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YT vid 'explains' why analog emulations don't sound as good as they should? Any truth in this?

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Re: YT vid 'explains' why analog emulations don't sound as good as they should? Any truth in this?

Postby Elephone » Mon Jul 01, 2019 1:03 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote: I don't think anyone ever claimed they were, did they?

H

I only meant that, obviously the technically clued-up guys are making the emulations, but the ideal Man from Del Monte may well be some nerd who's played with synths in his bedroom all his life. Similarly, George Lucas' team knew more than the obsessive Star Wars freaks, but they probably really would know what a truly great new Star Wars film would be like because they're completely obsessed by it, including things that were probably not all that intentional.
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Re: YT vid 'explains' why analog emulations don't sound as good as they should? Any truth in this?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Jul 01, 2019 1:06 pm

Elephone wrote:I only meant that, obviously the technically clued-up guys are making the emulations, but the ideal Man from Del Monte may well be some nerd who's played with synths in his bedroom all his life.

That's probably why every plugin manufacturer I've ever had dealings with has always employed working, experienced, musicians /engineers/ enthusiasts to serves as alpha and beta testers...

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Re: YT vid 'explains' why analog emulations don't sound as good as they should? Any truth in this?

Postby desmond » Mon Jul 01, 2019 1:06 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:I'm with you on the importance of objectivity over subjectivity... but what I'm trying to highlight is the extreme practical difficulty in the 'purely scientific' approach you're espousing.

Indeed, and this what what I was pointing out earlier.

People *do* do all kinds of testing, particularly online - hang around forums enough and you'll see it time and time again. With the variable quality of tests (doing good tests to get meaningful data from them is often harder than you'd think), different interpretations of results, people pointing out various flaws and assumptions, different people's ideas of what the things should sound like, people's differing levels of experience and tastes, the times where the data differs with people's expectations so they write off the results... I've seen it time and time again.

Not just in audio - photography is a good example where people are buying expensive cameras and lenses and spending all their time doing battery focus tests and bokeh tests and all kinds of things. They're generally referred to as "measurebaters".

Now, I'm all in favour of people exploring their gear, running tests to get a better idea of what is going on, and they can be useful to help support your impressions of a given plugin, but contrary to what you might think (and again, I've been online for getting on thirty years and I've experienced this many many many times), even invoking Science - it's very very hard to bring out objective results that the general concensus will agree with. There appears to be an expectation that Random Forum User A publishes a few graphs and then the world goes "Huzzah!". Actually, what tends to happen is a few people go "Hmm, interesting", a few people go "Confirms what I thought" or "Hmm, I was wrong about that" but the vast majority start to pull the tests and data apart to invalidate whatever results you were trying to present.

Seriously - it's not as easy as you'd like to paint it to be...
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Re: YT vid 'explains' why analog emulations don't sound as good as they should? Any truth in this?

Postby Elephone » Mon Jul 01, 2019 1:16 pm

Okay, fair enough, I didn't realise it was being done. I though alpha beta testers were just about checking the stability of the software (bugs, etc).
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Re: YT vid 'explains' why analog emulations don't sound as good as they should? Any truth in this?

Postby CS70 » Mon Jul 01, 2019 1:23 pm

desmond wrote:People *do* do all kinds of testing, particularly online - hang around forums enough and you'll see it time and time again. With the variable quality of tests (doing good tests to get meaningful data from them is often harder than you'd think),

Spot on. Setting up meaningful experiments in anything even vaguely complex is very hard. 95% of good science is aimed exactly at isolating what you want to test to make sure that what you're seeing what you think you're seeing. Most people/bloggers/website runners don't have even remotely the theoretical skills ("...this is not a scientific test, but..."); and even having them, it's costly and very time consuming, as very often in order to have full control of the testing chain you need to build and test your own equipment (lest not being measuring a property of the equipment rather than the phenomenon). Even then it's so easy to go wrong that many results, even published by reputable institutions, turn out to be questionable or don't really clarify much.

That's not to say that it can't be done, just the the skills and resources necessary are far from trivial, and probably simply too costly for an "entertainment" field like music-related audio. Now if we were talking acoustic properties of submarine sensor off the US coast , then probably there would be a budget big enough...
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Re: YT vid 'explains' why analog emulations don't sound as good as they should? Any truth in this?

Postby Martin Walker » Mon Jul 01, 2019 3:57 pm

Elephone wrote:But can't demonstrations prove no difference between the actual modeled hardware unit (used to make the VST) and its emulation, at say... an audio tech trade fair, for instance?

Ah, the stumbling block with this approach is that in order to place the name of the hardware on the software you have to get permission from the hardware company, and for them to sign off on this software product it has to be close enough to merit the 'official' name. However, if the hardware truly can't be discerned from software then it could well kill further hardware sales, so both parties have to be careful about what they say.

Elephone wrote:I think if software companies really believed they'd 'nailed it' (e.g. Slate VTM) they'd be 100% transparent and demonstrate the exactitude of their plugins at live events.

Then they wouldn't be able to officially use the licensed 'famous names' on their products, and would probably also instead end up defending law suits :headbang:

Various boutique hardware rack units selling at several thousand pounds are getting software versions at the most for several hundred pounds, and in these days of frequent sales the software can drop significantly lower.

For instance, I yesterday bought a plug-in for $29 in a flash sale that supposedly 'retails' for $249, and whose hardware remains around the £2500 mark in the UK. It sounds excellent to my ears (the software that is) ;)


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Re: YT vid 'explains' why analog emulations don't sound as good as they should? Any truth in this?

Postby blinddrew » Mon Jul 01, 2019 4:40 pm

"Marketing - ruining science since before the wheel*."


* Statements above might not strictly true.
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Re: YT vid 'explains' why analog emulations don't sound as good as they should? Any truth in this?

Postby James Perrett » Mon Jul 01, 2019 5:06 pm

Elephone wrote:True, but if you're a massive fan of recordings that used a certain collection of gear, it wouldn't be a bad idea to acquire the well-emulated plugin equivalents if you'd like to try to approach some of those characteristics, surely?

As we keep on saying here - the gear is just a very small part of a great recording. If you are talking about trying to emulate recordings made in the 60's and 70's then you first have to think like a producer of that time and hire players that play in the right style. If you then put them into the right sort of acoustic space with appropriate instruments you'll end up with a recording that sounds like the recordings you want to emulate.

I've had a few early 4 track and 8 track tapes through my hands and I reckon I could get extremely close to the released mixes just using Reaper's standard plug-ins.
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Re: YT vid 'explains' why analog emulations don't sound as good as they should? Any truth in this?

Postby Elephone » Mon Jul 01, 2019 5:19 pm

Martin Walker wrote:...if the hardware truly can't be discerned from software then it could well kill further hardware sales, so both parties have to be careful about what they say.

I'd never even thought about that!
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Re: YT vid 'explains' why analog emulations don't sound as good as they should? Any truth in this?

Postby Elephone » Mon Jul 01, 2019 5:29 pm

James Perrett wrote:As we keep on saying here - the gear is just a very small part of a great recording. If you are talking about trying to emulate recordings made in the 60's and 70's then you first have to think like a producer of that time and hire players that play in the right style.

I know people keep saying that, but surely that depends. I've mentioned Spaghetti Western music and 60's Reggae/70's Dub and the recordings of Joe Meek, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop: I do strongly believe that the gear (and recording approach, limitations, etc) played a pretty large part in the sound of those recordings. At the same time, I'm not sure many audio enthusiasts actually like this music or if they'd think it would sound better recorded 'properly', even maybe those who were involved in making those recordings. I didn't know Mad Professor hated "boingy" spring reverbs, maybe because he was limited to them in the early days, but then I'm not keen on his brand of dub.

When someone who was involved in the BBC Radiophonic Workshop recordings claims that anyone can now have all that gear in a laptop, I think they're sort of right, technically, but realistically, the music created wouldn't sound nearly the same with plugins. And my opinion appears to be confirmed by things like the Beach Boys/Brian Wilson's more recent attempts at re-recording their music.
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Re: YT vid 'explains' why analog emulations don't sound as good as they should? Any truth in this?

Postby CS70 » Mon Jul 01, 2019 5:42 pm

Elephone wrote:I've mentioned Spaghetti Western music and 60's Reggae/70's Dub and the recordings of Joe Meek, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop: I do strongly believe that the gear (and recording approach, limitations, etc) played a pretty large part in the sound of those recordings.

Of course the gear can and does suggest music. Heck, I'm a guitarist, and my music is made very often by thinking guitar.

But music is not sound and even less timbre. At least not very often. A few months back I went to Morricone's gig, and he did some of the spaghetti western with quite different instruments (the Good Bad and Ugly stuff for example is a patchwork of voices in the original). Guess what? It sounded like Morricone.

I've had myself the occasional music or riff suggested by a specific combo of gear.. but then the arrangement takes over and very often the final version is done with a different guitar, different pedals, different sounds and it's just as well. Sound and timbres are a part of music, but a tiny part.

Get the Bee Gees playing with modern gear, they'll sound like the Bee Gees. Most acts have varied enormously their gear over the years (or even never used the gears that was marketed as "theirs") and nobody is the wiser.
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Re: YT vid 'explains' why analog emulations don't sound as good as they should? Any truth in this?

Postby Elephone » Mon Jul 01, 2019 5:49 pm

CS70 wrote:But music is not sound and even less timbre. At least not very often. A few months back I went to Morricone's gig, and he did some of the spaghetti western with quite different instruments (the Good Bad and Ugly stuff for example is a patchwork of voices in the original). Guess what? It sounded like Morricone.

You see in all honesty, I don't think I'd be of the same opinion, except that I might enjoy the concert for its live aspect. But I wouldn't think a recording of the live gig and the actual film music are interchangeable, where I wouldn't mind which one was in the CD player or used in the film, for instance.

I think you've nailed where the great gulf lies between people of different mindsets. It's not that either are absolutely right, they're just fundamentally different ways of thinking. I absolutely don't separate the music from the sound (?) or timbre at all. Even with classical music which is basically data and an unbroken chain of performance tradition... there are recordings of the same score where one will give me goose pimples and another not really affect me that much. I love period recordings, I think you can hear more 'struggle' that gives it soul, because the instruments are more limited and imperfect... and probably the tuning is less stable and timbres less consistent. Then there's acoustics. Bach's B minor Mass recorded in a cathedral vs a church, etc. I don't separate these elements.
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Re: YT vid 'explains' why analog emulations don't sound as good as they should? Any truth in this?

Postby Elephone » Mon Jul 01, 2019 6:20 pm

Here's something more relevant to the OP. I didn't know you could actually get Reaper to use a higher ('project') sample rate to process all the VSTs but still render in 44.1kHz as normal:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPHUPVER680

So, there no need to use oversampling in the actual plugin then? Which is better? Do I need to set my Audio Interface to 192kHz? Wouldn't 96kHz be adequate?

Thanks
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Re: YT vid 'explains' why analog emulations don't sound as good as they should? Any truth in this?

Postby desmond » Mon Jul 01, 2019 6:29 pm

Elephone wrote:Here's something more relevant to the OP. I didn't know you could actually get Reaper to use a higher ('project') sample rate to process all the VSTs but still render in 44.1kHz as normal:

Well, any DAW should be able to render in whatever sample rate you want, regardless of the project sample rate.
Or do you mean your project rate is 44.1, but Reaper processes plugins at 96?

Elephone wrote:So, there no need to use oversampling in the actual plugin then? Which is better? Do I need to set my Audio Interface to 192kHz? Wouldn't 96kHz be adequate?

Plugins that require oversampling will oversample, even if you're running at 44.1 - if you run your DAW at 96, it just means some plugins won't need to oversample, but you'll also be oversampling *everything* - including things that don't need oversampling, which seems wasteful of CPU.

So I think it's generally better to use individual plugins' own oversampling options, rather than running everything at 96, unless there is a particular reason to do so...
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Re: YT vid 'explains' why analog emulations don't sound as good as they should? Any truth in this?

Postby Elephone » Mon Jul 01, 2019 6:38 pm

desmond wrote:Well, any DAW should be able to render in whatever sample rate you want, regardless of the project sample rate.

I know, but I thought he was suggesting a way to not have to worry whether a plugin has oversampling options or not or what your rendering sample rate is. That Decapitator plugin, for instance, apparently doesn't have oversampling, so you have to tamper with the sample rate in the DAW. It'd be good just to have a way not to think about it at all.

desmond wrote:Or do you mean your project rate is 44.1, but Reaper processes plugins at 96?

Yes.

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Re: YT vid 'explains' why analog emulations don't sound as good as they should? Any truth in this?

Postby CS70 » Mon Jul 01, 2019 7:16 pm

Elephone wrote:I absolutely don't separate the music from the sound (?) or timbre at all.

Fair enough! I never claimed golden ears, and may very well be that you're physiologically able to perceive something that I don't. :-)

For one, I always found all the discussions about different distortions with the guitar (or even clean sounds), for example, excruciatingly boring. To me it makes zero difference, give me a few seconds to adapt and some knobs to turn and I make mostly anything sound the way I sound. But to each their own! And if you happen to get a genuine Fairchild sometimes just let me know and I'll be more than happy to "test" it again and again! :D
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Re: YT vid 'explains' why analog emulations don't sound as good as they should? Any truth in this?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Mon Jul 01, 2019 9:30 pm

Elephone wrote:Even with classical music which is basically data and an unbroken chain of performance tradition... there are recordings of the same score where one will give me goose pimples and another not really affect me that much. I love period recordings, I think you can hear more 'struggle' that gives it soul, because the instruments are more limited and imperfect... and probably the tuning is less stable and timbres less consistent. Then there's acoustics. Bach's B minor Mass recorded in a cathedral vs a church, etc. I don't separate these elements.

There will, of course, be potentially huge differences between interpretations of the same (classical) work, thus a listener may have a preference of one interpretation over another, probably regardless of recording quality or acoustics. This underlines the importance of the MUSIC as opposed to the sound and, I believe, the PERFORMANCE which so often in modern music appears to come second place to the requirement for perfect technical production.

I’d also suggest the hardware versus emulated plugin difference has such a minor impact on the outcome relative to how the engineer uses the equipment and their ability to know what problems or enhancements they wish to address and how to use the equipment to do so. In a way this is the engineer’s equivalent of a performance.

One of my favourite albums was tracked in around 3 hours and mixed the next day. The artists came in and performed well, really nailed it, and I used familiar (and yes hardware emulated plug-ins) to take the mix where I felt it should be. It flowed well, and because I didn’t get bogged down in endless plug-in searching and tweaking I remained fresh and creative.

I’d doubt I’d take on a client these days who wanted to pick the recording to bits.

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Re: YT vid 'explains' why analog emulations don't sound as good as they should? Any truth in this?

Postby Elephone » Thu Jul 04, 2019 4:36 pm

Bob Bickerton wrote:There will, of course, be potentially huge differences between interpretations of the same (classical) work, thus a listener may have a preference of one interpretation over another, probably regardless of recording quality or acoustics. This underlines the importance of the MUSIC as opposed to the sound and, I believe, the PERFORMANCE which so often in modern music appears to come second place to the requirement for perfect technical production.

I suspect we can all appreciate crappy General MIDI renditions of some baroque/classical/romantic music far better than later C19th & C20th music, which began to explore orchestral instrument colour combinations often as the point of the music.

Much earlier music, such as organum and renaissance music (such as Allegri's Miserere) is also heavily reliant on reverb and performance practice that it really sounds like unfinished music without that (e.g. as MIDI).

Similarly, soundscape or 'ambient music' (as Brian Eno calls it) is extremely reliant on effects, in some cases they (e.g. Tangerine Dream) even cite specific digital reverb units. And so not all recorded music is necessarily 'performed' in that sense either. It's all music, just as Pollock, Picasso and Raphael all created art, it's just about exploring different aspects of it.

I know where people are coming from when they talk about performance, especially when you hear live acts sounding like 50's & 60's acts, but let's not forget they are playing instruments and through amps that are likely to be of the period anyway, or enough of it is. I don't think Randy Hanson would be that convincingly Hendrix-like without using the same gear.

Bob Bickerton wrote:One of my favourite albums was tracked in around 3 hours and mixed the next day. The artists came in and performed well, really nailed it, and I used familiar (and yes hardware emulated plug-ins) to take the mix where I felt it should be. It flowed well, and because I didn’t get bogged down in endless plug-in searching and tweaking I remained fresh and creative.

I remember reading a quote by Albrecht Dürer, where he said a quick sketch can often have more charm about it than a painting he's worked on for years. So I suppose this is true in all the arts.

Cheers.
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Re: YT vid 'explains' why analog emulations don't sound as good as they should? Any truth in this?

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Jul 04, 2019 6:04 pm

Beautifully written Elephone, and I agreed with every word you said :clap:

Inspired spontaneity can result in artistic work (of whatever type) that can move people to tears, as can the most perfectly recorded, mixed & mastered work that ended up taking months or even years.

Magic can occur in many forms.


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Re: YT vid 'explains' why analog emulations don't sound as good as they should? Any truth in this?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Thu Jul 04, 2019 6:05 pm

Elephone wrote:I remember reading a quote by Albrecht Dürer, where he said a quick sketch can often have more charm about it than a painting he's worked on for years. So I suppose this is true in all the arts.

It certainly is in music - I've heard/done a number of quick demos or prototypes that had something about them that was missing when the piece was redone 'properly' and in some cases I've kept and used the demo rather than the rework.

I've also seen references to this kind of thing many times over the years with regards to some well known artists and tracks.

Liked the comment about sound, by the way. Some of my stuff is as much about the sound (including FX) as about the notes or performance.
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