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Author Topic: Why no love for the 'sound' of Yamaha digital consoles?  (Read 27410 times)

John Roberts {JR}

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Re: Why no love for the 'sound' of Yamaha digital consoles?
« Reply #70 on: January 02, 2013, 11:10:48 am »

Yes but, an M7 is not 48 bits in or out. A typical input signal will use more like 16 bits out of the available 24. That input signal is then multiplied/divided, EQed & compressed Ö more mathematics, assigned to a VCA and multiplied again, added to a bunch of other signals. The signal path is changed to 48 bits at some point, the signal is then modified by a GEQ and compressor and scaled back to 24 bits.
If you lose a little bit each time it may well become audible, add to that less than perfect AD & DAís and some ordinary Mic preampsÖ. it all adds up.
What exactly does it add up to?

I am an old analog dog who would love to reveal some tragic flaw in digital audio, but just don't see the smoking gun.

Your same logic applies to analog consoles, where every gain stage or EQ circuit the analog signal goes through "adds up" and degrades that signal. In fact a simple digital multiply or sum of multiple stems results in more bits of resolution so arguably lossless, certainly less deterioration than an analog path.

There is always room for better or worse execution of things like sample rate conversion, dynamics, and especially effects, not to mention the myriad ergonomic factors associated with consoles that affect perception of performance.

People have been sniffing around this vague complaint about digital audio with no smoking gun revealed yet AFAIK, and I have been following this for a while.   
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I have AB-ed an M7 directly with an iLive and an iLive with a Pro 2. The Midas sound great, the iLive also sounds very very good, the M7 is awful, and to my ear the M7 seems to get worse on more complicated mixes.

So Iím sticking with my Ö I wasnít there comment  :)
I never argue with people about what they say they hear, while I don't have to agree with their conclusions.

JR
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: Why no love for the 'sound' of Yamaha digital consoles?
« Reply #71 on: January 02, 2013, 11:23:36 am »

So after reading this I would conclude that my X32... With the fine sounding preamps that I have verified with many multitrack recordings, out thought the AES digital out... Should be a better sounding console than an LS9...all other things being equal.
;D ;D ;D Good one...

Do you realize we are arguing about differences between the straight-wire-with-gain portion of our signal chain. The deviation in response, pattern, and linearity between sundry microphones will be 10x the difference in preamps. Likewise the difference in speaker systems will be 10x that of a console path, then add the variations caused by room acoustics and multiple speaker interactions.

This is just silly. We have measurement metrics that could reveal significant differences.

JR
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Peter Morris

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Re: Why no love for the 'sound' of Yamaha digital consoles?
« Reply #72 on: January 02, 2013, 08:04:54 pm »

What exactly does it add up to?

I am an old analog dog who would love to reveal some tragic flaw in digital audio, but just don't see the smoking gun.

Your same logic applies to analog consoles, where every gain stage or EQ circuit the analog signal goes through "adds up" and degrades that signal. In fact a simple digital multiply or sum of multiple stems results in more bits of resolution so arguably lossless, certainly less deterioration than an analog path.

There is always room for better or worse execution of things like sample rate conversion, dynamics, and especially effects, not to mention the myriad ergonomic factors associated with consoles that affect perception of performance.

People have been sniffing around this vague complaint about digital audio with no smoking gun revealed yet AFAIK, and I have been following this for a while.    I never argue with people about what they say they hear, while I don't have to agree with their conclusions.

JR

I think the same logic applies to analogue, and there are good and bad analogue desks, the more signal processing you do the worse it gets, but in general I find bad analogue easier to listen to than bad digital Örelatively speaking.

When pocket calculators first came out I can remember testing their accuracy by taking the sine and arcsine of a small angle. You never got the same angle back, some calculators got very close, some did not.

I was talking to a friend the other day that has a good understanding of the internal workings of DSPs and audio.  He seemed to suggest itís the same with DSP processing and in some cases the designers take a few mathematical short cuts. 01 + 01 does not always equal 10.

Sooo Ö I think it is worthwhile looking at these types of issues and not just blaming everything on the sound of the mic pres as everyone seems to do.

I donít know how much the internal DSP processing or the quality of the AD & DAs contribute, but I think itís worthwhile doing some more complex testing. Running a 16 bit CD through a line-in or saying 1 Ö2 through a single mic is not enough to determine how good the audio quality is. Thatís not to mention using an MP3 tack from an iPhone.

I remember when MP3s first came out we did some AB testing against CD and DAT for an AES meeting. On simple vocal tracks MP3 sounded fine to me, but on the more complex tracks to my ear they became gritty and annoying to listen to. It was hard to pick out the individual instruments in the mix.  This is how I find the M7, but with most of the new digital desks I struggle to hear any difference.

Peter
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: Why no love for the 'sound' of Yamaha digital consoles?
« Reply #73 on: January 02, 2013, 09:26:30 pm »

I think the same logic applies to analogue, and there are good and bad analogue desks, the more signal processing you do the worse it gets, but in general I find bad analogue easier to listen to than bad digital Örelatively speaking.
Yes but, analog deteriorates much more significantly than digital, one of the inherent strengths of digital.
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When pocket calculators first came out I can remember testing their accuracy by taking the sine and arcsine of a small angle. You never got the same angle back, some calculators got very close, some did not.
And i remember doing my freshman engineering homework, programming simple math tables in Fortran IV on Hollerith cards, to run in batches overnight on a huge IBM mainframe...

3+4=6.99999999   :o  (I should have saved that printout.)
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I was talking to a friend the other day that has a good understanding of the internal workings of DSPs and audio.  He seemed to suggest itís the same with DSP processing and in some cases the designers take a few mathematical short cuts. 01 + 01 does not always equal 10.
There are numerous ways to skin digital cats and they all express errors in different ways. In general the errors from well executed digital code are insignificant. In fact this is the actual benefit from using wider data paths and longer word lengths inside processing. The actual audio information is rarely much more than 16 bits of real signal.

I am not foolish enough to make a broad sweeping generalization that "all digital" is wonderful. I have already expressed reservations with how some sample rate conversions are coded.  I have seen issues with early limited word length/data width platforms. 
Quote
Sooo Ö I think it is worthwhile looking at these types of issues and not just blaming everything on the sound of the mic pres as everyone seems to do.
Since I have never seen an objective measurement revealing a smoking gun difference between two professional digital audio paths, what is left is transient phenomenon, like overloading (clipping) the front end. One console maker (Midas) promotes their soft clip limiting mic preamps, and some users consider that part of their sound. (arghhh). I am not a advocate of overdriving any audio path, especially a digital one. 
Quote
I donít know how much the internal DSP processing or the quality of the AD & DAs contribute, but I think itís worthwhile doing some more complex testing. Running a 16 bit CD through a line-in or saying 1 Ö2 through a single mic is not enough to determine how good the audio quality is. Thatís not to mention using an MP3 tack from an iPhone.
Do you think these platforms have not been measured on real test benches? We are well into the 21st century.
Quote
I remember when MP3s first came out we did some AB testing against CD and DAT for an AES meeting. On simple vocal tracks MP3 sounded fine to me, but on the more complex tracks to my ear they became gritty and annoying to listen to. It was hard to pick out the individual instruments in the mix.  This is how I find the M7, but with most of the new digital desks I struggle to hear any difference.

Peter

I will register that as one vote against the M7.

JR
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Bob Leonard

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Re: Why no love for the 'sound' of Yamaha digital consoles?
« Reply #74 on: January 03, 2013, 07:54:06 am »

And for all the reasons above, if and when APB ever comes out with a digital board that retains the sound of their analog boards I'll make the move to a fully digital world.

I don't know of many or any people who run a combination of an APB Pro House and dbx 4800. That's a small system by any standard, but in this case size doesn't matter. The difference between using a dbx 260 or 480 when compared to the 4800 was dramatic, easily illustrating the fact that time marches on, as does sound quality.

The world of sound will always be the sum of all components in the signal chain and putting a microscope on the channel strip won't change that. Obviously the discussion has confirmed one fact, and that fact being all boards or DSPs are not created equally, also confirming that unless you're a haddock, you can hear the difference in sound quality from one board to another.
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Mike Christy

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Re: Why no love for the 'sound' of Yamaha digital consoles?
« Reply #75 on: January 03, 2013, 08:28:09 am »

I was talking to a friend the other day that has a good understanding of the internal workings of DSPs and audio.  He seemed to suggest itís the same with DSP processing and in some cases the designers take a few mathematical short cuts. 01 + 01 does not always equal 10.

Just for reference I'll throw this out there... thinking back to my days working on Data General ALU cards, multiplies are basically shift lefts of a binary word, an example:

01 shift left 1 bit (multiply x2) = 10

What gets filled in on the right?

Zeros, in a pure computer number, but do DSP designers fill with something approximated, or random/dithering?

10101010 x 4 (shift left 3 times) = 1010101000

Division goes the other way, shift right.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2013, 08:29:48 am by Mike Christy »
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Danny J. Avila

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Re: Why no love for the 'sound' of Yamaha digital consoles?
« Reply #76 on: January 03, 2013, 09:49:00 am »

Quote from: Jim Mc Keveny
...design of M7 is a throwback IMO.


In Digital World terms, there's a lot of time between PM5D (non RH) and M7CL V1.10 and some circumstances have to be considered. The design of Yamaha's "affordable" line of Mixing desks back in 2004-05 included a new more-digital-less-analog user interface that could resume and simplify the needs of those costly knob filled surfaces (and yet including the 63 Faders on 48CH version) by introducing the Centra-Logic concept as a new standard for the industry and also reducing manufacturing costs by implementing 48kHz Sampling rates in the A/D conversion process which need less DSP fuel to be done. The M7CL included both Channel Fader full frame and layers in the same surface to introduce the transition even to the most Analog enthusiastic users. It also allows the user to send audio directly from Input channels to Matrix in order to expand the Output mixing busses.

Some very noticeable bugs appeared in the M7CL as soon as the BEs started to use it like the Input Gain stage leap effect of the HA control (smoothed not enough by means of Firmware updates), the annoying hiss level of its Mic preamps and its 320kBPS MP3 sound quality even when the OMNI XLR3 audio output board (DA1) is exactly the same for PM5D, M7CL & subsequent LS9.

However, people of this segment of the market was willing to embrace the Digital technology and rapidly adopted this concepts (and flaws) as the new standard to the point of spreading thousand of M7 around the world. Even when the frame of the M7 is "closed" to adding more channels due to internal DSP hardware capabilities, Yamaha still hears what users want or would like to have on a Digital mixing desk and successive Firmware updates keep the M7 running shows around the world now mostly in Monitor applications and for IEM systems without major audio quality complaints.

And yet this throwback design lead to their new CL Series...

Personally I really like the overall sound quality of the DiGiCo SD devices but I'm still trying to deduce their intrincated anything-but-intuitive GUI design philosophy.

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Jim McKeveny

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Re: Why no love for the 'sound' of Yamaha digital consoles?
« Reply #77 on: January 03, 2013, 10:07:03 am »


And yet this throwback design lead to their new CL Series...

I said "mechanical" design was a throwback....Please do not misquote.

CL presentation is much improved, though not exactly a space saver when cased for transport.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2013, 10:13:59 am by Jim McKeveny »
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: Why no love for the 'sound' of Yamaha digital consoles?
« Reply #78 on: January 03, 2013, 10:16:08 am »

Just for reference I'll throw this out there... thinking back to my days working on Data General ALU cards, multiplies are basically shift lefts of a binary word, an example:

01 shift left 1 bit (multiply x2) = 10

What gets filled in on the right?
It's a shame I wasted so much time learning about digital on my own, I could have just hung out here.  ;D

Seriously a left shift or a right shift are just that a shift in the weight of each bit with NO additional resolution (kind of like floating point data with a significant mantissa and multiplier exponent). However in the digital world an actual multiply involves multiplying one digital word times another digital word, so the result typically has twice the number of bits. I.E. a 16x16 bit multiply has a 32 bit result. (this is another reason for the longer word length inside processors.)
Quote

Zeros, in a pure computer number, but do DSP designers fill with something approximated, or random/dithering?

10101010 x 4 (shift left 3 times) = 1010101000

Division goes the other way, shift right.
No, while a right shift is equivalent to division by 2/4/8 , true division is a separate operation because we can't always count on dividing by even power's of two.

Note: In the digital realm there are two different kinds of right shift instructions to account for the data scheme where the MSB represents +/- polarity, so a right shift does not trash that polarity information for signed right shifts (not actually called that).

In fact this could be a software coder's short cut where they use a fast shift right to some round number instead of a slower precise division that takes more processor ticks. Say a shift to divide by 8 instead of actual divide by 7 or 9...

Digital has been around so long that even I am designing with it. Modern processors have enough power that there is less need to cut corners, while software is mostly written by humans so stuff happens. Analog consoles were designed by humans too...

FWIW a fader move (less than unity) is generally a simple (fast) multiply, where the signal value is multiplied by the fader term (a digital word less than full scale) for a simple product less than the original. Digital fader gain above unity could be a combination of a left shift followed by a multiply.

For comparison analog level increases, boosts up low level noise (and adds the noise of the gain stage). Digital level increases pretty much leave nothing in the lower bits, but at least it doesn't add noise. Note: this should not be confused with LSB dithering, a technique associated with A/D conversions to actually increase low level resolution.

JR

PS: I am NOT a digital expert, but I know enough to challenge unfounded general attacks on digital technology. I have been defending digital since the early days, and it is so much better now. it is the nature of digital to never be perfect, but the ugly secret is analog isn't perfect either.   
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Mike Christy

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Re: Why no love for the 'sound' of Yamaha digital consoles?
« Reply #79 on: January 03, 2013, 10:28:15 am »

Thanks for the refresher John!
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