Speakers or DAC what to upgrade next (1k budget)

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by kmetal, Aug 1, 2018.

  1. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    im thinking of what my next move should be as far as putting my new basic rig together, besides the seemingly endless computer parts. right now im rocking an avid eleven, and focusrite scarlett solo interfaces, and alesis monitor one speakers, with an avantone on the shortlist, and a Bose home theater, and various Bluetooth and computer speakers. this rig is a transitoinal rig, to use while the house is getting remodeled, and while i archive my old media. its a cross between general listening, problem checking, and getting demo materials together for eventual finished songs. live capture isnt my first objective, but quality improvements their dont hurt. since most of the stuff is programmed, or virtual amps, and i dont have a tracking room proper yet, i think the listening side of things would be the best place to put some $ into. lol so i can hear better the flaws of my $14/mo youtube premium sub.... i wont be doing any 'official' mixing either as ill be bouncing around while this remodel painfully goes one room at a time.

    so heres what ive got in mind so far, and looking for suggestions, critiques, and reality checks. Mains, or large monitors are off the table [ugh] until i have a proper place for them, which could be a year or three.

    Interfacing/Conversion:

    DAC- mytek liberty- [1k$] seems to be tough to beat performance wise, usb, with a 127db dynamic range, and a 1/3 rack size. ive been waiting for the updated 8x192 to drop, but it hasn't. so this seems like the most performance i get get for the buck in the dac realm. the mytek brooklyn does 129db dynamic range, and is 2k.

    ADDA- Lynx e22/44 [750/1050$ with cables] these are faily old [2014] and still high performing pcie cards, with somehting like 118 db dynamic range on the AD and 123db on the DAC. they are cok solid stable, and low latency, but limited to desktops, or a pcie expansion chassis [300$]. it outperforms the UA apollo wich has a 115db DR on the AD and 121db DR on the DAC. this outperforms the RME hdspe card by several db on the adda at the expense of i/o count.

    addac/preamps/DSP. UAD apollo or Arrow runs 600-900$ depending on usb or thunderbolt. the UA arrow ($500) requires thunderbolt 3 [80$] for the pcie card if not built into the motherboard, or an expansion chassis (3-400$). these have built in pres an dsp which is kinda cool.


    Speakers:

    yamaha HS5's/sub- these speakers are cool, and im gonna get them eventually if not for stereo, for srrounds. the speakers are $400 a pair, and the sub, the same price. they are a sure step up from the alesis in a sense that they have a flatter mid range. ive mixed on the 8's before and the mixes translate well, but arent the most nuanced or detailed. i found the 5's to be somewhat of a poor mans ns-10, crossed with a smoother more extended frequency response. after hours at the store, i found i liked the 5's better than the 8's, which i had breifly owned, becuase i think they focus on the important part for me [low mids/mids] better, and the sub would handle the lows. the 8's just seems like they were trying to cover too much ground.

    avantone ns-10's- [$700] these seem like a great alternative to hunting down a used pair of the real things, scraping the residue off, and hoping they are the real thing. i like the idea of having NS style speakers, and wish yamaha would've done a re-issue. my concern is that the avantones dont have the true peculiarities that make the originals so worthwhile. i have mixed on a pair or originals powered by a halfer maybe about 15 times.

    amps [3-400]- yamaha, crest, or crown [new], maybe a bryston [used] entry level amp for the avantones.

    KRK Rockits- i dont particularly like these speakers but i see them on alot of hip hop/electronic producers consoles, and i think they have a valid voice. being they're fairly low priced, they would make a decent b or c reference.

    AKG/Sennheisser headphones [1-400] i havent had a pair of cans since i sold my 240's which at least said made in Austria. i use cans mostly for listening on the couch, so not a main priority, but an alternative, and something i dont have at all right now.


    so thats pretty much it. im really leaning towards that mytek dac, or the lynx + hsm5's. those seem to give me the most performance for the dollar. i just wonder if ill realize much of the dacs potential with medicore speakers, and random listening rooms. it certainly would be cool. the lynx gives input channels, high performance latency specs, and close to mastering level audio specs even by today's standards, and probably pairs better with the mediocre speakers/rooms, but does require a desktop or a digital connection on the other device. since ive been trying to phase out laptops this isnt a horrible notion, and its simple enough to run some cables and a monitor selector or pigtails/patch panel. the mytek liberty just really seems like its a cool unit, and its one of the highest spec DACS ive been able to find out there. it does one thing, and does it well. the price is not cheap, but not out of reach either. just enough to make me think twice right now, but within reach enough to really have me considering it. it'd be by far the nicest peice of gear ive owned as far as pro audio [maybe batched by my 414xls], and something 'special' ie not common, and very high spec. im gonna get the yammys' either either way, its just matter of now, or 6 mo or so. the lynx is more utilitarian, but does have a significant upgrade to th AD side, which i wouldn't upgrade for a while if i got the liberty. i have a new beta57 mic waiting and it would surely sound better thru the lynx than the eleven rack or scarlett. so the AD side wouldnt go to waste. the lynx is high performing, but not exceptional, just above average a bit. the low latency is very welcome for my guitar playing.

    anyway i appreciate any thoughts and perspective anyone might have on this. thanks.
     
  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    Hi K !
    It's always a mess in my mind when thinking about next studio upgrades so I'm with you here..
    The first thing that bugs me is : Will you be able to hear the difference of an high-end converter on the Alesis monitors?
    In any case, I have a Mytek AD 96 and I love the thing, I even use it as my master clock. I bought it to grab my 2 La-610.
    I would buy other Mytek products any day. In your case, you may not hear the difference before upgrading your monitors tho...

    Second thing, at what level of quality are you aiming. Demo, Album, mastering ?
    I say that because the Scarlett is a pretty nice interface but somewhat limited.
    Lynx products are said to be pristine but be carefull to be able to expend your setup... Do you already have external preamps to use the AD side ?

    In my case, I've been buying stuff around my FF800 and eventually I'll need to upgrade it. Thinking of a RME Fireface 802 or UFX... But man 2.5K is a lot of money for my small project studio and the sparse customers I have...
     
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  3. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    Thanks man, i appreciate it. i havent heard anyone dissapointed with mytek. i got interested in them when i noticed Sears Sound in NYC used mytek, and they have nothing but boutique gear and clientele, super 'audiophile-centric'. i cant seem to find a set of 'high end' nearfields that are truly worth the price. i think im gonna skip that race and use basic nearfields, with higher end Main's, down the line. with a pair of barefoot, and qeusteds being 4-6k, i can get huge JBL or QSC three way mains, and programmable digital amps.

    i doubt it. at least the difference between the lynx and the mytek anyway. the bose system might reveal a bit more. the alsesis are fun, for what they are, but i wouldn't use them for 'monitoring' i dont think, unless it was for surrounds. thats why im planning on the yammys either way, its more a matter of what at first.

    i'd like demo quality input [AD], and highest practical quality listening. reason being i have music, podcast, ect, playing all day, everyday. so id get my moneys worth out of the listening end, even if i dont do any 'official' mixing for a while. tracking, i dont even have a guitar amp, so its vsti's and its the DI and Amp sim via the eleven/pluggins. the eleven has a pre amp [lol] and a line out so i can use that at first with the eleven as an interface or standalone. really itll be mostly voice overs, interviews and youtube videos for my website and upcoming projects, at least to start. i would also mess with some ambient mic'ing for room sound re-amping. the eleven rack does have digital input, which opend up some possibilities on the AD side. like a preamp with digital outs.

    no i dont have any pre amps, ive been eyeing the ART channel strip, to get a bit of an upgrade in the pre on the eleven rack, and have some eq and compression. i think the eq could be usfull in the random rooms ill be in over the next year. i do have a tascam mx-30 mixer which has decent transformer based pre amps, which ill probably keep downstairs in the bare basement 'echo room'.

    as far as expansion goes, ill probably leave this rig as is, basically just make something for now to handle the archiving, daily entertainment listening, and the videos. once ive got the archive project done, ill likely build a new set of computers, and employ an 8ch mytek [or similar] and good amps, and large theater speakers. this rig will likely end up in my bedroom, or workshed.


    do you have any thoughts on the usb connectivity/versatility of the mytek, vs the pcie of the lynx? part of me hates usb audio, loves its portability, and part of me loves the pcie stability and speed, but unsure about committing it to one computer. i sort of like the idea of plugging the the usb thing into whatever device i happen to be using.

    i hear ya on 2.5k being hefty for the everyday studio, otherwise id be into the RME adi-2 pro. but i cant justify 2k right now for that, and its not much higher specd than the lynx, and lower specd than the liberty.
     
  4. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    For low count channels, I have no doubt about the quality and stability of the USB connexion. Also if you ever upgrade to a better with spdif connexion you will still want to use this converter.
    Of course, the point here is to decide where to start. Recording - playback, what should come first ?? ;)
    To my perspective, the input path should be priority specially since even you scarlett solo has an honest output converter.
    I'd put my money on a good channel strip and/or some good mics if you don't already own some.. But hey ! That's just me...
     
  5. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    i agree 99% about input first. in my case, its literally a house, no studio, so my thinking is ill be doing far more listening than live recording. not sure if that makes sense. i do have a new beta 57 mic, and i have the old 414 which i haven't sold yet. i cant imagine the eleven rack ADC is much better than the scarlett. i found the scareltt very vanilla, but not harsh or anything. its got the same specs as my old m-audio fw1814.

    assuming its listening side first [lol since im backwards about everything] i guess it comes down to whether or not the speakers or the conversion. the practical side of me says lynx, cuz its got ADC as well, and it leaves enough in the budget to get the speakers along with the conversion. the 'wanty' part me be says get something really damn cool [the liberty] since you havent had a setup of your own in 3 years. then again, i dont wanna be one of those audio tutorials, with shitty sound lol. they are out there more than you'd expect. and if i do record interviews, it may be with poeple ill only chat woth once, so ADC comes into play in some cases, like phone calls vs skype.

    are you using the RME DAC side?
     
  6. cyrano

    cyrano Active Member

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    Don't stare at the numbers too much. Look at things like features and drivers...
     
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  7. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    Totally make sense ! Everyone's needs are different...

    Yes, the output of my FF800 goes to my Yamaha sub HS8S (which has a crossover) and then to the Yam HS8 monitors.
    I honestly don't know if it would sound better with a dedicated digital converter.
    Thing is, if already know you are going to get better monitors, getting better converters makes sense.
    Going for the linx will force you to buy external preamp(s), but buying an interface with include preamps can allow you to wait and buy preamps later.
    I'm thinking of Audient Id22 or id44, or appolo twin (may love the big volume knob..) or others similar.

    As for channel strips later on.. I don't know how clean the ART is.. Personnaly I would invest a bit more to, let's say, a SPL Track One ?
     
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  8. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    good point about the pre amps. ive been considering an apollo desktop unit for a while. looks like the lynx e22 sells for 575 instead of 700, at jrr shop. the e44 goes for 850 instead of 999. unfortunately the liberty seems to be harder and harder to make a case for at this phase.

    having realized how many cassettes are laying around the house, im kinda likeing the idea of decent ADC so i can at least archive everything once. i really dont want to revisit these phots movies and tapes any time soon after this.

    yeah ive had the ART tube pre rack, and it was pretty good, not great. compared to the manley side by side at the studio, it held its own for the price, but the mid range wasnt smooth or dense like the manley. i didnt upgrade the tubes. that said, it ws very vanilla, and not a great big step up from the fw1814 interface pres. the art is actually fairly clean, just too vanilla, imho.

    i didnt know about the Track One, gonna check it out right now. i was really scratching my head for a decent mid level channel strip. seems like there arent many out there.

    good calls man, thanks for your thoughts.
     
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  9. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    Yeah I found it while looking channel strips in price order. I'm sure the quality is there (being a SPL)
    But honestly, I wouldn't replace my LA-610 for vocals. I can definitly say it touches pro quality. (without being that expensive compared to Manley).
    The 6176 seems like a nice unit too.. 710 ? not ment for vocals.. ;)
    Many vouch for the Avalon 737 but I find it steril compared to UA and others..
    There is also a neve channel strip I saw.. but 3.5k is a bit too much for a project studio...
     
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  10. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    One suggestion I stand by are Avatones. ,...

    You could just buy one cube https://www.sweetwater.com/store/de...-inch-powered-studio-monitor-gloss-black-each
    If you go this route there is no need for an amp as well. I would stick with active speakers up until you really feel you need a passive full range pair and at that time you may want (should be using imho) a good monitor controller. You may just get active full range monitors there as well. In my humble opinion (imho), a "good" monitor controller is far more important to passive speakers and external power amps. Good speakers have top level power. The high end power amps cost big bucks and are imho really that extra baby step for big ass overkill and its not really getting you better mixes or the volume or sub you will ever need. ??
    Save your dollars for smart essentials that help you learn and mix better.

    Next... I know Lynx has a good reputation and certainly don't want to be disrespectful towards the company or those whom invested in them but I've purposely stayed away from that company for a few reasons.
    1. I think Lynx conversion is over rated which all started back when Pro Tools ADDA sucked and the old boys club, gear pimps, were endorsing them.
    2. The 8 and 16 channel single racks run hot and therefore (in my anal worries) could have inconsistencies between each lane.
    3. Their pin wiring is stupid imho. You can't use their db25 cable for example, universal standard Tascam pin outs.
    Being said, lynx is likely just as ok as the rest. My opinion could also be based on dated products and not applicable to current lynx products.

    Depending on what ADDA or DAC you choose, if it requires an external interface... find used interfacing and possibly cable as well.
     
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  11. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    for my own curiosity, break down your reasons for the DAC again? Is it specific 2 channel for monitoring?
     
  12. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    ive been eyeing the 2-610 since it came out. its on my list for when i have a permanent setup. im not a fan of the la-610 or the 6176 because they arent the whole LA-2 or 1176. i feel like pieces like that are worth having the 'real' thing. not that the combo units like that dont sound good in their own right, i just dont think they have the same effect of the units individually.

    im definitely going with a single mix cube. im still on the fence of active vs passive. i like the idea of the passive one and the active one for different reasons. im gonna have to think about it more.

    im not sure if its a coincidence but my most effortless and best mixes have generally come from passive speakers. i feel active speakers are often very tame sounding, and i also think it gives the designers more leeway to be sloppy, because they have both the amp and speakers to get things to spec. i think for lower priced nearfields, passive makes the most sense. i dont see the point in 5k nearfields, i think the size is too much of a limiting factor. ive always found 8" nearfields to be tough to mix on.

    whe its time for the bigs, i simply cant afford the active ones. the QSC amps and a pair of qsc or jbl theater speakers are the way im gonna fly.



    i think part of the quality of the sound in that type of setup is the headroom [low distortion], and the transient response. when youve got 1500w of clean power into a 500w sub, you really have the ability to get quick transient responses, keeping things very clear.

    i honestly have been thinking alot about proper sizing to the room, and the concept of 'too much' headroom. i think you generally want to be using 30-50% of the available power most of the time. i think its about efficiency as a product of headroom, and driver size for relative to the space their in. i think that plays a part in the overall accuracy of the system.

    yeah the only reason lynx is even in the question for me is because they are the only other company besides RME that makes a basic ADDA pcie card. i like the idea of the card based converter because there's nothing else but the converters. no PSU, no exrta lcd displays, no extra line ins ect. that said, the mytek just seems special, where the lynx seems very 'standard', albeit, a reasonably high one. it also is kinda old. to invest in essentially a rehashed 2003 edition converter, seems kinda stupid. it came out in '13 i believe, but still.

    my reason for wanting a DAC is for the highest quality listening experience i can get for the next say 2 years. this is more for enjoyment, and quality control, than critical studio mixing or mastering. 2ch is ok, 5.1 better, 7.1 fabulous.

    basically im going to be archiving hundreds of cassettes, vhs, cd's, dvds, photos, and possibly vinyl records, as well as all my old DAW sessions ans materials form my home studio and the commercial ones. before i move forward with anything serious as far as new projects, and new paying gigs, ect, i want to have all that old stuff organized and available.

    so since i listen to music and podcast, and videos daily, in the background i figured a nice DAC would allow me to enjoy the daily stuff more, as well as reveal any errors ect, in the material im archiving. further, since 90% of the writing and recording ill be doing in the next year or so will be via VSTI drums, synths, and virtual guitar amps, in a the random [non studio] rooms around this house, or on the move, i figured i could keep it modest with the AD/front end side of things. i find the virtual instruments sound quite good without much effort i guess the quality dac doesnt count as necessary, but does make things inspiring.

    when i was at the studio, i a/b/c'd motu, apogee ensemble, and apogee rosetta, thru the ns-10's and urie 813's and i found the differences to be noticeable. i also seems to have adopted this line of thinking that DAC is arguably more important to have set first. reason being, the dac always gets used, during the course of the project, the ADC only during tracking, or mixing if using outboard. and i also think that the DAC allows you to better judge the quality of whats going thru the adc even if your using a compromised [not ideal] adc. ADC is super important for critical tracking, and imho cant be otherwise supplemented. beyond that, with sound replacement/augmentation being such a part of modern production, you can get by with mediocre tracking a little more than you could otherwise.

    to be clear, i think both are very implement, just im theorizing the DAC may be the best first investment. of course room and monitors make a big diff, and i think if i were primarily a vocalist, id feel the ADC might be a better first step.

    my focus will be mostly mixing i think in the future, and if i have tracking to do it would be at one of the studios, since its so effortless there.

    i think part this is just GAS, as im finally getting the housing thing handled, and my remote setup components nearly together for phase 1, that i just want something 'special or remarkable' for a change, since so much of my stuff in life has been very pedestrian and utilitarian. i never seem to regret when i did get the best, like my mesa full stack/pedal board guitar amp rig, or when i use the best like at the studios. im very excited to build the 8 core/16 thread ryzen computer, and really try out all my vsti and plugs and daws.
     
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  13. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    having typed the above, i realized that the ADC will come into play whenever i transfer the cassettes, and vhs tapes. @625$ the lynx 2 channel covers both sides at a decent price, and has 2ch digital i/o, so i could connect the eleven rack directly that way. still, it just doesn't seem 'special'. kinda like a boring purchase. but the value seems to be there. and it leaves $ leftover toward the speakers or mytek.
     
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  14. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    i appreciate you guy's input on this, so here's what ive concluded for now.

    1. speakers- because i can use them right away, while im transferring all the digital sessions and cd's dvd.

    2. lynx [or similar]- its a fairly high spec, modest priced converter, which should be plenty fine for the cassettes and vhs's when the digital stuff is done.

    3. Mytek- again a great unit, modest price, and will allow me to enjoy mixing the stuff i write in the meantime, and listening to my archived media libary.

    4. Hire Professional- for my most important transfers, i think im going to use paradise studio (green day- dookie) to transfer them. they charge 85 and hour, and are a large commercial facility, with serious credentials. either that or a possibly gateway mastering, or sterling sound, depending on budget and if they'll even bother. for a couple hundred bucks i can have my first studio recording (adat mixed to cassette) transferred, and its worth it to me for the memories, and peace of mind, since i only have a single copy. ill most likely do a safety transfer with whatever i have, just in case.

    considering this can all be done for around 2K i think its the best way to balance cost and performance, keeping me away from project studio gear, or way out there boutique stuff. thanks for helping me think this thru, case closed.
     
  15. eternalsound

    eternalsound Black-top!! Active Member

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    KMetal did you ever consider Paradigm speakers? I use the Studio 100's for mastering (when I actually get to it). They make extremely nice speakers for fair prices. I'd go used though.

    I'm not sure about their studio offerings to be honest though.

    https://www.paradigm.com/
     
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  16. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    never heard of them, but ill certainly have a look. i feel like theres no single magic speaker or room, so my idea is to have a few pairs, each doing something important. thanks for the heads up.
     
  17. eternalsound

    eternalsound Black-top!! Active Member

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    Yea, they are kinda in the "extravagant","off radar" category. They can be extremely expensive but also not. I'm not sure if they are only hi-fi though. The late great master of mastering, George Marino used them and that's who I mimic'd, quite frankly. I love my towers and got the set for $900 used, in mint condition. They would have otherwise costed a few thousand (I believe about 4 for the current comparable option at the time).

    Looks like their "reference" series is the "Prestige" line. Not a bad price at all either.

    I know Focal has a good rep too.

    Good luck, bro!
     
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  18. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    i took a look at them yesterday, they look really cool. definitely something to consider when i get a more permanent studio setup. George Marino has mastered some of my favorite records. they do an amazing job over at Sterling. so much of there stuff is custom made in house, so its a true testament to the quality of Paradigm stuff. ive never heard focals myself, alot of people like them. my concern with them is they're tweeters seem to have a rep for being on the bright side. ive been considering dynaudio speakers for a while, for a nice decent powered monitor. they're rep for big bass fits well with my tastes, but ill have to try them sometime. mids have always been my weak point, hence my interest in the yamaha hs'5 and the mixcube.

    i love the idea of a nice floorstanding speaker, i cant wait till im ready for them.
     

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