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good multichannel A/D converters?

Discussion in 'Converters / Interfaces' started by Exsultavit, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. Exsultavit

    Exsultavit Active Member

    Folks-

    I have been using the converters that come standard with my HD24 (I typically run 44.1k, using an external clock) for some time. No real complaints, but I am thinking of upgrading my converters.

    I am looking for a single space unit (yes, this is a remote rig) that will do 16 or even 24 ch AD. Eight channels won't do it, as I typically run between 8 and 16 channels.

    I am looking for what are considered upper end manufacturers. What brands might you include in this club? Lavry has an 8 channel unit (yes, only eight) and I'm not sure what Benchmark has in this line... others?

    Thanks, folks!
     
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    You don't say whether you want the converters to feed the ADAT inputs of the HD24 or if you are jumping ship and going to an audio interface connected to a portable computer of some sort.

    In good-quality external converter boxes, there isn't a huge amount of choice for 16 channels in 1U height. In addition to the ones you mentioned, the Lynx Aurora 16 is a reasonable unit and has modular interface adaptors, so you could get it with ADAT and migrate to USB (or some other interface) at a later date without ditching the converters.

    Have you considered using an EC-2 kit to upgrade your HD24 to an HD24XR? The converters in the XR are every bit as good as those in most of the upper-end interface units, and produce noticible a improvement over the standard HD24 at 44.1/48KHz in addition to the ability to record at 88.2/96KHz when required. An EC-2 kit is, unfortunately, not easy to find these days, as it (and the HD24XR) was discontinued a couple of years ago, despite still being shown as current on the Alesis website. It requires zero additional rack height as it replaces the converter boards in the HD24, and you get 24 channels.
     
  3. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    I know there's a lot of folk's who'll disagree, but the HD24 or the HD24XR are the real deal for remote work. The only other choices I'd consider for remote work are the Tascam X-48MkII, the JoeCo Blackbox or a RADAR 48.

    Taking converters and lappy on the road... sure, there's quite a few folks doing it... and a few even have few failures with em'... but the majority of folks not running stand-alone rigs have some pretty scary tales to tell about their prosumer and professional level rigs.

    In the last several years of multitrack remote wok, I've had a coupla' drives give me a fit, but I ALWAYS carry extra drives... and thus have not has a single failure in 4 years.

    IMHO, unless you're doing higher end remote sessions, I'd stick with stand alone recorders... and even then, there's more folks who use stand alones in broadcast quaility situations than don't.
     
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I'm gonna agree with Max on this one.

    Recently, I did a remote at a live venue (300 seater) where the performer was singing and playing acoustic guitar.

    I took my laptop, (Sonar) my audio I/O (Tascam) and a bag full of various dynamics, condensers and various odds and ends adapters.

    I ended up taking a split from the FOH before it hit the house console - not wanting to chance dealing with a post signal from the console and having any changes the FOH engineer made effecting the signal being sent to me.

    I ended up running these direct lines to 3 ins of the Tascam I/O (one lead vocal and two for guitar - L and R outs of a Line 6 Pod)

    I then placed two mics in an XY array out front, in close proximity to the FOH mixing position. I ran these two lines to 2 other inputs on the Tascam, and assigned them to three inputs in Sonar... 2 mono for the individual mics and one stereo track for the XY sum.

    So, what I ended up with was 6 discreet tracks total in Sonar, 5 mono and 1 stereo.

    I was very happy with the results BUT... if I had had access to a stand alone like the HR24, I would have much rather gone this route.

    Now, the downside to that is that I would have also needed a separate mixer to get the mic signals to the stand alone recorder, but, truthfully, I would need this anyway...

    Why? Because I got very lucky this time, in that I was working with a very obliging FOH engineer, who went out of his way to give me what I needed in terms of splits at the board and such, but I recognize that this wouldn't always be the case, and I'd be better off running my own mixer in the long run if I was to do this type of gig on a regular basis.

    Although, knowing my luck, I would have probably still run the laptop rig as well as a safety backup. ;)

    I was lucky. No bumps, hiccups or glitches. I delivered the wave files to the producer and they are happy.

    But, if I was going to make a habit of doing remote work, I would invest in a mixer and a stand alone recorder, as Max mentioned, for this purpose.

    fwiw

    -d.
     
  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    If using stand-alone recorders such as the Alesis HD24XR, you need pre-amps if you are using your own mics or if you are taking mic splits, but you don't need a mixer, at least not in the recording signal chain. For headphone monitoring in the venue, I use a simple line mixer that has only level, pan, solo and mute for each channel, and feed it from the analog outs of the HD24XR. In this way, I know at least that my signals are present and correct at the digital level, since the HD24XR analog outs are re-constituted from the converted inputs.

    For monitoring MS mics while recording the M and S channels, I use an insert lead from the HD24XR analog output of the S channel going to the L and R of a stereo channel on the mixer, which I set at 6dB greater level than the mono M channel. This trick does not work with a standard HD24, as the outputs on that are impedance balanced and not signal balanced.
     
  6. Exsultavit

    Exsultavit Active Member

    Thanks for the replies!

    You don't say whether you want the converters to feed the ADAT inputs of the HD24 or if you are jumping ship and going to an audio interface connected to a portable computer of some sort.

    Boswell- I am currently thinking both. Let me explain:

    My HD24 has been both my A/D and my safety up to now. I have been using it's A/D conversion, recording onto it as a backup, and take (live) the litepipe outs to feed the inputs of my computer, where I record all the tracks from the HD24 and also (live) create an automated mix on the PC. That is sent to a CD recorder. I then hand the CD to the talent after the show.

    My objective would be to upgrade my conversion. If I get the right box, it will have dual outputs to feed the HD24 (still a backup) and the PC.

    I would love to have a small mobile unit instead of this larger rig, but my clients and I are used to having more than 8 tracks live- often 16 to 24. The Metric Halo, Sound Design, and other units are not enough tracks, though I would love to see a 16 or 24 tk version of such a box. If I could afford.

    Using the EC-2 kit to convert the existing HD24 sounds like a good idea- the lest disruptive of my choices, in terms of kit. Can you tell me where to look for this? Will it work on an HD24, or only an HD24XR?
     
  7. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    The EC-2 is the kit that converts a standard HD24 into an HD24XR. Although now discontinued, it is still available if you look around. Musicians' Friend has a couple of units for $799 BIN on Ebay US at the moment. In terms of value in your application, let's just say that you would not get that number of channels at that conversion quality any other way for that sort of money.

    Nevertheless, you ought, of course, to look as well at alternative solutions. So, other units you might look at include the JoeCo BBR1 Black Box recorder, which will record up to 24 line-input channels at 96KHz to a USB disk drive. It also will record to a USB pen drive, but probably not that number of channels at that speed to standard pen drives.

    Also in the frame is the RME UFX, again recording to an external USB drive. It has 4 good pre-amps, 8 additional line inputs and 2 ADAT inputs plus S/PDIF, so assuming you are already using analog-output pre-amps, you would need only a further 4 channels of ADAT-output pre-amps to meet your requirements.
     
  8. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    How is the installation process for the EC-2? I'm not doing many remote gigs right now, but I've always regretted cheaping out and getting the HD24 instead of the HD24XR.
     
  9. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    It's not more than a half-hour job. That's assuming your wrist does not give up during the unscrewing and subsequent re-tightening of 48 TRS jack nuts.
     
  10. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    It's an interesting calculation. The difference between used HD24s and HD24XRs on eBay is less than the $800 of an EC-2. Of course, I know where my unit has been and the EC-2 is new.
     
  11. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    The other factor to take into account when considering upgrading an HD24 to an HD24XR is the condition of the power supply, and it's not easy to judge this without detailed measurements when looking at an HD24 to upgrade. I've seen HD24s that work fine with the original boards but their slightly tired power supply gives up when asked to deliver the additional power that the XR analog boards need. However, it's reasonable to assume the power supply of an already working HD24XR is in a good state.
     
  12. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I have been on the HD 24 group since I purchased my XR, when it was introduced. That upgrade has worked well for some and has been fraught with other issues for others. And those original converters aren't great but they certainly aren't horrible either. Totally livable. Totally usable. High-end sound? Of course not. Quality sound? You bet. Even without the upgrade. Not quite as articulate sounding as the XR but perfectly fine for rock 'n roll. And certainly if you plug-in to it, decent microphone preamps instead of a Mackie or, Barringer, that quality will come through those standard HD 24 converters. And with the XR and less than stellar preamps, what difference is it going to make? I think you're confused?

    It's a front end that counts. Microphones, the preamps. The converters are secondary. So what's it going to be?

    I think people want better equipment because they are displeased with their own engineering technique?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  13. Exsultavit

    Exsultavit Active Member

    Remy (and others)-

    Thanks for your posts. I appreciate the service that my HD24 has done for me. It has been rock-solid, and that is saying a lot in a live recording situation. I also appreciate, Remy, you reminding me that the mics, mic placement, and the preamps (not to mention the players) all trump the converters.

    I am always trying to find another improvement in my rig. If I had more $$, my current solution would be:

    -JoeCo Black Box converting the output of my Millennia Media preamps to 24 tracks of dig, (instead of my HD24s converters)
    -the JoeCo outputs the material to a drive (currently saved to the drive on the HD24)
    -while the signal is also passed out the AES outputs to my computer. (My HD24 does this now, VIA lightpipe)

    So I could

    switch from HD24 converters to JoeCo (improved sound)
    have access to 96k (currently record to 44.1), (another good step)
    go to my PC VIA AES-EBU instead of lightpipe (another good step, allowing more tracks at higher sample rate)

    To do this, I estimate it would be about....$6,000.

    Given my $$ situation (poor, these days), it would be imprudent to spend that money to achieve this.

    Remy- thanks for reminding me that my Klaus Heyne modded Neumanns, my DPAs, headed to the Millennia preamps are well spent dollars. I'll do the next upgrade when I can swing it. For now, I will do what a sane businessman does and work hard to please my clients. The fancy-pants guys are always willing to rent anyway.
     
  14. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I actually know a lot of top studios, where everything extra is rented. They have your average stock of high-end studio stuff but not everything. They even rent the multitrack machines for whatever the client wants. They have Ampex MM 1200's but if the client wants a Studer, they rent a Studer. Want two Studer's? No problem. Want to synchronizer to lock them together? It's another rental. Want a Royer ribbon and all they have are RCA's? They rent those also. And charge the client accordingly. No problems for folks that have a real budget. Most don't. And the ones that don't? They don't go to him or them. They go to little Bobby's basement studio. And use whatever Bobby has in his basement. And that's all. On one particular gig I did, the client wanted 32 tracks. So I had to rent a couple of extra digital eight track machines that matched mine. So I've had a good rapport with a couple of professional audio dealers and PA companies. I've rented equipment from them. And they have rented equipment from me such as microphones and other things. I just really wasn't happy when they rented my AKG 414's, which were black, with their original rigid microphone stand mounts. I got back silver colored rigid microphone stand mounts from some other pair of 414's they were also using. So they found mine. And we swapped back after much apologies from them. No problem. And I would have lived with those silver colored mounts if I had to without any real misgivings. Now had it been the microphones they swapped, that would definitely not do. And I'd likely would have never rented them anything ever again. So you really must be careful when you do things like that.

    However, had they rented my Neumann 67's and had inadvertently given me back a pair of original 47's? I'd likely not have said anything LMAO. Actually though, I wouldn't rent those out without at least a $7000 deposit. So I don't rent those out. Never have and likely never will. I might be more inclined to rent those out in a place like Nashville? But only to those that can afford that deposit.

    You can Rent anything if ya have the money.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  15. Exsultavit

    Exsultavit Active Member

    Yes- I do like the folks who like all the best and want to rent it.

    If I OWNED 24 channels of, say, Lavry, I would not make much money from that, as a client would expect to get them along with the rest of my kit when they hired me. If they hire me and need that stuff on TOP of my kit, then I rent it from someone and take a mark-up.

    Nevertheless, I like (for my own ears) the best I can swing. If I can come up with 5,500 or 6,000, I can get the above perks for my clients and crow about it to whomever listens. But it is not a good business move from a dollars spent point of view.
     
  16. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Suffice it to say, some of the best engineers in the world have owned their own studios. Multiple times because they went out of business multiple times. And they've got all of the contacts and all those gold and platinum records but most creative people are lousy business people including myself. And it's because of the passion for our work that many people over extend themselves financially. And being certain they would see a return on their investment. But they don't and didn't. And that was the end of that studio. Then they moved. They set up another studio. And the same thing happened again elsewhere. After three or four times, they've either retired, packed it in or, had their fill of designing and building their studios LOL. And that's kind of where I am right now today. And while it's still hurts, I can't really feel all that badly. The same thing is happening to me that has happened to countless others in this business, if you can call it that today? Much of it is as you make it. But you really cannot compensate for what might happen in the future?

    In many ways it's rather sad. My 1974 vintage analog console, which is actually quite limited in its capabilities is still worth quite a pretty penny. Whereas a much newer, 48 input digital version, one can now get virtually dirt cheap. In fact I actually saw two of those, together both, for $36,000. They were like $150,000 each just a couple of years ago. And nobody wants them today because they are no longer " state of the art ". And my 1974 version, is LOL. Because it ain't digital. And that really fine $36,000 + analog 24 track recorder, is still worth at least $5000 if not more. The FoofFighters like them. Do you like the way they are stuff sounds don't ya? And it's all analog. Old stuff. Old technology. Old consoles. Old recorder. Old microphones. New speakers. So I guess it's the speakers that made it sound good right? Speakers record things right? No? You mean I've been doing it wrong all of these years?

    Thanks for correcting me on that.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  17. Exsultavit

    Exsultavit Active Member

    Yes, it it amazing how the old stuff holds it's value- if it was a good piece to begin with. My Neumann U67s and M269s are better than owning stock, and I can use them while the value appreciates! Same for the KM84s and KM86s. The analog stuff will always be needed. I buy digital stuff only when I cannot avoid upgrading, as it will never hold it's value if you buy it new. If you buy it used, it's inexpensive, but already out of date.

    There is always the lust for the latest thing. But if one's gear is up to at least a decent standard, the main way to improve your sound is to learn how to use that gear really well. Contant upgrades (if you can afford them) means that you have to keep learning the quirks and characteristics of your new system, instead of concentrating on the sound and the music and the players.

    That said, I wouldn't mind upgrading the comverters. First thing, it seems, is to set up a listening test between Lavry, Benchmark, JoeCo, Lynx, and see if there is one I like best. Blind tests will tell me quite a bit (they are a pain to set up, but relatively cheap to do), amd possibly save me a lot of money.
     

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