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Neve RNDI vs Straight Waveforms

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by mngnt, Dec 29, 2016.


  1. mngnt

    mngnt

    Aug 9, 2015
    Alberta, Canada
    Just picked up a Neve RNDI last week.

    Did some pretty unscientific tests, recording 2 tracks simultaneously into my Focusrite 2i2 interface.

    Bass -> Neve -> 2i2 Input 1
    |>thru -> 2i2 Input 2

    I'm not going to post sound clips. My ear isn't great, but I feel like I can hear a difference. The Neve seems warmer, and seems to smooth out some of the crazy peaks when popping etc. Specifically, many of the "erk!" high frequencies that kinda perk the ears were not as present with the Neve recording.

    I zoomed into the waveforms and confirmed that there's something "extra" with the Neve. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable can provide some technical insight into exactly what it is I'm seeing.

    Straight in:
    upload_2016-12-29_22-45-16.

    Neve:
    upload_2016-12-29_22-45-22.

    Straight in:
    upload_2016-12-29_22-45-31.

    Neve:
    upload_2016-12-29_22-45-36.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Geri O

    Geri O Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    I've wanted to see this test done with a REDDI as the output is definitely colored some kind of way. And it's a way that I love, but I'm curious to see if it's something that shows up on a scope.
     
    mngnt likes this.
  3. mngnt

    mngnt

    Aug 9, 2015
    Alberta, Canada
    Well, this was just done in Ableton by zooming in - could be done with Audacity etc.

    Not super scientific, but I would say it's fine for simple relative/comparison tests like this, assuming you can get some sort of "control" signal in simultaneously (ie via the Thru jack).
     
  4. mngnt

    mngnt

    Aug 9, 2015
    Alberta, Canada
    I did a similar test a few weeks ago between a Radial JDI and straight into the interface. I don't remember seeing any waveform differences, but I didn't look too closely. They certainly didn't jump out at me like the RNDI ones did.

    They may exist, but perhaps some of the "color" people like with the JDI only exists when the transformers are pushed/saturated, and my bass just didn't quite get it there.

    I'll probably do a JDI/RNDI test and post up results.
     
  5. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Interesting, thanks for this. I was curious to see what the wave form of the RNDI looked like superimposed over the straight signal so I did this quick and dirty one. The straight signal is the grey, the RNDI is the blue (which being overlayed at 50% opacity looks lavender).

    RNDI SCOPED OVERLAY01_161230.
     
    mngnt likes this.
  6. silky smoove

    silky smoove

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    The only notable difference in amplitude, which is all a waveform tells you, is on the tail at the end of the note. Otherwise you'd be hard-pressed to tell which was which without actually hearing them. @Jeff Bonny's post illustrates this quite well.

    Amplitude, frequency response and time (basically a waterfall plot) would tell the real story.

    Edit: On a second look it appears that the Neve went slightly higher on the transient peak as well.
     
    mngnt likes this.
  7. mngnt

    mngnt

    Aug 9, 2015
    Alberta, Canada
    Did a quick JDI vs Neve comparison. Slight difference in amplitude, but otherwise similar results to straight in vs Neve, with the Neve showing noticeable extra stuff.

    E1HlO2v.
     
    mark beem likes this.
  8. silky smoove

    silky smoove

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    I'd be more curious to see how the Neve stacks up next to another well built, transformer equipped (preferably a Jensen type) DI box like a Radia JDI. I suspect some of the differences being seen come down to the 2i2's hi-z input setting which is probably rolling off some of the harmonic content up top. Using a DI allows you to go in low-z and lose less up top, although the amount varies.

    Earlier in the thread you mentioned having a Radial JDI. Any chance of doing one of those handy waveform comparison GIFs of the Neve and the JDI? Maybe run the JDI off of the Neve's thru output, and then send both DI outputs to the 2i2 with both inputs set to the line setting...?
     
    mngnt likes this.
  9. mngnt

    mngnt

    Aug 9, 2015
    Alberta, Canada
    Look up :)

    The GIF above is my JDI vs Neve, connected as you describe.
     
  10. silky smoove

    silky smoove

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    That's what I get for no reading posts accurately, haha. :banghead:

    That's very telling. Clearly the Neve is either amplifying something, or not removing something that the JDI is. My suspicion is that the Neve is adding something as the JDI has always felt very "honest" to me.

    You don't have a hardware noise generator sitting around do you? It would be interesting to see a comparison of pink and white noise signals run through the Neve and then viewed in a spectrum analyzer. Amplified harmonic content would be very apparent.

    Ultimately none of this matters. What does matter is whether or not the box sounds good, which evidently it does.
     
    mngnt likes this.
  11. mngnt

    mngnt

    Aug 9, 2015
    Alberta, Canada
    Thankfully it's friday :)

    I agree with your thoughts on the JDI.

    Here's a GIF with JDI vs straight. Amplitude is whacked, but it's clear that the JDI isn't adding near as much (if anything) as the Neve:

    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

  12. silky smoove

    silky smoove

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    Just out of curiosity, did you individually normalize each file before overlaying them? I'm wondering if that could account for some of the waveform differences.
     
  13. mngnt

    mngnt

    Aug 9, 2015
    Alberta, Canada
    No post adjustment at all. I'm trying to eyeball the levels based on the channel input meters in ableton, but the little knobs on the 2i2 make it tougher than it seems like should be...
     
  14. silky smoove

    silky smoove

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    I'm not familiar with Ableton, but knowing this I suspect the amplitude differences are largely explained by the two tracks having a different peak reference. Take the two tracks, normalize them individually, and then do another comparison. The differences in amplitude will likely be negated and be a much more honest comparison.
     
    Jeff Bonny and mngnt like this.
  15. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    I don't have a JDI anymore but I used one for a long time and I very much agree that it has a certain "honest" quality without being starkly transparent. After using the Neve recently I'd also agree that the Neve is adding something the JDI doesn't. Sounds like it's subtly accentuating harmonic overtones to give the pleasing fatness it does. An accurate visual representation and comparison would definitely be interesting.

    Bottom line is both are excellent sounding DIs and you could easily leave it at that....but part of me doesn't believe that understanding how they differ doesn't matter. Doesn't understanding why they sound the way they do just makes you a better player in terms of being able to get recorded and FOH sounds that represent your "thang" authentically? I'm always kinda sad when I hear a smokin' player who doesn't care past what's coming out of his amp getting stonewalled by a PA.
     
    mngnt likes this.
  16. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    Of course what you hear is all that counts. I like Neve based equipment.

    Technically, it is good to look at frequency content when comparing transformers. See where they distort, including harmonics. Also look at the degree of smearing of multiple notes played at the same time, ie phase issues.

    All DI's color the sound. Some are more pleasing than others. I like Jensen JT-DB-E transformers, the one in the passive Radial JDI. BAE and others also use this transformer in some of their products.

    The Neve RNDI is an active DI, it has a FET buffer. It requires phantom power to operate. One thing missing is a phase reverse which can be handy when using it with some older equipment. But XLR adapter cables the switch pin 2 and 3 are available so this doesn't have to be an issue.

    The Neve is very well made.
    IMG_1346.JPG
     
    mark beem, Jeff Bonny and mngnt like this.
  17. Geri O

    Geri O Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    Is that a transformer on the center of the board of the Neve?

    At church, we have REDDIs for the bass DIs and Radial J48s for all the keys and playback (Ableton) outputs that don't go straight down Dante to the consoles. But they use the Neves on all the acoustic guitars, where they are used with Lectrosonic wireless systems. The Lectro wireless systems are known to be super-clean and and accurate, but the acoustic guitars still sound better when run from the Lectro receiver unbalanced into the Neve DIs.

    Our lead worship pastor and lead guitarist are both industry pros with track records and albums to their credits (the guitarist is on the latest Vertical Church live release). We took an afternoon a little over a year ago and just listened to everything through everything. No doubt everything sounds good through the J48s. We all like the REDDI on bass. But the one common denominator was the Neve. Everything sounded really good through the Neve. We listened on the playback monitors in the church's studio and our own IEMs. Nothing fancy, controlled, documented, or official. We just wanted to listen to all of the DIs. The J48s would serve everything very well, no doubt. The biggest differences they heard was with the acoustic guitars between the J48 and the Neve. We like the "stuff" going on with the REDDI (hence, the reason behind my first comment) on bass, acoustics didn't do as well with it. So we (well, they, I was just along for the ride and to play bass on the listening occasions) settled on the REDDI for bass, the Neves on acoustic guitars, and they have been wanting to budget Neves for keys and playback devices as time goes by. However, the performance of the J48s are making it difficult to justify the move to the Neves for now. But before too long....:D

    Oh, and this exercise was sooo much fun! We had a blast doing this. I highly advise such an listening exercise for everyone.
     
    mngnt and beans-on-toast like this.
  18. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    Yes, the transformer is the heart of the DI in the image above, it converts unbalanced line level to balanced mic level. In doing so, it adds some soul.

    DI's have different input impedances. If the guitars have piezo pickups, the impedance of the RNDI might be better suited to them. One reason why it might sound better, especially for articulation of the higher frequencies.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017

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