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A-D & D-A converters, budget vs high-end

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Re: A-D & D-A converters, budget vs high-end

Postby James Perrett » Wed Aug 21, 2019 8:50 pm

Tim Gillett wrote:
For me that different high end converters would audibly change the eq points or compression time constants or reverb seems highly unlikely.

Tim - I think you've misunderstood what Jack is saying. His choice of reverb, eq or compression parameters would be affected by the characteristics of the convertor. He's not saying that the convertor would appear to change these parameters themselves. Now I don't know which particular convertors Jack has experienced this with but I can certainly believe that small changes in something like jitter characteristics or filtering could cause this.

The biggest problem in convincing the sceptics is the need for extremely good monitoring to hear these changes reliably. If you don't have good monitoring then I can quite understand you wondering what all the fuss is about.
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Re: A-D & D-A converters, budget vs high-end

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Aug 21, 2019 8:53 pm

Tim Gillett wrote:Hugh what's your take on Jack's claims?

My take is that I'd be wasting my time writing this reply... But here goes anyway...

It seems to me completely illogical for anyone without relevant experience to doubt those who do. Anyway, I've already described the benefits I associate with high-end gear, which are very similar to those Jack has described.

It's just like the aural equivalent of looking through a cleaner window -- you can see/hear things a little more clearly, and that makes it easier to make decisions about what processing is needed, and to apply it more delicately.

These are very small benefits, for sure, but when you're doing this stuff all day everyday, it's noticeable and it makes a real difference to the way you work... including having more finesse in the choices of things like dynamic time constants, EQ bandwidths and gains, reverb parameters and so on. And yes, many experienced clients notice and appreciate it too.
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Re: A-D & D-A converters, budget vs high-end

Postby hobbyist » Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:21 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Tim Gillett wrote:Hugh what's your take on Jack's claims?

My take is that I'd be wasting my time writing this reply... But here goes anyway...

It seems to me completely illogical for anyone without relevant experience to doubt those who do. Anyway, I've already described the benefits I associate with high-end gear, which are very similar to those Jack has described.

It's just like the aural equivalent of looking through a cleaner window -- you can see/hear things a little more clearly, and that makes it easier to make decisions about what processing is needed, and to apply it more delicately.

These are very small benefits, for sure, but when you're doing this stuff all day everyday, it's noticeable and it makes a real difference to the way you work... including having more finesse in the choices of things like dynamic time constants, EQ bandwidths and gains, reverb parameters and so on. And yes, many experienced clients notice and appreciate it too.

And that would be a logical fallacy called appeal to authority.

No one disputes it makes a difference. Only that you can not say one pane of glass is better than another when you come to the higher half of all glass panes.
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Re: A-D & D-A converters, budget vs high-end

Postby Logarhythm » Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:12 pm

hobbyist wrote:No one disputes it makes a difference. Only that you can not say one pane of glass is better than another when you come to the higher half of all glass panes.
Um, I think you probably can. Indeed it is probably actually much easier to compare panes of glass than a/d converters, considering solely the property of transparency that Hugh mentioned - simply point a monochromatic beam at it, sweep across wavelengths of 400-800nm, and the "best" glass is surely the one for which the absorption value integrated across the measured range is lowest.
And yes, as someone who spent more hours than I care to remember locked in a very dark room taking optical measurements of various nanoscale structures constructed on glass slides, I can assure you that there are applications for which this genuinely does make a difference. Admittedly probably not for the average domestic double glazing, but then this is all becoming curiously analogous to the difference between the a/d requirements of a top end studio and engineer, as compared to those of amateurs like me ;)
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Re: A-D & D-A converters, budget vs high-end

Postby hobbyist » Thu Aug 22, 2019 12:53 am

Logarhythm wrote:
hobbyist wrote:No one disputes it makes a difference. Only that you can not say one pane of glass is better than another when you come to the higher half of all glass panes.
Um, I think you probably can. Indeed it is probably actually much easier to compare panes of glass than a/d converters, considering solely the property of transparency that Hugh mentioned - simply point a monochromatic beam at it, sweep across wavelengths of 400-800nm, and the "best" glass is surely the one for which the absorption value integrated across the measured range is lowest.
And yes, as someone who spent more hours than I care to remember locked in a very dark room taking optical measurements of various nanoscale structures constructed on glass slides, I can assure you that there are applications for which this genuinely does make a difference. Admittedly probably not for the average domestic double glazing, but then this is all becoming curiously analogous to the difference between the a/d requirements of a top end studio and engineer, as compared to those of amateurs like me ;)

There are many other parameters to consider and that would say you cannot logically say which is best.

Your surely best is your opinion. I might prefer some uv filtering,
others may care about strength against breaking, and if your application makes a difference then that would make your choice different but not prove that any pane was THE best.
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Re: A-D & D-A converters, budget vs high-end

Postby Terrible.dee » Thu Aug 22, 2019 1:37 am

Elephone wrote:Thanks... but what is the actual observable difference though? Is it a type of distortion or is it low background noise, or both?

I mean, would it more important to use high-end converters for recording music with quieter passages, like say a solo violin piece (or if you want to record a pin drop) ...or is the result better in terms of fidelity to the actual programme waveforms (noise aside) or both?

Thanks.

WELL DONE!

You just asked the Emporer why he is naked.

All you are going to get is highly vague, subjective answers, that really aren't answers at all.

Sure, you can tell a "Difference" but that difference is not a standard objective quality, that becomes more pleasing as you spend more cash.

I KNOW I like my Audient converters (Which are Burr Brows) better than the Focusrite ones, but as I describe what I like better, it seems I am describing the results of an analog path I prefer, not better ADDA converters. I probably like the preamps better, because when I skip the pres and go straight to the converters from the insert, then I'm not so sure anymore, I'm still pretty sure I like the Audient (Burr Browns) better...but now it's "elusive"

Also, if you need to pull out a scope, to "Proove" it's better, then it isn't better, your slight bump at 90 hz doesn't impress me if it needs to be SEEN to make its self known.

All in all, I believe AD/DA converters to be one of many scams being pulled in all areas of business, where prestige and ego are skillfully tied to factors that do little but stroke the aforementioned locals.

Yes, converters DO improve here and there over the years, but not nearly as often as the industry tells you they do, they are also a CHEAP CHIP. If a new converter hits the market, and it makes things sound better, it won't be long till EVERYONE is using it, or a copy.

For that reason, it may be expedient to make sure you use somewhat "Up to date" converters, but blowing money on "Top of the line" AD/DA is money down the toilet. The analog path is where the money is....My advice: Forget converters, keep them up to date and invest in a great analog path too and from.
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Re: A-D & D-A converters, budget vs high-end

Postby hobbyist » Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:46 am

Terrible.dee wrote:
Elephone wrote:Thanks... but what is the actual observable difference though? Is it a type of distortion or is it low background noise, or both?

I mean, would it more important to use high-end converters for recording music with quieter passages, like say a solo violin piece (or if you want to record a pin drop) ...or is the result better in terms of fidelity to the actual programme waveforms (noise aside) or both?

Thanks.

WELL DONE!

You just asked the Emporer why he is naked.

All you are going to get is highly vague, subjective answers, that really aren't answers at all.

Sure, you can tell a "Difference" but that difference is not a standard objective quality, that becomes more pleasing as you spend more cash.

I KNOW I like my Audient converters (Which are Burr Brows) better than the Focusrite ones, but as I describe what I like better, it seems I am describing the results of an analog path I prefer, not better ADDA converters. I probably like the preamps better, because when I skip the pres and go straight to the converters from the insert, then I'm not so sure anymore, I'm still pretty sure I like the Audient (Burr Browns) better...but now it's "elusive"

Also, if you need to pull out a scope, to "Proove" it's better, then it isn't better, your slight bump at 90 hz doesn't impress me if it needs to be SEEN to make its self known.

All in all, I believe AD/DA converters to be one of many scams being pulled in all areas of business, where prestige and ego are skillfully tied to factors that do little but stroke the aforementioned locals.

Yes, converters DO improve here and there over the years, but not nearly as often as the industry tells you they do, they are also a CHEAP CHIP. If a new converter hits the market, and it makes things sound better, it won't be long till EVERYONE is using it, or a copy.

For that reason, it may be expedient to make sure you use somewhat "Up to date" converters, but blowing money on "Top of the line" AD/DA is money down the toilet. The analog path is where the money is....My advice: Forget converters, keep them up to date and invest in a great analog path too and from.

Thank you.

At least I think you agreed with me.
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Re: A-D & D-A converters, budget vs high-end

Postby Jack Ruston » Thu Aug 22, 2019 5:45 am

Spend money on the analogue stage...yes, like the analogue stage in your...converter.

Incidentally my converter uses a rather unusual chip, but your point that a lot are the same is absolutely right. But I'd suggest that there's a whole lot of stuff aside from the actual chip that makes the real difference to the sound of the box.
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Re: A-D & D-A converters, budget vs high-end

Postby Wonks » Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:40 am

Indeed. Take the same A/D chip, put it in two different analogue paths within the converter package and the end results will be different. An awful lot of the 'sound' depends upon the support circuitry, not the A/D chip itself.
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Re: A-D & D-A converters, budget vs high-end

Postby CS70 » Thu Aug 22, 2019 8:16 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:The well known pro-audio author Dr John Watkinson has suggested that, as the more advanced lossy data-codecs are based around a model of human hearing, they could actually form the basis of a more accurate means of assessing the quality/accuracy of audio equipment, sine they could reflect the things that we actually hear. I believe he was specifically considering loudspeakers when he made this suggestion.

Yes! It definitely would be possible to train some sort of classifier that way - there is enough consensus og what is "sound" and "artifact" that it would be well worth to try and see what happens.

Just thinking loud, if we hand-built a database of a few hundred lossy-encoded data files (say mp3s) classified into "good", "mediocre" or "bad" (there would be no problem to use the same song but encoded at different rates) we wouldn't really need any analytical model - the classifier would extract the relevant statistical properties during the training, based on the given classification. A key would be to find the relevant classes ("no artifacts", "good but with that type of artifact" etc) but the nice thing is these classes could be inferred by interviewing a sample of people who can recognize the differences.

Building and training such a classifier should be relatively straightforward. It could be possible to start with simple classes and just a few tracks, say ten, and see how the classifier does after being trained.

It could even be possible with unsupervised learning, but that's a bit tougher. Many years ago, as a pre-graduate student, I worked in a virtual group which used unsupervised-learning neural networks (a resurgent idea around 1994) to suggest new bands to people after they had listed the ones they liked - which is run of the mill now but back then was unheard of. Little we knew that Amazon would use the same idea a few years to great commercial success! :)
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Re: A-D & D-A converters, budget vs high-end

Postby Studio Support Gnome » Wed Sep 25, 2019 11:04 pm

Jack Ruston wrote: uses a rather unusual chip, .


Oooh do tell.... ?? Beetroot?? Sweet Potato ?? , Parsnip?? Celeriac? some sort of reconstituted lentil and quinoa derivative ??
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Re: A-D & D-A converters, budget vs high-end

Postby Tim Gillett » Thu Sep 26, 2019 4:54 am

Jack Ruston wrote:As an aside, on the quality Vs consumer issue...Universal are now demanding that all material is tracked at 96k. You're not supposed to just upsample your deliverables, but to start all projects at 96k. That's their new spec. They're worried about future formats, and how standard rates might be found lacking in future. I don't want to get into a discussion of whether that's useful, practical, easy to get around etc. The point is that that is the requirement. Not quite the same issue as the quality of conversion at standard rates, but it indicates a market demand for higher fidelity. (Tim's emphasis)

J

At least one classical seller is offering up to 192/24 downloads.

From their website: "24-bit FLACs (studio quality) are the highest quality we can offer. They are substantially superior to CD quality, i.e. even closer to the live experience. You will find many recent albums (and many more to come!) in this format." (my emphasis)

and this: "The sample rate of these files varies, depending on the rate that was used for the recording in question. It ranges up to 192 kHz, which may easily cause the file size for one such album to reach a gigabyte, despite the packing capacity of FLAC. So you need a fast internet connection to download such files, but they're worth it." (my emphasis)

This same website links to a high end audio gear retailer which gives what seems to be a selective account berating the limitations of 44.1/16 as a playback standard.
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