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Some people out there affirm with absolute certainty that hardware mastering processors such as the TC Electronic Finalizer are much better than *any* combination of software plugins.
I've done my best to try to make them understand that the Finalizer is a digital device and all the process it does is done by some software; and that those same algorithm could be coded as a plugin, giving the exact same results as the hardware Finalizer.
Of course, they just say no, plugins suck, Finalizer rules. They say they've tried every plugin available and none is even near the Finalizer.
Ok, I say. I ask "have you compared the Finalizer's EQ (only the EQ) with other EQ's (CurveEQ, Sonalksis, Equim), and the Finalizer multiband compressor with others (Soniformer, Waves C4), and the Finalizer limiter with other limiters (Waves L1 & L2, Elephant)? That's the ultimate test"
All they say is "Try the Finalizer. As soon as you hear it, you'll be convinced". Of course, I don't have to be convinced. Algorithms are algorithms, whether they are in plugin form or enclosed in some hardware.
Is there any way to make these people understand? Not that plugins are better but that the Finalizer is nothing but a software process and by using plugins with similar algorithms one can obtain similar results?
What do you people think?
Finalizer may sound considerably different to the software since it probably has analog in/out paths while plug-ins always 'use' digital paths.
Other than that, if you extract Finalizer's code to plug-in form, it should not be too much different to plug-ins. Of course it will sound different to the ones you've mentioned due to differing algorithms, but that would be the only difference.
Another possible answer to the question about difference is that Finalizer is most probably based on a fixed-point DSP chip which may reduce processing resolution to say 24-bits - this may also add its flavour.
Don't piss up TC's sleeve just yet. Aleksey makes some great tools but you need to understand that TC electronics wasn't born over a night. Lets turn this rant up side down a bit. No offense meant with the following, this is just my opinion and some online experience.
There are tons of people that think having a bunch of plugins with cool GUI's can give them the same sound that some expensive hardware can. Well, guess what? Provided that you have quality plugins like voxengo, you can get very close! None the less, TC makes some extremely good hardware with well coded algorithms and you'd be hard pressed to find quality of the same degree in 80% of plugins. So,
does an Eventide Orville sound amazing? Yes it does. Does an empiric labs distressor crunch like no other? Yes, it does. Does the TC finalizer do a better job than a bunch of plugins? In most cases, yes it does. Is it the "all in one wonder mastering system"? No. Can it also screw up audio when an inexperienced user is using it? Yes it can. Do the "real" pro's like the TC Finalizer? Usually not, some even hate it. Do a majority of home studio owners hear a difference between 24bit recording and 16bit? No, they don't. Have you ever really heard and used a TC finalizer on projects? *insert answer here*.. Do I prefere voxengo plugins over the TC finalizer? Yes I do! Are you confused yet? :-)
Remeber that the ear-brain connection is THE most important factor when it comes to making mixing and mastering decisions but like in a lot of other fields, the big boys and their toys usually have people with several decades of experience and a good trained ear. This is what counts. Home users too often let "common sense" dictate how they "think" that something probably sounds like even if they don't have any real experience with the thing. A good example would be my statement on KvR that the TDM plugin versions of Waves plugins sound superior to the RTAS, DX or VST versions, which they do. I got flamed by a mob that obviously have never heard the TDM versions, mostly because their "common sense" and waves stupid marketing division told them that all code is equal.
Just my 2 cents.
FYI, Elephant 2 is about as musical as limiting can get. A very impressive plugin IMHO.
bManic, I agree with everything you said.
I'm sorry if it looked like I was trying to put down TCE. I wasn't. I've never used the Finalizer but I have absolutely no doubt it's an amazing tool, and surely much better than most plugins out there.
What I was ranting about, is how some people are just blindly defending one thing or the other. The story is this:
Some guy at another forum asks for recommendations of mastering devices. I give him a few options (Finalizer, Waves L2, dbx Quantum) and tell him to try some good plugins, since they can sound as good (in the right hands) and are much less expensive.
Another guy steps in and says that there are absolutely no plugins which come near the Finalizer. Well, *absolutely no plugins* is a pretty strong claim, don't you think? So I ask him which plugins he has tried and he says all of them. I ask him why is the Finalizer better than *any* combination of plugins, and all he can say is I have to hear it to believe it. I tell him that "hearing" gives you a subjective judgement, that what I might like others might not and viceversa.
I propose him a less-subjective test. I tell him one must compare each part of the process separately. For example, bypass everything in the Finalizer but the EQ, and then test it against some good plugin EQ's. Do the same for the compressor, limiter, ditherer, etc.
He says he doesn't have to do that, that the Finalizer is better than any plugin simply because plugins are made to imitate hardware, and that the real hardware is always going to be best. I tell him that in first place, the process applied by the Finalizer is as digital as any plugin. That except for the ADC and DCA conversions, the Finalizer is all software imitating hardware. Then he says that I don't have the ears to know and blah blah blah.
If his argumented had been "of all the things I tried, I liked the Finalizer better", it would have been ok. But why do some people have to come with wrong or nonsense arguments to justify their preference and disregard *any* arguments against?
Well, I sure don't know. I'm sorry I brought this up to the Voxengo forum. The original discussion didn't involve Voxengo plugins specifically. Anyway, thanks for your opinions and keep using what you think is best.
fac, I agree with you fully, just wanted to show the other side of the coin.
Sounds like the guy didn't have a clue. That kind of attitude is called FanBoyism, so, he's a fanboy. It's relatively common in the ProSumer, wannabe market. Actually, even in the very highend market you see people defending special equipment/recording/mixing methods to the point of ridicule. It's sad..
Unfortunately the exact same attitude exists very much so in the world of software and plugins. People who have never heard quality hardware making ignorant claims about plugins or home recording hardware (behringer, mackie, etc.). Actually, of these two, I find the latter much more often which is natural as plugins are either cheap, cracked, or freeware so all the teenagers/hobbyhomers get hold of a bunch of em and suddenly think they know everything about the art of recording/mixing/mastering. Sometimes people just forget that the a very important thing in any hobby, profession or just life in general is EXPERIENCE. It doesn't come easy and sure as hell not from pure word of mouth.
my other 2 cents,
Which brings me to a question I've wanted to ask Aleksey already for a long time. How come you've got such a good ear-brain connection? If I remeber correctly you're not much older than me (I'm just 26) and have obviously had some pretty decent experience about sound, tonality, transients and the whole other shebang. How's that? Influensed by parents, mentor, teacher or just born with it? Whatever the answer, I tell you this: You are a rare breed indeed. A guy who is good at both the technical (coding) and the artistic (taste, sense for quality sound) and on top of that you don't seem even lazy! Amazing! :)
Ps. Did you get your new monitors and that EMU 1212 card from Eric of JRR shop yet?
Thanks for kind words, but I'm not sure I have trained my ears enough. Still working on this.
I have not got an EMU card and new monitors yet. EMU card is a decided thing, but I new monitors is in question still.
I love my 1820m and my pair of Behringer Truth B2030A. They got a good review in SOS.
Now that I've finally got all the bugs out... Seems FL Studio doesn't like EMU when Hyperthreading is on, at least for my motherboard.
But I'm surprised a soundbot like you, AV, would need monitors... I thought you'd just jack the sound straight into you auditory subsystem. :)