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Best DAC for monitoring, or feeding analog chain? Discuss...
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jayfrigo
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14th July 2013
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Best DAC for monitoring, or feeding analog chain? Discuss...

Here' an interesting (at least I think so) hypothetical scenario: If you, due to budget limitations, had two DACs of differing quality, would you use the highest quality one in your monitoring chain or in your signal chain? You can't fix what you can't hear, so that point is on the side of "monitoring chain," however the one in the signal chain actually has a physical and primary impact on the final sound of your processed signal. Which person do you save... er, I mean, which position gets the priority?
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The chain. Like you said, it is the actual SOUND of the album and that is all people ever hear.
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I'd just use a switch to a/b them and then make my decisions accordingly.
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Forgive me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't you want to monitor what's going through the analogue chain? I'd set the lower quality DAC on a shelf and use the better one for everything.
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Other workarounds aside, based solely on the question, i'd be monitoring off the lesser dac!
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this is a debate (and probably mostly an internal debate) that will go on until the end of time. the only "solution" would be to use the same DAC for both
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This is why I love my Hilo. I can use a simple loop back. Out of the line out dac to feed my analog chain. Then bring that back in to line in adc. Then use the dedicated monitor out dac to monitor pretty much anything, including the usb daw signal, the line out signal (preprocessed) or the line in signal (post processed). It's said that the line out has a higher quality dac than the monitor out. But it's not a major difference. Both are super tight and transparent. It's wonderful kit. Hopefully the iPad control app will come out soon. If Prism would have added the touch screen router and dedicated monitor outs to the Lyra I would consider it. Gonna role with Hilo for now.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wado1942 View Post
Forgive me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't you want to monitor what's going through the analogue chain? I'd set the lower quality DAC on a shelf and use the better one for everything.
But you can't tweak the analog gear and still hear the whole chain without a second DAC.
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Use the crappy one to process the music & listen to it like an audiophile on the good one. This forum..
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayfrigo View Post
But you can't tweak the analog gear and still hear the whole chain without a second DAC.
if you want to hear your chain "post-DAW" with e.g. the final limiting etc. included, nope! why not use a ADDA that offers more than 2 channels? I monitor through my DAW on channels 1-2 and use 3-8 for the chain/s...
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Originally Posted by jayfrigo View Post
If you, due to budget limitations, had two DACs of differing quality, would you use the highest quality one in your monitoring chain or in your signal chain?
I'd favor the monitoring.
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A proper studio has to use same dacs.
I personally use 2 Forssell dac.
But if i have to choose between 2 different quality, i defenitely would go to give the best sounding one to the chain which will add its sound to the recording material.
lads...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aszacca View Post
A proper studio has to use same dacs.
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Jay, It does not matter what you choose ... :-) but I would do the "best" dac on the chain ...
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this is a rather silly hypothetical discussion.

if the issue is where to put the weak D/A, in the monitor or process chain, it's simply not a mastering facility despite the delusions of grandeur.

there is no correct answer available to the actual question which is "where does one compromise their mastering flow, weak monitoring or weak processing?"


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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe_caithness View Post

having different dacs sometimes gives you the choice to add different flavour to program material,like when you use different comp or eqs..
but..
i dont think it's worth it anymore..in my opinion..
this is why we all work in a different way (thanks god)..
i defenitely prefer to have the main system with the same behavior and then adding with multiple comp-eqs different colour that suites what im working on best..
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Originally Posted by aszacca View Post
this is why we all work in a different way (thanks god)..
i defenitely prefer to have the main system with the same behavior and then adding with multiple comp-eqs different colour that suites what im working on best..
That's all good and well, but you're attitude of "us and them" regarding people who follow your thinking is rather tiresome and misleading to people readying this thread. I know tonnes of MEs using different converters for different tasks...
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this is a rather silly hypothetical discussion.
Might require moderator intervention.
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I use a Lynx Hilo for both analog signal processing and monitoring, so luckily I don't have to choose between good and bad. They are essentially the same.

However, if I had to make a choice, I would use the higher quality converter for monitoring. I make decisions based on what I am hearing, so accuracy would be my priority.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayfrigo View Post
But you can't tweak the analog gear and still hear the whole chain without a second DAC.
Maybe my workflow is a bit different than normal? I run the signal through the DACs into my analogue chain and monitor the analogue chain's output while recording back to the DAW.
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Maybe my workflow is a bit different than normal? I run the signal through the DACs into my analogue chain and monitor the analogue chain's output while recording back to the DAW.
You'd still need two stereo da' s right? or are you feeding and monitoring through an analog console with one stereo da?
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Might require moderator intervention.
but it is getting traffic.
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but it is getting traffic.
681:23 ...not really
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Originally Posted by wado1942 View Post
Maybe my workflow is a bit different than normal? I run the signal through the DACs into my analogue chain and monitor the analogue chain's output while recording back to the DAW.
I would not enjoy not being able to hear the ADC in that setup! Presumably if you use any digital processors after the analogue loop you have to do two passes?
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the ADC (that get's recorded) must have an additional SPDIF/TosLink output. Connect that with the SPDIF/TosLink input of the monitoring DAC (the better one) and switch the digital inputs to compare the original with the analog chain.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audio X View Post
You'd still need two stereo da' s right? or are you feeding and monitoring through an analog console with one stereo da?
I'm using an analogue console to feed both the monitors and the ADC so I only need one DAC. I never thought to do it any other way, even back when I had two cheap DACs instead of one good one. Besides, in the rare instance I master to 1/4" or 1/2" (for cassette or whatever), I can monitor that directly off the tape without going through an extra AD/DA stage.
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Signal chain...final product matters.
If you can still hear changes then you'll see what average listener will hear.

As final check you might do a playback thru the better DAC when it's no longer doing other duties.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wado1942 View Post
I'm using an analogue console to feed both the monitors and the ADC so I only need one DAC. I never thought to do it any other way, even back when I had two cheap DACs instead of one good one. Besides, in the rare instance I master to 1/4" or 1/2" (for cassette or whatever), I can monitor that directly off the tape without going through an extra AD/DA stage.
Still not 100% sure of your full chain and workflow... What are you typically using for source? Most people are sending wav files these days, so I assume you go from wav to the analog chain with the DAC, and do you later switch that same DAC to the DAW output for editing and delivery?

If you monitor only the end of the analog chain during process, you don't hear the sound of the ADC, the digital limiting, (possibly SRC if you process at 2X) and the final dithered output of the DAW. I prefer to hear the entire chain, head to toe, so I can hear what exactly the final product will sound like, and so that I can make tweaks in context with any impact other parts of the chain will make.
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