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Is it worth it to upgrade my converters?

Discussion in 'Converters / Interfaces' started by EricWatkins, May 9, 2014.

  1. EricWatkins

    EricWatkins Active Member

    Hi Guys,

    I haven't been around much lately, fortunately, because I've actually been busy with projects.

    I am working pre-production with an artist right now that is about to record a full album here at my studio and I am trying to figure if it is worth it to upgrade my converters for it. The album will be folk/southern rock stuff.

    I have a Tascam DM-4800 that I've used for years and it has served it's purpose, but I've never been thrilled with the sound of it. I was sure that I was missing something, especially every time I read about all the high-end pres out there. Well I did buy an LA-610 years ago and that made a HUGE difference in the vocal tracks that I was recording. Now, just about two weeks ago, I bought two VP28's from Audio Products of Illinois and had my cousin assemble them. I started recording demos in pre-production with them and about fell out of my chair when I heard them. I used the pair with a pair of SDC Studio Projects C4's on his acoustic while he sang through the LA-610 and I feel like it's kind of hard to go wrong with this setup but specifically with these pres. The guys acoustic is really a crappy thing but doesn't sound all bad. The thing is, those pres just make it sound......I don't know....like it belongs on a record. I'm amazed.

    So anyway, I have an API 8 space lunchbox with 6 empty spaces but I'm about to fill them ALL with these pres before we record the album so that I can use them on all the drums along with everything else.

    SO to my question. I am running these all straight into my MOTU 2408 mkIII. I've been looking for a way away from the DM-4800 for a while now and I'm thinking of buying an Antelope Orion. It will give me all the i/o I need forever and it should be a good upgrade from my current converters. Eventually, I will probably buy even more pres and maybe some different types after I have 12 of the VP28s. No big deal, I can just buy another lunchbox.

    Can anyone chime in on whether or not I would get much of a jump on my sound upgrading from the 2408 to the Orion. My mic locker is sparse but quality. I have as many good mics as I have great channels to put them in so that's not much of a concern right now. I'd really appreciate your input.

  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    i am sure you will be pleasantly surprised at the improvement you will get with an upgrade to your converters. if you can find the finances i would recommend an upgrade on the mic as well ... an akg 414 would be nice.
  3. EricWatkins

    EricWatkins Active Member

    I would like to upgrade my Mics too, but from my experience, the pres seem to make the biggest difference. I noticed that the first time I plugged a 57 into my LA-610. I'm thinking in terms of broad strokes here to the whole system. Now I just need enough bravery to take the plunge. The good thing, is that I can keep the DM-4800 and the Motu in the system with the Orion and not lose my channel count. Thanks for the feedback!
  4. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    imo .... 1st mic choice .... 2nd mic placement ... (an inch either way can make a huge difference) 3rd mic pres. 4th monitoring ... speakers, room orientation, treatments ....if you can't hear what's the point? 5th converters ...the icing on the cake. all elements will play an important part. all elements will also play with and against each other ... weakest link stuff... strong foundations make sound structures.
  5. EricWatkins

    EricWatkins Active Member

    Yup, I've had the room treated for years. My monitors are Focal Twin 6be's. I've been getting some good recordings as of lately with what I have. I just want to get the next thing that is going to make every channel sound better overall. Mics to me are a one channel at a time thing and easier to justify when I need a particular one for a specific purpose. I've got a few really good dynamics and a few decent but not spectacular LDCs.
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    you could post something, we'd have a listen and maybe be able to pin down your needs better?

    Are you basically one track (or stereo) at a time, and 100% ITB?
  7. EricWatkins

    EricWatkins Active Member

    I am 100% ITB. I can bring in 24 channels at a time with the Tascam console via TDIF to the MOTU but it really just sounds vanilla and lifeless. Right now I have 2 VP28 preamps and my LA-610 that can feed directly into the analog inputs of the Motu so I consider myself as having 3 good channels at any one time but of course, if always have the other TDIF feeds from the console if I need them. Hope that makes sense.

    I know you have a lot of experience with converters so I was hoping you'd chime in audiokid. Thanks.
  8. EricWatkins

    EricWatkins Active Member

    Whoops, I didn't see the first part of your post. I don't have anything I can post with the new preamps because the only thing I've recorded with them aren't my material. 95% of what I do is ITB virtual instruments. I'm more of a composer than an engineer bit I've been working with audio for two decades and recording bands for about 7 years now. I can show you all kinds of my own work but very little of it used outside audio coming in. What I do have that does have audio, is almost all done through the Tascam console and not the newer preamps I currently own. I also almost always did drum replacement on those recordings. If I can come up with something to put up that would be relevant, I will.
  9. EricWatkins

    EricWatkins Active Member

    Here are a couple demos I recorded about two years ago. THese were all done through the Tascam but honestly, the only thing you are hearing from it are the overheads and then the vocals were all recorded through the LA-610 with an AT-4047. THere might be a little a little drum close-mic'ing coming through but not much. Guitars on this stuff was all Guitar Rig or Amplitube at the time. Bass probably was also through the console on this stuff. I hate putting it out there on here because I feel that I've improved quite a bit buy hey, no biggie, lol, I can take it. I would do it differently now too :)

    View: https://soundcloud.com/studio-e/all-red-lights-demo-collage

    View: https://soundcloud.com/studio-e/c4-demo-collage
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Nice work, excellent musicianship and kudo's on having the ability to produce pop music.
    Listening to your excellent examples to help guide possible recommendations, what I hear you missing is a more open sound. If you've read some of my posts over the last year, one of the biggest improvements for me came from adding a few Bricasti M7's to my analog chain.
    Most people use them AES as well so we have both (itb or otb) options. . I've never tried them digital so I don't know...
    But! strapping one through your Tascam console aux (OTB) would be like adding a new building to your studio. And I'm not kidding. Might be just what you need.

    The Orion32 is an awesome converter for the price but I'm not sure its going to be what you need compared to Kurt's suggestions or possibly the Bricasti.
    Many people claim Tascam consoles are generally pretty vanilla, so, not sure a converter is the first place I would go for you at this point.

    hope that helps,
  11. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member


    send your mix, tracks or stems to audiokid (Chris). Trust me, it makes all the difference in the world. Besides having great gear like the Bricasti verb, he's got great ears, and a scary amount of knowledge as well.

    You really should let him do a quick 20 or 30 second demo for you. I guarantee you you'll want him to finish. ;)
  12. EricWatkins

    EricWatkins Active Member

    Thanks Guys. I know I can do better than those mixes now and I can't wait to try my hand at a new mix with everything recorded on these VP28's. They really do seem to impart a real 3d value to even a mono signal. I would love to take audiokid up on a demo once I have some new source material to work with. I am probably at least a few weeks out from recording anything right now. I very much appreciate your comments and guidance :)
  13. Paul999

    Paul999 Active Member

    Fwiw. Convertors IMO. Are not as high on my list as they once were. Room treatment is first. I have a reasonably treated massive live room. In addition I have 16, 2'x4'x7” absorbing moveable/stackable gobo's. This has done more for me then any micpre, compressor, converter or mic upgrade. In fact I am quite happily using some pretty inexpensive mics and sold off some expensive vintage ones not because I had to but because as a business this was the best result for best cost. I tend to surround drum sets with these absorbing gobos when I record them and it does everything from decrease hat bleed in snare mics to give toms a killer clear tone. Additionally room mics sound better because a lot of cymbal energy is absorbed leaving snare and kick massive in the room mics.

    I included a photo from when were just finishing some renos about a month ago we kept the studio working through the Reno. I was just setting up for a full band live tracking session. You can see the drum set parts sitting in the "corral" of absorbers.

    Attached Files:

  14. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Hi Eric how ya been? It's been a long time buddy. Finally had enough of the TEAC board? Now you know what I've been talking about. Right... you nearly fall off your seat. Just wait until you start to over gain them slightly. Yup. And those A/B outputs give you a little extra zing and edge. I'm sure they're a lot like API's. To the best of my knowledge, his 2520's are basically like the older Melcor 1731A's also designed by Saul Walker. So they have more vintage Mojo than the later 2520's. I think that's what he's calling his " variations "? Minor nuance differences. He's got some that have both smaller and larger output transformers. Not sure if he's using the 1:10 winding microphone input transformers or the later 1:15's? Maybe both available?

    It looks like it's a worthy bang for the buck. Not all that much less than the actual API name brand stuff, in cost. Doesn't matter since it's all good.

    Now here's the one hitch in the get along for ya with those. The 2408 does not accommodate input levels beyond +20. Those along with the original API, Neve, all those, are capable of delivering +24 to +30 dbM into a 600 ohm load. Unheard of today. So those will clip the 2408's inputs, guaranteed. I know... I have one. And I've also got my eye on that new Orion 32 x 32 interface. I'm heading off and relocating to Austin and I'm smelling upgrades in the air. Massive Neve and API inputs, delivered to your door. In one convenient lightweight, 25,000 pound Mercedes-Benz 1117 (on the 30,000 pound, 1319 chassis LOL) I think I'm going to be kicking up some dust in Texas?

    Well... they'll find out.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  15. EricWatkins

    EricWatkins Active Member

    Hey Remy, great to see you again on here. Yes, you have said it perfectly as far as my sentiment. Even if I want to do more outboard gear down the road, I wouldn't need the Tascam for that and it would actually be easier to just route in and out of the Orion through Cubase. When I heard my first recording with two of these pre-amps on an acoustic guitar, I seriously felt like I discovered the biggest gap between my recordings and those of the pros. Not to say there isn't a large gap still there, but these did the biggest job of closing it over any other piece of gear for sure.

    Good luck in Austin! I've got a good friend and composer moving down there right now too. Must be the place to be.
  16. EricWatkins

    EricWatkins Active Member

    Hey audiokid, could you suggest a way to route the M7 in an ITB situation? I'm sure I can set it up, but maybe you can tell me if I'm thinking this correctly. I'm assuming that, if I want to use it on different tracks for different reverbs, I will want to set it up as maybe a send that I can send any audio track through and then use the send as the input of a blank track to print the reverb for that track? Does that make sense? If so, how do you account for latency in this situation? I'm assuming that it could cause phasing? I am just asking because I'm not totally sure. Thanks!
  17. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Yes, as you described.
    I'm not one to ask specifics on the "Round Trip" because I avoid that for the very reasons you mentioned. I prefer analog gear OTB clean and simple where the entire session arrives > "DA" together or leaves >"AD" all at the same time, old school way.
    this makes way more sense and avoids all the ADDA problems.

    Here are a few ways to do it:

    • OTB, insert the M7 on a stereo channel of your console, send your DAW Aux (which would be dedicated for reverb ITB) to that channel of the console and its choice like that. Use the DAW to control the feed.
    • Or, use it just like a plug-in verb on an aux channel ITB via aes. Send your DAW channels into the bricasti aux. Works great too.
    • Or, as you describe, print back via the "Round Trip" Use latency compensation to offset the shift which is part of your DAW software.
    If you are really interested in the Bricasti, I would contact them and ask what they recommend just to confirm. The way I use it, is not the norm, but I also have a few, one for size, one for reflections, and one for depth.
    More people are DD with it. Everyone is super happy with whatever way they choose to use it.
  18. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I started with a SB16 and a SB live 20y ago. Then bought M-Audio Delta-66, it was a very good upgrade.
    Recently I traded my 4 M-Audio card for a Focusrite Liquid Saffire and it was also a very good upgrade.
    I also added a UA 4-710 who has 8 onboard converters, those are very good but not so that I don't want to use the focusrite's anymore.

    I tell you all that just to say. Changing converters may be a big step or not depending on where you get to and from.
    If you could have a way to compare them in production. You'd be the judge if it's worth it or not.

    Also, if you happen to go on GS, remember you can't connect a preamp to a converter chip. There's always electronics around it that can change the end results. I thrust my ears a lot more than chip ID tags.

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