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ar316



Joined: 03/12/08
Posts: 4
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Airfix]
      #1010521 - 28/09/12 08:36 AM
Quote Airfix:

Welcome ar316
I like your style - only Mackies eh? - right to the point! excellent




Haha thanks. It took me a little under 4 years to make my first post so I hoped it was a good one. My "forum home" is at Gearslutz but this article really interested me.

Two questions for the SOS testers: What was the reason for using the ART DTI box?

Also, is the VLZ Pro MkII = 1402-VLZ3 with the XDR2 preamps? http://www.mackie.com/products/1402vlz3/

I tried Googling VLZ Pro MkII and didn't find anything.


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
SOS Technical Editor


Joined: 25/07/03
Posts: 21592
Loc: Worcestershire
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: ar316]
      #1010526 - 28/09/12 09:03 AM
Quote ar316:

What was the reason for using the ART DTI box?




It was because the insert send from the Mackie is unbalanced, and we were running fairly long cables back to the Prism Orpheus whichn was running from a different mains sockety. So it was principally to ensure we had no problems with ground loop hum.

Quote:

Also, is the VLZ Pro MkII = 1402-VLZ3 with the XDR2 preamps?




No, it was the previous generation (VLZ Pro) as opposed to the current third generation VLZ3.

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/sep99/articles/mackie1604.htm

hugh

--------------------
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


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ar316



Joined: 03/12/08
Posts: 4
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #1010529 - 28/09/12 09:22 AM
Quote Hugh Robjohns:

Quote ar316:

What was the reason for using the ART DTI box?




It was because the insert send from the Mackie is unbalanced, and we were running fairly long cables back to the Prism Orpheus whichn was running from a different mains sockety. So it was principally to ensure we had no problems with ground loop hum.

Quote:

Also, is the VLZ Pro MkII = 1402-VLZ3 with the XDR2 preamps?




No, it was the previous generation (VLZ Pro) as opposed to the current third generation VLZ3.

<a href="/sos/sep99/articles/mackie1604.htm" target="_blank">http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/sep99/articles/mackie1604.htm</a>

hugh





Thanks for the quick response! I'm using insert outs from my VLZ3 (XDR 2) preamps which were improved over the VLZ Pro's, or so I've read. They sound good to my ears. The tech specs in the manual all had measurements from the insert outs so I started doing that about a year ago. Since you guys recorded that way for the test that reaffirms that choice.

My insert to interface cables are only 6 feet and the mixer + interface are plugged into the same power strip so I should be all right.

Like was stated earlier, monitoring/acoustically treating your control room makes a big difference. I used to record/mix on the dull/muddy side because my speakers and the untreated room had a high-mid/high boost. Once I put some foam and bass traps (rockwool) in to reduce those early reflections and then bought IK Multimedia's ARC system to top it off...recording and mixing became much easier.

I really appreciate SOS' committment to a much smaller amount of BS versus other engineering magazines.

Edited by ar316 (28/09/12 09:31 AM)


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Kentala



Joined: 16/08/10
Posts: 1
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #1010939 - 01/10/12 01:32 PM
Hello,

long time lurker, first time poster!
Thanks for the shootout (and for a great magazine)!
Forgive me if this has already been discussed but I want to point out that there are some real differences in performances between the files (like notes missing during a quiet passage at 0:26 on some of the files).
I suspect that some of the dynamic differences I hear in the files are actually differences in the performances and not in the recording chain.
I guess that's realism, a reminder that even using something like a disklavier the differences in performances far outweigh the differences in the preamps.

However, for a test like this I think it's important to have the same exact performance re-recorded (a speaker and a mic in a room).

BTW, I also recommend using something like the ABXer software to make sure one can consistently pick out the differences between the files blind.

Harri Kentala
Helsinki, Finland


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Hansraube



Joined: 04/11/10
Posts: 1
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #1011240 - 02/10/12 05:18 PM
Wow makes me want to pack up my studio and go live in a cave... The differences are so subtle... Makes me think that most of the time our imaginations are convincing us that "Oh yes this Vocal sounds incredible through this pre"

I will not even attempt to describe the differences, really great sounding recording though!


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mjfe2



Joined: 11/10/09
Posts: 595
Loc: Cambridge, UK
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #1011521 - 03/10/12 06:52 PM
I've noticed that Hugh often praises high-end preamps in reviews for having 'good headroom'. But what does this mean in the context of digital recording? Is it the case that the preamp can take peaks beyond what its analogue metering shows (in which case the meters aren't so useful and we should check our digital meters for clipping instead)?


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dmills



Joined: 25/08/06
Posts: 2358
Loc: High Wycombe, UK
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: mjfe2]
      #1011547 - 03/10/12 10:20 PM
Pretty much, yea.

No analogue meter can ever really be peak reading, the mechanics are just too slow even in something like a PPM, all that said, analogue meters are just fine, you just have to understand your tools.
I would personally advise setting things up so that the preamp will always clip before the ADC, in which case I really don't have to watch the digital meters at all, and simply turning up until I see something sane is sufficient (And if I want to hammer the pre for its sound, I can do so and still be sure of not clipping the ADC).

If you are having to worry about running into digital clipping, odds are you are doing it wrong.

Loads of headroom (At the output) is only really valuable if the rest of the chain can take the abuse, no point in having a preamp that can output +24dbu if the ADC clips at +18 ( A 10db pad would make this well behaved however), headroom at the input is helpful if you plan to plug a line level source into a preamp and turn the gain down to unity, some will take it, most will clip.....

Regards, Dan.

--------------------
Audiophiles use phono leads because they are unbalanced people!


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Joris de Baat



Joined: 04/10/12
Posts: 4
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #1011761 - 04/10/12 10:10 PM
Dear SOS,

Thank you very much for this interesting article + testmaterial.
Many of us seem to agree that with the Brauner mic preamp nr A differs from all the rest.
More warmth and more body.
My guess is that this preamp is nr B with the MKH's and nr D with the Royer.

But Now For Something Completely Different... why did you dither the samples from 24 to 16 bit?
I wouldn't be surprised if at least 95% of your readers have a 24 bit soundcard.
It seems such a shame to lose all that resolution, especially in a listening-exercise like this!

Greetings from Rotterdam, Holland
Joris de Baat


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
SOS Technical Editor


Joined: 25/07/03
Posts: 21592
Loc: Worcestershire
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Joris de Baat]
      #1011769 - 04/10/12 10:41 PM
There is no loss of resolution through dithering. It's time that myth was put to rest!

The only change is to the signal-noise ratio which, with signals peaking close to peak level as they are in these optimised samples, is in unimportant. The theoretical 93dB signal-noise ratio is more than sufficient for a processed example.

H

--------------------
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


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dmills



Joined: 25/08/06
Posts: 2358
Loc: High Wycombe, UK
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #1011776 - 04/10/12 11:08 PM
Quote Hugh Robjohns:

There is no loss of resolution through dithering. It's time that myth was put to rest!




A worthy quest but one that I am afraid is doomed to failure (I have been fighting a losing war against the 'R' word applied to digital audio for years).
The fact that dither actually preserves the ability to hear the low level stuff is for some reason lost on people.

Other places you are onto a loser: Teaching guitarists basic anatomy (No duckie, those are your knees, the ears are further up, yes if you point the combo at the EARS it is too fecking loud, we have been saying this for weeks....), singing drummers (just say no), guitarists using way too much distortion, vidiots demanding an audio feed (And 5K more light!) five seconds before the opener... Some battles are I suppose worth fighting even if you know you are going to loose.

Regards, Dan.

--------------------
Audiophiles use phono leads because they are unbalanced people!


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Fran Guidry



Joined: 23/04/10
Posts: 73
Loc: Walnut Creek, CA, USA
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Joris de Baat]
      #1011796 - 05/10/12 02:22 AM
Quote Joris de Baat:

Dear SOS,

Thank you very much for this interesting article + testmaterial.
Many of us seem to agree that with the Brauner mic preamp nr A differs from all the rest.
More warmth and more body.
My guess is that this preamp is nr B with the MKH's and nr D with the Royer.
...
Greetings from Rotterdam, Holland
Joris de Baat




In my listening I would want to know that someone double blind ABXed a pair of files before I agreed that we agreed on anything. The way human perception works, even a blinded test gets skewed very quickly if labels are on view.

If you can identify A from B 13 times out of 16 trials in a double blind ABX then there's a meaningful basis for discussion. Absent that kind of evidence of audible difference, it's just jawing at the pub to me.

Fran

--------------------
E ho`okani pila kakou ma Kaleponi
www.kaleponi.com & www.homebrewedmusic.com


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ef37a



Joined: 29/05/06
Posts: 6709
Loc: northampton uk
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: dmills]
      #1011803 - 05/10/12 05:45 AM
Quote dmills:

Quote Hugh Robjohns:

There is no loss of resolution through dithering. It's time that myth was put to rest!




A worthy quest but one that I am afraid is doomed to failure (I have been fighting a losing war against the 'R' word applied to digital audio for years).
The fact that dither actually preserves the ability to hear the low level stuff is for some reason lost on people.

Other places you are onto a loser: Teaching guitarists basic anatomy (No duckie, those are your knees, the ears are further up, yes if you point the combo at the EARS it is too fecking loud, we have been saying this for weeks....), singing drummers (just say no), guitarists using way too much distortion, vidiots demanding an audio feed (And 5K more light!) five seconds before the opener... Some battles are I suppose worth fighting even if you know you are going to loose.

Regards, Dan.


......AND...RMS bloody watts!

Dave.


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PianoPerson



Joined: 18/04/09
Posts: 30
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: ef37a]
      #1011833 - 05/10/12 08:53 AM
Just wanted to say that I enjoyed this listening test immensely. Very instructive indeed, and what lovely recordings; congratulations to SoS on doing this!

Like other people, I found it hard to tell the preamps apart. In the Brauner recordings I think I detected a certain stridency with preamp C, while I liked H least: noticeably less pleasant than the others, probably the one preamp on the list that I would avoid. I think that overall I preferred A. Looking forward to the key!

It seems overwhelmingly clear that the microphones make a much bigger difference. I really liked the Sennheisers: lovely presence, realism and depth. The Brauners are slightly more rounded (compare the second note of the recording [a D]). My sense is that the Sennheiser is probably truer to the actual sound of the Yamaha grand but the Brauners have a slightly more pleasant sound. Given the purely hypothetical choice I would probably buy the Brauners...

Thanks again to the SoS team!


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Joris de Baat



Joined: 04/10/12
Posts: 4
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #1011866 - 05/10/12 10:55 AM
Dear Hugh,

On the SOS-page where these samples are offered for downloading, it says: “[…], but the files have been dithered to 16-bit.”
At the risk of sounding presumptuous: I don’t think this is the correct way of describing what you have done.
One cannot “dither” a sample to 16 bit.
A sample is “re-quantized” – re-calculated - from 24 to 16 bit, and while doing that, one has the choice “to dither or not to dither” (as Shakespeare would have phrased it).
Wouldn’t you agree that dithering is a separate element in the processing of a sample, where a slight amount of noise is added in order to avoid – or rather: to mask – distortion in the low-level portions of the material?
Distortion that is caused by interpolation-errors that occur when the information that is contained in the “last” 8 bits (the difference between 24- and 16-bit information) is lost and therefore has to be rounded off.
It seems evident to me that – taken the common technical meaning of the word ‘resolution’ in the context of translating audio (or for example images) into digital data – a 24 bit sample has a higher resolution than a 16 bit sample.
Of course one can have a discussion about the question whether, taken into account the restrictions of dynamic range of the human ear, it makes a difference to have either 24 bit or 16 bit data.
Or, to put it into the analogy of a photographic picture: the fact that – given the limited possibilities of the human eye to see detail – there is little practical point in storing a picture in 25 megapixel form, if one knows that it will never be viewed on a screen larger than, say, 2 x 3 inch.
On the basis of personal experience I’m convinced that yes, in the case of audio, it DOES make a difference. Being a lifelong Beatles-fan, I purchased the remastered box-sets (stereo & mono) of all the albums when they came out a couple of years ago. The original analoque mastertapes were remastered to 24 bit audio, but because of the CD-format, still had to be re-quantized to 16 bit audio. Some time later I downloaded the 24 bit FLACs (i.e. the remastered material before it was transferred to the 16 bit CD-format) that someone had taken from the USB-stick that Apple offered parallel to the CD box-sets (and kindly uploaded to an internet newsgroup).
I can assure you: having paid several hundreds euros for the CD box-sets, psychologically my mind was all set to hear NO difference between the two. But boy did I! And still do!

Regards,
Joris de Baat


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
SOS Technical Editor


Joined: 25/07/03
Posts: 21592
Loc: Worcestershire
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Joris de Baat]
      #1011923 - 05/10/12 01:42 PM
Quote Joris de Baat:

At the risk of sounding presumptuous: I don’t think this is the correct way of describing what you have done.




Possibly... it is a bit of a textural shortcut, but I think the intended meaning is still very clear.

Quote:

One cannot “dither” a sample to 16 bit. A sample is “re-quantized”




As one pedant to another, I can only agree!

Quote:

..one has the choice “to dither or not to dither” (as Shakespeare would have phrased it)




If the requirement is to preserve low level information that was previosuly contained in the truncated bits, then dithering is an essential part of the whole process and cannot be omitted. So there is no choice. The ability provided in many DAWs and plug-ins to switch dithering off is really for special effects and test purposes and isn't appropriate for quality applications.

Quote:

Wouldn’t you agree that dithering is a separate element in the processing of a sample, where a slight amount of noise is added in order to avoid – or rather: to mask – distortion in the low-level portions of the material?




No. I wouldn't agree. I don't see dithering as a separate element -- it is a vital, necessary and integral part of word-length reduction. And although you started off right in your explanation of dither you blew it at the end! Dithering does not mask quantisation distortion in any way at all. It completely linearises the quantisation process and thus prevents distortion.

Quote:

It seems evident to me that – taken the common technical meaning of the word ‘resolution’ in the context of translating audio (or for example images) into digital data – a 24 bit sample has a higher resolution than a 16 bit sample.




A lot of people share the same view, but it is a concept based on a complete misunderstanding of the processes and science involved -- and the association with a picture pixel analogy simply compounds the error, I'm afraid, because it is a totally different paradigm.)

There is no loss of audio precision -- resolution, if you will -- when reducing the wordlength from 24 to 16 bit with appropriate dithering, and it is trivially simple to demonstrate the ability to hear undistorted audio at -120dBFS from a 16 bit audio file that should -- by your reasoning -- have nothing below -96dBFS.

You might find the sections on quantisation and dithering in this article helpful, along with the related audio examples here. In particular, there are some examples of a 16-bit piano recording that has been truncated and dithered to just 3 bits. The signal to noise ratio is quite appalling -- as you'd expect -- but the piano is completely audible and undistorted across it's entire dyanmic range, even though the quietest tones are well below the noise floor.

Quote:

Or, to put it into the analogy of a photographic picture




Please dont! It is an inappropriate analogy that doesn't relate to the audio situation.

Quote:

I can assure you: having paid several hundreds euros for the CD box-sets, psychologically my mind was all set to hear NO difference between the two. But boy did I! And still do!




I can't comment on that specific comparison because I've not heard that material myself. However, (and ignoring the issue of pirated files...) several thoughts spring to mind. Firstly, I presume the replay chain was rather different (CD player vs computer playout system) which might well account for some of the perceived differences. Secondly, confirmation bias and subconsious preferences are very difficult to overcome and only true ABX testing can provide statistically meaningful confirmation of something like this.

But most importantly of all, you're talking about material that was recorded to analogue tape, often involving one or more transfers between tape machines, to build up complete songs. The dynamic range just isn't there in the source material to reveal any significant differences between 24 bit and properly dithered 16 bit versions -- and the noise floor of a sixteen bit system is still significantly lower than that of the source tape, and hence certainly not a quality-limiting factor. Of course, the noise floor of the 16 bit files will inherently be higher than that of the 24 bit files and this may well be what you were percieving as 'reduced resolution'. In my view, anyway...

Hugh

--------------------
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


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James PerrettModerator



Joined: 10/09/01
Posts: 10660
Loc: The wilds of Hampshire
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Joris de Baat]
      #1011936 - 05/10/12 02:40 PM
Quote Joris de Baat:


I can assure you: having paid several hundreds euros for the CD box-sets, psychologically my mind was all set to hear NO difference between the two. But boy did I! And still do!





Have you done a null test? Any differences due to word length should result in some very low level noise. If the differences are more substantial it means that they've gone through different mastering processes.

James.

--------------------
JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration.
http://www.jrpmusic.net


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Sam Inglis
SOS Features Editor


Joined: 15/12/00
Posts: 1715
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #1011967 - 05/10/12 04:27 PM
A heads up... I'll be revealing which preamp is which some time next week. We have collated the comments people have made so far, and they make for very interesting reading. It'd be great to get more 'blind' opinions to see whether there is any consensus among SOS readers, so please do download the files and post your views if you haven't already done so. Many thanks to all who have contributed.


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Joris de Baat



Joined: 04/10/12
Posts: 4
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #1011970 - 05/10/12 05:03 PM
Dear Hugh,
I really appreciate the time and effort you took to go into my assertions so deeply (bit by bit, and without dithering or requantization of words and paragraphs to save time - so to speak).

I jumped to your article Digital Problems, Practical Solutions, and even a quick scan tells me there is still a lot to learn for me in there!
I - in turn - will take time and effort to read it thoroughly.

However, all this somehow doesn’t answer my initial question, why SOS didn’t offer the 24 bit master material for download. If only ‘alongside’ the 16 bit versions for those few readers who still own a 16 bit soundcard.
Maybe it’s all subjective & perceived, and maybe I’m ‘jawing at the pub’ (as another contributor to this thread puts it), but don’t we all love to be and stay as close to the source(-material) as possible…?

Regards,
Joris


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dmills



Joined: 25/08/06
Posts: 2358
Loc: High Wycombe, UK
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Joris de Baat]
      #1011979 - 05/10/12 05:28 PM
While 99% of readers may well have a 24 bit DAC (most manage maybe 18 - 20 bits in reality), only a vanishingly small number will have a room and repro chain that has even 16 bits of dynamic range, so why increase the file size by a third to no benefit?

This I suspect is where an Engineering decision (ship the files at 16 bits) and peoples expectation of what they would like to be audible, but usually isn't collide. 24 bits is a good idea for capture (where leaving headroom is useful, for all that the recordist on this one apparently did not), but is fairly pointless for distribution.

Regards, Dan.

--------------------
Audiophiles use phono leads because they are unbalanced people!


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mjfe2



Joined: 11/10/09
Posts: 595
Loc: Cambridge, UK
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #1011982 - 05/10/12 05:32 PM
In a recent promotional article, John Rutter made an interesting point about mic preamps when recording choirs: "Choral music can generate very fierce peaks which demand very forgiving mike pre-amps. Dual soprano parts in thirds, for example, tend to generate huge energy spikes. The DAD AX24′s pre-amps really do absorb them, are ultra-reliable and have very low internal noise." (http://www.emerginguk.com/?p=1693).

I'd be interested to know what people think about this. Intuitively it seems to make sense to me, though I think that the biggest tester for choral peaks is the mics themselves. On the other hand, I suspect I'm going to be told that unless you're using valve/non-linear pres the audio signal will be captured identically by the preamp, regardless of level? So perhaps another way of saying what Rutter wrote is that when recording music with as large a dynamic range as choral music, you are made aware of any colouration or deficiencies in the preamp at the points where it gets suddenly loud?


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dmills



Joined: 25/08/06
Posts: 2358
Loc: High Wycombe, UK
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: mjfe2]
      #1011986 - 05/10/12 05:37 PM
Yea, a good test of the recording chains dynamic range (And in all probability the mics impedance converter will be where the problem most likely manifests) but not much more then that.

Regards, Dan.

--------------------
Audiophiles use phono leads because they are unbalanced people!


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
SOS Technical Editor


Joined: 25/07/03
Posts: 21592
Loc: Worcestershire
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Joris de Baat]
      #1011998 - 05/10/12 06:31 PM
Quote Joris de Baat:

... (bit by bit, and without dithering or requantization of words and paragraphs to save time - so to speak).






Quote:

However, all this somehow doesn’t answer my initial question, why SOS didn’t offer the 24 bit master material for download.




To be honest, I don't know. Sam prepared the files. I presume it was to minimise the download file size. It's nearly 250MB as it is. 24 bits files would have made it 30% bigger still. And as I said earlier, there would be o significant benefit. The room and mic ambient noise floor was the dominant factor and could be contained within the 16 bit dynamic range.

Quote:

don’t we all love to be and stay as close to the source(-material) as possible…?




To my mind, the ideal is to capture sound as cleanly and accurately as possible, and 24 bit converters aid that process by enabling a sensible headroom margin without compromising the signal-noise ratio. However, there are precious few monitoring systems or listening rooms that can cope with the potential dynamic range of a 24 bit system. Many semi-pro monitors and listening rooms struggle with 16 bit dynamics! So for consumer auditioning, optimising the material levels and dynamics to suit the medium is sensible, and that's what professionals have been doing for a century of recorded music. That's why we've always recorded on high quality tape machines with wide fast tape, but released on cassettes and vinyl! in this case, Sam didn't apply any dynamic processing, but did optimise the signal levels.

Sam took great care to level match the separate recordings and remove the now redundant headroom margin, and the 16 bit format was perfectly able to handle the result. It also makes it easy for people to burn the files to CD did they wanted to item that way, of course.

H

--------------------
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


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Joris de Baat



Joined: 04/10/12
Posts: 4
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #1012014 - 05/10/12 07:47 PM
Dear Hugh,

One more afterthought and then I'll shut up - at least as long as I haven't read your article.
While washing the dishes just now, it occurred to me that my analogy of a picture-image might be valid after all. In the sense that one can compare the dynamic range of my (the average reader's) audiogear and monitoring room to the 2 x 3 inch screen I was talking about.

Have a good weekend,
Joris


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Bob Bickerton
active member


Joined: 20/12/02
Posts: 3073
Loc: Nelson, New Zealand
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Joris de Baat]
      #1012019 - 05/10/12 08:11 PM
Beware random thought!

If looking for a visual analogy to bit length (and I'm not saying I am) wouldn't it be better to compare it to contrast rather than resolution?

So you might say a 24 bit file is equivalent to a visual image some of which is blacker than you can see on almost all screens, so it's better to have a contrast which matches that which can be seen on most screens........

Running for cover as he types..........................

Bob

--------------------
www.bickerton.co.nz


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dmills



Joined: 25/08/06
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Loc: High Wycombe, UK
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Joris de Baat]
      #1012020 - 05/10/12 08:20 PM
With video, adding more points per radian of subtended angle does increase the resolution because video is traditionally run through an optical filter to remove high spatial frequencies before it hits the sensor to prevent spatial aliasing, ever seen a tweed coat on a old style pal telly shot with a cheap consumer camera....

The nearest analogy that works is saying that for any video standard as you get closer to the screen the effective sample rate drops (and indeed the spatial sampling frequency does fall as you get closer to the screen), eventually reaching the point where the lowpass filter to meet the sampling criteria becomes visually problematic.
HOWEVER, for any given resolution there is a distance beyond which an increase in resolution will not be noticed, because the eye cannot resolve the increased detail, this is equivalent to saying that the eye cannot resolve more then so many lines per radian, much as we say the human ear cannot resolve anything above ~20K (I should be so lucky!).

The video argument is actually one for NOT sampling faster the sampling theory says you need to, but that is not obvious and you usually get the simplistic 'more dots is better....'

Regards, Dan.

--------------------
Audiophiles use phono leads because they are unbalanced people!


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Ramirez



Joined: 24/10/06
Posts: 484
Loc: Llithfaen, Cymru
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #1012038 - 05/10/12 10:03 PM
Right, that's it. My DAV BG1u is going. I could get a whole new interface for what it's worth!

Very interesting reading it was. I've been slowly accepting that the DAV is overkill for my needs and the rest of my equipment.

--------------------
Bill Withers while Tom Waits, and Stan Getz


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Fran Guidry



Joined: 23/04/10
Posts: 73
Loc: Walnut Creek, CA, USA
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: PianoPerson]
      #1012044 - 05/10/12 11:00 PM
Quote PianoPerson:

...

It seems overwhelmingly clear that the microphones make a much bigger difference. I really liked the Sennheisers: lovely presence, realism and depth. The Brauners are slightly more rounded (compare the second note of the recording [a D]). My sense is that the Sennheiser is probably truer to the actual sound of the Yamaha grand but the Brauners have a slightly more pleasant sound. Given the purely hypothetical choice I would probably buy the Brauners...

...




What's overwhelmingly clear is that mic position and mic pattern make a substantial difference in the sound that is captured.

From the information accompanying the download:

Quote:

The microphones used were a pair of Brauner valve large-diaphragm capacitor mics in cardioid mode, a pair of Sennheiser MKH20 small-diaphragm omni capacitor mics, and a single Royer SF12 stereo ribbon microphone. The Brauners and the Sennheisers were positioned as spaced pairs approximately 18 inches above the soundboard, while the Royer was placed over the keyboard, just above head height.




The Brauners and Sennheisers were placed in a similar location, but that location is inside the range of proximity effect, which alters the tonal balance of a cardioid like the Brauner but does not impact the Sennheiser omni. The Royer (presumably configured in Blumlein) is in a different location. The difference in patterns (cardioid, omni, figure 8) all result in different degrees and kinds of room interaction as well.

So is your real preference for the Brauner and the magic that invariably accompanies a $5000 price tag, or is it a matter of the cardioid frequency balance matching your taste? If the latter you might acquire your preferred sound with a bit of change left over.

Fran

--------------------
E ho`okani pila kakou ma Kaleponi
www.kaleponi.com & www.homebrewedmusic.com


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Glenn Bucci
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #1012055 - 06/10/12 03:39 AM
I wish they did the test with a female and male vocalist. I have a feeling hearing pres with lundal transformers and transformer-less pre's for this example would bring something different to the table compared to a piano


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didier.brest



Joined: 07/03/10
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #1012077 - 06/10/12 09:36 AM
I whish more people report about what their hear from these 24 takes (or at least from 8 takes recorded with the same mic, in this case I would suggest to select the Royer) rather than what they think about the test or the preamps in general.


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ef37a



Joined: 29/05/06
Posts: 6709
Loc: northampton uk
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Glenn Bucci]
      #1012082 - 06/10/12 10:35 AM
Quote Glenn Bucci:

I wish they did the test with a female and male vocalist. I have a feeling hearing pres with lundal transformers and transformer-less pre's for this example would bring something different to the table compared to a piano




I would guess the best source to show the differences (if indeed they are present) would be a pink noise radiator? But boooorING!

Re the R word. I have come to visualize 24 bit as 30ips tape, all that gets improved there is the noise level (yes, the HF goes potentially higher but only for bats, 15ips is more than good for 30kHz).

Dave.


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Henry Olonga



Joined: 06/10/12
Posts: 10
Loc: South West England
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #1012097 - 06/10/12 12:30 PM
Thanks for doing this test guys. I can judge here that there are differences but they are subtle.

Best wishes

H

--------------------
www.nebulapresets.com


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Glenn Bucci
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: ef37a]
      #1012102 - 06/10/12 12:48 PM
Quote ef37a:

Quote Glenn Bucci:

I wish they did the test with a female and male vocalist. I have a feeling hearing pres with lundal transformers and transformer-less pre's for this example would bring something different to the table compared to a piano




I would guess the best source to show the differences (if indeed they are present) would be a pink noise radiator? But boooorING!

Re the R word. I have come to visualize 24 bit as 30ips tape, all that gets improved there is the noise level (yes, the HF goes potentially higher but only for bats, 15ips is more than good for 30kHz).

Dave.




In my experience I could clearly hear differences more own voice through different pre's than the test done here. Dale Pro Audio Guitar Center Pro, and B& H in NYC allow you to switch between different mic's and pre's in their store. Granted the differences in many set ups can sound similar. But I tried a Manley pre, DW Fearn pre and the ttwo LaChapel pre's .....(one transforrmerless and one with a transformer). They each have their own character. Granted the differences are 15 percent or less from each other but they clearly sounded different. I would think SSL, Mackie and A&H pres may sound a lot closer than the tube pre's tests I have done.


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Guy Johnson



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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #1012118 - 06/10/12 02:48 PM
Verree Interesting. I'd got as far as preferring the 4th one on the first set, then stated to worry about level differences. So I took some screenshots, that show level differences and LR differences as well. Although I moved them pretty close in Logic, I know the tracks are not time-aligned, which will affect the meters, and the relative L/R levels will look a bit different on the meters with the different overall levels on different tracks ... here are the pics, of the same bit of the music on all tracks:


Brauner:
.

MKH:


Royer:


I'd imagine the ART box would change the Mackie's sound somewhat, though only subtly. I'm going to have another listen after tweaking the levels and LR in Logic and see if that makes any difference. Oddly, some of my more spacious and 'nice' choices are with slightly lower levels.

Off to play now!

--------------------
Facebok Page for acoustic music PA-ing in smaller venues


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PianoPerson



Joined: 18/04/09
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Fran Guidry]
      #1012150 - 06/10/12 09:30 PM
Quote Fran Guidry:


So is your real preference for the Brauner and the magic that invariably accompanies a $5000 price tag, or is it a matter of the cardioid frequency balance matching your taste? If the latter you might acquire your preferred sound with a bit of change left over.




Good points, Fran; thanks. My preference for the Brauners probably also has to do with the fact that they're cardioids and the related proximity effect. For relatively small rooms like the Realpiano studio, I guess I like to have as little room sound as possible, and I like a generous helping of low-mid in piano solo recordings. Any purchase of the Brauners (or something in that price range) is purely hypothetical, by the way. I don't have that kind of cash flying around, and if I did, I couldn't justify spending that much on microphones. I sadly must make do with a set of Josephson C42s (which are cardiods) and the Audient Mico. With a good instrument in a good room, that can sound very nice indeed.

Edited by PianoPerson (06/10/12 09:31 PM)


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Fran Guidry



Joined: 23/04/10
Posts: 73
Loc: Walnut Creek, CA, USA
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Glenn Bucci]
      #1012153 - 06/10/12 09:51 PM
Quote Glenn Bucci:

...

In my experience I could clearly hear differences more own voice through different pre's than the test done here. Dale Pro Audio Guitar Center Pro, and B& H in NYC allow you to switch between different mic's and pre's in their store. Granted the differences in many set ups can sound similar. But I tried a Manley pre, DW Fearn pre and the ttwo LaChapel pre's .....(one transforrmerless and one with a transformer). They each have their own character. Granted the differences are 15 percent or less from each other but they clearly sounded different. I would think SSL, Mackie and A&H pres may sound a lot closer than the tube pre's tests I have done.




Did you by any chance match the gains on those units to under .1 dB? The way our brain-ear combination works, small level differences are not recognized as changes in volume but as differences in quality.

Not to mention the impact of labels and the differences in performance.

After all, if we read the specs on these units, the FR, noise, THD are all well within the tested limits of transparency to the human auditory system. On that basis alone, if one of these preamp has a "sound", it's broken.

Fran

--------------------
E ho`okani pila kakou ma Kaleponi
www.kaleponi.com & www.homebrewedmusic.com


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Exalted Wombat



Joined: 06/02/10
Posts: 5661
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Fran Guidry]
      #1012159 - 06/10/12 11:50 PM
Quote Fran Guidry:

Did you by any chance match the gains on those units to under .1 dB? The way our brain-ear combination works, small level differences are not recognized as changes in volume but as differences in quality.





Tests are usually designed to look for differences. I'd suggest rather that the aim should be to make setups sound the SAME by playing with levels, simple eq etc. When two units CAN'T be made to sound the same, then there's a real difference!


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DC-Choppah



Joined: 20/07/12
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #1012170 - 07/10/12 02:29 AM
Thanks SoS. My subscription just paid for itself! This is fantastic to be able to listen to all these pre-amps.

I am comfortable now spending my hard earned cash on other things than pre-amps. I am content to know that my Mackie VLZ's, which always sounded great to me, are actually identical to the other more expensive models.

And great that you didn't id them and kept them scrambled across the takes to takeout the psychological bias.


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didier.brest



Joined: 07/03/10
Posts: 10
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: didier.brest]
      #1012173 - 07/10/12 05:53 AM
Quote didier.brest:

I would not bet that that I could discriminate consistently between them in an ABX test.




Well now I might... Provided that the number of runs is not too large. I got 5 out 5 on Foobar ABX performed on the 5 first seconds of Royer_B and Royer_C, respectively my less preferred and most preferred Royer takes. But I needed much more time at the 5th trial than at the first one for making my choice based on the lows being better focused on C. Then I started to write this post. And I got back to the test and succeeded easily a 6 th trial. But no way that I could succeed 10 trials in a row because of the listening tiredness. According Foobar, probability achieving 6 out of 6 just by randomness equals 1.6%, which means that the probability that I really hear something different between B and C is larger than 98%.

PS I Just got a seventh success! 7 out of 7!


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
SOS Technical Editor


Joined: 25/07/03
Posts: 21592
Loc: Worcestershire
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: DC-Choppah]
      #1012187 - 07/10/12 10:28 AM
Quote DC-Choppah:

I am content to know that my Mackie VLZ's, which always sounded great to me, are actually identical to the other more expensive models.




I wouldn't go as far as saying they are identical, but they are certainly extremely competent designs -- and far better than many of the console preamps used for so many hit records of the 60s, 70s and 80s! But the point is that a Mackie VLZ preamp certainly isn't going to be the weak link in a recording chain. In 99% of cases the weak link is far more likely to be one of more of the following:

* the music
* the performance
* the recording environment acoustics
* the mic placement
* the mix



hugh

--------------------
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


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Guy Johnson



Joined: 02/05/03
Posts: 4339
Loc: North Pembrokeshire
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #1012399 - 08/10/12 03:18 PM
Phew! I think I've had enough piano!

So, my thoughts. I decided I'd not fiddle with levels in the end and keep the test as everyone has done it. And each piano rendition probably explains most the differences I saw, rather than pre-amp gain settings. So ...

The pre-amps were all pretty similar I thought, except on the ribbons.

Brauner: I changed my mind on further listening
Best... 2,7,8

MKH
Best... 8, and least liked 1,3,4,5

Royer
Best... 7,8 disliked 1,5 ...
2 I liked though it was a bit more different: kind of smokey, richer. Valve?
Noise: going from 1 to 8, 4 a bit noisier, 6,7 more still and 8 had a spiky buzz on the LH channel, which became more apparent with a touch of signal, ie modulated by the signal a bit.
I found that noise was not the factor for me when choosing these faves, but in a different circumstance in an acoustic with the mic further away, it would become very important and would therefore make me go to number 2 or 8, and 8s spiky buzz may have been a local phenomenon and there were long lines I believe.

Er ... I await the results with pre-reddedned cheeks, I'm sure!

--------------------
Facebok Page for acoustic music PA-ing in smaller venues


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