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Interface upgrade recommendations, it's the weakest chainlink!

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Interface upgrade recommendations, it's the weakest chainlink!

Postby Francis Johnson » Tue May 26, 2020 12:23 pm

Hi there,

I've been thinking about this for a little while now, done a fair bit of research, and have decided to post my first forum post to ask you lovely people for any help!?

In my home studio, I have a Focusrite ISA 2, a DBX 160A, a Juno 60, and a Roland RE 201.

So some nice gear, but everything is going through my Komplete Audio 6 interface. I use the two line outs from the ISA 2 into the line ins of the KA6, and the main outs of the KA6 to my monitors. So i

Is this standard of interface, and it's converters going to adversely affect the sound of my recordings to an extent I should really be thinking about upgrading?

I'm concerned the quality of my other equipment is going to be diminished by the quality of the Interface, not that it's a bad interface, but just not up to scratch. Should I be concerned!?

PS could do with an interface with a couple more outs anyway, not a huge issue at the moment, but might be soon!

Thankyou in advance for any light you may be able to shed on this!
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Re: Interface upgrade recommendations, it's the weakest chainlink!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue May 26, 2020 12:43 pm

Francis Johnson wrote:Is this standard of interface, and it's converters going to adversely affect the sound of my recordings to an extent I should really be thinking about upgrading?

Not really. The mic preamps tend to be the weakest link of most low-budget interfaces but you're essentially bypassing them anyway.

The real question you should be asking is, 'Is there some aspect of the recording/playback that doesn't reflect the true sound character of the sources, or introduces distortions or artefacts that shouldn't be audible?'

And the 'true character bit' is important! Many people imagine a more expensive interface will bring some magic and enhance the source sound in some way, when in reality what you're paying for is something that captures the source even more accurately!

You may not have the equipment available to perform this test, but it's a very revealing one if you can: feed your sources directly into a decent mixer or monitor controller connected to your monitor speakers so that you can hear the sources directly.

Take an output from the mixer/controller to the interface, and a return from the interface back to the mixer/controller. Now you can compare the direct sound from the sources with the recorded and replayed sound via the interface and computer. Note: it's important to be ruthlessly accurate about matching levels if this test is to be valid!

So, is there any difference? And if there is a difference, is it enhancing, or distracting, or to all practical intents and purposes irrelevant?
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Re: Interface upgrade recommendations, it's the weakest chainlink!

Postby James Perrett » Tue May 26, 2020 12:47 pm

The interface is unlikely to be the weakest link here. The weakest links are the things you haven't mentioned like room acoustics, monitoring and microphones.

However, you could add a couple of extra inputs and possibly very slightly improve your signal chain by investing in an external mic preamp with analogue to digital convertors and feed that into the KA6's digital inputs. Don't expect a dramatic improvement in sound by doing this though.

If you need more outputs then add an external D/A convertor. If line level inputs and outputs are sufficient then the Sonifex RBADDA-1 is a handy, decent quality convertor at a sensible price (although it is a bit fiddly if you need to change settings often).

Edit:- I've just seen the price of the RB-ADDA! They were nothing like that expensive when I bought mine.
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Re: Interface upgrade recommendations, it's the weakest chainlink!

Postby CS70 » Tue May 26, 2020 1:00 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:And the 'true character bit' is important! Many people imagine a more expensive interface will bring some magic and enhance the source sound in some way, when in reality what you're paying for is something that captures the source even more accurately!

The Wisdom! :D
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Re: Interface upgrade recommendations, it's the weakest chainlink!

Postby The Elf » Tue May 26, 2020 1:04 pm

There's nothing wrong with the KA6 - I'm even about to buy a second one!

Keep your money in your pocket, or use it for something that will make a genuine difference.
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Re: Interface upgrade recommendations, it's the weakest chainlink!

Postby ef37a » Tue May 26, 2020 2:41 pm

Perhaps I flatter myself but I think I am known here as a big fan of the KA6?

The interface is not perfect. The Phantom power delivery is 'adequate' but not generous and nowhere near the 10mA specification. That said I have yet to read of anyone with a problem with it?

The headphone output is also a bit wimpish but both of these slight failings come about because the interface packs just about a much connectivity as possible into a pretty compact box of BSH construction and with only USB bus power*.

However I think the converters stand up against any of the competition in its price range and some well above it. Then there are the drivers. I have owned around half a dozen AIs in the last decade or so but none have been remotely as stable and unfussy as my KA6, it is as though it doesn't run digitally at all! I just plug it into any of 4 PCs, 3 sevens and a ten and it just works. As the cop said of his defence pistol "95% accuracy I can live with. Less than 100% reliability could get me killed".

If you do decide to 'upgrade' go RME then you will get even better drivers and I sure improved converters. I am also sure you will never hear the difference!

*I was a bit disappointed with the Mll KA6? Get me not wrong, a lovely upgrade job (but why drop the Cubase bundle?) but had NI stayed with the same format I would have liked the option to feed in juice. Most of all I think NI should have built on the brilliance of the KA and made a bigger one. Four mic channels, six or eight outs, S/PDIF MIDI OF COURSE! But also ADAT. Keeping the superb drivers and reliability.

Dave.
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Re: Interface upgrade recommendations, it's the weakest chainlink!

Postby Francis Johnson » Tue Jun 23, 2020 9:35 pm

Thank you so much for all your responses and advice. I am certainly going to stick with the KA6 for the foreseeable, and expand upon it.

Really, it has done me well for about 6/7 years now, I feel bad for questioning it, I guess my only concern came from what great value it is!

Good point about the 'true character' that did open my eyes. I guess i was concerned that the character would be retained up until the point of being converted, but to be honest I never had an issue with it.

I am in the process of improving my set up else where by building some acoustic panels, and rearranging my moderate set up to better suit my room instead.

Thank you all again!
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Re: Interface upgrade recommendations, it's the weakest chainlink!

Postby Luke W » Tue Jun 23, 2020 10:57 pm

Francis Johnson wrote:I am in the process of improving my set up else where by building some acoustic panels, and rearranging my moderate set up to better suit my room instead.

:thumbup:

Good stuff, you may be surprised at the difference it makes.
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