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Thread: Consider this...

  1. #1
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    Lightbulb Consider this...

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    I'm reading through a series of articles forwarded to me by Rick Chinn of Uneeda Audio written by Steve Dove on "Designing a Professional Mixing Console". This series was originally published in Studio Sound from 1980 to '81. As I pass a 2000th post milestone I thought to put up an excerpt from one of the articles discussing opamps; the title subheaded "Friend or Foe?"......that debate continues on today on many fronts...opamps vs. discreet electronics, Protools vs. everybody else, analog vs. digital...seriously don't want to go there again but Steve Dove is very objective about the opamp issue and he opens the article with some words that really made me think about my own past and current behavior and mindset about what's good/better/best/necessary/garbage/blahblahblah, and so many of my opinions are based on what others say, not my own hands-on experience.

    So this is really a confession of sorts and reminder to myself that my own experiences and results with what I have on-hand mean more at that moment than all the puffy-worded absolutes of others...our culture and society is really quick these days to jump to the next thing and usually it is somebody in marketing that is hoping you'll react that way, and is typically getting paid based on your response. So here's to the journey "backwards" against the flow of the market to something that transcends "fashion".

    Steve Dove writes in the November 1980 edition of Studio Sound:

    "Fashions change, the laws of physics don't. A simple and irrefutable statement, one would think. Unfortunately this industry, like most of the others which survive off the entertainment media, is populated with large numbers of persons who persistently refuse to believe it. Such are the individuals who are responsible for sweeping condemnations based on statements that tickle the sense of plausability rather than sufficient breadth of comprehension and depth of knowledge to substantiate or explain them. So many of these proclamations are made for political and commercial reasons, totally unrelated to actual technological facts.

    Such are the statements from which fashions are born - inertia sweeping them forward until the original criticisms have been well laid to rest but the engendered antipathy lingers on irrationally, supported dim-wittedly by those similarly incapable of substantiating their own opinions. Sadly, in an industry where abstract notions are a stock-in-trade and everybody has a pair of ears it is quite difficult to make clarifying statements based on fact - someone somewhere will always be at hand to propose yet another set of glazed-eyed contradictory waffle."

    And I am now at risk of forming yet another set of opinions about opinions based on this excerpt.

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    It's as if he was trying to make discreet electronics seem more appealing by emphasizing his verbiage with elegant, large words, much like discreet electronics are much larger in size than electronics possessing op-amps. Larger is smarter and therefore better. Therefore since discreet electronics are larger than op-amps, they must be better than op-amps. You think that's the subliminal message that this author was trying to express?

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    Absolutely not.

    Glad you brought that up because the point of the article was that opamps (at that time) were still getting a bad rap over some issues that were more rampant in the early days of opamp technology, but staunch opinions form from those early issues and then they get carried around by people that speak without knowing the whole picture, or who lack the knowledge or experience to be swaying others. We like to talk.

    So what the article presents, IMO is that opamps don't "suck" as bad as some purists or purist posers would have you think. I think it was a bigger controversey at that time.

    And how this translated to me personally was my past dumping of my 3340S for a relatively horrible sounding Sony TCD-D7 portable DAT unit because it was digital (and, ah...slightly more portable ), and then years and years of striving for better sound by getting the next best digital thingy I could afford...time after time not being satisfied with the sound and so I'd get "better" pre's or something with "better" converters...then it was upgrading to "real" DAW software...then of course there were all the mic upgrades. My skills as an engineer are certainly in question here and that's good. I know I've made lots of bad choices in upgrades simply because I allowed the market to convince me that my results would be better with "real" and "better" gear, but I have made some good choices too when I have been able to use gear and compare to other gear I have used and then absolutely know which one I like better and which one works better for me. But those decisions have been in the minority.

    Now...all those hasty unfounded upgrades got sizzled to the ground when I bought, on a hunch, a Tascam 238...a hunch that what I was looking for wasn't going to be found in digital gear within my budget range...a hunch anchored in the sounds I got out of the 3340S. I was absolutely jazzed when I had more warmth and life in a scratch test recording on that 238 than I had been able to reach with any of the digital gear. Was it me? Was it my gear? I don't know but the 238 worked (well, ah...sort of...except for tracks 1, 7 and 8 which were messed up...I returned it). But that started the upstream swim.

    So, I've made a bunch of hasty decisions with analog gear now too, but I think I'm headed in the right direction...and my favorite pre's out of everything I have? The oldest...the ones that have been chastised in other places...the M-520. Hands-down I like them the best over a Presonus Digimax FS, Yamaha i88x or 01X. Those pre's are great don't get me wrong. They are nice and clean and quiet, but the M-520 pre's have warmth and body too them. Its probably a combination of things, most of which are probably right in line with why the market says I should run from the M-520 pre's.

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    Interesting. I'm not too versed in the differences between op amps and discreet electronics, in fact I've always wondered what discreet was, but I can relate to the gear conquest thing. I've found out the hard way that sometimes the sound you are going to get is mainly in the deck you're recording on rather than any outboard gear you can find.

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    Yeah...

    The discreet thing...opamps have lots of stuff in their tiny (relatively speaking) packages...resistors, capacitors, transistors...whereas "discreet electronics" would have all that stuff individually on the circuit board rather than in a chip. Does that make sense?

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    Quote Originally Posted by sweetbeats View Post
    Yeah...

    The discreet thing...opamps have lots of stuff in their tiny (relatively speaking) packages...resistors, capacitors, transistors...whereas "discreet electronics" would have all that stuff individually on the circuit board rather than in a chip. Does that make sense?
    Yes, it does make sense. Thanks. I was starting to think that's what it might be by what was said above.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveM View Post
    Interesting. I'm not too versed in the differences between op amps and discreet electronics, in fact I've always wondered what discreet was, but I can relate to the gear conquest thing. I've found out the hard way that sometimes the sound you are going to get is mainly in the deck you're recording on rather than any outboard gear you can find.
    Discreet opamps are the ones that blush when you tell an off color joke. Discrete opamps are the ones made of individual components as opposed to those made of integrated components.

    Regards!

    -Ethan
    In Sunny Vancouver ..... (Washington)

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    Quote Originally Posted by evm1024 View Post
    Discreet opamps are the ones that blush when you tell an off color joke.
    Regards!

    -Ethan
    Discreet opamps are the ones that pick your pockets while they tell you how nice you look.

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    Here is a Burson discreet opamp I used in my Azuntech prelude sound card. It now does duty in my headphone amp circuit of my Sony ES TA-E80ES analog preamp. Sounds mighty fine, but so does the OPA627 I used to compare it with...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails burson-jpg  

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    A discreet opamp will sleep with you after the company party and not make a scene in the office on Monday......

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