Symmetric vs. Asymmetric clipping

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Symmetric vs. Asymmetric clipping

Postby hobbyist789 » Fri Oct 08, 2010 4:37 pm

Thought I'd pose this question--in regard to Barber pedals but also in general--to perhaps help figure things out a little. (I've googled several forums on this, but I was hoping for an explanation from a more reliable source.) In trying to generalize/categorize the differences, here's what I've come up with so far:

Symmetric:
Top & bottom of waveform are clipped/distorted equally
Preamp tube-like
Smoother, sweeter-sounding*
Examples: Tube Screamer, LTD, Direct Drive, ..others?

Asymmetric:
Top & bottom of waveform are clipped differently
Power tube-like
More raspy-sounding*
Examples: SD-1, Fulldrive, Small Fry (mostly), ..others?

Is this mostly accurate? Can one make such generalizations/assumptions* about the sound character of a symmetric vs. asymmetric pedal design, or is this moreso dependent on the overall circuit? Why else would manufacturers brag that "this pedal uses symmetric/asymmetric clipping..." when describing their stuff?
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Re: Symmetric vs. Asymmetric clipping

Postby plan-x » Fri Oct 08, 2010 6:11 pm

hobbyist789 wrote: Why else would manufacturers brag that "this pedal uses symmetric/asymmetric clipping..." when describing their stuff?

To baffle us regular guys. :?
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Re: Symmetric vs. Asymmetric clipping

Postby hobbyist789 » Mon Oct 11, 2010 12:42 pm

plan-x wrote:
hobbyist789 wrote: Why else would manufacturers brag that "this pedal uses symmetric/asymmetric clipping..." when describing their stuff?

To baffle us regular guys. :?

That's entirely plausible.
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Re: Symmetric vs. Asymmetric clipping

Postby David Barber » Tue Oct 12, 2010 3:43 am

hobbyist789 wrote:Thought I'd pose this question--in regard to Barber pedals but also in general--to perhaps help figure things out a little. (I've googled several forums on this, but I was hoping for an explanation from a more reliable source.) In trying to generalize/categorize the differences, here's what I've come up with so far:

Symmetric:
Top & bottom of waveform are clipped/distorted equally=Yes
Preamp tube-like= Great advertising! :)
Smoother, sweeter-sounding*=Too many variables left out, but could be in the right circumstance.
Examples: Tube Screamer, LTD, Direct Drive,= True

Asymmetric:
Top & bottom of waveform are clipped differently= Yes
Power tube-like= Really great advertising!! :D :D
More raspy-sounding*= Could be, but does not have to be, again variables.
Examples: SD-1, Fulldrive, Small Fry (mostly)=Depends on how you set the Small Fry.

Is this mostly accurate? Can one make such generalizations/assumptions* about the sound character of a symmetric vs. asymmetric pedal design, or is this moreso dependent on the overall circuit? Why else would manufacturers brag that "this pedal uses symmetric/asymmetric clipping..." when describing their stuff?
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Re: Symmetric vs. Asymmetric clipping

Postby hobbyist789 » Tue Oct 12, 2010 1:04 pm

So.. it seems one would pretty much still need to play, listen, and decide for oneself regarding sound quality. Which, incidentally, is the best advice that could be offered in a gear forum...
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Re: Symmetric vs. Asymmetric clipping

Postby admin » Tue Oct 12, 2010 4:02 pm

hobbyist789 wrote:So.. it seems one would pretty much still need to play, listen, and decide for oneself regarding sound quality. Which, incidentally, is the best advice that could be offered in a gear forum...


Yep, "the ears have it". Measuring devices still don't incorporate everything ears can hear, no matter how uppity engineers get who design measuring devices or the engineers who primarily "look at sound". There are too many details, but this might make it easier. Sugar is sweet right? you add sugar to things you might eat and they taste "sweet". You add a couple of teaspoons of sugar to a cup of tea of coffee and now it is sweet, well add the same couple of teaspoons to a handfull of dirt...still sweet? :D

Cooking and painting analogies work well, pepper is nice if you add a dash, but if you add too much it's all you taste. Certain colors can make a room look larger or smaller, but it depends on how much of the color you use and how much light enters the room. I can have a very symmetrical distortion, but if it is a nice perfectly proportional square wave, you will most likely not think it is that smooth or sweet. With electronics and audio the oversimplification/trivializations that are so popular on web forums (especially DIY) are detrimental to the art of sound and the decision making process. The best thing is to listen and ask yourself "does this work for me?"

I can't tell you the copious people who refer to high end roll-off as "compression" in their posts ("that OD is compressed"), it's infinitely ubiquitous! :D
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Re: Symmetric vs. Asymmetric clipping

Postby johanwhite » Sun Nov 21, 2010 7:33 am

I think that whatever you described about Symmetric and Asymmetric , it is accurate. You made me clear about both the things. I can say that this is perfect for the sound property of a symmetric vs. asymmetric pedal design. Also it does not depend on overall circuit.
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