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Bob Moose



Joined: 17/01/08
Posts: 885
Which range of converters is appropriate?
      #1044476 - 22/04/13 12:37 PM
Hello

As my new audio interface will not have any analogue I/O, I need A/D D/A converters for a small studio. Normally I do not record acoustic instruments there because it is too small, but there are some electric / electronic instruments. I use this studio mostly for post production: editing, mixing, adding effects, spatialisation and simple mastering. For some reasons I need at least 8 I/O. The microphone preamplifiers have embedded A/D conversion (10 tracks), which I can use for digital recording.
Despite very limited space, the room sounds good thanks to acoustic treatment and new speakers.

I narrowed it to the SSL Alpha Link AX and the RME ADI-8 DS MK3, mostly for budget reasons. But actually I don't even know if these converters are correct for the job. I guess they are because I can already work with my 10-year old RME FF400; also, converters improved a lot and you have to pay a lot to get a small sound difference. But even if the aforementioned converters are not high end ones, they are still expensive, so I would like to be sure it is good investment. I mean, is it a better strategy to wait a bit and get Mytek converters (or similar), or are high end converters totally overkill unless you have an Abbey Road grade studio?

Thanks for your help, and sorry for asking about specific gear


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Andi



Joined: 02/09/04
Posts: 1203
Loc: Berkshire, UK
Re: Which range of converters is appropriate? new [Re: Bob Moose]
      #1044488 - 22/04/13 01:31 PM
Bob, not sure I get why you need ADs if your pres have converters built in?

On the subject of high end, Brandon Drury on Rec Review wrote this

"I read an article/forum post from the site that combines recording equipment and venerial disease by a guy who mixes major label country artists. He was talking about converters and was comparing the Avid HD I/O with Lynx Aurora 16 and Apogee Symphony converters. It was all super high end stuff. This guy used a ton of external effects sends (hardware) in his ITB mixes. I know what converters do. It’s the smallest difference in the world in recording in most instances.

This guy said that the Avid HD I/O ($5,000) with a $1,200 clock was 10% better than whatever his control group was. (Keep in mind that I feel the difference between the Behringer ADA8000 and my Apogee AD-16x and DA-16x is about 1%. This guy is in a whole other league and the tiniest change in sound is gonna mean a lot to him so we need to account for his numbers For fun, he did a mix on a Neve VR in Ocean Way in Nashville, too, just to see how a real console would improve things. He said it improved his mix 5%. Now, converting that to the Brando Scale means that the difference between ITB and a full blown mega console is exactly 0.5% improvement. That’s NOT very much….not for $100k or $300k or whatever a Neve VR costs.

I felt a whole lot better when I saw that 5% number. He felt the console was only half the improvement of fancy converters. Rarely do we get such good info. He’s talking about a Neve, so it’s safe to say that my Toft isn’t even going to be that high." Full post here

I wrote this Should I buy new converters? Note that this is about upgrades but it addresses the issue of spending big bucks.

--------------------
Andi, www.thedustbowlaudio.com Mixing, Mastering, Audio Editing (and articles) at The Dustbowl Audio


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Bob Moose



Joined: 17/01/08
Posts: 885
Re: Which range of converters is appropriate? new [Re: Andi]
      #1044503 - 22/04/13 02:24 PM
Quote Andi:

Bob, not sure I get why you need ADs if your pres have converters built in?



It's only because most converters are A/D + D/A. I don't need additional A/D converters. When buying a Lavry or a Prism, you can choose D/A only, but they are still more expensive than the SSL or the RME. Or did I miss the great 8-output D/A that does not cost too much?

Quote:

On the subject of high end, Brandon Drury on Rec Review wrote this

"I read an article/forum post from the site that combines recording equipment and venerial disease by a guy who mixes major label country artists. He was talking about converters and was comparing the Avid HD I/O with Lynx Aurora 16 and Apogee Symphony converters. It was all super high end stuff. This guy used a ton of external effects sends (hardware) in his ITB mixes. I know what converters do. It’s the smallest difference in the world in recording in most instances.

This guy said that the Avid HD I/O ($5,000) with a $1,200 clock was 10% better than whatever his control group was. (Keep in mind that I feel the difference between the Behringer ADA8000 and my Apogee AD-16x and DA-16x is about 1%. This guy is in a whole other league and the tiniest change in sound is gonna mean a lot to him so we need to account for his numbers For fun, he did a mix on a Neve VR in Ocean Way in Nashville, too, just to see how a real console would improve things. He said it improved his mix 5%. Now, converting that to the Brando Scale means that the difference between ITB and a full blown mega console is exactly 0.5% improvement. That’s NOT very much….not for $100k or $300k or whatever a Neve VR costs.

I felt a whole lot better when I saw that 5% number. He felt the console was only half the improvement of fancy converters. Rarely do we get such good info. He’s talking about a Neve, so it’s safe to say that my Toft isn’t even going to be that high." Full post here



That's more or less what I was thinking about converters

Quote:

I wrote this Should I buy new converters? Note that this is about upgrades but it addresses the issue of spending big bucks.



Interesting. I agree you should compare converters by ear but... it's not that easy. Most shops won't have a demo room. Some have one, but it sounds completely different compared to my room (different size, acoustic treatment and monitors). I found one that can lend converters for home testing, but they only have very expensive devices that I cannot buy anyway.


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Andi



Joined: 02/09/04
Posts: 1203
Loc: Berkshire, UK
Re: Which range of converters is appropriate? new [Re: Bob Moose]
      #1044508 - 22/04/13 03:12 PM
Bob

you're right, much of this is quite simple but not at all easy. I'd try to compare with headphones but really, you're never going to "remember" what the converters you heard 3 hours ago in another town sounded like. I know a fair number of people who use Behringer converters when they need banks of the things, they're cheap and seem to stand-up better than they have any right to, but only you know if you'd be happy with that. For what it's worth, I've never been sent a mix and thought "those converters are rubbish" .

--------------------
Andi, www.thedustbowlaudio.com Mixing, Mastering, Audio Editing (and articles) at The Dustbowl Audio


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Bob Moose



Joined: 17/01/08
Posts: 885
Re: Which range of converters is appropriate? new [Re: Andi]
      #1044513 - 22/04/13 03:37 PM
Quote Andi:

I'd try to compare with headphones



I thought about this, but you are also comparing the headphones amplifiers then (I do not have a headphones amplifier to bring)

Quote:

but really, you're never going to "remember" what the converters you heard 3 hours ago in another town sounded like.



Sure, and actually I think it's already difficult enough when it's only 1 minute

Quote:

I know a fair number of people who use Behringer converters when they need banks of the things, they're cheap and seem to stand-up better than they have any right to, but only you know if you'd be happy with that.



I did not consider the Behringer because the I/O connections are not adapted for me (I prefer rear DB-25). The price is very good, the dynamic range looks not so good but at that price it's ok.

Also, switching from the FF400 to the Behringer looks like a step backwards, while the remaining of the studio improved a lot recently.

Quote:

For what it's worth, I've never been sent a mix and thought "those converters are rubbish" .



Me neither!

So finally I guess both the RME and the SSL are correct.


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Goddard



Joined: 04/04/12
Posts: 953
Re: Which range of converters is appropriate? new [Re: Bob Moose]
      #1044543 - 22/04/13 08:02 PM
No experience with the ADI-8 DS MkIII (wasn't even aware of it tbh, only the older version) but have used the ADI-8 QS on occasion and it's very versatile. Browsing the info on the DS MkIII briefly it appears to be very similar feature-wise to the QS save for MIDI control and MADI option.

Can't give any comparative opinion wrt SSL or other converters (tbh, only ever notice if converters obviously sound bad, not if they're any good, i.e., unnoticeable) but perhaps someone else will chime in there.

Personally I wouldn't rule out a converter just because it didn't offer analog I/O on DB25, a snake can do for that. I'm more attracted by versatility, such as can TRS I/O can work unbalanced if necessary (not easily possible with DB25/DA88 connections), which the ADI-8's can. Another nice feature of the ADI-8 is that both analog outputs are available simultaneously, as are both digital ouputs (and it also works as a digital patchbay).

Edited by Goddard (22/04/13 08:16 PM)


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Bob Moose



Joined: 17/01/08
Posts: 885
Re: Which range of converters is appropriate? new [Re: Goddard]
      #1044734 - 23/04/13 08:23 PM
Quote Goddard:

No experience with the ADI-8 DS MkIII (wasn't even aware of it tbh, only the older version) but have used the ADI-8 QS on occasion and it's very versatile. Browsing the info on the DS MkIII briefly it appears to be very similar feature-wise to the QS save for MIDI control and MADI option.



The new DS MK3 and the older QS look similar indeed, but the price difference is very important even without the MADI option on the QS. The QS belongs to the RME 'premium' line, but I guess the DS MK3 does not. Some people asked on the RME forum but there was no answer:
http://www.rme-audio.de/forum/viewtopic.php?id=16190

Actually, no idea if I can hear the difference between RME, SSL and Prism because shops do not stock them (so they cannot lend them for test).

I will probably choose using dice: 1=RME_DS, 2=RME_QS, 3=SSL, 4=Mytek, 5=Lavry(replay), 6=Prism(joker)


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