Does it make sense to use digital effects on analog signal?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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araz
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Does it make sense to use digital effects on analog signal?

Post by araz » Fri Jul 22, 2011 1:56 pm

analog signal + vst effects = ??

Will the character of the analogue sound be maintained? For example, if I process a DSI Tetra with Ableton's audio plugins (eg. reverb, ping-pong, compressor, etc), will I loose the analog character?

Araz

heavensdaw
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Re: Does it make sense to use digital effects on analog signal?

Post by heavensdaw » Fri Jul 22, 2011 2:00 pm

Everything becomes digital in the end.. but a 'rule of thumb'... shit in shit out.

Hd

blakbeltjonez
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Re: Does it make sense to use digital effects on analog signal?

Post by blakbeltjonez » Fri Jul 22, 2011 2:17 pm

if it sounds good, why worry about it? don't start chasing your own tail.

there are loads of outboard effects units that are essentially digital - delays, reverbs, and others- going back to the 8 bit 1970's (Eventide, Deltalab, Ursa Major, etc.).

personally, i wouldn't worry too much about preserving "analog character". just try it, if it sounds good, great.... then move on. if not, try something else. you're working in a digital environment anyway if you're using Live. the only way you can stay all analog is if you use an analog console, analog effects and an analog tape deck. there are still some people that do that, but it's a fairly restrictive way of working.

the other side of the coin is, every analog stage you go through changes the sound to some degree - sometimes for better, sometimes for worse depending on the gear. so, you might wind up with something that's further away from what you want if you insist on staying all analog.

if you have access to outboard gear, give it a shot by all means but don't restrict yourself by not using plug-ins.

Warrior Bob
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Re: Does it make sense to use digital effects on analog signal?

Post by Warrior Bob » Fri Jul 22, 2011 3:25 pm

I don't have the world's best ears but I tend to think that recording an analog source digitally tends to preserve the "analog character" pretty well. You get a bit of aliasing since that's true of all digital recording, but it's not going to ruin your sound or anything like that.

Use analog sources if you want the sources to sound analog, and use tape if you want the "recording" to sound analog (tape hiss, soft clipping, etc).

The Carpet Cleaner
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Re: Does it make sense to use digital effects on analog signal?

Post by The Carpet Cleaner » Sat Jul 23, 2011 10:40 am

It's just about coloring your sound.
Just going out and come back into your sound card, hence passing through da/ad converters, with the option of using preamps, is going to give a color to your sound.

doghouse
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Re: Does it make sense to use digital effects on analog signal?

Post by doghouse » Sat Jul 23, 2011 12:53 pm

Warrior Bob wrote:You get a bit of aliasing since that's true of all digital recording
Well designed digital recording doesn't alias. That includes Live.

Digital effcets and instruments might alias, but that's a different discussion.

Warrior Bob
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Re: Does it make sense to use digital effects on analog signal?

Post by Warrior Bob » Sat Jul 23, 2011 10:56 pm

doghouse wrote:Well designed digital recording doesn't alias. That includes Live.
I've always understood that any frequencies near or above the Nyquist frequency for a given sampling rate will experience aliasing.

Since all digital recording that I know of requires a sampling rate, there's going to be a Nyquist frequency and therefore (so I've understood) a point at which aliasing will occur.

Do you have a reference somewhere that I could look at? It'd be neat to be wrong about this; I didn't think there was any way around aliasing in digital recording.

Tone Deft
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Re: Does it make sense to use digital effects on analog signal?

Post by Tone Deft » Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:23 pm

Warrior Bob wrote:I didn't think there was any way around aliasing in digital recording.
simple, just put a filter to remove the artifacts.

go dig through Sound On Sound's web site. try to forget the ideas you have now and go into it with an open mind.
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trevox
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Re: Does it make sense to use digital effects on analog signal?

Post by trevox » Sun Jul 24, 2011 1:29 am

One piece of advice is that you should record and process your audio at 24 bit and as high a sample rate as you can. While you may not notice a massive difference when listening to the raw audio, it does make a massive difference when you start processing it. The difference is very audible (to my ears anyway).

A simple example. You record audio at 48Khz. You pitch it down 2 octaves. Although your sample rate in Live is still 48KHz, the audio you are listening to is in effect 12KHz as there is the same amount of cycles in audio 4 times the length. You will notice it's grainy.

You record audio at 192Khz. You pitch it down 2 octaves. Although your sample rate in Live is still 192KHz, the audio you are listening to is in effect 48KHz as there is the same amount of cycles in audio 4 times the length. You can now switch Live back to a sample rate of 48KHz if you like. You should not notice it being grainy now as it's still at a respectable sample rate.

I cannot stress enough to always work with 24 bit audio to maintain any level of analog-ness.

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