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Help spend my $$$. Lynx,RME, & Pres

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by Sidney, Nov 24, 2003.

  1. Sidney

    Sidney Guest

    I'm planning a Upgrade of Converters and Pres from my existing Aardvark 24/96 setup. I'd like Expandability for the future. Start w/ 8 I/O and 16 in the future.

    One of my main questions is...
    Would someone with out a "Grade A" Recording Space and Equipment be able to take advantage or even notice the difference in Converter Quality of the RME (multiface) & LynxTwo? My ears and skills are decent and "getting better all the time". 20yrs musician, 10yrs 4 track, 4yrs DAW.

    I Track and Mix in a semi-dead 9'x15' room (just added 2 sheets of plywood on the floor to liven it up a little) 8' ceiling covered w/ r-ll. Monitors are Event 2020p. S/W- Cubase VST5, Waves Gold, Timeworks, Wavelab, TRacks. Plan to upgrade to SX or Nuendo, or switch to Samplitude. I keep reading Samplitude just sounds better than most apps.?. By %8-%10.?.
    Mics... NTK,2 NT5, 2 57s, 2 mco12, c1000, PZM, Mic Mod. Plan to get a MD421 or 441 and another vocal mic (Dragonfly ?).

    Preamps on my list... Sytek, RNP, TLaudio 5001, OSA, Sebatron, DMP3, Joe Meek. Depending on the interface I get will determine my Pre budget. I'm pretty sure I at least want 1ch of JMeek (vc1q) for extreem color.

    Tascam FW-1884 ($1200 + fire card) There's so much Bang for the Buck here, & I'd really like the Controller. 18 Io, 8analog 8adat spdif, 4 MIDI.
    I'd probably get the OSA or Sebatron pres and use 3 of the Tascam for a while. If I knew the Converters were on par w/ at least the RME... I'd jump on this...

    LynxTwo... Probably the best choice sound wise but doesn't offer much ( I don't think) so it would be a little more costly. Probably get the Sytek and a DMP3. & have to get a small MIDI interface and mixer. If Soundwise this would end up being FAR superior then I wouldn't mind the extras.

    RME... great track record and alot to offer now and later (ADAT Spdif WC). Wouldn't have to buy MIDI or Mixer. Probably get the TLa5001 and RNP/dmp3(or Sytek) or Sebatron and 2 DMP3. If I really want a controller I could get a Mackie Controll (way in the future)

    The thing is, all 3 units have the ability to add different Converters and Word Clock via ADAT/Spdif. I'm ready for great sound right now. If the Tascam is close... I could put more $$$ towards Mics and UAD-1 ect... upgrade DA and more Pres later. The Lynx would no doubt give great sound but I'd have to get so much other stuff as well? Wouldn't have as many I/O. RME is well... RME :) Both the RME and Tascam can go Mobile too (for Future).

    I'll be recording Solo Accoustic to Hard Rock bands... Classical chamber & Jazz Combos (live). I'm most concerened w/ doing my own stuff right now Accoustic to HR bands... and will record others as it happens. Have done a few others projects (classical, accoustic, rock bands) for fun/experience... now have a few that want to pay me :) I'd say my budget is between 2-3,000. $2,500 give or take.

    Shed some Light please,
  2. Kent L T

    Kent L T Active Member

    Here is what some Lynx users think. Lynx user comments .
  3. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    I was about to offer some suggestions then I saw your max budget of $3000. So never mind.

    The biggest quality difference for that amount of money that your gonna get and hear will be from either GREAT mics and/or GREAT preamps and just about all of what you mentioned is not on the GREAT list. Once again I'll say the magic slogan of how you obtain the best results and the long term rewards is by following a path of purchasing one or a few great things at one time, than to buy several or many mediocre things. Think of it in terms of building a chain where every link in the chain is as good the others. Weak links in the chain are obvious and will show themselves, they won't last as long as the great ones do and are very likely going to need to be replaced anyway.
  4. Sidney

    Sidney Guest

    Thanks, more persuasion! I've done much research and have never read a bad word about Lynx either.

    Truely sorry you read through my entire long winded post and still tried to add something.

    My main concern is Converters right now and the Lynx TWO getting rated up there w/ Mytek and Apogee is well with in my budget. & for a Small Home Studio Sytek,Sebatron,OSA,& RNP won't be too bad... I may be wrong but I don't think a $3000 Mic through my Aardvark would get me the results I'm looking for.

  5. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    A $3000 mic may not get you the results your looking for, but a $3000 mic would very likely serve you and as a real professional tool much better than to worry about the difference of the converters from the Aardvark to the others you mentioned. I'd rather and have gotten better results with a great mic, a mackie preamp and converters from an ADAT-XT, then many or most that use a cheap mic with better but still mediocore converters like the ones your eye-balling.

    But it is your money...
  6. teleharmonic

    teleharmonic Guest


    I realize this does not address your request directly, but are the aardvark converters really that problematic to you? I realize that they may not be top of the line but i would think that they are certainly quite useable for the time being.

    It seems that you have decent mics (perhaps not GREAT by gaff's standards but it seems like you have judiciously selected some good 'bang for your buck' mics.)

    As you have stated, you are lacking a good pre, and i can't help but think that you may be better off sinking a good portion of the cash you have into this area. How many tracks you require would determine how you want to approach the purchase (8tracks of JLM TMP8 or 4 tracks of Sebatron or 2 tracks of Great River or similar).

    I say this only because i think that the difference that converters will make, while certainly audible, will be far more subtle than the difference some good preamplification will make. Or maybe a combo purchase... like 2 channels of Sebatron and a Royer ribbon mic. i dunno... just spitballing here...

    I know that with the prosumer AD converters that i use (maudio) that i only really start noticing problems if i stack too many tracks up... if you use recording techniques that keep you track count below 16 tracks or so i would think that a great set of preamps mixed with what you already own could yield some fantastic sounding recordings.

    just a thought...
  7. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Audio Gaff is correct IMO.. You are going to notice much more improvement with better mics and pres than you will with a new set of converters.. add to that the fact that you are already using Aardvark converters, which by any standard are pretty good, I seriously doubt that you will be gaining anything by switching to the Lynx or RME.

    Consider this, if the mics and pres you use are "not as good as they could be", no matter what kind of converters you employ, you are still feeding the converters a signal that is "not as good as it could be". "Garbage in / garbage out" theory. Converters will come and go.. they become obsolete.. great mics and pres last a lifetime. It is a far better investment to purchase mics, pres, compressors and eq's and IMO, these items will go a lot further to improving your sound. Once you have enough quality front end to accommodate whatever working technique you use while you record, then it's time to consider high end converters if you desire. I think it's more in the clocking than the converters myself so I chose Alesis AI3's for converters, clocked off a Frontier Dakota card. It seems Alesis makes the chips for many of the manufactures, like Lynx and RME. Anything that uses lightpipes, is from Alesis. Someone posted a link a few days ago, Alesis Chipset ... The difference in the performance of the higher end converters that use these Alesis chips seems to be derived from the digital clocks, not the converters.. Just some food for thought..

    [ November 25, 2003, 03:02 PM: Message edited by: Kurt Foster ]
  8. Sidney

    Sidney Guest

    Wow, you guys got me! Just when you think you know what your game plan is...

    Ok, last Spring I started researching Preamps (& by the way a ribbon mic was also on my list, still is) I had a plan to get the Aardvark LX6 (4 more IO)or a Q10 and at the time The 4 Ch Sebatron for starters... then later buy 1-2ch High end stuff as $$$ permits.
    Well after much research, the consensus was that I wouldn't see much difference running these Pres through a Aardvark. Most advice was to get at least RME or Lynx Converters. Other Aardvark users also describe what I hear... it's like there's a blanket covering the speakers
    In fact I just read this review the other day, and they said the same thing about the Delta 1010 (about the same as Aardvark) that compared to the Lynx and RME it was as if someone layed a blanket over the speakers, so they very quickly dismissed the 1010 in the review.
    2 other guys I talked to (last spring) said when they ran a Apogee MiniMe through the Aardvark SPDiF it was like a blanket got lifted and they were finaly hearing the top end. I always have to boost Everything in the top end (8-10k) w/ about a 5-7 Q, 3-5db, and the end result sounds artificial... so I tried to find a Minime for rent so I could check out this revelation, but could not find.

    I talked w/ Aardvark techs they also told me that you can't fully bypass the Pres on the 24/96 or Q10... that even at line level it will still taint the signal. But only slightly. They also said the Q10 converters are slightly better (cleaner) than the DP or Lx6. :D :eek:


    PS- I'm not in a huge hurry... I'd like to make the best upgrades I can, that last... like audiogaff is saying.
  9. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    I use a pair of Alesis AI3's into a Frontier Dakota card.. this gives me 16 channels in and out analog along with 2 channels of s/pdif in and out, which I monitor on. The Frontier card does the clocking.. no mic pres just line level ins and outs. I have Sebatron, Amek Neve 9098s and up until now a very nice 8 channel pre from JLM (that I now have to return) :( . The results I have been getting have been very good, i don't seem to hear any loss of high end at all, other than the normal roll off at 20K that all 44.1 systems have.. The AI3's were $400 each and the Dakota card was $300. These are not the list or even the "street price" of these items, but if you purchase them all at once, you should be able to cut a similar deal.. This will leave a nice chunk of cash to get a Sebatron vmp 4000e and you will be off to a great start.

    I am surprised that you feel the way you do about the Aardvark, this is the first time I have ever heard anyone say anything negative about it. The pres are class A and the line inputs should bypass the pres altogether. I am not questioning your impressions, I trust that you are hearing what you describe but I have to wonder if there might not be something else that is causing the problem.. ???
  10. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Yes Sid, you not only need some real help, but a good bitch slap upside the head for taking what you read or are told and not putting it all into proper context.

    First off, the Apogee is a combo unit with a good high quality clean mic pre and the latest generation in converter design. It is in a much different class than the other converters you mentioned so it performs as would be expected and cannot be directly compared.

    Second, The mic pres in the Aardvark are decent but certainly not up to the best of highest possible standards. So the blanket you hear is not the converters alone but the combo of all the gear in your signal chain. So using all the mediocore other gear you have along with the Aardvark mic pres and it's mediocore converters will never equal true great quality. And even if you do get a real good or great mic pre, you now know that you can't bypass the Aardvark mic pre so that color/layer will always be there preventing you from hearing the high quality that you seek.

    Third, boosting the top end of the blanket your hearing in your current signal chain with a crappy or mediocore eq, will of course result in very little good and is likely to do even more harm.

    I would continue your research and seriously re-think your whole plan before even $1 gets spent.
  11. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    The Aardvark does have line inputs, as well as inserts on the first four channels. I really do think the line inputs on the Aardvark will bypass at least one stage of amplifier in the mic pre, although there may be a stage of line amplification. Plugging into the insert return will bypass both of these stages of amplification providing a clean path to the hard disk.
  12. Sidney

    Sidney Guest

    I knew I liked this place... a good ol Bitch slap... just what I be need'n :)

    Thanks and Take it easy....

    BTW- As much as I want the Tascam unit... I think it would be best to not have so much all tied up in one unit. I think the RME and a Sebatron or JLM is most likely what will happen, and I can get a Controller some other day. I mean even if the Aark is all I need right now like you say... I'd still be putting out about $800 for a Q10, so I'd rather put $800 into a RME and take the blanket off.

    Oh... and you both have owned Aardvarks and Know what it is your recommending... Right? ;)
  13. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Who me? I'm a pro and a real gear snob so I would never use yet alone own something like Aardvark units you mentioned. I'm also experienced and intelligent so I don't have to have used or have owned many pieces of gear to know about or understand most of their pitfalls and sonic limitations. Which by the way, just happen to be only some of the things you never have to really worry about when you use and own nothing but high end gear.
  14. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    I'm glad you have made your desicion.. it seems you made it before you asked the question though... :confused: Why you would ask a question to a situation you had already resolved and then get all snippy because you didn't like the reply you got is beyond me. I smell potted pork shoulder meat. And, oh! I have never owned an Aardvark ..... but I have worked with them. Many people have made posts here about how well they like the Q10. Aardvark is well known for it's high end converter and clocking designs. Nathanal Kunkle uses them when recording James Taylor and many others.. Aardvark is at least as well respected for their converters as Lynx is.

    I can't directly address the RME because you didn't mention which model you are looking at..

    As far as the Lynx Two goes, it has limited input and output capibility, the best being 4 in and out on the A model card which sells for $1095 (ouch). You can get a 16 in out with the LS-ADAT interface card but that's on an ADAT lightpipes so once again you are using the Alesis chipset and that is going to cost you another $249 (ouchie, ouchie). So you are up to $1344 for the pair and you will be needing something to get your analog signal into ADAT lightpipe format (OUCHMOTHERF&%KERSOMAB*TCHC&%KSUCKER).

    I myself decided to go with the Frontier Dakota and 2 Alesis AI3's.. it's only 24 bits but I am not working in 96K, file size and computer power being an issue. I prefer to and have a lot of ins and outs, keep the track and plug in count high and forgo the higher frequencies over 20K , ... which btw, I think is what everyone is referring to when they speak of that "blanket being pulled off the speakers". It all gets lost when you go to CD anyhow.. For 18 ins and outs, 16 analog and 2 s/pdif I spent about $1100. I have already got a year of use out of this rig and I expect to get at least two more before 24 bit is dead.. and who knows, 24 bit may hang around longer than any of us expect. If it does, I am fine..

    Meanwhile, I have all that extra money to buy mic, pres, compressors and eq's.. things that will never go obsolete and that actually do more to improve the sound than any converter would. I feel it is inarguable that great front end does more to improve the audio than converters. Cart before the horse theory. If you already have all your front end gear purchased, then it is time to look at converters for the next improvemnt. But if your using Midi Man pres, the best converter is just going to give you a pristine redition of a Midi Man pre...

  15. mike buzz

    mike buzz Guest

    Sidney I know Kurt and these guys do really know what they are talking about , as a suggestion the Sytek is a very clean non colored mic pre ( 4 ch no digital out yet , and Mike at Sytek will give you all the info you want great guy ) , also maybe look at a AKG C414/ubls as a vocal mic I like mine . some may have different opinoins.
    Good mic pre's and good mic's are some of the best investments you can make they "are the sound " just my 2C's , also a really good mic that is'nt very common is a Microtech/Geffell U70 it has the same element ( M1 capsule ) as a U87 and they are much cheaper

  16. Sidney

    Sidney Guest

    Wow... you guys are a little touchy. Snippy?? Come on Kurt, I just reread my post and I thanked you guys and do appreciate your thoughts. I even joked a little w/ ya... I personaly think the Muffled sound will somewhat go away w/ a different interface, and it's ok for me to think that... I'll find out soon enough. No I haven't made up my mind... "most Likely" is not a definitive term. I just didn't wan't to keep beating a dead horse here.

    It's also funny that I've read many times Kurt putting down the RNP, even though People rave about it everywhere, Yet, You have not even Heard it. So to hear praise about a product that I own and you have Never used is quite funny to me. & that's OK for me to think that too. It's not snippy.

    Audiogaff- I knew you were a gear snob right off the bat... I have many friends and aquaintances that are gear snobs... What ever works for you. & I don't mean that in a snippy or condesending way at all. I like my snoby friends too :D Everyones opinion counts in my book.

    Mike Buzz- Thanks, I'll look into that u70. I have not heard of that one. The Sytek is one of my main contenders right now. I think 4ch of Sebatron and 4ch of Sytek would be a good start and variance of sound.

  17. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    It's all good dude. No sweat here. Feel free to be as snippy as you'd like. I know I often can be. And as for being a gear snob, it works VERY WELL for me. I couldn't imagine it being any other way.

    The Sytek is a decent unit. I'd also point you to take a look at the new Toft Audio stuff as I'm guessing and expecting that it will offer great value for the money an mabe just even have a real pro tone. I may be having a chance to be near a RNP soon, so if I do I'll post my disappointments and gripes with it afterwards.
  18. MisterBlue

    MisterBlue Guest

    Since you are obviously approaching this evaluation with an open-minded attitude we are all looking forward to your review of this preamp.


    [ November 26, 2003, 10:16 PM: Message edited by: MisterBlue ]
  19. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    It was that comment I found to be snippy ... no big deal though, I was only making an obsevation.

    I really don't want to get into the whole RNP thing once again. I have hopes that I will be getting one also soon to hear.. If it is as good as others have said, I will do a review on it.. If it sucks, I probably won't say anything at all.. but I will say this.

    You and others always misinterpret my comments about the RNP, placing words in my mouth I have neber spoken.. if you look closely at all the threads, I have never said the RNP was bad... I always say I have not heard it. I do have my doubts, I raise questions regarding its design, the wall wart power supply, why if it was as good as everyone says it is they haven't run everyone out of business by now and why major studios aren't using them. I think they are probably a good clean mic pre suitable for home hobby recording. But they probably don't have a good "sound". They probably are pretty neutral, like a Mackie with better headroom. I have also questioned why I can't seem to be able to get a hold of one to post audio comparisons with.. but I have never slammed the RNP or FMR.

    It seems you are willing to put a lot of stock in what other people say but you don't seem to want to trust what AG and I have to offer. That’s cool but AG and I have both made real records and owned real recording studios. Most of the people I have seen say good things about the RNP and other budget gear were home recordists with at best, marginal studios. Very few of them have had much experience with a wide range of high end gear. They may have been exposed to one or two good pieces for a short period of time. People who get to use great gear for any length of time, usually stop "talking up" cheap gear because they have learned for themselves the difference.

    I suspect the people you have been talking to about converters may have something to gain by moving you into the high end RME or Lynx cards.. but I think you get better bang for the buck with mics and pres first. Then it’s time to look at converters. Because how great the converters are, won’t make a bit of difference if your mics and pre sound like sh*t..

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