Tape simulations for that mastering mojo.

VST, AU, etc. plug-in Virtual Effects discussion
jens
KVRAF
19993 posts since 12 Jul, 2003 from West Caprazumia

Post Fri May 22, 2020 12:52 pm

sleepcircle wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 6:15 am
pixel85 wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 5:16 am
(especially Waves!)
waves' tape sims are not very good, no. they really chew up the sound, somehow.
I strongly disagree - and so do some of those who worked with the real stuff…

for instance Bob Ohlsson (of Motown fame) claimed over at Gearslutz that Kramer Master Tape is nigh indistinguishable from the original it emulates.
Bob Olhsson;8088983 wrote:The Kramer and the VTM are apples vs oranges. The old Ampex is a very colored machine compared to more modern tape machines and has a much narrower "sweet spot." Most people never used more than three tracks and maybe ten of us in the world ever used an 8 track based on that design. It's the sound of the '50s - '60s and not the sound of 8, 16 and 24 track tape in the '70s-'90s.The old tube Ampexes have a sound I love and waves really nailed a specific machine and tape but it's not something to mindlessly throw on every track. Something a lot of us did in the '70s and '80s was to intentionally use a different kind of machine and tape for mixing than the multitrack to minimize the build up of colorations. There can be a real synergy between an old Ampex and a more modern multitrack.
Bob Olhsson;7049568 wrote:Whatever was done with tape, which could be as many as four or five generations, we tried really hard never to saturate it because what happens with the plug is exactly what the tape machines sounded like and not pretty at all. Let me repeat that sending lower levels to the plug ahead of its own input control can be beneficial.
Bob Olhsson;13662711 wrote:My friend's unmodified Ampex 351 running Scotch 207 was pretty spot-on but it doesn't and shouldn't sound like a '70s or later tape machine. I was frankly amazed. There was almost never more than a 4 track version so putting one on every track of a modern recording is asking for trouble. Back in the mid-'60s most studios aimed at achieving a live, first-generation mono mix with no remixing. Multitracks were used mostly for backup and only occasionally for overdubs.

The problem with emulation is that typical digital recording levels are way too loud to allow an accurate model of how the machine was actually used. They only start to sound right with the level dropped 10-20 dB. A 351 hit hard sounds like sh!t and waves nailed that sound very accurately. After all, it's not a guitar amp! That accuracy requires a nerd's understanding of gain structure which doesn't exactly help the plug-in's reputation.

sleepcircle
KVRian
794 posts since 28 Nov, 2016

Re: Tape simulations for that mastering mojo.

Post Fri May 22, 2020 2:41 pm

Hey, right? Well, who knows, maybe I'm wrong then. I never drove it especially hard, but I also never dropped the volume 20db before using it. All I know is that the mixanalog studer/telefunken tape never got that weird nasal sound, no matter how hard they were driven. Nor did u-he satin, which is what I moved onto for a plugin when I was trying to find something to replace the waves plugins. If it really isn't a problem like aliasing or what-have-you, then I guess it must just be a quirk of the unit.

perpetual3
KVRian
1393 posts since 28 Sep, 2012

Re: Tape simulations for that mastering mojo.

Post Fri May 22, 2020 3:53 pm

Ik Tapes.

User avatar
bmanic
KVRAF
8604 posts since 3 Feb, 2003 from Finland, Espoo

Re: Tape simulations for that mastering mojo.

Post Fri May 22, 2020 7:36 pm

@jens

So basically what Bob Olhsson says there is that Waves completely 100% f**ked up the internal calibration of the plugin? Wouldn't be the first time.

Also, I 100% trust Bob's opinion. That dude is extremely talented and knowledgeable.

Partially the general public is at fault. They are so incredibly bad at hearing and especially appreciating subtle nuances in audio. Not all analogue audio processing is immediate and "wow what a huge difference!!". This is a complete myth..

Then again, that myth is probably exactly due to seasoned pro vs home producer dichotomy. For the seasoned and experienced pro, something utterly "subtle" could be a "game changer!" and a huge difference.. whereas the home producer might not even be able to pick out the difference in an A/B test. I've experienced this in another field, as the home producer.. in cooking. The professional chef we had available had a palate that was incredibly more sophisticated than any of us students. Where he could describe and taste subtle differences in texture, acidity and salt we just thought it all tasted very much the same.. or at the very least couldn't describe the differences at all.

So yeah, my point is: When people (including myself) says there is a HUGE difference in something, that is probably how we perceive some things but the reality for the general public is very different. Thus plugin companies need to severely exaggerate things to get the words to match the sound, which in turn can completely distort the reality of the emulation.
"Wisdom is wisdom, regardless of the idiot who said it." -an idiot

sleepcircle
KVRian
794 posts since 28 Nov, 2016

Re: Tape simulations for that mastering mojo.

Post Fri May 22, 2020 9:30 pm

yeah, now that you mention it, u-he satin has a huge internal head-room by default (-0db on the tape machine's internal circuit is quite far up on the scale from the DAW's -0db), and also--

yeah, now that you MENTION it, the mixanalog.com tape machines also have a massive sort of 'buffer space' of headroom, too. huh. maybe i should reinstall the plugins and see how they sound when I gain stage them better.

User avatar
jdanzig
KVRer
13 posts since 17 Jan, 2020

Re: Tape simulations for that mastering mojo.

Post Fri May 22, 2020 9:40 pm

tape sims make your mix sound like garbage

enCiphered
KVRian
854 posts since 13 Dec, 2016

Re: Tape simulations for that mastering mojo.

Post Fri May 22, 2020 10:02 pm

jdanzig wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 9:40 pm
tape sims make your mix sound like garbage
Can someone please confirm that? I'm in a hurry

sleepcircle
KVRian
794 posts since 28 Nov, 2016

Re: Tape simulations for that mastering mojo.

Post Fri May 22, 2020 10:18 pm

Well it depends on the sim and on the bandwidth the thing is running at. u-he satin can very reliably avoid the garbagey sound because it has an internal bandwidth of 384khz. I mean, it actually runs the entire bias circuit internally, both ways.

i guess it also depends on gain-staging, as the previous conversation about the waves plugins demonstrates.

hey, though, (again), if you want, you can pay a couple bucks to send your mix through a real tape machine, in the cloud. mixanalog.com has a studer and a telefunken (i'd recommend the studer for mixbus/mastering stuff)

i know i keep harping on about mixanalog.com but they're a small company and i really want them to succeed

cantaloupe
KVRist
86 posts since 31 May, 2017

Re: Tape simulations for that mastering mojo.

Post Fri May 22, 2020 10:50 pm

How do people like the most recent Airwindows Tape?

Liero
KVRian
1058 posts since 6 Mar, 2004

Re: Tape simulations for that mastering mojo.

Post Fri May 22, 2020 11:46 pm

bmanic wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 7:36 pm
@jens

So basically what Bob Olhsson says there is that Waves completely 100% f**ked up the internal calibration of the plugin? Wouldn't be the first time.

Also, I 100% trust Bob's opinion. That dude is extremely talented and knowledgeable.

Partially the general public is at fault. They are so incredibly bad at hearing and especially appreciating subtle nuances in audio. Not all analogue audio processing is immediate and "wow what a huge difference!!". This is a complete myth..

Then again, that myth is probably exactly due to seasoned pro vs home producer dichotomy. For the seasoned and experienced pro, something utterly "subtle" could be a "game changer!" and a huge difference.. whereas the home producer might not even be able to pick out the difference in an A/B test. I've experienced this in another field, as the home producer.. in cooking. The professional chef we had available had a palate that was incredibly more sophisticated than any of us students. Where he could describe and taste subtle differences in texture, acidity and salt we just thought it all tasted very much the same.. or at the very least couldn't describe the differences at all.

So yeah, my point is: When people (including myself) says there is a HUGE difference in something, that is probably how we perceive some things but the reality for the general public is very different. Thus plugin companies need to severely exaggerate things to get the words to match the sound, which in turn can completely distort the reality of the emulation.
You're kind of right, but IMO also missing an important complexity. "Game changer" depends on what your game is. Being a mixer, mastering engineer, arranger, composer or studio musician are _completely_ different professions and completely different games. I know brilliant conductors who listen to a live orchestra 6 hours a day but can't spot a fairly crude sampled orchestra as being fake. I know phenomenal musicians who can't really tell what exactly is happening when a distortion and compressor is put on their track, but on the other hand can hear when the pitch is off 3 cents. I myself mostly work as a composer/arranger in a studio environment and can't hear 3 instances of true iron maxed out on an individual track do anything meaningful to me, but I can spot a sampled orchestra vs. a real one a mile away.

Not everyone needs to hear everything. Perhaps the only folly people who can't hear subtle differences are guilty of is thinking that they need to.

filulilu
KVRist
74 posts since 27 Aug, 2009

Re: Tape simulations for that mastering mojo.

Post Sat May 23, 2020 12:26 am

Liero wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 11:46 pm
You're kind of right, but IMO also missing an important complexity. "Game changer" depends on what your game is. Being a mixer, mastering engineer, arranger, composer or studio musician are _completely_ different professions and completely different games. I know brilliant conductors who listen to a live orchestra 6 hours a day but can't spot a fairly crude sampled orchestra as being fake. I know phenomenal musicians who can't really tell what exactly is happening when a distortion and compressor is put on their track, but on the other hand can hear when the pitch is off 3 cents. I myself mostly work as a composer/arranger in a studio environment and can't hear 3 instances of true iron maxed out on an individual track do anything meaningful to me, but I can spot a sampled orchestra vs. a real one a mile away.

Not everyone needs to hear everything. Perhaps the only folly people who can't hear subtle differences are guilty of is thinking that they need to.
Not everyone needs to hear everything, of course, but then why bother with such plugins? Why don't we leave them to the mixing engineers? If one wants to use tape emulations they should be able to hear their subtle effect.
Yorgos Simeonidis

jens
KVRAF
19993 posts since 12 Jul, 2003 from West Caprazumia

Re: Tape simulations for that mastering mojo.

Post Sat May 23, 2020 12:53 am

bmanic wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 7:36 pm
@jens

So basically what Bob Olhsson says there is that Waves completely 100% f**ked up the internal calibration of the plugin? Wouldn't be the first time.

Also, I 100% trust Bob's opinion. That dude is extremely talented and knowledgeable.
Yes, I think he is - but that's not how I read it.

The Kramer Master Tape Manual suggests:
Go to the loudest passage in your song and, using the Record Level control, adjust the input until the meter displays -5 dBVU to 0 dBVU.

Sending a sinewave through it (basically regardless of its frequency), if the record level control is set to 0, then -18dB = 0dBVU. The Record Level Control has a range of -18 to +18 dB - so depending on what you send through it, it still may not pull the input down enough… (the "the loudest passsage" in the quote above suggests to me that they mean it should only sparingly hit -5 to 0dBVU, certainly not more or les constantly - and if it peaks a lot, then rather set it to -5 dBVU than to 0dBVU)

Partially the general public is at fault. They are so incredibly bad at hearing and especially appreciating subtle nuances in audio. Not all analogue audio processing is immediate and "wow what a huge difference!!". This is a complete myth..

Then again, that myth is probably exactly due to seasoned pro vs home producer dichotomy. For the seasoned and experienced pro, something utterly "subtle" could be a "game changer!" and a huge difference.. whereas the home producer might not even be able to pick out the difference in an A/B test. I've experienced this in another field, as the home producer.. in cooking. The professional chef we had available had a palate that was incredibly more sophisticated than any of us students. Where he could describe and taste subtle differences in texture, acidity and salt we just thought it all tasted very much the same.. or at the very least couldn't describe the differences at all.

So yeah, my point is: When people (including myself) says there is a HUGE difference in something, that is probably how we perceive some things but the reality for the general public is very different. Thus plugin companies need to severely exaggerate things to get the words to match the sound, which in turn can completely distort the reality of the emulation.
I pretty much fully agree with that.

User avatar
gentleclockdivider
KVRAF
2744 posts since 22 Mar, 2009 from gent

Re: Tape simulations for that mastering mojo.

Post Sat May 23, 2020 1:15 am

MOst analog modelled plugins are designed to work at optimum level when input = 0db VU / -18db FS or roughly in the same ballpark .
Eyeball exchanging
Soul calibrating ..frequencies

jens
KVRAF
19993 posts since 12 Jul, 2003 from West Caprazumia

Re: Tape simulations for that mastering mojo.

Post Sat May 23, 2020 1:22 am

Yes, but the better ones (such as Kramer Master Tape) can be calibrated. And I don't think it's Waves fault if -18 of input attenuation is not enough because people keep aiming at hot and hotter...

Liero
KVRian
1058 posts since 6 Mar, 2004

Re: Tape simulations for that mastering mojo.

Post Sat May 23, 2020 1:22 am

filulilu wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 12:26 am
Liero wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 11:46 pm
You're kind of right, but IMO also missing an important complexity. "Game changer" depends on what your game is. Being a mixer, mastering engineer, arranger, composer or studio musician are _completely_ different professions and completely different games. I know brilliant conductors who listen to a live orchestra 6 hours a day but can't spot a fairly crude sampled orchestra as being fake. I know phenomenal musicians who can't really tell what exactly is happening when a distortion and compressor is put on their track, but on the other hand can hear when the pitch is off 3 cents. I myself mostly work as a composer/arranger in a studio environment and can't hear 3 instances of true iron maxed out on an individual track do anything meaningful to me, but I can spot a sampled orchestra vs. a real one a mile away.

Not everyone needs to hear everything. Perhaps the only folly people who can't hear subtle differences are guilty of is thinking that they need to.
Not everyone needs to hear everything, of course, but then why bother with such plugins? Why don't we leave them to the mixing engineers? If one wants to use tape emulations they should be able to hear their subtle effect.
Most tape emulations are not subtle, or can be set up to be very evident. That said, not using subtle plugins and leaving that stuff to the mixing/mastering engineer is precisely what I would also recommend for everyone who doesn't see themselves in those categories.

Part of the problem today is that everyone tries to be everything, which is also the reason we hear so much mediocre music from solo producers who can't possibly be an expert at everything related to creating a finished piece.

Feels like most people putting out tracks today are 10% composer, 10% arranger, 10% mixing engineer, 50% gear/plugin addict, 20% forum troll.

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