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Old 24th June 2011, 08:40 PM   #1
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Default The SOURCE is THE Problem?? "souless sound"?

Ok, so I've been thinking about this for a while.

The complaint (as such) is that extremely low distortion (can we call it "blameless") gear is said to produce souless sound. But no one can actually find a true cause for this subjective impression.

(an example: Descrete jFET versus IC op-amp quality)

Many prefer equipment with substantial amounts of harmonic distortion, even when used in a signal chain of "high accuracy" and "low distortion".

What's wrong with the picture?

I'm thinking that the problem lies in the recording and the recording media and encoding rather than in the playback chain.

That's not to include substandard (for lack of a better way to express it) signal chains as a causal factor in this discussion.

Part of my experience is that when I stick almost any pair of mics, with almost any mic preamps and listen directly, the sound is dramatically more "correct" and "live" than even when that same event is recorded and played back!

You can test the above theory by trying it yourself, one of the best ways is to shove the mics outside on your window sills, preferably not the same window sill (but any is better than none) and monitor through your system - close the windows for isolation from feedback. (Try it, don't assume you know if you have not)

Well, that's the premise.

_-_-bear
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Last edited by bear; 24th June 2011 at 08:42 PM.
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Old 24th June 2011, 08:51 PM   #2
Pano is offline Pano  United States
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I used to do a similar thing - record what I was mixing to DAT then play it back on the exact same system. It always lacked "life" tho it wasn't bad sounding. Never could figure out what was going on, other than the idea that the tape was just not "getting" it all.
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Old 24th June 2011, 08:59 PM   #3
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Quote:
Part of my experience is that when I stick almost any pair of mics, with almost any mic preamps and listen directly, the sound is dramatically more "correct" and "live" than even when that same event is recorded and played back!
Nope, not experienced that at all. When I switch an A/D->D/A in and out of the live mike feed, it sounds identical to me IF the levels are accurately matched.
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Old 24th June 2011, 09:21 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SY View Post
Nope, not experienced that at all. When I switch an A/D->D/A in and out of the live mike feed, it sounds identical to me IF the levels are accurately matched.
Wonder if there is something more here, relating to the specific recording process - certainly such is the case with analog tape recording I have done. (Never come close to capturing the sound of the original live event - quickly forgotten though once that frame of reference is gone.) I have also heard RDAT recording live and noted something similar, but this was a long, long time ago and I may have been hearing the imperfection of that recorder's analog path and codecs.

Level matching is pretty critical..

As a disclaimer I have not done any live recording in decades..
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Old 24th June 2011, 10:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pano View Post
I used to do a similar thing - record what I was mixing to DAT then play it back on the exact same system. It always lacked "life" tho it wasn't bad sounding. Never could figure out what was going on, other than the idea that the tape was just not "getting" it all.
We could ask ourselves if that is not a psychological effect of the difference of perception between:
- a live sound, immediate, surprising, ever evolving, free = organic,
- a recorded sound, in a "box", processed, determined, fossilized, repeatable = mechanic.

A difference that makes radio more interesting to listen to than a CD, for instance.
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Old 24th June 2011, 10:32 PM   #6
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Pano- analog is different. I loved my old Ampex 351s, but the output and input did NOT sound identical. The M-Audio 192 I use these days is much better in that respect. I'd never go back- I'm nostalgic, but I ain't crazy.
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Old 24th June 2011, 10:33 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by SY View Post
Nope, not experienced that at all. When I switch an A/D->D/A in and out of the live mike feed, it sounds identical to me IF the levels are accurately matched.
I take it that this wasn't an acoustical event, but rather, both recording and performance were played through the same electronics and monitors.
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Old 24th June 2011, 10:44 PM   #8
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Mike feed is monitored on headphones. Live acoustical event, but the comparison is mike feed versus output of DAC.
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Old 24th June 2011, 10:56 PM   #9
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I agree with SY. I used to be in a band (in a former life), and try as we may, we just couldn't get the sound right no matter what. We were using a TEAC 3330, which was considered to be a very good reel to reel in those days, and some very expesive mics (don't remember what they were), and the sound just wasn't right. In later years, a band mate that stuck with it after I had moved on to other endeavors, got a digital recorder (agian, don't remember what kind, getting old sux!) and the results were much better.

Mike
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Old 24th June 2011, 11:18 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by CaféNoir View Post
- a live sound, immediate, surprising, ever evolving, free = organic,
- a recorded sound, in a "box", processed, determined, fossilized, repeatable = mechanic.
Yes, I'm sure that has a lot to do with it. It can be hard to overcome that prejudice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SY View Post
Pano- analog is different.
Sure, But I was recording to DAT, not analog. It did n't sound bad, just a little lacking. Granted, your soundcard may well be much better than the old DAT deck.
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