Is this a justified converter upgrade? Emu to Apogee .

Discussion in 'Converters / Interfaces' started by fscott55, May 30, 2006.

  1. fscott55

    fscott55 Guest

    Quick overview of my setup:

    AKG 451-EB mics with CK1 caps (this is the best sound for me. I've tried nearly all versions of Neumanns, KM84, KM184, U89, Schoeps, etc.. nearly all high end mics and the vintage pair of AKG's are basically silky brightness, exactly what I need)

    Hamptone JFET

    Emu 1212m soundcard into DAW, Samplitude 8.0

    Solo acoustic guitar, dreadnought bass heavy Samnta Cruz TRPro, and Martin D models, including D41 and vintage HD28.

    Also record some violin and mandolin.

    I use reverb only on occasions.

    I am very picky and I can hear extreme subtleties in tonal variances. I am also very picky about the tone I get from the instruments.

    So, I am wondering, based upon my setup now, it is obvious the EMU 1212m would be the weak link. But I ask, *how* weak is it?

    I am considering getting an older Apogee Rosetta AD 96k converter. These sell for around $600 on Ebay.


    Based upon my preferences and equipment, is it justified to upgrade to the Apogee Rosetta AD? Would tonal differences be obvious enough to justify the $600?

    Thanks for any help in this dire decision. Making me go crazy.

    ps. PLEASE I am not looking for anything higher end than the older Rosetta converter. If that wouldn't be good enough than I'll just keep the Emu card.
  2. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    If you can hear what you say you can hear, then ANY subtle change is subjective and only you are capable of answering the question.

    As an E-MU audio interface owner, a nd a true audio snob myself, I would say no, the Apogee is not going to be noted as being better and is not going to give you $600 worth of being better. The low cost of E-MU audio interfaces and lack of history of having pro converters has no bearing on the the high quality that they currently provide and the awards they have won on that suberb sound quality. I would say that you are going to find much more difference in your recording source, the room the source is recorded in, the mic used, the preamp used and even the cables used before you are likely to hear any difference in the converters you mention.
  3. fscott55

    fscott55 Guest


    Thankyou for your reply. You mentioned the very reason I bought the EMU card in the first place, high quality for low cost. So yes I've been pleased with my sound.

    However, not ever hearing anything better than the EMU converter, (I upgraded to EMU from Korg multitracker converters), I am left wondering about that $600 upgrade to Apogee.

    The thing I hear is this thing called the "analog stage." That's what has bothered me people saying the EMU analog stage in the conversion is crap compared to the analog stage even in the older Apogee Rosetta's.

    Appreciate your response though. Every bit of info helps me make this crazy decision.
  4. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    Since the E-MU "M" series uses a top grade converter and a good solid clock circuit, the only thing to possibly bash about it is the analog part of the circuit. I and many others that are gear snobs believe the E-MU stands on it's own merit. But the bashers need something to justify more expensive converters. And while the expensive converters may indeed be better, the degree that they are better is so slim that it is hard to tell yet alone justify spending more money. As I stated, you and most others, will likely find a bigger difference in changes to all the other parts of the audio chain than having more expensive converters.

    A lot of pro's are using the converters from RME, Alesis AI-3 and HD24, Behringer ADA-8000, Presonus, MOTU ect and I find the E-MU converters out perform all of them. Would I rather have any of the newer Apogee converters? Hell ya. But not so much because I think they are better, or worth the money as much as having them on my gear list helps me to atttact higher end clients that are for the most part, uneducated and expect to see the Apogee brand name on my gear list.
  5. Robak

    Robak Active Member

    Mar 10, 2006
    AudioGaff is right.
    But I'm not sure if his E-MU converters out perform my RME converters :wink:
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    It sounds like you're hearing is as acute as my hearing is?

    I said it sounds like you're hearing is as acute as my hearing is?

    Just like AudioGaff indicated, the bulk and character of your sound is generally dictated by your microphone selection, microphone preamplifier front-end. It appears from the technical reviews that the E-MU has the same converters in it that the high-definition Digidesign systems use. So since that system seems to be adequate for making million-dollar hits, I think you're E-MU is also capable. Are you capable? So many people here think that they cannot attain the sounds they want with their inexpensive selection of equipment? That simply isn't true. Most of ours sounds come down to our experience and knowledge. I make lovely recordings with crappy equipment I am handed at times. I know its limitations. I know it's good points. That makes my job much easier. I know what and whose buttons I can push for quality sounds and takes.

    Quality is as quality does
    Ms. Remy Ann David[/b]
  7. fscott55

    fscott55 Guest

    Remy, thanks for the reply.

    I am actually quite accomplished on guitar, violin, and mandolin. The beef of my post really isn't about the music, but rather the tonal qualities as they are interpreted from analog to digital. I hoping there is nothing lost in that translation by using a $160 soundcard versus a $600 dedicated converter.

    I guess to put it more simply, my concern would be the conversion of a single note, perhaps the simple strike of an open D string on the acoustic guitar. How that tone is brought into the digital realm is my concern.

    I do feel at ease with the above replies however.
  8. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    You may want to stop in to the Acoustic Music forum every now and then, Fscot55. Sounds like that's a lot of what you do: acoustic music recording?

    As Remy and others have already pointed out, there's a lot more to it than just the gear. BUT, I don't doubt what you're hearing. (I had something happen recently that was too subtle for most folks to hear, but I heard a problem, and worked the issue to death until I did indeed find the problem...although at times I really did think perhaps I was imagining things. In other words: if you hear a difference for the better, then you know what you have to do.)

    I'm of the opinion though, that it can become a case of diminishing returns with converters, when you're getting to that ultra high-end point. If you can find a way to TRULY A/B those two (The EMU and the Rosetta), getting levels set, repeatable material going into them, instant toggling of the results, etc. (and someone to help you with double-blind listening experiments) and (most importantly) if you feel the cost is justified, then by all means..... On the other hand, if its something that is barely audible (and something that isn't going to be obvious outside of a $15k monitoring system with a tweaked out control room), then your choice becomes much tougher to justify.

    Most of all, I agree that the artist, their performance, their instrument and the space (room) itself are the most important issues. The rest of the stuff is just a means to an end, and ideally, it should sound like NOTHING at all if it's working properly, at least for acoustic/non-processed music.

    I'd be very interested in hearing the results of what you may find out about those two converters. :cool:
  9. Duardo

    Duardo Guest

    I'd agree that those other things make a more noticeable difference than the converters...but I don't agree that that means that it's not worth the extra money to upgrade your converters.

    I think you might hear a noticeable difference improvement with the Apogee converter. The clock, analog circuitry and the power supply are all an improvement over what's in the E-Mu converter. For the money and even compared to other converters that are a bit more expensive the E-Mus are great...but that's not to say that you can't do better.

    They're certainly capable...they're more than capable...but again, you can do better. They do use the same converter chips that Digidesign's converters use, but that doesn't mean that they're the same converters. The clock, analog circuitry and power supply in Digidesign's 192 are all superior to what's in the E-Mu. I've listened to them side by side and there's a fairly obvious difference. I've listened to the older Apogee converters compared to the 192 and there's a difference there as well.

    If you really want to feel at ease you should try to get your hands on another converter to compare. I think you'll hear a difference but I can't say whether that difference will be worth it to you.

    I agree, diminishing returns definitely do kick in. The differences are there, though, and I wouldn't say that everyone who uses them is trying to justify their purchases, and I'd probably give clients who ask for them more credit than saying that they're "uneducated".

  10. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    Lest we make too much of this. Adding a "pricey" outboard converter to any type of "lesser" system(Including a "budget-type" soundcard, for instance), may be wasted money? I'd start right back at the beginning..!

    I don't "know" your Emu card? How many channels, etc., nor your needs?

    Have you looked at the Lynx cards? They are not $3000+, stand-alone, converters either(Though they offer those, in their Aurora, boxes!), but, their "ENTIRE system" of I/O is, rather "primo"... IOW: Maybe a "general card upgrade" might be appropriate? No "messing with" outboard converters, connections, etc., just an overall improvement in(Maybe?) "everything"? If you can find a single Lynx card with enough I/O, the price may be in your ballpark??? The RME's, would be the only other option in this class and worth a careful study, as well. I chose the Lynx on it's I/O's actual "connectors", alone, which suited my needs, better(Between RME/Lynx) - all XLR - (Or mostly all.) for analog and AES/EBU digital I/O(My "pre" has an AES/EBU digital out, which runs direct to my LynxOne - I use the Lynx analog I/O for "all else". I also use the LynxOne MIDI capability for my slight needs.). A genuine all-in-one "pro" gadget. "THE BEST"? Maybe not..? But, few of us below the upper reaches of the atmosphere, need look further...... If budget is everything, look at their L-22 or LynxOne, which are their "$600"(Or less) cards...... If you can go a grand($1000), the LynxTwo's are mighty fine and offer a wider variety of I/O options......

    When you KNOW you have an excellent "standard" - pretty much "no compromise"(Good computer, good software, good sound card), you can then work with much greater confidence on all the other aspects of your recording(Technique, room, mics, speakers, etc.). Having any possible "weak link" at or near the beginning of the system is hopeless for meaningful improvement. It's nice to KNOW when I hear something "wrong" in my system, it is not at all likely I have exceeded the abilites of my "base" system......


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