Understanding A/D converters along with Mic Pre



I'm on my continual journey to get the best home recording environment (I can afford) and was talking with another friend (session percussionist) about gear.

The subject of quality mic pre's came up (which I understand for the most part) but then along with it he said that a good sound was dependent on A/D Converters (Analog to Digital).

I need to understand this more clearly in context with my audio setup - which is the following:

G5 Dual 2 GHZ running OS 10.3.9
Digital Performer 4.1
MOTU 2408 w/ PCI -424
Presonus DigiMax 8 ch Mic Pre (running into 2408 via *ADAT Lightpipe)
Trying my best to get a good live acoustic drum sound(s) in a 'challenging room with OK mikes: AKG c430's for overheads, Beta 57 for snare, SM57 and AKG 300 for toms and Sennheiser e609 (?) for kick.

So I understand we are going in digitally via the *ADAT Lightpipe. However, where would I be able to improve quality via a better A/D converter? My understanding is that when you come in to the MOTU 2408 (or say a Pro Tools system) you have to use their inputs as A/D converter.

However it's fair to say that I'm ignorant about how the chain would hook up and work.

If someone could explain the way this gets connected. As of now it's Microphone-> Mic Pre->*ADAT Lightpipe to MOTU 2408. You can use a Digi 002 example if you want as I may purchase one of those in the future. I'm also thinking of buying either Geoffrey Dakin or some Brent Averill pre's in the future. I just want to know about the A/D thing.

TIA for all comments


*EDIT: I originally posted that I was connected via BNC (Doh!). It's ADAT Lightpipe and the word clock is synced via BNC (I think) :oops:
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Well-Known Member
Sep 26, 2005
If you're running the Digimax via the ADAT light pipe into the MOTU 2408, you are only utilizing the analog-to-digital converters within the Digimax and not the MOTU. The light pipe bypasses the onboard converters within the 2408. The only time you go through the analog-to-digital converters on the 2408 are when you go into the 8 analog inputs. For instance, when I transfer tracks from my TASCAM DA88's into my 2408 via the "TDIF" digital ports, I'm only hearing the analog-to-digital converters within the DA88's and not the 2408, except for the digital to analog output which I am monitoring from 2408. I find those more than adequate.

Have you tried to learn how to make good recordings without being concerned about analog-to-digital converters? I know everybody here on this forum really digs the high-resolution blah blah stuff. I'm not impressed by " PCM" to begin with and as such, I still record in 16-bit 44.1kHz with old converters and bypass all the up, down sampling along with the crazy transcoding. OK, so 24-bit, 96kHz sounds better than 16-bit 44.1 but it doesn't sound as good as 24-bit 192kHz but then it all still sounds like PCM to me until you get to "DSD" or direct streams digital. So if you want a superior analog-to-digital converter, screw PCM crap! Go DSD and then you'll have a really good sound! I really don't give a damn about how pristine my converters are as the most important thing is your recording front end, i.e. your microphones and your microphone preamplifiers, then the musicianship and that's all and not necessarily in that order. That's where you get all the substance of your sound, not from your converters but from the musicians themselves and your input source. Better quality converters are just icing on the cake and the old adage of garbage in equals garbage out still pertains.

Hard-nosed broad
Ms. Remy Ann David