Building a studio computer

with industry Pro, Nick Batzdorf

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edteja
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Re: Building a studio computer

Post by edteja » Fri Jul 21, 2006 10:24 am

So lady, how is the new music system workin? Anything exceptionally good or bad so far?
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Re: Building a studio computer

Post by nomiyah » Fri Jul 21, 2006 4:19 pm

Ed,How nice of you to ask. I just received the computer yesterday. I'm still hooking things up. I'll let you know when I take it out for a spin. I can't wait to get started on my new cd and other projects.Noi

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Re: Building a studio computer

Post by nomiyah » Sat Jul 29, 2006 5:38 pm

Update:The computer turned out to be perfect so far. I had to talk to PT tech support about a version upgrade I needed and they asked about my computer. They said it was very good for their software. So thumbs up.I have a tech question. Can anyone explain about sampling rates, 44.1, 48, 88.2 or 96 khz? Does this affect broadcast quality? How about bit depth, 16 or 24?Nomi

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Re: Building a studio computer

Post by ernstinen » Sat Jul 29, 2006 5:58 pm

Quote:I have a tech question. Can anyone explain about sampling rates, 44.1, 48, 88.2 or 96 khz? Does this affect broadcast quality? How about bit depth, 16 or 24?That's a question for Nick, but I've done some experiments.Sampling rates sound better the higher they are, but to my ear, bit depth is a dramatic difference. 44.1/16 is the CD standard.I've listened to 48/16 (DAT tape) for years, which sounds good, but when you go up to 24 bit, the sounds are much clearer. It's like a magnifying lens is put before your eyes/ears.As far as sampling rates, I don't hear a whole lot of difference between 88.2 and 96. Rates are going up to 192 and beyond, so I guess it's a question of whether it's worth it to you! Ern

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Re: Building a studio computer

Post by nickbatzdorf » Sun Jul 30, 2006 5:22 am

As Ern says, it made a pretty big difference when the industry went to 24 bits a few years ago. CDs are 44.1kHz/16-bit, so the idea is to keep everything at 24-bit resolution until the final stage, when you go to 16 bits. But when you do that, run the signal through a dither-generating plug-in. Pro Tools comes with one.The idea is that the more bits you have, the more low-level detail - space in the room, etc. - you capture in the recording. You also create low-level detail when you process a signal, i.e. if you move the fader, run it through an EQ, etc. (even if you start out with a 16-bit signal). Obviously, you'd lose some of that detail when you truncate the bottom eight bits to go to 16 for the CD.Dither is very low-level high frequency noise that's added to the signal, causing it to jump up and down across the low-level threshold, so you still hear some of it. It works. The dither noise itself is *very* hard to hear when you toggle it on and off (because it's generated at frequencies that are hard for us to hear), but the difference when you use it isn't usually hard to hear. But you only dither once - keep everything 24 bits until the last stage.The reason for the 44.1kHz standard is based on the Nyquist theory: you can reconstruct any frequency up to half the sample rate

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Re: Building a studio computer

Post by nickbatzdorf » Sun Jul 30, 2006 5:31 am

As Ern says, it made a pretty big difference when the industry went to 24 bits a few years ago. CDs are 44.1kHz/16-bit, so the idea is to keep everything at 24-bit resolution until the final stage, when you go to 16 bits. But when you do that, run the signal through a dither-generating plug-in. Pro Tools comes with one.The idea is that the more bits you have, the more low-level detail - space in the room, etc. - you capture in the recording. You also create low-level detail when you process a signal, i.e. if you move the fader, run it through an EQ, etc. (even if you start out with a 16-bit signal). Obviously, you'd lose some of that detail when you truncate the bottom eight bits to go to 16 for the CD.Dither is very low-level high frequency noise that's added to the signal, causing it to jump up and down across the low-level threshold, so you still hear some of it. It works. The dither noise itself is *very* hard to hear when you toggle it on and off (because it's generated at frequencies that are hard for us to hear), but the difference when you use it isn't usually hard to hear. But you only dither once - keep everything 24 bits until the last stage.The reason for the 44.1kHz standard is based on the Nyquist theory: you can reconstruct any frequency up to half the sample rate (because waveforms have positive and negative excursions). Since we hear up to 20kHz, 44.1 should be fine.But you have to filter out all frequencies above half the sample rate, because you don't get an accurate picture of them and the result is a whooshing noise called aliasing. And filters aren't perfect - they create distortion around their edges. Fiters at 96kHz or higher still have problems, but they distortion is above the range of human hearing, so it's easier to design a good brick wall filter.That's the theory. In practice you have to down-sample to 44.1 if you're going to CD (or MP3, or whatever), and the difference between a 96kHz recording and one at a standard sample rate is pretty subtle.I work at 24/44.1.

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Re: Building a studio computer

Post by davewalton » Sun Jul 30, 2006 5:53 am

Quote:Update:The computer turned out to be perfect so far. I had to talk to PT tech support about a version upgrade I needed and they asked about my computer. They said it was very good for their software. So thumbs up.I have a tech question. Can anyone explain about sampling rates, 44.1, 48, 88.2 or 96 khz? Does this affect broadcast quality? How about bit depth, 16 or 24?NomiI work in 24-bit (recording, mixing) and ultimately dither down to 16-bit as the last step in the process. Dithering basically keeps the improved 24-bit sound in the 16-bit format by doing a little bit of computer trickery. It's worth pursuing the 24-bit standard for yourself and getting software or learning about your existing software to successfully dither down to 16-bit.The kHz thing can basically boil down to the question of where is your music ultimately going to end up. If CD, then 44.1kHz, if DVD then 48kHz. Most of my projects are film or television related so I'm mostly working at 48kHz. Since I'm guessing that most of your projects are CD-related, then you'd want 44.1kHz.So to sum up, I think it's safe to say that you'd want to consider recording and mixing at 24-bit, 44.1kHz and learn what to do with your setup to ultimately dither down to the 16-bit 44.1kHz CD standard as the very last step in your recording, mixing, mastering process.Personally I wish I had the time/funds to take some kind of recording engineering course or something. Being a musician isn't nearly enough nowadays. Dave

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Re: Building a studio computer

Post by nomiyah » Sun Jul 30, 2006 6:34 am

I'd like to attend engineering school too, but lacking time and funds, I'm grateful to Nick for providing an outstanding education on the forum. Thanks Dave and Ern too.I remember when DATs went from 16 to 24 because I arrived at a studio with the wrong DAT tapes, about 5 years ago. I never heard the term bit depth, thanks for the vocabulary.In the past, I did preproduction in my studio and mixing/mastering was done in another studio. Now that I'm on Pro Tools, I'd like to learn these skills, but won't try to understand the whole subject on the forum.It was news to me that you have to record at 24 then go to 16 in the master. The default is 44.1/24 and since that's what you're recommending too, I'll work with that in preproduction.But I am concerned with what Dave said about using 48 for film/tv. I have had my music on film/tv and continue to pursue opportunities for that. I have also recorded indie CDs and song demos. I really don't understand the concept of sample rate (why someone might want to use 96 khz for example) so I'll have to crack open an engineering book I guess.I do have some great books and magazines about engineering, but I'm always open to recommendations... Thanks.Nomi

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Re: Building a studio computer

Post by davewalton » Sun Jul 30, 2006 7:17 am

Quote:But I am concerned with what Dave said about using 48 for film/tv. I have had my music on film/tv and continue to pursue opportunities for that. Nothing for concern really just an item to know that there's a minor difference between the CD standard and the DVD standard and that you may have to someday deliver in something other than the 16/44.1 standard. My recent "Feed The Children" television placement came from a music library which of course provides all their music in a standard 16/44.1 CD format which is the way they got it from me. By comparison, the final versions of my tracks for Oprah have to be submitted via DVD in the 16/48 format. It just depends. Before I was aware of this, I had done several low budget film scores and had delivered in the 16/44.1 CD format. No problem. Once I was aware that the music would ultimately be converted to 16/48 format anyway, I started delivering my music cues in the 16/48 format, mostly so I'd at least be a little further along in looking like I knew what I was doing. The bottom line I think is that unless you get a request for something else, that recording, mixing, mastering at 24-bit/44.1kHz and then dithering to 16-bit/44.1kHz as your last step and delivering in that standard CD format is what you want. Dave

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Re: Building a studio computer

Post by ernstinen » Sun Jul 30, 2006 8:49 am

I took a Digital Audio class at UCLA a few years ago, and what I learned is that I'm a DENSE S.O.B. It was like they were talking in Greek. Whereas Nick has a natural talent for understanding this stuff, I have a natural density in my gray matter. I have to compensate with my ears! Ern

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