Why is digital recording so complicated?

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by Tobacco Worm, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. Tobacco Worm

    Tobacco Worm Senior Member

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    I've used tape for 50 years. Reel to reel, then later cassette. I asked a while back if I was the only one still using tape. Found that there are a few of us oldtimers left. Last week I bought a wonderful Zoom device that came with a Cubase LE5 program. After many hours of waiting for codes and numbers that were as long as the national debt, I got it loaded....That was when the nightmare REALLY began!

    I read the Get Started part. I read the manual. It was the most confusing thing I've seen. I didn't understsnd half of it. But I was really trying to get it, but it just didn't make any sense. Then attempting to record by following what I could understand was an all out total joke. I have never been exposed to such utterly complicated and confusing bit of crap in my life!

    So, I deleted the program rather that have a stroke by trying to go further with this. I will not even entertain the thought of another program either. My first and ONLY exposure to digital recording stuff has left a foul and nasty taste in my mouth. No further thought of trying this again will enter my head. I'm done with it!

    Thus I will continue to use tape as I have in the last five decades I've been playing and such. Even if it is thought to be from the stone age, I could care less. I understand tape. Digital? If I ever see another program again, I swear I will shoot it to peices. In fact, I'm taking the disc that has that program on it and will use it for some skeet shooting in the morning with my shotgun!

    PLEASE DON'T TELL ME I SHOULD BUY THIS OR THAT PROGRAM. I'm not interested in the digital recording thing, and telling me I should try another would be like wipping your nose with sandpaper. It'll have an effect, but only be painful one...

    Ok, I've vented long enough. Thank you for allowing me to get this off my chest. My little rant is off...

    Wade
     
  2. Malikon

    Malikon ゴジラの復活 V.I.P. Member

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    I wont say buy anything,...

    however there's a free program called Audacity that's really simple to use.

    As long as you have a mic or direct interface to get the sound into the computer,...you really just hit 'record' and start playing.

    I hear ya on complicated programs, I'm not a computer guy, I just play guitar.

    But audacity ..... well, it doesn't suck and it's pretty simple to figure out. Matter of fact I get the feeling it can do about 1000 things I haven't figured out yet just because,.....well I'm simple, I just hit record. *shrugs*

    That's awesome you can use tape,...but they're not really making anymore tape. If you want to keep recording you're either going to end up spending outrageous prices for blank tape,...or you're going to eventually have to learn digital recording anyway.

    (and I agree it kind of sucks,..I'm not a digital fan, but I will use it for the tool it is.)
     
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  3. blues_n_cues

    blues_n_cues Senior Member

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    they still make tape & I would prefer tape but techs for tape machines almost don't exist anymore,kinda like the old tv repairman. it's a disposable world now.
    I do miss the smell of fresh tape right out of the box and the studio noises the old machines make.

    I haven't used Audacity in years -probably since the 1st version.stuff like protools & logic are a bit more complicated than need be too.
    I use Mixcraft, it's pretty much arm a track & start playing. just like anything there's a bit of a learning curve but it's very easy w/ this DAW & their help forum is great. Plus,on the newest version you can punch in & out say, w/ a foot controller and do video @ the same time.
    there's also plug-ins like Drumagog.if you don't like the way a certain drum sounds just load in a sample drum & BOOM-done. no repositioning a mic or any of that.
     
  4. PraXis

    PraXis V.I.P. Member

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    Recording is easy. Either mic your cab with an SM57 or if you're going digital/plugins, make sure your unit accepts inputs like a guitar/bass/line-in and/or is a preamp (or use a DAW preamp).

    MIXING is a pain in the ass.
     
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  5. blues_n_cues

    blues_n_cues Senior Member

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    I need more cowbell..:D
     
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  6. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    Mixing is a pain in the ass when you just slap a mic willy-nilly in front of something and think "I'll make it sound better in the mix"


    Pay now or pay later. :D
     
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  7. renthepen

    renthepen Senior Member

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    Thanks for sharing your experience ;)

    I believe that you have found your own answers. You managed to at least try the digital recording and realized it doesn't suits you. Now you know what advantages you're missing and what pain in the a$s you're avoiding.

    There are so many new sound engineers out there that don't have a clue on how to record and mix on tape. You have 50 years of experience in the domain. It's amazing. I say stick with what you do best and what you like best... and don't feel bad because you missed the digital train anymore.

    Me, I'm torn between the two. I love analog gear and I love the efficiency of the digital world. There are things I despise in both areas though, like rewinding tape during recording (what a loss of precious time!) and the coldness of most audio softwares and plugins. Plus the fact that sometimes the computer freezes and you loose your data.

    Now to answer your question: Digital recording is complicated because you come from the analog world. Analog recording would seem complicated to a 21st century digital boy.
     
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  8. lucidspoon

    lucidspoon Senior Member

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    For me, I don't know if analog would be complicated, but I'm sure I'd be frustrated! "Wait... Where's the undo button?!?" :laugh2:
     
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  9. Bristol Posse

    Bristol Posse Senior Member

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    I don't find digital to be a much different to analog (tape) in function to be honest

    So long as you understand the signal flow it is essentially the same, but you end up on a different medium, Hard drive rather than tape

    old recording chain:
    Mic-> Pre amp-> compressor-> multitrack tape

    New recording chain:
    Mic-> Pre amp-> Compressor-> Audio interface-> multitrack DAW

    Same thing for mixing really

    Old Mixing chain:
    Tape-> desk (including insert/send FX)-> 2 bus compressor-> 2 track tape

    New mixing Chain:
    Hard drive -> desk either virtual in the DAW or physical (including insert/send FX)-> 2 bus compressor-> final 2 track (either hard drive or Tape)

    If you look at it from a signal flow perspective, not a great deal has changed
     
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  10. lucidspoon

    lucidspoon Senior Member

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    I think the problem that most people run into when trying to make the switch to software (myself included when trying to use new software) is that it's difficult to know how to troubleshoot if you're not getting what you want.

    If you're recording with analog equipment, and you don't hear anything when you play it back, something's probably just unplugged, and you can just go through the signal chain to find out where it stops. With software, a lot of things are hidden in menu settings and whatnot. It's not always clear why the signal isn't being recorded. That can get SUPER frustrating.

    That last step alone might be split up to: Hardware input 1 -> Software input 1/2 (stereo) -> Track 1/2 (stereo) -> effect send (that might not be on the same screen) -> etc.

    That's why I think when learning a new DAW, it's best just to go through the basic steps of recording as basic of a track as you can, so you at least get that first. Get completely comfortable with that before moving onto multi-tracking, effects, and editing.
     
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  11. Bristol Posse

    Bristol Posse Senior Member

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    Again not a lot different from hardware where it's not always clear when the break in signal may be

    Setting up 8 drum mics, 3 guitar mics, 2 vocal mics, 2 room mics into a desk then via 5 compressors, 2 eqs into a twenty four track multi track tape with monitoring for all the performers for example is almost completey the same in old school analog as it is in a DAW...IF you understand the signal flow.

    Menus and sub menus have replaced patchbays and defective cables as a source of head scratching.

    Don't want to be an a-hole and sound like I'm berating but this is audio plumbing. if you understand how the pipes fit together you can almost always figure out why the water isn't flowing the way it should
     
  12. Big John

    Big John So I'm standing in line at the bank, and I stick m V.I.P. Member

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    Hey Tobacco, stay analog. Why fix something that ain't broke?
     
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  13. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    Question to the OP: From the analog formats you listed( reel2reel, then cassette) I gather that you have done homerecording, am I correct?
    I agree that nothing beats the simple operation of an old Teac portastudio or something alike but R2R's? What was your set up, was it:
    A: a 2 track with build-in micpre's? If so, then again I agree that you had a really simple and easy to use setup. But if your past was like option B including multitracks, SMPTE timecode,large in-line mixing consoles, racks full of outboard gear, patchbays, etc. then I don't see how digital could be more complicated. The beauty of digital is that it makes the capabilities of option B available to the masses of enthusiasts who would have only had option A in the past, at a ridiculous low price to boot. I have never met a professional engineer who claimed that tape based recording was easier than a DAW, for starters with a DAW (or a modular tape based digital recorder like a DA-88) you actually get to record exactly what is being send to the machine without employing a maintenance department. Speaking of DA-88's, maybe that's what you need, there digital but tapebased (Hi8 videotape).
     
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  14. GitFiddle

    GitFiddle Premium Member

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    I used to do some home recording in the past. This was still analog. Over time I found I spent more time fiddling with the equipment and lost sight of the actual music. Now that everything is digital and all about software and computers, I have no patience for it at all.

    I spend all day (and most of the night) on computers writing software and visiting MLP forums. :cool:

    Nowadays I just enjoy playing the guitar. Someone else can do the recording when necessary. :D
     
  15. sunking420

    sunking420 Senior Member

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    I never totally figured out my old Tascam cassette 4 Track recorder. Still sitting on a desk. All the time it was taking to figure out midi and all the other nonsense was time away from learning and playing the guitar. I hate technology with a passion. I bought a video/sound camera last year, made it to page 25 out of 100 in the manual and there it sits. It would be nice if all the computer geniuses could figure out how an analog person could use all this crap without having to go to school to learn how to press buttons. I can totally relate to your frustration. I remember back in 1997 I bought my first computer and wanted to use my AK-47 on it. Come to think of it, the world really started going to hell around the time of the TRS-80 computer. I like visiting here, buying stuff from around the country, getting email etc..., but if there was a global EMP to kill every computer on Earth, you wouldn't see me crying....
     
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  16. S_I_N_13

    S_I_N_13 Senior Member

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    I understand you are comfortable and familiar with the tape medium but I bet the first time you tried it as a kid you had no idea what you were doing but had the confidence/ignorance of a kid so it didn't matter. So why would you let it stop you now?
    I find as I get older I resist more and more new things though I try not to. I have found over the years (like yourself) what works best with the way I think and like to record and don't like to deviate from that path. It honestly took me years to sop using Sonic Foundry's ACID (that's right pre Sony) and step up to a big boy DAW. I still don't like other programs as much but I see the merit in using some of them. I truly applaud you for knowing yourself well enough to just do things the way you like to but the downside is there are millions upon millions of other people who do use Digital or even a mix of both and your really missing out on some of the perks. The joys of recording just signal and then playing with it in modelers and plugins and having no risk to doing any wild thing you want to do.
    On the plus side you can be the bell of the ball at hipster parties as they all love tape and vinyl. The best thing you can do for yourself in learning a digital recording interface is to get someone else that already knows how to use it to come buy and record with you. Having a person tell you to just push button X or route to place Z is infinitely more understandable than the instructions that accompany most DAWs.

    To me tape is witchcraft and wizardry. I watched a friend edit some tape for hours and all I could think was "holy shit I'm glad I don't have to do that"
     
  17. Tobacco Worm

    Tobacco Worm Senior Member

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    In the 60's we had a great recording studio that many of the local bands used to make 45RPM's and some did full 33 1/3 records if they could afford it. The studio was amazing. For my own recording in those days, I used a reel to reel system that was tube driven and yet portable enough to take to gigs and practice. If I needed to edit, I spliced tape. I kept that system and used it a lot.

    In the early 80's my portable unit was stolen from my car. Later the big 4tk. was stolen as well. Guess junkies needs show no bounds of choice. So not being able to find replacements, I turned to the cassette units. Now I no longer gig or even play in a band. I do get together with my neighbor across the road (a computer whiz) and we play about twice a month. Mostly I'm teaching him the old school way of being a luthier and amp teck. Was in the business for 35 years or so. Now he understands computers, but looks at a tube amp in awe...Me, well I fear no circiut and can dive into amps and bring them back to life with ease. But to deal with a computer? Sorry....

    Odd that the mention of shooting a computer came about. I did just that a year ago. Had a laptop that was acting all kinds of stupid and after it kept messing up and stuff was caving in on itself, I lost my temper. I beat the keyboard into the casing with my fists and then went to my gunrange out back. There I set it against the backstop and shot it four times with a .45-70 rifle. For those that don't know what that is, think "Buffalo Gun" and you'll get the picture. After shooting that computer, I felt so relieved. While shooting that computer I was in my element and was enjoying putting lead into the hi tech stuff that made me so angry.

    I can function ok with this forum. Don't know how to do pic real good and often just don't try. Can barly use e-mail. Have a hard time doing downloads of stuff that I'd like to try to use. Sometimes it messes up and I take hours fumbling around to get it back. I'm not computer tech by any means. Now I can go into nearly any amp made and bring it back to life. Can build them. Do mods of many sorts. Build guitars. Repair them and mod them to just about anything you like. I was taught by old masters that were doing this in pre-WWII days and thus I too am of the old school. With 60 well in my rearview mirror, I'm not a kid anymore. Life is getting shorter by the minute and I don't have the time and paitence to deal with something that frustrates the hell outta me.

    Well, I've rattled on long enough I suppose...Being an oldman has it's limits. But it also has it's advantages as well. I am from a different age and I suppose in the long run, I'm a thing from the past that is no longer needed by those here now. But now and then the local shop in the town close to where I retired to, will call me with an amp or guitar that their "techs" can't figure out. I go and get the item. Repair it and return it to the shop. The youngmen there will ask how I did it. I smile and touch the side of my head and say "It's all up here lads. You're paying me for what I know. I have years of stuff up here." Then I go home with a little grin. Yup. I'll stick to what I know.....

    Wade
     
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  18. martin H

    martin H Senior Member

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    I wouldn’t agree that it is more complicated. Rather it is very different and is frustrating if you expect it to behave the same as an analog recorder. My last analog rig was a 4 track Teac 3340 ( I then went to an ADAT 8 track, ADAT 16 track , and then to Cakewalk)

    To record a track on the TEAC
    First, Load tape and thread, find correct place in tape if recording does not start at beginning, then:
    1. Get signal routed to correct output bus of board
    2. Check patch panel to be sure output bus is routed to correct channel of Teac
    3. Press record on TEAC channel. Monitor level on VU meter
    4. Set other three tracks into “simul-sync” mode so new track is in time with others
    5. Note number on tape counter so I know where to rewind to
    6. Hit RECORD key
    7. Rewind to original spot, watching tape counter
    8. Throw 3 “simul-sync” switches back into normal position
    9. Listen


    To record a track on Sonar:
    First, open sonar, open project I’m working on
    1. Get signal routed to ANY output bus of board (tracks in Digital machine are not tied to any specific input.)
    2. Press <insert> < new audio Track>
    3. Click on track properties to decide which bus the track will record from
    4. Check recording level
    5. Hit RECORD key
    6. Instant rewind
    7. Listen

    No rewind time, no need to look at a tape counter, no need to find the right tape, or the right place in the tape.

    Once you learn it, the digital system is simpler, and WAY quicker. However, it is a pain in the A** to initially learn it, AND THE USER MANUALS ARE GENERALLY COMPLETELY USELESS. I have spent a fair bit of time &#8220;converting&#8221; Analog users to their new digital systems, and they get it very quickly when someone shows them the basic steps.
     
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  19. Tobacco Worm

    Tobacco Worm Senior Member

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    Well I didn't shoot the disk as I had planned. I took a walk in my woods and gave this some serious thought. After about an hour of stomping around I went back to the house and loaded that thing again. I managed to get the Zoom G7.1ut device to record a little on the program. It plays back through the device and out the amp. Didn't know that. Kinda cute. But that's where my story ends. I can only record one track. When I tried to record a second one, it failed me...or I failed it. Not sure which...But at least I did try again...something I wasn't going to do. I still don't know what I'm doing, but I did get one track to work. Gotta count for something right? I many give it a shot again in a few more days. I'm still not happy with this digital stuff..... And I still like tape.:cool:

    Wade
     
  20. Joeydego

    Joeydego your mom is a nice lady V.I.P. Member

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    So instead of educating yourself on something you were interested in, you don't put the work into it and just throw your hands in the air and bash the medium? Virtually 100% of modern music is either recorded, mixed and/or mastered digitally. EVERYONE ELSE isn't wrong. You cant expect good results or knowledge to come out of thin air. No effort in= no results. To answer your initial question, it isnt complicated. ONCE YOU PUT SOME EFFORT INTO IT.
     
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