Echo Machines .. Can you really tell the difference ?

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Re: Echo Machines .. Can you really tell the difference ?

Postby dave robinson » Mon Dec 02, 2019 2:32 pm

I use my Mac computers exclusively for recording, using Logic X Pro at this moment in time. I started with Logic 8 an in all honesty would be more than happy to still use Logic 8.
The echo emulations are everything we need, easily as good as any of the purpose built machines out there that we have all bought.
The key thing is having the 'know how' to programme them for what you need, once understood it's easy. You are also able to choose which ever amp you want, Vox AC30/15, Mesa Boogie, Marshall, Fender - all of them. If I never needed to go out on the road, my Mac is all I'd ever need to make music. :)
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Re: Echo Machines .. Can you really tell the difference ?

Postby abstamaria » Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:00 pm

But the analogy was yours, Ian.

“ I suppose it's a bit like buying cars .. yes between a £100 banger and a Rolls Royce there certainly is a stark difference. But for the average man in the street who simply wants to get from A to B, then most makes of cars for much the same budget will do the same thing.”

You are right that the banger will get you there, if that’s your only objective, but, if you have the Rolls sitting in the garage, why not use it? There will be a difference.

You also wrote;

“ How important this is to 'run-of-the-mill' players who are not hell-bent on achieving the perfect replica sound is a different matter .. which was, of course, the purpose of my original question.

I suppose, if you’re not interested in capturing the “Sound,” then it really doesn’t matter which device most closely replicates Hank’s echo. This is probably consistent with simply getting from A yo B, in which case any reasonable echo w ill do. (The Q20 with Charlie’s program is very good, by the way.)

But to respond directly to your question, I agree with the opinions expressed above that, in a live setting with a big audience, there will be littlle difference between the good echoes available to us. The acoustics of the venue will play an important role, there will be people talking, and so on, and 99%+ of the audience won’t know if the echoes sounded really spot-on or were spaced correctly. There may be one person in the audience who might be able to tell, but he would be the exception.

I find that playing at home - I am fortunate to have a nice practice room, a studio - is more satisfying in terms of chasing That Sound. The environment is controlled, and I can hear my (and the band’s) sound more clearly. It is satisfying, and there, yes, equipment makes a difference, I feel. But then, we are not the players in your example, but are rather trying, for our own pleasure, to replicate the Shadows’ early sound.

I have a few echo machines now, including several of Charlie Hall’s excellent units, such as a Q 20 with EFTP, like yours, Ian. Comparing echoes, I found that some to my ears sounded clinical, others, like the TVS3, more analog and richer. i haven’t tried the newer echoes, and will probably stay with the TVS3.

Like you, I have no patience fiddling with a computer or other device and prefer to plug and play. I do use a valve re-issue AC15 (sometimes an AC30) and our rhythm guitarist uses an acoustic (a J200, as Bruce used). We have fun in our quest, chasing (not too successfully) the Holy Grail, and, yes, in our case, using an echo as authentic as possible, makes a difference, or so we think. But, if our goal were different, tthen maybe any reasonable echo will do, and we would be happy as well. I suppose it really depends on what you want to do. We’re all starting from A and trying to get to B, but our Bs are not the same.

Best,

Andy
Last edited by abstamaria on Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Echo Machines .. Can you really tell the difference ?

Postby scouserjoe2 » Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:38 pm

Dave ..

dave robinson wrote:I use my Mac computers exclusively for recording, using Logic X Pro at this moment in time. I started with Logic 8 an in all honesty would be more than happy to still use Logic 8.
The echo emulations are everything we need, easily as good as any of the purpose built machines out there that we have all bought.
The key thing is having the 'know how' to programme them for what you need, once understood it's easy. You are also able to choose which ever amp you want, Vox AC30/15, Mesa Boogie, Marshall, Fender - all of them. If I never needed to go out on the road, my Mac is all I'd ever need to make music. :)


That's interesting because I am currently trying to get to grips with Logic X Pro which I have had for some time on my Mac but haven't really got down to seeing what it can do. I don't do any gigging any more, I just play at home (gave up the group back in Liverpool in 1966 and have never appeared on any stage since apart from on my photography lecture tours :-)). What I am interested to know is if the results you achieved that you suggest are as good as the purpose built machines were obtained with just the basic functions included in the standard Logic X Pro or did you install add-ons ?

Cheers,

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Re: Echo Machines .. Can you really tell the difference ?

Postby dave robinson » Mon Dec 02, 2019 7:47 pm

Everything you need is in Logic Ian. I first discovered the' echo designer' in Logic 8, recommended to me by Warren Bennett when I was in his band. I bought it in 2007 then upgraded to Logic 9 and then Logic Pro X. The original Logic 8 came in a big black box with big thick manuals to read and about nine discs to load everything onto the Mac. It weighed a ton and I still have it, but the upgrade to Logic 9 was a smaller package, as it is just an 'add on' with some new features, then Logic Pro X is a download, but adds yet more goodies to an already incredible piece of kit. It was Brian Bennett who alerted me to Logic Pro X, as we were chatting and he mentioned he loved the drums in the new Logic, so I investigated and luckily my Macbook was just new enough to be loaded with the latest OS 'Sierra' that would run Logic Pro X. Yes the drums are excellent and in Brian's hands would be a formidable tool, but I could honestly do what I need to do on the older version, as all of those echo shaping tools are much the same, as are the amp choices and editing.
It took me a few days to get my head around it and I enjoyed playing with the echo taps, you can have up to twenty four taps, one for every letter of the alphabet, but the most I tried was six, though four is enough for our stuff. Knowing the timings and levels of the heads is handy and using what I already knew from Charlie and Piet, plus my experience from using digital delay before I knew them, it was pretty easy to find the sweet spots. You can add wobble and EQ to simulate wear ad tear and I defy anybody to hear the difference in a mix. Give it a go and let's know what you think. The reason I never mentioned it here, is because it isn't simple and takes a bit of explaining, but I believe if anybody wants it enough, they will put the time in and figure it out. I'm still learning and it's fun. :)
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Re: Echo Machines .. Can you really tell the difference ?

Postby scouserjoe2 » Mon Dec 02, 2019 8:08 pm

Thanks very much for that information, Dave. I shall have a much deeper look at Logic X Pro now and see what I can make of it. I realise that it's going to be a steep and slow learning curve but I am looking forward to the challenge ! :-)

Cheers,

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Re: Echo Machines .. Can you really tell the difference ?

Postby fenderplucker » Tue Dec 03, 2019 3:32 am

Ian may be surprised that I don't disagree with much of what he is proposing, the key point is there are many different desired destinations. At one end of the spectrum, many play Shadows music for just the fun of it or in performances in less than ideal conditions, and at the other end many players wish to get as close as possible to the original sound of Hank with his drum Meazzi, and there are all shades in between.

For the former group , any sort of echo will suffice just so long as it gives some audible repeats and extends the notes somewhat. How accurate the repeats are and how the unit colors the sound are only minor considerations. Here there are a number of modern digital echo units and emulations that serves the purpose admirably at very reasonable cost.

For the latter group. the repeats must be accurate in both timing and sound, and the way the unit ads to the timbre is a critical part of the overall result. This group will appreciate how the unit responds to different picking techniques and signal levels and expect it to match the original machines. Some things that are important here:

For the dry signal:

The way the harmonic distortion varies with a steady signal level and frequency
The way the harmonic distortion depends upon the transient nature of the signal (picking technique) and frequency
The way the compression depends upon the steady signal level and frequency
The way the compression depends upon the transient nature of the signal level and frequency

For the echo signal:

How well the echo repeat timings, amplitudes and frequency responses match the originals.
How the echo bandwidth, distortion and compression all depend upon both the steady and transient nature of the signal as well as the frequency.
How much intermodulation distortion is produced by combining the dry and echo signals.
How accurately the wow and flutter are reproduced

For non-technical players, all this stuff will be about as relevant (or interesting!) as how electricity is generated or how an amplifier works: they just want to plug in and play. However, in trying to accurately reproduce the sound of an original drum (or tape) echo unit, all of these factors are critical in designing a machine that will be capable of achieving the desired result. In developing the TVS3, all of these factors were measured on a number of vintage units that were assessed as giving the original sound and were incorporated into the final design. I have made similar measurements on most of the modern units based upon digital technology and very few can tick any of the boxes above, and none tick even half of them. Even those that incorporate analog delay lines (other than the TVS3) similarly fail to meet most of the requirements. Their main deficiencies are failing to reproduce the dynamic changes in sound and, especially, accurately emulating magnetic recording and playback process. Even the more modern tape units (such as the ESE) that don't incorporate the full Meazzi tube circuitry fail the test and, while computer emulations are getting better all the time, so far those generally available also fall far short.

The effect of this complexity will only be fully revealed when trying to reproduce the sound of a number of Shadows tunes, some of which have fairly low levels of distortion and compression on both the dry and echo sounds, and others where the dry and/or echo sounds might be quite compressed and distorted. Other subtleties such as the airy, singing quality of the original units are mainly apparent in the overall feeling of the sound: is it "juicy" and interesting like the original or a bit dry sounding? The final test is direct A-B comparison with the originals, not just relying on memory or what sounds OK.

While such factors will be of little interest to players in the first group, they will be critical for those in the second. Fortunately, for both groups and all those in between, there are good units available that will best meet their needs and budgets.

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Re: Echo Machines .. Can you really tell the difference ?

Postby scouserjoe2 » Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:19 am

Hi,

Well, I asked for some detailed opinion and information and Paul certainly supplied it ! :-) Much of what he has said is far too technical for me but I remember well listening to the sound files Paul kindly supplied to me when I was considering buying a TVS3 (indeed I still have them filed away on disk somewhere) and they were certainly very revealing and convincing. I did subsequently buy a TVS3 at the time. I was trying to replicate the Shadows' sound as close as I could back then, and the TVS3 certainly provided excellent results. I was very impressed with it. However, if I am honest with myself I probably did not fully understand the unit's operation and capabilities and did not get the very best from it during the time I owned it.

However, for me, times have changed and I am now relieved and pleased just to be able to play a tune from start to finish without making glaring mistakes, and for the sound to be generally pleasing and an acceptable likeness to the original. I think that is the place where most recreational players are too. That is why I asked the original question .. can most people really tell the difference between the output of all the units available .. when it is not your aim to produce a replicate version of the original track ?

Looking over the comments that have been made and the detailed replies offered, particularly Paul's very technical summary, I think I have got my answer. Thanks to all who contributed. :-)

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Re: Echo Machines .. Can you really tell the difference ?

Postby roger bayliss » Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:30 am

Paul Rossiter indeed , there are two camps and certainly for live playing or personal playing pleasure at home most methods are suitable. The recording camp though will need to use a more accurate setup for echoes and studio to achieve the original sounds. Cost is always a factor and not all players can afford rebuilt vintage tape machines and the like costing several thousand pounds. Most of us therefore have to compromise. The TVS has clearly proven itself and is amongst the top units for achieving that sound.

When I first came to Shadowmusic there were very few echo options, but today there are many. All at different price points, some more capable than others. For live sound you do not need exact echos, but for recording and replication of the sound though , you need to take it further.
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Re: Echo Machines .. Can you really tell the difference ?

Postby Didier » Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:59 am

roger bayliss wrote:The VST system as far as I am aware usually uses the software version of eTap2 as I have tried it myself.

Chritian's VSTs software echoes aren't based on the eTap 2, but on close analysis of Hank's sound.

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Re: Echo Machines .. Can you really tell the difference ?

Postby Hank2k » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:19 am

i did a similar comparison a few years back now with the Zoom G3x, Alesis Q2, Q20, Hall and Collins and Quad GT and put up a video for peoples comments not telling anyone what was what.

Surprisingly the one most people preferred was the Zoom G3x the cheapest of the bunch!

They all have their perks etc and its the same with amps and modelling etc. Each one does a particular job great.

In fact when i think what i have had and the money i've spent! Zoom 508, Zoom G2, Zoom G7, Zoom G3, Q2, Quad GT, ESE EChomatic, Meazzi Factotum, Long Tom, Short Tom, Blue Nebula, ECCA Etap and TVS3!!

I still rate the TVS3 as the best machine with the harmonic response just magic! and if i was playing live doing just shadows stuff in theatres etc id have one again with a custom shop strat and a vox AC30 heritage! but for the gigs i do and for recording and youtube the zoom g3x does a great job and works well with the Katana or the AC30 and for me it has more flexibility to it for other things like the tuner, volume pedal etc.

I also only use about 3 patches on any of them so a lot of them are overkill for me.
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