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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

PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2020 6:12 pm
by Forum Admin
Hugh Robjohns wrote:We've even carried articles in the magazine about choosing material for review purposes to make a personal reference test CD.

Like this 2008 article:
https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/creating-your-own-reference-cd

Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2020 11:11 pm
by merlyn
Hugh Robjohns wrote:In the late 1990s, a Studer A80 cost well in excess of £15k, while a Sony professional DAT machine cost a tenth of that... and performed (and sounded) better in most circumstances.

If it's possible to have the concept of more or less obsolete then I would think a DAT machine is more obsolete than a Studer A80. :D Thomann sell two inch tape but they don't sell blank DATs.

Where are all the DAT machines? Probably in landfill along with Pentium 4s, AGP graphics cards, ISA cards, DDR2 and firewire audio interfaces. :D

Tim Gillett wrote:These days, some people look down their noses at 44/16 but I wonder if the same objective fidelity ( noise, distortion, w & f) could be matched by even a "no expenses spared" one off analog recorder.

I look at that the other way round -- 16/44 is the digital equivalent of analogue tape with noise reduction. 16 bits gives a theoretical dynamic range of 98dB but it doesn't get that in practice. Analogue tape can have a dynamic range of 77dB and 25 dB of noise reduction with Dolby SR. In practice they're in the same ballpark.

Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 12:36 am
by Sam Spoons
merlyn wrote:If it's possible to have the concept of more or less obsolete then I would think a DAT machine is more obsolete than a Studer A80. :D

What! :protest: I still have a DAT machine! It records on tape so must be warmer than CD...... :bouncy:

Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 1:09 am
by Hugh Robjohns
merlyn wrote:If it's possible to have the concept of more or less obsolete then I would think a DAT machine is more obsolete than a Studer A80.

Of course it is an obsolete format... now. But in the 90s it was the format of choice and it cost a fraction of the price of any half-decent analogue tape machine... which was the point you were making. To build a tape machine that could match the specs was impossibly expensive..

Where are all the DAT machines?

There's a fair few in archives and libraries... :-) There's a lot of important material recorded on DAT tapes.

H

Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 1:21 am
by Tim Gillett
Tim Gillett wrote:These days, some people look down their noses at 44/16 but I wonder if the same objective fidelity ( noise, distortion, w & f) could be matched by even a "no expenses spared" one off analog recorder.

merlyn wrote:I look at that the other way round -- 16/44 is the digital equivalent of analogue tape with noise reduction. 16 bits gives a theoretical dynamic range of 98dB but it doesn't get that in practice. Analogue tape can have a dynamic range of 77dB and 25 dB of noise reduction with Dolby SR. In practice they're in the same ballpark.

I think 16 bit is theoretically 96db but in practice is 93db. For that it doesn't need NR. To match that, analogue tape does need NR. We should compare apples with apples.
Years ago, sales people used to say that with Dolby, cassettes matched open reel, but it was open reel without Dolby. Again, not apples with apples...

But even if with NR analogue tape can match 16 bit in dynamic range without NR, there's the problem of frequency response, especially analogue tape head bump (contour effect) especially with speeds of 15ips and 30 ips, and the general inability to achieve anything like the same flatness.

Then the distortion even before saturation. Then the W & F although in a well designed tape machine it's usually inaudible. In one term, generational losses!

I'm a specialist in analog tape machines and analog audio tape transfers. I know how good analog tape can be when everything is done right, but preferably from the first generation to minimise the well known generational losses.

If analog tape had the fidelity you claim, there wouldn't be anything like the generational losses. If we think these losses aren't evident even in the first generation we are kidding ourselves. OK with digital, there are also losses, but only after many more AD, DA, AD, DA etc conversions. Plus the fact that we don't have to go through those multiple conversions. We can clone files with no losses. That is another benefit we should keep in mind.

My main concern about digital in the long term is the perception that once digital, the recorded information will last "forever". That's a public misconception that needs to be corrected.

Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 2:48 am
by MOF
Where are all the DAT machines? Probably in landfill along with Pentium 4s, AGP graphics cards, ISA cards, DDR2 and firewire audio interfaces. :D

I’ve still got mine, it’s a long time since I last used it to back up tapes via spdif so it might not work now.

Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 4:38 am
by Tim Gillett
I believe Sony designed DAT as a convenient consumer digital audio format. Pro's started to use it for its good sound and convenience but it shares the same weaknesses of any format that trades off reliability for convenience and low cost. The small format analog and digital consumer videotape formats such as Video 8, Hi 8, Digital 8, mini DV etc share a similar weakness.

DAT was never going to be a reliable archival format, but if stored well, many if not most DAT recordings can be migrated. The increasing problem can be finding a good DAT player and/or someone with the skills to service it. Parts are now a big problem too.

DAT also faded away because other digital storage solutions were developed such as larger capacity hard drives and flash memory.

For long term reliable storage, tape is still very much relied upon, and its capacity has been steadily increasing, but usually these days to store digital files.

Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 9:24 am
by blinddrew
Sam Spoons wrote:
merlyn wrote:If it's possible to have the concept of more or less obsolete then I would think a DAT machine is more obsolete than a Studer A80. :D

What! :protest: I still have a DAT machine! It records on tape so must be warmer than CD...... :bouncy:
Only if you've baked the tapes, or something like that... ;)


More seriously, archival of digital formats is a real issue. There may still be a fair number of DAT machines kicking around but what about DCCs or laserdiscs? We went through so many formats so quickly that some of dead end ones (particularly on the video side as Tim mentions) will start to get pretty difficult to read due to the shortage of machines.
This is exacerbated in some regions by copyright restrictions on archiving. :headbang:

Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 10:23 am
by The Elf
Once digitised, audio is transportable and replicatable without losing quality. That's the single most significant advantage for me.

From coverting my old tapes to DAT, then to CD, then to wav files... I still have it all, and nothing lost.

Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 11:34 am
by Matt Houghton
merlyn wrote: firewire audio interfaces. :D

Obsolete? Not made now, perhaps, but I still have an RME FF800 that works very nicely with my new Windows studio PC and performs as well as (or better than) many interfaces you can get today. (It's only Apple, with their consume-then-skip planned-obsolescence business model that have totally screwed owners of FW devices... :protest: )

DAT... OK, with you on that!

Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 11:56 am
by Hugh Robjohns
blinddrew wrote:More seriously, archival of digital formats is a real issue. There may still be a fair number of DAT machines kicking around but what about DCCs or laserdiscs? We went through so many formats so quickly that some of dead end ones (particularly on the video side as Tim mentions) will start to get pretty difficult to read due to the shortage of machines.

Indeed. The British Library/National Sound Archive is always on the lookout for good condition second hand machines -- especially of the more obscure formats -- to maintain its stock of replay devices.

And there are business that exist solely to transfer increasingly valuable archive video (and audio) from the now-obsolete formats of the 80s/90s/2000s and digitise them into a more robust and longer-lasting file format.

Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 11:58 am
by ef37a
Ooo! Ooo! I have a Philips DCC and few still sealed cassettes.

Have not fired it up in a year...

Dave.

Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2020 11:48 am
by Argiletonne
most software programs lie about the master volume anyway and none of them clip,
the worst most honest software I've used energyXT clips a lot and drives me crazy trying to create music. go with what feels right for you I'd say,. each person has to deal with a unique and different circumstance of equipment and software, so no one person can truly know your experience without more details into your project studio and devices/gear/software.

Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2020 12:14 pm
by The Elf
Argiletonne wrote:most software programs lie about the master volume anyway and none of them clip,
I think we need examples to back that up!

Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2020 12:56 pm
by ef37a
The Elf wrote:
Argiletonne wrote:most software programs lie about the master volume anyway and none of them clip,
I think we need examples to back that up!

Agreed. That would imply that different DAWs give a different dBfs reading for the same .wav. I have about 6 DAWs spread over 4 computers and if I transfer a neg 6 say 1k tone it always comes out at neg six!

Dave.