Can you hear the difference?

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Can you hear the difference?

Postby NathS101 » Tue May 28, 2013 10:13 pm

I feel reluctant to post this tread on turtlerock as it's the kind of question you'd find on another audio forum to which most people would just respond with 'you don't know what you're talking about' blah blah blah

After listening to many albums recently ranging from being totally mixed in the box, to hyrbid mixes, to being totally outside the box.
How many of you can hear the difference between these different mixes?
I think I can hear a track and have a good crack at how it was mixed, particularly when there are combinations on a single album... I'm wondering how many of you feel the same.

And it goes without saying that this isn't a 'which is better' thread, they all have their place when it comes to your workflow.


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Re: Can you hear the difference?

Postby Kurt » Tue May 28, 2013 11:40 pm

No, nor do I care how it was mixed.
People will claim all sorts of things if it helps them justify their position ;)


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias
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Re: Can you hear the difference?

Postby ChrisW » Wed May 29, 2013 9:28 am

What is important is the material, and what 99.99% of people focus on is the material and performance (songs and playing).
When it comes to the individuals doing the work, I think it pays to do what you feel is best for yourself.
For me, I prefer to mix OTB. It's just better for me, and no amount of A/B tests will likely change that. I have a friend who works completely ITB, and his productions are great!
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Re: Can you hear the difference?

Postby Drumstruck » Wed May 29, 2013 9:29 am

I hear less difference as the years go by .....can't work out if I'm getting older or ITB is getting better :|
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Re: Can you hear the difference?

Postby Wiz » Wed May 29, 2013 10:26 am

I cant tell you if its ITB or OTB

just if I like it...


I like this...........

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjikQH765qU


I came across that, somewhere and immediately bought the album, then I find out it was done by Glynn Johns and his son.

I had never heard Ryan Adams ( i tend to not listen to the radio or TV music shows) and I was entranced by this song. It has the best B3 sound I have heard in years.

As soon as I heard that song, I was 14, I was in love, I was riding a rollercoaster, I was eating a good meal, I was making love to my wife just after we were married, I was holding my baby daughter


Wish I could make music that made feel like that, rather than dissapointed.


Dont care if it was ITB or OTB, it worked on me.
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Re: Can you hear the difference?

Postby Chris H » Wed May 29, 2013 11:39 am

What i think i'm hearing more of are overprocessed mixes where the mix has been messed with to such a way that its impossible to discern the remnants of whatever the mix process was. I think if it's well recorded and well mixed, an ITB mix is almost indistinguishable to an SSL mix especially if using some outboard summing. If during the recording stage the gear used has the sonic signature you are after then that should be able to be preserved whether mixing ITB or analogue console. I also think that because every man and his dog has a "studio" consisting of a bedroom and a computer that many ITB mixes suffer from the overprocessing syndrome.
The classic consoles like Helios and EMI ......and AUDEK ;) do bring a sonic signature. I remember a while ago Chris from Linear posting an ITB mix up against a console mix and them being virtually indistinguishable.
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Re: Can you hear the difference?

Postby Paul Maybury » Wed May 29, 2013 12:25 pm

I don't think I could tell from a finished master ANYTHING about the equipment used to make it.
To flip the idea around, in our live to air Studio at PBS, we have many different artists from various genres and a team of freelance engineers, as well as in house engineers that do the sessions. All using the same room, same mics, same amps, often the same drumkit, same console, same outboard. The differences in the music and in the engineering styles far outweigh any similarities caused by using the same studio.
How is the Audek going, Chris?
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Re: Can you hear the difference?

Postby NathS101 » Wed May 29, 2013 2:04 pm

Thanks for your input guys.
I'm trying to pinpoint exactly what it is that I'm hearing and see if other people have found the same thing......
Always pushing myself to be a better engineer ;)
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Re: Can you hear the difference?

Postby Chris H » Wed May 29, 2013 4:27 pm

Paul Maybury wrote:I don't think I could tell from a finished master ANYTHING about the equipment used to make it.
To flip the idea around, in our live to air Studio at PBS, we have many different artists from various genres and a team of freelance engineers, as well as in house engineers that do the sessions. All using the same room, same mics, same amps, often the same drumkit, same console, same outboard. The differences in the music and in the engineering styles far outweigh any similarities caused by using the same studio.
How is the Audek going, Chris?
Cheers,
Paul


Loving the Audek, but it's still early days. I blew a tweeter on my B&W's last week as some of the mid pots are a bit flakey and go open circuit or whatever. I have never blown a speaker except for the time i left an old Crown DC300 on while I went for a cuppa and came back to find the plastic cone of my mordant short speaker melted and flowing down the speaker stand making a puddle of goo on the floor!
I had my 400 watt Linear Transfer amp hooked up and it was good bye tweeter in an instant as I tried to eq the kick. I knew I should have had fuses inline for speaker protection but was too impatient to get a mix happening. So the little Duntechs are now mounted on the console and a more suitable amp is in use at least until all pesky gremlins are ironed out. It meant re-adjusting to different speakers as I was trying to get to know the rooms sound and how my mixes where translating. Many burnt reff CD's later and trips to the car for a quick check and I think I'm beginning to get a handle on it. In some respects the work in the venue has taken off ahead of my preparation as my room needs some treatment and there are many other things to get right but all in all I'm very happy with the sound of my recordings there. For reasons unknown to me, from the very first recording the results have all the hallmarks of the internet myth of fat analogue, full and punchy sound. At first I thought it was that I had my desk and monitors very close to the wall resulting in a fuller playback sound than what was on the actual recording but it translates to the outside world so that was a pleasant surprise. Waiting for the bands ok before I put up an example but should have something for you all to have a laugh at soon enough.
The whole comparison thing is interesting though. So far I have been recording using no eq except for slight adjustement to the lead vocal on the way in. Also, lead Vox is the only thing I'm compressing while recording. I have done quite a few recordings in that room while mixing FOH using the house desk's direct outs. Comparisons are limited by the fact that the D/O's are post eq but there is a definite difference in the recordings. It would be great if there is a jumper in the FOH desk so they can be made pre eq then comparisons would be more valid. I will check this out.
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Re: Can you hear the difference?

Postby Paul Maybury » Wed May 29, 2013 5:30 pm

Hi Chris, you've got me thinking about putting some inline fuses on my Altecs. They are so much fun to crank up, I'm afraid someone(not me) may blow them. They are rated at 65w continuous , I wonder what rating fuse I should use? 1 amp fast blow?
I would love to hear that Audek in action one day...
Cheers,
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Re: Can you hear the difference?

Postby Chris H » Wed May 29, 2013 8:36 pm

Paul Maybury wrote:Hi Chris, you've got me thinking about putting some inline fuses on my Altecs. They are so much fun to crank up, I'm afraid someone(not me) may blow them. They are rated at 65w continuous , I wonder what rating fuse I should use? 1 amp fast blow?
I would love to hear that Audek in action one day...
Cheers,
Paul


Whenever I attempt to answer technical questions someone who actually knows what they're talking about pipes up and gives the correct answer so I will refrain on advising specifics like the correct fuse rating for your altecs :(
You want to hear the Audek?........good excuse for a T Rock get together then.......at the venue when i have the install and studio at a comfortable operating level. Might be a month or three so, around springtime, a drive to the peninsula?
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Re: Can you hear the difference?

Postby jkhuri44 » Wed May 29, 2013 11:21 pm

woops, posted wrong band in here.
Nirvana's Bleach...cost $100 to record...
capture. Is rough as f**k
couldnt give a shit how it was recorded actually...coz it's ridiculously good.
..ITB/OTB doesnt matter and 99% cant tell the difference in a double blind test anyway.
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Re: Can you hear the difference?

Postby The Tasmanian » Thu May 30, 2013 10:02 am

Mastering often makes a huge difference, which irons out some of the ITB limitations.

I can definitely hear the difference of any audio path that goes through an amazing preamp and lineamp, compared to a clean modern one, or none at all ITB.
The difference is huge.
After this has proven itself over hundreds of albums, then this constant result keeps me mixing OTB.

So the question I always ask myself is - why would I miss out on this great opportunity to run the audio through amazing various vintage (and modern) hardware, through great pair of pre's on a passive mix bus to keep it all huge and open.

But its never really 100% OTB for me, more hybrid - I limit/gate /filter / automate EQ's and levels ITB.
Look ahead software is the antz pantz. ( I just wish they would do one for horse racing..)
It really is about using the best of both worlds to get the sonic advantages.

Ive had many a chance to A/B ITB vs OTB over the years and OTB kills it everytime.
But I am running through my most sonically fave gear that I have ever heard (collected) in my life.
Valve stereo mix bus,each channel goes through electrodyne/neve/Q8/valve and vca comps/valve and inductor eq's etc.
I just cant even entertain swapping all those great chains for ITB.
The separation of instruments, the openness, and the stereo image is much bigger - on all fronts.

The only time I do ITB is for TV / film etc, where the need to change something can be relentless.

The question really is - can you tell the difference between running 1 track of audio through a computer EQ, vs going through a class A line amp/eq.
If the answer is definitely, then multiply that sonic goodness by how many tracks you have in a mix.
This is the OTB advantage.

The difference to me is like the difference between a valve amp - and a IC based amp emulating valves.
I can mix totally ITB - and its a boring mouse driven task, compared to being able to touch/ride/massage a performance during mixdown.

This is what mixing really is to me, its massaged live like a musicians performance, after all the sonic issues have been sorted.
But performance is becoming a lost art. Everything is now pre planned/programmed to emulate one.

Last point about the endless comparison is this:
Everyone who does the A/B mix comparison files tries to do 2 mixes that sound the same so one can pick the one they like.
My impression is this is a waste of time that gets one no valuable info. Any engineer worth their salt should be able to get them close with experience.
But when mixing, we make choices and mix into the sound we are hearing,
So I believe that different decisions would be made during the whole process (EQ/panning etc).
The end result should sound very different, as many decisions would change, a db more eq here and there, it all adds up to a different sound (on top of the signal chain /transformers/tubes/ sonic advantages).

Go and do a ITB mix, and without listening to this mix, on another day, do another mix through the Abbey Rd TG Beatles console/ or a killer Helios, Neve.
The mix difference will be huge, firstly the audio would sound vastly different, and the vibe of each mix would sound different as one would mix and react to the audio differently with the TG console.

The end result of mixing OTB should be huge, or your chains aint good enough. Then staying ITB is best.

Mixing is a creative task. Every approach should garner different outcomes.
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Re: Can you hear the difference?

Postby ChrisW » Thu May 30, 2013 10:49 am

Yes I agree. ^^
1 It's personal. Whatever floats your boat.
2 If I own the great vintage gear, why not use it as much as I can, at all stages of my production?
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Re: Can you hear the difference?

Postby NathS101 » Thu May 30, 2013 11:30 am

Great points there ChrisT and ChrisW.
I'm a great advocate of mixing hybrid. I love the sound I get by using my outboard as hardware inserts and then analogue summing (currently one of Robs with a pair of RND 511s) as I feel the mixes do indeed sound bigger and have greater width and depth, particularly printing through the Burl and clocking off it.
I grew up on live analogue boards which is one reason why I would like to get into more OTB mixing, the whole vibe and massaging appeals to me more by being hands on.
A few fellow producers/engineers call me crazy for running hybrid, but if it makes me feel the music more and therefore gives me a better result then why shouldn't I do it?!
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Re: Can you hear the difference?

Postby Paul Maybury » Thu May 30, 2013 11:40 am

Well put Chris. For me it's all about how you react to the gear. A mouse will never compete with a knob or fader for every function.
I can mix ITB, but it isn't FUN. I feel like it's a form of editing, a technical exercise, rather than a performance. A hands on mix with no automation is really something else, and should help the music surge, ebb and flow.
Cheers,
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Re: Can you hear the difference?

Postby ChrisW » Thu May 30, 2013 11:43 am

If I was better with maintenance (I'm terrible) I would own a console again. I had a great EMT mixer when I worked in London.
Yes, I think a lot of it is about personal inspiration and being comfortable with your tools.
I don't enjoy using software compressors and eq's as much as I do my hardware. That doesn't mean one sounds better than the other.
I could work entirely ITB, but I wouldn't feel satisfied. But the downside is that OTB is often slower and less repeatable (for remixing and tweaking). At the moment that's a failing I can enjoy as a luxury - a different end result every time i go back to a song.
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Re: Can you hear the difference?

Postby wez » Thu May 30, 2013 6:01 pm

The Tasmanian wrote:This is what mixing really is to me, its massaged live like a musicians performance, after all the sonic issues have been sorted.
But performance is becoming a lost art. Everything is now pre planned/programmed to emulate one.


Can I get a 'f@#$ Yeah', and maybe an 'Amen' as well.

When I mix on the console, I get a rush of adrenalin, I take a breath before I hit Play, I close my eyes and I still my mind. I feel that little rush of anxiety, then breath out as I put my hands on the desk for that first note. Sure, I've done the fiddly stuff in ProTools... the hours of tweaking the automation, the mutes, the panning, the effects... but the Big Chorus Move, the gentle push on the BVs here and there, those little things that make a big difference, all work better when you're doing them manually, and under pressure. You mark up the desk with tape, you really think about it, you rehearse your moves a few times. then you're ready to go.

And if you're mixing to tape.... ok, everything goes up a notch, you feel the adrenalin, you tighten up a little, you go into that focussed, trance-like state - i feel sorry for anyone who's never felt the sensation that goes through you when you hear the clunk of a tape machine going into record as you're about to commit a mix (or record a take for that matter).

These are the thrills I live for in this business. Along with walking on stage at the start of a gig, nothing in this world feels better to me or does more to make it all worth it.
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Re: Can you hear the difference?

Postby wez » Thu May 30, 2013 6:05 pm

Oh, so to answer the question - "Can you hear a difference?"... not always.

But can you feel it? Does it matter (to me)? Is it worth the trouble? f@#$ yes.
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