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How much quality is lost from A/D/A/D

Discussion in 'Recording' started by WRX07, Apr 26, 2005.

  1. WRX07

    WRX07 Guest

    How much quality is lost when going from A/D/A/D? Right now I have all of my outboard gear setup so I compress and EQ going into my DAW and use plug-ins for mixing and editing but I would like to start using the outboard stuff as inserts into my DAW.

    So how do most studios do it? Record clean and insert the outboard gear later, or track with some compression and EQ?
  2. David French

    David French Distinguished Member

    Jun 19, 2002
    DIfferent engineers will do it different ways, but in pro facilities, going to analog to use a piece of outboard and then going back to digital happens every day. If you have nice AD/DA, a noise free analog signal path, and great outboard, there is no worry.
  3. rhydian

    rhydian Active Member

    Jan 26, 2005
    Southwell, Nottingham, UK

    Depends on having good converters.i.e Apogee, or the now deceased aardvark.
  4. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye Active Member

    Sep 26, 2003
    Aurora, ON, Canada
    I certainly agree with what's been said already. But, as a self-appointed audiophile snob, I'm not surprised that many studios do multiple conversions in their recordings to make use of good outboard processors. Many commercial recordings these days sound just awful.

    "Non techie pontificating about things about which he only knows a little" Alert

    Each A to D conversion is a digital approximation of the analog waveform. Depending on the word length and sampling frequency some recordings made using the best preamps and converters can sound extremely lifelike and real.

    However, not every studio has the most up to date, high-end conversion equipment. The quality of the A to D to A to D signal is highly dependent on the analog signal path and the accumulated sampling errors and jitter that results from multiple conversions in the digital signal path.

    Less than stellar converters can impart what some have called a "digital haze" over the recorded event making the recording sound grainy, bright or hard, with the attendant reduction in small recorded details, ambience, and "air".

    As a general rule though, each digital conversion is kind of like a destructive edit on the original signal that takes you further away from the original event and gives another digital approximation of that event. You can never go back.

    This is just a General rule though. Depending on the quality of your equipment YMMV.
  5. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Distinguished Member

    Apr 7, 2001
    :shock: WHAT?! I know I've been out of the loop but I didn't know that one....... dang! Is this true?!

  6. Dave62

    Dave62 Guest

    Yep, happens every day, and thru descent converters (like your Rosetta) and quality pro level outboard gear you have nothing to worry about. You will have latency issues to deal with inserting on individual trax but it can all be dealt with. IMO A lot of modern recordings sound like CRAP because of overuse of limiting, pilot error, and a mastering processs that can make it worse instead of better. The last Nickelback CD is a great example of this. Is it bus distortion from an SSL. Or is it that the mastering engineer just hit it way way to hard.
    Not to start a flame, but most big studio recordings in a daw are then outputted track by track to an analog mixing console. This results in the analog summing of 24 to 48 output converters. So if the converters have a sound, it will show up there. I am not sure if this is a good thing. However, it has also been my experience that staying totally in the digital world results in mixes that still sound like a bunch of seperate instruments rather than a mix. I strap a Drawmer 1960 across my mix bus with very light compression and that one DA/AD makes my mixes seem more cohesive and just fatter.

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