The A/B CD

The A/B CD’s series of recordings compares recording chain links while addressing most of the significant aspects of the signal path.
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Translation: 53 tracks of A/Bs including analog vs. digital mixers, 2-inch 30 IPS versus digital, tube mic pre’s versus solid state, a U87 with a SM 58, reverbs, cables, real vs. modeled amps, production techniques, and even a standard violin vs. a 1708 Stradivarius.

Most of the tracks are laid out with a two-bar section of A then a two-bar section of B butted up together and sometimes for objective listening purposes, two sections of A and then a B or two Bs and then one A (prepare to reach for the pause/search buttons — often — as the parts sometimes go by too quickly to let them sink in).

After listening a few times at home, I extracted all the files and dropped them into a Pro Tools session to loop and move regions together to get quicker comparisons between waveforms. Some of the comparisons are striking, like the high-end differences in some of the cables, the tape hiss in the analog vs. digital tape, or those violins, for instance. But some of the comparisons show that there really isn’t a huge, or even a barely noticeable, difference in some A/Bs, which is also very helpful.

This disk is a good tool because it may open your eyes/ears to what needs to be improved in your studio’s signal path and makes for a great way to sharpen your critical listening skills.