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Old December 9th, 2016, 03:52 AM   #1
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Analogue vs Digital Mixer

Hi.

I have been using a Shure fp32 mixer (analogue) and just borrowed a friend's Tascam DR70D to try out (digital). Camera is a Canon C100...I ran some tests was surprised to find the Shure seems to be giving a nicer sound which I preferred -More bass and less tinny then the Digital mixer...I really couldn't tell if one was "cleaner" then the other--What are peoples thoughts on those mixers? Which would be preferable and why? Thanks!
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Old December 9th, 2016, 05:30 AM   #2
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Re: Analogue vs Digital Mixer

The Shure FP32 was a full pro mixer of a previous generation. They still sell the next generation FP33. OTOH, the Tascam DR70D is a current-generation "pro-sumer" gadget. To be sure it has built-in recording, etc, but it is plastic vs. metal. If you don't need recording, I can easily see why one would prefer to keep using the Shure.

I strongly suspect that the Shure uses proper mic-input transformers and other professional features while the Tascam likely uses the popular transformerless mic input configuration we currently see everywhere. Certainly it is possible to make a transformerless mic input circuit that sounds as good (or even better) than the classic transformer design. But then the Shure is 2x~3x the price also.

Just my thoughts from the sideline. I have an older Shure mixer or two and a newer Tascam recorder (or two?), not exactly those models, but those are my observations, both first-hand and from following similar accounts online in this and similar forums.
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Old December 9th, 2016, 06:35 AM   #3
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Re: Analogue vs Digital Mixer

Thanks for the info, Richard. So, in your opinion, if we don't need the separate recording, the Shure may give us a better sound?
Thanks!

ON another note, I have looking into upgrading the system to something in the $1,000-1500 range. I have seen some Sound Device (Used) 422 and 522 in this range...thoughts of that over a new Zoom F4??

Thanks. David
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Old December 9th, 2016, 08:36 AM   #4
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Re: Analogue vs Digital Mixer

"I have looking into upgrading the system to something in the $1,000-1500 range. I have seen some Sound Device (Used) 422 and 522 in this range...thoughts of that over a new Zoom F4??"
- The 442 and 552 are mixers.. though the 552 has a 2-track recorder. The Zoom F4/8 are more recorders than mixers, they do have mix outputs but w/o limiters and they're not +4dB either, so feeding a pro operating level gear downstream could be an issue. The F4/8 are allegedly decent but not on the level of the SD gear.
The FP32 was the standard ENG mixer back in it's day. I liked the sound of the mic pres, though they were a little noisy by today's standards..
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Old December 9th, 2016, 10:50 AM   #5
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Re: Analogue vs Digital Mixer

The Zoom F4 and F8 do have limiters. I don't know how they compare to the great limiters in Sound Devices products. I'd guess the Zoom limiters aren't as good (easy guess), but are the Zoom's "good enough" for its target market? Perhaps.

One possibility is to use a SD 442 mixer in front of a F4 recorder...You get great preamps, limiters, metering, etc. Then send line level signals to the F4...so (depending on how the F4 input stage is designed) you'd bypass the Zoom preamps/limiters/etc... I haven't thought this through; I might be missing something. But that'd run you about $1500...
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Old December 10th, 2016, 10:49 PM   #6
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Re: Analogue vs Digital Mixer

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Blumenfeld View Post
Hi.

I have been using a Shure fp32 mixer (analogue) and just borrowed a friend's Tascam DR70D to try out (digital). Camera is a Canon C100...I ran some tests was surprised to find the Shure seems to be giving a nicer sound which I preferred -More bass and less tinny then the Digital mixer...I really couldn't tell if one was "cleaner" then the other--What are peoples thoughts on those mixers? Which would be preferable and why? Thanks!
Audio, that is compression waves traveling through a fluid medium like air, is by its very nature analog. The diaphragms in microphones produce analog changes in voltage and speaker elements take analog as an input.

In order for any form of digital recording or mixing to occur, the audio wave must be sampled. By sampling audio, you are automatically loosing something from the analog signal. The higher the sampling rate, the less you loose, but something is always lost.

An analog system, by comparison, could do a better job capturing the entire sound wave, not just a sampled version. The problem is that analog electronics can introduce a higher noise floor, where digital electronics make it easier to maintain a lower noise floor.

If you can maintain a low enough noise level, maximizing your signal-to-noise-ration (SNR), an analog mixing system should be able to do a better job. At least in theory, with all other things being equal, as the audio is only sampled once, when the camera records it. Not sampled by a digital mixer, converted back to analog, then sampled again for recording.

However some analog mixers, especially lower cost ones, can have noisier pre-amps, which bring up your noise floor. In this case, sacrificing some audio information by digitally sampling at the mixing point might be preferable if it keeps your noise floor low.

A mixer like a sound devices unit is analog, but it has very quiet pre-amps. Its electronics have an extremely low noise floor, giving you a very clean signal without sampling.

Ultimately, there is some subjectivity involved. Audio can be quantified and measured, comparing input to output, but at the end of the day what matters is what sounds best to you, and that is entirely subjective. But, there is no reason an analog system can't sound amazing, or better than a digital system. Just because a system uses digital processing, that doesn't automatically make it better.
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Old December 11th, 2016, 06:55 AM   #7
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Re: Analogue vs Digital Mixer

We do live broadcast and our vision mixer is computer based therefore digital but I still like to use an analog mixer to feed into the digital side. You have so much more control and can make what would be an average mic sound awesome. We do use boundary mics when there is a panel sitting at a table and with an analog mixer it's so easy to lift the low frequencies that you lose with a mic on a large flat surface. Sure, it's an extra piece of gear to lug around but still well worth having... audio is so important !!
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