Surprised by Blind Listening Test

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
donmich
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Surprised by Blind Listening Test

Post by donmich » Thu May 17, 2012 9:40 pm

Fwiw,

For some reason I nver bothered investing a lot of time in the ableton effects. Ive used the MB compressor on occasion and some of the others but rarely use them for critical functions, preferring a handful of 3rd party ones. I've been thinking about getting a new buss compressor lately. After trying out a fair number I was liking Cytomic and Fabfilter. I wanted more transparency than the old analog modeled ones I have.

Today I was comparing them on an entirely unprocessed, close mic, (no room or overheads), high dynamic range drum loop with a really knocky rimshot using Studio Drummer. First I was surprised that I was leaning toward FF over Cytomic and then I got the idea to try the Mix Gel preset from the abe presets. Whats interesting is I felt biased against it I guess but there was a little nagging feeling that it wasnt being sufficiently outperformed to warrant a purchase of the other two.

So I asked someone to switch between the three for 12 bars apiece as well as cycling through no compression in a random order while I listened without watching what he did.

I listened long and hard and when I felt I was listening to the best one I asked him to stop. Ableton! I did it again. I chose no compression. 3rd time - ableton. 4th time ableton. 5th time - no compression.

So in the end it seems I prefer nothing or ableton over Cytomic or Fabfilter. At least on complex close-mic acoustic drum playing/sounds. I tend to go for 70's Jamaican or muted Steely Dan & Disco type drums. not a lot of room unless Im doing straight Jazz type stuff. But I'm almost fanatical or religious about drum sound.

You might not be surprised but I sure was. :)

Saved some money and learned something about myself. A good day.

Tarekith
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Re: Surprised by Blind Listening Test

Post by Tarekith » Thu May 17, 2012 10:24 pm

If more people took the time to do this, the world would be full of peace and love and good happiness things.
Tarekith
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Inner Portal Studio - Professional Audio Mastering

donmich
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Re: Surprised by Blind Listening Test

Post by donmich » Thu May 17, 2012 10:58 pm

Ha! :D

plox
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Re: Surprised by Blind Listening Test

Post by plox » Fri May 18, 2012 12:04 am

Native plugs in combination with M4L is a beast

Homebelly
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Re: Surprised by Blind Listening Test

Post by Homebelly » Fri May 18, 2012 5:31 am

about the only out side plug i still use is reverberate for IR's..
I've been all about lives devices for at least the last three years and pimp them when ever i can.
Just about everything on my soundcloud page--for better or worse is 100% live devices unless its from out side the box.
people come to the forum looking for VST/AU suggestions when everything they need is already in the program.
i'm convinced its all about the look...
i would love some one at ableton to strip the code out of live for any single device, re-skin it with some retro 3D knobs and fake GUI and then sell it as a stand alone VST/AU. I guarantee that at some point a whole bunch of peeps would recommend it over the built in version.
live devices FTW!!
15" 2.4 MBP/Live/Sampler/Operator/ Home made Dumble clone/Two Strats/One Jazz Bass.
Come and visit any time= Soundcloud

Linear Phase
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Re: Surprised by Blind Listening Test

Post by Linear Phase » Fri May 18, 2012 6:26 am

I've noticed a trend among people these days, to be using less and less third party software. I think it has to do with a few things:

A. The stuff that has been coming with the DAWs is pretty top notch now. It just seems like a lot of the DAW companies have brought their A game, and they need the customers, so they are providing great tools, "standard," as in car stereo.

B. With the vast amount of VST, AU, plug ins available, the platform has become somewhat unreliable* depending on which dev you shop from, and quite cluttered in general. I mean, rather than sifting through 1000 compressors, "for the right sound," why not just use, "a great compressor," and get the sound... uh, with the settings, and buttons, etc..

C. And this is the final reason why I think people have been investing less, and less, time money and energy in 3rd party plugs. "The learning curve." I don't know about you guys, but I know for myself, Simple RULES! If I come accross a compressor, or an eq.. and it sounds great.. I get suckered in quite quickly... cause the learning curve on a eq is basically, 1.2.3. But like, if I come across a synth, and it sounds great.. I start thinking, "yeah k, lovely, now do I want to spend years learning it."



That said.. Fabfilter? Yuck.. I think all their stuff is harsh sounding. And Cytomic? It looks great. I haven't demo'd it yet. But that's kinda the A, B, C, I listed above... I'm becoming a tough sale.
Linear Phase has left the building..

Rabalder
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Re: Surprised by Blind Listening Test

Post by Rabalder » Fri May 18, 2012 7:43 am

Tarekith wrote:If more people took the time to do this, the world would be full of peace and love and good happiness things.
Sounds like a nice place to be..

pepezabala
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Re: Surprised by Blind Listening Test

Post by pepezabala » Fri May 18, 2012 8:31 am

Tarekith wrote:If more people took the time to do this, the world would be full of peace and love and good happiness things.
haha, then many people should do this blind test with religion instead of compressors.

Rabalder
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Re: Surprised by Blind Listening Test

Post by Rabalder » Fri May 18, 2012 9:01 am

pepezabala wrote:
Tarekith wrote:If more people took the time to do this, the world would be full of peace and love and good happiness things.
haha, then many people should do this blind test with religion instead of compressors.
People will always be herds of sheep led by a leader. Even an imaginery leader.
Hooray for humanity!

donmich
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Re: Surprised by Blind Listening Test

Post by donmich » Fri May 18, 2012 8:40 pm

Why fabfilter? Well I for what I need, their delay is absolutely transcendent. it was the first thing of theirs I tried. Sometimes when i have an experience like that I am way open, maybe too open to a companies other products. I also liked volcano for sculpting synth sounds. Havent bought ot though.
In comparison I found their compressor a bit forward, but harsh isnt the word I'd use. In fact it might be the type of material I feed into them when Im testing but I find their stuff smooth - like almost "greasy" smooth. Its the same feeling I get from U-he's synth aesthetic.

Speaking of U-he and plugs, I tried Uhbik the other day and nearly fell out of my chair. Try ab-ing pretty much anyones stock plugs, not just ableton - and I'd almost go as far as to say its a sonic world I didnt even know existed in plug form. The way the drums i was testing with took to that flanger, phaser etc freaked me out.

donmich
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Re: Surprised by Blind Listening Test

Post by donmich » Fri May 18, 2012 9:15 pm

Homebelly wrote:about the only out side plug i still use is reverberate for IR's..
I've been all about lives devices for at least the last three years and pimp them when ever i can.
Just about everything on my soundcloud page--for better or worse is 100% live devices unless its from out side the box.
people come to the forum looking for VST/AU suggestions when everything they need is already in the program.
i'm convinced its all about the look...
i would love some one at ableton to strip the code out of live for any single device, re-skin it with some retro 3D knobs and fake GUI and then sell it as a stand alone VST/AU. I guarantee that at some point a whole bunch of peeps would recommend it over the built in version.
live devices FTW!!

I think you're definitely correct about the look. Its interesting though, that when it started to take off the look actually became kind of influential. Others started to employ it. I cant really remember who and the trend has passed but I remember noticing that. It was in fact sort of a nice change from all the bad 90's ish amateur looking brushed steel GUIs that were prominent. That look, I'll admit affects me. I hate it. Back when I was learning web design that was the in thing and I disliked it then. Its likely why I am not drawn to Logics synths etc.

It seems NI's look became the thing after the abe thing settled down.

Anyway, this was the value of the blind test I did. Made me feel a bit humbled.

rydn
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Re: Surprised by Blind Listening Test

Post by rydn » Fri May 18, 2012 10:44 pm

Something to very careful about is matching the average loudness when doing tests like this. If the average level is just a bit higher with one option than the others, there's a good chance it will win. Even if the settings are matched between plugins, the resulting levels could be different.

I wasn't super impressed with The Glue either. I like DC8C a lot, which is not expensive but lacks a demo version, or did recently. PSP Old Timer ME is pretty transparent.

donmich
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Re: Surprised by Blind Listening Test

Post by donmich » Fri May 18, 2012 10:57 pm

rydn wrote:Something to very careful about is matching the average loudness when doing tests like this. If the average level is just a bit higher with one option than the others, there's a good chance it will win. Even if the settings are matched between plugins, the resulting levels could be different.

I wasn't super impressed with The Glue either. I like DC8C a lot, which is not expensive but lacks a demo version, or did recently. PSP Old Timer ME is pretty transparent.

Thats very true about levels. Im quite retentive about that myself. What i was noticing about them was the difference in the transient response with the ghost pattens. It was very subtle and only really stood out when I was listening and not looking. All three affected it differently and it was this that made me pick the no-compression a couple of times.

In truth they all sounded good. It took me a fair while to come to the decision I did.

H20nly
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Re: Surprised by Blind Listening Test

Post by H20nly » Sat May 19, 2012 2:12 am

Rabalder wrote:
Tarekith wrote:If more people took the time to do this, the world would be full of peace and love and good happiness things.
Sounds like a nice place to be..
i want to move there... right now.

Rabalder wrote:
Tarekith wrote:If more people took the time to do this, the world would be full of peace and love and good happiness things.
Sounds like a nice place to be..
sign me up... shave my head, what ever... it would be cool if we'd all collab instead of arguing about corporate PC vendors and such. the last time any of us did that with anything meaningful, it took one of us dying.

humanity indeed.

luddy
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Re: Surprised by Blind Listening Test

Post by luddy » Sat May 19, 2012 4:36 am

I also use Live's native plugs more and more, and third party plugs less and less. The only third party plugs I still use regularly are u-he's synths. I occasionally use a third party reverb, but the more time I spend with Live's Reverb the more I think it is also underrated and can do lots of good things if you tweak it and insert some EQs or filters around it.

There's a real benefit IMO in terms of CPU utilization, simplicity, etc.

-Luddy

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