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Pro Tools HD Listening Party

Discussion in 'Pro Tools' started by MeltedMediaMusic, Jan 30, 2002.

  1. I posted this over on the DUC site and thought someone hear might be interested.

    A little get together was had at Water Sound Productions in Studio City for about 20 interested folks who wanted to hear the new Pro Tools HD system. Listening tests were conducted with a live drum kit, Dobro and a sequence playing back from an Emu groove box. All inputs were routed through Neve 1073’s or some original UA mic pres direct to the converters. The converter outputs were fed to separate inputs of a customized Oram console and monitored through some custom monitors which I don’t recall their maker. This was a very high end, accurate and great sounding room. Systems compared were a Mix system with 888/24 and Apogee PSX 100 and the 192 HD system. I don’t recall whether the Apogee was a Special Edition model or not.

    Now for the shocker – the Pro Tools HD 192 system sounds f…ing killer!

    In all tests the 888 paled to the other converters to the point that no one had much interest in referencing it to the others. At 48k settings the Apogee and 192 were very close in quality and I think it would come down to the source material to really determine which one you might prefer. I personally preferred the 192 on the material we selected, but I don’t really think there was enough of a difference to make an overwhelming choice. This comment comes from someone who owns AD8000’s which I think blow away the 888/24’s. I should also mention that the Mix system was being clocked by the PSX 100.

    Since my focus was centered on whether to upgrade or not, I was most interested in how the HD sounded at higher sample rates compared to the Mix system with Apogees at 48k. This is where the HD system really started to separate itself. At 96k, all tests were bigger and rounder than the Apogee at 48k. This difference was so apparent that we thought we might have accidentally bumped up the 192’s output level. After re-checking the levels with tones, we discovered that all levels were still matched and that the perceived volume boost was only the result of the sound from the 192. The sound was very warm and round, yet clear with a lot of depth to it, unlike anything I’ve heard out of my Mix system with Apogees. The sound was similar at 192k with a little more pronounced high end. We were all pretty impressed with what we were hearing and I was actually surprised.

    The least amount of difference seemed to be with the sequenced beat box tracks. The difference in sample rates was much less apparent with these recordings than the other acoustic sources. In comparing the recorded tracks at 192k with the actual drum machine outputs, it was almost impossible to pick out which was "live or Memorex”.

    Unfortunately, we didn’t get to A/B any mixes at 192 converted to 44.1 but the sound quality jump at 96k was significant enough to convince me that you would end up with a better sounding mix even after sample rate converting or mixing out analog to DAT or other source.

    As far as the internal mixing thing, the only thing we got to hear was an orchestral session they had tracked at 192k by multing off the inputs of the 2” machine. With all 24 tracks at unity gain, panned and summed to 2 outputs, the sound of this recording was amazing with none of that pinched narrow PT mix sound we all fight with. The recording was as warm, deep and wide as any analog recording I’ve heard.

    I was really sitting on the fence on whether to upgrade or not and I did not expect to be so impressed with what the new system offered. I, as many of you, was also pretty pissed about the difficulty in utilizing higher end converters with the new system. All you Apogee (and other) users out there owe it to yourself to at least get a listen. It might not convince you to jump, but I think its good enough that a lot of people, me included, are not going to miss spending big bucks on other converters.

    My .02 cents

    Kenny Meriedeth
    Melted Media Music
     
  2. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Thanks Ken

    Well.. I will certainly add this to a small list of positive audio shoot out votes'.

    :)

    Thanks again Ken..

    :)

    Bigger & rounder, needing to be at 96k to achive it... Hmmmm.
     
  3. Yes indeed, I was very surprised at the results myself, as were several others in the room.

    The fact that the better results obtained were at 96k or higher didn't really bother me as it still leaves about the same capabilities DSP and track wise as the current Mix system I'm using now. I don't really think I'd consider upgrading if I was gonna keep using the same sample rates. Might as well keep the Apogees and the PT Mix and start checking out the summing mixers we've been discussing.

    As for how the HD sounds mixing internally, I'm still not completely sold and I'm afraid the only way to find out will be to get it in to the trenches and see what it can do. That 24 track 192k orchestra recording with virtually no balances set was a thing of beauty. Encouraging at least :)

    Talk to you later,

    Kenny Meriedeth
    Melted Media Music
     
  4. ckevperry

    ckevperry Active Member

    And it should sound beautiful.....24 tracks at 192k, thats gonna stays in one chip to mix. No plugs or sends/auxes to truncate. Thats mixing at 48 bit resolution throughout at 192k. Dont' know of many dig mixers that do that.

    The pinch test will come from plugin and aux usage. The same thing that hurts the sound on the current mix platform.
     
  5. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    ....just as I guessed.
     
  6. stedel

    stedel Guest

    Wow. A positive post about the new Pro Tools! IMHO the first critical step in the HD system gaining acceptance would be the quality of Digi's AD/DA converters. Many folk were/are outraged because they couldn't use their Apogee units etc., however contrary to the rumours going around pre-release these units (Digi's) are cheaper than expected and come with some pretty impressive specs and options (inc. more I/O's).
    I for one am relieved. Julian's comment on another recent post re the HD system being mainly for movie minded soundtrack people was also another commonly felt projection/fear/assumption....
    Two points:
    1. The cost factor is critical. Things could have gone the other way. If Digi's units are this good then that is truly good news... they claim their units are as good as much more expensive units...so have you checked out their high end competition lately? E.g. the "Godzilla" of interfaces the Euphonix FC727 comes in at (Aust $'s) $64,995 !!! - course you get a few extra goodies!
    2. Folks the outrage about retro-fitting - well this was always on the cards (no pun intended) and I'm not defending Digi..but any computer based technology is going to provide this risk. It is infuriating and costly to us...but that's the nature of the beast.Really...how long did you expect the 8000's to stay current technology?
    Anyway, Apogee have found someone else to play with
    (Mackie) ahh, it's all a playground folks just make sure you don't miss yer own bus (damn..was that another pun?).
     
  7. Jim Chapdelaine

    Jim Chapdelaine Active Member

    it would really only be a fair listening test if you had 8000s that went up to 96 or 192. The only way to do that is for Digi to let Apogee in the loop. If it sounds so good, why is Digi so afraid?
    Doesn't it stand to reason that Digi will make MORE money if they allow Apogee (and their user base )
    in on the upgrade path. If they took away all the 3rd party plug ins they would lose money because people would object. Seems to me it's the same situation here. An open architechture=$$$$$$
    or Euro Dollars or Yen. A closed, monopolistic system is a recipe for disaster (I'm throwing that in for dramatic effect)
     
  8. relen

    relen Guest

    A PSX-100 at 48 going through a Mix+ system versus an HD system at 192 isn't all the test it could be.

    Why not try this too: Run the PSX-100 into the AES ins on the HD system, compare the sound of the two converters double-blind at 96 kHz sampling and see what you get.

    Obviously this arrangement favors the 192 I/O (it's in both paths), but at least the sample rates are the same. For 96k, also try a PSX-100SE or a Trak2.

    I'd be interested to hear what you get.

    Another interesting comparison, bearing in mind that the above test showed little difference between the two systems at standard (44.1/48) rates, would be to create a CD master at 16/44.1 from both systems and see what benefits there are from using the higher sample rate system when your end product is going to be a Compact Disc master.

    --Richard Elen
    Apogee
     
  9. jriggs

    jriggs Guest

    I guess I'm a litle confused as to why changing the sample frequenccy on the HD from 48k to 96k or 192k would yeild such a "big" difference in the same program material. The bit rate stays the same, yes? Does the HD sample differently at different settings?
     
  10. I would be the first to admit that the listening tests we conducted still leave a lot of questions unanswered regarding HD. As I'm also an Apogee owner/ user, I was very disapointed that Digi closed them out. While I have no doubts that the PSX 100 would have provided the same results as the HD at 96k and 192k, the fact that the HD192 is even in the running with Apogee is a true testament that at least they did something right. When you consider that the 192 costs less than half of what my AD8000's cost, I don't think you can fault Digi for not at least giving you a pretty good value of an alternative.

    OK, I think its stupid that we can't use whatever box we want without buying their interface. This is especially true in a marketplace which has really opened up its access to one anothers products. Who knows, it may even send Digi down the road of Synclavier and other closed end systems. My only point in offering our time hastened, limited listening results is that within all the HD upgrade rumbling that is going on everywhere, the damn thing actually sounds pretty good. I think thats important to keep in mind.

    On the DUC thread where I originaly posted this, a few other people that attended have also posted their impressions. Everyone came to the same conclusions.
     
  11. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    What about the people who feel that there were already much better converters than Apogee? To some, Apogee quality is a step down in quality. Yet they are still forced to buy the HD converters if they want to stay in the PT game.
     
  12. Bruce Wayne

    Bruce Wayne Guest

    Here we go again!...
    This is all subjective stuff.....
    I haven't heard the PTHD stuff yet, so I can't comment on the audio quality, but we're still left with the old chestnuts...such as...have they improved the PT mixer?...can we hit the faders without worrying about degradation in sound quality
    With regard to the converters...there are people who prefer the Apogee sound...people who prefer the Prism sound...and people who say..^#$% it...I'll use the 888-24....it's horses for courses...it's what the individual feels most comfortable and at ease working with.....
    Just my 0.2 pesetas...
     
  13. layne

    layne Guest

    MeltedMediaMusic, maybe you could let us download some of the differences so we can hear for ourselves? Between:

    starting at 192/24 and converting to 44.1/16,
    and
    starting in 48/24 and ending up in 44.116.

    these of course would be wav files, 30 sec clips. i can host it on a fast site for everyone to download if you would like.

    Layne
    layne@42five.com
     
  14. Greg Malcangi

    Greg Malcangi Member

    Hi Dr. J,

    Yes, the bit rate stays the same. In theory, provided you have perfect anti-alias filters, there should be no difference between 48kS/s and 96kS/s (or 192kS/s). In practise though, to create perfect or near perfect filtering at 48kS/s requires a great deal of effort and an enormous amount of processing power. This is not the case at 96kS/s or higher as the filters are much smoother and computationally much easier to impliment.

    The quality of filtering at 44.1 or 48kS/s is one of the main defining features that separates the very highest end of the converter market from the budget and mid range converters. In other words, the difference between 48kS/s and 96kS/s on a 192 should be much smaller between say a Prism ADA-8 at 48kS/s and a 192 at 96kS/s.

    Greg
     
  15. Hi Layne,
    As much as I'd love to have everyone check the HD sound quality out and get some more constructive feedback on the new system, I haven't gotten the upgrade myself yet. The listening get together was setup at another studio with the system being provided by a couple of Digi reps. One of the people instrumental in setting this up was Rob Zenn at Guitar Center in Sherman Oaks, Ca. I have seen him post on the DUC so maybe he could accomidate.
    Take Care,
    Kenny Meriedeth
    Melted Media Music
     

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