How about a Masterlink upgrade?!

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by Mad John, Feb 17, 2004.

  1. Mad John

    Mad John Active Member

    Nov 25, 2001
    I am having clipping troubles with the analog ins. Not that there is bad sound per say, it's just that I know I am not getting the correct headroom from which to work!

    I have been hearing about this guy, Jim Williams, from and it was stated by some people that for a few bills he can totally revamp the cheapness that runs through the converter and signal path, before it gets to the hard drive.

    Only trouble is....this guy can't be reached! :(

    My qestion to all of you is: has anyone heard of an upgrade for the Masterlink , where seperate converters would not be nessasary?

    If not, what are the best converters for the Masterlink (I am comming from an Trident 65 and will be getting the Radar in a few months.) Also what is the basic price range?

  2. Skeetch

    Skeetch Guest

    Hi John -

    Mine was the first ML Jim mod'd. It was a definite improvement over the stock unit. Specifically, here's what gets done:

    - install National LM6172 dual opamps at 3000/us slew rate.

    - install larger Rubycon Z series electrolytic caps to extend the low end (and did it ever!!)

    - install .01 uf wima poly caps on the input, MIT's on the output.

    - increased the power supply bypass caps and installed .1 uf mono ceramic bypasses.

    - Bandwidth limiting caps were used on certain stages.

    - The opamps used as followers were cut and changed to closed loop buffers.

    The converters themselves don't get changed as they're apparently surface mounted to the board and Jim didn't want to risk lifted traces and such. However, the changes he did make do indeed improve the overall sound of the unit - low end is extended noticeably and there's just more overall detail that I can hear. The cost of the mod is $200.00 and is well worth the expense IMO.

    The reason you can't reach Jim on the phone is that he's apparently a victim of the land line/cell phone switch over fiasco. You should be able to reach him via his cell phone number. Check your PM.
  3. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    If you have a problem clipping the input to the Masterlink, no upgrade is gonna fix that. The problem is in your gain staging. Turn down the outputs of what ever your feeding the Masterlink.
  4. Marik

    Marik Guest

    Since we are on the topic I have a question.

    Mine plays back a couple db higher than recorded. I.e. if I record 1000Hz tone at -11db it will play it at -9db. Is it OK?
  5. Skeetch

    Skeetch Guest

    Gaff's right. And it's also related to Marik's question. The ML's do seem to be a tad hot going in. I've noticed this when going in via analog or digital (AES and S/PDIF). Lately, I've been feeding the ML with the mix bus off my board for 2 tracks mixdowns and just drop the master fader a few dB's to keep the ML from clipping.

    The Audio Upgrades mod doesn't remedy this, it's just something quirky about the ML's. As Gaff mentioned, you just have to watch your gain staging.
  6. Chance

    Chance Guest

    does anyone know that if you have BOTH outputs connected to the ML ( XLR +4 AND RCA -10 ) will that make both outputs -10 ?
    on playback of the ML, the meters are pegged
    the board is an A&H sigma and the PB has no input fader, just monitor level.
  7. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    Not all gear is designed to have both -10 and +4 connections at the same time. The Masterlink may very well be one of them. Check your manual or contact Alesis.
  8. Chance

    Chance Guest

    I called Alesis tec support, but they didn't know. Right now it's hard to get behind the rack, or else I could A/B the outs
  9. Sir Dingo

    Sir Dingo Guest

    If you're "getting the RADAR" soon, you can sell the Masterlink. The new RADAR24 software/hardware combo allows you mixdown and burn a 2-track CD master from inside the RADAR using the RADAR converters and CD burner.

  10. JavaJunkie

    JavaJunkie Guest

  11. Skeetch

    Skeetch Guest

    Excellent indeed.

    I've got the Radar24 without the combo drive (it's next on the purchase list). However, I'll be keeping my Masterlink for awhile to come yet. I don't believe the burn process on the Radar's combo drive will permit anything other than a 16/44.1 standard Redbook burn. With the Masterlink, one can burn a 24-bit CD to send out to mastering houses. Much as I love my Radar, I'll still be letting a pro mastering house do the mastering and final burn to 16-bit.
  12. JavaJunkie

    JavaJunkie Guest


    Is there any advantage in the Masterlinks CD24 over just burning a 24 bit .wav file to a data CD?

  13. Skeetch

    Skeetch Guest

    There is if one doesn't have a computer in the control room, or if you have one that doesn't have the ability to import audio tracks and convert them to WAV format. In my case, the latter situation is true. I'm not a big fan of computers in general - have to work with them all day long in the day job - and want to minimize their usage in my control room. Typical computer CD burners suffer from a number of problems that things like the Masterlink's (and perhaps the Radar's combo drive) usually don't - things like noise due to the proximity of other RF generating components, higher jitter, etc.

    In terms of burning CD's (if memory serves), I believe the Radar's combo drive will only permit a standard 16/44.1 Redbook burn so the option to do a 24-bit WAV burn is out. I'll probably still be getting the combo drive for my Radar and will use it for archives and rough mix burns. The ML allows one to burn a 24-bit AIFF format disc which can be read by most Windows, Mac and Unix platforms and is comptabile with just about any audio editing/mastering applications.

    Now that I think about it, I suppose there's another option as well. The Radar will allow exports to either BWAV or WAV formats. One could export the mix tracks to the combo drive and potentially have 24-bit WAV's stored that way. I'm not sure if the Radar will allow for that with the combo drive, but it could be another viable option if it does.
  14. Mad John

    Mad John Active Member

    Nov 25, 2001
    I am still trying to figire out what the best course is to take, regarding inprovement in the Masterlinks ability to get the highest quality of music output, into the ML before getting to it's hard drive!

    What would a great converter cost? Maybe I do not require the "Mod" job, if the covertors issue would solve the problem.

    Brands anyone? :confused:
  15. Skeetch

    Skeetch Guest

    If you're getting the Radar soon, you might consider just going with its converters. You can go either S/PDIF or AES out of the Radar into the ML and bypassing its converters.

    Lavry, Benchmark, Mytek all make some pretty nice converters though if you're determined to go that route.
  16. Mad John

    Mad John Active Member

    Nov 25, 2001
    Wow Skeetch! That sounds too good to be true. I did not know about that factor! But wait, what about the Trident 65 analog desk that I am useing? Where does that come in? How can you mix your tracks? Does it go threw the board 1st, then go back into the Radar to the Masterlink?

    Sorry, but I am a bit confused.
  17. Skeetch

    Skeetch Guest

    No problem. Think of the Radar (or any HD recorder for that matter) as a two inch tape machine. It basically plays the role of the analog tape deck. Think of the Masterlink as the two-track mixdown deck. I have a similar setup to what you'll have when you get the Radar (I'm running a Ghost/Radar/ML setup with some assorted outboard). Does the Trident have a tape return/mix B path? If so, here's one way you could run it all.

    - You run your sources into the Trident as you normally would, using either the Trident's pre's and/or any outboard pre's you've got.

    - If the Trident has direct outs on each channel, those feed the inputs on the Radar via the balanced quarter inch/D-sub cables that come with the Radar.

    - You record and do overdubs as normal, sending everything into the Radar.

    - The outputs from the Radar get fed into the Mix B or tape return jacks on the Trident. This is how the recorded tracks on the Radar get back into the Trident for mixdowns.

    - If you don't wind up using all 24 tracks on the Radar - say you reserve tracks 23 and 24 for your final mix pair - you plug the input channel cables for tracks 23/24 for the Radar into your main stereo bus outs on the Trident.

    - Once you've got the final stereo mix tracks on the Radar, you can assign that pair (23/24) to be output through either the Radar's S/PDIF output jack, or the AES output jack - either of which can be fed into the Masterlink. Just need to be sure you're maching up bit depth and sample rate between the two and you should be good to go.

    There's probably half a dozen or more variations of that method, but that's one viable way of getting your mixes into the Masterlink without using its converters and taking advantage of the undoubtedly delicious sounding Trident.

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