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Whether one is producing music, podcasts, game sounds, or film sound effects, Digital Audio Principles provides the tips and techniques that will make the project a success. Author Dave Schroeder explains the basics of digital audio production techniques and covers the essential hardware and software. He also discusses sound theory, frequency response, the range of human hearing, and dynamic range.
Okay, so the next debate, or kind of thing to talk, about is this idea of tube versus solid state. And it's only relevant because of what we were just talking about, which is analog versus digital. Really, it comes down to using digital, and the fact that so many people have started to use it, because frankly, there's a lot of advantages to using it. Not only is it a lot more affordable, but it's incredibly flexible in terms of being able to record and manipulate and work with sound visually. So there is a lot of reasons that more and more people are using digital formats in the digital arena to work with sound.
And I don't think it's going to go away anytime soon. It's certainly have been around for a while. The fact that you are watching this means that there is someone else who is interested in it. So we know at least one more person is going to keep things going. You're carrying the flame, my friend. So it's this digital accuracy which tends to get thought of its coldness that kind of brings us to their discussion about tubes versus solid state. Now, if you go out and start buying some equipment preamps, different effects, guitar pedals, microphones, you'll find that some are tube microphones, or tube preamps, and then the others are solid state preamps, meaning that they don't have tubes.
That's basically the distinction. They are a circuit board, with a bunch of different devices on it, but not an actual tube. The reason that you see so many devices with tubes is an attempt to kind of warm up our signals before we commit them to the digital domain. So that's why tube microphones and tube preamps are really popular again. Now, back in the date, tube technology was around for a long time and up into the 60s and 70s and then solid state started to come around. And people really started to use that more because frankly, it operates at a much quieter noise level, in terms kind of the hissing, the buzzing you might get with your signals in your devices.
So the use of tubes was kind of on the decline, and people were really into solid state stuff because we were getting quieter better recordings. One of the reasons this was happening is because we are also still using tape recorders to do pretty much all the recording. And so we are able to get a lot of that warmth that we were seeking from tape recorders. But with the advent of digital and this new coldness, it became apparent that we needed to get some warmth back into some of these signals. We can use tubes and mics and preamps to add a little bit of distortion, or warmth, before we've committed to the digital domain, before that sound itself becomes analogue and then becomes sampled. But not all tubes are created equal, or at least not all tube devices are created equally.
So just because you buy the $100 tube preamp, there is no guarantee that that's actually going to sound better than the $100 solid state preamp. There's probably no guarantee that it's going to sound better than the $1,000 solid state preamp. So how much you spend can have an effect, but other things are just simple manufacturing and how you use tubes. So the tube isn't a magic bullet to warmth, but it does work pretty well in a lot of devices, but solid state devices, solid state preamps and effects and microphones all have tonal characteristics too, and they add to your sound, and you can use them to change and manipulate your sound and make decisions based on them to get the kind of sounds you're looking for.
So don't write solid state off as kind of being the same as digital. It's not. It's definitely got some imperfections that color sound, and it's also designed sometimes to color sound by the manufacturers. So think of solid state and tubes kind of as alternatives, not necessarily good and evil, or warm and cold, but different tools for different situations, or different things with different characteristics. So the point is that the tube is not necessarily your magic bullet to a warmer recording, but it's definitely something you can try and employ and use to get a little bit of that warmth.
And based on how you use it and how the device you have works, you can get some really great results, and it can actually have the effect that we're trying to achieve by adding quite a bit of warmth to your sound. It all depends on the device itself, and how you use it. But I want you to get out of this is that tubes and solid state devices are both good devices. And in most studios, you will find a big combination of both. It's not just tube preamps or just solid state preamps. Its different preamps picked because they know they have certain characteristics and have certain effects. So if you go into a lot of professionals studios, you'll find that they don't have just tube preamps or just solid state preamps; they'll have a combination of both, and based on what they are recording or what kind of sound they're going for, they'll pick which sort of device to use.
So hopefully what you'll get out of this is that the next time you're thinking about what gear to use, or what gear to buy, and someone says, "Well, tubes are warmer, man. Get the tubes," that could very well be true, just remember that not all tubes are created equal and that a lot of times a solid state device in the same price range are might also be able to add some warmth or coloration to your sound. So my advice to you would be the next time you have to pick out which piece of gear to use or what new piece of gear to buy, instead of just going straight for the tube because you want it to be warm or straight for the solid state because you want a really clean signal, try and set them up and turn them on and give them a listen and see what kind of qualities they have it.
As usual, the rule of thumb is to always trust your ears and take a listen to things before you use them, or buy them.
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