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Author Topic: Digital vs. Analogue. Why the contempt?  (Read 4559 times)

Tim McCulloch

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Re: Digital vs. Analogue. Why the contempt?
« Reply #50 on: March 27, 2014, 01:15:09 pm »

This has been addressed several times before and is a fairly persistent myth about HF switching power supplies vs 50/60 Hz conventional power supplies.  Yes in the very early days, high voltage capacitors were very expensive and relatively rare so some early designs were under-capped. Note: conventional supplies can also be under-capped too in deep value brands (look at 20Hz power vs 1kHz power spec).

This is a non-issue IMO for properly designed amps. Regarding the amount of reservoir capacity of value for an amplifier, the PS caps are getting refilled every 16 mSec or so. The design issue is how much sag you will accept between these 16 mSec re-fills. Low frequency audio is the worst case for this since a waveform top at 20 Hz can persist longer than a full charging cycle.

This is academic for PFC supplies, that pull current from the full waveform and often include regulated voltage, so when they run out of power supply current is just a design decision (and mains supply limitation).

YMMV as a cheap value switching amp may have cut more corners. But I am still not aware of any inherent limitations of the technologies, just design decisions.   

JR

Great explanation, John.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Digital vs. Analogue. Why the contempt?
« Reply #51 on: March 27, 2014, 02:50:46 pm »

WOW!

I never imagined I would receive such an overwhelming response! Thank you everybody for your extremely thoughtful words. You are a very intelligent bunch around here! I feel like I am in very good company. With all of the suggestions, opinions and questions asked; I will have a difficult time replying to everyone specifically, so I will attempt to touch on most points. I'm in the Midwest, attempting to work with no-name bar bands. I'm talking gigs that pay the band less than $500! I have no illusions about doing concert level gigs. This is something I want to be able to do from the back of a pick-up truck. For example; 16 inputs, 2-4 monitor mixes, 15's on a stick over single 18's per side at FOH. 8 channels of inserted comps and gates. Basic Lexicon verbs. Crown DSP amps so I can control para-EQ and limiters/crossovers from a laptop. Yamaha Club series cabs...you get the picture. I'm not trying to be a mix engineer to the stars. I've just noticed that a lot of bands that I've seen mixing themselves from stage sound horrendous, and I thought I could offer an affordable solution.

{big ol' snip}

You folks are wonderful!

Hi Brian-

Welcome to the LAB Lounge and thanks for not being a drive-by poster.  Stick around, there are a lot of smart(ass) folks here that give this place a definite "community" flavor.

Also, thanks for posting more about how you intend to use your system and what some of the practical factors are.  That provides some direction for suggestions and discussion.

The subject line about D v A and 'contempt' is last century's argument, IMNSHO.  I'm not a kid, the first mixer I lusted over was a PM1000. ;)  I remember when channel strip preamps were built from discrete components; I remember when AM radio was king and FM was mostly "educational radio" or "beautiful music" formats.  Apologies if the beautiful music reference sends anyone back into therapy...  but the main reason to dislike digital today is when the UI is poorly done.   Audio quality?  Just like in analog, there are levels of audibility that scale with price to some extent, but in digital that's mostly about how the peripheral analog circuits are designed, not how the 1s and 0s are manipulated.  To a large extent you get what you pay for.

For most users making the transition the stumbling blocks are 1) user interface and 2) console configuration & routing options.  They are related to a great extent, as you found out with the X32 you used.  {HINT- on the X32, use the "VIEW" button to take you directly to the control page for that item; it toggles back if you push the button again}.  Most recent digital mixers leave the factory set so you can pretty much plug in: there are outputs labeled left and right, aux outputs are usually routed to correspondingly numbered output connectors, etc.  But once someone has messed with the routing it can be a pain to figure out what they did.  Why?  Because we aren't tracing physical cords and cables.  In the Ye Olde Analogue Dayz® that's what we did if something didn't work or work the way we expected it to.  In Digital Mixer Utopia, finding that "virtual patch cord" becomes the problem... but if you're using your mixer, who's to blame?  8)  Learning any console's UI sufficient to trouble shoot a human-induced routing problem or to change console configuration is ultimately necessary for mastery of the mixer, but not needed to simply walk up and mix on a desk that is already configured and working.  Knowing how to access input gain, EQ, monitor/FX sends, FX returns, and channel dynamics is typically sufficient.  As I posted earlier, our firm has had at least 6 Band Engineers young enough to have never mixed a concert on an analog setup, so can you imagine how much hand-holding could be required?  It's the same for us old analog dogs going digital for the first time...

The desire to get under the hood and fix things?  Ummmmm maybe 30 years ago, but today even analog mixers have lots of SMD (surface mount devices) that will challenge your eyesight and require new tools and training to service.  The days of wiggling ribbon cables and exercising insert jacks are still with us in analog mixers, but those techniques are about all that's left for user service... those and swapping out power supplies.  Both of my grandfathers were farmers and mechanics and I got a tiny bit of their talent & knowledge (I'm not afraid to open up stuff or try to fix it), but these days my soldering station spends most of the time in my tool box.

At the bar band level, powered speakers (or not) is pretty much a wash.  The money works out about the same by the time you buy an amp rack and other kibbles and bits, the weight of powered speakers is somewhat greater but you lose the amp rack and it's footprint in your truck and onstage.  Space may be an issue in some of the venues (or not).

Ultimately, selling your services to bar bands is a frustrating hobby.  You'll bring in $15k or more in gear, spend 2 hours setting it up, then 3 hours or more for the show followed by an hour to take it down (after the band moves their shit), pack it up and drive home.  You've got a minimum of 8 hours, non-stop, plus transportation expenses, insurance on your gear and for liability, you need a return on your investment (or some $$ to send your spouse on a spa vacation) once in a while, too.  You should be getting $250 or more.  You won't, though, because most bands don't care about how they sound sufficiently to cut their pay in half (there won't be enough left to clear their bar tabs).  In fact, if the bands are getting booked now and sound like ass, what incentive do they have to cut their own pay?  So back to the 8 hours of your life - for $100, do they get your labor for free, or the gear?  Taking no money for your labor, it would take 3 years to pay for the gear (at $15,000) if you worked 50 gigs a year and you'd still be out for transportation, maintenance and insurance.  Only you can decide what is important to you, though, and you don't have to justify your hobby so long as you don't significantly undercut prices of folks doing this for a living.

So here's another long post.  :)

Have fun, good luck.

Tim Mc
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Tom Roche

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Re: Digital vs. Analogue. Why the contempt?
« Reply #52 on: March 27, 2014, 04:09:09 pm »

Ultimately, selling your services to bar bands is a frustrating hobby.  You'll bring in $15k or more in gear, spend 2 hours setting it up, then 3 hours or more for the show followed by an hour to take it down (after the band moves their shit), pack it up and drive home.  You've got a minimum of 8 hours, non-stop, plus transportation expenses, insurance on your gear and for liability, you need a return on your investment (or some $$ to send your spouse on a spa vacation) once in a while, too.  You should be getting $250 or more.  You won't, though, because most bands don't care about how they sound sufficiently to cut their pay in half (there won't be enough left to clear their bar tabs).  In fact, if the bands are getting booked now and sound like ass, what incentive do they have to cut their own pay?  So back to the 8 hours of your life - for $100, do they get your labor for free, or the gear?  Taking no money for your labor, it would take 3 years to pay for the gear (at $15,000) if you worked 50 gigs a year and you'd still be out for transportation, maintenance and insurance.  Only you can decide what is important to you, though, and you don't have to justify your hobby so long as you don't significantly undercut prices of folks doing this for a living.

Tim Mc
This really puts it in proper perspective in my opinion.  I look at gigs with my band in much the same way.  I figure most bars don't know or don't care that the typical 4-hour gig is at least an 8-hour effort that includes prep, driving, load in/out, etc.  Most band gigs in my area pay $300 no matter how many members.  A handful pay more and a couple pay even less.  Sound person?  Ha ha ha...not gonna happen unless the venue has their own, which is just as funny.  ;D

I also agree about not undercutting the folks who do this for a living.  We experience this from a band perspective when amatuer musos "want to get their name out there" and play for free, or beer, or for 1/3 the going rate.  Of course, they don't last but then some of the bars get the idea that bands don't need to be paid more than gas money.  After all, they get to do something that's fun.  ::)

Speaking of setting "new" expectations, there's a rather large music fest put on every summer in my area.  They were looking for someone to provide sound (equipment & operation) over three days and their budget is somewhere between $900 - $1900.  Good luck with that.
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Tom Roche

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Re: Digital vs. Analogue
« Reply #53 on: March 27, 2014, 04:18:35 pm »

Mackie DL1608. Can not mix without the Ipad (so there's another $400-500 you must spend).
My band leader bought the DL1608 at GC for $800 and found a used Ipad for $250, so we were up & running for just over $1000.
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dick rees

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Re: Digital vs. Analogue
« Reply #54 on: March 27, 2014, 04:25:06 pm »

My band leader bought the DL1608 at GC for $800 and found a used Ipad for $250, so we were up & running for just over $1000.

Just bought a brand new iPad2 today for $299.00.  Used should go for much less than that.

On the side:

I swapped a DBX 266 (the wall wart edition) for a MacBook Pro with a non-functioning keyboard/mouse pad.  $12 for a wireless mouse/keyboard set (USB) and I've got a functioning Mac which I use for various audio applications including Nicecast for live radio remotes.  All that requires is the mouse.

Not bad for $12.
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Scott Olewiler

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Re: Digital vs. Analogue. Why the contempt?
« Reply #55 on: March 27, 2014, 04:33:25 pm »

Most band gigs in my area pay $300 no matter how many members.

Very true where I'm at as well. 

This is the reason A). My band doesn't play bars ( and it was really tough getting started, refusing to play for free in bars to get exposure, but it's working out now with private clubs paying a  lot better and the occasional $1000 wedding gig)
B). Most of my sound income comes from private functions,church events, or renting out equipment to the DIY DJ for a night.  Hard to believe someone will pay you $250 for something to plug his laptop into for the night but a band doesn't want to fork out more that $150 to be fully mic'd and be given a great mix all night.

If you want to recoup some of your money quicker go after these jobs. 
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Russ Davis

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Re: Digital vs. Analogue
« Reply #56 on: March 27, 2014, 05:08:27 pm »

Most of my sound income comes from private functions,church events, or renting out equipment to the DIY DJ for a night.  Hard to believe someone will pay you $250 for something to plug his laptop into for the night but a band doesn't want to fork out more that $150 to be fully mic'd and be given a great mix all night.

I don't bother with bar bands any more, for that very reason.  Sure, it was fun back when I was young and bored, and figured it'd be cool to hang out in a bar and get paid.  Now my back and I would much rather get double the money for two-hour corporate SOS gigs requiring one speaker's mic, sometimes a wireless handheld or two for Q and A, and possibly CD or mp3 background music.  And these clients are still OK with analog boards (swerve back to original topic...).
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James A. Griffin

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Re: Digital vs. Analogue
« Reply #57 on: March 27, 2014, 05:16:46 pm »

And these clients are still OK with analog boards (swerve back to original topic...).

It's not about the client being OK with it.  Given competent operators and equipment, the client probably doesn't hear any difference twixt the 2.

It's more about how hard to you have to work (and how much gear you have to haul around)  to produce what the client expects.
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Russ Davis

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Re: Digital vs. Analogue
« Reply #58 on: March 27, 2014, 07:57:33 pm »

It's more about how hard to you have to work (and how much gear you have to haul around)  to produce what the client expects.

SOS corporate speaking gigs?  These are a piece of cake, and precious little gear is needed - small analog board, 4-space rack, and maybe wireless receiver(s) and CD/MP3 player at FOH.  If a lectern mic is used, a single XLR cable is needed (plus returns).  I have 48' and 250' (on a reel) 3-XLR snakes for these jobs.  Since it's all paid for, I feel no immediate need to race out and spend money to go digital for these jobs.  When the time comes I'll take the plunge, and by then today's products will be old news...
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James A. Griffin

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Re: Digital vs. Analogue
« Reply #59 on: March 27, 2014, 08:06:13 pm »

SOS corporate speaking gigs?  These are a piece of cake, and precious little gear is needed - small analog board, 4-space rack, and maybe wireless receiver(s) and CD/MP3 player at FOH.  If a lectern mic is used, a single XLR cable is needed (plus returns).  I have 48' and 250' (on a reel) 3-XLR snakes for these jobs.  Since it's all paid for, I feel no immediate need to race out and spend money to go digital for these jobs.  When the time comes I'll take the plunge, and by then today's products will be old news...

I understand your situation.   But taking a broader view,  even some corporate gigs are in rooms with challenges. Never hurts to have graphics available on mains, monitors (if any).. .. or some other random gadget that is in the dig mixer.   Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it
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