Do I still need to be concerned about digital clipping or is that a thing of the past?
“It is best to avoid digital clipping as its acoustic effects are generally very unpleasant and nothing like overdriving tape. If you want tape saturation or compression sound, use dedicated analog devices with tubes or transformers to achieve that sound. Overdriving A/D creates atonal aliases that sound just awful. Now, as with every rule there are exceptions. If you really know what you are doing you may be able to get away with slight clipping of the A/D for a certain type of material but this is more for Bob Katz to comment upon.”
Should converters should be ‘transparent’ or not?
“My philosophy is that the converters should be transparent. Any sound shaping should be done by dedicated devices (equalizers, compressors, tape simulators, tubes, transformers) that are designed for the purpose and have a great degree of adjustability and control. To have a ‘colored’ converter is like having a camera with pink-colored lens. You do not always want all your pictures pink, do you?”
At 24 bit/96kHz, are we now approaching a point where further improvements in performance will be negligible?
“Well yes and no, or as the Germans say: “jein”. The 24 bits have not been achieved yet. In spite of a wave of 32 bit converters – which employ marketing rather than audio bits – the performance of state of the art converters is currently about 21-22 bits. Personally I don’t think more bits matter any more. But higher sample rates ARE important. And the issue there is not that you can convert up to 200 kHz (that only your dog can hear), but the fact that many software plug-ins work a lot better at higher sampling rates. This is especially true of compressors and various saturation simulators which benefit from oversampling. Arguments can be made that DACs also do a better job converting heavily oversampled audio by eliminating some upsampling steps. Currently there are sites that sell music re-mastered with high sample rates (352.9kHz) and you can use Eclipse 384 or Zodiac Gold to audition this material. Additionally with Eclipse 384 you can master your own content with 384kHz and realize the benefits of this approach.”
Our thanks to Igor, Georgi and all the team at Antelope Audio for contributing to the Audio Times Converter Technology feature. You can review the entire Antelope Audio product line at http://antelopeaudio.com