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So a friend of mine wants to get into recording digtal and wanted my advice for a sound card. I told, as I do everyone else, get th RME Audio Hammerfall. He asked if he would really need 26 channels. I responded with, "not yet." Problem solved.
Since the RME is a digital only card, with 3 banks of ADAT and 1 SP/DIF on RCAs, we now move on to the hard part: ADs and DAs. I presonlly bought an Alesis AI-3 when it was all I could afford. They work, but I would hesitate to recommend them since Alesis gear is typically "temporary," meaning it breaks or is obsolete a couple years down the road.
So what would you buy if you were on a budget. 8 channels is prefered, but 2 channel SP/DIF would be cool for a start as well.


hollywood_steve Mon, 04/09/2001 - 23:10

Here's a related question that I've seen asked a few times but never really answered. Approximately what do you need to spend to get a noticeable improvement compared to the converters built into the digital recorders. To keep things simple and common to almost everyone, lets take an SV3800. Will the $250 converters from a companies like ART or Behringer improve things? How about the $500 to $750 converters from Sek'd? The $750 to $1000 models from Lucid? Or the "pro" converters that start with Apogee and quickly rise to silly prices? If you use the DAT recorder for a lot of utility tasks around the studio (not final two track mixes) and plan on keeping it for a long time, how much would it make sense to spend to improve the conveters? I know its impossible to give a blanket answer for every situation, but some general info on which products are NOTICEABLY better than the stock converters would be helpful. Thanks.


anonymous Tue, 04/10/2001 - 00:06

hollywoodsteve.......three weeks ago I recorded a choir in a church, with a John Hardy mic preamp, a Crown SASS and a Fostex D5.
I didn't have any external converter.
After the recording session, I listen to teh material in the was a I run a test from teh analog out of my PC (with a good card), and see what happen with a sweep in the DAT. I then flew the DAT digitally back to the PC, and analyzed it. It was impressive what the converters were doin' to the sound, teh high frequencies started to smear off well below 16K, and you can see that even on the waveform. It was really impressive. After that, I got an A/D (RME or Sek'd two channel model, I don't remember), from a friend of mine, and redid the test. There was almost no difference between the sweep produced by teh PC, and teh track recorded by the DAT.

Obviosuly I'ìm gonna buy n external A/D for teh next choir project taht will be next month.

my 2 cents

Guest Tue, 04/10/2001 - 18:59

Originally posted by hollywood_steve:
The $750 to $1000 models from Lucid? Or the "pro" converters that start with Apogee and quickly rise to silly prices?

FWIW, I've found the Lucid converters to be quite fact a tad more Pro than the's the price that kinda throws a spanner in that machine. Oooops.

If you use the DAT recorder for a lot of utility tasks around the studio (not final two track mixes) and plan on keeping it for a long time, how much would it make sense to spend to improve the conveters? I know its impossible to give a blanket answer for every situation, but some general info on which products are NOTICEABLY better than the stock converters would be helpful.

Especially if you're doing "generation" kinda stuff, I've found better converters along the way make a world of difference. From my experience, a good 'outboard converter' instead of the 'stock converters' in many of these machies (i.e. DAT machines) to be a world of help. YMMV.

hollywood_steve Tue, 04/10/2001 - 23:06

From my experience, a good 'outboard converter' instead of the 'stock converters' in many of these machies (i.e. DAT machines) to be a world of help. YMMV.

Damn, here we go again. I really appreciate the response, and I could be wrong and just really dense, but I still don't think that I've gotten my original question across.

Everyone now agrees that a "good outboard converter" is a big improvement over the "stock converters" say, in a DAT. But outboard converters range from silly little stompboxes with a tube in a viewing window (seriously, no joke) to some amazingly high priced boxes hand wired for the mastering guys. For the typical mook with an SV3800, about how much do you hafta spend to get a noticeable improvement over the SV3800 converters?

You have mentioned that you like the Lucid converters that are somewhere around the $700 range. Is that the minimum level that provides a worthwhile improvement over the sv3800's converters? Or do even the $200 converters from a company like ART offer an improvement over the converters in the DAT box? (and the Lucid is a LOT better and a sensible cost/performance price point)

Sorry if I'm coming off like a blockhead, but I've asked this same question in several places and have had several good quality converters recommended to me. But what I'm really trying to determine is "Are the existing converters in an "industry standard" DAT recorder so poor that ANY outboard converter would be an improvement?" OR "Are the cheaper outboard converters useless crap and you need to spend at least $XXX to gain any noticeable improvement over the SV3800 converters?"

thanks for reading this far.


Guest Wed, 04/11/2001 - 04:02

First, as you've noticed, stock converters work. The newest rage right now is 'outboard' converters...if you can add an extra buzz word like "tube" to the marketing, you're in heaven.

While I haven't tried all the new ones to hit the market, I have found that of the ones that I have tried that made a significant difference to me, the Lucid came in the least expensive.

There are some that I have heard that were actually inferior to the stock converters in something like an SV-3800. From the hardware I've heard, the Lucid is the least expensive that makes a big difference...from there, the next big leap in quality I've heard is either the Mytek or the Crane Song...both sound rather different from each other.

Hope this helps.

hollywood_steve Thu, 04/12/2001 - 08:49


Thanks for explanation. That's what I sorta expected. Considering how many thousands of "real" studios use the SV3800 with its stock converters, they obviously function. For me, it wasn't until I had my Ampex 351 to compare it to that I decided that there may be something better out there. And I realize that the tube 351 is probably no better overall than the sv3800; its just a lot more pleasant sounding (to me). When I record 30 seconds of guitar into each, the 351 comes back sounding like what I remember a guitar sounding like (Mick Taylor's solo on "Sway"?) - only poorly played...... The SV3800 sounds like some weird techno guys' super "hifi" stereo system - impressive, but uncomfortable somehow.

Glad to know that I don't have to spend $3k to improve the sound of a $1000 DAT recorder.


anonymous Mon, 04/16/2001 - 23:28

Take a look at this. Look at the Lynx One card.

A very impressive sounding 2 channel A/D/A converter with AES/EBU or S/PDIF I/O (selectable via software). 24 bit, 48K. Word clock I/O. MIDI I/O. 32 bit software mixer with different dither options on the A/D and D/A. This card can be used as a stand alone A/D/A converter via the software mixers monitoring options.

I can assure you that for the $400 you pay for it, you will never use your SV3000 converters again! Plus, it get's you into and out of the computer if you have that need too.

Their new Lynx Two card! I am salivating.

Good luck.

Guest Tue, 04/17/2001 - 05:27

I can't honesty say if it will improve a TCM2000 or M3000, I've never heard either unit. I've been quite enamored with the Lucid stuff for mid priced outboard converters. There are better, but they're quite a bit more the Crane Song stuff for example.

As for an 8 channel unit, the Lucid 8824, in addition to sounding good has input and output controls that are controlled via MIDI through your computer. In addition, all of the 'dip switch' settings can be altered via the same, if you're using the computer with multiple machines that have different digital I/O's (like your adats are running lightpipe and your _____ takes SP/DIF or AES, etc.)

I've also found that the clock is very stable so using it as a 'masterclock' isn't a bad idea.

I'm still kinda new to this stuff, but so far, I've found the Lucid stuff to be pretty impressive in both price, tone, and function.

anonymous Tue, 10/23/2001 - 16:03

Originally posted by littledog:
OK. I'll bite. I'm looking to upgrade the stock Digidesign 888/24 converters. Anyone have an opinion if the Lucids that Fletcher kept referring to would be a significant step up, or do I need to go to Crane Song, etc.?

it really depends on what you're using in the 1st place, and what you can afford. i've noticed you're looking to replace an 888/24's converters, so i'm assuming you'd be looking for an 8 channel solution. if you can afford it, crane song make an amazing piece of equipment called the spider, & for about the same price as the 8 ch. apogee a/d/a. not only do you get 10 ch.'s of amazing a/d conversion, you also get 8 phenomenal mic pre's! but there's no d/a, and i don't know if it's possible to add, at least stereo, as an option. but fletch knows the specifics better than i do. but like i originally said, it comes down to what you're looking to do. if you're looking to get 8 ch.'s of very high quality audio into protools, it'd be hard to do better. and if you can do with a stereo d/a converter on the other end, the lucid unit is cheap as chips.

this is just a suggestion that perhaps you might not have thought of, otherwise, if you need 8 i/o, the hedd192 option would mean buying 4 of them; quite a bit more than either a spider & a lucid d/a 24/96, heaps more than the lucid 8 ch. a/d/a. but gettin' those 8 mic pres thrown into the bargain would have to be pretty tempting, don't ya think?

good luck,


hey jules! congratz! but you were already here anyway, weren't you...

sjoko Tue, 10/23/2001 - 21:46

littledog & co -

If you are considering an 888 -

Instead, perhaps consider a Digi ADAT bridge instead, which gives you 16 channels I/O - and a Lucid ADA8824 8 channel converter.

The total comes to the same or perhaps a few bucks more than a digi 888 - for FAR superior sound - and you still have 8 channels I/O spare for the future.

And then to top it all - the new Lucid GEN6-96 clock, which, to put it in the grossest possible understatement "makes Pro Tools sound a bit better" A mindblowing difference - in this case believe the hype

Guest Thu, 10/25/2001 - 15:54

ANY cool new house wordclock device (and there are many, I have a Rosendahl Nanosyncs) will greatly improve 888/24's

Why not do that + pick up 2 x golden channels for all overdubs? (after tracking)

Cranesong Hedd 192
Apogee PSX100 (V cool feature for those with say a MOTU 2408 called 'confidence monitoring' Feed the incoming signal via the SPDIF on the motu, feed the motu's spdif OUT (the mix) to the Apogee - AND HEAR THE MIX on on great d/a converter!!!!!! (do this on PT as well)

Everyone here should want a spyder to come crawling down the chimeny come the holliday season..!!!!


MadMoose Thu, 10/25/2001 - 21:43

On a real budget level how are the Flying Cow converters? I've been using the stock converters on my DA30MkII for a long time. I keep seeing the Cow for around $200 but is it an improvement or a waste of $200 that could go towards a Lucid or Rosetta? I also have the chance to grab a Finalizer Express for $450 or so and was wondering how that would fare as a standalone converter with the option for budget mastering or pumping up rough mixes.

anonymous Sun, 10/28/2001 - 14:49

Originally posted by littledog:
Since I already own two of the 888/24's, the Cranesong Spider option seems really intriguing. I'll check it out - and thanks for the suggestion. The Lucid GEN6 clock was also high on my list - at the moment I am getting clock from a MOTU Digital Timepiece.

i don't know if you're looking to do this anytime soon, but i noticed that you live in boston, and fletcher, from mercenery audio, had a post somewhere (or i might have actually seen it on his site) re; the fact that he has 8 of 'em coming in, of which 6 were already spoken for. and i don't think dave hill is gonna be crankin' these things out in the hundreds or thousands, otherwise it wouldn't be worth mentioning. so you might want to take a walk, or a quick sprint...


Guest Tue, 10/30/2001 - 19:58

The only thing I'm concerned about in using the Spider as a front end to my 888/24's, is that while the CraneSong might have 8 incredible kick-ass mic pres, there will certainly be times when I might want to use some of the other pres in my collection as well (Daking/Vintech/TubeTech, etc.) The Cranesong website only shows a front view of the Spider, so I can't tell what kind of inputs are on the back. Anybody know if the unit has line level inputs, or some other way of using the converters with an external pre? If so, it gets very tempting...


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