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Zero Sum Game, but..

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Zero Sum Game, but..

Postby Howdy Doody Time » Wed Jan 29, 2020 2:24 am

We all know that any discussion involving opinion carried out an any forum is usually a zero sum game. Gearslutz is a great example. However SOS readers, being much more informed, or at least more - shall we say British - might be relied on to have a respectable opinion. So even though I have questioned in the past whether seeking the perfect emulation is a worthwhile task, I'm going to ask if UAD emulations really are more realistic than Waves.

It doesn't matter to me one way or the other, because I have many Waves bundles (bought before I realised tons of them overlap) and I already ordered a UAD-2 TB3 Octopus, because I want a Manley Massive Passive at a fraction of the price of the real thing.

But I am genuinely curious as to whether UAD are noticeably more like the real thing given that computing power has progressed so much over the past ten years or so.

I'm not asking which is better, because there will be no definitive answer to that, but I am asking which sounds and responds most like the real thing.
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Re: Zero Sum Game, but..

Postby Watchmaker » Wed Jan 29, 2020 2:47 am

My experience, which will differ from plenty, is...I was deep in ProTools and Waves and always frustrated and unhappy. I switched to Studio One v2 and stayed with Waves and my workflow was easier and I was pretty happy. Then I bought a T2 Apollo 8 and got some UAD plugins. Now the only Wave plugin I use is Abbey Roads Plate.

I just find them more alive than anything else. When I dial in a setting it's nearly as intuitive as hardware, and I use Console 1 which will run some of the UAD plugins which is really very fun. It's ineffable, but my ears respond to them well. Could I tell in a blind test? bloody unlikely.
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Re: Zero Sum Game, but..

Postby Eddy Deegan » Wed Jan 29, 2020 2:57 am

Given that you have ears, if the difference between various flavours of emulations and hardware is close enough that one has to ask which is more realistic, then it all seems a bit academic to me.

I'm pretty sure that the number of people who listen to a piece of music and think "ooh, that compressor sounds like a Spadgely Squonker Mk3" is vanishingly small, and anyway they should be listening to the music if you've done a good mix.

To me, the best engineering is the engineering you don't notice because the music is occupying the brain fully.

If it sounds good, it is good. Life's too short, and I reckon the time worrying about such things would probably be better spent working on honing mixing skills :)

That said, I am speaking more as a musician than an engineer and I'm glad that there are developers and engineers out there who get as much from the technicalities of the whole business as they do the music, as they ultimately end up creating and improving the tools that the rest of us then have the opportunity to put to good use!

Howdy Doody Time wrote:... SOS readers, being much more informed, or at least more - shall we say British

Toodle pip old bean ... I'd stay and waffle on but I haven't had a cuppa for nearly 10 minutes :protest:

;)
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Re: Zero Sum Game, but..

Postby blinddrew » Wed Jan 29, 2020 9:02 am

I don't use any UAD stuff, nor have i used any of the original hardware, but it's the internet so i feel totally qualified to comment... ;)
I was just going to say that Watchmaker's point about workflow is an important one. I don't tend to use many of the included JS plugins in Reaper, not because they don't sound good, but because the lack of any kind of traditional interface or manual means that it takes me longer.
So I tend to default to my regular set of plugins that i understand and can quickly get the job done.
I think UAD do a demo period (?) so i'd have a play around and see if you get on with them. I reckon that'll make more difference than the difference between two super-accurate emulations of highly variable analogue originals.

But see my opening line... :D
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Re: Zero Sum Game, but..

Postby Urthlupe » Wed Jan 29, 2020 9:44 am

Howdo Howdy Doody..... :-)

I have searched my heart for a respectable opinion - but haven’t come up with one :mrgreen:

However I’m thinking I’m excused a quick splurge cos I have some of the hardwares you mention (Manley MP for instance), and many of the software emulations, Waves, UAD and others.

I’d say Eddy is spot on, when you find yourself straining for an answer as to which is best, then maybe you already have the answer......

There are differences, but I find them hard to pin down and difficult to replicate across different scenarios. Many times, when it comes to it, my decisions are based around resources and with the hardware, available time and recallability. For sure, the software we have at our fingertips today is stunning.

One clear difference - the software does not heat the room as efficiently as the valve gear... (there’s a serious point in there if you think about it).

Enjoy ‘em is my advice.

Kindest

Loopy
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Re: Zero Sum Game, but..

Postby Zukan » Wed Jan 29, 2020 9:50 am

5-10 years ago it was pretty clearcut. Nowadays, not so much. A lot of software developers are making extremely good emulators so it really comes down to taste, price and how well the plugins integrate into your existing system.
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Re: Zero Sum Game, but..

Postby ConcertinaChap » Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:08 am

Eddy Deegan wrote:a Spadgely Squonker Mk3

Gosh! Are they up to Mk3 now? My mixes will be perfect! Where's my credit card when I need it?

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Re: Zero Sum Game, but..

Postby Wonks » Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:17 am

Just on the processing power front...

The UAD2 cards use what are now really old SHARC processors that have remained the same in processing power since the first UAD2 cards came out in 2008.

But what you will find is that most of the newer plugs coming out take up a much larger % of the available processing power than the older ones in that search for higher authenticity. Some of the original emulations have now become 'legacy' versions with the re-worked emulations taking up a lot more processing power. For instance a mono instance of the legacy Neve1073 + EQ plug took up 4.8% of a processing core's power, whilst the latest version takes up 40.1%. The legacy versions are still good tools, and can be useful when you have lots of channels and not many UAD cores, but they don't sound as authentic as the later versions.

So for UAD, more authenticity is achieved by greater use of a processor's power. But that means that you often can only only run a few UAD plugs per core. UAD really need to get off their butts and come out with a UAD3 with vastly more processing power.
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Re: Zero Sum Game, but..

Postby ConcertinaChap » Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:22 am

That's the legacy trap and UAD aren't the first people to hit it. Upgrade the hardware and you leave lots of people feeling grieved because they paid a lot of money for their kit which suddenly has had half its resale value knocked off it. I wasn't doing this when UAD moved from 1 to 2 but I bet there was some wailing and gnashing of teeth at the time.

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Re: Zero Sum Game, but..

Postby Wonks » Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:35 am

It wasn't too painful. There were some decent trade-in options, and all your UAD1 plugs were converted to UAD2 versions if you bought a UAD2 card within the qualifying period (about a year, IIRC). And they did keep parallel UAD1 support going for quite a while, just no new product.

There's not enough processing power within most of the Apollo interfaces to run many plugs, so as long as they kept up UAD2 support for quite a few years to keep the latest Apollo interfaces going with their pre-amp models, a UAD3 satellite that could run a lot more UAD plugs would be very welcome by most. Especially if they could get the UAD2 and UAD3 systems operating happily side by side.
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