to DSP or not to DSP

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Manuel Delaflor, Mar 14, 2002.

  1. Manuel Delaflor

    Manuel Delaflor Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 25, 2001
    Messages:
    657
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have been playing around for about a week with several DSP programs like WOW Thing, Enhancer, SOrient Virtual sound and RealReverb Convolution. All this are plugins for Winamp.

    The more I hear the more convinced I am about the digital manipulation of data. Now, Im aware that this is subject for lots of discussions.

    On one hand (speaking about music reproduction) we have the "purists" who think that everything added or substracted from the original signal is an artifact and goes agains ideal "accurate" reproduction.

    On the other hand we encounter people who are aware that an accurate musical reproduction is imposible with current technologies, and this people is experimenting with all kind of digital manipulations to modify a signal and make it "more realistic than the original recording".

    This sounds weird, perhaps, but if we think that a recording, basically, is "reducing to bits" an impressive array of information, then, if we can find a way to recostruct that array of info we are, in fact, making it more real.

    Psychoacoustics is a science that deal with this things (among other things, MP3 are a result of some research in this area). And, as I said before, Im more and more convinced about the amazing results that can be obtained.

    For example, most people thing that the Wow Thing only do some kind of equalization, enhancing highs and low bass. Far from it, it uses certain algorithms to fool our brain in to feel more space between and around the speakers. In fact, I feel one can obtain an effect very similar to that obtained by some speakers, which offer a good airy sensation because they irradiate sound both from the front and the rear, tricking our ears to hear more space.

    What do you all thing about all this?
     
  2. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 1999
    Messages:
    6,873
    Likes Received:
    2
    Personally I don't like using DSPs for audio unless they are industry standard and the medium was recorded with a particular DSP in mind. Dolby ProLogic is a good example of an industry standard processing mode. Other than that I don't use them. Totally my opinion though anyone who uses DSPs go ahead, go nuts.
     
  3. Manuel Delaflor

    Manuel Delaflor Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 25, 2001
    Messages:
    657
    Likes Received:
    0
    Actualy DSP techniques are methods to attempt to reconstruct a more realistic sound. As I said, this is nonsense for "Purists".

    But think about it. Every single recording is a piece of reduced data. Attempting to hear *exactly* what was recorded implies to achieve the same degree of reduced data, nothing more.

    If I have a technology that can deal with this, and add the data which is gone (or emulate it), then I surely will use it.
     
  4. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 1999
    Messages:
    6,873
    Likes Received:
    2
    Go to town!

    But I can tell you there is not a single recording studio in the world that runs their final mix through DSPs to see how it will sound. I do not believe that modifying the sound with a DSP makes it more "realistic". It makes it further from the original analog waveforms that the engineers worked so hard on.

    But if you enjoy the effect, go ahead!

    It has been my experience that people who espouse DSPs for music listening often have never experienced proper stereo imaging and a well engineered recording. There's a good post int he archives here about that subject. Something about "Is your soundfield up to snuff" or such.
     
  5. Manuel Delaflor

    Manuel Delaflor Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 25, 2001
    Messages:
    657
    Likes Received:
    0
    Phil

    "I do not believe that modifying the sound with a DSP makes it more "realistic". It makes it further from the original analog waveforms that the engineers worked so hard on."

    I like to find a purist. I have several questions for you. First of all, why do you just trust in the work of those engineers? Because they are engineers and they know their stuff?

    Second. Why do you think that the analog waveforms are better to represent sound that the same waveforms treated digitally?

    "It has been my experience that people who espouse DSPs for music listening often have never experienced proper stereo imaging and a well engineered recording."

    Certainly not my case. Just to give you an idea, a few weeks ago I went to audition a set of Avantgarde Duo's. Talk about an holographic experience! And Im perfectly aware also that a good recording can do "the trick", even with much less quality equipment.

    Have you ever tried "the wow thing" with MP3's on your computer?

    I will seek later for the thread you mentioned.
     
  6. Matt Weyen

    Matt Weyen Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2002
    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have used the wow thing many times in the past. Testing and testing the results of how much I like it. End result: I don't like WOW. It doesn't sound correct. The sound leads me believe that it was designed to make techno and rap music hit more powerfully at the low end than it did before. I didn't have any problems with that, but I most definately didn't like what it was doing to my high end. The high end seemed to drop except when I raised the treble levels, which in turn made it screach rather than sound good. Considering that I don't have more than about 5 rap/techno songs on my pc, I don't really have a need for wow. I gave wow about 2 months worth of my time attempting to get a good sound from it, but never really could.

    Something about adding in artificial information just makes me cringe. Kinda like making sharpness really high on your television, just makes things less than correct.

    Anyways, just my 2 cents-

    l8r all-

    MW
     
  7. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 1999
    Messages:
    6,873
    Likes Received:
    2
     
  8. Manuel Delaflor

    Manuel Delaflor Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 25, 2001
    Messages:
    657
    Likes Received:
    0
    "My goal in audio is to accurately represent the original source as close as I can in my home. Whether I 'trust' the original engineers is irrelevant, I can only assume that they have done their best (working with the artist) to create the sound that was desired."

    This is impossible. By simply transforming the original sound in another domain, and then transforming it again to sound we are not hearing what they recorded.

    Your system and your room color the recording, in one way or another. The closest you can be to hear the original is to be in the studio where it was recorded, hearing the same equipment. And then you will be hearing only what is in the recording, which itself is just a poor representation of the original sound.

    Now, there is a branch of science called psychoacoustics which deals with how we hear and how our brain deals with the information of the ears. So, theoreticaly, a better signal than the (crippled) one that is on a recording can be obtained, and this transformed signal will be more natural and lifelike.

    That's why DSP is important, is the only way to try to reconstruct the original sound.
     
  9. Manuel Delaflor

    Manuel Delaflor Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 25, 2001
    Messages:
    657
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes, that is the device I was talking. SRS works with DSP and their products carry their technology.

    What this little box does is give certain frequencies a delay, and our brain interpret this as more "air" between the sound sources. If it is used without exaggeration (no more than around 10 to 20%) it can add more acoustic space between the instruments.

    The bass, again used moderately, take some bass armonics to recreate a deeper bass sensation in our hearing process. This leads a speaker to apparently reproduce lower frequencies that the ones is actually producing.
     
  10. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 1999
    Messages:
    6,873
    Likes Received:
    2
    I disagree completely. Adding information to the signal that was not originally there can in no way make the signal sound more like the source. If you like DSP technology go ahead and enjoy it.
     
  11. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

    Joined:
    May 8, 2001
    Messages:
    8,390
    Likes Received:
    0
     
  12. Manuel Delaflor

    Manuel Delaflor Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 25, 2001
    Messages:
    657
    Likes Received:
    0
    "but doesn't dsp "modify" the sound? it's taking a signal and manipulating it in some way."

    Yes, of course. It manipulates the sound to try to reflect what was there and became lost in the recording process.

    "(maybe we're talking about different things here. when i think dsp, i think those church, hall, jazz, stadium, etc. settings.)"

    Is truth, Im talking about something else. Those effects you mention are a mix of delay in the signals of both channels (speaking of stereo) and echo and reverberation.

    Have you ever listening to a record with "Q Sound" technology? The sound effectibly appears to come from where there is not speaker at all. You can make the instruments to sound more specific located in space, making the soundstage and the imaging far more realistic that with no effects at all.
     
  13. Manuel Delaflor

    Manuel Delaflor Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 25, 2001
    Messages:
    657
    Likes Received:
    0
    "Adding information to the signal that was not originally there can in no way make the signal sound more like the source."

    I think I wasn't clear enough. Is more about restoring the richness of the original information that to add *new* information. Is more about understanding how do we actually *hear* and then exploding this knowledge making a recording to sound more realistic than it was before.
     
  14. KrisM

    KrisM Second Unit

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2001
    Messages:
    420
    Likes Received:
    0
    I don't see how adding delay, whether 10% or 90%, to some frequencies or all, can make a recording sound more realistic. And I can't see any engineer wanting a little box to add extra delay or bass harmonics to his disc.

    If this is the way to make music more realsitic, why are there no producers/musicians telling us to use this when listening to their discs? I don't have anything against DSPs or people that use them but this sounds more like it is designed to improve the sound of music played on a computer with computer speakers.

    Regards

    KrisM
     
  15. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2000
    Messages:
    3,998
    Likes Received:
    0
    In the end, it's a matter of taste (but, of course, how could your taste differ from mine when I'm so obviously correct?)... [​IMG]
    I hooked up my CD player via the optical input and the "direct/bypass" mode (on the OUTLAW receiver, I hook R and L signals into the R and L jacks of the 5.1 direct inputs, thereby bypassing all digital circuitry). I was then able to toggle back and forth between a "straight/pure" signal and one going through any of several DSP modes.
    Though the DSPs did not sound overly "processy", nor did they greatly color the sound, they still couldn't compare to the harmonic richness and detail of the signal from the bypassed mode.
    Spousal reference confirms. [​IMG]
    So, hook up your CD players both ways and toggle back and forth. Rather than arguing studio engineer's intent, I'd love to hear which you subjectively prefer after a direct A-B comparison.
     
  16. KrisM

    KrisM Second Unit

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2001
    Messages:
    420
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've tried this before and always prefer stereo without the DSPs. I use a Marantz receiver, which is not known for its great DSP modes though. I don't have anything against using DSPs, I just don't understand how they can make a recording more realistic. If the original recording is missing something and this SRS box makes up for it, how does it know what is missing and what to add?

    When a recording is finished, doesn't the engineer/producer listen to it on a stereo system with (relatively)flat response and adjust the mix to his liking? This is what I strive for when I listen to music. I myself hold engineer/producer intent with music as high up as most people here do with directors intent with movies.

    In the end it is a matter of taste. To each his own.

    Regards

    KrisM
     
  17. Manuel Delaflor

    Manuel Delaflor Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 25, 2001
    Messages:
    657
    Likes Received:
    0
    "So, hook up your CD players both ways and toggle back and forth. Rather than arguing studio engineer's intent, I'd love to hear which you subjectively prefer after a direct A-B comparison."

    I have done it, that's why I became curious about the DSP technology.

    With some recordings, the sound is REALLY improved, for example, hearing some Jazz (Oliver Nelson) I can feel how the imaging improves in an impressive way, there is more air between the instruments, and the texture of the trumpets and the piano become more lifelike. Without a doubt (also confirmed by the wife ;-) ).

    Other recordings, are either not beneficiated or even sound in a non pleasant way. But of course I think the thechnology have lots of potential.
     
  18. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2000
    Messages:
    8,826
    Likes Received:
    220
    Real Name:
    John
    I think Philip will agree that there is a serious fault with the logic and testing procedures here. You are confusing the forest for the trees. When you toggle between a "pure" analog output from a CD or DVD player and a digital output, you are changing more than just the amount of DSP. You are also changing the D/A converter. This can make a significant difference in the sound. For example my "second" system has a Samsung DVD player, a lower price Pioneer DD/DTS receiver and pretty average speakers. In this case, it is obvious to me from listening, that the D/A converter in the receiver gives better sound than the one in the DVD player, so I use digital connections for both DVD and CD playback. On my main system, I use an outboard D/A and a dedicated CD transport for CD playback because that combination produces by far the best sound with the equipment I have. The discussion going on here is kind of like asking one person why he married his wife and then concluding all men choose their wives for the same reason. There are just too many variables.

    You can go ahead and brush me off by calling me a "purist" simply because I agree with "purist" Philip, but I prefer listening to music in two channel in most cases. The only real exception is concert videos, which I usually listen to in surround with the center channel off. When I got my first piece of DSP equipment, the Yamaha DSP-1000, I think it was, about 14 years ago, I used it for music all the time. I thought it was WAY COOL. Now, any DSPd music I have heard just sounds gimmicky to me and gets tiring very quick. Yes, I agree with Philip. There is nothing like a good two channel recording played back on a fine system.
     
  19. RicP

    RicP Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2000
    Messages:
    1,126
    Likes Received:
    0
    QSound is a gimmick and is typically used as such. It uses out-of-phase waveforms to simulate a larger soundstage than is possible with current mixing. This, however in no way makes a QSound recording more "accurate" as QSound exists solely in post-recording and engineering. By its very definition, QSound "adds" to the recorded piece, just like MSG adds flavor to Chinese food. Taste good? Sure sometimes, but too much of it and you get a headache.
    If you want to run your music through a DSP mode, knock yourself out. But to call it "more" accurate? Hardly.
     
  20. Manuel Delaflor

    Manuel Delaflor Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 25, 2001
    Messages:
    657
    Likes Received:
    0
    Fine, this is Obviously, not the place to talk about this. Sure, cables and clocks on the power source will improve audio. But not DSP technology.

    Of course I will enjoy whatever I consider its improving my system. Thanks
     

Share This Page