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K-Stereo - another Amarra competitor?


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Does K-Stereo from Bob Katz go Amarra one better?

 

Or perhaps just describe more accurately what Amarra does?

 

Did you use the Hafler quasi-surround circuit to hook up your rear car speakers when you were a kid?

 

Note the most interesting detail posted below:

"Adds nothing artificial. Not an ambience or reverb generator. Reveals hidden ambient detail in recordings."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

http://www.digido.com/k-stereo.html

 

K-Stereo is the world's first Ambience Recovery Processor

 

Now Developed As A High-Resolution VST Processor In Conjunction With Algorithmix!

 

Mastering

Take a fair-quality stereo mix and make it sound great. Add the ultimate spice to a great mix.

 

Restoration

Restore classic 16-bit recordings to modern standards, enhancing and revealing inner ambient details befitting a 24-bit world. You may not believe it until you try it!

 

Forensics

Increase intelligibility of mono voice recordings in the conversion to stereo by placing the existing stereo ambience around the original voice, taking advantage of the ears' binaural decoding ability.

 

Mastering engineers, this box is the ultimate sound polisher!

 

* The K-Stereo processor helps you get that BIG sound from existing stereo recordings.

* Recovers lost ambience, space, depth, imaging and clarity--subtly and naturally.

* Provides post-production control of reverb returns, after the recording has been made!

* Preserves the mix, without changing center levels, without causing phasiness or comb filtering.

* Offers the most effective conversion of mono recording to stereo by extracting their inherent ambience to a stereo field.

* Compensates for lost ambience and space when using low-bit-rate coders, such as MP3, or when reducing wordlength from 24 to 16.

* Adds nothing artificial. Not an ambience or reverb generator. Reveals hidden ambient detail in recordings and helps get that "phat" sound without resorting to compression.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Incidentally it costs $990, same as Amarra.

 

It's only a plug-in, so you'd need a DAW (e.g. Metric Halo's MIO, Plogue Bidule, etc.) to use it, although Audio Hijack Pro would work in a pinch.

 

There are demo downloads available at Bob's site, link for which is above.

 

enjoy,

clay

 

 

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http://www.algorithmix.com/en/kstereo.htm

 

Here's the link for the co-creator, Algorithmix (along with Bob K).

 

790 Euros, and Windows ONLY! bummer!

 

K-Stereo is a patented psychoacoustical process (US Pat.7076071) that extracts the ambience inherent in ordinary recordings, and is capable of spreading that uncorrelated ambience around the soundstage, and enlarging the size of that soundstage, both deeper and wider.

In addition, K-Stereo enhances the depth and imaging of the instruments and vocals without adding any artificial reverberation. It does not have a sound of its own; it just enhances the existing ambience and early reflections. K-Stereo is also capable of making a natural mono to stereo conversion.

 

For more info, click the link above.

 

enjoy,

clay

 

 

 

 

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And we worry about bit perfect, jitter-free, vibration-taped, undithered signals when this has been happening in the studio. This from the patent : The output signals comprise the original signals plus delayed and attenuated reproductions of the original signal along with continuing signals that are submitted to the extraction circuit subsequent to the initial signals.

 

Sort of like sticking your speakers in the bathroom and listening on the stairs, then! No wonder I own cd's that only sound good in the car!

 

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I would argue, that to be considered as an Amarra competitor, software at least need to have built-in music management software and ideally to be a true competitor, harness the power of iTunes music management.

 

So no, IMO NOT a competitor to Amarra.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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"I would argue, that to be considered as an Amarra competitor, software at least need to have built-in music management software and ideally to be a true competitor, harness the power of iTunes music management.

 

So no, IMO NOT a competitor to Amarra."

 

Amarra doesn't have built-in music management software either - it uses iTunes for that, and in a NOT very elegant manner I might add - by doubling the processing footprint due to running them both simultaneously.

 

My comment about being an Amarra competitor was somewhat in jest, but since you took it literally, I'll respond likewise. No offense intended.

 

Perhaps you've missed the obvious? Use of K-Stereo would allow perfectly NORMAL use of iTunes - not the force fit integration in which some music is (hopefully) played by Amarra, other music is played by iTunes, still other music (i.e., protected iTunes music) generates high volume static/white noise, other music (less than 44.1kHz) is played back Alvin & the Chipmunks style and other music simply doesn't play (which is safer than the above, I guess), even though iTunes alone would have no issues with any of these latter three.

 

But I digress...

and am working with Jon and his team to test these sorts of issues, so perhaps I'm overstating the typical Amarra users experience. In addition to listening to music, I also record, and collect sounds - predominantly nature recordings.

 

As far as I can tell, which isn't very far from just reading online, it might provide the bulk of the value that many claim from Amarra - better ambience/soundstaging/decay/fullness/body/etc. - and it might go one better by doing so proactively.

 

Admittedly K-stereo wouldn't provide auto sampling rate or dithered volume control.

 

But, back to your point, I doubt that many would see it as an obvious competitor to Amarra.

 

As an erstwhile nature recorder, I use mostly Middle-Side stereo recording techniques, and thus perhaps am more obviously intrigued by K-Stereo.

 

If only it ran on a Mac, I'd be able to tell you soon. I wouldn't want to put Windows on my dedicated music server. I do have a Windows license though. :)

 

cheers,

clay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bob,

 

Can you share the link to the patent?

 

I'm running late, and don't have time, but would like to read it.

 

I wonder if the patent language is a cover for manipulation of the difference signal (a la david Hafler).

 

Bob Katz did say that he only allows +6 (db?) on his product. It's also available in a Weiss product - called Denoiser I think - in which you can crank it up to +9.

 

cheers,

clay

 

 

 

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For those interested, I've included the description here:

 

"The process includes cross-coupling of audio signals in one channel with audio signals in another channel. Each of the cross-coupled signals is attenuated and delayed by an adjustable time period that is within a haas delay time and is then applied in the feedback path to a summing input of an opposite channel. At the summing input, the signals are mixed with subsequent audio signal inputs to that channel. All of the attenuated and delayed signals are continuously applied to outputs of the extraction circuit during the cross-coupling process. The output signals comprise the original signals plus delayed and attenuated reproductions of the original signal along with continuing signals that are submitted to the extraction circuit subsequent to the initial signals."

 

Sounds nasty, until you realize that the levels are so low (they do mention 'attenuation' as to make the effects rather more subtle than the description implies, indeed Bob Katz has insisted that (the magnitude of) the algorithm be limited such that the effects never become unnatural.

 

If this were a wine, one might say, it has the flavor of cross-feed headphone image processing, combined beautifully with the Fosgate-Tate surround processing, with a dash of Hafler quasi-surround, more than a smattering of bucket-brigade delay (remember that one?), and the slightest hint of reverb.

 

Yeah, sigh, I know there's not a lot of difference between any of those.

 

It seems like the magic formula here (required for a patent) is a combination of cross-feed of difference signal combined with 'continuous' delay? hard to tell, I don't really get the significance of this last bit:

 

"along with continuing signals that are submitted to the extraction circuit subsequent to the initial signals"

 

This seems like a description of a 'turbo'. ;)

 

clay

 

edit: looking at the description more carefully. There are 5 sentences, the last three seem designed more for obfuscation than clarity. Don't they all say the same thing? ;)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The last sentence could almost be re-written to say 'etc, etc' or, better still, omitted altogether!

 

Depending on the subtelty that can be achieved, I suppose it could have its uses - I can think of a couple of recordings I own that could use a little 'lift' by the introduction of some pseudo ambience!

 

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"introduction of some pseudo ambience!"

 

No, no, no! it's not pseudo ambience, it's ambience that's been recovered and extracted from the original recording, and put back in it's rightful place. ;)

 

I'll say this, it's fortunate (for Algorithmix) that Bob Katz is fronting this, as he has impeccable integrity. IOW, this is not bullshit, despite the market-ese used to describe it.

 

clay

 

 

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I have to say I did wonder about your interest in this! I'm not familiar with the work of Bob Katz, other than to have seen regular mention of his name around the fourms. I also have to say that having dabbled in, and been mightily impressed by, digital room correction units I would not be above giving this sort of thing a whirl. The price is a little beyond 'playing' money, though.

 

But if the end can be qualified as 'getting as much enjoyment as possible out of one's system', then if this sort of treatment assists in achieving that end then I'm all for it. For all our agonising over that last iota of fidelity, such things don't seem to concern your average recording engineer if he/she thinks that the end product will sound better!

 

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I've heard this ambiance effect with Amarra. Sometimes when I turn on Amarra, the iTunes volume will not be turned down. This two-program playback of course creates an echo. I've at times played a song not knowing iTunes is also outputting. If my volume is low, the echo will sound quite enchanting, and I will often think, wow, Amarra's sounding really good today. Then I notice my 'mistake.'

 

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Love it! I was also once exhorted by a hifi dealer, in whose gracious company I was auditioning Stax headphones, to listen to them with my normal speakers running as well! He said it didn't work with everythng but when it did work, it was magical! I've never tried it, perhaps I should...?

 

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Yes, sonic ambiance---echo---is truly delightful. I've often find out-of-doors music, particularly unmanipulated acoustic music, to sound very flat. But put that same guitar in a large church? An enchanting sonic hall of mirrors with depth that moves!

 

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"I'm not familiar with the work of Bob Katz,"

 

Bob,

Mr Katz wrote the book on Mastering Audio, literally.

 

It's a great read for understanding what goes INTO the recordings we obsess over.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Mastering-Audio-Science-Bob-Katz/dp/0240805453

 

Be sure to get the Second edition, for more updated digital info.

It was his thoughts on digital that led me to Firewire as the interface for my first DAC, among many other things. He frequents some of the recording forums and always amazes with his knowledge, of the practical,useful, "why didn't I think of that" variety. He also wrote the 'article' on jitter, actually several, but the best rendition still might be in the book.

 

http://www.digido.com/audiofaq.html

 

He's got a library of articles / conversations covering a vast number of topics at the link above.

 

If you're bored another time, check it out.

 

clay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I'm having flashbacks to the Natalie Merchant 'concert' I attended recently, with just Natalie, a couple of guitarists, and the occasional cello or fiddle (17th century), all totally unamplified, playing for a crowd of 300 in a Shaker Meeting House, where even the floor was seemingly made for sound transduction, literally.

 

I've never heard anything so wonderful.

 

chills just thinking about it...

 

clay

 

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We use the K-Stereo plugin here occasionally. That's all it is. It's a VST plugin to use in your Digital Audio Workstation of choice. Weiss used it in their DNA-1 hardware unit. At one time the K-Stereo was a hardware unit that fit into your processing chain.

There are a few "ambience recovery" systems out there. We also use the one on our Rupert Neve mastering console. Used correctly, it can bring out the needed ambience of an old archive. Sometimes it's like crack.. very addictive and you can over do it. Use it judiciously!

 

 

Regards,

 

 

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"Sometimes it's like crack.. very addictive and you can over do it."

 

I was wondering about that. People rave about the bit of extra ambience in Amarra (as compared to iTunes), and with K-Stereo you'd have your own hand on the knob, even if you could only turn it up to 6, per Bob's hard wired limit.

 

thanks for your response,

clay

 

 

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Upthread I said, in relation to shortcomings of Amarra:

 

"... still other music (i.e., protected iTunes music) generates high volume static/white noise, other music (less than 44.1kHz) is played back Alvin & the Chipmunks style and other music simply doesn't play (which is safer than the above, I guess), even though iTunes alone would have no issues with any of these latter three."

 

As it turns out, I received another update from Jon today, which seems to have solved each of the issues I mentioned above - the first two of which are via iTunes. And it seems like the unicode/special character issues have been resolved (which relates to the 'other music simply doesn't play' comment above), which means all of my Mali 'blues' music is playable again. yeah!

 

clay

 

PS, for the terminally curious, this is the 6th release since the last official release. you're welcome!

 

 

 

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