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AD converter issue.

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AD converter issue.

Postby akkk » Wed Oct 26, 2011 12:14 pm

Hi. When I plug my synth straight to active monitors, play something cool and turn some filters, my neck hair goes up. Sound is big and impressive. Then I plug the same synth to my RME adi-2 converter and that to monitors. Do the same, but no more neck hair going up.

If u don´t listen carefully u could say that it is the same, but no, the wow effect is missing. I guess u could say it is good, but not superb. Even if I run my RME 96khz samplerate. This has been on going battle for years, just not happy with conversion. Is there any cure for this? Would something like Mytek, benchmark or lavry maintain the wow effect or is it just so that quality loss is not avoidable? Years back when I bought ADI-2, I thought that I was pretty darn close to get what I want, but no. This is very important when u record moog kind of filters which are crazy good, if u loose nyanses feeling is gone. Any experiences about the issue? Thanks.
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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:26 pm

What kind of monitors? Can you set it up so that you could switch quickly between direct monitor input and via AD? Then do a blind test. If you can still hear a difference then bless your ears, but not your wallet... you'll need a Prism Orpheus!
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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby ef37a » Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:46 pm

Let me get the story straight Akkk,

You have a synth with both an analogue and digital output and the analogue signal is more "impressive" than the digital version as converted by the RME?

It seems possible, indeed likely to me that the RME converters are more accurate than the ones in the synth but, as with more accurate monitors they sound less impressive than the "grungier" ones?

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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby akkk » Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:15 pm

No, there is no digital out in the synth. I am just saying that there is difference when I plug my synth straight to monitors vs. plug synth to rme input and then rme output to monitors. Rme conversion doesnt maintain the quality of the sound. And yes I can hear the difference. Anyone had same story and finally found the converter that maintain the wow effect in the sound? This Rme is just not doing it for me.

There is nothing wrong with my set up, quality difference is small but enough to loose the wow effect. Somebody must have similar experiences.
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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby ef37a » Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:46 pm

akkk wrote:No, there is no digital out in the synth. I am just saying that there is difference when I plug my synth straight to monitors vs. plug synth to rme input and then rme output to monitors. Rme conversion doesnt maintain the quality of the sound. And yes I can hear the difference. Anyone had same story and finally found the converter that maintain the wow effect in the sound? This Rme is just not doing it for me.

There is nothing wrong with my set up, quality difference is small but enough to loose the wow effect. Somebody must have similar experiences.

Ah! My apologies. What you are in fact doing is a variation of the old amplifier "straight wire with gain" test. Our illustrious reviewers might like to comment upon how many converters would prove totally "invisible" in such a test? (never been done AFAIK?)

One thing is crucial. You must ensure that levels match to much better than 1dB. Louder is always "better"!

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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Thu Oct 27, 2011 1:04 pm

ef37a wrote:
One thing is crucial. You must ensure that levels match to much better than 1dB. Louder is always "better"!

Yes, that's a very good point! You also need to be able to switch between the two setups instantly, because our auditory memory is actually quite short: around 30 seconds if you're lucky. And you need to do the switching blind so you're not biassed.

Best converter I've ever heard is Cranesong HEDD 192, better than Mytek or Lavry IMO but only by a whisker. Never heard a Prism, though people I trust say they are one of the best.
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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Oct 27, 2011 1:27 pm

Dave's point about level matching is very important, and may well be a significant part of the issue.

There may also be cable length/balance/impedance issues which affect the tonality slightly, depending on how you are connecting the keytboard to the speaker and the converter. On the other hand, it may be that the converter signal chain is struggling to match the levels and drive of the keyboard. You really need to be scrupulous about the signal path capabilities and levels when making sonic assesments.

I would suggest that the best way of deciding whether your converter is at issue or something else would be to configure the converter as a A-D-D-A chain which can be inserted or bypassed into an active signal path between the keyboard and speaker. For example, feed the keyboard to a mixer and route direct to output or via the A-D-D-A chain, with the mixer output going to the speaker. Be careful to match direct and A-D-D-A path levels.

Obviously a significant difference between connecting the keyboard to the speaker directly and via the converter is that the converter will impose bandwidth limiting, and this may become audible on some sounds in comparison with a direct signal. Running the converter at 96kHz sampling should remove that restriction.

Also, you don't mention the levels you are running signal through the converter, but very high levels may mean you're running out of headroom and hearing some transient distortion, and it may also mean that the analogue stages are being driven too hard and also producing distortion.

Finally, while the RME converters are generally good for the money (and I use one myself), they aren't top-flight. You can get better.... but only at considerable additional cost.

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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby akkk » Thu Oct 27, 2011 3:00 pm

Thanks Hugh. Everything you told have been checked, still not happy. Thanks anyway.
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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Oct 27, 2011 3:50 pm

Hi akkk!

I experienced the ‘hairs on the back of the neck’ feeling the first time I listened to my Lavry DA10 converters, and it had been at least several years since I heard anything quite as exciting :beamup:

However, the first time I came across audio degradation through an electronic device was way back in the 70‘s when I tried plugging one of my synths direct into my amp/loudpseakers instead of through a small mixing desk.

The desk had to go soon afterwards :headbang:


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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Oct 27, 2011 3:55 pm

Okay. Well if you're really sure that you are comparing well matched and consistent sound chains, then your only option is to invest in a top level converter...

...but something tells you you still wont be happy. ;) So I'd strongly advise trying before buying.

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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby ef37a » Thu Oct 27, 2011 4:21 pm

akkk wrote:Thanks Hugh. Everything you told have been checked, still not happy. Thanks anyway.

That^ sounds a bit Tommy Cooper to me!

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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby akkk » Thu Oct 27, 2011 6:55 pm

No idea who Mr. Cooper is, but must be high ambition guy :) What equipment pro dancemusic producers use? For example, who ever made this has his converters and equipment right.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sO0hgvcifjc&feature=BFa&list=PL31901986A48172D4&lf=BFp

Why u just don´t give me the list of stuff and I go to the shop. No more freaking wondering and digital summing and poor sound. Really, it can´t be this hard. And please, no crap about acustics and levels and BS like that. Please, gentlemen. Really.

Sincerely,

AK
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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby narcoman » Thu Oct 27, 2011 7:01 pm

you're in a catch22 I'm afraid......
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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby akkk » Thu Oct 27, 2011 7:03 pm

:) What is catch22?
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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby The Korff » Thu Oct 27, 2011 7:10 pm

akkk wrote:And please, no crap about acustics and levels and BS like that. Please, gentlemen. Really.

And how, pray tell, would you like to receive advice about getting the best sound from your synthesizer?
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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby The Korff » Thu Oct 27, 2011 7:11 pm

akkk wrote::) What is catch22?

It's a book. You're not allowed to read it if you haven't read it before though (tricky situation, I know).

Cheers!

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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby akkk » Thu Oct 27, 2011 7:23 pm

...but something tells you you still wont be happy.

Hugh, I am no crazy freak :)I am an professional product development engineer and I own very objective attitude towards phenomenons like this. I have no problems to confess if I am wrong. I am healthy human been proved by professional psyciatrists :). Neck hair up when playing synth plugged straight to speakears, not so much when plugged thru converter, just can´t get over that :) It ain´t as it should be man :)And quality trouble multiplies when recording several tracks to sequencer etc.

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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby akkk » Thu Oct 27, 2011 7:29 pm

Korff, U are right and I really respect every advice no matter if they consider acustics, levels or what ever. I don´t mean to be harsh or unrespectful here. I speak little bit rough and provokative way to get conversation going, cause silence doesn´t take things forward. I do respect all here and I know these people know better than me. But still...

My apologies, sir.
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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby akkk » Thu Oct 27, 2011 7:32 pm

Haha, that catch22 was good one :)

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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby ef37a » Thu Oct 27, 2011 8:31 pm

akkk wrote:No idea who Mr. Cooper is, but must be high ambition guy :) What equipment pro dancemusic producers use? For example, who ever made this has his converters and equipment right.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sO0hgvcifjc&feature=BFa&list=PL31901986A48172D4&lf=BFp

Why u just don´t give me the list of stuff and I go to the shop. No more freaking wondering and digital summing and poor sound. Really, it can´t be this hard. And please, no crap about acustics and levels and BS like that. Please, gentlemen. Really.

Sincerely,

AK

"Jussliketha!!!


Sorry,
Dave.
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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby LRS » Thu Oct 27, 2011 9:19 pm

ef37a wrote:

"Jussliketha!!!


Sorry,
Dave.

he,he,he...
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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby zenguitar » Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:58 pm

Glass bottle, bottle glass..

'It's dark in there!!!'

That's enough Tommy Cooper for one night... but a word of advice to the OP... 'Speaking rough and provocative' isn't the best way to get conversation going here, the SOS forums work so well because decent, honest, experienced people give their time and effort to answers questions honestly and openly. Of course silence doesn't take things forward, but you weren't silent, you asked a question in a public forum. And you received answers to your question, some of which challenged your assumptions. And if people have raised issues that you have already considered, but failed to mention in your posts, the fault lies with your question and not the responses you have received.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby Richie Royale » Fri Oct 28, 2011 9:42 am

Whilst I don't doubt your problem, I find music makes my hair stand on end regardless of the playback medium. A 16Bit CD player into a pair of £30 headphones will still do the job when I listen to an amazing piece of music.

If you want the best A/D then audition these:

http://www.dv247.com/computer-hardware/prism-sound-orpheus-firewire-audio-interface--57054

http://www.studiocare.com/store/index.php?main_page=advanced_search_result&search_in_description=1&keyword=Prism%20AD2%20-%20Audio%20A/D%20Converter

http://www.funky-junk.com/lavry-ad122-96-mkiii-a-d-converter/

I expect there are others, but as the price range is way out of my league, it isn't area I am well versed in.

edit: you will need an equivalent D/A on the other end as well I guess for some of them, but some do both (I think).

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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Oct 28, 2011 10:16 am

akkk wrote:And please, no crap about acustics and levels and BS like that. Please, gentlemen. Really.

Don't think I mentioned acoustics. Although they are obviously very important, they clearly aren't part of the issue that you're complaining about.

As for levels and BS like that. It's not BS. It's critically important and you haven't given us any information about what measures you've taken to ensure matched levels, or indeed, the levels you are running your converters at. These things matter a lot, and make a huge difference to the sound quality and character.

Also, you haven't reported back as to what effect changing the sample rate has (or not) on your neck hair.

It really won't help getting bitchy with those of us who are generously donating our time and experience in responding to your queries. I appreciate you are frustrated that you can't achieve what you'd like. Equally we are frustrated with your attitude and lack of information.

The RME ADI2 is a £500 converter. It's good for the money but it is unreasonable to expect perfection, and there are quite obviously far better around. You get what you pay for.

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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby akkk » Fri Oct 28, 2011 11:18 am

Don´t get too serious people :)It is music biz, personalities and emotions allowed :protest:
And I am also donating my time, I will never make money out of this, I just think there is an issue, I have been listening other homerecordist with similar issues. So help for them also.

I use 96khz, 192 didn´t change situation dramatically. I might say that sound gets boxy when routed thru converter, it is like there is somekind of thin layer over the speakers, sound doesn´t jump out like it does when synth is plugged straight to speakers.

My apologies,

AK
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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Oct 28, 2011 11:35 am

akkk wrote:I use 96khz, 192 didn´t change situation dramatically.


I wouldn't expect 192 to make any difference, but switching from 44 or 48 to 96 might. It seems not in your case.

I might say that sound gets boxy when routed thru converter, it is like there is somekind of thin layer over the speakers
.

The implication is that it's either the converters themselves, which is entirely possible, or the analogue circuitry associated with that signal path, which is also quite believable. We still don't know what lies in the signal path between converters and speakers. Is it a direct connection from the ADI2 or is there some form of monitor controller or mixer involved?

The character of the analogue circuitry at the RME (and below) budget level tends to be strongly affected by signal levels... and we still don't know what kind of levels you're working at. The RME has three different analogue operating levels and we don't know what you're configured for. I would suggest trying the +4dBu option if you're currently using high gain, or the -10dBV option if using +4dBu. A lot of budget analogue circuitry starts to sound harsh and veiled when pushed hard.

Also, try setting the converter levels so that the average signal levels is around -20dBFS with transient peaks no higher than -6dBFS. That often helps a lot. Hitting close to 0dBFS risks intersample peaks and transient clipping, both of which will change the character of the source sound.

Of course, you may find that working with these lower digital and analogue levels means you have to crank up the input level on the monitors...

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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby akkk » Fri Oct 28, 2011 1:45 pm

Thanks Hugh. I have tried +4dBu and -10dBV at Rme input, results are the same.


Hitting close to 0dBFS risks intersample peaks and transient clipping......this is true, and tested. Results are better when transient peaks are no higher than -6dBFS. Doesn´t solve my issue though.

Is it a direct connection from the ADI2 or is there some form of monitor controller or mixer involved?

It is a direct connection via xlr cabels to yamaha msp5 active monitors. No monitor controllers. RME is connected via adat to emu 1212m (in/out), spdif gives same results.

Problem is not output cause professionally recorded media from pc comes out beatifully, airy and open, without this thin layer over the speakers I mentioned earlier.


Atte
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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby akkk » Fri Oct 28, 2011 1:50 pm

My friend records with Rme Fireface400 and we can hear same layer issue in his set-up, so I am not alone with this.
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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Oct 28, 2011 2:06 pm

It does sound like basic A-D converter quality issues. There's no point messing around in the middle ground, really. Maybe investing in high end converters is the only way to satisfy your ear... but again, there are subtle differences between brands so get a few in and try them.

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Re: AD converter issue.

Postby Dark Fader » Fri Oct 28, 2011 2:16 pm

akkk wrote:Thanks Hugh. I have tried +4dBu and -10dBV at Rme input, results are the same.


Hitting close to 0dBFS risks intersample peaks and transient clipping......this is true, and tested. Results are better when transient peaks are no higher than -6dBFS. Doesn´t solve my issue though.

Is it a direct connection from the ADI2 or is there some form of monitor controller or mixer involved?

It is a direct connection via xlr cabels to yamaha msp5 active monitors. No monitor controllers. RME is connected via adat to emu 1212m (in/out), spdif gives same results.

Problem is not output cause professionally recorded media from pc comes out beatifully, airy and open, without this thin layer over the speakers I mentioned earlier.


Atte

If that's how you've got it rigged up in each case how are you level-matching?
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