Ardour vs. Neve 88RS

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renster
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Hi all,

there is an public inquiry I carry out for my honours work (Bachelor of Recording Arts). The subject is a quality comparison between the tonaly possibilities of a professional recording studio (Neve 88rs, Lexicon 480L, Protools HD3,...) and an homerecording environment using macbook pro, Motu 8Pre and free audio Software (Ardour + freeware plugins). Therefor I recorded and mixed a rockband (drums, bass, e-giutar, vocals). I isolated the mic signals with a professional micsplitter to have identical origin material in both environments. Microphones, Monitoring Speakers and acoustical optimized recording rooms are not part of this investigation.

The inquiry is in german language! (sorry for that ;-)

Here is the link. Have fun!

http://www.voycer.de/umfrage.html?sid=57635

regards,

renster

peder
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For those of you who don't have a wav-plugin in your browser you can download the files as http://klebs.net/honourswork/1a.wav through 8a.wav and 1b.wav-8b.wav. The last ones are erroneously called 8a.mp3 and 8b.mp3.

I've also made a comment to renster on the fact that some sound differ very much in volume and treble, making it hard to judge the acctual thing in question.

And Mr. andrew2271, sir. You seem like a spammer!

stratojaune
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This kind of compare between Neve products and any home recording stuff is amusing !!

peder
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Well, stratojaune, did you try it? And ace it??

Given that it's hard to compare the different sounds due to different volume and such, and that the question for the most part isn't "Which sounds better" but "Which is the Neve", I don't think it's the best questionaire but wouldn't it be interresting if Ardour/LADSPA could at least tie or come close to sounding like/better than Neve/Lexicon...

stratojaune
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Ok Peder,

have to admitt I don't ;-))

Should I explain, or did you already know (don't take last sentence as bad words, it's humor) that preamps, electronics and all the hardware pieces you can find in a professional studio is on one side, and every thing "modeled" with a pc on an other side. Don't want to say which is good or bad, say different... Price is different too, like sound "texture" if it make sense in english ? (Thorgal, comment tu dirai "grain" en anglais STP ?)))

Now, I agree you can have good results with only a pc, some talent and good ears. But let's face the same person in a professionnal environnement will have better results, IMO !!

To end, I'm not on this forum by hazard, long live Linux and Ardour - and by the way my room and wallet are not large enough to put a Neve in the first from the second !

Ricardus
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Comparing high-end Neve to a home rig? That's preposterous.

But comparing high-end Neve to an Ardour rig with great converters, and great pres on input is another matter, entirely.

stratojaune
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Yes Ricardus,

I was thinking to something like you said !

Due to my bad english, could you please explain "great pres on input" ?

Ricardus
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If you're recording something through Neve 1073 preamps, into great converters, into Ardour, then you're going to have some serious tone recorded. Then if a good mix engineer mixed it in the box you would really have something worth comparing to something recorded and mixed entirely analog, on high end gear.

stratojaune
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Well,

I browse a few on Neve site, and the first price is $ 50 000 for 16 channels board, something like more than 3 years of work for me !!

Anyway, fun is not in fancy here... make me remember those lines of Zappa : "Information is
not knowledge, Knowledge is not wisdom Wisdom is not truth Truth is not beauty Beauty is not love Love is not music Music is the best" (have to google to refind)))

philicorda
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I'd expect the MOTU and the Neve 88rs to sound very similar, if you are just using both for the mic pre.

Both have clean, quiet, op-amp based preamps, and if you could easily tell the difference then one of them is broken.

Ricardus
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No disrespect, but... ummm... no.

I've had the pleasure of tracking using Neve 1073 pres, the pres in the 9098i (Rupert Neve designed) and the pres in a Mozart RN (also Rupert Neve designed).

There is no comparison between high end pres, and stuff in any MOTU products. For me it's night and day. I was blown out of my chair the first time I heard really good high end pres. The punch is UNREAL.

philicorda
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I used to think the same, until I started doing double blind tests with decent monitoring. Any differences really are quite subtle once everything is gain matched, and I found I didn't always like the expensive preamps on everything!

It's possible to make a clean, quiet preamp with exemplary specifications quite cheaply nowadays. A simple preamp (with no transformer) using a good quality opamp and plugged straight into the A/D can sound nice and solid on a stereo pair.

I haven't specifically compared the MOTU with other pres, but I used a rig with an 828MK2 for some months of recording, and didn't hear anything particularly nasty about it.

I've been through the big desks and 24 track tape days, and I like the clarity of digital recording without too much in the way of it. Not everyone does. :)

Ricardus
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Every recording I hear these days from people with home studios is flat, and lacks depth and dimension. It's the preamps, and likely the converters as well. There's a reason the Neve 1073 is the most highly coveted pre out there. Depth and punch.

If high-end pres didn't make a difference, then why is there such a HUGE market for them? Every magazine I get advertises the the most amazing array of high-end stuff. Several companies, including Neve itself are making clones of of the original 1073, and then there's Wunder Audio, Tube Tech, Avalon, Focusrite (Red), Universal Audio, Rupert Neve Designs, Grace Audio, SSL, DW Fearn... the list is huge and goes on and on.

Are these preamps nothing more than snake oil being sold to fools?

I'm not saying you need a vintage 1073 at $4500 per channel to do good work, because you can do good work with other pres, but to say MOTU pres sound as good as the pres in a Neve 88r, is insanity.

seablade
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philicorda I would STRONGLY disagree.

You can make perfectly clean preamps yes that would be hard to tell apart. But most of the times preamps aren't perfectly flat on purpose. My Apogee preamps/converters are nice, clean, but have their own character that set them apart from other preamps and converters. Similar things for many other preamps I have used over the years. There are some preamps I will pick on purpose for the character they convey.

Seablade

peder
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Every recording I hear these days from people with home studios is flat, and lacks depth and dimension.It's the preamps, and likely the converters as well.

You don't think the fact that the recordings you hear from a Neve equipped studio has been mixed and mastered by professional sound engineers has got something to do with the superior sound?

I'm not saying a Neve preamp isn't worth every penny, but when you compare sounds you need to set up the test so that everything but the tested item is as similar as possible.
I'm sure if you had Joe Average mix a Neve recording in his Cubase studio in moms basement it'd sound pretty dull as well :)

philicorda
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Every recording I hear these days from people with home studios is flat, and lacks depth and dimension. It's the preamps, and likely the converters as well.

I don't think it's possible to narrow it down so specifically. It would be nice if that was the case, as it means the problem can be solved by buying equipment. Sadly, I think the acoustics, instruments, arrangements, mic placement and engineering/mixing are bigger factors.

If high-end pres didn't make a difference, then why is there such a HUGE market for them?

There are a few reasons.

First, some preamps have useful features like phase, versatile high pass, stepped gain which helps recall, 'over' limiting etc that you don't find on the average desk channel. Others are complete processors with a comprehensive set of EQ/Compression. Some have built in converters of good quality.

Second, some specialised preamps are very quiet, which is nice for certain types of recording, but not a lot of use in a typical pop/rock setting.

Third, some preamps are designed to distort and change the sound in interesting euphonic ways. They often have weird anomalies in phase and linearity, but sound 'good', particularly when driven hard. The Groove tubes Vipre epitomises this.

Are these preamps nothing more than snake oil being sold to fools?"

No, they have their uses. I'm not arguing that a preamp cannot have a 'sound', I've built valve/transformer ones myself that have a very strong flavour to them. However, the more coloured the preamp, the less versatile it is, which is why the built in ones on soundcards are as clean as possible.

What I am saying is that if you take two modern preamps that are designed to be as inaudible as possible, the differences are surprisingly subtle, and if there is an obvious difference, then one is broken. You really have to do well set up tests to confirm this yourself.

There was an interesting (though not particularly scientific) test once where a guy built a preamp for $5, and compared it to a number of other preamps. In a blind test, it was considered to sound the 'most expensive' compared to a UA LA-610 and a Behringer.

The interesting part that must be remembered here, is that the $5 preamp was actually a very advanced, expensive preamp! It used a TI Burr-Brown INA217 at it's core, which represents a cost to design and manufacture way beyond what a boutique mic preamp company could afford. Of course it is then cheaper in bulk, but that does not mean it has to sound cheap.

If you combine that with a good power supply, it's really not a bad preamp. Use battery power and ultra minimal circuitry and you have a pretty good one! The last forty years of analog IC design have not all been in vain!

Ricardus
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You don't think the fact that the recordings you hear from a Neve equipped studio has been mixed and mastered by professional sound engineers has got something to do with the superior sound?

Of course. But if you start with crappy tracks, god isn't going to be able to help you... or Bob Ludwig. :-)

First, some preamps have useful features like phase, versatile high pass, stepped gain which helps recall, 'over' limiting etc that you don't find on the average desk channel. Others are complete processors with a comprehensive set of EQ/Compression. Some have built in converters of good quality.

No. I'm talking preamps. Yes, some have phase switches, and some have a few other features, but the ones I had in mind are pres. Not channel strips, not with converters and not with turbo-chargers.

If MOTU pres were the bomb skiddly shiznit all of the majors would be using them. :-)

What I am saying is that if you take two modern preamps that are designed to be as inaudible as possible, the differences are surprisingly subtle, and if there is an obvious difference, then one is broken. You really have to do well set up tests to confirm this yourself.

Nonsense. Premps with similar noise floors can sound dramatically different.

You're welcome to think that good pres won't make a difference, but when I record, I use the best possible signal chain at input. I do have access to some good gear, and I know that makes me very lucky. I also mean no disrespect.

Good studios don't use good pres only because they can afford them, and because the other guys use them. They use them because they sound ridiculous. There's a reason Ed Cherney travels with his own rack of 1073s.