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Shootout Avid Mbox Pro vs Apogee Ensemble vs RME Fireface UFX vs Prism Orpheus
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The General
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#1
24th September 2011
Old 24th September 2011
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Shootout Avid Mbox Pro vs Apogee Ensemble vs RME Fireface UFX vs Prism Orpheus

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24th September 2011
Old 24th September 2011
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FYI, the promo video for the shoot out is at the bottom of the page as in the link to the actual interface challenge. I was amazed at the results.
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24th September 2011
Old 24th September 2011
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Hehe, I wasn't so amazed with the results. Got them right except I mixed up the Prism and Ensemble (haven't actually used those but expected them to be the better two). The mbox lacked lows/midbass and the RME had the least detail. A cool shootout nonetheless, and I'd use any of those interfaces for an important project without hesitation.
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25th September 2011
Old 25th September 2011
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Interesting test. I like that they were so meticulous about their methodology. I can hear slight differences in color from interface to interface, but I think all of them were usable. I'm assuming they were using each interfaces preamps, which was probably the most influential part of the "coloration" of each clip.

What I think is kinda silly about this test is that you are asked to guess which one is which - Like ANYONE has extensive experience with all of these interfaces?
#5
26th September 2011
Old 26th September 2011
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Seems like a very well executed shootout in many ways. Although, do I understand correctly that the signal path included the built in preamp of each unit? I would preferred to split the signal after using the same external pre so one could focus on just the conversion. Still, given this caveat that we are comparing the pres and conversion together, this is still a useful comparison.

I did not listen myself yet, but I thought Count's quote (on the video) that he had a "very very difficult time telling the difference" between the different interfaces was interesting and supports what I and others have observed - that many modern converters are very good and differences are subtle when blind testing is used.

Props to Avid for doing this test! I wish more converter makers would do the same. In fact, it seems quite telling that they don't!
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26th September 2011
Old 26th September 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guitarmax_99 View Post
I'm assuming they were using each interfaces preamps, which was probably the most influential part of the "coloration" of each clip.
Yep ! I know the UFX pres well. I and others have described them as "soft" or "round" (but in a very nice way), which could translate as "less detailed" compared to others (as eascholz observed). Seems like this test is more a test of the pres than the converters.

Avid, any chance you could repeat this test using the same external pre for each unit? Now *that* would be a great test.
#7
26th September 2011
Old 26th September 2011
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the mbox pro secs out on paper pretty good...and was about to get one until I started reading avid forums….
my problems with it are...
the gain of the preamps are gain range not typical gain specs all others use...misleading….
Yes sir that’s misleading..
I was very interested in the mbox pro until I read on avid forums, the failure rates on these boxes, way to many posts with same issues.
many would not power up, headphone jack not working or working some times, and many months later these people are still having issues…
So at best it’s a first run bad batch, if that’s the case avid should make sure everyone on there forums or else where are taken care of, yet I don’t see this happening, more a swept under the rug thing…and I am sure its in the hardware, the mbox pro has been out awhile now so if it was a driver issue it would have been fixed by now….
No matter how great it sounds if it does not work correctly and is not solid, with support that does not leave ya hanging…. Your mileage may vary.
Happy with fireface uc and rock solid drivers…thanks RME.
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26th September 2011
Old 26th September 2011
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I did a similar thing when shooting out the BLA Mod of a 003+.

In the end, variations in the performance of an instrument makes a bigger difference than the rest of the chain.

And the cheaper Digi stuff was just as good as Prism. The big difference is volume. An RMS level difference of even 0.3dB can change your perception of the sound.

But no matter how you look at it... a Prism vs an MBox isn't going to make you a better singer or guitarist. It isn't going to make your melodies or lyrics better. And it isn't going to make the acoustic space you are recording in any better. once you start using microphones, you are only limited by the acoustics of the space the mic is in. No interface can make a crappy acoustic environment with tons of comb filtering sound good. So these tests can be deceiving since they don't address the real issue... acoustics!
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#9
26th September 2011
Old 26th September 2011
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Just subscribing on the thread. Will listen in studio tomorrow and indeed, who heard the ins and outs of all of them and why is the Metric Halo lacking....
#10
27th September 2011
Old 27th September 2011
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[top]Gold-star student - you scored an A!


Congrats, you correctly identified all of the interfaces! Now that you've got something to brag about, tell your friends about the challenge and see how they compare.
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27th September 2011
Old 27th September 2011
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[top]Gold-star student—you scored an A!


Congrats, you correctly identified all of the interfaces! Now that you've got something to brag about, tell your friends about the challenge and see how they compare.


---------


Pretty easy test. The RME had the muddiest low end/mids, the Apogee had the low end lacking, the MBox had the second muddiest lows, and the Prism was the most detailed/clinical.
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#12
30th September 2011
Old 30th September 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldMember View Post
i hear so different...

i hear the Orpheus smashed, stiff.
the RME very harsh, also non 3D.

the others i hear a 3D like...
Low end and high mids are the two most telling factors in converter listening tests. I find it a lot easier (and a lot more beneficial) to listen for the best low end performance. Usually if a company can nail the low end, the rest is just as good.
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3rd October 2011
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So are you telling that for 2K the RME sounds harsh?
#14
4th October 2011
Old 4th October 2011
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I would really like to be able to download high resolution losless wave files for a test like this. I think it's a little silly to have to watch a compressed video with compressed audio rolling down one sample after another.

It's important to be able to quickly A/B between various high resolution wave files at will to come to any legitimate conclusion in my opinion.

Having said that, I have an Avid Mbox (III) that I use with my laptop, (which I use for internet) and it sounds and works great.
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4th October 2011
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A test like this should be performed with acoustical and/or classical instruments.
(At least an acoustical singer/songwriter.)
#16
5th October 2011
Old 5th October 2011
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I also thought the Prism was stark as well (not in a good way). Just goes to show you what we like to hear isn't always "the best".

Anyone else hear distortion in the output comparison, Example 1, on the right side?

Hoping that's not my system,
#17
6th October 2011
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The first thing about this test that is unfair is using the same clock for all units. Some converter are gonna perform worse under these circumstances, some better.

What if the MBOX is benefiting from that test decision? How many Mbox pro users are gonna have an external clock in the system? All the calibration was excellent but this is not real world. Run all the product on there own internal clock and then let's see what happens!

Also how about a variety of material. Say at least 4 Genres. Also some solo performances. I think this is only fair because even the room and microphones may match better towards one manufacturers sonic, on a single recording of a song ! Throw them a variety of real world material and then you can really prove your box matches the sonics of one costing 6 times as much!!

Jazztone
#18
6th October 2011
Old 6th October 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reborn View Post
The first thing about this test that is unfair is using the same clock for all units. Some converter are gonna perform worse under these circumstances, some better.
I didn't catch they used the same clock. That is a problem. I'd like to see this test using the same external pres and each unit's internal clock.
#19
6th October 2011
Old 6th October 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Souza View Post
I also thought the Prism was stark as well (not in a good way). Just goes to show you what we like to hear isn't always "the best".

Anyone else hear distortion in the output comparison, Example 1, on the right side?

Hoping that's not my system,
Shows why online tests are an utter ****ing waste of time

Got Orpheus here. Trust me - it's the single best bit of kit you could get fer yer studio in the lower price bracket!!
#20
7th October 2011
Old 7th October 2011
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Quote:
The first thing about this test that is unfair is using the same clock for all units.
Actually we mention in the video that each unit is clocked independently, using their own internal clock.

The files are H.264 960x540, Linear PCM 16 bit big-endian signed integer, 2 channels, 44100 Hz, FPS 29.97.

The bounce to QuickTime was done from Pro Tools 9.0.5

It would have been great to do a lot more examples of instruments and genres. We just didn't have the time to capture more with this test.

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#21
8th October 2011
Old 8th October 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The General View Post
Posted a video and link to the challenge for interface shootout on my page:

Avid MBox Pro
RME Fireface UFX
Apogee Ensemble
Prism Sound Orpheus


http://www.iAmGI.net
cool
#22
8th October 2011
Old 8th October 2011
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Apogee Ensemble-A
Prism Sound Orpheus-B
Avid Mbox Pro-C
RME Fireface UFX-D
#23
8th October 2011
Old 8th October 2011
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i got a B
#24
8th October 2011
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Kittonian,
I think it is way harder to get the highs allright.
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8th October 2011
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The first group, in through the preamps, the AVID won to me. That's a testament to the preamps as much as the A/D conversion. It seems possible their A/D may not be as good as the others and it may be a non-issue if using it just for conversion (with other preamps). But with an all-in-one in mind, that's impressive. But some places like B&H say the 4 channel pro MBox 3 is discontinued? Can anyone confirm this?

It would be great if they'd get rid of the soft limit I have heard said wasn't very good (in a Sound On Sound review, many say they tend to be overly nice in their reviews, so that says something). If that were replaced with a 70 or 80 hz HPF that would be more useful, as I like using those on the way in, when auditioning mics. It will help you hear how they will sound after normal EQ in a typical mix, so that is useful.

AVID had the fullest, natural sound. Prism/RME the least. They are great converters so I credit the preamps. The D/A test was closer, AVID just slightly over Prism, but going in is more important. It'd be nice if they'd make a 1/2 rack two channel version, front combo jacks, meters, dual HP jacks & HPFs. Like an improved M-Audio Pro Fire 610. Front access is much better. MIDI in back. USB 2 and/or FW bus powered.
#26
14th October 2011
Old 14th October 2011
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In the AD / preamp side , I like the way how apogee ensemble sounds when recording vocals , seems to add a very sweet foward mid range that i really enjoy, RME UFX sound more thin and maybe a little less clear.

If Duet 2 sounds the same as ensemble , it will buy one. It would be the best interface in the price range.
I wonder how will sound the Babyface in the AD/preamp side
#27
17th October 2011
Old 17th October 2011
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Am I the only one who doesn't really hear a big difference? I mean, yea, if I were to stay here for hours on end and really crank up the volume, maybe I could hear some slight variation? But that's just not realistic and definitely not worth an extra few grand...
#28
27th October 2011
Old 27th October 2011
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listening to the test on my profire 610 the 2nd part of the test i nailed it .. that apogee just has a shimmer to it .. that just pushes it over the edge quality wise for me ...

damn this test just made me realize im buying an apogee in the next few weeks ....

on the other hand black lion audio with mod the new mbox 3 pro . check their site out for more info
#29
28th October 2011
Old 28th October 2011
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Fireface 800 user here.... I got a B at the test...

To be honest... I'm listening the RME preamps, not the ADC.... the RME preamps are a little bit blur in the low mid region... that's why I use them just if I need more preamps that I have here...

I don't know if I have my ears in my butt or what but I don't know if the differences are so critical... Maybe if you compare the Mbox against a Lynx or something like that we could listen a dramatical difference.... who knows?!...

Anyway... I think that this would be better if we could listen the same PRE, into each interface... using each interface's clock of course... As I said, in the challenge I was listening the RME's preamps... and I never listened a Prism before... so was a discarding game with that...

Cheers!
#30
28th October 2011
Old 28th October 2011
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I got a "B" too. From several sources, they really did the convertors over and like you said. For sounding so close and yet subtle, in a mix, rock pop plus mics amp tube vs electric or plugin, bass traps or just a good mic and headphones and amplitube (I think sounds the best) but the line 6 amp will give you sounds you might
not have thought of. Does it come with a pedal to change???

Anyway know a guy, full time foley. Different guy, both named Derek though. Anyway, he uses a Mbox 2 at home do you can do anything of you know what your doing but to have an Mbox that can now play Cubase/Nuendo PT-Logic, and sound like an Ensmeble is pretty cool. Amazing price. Apple is the one now falling behind as PT/Avid finally gets it. I always said when, not of, just a matter of time and it look like its here. Only prob is, NAMM. Will we see lots of thunderbolt? FireWire not going away for a long time. USB will probably go first. Lol.
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