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Analogue versus Digital - Radio 4

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

Re: Analogue versus Digital - Radio 4

Postby Kwackman » Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:29 am

But, to show some balance there was also the Austin Allegro... :D
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Re: Analogue versus Digital - Radio 4

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:43 am

:lol: :bouncy: :clap:
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Re: Analogue versus Digital - Radio 4

Postby Brian M Rose » Mon Jun 10, 2019 5:12 pm

A very interesting programme. One thing that changed (Or perhaps didn't change) when 'film' went 'digital' was the idea that you could do as many takes as you wanted, or just let the tape (as it was then) run.
It really didn't work. And yes, you could fix it in post, but post production became very, very expensive. Time was money - lots of money.
I feel that it also affected performance, badly. Everything became too sloppy.
Having said that, for audio editing would I go back to analogue tape? No way!
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Re: Analogue versus Digital - Radio 4

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:36 pm

Wow.. that was half an hour of my life I won't get back... perhaps I'm not the target audience! :ugeek: And I really could have done without all the data-reduction artefacts (auditioned on iPlayer).
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Re: Analogue versus Digital - Radio 4

Postby kingmoot » Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:14 pm

Brian M Rose wrote:One thing that changed (Or perhaps didn't change) when 'film' went 'digital' was the idea that you could do as many takes as you wanted, or just let the tape (as it was then) run.
It really didn't work. And yes, you could fix it in post, but post production became very, very expensive. Time was money - lots of money.

Yes that's a very good point and probably applies to all art forms. Too much choice can be utterly crippling, and in writing music in particular, the options we have now are potentially endless.

A couple of years ago, whilst writing demos for an album project, I limited myself to five pre-selected sounds:
- A lead synth sound
- A single bass sound
- A single hi-hat sound
- A single kick drum sound
- A bit of white noise

....and knocked out 30 demos in 30 days. It was immensely productive and I put that down entirely to working with a limited palette of sounds, and putting myself in the starting position of a blank page with a set of sounds that were 'okay' enough to write with.
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Re: Analogue versus Digital - Radio 4

Postby Ariosto » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:44 pm

I thought the programme a huge waste of time and was utter rubbish. It was all pointless, the only useful comment was for about 10 seconds which said that having paper and pen along with any equipment digital or analogue "was useful."

This is the sort of messing around in the rubble to try and fill out time and make a programme which the BBC seems happy to waste money, time and recourses on, which makes me wonder why the government allows the licence fee to increase so frequently. What is happening to quality programmes on the radio?
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Re: Analogue versus Digital - Radio 4

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:50 pm

Yep... Glad it wasn't just me that thought it was rather poor. :cry:
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Re: Analogue versus Digital - Radio 4

Postby Arpangel » Wed Jun 12, 2019 8:14 am

Ariosto wrote:I thought the programme a huge waste of time and was utter rubbish. It was all pointless, the only useful comment was for about 10 seconds which said that having paper and pen along with any equipment digital or analogue "was useful."

This is the sort of messing around in the rubble to try and fill out time and make a programme which the BBC seems happy to waste money, time and recourses on, which makes me wonder why the government allows the licence fee to increase so frequently. What is happening to quality programmes on the radio?

Yes, and can we do away with programs that pander to to the lowest common denominator, talk down, and patronise the listeners, with presenters that sound as though they're laughing at the same time as talking, like Tony Blackburn used to do.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=z2myFLUDB74

:bouncy:
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Re: Analogue versus Digital - Radio 4

Postby Terrible.dee » Sun Jun 16, 2019 3:13 am

Analog is a distinct flavor, it is entirely different from digital, the differences, to my ears are obvious. Thus, I record using tape and keep all signals analog until the last possible minute (Preferably, when making a digital reproduction of an all-analog mixdown)

If you can't hear the difference, I don't know what to tell you, the difference is important enough to me to be crucial. And to spend thousands of dollars on. Digitally recorded music does not sound good to me.

For the record: I've been signed to major labels twice, a major indie and many other indies. I've produced/engineered/mixed records for artist's releases on Epitaph, Network and other well-known labels. I've co/written with there same artists and MANY MANY more. I ditched the producing/engineering/mixing exactly BECAUSE I do not enjoy the sound or process of digital recording. I compose cues (ordered to spec from the production company) for most reality shows on SPIKE TV, DISCOVERY and others....all the "Real House Wives of.." and "Top Chef: "..." shows are me (And a crew of other guys, they probably use other companies as well, but our cue orders keep coming) This is the only place in my work where I record digitally, it's a speed game, so I have to,

So, decide for yourself whether I may know what I'm talking about or not.
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Re: Analogue versus Digital - Radio 4

Postby Ariosto » Sun Jun 16, 2019 7:59 am

Terrible.dee wrote:Analog is a distinct flavor, it is entirely different from digital, the differences, to my ears are obvious. Thus, I record using tape and keep all signals analog until the last possible minute (Preferably, when making a digital reproduction of an all-analog mixdown)

If you can't hear the difference, I don't know what to tell you, the difference is important enough to me to be crucial. And to spend thousands of dollars on. Digitally recorded music does not sound good to me.

For the record: I've been signed to major labels twice, a major indie and many other indies. I've produced/engineered/mixed records for artist's releases on Epitaph, Network and other well-known labels. I've co/written with there same artists and MANY MANY more. I ditched the producing/engineering/mixing exactly BECAUSE I do not enjoy the sound or process of digital recording. I compose cues (ordered to spec from the production company) for most reality shows on SPIKE TV, DISCOVERY and others....all the "Real House Wives of.." and "Top Chef: "..." shows are me (And a crew of other guys, they probably use other companies as well, but our cue orders keep coming) This is the only place in my work where I record digitally, it's a speed game, so I have to,

So, decide for yourself whether I may know what I'm talking about or not.

You are making a lot of assumptions. I can hear the difference, and I prefer the truth, honesty and the way digital reflects real life. I have loads of old analogue recordings, and although many of the performances are wonderful, the surface noise and sound often leave a lot to be desired. So please don't assume that we can't hear the difference.

Some of us were criticising more the whole ethos of the programme, and the ridiculous way it had been conceived and presented. Originally I expected it to be a much more professionally made piece of work, and was extremely disappointed when I heard the end result.
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Re: Analogue versus Digital - Radio 4

Postby DGL. » Sun Jun 16, 2019 10:07 am

I suppose all this talk about the merits of analogue are similar to why people like the preamps in Midas consoles, where they go into distortion slowly or something to that effect.

As for the BBC, the R&D archive is an excellent resource.
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Re: Analogue versus Digital - Radio 4

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Jun 16, 2019 10:08 am

Terrible.dee wrote:Analog is a distinct flavor, it is entirely different from digital, the differences, to my ears are obvious.... So, decide for yourself whether I may know what I'm talking about or not.

I don't think anyone is doubting what you say. You're talking about a personal opinion and personal preferences, and I'm sure you're in the very best place to know what those are! ;-)

To my ears, neither analogue nor digital are 'perfect' systems. They both have a variety of technical limitations and implementation flaws at the heart of their designs, and both can be made a lot worse through incorrect usage. They both have their own innate characters or qualities too, some extremely subtle and some rather less so.

Most of the time, I find digital to be the more accurate in terms of reproducing the sound I fed into it, but analogue often sounds more musically flattering. Both attributes have their places in different situations...
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Re: Analogue versus Digital - Radio 4

Postby Elephone » Mon Jun 17, 2019 3:30 pm

Do anyone really actually want tape and vinyl to become completely obsolete though? Isn't it good that people are still interested in this stuff and perhaps be a little in awe of it?

I think the high-end stuff is probably quite well emulated. The big high-end modular synths seem to be almost indistinguishable from uh-e emulations, at least the presets I've heard. Do you think that Slate VTM or the uh-e Satin has really nailed tape... finally?

I'm not sure, but I don't think the 'crappier' but often more interesting end of analogue gear (the 80's keyboard synths and low-end reel-to-reels with all the physical errors that occur) are as easy to emulate, or perhaps they just find it too perverse to try.
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Re: Analogue versus Digital - Radio 4

Postby Elephone » Mon Jun 17, 2019 3:36 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:To my ears, neither analogue nor digital are 'perfect' systems. They both have a variety of technical limitations and implementation flaws at the heart of their designs, and both can be made a lot worse through incorrect usage. They both have their own innate characters or qualities too, some extremely subtle and some rather less so.

Really? I honestly assumed present-day digital recording was really about as faithful as it's ever going to get in terms of the actual capture and storage of a signal. I believed the signal was recorded pretty much as it left the microphone or instrument. Is it D-A converters that still need improvement?
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Re: Analogue versus Digital - Radio 4

Postby Elephone » Mon Jun 17, 2019 4:38 pm

Brian M Rose wrote:...when 'film' went 'digital' was the idea that you could do as many takes as you wanted, or just let the tape (as it was then) run.
It really didn't work. And yes, you could fix it in post, but post production became very, very expensive. Time was money - lots of money.
I feel that it also affected performance, badly. Everything became too sloppy.
Having said that, for audio editing would I go back to analogue tape? No way!

Digital recording encourages us to become garbage collectors.
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Re: Analogue versus Digital - Radio 4

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Jun 17, 2019 4:52 pm

Elephone wrote:Really? I honestly assumed present-day digital recording was really about as faithful as it's ever going to get in terms of the actual capture and storage of a signal.

Digital doesn't have any of the characteristic distortions and speed variation problems associated with tape and vinyl. None of the rumbles, scrape flutter, wow and flutter, tracing distortion, crosstalk, phase shifts, frequency domain 'woodles', noise modulations, and so on, and so on....

But it's certainly not a perfect medium! Aliasing can still be a problem in some circumstances, as can jitter, and the hard bandwidth limitation causes issues with time domain smearing that doesn't afflict analogue systems. Signal processing can also bring in a raft of anomalies as we've been hearing about in another thread...

So there are still distortions, they're just different and arguably much less bothersome... but perhaps because they are different some people still seem to be sensitive to them.

Is it D-A converters that still need improvement?

Fundamentally, yes. Current converters are several orders of magnitude better than those in the early 80s, and the technology continues to improve... but I don't think anyone would dare to claim absolute perfection quite yet! ;-)
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Re: Analogue versus Digital - Radio 4

Postby Elephone » Sun Jun 23, 2019 6:30 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Aliasing can still be a problem in some circumstances, as can jitter, and the hard bandwidth limitation causes issues with time domain smearing that doesn't afflict analogue systems.

There's an interesting video below regarding aliasing, which might also interest Martin since it involves AirWindows. I'd like to have read the actual email from Chris Johnson that was sent to the lad at White Sea Studio:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4taroKS_N6Q

I do personally struggle with White Sea Studio videos due to the music itself, but I they do come up on the TV so I tend to watch them occasionally.
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Re: Analogue versus Digital - Radio 4

Postby ef37a » Sun Jun 23, 2019 9:54 am

I tried to listen to the programme some days ago on cans but it seemed a bit rambling and I dozed off! ("going for a WALK later dear")

FM better than digital? One of the lowest distortion FM demodulators was the pulse counting detector (if done right) Surely that is "digital" with a sampling rate of about 200kHz?

Tape could be said to be sampled by the bias at 50-120kHz? Vinyl "dithered" by surface noise and crud!

I shall give the programme another shot but from what I remember (" It's Sunday dear") it was not really an "analogue v digital" shootout?

Dave.(with apologise to "I am Sorry I Haven't a Clue")
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Re: Analogue versus Digital - Radio 4

Postby Elephone » Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:54 am

I'm not clued up on all this at all. I'd really like to eliminate as many 'things to blame' for things not sounding quite right, so even if this is a subtle problem, I'd like to know more about how to avoid digital artefacts...

If the plugin does not offer oversampling, would I have to use higher sample rates while using the plugin to render a file? If so, how high before they are outside the range of hearing? My audio interface offers 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 96kHz, 192kHz.

I don't think I'm going to be storing files at 192kHz, I might switch to 48kHz if it potentially makes an audible difference. I am happy to temporarily use higher sample rates however, especially for the plugins that don't offer oversampling, just to render them.

Thanks
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Re: Analogue versus Digital - Radio 4

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:57 am

ef37a wrote:One of the lowest distortion FM demodulators was the pulse counting detector (if done right) Surely that is "digital" with a sampling rate of about 200kHz?

Nope. It's an analogue sampling system. It only becomes digital if the amplitude for each sample is stored or processed as a numeric code... which it's not in a pulse-count detector.

H
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