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Alesis AI-3 A/D Converter or suggestions?

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by therecordingart, Dec 25, 2004.

  1. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    I'm looking at getting an 8 analog input A/D converter that converts to ADAT Lightpipe. The AI-3 is looking tempting, and I can't afford an Apogee. Does any have anything to say about the AI-3? I've read mixed reviews online. Any suggestions under $1500?
  2. MisterBlue

    MisterBlue Guest

    Check out RME's ADI-8 PRO and ADI-8DS. I have been using the ADI-8 PRO and got significant improvements over Delta 1010 and Motu stuff. This unit should smoke the Alesis (although I admit that I have never tried it). It should also be in your price range (... well, just about).

    I'm sure there's other decent solutions.

  3. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2001
    I use an Ai3.
    A couple of years of good service ... reliable and well behaved in slave mode.

    Sound has a typical hyped Alesis feel but not the same as an Adat.

    I find the sound useful as a contrast to a 001 and a 96 I/O.
    Quite different to the B ADA-8000 ... which I also own.

    Could well be showing it's age now and the newer items on the market may offer equally good performance in slave mode with better sound.
  4. Johnjm22

    Johnjm22 Guest

    I have an M Audio Octane that I'm quite happy with. It's only $100 more than they Alesis plus you get 8 pres (each with it's own direct out) and 2 DI's. If you don't want to use the pres, it has 8 line inputs so you can go straight to the converters. Very versital unit.

    The converters are decent quality, I would think that they are just as good (probably better) than the AI-3's converters. It also has a Word Clock in, so if you get a good clock source sometime down the road you can make the Octane's converters sound even better.

    The pres also sound decent. They're clean and useable. I prefer them over my Digi 002 Focusrite pres.

  5. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    Great suggestion.....I completely forgot about that pre!
  6. Duardo

    Duardo Guest

    If you're looking at up to $1500, I'd look away from the Ai3 right away. You get what you pay for. It works, but you can do much better in the price range you're looking at.

    Frontier's Tango 24 is about $700 and sounds much better. The RME stuff is good as well. If you're looking at preamps as well, look at Focusrite's OctoPre...for about $1200 you get eight good preamps, eight decent compressor/limiters, and eight channels of surprisingly good conversion. It has eight dedicated (switchable) line inputs as well, so you can leave it wired into your patchbay when you use the microphone inputs or leave the microphones plugged in when you hook up the line inputs. It's also S/MUX compatible, so if 96kHz operation is something you want you'd have it (which you don't get with the Alesis or Frontier boxes).

  7. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    I agree with Duardo ... I have the AI3's and as soon as I complete my aqusition of mic pres, I will be looking at the Tango from Frontier ...

    The AI3's have a lower dynamic range (103 dB) and lower signal to noise than most other converters ... and they also clip at a lower level ... I learned this from Joe Malone when he was working on configuring a new JLM TMP8 pre's limiters for a review I will be conductiong on the newest version with the line / di inputs.. (yes he calibrates every TMP8's limiters for use with the converters you have). I still feel that good converters should be though about after the mics and pre amps are good enough to be taken adavantage of ... Nothing makes a bigger differenc IMO that the pres and mics ... Great conversion of a crap signal is just well converted crap.

    The AI3s are pretty good sounding and I am happy with the purchase ... but I look forward to the next level of converters now.
  8. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2001
    make Kurt an offer on his Ai3, and then he can upgrade.

    Get a bargain and use the saved money for a JLM TMP8 pre's limiters.

    I think I may have mentioned the lower operating level to Joe way back when I first got one. There is always a work around.
    Don't trust the spec sheet. Test everything and find out where the clip point is for yourself.
  9. veatch

    veatch Active Member

    Feb 16, 2004
    I kept my AI-3 to drive a headphone monitor amp. It's a decent unit, especially for the price, but as has been said, there are much better.

    I have a couple of old RAMSA WZ-AD96's that are quite good, in my opinion. They have 8 XLR in's and AES and ADAT out. Very clean, and up to 96kHz.

    The down side is they aren't being made anymore, but can be found used typically for around $700 to $800.

    If you can find the WZ-96ADm, it also has 8 mic pre's built in. Also pretty clean.

    Others here know a lot more than i do, but i think the RAMSA for $100 per converter is hard to beat price/performance wise....
  10. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    I'm keeping them .... I plan on expanding inputs by adding the Montana card ... and the extra ins and outs can be dedicated to 16 ADAT tape ins I use on remotes and for more send return loops at mix.

    Joe Malone told me the clip point on the AI3
    clips as +13dBM instead of Pro +18 to +24dBM.

    IOW this is small peanuts ... I really doubt that anyone would really notice the difference unless it was in an A/B test scenario .. in real world applications where they would be used in slave mode as Kev mentioned, the AI3's still sound very good considering they street for less than $400 ... like I said before good pres make more of a difference.
  11. iznogood

    iznogood Guest

    how can anyone use converters with a 17bit dynamic range in 2004???

    oh and kurt ... isn't that 18dBu for the protools???

    i think the only things measured in dBm is the -10 things (i think it easier to write than -11.78 dBu or whatever it is)

    go buy rme's .... you will not be dissapointed!
  12. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    (Joe Malone) wasn't speaking of ProTools ... he meant pro levels ..
    For rucks, I went to the Alesis site and copied the specs on the AI3


    Analog Input to Optical Output

    Signal To Noise (A-wtg.):
    100dB balanced, 100dB unbalanced

    Dynamic Range (-60dBfs, 1kHz):
    96dB balanced, 96dB unbalanced

    THD+Noise (-0.5dBfs, 1kHz):
    0.0025% balanced, 0.0023% unbalanced

    Frequency Response:
    20Hz - 20kHz, +0.05dB, -0.10dB balanced, +0.05dB, -0.15dB unbalanced

    Optical Input to Analog Output

    Signal To Noise (A-wtg.):
    98dB balanced, 98dB unbalanced

    Dynamic Range (-60dBfs, 1kHz): 95dB balanced, 95dB unbalanced

    THD+Noise (-0.5dBfs, 1kHz):
    0.0030% balanced, 0.0030% unbalanced

    Frequency Response:
    20Hz - 20kHz, ±0.1dB balanced, ±0.1dB unbalanced

    pretty respectable .. better than 16 bit CD and way better than 2" tape .. like I said, they work fine for me .. however I'm getting to the point where I have all the front end I can use so it's time to start looking to the TANGO for better converter performance.

    RME doesn't have the features I want and for me are a bit too expensive .. I'm wanting to stay with the Dakota card I already have and I need 16 channels on a lightpipe .. I'll be adding the Montana card and using the AI3's into that ... This will give me 32 channels of in and outs .. 16 of which will have better dynamic range and signal to noise ..
  13. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Fredericksburg, VA
    Lots of good points here, but it looks like there's about to be a quibble over numbers and specs - and let's face it, the manufacturers bend the numbers anyway they can.

    I largely agree with Kurt on this one, bad mic+bad pre=bad signal no matter what converter is in the chain. But with a decent signal, the differences in AD conversion are as plain as night and day. The recommendation for both the Tango and the RAMSA are strong recommendations. I personally use the RAMSA and find it to be one of the best values in conversion anywhere. If you wanna talk spec's, it's got 'em, and damn good ones too.

    They are seeking a slightly higher price nowadays though because of demand - a lot of people are starting to realize how good they are, and since there aren't that many in circulation, the price is climbing. Expect to pay $1000 for the version with mic pres (which, BTW, will slaughter any of the focusrite and M-Audio all-in-one boxes.) and about $800 for the non-mic pre version.

    Somewhere out on the web is a review comparing the WZ-AD96M (mic pre version) against a Millennia pre with an Apogee Rosetta. They ultimately liked the Millennia/Apogee combo better, but it was by a slight margin. Considering that the Millennia/Apogee combo costs more per channel than the entire RAMSA unit costs, I'd say it's a good value. (But you don't believe everything you read on-line, do you :? )

    Having had the opportunity to hear the RAMSA as well as most every other kind of AD on the market, (commercially available that is) I won't be trading my RAMSA in until I can move up to Meitner or Prism - all others just don't seem to justify the price difference. (Although, I have yet to hear the new Lynx stuff - very excited. That is pretty close to fitting into your price point.)

  14. iznogood

    iznogood Guest

    i don't know how i read "pro levels" as "protools"

    i was a bit tired.....

    but.... the ai-3 claims to a 24bit converter!!!!

    it can never be!!!

    with the specs you copied it can only perform as a 16bit a/d!!!

    96dB dynamics exactly equals 16 CD! (or maybe 16.5 s/n)

    so no.... it's NOT pretty respectable....

    the rme has a s/n of 117dB in the a/... that equals 19.5 bit!! some of the best 24bit a/d's go to 21bit (lavry gold) but most has max 20bit s/n

    i know that 16bit has less noise than 2".... that's why i spend alot of time cleaning up tracks in protools and gating...

    but that doesn't mean that we should settle for less than 20bit...... it all sums up....80 tracks at 16bit can be really noisy!!

    i think it's fair to say 24bit is here to stay...

    that doesn't mean the alesis is unuseable.... as eg. the extra 8 channels for returning that noisy dp/4 or something like that....

    but to recommend it..... :shock:

    don't know about the ramsa i've never liked any of their products so i couldn't say.... all i know is that the rme kicks ass on most things.... including digi 96i/o

    panasonic in general made great dat's.... and dat's it! :lol:

    i agree that it is important to have great mic's and pre's..... but an a/d colors EVERYTHING you put into your system.... and the d/a colors every judgement you take about your mixes..... that's pretty important to me.... second only to the quality of your monitoring!!!

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