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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 CS70 » Mon Jan 20, 2020 3:08 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...

Of course! And I'm pretty known for never letting rationality get in the way of a bit of harmless fun!

It's just that I have the impression that people asking for how to connect mixers or looking for various other sonic mirages are legion... while these who actually know what's all about and decide to do it for fun or ergonomic or whatever reasons, are not.

Of course, I may be jaded by looking at too many facebook groups :)

The OP seemed to be among them. As many do, he felt more reassured by the user interface presented by traditional analog meters (with their hidden headroom) than the full (and of far greater resolution) scale meters to which most DAWs default.

My $.10 is that these are the cases where a little direct and unqualified message can cut thru the bs and help - especially when it's given by qualified people (that wouldn't be me of course :D).

Many scientists and engineers have a natural (and well intentioned) urge to qualify every statement (I am the first!). However, in my business career I've found that, for those who are not yet versed in a subject, a simple message can be more effective. I draw the line at outright distortion, but I'm ok to leave out some qualifications when I feel they might somehow dilute the main message.

So for tape (or steam train engines ;-)), I'm happy to say "it's obsolete" even if of course there can still be viable cases for using them and certainly you can still reach a respectable result with both.

Then, when people know and understand, of course they do what they like, with eyes open. I for one love knobs and have used more money in knob-sporting boxes than it's justifiable to do from a rational perspective.
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby Folderol » Mon Jan 20, 2020 3:30 pm

CS70 wrote:Then, when people know and understand, of course they do what they like, with eyes open. I for one love knobs and have used more money in knob-sporting boxes than it's justifiable to do from a rational perspective.

Ah!
Time for this one again :lol:
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby Tim Gillett » Tue Jan 21, 2020 3:23 am

Arpangel wrote:To achieve a cleaner sound with less risk of peaking, I took the advice of folks here, and now I always record at high bit rates and use -12dB as my peak reference, right through the system.
However, I think it must come from my analogue recording days, when I always used to keep the level up as high as possible, to avoid noise, and now the waveforms on my screen are pathetically small, it makes me feel insecure, and then going in and increasing the levels or normalising things just doesn’t feel right, as I’m obviously "throwing away" bits.

It all sounds fine...


If it all sounds fine that's all that matters. Your recording levels were fine.

Digital recording handles much bigger dynamics and so setting record levels isn't as critical as with analog tape. Why not be happy about that? I was rejoicing!
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby merlyn » Tue Jan 21, 2020 6:48 pm

There have been a few perspectives -- here's another one ...

I took a course on digital electronics. On the first day the lecturer wrote on the board

  • Why digital?

  1. Cheap
  2. Arbitrary precision

He didn't include quality or technical superiority.

1. Cheap -- "Transistors are the cheapest thing on Earth, unless you count individual grains of flour," he said. It may sound like a strange thing to say until you take the cost of a chip and divide by the number of transistors -- each transistor costs micropence. Throwing millions of transistors at a problem is a cheap solution.

2. Arbitrary precision -- Doubling the precision of a digital system means adding another bit. To get one part in a million precision 20 bits are required. In contrast a one part in a million resistor is a giant thing that floats in an oil bath and costs thousands of pounds.

From a design engineer's point of view it's about meeting the spec. It would be possible to meet the spec with analogue but it would be hugely expensive.
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby MOF » Tue Jan 21, 2020 7:03 pm

But I don't remember any from my days reading Studio Sound.

Me neither, I remember waterfall plots and the usual "for it's size it's very good at reproducing the lower frequencies" comments etc.
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jan 21, 2020 7:06 pm

merlyn wrote:I took a course on digital electronics. On the first day the lecturer wrote on the board

  • Why digital?

  1. Cheap
  2. Arbitrary precision

And he was absolutely right!

He didn't include quality or technical superiority.


Why would he? They are not implicit characteristics. A digital system can be low quality and inferior to other solutions if that suits the purpose/budget. Just look at DTT (digital terrestrial television) which is visible far inferior in almost every respect to the old analogue 625 TV system.

But in the context of audio, current digital technology can (when engineered appropriately) offer extremely high quality and technical superiority compared to existing analogue systems because, although it would be...

possible to meet the spec with analogue ... it would be <impractically> expensive.

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. And today's digital recorders are even better in every respect!
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby MOF » Tue Jan 21, 2020 11:17 pm

Just look at DTT (digital terrestrial television) which is visible far inferior in almost every respect to the old analogue 625 TV system.
Really? Isn’t that down to which channels have had their bit rate prioritised? I prefer Freeview to what my Virgin cable box re transmits, I don’t know what they do to it. :D
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby ef37a » Tue Jan 21, 2020 11:25 pm

Welll I don't have a complete archive of Studio Sound (and its variants) but I can clearly recall a reviewer who had master tape recordings of 'natural' sounds such as jangling keys and instruments such as chimes and bells. There was also a a recording of a piano known to the reviewer and a very carefully done recording of speech.

Therefore it was known how these things sounded in the room and a good idea could be formed as to how well speakers could reproduce them.

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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby ef37a » Tue Jan 21, 2020 11:35 pm

MOF wrote:
Just look at DTT (digital terrestrial television) which is visible far inferior in almost every respect to the old analogue 625 TV system.
Really? Isn’t that down to which channels have had their bit rate prioritised? I prefer Freeview to what my Virgin cable box re transmits, I don’t know what they do to it. :D

Glad someone else asked! Been a long time since I saw 625 lines but few of us in Npton got ghost free pictures.
I watch a not ever so expensive 'smart' JVC 42" at 1.5mtrs and I doubt 625 anny would be as pin sharp as the best of the Beeb? Yes, some of the Freeview view channels are really poor definition, are there no standards about this?

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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby Tim Gillett » Wed Jan 22, 2020 4:28 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
merlyn wrote:I took a course on digital electronics. On the first day the lecturer wrote on the board

  • Why digital?

  1. Cheap
  2. Arbitrary precision

And he was absolutely right!

He didn't include quality or technical superiority.


Why would he? They are not implicit characteristics. A digital system can be low quality and inferior to other solutions if that suits the purpose/budget. Just look at DTT (digital terrestrial television) which is visible far inferior in almost every respect to the old analogue 625 TV system.

But in the context of audio, current digital technology can (when engineered appropriately) offer extremely high quality and technical superiority compared to existing analogue systems because, although it would be...

possible to meet the spec with analogue ... it would be <impractically> expensive.

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. And today's digital recorders are even better in every respect!

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.

My suspicion is some analog devotees have a double standard, whether they're aware of it or not. Whenever digital is shown to have the slightest weakness in fidelity, even if only measured by instruments but not audible, it's cited as a fatal flaw.

But for analog weaknesses? Oh what's a little noise and distortion, or wow and flutter? Besides, it adds to the listening enjoyment...
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Jan 22, 2020 11:03 am

Nostalgia ain't what it used to be....... :headbang:
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Jan 22, 2020 11:19 am

ef37a wrote:I can clearly recall a reviewer who had master tape recordings of 'natural' sounds such as jangling keys and instruments such as chimes and bells. There was also a a recording of a piano known to the reviewer and a very carefully done recording of speech.

Ah... we've all got one of those... it's part of the standard Reviewers' kit! :lol:

I thought you meant a setup where a speaker and a violinist or singer, or trumpeter, etc stood behind an acoustically transparent curtain and performed live alternating with recorded pieces of the same material.

And yes, that has certainly been done before... but not as a regular thing for magazine speaker reviews!

But every speaker reviewer I know -- and certainly all the ones we use in SOS -- has their own personal collection of very carefully chosen natural reference recordings that they use to help evaluate a speaker's fidelity, with voice, piano and other challenging source material.
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Data Zoom in/out on Studio One DAW

Postby Forum Admin » Wed Jan 22, 2020 1:45 pm

Arpangel wrote:...and now the waveforms on my screen are pathetically small, it makes me feel insecure...

A bit late to this topic, but in my DAW of choice, Studio One, there is a Data Zoom slider which affects waveform size within the current track height and does not obviously affect gain settings.

This Studio One Expert video from Marcus Huyskens shows it in action, and he also describes how to create a really useful Macro to speed up data zoom workflow (I use it all the time myself as I too like to see the track/event waveform at a decent amount of detail).

Well worth a watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zr8G0N0BBkw
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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby ef37a » Wed Jan 22, 2020 4:32 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
ef37a wrote:I can clearly recall a reviewer who had master tape recordings of 'natural' sounds such as jangling keys and instruments such as chimes and bells. There was also a a recording of a piano known to the reviewer and a very carefully done recording of speech.

Ah... we've all got one of those... it's part of the standard Reviewers' kit! :lol:

I thought you meant a setup where a speaker and a violinist or singer, or trumpeter, etc stood behind an acoustically transparent curtain and performed live alternating with recorded pieces of the same material.

And yes, that has certainly been done before... but not as a regular thing for magazine speaker reviews!

But every speaker reviewer I know -- and certainly all the ones we use in SOS -- has their own personal collection of very carefully chosen natural reference recordings that they use to help evaluate a speaker's fidelity, with voice, piano and other challenging source material.

Well, they never said! The chaps of old I mentioned used to give a critique of each sound's reproduction, often using a Quad ELS as a reference.

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Re: The insecurity of small waveforms on your DAW

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Jan 22, 2020 5:56 pm

They do... sometimes they even list the specific material they've used if there's a specific point to be made. And I've definitely described the kind of processes and materials I use for my own reviews in these forums in the past. We've even carried articles in the magazine about choosing material for review purposes to make a personal reference test CD.
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