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How can I train my ears to detect analogue warmth?

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How can I train my ears to detect analogue warmth?

Postby garrettendi » Tue Nov 12, 2019 2:46 pm

Of course everyone here knows I'm Deaf with a cochlear implant by now... I'm going to start using Console5 (suggested by Drew, thank you sir) as I miss the certain something Mixbus had since I moved to Reaper.

I've found a playlist on SoundCloud (I think by our very own Martin Walker!), and to be honest I can't detect the change to my implanted hearing. I tried to minimise SoundCloud and guess whether it had Console5 or not, and 50% of the time I was wrong.

I know the change shouldn't be drastic, but it should definitely be there, and it's kind of bumming me out. I don't want to just not use the VST, and I don't see any way to fly by instruments for this.

When I was implanted, I was told there was a 50/50 chance I'd never be able to hear music. I refused to accept that, worked on it, and now I'm even able to record and compose my own music. I refuse to accept that I won't hear Console5 either.

So that brings me to my question: How can I train my ears for this?
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Re: How can I train my ears to detect analogue warmth?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Nov 12, 2019 2:54 pm

As you say, it's a subtle effect, and it may be that your implant simply doesn't have sufficient elements to provide the necessary resolution....

But if we assume that it does, or that you can learn to recognise the difference from the information it can provide, then the answer is the same as for people with 'normal' hearing - - and that is simply to practice critical listening.

It takes time to learn to recognise the differences, and even then not everyone has the hearing acuity to reliably distinguish between different sound processes. So it may take you longer than others, and you may or may not reliably hear the difference... but it really is just practice and making new neural connections.

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Re: How can I train my ears to detect analogue warmth?

Postby garrettendi » Tue Nov 12, 2019 2:56 pm

Thanks Hugh!

Any example exercises to practice that you could recommend?
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Re: How can I train my ears to detect analogue warmth?

Postby John Egan » Tue Nov 12, 2019 3:21 pm

Hi Garretendi,
I am decidedly old school - and a guitarist to boot. I recognize warmth, but in these days of DAWs, I don't know whether what I am hearing is analogue, digital or "analogoue style" digital. However Zynaptiq's Intensity plug in has a "Just a little better (Warmer)" preset .which gives a nice effect. Maybe if you A/B this with the untreated sound it would help? I'm sure there must be other plugins which do similar things and which the more knowledgable here could recommend?
Regards, John
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Re: How can I train my ears to detect analogue warmth?

Postby garrettendi » Tue Nov 12, 2019 3:42 pm

Thanks John, I'l keep that in mind!
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Re: How can I train my ears to detect analogue warmth?

Postby The Bunk » Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:44 pm

John Egan wrote: However Zynaptiq's Intensity plug in has a "Just a little better (Warmer)" preset

I can't stop myself thinking there's a Spinal Tap gag in there somewhere!!
I've got Ozone 5 which has a "Touch of Analogue Warmth" preset. I've tried it but can't say the difference really hits me, although as Hugh has said that might be as much down to training my ears to notice the difference which I haven't dedicated any time to yet.
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Re: How can I train my ears to detect analogue warmth?

Postby CS70 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 5:15 pm

The only way to detect it is to witness the actual recording! And don't you dare go to the restrooms! :D

Really, I don't know of anyone who can reliably identify analogue warmth just by ears these days. Meaning "really" analogue. First of all you'd need a very pure, non processed sound to distinguish it from any effect causing a degree of distortion, or phase shift or whatever. And even then, since the "analogue" sound is essentially due to imperfections (distortion, crosstalk, various electric noise, transformer shifts and so on) it's impossible to distinguish the real one from, well, a number of appropriately setup simulations.

I had once a guitar delay which sounded majestically analogue to anyone listening to it (me included).. only it wasn't at all (a Belcat/Joyo/Hofner/etc unit).. it was entirely digital. By the sound alone I could have sworn it was way more "analogue" than my Carbon Copy. I still prefer it!

There's also a lot of different "analogue" contribution to sound, so much depends on what you are thinking of. A desk in principle is made to be as clean as possible. A vinyl record, especially after seeing some use, will sound more scratchy and nosy. Dynamic range is smalller. And so on...

What you can identify (and introduce in your mixes) is a small degree of distortion which makes it sound more pleasant to you. There's lots of ways to do so. Come to worst, bounce to cassette! (I'm joking).

If you're talking about Console5, the effect is very subtle and you have to have a good dollop of tracks with it on, to detect it. I've used on the track I just done mixing and remember liking it but self-bias is very hard to avoid ,so tonight with fresh ears I'll AB to hear what it actually does before sending the track to mastering. (I'm also wobbling a bit about the amount of reverb... oh boy).
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Re: How can I train my ears to detect analogue warmth?

Postby garrettendi » Tue Nov 12, 2019 5:32 pm

CS70 wrote:The only way to detect it is to witness the actual recording! And don't you dare go to the restrooms! :D

Really, I don't know of anyone who can reliably identify analogue warmth just by ears these days. Meaning "really" analogue. First of all you'd need a very pure, non processed sound to distinguish it from any effect causing a degree of distortion, or phase shift or whatever. And even then, since the "analogue" sound is essentially due to imperfections (distortion, crosstalk, various electric noise, transformer shifts and so on) it's impossible to distinguish the real one from, well, a number of appropriately setup simulations.

I had once a guitar delay which sounded majestically analogue to anyone listening to it (me included).. only it wasn't at all (a Belcat/Joyo/Hofner/etc unit).. it was entirely digital. By the sound alone I could have sworn it was way more "analogue" than my Carbon Copy. I still prefer it!

There's also a lot of different "analogue" contribution to sound, so much depends on what you are thinking of. A desk in principle is made to be as clean as possible. A vinyl record, especially after seeing some use, will sound more scratchy and nosy. Dynamic range is smalller. And so on...

What you can identify (and introduce in your mixes) is a small degree of distortion which makes it sound more pleasant to you. There's lots of ways to do so. Come to worst, bounce to cassette! (I'm joking).

If you're talking about Console5, the effect is very subtle and you have to have a good dollop of tracks with it on, to detect it. I've used on the track I just done mixing and remember liking it but self-bias is very hard to avoid ,so tonight with fresh ears I'll AB to hear what it actually does before sending the track to mastering. (I'm also wobbling a bit about the amount of reverb... oh boy).

Thanks! I think I'll try my hardest to learn to hear it, but given what you and Hugh say, I guess I might have to make peace with the reality I might be one of the many that struggle to hear it.

Any best practices as to applying this with those limitations you and Hugh have mentioned?
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Re: How can I train my ears to detect analogue warmth?

Postby CS70 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 5:54 pm

Well I absolutely love the Waves J87 tape sim, used with ‘as flat as possible’. I seldom find that I need anything more, and tend to remove any other noise simulation (like the one in the otherwise fantastic Waves Aural Exciter).

Or get yourself one or two KT pultec clones, they’re inexpensive and really nice for the money, and these transformers do their ‘analogue’ sound bit pretty well :)
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Re: How can I train my ears to detect analogue warmth?

Postby garrettendi » Tue Nov 12, 2019 6:03 pm

I am on a shoestring with things the way they are, long story short.... Christmas, baby coming, yadder yadder...

I have a Pultec clone from Ignite, and ToTape5 from Airwindows as well, so I'll check those out before spending any hard cash!

Thanks for your help mate... Lot to think about and to apply. I'll start out with Console5, and take it from there. I'd love to use the Pultec clone but I have no idea where to start!
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Re: How can I train my ears to detect analogue warmth?

Postby Wonks » Tue Nov 12, 2019 6:13 pm

As a lot of it has to do with subtle distortion, so adding in higher harmonics. What's the bandwidth of your implant? If it's not that wide, you may struggle to hear much of the added analogue 'warmth'. My hearing is limited to around 10kHz and I struggle with the gentler presets on warmth plugins.
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Re: How can I train my ears to detect analogue warmth?

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Nov 12, 2019 6:15 pm

CS70 wrote:I had once a guitar delay which sounded majestically analogue to anyone listening to it (me included).. only it wasn't at all (a Belcat/Joyo/Hofner/etc unit).. it was entirely digital. By the sound alone I could have sworn it was way more "analogue" than my Carbon Copy. I still prefer it!

I still have my 'Dr Tone' branded 'Analogue Delay', it does sound analogue, and it is resolutely digital :D I do still use it though and it does sound great.
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Re: How can I train my ears to detect analogue warmth?

Postby garrettendi » Tue Nov 12, 2019 6:18 pm

Wonks wrote:As a lot of it has to do with subtle distortion, so adding in higher harmonics. What's the bandwidth of your implant? If it's not that wide, you may struggle to hear much of the added analogue 'warmth'. My hearing is limited to around 10kHz and I struggle with the gentler presets on warmth plugins.

It is 100Hz - 8kHz I believe. No idea the decibel range but quiet sounds are a struggle. I can hear sub-bass but only because my brain processes the harmonics to derive the fundamental (or whatever it was that Hugh said in that other thread!).

CS70 - I just want to say I am not in any way disregarding anything you said with your recommendations. Just limited to free options at the current mo.
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Re: How can I train my ears to detect analogue warmth?

Postby ManFromGlass » Tue Nov 12, 2019 7:22 pm

I usually can’t tell if a warming plug is working. I’m down to a hair above 10k and can only hear wind chimes that have "bottom end" :think:
I took the perfect pitch course many years ago. The secret to that course was to start with one note, either on piano or tuning fork or whatever and constantly listen to it so the fundamental and harmonics are stuck in your brain. Eventually it sticks. So if the amazing brain is trainable for that then who knows how far you will get!
But it was constant repetition that did the trick.
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Re: How can I train my ears to detect analogue warmth?

Postby Martin Walker » Wed Nov 13, 2019 11:27 am

As is often the case, we seem to be talking about various things as 'warmth'.

Personally I don't consider Console5/6 to add warmth, but subtle extra 3D detail and 'space' around each sound, which seems to be a typical description of what high-end analogue desks add at the summing stage, due to the interaction of channels at the mixing buss.

Now the other aspect of analogue that many people like, and has been alluded to here, is analogue warmth largely due to the low-end 3rd/5th harmonic distortion added by its euphonic (aka expensive) input and output transformers. These typically add extra harmonics below about 200Hz (adding warmth to the bass end, particularly on kick drums and bass instruments), but at lesser levels higher up the spectrum, where it can indeed be perceived as an increase in high frequency harmonics.

Here's an example showing the distortion added by a Jensen transformer@

Image


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Re: How can I train my ears to detect analogue warmth?

Postby garrettendi » Wed Nov 13, 2019 11:37 am

Thanks Martin!

Is Console6 still worth using then? I'd also be using the ToTape5 on the master bus when I have a full mix.
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Re: How can I train my ears to detect analogue warmth?

Postby Martin Walker » Wed Nov 13, 2019 11:53 am

garrettendi wrote:Thanks Martin!

Is Console6 still worth using then? I'd also be using the ToTape5 on the master bus when I have a full mix.

I certainly think Console6 is worth using for its 3D contribution, but I suspect ToTape 5 might be more obvious on your master buss (as well as a lot easier to use), since it can soften the treble end like elderly tape and fatten up the low end with its head bump EQ.


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Re: How can I train my ears to detect analogue warmth?

Postby garrettendi » Wed Nov 13, 2019 11:55 am

I shall use both then! :thumbup:
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Re: How can I train my ears to detect analogue warmth?

Postby Watchmaker » Wed Nov 13, 2019 12:47 pm

The great thing about SOS is I learn all kinds of stuff. Never heard of air windows and have been looking at summing mixers, etc. to "add warmth" aka harmonic content to my mixes. This is very informative.

Garrettendi, my experiences with ear training never end. I find once I learn to hear one thing I'm off to the next. Unfortunately I'm over trained on hearing humming noises - or my tinnitus has gotten out of control :-) keep at it, I'm always re-energized by your determination and grit.
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Re: How can I train my ears to detect analogue warmth?

Postby garrettendi » Wed Nov 13, 2019 12:50 pm

Watchmaker wrote:keep at it, I'm always re-energized by your determination and grit.

Thank you for those kind words and encouragement! :thumbup: I often get disheartened with how much of an uphill struggle I have, but its worth it if somehow my experience can give others a boost!
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