Software or Hardware Compressor?

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by audiokid, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    An Interesting conversation from and engineer/developer

     
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    I love this. He's only saying what I've been saying all along. Analog moves at the speed of light. Digital moves around 1500 MHz which is really, really, really slow in comparison. It doesn't matter if you can lower the latency. It's the speed at which those little electron thingies are all moving at. Analog is dragracing Digital is a walk in the park. One requires more skill because of the dangers involved. The other one you just break a toenail when you trip over a rock and roller.

    No I don't believe what he said about attaining what you want from these dynamic range algorithmic plug-ins. We already know there are good software dynamic range processors. They do Precisely, what they are designed to do. And EMT had them years ago which were referred to as PDM. Its hybrid. It's analog and an analog out, where gain reduction is determined by a 250 kHz clock and the pulse duration modulated timing of that pulsed window to execute gain reduction. But what's a youngster of that age going to know of such antique Digital control of analog dynamic range processors? I didn't have the EMT versions I had the PYE versions of the same thing. And that was before we had anything digital. And those only had a passband of 15 kHz. The transistors got too hot to switch them any faster than 250 kHz LOL. And it's really amazing how you can take square waves to regulate sine waves. Of course this also required a low pass filter to filter out the 250 kHz at the audio output LOL. Kind of like FM radio filtering out the 19 kHz subcarrier allowing only a 15 kHz passband.

    But this guy is more of a techie than he is an audio engineer/recording engineer/mixer engineer/broadcast engineer. He's a nerd and quite correct about most of his observations but certainly not all. In fact I rather like some of these digital limiters we are using in our computers. Though I don't think that's much different than VCA's? So now we have DCA's. It can still add all of the intermodulation distortion you want. So while George Massenburg's limiters are fabulous with his incredible input and output audio circuitry, he's still using DBX VCA's. Which we all know what they do to our sound which is not something you really want. But it's a tool and they work. Good or bad. They do what they're supposed to do. And the software ones are no different. Unfortunately, you can get into so much more trouble with the software ones then you might with the hardware ones. Given the limitations of programmability/adjustment. You can't screw up as easily with the hardware versions. Many of them sound good regardless of how wrong you tweak them. Not the same for the digital. So he's a smart guy no doubt. You can't replace a transformer with a chip even though you can but you really can't. And while they're better they aren't even though they are. Same arguments there.

    What this guy doesn't understand is that it comes down ultimately, to the user. Obviously this guy has never recorded a hit of any kind. But he does realize the harmonic advantage of tubes. And where transistors and chips do it on the dissonant side. Which while folks don't quite believe it is still a sonic advantage to those that know how to take advantage of the advantage. With others it's simply considered a detriment. While it might be, it isn't in the right hands. So he doesn't quite understand technique behind the theory. He can only think in a linear way while talking about the advantage of the nonlinear in life. He sounds like he is as much of a contradiction to himself as I am? Well I'm not really. Maybe? Certainly not when it comes to recordings. Theory? Maybe? I don't know?

    I'm laughing so hard... milk is coming out of my nose. And I wasn't drinking any milk? Maybe it was just an emulation?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    What I'm discovering more and more ! Delegate the tasks best suited for the process.

    Digital is the ultimate storage, editing, surgical and clinical domain so why give that to analog or vise versa.
    There is nothing better than a plug-in limiter, its fast and deadly. Or a surgical EQ. So, for all the deadly stuff, digital rules.

    Analog is where flexibility, individuality and unique character lives.

    Digital is like jail, or the city or a school where everyone wears the same uniforms. Maybe even communistic or socialistic. Analog is freedom, fishing and wind blowing in your hair. The American dream. The two don't mix to well so when in digital, I stay there and when in analog I stay there until its time to move on to the wall ( back to the city). When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

    The challenge, trying to not stand out in a crowd when you have Hawaiian shorts on and a tan when walking into Walmart in Valentine Nebraska lol. The process is sort of like that until you get good at delegating it all. I mean, you don't want to stand out like a Canadian in LA at Christmas. The Canadian is wearing a T-shirt in December.

    When I go to my paint shop to get colour matches done, we use a high end digital scanner and expect it to never be spot on. We always need some human touch in there to tweak the colour to match. And whats even more interesting which is related to this subject, if you want to scan semi transparent stain, it cannot be done. Why? The scanner cannot see into depth. All it can only scan whats on top.

    Combining to worlds is the coolest thing going. I think this guy in the video is only covering a piece of the subject. I'm sure he would agree with us, no one is saying its all or nothing.
     
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Well it sounds like he is French? Which means it is all or nothing for him. Same with the Germans and with the British. And whereas most Americans are more wealthy and can afford all y'all's stuff. Not myself, anymore but nevertheless, where does the other good audio stuff come from but the United States? Some stuff from Japan. Cool technology stuff but bad quality control from China. That's why it's disposable. None of that stuff was ever made to be maintained. It's the best in planned obsolescence in and above Detroit, Seattle, Silicon Valley.

    But I wholeheartedly agree with you Chris. I don't mind looking like I'm originally from Detroit in LA, in December T-shirt and all. I do like to stand apart from the crowd. And I think my mixing and recording certainly reflects that. So it does not match well with everybody else's same style engineering techniques. And I can't help that. Don't want to help that. That's what makes me, me. I'm not George, Elliot, Bruce, Bob et al.. The only way I want to be like them is their bank accounts LOL. Albeit I am hearing a lot of Sirius XM classic rock 'n roll hits in restaurants that sound like a classic rock 'n roll hits but are not performed by the original artists/performers. A lot of sound alike stuff that no engineer is getting any royalties for including George, Bob, Bruce, Elliot, et al.. They're only paying for the publishing clearances. And I have a problem with that. Dag nab it! I like the way the originals sound. These are good too but it's not them. It's a Sony Oxford & ProTools. Its folks that sound like John Fogerty, Paul McCartney, Dee Snider all of them. It's the new Muzak (since they went out of business). But it's artfully done to fake everybody out. And that's counterfeit. I'd rather hear Henry Mancini and his Orchestra doing renditions of the Beatles. Certainly good engineering however. Most people don't know it's fake. And a lot of people don't know and don't care about the difference.

    I remember as a kid, I got some 45 RPM records of current hits. These folks however, all went to jail/prison. I had Louie Louie and a whole bunch of others. And when I worked at Flight Three in Baltimore, I remember another guy that went to jail for sound alike stuff. So it's not really providing any credit where credit is due. And it's people imitating the stars. It's almost like comedy impersonators. But I don't find anything funny about it.

    Maybe I've lost my sense of humor? Fat chance there.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Here's what I think... and it's only my opinion so everyone put your guns down... LOL

    I like choices.

    I like the ability to pick and choose as the situation arises.

    As Chris mentioned, things like surgical EQ, as far as I'm concerned, are much more precise within the digital realm. Editing is a breeze,.... and thank God for the "undo" button. ;)

    OTOH, as Remy mentioned, sometimes we want that "forgiveness" that analog allows us. We want that beautiful analog "smear"... We don't want precise, we want what tubes and transistors and capacitors can do.

    And, when those components get hot, very nice things can happen.... so there is certainly something to be said for using an analog piece that you can also cook dinner on top of. ;)

    The technology available to us now, coupled with the gear from yester-year, pretty much allows us ( if we know what we are doing and if we have the money to have those things available to us ) to handle any particular situation, scenario or sonic goal. Chris is swimming in these waters right now. In my opinion, he's ahead of the curve, because I think we are going to start seeing a LOT more hybrid users in the near future.
    If I could afford it, I'd already be there myself.

    The kid in the video may be right. He's certainly a lot smarter than I am when it comes to the technology and skills involved in programming digital emulations. Much of what he said was over my head. I'll have to take his word on those things I don't understand.

    But ... what he wasn't able to do, is to give us those 'what ifs"... those moments where rules are intentionally broken by a skilled and experienced engineer who knows what they want at a particular given moment in a particular given scenario...

    I get a little nervous when I hear someone proclaim a "finite" rule, or an "absolute". I don't believe there is any end all-be all compressor any more than I think there is an end all-be all mic, or EQ, or whatever.

    There are so many scenarios in which things can't be accounted for, so many of those "what ifs", that it's impossible to be that adamant about, well... anything. LOL

    I'm not sure how many sessions the guy has cooked, is what I'm trying to say, I guess. And again, he may be 100% correct in his theory. But I'd feel a little better about taking his word for it if he had also spent 20 years or so on the console side of the glass. ;)

    IMHO, of course.

    -d.
     
  6. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Its all good ain't it?

    I have analog and digital processing. There is NOTHING in the digital realm that sounds exactly like ANY analog processing. If you were compare a particular piece side-by-side with its digital emulation each one would be different in a way yet have a similar functionality. The emulations are built to have their controls do the same job as the hardware they are emulating, but as was said, the process is so different that you could write code for a year and still not be able to duplicate the different stages of an analog devices' responses to heat, voltage differences both supply and demand, and a myriad of other effects that happen in usage.
    But they are both tools and have their uses.

    This is much the same argument as "Which mic is better for which purpose?" Well, it is a transducer (doesn't matter what kind) and it passes voltage.......Allrighty then, stick it in front of the amp and push the red button....

    One thing I particularly like about digital is the ability to own things I WILL NEVER OWN as analog devices. I use Pultec EQ a lot as well as Fairchild compression. How many mics can you buy for the price of a working version of a 670? What are the maintenance costs of a UAD emulation? On the other shoe, can you use the UAD card to heat the studio in winter?

    So it gets a good approximation of the real deal and NO it isnt full of the MOJO one could expect from the real thing with all its iron and glowing glass thingys......but it works and does add a certain aspect to things that gives me a color I couldn't get without it.

    On the other hand, running a guitar through the ViPre and the DBX 160SL in real time has its merits. Or selecting the right op-amp and tranny in the ADK AP2 for that certain mic and that certain voice makes everything nice and 'gluey' at mix......

    Aint this fun? Its no wonder people buy so damn much stuff to play with. I DO remember having only ONE kind of preamp, ONE kind of PATH, and lots and lots of knobs to twiddle.....and sound came out like a huge fist to the gut on those great big speakers mounted in the wall........editing was an occasional bloody mess........(gotta watch all that....errr....coffee....yeah thats it....coffee.....
     
  7. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member


    Hey, c'mon now... GAS is a serious disease. I was hopelessly addicted the first time I opened a box of brand new tape... ohh yeah.... that smell... of ferrous oxide and mylar... Like a new car.

    To think I started out with a Dokorder reel to reel 4 track and a home made 4 ch XLR to RCA input box... I didn't even have a mixer. (A mixer? What's a mixer?)

    Yup. And a nickel bought you 3 candy bars, a pack of Luckies and a used Volkswagen.

    And I walked to and from school... uphill... both ways....And Dag Nabbit! You kids get off my lawn!
     

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