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What is warmth? Is transparency better?

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  • What is warmth? Is transparency better?

    It seams like a lot of people are tying to find gear to make digital recordings sound

  • #2
    I think I know what you are saying ... maybe.

    Warmth is a dumb word that means different things to different people. Part of the problem is that human ears are sensitive to things that simply can't be measured. Some engineers try to see everything in terms of eq - because familiar numbers seem comforting. But you can take two plugin eq's, and dial in the same curve on the same audio track, and one will still sound 'warmer' than the other - whatever that means, and it's probably nothing that can be measured easily - if at all. Certainly distortion and phase shifts account for some differences but not all.

    I prefer the word 'color', which is just as vague, but at least communicates the idea that what comes out sounds different to what goes in.

    If I had to choose, I would choose silent/transparent equipment - because I can always color up a sound, but I can't un-color it.

    Mic choice is critical - the differences between mic's can't be created with eq. But here again, we don't always want true transparency. Otherwise we would all use an omini calibration mic with a flat response. We don't always want truth - this is art, a distorted reality, an illusion.

    Preamps - I would choose silent/transparent knowing I can screw things up later. But then it would be nice to have some different colors. Some rose-tinted lenses perhaps.

    Converters - I rate converters equally important as mics and preamps - obviously because they are necessary, but they can screw up your sound in ways you never imagined. Until I got my Lucid AD9624, I never knew how much noise and fuzziness I was putting up with. I was concerned about noise from my mics and my preamps, and I was letting in as much or more noise from the AD.

    EQ I rate as the least preferable way to fix a sound. If I can get away without using any, I'm happier. Or if I can achieve what I want with a single band smooth curve, I happier than if i've notched the crap out of everything.

    Unfortunately, everything is important. And some choices are nice. The trick is to avoid buying too much crap that will require reselling - that gets really expensive.

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    • #3
      "Mic selection/placement and eq" and everything else are ALWAYS more important than the gear, whether it is the dirt cheapest stuff around or worth ten billion dollars. What good is any gear if you can't use it properly?

      Transparency and coloration are only more important than one another if the music calls for it. For a quiet acoustic song or a symphony or something similar, you probably want more transparency, but that's about the only time. For anything rock related you want some kind of color. Saying that transparency is better than color is FAR too broad. Color basically just means anything but transparent, and virtually everything can benefit from SOME kind of coloration.

      "Analog" warmth usually means the distortion from tape or tubes.

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      • #4
        Terms can be misleading. "Warmth" is probably one of the broadest terms around...what one person describes as "warm" others may describe as "muddy", "dull", "distorted", "fat", "tubby", "big", or even "transparent". It usually implies either some distortion, some increased low end, or a combination of both.

        Having said that, if you're looking at a first microphone and preamp, I think it's a good idea to go for equipment that's as "transparent" or "neutral" as possible. As has already been mentioned, color can always be added, but depending on the type of coloration, it can't always be taken away. It's not a bad idea to start of with a proverbial clean slate and add color from there.

        Then, once you start adding gear to your collection, go for different colors. Chances are, you'll still find use for your "clean" stuff. If you start out with something that's excessively colored, those same characteristics that sound so great on a particular vocal track or bassline may start to add up and sound harsh, or muddy, or whatever...

        -Duardo

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        • #5
          I understand what everyone seams to be saying. I guess I

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          • #6
            Originally posted by djchase7
            Warmth or no warmth, I like the music I
            -Chris Graff

            Russ Long's Guide to Nashville Recording

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            • #7
              I see a lot of people saying that digital is "cold" and analog is "warm". Analog tends to absorb and naturally compress some transients and has a little smoother sound than digital which is why many people prefer the analog sound. The biggest problem is their point of reference, however.

              Digital is much cheaper to get into now than analog for most people, so lots of people now have inexpensive digital setups with cheap converters, cheap mics, cheap pres, etc., but still getting decent sounds. Since these setups are so common, they have become many people's point of reference for comparing digital to analog, and compared to 2" tape it sounds VERY cold indeed. I believe that you can achieve very good sounds with digital, however.

              As I have learned proper mic placement and selection, improved my mic cabinet and used better pres, and basically figured out what the hell I'm doing, my recordings have gotten much "warmer", even with a digital setup. I think a good studio with a good engineer can make an all digital recording on good equipment that sounds outstanding and has plenty of warmth.

              A better comparison to most cheap digital setups out there would be recordings done on CASSETTE multitrack... I can pretty much guarantee that the noise on THAT tape is NOT warmth, and I would take a cheap digital setup over a cheap analog setup any day. Now give me a Studer 2" tape machine.... well, that's a different story! (but i ain't paying for the tape!)
              "That's a matter of opinion. Like "a supermodel is less attractive than a sore-infested, poo-covered morbidly obese bald chick" is a matter of opinion."
              - Audacity Works

              "Ain't nobody ever walked down the street humming the sound of a microphone... it's all about 'the music'."
              -Fletcher

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              • #8
                A lot of people are working under the notion that "digital is cold, so I need to add warmth somehow". Which to me is a little silly, because most people can't really define what they mean by that - they just feel like they need to add "wamth", and that any problems with their sound can be explained as a lack of that "analog sweetness".

                I much prefer transparency - ie what I send into the box comes out later sounding exactly the same. I deal mostly with acoustic music, so I definitely don't want to be adding anything. So for me digital, at least today's decent quality digital, is wonderful.
                "I would kill the children of a thousand planets, just to see you smile"

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by djchase7
                  However if I

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                  • #10
                    People say that digital is cold, well consider that every digital signal you've ever heard was converted to analog for you to hear it. You're not hearing digital, you're always hearing analog.

                    Maybe some people are hearing ****************ty conversion.

                    To me, Nuendo sounds "warm" in the sense that it sounds pleasing to me. I don't know why, but Nuendo for some reason sounds more like it's in motion like a tape machine. Hard to describe, just has some life to it.

                    Not all digital has to sound cold. A lot of people saying they hear a brittle high end with digital might just be used to tape.

                    People say warm for lots of reasons, therefore...it's confusing.

                    djchase7, have fun. Make music. If your gear pleases you and gives you the level of quality you're looking for...all is well.

                    A good all around mic pre / DI / compressor / limiter would be the Safe Sound Audio P1 if you feel you're lacking in this area. Based on those mics I'd maybe consider a decent multipattern LDC as a good compliment to what you own.

                    War
                    Warren Dent | Owner | www.ZenProAudio.com

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Warhead

                      djchase7, have fun. Make music. If your gear pleases you and gives you the level of quality you're looking for...all is well. A good all around mic pre / line level / DI / compressor / limiter would be the Safe Sound Audio P1 if you feel you're lacking in this area. What kind of mics do you own?

                      War


                      War-
                      Check out my current gear listed above in my previous post. I think I

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                      • #12
                        You caught my post just before I scanned and re-read your mic selection available. Are you recording your own vocals primarily or others? If it's your voice, do you have any clips?

                        War
                        Warren Dent | Owner | www.ZenProAudio.com

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by djchase7

                          I
                          "I want to get Jimmi Hendrix's "Foxey Lady" sound, so what settings should I use with my Ovation Balladeer?"
                          -Harvey Gerst

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Warhead
                            You caught my post just before I scanned and re-read your mic selection available. Are you recording your own vocals primarily or others? If it's your voice, do you have any clips?

                            War


                            I

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by djchase7


                              I
                              Warren Dent | Owner | www.ZenProAudio.com

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