MOTU conversion/audio quality vs APOGEE & RME

Discussion in 'Converters / Interfaces' started by ChrisH, Jan 14, 2012.

  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

  1. Paul999

    Paul999 Active Member

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    Clocks. Man I've never heard a difference with a clock.....ever. I had M-audio, internal mac, wavesmaxxbcl, and API. I switched back and forth several times. I couldn't even fool myself into thinking I could hear a difference. Believe me I tried.
     
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    There sure is a lot of people who think different. But I'm wondering if this is the leftover Pro Tools 24 generation residue. If it made a difference, I would take the leap but I tend to agree.
    RME has Steady Clock and if I recall, if I added a third ADI-8 QS I would need an external clock.

    Why do these guys on GS claim its helped the Lucid so much? All BS, dilution, placebo what you think? We live in such a confusing industry don't we.
     
  3. Paul999

    Paul999 Active Member

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    I don't know exactly why people on GS hear the difference between clocks. How man times have you grabbed the wrong channel eq and started making changes thinking you were hearing it improve. I did this 3 times in one mix last week.LOL

    Here is a little story about my own self deception(I hope I'm not repeating myself). I bought 2 more 550b's last week thinking I would put them on 2-bus to sweeten a mix. They arrived and I put them on my 2-bus. Now my 2-bus has been a manley variable mu followed by a waves maxxbcl limiter. When I mix I hit the limiter with about 2-2.5db of GR. If I am sending it to an ME I back off when I am finished. If I am self mastering I back off until I am barely touching the limiter. If I am doing a demo I leave it alone and call it a day. I decided to try the eq before and after the manley. I started with before. Next I applied some eq. Pretty subtle stuff but making an impact. 2 db shelf @10k, 2 db boost at 75 hz etc. Man the heavens were opening up. Big time! As an after thought and boost to my ego I printed and normalized the mix to compared it to the one with no 2-bus eq. Expecting to be blown away I hit play. They sounded the same! I mean the sounded so much the same that I thought I listened to the same file twice and went back to make sure I was printing things properly. To double check that everything was set up correctly I exaggerated the eq settings to stupid levels. This time I could hear the difference but far less then i expected. I am fairly certain that the 2-bus compression was interacting with the eq and essentially nullifying the effect. I can't tell you how shocked I was by this especially because of how much I thought I was opening up this mix.

    Now as a mastering channel my tonelux/550b combo is unbelievable. And now I can use the 550b's on tracks while mixing. The way it worked out is a pretty win win situation. Anyway this was a huge eye opener about self deception for me.
     
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Hey Paul,

    I often think its me who needs to change, not the gear. We get a sound in our heads and all the gear in the world doesn't change how it ends up everytime. Scary.
    I would love to travel around and sit in on mixes. Oh, how I would love this.
    I'm excited to watch the in depth puremix videos coming. I'll be posting a link to them.
     
  5. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

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    Well a null test (at least in my definition) produces the difference between two conversions of the same signal. (Right? You split an analog signal, convert it with two different converters, and then subtract the digital signals.) If that difference signal is small then the two converted signals are "close," but I guess you are saying that they might not "sound close" as in the measurement devices in out heads is doing something fancier than taking an RMS norm.
     
  6. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

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    Same here. As long as I've got the clocks working properly - no pops, clicks, sync problems - I have not been able to hear any differences. Could be I don't know what I'm looking for, but...
     
  7. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

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    When investigating a phenomenon that is difficult to demonstrate scientifically, always remember that confirmation bias is very easy to demonstrate.
     
  8. ChrisH

    ChrisH Active Member

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    Nov 22, 2011
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    Iowa
    hahaha, can't say I've never done that one..
     
  9. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

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    I've done this many times running live sound. Embarrassing! But confirmation bias keeps biting me in the butt. If I think I'm turning put the highs on the piano it will seem a bit brighter...until I realize I've got my fingers on the acoustic guitar channel.
     
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    "re: I've done that a lot, you aren't alone."

    What I meant was: I've often thought my mix was going to to sound completely different using something new or changing some method and its ended up sounding so close. Does this happen to you? Its a slow process to re-curve listening habits for me.
     
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Live sound indeed! There are so many distraction its hard not doing this sometimes. Especially when you go from extreme room and crowd changes running the console, monitors and PA. "READY SET GO! and the pressure is on. Damn I miss those days.
     
  12. Paul999

    Paul999 Active Member

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    Mar 23, 2011
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    Edmonton, AB. Canada
    Big time. I go back and listen to old mixes thinking I must be 1000x better now and lo and behold there is improvement but not nearly what I thought. I REALLY revamped my studio this year going from "busting at the seams" with gear to "recording in a third world country". I basically sold everything that didn't blow me away and now I have the studio that fits me perfectly. This started in October and ended last week. I had about a month were other then my 2-bus(which is sacred, until I find something better:) I only had one outboard compressor and I was used to having 8 channels of compression. I sold all but 2 API pre's and was relying on my console pre's. During this time I've tracked and mixed about 100 songs. As there is quite a time lag of tracking to mixing in most projects I had the experience of mixing through my console using mostly ITB plugs on tracks that were recorded with ultra high end classic gear like KM84's, distressors, shadow hills stuff etc. I also mixed tracks that were recorded on next to nothing gear wise(like sm57's on overheads instead of KM84's) and mixed mostly with ITB processing but still used my console for eq. Third I also am currently mixing stuff recorded on next to nothing gear wise but I have boat loads of gear again.

    This was an awesome personal experiment. In all three of these instances I can't which is which because I am a bigger influence then the gear. I hate it when people say the gear doesn't matter because it does but when you've worked on the best it is easier to pull out great sounds out of nothing. I'm not saying I'm an amazing engineer. I am solid (one of these days I'll post something). I was astonished that there wasn't a major drop in quality. When I realized there wasn't I pulled out a new philosophy. When I would notice that I would consistently take too much time on something I would by a piece of gear to get me where I need to go quicker. I'd always get there but in this business you need to be quick as well. For example I noticed I was spending as much as 20-30 minutes on room mic's to get my snare were I wanted it. I found a piece of gear that gets me there in usually 2-7min now(docderr module). Now I am pulling out complex mixes like the ones I am doing for a big band with drums, horns, keys, 2 guitars, slide guitar and loads of back-ups in about 6 hours top to bottom. A standard rock mix is about 3-4 and a half hours. With the studio as busy as it is I need to mix a song everyday 7 days a week just to keep up. Of course some days I'll mix 2 or 3.

    Sorry for the long drawn out answer.
    Paul
     
  13. sdelsolray

    sdelsolray Active Member

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    Location:
    Portland, OR
    I'll explain what I did. I used one Gefell M295 mic into a Pendulum MDP-1a preamp. That preamp has two identical balanced outputs per channel. I ran one output to the Lavry Blue AD and the other to the Lucid 88192 AD. On each track I recorded a test tone first to eventually set levels. I also nudged one of the tracks to compensate for the slightly different latency between the Lavry and Lucid. Each converter ran AES/EBU to a SPDIF transformer coupled converter cable to SPDIF on my Digi003 dongle. I reversed the polarity of one track and listened to them together. They did not completely null, but what was left was only some high frequencies about -60dB down from nominal RMS level of the two tracks without reversing the polarity of one track (slightly above the noise floor). In other words, nearly inaudible when compared to listening to both tracks without a polarity reversal on one of them. I ABX'd the pair and I failed miserably (4-6 out of 10 correct on average).

    To analyze clocking issues, I repeated the test procedure using various clocks - the Lucid as master via word clock, the Lavry as master via word clock and the Digi003 as master via SPDIF. Although the performance/takes were different for each of these tests, the resulting null tests were basically the same as far as I could tell. Each did not null perfectly but nonetheless only a bit of high frequency info was present down about -60dB from nominal.

    I also repeated the listening portion of these tests using 4 different DA converters I had at that time - Digi003, Lavry Blue, Lucid AD9624 and Lucid 88192, multiplied by different clocking variations. Although I thought I could hear distinctions, the ABX testing put me in my place and demonstrated I could not tell a difference.

    I listened through active Quested monitors and AKG 240DF headphones.

    Dunno about the external vs. internal clock issue. Dan Lavry makes a strong (albeit quite technical) argument that decent external clocks are never better than decent internal clocks but at best are equal.

    Although somewhat anecdotal, I conclude that for my uses, and to my ears, conversion is not much of an issue when dealing with modern converters. Much more important are player, instrument, engineer, room, mic, and preamp, in that order (more or less).
     
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Null testing

    Brad from Lavry was kind enough to allow me to post this .

    This topic has been posted as a Sticky:
    http://recording.org/pro-audio-gear/51987-null-testing.html
     
  15. rocksure

    rocksure Active Member

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    I don't consider myself a converter expert by any means. However, I have used Motu, M-Audio, RME, Mackie Onyx, Lynx Aurora and others. You should be able to get really good results with any of them. I have gotten recordings and mixes with all of them that I am happy with. In my experience while there are differences, but they are certainly not "night and day" differences. An old Midiman Flying Cow 2 channel converter I think sounds better than their M-Audio Delta converters or a Mackie Onyx every time. RME sounds better than MOTU....but I would say the Lynx sounds best of all these that I have mentioned. Worth the money? I would say yes, but I would personally put mics, preamps, monitors higher on my priority list than converter differences.
     
  16. Tom Fodor

    Tom Fodor Active Member

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    Jun 25, 2003
    Location:
    Queensland Australia
    I recently swapped out Motu interfaces for Echo Audiofire 12's and the difference was more than noticeable. The imaging and clarity improvement was staggering, noise was reduced and clocking has also improved. Sorry but it is just so obvious to your ears it's not funny, unless of course you have suffered substantial hearing damage, in which case you should not be behind the console anyway. Motu Gear is not terrible sounding overall but it is certainly not in the same league as Echo, Apogee or Lynx stuff. RME is not too bad either.
     
  17. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2005
    Some of those differences you are hearing could be due to differences in impedance matching & gain staging. And that would create an audible difference in what one might think is just the converters. You are dealing with differently designed analog input and output electronics. So it isn't really fair in saying one is actually better than another. Most of the signature sound you get comes from your technique of recording & mixing. I feel that way and so does rocksure. A good recording transcends any converter. Tonal quality may be different between units but only you can decide what kind of sound works out best for your technique. Every situation is different and everything offers different tonal coloration. Best is a relative and subjective term. For instance, what do you consider better or best, API vs. Neve, Neve vs. API? They're both fabulous. They both sound incredible. They both have similar advantages. They both sound different. They both sound different also merrily through different gain staging techniques in how you are running them. In my book, both are considered best for my purposes. I have no need, and no desire nor intentions to try anything differently than that. If I wanted a different sound than what my ALESIS HD 24 XR gives me, I might opt for the MOTU 2408? And that's also provided I may utilize a combination of both sets of different converters and analog input/output. I could do identical mixes both ways and choose which one I think sounds " better ". And there is nothing keeping you from doing that. In fact I recommend it. How else are you going to go for your ultimate sound unless you experiment a little?

    Variety is the spice of sound
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  18. ChrisH

    ChrisH Active Member

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    Nov 22, 2011
    Location:
    Iowa
    Seems the majority of people tend to believe that there is a different levels of conversion quality, but then some believe that the human ear cannot detect it if there even is one.
    The guys over at sound on sound said that unless you have really really great state of the art monitor speakers and a great room that you wouldn't hear a difference
    between a Motu converter and a Lynx or such.
    I really would like to be able to save the $1000+ by going with an Motu828 instead of RME UFX but only if I'm completely confident that the Motu would sound just as good as the RME.
     
  19. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Lynx Aurora is the best deal for a simple 1 rack 8 or 16 channel ADDA but its not for the higher end requirements when it comes to hybrid. I don't have first hand on a Lynx A/B vs RME but I'm told that the ADI-8 QS sound is more open and natural and why I bought those over the Aurora's. After I used them I was even happier because they had options that I would have missed and would have had to of traded in to get what the RME ADI-8 QS have. RME makes a lot of converters that cost in the hundreds to thousands.
    There are many reasons to buy or not buy something and you also have to look to see who is using what, for what, and how they base their opinions on something.

    Most people don't need all the DA's so you may want to look at what you are paying for in a converter too. Most people need 2, 8 or 16 etc AD and no DA. High end DA's and how they gain stage with analog gear is very important. Simple AD is not so important and why the Aurora is a good mid level AD at that price point. They are popular because of that more than being stellar IMHO. They are simple and work.
    I also choose to have less converters in one rack space box with a better PSU which is another topic. Also, if one chokes I still have another as a backup. Whether any of this makes a difference to your soundscape or workflow things like this are where you start to decide whats worth spending money on or not. Always look to see what people are doing when they mention something. I'm a firm believer you get what you pay for but you might not need everything you pay for. In my case, glad I spend the extra on something that had the bells and whistles I needed. I would never know that I needed until I started doing hybrid more seriously.
     
  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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