose, or something taken from something else and used as a mic pre.

    It would be safe to say that all these great sounding tracks and songs from that era were analog in its pure form. And the engineers got all the beautiful sounds on large format consoles in a tuned room with experienced REAL engineers and bands and songs coming from deep inspiration. Oh, and OLD mics.
     
  13. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    I think we're all on the same page. True Analog = Signal that never leaves voltage form from the first transducer (microphone) to the last (speaker). Once any part of of your process has been through any A->D converter and the subsequent D->A converter it's at least hybrid.
     
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Bear with me.

    Still not quite clear with the term when it is used in a sentence to do with examples:

    • recording music
    • our signal chain
    • category
    • topic title
    • word in a description of a forum here

    Doing searches all over the web, when I search for the keyword "analog" for music, I find analog continuously related to Tape and really no mention to hybrid or analog GEAR. Because hybrid is really just coming of age, is it just not grouped into the term? Where does analog gear fit in? This is my confusion.

    For terminology clarification, when someone says they are going back to analog, are we specifically suggesting going back to Tape?
    I suppose to avoid any misunderstanding, always use the word hybrid if we are bypassing Tape, correct?
     
  15. Shanesaw

    Shanesaw Active Member

    We are now the generation of ADD recording. Lol. I think when people say they are going back to analag , they mean a console for tracking and mixing, not sure many would be going back to tape. Never know though...
     
  16. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Just my 2 cents on this and I really don't know if it means much....
    Analog is just a linear continuous voltage. The AC power that you plug your gear into is analog.
    Everything in audio that you hear over your speakers is analog. Power amplifiers are analog, preamps are analog, microphones are analog. The electronics doesn't constitute analog or digital it can manipulate and control both. The electronic components don't constitute digital or analog they are used in both realms.
    Tape recorders are mostly analog...the only time it's not really analog is when the electronics converts the recording signal into magnetic fields and aligns iron particles onto magnetic tape. That's not really analog, some may say it is but it really isn't. It's a transduction from one form to another. The same is true with microphones themselves which perform a similar but opposite conversion of that tape head.
    When a digital to analog converter takes digital bits and changes them back into an analog signal to listen to that is once again analog.
    The only thing that your DAW software really does is act like a tape recorder. Once you've converted your analog signal into digital bits your DAW can save that pattern just like iron particles used to do on tape. Once it's saved on a hard drive within a computer then the whole digital realm is realized and you have the advantage of non-destructive manipulation of a pseudo analog signal. If you keep everything ITB you don't necessarily have a digital recording. At some point you will need to convert it back to analog again in order to hear it.
    Unless you're listening to a live performance....recording is always "hybrid".
    So recording sound requires many complicated forms of electronic conversion and transduction in order to accomplish and capture and save in memorial something that has happened in the past. Camera's do the same thing...it is merely the wonder of modern electronics!
     
  17. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Beautiful!
     
  18. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I think when the statement "I'm going back to analog" is used, they are meaning a console and most probably tape. Hybrid is a new term for recording with mixed types of devices. If you print CD's from a digital medium that is originally analog this is 'hybrid' recording. Mixing ITB is probably hybrid since most likely the sources are all analog.

    A truly digital recording would be digital sources from beginning to end.

    Since I still have a stand-alone hard drive recorder and a bunch of analog sources, my rig would be hybrid, even when I bypass the hard disk and go directly to PT, its still hybrid.

    The term was coined to relate to the practice of studios collecting sources ITB and popping back out to process through another set of analog circuits and then converting back to ITB for more process and mix.
     
  19. DrGonz

    DrGonz Active Member

    As the definition on the Wikipedia page states... "A neuron is an electrically excitable cell that processes and transmits information by electrical and chemical signaling." Your sensory neurons respond to the sound waves and are perceived as analog signal. As I was pondering all of this thread I stumbled upon this website>>>>
    RLE - Analog VLSI and Biological Systems Group
    Pay special attention to the part about "Bio-inspired Projects in Sensing and Computing"
    I think everyone should carefully read the this web page. I truly believe that this technology in this research will one day improve AD DA conversion.

    The true problem with digital formats in the audio world is that it truncates information in a way that is damaging to the true analog signal. Then there is the argument about psycho-acoustics and how our brains cannot perceive this difference. I challenge anyone to find a truly digital recording of anything that was not first sampled in some analog fashion. To hear a pulse modulation would be like listening to a fax modem make a connection from one device to another. And that is DA AD conversion in terms of analog phone lines, in the example of a fax machine.

    When people say they are going back to analog they really are trying to say that the hybrid system they are recording on is becoming overly processed by bits. Nothing we have ever recorded on is pure analog and probably never will be, unless we could put an actual human brain in a computer.

    I really think this source for that above website is really interesting to read, but it hurts the brain. It's actually funny that in the first paragraph they mention that the brain is working in a hybrid sort of format too...!
    rle.mit.edu/avbs/publications/journal_papers/analog_vs_digital.pdf
     
  20. Mo Facta

    Mo Facta Active Member

    When one realises that an 8kHz sine wave sampled at 44.1kHz only gives you between 5 and 6 samples per cycle, it's easy to see the pitfalls of digital audio. To demonstrate my point:

    be4818100da2b0c0d2e5b8d73d0c2264.jpg

    At the same sample rate we get TWO samples for a 20kHz tone - that's pretty much a square wave and one that happens 20 thousand times a second.

    Granted, this does not begin to explain the impact of harmonic distortion begotten from certain analog gear like tape and outboard esoterica, etc, but it's a fair argument in favor of the linearity of an analog tape recording, which is continuous with infinite resolution.

    Cheers :)
     

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