New Studio Tool Expected to Bring More Super Audio Titles

Lee Scoggins

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Mike Broadman

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The first three words of the thread title made me think for a second that my favorite metal band was putting out a new album.

This is good as long as the quality doesn't suffer. It would be better if increased production lowered prices.
 
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Of course, a whole bunch of SACDs are already PCM sourced and sound great (heck, probably the vast majority of 5.1 mixes). So I see this as a good thing.

As long as those who are making the discs don't use the nastier features of ProTools (nonoise, dynamic range squashing, etc)...
 

John Kotches

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So let's be clear here. All the work is being done in PCM. At that point, why bother with DSD, when the real master is PCM?

While it is "nice", it seems to demonstrate that DSD mixing and tools for digtal processing are nowhere near "production ready".

Cheers,
 
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The point as far as I'm concerned is that it might lead to more releases and/or more consumer choice (I like that Universal supports both formats, though some DVD-A bashers hate it).

As far as quality? No point at all. But I'm sure many people will remain in denial that their SACDs are PCM-sourced (or claim to hear improvements in sound by converting to DSD).
 

Lee Scoggins

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Actually John at HE2004 I learned that available tools for DSD are available now, for example several channel can be easily edited. This is just right for acoustic sets and classical music.

Of course, there is a silver lining that having fewer tools helps keep the quality up by limiting those guys who play with knobs too much. So Michael is right if we can avoid no noise (no sound?) and compression.


I think the bigger picture view is that DSD recording just got a heckuva lot less expensive. Given the material size of the SACD market, I think more studios will be tempted to offer this type of recording.
 

Lee Scoggins

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Well it loosely is if the sampling rate is only converted for editing at 352khz. At such a high rate of sampling it doesn't really matter.

This tool will be used mostly for PCM based work anyway is my bet.
 
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I don't think ProTools TDM or LE supports sampling rates that high.

Regardless, it is only a DSD recording if it is direct from the live feeds to DSD, no PCM intermediary...in my opinion.
 

John Kotches

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Lee says:


No, it didn't.

All they've done is build a tool to transcode to a DSD output from ProTools.

It isn't a DSD recording by anyone that can think rationally about the information.

Cheers,
 

Jeff Ulmer

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No, it doesn't. TDM and LE are 48K/24bit. HD goes up to 192K, but virtually no one is using that hi rez in production. This will primarily be used for converting 44.1 or 48K sessions to SACD which is pretty much smoke and mirrors IMO. The fact that it is PC only also limits its use, since the vast majority of music production houses using ProTools are Mac based, and it isn't cheap at over $12,000USD for the system. I can't see many LE users coughing up this kind of dough.

I agree, this isn't a DSD recording system, just a format converter and authoring system. It is a first step, however.
 

Rachael B

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Michael, I think alot of us are not in denial about our SA-CD's havng been sourced from PCM tapes. I know that all, or most, of my Universal SA-CD's are. If PCM conversion did cost, say, 1% of resolution, so what! It's not noticable. Discs like Ryan Adam's ROCK'N'ROLL or Aaron Neville's NATURE BOY sound so-oooo good.
 

Lee Scoggins

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Amen Rachael. They sound terrific as does the Gaucho. Pure DSD sounds even better but I am very happy with a lot of the PCM sourced releases.

This is just temporary...as more studios buy more DSD gear we will see more all DSD recording chains and DSD source tapes.

You should have been there at the Kimber IsoMike room with me. They played some Tascam DSD98 recorded acoustic groups with Ray Kimber's new mike system. Sounded amazing-one of the best sounds of the show. They actually played back the tapes in DSD tape form on the Tascam! Talk about a "you are there" experience.
 
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Or the majority will just decide to master properly in PCM then convert to DSD, just like the Steely Dan disc.


When a PCM-sourced disc can sound so great, there's not much reason for anybody but the audiophile labels (catering to purist buyers) to do native DSD.

I'm far more concerned about how my favorite releases are mastered than whether any format conversions occurred. Though the upcoming Genesis discs will be interesting to check out, as they are produced analog->PCM->analog->DSD/PCM.
 

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Perhaps, but as I said, being PC only is going to exclude 80% of the potential market or more. I just don't see there being a big demand for this. The big rooms won't be using it (they are using Sonic), and for the smaller mastering facilities they would be better off with a turnkey system than a plugin, which as anyone who has been around ProTools knows, is an iffy proposition from a support perspective. Digi has abandoned a large percentage of their user base using Mix systems, HD owners were shafted with the Accel upgrade, and plugin support is always trailing, even from well established developers.

There is still no AC3 or DTS support on OSX.
 

Lee Scoggins

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There is a big reason: native DSD to many of us engineers sounds much better.

This tool just opens the market a bit wider, if not as natural in result as a pure DSD chain. I was reminded how awesome this is when I listened to AKUS Live again last night (heavy rotation!).

My view is that to get the best out of PCM recordings you should go 24/96 (like Chesky) or 24/192 ideally and to get the best from a DSD source, you should go all DSD (like Channel Classics).

From an analog tape source I think Super Audio sounds better but there are some great Red Book layers when the right recording like Ricki Lee Jones Naked Songs.
 
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Again, I'm not talking about audiophile labels, I'm talking about mass-market music.

Mass-market music where the engineers you mention are removing high-frequency detail, squashing dynamics, and doing other questionable things to the sound.

Elliot Scheiner got removed from a classic Eric Clapton remix project because he wouldn't process the sound to make it sound 'perfect' like a Shania Twain recording. You really think the same label that wants to monkey around like this is going to start giving a damn about keeping some 'pure' DSD chain (or pure 24/192 chain, or whatever) for their other artists?

I know you like to use boutique labels for all of your examples, but they just don't apply to the 'real' world, especially in pop/rock (the dominant market segment).
 

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Lee, I thought yesterday you said that a lack of Pro-Tools for SACD was an advantage because it encouraged a more pure recording. Now today its good news. I don't get it.
Does this mean a bunch of new "Pro-Tooled", compressed SACDs are gonna hit the market?

KrisM
 

Lee Scoggins

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That's a good question Kris. I was thinking about the compression effects of Pro Tools. It is not clear under the above tool how many audio related effects will be possible.

It's like we have to weigh the advantage of more titles against the possible degradation of sound quality. At this early point, having more titles may be of value as long as the sonics remain fairly clean.



Well it depends...some big engineers like Ludwig and Scheiner do big titles but use a relatively pure mastering approach.

I use boutique labels since there is some consensus that their recording techniques result in more natural sound. Many schooled engineers are taught with an emphasis on big boards and gimmicky processing, but in my experience the results are rarely sonically good.

Another point I would make is that I heard some comments at AES that some engineers really like the sound of DSD, even though some of the same engineers were of the mass-market variety. Engineers like to have options to play with and some see things like the absence of brickwall filters, etc. as attractive.
 

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