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The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jan 18, 2020 10:26 am

Tim Gillett wrote:I may be imagining it but my impression is that since DAW editing came in the editing, especially of speech such as in audio books, has generally gotten worse, not better.

I don't think that's related to the DAW as such, but the 'democratisation' is has allowed of the audio industry, resulting in the huge increase in the number of 'independent production companies' in the audio industry. A great many of those are staffed by people who haven't been trained properly and don't (yet) have the appropriate understanding and experience. That's largely because they haven't received the kind of traditional training and long apprenticeships that those who came from the world's major broadcast organisations -- the people who produced most consumer audio content before the 90s -- benefited from.

In skilled hands, DAW editing is quite evidently vastly superior to anything that could ever be achieved with razor-blade tape editing. But, as we've seen at the start of this thread, the graphical display of DAWs fools an awful lot of people into recording, editing and mixing with their eyes, often forgetting to use their ears completely! :(

As many will know, I am a big fan of the SADiE DAW. No use at all for MIDI-based work, but easily one of the best recording and editing platforms IMHO. It has a display mode option dating back to it's original incarnations that shows recorded audio as simple coloured blocks without any waveforms at all. It was done originally to minimise the workload on the computer's CPU/GPU but I -- and many of my friends and colleagues -- still make use of it a lot as it kind of replicates working with analogue tape in that there's basically nothing to look at, and you have no option but to use your ears.
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby Ariosto » Sat Jan 18, 2020 2:38 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Tim Gillett wrote:I may be imagining it but my impression is that since DAW editing came in the editing, especially of speech such as in audio books, has generally gotten worse, not better.

In skilled hands, DAW editing is quite evidently vastly superior to anything that could ever be achieved with razor-blade tape editing. But, as we've seen at the start of this thread, the graphical display of DAWs fools an awful lot of people into recording, editing and mixing with their eyes, often forgetting to use their ears completely! :(

As many will know, I am a big fan of the SADiE DAW. No use at all for MIDI-based work, but easily one of the best recording and editing platforms IMHO. It has a display mode option dating back to it's original incarnations that shows recorded audio as simple coloured blocks without any waveforms at all. It was done originally to minimise the workload on the computer's CPU/GPU but I -- and many of my friends and colleagues -- still make use of it a lot as it kind of replicates working with analogue tape in that there's basically nothing to look at, and you have no option but to use your ears.

That's very interesting and I think absolutely correct. When I've edited a piece of audio, music or narration, I always listen to it several times to make sure it sounds right and then make any further improvements - including some re-recording if necessary.

On a recent recording of a short 4 minute song we had four sessions (of about an hour each session), and this includes about 16 separate takes. Even now we think it's not right, and have sent it for audition to a colleague who is an expert in this particular field of popular songs. I don't think much material is given this amount of work, due to cost restraints (in commercial work).

I think some of the worst examples are to be heard daily on the BBC and commercial radio and TV, with high levels of noise, poor diction, bad editing, and the overuse of tacky musak to cover up poor workmanship.

Rant over!
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jan 18, 2020 5:00 pm

Ariosto wrote:I think some of the worst examples are to be heard daily on the BBC and commercial radio and TV, with high levels of noise, poor diction, bad editing, and the overuse of tacky musak to cover up poor workmanship.

There always have been both superb and terrible examples of good programme making... But I agree that there do seem to be more examples of the latter than I remember from years gone by. In the 90s it used to be quite hard to find broadcast examples of poor production... But it would seem much easier now!

The use of music is partly a fashion thing -- the amount and relative balance of background music in different types of programme has changed considerably over the years. But background noise -- and especially reverberant or lively sound -- in studio programmes is a lot more common.

I wonder if the rise in reality tv celebrities, and the encouragement of regional dialects may have a bearing on increasingly poor diction.

Bad editing is just bad editing, and that comes down to poor technical training and the rise in technical jobs being performed by non-technical staff -- production staff increasingly being required to edit and mix their own programmes and packages, for example.

As an aside, a couple of years ago I was asked to work on a training course which provided two week's practical experience at the BBC training centre for 2rd year broadcast sound students from a respected university at the end of their second year's education. Part of the course involved them producing short (5-minute) radio 'packages', for which they had to work in small groups to research, script, record, and mix an item which had to include studio, phone, and location interviews. It was produced using Adobe Audition -- software they were all very familiar with.

When we all gathered to listen to their presentations in a large studio control room on large broadcast monitors, I was astonished that none were what I considered to be broadcast-able to normal BBC standards! Not even close!

The primary reason was because the levels were seriously -- extraordinarily -- all over the place to the extent that several programmes were plain unlistenable, and others a frustrating challenge. None of the students appeared to recognise or be bothered by the extremely poor balancing.

When I raised this glaringly obvious issue as part of my critiques I was told by the university course leaders that I shouldn't complain about it as it wasnt a factor that would be taken into account for the formal course assessments of the students' work. I found this astonishing! Accurate level balancing was something that was prioritised and mastered within the first couple of weeks in the greatbmany traditional BBC technical training courses I both received and taught.

So, since it is now graduate students like these -- although I'm sure there are some very good university training courses, too -- who are presumably employed today to make real broadcast programmes, I'm not surprised technical standards have declined.
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby The Red Bladder » Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:40 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:There always have been both superb and terrible examples of good programme making... But I agree that there do seem to be more examples of the latter than I remember from years gone by. In the 90s it used to be quite hard to find broadcast examples of poor production... But it would seem much easier now!

The reason is (as the French put it) "Nous avons la radio au mètre, musique au kilo et télévision à la tonne!"

When I started out in television back 49BC, the stations transmitted a few hours a day, today it's 24hrs and across a few hundred stations. Back then, there were three stations broadcasting a few hours a day. Granada produced a string of 'Coronation Street' episodes from the outside lot and Studio One - about 200 sq.m. and one audience show a week such as Nice Time and University Challenge from the much larger Studio Two.

That meant that Studio Two was 'dark' for four days a week and could be used for blocking moves or rehearsals or just as a place to meet or try things out. Back in the late 60s it was all (relatively) easy-going!

By the time the 90s rolled around, I was working in Germany (RTL and Pro7) and there was no such thing as a 'dark' studio. SZM Studios in Munich had a few dozen studios and they were at least 90% working, pushing out programmes for a handful of stations and two shopping channels.

Today SZM is called ProSiebenSat.1 Produktion and they are running 22 free-to-air and four pay-TV channels for the German language market and are part of a public company with studios across Europe.

Everywhere you look, everything is intensive, intensive, intensive! Fewer people are doing more and more with less and less.
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby CS70 » Sat Jan 18, 2020 7:04 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
There are loads of steam-pulled trains today, and most are good commercial successes, too. And not just the countless heritage lines across the UK, but there are regular main-line specials that are always booked out solid... and there are steam trains still in use commercially in other parts of the world too.

Sure, there's also people who build katana swords or medieval armor and make a good living out of it, but you don't see many actual soldiers donning it. I am sure you're seriously claiming that steam power is or may be considered as an alternative as a matter of course, when powering trains.

Actually, it's not so different from tape - sure there's still some facility around and some people are making good money out of it, but it's nothing more than a odd charming thing from the past. There's more effective ways to the same result.

I get entirely the other factors, of course - like the pleasure of looking at spools and the calming, whirring noise of the spooling engines.

I take your point you're making ... but you're responding to something you thought you read, rather than what Jim actually said, which was that Tape is... the pinnacle of analogue reproduction ...and he's absolutely right. Nothing else ANALOGUE beats it!

A good point, I was just replying in the larger context of the thread, about the fear of all things digital. No problem with the narrower statement of course.
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby blinddrew » Sun Jan 19, 2020 11:29 am

If I recall correctly, the main ferry that operates across lake Titicaca is coal/steam powered. It started that way, was converted to diesel, and was then converted back because it was more efficient / cost effective.
Probably just tells you more about the relative price of diesel in the Andes than anything else though... ;)
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby CS70 » Sun Jan 19, 2020 12:47 pm

There's a an acquaintance of mine in Italy who makes a more than decent living building clavicembali. :D

Quite a niche market perhaps but very profitable.
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby ef37a » Sun Jan 19, 2020 1:01 pm

I guess the only guys* left that drive steam locomotives are mad keen 'racks and would tell you there is no better means of transport.

For the real drivers of yesteryear though I bet it is a different tale Had to in the sheds two hours before the first train leaves to get the bloody thing steamed up. The job was alternately baking hot and freezing. Got bloody filthy all the time and probably got a skin disease and lung cancer. Forever oiling the wheels...

ICEs ARE much more efficient because the cylinder temperature is far higher than even super heated steam.

*Was going to put 'gals' as well but upon reflection I think women have more bloody sense!

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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sun Jan 19, 2020 1:06 pm

A steam train journey is great fun for the driver, fireman AND the passengers. Although they could probably have reached their destination more comfortably and quickly.

Analogue recording is only really fun for the recordist. The consumer just gets a slightly inferior product.

Of course, if you have an enthusiast at BOTH ends of the supply chain... Are my Akai 4000DS and Fostex A8 'vintage' yet? I could do without this mortgage!
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby jimjazzdad » Sun Jan 19, 2020 2:26 pm

^^^ This!
In some cases the experience is more enjoyable than the end product :shock:
Exalted Wombat wrote:...Are my Akai 4000DS and Fostex A8 'vintage' yet? I could do without this mortgage!
Don't sell 'em - if you do, you will forever live in regret!
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby zenguitar » Sun Jan 19, 2020 3:03 pm

Exalted Wombat wrote:Although they could probably have reached their destination more comfortably and quickly.
A couple of years ago I read that a Great Western Castle class loco could pull the current Cornish Riviera Express (including both locomotive cars) and to the current timetable. The King class was even more powerful.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby ef37a » Sun Jan 19, 2020 3:45 pm

jimjazzdad wrote:^^^ This!
In some cases the experience is more enjoyable than the end product :shock:
Exalted Wombat wrote:...Are my Akai 4000DS and Fostex A8 'vintage' yet? I could do without this mortgage!
Don't sell 'em - if you do, you will forever live in regret!

No, don't sell them but do look around for spares. Belts are the first things to go, especially if they haven't moved for years (great fun scraping off the sticky goo!)

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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby MOF » Sun Jan 19, 2020 7:13 pm

Was going to put 'gals' as well but upon reflection I think women have more bloody sense!

No, I saw a channel 5 (?) documentary recently about heritage steam railways and there was a young woman being trained to do the job.
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby Folderol » Sun Jan 19, 2020 7:28 pm

MOF wrote:
Was going to put 'gals' as well but upon reflection I think women have more bloody sense!

No, I saw a channel 5 (?) documentary recently about heritage steam railways and there was a young woman being trained to do the job.
Now it's socially acceptable there are a surprising number of women involved in this sort of thing - also on the engineering side.
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Jan 19, 2020 7:29 pm

Many years ago, when I was a driving instructor I taught two sisters, one worked for Railtrack and the other maintaining rolling stock. Both were electrical engineers by trade and both very much hands on.
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