Pointers to good AD

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by ghellquist, Aug 25, 2005.

  1. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    Ooh my, hear we go again.

    I´m seriosly afflicted with GAS (gear acquisition syndrom). Now it is time for the AD.

    I´d like minimum 6 channels, as I find that is sort of what I can manage (guess that will be 8 then), but of course more is not worse. Usage is exclusively on-location acoustic music.

    Mic pre is OK already so a line unit is fine. (4 channels of DAV BG2 + 2 Millennia HV3C I may borrow + some usable but not top-line other stuff).

    Any pointers from the top down is appreciated.

  2. 0VU

    0VU Active Member

    Starting at the top - or at least, as near to the top as I can afford! - I use dCS904 ADCs and 954 DACs (3 of each to get 6 channels). It's not exactly a cheap solution but I've yet to hear a better one.

    Coming down in to the realms of sensible pricing - almost - I recently used a Prism ADA8 and subsequently an ADA8XR and was very impressed. To me they sound much better than the old Prism AD1 and are remarkable value for money. Again, they're not cheap but for about the same price as two channels of dCS, you get 8 channels of ADC and DAC and various other useful tricks.

    I still think that the dCS has the edge in pure quality terms, being slightly more neutral with a more transparent midrange but not by so much that it's easy to justify the price differential. I didn't try the DSD option in the Prism but I know that the dCS is very hard to beat on DSD. It knocks Meitner and Genex converters into a cocked hat!

    For something slightly cheaper than the dCS and about the same quality I also have a Weiss ADC-1 MkII. It's a different sound from the dCS, a little brighter perhaps but not in a brittle/hard way, just a little lighter sounding. (Sorry - I hate trying to describe sound!)

    Below these, I don't really know. Having spent my converter budget on the dCS/Weiss combination I haven't really looked at much else. I do find myself wanting an ADA8XR - partly for the convenience of 8 channels of conversion in 2U instead of 9/10U.

    I know they're expensive but having gone to the trouble of buying/borrowing top notch pres and mics, it doesnt make much sense for you to go through cheap converters ;)

    (Edited to fix typos)
  3. ptr

    ptr Active Member

    Hi Gunnar,

    Take a look at the products from Digital Audio Denmark.

    I use and recomend their ADDA 2408, very close to the sound of the very reputable Weiss converters.

    /ptr (who is just catching up after having been a way for 6 weeks)

    ps : distributor in sweden is Polteknik
  4. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    The Lynx Aurora must be worth a look/listen as well. I haven't heard one yet but its on my todo list.
  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Oh Dear LORD!

    Don't get me wrong guys - I'm happy you like your converters and it's not my intent to knock them.

    But, HOLY SH*T!

    DCS and a lot cheaper (in the affordable realm) the Prism?!?!? :shock:

    Maybe I'm misreading Gunnar's post (and all of his previous ones) but I don't think the dude's looking for a $12,000 converter as his "cheap" option!

    I've used the DCS (2 channels - local NPR station) and I've used the Prism extensively (the Dream ADA, not the DSD/192kHz version) and while I did like it - never in a million years could I justify that price.

    And yes, I do like expensive gear and yes, I do proclaim to be the kind of guy who can hear a difference. (Hence the MIT Opus cables hooking up my hifi system). But, considering their marginal improvement over even converters like Apogee, I couldn't justify either of these boxes at 1/2 the price (or even less!)

    Gunnar - you've got a good signal chain up front and a good ear. These items, combined with a mediocre converter will still yield you excellent recordings.

    But, here's my recommendation -

    In my opinion, there are 2 converters on the current market that deserve to be looked at -

    Mytek (Their new one promises to be frikkin cool and reasonably priced for 8 ch AD/DA with a DSD option if it floats your boat)

    Lynx Aurora. I purchased the Aurora 8 from Nathan not too long ago and have had the opportunity to use it quite a few times now. This converter is The Best Value in a Converter on the Market!!!! :cool:

    (Did I emphasize that enough... :wink: )

    Having used the Benchmark DAC 1 many times but never having dropped the dough to buy one myself, I figured I'd wait until I heard the Lynx. Yes, it does sound that good! I didn't and won't buy the Benchmark now. It's not 100% as good, but so damn close that I don't feel the need to justify another $1000 purchase. And that's just the DA!

    The AD sounds good at ALL sampling rates (although, I've only used 44.1, 96K, 192K - but they all sound fantastic). In most every project, I never feel a lacking sound quality by going with the 44.1 (an amazing compliment for any high sample rate converter). I use the 96 or 192 for potential DVD-A or SACD masters and I've been thoroughly pleased.

    Do yourself a favor - try it and don't look back!

  6. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    As Jeremy said, I'd look at the Lynx seriously as would i look at Mytek. Mytek has just added David Semour (formerly of Benchmark) to the staff so I would expect that things would run a bit smoother around there.

    I would also look seriously at the Lavry Blue series. It is modular so you can fill it with whatever channels you want- You could easily do a rack with only 6 channels or 6 channels of AD and 2 channels of DA, etc... These are the high end converters that I use the most around here.

    Other options include Genex or Euphonics (if you want LOTS of channels).

  7. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Oh yeah - momentary lapse of memory - great converters, great price, great configurability.

    Mmm... the Euphonix is nice. Like you said - lots of channels!! That converter plus the RME MADI interface = sweet setup. And probably the lowest price A/D on the market (when figured at a $/Channel basis.)
  8. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    Great thanks. I will look into all the suggestions. More pointers are appreciated if you have them.

    Cucco has the bad (?) habit of suggesting sensibly priced really good stuff, the MG 296 is one of his suggestions which I would never have found otherwise. (Basso "stole" them from me before I really got into using them, but they are coming back real soon now).

  9. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Yo Gunnar -

    Here's a serious winner -


    The price is right too!

    However, it says they ship to US. It doesn't say they *won't* ship to Europe, just that it only says US.

    Perhaps you can ask and if he's willing to ship it to you - great. If not, maybe you could have it shipped to someone stateside and then have it shipped to you from there.

    How bad are duties and taxes on this kind of stuff?

    (If you go that latter route - contact me, I'll try to help you out.)

  10. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    Hi Jeremy,
    great tip. I´m not quite there yet so no buy the next few days. I have just scratched the surface here and must get the rest of the chain in place as well. Find there are a lot of things I have no clue about (part of the fun is finding out). Using the Mytek I would need 4 AES channels into my laptop for location recording if I understand things rightly. Not quite sure how to do that.

    I am also thinking seriously about perhaps not using a laptop on location. I´ve seen your setup on pictures and just maybe that should be an idea to pursue. Not very much difference on the number of boxes either as the laptop is only a small part of the setup (not quite the way things started a while ago).


    PS: as for taxes and dutys I believe the situation is like this:

    -- import duty on this kind of stuff is around 5%
    -- on top at that goes VAT which in Sweden is 25%. This goes on the full cost including shipping, but is deductible against income VAT for businesses.
    -- there might be a duty-handling surcharge as well, could be steep for small purchases but not really significant here
  11. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    That's even worse than here. Duty is 2% on mics (maybe it's higher on other electronic goods -it can get quite complicated) and VAT is 21% and then there's a handling charge.

    I'm reluctant to buy anything from America now. While I know people who travel back and forth from here to the US -a 2U rackmountable box isn't exactly suitable for carry-on :wink:

    I hate VAT :evil:
  12. lastounce

    lastounce Guest

    what about hte RME ADI 8 pro DS? nothing said about it- - just wondered pe ople's thoughts...

    I love mine!
  13. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    It is a good box of fine quality, however it is not anywhere close to most of the other boxes listed here. The converters listed in the first couple posts are upwards of several thousand dollars for either 2 channels or the next price level down is several thousand dollars for 8 channels.

    Before the Lynx came out I would say it was one of the top at that general price level. The Aurora 8, though, pushes the quality/price line to a new level.

  14. alexaudio

    alexaudio Active Member

    I am going to chime in on this one, especially as I see a lot of comment on how great certain ADCs are, but with what tests and values??? I have used quite a few of the ADCs here on the list, and do disagree with some comments.

    I assert that many of you are not testing the ADCs side by side and looking at the technical variables that make certain units perform better (or worse) in certain applications. Thus, most comments are just that, comments (matter of opinion) without solid technical merit. ADC performance will vary (sometimes greatly) depending on what you are using to feed them. One of several variables that must be addressed is that of nominal operating level and clip level of an ADC in comparison to the analog equipment one is using to feed them. This point is often overlooked. This goes back to appropriately setting up your levels for optimized headroom, SNR, etc. in a system.

    Couple of examples:
    If you are feeding your ADCs with a mixer that has a nominal operating level of 0VU equaling 0dbu with its clip level around +20dbu, using an ADC with a nominal input level ref'd to +4db and a clip level of +26dbu, you will have wasted 6db of useful resolution of that ADC, and thus may not be getting the full resolution and best SNR of that ADC. Or, you may be overdriving your analog components just to get perceived higher resolution on the ADC (I have scene this). If you connect an ADC that does have its nominal level of 0dbu in its analog input stage and a clip level of +20dbu, your ADCs performance will be on pair with the rest of your system. I have seen just this situation with someone feeding a Benchmark card frame ADC then an RME converter. Benchmarks analog components in their card frame ADCs are calibrated for +4dbu/+27dbu clip level if I am not mistaken. After I corrected his methods of evaluation, he got to hear the Benchmark for all its glory and also hear the deficiencies in the RME.

    Same in point goes for high end microphone pre’s, which typically clip at between +24dbu and +36dbu. You will want to utilize an ADC that clips close to +24dbu to maximize overall system performance.

    That said, when I test converters, I fully calibrate both the analog and digital side of system to maximize performance. Then I listen, and thus have found certain converters to perform extremely well and others poorly. The following comments are now on units I have tested and/or have had personal experience with:

    First I’ll spell out the poor performers:
    RME converters lack detailed resolution. Their clip level is extremely low (+19dbu) and thus is inappropriate in most professional installations. RME does provide modifications to allow +24dbu clip level, but the noise floor/SNR of the converter is then sacrificed. RME has excellent technical merit on the digital side, but rather poor analog components and design.

    Others with similar problems to RME to shy away from:
    Alesis, Swissonic, M-audio and MOTU unmodified.

    Decent value performers:
    Lucid, Lynx, modified MOTU, Apogee

    Very good value/performers:
    Benchmark, Mytek, Genex

    Excellent performers overall:

    Cream of the crop:
    Prism and EMMLabs
  15. alexaudio

    alexaudio Active Member

    One other thing I should add when testing ADCs (and other equipment too)...

    Utilizing known good test generators, scopes, tests sets and in this case a known quality DAC, when should also test an ADC be sweeping a tone through the unit to see if there are any frequency response and/or level issues.
  16. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Good points Alex!!

    I guess I should be more cautious in my recommendations as the converters I recommended and the comments I made above are in fact based on subjectivity. In otherwords - you get what you pay for and you just got some *free* advice from me Gunnar... :lol:

  17. alexaudio

    alexaudio Active Member

    Ahh - maybe this one is flying over my head...what is the *free* advice?

  18. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    I think I have received a lot of really good advice on this forum from sincere people sharing their both objective and subjective experiences! And free as well. The rest as always is up to me.

    I am in the process of looking through my computer setup as my old laptop is showing signs of age and has always been noisy.. If I go with a new laptop, a firewire connection is probably a must from the sound card (maybe the Lynx Aurora with the promised FW option), or perhaps a "digital" to FW card + a separate converter.

    Well, to keep it short, I am learning a lot here. The last word is not said yet.

  19. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    My advice re: the converters = *Free*
    IOW - YMMV, etc...
  20. route909

    route909 Guest


    Check out these converters. There was a test on the net where the authors compared the Lavry Gold, StageTec, Prism, Lake People and some other hi end A/Ds. While the StageTec came out on top, the Lake People converter was a really close second, leaving the other converters further behind. They have a 4 ch A/D converter for 24-25000 skr and are distributed by polteknik (http://www.polteknik.se).

    For the record, I´ve heard a StageTec console at Berwaldhallen in Stockholm and it sounded... good. If the Lake People converter isn´t far behind, it might be worth listening!


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