Old 05-01-2012, 06:41 PM   #1
pcmusicpro
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Default Guess which mix was summed with analog gear!

Hi all

I'm doing a test on analog summing or out the box summing. In the link below you will find 2 stereo audio files at 48KHz x 24bits. One was summed in the box using ProTools 9 Bounce feature and the other was summed from 8 stereo stems using Linx Aurora + a boutique All Discrete analog summing device by a reputated Colombian electronic developer and designer named Camilo Silva, then back to the Aurora converter and to ProTools.

The main purpose of this test is to encourage you to comment your impressions about both ITB summing and OTB summing. Which mix or stem do you think is the analog summed one, is it Stem A or Stem B?

Which one do you think sounds nicer and why.

Here's the download link: http://wtrns.fr/Pw2opUFr19T5g-D

Thanks.
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Old 05-01-2012, 07:39 PM   #2
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I couldn't hear any difference, so I threw them in Reaper to see if they null, and they don't. So then I compared sections and I still can't hear any difference.

Maybe someone out there can hear it and appreciate it, but I couldn't even tell them apart, let alone pretend to guess which was summed how.

Interested to hear some impressions from others though. We need more stuff like this. I'm tired of hearing Old Wives' Tales of magic recording practices.
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Old 05-02-2012, 02:16 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by jacobestes View Post
I couldn't hear any difference, so I threw them in Reaper to see if they null, and they don't. So then I compared sections and I still can't hear any difference.

Maybe someone out there can hear it and appreciate it, but I couldn't even tell them apart, let alone pretend to guess which was summed how.

Interested to hear some impressions from others though. We need more stuff like this. I'm tired of hearing Old Wives' Tales of magic recording practices.
At first I thought you wrote "old Waves tales" and I thought it was brilliant.
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Old 05-02-2012, 08:26 AM   #4
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I want to warn you that the mixes provided are NOT complex mixes, as you can deduce from hearing. The idea was to do the test with a rough mix with as few processes as possible to see if in those circumstances one can perceive any difference. I can hear a subtle low end enhance in the analog summed stem but no more. No depth or spacialyzation was noticed.

Comme on guys give it a try and let me know your impressions.

Next time I´ll upload a more complex mix, or even provide you the stems so in case you have an analog summing device you can show us your results for us to test.

Ed.
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Old 05-02-2012, 08:49 AM   #5
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Fascinating. I used the ABCX js plugin to do a truly blind test. I think it's the only valid test for answering questions like this. I also thought I could hear a warmer low end and a little more mids in what I assumed was the analog summed mix and this was confirmed by my score jumping up to 66.6666 % and then 100% but after 10 tries I was back down closer to 0% chance of me accurately telling the difference.

I then matched the gains as closely as I could to see what kind of cancellation I could get. The bass does jump out at the delivered file volume level but not so much if one plays with the volume (getting better cancellation). It also seems the vocal drifts to one side (possibly the entire summed center) in, again what I assume is the analog summed mix.

As an aside, someone on gearslutz posted ABX test files of a whole range of analog summed mixes through various boutique and budget boxes for comparison. My conclusion at the end of that test was that if the summing box was doing a good job (not making things noticeably worse) I could not reliably tell the difference. To me it's a net-zero proposition. If I can't tell the difference reliably then what am I benefiting. If I can tell the difference then I'm using the summing as an effect. As a workflow it seems like a random and unpredictable way to achieve an often undefinable result.

just my 2 nickels I guess. (Canada is getting rid of pennies)
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Last edited by plush2; 05-02-2012 at 09:46 AM.
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Old 05-02-2012, 08:57 AM   #6
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I'm not fit for a guess. But I liked Stem A. It is more warm,smooth and gives more feel to me.
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Old 05-02-2012, 09:10 AM   #7
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I love tests like these. I liked Stem B better. Stem A seemed more strident to me. So I guess that Stem B is Analog OTB gear.

This is a win win situation for me; Either I have a great ear (and champagne tastes on a beer budget!) Or if I'm wrong and like the sound of ITB better then that's great...because that's all I do is ITB!
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Old 05-02-2012, 12:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reno.thestraws View Post
I don't listen to the mix
It was a listening test.
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Old 05-02-2012, 12:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karbomusic View Post
It was a listening test.
I do it now

I hear the same song in both STEMS


Does it really matter if the song go through analog gear or not?

The analog VS digital war is only benefic for... audio gear marketing

Not for Music or ART

Analog bring noise and harmonic distortion

You can like it or not... It's a matter of taste

You can make good or bad things with both.
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Old 05-03-2012, 12:03 AM   #10
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You think the Test is pointless so you ruin it for everyone. Great.
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Old 05-03-2012, 06:41 AM   #11
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Sorry! but my goal wasn't that!

The test is ruining by itself!

What do you expect to hear?

the difference between "analog summing" and "digital summing"?

so the protocol of that experience is not precise enough

on digital stem your audio followed that CHAIN :

mic (of different track) -> preamp (of different tracks) -> ADC -> plug-ins algorithms -> digital summing in protools -> bounce to disk -> DAC (yours) -> speakers (yours)

on analog stem the audio followed that chain :

mic -> preamp -> ADC -> plug-ins -> digital summing -> DAC -> analog summing (with probable gain staging) -> ADC -> bounce to disk -> DAC (yours) -> speakers (yours)

So you don't compare analog summing with digital

you compare double conversion + analog summing with digital summing.

AND... was the DAC and ADC perfectly gain staged for the RE recording?

Aurora are good converters but in 24 bit , they achieve the best quantization when 0dbVU (0.775 volt) = -16dbfs

Pretty hard to believe that the 8 stems was perfectly match if the mix was made in the digital environment AND THEN route in analog summing for comparaison

So sorry, if i ruined the test, I will erase my post, but I think this comparaison is useless coz you don't compare what you want to compare
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:39 AM   #12
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I kind of agree with Reno.thestraws. The test isn't ruined but it is a bit of an oranges to apples comparison. I could easily discover rather significant technical differences (gain differecnes and certain frequency ranges blurring to the left or the right when doing cancellation tests) but at the same time I couldn't reliably tell the difference between the two in a double blind listening test. I encourage everyone to use ABX or some kind of double blind testing method when listening to these files. If you know which file you are listening to (hitting solo on a specific channel) your subconscious is going to start attaching qualities to each file based on notions that may or may not be real. By testing whether you can reliably tell the difference between them (a=x or b=x) you demonstrate that you can have a valid opinion on which sounds better. If you cannot then, I'm sorry but you were probably imagining the differences you heard.
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Old 05-03-2012, 11:47 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plush2 View Post
I kind of agree with Reno.thestraws. The test isn't ruined but it is a bit of an oranges to apples comparison. I could easily discover rather significant technical differences (gain differecnes and certain frequency ranges blurring to the left or the right when doing cancellation tests) but at the same time I couldn't reliably tell the difference between the two in a double blind listening test. I encourage everyone to use ABX or some kind of double blind testing method when listening to these files. If you know which file you are listening to (hitting solo on a specific channel) your subconscious is going to start attaching qualities to each file based on notions that may or may not be real. By testing whether you can reliably tell the difference between them (a=x or b=x) you demonstrate that you can have a valid opinion on which sounds better. If you cannot then, I'm sorry but you were probably imagining the differences you heard.
totally agreed!

And as I say... you listen to A SONG

a song might sound good or not because of the production but there are a million factor's that influence that

tracking
arrangement
musician plays
intruments
mix
phase
etc
etc

the summing (analog or digital) represent nothing in that vortex of possibilities

the proof?

do the ABX test in double blind on 100 percent, you'll see that nobody could make a 10/10


I don't say that analog summing is the same that digital but it's not really important! it's just a matter of habit of work!

and if you don't know waht you want

do a real comparaison test with no other variables!

Because this test is not a real one

imagine you wanna compare a old analog camera with a digital one

- you take a picture of a landscape with digital camera
- diplay thaht picture on a super high resolution monitor
- take a picture of the monitor with the old camera .
- compare the pics...
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Old 05-03-2012, 03:12 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plush2 View Post
I kind of agree with Reno.thestraws. The test isn't ruined but it is a bit of an oranges to apples comparison. I could easily discover rather significant technical differences (gain differecnes and certain frequency ranges blurring to the left or the right when doing cancellation tests) but at the same time I couldn't reliably tell the difference between the two in a double blind listening test. I encourage everyone to use ABX or some kind of double blind testing method when listening to these files. If you know which file you are listening to (hitting solo on a specific channel) your subconscious is going to start attaching qualities to each file based on notions that may or may not be real. By testing whether you can reliably tell the difference between them (a=x or b=x) you demonstrate that you can have a valid opinion on which sounds better. If you cannot then, I'm sorry but you were probably imagining the differences you heard.
+1 from me. I've done it myself, so I know this is factual. I also know it from perusing readily available sources on human cognition.

People who really _need_ to know differences and degrees of difference have learned over lots of trial and error what is required for accurate evaluation. Good blinding, elimination of extraneous variables, large number of trials are the basics.

And the kicker in the buttskie is that a bad comparison is worse than no comparison at all, because we humans grab onto and hold tight to bad information just as strongly as we do to good. So a poorly implemented comparison delivers incorrect information which is then used to make bad decisions repeatedly.

Fran
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Old 05-03-2012, 04:50 PM   #15
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Quote:
So a poorly implemented comparison delivers incorrect information which is then used to make bad decisions repeatedly.
How could it be a bad decision if they can't hear it?
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Old 05-03-2012, 04:58 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karbomusic View Post
How could it be a bad decision if they can't hear it?
Methinks Fran is referring to a badly implemented listening comparison resulting in a predominantly bias-driven response, rather than a badly designed process of comparison content creation ...
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Old 05-03-2012, 05:04 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plush2 View Post
Fascinating. I used the ABCX js plugin to do a truly blind test.
Where can I get this? I can't find it in reaper, the stash, or with google.
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Old 05-03-2012, 05:06 PM   #18
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http://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?t=53964

I didn't know about this JS b4, but it seems your googling skills need brushing up
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Old 05-03-2012, 05:08 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timlloyd View Post
http://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?t=53964

I didn't know about this JS b4, but it seems your googling skills need brushing up
Thanks. I googled "js abcx." I refuse to take responsibility!
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Old 05-03-2012, 05:08 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timlloyd View Post
Methinks Fran is referring to a badly implemented listening comparison resulting in a predominantly bias-driven response, rather than a badly designed process of comparison content creation ...
I was being funny because there is so much hidden irony surrounding this subject. For example:

Guy 1: I want to buy a mic but I'm not sure which of these two to buy based on the specs.

Guy 2: Forget the specs, use ure ears dude! If it sounds good, it is good!

Guy 1: Thanks for the advice, I used my ears and chose Mic B because it sounded more open an airy, almost 3d, I love it.

Guy 2: Pffft... Sounds like confirmation bias to me, do an ABX test, you don't seriously think you can hear a difference do you?

Jesus fking Christ people, stop it!
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Old 05-03-2012, 05:13 PM   #21
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Quote:
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ahh
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:04 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pcmusicpro View Post
..........The main purpose of this test is to encourage you to comment your impressions about both ITB summing and OTB summing. Which mix or stem do you think is the analog summed one, is it Stem A or Stem B?

Which one do you think sounds nicer and why............

He might have posted it with so much passion and enthusiasm...!
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:38 PM   #23
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My bad...it was the ABCDX plugin from later on in the thread timlloyd linked to. It might explain why your initial google yielded no useful results.

I have no comment on the irony of the situation. For the record I still think the original posted audio is interesting and worth considering. Please add your actual comments on the audio along with your commentary on the comments on the audio.
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Old 05-04-2012, 12:53 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reno.thestraws View Post
totally agreed!

And as I say... you listen to A SONG

a song might sound good or not because of the production but there are a million factor's that influence that

tracking
arrangement
musician plays
intruments
mix
phase
etc
etc

the summing (analog or digital) represent nothing in that vortex of possibilities

the proof?

do the ABX test in double blind on 100 percent, you'll see that nobody could make a 10/10


I don't say that analog summing is the same that digital but it's not really important! it's just a matter of habit of work!

and if you don't know waht you want

do a real comparaison test with no other variables!

Because this test is not a real one

imagine you wanna compare a old analog camera with a digital one

- you take a picture of a landscape with digital camera
- diplay thaht picture on a super high resolution monitor
- take a picture of the monitor with the old camera .
- compare the pics...
Don't get upset, just play along with the initial intention of the post, it's no a scientific test, it's just two ways of doing the same thing which is summing some audio stems ITB and OTB and comment about it. The test can be as subjective as a poem and that is not bad. Just answer the question: which one did you liked the most and why? if you don't like it it's ok too.

Salut!

Ed.
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Old 05-10-2012, 06:45 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reno.thestraws View Post
totally agreed!

And as I say... you listen to A SONG

Perfect. Using your ears to perceive and modify audio can be (imho) an important contribution to the listener's experience. But, in the end, what most of us listen to, and certainly our audience, is a song. Thanks for the reminder Reno.
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