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the Digital/Analogue time bog
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Digital and Analogue together?
Totally
66%
 66%  [ 10 ]
Mostly
6%
 6%  [ 1 ]
A little bit
26%
 26%  [ 4 ]
No way
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Total Votes : 15

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destroyifyer



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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2006 3:15 pm    Post subject: the Digital/Analogue time bog
Subject description: the illusion of division
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Realistically, there is really no difference between the two...however, I have had trouble mixing them together, so I made this topic, hopefuly someone gets something out of it.
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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2006 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

We try to avoid this pointless topic and the similar Apple vs. Microsoft raves. They can be complete time sinks.

I say there is no difference. The best analog circuit designers are the guys that design the sense amps in the multi-gigabyte memory chips.

Posted Image, might have been reduced in size. Click Image to view fullscreen.

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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2006 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

we love them both..at the same time...kinky
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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 5:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mosc wrote:
I say there is no difference.


I look forward to hearing about fast fourier transforms done in the analogue domain, I'd also like to have a digital oscilator that can do vertical flanks without getting jittered by the sample frequency; I'd pay good money for both. Oh, and a a phase-linear analogue EQ, I need a few of those as well. And can I please have a digital mixer on my laptop that's linear up to 100KHz? And analogue lambda calculus, please, that'd be nice too.

I don't see how they are the same and I don't see how there's a battle. They are entirely different fields and good for entirely different techniques.

Also; MS basically owns Apple, I don't see the battle there either.

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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 5:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

paul e. wrote:
we love them both..at the same time...kinky


Right, so your gear is into swinging too?

I think it only gets kinky if you considder that both digital and analog have body parts hidden in the word.

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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 5:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Of course there is a difference. As I have stated before, many times, a lot of digital gear is insanely stupid and so bad sounding that it is unbelievable.. and the same is the case with lotsa analog gear out there ( both the classic stuff of the truly anal kind and also the new reinvented warmth adding junk ).
The main point is that the musician / producer should know how to use the gear. Some do and some don´t. And it obviously helps to know how the gear actually works. Do not trust the marketing hype, the proaudio magazines and the grapevine.

Elektro 80 says: Learn to use the gear

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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 5:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

....As for the initial Q, yes.. whatever.. a and d together.. but still this is not a poll kinda thingie.
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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 6:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Trivia: I love the UAD-1 DSP card and the various UAD-1 plugins. Many of these are emulations of analog gear. The stuff sounds reasonably good and performs as expected. However, do keep in mind that the UAD-1 plugins will not be 1:1 substitution for the analog gear. Still, producing with the UAD-1 will often reveal that it can be far easier and fitting to add certain artifact emulations in the digital domain because you can handle gain structures and noise levels better. -And sometimes messed up gain structures and noise is what you want .. it all depends on what you want.
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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Assuming we are talking about electronic musical instruments, analogue and digital both operate at the quantum level - even vacuum tubes. At that point there is no difference between the two. What we call analog and digital are generalized approximations.

There is no pure digital system - all have some analog components.

All analog systems are considered analog because we average out the quantum effects. Since we don't perceive them, we pretend they aren't there.

When you design chips you see things from a different perspective. I've designed Op Amps, D/A and A/D converters, DRAMs and SRAMS, and DSPs. These are all analog. The best analog designers are the guys that design memory chips - which most people would call digital circuits.

Why am I making the point? Because when you dismiss the analog and digital issue as illusionary, the you just focus on the essentials of the musical device for the important things - what does it sound like, what kind of UI does it have, how expressive, etc.

I was quite pleased at the NEAH - North East Analog Heaven - meeting in April. Some people told me, "Don't bring a VA or digital synth there, that won't be appropriate." The fact was that nobody gave a shit about analog vs. digital. They were into great sounds and user interfaces with lots of interactive capability. In fact, the thing the attendees were most interested in was the other people - not the equipment at all.

Are people analog or digital? (rhetorical question)

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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 7:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Ok, but then you are talking about analogue and digital as in continuous v.s. discrete.

I was talking about analogue as in "the data's representation is analogue to the data itself" vs data that's represented in some other way,

I think that's the most usefull way of looking at it because that is the field where for example harmonic v.s. inharmonic distortion comes into play.

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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 7:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Well, look at the distortions in digital systems.

Clock jitter
- an analog effect
Quantization error - an analog effect
Aliasing - could be called an analog effect because the way it is controlled is by band limiting the signal with an analog filter.

There are some distortions that are considered purely digital effects, like round-off errors, but these are analogous to noise floors in analog systems.

Most of the characteristis of analog and digital systems that people love or hate are actually artifacts of particular implimentations. For example, that warm analog sound has nothing to do with analog but with the distortion and frequency repsonse of certain equipment. You can make analog systems that are just as clean and sterile as digital sytems. In fact, some of the analog amplifiers designed by Robert Carver were critisized with much the same verbage as digital sytems are.

Sometimes the analog/digital thing is just a smoke screen. For example, in this very topic, Elektro80 says: "However, do keep in mind that the UAD-1 plugins will not be 1:1 substitution for the analog gear." I'm sure this is true, but it is not because of the difference between analog and digital, it is because of the particular design of this product.

It's interesting that most of the perceived advantages of analog systems are from the way these devices operate when they are in their non-linear ranges. For example, tube amps and tape recorders when they are over driven. This has absolutely nothing to do with analog, it has to do with characteristics of the tubes and the tape - both technologies that can be used for both analog and digital systems.

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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mosc wrote:
, Elektro80 says: "However, do keep in mind that the UAD-1 plugins will not be 1:1 substitution for the analog gear." I'm sure this is true, but it is not because of the difference between analog and digital, it is because of the particular design of this product.


Yes and no, that angle will be a misleading because that doesn´t quite say anything about the context as such.

Because of the way things really work, if you know what you are doing it will be far easier to emulate and actually add that analog flavor in the digital domain. However, also because of the way things really work, it still makes sense to both want and also have the means to do some signal processing in the analog domain.

Of course, digital is also analog as Howard says, just consider how harddisks work and how stuff really works when reading a bit state from a CD. But isn´t this adding to the smokescreen? This is still about how things really work and learning how to use the gear? We have yet to develop quantum audio production technology yet? Like, no matter which vocalist you actually book for a studio session you will still only have Shakira or Cher showing up, and no matter what you do they will all sound like Tom Verlaine anyway. Shocked Hmm, on second thought I wonder if we just might have that tech here already.

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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 11:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Then there are the more ambiguous devices, like bucket brigade lines. These are essentially chips with lots of sample and hold modules. Used in delays, reverbs and loopers, they are analog circuits but with discrete time clocks. People don't generally consider these to be digital devices. If you read around on the forum, some people intuitively think these will sound better than similar systems made with RAM storage.

Are these things analog or digital? (rhetorical question)

My point is, and I'm not in disagreement with anyone as far as I can tell, look at this strictly from a musical perspective. Don't be confused by the analog/digital engineering technology illusion. Use the device as an instrument. Consider the sound with your ears, not your imagination fed by the stories about analog vs. digital you have assimilated through the years.

Most people would say that sound itself is analog. But what the brain gets from the ears is not analog, but a series of electro-chemical pulses.

Are humans analog or digital? (rhetorical question)

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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 11:59 am    Post subject:  cool
Subject description: thanks
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My friend was talking about how when Skinny Puppy made the switch from analogue to digital it was like night-and-day. That's the main reason I made this topic...the other being when, I used an analogue sequencer and tried to synchronize it with a drum machine tempo, it seemed like it was imposoble. But then again I didn't really know what I was doing. I just wanted to know, if there is some dificulties in combining the two...so thanks to you all, even though now I see that this topic is kind of a drag...
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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Sometimes is it good to be a little more specific in one's opening post - but this is schmooze.

The first digital synths like the DX7 and MIDI came out at about the same time. PC based MIDI sequencers happened very quickly and this made a big change in music. I think this was because the music now had a beat and tempo driven by the MIDI sequencer. Before, without those tools, the experimental music, and even pop music, was generally more amorphic. If the music was rhythmic, there was a drum part or a click track and stuff was played along with it. Suddenly, music started becoming very synchronized with the beat.

In the days before the MIDI sequencer, there was no tempo on the multi-track - just sonic events.

Almost every musician went though some kind of musical adjustment period. Listen to the difference in the pop music made in 1975 and 1985. MIDI was a big driver in that change, IMHO.

At that time, this is what a lot of people meant by going digital. What was happening was really more than just digital technology, but without digital technology MIDI wouldn't have happened.

Also, the FM synths made certain sounds that suddenly started appearing in music. That was thought of at the time as the digital sound, but it was really linear FM. Nowadays you can get those sounds on a modular analog system.

This measure/beat/tempo thing is not a requirement of digital technology, it is just something that became easy to do and the crowd went that way.

I know people that avoid MIDI even to this day because they don't care for the "tyranny of the bar line". When they record on their DAWs they don't set the BPM tempo but rather use seconds and minutes to index the tracks. I personally use MIDI, but I avoid the BPM thing. I'm too much influenced by Charles Ives...

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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 4:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Good points.

trivia
We did of course have "tempo" for multitracks before midi, but since pop producers weren´t among the most technically adept this was deemed to be highly experimental stuff. You would have various schemes for syncing studio reel-to-rel decks and some would even slam down a sequencer driven drum track/click track in order to provide a tempo for the musicians.
A lot of the more serious syncing gear was driven by the broadcast industry and prior to midi we had "frame" based sync. The frame based, secs and minutes idea is still with us today.
Several vendors introduced gear that could be synced in various ways. Even Roland had a go at a programmable mixer that could be synced to a click track.

Digital gear? When the DX7 was new the main selling point was the FM concept and the fact that settings could be stored. Digital instruments weren´t exactly a new concept. We had two different lines of digital instruments, the sample based ones ( like the Fairlight) and the synths like the PPG Wave. And then there were the DIY digital devices.

Obviously MIDI made a huge difference, but the first 3-5 years of MIDI was really a huge mess. Some stuff worked, a lot didn´t and the implementations were psychedelic at best.

MIDI prosumer gear also meant the return of the "Bontempi home organ approach" to music making but this also meant that electronic instruments suddenly had a mass market appeal. I dunno. This is neither good or bad. I´m sure your average neanderthal caveman would have appreciated a Bontempi organ with BossaNova and ChaCha buttons. Jean Michel Jarre certainly did.

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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 4:39 am    Post subject: Re: cool
Subject description: thanks
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teradacto wrote:
I used an analogue sequencer and tried to synchronize it with a drum machine tempo, it seemed like it was imposoble. But then again I didn't really know what I was doing. I just wanted to know, if there is some dificulties in combining the two...so thanks to you all, even though now I see that this topic is kind of a drag...


True, it is all about learning to use the gear. Very Happy

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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Mosc, I agree many of your points but I can't agree there is no difference. I think the queston is akin to saying; "what's better; a truck or a sports car?" Well, neither, I would say, They are just as good, just as usefull but for different aplications. If you just want to drive to the other side of town both will do nicely but often it pays off to pick the right one. Moving with a sports car will take a while, for example.

I'd like to go in to some of your points in a little more detail. I'm not picking sides; I use both a lot. If there are sides to be picked I think it would be in coding/soldering v.s. buying.

I agree that aliassing isn't inherently a digital effect; it comes from quantisation in the time dimention. If you have a fast S&H you can have a lot of fun with analogue aliassing. Digital systems, however, are inherently quantised in the time dimention. This can be a advantage, for example because speciffic points in time can be adressed in detail but it also means you need to take potential aliassing into account. This simply makes some things impossible to do easily in digital systems that are trivial in analogue ones.

BBD's are a excelent example. They can alias, they are quantised in the time dimention yet they are analogue in that the signal's representation is analogue to the signal itself.

Tubes and tapes can indeed be used for both very well (as canbasically anything that will conduct or hold a charge) bu the way they affect the signal compared to what the signal represents is very different. Tape for example will round very hot charges towards the zero-line it will also round charges that are next to eachother towards eachother. With a digital signal, asuming decent tressholds, the first phenomenon won't affect anything, the second *will* be a issue. You can't have a 0 become a 1 just because it's surounded by 1's. If your signal is analogue to the sound it represents, however, the same phenomena will translate to compression and smoothing, bot of which are often desirered.

These are fundamental differences; digital faults are often unrelated to how a sound is preceived and so will sound more objectionable in most cases. On the other hand; it's also easier to develop a digital system that functions perfectly for a given range of operations, analogue perfection is impossible to come by.


Indeed; at their core they are the same; just electrons bouncing around. Indeed; with enough analogue logic gates and S&H modules you can make a perfectly fine digital computer if you have the time and space. However the way those electrons are related to the signal are fundementally different. The issues and strengths of both are most certainly related and can be compared well but it still pays off to pick the right one inthose cases where several implementations are available.

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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:

Digital gear? When the DX7 was new the main selling point was the FM concept and the fact that settings could be stored. Digital instruments weren´t exactly a new concept. We had two different lines of digital instruments, the sample based ones ( like the Fairlight) and the synths like the PPG Wave. And then there were the DIY digital devices.


Don't forget that the DX7 could be lifted by one man yet had a acceptable piano sound. That's why it sold. The rest was just a smoke schreen. Aside from marketing telling people that "digital is perfect" (which is a bit of a joke in the case of the DX7 where low-ress wavetables interfere with deep modulations) and the idea that FM could "cteate any sound ever" (sure it can but it's non-tribial to get to a arbitrary speciffic sound) hardly anybody actually used the store function.

Perhaps people realy did believe it all but it hardly affected anyone.

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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 10:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Wow. This is a big topic. And it always torments musicians at a certain point in their lives. When I was a teenager, I didn't have a reason to think which was "better." I bought what I could afford, focused on one instrument, and was proud when I recorded somthing good, whether that was on a cassette tape or CD.

A few years ago, the analog/digital issue in regards to warmth and harmonic/inharmonic distortion really racked my brain. I wanted to go completely analog because I thought that would solve the problems with "warmth" and "saturation." But the reason that I was longing for these qualities most likely wasn't because it wasn't possible on a PC or any other digital hardware; it was probably because I wasn't using my digital gear effectively. I hadn't learned to use the gear.

I agree there is a lot of digital crap out there, but look at who it is marketed to - teenagers who can't afford much or are at the same place I was a few years ago, or maybe even when I was a teenager. They're all trying to achieve a certain sound they have heard and have been told by the advertisers that a particular product will create/re-create that. But they simply haven't learned everything yet (though that is truly impossible). When they get to learning about compression, for example, their views may change.

Here's an interesting thought: I originally buit the Weird Sound Generator because I wanted an easy beginner project for something that was truly analog (meaning voltage). When I heard it running for the first time and realized how full and fat the sound was, I was totally blown away. This doesn't mean that this same full sound couldn't have been created on a PC. I used to think that. Now, I frequently use a VSTi called "YMVST" that emulates an Atari sound chip. It is friggin' fat as hell. I guess if I knew more precisely what sound I wanted and "learned how to use the gear," I could have done it on the computer without either of them.

So, on the poll, I chose "very little" on if analog and digital could be mixed together. But I interpreted that question as "recording onto 1/2" tape" versus "recording straight into Cubase." I saw it as a question about one's daily music routine. I agree with Electro 80 - "LEARN TO USE THE GEAR."
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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Right. Well, I don't know anybody who can make a digital system sound like "analogue saturation". Rob comes close but it's not quite the same and I never heard anything that comes closer. I don't see any real point to it either; to me digital imitations of analogue systems are like physical models of existing instruments. It's interesting as a purely accedemic persuit in order to facilitate a deeper understanding of what's going on but as a instrument it makes no sense to me. With tape it's especially sily because tape decks are dirt cheap; a decent tape-recorder can be had for less then the price of a pro-level emulation that will never sound quite the same to trained ears.

I'm much more interested in leaving digital systems be digital systems; they are nice on their own, there is no need for them to pretend to be something else. I'm not sure why the digital-analogue devide causes so much more debate then the acoustical-electronic one. For example; I never heard anybody plead that electronic systems were basically the same as acoustical ones because both instruments were tangible and made of molecules and that this meant that if you couldn't make your piano sound like a granulated Minimoog this was to blame on a lack of "knowing your gear". This is mind bogelingly silly to me. If you don't know the difference or what to use where you shouldn't have either.

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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

In the olden days Rolling Eyes , there were no VA synthesisers to blindly throw in the ‘not warm’ category. So people picked on certain brands. Yamaha and Korg, as I recall. Which didn’t always work, some of the early Korg models (pre MS series) were so warm sounding that they actually raised the temperature inside your ear.
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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:
to me digital imitations of analogue systems are like physical models of existing instruments. It's interesting as a purely accedemic persuit in order to facilitate a deeper understanding of what's going on but as a instrument it makes no sense to me. With tape it's especially sily because tape decks are dirt cheap; a decent tape-recorder can be had for less then the price of a pro-level emulation that will never sound quite the same to trained ears.


My ears are not yet fully trained. Smile However, my next project (that I actually complete) I am planning on recording from the PC onto one of those dirt-cheap tape decks, and then back into the PC to put on a CD. If I think about what is going on during that process (D/A, A/D), I think my head would explode. I mean, where does it end? If I'm not happy with the results, what link in the chain do I blame?

What happens to an analog recording of an analog synth once it's been digitized? Does it immediately become inferior? And what happens when a VSTi emulation of the same analog synth gets recorded onto a tape deck?

There are so many variables and so much mixing of digital and analog in great ways that I don't really know what to think. I remember the first time I heard Photek. It was on vinyl on large PA speakers in the room full of pot smoke and a TV with the Incredible Hulk on with the sound turned off. Years later, I bought the CD, but the crack of those snares wasn't as good as it was on vinyl. But Rupert Parkes stated in an interview that he uses Cubase. Then there's EMS - an electro artist that built his own analog modular synth from scratch. You can tell immediately how much better it sounds through the Boomkat.com Flash audio player than a similar artist with a similar style and arrangement. But did he record it onto half-inch tape? What about compression, mastering, etc.? There are too many variables - the PA speakers and Flash player included. I respect the purists out there who want EVERYTHING to be analog, starting with the instruments to the recording to the vinyl album. And then there are the laptop purists out there whose songs are intentially 100% digital and extremely cold. But those are the two ends of the spectrum. I believe there's some good music in between.... Wink
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Kassen
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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Excelent questions, so good infact that I think I'll try asking some of those myself.

First of all a easy one. The photec one is easy. Vinyl cutting heads are expensive (five figures or so). You don't get to controll one if you don't know very well what you are doing. The worst record you ever heard was still cut by somebody entrusted with one of those. You sinply can't cut vinyl without good engineers.

Of cource the analogue synth doesn't turn to crap once recorded to HD, It becomes very easy to treat in various ways, and it becomes very easy to ruin. Tape won't cure all ailmants and it WILL add hiss.

On the other hand; I've been taking typical digital techniques to toykeyboard sounds and there the faults add to the character of the sounds and blend in.

It's indeed all about good music but good music means good orchestration; picking instruments that suit their roles.

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elektro80
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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Very Happy
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