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DAWbench - Reference Benchmarks

Discussion in 'Recording' started by audiokid, Mar 28, 2013.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    And the winner is, exactly what I use for tracking and hybrid stem mixing. However, sound quality and clocking is a different animal and not to be confused over these test results. I use a Prism Orpheus for capturing my 2-bus and as you can see, its way down on the list. When you buy a converter/interface, you should be choosing it for a specific task and test results like this may not be a concern. QS' are $3000 for 8 channels and I need 3 of them plus two interface's, that's over $10,000 for 24 channels. I think Lavry might have been close on that one.
    I chose the ADI-8 QS and PCIe interface for OTB mixing because I read low latency was paramount. But after having a "complete" hybrid summing rig and the monitor controller that makes most sense, I then discovered lowest latency wasn't as big a deal. Why? I don't do the "Round Trip" that 99% of the sheep and misinformed are doing when implementing analog gear. One way, two computers and analog in the middle spells, who cares about all that latency hype..

    So, I could have chosen something like Lavry for sound and put way less importance on latency. But, the QS's are no slouch either, I needed the interface for MIDI and I do like the other feature they have for reasons beyond these test. But, just saying, converter latency is more important if you are on a budget and mixing back and forth on the same computer on the same session ( the round trip).

    Not sure how old these test are , I see they are missing the Lavry Blacks which i just love and the new Orion32 but its still interesting.

    DAW Bench : DAW Performance Benchmarking

  2. Paul999

    Paul999 Active Member

    I am very intrigued by the 2 computer notion that you mentioned to me a while back and again here. For me there are too many negatives for my work flow that I can't get past but it does solve a ton of problems.
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Hey Paul, its always a pleasure finding you on RO.

    Not sure how you are doing it all, or even if my method is right for you but those who work off of a second system, usually never go back to an all in one system again. Some use a DSD , I personally choose Sequoia because its where my finalizing mastering tools sit right before the web. DSD still had to be SRC , a step backwards so I sold my DSD a few months back and now have two DAW's instead..
    We all have our way to paint a picture per-say so who's to say what picture looks best when it comes to art hanging on a wall.
    But sound quality and workflow, the two computer system is pretty awesome, no return for me.

    The 2nd DAW is like replacing a 2" two track and monitoring everything from tracking to mastering on the output of the second DAW, which is what we hear online. So, we keep that in focus and start off with our ear there. Its simple when you look at it like that. All the analog processing sits in the middle of both systems and is connected to the console via your choice of patchbay and cabling.

    We should compare sometime. Results are what make us change and/or merge new methods. Once in a while I find something new that just fits, this was one of them for me.

    We don't share enough of our work around here.
  4. Paul999

    Paul999 Active Member

    This is a great subject and not easy to test setup wise. I do know that no matter what method I use my mixes get progressively better. A little more then a year ago I was mixing where I routed all my tracks out to analog and then summed to 2 channels in my daw. I understand the latency argument and I don't value conversion in the same way you do so science is out the window in a comparative way.

    From an imperical level I do know that useing my computer as a multi track device and conditioning device pre analog sounds great! It also thought me to not over process because things sit better and easier.
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    If I understand you correctly, I think you may be confusing my methodology on converters with SRC? Although, once you are at this crazy level, I can clearly hear the difference between converters and how they translate too. Things like deeper bass, more forward mids that don't sound as honky and silkier top are the majors. The less need for EQ even workflow is mins, not hours to get it done..
    But clocking, cabling, power and the summing system also have to be up to it par so its becomes an issue of everything quality and baby steps sooner or later or forget it. And for the people testing the waters, if you cannot hear it, its never going to be audible for the half way there looking for a taste in hybrid anyway so this concept all becomes a mystery with a big price tag followed by..., is it really better and is it worth it.
    I would hope most people never do this so my business becomes worth paying for the service. The cost for something like this is well over 100 thousand so sharing the knowledge is not something I worry about taking about either. Its all good. Gear does matter.

    That being said, the second DAW Is more than converter conversion, it allows the ability to monitor on the second box where it counts while totally avoiding all SCR. This provides a more open and unscathed analog image that saves to the second DAW more true to the analog sound.. There is something to this that one can only experience in your own system with it all in operation. I never monitor on the session DAW anymore. Even if its a two track thing I'm doing for someone. I still turn on the full system and study the mix that way.

    I love you honesty on how your mixes get better each day. A year ago to now, I wish I could redo everything I've done lol. Maybe next year I will be 100% back ITB. Who knows...
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Agree. The only way I engage this now is by taking a mix that would be someones best shot and doing it again on this system. Shootouts are a joke. When I see people on the slutz doing these ITB vs OTB shootouts I shake my head. Almost all have very basic systems and do the round trip so it will never be anything more than a crap shoot of who's hearing what right and all that goes with half assed results to bad opinions based on bad monitoring. I've seen members favour duplicate tracks simply because one was louder than the the other exact track.

    So, if anyone wants to see what a big Mix could sound like, I always suggest they give me a mix that they have done their best and I will try and out do it. That's the only way I do comparisons and to judge it for yourself.

    I also think sharing our tracks online like we're doing more of on Track Talk, and talking about what we do, getting other opinions is always helpful. That is, if the opinions are coming from people who actually have accurate monitoring systems and tuned rooms. I've found a pattern here with some members who cannot hear bass because of the obvious. Or give a comment to only discover later that they are listening to a mix on a laptop in bedroom or on a home stereo system with subs lol.. I'm guilty of that too. So, who do we really believe.

    So, doing it the way I suggest , remixing the clients track removes most of the subjective issues. If it sounds good to them before and even better after, its about as close to the truth as we can get.
  7. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Thanks for taking the time to post the data. Very informative.

    I am also sold on your routing - treating a second "target" PC as a "half track". I haven't done it yet, mainly because I don't have the hybrid summing rig that you do with the slew of outboard gear, so there has been no reason for me to leave the box, so to speak, but it sure makes sense in your case - at which point I can see that converter quality would take a far higher priority than latency. It must be nice to have that kind of freedom when making your choice(s).

    You mentioned that you liked the Lavry but that it wasn't on the list...So, a question.. (or a confirmation?) Have you found that, because latency isn't a huge concern for you, and because you can base your choices on sonic integrity alone, that there are others that stand out in terms of converter quality/general fidelity? With the units you have used over time, have you found these differences to be subtle or substantial? And while we shouldn't completely disregard specs, I'm referring more to your ears... what you heard....

  8. Paul999

    Paul999 Active Member

    This would seem to be comparing your engineering ability to the clients engineering ability more then putting gear head to head.

    Gear does matter to me for sure. I am not a very science type person and my methodology over the years could have easily been a problem. My method has quite simply been that if I am paying for it I want to hear the difference in a blind test and I want to pick it out as a clear favorite time and again. Tuned rooms or not good cables or not good monitors or not I should be able to hear a difference that means something. On my "camping" recording rig(rme baby face, Krk monitors I can hear a difference between low end and mid level Convertors and prefer the more expensive ones all day long but high end Convertors such as my API A2D there is a difference but more of a sideways move when comparing to "mid level" conversion. Pre amps have been much the same story for me. I love my API's but often my lowly D&R console pres win out. My audient pres that most people dismiss are very clear and are not plagued with the issues of mud and smear that low end pres are plagued with. I sold my shadow hills pres simply because I could not justify keeping a pre in a lunch box when an eq will do way more for me and my other pres are fine. All this stuff is obvious to me on computer monitors and through my studio system.

    I guess I am not convinced that your are not taken in by the hype of expensive gear. I've been there done that and will probably do it again. My policy now is I will pay if I hear a difference.

    How does all this fit with the fact that many major label records are now totally ITB and sound killer, fat, warm, and all the other words we like to use?

    I would love to hear your listening tests on your system sometime. I do travel to your neck of the woods from time to time. I promise I'm not a Psycho:).
  9. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'm getting the Orion32 here soon, this may be a game changer and if it is, we're going to be seeing a lot more people go OTB. 32 AD DA channels for under $3000, that's going to change everything.
    I haven't tested a lot of converters but what I've noticed is obvious. Better converters just sound better and translate better with more tracks. Like everything else, once you hear that sweet sound and you see how everything sits in a mix, you know it and can never forget it.

    To explain the difference it might be like a comparing a cheep mic to a high end. Low end converters sound tinny and don't handle transients the same and the imaging is closer together. The low freq also sound more AM radio like. But, I'm reading this is more to do with the clock and as we all know, clocks have improved substantially since this all started.

    I don't have the answer for tomorrow but what I have works really well right now. Before the ADI-8 QS's I had the FF800. They are great but there was a difference. Before that I had Pro Tools and there was even more of a difference. Comparing Lavry to Prism, not enough to ever fester over. It starts to become a thing of preference and stability. Both have pre's in them. The pre's in higher end sound better too. The pre's in a FF 800 sound pretty lame compared. So, this is why both the Blacks and Orpheus are great for mobile work. The converters are transparent, handle all acoustic info with prisision and the mic pre's are right on too. So, for classical work, what a great package!

    So, if you are surfing gearslutz and thinking about converters, reading opinions and see what the classical mobile guys are using, you might not be buying what's best for you because they are clearly basing there opinions on the ease of it all plus the pre's. No what I mean?

    The last choral recording I did, I used a Prism Orpheus, the time before I used a Lavry Black. I loved both recordings but the Black was more stable and integrated into my Laptop without a click. Plug and play. The Orpheus gave me some clicks and was effected by things I still do not know. But sound wise, wow, how sweet and true.

    The Orpheus is on my mastering bus, which is connected to the second DAW works flawlessly there so what's up with that.
    I don't like the Orpheus control panel and Lavry doesn't even have one.

    The RME mixer is amazing but I never use it. I don't need it. But when I was learning about converters, everyone raved about it so I thought I must need it. No one has a hybrid system so most of the things people rave about are meanless to me. I think to myself, what a wonderful world ... simple and modular is all I need. Less bells and whistles the better.

    Hope that helps some.
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Hey Paul, and others lurking,

    I'll keep try and keep this one short and to the point. If I could say this in a paragraph, I would.

    I'm sure you are right about all the past music this last decade being mixed ITB but it also sounds like it. But, I think a huge part of that was MP3 and brickwall limiting.

    I think the days of ITB only is quickly becoming a thing of the past for the upper crust. The ITB studio is nothing special. They are a dime a dozen and sound like it. But, I know ITB is the ultimate for electronic based audio and post and/or "traditional" Mastering which I also think is in transition once again. I think hybrid studios are the whole package and would pretty much guarantee my master will sound better and louder through my rig than one solely mastered 100% ITB, most of the time.. That is especially true if I was able to use the stems to master or finish. I don't like the term master anymore. I think I am finishing music now. But, stem mixing isn't always feasible or palatable either. What I'm saying here is, hybrid makes a better master if you are able to mix it deeper into the session and fix or open up the pro tools sound deeper in the mix so that the finished product sound better and louder online. Phase is a big game changer here. Its why I bought the Neos and use two computers.

    I don't think we realize how much music is actually remixed after it leaves most recording studios; commercially successful music that is. There is a sound you know didn't happen in some local studio that commercial music has. This I am 100% sure of.

    For acoustic music, ITB and low end everything just doesn't cut it the same. However, if music is your basic band, well then who cares really about fidelity. I mean, we are hearing amp buzz, mic bleed, out of tune musicians, bad rooms etc so why would we even invest in anything like what I have. So, when we read forums, maybe these are the opinions from project studios talking. Hybrid then becomes a thing of, it may be fun but who cares right. What I have is for people who want loud and big sounding mixes.


    Regarding engineering skill playing a part: I have done many tests without touching an EQ. The audible difference is obvious.

    But also keep in mind, without trying to brag and just saying it like it is, I have without a question, one of the worlds finest hybrid summing system money can buy. I might be the only person in Canada with something like this right now and one of only a few in the USA.
    Plus, I don't think people are doing the 2 DAW circle either. This is more a mastering process. The hybrid rig is a mastering system that we use to track and mix but think like a ME.

    What I'm sharing here isn't old news, its news that you all are hearing for the first time. If serial numbers count, I am one of 38 who own a Neos in the World. Mine was built for me. NOTE: I don't think I am the best, I just think I am using one of the best systems money can buy, and the method in which I go about it all, has an impact on everything. This is all I'm saying.

    The advantages of the 3 step system isn't just in sound quality. Workflow and no latency monitoring is in this as well. The whole package makes sense and sounds better than 100% ITB.

    Regarding gear:

    No disrespect intended to the general mass here, but, general consensus, people who say gear doesn't matter are usually the people who don't have good gear or whom have never had great gear in the first place or whom cannot afford it. The mass will never be able to afford what I have so its not going to be discussed like Pro Tools or plug-ins.

    I also think a lot of the older engineers that claim ITB is just as good now, are actually suffering from hearing loss and/or may not be a smart and hip as they once were. Its not an easy thing to comprehend for the Pro Toolers that don't need to think about configuring it all. ITB is simple. Buy a computer, DAW and plug-in play. Simple and easy. ITB isn't special, it works and paves the way for hybrid mixing services.

    Its easy for us to forget what analog sounded like back in the day. However, the older consoles are also not designed like the summing amps today so its no doubt why we have varied opinions. Consoles are noisy, cumbersome, expensive to maintain and do not integrate into the DAW environment well. I could live without my rig but I would miss it indefinitely and I would forget ever thinking I could produce the sound I get OTB.

    One of the coolest pieces of gear I have, which was designed for hybrid mixing is the Dangerous Monitor ST. That is one cool product.

    Sorry for any typo's. I'm slammed all the time. Hope this inspires a few more interested in making better mixes for me to mix. thumbs up!
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    For fun:

    NOTE: I re recorded an original track off of soundcloud and took 10 min to track and re upload it. Most of the time was consumed over the setup and upload back to soundcloud. Because its a recording of a recording, my version should sound inferior on all counts to the mastered version.


    Mastered ITB Version by one of our ME members:

    Mine OTB with NO serious engineering skills, just gear.

    Original recorded directly off of soundcloud (not downloaded) tracked ITB on DAW #1> DA to Neos > AD and back to DAW #2 and uploaded here.. :

    Standard Simple Analog Process.

    No EQ,

    2.1 compression

    Took 10 mins. If I actually got serious, I would have downloaded the full bandwidth track, spent 20 mins on it and fixed the wooly Vox. However, this is to demonstrate no engineering skills from someone who is not an ME under the worst possible conditions ( a recording of a recording off the web)..

    If this was the actual mix and I could deep deeper, betting, the difference would be astonishing. Gear does matter. Its all about gear, electricity then brains. The hardest part was figuring out what gear to buy and how to pay for it all, lol.

    What do you think?

  12. blaumph2cool

    blaumph2cool Active Member

    First thing i noticed about your version Chris is that the vocal, to my ears, seems to sit better in the mix. Can deffinitely hear the "room" in your version.
  13. thewonders

    thewonders Active Member

    The vocal is clearer, but the first thing that stood out for me were the horns... nice! :)

    BTW, great informative posts, audiokid. I'd enjoy hearing more A/B comparisions with different styles of music if you ever get the time. :wink:
  14. Paul999

    Paul999 Active Member

    My control room is under a massive Reno so I can't listen until Tuesday or Wednesday. I can't wait to hear.
  15. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Just want to put in a bit of an objective point of view here.(there is nothing objective here. purely subjective) The original was fine. Version two added some nice sparkle without killing it too much. Chris, your version is nice as well but it is also the loudest of the three and honestly, it's a bit harsh sounding to me. Version two is a happy medium IMHO. The engineer seems to have been able to increase perceived loudness without crushing the dynamics. I understand that your version was a quickie and I take that into consideration. I'm sure with a bit more time you could sort it out just fine.
  16. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Hi Hue,

    Interesting perspective.

    NOTE, mine is also a recording of a recording so it is already distorted and soundcloud effected x2 plus the added conversions to get it into my system and back out, where the others were full bandwidth before they were uploaded. If I used the original, like the original and master is, it would sound amazing. But I wanted to use the worst case for this. Soundcloud enables you to turn the volumes down to match. Maybe try that.
    Even this being a recording off of soundcloud, I think the analog version is by far superior.

    I think Laurend would be happy to hear this though because he used his automated mastering software to process it. I don't think other ME will appreciate that though. But it is pretty cool up to a point. The Master is done on an automated program that wasn't done by a human in any way ( if I understand that correctly). So it actually wasn't really Mastered IMHO. I found low freq humps in it and the vocals to me, sound poorly mixed to the music. The brass on the two versions are way too hot so I used a 2.1 comp for that. I think it really improved the horns!
    I personally feel that the analog processing I did, glued the Vox and music much better together. If I actually got serious, I would have used some eq. As is, I never used any EQ. Its flat to the original so it would be impossible to say that the analog actually added harshness. The harshness is the lossy effect.

    The vocals and brass are more life and the room sounds much better to my ears as well. To me, the difference is much better. And this was a recording of a recording!

    Your opinion is appreciated, thanks, Hue.

    And to the others, a big thanks! I'm glad you hear the difference. :)

    Please keep the comments coming!
  17. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    I see. I didn't catch that the first two were from full bandwidth. I thought the second "master" was also from the download. I agree that the vox in version two are thin as are the horns. Maybe the increase in volume just accentuated the harshness that was already there.
  18. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Double check my last post again Hue, just in case you missed a few more details. I edited it a few times .
  19. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Remember, No EQ. and another 4 conversions after the master. AD > DA> AD> Upload >Soundcloud code.

    It should sound horrendous after all those conversions. And it actually sounds pretty darn good. This is the power of analog.

    Volume can fool us or disort our perception so here is the same analog version lowered in volume to match closer to the master:

    Laurend has made the original available to us so I'm going to redo this at full bandwidth next.
  20. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Moving along, evolving without any solid plan, learning and discovering as we go...

    Image 1.

    The mastered version is on top, bottom version is the 4th generation original , no EQ but was compressed 2.1 and ran through an analog summing system (Neos).
    Transients have been preserved in the analog version, Mastered version, only slightly louder has been brickwalled and I also hear a phasing issues in it.


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