Results 1 to 10 of 10
  1. #1
    Tech Guru Flash101uk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Derby, UK
    Posts
    658

    Default Digital v Analogue summing and distortioin

    Ez all,
    I have a curiosity that's been bugging me for a while, hopefully someone here can put me straight.

    If I mix two digital music sources externally using a traditional analogue mixer (i.e. DVS setup) and clip the signal on the mixer and only on the mixer, am I clipping the signal as analogue or digital?

    The reason I ask is I hear much uproar about clipping a digital signal due to the way that type of sound degrades. But then an analogue signal clips differently, some people citing a more harmonic distortion instead of square waves produced by digital.

    As a digital guy in a sea of analogue I find my vinylist counterparts often clip channel signals and potentially even the master out. My digital gear is set so the internal gain structure does not clip, this however means my music is generally much quieter than my analogue cousins. This is usually rectified by a swift bump of the master. But sometimes I have no more headroom on the mixer and the previous DJ has rinsed the gains, the sound man is getting a BJ and I need moar power! The only way to match the volume and keep the vibe is to also, rinse the gains.

    If I am correct, mixing externally in this fashion should also create the same 'harmonic distortion' effect as traditional analogue simply because of the DAC's on the soundcard (which are not being clipped) at the start of the signal chain.
    Am I right?
    Ecler NUO 3.0, 2 1210mk2, midi fighter, Kontrol X1, Akai LPD8, Reloop RHP10's, TSP, Audio 8

    Howitzer on Soundcloud | Howitzer on Twitter | Howitzer on Facebook | Howitzer dnb blog

  2. #2
    Tech Convert
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    15

    Default

    You're right that in the scenario you describe it would be analogue distortion, and also that analogue distortion does not sound as bad as digital distortion. However, it is never a good idea to go into the red in any part of the signal chain, as it sounds terrible, and sending a constantly clipping signal to the speakers is not good, and makes the chances of blowing drivers much higher. If you need more volume and you have no headroom on your mixer, either the level needs boosting at the house mixer, or the PA system is not powerful enough.

    Creating harmonic distortion as a pleasing effect is not something you would really do when playing back a finished, mastered track, it is more of a recording technique for individual tracks of a multitrack recording.

  3. #3
    RGAS Guru Xonetacular's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    South Florida
    Posts
    4,015

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Flash101uk View Post
    Ez all,
    I have a curiosity that's been bugging me for a while, hopefully someone here can put me straight.

    If I mix two digital music sources externally using a traditional analogue mixer (i.e. DVS setup) and clip the signal on the mixer and only on the mixer, am I clipping the signal as analogue or digital?
    That would be analog distortion, yes.

  4. #4
    DJTT Administrator del Ritmo padi_04's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Argentina
    Posts
    5,568

    Default

    ^This

    The big no-no applies mainly to digital clipping, analog distortion will be less harsh unless you push it to 11 of course. What you need to do is rise the PA's volume, not keep on pushing into the red of the mixer.

    How "pleasant" the distortion is will depend entirely on the mixer used and personally i would rather keep a clean signal and preserve the dynamics.

  5. #5

    Default

    When you say "analogue mixer" and "analogue distortion," it's important to make the distinction between analogue and digital mixers, too. Theres a difference between "analogue" as in "discrete or hardware," and "analogue" as in "analogue signal processors." A discrete digital mixer will still clip digitally, despite being "analogue."

    If you're playing off the same mixer, you shouldnt be having issues with volume, provided the channel metering is working properly. It's possible to diagnose and troubleshoot that issue if youre having a problem, but we need more info on the setup.

  6. #6
    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Atlanta
    Posts
    3,488

    Default

    At the stage you're talking about, all distortion is bad. Period. End of story. Good day.

    Let your ears be your guide, though. If it sounds good, it sounds good. But, really, the analog distortion = warm thing is kind of BS in most cases.

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mostapha View Post
    At the stage you're talking about, all distortion is bad. Period. End of story. Good day.

    Let your ears be your guide, though. If it sounds good, it sounds good. But, really, the analog distortion = warm thing is kind of BS in most cases.
    ?? Ever worked in an analog tape studio where it was the norm to over-saturate the tape for 'warmth', needles going to the red?
    ---
    Contact me if you have a cool musical idea. @kentsandvik

  8. #8
    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Atlanta
    Posts
    3,488

    Default

    Actually, yes.

    I also play guitar. And while I can't hear the difference between good tube distortion and excellent modelling in recordings, I can tell when I'm playing.

    But that's not what he's talking about. He's talking about doing it to songs that have already been mastered using DJ-level circuitry, which is almost universally worse than even cheap 2-tracks.

    Also, the saturation there was just different. The point where nonlinear responses kicked in wasn't very high over 0 VU (red)…and there was still a good bit of headroom left before you actually started hard clipping.

  9. #9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ksandvik View Post
    ?? Ever worked in an analog tape studio where it was the norm to over-saturate the tape for 'warmth', needles going to the red?
    Input signal leveling off to square =/= overdrive saturation. "Red" on recording/studio equipment is 0db, due to reference gain-staging.

  10. #10
    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Atlanta
    Posts
    3,488

    Default

    Yep.

    It's another effect of the volume war as far as I can tell. "0" on an SSL Console (Solid State Logic, not Serato) or Studer tape machine or any other studio gear is a lot quieter than "0" on a DJ mixer.

    I don't remember the details, and obviously there are differences between DJ mixers and studio mixers……but running a DJ mixer into the red is more like running an SSL at something like +50……which sounds like crap.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •