Originally Posted by Ray E. Strode
Uh Well Jody,
Once again I will mention the Fletcher-Munson Curves that measured the sensitivity of the human ear to different frequencies. Recording something with gross distortion may be some great thing, but listening to it will get old pretty quickly.

Hi-Fi Stereo Review Magazine had excellent Labs and did Tests on Audio Equipment and published the results on a regular basis.

While Digital is a great advance, it doesn't allow gross distortion to improve a recording. [snip...] I copy tape to CD on occasion. Every time it goes into the red gross distortion happens.

Then whatever DA converters you're using are probably over 7 years old. As I wrote, most modern high quality converters do not have "gross" distortion when you hit red. All formats old and new will grossly distort if you pump too much audio thru them at too high a level.

Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
Hi Jody,

Your blog post on discovering this phenomena is really a mind blower and a paradigm shifter, especially for music where all instruments are intended to be mixed at or near peak levels.

I am also amazed there is no real literature on this phenomena outside of your blog article. The process you discovered resembles tape saturation in that the louder the master fader goes, the "warmer" the sound becomes, because the digital equipment is simply using it's 32 or 64 bit oversampling to neatly chop off the sound at zero, and rarely are there any clipping artifacts that we have been warned about in our "learning process" about this stuff so many years ago.

I think one could call this process/phenomena digital saturation cuz that's really exactly what it is and what's happening when the master fader goes beyond zero into "plus land." One indeed gets a more natural but louder mix than one can get using normal compressors and limiters.

Bingo. This is the reason why I am calling out the BS on comments about digital distortion or that it sounds sterile or leads to too much loudness.

Is it possible to go too far with it? Yes, just like any other format (tape, vinyl, cassette, gramophone, etc). The problem is, most guys used to recording to older mediums probably don't understand digital. The immediate and main difference is that digital is a mirror - if you don't feed it the sound you want, its not going to add "color" to the sound. Whereas other formats like 2" tape, they actually do color and modify the sound instead of being a mirror.

Are the warnings about digital clipping legit? Sure, just not a hardline 0 any more. Modern interfaces have much better algorithms and parts than they used to. Thus now we get more "saturation" than the old school digital distortion of yesteryear.

Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!