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Question for the future:As digital improves

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by jeremyhillaryphd, Jun 29, 2001.

  1. Where do you pro's see yourself in five years as far as recording/mixing mediums and formats? Do you feel that as conversion quality gets better and tape emulation DSP gets better that you as a pro will feel comfortable with all digital, or will you remain with a hybrid, say mixing on your favorite desk like a Neve or api like mixerman suggested? If you as a pro could design your own working production studio suited for your working style TODAY, what type of gear and rooms would it consist of? Provided that digital conversion and technology improves at the same quick pace that it has in the last five years, how do you think your future studio would be different, or the same?

    JH
     
  2. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    I know I have a hardon that could cut glass in anticipation of digital audio being able to have the 'sack' that analog audio has. Nothing would make me happier than working through my favorite 'analog desk/front end path' to a DAW, then staying in the digital domain to get the $*^t mixed in the world of 1 & 0 accounting.

    I'm pretty sure it's going to happen too...perhaps not in 5 years, but certainly within the next 10. It seems to me that digital audio improves exponentially every year...so in a few years, perhaps 5, it should be ^#$%ing awesome to the the 3rd power.

    At the moment, it's 'demo acceptable' IMHO...but to quote the Beatles..."it's getting better all the time"
     
  3. Jon Best

    Jon Best Active Member

    Well, I suppose I am pro in that I make (most of) my living doing this, but I wouldn't put myself up on a pedestal.

    That aside, I could give a $*^t about tape emulation software.

    Now, digital is really close to being able to spit out, track by track, what I put into it. I don't have much of a problem with it in that regard, given good converters. Makes for a hell of a tape machine. I have a Mackie D8B in my studio, and while I think it's perfectly acceptible, I really think that the mixing is where digital falls apart- every time I have an opportunity to mix on an analog board, I wonder if the bells and whistles of the D8B (which isn't horrible sounding) is worth the sonic tradeoff. It's not huge, but it's there.

    It will be nice when it's not a consideration, and digital sounds right.

    Until then, I need to get that honking Quad 8 in my living room up and running.... :)
     
  4. Curve Dominant

    Curve Dominant Active Member

    Prediction: Digital audio will NEVER sound like analog.

    Whether one utilizes one or the other will always depend upon an array of factors including budget, application, taste, and deadline issues.

    I have a digital rig in my crib, and Sigma Sound is 8 blocks up the street from my crib. I've recorded at both, and f*ck with me if you like, but I just can't help seeing the debate as "how do you get an apple to taste like an orange?"

    You don't.

    I have had clients who wanted 4 minutes of my music, yesterday, on a CD, on a budget, and they don't care if it sounds within an inch of mp3. They get digital.

    I want to record some of my songs with a crack-team of local jazz musicians. We will be using analog, or nothing. Will I utilize the luxury of my digital rig to work out arrangements, so that we'll know EXACTLY what to do when that 24-track 2 inch analog clock starts ticking? F*ckin'-eh right I will. That's an added bonus of having a digital rig sitting in the crib.

    It's like your toolbox. You have tools that you own, sitting in your toolbox in your basement, that you use for jobs around the house. Someday, you may need to install a commercial air-conditioning unit on your roof. That doesn't mean that you need to keep a crane in your toolbox - you rent that f*cker when you need it. When you're done with it, it goes away, off to hoist another big load.

    This analog vs digital debate is counter-productive to our shared goals. Composers need digital tools to develop compositions that will one day be realized by analog pros. Nome sayn?
     
  5. Mixerman

    Mixerman Active Member

    Originally posted by Curve Dominant:
    Prediction: Digital audio will NEVER sound like analog.



    All I care about is that it sounds great. Analog, digital, or whatever the next revelation is, I just want it to sound musical, pleasing, and I want it to make my life easier.

    Mixerman
     
  6. Greg Malcangi

    Greg Malcangi Member

    Curve Dominant wrote: Prediction: Digital audio will NEVER sound like analog.

    I'm not sure I agree. It may be that digital gets so close to analog with the added advantage of price and ease of use that no one will care. There is a precedent for this. Take reverb units for example: You find digital reverb units in even the most die hard of analog studios. After nearly two decades of digital reverb/effects top engineers know how to use it and have got very few complaints at least with the high end reverb/effects units.

    Today, given the choice and unlimited funds, I would choose high end analog gear over digital. I see this situation continuing for the foreseeable future but not indefinitely.

    Greg
     
  7. Jon Best

    Jon Best Active Member

    I'll second that, with one caveat- I do this recording thing pretty well, and people leave here uniformly happy. However, until I get a few levels up, I think digital vs. analog is much less of an impediment to truly amazing recordings than _I_ am.

    I mean, really, probably 5% of us here are actually good enough to point to whatever we're recording on/with and say definitively, "_that_ is the thing that's holding me back!"


    Originally posted by Mixerman:


    All I care about is that it sounds great. Analog, digital, or whatever the next revelation is, I just want it to sound musical, pleasing, and I want it to make my life easier.

    Mixerman
     
  8. noise

    noise Guest

    If you think that digital will never sound as good as analog... well, I'd beg to differ.

    It won't happen today, or tomorrow, but eventually. Eventually, we will have bit depths and sample rates that meet and exceed the human ear's natural capabilities.

    In some cases, it's already happened. There are people whose ears are so damaged, they can't tell the difference between CD quality and DVD quality.

    Eventually, technology will progress to the point where even the finest ears will be unable to distinguish between an analog and a digital recording.

    Consider this: 5 years ago, who wouldn't dream of sending .wav files over the internet. Today, with our digital broadband ultra-high-speed cable / DSL modems, it's no big thing. What will happen in the next 5 years?

    What kind of digital audio will we have in the next 5 years? 56 bits @ 392kHz? Higher? OTOH, how much does it matter... CDs will still be 16/44.1. :)

    --Paul, who points at himself as what's holding his studio back. ;)
     
  9. Curve Dominant

    Curve Dominant Active Member

    If you think that digital will never sound as good as analog... well, I'd beg to differ.

    I just wanted to make sure I wasn't being misunderstood on this point, because what I had offered was a prediction that digital would not sound LIKE analog. I record digitally, and I think it sounds as good or better in many ways, depending upon what's being used, who's using it, the signal path, and what's being recorded. Face it, a killer song recorded digitally will sound better than a sh*tty song recorded on magnetic tape, right? But analog tape has a certain quality that digital recording seems to not be able to duplicate, due mainly but not exclusively to the fact that you cannot "push" digital like you can "push" tape.

    Let me approach this from another angle: do you all think that digital recordings will ever sound JUST LIKE analog recordings, other variables notwithstanding? I'll retract my prediction and leave it as an open question.

    By the way, Happy 4th Of July, everybody. I'm gonna go party now...

    Eric Vincent
    Curve Dominant Sound&Vision http://www.mp3.com/TransluxTheater
     
  10. alphajerk

    alphajerk Active Member

    i dont want digital to sound just like analog. i want digital to sound just like i want it to sound... it doesnt always but neither does analog.

    and i agree with jon best although id say maybe 2%. in order of compromise id say players, me, then equipment. if the players are good, my job is really easy... if it still sounds like $*^t, its probably me... if the players are good and i know i got the sounds but its still lacking, then it falls into the equipment [right now its my monitors... soon to change next week, then it will be a myriad of other things]
     
  11. Tony C

    Tony C Guest

    I agree with Fletcher, but IMO I'd have to say that even at this point in time digital can be a (small) cut above demo quality, though getting even a great digital rig to sound the way you want is not easily done when compared to analog.
    Hummm, lets see, fifty years of development for analog verses twenty years tops for digital audio. Not bad so far.
    On the other hand I’d go so as to say that once digital audio has reached the level of hi end analog the price for those rigs will skyrocket when compared to the DAWs we see around now a days.
    Meanwhile, I think that those of us who are using digital now (myself included) are being used to test and research digital audio products. That’s why some of it sucks so much. Why should companies spend a fortune on R&D when they can do the research AND make money at the same time? My two cents.
     
  12. alphajerk

    alphajerk Active Member

    the only problem i have with staying digital is there are just too many cool analog toys that i want to incorporate into a mix. i dont think that will ever go away. what i do see for the future is converters keep getting better so that another DADC isnt going to be such a paraniod thing as it is today with a lot of engineers. personally i dont give a crap, it either sounds better doing it or i just dont do it... i just cant play by rules anyways, they tend to just get in the way.


    as for it being demo quality only, i totally disagree... i have heard too many albums lately done digitally that i love the sound of to take that stance. and most of them arent even done by "pros" but musicians who engineered themselves, i cant remember any good "pro" albums done in the past few years... course a lot of the "pro" work has been some pretty crappy music.
     
  13. brad

    brad Guest

    ....
     
  14. atlasproaudio

    atlasproaudio Active Member

    Considering that technology is increasing exponentially and at incredible rates, I wouldn't be suprised to see incredible and unimaginable leaps in 5 years. The technological leaps that happened say from '96 to now will happen in 1/2-1/3 the time. YOMV

    Regards
    Nathan Eldred
    Atlas Pro Audio, Inc.
    http://www.atlasproaudio.com
     
  15. noise

    noise Guest

    Originally posted by Curve Dominant:
    I just wanted to make sure I wasn't being misunderstood on this point, because what I had offered was a prediction that digital would not sound LIKE analog.
    Ah, pardon me, I misunderstood what you said.

    While I think that digital will eventually sound as good as analog (not that I can tell the difference at this point), I wouldn't be surprised to find that it never sounds exactly like analog.

    Although, there are attempts towards this idea, at least in the terms of synthesizers. The current big thing is "virtual analog", which includes modeling all the imperfections of analog on a DSP chip. Whether this ever gets applied to things like mixers and DATs is anyone's guess.

    Again, sorry for the confusion. :)
     
  16. Something to think about! :D

    I think the other thing is that marketing has done a lot to brain wash these kids as well!

    For what its worth!!! :confused:
     
  17. Bob Olhsson

    Bob Olhsson Distinguished Member

    I've been doing digital mastering for an independent record label for ten years. One of the things we do is put together compilations taken from all of the various CDs we've done over the years.

    In many cases, early DAT tapes made on a Panasonic 3500 have been better on a no-brainer basis than what we get from the same artists and engineers today in high resolution formats. I have no doubt that a lot of this was simply that people couldn't do the amount of tweaking we take for granted today but the fact remains that you would be hard pressed to claim there has been any advancement at all when you just listen to the masters.
     
  18. bnewsommfic

    bnewsommfic Guest

    I think analog is going to be around for a good while, even if digital surpasses analog tape as a storage medium. I know myself, and many others who like our music to sound kinda like what our heros sounded like, and most of my heros recorded hot to analog tape. For better or worse I find I just unconciously gravitate to that sound of saturation and tape bumps cause it sounds like all those great memories of kick ass albums I listen to. Now probably someday there will be so few albums recorded with analog tape that nobody will have fond memories of that sound, but I think that'll take a while. When I think of a great album I think of something like Layla, Exile on Main Street, or Freddy King Sings (none of which are technically fantastic)and I'm sure on some subconcious level I use analog tape and record that way cause that's the sound I associate with great albums, for better or worse.
    But that said, I think DSD kicks fuckin' ass and I'd probably jump on that bandwagon once the price comes down, although I'd probably use analog on some stuff.
     
  19. Curve Dominant

    Curve Dominant Active Member

    Paul Brousseau posted:
    Ah, pardon me, I misunderstood what you said.
    While I think that digital will eventually sound as good as analog (not that I can tell the difference at this point), I wouldn't be surprised to find that it never sounds exactly like analog.
    Although, there are attempts towards this idea, at least in the terms of synthesizers. The current big thing is "virtual analog", which includes modeling all the imperfections of analog on a DSP chip. Whether this ever gets applied to things like mixers and DATs is anyone's guess.
    Again, sorry for the confusion.

    Paul, thanks for your clarification, and I can see how I could have been more succinct in stating my view. It's funny actually that you mentioned "virtual analog," because my original post was inspired by this statement by Jon Best:
    I could give a $*^t about tape emulation software.

    Now, knowing that Jon has been at this for a little longer than I have, I kind of took that statement and ran with it. If analog tape exponentially compresses high frequencies as you progressively approach it's saturation point, it would seem silly to try to duplicate this effect in the digital realm, in which the saturation point is a hard wall. It would seem smarter to create this effect in the signal chain pre-digital, and record it to a digital resolution that would faithfully reproduce that effect. It might still not have THAT sound, but it would have A sound. It still comes back around to the over-all effect of recording an entire ensemble to analog tape as opposed to digital, and the comparitive "quality" - that is, not "better/worse" type of quality, but "essence," rather. It would seem that no matter how "good" digital gets, there will be a home for analog for certain applications. Or no?

    Thanks, tho, to Mixerman, Greg, Jon, Paul, AJ (wassup, craze?), Tony, Brad, Nathan, David and Bob for your feedback. I have some more questions and ideas about this subject, and maybe I can bend some of y'all's ears at the AES meeting in Sept in NYC, and we can get into it in more depth.

    Eric Vincent
    Curve Dominant Sound&Vision
    Philadelphia USA
     
  20. Rog

    Rog Member

    How about using both? Sync them together for analog drums (yum yum!) bass and guitar. Edit vox, VSTis MIDI on the digi side. Master to analog.

    There are some things digital cannot (imho) do. Getting a decent drum sound with plugins is one on them.
     

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