AES New York Presentation will outline design and execution
The vexing question of whether high resolution audio formats really make a difference may get a more definitive answer in the near future. A formidable team of expertise from ProStudioMasters and McGill University embarked on an extraordinarily thorough experiment of recording a widely diverse series of concerts and studio sessions in all popular digital recording formats. One of the challenges was to ensure that all the recordings could be captured on identical equipment; the only differences being the bit rates and the sampling rates. It was apparent that there was only one company that could provide a simple and effective solution; Merging Technologies. As McGill have been important Merging customers for many years, it was an obvious choice for them to make and for Merging to assist.
The upcoming AES Convention in New York will be the occasion to kick off a series of presentations on this research that is expected to appear over the next few years. The first presentation will be focused on the design and execution of the recording process, and will take place: EB02 – Recording & Production
EB02-3 Simultaneous Audio Capture at Multiple Sample Rates and Formats for Direct Comparison and Evaluation
Jordan Strum, ProStudioMasters – Montréal, Québec, Canada;
Richard King, McGill University – Montréal, Québec, Canada; The Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology – Montréal, Québec, Canada;
Oles Protsidym, ProStudioMasters – Montréal, Québec, Canada;
Ieronim Catanescu, McGill University – Montréal, Québec, Canada.
In order to evaluate differences among recording formats and resolutions over a variety of classical, jazz, and popular musical material, a unique collection of audio assets was recorded. Live performances were captured using a single pair of microphones, positionally adjusted for each sound source. Preamplifier outputs were routed to 11 identical recording interfaces capturing various PCM and DSD formats simultaneously with 3 analogue tape recorders, the contents of which were then transferred to the above digital formats. These assets will be used to compare differences among recording formats and resolutions using identical performances, and to provide source material for listening tests as well as further research. The design and execution of this project will be discussed.
The equipment list explains a great deal:
2x Sanken CO-100K “100kHz Super Wide Range Microphone”
Spaced omni configuration, placed 80cm apart
12x Merging HAPI (1 as preamp using analog direct outs, 11 as A/D) with premium A/D cards
2x Lenovo Thinkpad T460 running Pyramix Native
10x Lenovo Thinkpad T61 running Pyramix Native
Studer A80 (15 ips, 1/4”)
Studer A80 (30 ips, 1/2”)
Studer A810-VUK (30 ips, 1/4”)
2 ATR 1/4” Master Tape
2 ATR 1/2” Master Tape
AKG K712 PRO reference studio headphones
This combination was used to record 18 live concerts and 5 studio sessions which featured anything from classical guitar to full symphony orchestra, chamber ensembles, jazz group, rock band, piano combined with many instruments and a soprano vocalist. By any measure, this should provide an astonishing amount of music to analyse – more than 406 hours to be precise, which is a good reason why the results will be appearing over time.
One of the technical challenges that presented itself was how to split the signal to 14 recording units simultaneously, and on the advice of Merging’s CEO, Claude Cellier, a suitable custom splitter was built by Ieronim Catanescu.
The reaction of the main participants working on this project speaks volumes:
Oles Protsidym, ProStudioMasters
“This research project has been an objective of ours for a long time, and we were thrilled when all the dots were connected for this collaboration between Merging Technologies and McGill University, our ideal partners for this project. With 1.76 TB/406 hours of high resolution audio data to analyze, we look forward to the results of this project, which should provide some answers in the domain of high-resolution audio.”
Jordan Strum, ProStudioMasters
“When we were discussing options for a recording system which would enable us to complete this research, it was immediately obvious that Merging Technologies’ products were the perfect solution, allowing us to record in all digital formats with a flexible and well-integrated hardware / software package.”
Richard King, McGill University (Winner of 14 GRAMMY Awards)
“For this collaboration between McGill University and ProStudioMasters, we were looking for top-quality microphone preamps and A/D converters to complete several rounds of high resolution audio capture. After a few tests, we were really impressed with Merging HAPI interfaces, which provided everything we needed at the highest quality. The AKD8DP input cards combine transparent analogue-to-digital conversion in both PCM and DSD formats with a great sounding, wide bandwidth preamp circuit.”
Claude Cellier, Merging Technologies
“It was an honour to be asked to participate in this research and it does vindicate our policy of covering all PCM and DSD recording formats with Pyramix. The advent of Horus and Hapi makes these the ideal front end to any recording set up and the Hapi is the perfect partner for location recording. We will be taking a keen interest in the conclusions.”
Merging Technologies SA is a Swiss manufacturer with over 25 years of experience in developing groundbreaking, professional Audio and Video products for a wide range of entertainment and media industries. With a dedicated user base in the elite end of the music, film, television, mastering and performances industries, Merging is committed to developing product ranges with unrivalled quality and flexibility, no matter what the application. Merging builds tools for people who want more from their systems, have an inherent need to push boundaries, and believe that quality always comes first.
ProStudioMasters is a premium download music service offering digital high-resolution studio masters received directly from major and independent record labels – the catalogue is never compromised by in-house audio transfers from other digital media.
ProStudioMasters offers music audio downloads available in uncompressed AIFF, DSD and lossless FLAC formats in resolutions up to 384 kHz / 24-bit PCM and 11.2896 MHz / 1-bit DSD, all free of Digital Rights Management (DRM).
For music lovers who demand the best, ProStudioMasters features the finest music, exceptional performances, and the highest quality sound recordings available.
The McGill Graduate Program in Sound Recording is the only program in North America to offer both a Master’s and PhD degree. It follows the European Tonmeister tradition of training musicians to become sound engineers, which is only possible at institutions like McGill, where plentiful musical activity in a variety of styles meets the needs of a comprehensive sound recording program. The program is highly regarded within the recording industry and attracts top students, who go on to fill important positions in leading recording companies, studios and universities around the world. Faculty, alumni and students have made considerable contributions to research through national and international presentations, publications and collaborations. Areas of research include the development of new techniques and technologies for multichannel sound, virtual auditory environments, microphone techniques, automated mixing, advanced technical ear training, audiovisual correlation, and Internet music delivery.
RAVENNA is a solution for real-time distribution of audio and other media content in IP-based network environments. Utilizing standardized network protocols and technologies, RAVENNA can operate on existing network infrastructures. RAVENNA is designed to meet the strict requirements of the pro audio market featuring low latency, full signal transparency and high reliability and is fully AES67 compatible. With a capacity of nearly 8 x MADI streams over a single Gigabit Ethernet link, it is also the first and only Layer-3 based IP audio protocol with full support for high-channel count DXD and DSD signals.
While primarily targeting the professional broadcast market, RAVENNA is also suitable for deployment in other pro audio market segments like live sound, install market and recording. Possible fields of application include (but are not limited to) in-house signal distribution in broadcasting houses, theatres, concert halls and other fixed installations, flexible setups at venues and live events, OB van support, inter-facility links across WAN connections and in production & recording applications. http://ravenna.alcnetworx.com