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Comparable audio quality of audio interfaces.

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Comparable audio quality of audio interfaces.

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2020 7:36 pm
by w oxo cube
Hey,

I’m aware that when choosing an audio interface there are various consideration to take into account. How many in’s and out’s, thunderbolt or USB, pre amps etc etc. But simply regarding subjective audio quality how much of a gap is there between something fairly cost effective like a MOTU M4 or SSL 2+ compared with a 3k + Prism or an Apogee Symphony? Obviously the more expensive one has more features but is it night and day listening to the two side by side.

Best Ox

Re: Comparable audio quality of audio interfaces.

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2020 7:46 pm
by desmond
This concept of "night and day" when describing stuff on the internet is troubling to me. One person's "night and day" to someone else is "it sounds basically the same but there are subtle differences". That aside:-

Even budget audio interfaces having decent enough sound quality, but there will be those with more discerning ears and more sophisticated featured requirements.

Generally though, the price-quality equation means you start paying for a basic level of features and quality, and those things rise as the price increases, but then there gets a point when increasing costs have a smaller and smaller improvement in subjective quality, or even in specs, a lot of the time.

If you compare a low cost interface to a high end one, and aren't looking at the supported features - *if* you have a great studio environment and have experienced ears, you will likely detect differences, but even then they are likely to be subtle.

Re: Comparable audio quality of audio interfaces.

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2020 8:09 pm
by CS70
w oxo cube wrote:Hey,

I’m aware that when choosing an audio interface there are various consideration to take into account. How many in’s and out’s, thunderbolt or USB, pre amps etc etc. But simply regarding subjective audio quality how much of a gap is there between something fairly cost effective like a MOTU M4 or SLL + compared with a 3k + Prism or an Apogee symphony. Obviously the more expensive one have more feature but is it night and day listening to the two side by side.

Best Ox

What Desmond says. No night and day. Not even noon vs. one o'clock. More like 12:00 and 12:01.

I'd go as far as saying that 95% of the people doing mixing won't notice and certainly 100% of the (not-paying) listening public.

Better converters, less noisy and distorting preamps, better clocks etc may lead to a slight increase in your capability of reaching for details when mixing and bring them out.

But it's critical to understand that you have to have good details in the first place - so all the steps of the chain before must be perfect: great music, great singers, great recording space, great microphones in a great position... then you may gain a slight advantage, in some rare circumstances and with specific sounds.

Of course having the best tools at your disposal is nice.

But let's put it like this: a UAD Twin is good enough for Andrew Scheps, it's good enough for anybody.

Re: Comparable audio quality of audio interfaces.

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2020 8:14 pm
by RichardT
My experience is mostly with DACs rather than ADCs. I have found there can be a big difference between them. For example, the Mytek Brooklyn is better than the Chord
Mojo which is much better than the NI Komplete 6.

For me these differences are worth paying for. I was without the Brooklyn for a while and used a Chord Mojo instead. When I got the Brooklyn back, all the subtlety was restored and I felt I was really hearing the music again.

I suspect this might have more to do with the analogue stages in the DACs than the converters, but I don’t know that for sure.

I think you need to audition some examples at different prices if you can.

Re: Comparable audio quality of audio interfaces.

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2020 10:40 pm
by Martin Walker
RichardT wrote:My experience is mostly with DACs rather than ADCs. I have found there can be a big difference between them. For example, the Mytek Brooklyn is better than the Chord Mojo which is much better than the NI Komplete 6.

...I think you need to audition some examples at different prices if you can.

I totally agree about auditioning if you can Rich, and was lucky enough to carry out some comparative tests for SOS some years back, which I wrote about here:

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/3- ... s-compared

I could and still can hear the differences, and am still using the Lavry DA10 DAC I bought as a result, but I personally think they ARE subtle differences that you may only hear in full if you've got good monitor speakers. You've obviously got a revealing playback system ;)


Martin

Re: Comparable audio quality of audio interfaces.

PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2020 3:34 pm
by w oxo cube
Thanks, some interesting points here. I absolutely accept that the night and day analogy doesn't really hold up. It was a crude attempt to try to bring real word application and experience to the world of words and technical specs.

My situation is that I need to buy a new mac in the fairly near future and with all indication pointing to the fact that it won't be supported it looks like i will have to retire my RME FW400.

I'm not wanting to take a backwards step in audio quality so was trying to gauge the overall level of sound quality on newer interfaces as mine own is 12 years old.

Thanks and best wishes
OX

Re: Comparable audio quality of audio interfaces.

PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2020 8:53 am
by rggillespie
A RME fireface400 owner here and I was wondering if an upgrade would be an idea. I was finding the mic inputs a little noisy on quiet sources and bland sounding generally. I decided to get a mic pre and use that for the mic gain and its been a big hit with me. As the RME is reliable I'm happy to keep it going but I have the new flexibility of the mic pre for DI'd signals and plenty of gain for a ribbon mic too. Its been a noticeable improvement and gives me more flexibility.

Re: Comparable audio quality of audio interfaces.

PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2020 2:52 pm
by ken long
w oxo cube wrote:how much of a gap is there between something fairly cost effective like a MOTU M4 or SSL 2+ compared with a 3k + Prism or an Apogee Symphony?

I'd say there's a noticeable gap in performance between a entry level MOTU and say, Prismsound Dream. There's even a subtle difference between the latter and the "budget" Lyra or Titan.

Is it worth the difference in cost? Depends on your budget and application.

"Night and Day" is usually an overstatement.

Re: Comparable audio quality of audio interfaces.

PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2020 9:23 pm
by w oxo cube
rggillespie wrote:A RME fireface400 owner here and I was wondering if an upgrade would be an idea. I was finding the mic inputs a little noisy on quiet sources and bland sounding generally. I decided to get a mic pre and use that for the mic gain and its been a big hit with me. As the RME is reliable I'm happy to keep it going but I have the new flexibility of the mic pre for DI'd signals and plenty of gain for a ribbon mic too. Its been a noticeable improvement and gives me more flexibility.


The pre's are very clean I must admit and I think adding a pre amp is a great move. What did you get out of interest

I may have spoken too soon re the silicon mac obsolescence situation as there is some interesting talk on the RME forum.

Fingers crossed as it's a rock solid unit.

Re: Comparable audio quality of audio interfaces.

PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2020 11:20 pm
by James Perrett
w oxo cube wrote:I may have spoken too soon re the silicon mac obsolescence situation as there is some interesting talk on the RME forum.

I've certainly heard of other Firewire audio interfaces being used on modern Macs with Thunderbolt to Firewire adaptors.

Re: Comparable audio quality of audio interfaces.

PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2020 12:27 am
by w oxo cube
It's looking promising, there was talk that the new silicon macs didn't have firewire drivers so it wasn't going to be possible however this from the RME forum

"The Mac FireWire driver (3.39) works under Big Sur as does the former USB driver (3.19). Only PCIe and TB needed changes. M1 drivers for FireWire will be checked as soon as we received a unit with TB port. The developer preview unit that we got had only USB"

Re: Comparable audio quality of audio interfaces.

PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2020 8:28 am
by rggillespie
'The pre's are very clean I must admit and I think adding a pre amp is a great move. What did you get out of interest' Its a solution that's worked well for me, after reading the reviews and looking around I went for cranbourne one in the end. Its two channel sounds super good I think and is a clear upgrade on the 400 mic pre's. Its most obvious recording my bass direct, that was ok before but it's fair leap forward now. Everywhere else it shines vocals, acoustics etc and feeling its right from the off, I'm processing whatever's been recorded less now. The mic pre has enough options to shape things to an extent, but I use it clean most often and am very happy with it. Hopefully an Apple solution is there for you, it's an irritant to have to buy new due to software upgrades :roll:

Re: Comparable audio quality of audio interfaces.

PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2020 9:28 pm
by w oxo cube
The Cranbourne gets a lot of love round theses parts and looks like great value.

I'm looking for something myself that slightly rounds off the transients and gives a little bit of a vibe.

Re: Comparable audio quality of audio interfaces.

PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2020 10:31 pm
by Kwackman
w oxo cube wrote:I'm looking for something myself that slightly rounds off the transients and gives a little bit of a vibe.

If I had an audio interface that "rounds off the transients", it would be sent back pretty quickly and something else bought!

Re: Comparable audio quality of audio interfaces.

PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2020 10:33 pm
by blinddrew
Kwackman wrote:
w oxo cube wrote:I'm looking for something myself that slightly rounds off the transients and gives a little bit of a vibe.

If I had an audio interface that "rounds off the transients", it would be sent back pretty quickly and something else bought!
I think w oxo cube is talking about the pre-amp rather than the interface at this point.

maybe.