Blog: Timing Is Everything

Ed Eagan takes us back in time to talk timing      12/07/13
Blog: Timing Is Everything


Glad to see that my last blog entry: Holy Schmidt - Quality Matters elicited so much participation in the comments section! I do feel though that a number of the comments misunderstood my fundamental assertion. However, more irritating to me, is the anonymous nature of the comment section at SonicState. I don't buy into this depressingly pervasive anonymous culture. It promotes trollistic behaviour. But I guess thats the way of the interwebs...

So, in the that troll's spirit I'll be a dad's dad for a day, as I invite you folks to gather round the digital campfire as I fire up the way-back-machine. You youngsters pull up a 32 bit 96 khz stool as Gramps reminisces about the audio past.

There were a few tools that I came across in my years of audio production that had some magic in them that has not been improved on to date. In other words, certain aspects of these older things were better then the present selection of tools. Sure, in other areas, these older items had their pitfalls and have been superseded fantastically, but the future has not been the complete rosy path to the promised land we seem to invariably yearn for. Below is a sampling of those items that I've had the pleasure to own and use.

The AudioFrame Sampler
I used to own one, and then (as the price dropped) two of these WaveFrame corporation digital audio workstations, the AudioFrame.

A short history of the WaveFrame corporation can be found here at http://www.waveframe.com/index.php/about/.

This dedicated DAW could be configured with different cards, such as digital mixers, a hard disk multi track recorder, A to D and D to A interfaces, digital IO with sample rate conversion, and a sampler.  The sampler came in 16 meg and 32 meg RAM varieties.

Waveframe sampler

What I miss most about the AudioFrame unit was the sampler. It had a relatively advanced sample library which resided on the dedicated internal hard drive of the DAW. What was really cool about this sampler was the incredible sound quality of it. It featured 256 times (exact number I cannot verify) oversampled playback, which was especially useful for pitch lowered samples. One could pitch down a sample a number of octaves and then continue to shift it around, and the audio output would be consistently smooth as silk, hearing none of those typical digital steps of a low pitched sample.

I've never heard anything quite like it. Sound designers of the day loved this box.

Revox PR-99

Revox PR 99

I used to master my projects out to VHS tape, recorded onto the tape through a Technics 14 bit "toaster". http://www.thevintageknob.org/technics-SV-P100.html.

What a goofy machine that Technics was! And when these masters needed to be delivered to clients, I would transfer this digital master to 1/4" tape, using my trusty Revox PR-99. I was always intrigued and disbelievingly amazed how much better this "copy" sounded than the original, but this was in the early digital era and we were all drinking the digital Kool-Aid.

This was the real beginning of my tendency to trust my ears and not the specs. To date I haven't found a tape plugin that sounds like this PR-99. I still own this deck and sometimes play audio through it to give it that analog vibe or tape saturation glue.

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1 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
Justin G. Suarez (not anonymous)    Said...

I'm continually amazed with the digital vs. analog vs. DAC brand vs. sample rate vs. blah blah blah obsession some hobbyist/amateurs argue over endlessly on forums. I can understand if you're a professional trying to deliver the goods to your client but seriously, some of my favorite music by Ween and Skinny Puppy was made with some pretty crappy 4 tracks and sub-standard gear. And some of the best Jazz and and Bluegrass music in the world was recorded nearly a century ago with what sounds like a tin can and a string. Let's not forget that it's all about the music. Our time on this plane is too limited to over think that mess.

15-Jul-13 03:37 PM


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