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Jon Attack - Please report on the PTHD / Apogee shoot ou

Discussion in 'Converters & Interfaces' started by RandomGuest, Mar 24, 2002.

  1. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Guest

    Feb 10, 2001
    Well - how was it for you?
  2. Jon Atack

    Jon Atack Guest

    Hey fellow ROers,

    My Netscape Navigator crashes every time I try to post on RO. This has been going on for a while now, but only when posting on RO...

    I have to write my posts in advance elsewhere and try to copy and paste before RO posting brings on the crash. Works about one time out of five attempts.

    Any ideas how to break out of this?


  3. Jon Atack

    Jon Atack Guest

    OK, I got to another computer now (with the latest POD album playing in the background...the Youth of a Nation track isn't bad, not sure about the rest though).

    The converter shootout was a good idea by the nice folks at 1001 Sons here in Paris (hi to Manu, Scott, Gaby et al), but the way the shoot-out was set up rendered the results fairly irrelevant to me.

    The shootout involved comparing A/D+D/A of the following converters:

    1. Digidesign HD192 at 192khz
    2. Digidesign HD96 at 96kHz
    3. Apogee Trak2 at 96kHz
    4. Digidesign 888/24 at 48kHz

    I would have MUCH preferred to hear all four converters running at 44.1 or 48 kHz and compared to a good source tape.

    The shoot-out:

    A flat, basic stereo mix of a 3-piece band rough-mixed on a Neve VR60 was tracked to all 4 PT systems: singer/acoustic guitar, electric bass, and drums. The only stereo tracking in the mix was a pair of AB overheads on the drums. The acoustic guitar was tracked in mono; I would have preferred to hear it tracked in stereo XY. Most of the mics were DPA and all mics went to Millennia pres. The faders-up mix was nothing to write home about, with the vocal and snare too soft and the bass too loud.

    A 30-second recording of the band was made by all four PT systems simultaneously. Then, we heard each of the four systems play the track in an unannounced order. This was repeated four times. Each time, the order was different. We made notes, guessed which converter was which, and at the end we wrote which converters we preferred.

    We heard the mixes while seated 30 at a time in the studio, with a pair of Dynaudio BM15As before us on stands. I've been mixing for about a year now on BM15As and know the speakers well. I also usually work with Apogee converters, a sound I know and prefer to 888/24s. This is probably why I was able to identify the Trak2 converters each time. As for the three Digi converters, I could often identify the 888/24, but not always. I mixed up the two HD converters as well.

    IMO, the Trak2 had more depth, hi-fi and magic. The HD192 seemed to be my second choice; it sounded more natural than the HD96 and 888/24, but a bit too clear, with less bottom end oomph, and flat in the depth department. If there's one thing particularly remiss about the sound when 2" is transfered to PT, it's the loss of depth and oomph.

    After that first round of the day, the cumulative results of all the participants' votes were tallied and the Trak2 and HD192 pretty much came out tied for both first and second choice.

    I then went into the control room, set up a 10-second playback loop on all four PT systems, and compared the four converters through the VR60 and the 1031As (ugh...) on the meter bridge with my eyes closed and my hand alternating the console mute switches. After I figured out which converters I prefered, I asked what it was I had chosen.

    The Trak2 and HD192 were better than the HD96 and 888/24. The Trak2 had the depth, oomph and excitement. The HD192 sounded clearer, lighter in the low end and displayed less depth. This confirmed my earlier assessment, which was shared by the 4 or 5 other engineers over my shoulder in the control room. The Trak2 had a depth and warm vibe that put it above the Digi converters.

    I then had a big lunch and came back to do the test again, this time while behind the VR in the control room, listening on the 1031As. I don't know if it was the big meal or the wine or the Gennies (I never liked the 1031s) or what, but this time, I couldn't identify jack $*^t.

    The differences were there, but I couldn't tell what was better or who was what.

    It turned out that most of the folks at that after-lunch round weren't very discerning either. The results were all over the board.

    Now for a BIG caveat: Comparing converter playback only is a totally INCOMPLETE comparison. The comparison I really want to hear is this: Send a well-tracked, well-mixed recording from a 1/2" 2-track (or Masterlink or DAT or whatever) through all four converters at the same sample rate, like 44.1 or 48kHz. Then, compare each converter to the source tape and listen for WHICH CONVERTER IS THE CLOSEST TO THE SOURCE.

    Too bad we didn't get to hear that.

    Maybe I can get the folks at 1001 Sons or Nicolas Dussert, head of Digidesign France, to lend us an HD system for a real test soon.

    In closing, I had a good talk with Roger Robindore of Apogee, who was in town before heading to London and then back to Apogee HQ in the US. This talk was one of the highlights of the day. No sign yet of Digi opening the doors to Apogee converters direct to PT HD. However, the Mark 2 upgrade should be finally available in a month or two, and the 192kHz version of the AD8000 not far behind.

    As many of you know, I'm opening up a high-end room in Paris soon, with a J desk, 827, 3348, PT with 48 Apogee i/o, great acoustics, surround mixing, the works. The HD vs MixPlus+Apogee debate is an issue for me. My gut instinct is that the HD does not sound as good as the Apogees at 48kHz, though in all fairness I still need to test this out for myself with the HD and AD8000 at 48kHz.

  4. Hi Jon
    Normally I would tell you that you're "gut" instinct is the right one but I'm not so sure on this one. My limited Apogee/ HD192 testing left all listeners (about 20 engineers, composers, etc.), with the impression that the HD192 compared very well with the Apogee PSX100/ Mix+ at 48k. I actually prefered the HD and I am an AD8000 owner/user. The HD at 96 and above was a big improvement over the Apogee/ Mix+ rig at 48K. All listening was done on live tracked drums, acoustic guitar (Dobro) and a sequence playing on a drum machine. The diferences with the drum machine recordings were not very perceptable. The 24 track orchestral recordings I heard at 192k monitored through 2 outputs, all internal faders at unity and panned to represent the orchestra layout, sounded phenomenal. While I still have questions about the internal mixing, I think that if we can't make great sounding product with this system then all the Apogee, Prism, Crane Song or whatever is not going to make a difference.

    As I predicted, HD competition has and will spur Apogee and others to better products and so the circle keeps on turning.

    Thanks for the report Jon.

    Kenny Meriedeth
    Melted Media Music

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