Apogee Symphony AD/DA or API 5500 and 2500
DKIEL
Thread Starter
#1
7th February 2013
Old 7th February 2013
  #1
Gear interested
 

Thread Starter
Apogee Symphony AD/DA or API 5500 and 2500

This is my first post, so sorry if this is an improper posting, but I have been researching for months and can't make a decision, so am hoping to get some insight here.
My question is this: What will make a better long term investment in ratio to what will give me the most immediate sonic improvement-Buying an Apogee Symphony 16 I/O for AD/DA, or buying an API 5500 and an API 2500 (or a pair of 527s).
I currently have an acoustically treated room, some decent mics (BLUE Mouse, Oktava MC012's, Cascade Fat Head IIs w/ Lundhal, Shure SM7 etc...), an API 3124+, a stereo pair of Distressors, Event ASP8 monitors, great instrumental gear and musicianship. I have been recording and mixing through a stock MOTU 896mk3. I historically mix ITB, but have taken that as far as I can. I make mixes that I love, but are missing some intangible quality (warmth, depth?) I determined last year (after listening to "Dark Side Of The Moon" on headphones) that it's the summing of all the digital tracks, which each individually sound fine, but together create a harshness that is evident to me in all of my mixes (and a lot of indie music that I hear nowadays).
I know that the API eq's and compressors will improve my sonics, and give me some of the organic analog goodness I crave, but is it going to be compromised by my poor quality AD/DA in the MOTU. Should I start with the Apogee, especially since I will be running in and out of the box so much more to access the analog hardware?
I believe that sums up my situation, thanks in advance for any reply! Please let me know if there is anything I can clarify to help get the best advice.
p.s. I do a wide variety of music (rock, funk, jazz, hip-hop, electronic) using a mixture of live drums, guitars, bass, strings, horns, vox, and electronic sampled drums, synths, keys, and other programmed instruments.
p.p.s. I know my monitors aren't the best, but I believe you can get great sounds if you know your gear.
#2
7th February 2013
Old 7th February 2013
  #2
Lives for gear
 
balanceman's Avatar
 

I'm not sure why you think additional processors will change anything about summing in the box. The two are pretty unrelated.
Yes, converting in and out multiple times through the MOTU gear will degrade your signal.
What if you put the same $$$ into a nice little mixer? Then you can mix with your hands on the faders. You will also have a bunch of EQ at your disposal (channel EQ, but hey!)
Conversion is nice. There are a lot of options. Apogee has some good configurations now- good sounding stuff. Probably wont hold its resale as much as the API stuff. Converters change every year and the previous models drop in value.
Anyway- good luck!
#3
7th February 2013
Old 7th February 2013
  #3
Lives for gear
 
popmann's Avatar
Also, something to keep in mind...the cost of the Apogee 16x16 is $5k ('ish...almost)...you need TWO 8x8AES cards. or the 16out/optical...and 16in/optical.

The actually 16x16 configuration is only useable as such when you use the Symphony (or HD) interfaces. Just...you know...if that matters. Since you're talking MOTU, I assume you're not a Symphony(card) or HD user...personally, I'd pop the extra grand to be able to use it with any kind of system I want to--anything with AES, SPDIF, or Smux/ADAT...hardware, software...but, you know...YMMV. I have no issue spending $5k on a 16x16 converter...yet TONS of issues paying $4+$1k(card) for a computer interface that is rendered a doorstop by a lack of driver support.



My other advice...is you DON'T want a pair of 527s over a 2500.

None of this is tape. I question whether you'd taken digital "as far as it will go"...analog gear, while mostly superior is a subtle thing at this point that has more to do with workflow speed than ultimate end all quality.

Certainly not a you versus your favorite album of all time--recorded in a completely different way in a different room with NONE of the same gear you have. Nothing. Tape? Nope. Neve console? Nope. EMT plates? Old Neumann and AKG tube mics? Be realistic--you have NOTHING in common with that production...engineer to room to gear...nothing...cut yourself some slack.

Or go into a real studio...and cut the band tracks to tape. How many albums of material are you going to record on the $10k upgrade you're proposing? That can be rhetorical...but, you really need to be more realistic with your goals for a home grown studio.
#4
7th February 2013
Old 7th February 2013
  #4
Lives for gear
 
balanceman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by popmann View Post

None of this is tape. I question whether you'd taken digital "as far as it will go"...analog gear, while mostly superior is a subtle thing at this point that has more to do with workflow speed than ultimate end all quality.

Certainly not a you versus your favorite album of all time--recorded in a completely different way in a different room with NONE of the same gear you have. Nothing. Tape? Nope. Neve console? Nope. EMT plates? Old Neumann and AKG tube mics? Be realistic--you have NOTHING in common with that production...engineer to room to gear...nothing...cut yourself some slack.

Or go into a real studio...and cut the band tracks to tape. How many albums of material are you going to record on the $10k upgrade you're proposing? That can be rhetorical...but, you really need to be more realistic with your goals for a home grown studio.
this is the best post on gearslutz in a year!

People have unrealistic expectations from what they can achieve with equipment.

It's not just the gear, but a combination of infinite variables; rooms, experience;technology:perspectives...

Just do what you can....
If it's learning about some analog gear; good you will have that knowledge and can decide if the gear is worth keeping or $elling off...

If it's buying conversion: great- but realize you're just giving yourself a good (necessary) routing tool. Make sure to use it! some people buy 16 io converters and use 2 outs!
you're still summing in the box...
#5
7th February 2013
Old 7th February 2013
  #5
Lives for gear
 
popmann's Avatar
Well, a lot of people have LEFT GS in the last few years. So...it's become a low bar.
#6
7th February 2013
Old 7th February 2013
  #6
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by popmann View Post
Well, a lot of people have LEFT GS in the last few years. So...it's become a low bar.
Ha!

To the OP, if you were to go for the upgraded conversion route, I'd suggest buying used Apogee AD16/DA16x's and an interface card, Apogee, Lynx, or RME, and have money left over for some outboard or better yet mics/monitors.

And regarding what's "missing" from your mixes compared to classic recordings: a lot of what's in the mix was there during tracking. Tracking, to some degree, IS mixing.
#7
7th February 2013
Old 7th February 2013
  #7
Gear addict
 
trustyjim's Avatar
 

I've had an API 5500 for several years and about a month ago I got a Symphony. If you're weighing one against the other IMHO the Symphony gives WAY more improvement than the 5500. The symphony will touch ALL your tracks on the way in and make them sound good. The API can only touch 2 at a time and although it sounds good based on my experience you will really appreciate what the Symphony does for you more.
#8
8th February 2013
Old 8th February 2013
  #8
Gear nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by popmann View Post
Also, something to keep in mind...the cost of the Apogee 16x16 is $5k ('ish...almost)...you need TWO 8x8AES cards. or the 16out/optical...and 16in/optical.

The actually 16x16 configuration is only useable as such when you use the Symphony (or HD) interfaces. Just...you know...if that matters. Since you're talking MOTU, I assume you're not a Symphony(card) or HD user...personally, I'd pop the extra grand to be able to use it with any kind of system I want to--anything with AES, SPDIF, or Smux/ADAT...hardware, software...but, you know...YMMV. I have no issue spending $5k on a 16x16 converter...yet TONS of issues paying $4+$1k(card) for a computer interface that is rendered a doorstop by a lack of driver support.



My other advice...is you DON'T want a pair of 527s over a 2500.

None of this is tape. I question whether you'd taken digital "as far as it will go"...analog gear, while mostly superior is a subtle thing at this point that has more to do with workflow speed than ultimate end all quality.

Certainly not a you versus your favorite album of all time--recorded in a completely different way in a different room with NONE of the same gear you have. Nothing. Tape? Nope. Neve console? Nope. EMT plates? Old Neumann and AKG tube mics? Be realistic--you have NOTHING in common with that production...engineer to room to gear...nothing...cut yourself some slack.

Or go into a real studio...and cut the band tracks to tape. How many albums of material are you going to record on the $10k upgrade you're proposing? That can be rhetorical...but, you really need to be more realistic with your goals for a home grown studio.
Incorrect OP can get a 16X16 setup by just getting the 16X16 card with chassis for $4k and not two 8X8 cards (which yes, would make it $5k)

from my experience, Symphony runs great on USB mode and.. from lengthy conversations with apogee their products are class compliant and do not use drivers.

the OP has some good gear, may be time to invest in a good sounding interface.. hey maybe thats all they need to get the most out of the gear they got it.. hey lets face it, upgrading a part of your signal chain is always fun maybe they'll just spend more time mixing and harness their own mixing ability past what they think is "as far as it will go"

You have good gear, invest in a good converter whether Apogee, Lynx, Burl...

#9
8th February 2013
Old 8th February 2013
  #9
Lives for gear
 
popmann's Avatar
Not incorrect. Why I posted it. The $4k 16x16 is a driver based computer interface-not a stand alone converter. I'm not making any claim as to how well it doesn't or doesn't work as an interface--but, without optical/SMUX or AES, it's a computer interface. Not a trivial difference to me.
#10
8th February 2013
Old 8th February 2013
  #10
Lives for gear
 
string6theory's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DKIEL View Post
This is my first post, so sorry if this is an improper posting, but I have been researching for months and can't make a decision, so am hoping to get some insight here.
My question is this: What will make a better long term investment in ratio to what will give me the most immediate sonic improvement-Buying an Apogee Symphony 16 I/O for AD/DA, or buying an API 5500 and an API 2500 (or a pair of 527s).
I currently have an acoustically treated room, some decent mics (BLUE Mouse, Oktava MC012's, Cascade Fat Head IIs w/ Lundhal, Shure SM7 etc...), an API 3124+, a stereo pair of Distressors, Event ASP8 monitors, great instrumental gear and musicianship. I have been recording and mixing through a stock MOTU 896mk3. I historically mix ITB, but have taken that as far as I can. I make mixes that I love, but are missing some intangible quality (warmth, depth?) I determined last year (after listening to "Dark Side Of The Moon" on headphones) that it's the summing of all the digital tracks, which each individually sound fine, but together create a harshness that is evident to me in all of my mixes (and a lot of indie music that I hear nowadays).
I know that the API eq's and compressors will improve my sonics, and give me some of the organic analog goodness I crave, but is it going to be compromised by my poor quality AD/DA in the MOTU. Should I start with the Apogee, especially since I will be running in and out of the box so much more to access the analog hardware?
I believe that sums up my situation, thanks in advance for any reply! Please let me know if there is anything I can clarify to help get the best advice.
p.s. I do a wide variety of music (rock, funk, jazz, hip-hop, electronic) using a mixture of live drums, guitars, bass, strings, horns, vox, and electronic sampled drums, synths, keys, and other programmed instruments.
p.p.s. I know my monitors aren't the best, but I believe you can get great sounds if you know your gear.

I'd personally go with the Apogee converter upgrade first, then add the 5500 and 2500 as funds permit. All 3 are excellent choices and those API units are absolutely killer (I do love mine). But, where the "rubber hits the road" (that analog to digital conversion stage, when it all turns to 1's and 0's) is so very vital to quality, source-representative, digital recordings. Then, of course, played back through quality DA, and, as you say, through monitors you "know" in your room setting.

It will also allow you to better hear what the 5500 and 2500 bring to the table, in use.

I've also never been a fan of MOTU converters, from what I've heard...

#11
9th February 2013
Old 9th February 2013
  #11
Gear nut
 

I totally agree with what string6Theory just said. I've had the Symphony for a couple of years and the 5500 for 3 years plus. Both are great, but I use the Symphony every time I power up my studio so I think that would have the most impact for you now. I know how you feel. You're getting into big ticket, major impact purchases now and want to do it in the right order. The Symphony will set you up for good sound no matter what you add next.
#12
9th February 2013
Old 9th February 2013
  #12
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by balanceman View Post
this is the best post on gearslutz in a year!

People have unrealistic expectations from what they can achieve with equipment.

It's not just the gear, but a combination of infinite variables; rooms, experience;technology:perspectives...

Just do what you can....
If it's learning about some analog gear; good you will have that knowledge and can decide if the gear is worth keeping or $elling off...

If it's buying conversion: great- but realize you're just giving yourself a good (necessary) routing tool. Make sure to use it! some people buy 16 io converters and use 2 outs!
you're still summing in the box...
Yup and I'm constantly surprised at what people can do with so little, 9 / 10 times it's not even the cheap gears fault.. I personally have spent time dissecting an amazing sounding mix / recording done on a Mackie 1640i..

Even with gear costing 10X as much, a console and everything else is no use at the hands of someone who can't get the best out of it.
DKIEL
Thread Starter
#13
12th February 2013
Old 12th February 2013
  #13
Gear interested
 

Thread Starter
Thanks for the replies! Some good perspectives.

Decided I'm definitely going with conversion first. I think it is indisputable that the Apogee Symphony converters (not to mention the clock) will be way better than the MOTU. When I mentioned the summing of the tracks, I meant that if my MOTU conversion is degrading each track, then the sum of maybe forty tracks will show the degradation more than each track individually. I was weighing the possible sonic improvements of bouncing the majority of said forty hypothetical tracks through the API 5500 and 2500 against having higher quality conversion on all forty tracks. I just bought the Waves Studio Classics Bundle, so with the Apogee I should be set for awhile. Maybe then I'll decide I need a Great River MP 2-NV, Chandler TG2, a nice tube mic, and some Event Opals instead! I use Mac and Logic so the Apogee should work well for me. Plus I like having the option to get 8 high quality Apogee pres for $1500!
#14
20th March 2013
Old 20th March 2013
  #14
Lives for gear
 
mike vee's Avatar
Man, go with a Lynx AES16e card and AD16x and DA 16x. you can get all for about 3000 and in my opinion PCIe is the best. you could easily run those at 24/96 at a very low buffer and they are using the C777 clock.
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