GREAT IDEA, QUESTIONABLE APPROACH
First, let me commend you on a great October 2005 issue. I found the overall content to be really informative to my particular interests, and the AES reviews were gravy!
I did find some things in KK Proffitt's article, “The Resolution Project,” puzzling. Her presentation was fine; it's in some of the technical approaches conducted by John Calder [producer and founder of Generator LLC] while creating The Resolution Project that I question. I specifically take issue with the following passages from Proffitt's article, which reads: “Calder simultaneously recorded five channels of PCM audio at three different resolutions: 16-bit/44.1 kHz, 24-bit/96 kHz and 24-bit/192 kHz”; and, Calder explains, “The three data-compressed formats [MP3, WMA and AAC] were encoded from the 16-bit/44.1kHz stereo selections in exactly the same popular method utilized to convert CD tracks for playback on portable digital audio players, then transcoded back into 16/44.1 resolution.”
I think it's fair to say that most engineers are recording content in a minimum of 24-bit/48kHz resolution with 24-bit/96 kHz becoming more and more the de facto standard (at least where the goal is published content). Perhaps it would have been more in step with the industry to first convert the 24-bit/96kHz or 24-bit/192kHz tracks to 16-bit/44.1 kHz and then create the lossy formats. I understand that Calder wanted to avoid adding dither into the equation, but his result was a less-than-true representation of what is really happening on the street.
I also noted that the lossy formats were encoded at 64k-bit/second. I am under the impression that 128k-bit/second is a more popular resolution as “FM quality” (Fraunhofer Table) and might have been a better choice.
All in all, I think The Resolution Project is a great idea and helps to bring a higher-fidelity awareness to the consumer. As a side note, I've noticed that most people who are making the public aware of high-resolution audio speak of or demonstrate the point in the realms of jazz and classical music. While this is quite understandable, to show the full sonic advantage, I have relied on showing my clients the differences between DVD-A, CD and MP3 using rock 'n' roll. The message still shines through. Perhaps Calder can try different musical genres for The Resolution Project, Vol. II.
Bellsong Recording Studio
FRESH FRUIT FOR THOUGHT
There's quite a bit of misinformation and misstated facts in the October 2005 “Classic Tracks” article on Dead Kennedys' “California ýber Alles.” I wish there had been a little more finickiness.
Other bandmembers besides the finicky lead singer made many more significant contributions to the projects than could be learned from the article. It's a little embarrassing, but they failed to mention that I was the one who wrote the guitar part to “California ýber Alles,” mixed the single, set the label up and, with drummer Ted, sold the first 6,000 singles. It's also embarrassing that I was not credited for the mixing of Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables. I did all the mixing with Oliver DiCicco and was, in Oliver's opinion, the producer — I managed all aspects of the recording.
And, I guess, in the zeal to make sure others did not get the proper credit, some factual errors slipped through. After Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, the band recorded In God We Trust Inc. in 1981 at Mobius Music. Next was Plastic Surgery Disasters in 1982 with Thom Wilson and John Cuniberti at Hyde Street Studios, then Frankenchrist.
Though people love to get this one wrong because it's easier than doing the research, the band broke up well before the Frankenchrist album cover trial, not in the midst of it.
East Bay Ray
LATENCY ISSUES DON'T ADD UP
In Jim Aikin's article [“What's the Holdup,” October 2005], what he says [up until and concluding with] — ”Thus, the track will be perfectly synchronized with other tracks that were being monitored while the recording was being made. Problem solved.” — directly implies that if I take an analog out from my Pro Tools 002R, for example, and record its output directly back into an analog in on the same unit, then the newly recorded audio will precisely align with the original audio.
Well, sorry to say but, no, it doesn't! You will consistently get about a 94-sample delay when recording at 48/24 and about 82 samples at 96/24. I can further reduce the 96/24 delay down to about 73 samples by using my Apogee MiniME as the input and sending its S/PDIF out into the 002R's digital in. We're only talking 1 or 2 milliseconds here, but Jim implies this problem has been precisely addressed and solved. Sorry, but it has not!
You make a good point, David. Some DAW/interface combinations compensate better for monitoring latency than others. Using Cubase SX3 and an M-Audio FireWire 410 whose buffer is set to 1,024 samples, my out-to-in latency is only 11 samples at 48 kHz (equivalent to moving a mic less than three inches further from the source). This is somewhat better than your figures for Pro Tools, and is certainly inaudible except under test conditions, but I have to admit that “problem solved” was a bit of an overstatement. Engineers who are concerned about this latency can diagnose their system's out-to-in latency at a given sample rate and buffer size, and then advance newly recorded tracks by a few samples as needed.
— Jim Aikin
A WORTHY CONTENDER
I am just now finding time to write you on the 2005 TECnology Hall of Fame innovations in your September issue. I think that all of your choices are worthy of the distinction that you have given them.
I would like to bring to your attention an innovation that I believe has revolutionized the audio industry. Time Delay Spectrometry (TDS), invented by the late Richard Heyser, has enabled many advances in our industry. This measurement technique made it possible to more fully characterize loudspeakers systems and to analyze the acoustics of spaces and how to better treat them.
Excelsior Audio Design & Services LLC
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