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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 merlyn » Sun Jan 19, 2020 7:51 pm

It's not steam that's out of date -- it's coal. :D

A nuclear power station is a giant kettle and instead of a heating element it has a fission reaction.

Electric trains are still steam powered but the steam has been moved from onboard the train to the power station.
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby blinddrew » Sun Jan 19, 2020 8:25 pm

Indeed, a multi-stage steam turbine can run at a remarkably high efficiency.

Interestingly* at christmas I was clearing out some stuff and found my old steam tables from college. No idea why I kept them, I certainly haven't used them since.

* For a given definition of 'interesting'.
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby Trevor Johnson » Sun Jan 19, 2020 8:56 pm

There are loads of steam-pulled trains today, and most are good commercial successes,

My nephew, Stuart, with a History Masters, manages the business, and drives heritage steam trains for a living. It certainly makes money.

And nearer to home home, the Wensleydale Railway, steam and diesel, does well too.

My late father-in-law, a former BR chief surveyor, who modernised Kings Cross, in the 70s', volunteered, with his wife, at the North York Moors Railway, too.
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby ceejay » Mon Jan 20, 2020 6:01 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:... I was astonished that none were what I considered to be broadcast-able to normal BBC standards! Not even close!
A similar experience in television some years ago when I had to re-edit (on 1" tape) several stories that had been edited on Betacam by a new junior editor because the vision levels were all over the place. It turned out that nobody had ever taught her how to use a waveform monitor and she had simply been turning the brightness control on her monitor up and down when the source levels changed!!!
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby ef37a » Mon Jan 20, 2020 9:01 am

ceejay wrote:
Hugh Robjohns wrote:... I was astonished that none were what I considered to be broadcast-able to normal BBC standards! Not even close!
A similar experience in television some years ago when I had to re-edit (on 1" tape) several stories that had been edited on Betacam by a new junior editor because the vision levels were all over the place. It turned out that nobody had ever taught her how to use a waveform monitor and she had simply been turning the brightness control on her monitor up and down when the source levels changed!!!

Be right at home now. Much of what I see is so dark I cannot make it out. Even the Beeb's new Dr Who had scenes where I could only just make out the faces.

Do they not realize we do NOT sit in total darkness with adapted eyes? (nor in a 20phon environment with a £20,000 sound system)

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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby CS70 » Mon Jan 20, 2020 10:53 am

merlyn wrote:It's not steam that's out of date -- it's coal. :D

A nuclear power station is a giant kettle and instead of a heating element it has a fission reaction.

Electric trains are still steam powered but the steam has been moved from onboard the train to the power station.

I made the comparison with steam engines - locomotives which carry their own kettles (and coal). They are out of date, big time, no matter how many cousins and uncles one may involved who are keen weekend stokers. So is tape.

Steam - sure isn't, but nobody (at least, not I) told it was. Coal - alas - even less, as it's still the cheapest way to produce said steam and make turbines run.

But steam engines - yes. Otherwise it's like saying that candles as a general purpose illumination because we're still using oil and wax elsewhere (and now, of course, I can't wait for all the posts claiming that candles are perfectly viable and used to illuminate cities and to hear about all the uncles and cousins who live in places exclusively illuminated by candles. Bring my greetings :D)

The point that I make is that the OP's insecurity stems by this quasi-mythical status of tape recording (even SOS is, occasionally and indirectly, not entirely innocent...- I remember an article about a Daft Punk production which was entirely made on tape at incredible cost... and wondering why there was no box saying "yeah you can do that, but it's kinda silly").

It's that status that makes people wonder if they're doing the right thing (like the OP), and even (as we often see in this and other forums) go to great lengths and cost to realize what is ultimately an inferior setup - buying mixers, tape recorders etc - and thinking they're doing something technically better. All good and fun (and of course, unlike train engines, there is no objective "best" so anything goes, really), but only imho when it's done with open eyes.

As I said, it is one of my pet peeves :D
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby The Elf » Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:03 am

CS70 wrote:The point that I make is that the OP's insecurity stems by this quasi-mythical status of tape recording (even SOS is, occasionally and indirectly, not entirely innocent...- I remember an article about a Daft Punk production which was entirely made on tape at incredible cost... and wondering why there was no box saying "yeah you can do that, but it's kinda silly").

It's that status that makes people wonder if they're doing the right thing (like the OP), and even (as we often see in this and other forums) go to great lengths and cost to realize what is ultimately an inferior setup - buying mixers, tape recorders etc - and thinking they're doing something technically better. All good and fun (and of course, unlike train engines, there is no objective "best" so anything goes, really), but only imho when it's done with open eyes.
:clap: :clap: :clap:

Could not agree more!

Late last year I was in a local studio and was told that <insert famous producer/musician name here> said that vinyl sounded better than digital, so it *must* be definitively 'better'.

People BELIEVE this stuff, especially when a 'name', however misguided, mis-quoted, or misunderstood comes with it. If it goes unchallenged we are in danger of losing science to magic!
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:21 am

Very true... but we do have to be careful only to challenge the science errors.

If someone chooses to record to tape because they think it provides better signal-to-noise ratio, for example say, that can -- and should -- be challenged.

But if they choose to do it because it they prefer working with it (maybe the rewind time helps them to formulate their musical ideas, for example), that's a perfectly valid thing that shouldn't be scorned at.

Informed choice is what we're after...
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby ef37a » Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:22 am

I agree CS70.
My interest in electronics began in my early teens and before I was 20 had moved to audio and high fidelity reproduction. This means some 50 years ago.

My reading moved from Radio Constructor to Hi Fi News (and Wireless World but much of that was ever beyong me!) . Tape recorder and later Studio Sound. In all these publications the idea was to capture the PERFORMANCE as realistically as possible, the while battling those twin evils, noise and distortion.

Recording bods (proper 'engineers then) strove to make the best recordings they could within the limits of the equipment. Not a coincidence then that the first takers for digital recording was the 'classical' music sector?

Today, staying faithful to the original sound has largely been forgotten. Those engineers of old did NOT see the shortcomings of tape as adding 'musicality'! No, it was an evil they had to battle with every take. Then! They had to take what was a quite reasonable recording on 1/4" tape at 15ips and mangle it further so it could be tracked by the grottiest phono system in the land!

Even in SOS reviews of monitors we never get a live/recorded comparison such as were common in Sound on Sound days.

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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby MOF » Mon Jan 20, 2020 12:14 pm

If someone chooses to record to tape because they think it provides better signal-to-noise ratio, for example say, that can -- and should -- be challenged.

I think most of those producers have a hybrid approach these days, recording drums, for example, to tape for its saturation and transient squashing properties and then continuing with digital for the remainder of the session.
They probably don’t know what signal to noise ratio is, hopefully that’s where they’ll take advice from the engineer as to what gear to use and not just record with analogue tape because another successful record has just been done that way.
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby MOF » Mon Jan 20, 2020 12:23 pm

Late last year I was in a local studio and was told that <insert famous producer/musician name here> said that vinyl sounded better than digital, so it *must* be definitively 'better'.

Not helped by Neil Brand in Sound of Song getting Nirvana’s producer (a big vinyl fan) to listen to an mp3 of one of his own tracks on earbuds to make a comparison with what he remembered it sounded like in the studio.
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby MOF » Mon Jan 20, 2020 12:28 pm

Much of what I see is so dark I cannot make it out. Even the Beeb's new Dr Who had scenes where I could only just make out the faces.
My father has AMD and this is a common complaint of his, he can’t see what’s going on.
It’s poor lighting, it’s not how your eyes would see it for real, unless it was pitch dark.
I saw an item on Newsnight last week that was consistently under exposed and interviewees in a darkened room weren’t lit by a camera mounted led panel (cheap and lightweight these days).
There was a time when you had to have a lighting technician as part of the crew for any indoors work and outside after sunset.
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby The Elf » Mon Jan 20, 2020 1:57 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:But if they choose to do it because it they prefer working with it (maybe the rewind time helps them to formulate their musical ideas, for example), that's a perfectly valid thing that shouldn't be scorned at.

Informed choice is what we're after...
I do agree (and I still have a flat-bed cassette recorder I often use to do creative damage to audio!), but what I'm more often hearing has less to do with informed choice than "magic pointing bones are 'better', because <name> says so."
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Jan 20, 2020 2:35 pm

ef37a wrote:Today, staying faithful to the original sound has largely been forgotten.

No, it really hasn't...

There have always been, and will always be, music recording projects where various forms of technical or artistic distortions are used quite deliberately to achieve the desired effect -- and that includes close miking quiet instruments in movie soundtracks so they can create an overall sound which is not possible in normal acoustic performances!

But equally, there have always been, and will always be, commercial projects where everyone strives to capture the performance as accurately and faithfully as is technically possible. I've personally worked on far more of the latter than the former...

Even in SOS reviews of monitors we never get a live/recorded comparison such as were common in Studio Sound days.

I presume you meant Studio Sound, Dave... but I really don't recall reading regular live/recorded source comparisons for Studio Sound's monitor reviews... and I've got the complete archive back to 1970. The odd occasional special feature, possibly, but certainly not as a standard test method.
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby James Perrett » Mon Jan 20, 2020 2:55 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Even in SOS reviews of monitors we never get a live/recorded comparison such as were common in Studio Sound days.

I presume you meant Studio Sound, Dave... but I really don't recall reading regular live/recorded source comparisons for Studio Sound's monitor reviews... and I've got the complete archive back to 1970. The odd occasional special feature, possibly, but certainly not as a standard test method.

I think I remember one such test in Hifi For Pleasure where they tested a fairly large number of different speakers and the JR149 came out top in the live vs recorded test but I think the Spendor BC1 came out top overall as it was better at reproducing more complex material. But I don't remember any from my days reading Studio Sound.
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