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ARSCLIST  July 2007

ARSCLIST July 2007

Subject:

Re: Shopping for AD/DA

From:

Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 10 Jul 2007 22:14:04 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (105 lines)

Hi Phillip:

A good book to read until you understand it -- and it shouldn't take more than one read because it's 
well-written -- is Bob Katz's "Mastering Audio." He explains how the whole bit-depth thing works. If 
you don't go digi-tools crazy, 24-bit is plenty for standard conservative cleanup or EQ tweaking and 
then peak-level normalization. You start getting into trouble with multiple chains of effects and 
dynamics processing. Also, some digi-tools are better than others. And I think a lot of people get a 
rig full of digi-tools and just start using them like crazy without understanding what is being done 
to the signal. Finally, I still think some of the worst sins of digi-processing were back in the 
early days of Sonic Solutions and CEDAR when they were over-used by people not listening carefully 
or unable or unwilling to hear the awful digital artifacts.

-- Tom Fine


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "phillip holmes" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2007 10:33 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Shopping for AD/DA


>I know you weren't.  That was merely an "amen" for Bob.  Most decent ADCs can give good results, if 
>they are used correctly.  That's why I don't like those "restorations".  They "put lipstick on the 
>pig" and the result is unacceptable for me and the pig.
> There was a great article about Pro-tools a while back.  It explained how all that manipulation in 
> the digital domain gives such a bad sounding product because every manipulation of the original 
> signal looses bit depth (or something like that---I'm an idiot about digital).
> Phillip
>
> Tom Fine wrote:
>> I'm not arguing for bad digital sound -- I don't know who would.
>>
>> I am saying that a top-line converter like the Benchmark is a real stretch for some 
>> funding-limited organizations and I'd much rather see limited budgets spent on excellent 
>> quality -- and the maintenance thereof -- ANALOG gear so you don't need a "by the light of the 
>> virgin moon" kind of digital chain but rather the very good and relatively inexpensive stuff that 
>> is out there if not plentiful. There are probably some who have more faith in digital processing 
>> than I do -- I say make it sound good before it goes into the box. So under this philosophy, one 
>> wouldn't even try extreme digital processing since you can't put lipstick on a pig and most 
>> people I know find digital artifacts super-annoying compared to minor analog imperfections.
>>
>> I still think the CardDeluxe is the best DAC device for under $1000 but some are very insistent 
>> on keeping all the audio circuitry outside of a PC/Mac box, for understandable reasons. There are 
>> a variety of external devices of excellent quality out there for well sound of the Benchmark's 
>> prices, although if your budget is rich and your tastes are toward the excellent only, that 
>> equipment has a sterling reputation. I can't recommend a specific external box because I don't 
>> have any. I will note that some of these devices seem to devote a lot of the development and 
>> marketing budget to mic preamps and/or built-in analog stuff like tube "warmers" or compressors 
>> of various flavors which may or may not be desired in a transfer chain.
>>
>> Even more important that what digi-toy you happen to have is your practices -- are you presenting 
>> undistorted, in-azimuth audio to the analog-to-digital converter? Is polarity and phase constant 
>> in your chain? Did you chase down and eliminate grounding and hum issues? For that matter, have 
>> you scientifically measured your equipment and do you have the equipment to measure it and keep 
>> it running to spec? If you're doing disks, have you cleaned them properly and played them with 
>> the proper stylus? Is your tape machine aligned to the proper standard? Do you keep the tape 
>> heads cleaned and degaussed (sp?)? Are you converting at 96/24 and leaving plenty of headroom so 
>> your processing won't present digital clipping? Do you have a proper storage and backup system? 
>> To my thinking, all of this is much more important than what brand of DAC you use as long as you 
>> find something in your budget that can produce digital copies that come out sounding like what 
>> was fed into the digital system, minus whatever digital processing you choose to do (and I would 
>> choose to be as conservative as possible with that).
>>
>> Just to be clear one more time, I'm not advocating a bad-sounding anything -- EVER!
>>
>> -- Tom Fine
>>
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "phillip holmes" <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2007 8:27 PM
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Shopping for AD/DA
>>
>>
>>> Amen.  Bad analog sound, plus bad digital sound, equals junk.  Many "restorations" of old 78s 
>>> sound worse to me because I can still hear the limitations of the 78, and then, they add a layer 
>>> of mediocre digital processing.  Obviously, there are guys who do good "restorations".  I say 
>>> "restorations" because you can't restore what's not there.  You can only take away ticks and 
>>> pops, and in the process, some of the music you'd like to keep.  That's why I'm a record 
>>> collector.
>>> Phillip
>>>
>>> Bob Olhsson wrote:
>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>> >From Tom Fine: "...I would argue that these would be great overkill
>>>> for such
>>>> things as cassette field recordings, almost any spoken word, private recordings, old non-hifi 
>>>> media, etc."
>>>>
>>>> If the recordings are worth cleaning up, I'd argue they are worth the best
>>>> converters one can afford. Digital artifacts are not covered up by analog
>>>> recording artifacts. It comes down to the actual value of the recordings vs.
>>>> the cost. High quality converters create audio that can accept a lot more
>>>> signal processing before turning crunchy.
>>>>
>>>> Bob Olhsson Audio Mastery, Nashville TN
>>>> Mastering, Audio for Picture, Mix Evaluation and Quality Control
>>>> Over 40 years making people sound better than they ever imagined!
>>>> 615.385.8051 http://www.hyperback.com
>>>>
>>>>
>>>
>>
> 

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