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Converters on new interfaces vs. old RME
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vmachine
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#1
31st March 2012
Old 31st March 2012
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Converters on new interfaces vs. old RME

I'm currently testing two basic interfaces, the Roland Quad Capture and Komplete Audio 6 to replace my RME digi 96/8. I'm noticing all of these converters sound completely different. The RME still sounds the most musical and detailed while the Roland Quad sounds synthetic with a pleasant sound and slow transients, while finally the Komplete Audio sounds like it's pushing the sound out way to hard resulting in almost everything having an unnatural percussive tone.


I'm wondering what is going on inside these converters that makes them so different? And also what traits will distinguish higher end converters have over lower end ones? I know my old RME isn't high end, but it sounds of a completely different level compared to the two newer interfaces. Are these the same sort of differences that I might experience comparing a current RME card to something like Lynx or Apogee?
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31st March 2012
Old 31st March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vmachine View Post
...So my question is, in not too scientific terms, what is going on inside these converters that makes them so different?
A lot of things, mostly not the converter itself. The analog circuitry around the converter and the clocking implementation makes a big difference in the sound, even if the converter chips are the same between two different units. Then there is the actual converter itself, which if it has been designed in the last several years with the design intent of being more than bottom of the barrel should work just fine. Specifically what's going on differently depends on the specific device designs.
Quote:
...Also, is the difference between the two new interfaces and my old RME at least somewhat representative of the differences between lower and higher end converters?...
Not necessarily because "lower end" converters these days work quite well without destroying the sound (of course depending on who you ask you'll hear different answers because everyone's perspective on what "good" is and what is "good enough" for the job differs). What tends to suffer the most in my experience is the quality of components and the way the analog circuitry is implemented around the converter. That stuff is always relatively expensive to do well and requires care to design, quality test and subsequently tweak to perfection. The "lower end" stuff usually employs serviceable, but not by any means exceptional, components and designs that tend to lose some of the extra detail, dimension and "size" you get from high quality analog signal pathways.
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...Would the newer RME hdsp 96/32 take care of the latency and "veil over the sound" problems I am having with my older digi 96/8 (and still give me the quality sound reproduction I'm used to)? Would this probably be a better choice than the apparent downgrade from 96/8 to the Roland Quad or Komplete Audio? Is the difference between the Roland Quad and the RME similar to the difference between RME and something like Lynx or Apogee?
You're asking questions that would require all kinds of specific testing to credibly, objectively quantify and qualify. In the end it's hard to say. You just need to go with the best quality design you can afford. It's not guaranteed that any name brand (besides those that are known to always make the highest quality) will be the answer to your quest, which is why so much of this stuff is so often debated endlessly.

What you can do for practicality sake with any converter is make certain that the analog i/o is as high quality as it can be from mic through the whole rest of the chain. That, combined with the way you use things, will give you much more of what you're probably looking for than you might think and it goes a lot further than any splitting hairs over converters. But if you can spring for the best conversion it's always a good idea because it makes it that much easier to keep a high quality sound throughout your signal chain when you use excellent components.
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#3
31st March 2012
Old 31st March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enlightened Hand View Post
A lot of things, mostly not the converter itself. The analog circuitry around the converter and the clocking implementation makes a big difference in the sound, even if the converter chips are the same between two different units. Then there is the actual converter itself, which if it has been designed in the last several years with the design intent of being more than bottom of the barrel should work just fine. Specifically what's going on differently depends on the specific device designs. Not necessarily because "lower end" converters these days work quite well without destroying the sound (of course depending on who you ask you'll hear different answers because everyone's perspective on what "good" is and what is "good enough" for the job differs). What tends to suffer the most in my experience is the quality of components and the way the analog circuitry is implemented around the converter. That stuff is always relatively expensive to do well and requires care to design, quality test and subsequently tweak to perfection. The "lower end" stuff usually employs serviceable, but not by any means exceptional, components and designs that tend to lose some of the extra detail, dimension and "size" you get from high quality analog signal pathways. You're asking questions that would require all kinds of specific testing to credibly, objectively quantify and qualify. In the end it's hard to say. You just need to go with the best quality design you can afford. It's not guaranteed that any name brand (besides those that are known to always make the highest quality) will be the answer to your quest, which is why so much of this stuff is so often debated endlessly.

What you can do for practicality sake with any converter is make certain that the analog i/o is as high quality as it can be from mic through the whole rest of the chain. That, combined with the way you use things, will give you much more of what you're probably looking for than you might think and it goes a lot further than any splitting hairs over converters. But if you can spring for the best conversion it's always a good idea because it makes it that much easier to keep a high quality sound throughout your signal chain when you use excellent components.
I upgraded my studio to rme fireface a couple of years back.. what a difference it made... now getting a additional ff800 and maybe even 2. there is just nothing that can beat them for their quality and price. you would have to more than double the price. i would recommend the thread starter to stay with rme, get any of the new rme cards and you will be happy!
vmachine
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31st March 2012
Old 31st March 2012
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Appreciate the info. It seems to explain the difference I was trying to understand. The differences in sound between interfaces seemed too complex for only the converters to be the reason.

I was hoping that technological advances might have made a modern $250 USB interface perform better than a $500 pci card from 10 years ago. In a few aspects like latency and frequency response, the new ones are better. But that's pretty much it. Emotional expressive clarity of music is not in the same league as something twice the price, even if it's 10 years old. Sounds like a modern RME card would be the right upgrade choice for me.
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1st April 2012
Old 1st April 2012
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I agree with both the posts above.. Rme does nice stuff at a very reasonable price.. And it's rock solid! No glitches and weird stuff.. Another huge plus IMO.

I fully agree with EH above, the "secret" of a good converter stays in the analog section of it and the clock as well as the pwr supply..

I'd stick with rme if I were you..Eventually get a new UCX or UFX..



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vmachine
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1st April 2012
Old 1st April 2012
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After lots of post reading yesterday, I'm thinking about a Lynx22 over an RME HDSP if I go the upgrade route. And maybe a Mytek DAC down the line.

It's fascinating how design and electronic components can have such an impact on the reproduction of music. Makes me wonder what the 3K+ converters do to the sound.
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1st April 2012
Old 1st April 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vmachine View Post
...Makes me wonder what the 3K+ converters do to the sound.
They leave it alone for the most part.

It's easier to give a piece of electronics signal handling gear a characteristic sound than to keep it's potential imposition on the resultant sound out of the way. The more out of the way the sound of your converters the more detail and depth you'll hear from the source signal (which may or may not be what you want, Burl converters for example have excellent electronics that don't lose much detail but when you push them they add a little something pleasing and in general they have a pleasing sound).

Getting to any sonic result that is pleasing to most ears is expensive because of component selection and the constant tweaking that designers have to do in the development stage when they are deciding what the ultimate design is going to be. But no matter what it's not fairy dust. It's choices. A 3k converter is 3k because of material, development and labor choices. Whether or not you need a 3k converter depends on the return on investment you would be satisfied with. The more expensive they get the less they improve in absolute performance beyond a certain level of quality. Where that "certain" level of quality is also depends on what matters most to you in your needs. Again, this is why this stuff is so endlessly debated.
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1st April 2012
Old 1st April 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vmachine View Post
I was hoping that technological advances might have made a modern $250 USB interface perform better than a $500 pci card from 10 years ago.
Quite the contrary. PCI (133MB/s) is still way superior compared to USB 2.0 (under 60MB/s).

USB 3.0 will change that big time (over 600MB/s), though, but takes time until applications use the potential. PCI-E is still on another level.

Almost 10 years old RME Multiface II is still great, me thinks.
vmachine
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1st April 2012
Old 1st April 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Telefunk View Post
Quite the contrary. PCI (133MB/s) is still way superior compared to USB 2.0 (under 60MB/s).

USB 3.0 will change that big time (over 600MB/s), though, but takes time until applications use the potential. PCI-E is still on another level.

Almost 10 years old RME Multiface II is still great, me thinks.
I guess I wasn't too clear. I meant more the overall sound quality being better than the actual bus type.

Speaking of PCI, I don't understand why the PCI-e RME Aio goes for $850. I bought it's 10 year old equivalent Digi 96/8 a decade ago new for around $375. Hardware wise, I don't think there's much manufacturing cost difference between PCI vs. PCI-e, yet he AIO is still $320 more than the equivalent PCI HDSP version. Seems a bit much to charge extra for something simply for the feature of not being obsolete. RME gets -1 for that. I still like them though.
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1st April 2012
Old 1st April 2012
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rme interface are wide spread in the broadcast world i heard bc of the linux drivers they offer...if thats true, that speaks for itself i think
total mix, digicheck, solid drivers for that price is a winner imo
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1st April 2012
Old 1st April 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vmachine View Post
After lots of post reading yesterday, I'm thinking about a Lynx22 over an RME HDSP if I go the upgrade route. And maybe a Mytek DAC down the line.
For what it is worth, I've got the RME HDSPe AES card and Mytek converters. One of the things that I like about RME, superior software, superior support.
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