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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 3:15 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:24 pm
Posts: 156
Location: Germany
Hi,
Well, I’m a huge fan and professional user of the famous Breakaway Broadcast Processor, but since BBP seems to be discontinued and Stereo Tool got the new GUI, I decided to give it a try. So here I want to share my first impressions/thoughts about it.

I’m running it for a week now on the workbench with a RME Fireface 800. Works really nice! The FireWire-connection is ultra-stable, the driver and control-panel are well-engineered and stable and it performs nice on very low latencies. Big recommendation for this soundcard! The output of the Fireface is also DC-straight (measured this somewhat earlier with BBP and a Hameg-scope), and it is plenty strong enough to drive all FM-exciters I’ve tested…

I’ve only managed to get Stereo Tool working in ASIO-mode. In BBP, it’s no problem to run non-ASIO, but only in Kernel Streaming mode. So it seems that Stereo Tool is not able to set the soundcard to 192 kHz in non-ASIO-mode. I think the reason is the crappy Windows Vista I’m running, and that the Windows-Sound-System is not able to set the sample rate to 192 kHz, until you fully bypass it (as in Kernel Streaming or ASIO-mode). So will it be possible to implement Kernel Streaming in Stereo Tool in the future? Sometimes, it’s handy not to be forced to use ASIO…

I really like the declipper. Performs awesome, even with somewhat weak analog-feeds. Also the BS412-Limiter is a great tool for us as a broadcaster in Germany. I’ve tested it with a pira.cz mod-monitor on the bench, and it works very nice! All these things and the fact that you have full control to everything are the big advantages, compared to BBP for the use in a professional environment.

I’ve done a little A/B-comparison to BBP. On lighter processing, ST sounds really awesome, but when I try to push it a little harder, the final clipper of ST sounds distorted and squashed way earlier than BBP. I remember, once I’ve set up BBP for a pirate station that wanted to be freakin’ loud, even some square wave shapes in the output didn’t sound too annoying in BBP, but in ST, they do…

What I also don’t like is that there is no dB-scale for the Input-Meter, so I don’t know on how much head room I’m feeding the processor, until I can see it in the soundcard-control-panel. A dB-scale for at least the multiband-meters would be also nice, to have a better overview what’s going on when adjusting the baby ;)
The web-interface is also a very handy feature, but I don’ know how I can change a preset from there. Is this not possible at the moment? That would be a big improvement, as you can prepare some settings and change them easily with a Smartphone when you’re driving in your car while listening to the own station ;)

So, just my 2 cents…


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:47 pm 
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Quote:
On lighter processing, ST sounds really awesome, but when I try to push it a little harder, the final clipper of ST sounds distorted and squashed way earlier than BBP.
This is the exact opposite from what I would expect (also based on feedback from many users who tried both). Can you make a recording of what's happening (same track with both processors, if possible), so I can analyze it?

All meters have horizontal bars at each dB, darker bars for each 6 dB... I guess I really need to display that better in the interface.

Preset loading is indeed not yet possible in the web interface, it was more intended for tweaking but it's indeed a missing feature.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:49 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2009 2:56 pm
Posts: 3579
Hello radiofreak..
Quote:
I’ve only managed to get Stereo Tool working in ASIO-mode. In BBP, it’s no problem to run non-ASIO, but only in Kernel Streaming mode. So it seems that Stereo Tool is not able to set the soundcard to 192 kHz in non-ASIO-mode. I think the reason is the crappy Windows Vista I’m running,
Exactly ...
Recently i updated (finaly) from XP64 to Window7 64. And first what i noticed how windows works with audio.
Since i need sometimes to use wave or ds, simplest solution is to go to Windows control panel and Sound, and to manally tune Sample rate From there. Both Play and recording.
Quote:
I’ve done a little A/B-comparison to BBP. On lighter processing, ST sounds really awesome, but when I try to push it a little harder, the final clipper of ST sounds distorted and squashed way earlier than BBP. I remember, once I’ve set up BBP for a pirate station that wanted to be freakin’ loud, even some square wave shapes in the output didn’t sound too annoying in BBP, but in ST, they do…
I might know on what you mean. Hans already said, clipper should work good, but what i can propose to you is to try "Loud-D" (FM) preset, and also try to play with "Advanced clipper" from 0.00 to +X.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 1:00 am 
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Oooo. You're not using 'Simple clipper' I hope?


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 3:50 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:24 pm
Posts: 156
Location: Germany
Quote:
This is the exact opposite from what I would expect (also based on feedback from many users who tried both). Can you make a recording of what's happening (same track with both processors, if possible), so I can analyze it?
Here we go:

http://www.sofafunker.de/mpx/bbp.wav
http://www.sofafunker.de/mpx/bbp2.wav
http://www.sofafunker.de/mpx/bbp3.wav
(MPX 50 µs, BBP, modified Ref. Heavy)

Sounds insane loud and dense, but still very clean and "smooth". Even a little punch comes through. Sounds like a "big box". I would put this on the air with no regret.

http://www.sofafunker.de/mpx/st.wav
http://www.sofafunker.de/mpx/st2.wav
http://www.sofafunker.de/mpx/st3.wav
(MPX 50 µs, ST, Loud-D modified, Simple Clipper Off, all Artistic Distortion and Airy Highs turned down)

Sounds more open, but the sharp voices are audible distorted and modulated by the bass. The overall sound is harder, crunchy and more annoying to me. Bass sounds a little phasey and not very punchy. I would only put this on the air with a reduced clipper drive, but then I'm not "loud" enough as desired.
Quote:
Since i need sometimes to use wave or ds, simplest solution is to go to Windows control panel and Sound, and to manally tune Sample rate From there. Both Play and recording.
The Vista/7/8 driver for the Fireface only allows 44,1 and 48 kHz through Wave and DS. You dont' have options in the control panel to raise the sample rate for the Fireface In's and Out's. The only possibility to put the Fireface to 192 kHz is through KS or ASIO - or downgrade to XP and the older drivers... So KS in ST would be handy, sometimes ;)

Just my 2 cents... ;)


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 11:33 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:24 pm
Posts: 156
Location: Germany
I think, in the meantime I've found out why I prefer the sound of BBP a little more than ST: it sounds more "vinyl". The ST-Clipper seems to act razor-sharp to the final waveform, and BBP does the clipping more "soft" and so shifts the distortion to some point, where it's not so easy to be recognized and is not so annoying as a result. This can be heared very well on the last example I uploaded...

But, to be honest, ST comes also very, very close to the desired sound I like on FM :)

Edit: One thing that might be handy in ST would be a band-mix control for the multiband compressor-section. And maybe selectable numbers of bands. When it comes to classical music, less bands will not do so much manipulation to the spectral balance... In combination with the eq, then you're able to reach every sound shape you could imagine, I think ;)


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 11:42 pm 
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Bojcha and I were listening to your first sample (Abba, I'll try the others in a moment) and we both came to the conclusion that there's a problem with the 'Bass clipper delay' that was added in the latest version (7.03) - it leaves too much bass through, causing it to distort other frequencies.

I'm working on a fix right now, should be available in the next beta. For now, set the 'Bass clipper delay' (Advanced Clipper -> Distortion) to 0!

About Airy Highs: I would not turn those down! Doing that makes the sound more 'swooshy'.

About the whole sound: I think what you hear is not so much the clipper but the whole processor. I'm working on a new multiband compressor (first singleband) which should allow much better control of the signal -and also much better control of the peaks going into the clipper btw.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 12:10 am 
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Ok, I checked sample 3.

Hm. First, if I compare these two and have to say which I like most *in general* I prefer the ST sound (in the first sample I preferred BBP). In BBP the bass is dropped very strongly, and you hear the level drop as soon as a loud voice comes in. Also, in the first part, in the voice there's much more distortion in BBP than in ST - not intermodulation distortion but harmonics, and I also hear bass rumbling, most audible at the start (of the vocals).

But on bass kicks BBP wins. That's hopefully again caused by the bug I just mentioned. Like I said, for now just set the Bass Clipping Delay to 0 to turn the new filter off. I just received a very similar complaint from someone who switched from version 7.01 to 7.03, which seems to confirm this.


Btw, the average bass level in the ST sample is about 1.5 dB louder than in BBP - so for a fair comparison, you need to lower the bass clippers a lot further, probably at least 2 dB. Total loudness of ST is 1.2 dB louder, mainly caused by bass - also mids. By the way, at the start the bass level in BBP (measured at 30 Hz) is about 10 dB (!) louder than in ST, that's the rumbling sound I'm talking about.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 12:54 am 

Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:24 pm
Posts: 156
Location: Germany
Quote:
Btw, the average bass level in the ST sample is about 1.5 dB louder than in BBP - so for a fair comparison, you need to lower the bass clippers a lot further, probably at least 2 dB.
Yes, you're right. Also noted this. But it's kinda hard to ajust both processors to sound very similar without a direct A/B-switchover, like you can do after recording and playing back in MpxTool :D
Quote:
Hm. First, if I compare these two and have to say which I like most *in general* I prefer the ST sound (in the first sample I preferred BBP).
I think, there we're close to the point where it's only a question of taste. Seems I like the shaped "junk" of BBP more, but we're humans, and everybody has his favour ;)

I was fiddelin' the whole day with my modded Loud-D-Preset, and with BC Delay to 0 and some other fine tunings and re-tuning the multiband section, I think I'm 99 % close to the sound I like. Bass is nice and unsuspicious, Mids not so "honky" and the Highs nice and smooth. With the declipper turned on, it's like a dream ;) Attatched the sts-File...
Quote:
I'm working on a fix right now, should be available in the next beta.
I very appreciate what you're doing and your great processor, and will stay tuned for updates :)


Attachments:
Loud-D_RF-Mod_Clean.sts [12.94 KiB]
Downloaded 268 times
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 1:00 am 
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Doing something now.. will check your mod later.. and most additional changes - if any.


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