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» The VS-Planet BBS   » V-Studio Discussion   » VS-880 / VX / EX / VS-890 Forum   » MTK users: Beware of the "soft clip" feature.

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Author Topic: MTK users: Beware of the "soft clip" feature.
loudhvx
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posted 01-29-2003 09:03 AM      Profile for loudhvx   Author's Homepage   Email loudhvx   Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
This issue was brought up in another thread, so I thought I'd re-post it because it's pretty important for anyone using the MTK.

I find the MTKs very useful, but the manual is misleading about the "soft clip".

The "soft clip" limits the output like a brick wall. The level meters at the output of the MTK will stay well below the maximum. This, however, is not the misleading part.

The software and the appendix-manual lead you to believe the output's "soft clip" is before the output's "level" adjustment.

In fact, the "Soft Clip" is applied after the "Level" adjuster.

The "Soft Clip" actually reduces the overall volume. Adjusting the "Level" adjustment in the output section (of the MTK) won't bring up the level. It will only create distortion.

There is a limiter in the MTK that works quite well and behaves as expected. Use it instead of soft clip.


Initially, it appears you can correct the signal loss by increasing the master fader. This is a bad idea if you are dithering to 16 bits. The master fader needs to stay at 100 because the master fader is still operating at 24 bits. (Dither occurs at the end of the MTK chain.) No processing (volume changes) should be done after dithering.

Simply turn off the soft clip and use the "limiter" section instead. Then the MTK will behave more as expected.

--------------------

Hook's VS880/ex info page


Posts: 435 | From: Chicago,IL,USA | Registered: Feb 2001  |  IP: Logged
Hook
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posted 01-29-2003 11:06 AM      Profile for Hook   Author's Homepage   Email Hook   Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Lou,

Cool...thanks...I've added this to the FAQs as well.

--------------------

Hook
"There are 3 kinds of people in this world: those that can count, and those that can't"

Check out the VS880EX FAQs!


Posts: 900 | From: Wayne, IL (next to Garth, IL) | Registered: Jan 2001  |  IP: Logged
EAF
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posted 01-29-2003 11:13 AM      Profile for EAF     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Very good info! Thanks!

Peace,
EAF


Posts: 19 | From: Raleigh | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
MT1865
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posted 01-30-2003 04:33 AM      Profile for MT1865   Email MT1865   Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Ok, I was messing around with a vocal trcack last night and ran it through the MTK Mixdown C-10 during a bounce. I turned the "soft clip" off and did notice the "brick wall" was gone. I compensated by manually controlling the level of the track being bounced.
Now, If I understood correctly, I should use the limiter to get those peaks tamed.....correct?
Aso, I have always worried about the peaks on the track being bounced and receiving the bounce. Did I understand I should worry about the peaks on the A/B channels? I know this sounds stupid, but how do you control them?
Where are they getting their power from? I know in the "post fader" window, they are showing how much the 7/8 faders are boosted. What about the input? I have to say, they are pegging/clipping a lot on my stuff. If this is cousing distortion, i need to fix it asap.
This is good info. Thanks for bringing it up. Mike

Posts: 124 | From: Cassopolis, MI. | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
loudhvx
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posted 01-30-2003 08:40 AM      Profile for loudhvx   Author's Homepage   Email loudhvx   Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
MT1865:

Yes, I recommend the "limiter" function in the MTK because it behaves more like a classic limiter. It will still clip if you really drive it hard. But, it will also allow the signal to come through to 0dB fs...the "soft clip" won't.
I'm sort of old school, so the "limiter" is more predictable for me.

I haven't used the MTK in a normal bounce situation. I used an external DAT machine to mix to, then mastered with the MTK coming back into the 880ex on two tracks.

(I also used the MTK on an 1880 in the mastering mode.) I'm not sure of the routing in a normal 6 to 2 bounce on the 880ex. It looks to me that in mix/mastering 6 to 2, tracks 1 thru 6 are playing back with the MTK in a "send/return" configuration (not "insert"). The MTK is doing the summation of tracks 1 thru 6 instead of the mix bus. (The mix sw. is off for tracks 1 thru 6, but the fader still determines the level going to MTK.) The fx return now becomes your mastered tracks, so your fx returns are routed to tracks 7,8. The fx return should do no processing at all. They should have all settings nulled. IE, have the eq off, faders at 100, left return panned all the way left, right return panned all the way right. The returns are just passing straight signal.

Then tracks 7,8 are the only tracks routed to the mix bus which go out the master outs. 7,8 and the master out should likewise be nulled.

This means the MTK is effectively the last step in the processing chain. This is important, especially for dithering.

If you are bouncing 6 to 2 in order to burn a CDR, the dither should be on (at 16 bits if there is an option).

Pre and Pst levels should be the same for 7,8 and should also be the same as the master level (as long as everything is at 100).

(I'm recommending setting everything to 100 to prevent confusion. In actuality, faders for 7,8, and master only affect monitoring levels.
You can still alter the master level without affecting the level of the bounce, but to get best monitoring quality, use 100.)

Now, the MTK is your last step in the processing chain and you can use your master out level to verify the signal levels. Anything you do in the MTK should be represented intuitively in the master levels. AND, the "level" adjustment on the output section of the MTK determines the final level of the signal (provided the "soft clip" is off).

Now use the "limiter" to control the peaks, but you really have to watch the peaks.


If you are still worried about digital-overs, maybe experiment with "soft clip", but remember, there has to be make-up gain later (the fx returns set to ~107 ) which means the "dither" needs to be off.

Personally, I'd rather have a few digital-overs than the harsh compression/distortion of the "soft clip".

[ 01-30-2003: Message edited by: loudhvx ]

--------------------

Hook's VS880/ex info page


Posts: 435 | From: Chicago,IL,USA | Registered: Feb 2001  |  IP: Logged
EAF
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posted 01-30-2003 11:48 AM      Profile for EAF     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Sounds good. When I did turn the Soft Clip off, I did get better results. I want to utilize the Limiter as well and I've been playing with the threshold/attack/release settings, but couldn't find a decent setting. Any suggestions? Thanks again.

Peace,
EAF


Posts: 19 | From: Raleigh | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
Silversmith
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posted 01-30-2003 12:48 PM      Profile for Silversmith     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Sorry - I'm the wrong forum here - but I just want to add that this tidbit is the best piece of information (so far) that I've heard around here.

I tried it last night and the difference was quite noticeable.

I can't thank loudhvx enough for this.

--------------------

"When in doubt, play a diminished chord. There's only three of them so you have a one-in-three chance of hitting one note that's supposed to be there."
Old Jazz Guy


Posts: 1533 | From: Toronto, Canada | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Hook
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posted 01-30-2003 01:32 PM      Profile for Hook   Author's Homepage   Email Hook   Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
loudhvx,

Again, this is great research on your part...much appreciated!

Your comment about dithering and fader positions got me thinking. Since the recording modes on the 880s are all 16-bit, but the internal processing is all 24-bit, what happens when I bounce a single track to another track to print effects? Does the result of the effect being applied automatically dither back down to 16-bit?

--------------------

Hook
"There are 3 kinds of people in this world: those that can count, and those that can't"

Check out the VS880EX FAQs!


Posts: 900 | From: Wayne, IL (next to Garth, IL) | Registered: Jan 2001  |  IP: Logged
loudhvx
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posted 01-30-2003 10:47 PM      Profile for loudhvx   Author's Homepage   Email loudhvx   Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Hook;

Unfortunately, I haven't seen any literature or hard evidence to suggest any dithering is being done anywhere other than where it is explicitly mentioned in the MTK (off the top of my head I can't remember if dither is mentioned in other effects).

I think most operations will be truncations unless the manual specifies otherwise.

That's why I avoid bounces if I can (but isn't that already the policy anyway?) and am very greatful to Roland for putting in the MTK dither option.

Fortunately, dithering as the last step before burning to CD may cover up the artifacts from previous bounces. This is because you rarely mix multiple tracks at 100%. Normally they have to be reduced during mixdown. This also reduces the artifacts (hopefully) enough to allow them to be masked by the final dither.

--------------------

Hook's VS880/ex info page


Posts: 435 | From: Chicago,IL,USA | Registered: Feb 2001  |  IP: Logged
Hook
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posted 01-31-2003 09:23 AM      Profile for Hook   Author's Homepage   Email Hook   Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
loudhvx,

My guess is that processing internal effects truncates as well. One thing that still puzzles me is when I use my stand-alone burner. When I do my final mix, I usually have effects turned on for certain tracks, which means I'm processing in 24-bit...so I guess I'm truncating at this point when going out digitally to my stand-alone burner? If I then bring that mix back into the VS and apply the MTK, is the dithering really helping at that point?

Guess I could try some different techniques and see if I notice a difference...

--------------------

Hook
"There are 3 kinds of people in this world: those that can count, and those that can't"

Check out the VS880EX FAQs!


Posts: 900 | From: Wayne, IL (next to Garth, IL) | Registered: Jan 2001  |  IP: Logged
loudhvx
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posted 01-31-2003 10:01 AM      Profile for loudhvx   Author's Homepage   Email loudhvx   Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
You are right about truncating on the mix to the stand alone.

When you come back in with the MTK, you are processing again at 24 bits. If the MTK is your last step before burning the final master, definitely dither. Hopefully it may mask artifacts from the previous truncations. Either way you need to mask the current truncation.

I'm assuming you are coming back into MAS with the MTK inserted on the input mixer. Make sure the input mixer is nulled. (level 100, no eq, fully panned). No processing after MTK. In this setup, you definitely should not use "soft clip". Dither should be on. And the MTK output section's "level" has the last word on the signal. That is where you do the final tweak.

I don't see any real problems with your setup.

I guess an A/B test is the fastest way to know to
Dither on or Dither off.

--------------------

Hook's VS880/ex info page


Posts: 435 | From: Chicago,IL,USA | Registered: Feb 2001  |  IP: Logged
Stuart
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posted 01-31-2003 11:40 PM      Profile for Stuart   Author's Homepage   Email Stuart   Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Thanks, that's definitely info I need and will use.

--------------------

PEGSTONECan you lead me to your garden gate. Just let me peek inside. Let me dance among your secrets, leaving me nowhere to hide.


Posts: 678 | From: Somerville,MA,USA | Registered: Jul 1999  |  IP: Logged
MT1865
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posted 02-08-2003 08:55 AM      Profile for MT1865   Email MT1865   Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Wow!

Loudhvx, You and Hook must be real engineers. I just read this thread completely through twice and I know the information is very important. I must admitm however, that I am a bit lost and unfortunatly I think I am going to have to have to pull out the old recording engineers Handbook to firm up my educational foundation before I can take advantage. Thanks, Mike


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Jay Elsky
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posted 02-10-2003 02:31 PM      Profile for Jay Elsky   Email Jay Elsky   Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Hi, Getting my songs loud enough is my biggest problem. If turning off the "soft clip" on the MTK helps, that sounds encouraging. Uh... how do I turn it off?
Thanks,
Jay Elsky

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kaptaink
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posted 02-10-2003 02:40 PM      Profile for kaptaink   Email kaptaink   Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Jay,
Open the effect patch (whichever MTK you are using). Turn off the soft clip function in the MTK patch by scrolling through the menu after opening patch. If I am remembering correctly, use the arrow/parameter buttons to scroll (the shift will help jump faster through these pages). It'll be toward the end of the long list of components listed within the patch. Then, you can use the yes/no buttons (or is it the jog wheel?) to turn it to on or off.
You'd think I'd remember specific buttons by no.

Cheers,

-K


Posts: 1010 | From: The Kapt. is IN THE HOUSE, Alliance, OH, USA | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged
Jay Elsky
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posted 02-10-2003 02:42 PM      Profile for Jay Elsky   Email Jay Elsky   Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Hi again, In answer to my own question, once the patch is selected, you press PARAMETER to the right and keep going until you get to "soft clip" and then you turn it off.
It's in the manual.... page 71 on mine.
Jay

Posts: 51 | Registered: Dec 1999  |  IP: Logged

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