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Old 06-28-2019, 11:14 PM   #1
brainwreck
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Default An interesting comparison of tape, digital, digital to tape, and digital tape plugin

Copy/Bounce Digital Audio to Tape - How does it sound? (Analog Tape Shootout #3) - Chords of Orion

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JJC8HUejWw

The tape recording has lots of noise and so isn't exactly hifi, but it doesn't bother me at all. I would say that the Kramer plugin sounds odd in comparison. The tape recording sounds like a stereo image that is eminating from the center. I can't tell where the center is with the plugin, and the lack of noise just sounds wrong to me.

The same person does a more direct comparison of that tape machine to the Kramer plugin here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ck-9XcXqef4
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Old 06-28-2019, 11:55 PM   #2
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A comparsion of cassette to mp3:

What sounds better: cheap cassette vs good cassette vs mp3 file

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgDjhc0w-Fs
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Old 06-29-2019, 12:35 AM   #3
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I remember all the arguments on forums on the validity of Digital there is no comparison.
I have a poor man's Tascam 38 half inch 8 track behind me as I type if I could get a clutch mod done on the deck I would use it.
Anybody know anyone who does that sort of thing?
Joe Cocker, Leonard Cohen tapes exhibit the sound of tape just awesome.
They say tape is too expensive, Tape fills a lot of gaps enabling music which does not need all the extra equipment which we purchase to use digital.

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Old 06-29-2019, 02:18 AM   #4
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I am a bit surprised with the state of art computer controlled
machinery that no one has not started manufacturing updated
tape recorders.
Using a large cassette type tape for easy use and make a soft clutch
things could be pretty cool.
Easy said I guess.... Digital would bring in heaps more money that may be why.

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Old 06-29-2019, 06:23 PM   #5
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I wouldn't be surprised if Behringer did it. Or a digital recorder with a tape reel under a grill. :|
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Old 06-29-2019, 07:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
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I am a bit surprised with the state of art computer controlled
machinery that no one has not started manufacturing updated
tape recorders.
Because very few places are making tape anymore.
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Old 06-30-2019, 06:56 AM   #7
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Two or three new tape recorders were released recently. All destined to the high-end hifi market, with prices ranging 8000 to 14000 €, IIRC. I have no clue if they sell...

In France a company started making tape again. Tape sells well. But it's only ferrous tape (Type I). They technically could make type II (Cr) and III (FeCr), but not metal (type IV). The recipy for metal and the machines are lost. Recreating them would require a lot of research and tooling. Too expensive. Cr would an ecological problem. And there doesn't seem to be a market for FeCr tape.
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Old 06-30-2019, 08:40 AM   #8
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The situation with tape reminds me alot of the situation with tubes....only a few manufacturers making them today, at not so great quality compared to the past. I guess it's all part of the downward slide toward homogenous corporate pop hell. Check out this 2019 punk play list: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60oH...D4zSaq&index=4
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Old 06-30-2019, 08:50 AM   #9
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And all of these A/B are through the Youtube meatgrinder. Kind of obscures the original point. Anyone want to share the results without introducing such a large variable?

Check out this color comparison with these black and white photocopies!
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Old 06-30-2019, 09:00 AM   #10
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And all of these A/B are through the Youtube meatgrinder. Kind of obscures the original point. Anyone want to share the results without introducing such a large variable?

Check out this color comparison with these black and white photocopies!
Check the video descriptions for uncompressed audio files. Unfortunately we can't download tape, despite what plugin developers are trying to sell us.
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Old 06-30-2019, 09:16 AM   #11
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Check the video descriptions for uncompressed audio files.
Oh OK! Fair enough then.
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Old 06-30-2019, 11:08 AM   #12
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And all of these A/B are through the Youtube meatgrinder. Kind of obscures the original point. Anyone want to share the results without introducing such a large variable?

Check out this color comparison with these black and white photocopies!
To me thats a good thing. Given the hyperbolic claims given for all this stuff, if it cant survive a crap conversion, at least that hyperbolic part of it is a lie
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Old 06-30-2019, 11:33 AM   #13
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To me thats a good thing. Given the hyperbolic claims given for all this stuff, if it cant survive a crap conversion, at least that hyperbolic part of it is a lie
I 100% agree with that. I can't count how many times I have heard someone doing a gear or plugin review/demo mention that, "It's subtle. You might not hear it through youtube."

Bullshit. It it's really that subtle, I don't need it.
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Old 07-01-2019, 03:10 AM   #14
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"Tape is extinct. Good riddance." - Jack Endino

But seriously, for starters pseudoscience, yah? Confirmation bias exemplified. You could just as easily make a video featuring tape that sounded awful and MP3s that sounded great.

Also as MP3s and the well known weaknesses of same are pretty much unnecessary anymore as bandwidth rises and storage cost falls, why bother beating that horse? How does FLAC and the various hi def audio formats compare?

Re tape sims, same same. Why pick the "Famous Producer", so guaranteed to have idiosyncrasies per his style, brand? You can SEE the compression in the wave display FFS. Slate claims theirs is indistinguishable from the model simulated. Is it? Who knows? Who's to judge? Does it sound good?

To me that's the real question, can digital sound good? I think yes. Regardless, no one (statistically speaking) is going back to lugging briefcases of cassettes around. Tape in production will remain a boutique option as long as there are clients willing to pay what it takes. Rising cost and diminishing returns will wash that away sooner or later.

But yeah, tape is cool. Might as well enjoy it while you can I guess.
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Old 07-01-2019, 07:14 PM   #15
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"Tape is extinct. Good riddance." - Jack Endino

But seriously, for starters pseudoscience, yah? Confirmation bias exemplified. You could just as easily make a video featuring tape that sounded awful and MP3s that sounded great.

Also as MP3s and the well known weaknesses of same are pretty much unnecessary anymore as bandwidth rises and storage cost falls, why bother beating that horse? How does FLAC and the various hi def audio formats compare?

Re tape sims, same same. Why pick the "Famous Producer", so guaranteed to have idiosyncrasies per his style, brand? You can SEE the compression in the wave display FFS. Slate claims theirs is indistinguishable from the model simulated. Is it? Who knows? Who's to judge? Does it sound good?

To me that's the real question, can digital sound good? I think yes. Regardless, no one (statistically speaking) is going back to lugging briefcases of cassettes around. Tape in production will remain a boutique option as long as there are clients willing to pay what it takes. Rising cost and diminishing returns will wash that away sooner or later.

But yeah, tape is cool. Might as well enjoy it while you can I guess.
A good quality mp3 is indistinguishable from a wav. I think at this point sharing audio via flac or another lossless format is a good idea for a large part of the world, but when something is good enough (mp3), it's very difficult to get people to change. Mp3 has smaller file size going for it and there are tons of already encoded mp3 files. That is alot to go up against. And personally, if I want to quickly share some audio with someone over the internet for end listening (such as on a forum), I'm going to use mp3 because as already said, the file size is smaller and the sound quality is indinstinguishable from wav.

In defense of digital, a good quality mp3 is only as good as the source. And I think the source in the above cassette vs. mp3 was likely a cd. And as we know, many cd's that were put out were done so at subpar quality, especially early on.

But tape alters the source material (during recording, mixing, and mastering) in such a way that many people find pleasing to the ear, as does vinyl (and the process of mastering for vinyl). Even cassette can have some pleasing sonic qualities. And damn near every audio DSP developer out there has attempted to bring the sonic qualities of analog into the digital world, whether it be amps, tape, analog processors, etc., and for good reason. Pure digital just doesn't have the pleasing sonic qualities of analog. And that's a good thing, because digital also doesn't have the unpleasing sonic qualities that analog can have (but digital can have it's own unpleasing qualities, such as aliasing). And the sonic qualites of analog are also a good thing, because they just sound good.

Can digital recording sound good? If anything, high quality digital shouldn't have a sound at all. So then the question should be: Does audio DSP sound good? It depends. Sometimes yes, sometimes no (at least so far). It seems that when DSP is used for analog emulations, there is always something left to be desired. I have yet to hear any analog emulation fully do what it aims (or just claims) to do. And analog emulations often bring new problems to the table (such as aliasing). But people have taken to making sounds with some analog emulations that sort of resemble analog qualities but are really something different than analog. Some of it sounds good, some of it not so good (objectively).

Also, I think that many people don't realize that analog is still very much involved in modern recording, where much tracking is done through analog gear to tape before being converted to digital.

Personally, I hope that analog recording and gear never goes away.
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Old 07-02-2019, 01:46 AM   #16
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@bw: Yah, I'm not hatin' really, it would be sad for musicians to want that experience and sound but it was completely unavailable to them. I'm sure it will be for at least our lifetimes.

I do think the whole tape thing gets fetishized to a crazy degree and those vids were biased to the point of uselessness. Huey Lewis did sound better on that cassette than as you note, that one particularly not good MP3. But I wonder what modern all digital pop esp. modern rap, with crazy bass and a sparse but crispy clear top end, would sound like on cassette? A basket of snakes at a farting contest? I know, I know, that would be perfect fidelity. Ba boom tsssh.

To me the clear path forward is finding digital that works. As you say at this point even the sound of tape is an effect like any other and everyone's got their own flavor out there. You'd think some of them would taste good. It seems to be out there for me for most things; I think you're maybe a bit harder to please.

It's funny, I have the Slate tape sim, just had to have it because what's the point if everyone with a tape machine sounds better'n me?? Never use it. I record sounds I like (though sometimes my judgement is bad in these areas lol), they come out sounding exactly the way they went in, it never occurs to me to reach for the secret tape sauce. Gonna have to make a point of using it next time.
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Old 07-02-2019, 09:23 AM   #17
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To me thats a good thing. Given the hyperbolic claims given for all this stuff, if it cant survive a crap conversion, at least that hyperbolic part of it is a lie
I think we're saying the same thing in a way.
When the Youtube destruction is 1000x more glaring than whatever the subtlety trying to be pointed out and the uploader seems genuinely oblivious to that, kind of a hard argument to take seriously.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fred garvin View Post
"Tape is extinct. Good riddance." - Jack Endino

But seriously, for starters pseudoscience, yah? Confirmation bias exemplified. You could just as easily make a video featuring tape that sounded awful and MP3s that sounded great.

Also as MP3s and the well known weaknesses of same are pretty much unnecessary anymore as bandwidth rises and storage cost falls, why bother beating that horse? How does FLAC and the various hi def audio formats compare?

Re tape sims, same same. Why pick the "Famous Producer", so guaranteed to have idiosyncrasies per his style, brand? You can SEE the compression in the wave display FFS. Slate claims theirs is indistinguishable from the model simulated. Is it? Who knows? Who's to judge? Does it sound good?

To me that's the real question, can digital sound good? I think yes. Regardless, no one (statistically speaking) is going back to lugging briefcases of cassettes around. Tape in production will remain a boutique option as long as there are clients willing to pay what it takes. Rising cost and diminishing returns will wash that away sooner or later.

But yeah, tape is cool. Might as well enjoy it while you can I guess.
Exactly.
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Old 07-02-2019, 09:28 AM   #18
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I think we're saying the same thing in a way.
When the Youtube destruction is 1000x more glaring than whatever the subtlety trying to be pointed out and the uploader seems genuinely oblivious to that, kind of a hard argument to take seriously.
That sounds a little hyperbolic tbh. Just my opinion - I assume I don't have the ears I had when I was 25 but when I upload a video with the audio set to 48/24 PCM, I'm not falling out of my chair with audio losses when I hear the result. It does compress but the amount vs what people describe seems way out of proportion when I do the same comparison through my $3k set of monitors in a treated room.

Hint: If a null test is required to demonstrate the difference, it is by definition minute and minuscule. I need to make that my new sig, be right back.
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Old 07-02-2019, 12:15 PM   #19
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Given the nature of digital and what should be a reasonably neutral sound, there is an obvious question here on what is going on in the first example (1/4" tape vs. digital transferred to 1/4" tape): Why do these recordings sound so different?
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Old 07-02-2019, 11:41 PM   #20
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Another comparison here (cd, sacd, vinyl, cassette, master tape copy): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=almdxI76DOw

I like the high frequencies on the cassette, although it is a bit much. And the master copy has a nice overall warmth to it. The only one that sounds not so good is the CD. It's a little too harsh in the upper mids, where the SACD sounds significantly better. But the SACD sounds too compressed. And other than the bit of crackling, I think I like the 1973 vinyl best. It just sounds the most dynamic and has the best frequency balance to my ears.
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Old 07-03-2019, 12:47 AM   #21
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Given the nature of digital and what should be a reasonably neutral sound, there is an obvious question here on what is going on in the first example (1/4" tape vs. digital transferred to 1/4" tape): Why do these recordings sound so different?
Because the "tape" (#1) is louder, for starters? Again, you can see it in the waveform, and again, I'd suggest confirmation bias. He wanted a result and went to quite a bit of trouble to give it to himself lol. Also multiple conversions etc. are definitely going to have an effect, less of a effect to be sure with the digital than the tape transfers, but still, plus the other kajiggery involved, preamps, gain staging/compensation, etc. Which all is most obvious listening to #2 vs. #4, original source material vs. two conversions. In addition to whatever character the tape tranfer is providing I clearly hear an overall loss of fidelity.

Because I found that guy and his video a bit hard to take and dull as dirt, (It's so AWESOME that everything on YT has to be OVER 10 min. now so people can maximize their ratings or whatever, isn't it????) I kinda started out with what I was interested in, which was comparing to see which one I liked best; I picked the section of music I thought was most interesting, and skipped around quickly between the different takes to that section until I was sure of my opinion. Resulting in:

1st, #2. Digital digital lol. I thought this had the most dynamic range, detail, and liveliness of sound.

2nd, tie, #1 "tape" and #5, plugin, depending on what you wanted from it. #1 was definitely a bit warmer and fuzzier than #2, which is fine but I didn't prefer. #5, I thought the plugin did its job reasonably well, it sounded to me more polished/produced/warmer/"tape"/whatever without being too obviously an "effect". I'd have liked to hear it used a bit more subtly though. If I had to use one or the other for a demo I think I'd pick #1 if I was going to take my time with it and #5 if I was in a hurry so, tie.

Tie for 5th, the other two. These sounded a bit dull to me compared to the other 3 and I just kinda lost interest.

Anyone else have opinions?

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Old 07-03-2019, 08:04 AM   #22
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That sounds a little hyperbolic tbh. Just my opinion - I assume I don't have the ears I had when I was 25 but when I upload a video with the audio set to 48/24 PCM, I'm not falling out of my chair with audio losses when I hear the result. It does compress but the amount vs what people describe seems way out of proportion when I do the same comparison through my $3k set of monitors in a treated room.

Hint: If a null test is required to demonstrate the difference, it is by definition minute and minuscule. I need to make that my new sig, be right back.
You just further illustrated what I was trying to say.
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Old 07-03-2019, 08:07 AM   #23
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You just further illustrated what I was trying to say.
Maybe I misinterpreted but the differences are not 1000X more glaring. Hyperbolic means exaggeration and 1000x is exaggeration and only exaggeration. That's what I'm pointing out, people claiming "night and day" differences without even thinking about it when they are clearly not night and day - ever compared night to day?

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Old 07-03-2019, 08:24 AM   #24
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Maybe I misinterpreted but the differences are not 1000X more glaring. Hyperbolic means exaggeration and 1000x is exaggeration and only exaggeration. That's what I'm pointing out, people claiming "night and day" differences without even thinking about it when they are clearly not night and day - ever compared night to day?
I might be thinking of some of the more glaring examples I've run across where I was hearing the weirdo artifacts you get from multiple upload/download generational damage. (The digital wind chimes gone wild sound.) That vs trying to compare two different plugin maker's eq, for example. 1000x is about right for something like that.
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Old 07-03-2019, 08:59 AM   #25
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I might be thinking of some of the more glaring examples I've run across where I was hearing the weirdo artifacts you get from multiple upload/download generational damage. (The digital wind chimes gone wild sound.)
^Makes the most sense - My perception was once burned by hearing 96kbs or less MP3s early on and hating MP3 because of it. That subsided greatly and I changed my mind when I went to 320kbs CBR. You know 1000x as a ratio is something like 60dB of difference correct?
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Old 07-11-2019, 09:19 PM   #26
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I use reel to reels but let me tell you that the "tape" thing is a lot of myth on it's own. Machine electronics play huge part in it as well. Also the era and tape type. For 70 music I'd use Akai, for 50's I'd use tube Telefunken.
There is a lot more to that whole tape sound than just some tape.
Most of the tape plugins are just nonsense. I find the best way to emulate tape is using good distortion like the one from Klangehelm (the V1 not the V2 and is free) some gentle EQ and maybe a touch of VST that can provide some wobble if going for worn out old sound. I never use VST compression to achieve tape sound. More often than not I use my VST setup rather than the actual machine because I get so close to the sound I want, that using a real machine is just not worth the hassle.
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Old 07-12-2019, 03:43 AM   #27
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What interested me, is if I can hear a difference between YT audio and downloaded versions.

And, yes, it's obvious. The YT compressed streaming version doesn't sound very good. Transients are trashy, distorted and the bass is far less defined. Like listening to an amp that has a too high internal resistance.

It also makes me wonder if we"re all listening to the same version. I mean, shouldn't paying customers get better quality? Or is the quality dependent on the connection?
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Old 07-12-2019, 04:32 AM   #28
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And, yes, it's obvious. The YT compressed streaming version doesn't sound very good. Transients are trashy, distorted and the bass is far less defined. Like listening to an amp that has a too high internal resistance.

It also makes me wonder if we"re all listening to the same version. I mean, shouldn't paying customers get better quality? Or is the quality dependent on the connection?
I don't think I have such an experience with YT in general, not to that extent anyway.

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Old 07-12-2019, 09:54 AM   #29
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I don't think I have such an experience, not to that extent anyway.
Since this is OT see this thread I created:

https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?t=222947
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Old 07-12-2019, 09:55 AM   #30
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I don't think I have such an experience, not to that extent anyway.
IIRC, you're a paying customer.

IDK, it's just a thought that occured when listening to that comparison. I was reasonably happy with YT sound quality lately. But with the downloads the difference is obvious. Not worlds apart, but still obvious.
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Old 07-12-2019, 10:20 AM   #31
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IIRC, you're a paying customer.

IDK, it's just a thought that occured when listening to that comparison. I was reasonably happy with YT sound quality lately. But with the downloads the difference is obvious. Not worlds apart, but still obvious.
There's really nothing about paying customer that makes my compression any better - it simply removes ads - believe me, since they really like selling subscriptions, if the compression changed because of it, they would waste no time marketing that unless they do and I missed it.

See the other thread I posted FWIW where one can directly compare an original WAV to SoundCloud as best as it can be compared via forum - I think it is important people hear blind switching tests like that to reassure or confirm their ears.
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Old 07-13-2019, 09:23 AM   #32
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Youtube sound quality has seemed ok to me for years now. Long enough that I haven't thought about it in a long time.

So it makes me laugh when plugin reviewers blame inaudibility of parameter changes on youtube, i.e, "It's subtle. You might not hear it through youtube." Bs. If it is that subtle, it doesn't matter. Even better is someone doing AB comparisons of gear through a phone recording and blaming inaudibility on youtube encoding.
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Old 07-13-2019, 09:48 AM   #33
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So it makes me laugh when plugin reviewers blame inaudibility of parameter changes on youtube, i.e, "It's subtle. You might not hear it through youtube." Bs. If it is that subtle, it doesn't matter.
Exactly. I hear this ALL the time.
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Old 07-13-2019, 11:28 AM   #34
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All these God of the Gaps claims
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