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Digital or Analog? The question of the century!!

Discussion in 'Recording' started by standpointe, Dec 1, 2006.

  1. standpointe

    standpointe Guest

    So, most of my gear up till now is pretty much analog. I use a Mackie 32.8 and a Alesis HD24(which is technically digital) as my main source for recording not to mention a few outboard processors as well. I am toying with the idea to go completely digital. That would suck mainly because i would have to sell most of my gear i have now. I would love to keep it but in order to buy a decent computer/multitracking software/and interfaces i would have to sell everything.

    If i go digital what makes it better than analog? I know its out of choice on my part but eventually i see no recording in the future being done via actual mixing consoles.

    To me analog presents more freedom and allows an engineer/musician to express themselves better than any DAW could ever do.


    The convienience factor is all i see. Having everything a mouse click away does make me want to be apart of the digital realm. What would be the best software/interface to use in my situtation and what computers do you guys recommend. Any price range is fine as i won't be doing this very soon but eventually i will.


    Protools seems overrated but maybe im wrong. Tell me if i am and if i should keep it analog or go digital?
     
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    standpointe, going all digital is a bit of an oxymoron. Why? Because there are no such things as true digital microphones. Only analog microphones that have an analog to digital converter and/or USB interface. The same goes for microphone preamps, no such thing as a digital microphone preamp. Only analog mike preamps with digital converters.

    Most of us use a hybrid of both analog and digital equipment as you are now doing. Your mixer is fine for multiple microphone preamp's to your analog input digital recorder. With the FireWire option, you can then transfer all of your digital tracks, into your computer for mixing "ITB" (in the box), or you can just do some DSP in the computer, then transfer back to the recorders hard drive and complete your mix on the analog console to a stereo digital recorder. This is what many professionals are doing. So no need to change around all of your equipment, just the way you work with your equipment, is all that is necessary to be "MORE DIGITAL". Besides, you're current rig looks much more professional, which is important to baffle them with Bullsh** and all the flash involved with that.

    Always baffled
    Ms. Remy Ann David
     
  3. standpointe

    standpointe Guest

    thanks

    thanks for the reply Remy. I'll take your thoughts and ideas into consideration.

    I was wondering if you could help me with a problem im having with my mackie and my AlesisHD24.


    Once i go to set up a track ill start playing and try to get my levels up to spec. As im playing the signal cuts in and out and sounds as if its clipping but none of the meters on both the mixer and the recorder are clipping. I checked the wiring and everything seems to be ok. Could my mixer be broken? Or have i forgotten something. Please help guide me on how to fix this.



    thanks
     
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    standpointe, it's hard to say by your description, what precisely is happening? I would imagine that you are using the Mackie, as an in-line desk? That is to say, you are returning the track from the HD 24 back into the same input as the track and live microphone, simultaneously? You may be double monitoring something, which would give you a possible six DB gain, when you are punching into or out from a previously recorded track, which equates to a 100% increase in loudness level? With that scenario, you would not necessarily see any increase in level from the console or on the track but you would certainly hear it when monitoring it. This could be a simple monitoring faux pas, as in-line consoles can be confusing in comparison to the British style split console, which you may actually be doing and so, again, a monitoring faux pas. But the cutting in and out part, that's what has me baffled, soundproofed, isolated and generally cut off from the rest of the world? Is the cutting in and out only occurring when you punch in and out on a track?

    You missed the best take!
    Ms. Remy Ann David
     
  5. standpointe

    standpointe Guest

    The cutting in and out is occuring while im just trying to set my levels on my console. As im playing my guitar the siginal will cut in and out from my playing. It doesn't matter if im overdubbing a track or anything in my case its just cutting in and out. I've tried different cables, mics, snakes and still no solution. Once im playing i can hear what im playing in my monitors but the sound level doesn't jump in volume like you said it just turns to the harsh clipping sound. IT really has me stumped and im wondering if my mixer is broken or something. It looks ok to me though. Let me know what you think and what you would do in this situation.

    thanks Remy
     
  6. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    It's hard to get a consistent view of this problem when you have posted two or more threads about the same thing in different forums. So, see also the replies in the Project Studio forum.

    I think you may have a cabling or connection issue here. Check that you are using the direct outs on the mixer and not the inserts for driving the HD24. You need TS and not TRS jack leads for the direct outs on this Mackie console, since the ring is not connected. The HD24 is happy with TS jacks for inputs. For replay, you should be using TRS jack leads from the HD24 outputs into the balanced line inputs of the Mackie. To avoid a feedback loop, disconnect the direct outs during replay or else bring the HD24 outs into a different set of channels on the console.
     
  7. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Back to your original questions...

    I use a Mackie 32.8 and a Alesis HD24(which is technically digital) as my main source for recording not to mention a few outboard processors as well. I am toying with the idea to go completely digital. That would suck mainly because i would have to sell most of my gear i have now. I would love to keep it but in order to buy a decent computer/multitracking software/and interfaces i would have to sell everything.

    I don't think it would be that bad for you.....firstly, the Alesis is still a great box to use for live tracking and even the old-fashioned multitracking/overdubbing process. Keep it around at least for now, you'll probably need it more than you think.

    Your Mackie 32.8 could still be used for everything from playback (of all kinds of sources in your studio) to monitoring temp tracks, etc. Depending on what you're using them for, the preamps aren't all THAT bad (no matter what the snobs tell you), so you could theoretically get four (or eight) boutique type of preamps for the really important stuff, and use the Mackies for the less-critical tracks. I just wouldn't be in all that much of a rush to dump it just yet.

    As for any analog outboard gear, ditto for that, for now. Some of your analog gear & effects might be very useful for warming up tracks or imparting sounds that your software (for now, anyway) can't emulate.

    If i go digital what makes it better than analog? I know its out of choice on my part but eventually i see no recording in the future being done via actual mixing consoles.

    One could fill a book with all the pros and cons between digital and analog formats. Neither one is 100% "Better" than the other, but there are tradeoffs and advantages in each. Only YOU have to decide which is worth it.

    And plenty of folks still use mixing consoles, but you're right - many also do NOT use traditional consoles when working in the digital realm. it's still anyone's guess as to what kind of control surface is going to win out in the long run. I have settled into using an analog mixer for monitoring, routing, and general stuff for my production suite. But for serious mixing, it's all inside the box now. The result is a hybrid way of working, and I doubt I'm alone in this method. I am finding the need for less and less analog/outboard gear, and I assure you, other than the truly vintage stuff, no one's losing any sleep over it.

    To me analog presents more freedom and allows an engineer/musician to express themselves better than any DAW could ever do.

    I couldnt disagree more; and would say just about 180 degrees the total opposite, in my experience. With digital, one can work faster, create more options (sometimes TOO many!) with mixes, make multiple dupes and copies (for band members, etc.) almost instantaneously, make masters, do mixes and explore options in an exponentially faster way than analog ever could. Same with/without effects, normalizing, comping, bouncing, and countless other faster/more efficient workflows. In the ten years since I've switched over to digital, my workflow and productivity has probably increased tenfold. There is no way on earth I could ever do what I do now (time-wise and sonic-purity-wise) with analog gear.

    Make no mistake: Analog is a wonderful medium to work in, and it is by its nature flawed and prone to artifacts, many of which we like and enjoy. It is the very medium itself that creates its signature sound, but it is by no means the ONLY way to generate and manipulate sound. It can sound spectacular, if you have the right gear, the time and the patience to tame the beast. Know that there is already an entire generation of artists and engineers that do NOT work in this medium; they have been born and raised on digital. It is slowly becoming quaint and historic rather than cutting edge (this is again neither good nor bad, it just IS), and eventually it will become simply another option, same as paint vs. film vs pencil, and so on.

    Similar to painting and drawing, "analog" is just one of several delivery systems available to any artist. There are limitations and artifacts inherent in the medium, and that part of what one sees, er...HEARS as "good sound," it is often just the result of analog artifacts. The "Warmth" of tape that everyone talks about is often just 80 hz head bump adding a little extra bass at that freq. Ditto for the gentle smear of high end, and all the noise that can creep in from proper and improper bias adjustment and improper azimuth & head-wrap. Then there's tape-compression that can be appealing in the right hands - or ugly distortion in the wrong hands. Ditto for tube circuitry and phase-smearing analog EQ in outboard boxes. These are all very real things to consider, but they are neither right nor wrong, they just ARE. Only YOU can decide if these are the colors and types of "Paint" you want to use when making your masterpiece. (Some people work in crayon, some work in pastels, some work in charcoals, some work in film, etc.)

    The convienience factor is all i see. Having everything a mouse click away does make me want to be apart of the digital realm.

    You have but scratched the surface here. A mouse-click is but the tip of the iceberg, but you're getting the idea. (Many folks are actually beyond the mouse itself, and are looking for something even easier and more erognomically desirable, but you get the idea...)

    What would be the best software/interface to use in my situtation and what computers do you guys recommend. Any price range is fine as i won't be doing this very soon but eventually i will.

    Too much to list here, and I wouldn't want to tell you (at this early stage) what to do or what to buy just yet. You have a lot more homework to do.
    (Just curious here: How old are you, and how long have you worked in analog?)

    Protools seems overrated but maybe im wrong. Tell me if i am and if i should keep it analog or go digital?

    PT is indeed overrated, but there's a reason why it's #1 in the industry; it's the main language that the pros (and everyone esle in between) are
    using. I don't use it personally (I'm a PC/Sequoia person) but it's really come down to what I'm comfortable with using, and how quickly I can get my drudge-work done. I also like going the OPPOSITE way of the pack, it can be quite liberating going this way, as long as one is prepared to do so. Not every client is going to be savvy enough to understand the benefits, but for those that do, the results are VERY VERY gratifying.

    With analog, your choices are limited to a set of ever-shrinking tools available, loads of artifacts, and a lot of hard work to keep it aligned and functioning perfectly. With digital, it's easy to use, but just as easy to get cold, sterile sound and chase your tail all day with endless options.

    In the end, only YOU can decide which path to follow.
     

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