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Software FX and Hardware Character

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Software FX and Hardware Character

Postby ITHertz » Wed May 08, 2019 3:54 am

Hi Folks,

Had the chance to watch a couple of Al Schmitt videos recently. During tracking he uses a couple of classic compressors (Summit TLA-100A, Fairchild 670) as tone shapers by running the signal through them without them actually compressing (or maybe compressing a very small amount). I know this is done for "warmth" etc. but I was wondering how plug-ins fare in this regard i.e putting a 670 plug-in in the signal chain but not compressing with it.

I'm interested in hearing people's experiences with this - are there plug-ins that do this better than others?

Cheers,

Chris
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Re: Software FX and Hardware Character

Postby Guest » Wed May 08, 2019 8:56 am

I think hardware definitely has a different sound compared to only using plug-ins. However the people who really know what they talking about disagree.
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Re: Software FX and Hardware Character

Postby ITHertz » Wed May 08, 2019 10:09 am

Also EQs that are set "flat" but change the tone?
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Re: Software FX and Hardware Character

Postby Martin Walker » Wed May 08, 2019 5:44 pm

ITHertz wrote:Also EQs that are set "flat" but change the tone?

One of the classics that does that is the Maag EQ4, which is available in both hardware and software plug-in versions. Its six EQ bands are in parallel rather than the more usual series arrangement, and the default frequency response with all controls at their 'zero' settings is a series of small ripples:

Hang on - I'll take a screenshot from my plug-in version. Here you go!

maag-eq4.jpg


Tone may also change on other units with a ruler-flat response, due to harmonic additions. A strong 2nd harmonic for instance will result in a warmer bass end.


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Re: Software FX and Hardware Character

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed May 08, 2019 10:48 pm

Surely any analogue device will change the tone of any signal passed through it?
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Re: Software FX and Hardware Character

Postby James Perrett » Wed May 08, 2019 11:52 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:Surely any analogue device will change the tone of any signal passed through it?

A decent analogue device will only change the tone in the way that you want it to. When you look at how much electronics the average studio recording passed through back in the analogue days you'd realise that, if the tone was being changed by every device you'd end up with something almost unrecognisable from the original sound.

I seem to remember reading an advert for the Quad 303 amplifier where they chained something like 60 of them together (with appropriate attenuation between) and claimed that the output sounded exactly like the input with only a little more noise added.
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Re: Software FX and Hardware Character

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu May 09, 2019 9:38 am

Yes, I wasn't thinking the change would be large, or even noticeable (the 'transparent' adjective springs to mind) but, with a digital system it's relatively easy to pass the numbers through unchanged, analogue OTOH must have some effect even if it's inaudible in most circumstances. Being a guitarist I'm referring to devices without a 'hard/true bypass' in this context.

Is it possible to build an analogue compressor or eq that is completely 'transparent' with the controls set flat?

I hadn't heard of that Quad demo/ad :D always had a soft spot for Quad amps, which has reminded me I need to get my 522 repaired.....
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Re: Software FX and Hardware Character

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu May 09, 2019 9:54 am

Sam Spoons wrote:Is it possible to build an analogue compressor or eq that is completely 'transparent' with the controls set flat?

It depends what you mean by 'completely transparent'.

If you mean, an average human can't hear whether it is switched into circuit or not, then the answer is yes.

If you mean, introduces no measurable noise or distortion, then the answer is no.... but we've had tools that can measure stuff we can't actually hear for a very long time now. (And we seem still to lack adequate tools to measure things we think we can hear...).

I still think that a very significant factor frequently overlooked when comparing analogue and digital signal processing chains is the inevitable concatenation of high-pass filters in the analogue chain which results in a significant low-end phase shift) -- which is generally absent from the ITB chain.

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Re: Software FX and Hardware Character

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu May 09, 2019 9:56 am

That is more or less what I was thinking but probably worded badly, thanks Hugh and James :thumbup:
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Re: Software FX and Hardware Character

Postby OneWorld » Sun May 12, 2019 12:42 pm

I find myself going back to hardware for one reason, apart form the 'sound' of hardware, and that is, I can read the legends on the front panel. With the current flavour of the month of software having the gloomy black GUIs where one can hardly read the text/labels, I find it more and more difficult to actually read the text.
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Re: Software FX and Hardware Character

Postby Martin Walker » Mon May 13, 2019 12:51 am

OneWorld wrote:I find myself going back to hardware for one reason, apart form the 'sound' of hardware, and that is, I can read the legends on the front panel. With the current flavour of the month of software having the gloomy black GUIs where one can hardly read the text/labels, I find it more and more difficult to actually read the text.

Yep, I've auditioned some plug-in stinkers in that department just recently, one of which had EQ labeling so small that I literally had to use a magnifying glass against my monitor screen, and even then they were still so blurred that I had to open the PDF manual to familiarise myself with the various frequency settings :headbang:

Even though this one sounded good and was at a bargain sale price, I couldn't bring myself to buy it because of this frustration :beamup:


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Re: Software FX and Hardware Character

Postby miN2 » Mon May 13, 2019 1:34 pm

Martin Walker wrote:Yep, I've auditioned some plug-in stinkers in that department just recently, one of which had EQ labeling so small that I literally had to use a magnifying glass against my monitor screen, and even then they were still so blurred that I had to open the PDF manual to familiarise myself with the various frequency settings :headbang:

I have to wonder if that's passEQ? I tried that recently, squinted for a few seconds and deleted it.

I second the notion about scalable interfaces though. So many plugins are painful to look at and it's only going to get worse seeing as UHD isn't exactly new tech and it's just going to keep increasing. As soon as i can get the dpi of 5k at 15" on a 34" ultrawide at a somewhat sensible cost i'm there! Any software that i can't see won't get my vote.

I understand it takes more coding but when someone like this http://www.alexhilton.net/A1AUDIO/ can give true scalability on free stuff i don't think the bigger companies have much of a leg to stand on in regard to cheaping out on their interfaces.
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Re: Software FX and Hardware Character

Postby desmond » Mon May 13, 2019 2:00 pm

Implementing scalability is always a compromise, especially as the GUI on a modern plugin is a big part of the development effort of a plugin.

You can have a scalable vector interface, but you have to have a gui that's non-photorealistic (eg the Valhalla stuff). If you want a pixel perfect GUI, then you either have to provide the graphics at the highest res/size, and then scale down appropriately (which requires large graphics and a higher memory footprint for each instance in your DAW). Or you can provide normal size graphics for a low memory footprint, and then scale up, which looks fuzzy and terrible. Or you can provide various sizes of GUI graphics for each plugin size you want to support - this requires multiple copies of the graphic assets (so a larger plugin size and memory footprint) and the restricted choice of alternative sizes.

And this isn't yet going into how to handle resizing in all the various plugin hosts around, which can be tricky.

In any case, I think these days some choice of plugin sizes is almost a required feature now, and most modern plugins do support this. Older ones of course, are often left with really small interfaces if they aren't updated, which you have to live with..
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Re: Software FX and Hardware Character

Postby Martin Walker » Mon May 13, 2019 7:52 pm

miN2 wrote:
Martin Walker wrote:Yep, I've auditioned some plug-in stinkers in that department just recently, one of which had EQ labeling so small that I literally had to use a magnifying glass against my monitor screen, and even then they were still so blurred that I had to open the PDF manual to familiarise myself with the various frequency settings :headbang:

I have to wonder if that's passEQ? I tried that recently, squinted for a few seconds and deleted it.

Close, but no cigar. Mind you, I've seen that GUI and it would send me boss-eyed too ;)

Yes, it was another product from the Plugin Alliance stable, but the one in question was the BAXEQ:

Image

Even with this larger than life image the frequencies are tricky to read :headbang:


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Re: Software FX and Hardware Character

Postby Eddy Deegan » Mon May 13, 2019 8:23 pm

Ouch... and someone somewhere said, "Yep, QA passed. Ship it!" :o

The general consensus is that it sounds very good, but I agree that the visual design is really poor - even on their website, the marketing screenshot is hard to read and it's significantly scaled up from the screenshot above.
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Re: Software FX and Hardware Character

Postby blinddrew » Tue May 14, 2019 8:09 am

All capitals is always harder to read that sentence or title case as well. :(
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Re: Software FX and Hardware Character

Postby Zukan » Tue May 14, 2019 8:42 am

I bought iZotope's Stutter last year and have yet to use it simply because I can't read any of the legending.

It's not even scalable.
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Re: Software FX and Hardware Character

Postby Zukan » Tue May 14, 2019 8:43 am

With regards to achieving 'colour' in software form I tend to use pres.
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Re: Software FX and Hardware Character

Postby Martin Walker » Tue May 14, 2019 2:59 pm

Zukan wrote:With regards to achieving 'colour' in software form I tend to use pres.

What pres do you use Zuke?

I've recently fallen in love with Kazrog True Iron for adding colour - the GUI is huge on my screen ( abit too big actually, but a smaller one is promised in a future update) yet very easy to read. The difference is subtle (as it should be), but the combined extra transformer-like 'dimension' and 'depth' you get even just pasting in the default preset into each channel of a mix has amazed me. It's low CPU as well.

Image

https://kazrog.com/products/true-iron/

The demo version is frustrating because it fades out periodically, making it difficult to judge results on a multi-channel mix, but I bought it a few days ago and am well pleased with the full version thus far.

Here's a representative before/after audio demo (not quite level matched, but I think you can still clearly hear the improvement in separation):

https://www.pro-tools-expert.com/video- ... self-y5jrd


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Re: Software FX and Hardware Character

Postby Martin Walker » Tue May 14, 2019 3:04 pm

Oh, and if anyone likes to drool at vintage hardware components, take a look at this link ;)

https://kazrog.com/products/true-iron/t ... he-scenes/

If Sylvia Massy is excited by this technology, that's a very good start in my book :mrgreen:


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