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Kamurah
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#1
3rd February 2013
Old 3rd February 2013
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Mytek or RME??

Well this almost seems like a silly question...but I'll ask anyway.

If you had to choose between the 2 channel Mytek AD96 or the RME ADI2 which would you go for? They are both approximately the same price. (You could throw the Black Lion converter in there too if anyone has experience with that one).

My decision is primarily driven by the A/D stage....not the D/A. I have a separate monitoring / headphone solution so really just looking for anyone who may have heard or have experience with both.

Alternately, I could invest in a good 2-channel interface like the Duet 2 (equal or better specs than the discontinued Rosetta 200), Babyface, or the USBPre 2 (love the way their standalone recorders sound) to run a nice dual pre into...but speck-wise these devices do not quite match up with the Mytek...and recorded samples I've heard run through Mytek A/D sounded great. The real-world experiences with the interfaces might be a different story...and that is a story I would like to hear about.

Right now the setup I am putting together would look like this:

Microphones (Schoeps eventually...but I am looking at the Lewitt line in the interim) -> Millennia HV-3c or Pueblo Audio 2 channel Pre -> A/D -> DAW. (I really have narrowed it down to these two....the DAV is nice but every sample I hear has a higher noise floor than I would like. I tend to consistently pick / prefer the Millennia sound over Forssell or Grace, and the Gordon Pre is a bit spendy.)

My goal is to get the cleanest / most pure input channel with the lowest noise available at a reasonable price.

All thoughts and opinions are appreciated.

Thanks!
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3rd February 2013
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I won't assume what your tastes are -- but if you already like the sound of Sound Devices, then get a price for an entry level standalone recorder like the SD 702 -- around 2 grand, and then see what a budget of $2000 will pay for if you opt for computer sound interfaces. That money should be more than enough for an integrated mic pre plus ADDA if you opt for an RME UCX. You'll need to double that budget for a Prism Orpheus with 4 integrated mic preamps plus more than enough channels. About 2,000 buys a stripped down Prism Lyra with one channel of mic amp, and that would leave you money for a pair of external mic amps.

I already have a USBPre2 and it's pretty good. I'm tempted to get a RME UCX or even a Lyra 1 but the cheapskate in me says wait a while and put some hours on the USBPre 2.

My other moan about the Prism gear is that the cost per channel is way better for the Orpheus. The Lyra 1 and 2 are nickling and diming dollars per feature.
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jacktadoussac: Thanks for the reply. I had previously looked up some preliminary info on the Lyra but did not include it....I might need to do more Prism research.

Quick question: What are your thoughts on the latency of the USBPre 2?

Never really heard anyone address this in any reviews.
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4th February 2013
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Kamurah, for what it's worth I've never tried to do sound on sound using the USBPre2. I've used only for recording live music -- mostly myself on guitar and voice at once in an ambient way with a single Josephson C700A -- but not by laying down separate tracks. I don't think there is any latency problem for this application.

I have never had a Lyra in my possession -- so I may be grossly underestimating how good it sounds. I think if it came down to a big decision I would probably change my requirements and go for four channels of built in mic preamp as well as more than a pair of ADDA. That would imply looking at the Orpheus and the RME UCX or UFX. I actually have a half-decent stand-alone micpre so if I had to, the Lyra 1 would be feasible -- but as I said I think the Orpheus is a better deal.
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4th February 2013
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I have a Mytek 192ADC and an RME UFX and it is usually very hard to tell much of a difference in the AD. For the convenience of plugging in a USB cable and getting many channels of IO, I would say just get a Babyface or UCX and not worry about the 1% difference in sound quality, at least not at this stage. The mic and the preamp will make the biggest difference.
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4th February 2013
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Your Millenia vs Pueblo comment is curious to me (having owned both). I can hardly imagine two more different pres.

For me its Pueblo-- for the build quality and relaxed and natural sound. Completely worth the price. And NO NOISE. At all!

Rich
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5th February 2013
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I have to agree with Rich here... I do like Millennia a great deal. That being said, there is no comparison between the two.

As for the converter question. As time goes on, the differences between converters get smaller and smaller. There are many good choices out there. I know my opinion isn't in the majority, but while converters do matter, they matter far less than microphones, preamps and room. I've made some recordings that were reviewed as being "Audiophile" using a Digi001 interface for conversion. We had good mics and pres, though...

I have owned RME product and I have owned Mytek product. While the Mytek generally sounds a bit better, I would choose the RME every day. Why would I use the stuff that doesn't sound as good? Build quality and company service. As I said, converters are probably the lowest rung on the sonic ladder. My Mytek converters were painful to deal with when clocking externally. I had to send them back to Mytek multiple times- an expensive proposition for service that more often than not, did not do the job. Dealing with Michal was a pain in the butt as well. I wish that I could say it was just the model I was using. However, I had multiple colleagues with other models that experienced the exact same problems.

Thanks, but I'll stick to my Lynx and Lavry conversion from now on out.

--Ben
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Kamurah
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6th February 2013
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Ben: It was your recordings that got me turned on to the Pueblo Audio preamps. and your comments on the Mytek give me pause.


Rich: Preamp wise, in all honesty, I am still on the fence...I find myself consistently liking recordings I hear done with Millennias...and it is difficult to find recorded samples done with the Pueblos (aside from Ben's excellent offerings). Thank you for the comment on the noise floor of the Pueblo...I suspected as much but it is always good to hear from someone who uses the unit.

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6th February 2013
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6th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jacktadoussac View Post
Prism Sound Maselec MMA-4XR | Studio Economik, Canada

If you have a use for four channels the above unit ain't too shabby. It has stepped volume controls. It's probably a step up from the ones included in the Orpheus...but for now I will wait.
There was a Maselec preamp and an Orpheus in the preamp shoot-out performed by Sound On Sound (October and November issues). There is no evidence from this test that the Maselec was better. I preferred the Prism on the takes recorded with a Royer ribbon microphone.
The Orpheus has the same preamps like the RME Firefaces (except fot the 800).

Quote:
Originally Posted by sonare View Post
Your Millenia vs Pueblo comment is curious to me (having owned both). I can hardly imagine two more different pres.

For me its Pueblo-- for the build quality and relaxed and natural sound. Completely worth the price. And NO NOISE. At all!
Would you mean that the Pueblo is much quieter than the Millenia ?
It is unexpected because all the high end preamps dealing with transparency (Millenia, Forsell, Gordon, Maselec, Grace, RME Micstasy, Lake People F355 etc.) have EIN close to the theoretical minimimum within a few dBs. I am also sceptical about the sonic differences between these preamps being as large as what you are suggesting between the Millenia and the Pueblo. Might some samples demonstrate this difference ?
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6th February 2013
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For me it is so strange that a lot of people say that:
A) converters are not so important
B) RME and Mytek are not so different
I have tried my UCX and my best friend's Mytek in a treated room with the same speakers, two fabolous Geithan.
I can say only about DA converter, i have not yet compared AD.
The difference is very notable just at the first note, about clarity, detail, stereo image accuracy.
Listen to classical music, a good recording, and the difference is from night to day.
other thing to my ear RME converters they are not too neutral and detail is poor.
I use RME because their rock solid drivers. I use in real time softwares as csound and max, and it is phenomenal. So great card, poor converters, at least i speak about acoustic music.
i find mytek conversion mastering grade.
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6th February 2013
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I have and use multiple RME UFX units, one at the time or two daisy chained at a time for high track count. (Boy, you get a lot of track counts with two of these.) One of the reasons I like them is the same as everybody else; the software driver is good, very good indeed. As for the sound, It is OK, not too great, both AD and DA. Through reverse engineering, one can easily figure out that a lot of sound quality is lost due to its analog “Pro” features, namely, software controlled level switching which necessitates the need of using lots of extra op-amps in the signal path. There are different ways of implementing I/O level switching for pro use but the way used in UFX is not the best of them for sure, at least not for sound. But, the AD and DA converter chips used in the unit are fine, good enough to be considered harmless sonically. If one does not need the software controlled level switching feature and is willing and able to permanently bypass the associated analog circuits, the sound quality can be much better, so good that it certainly won’t be the weakest link in your audio chain anymore.


Best regards,

Da-Hong Seetoo
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7th February 2013
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I can comment on both since I use both regularly. Mytek is very good and I use here the Mytek ADC96. Pure tone and proper tonal balance. Does not announce its presence--heard as neutral. I use it as an important part of the some recording chains.

I also use RME Micstasy. I started using it after I met Stephan Flock, the Micstasy designer and ex head of the technical dept. at Deutsche Grammophon. Stephan described to me how the Micstasy was designed while he was at DG and that is what they use(d).

I really like the mic amp and the a/d on Micstasy. It is very high quality and among the best. Also check the RME ADI-8QS, an 8 channel a/d and da and format converter. These are part of the RME premium series and have better converter electronics than the rest of the RME line.
I also like both of the above because they work on MADI and can be daisy chained.

Lest you think that I am new to high quality conversion, we are still a house of dCS here--have been since 1995.

However, I can tell you that my recommend here, for this OP, is for RME Micstasy.
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7th February 2013
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Hi Plush, is there a two channel microphone amp that is equivalent to the 8 channel RME Micstasy? I 'vaguely' recall that you may have mentioned names like Broadhurst Gardens, DW Fearn, and Gordon on earlier occasions. Any others?
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7th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jacktadoussac View Post
is there a two channel microphone amp that is equivalent to the 8 channel RME Micstasy?
The closest one could be the Fireface 400, UC or UCX : these RME audio interfaces have 2 mic channels with the same preamp like in the Micstasy but they do not provide direct analog output : the analog outputs are DA converted from the digital outputs. I do not think that the converters being the same or not makes a significant difference. The Micstasy can accomodate larger dynamics at its inputs and delivers higher maximum output level and higher maximum gain because of an automatically switchable pad (on or off depends on the gain value) at the input and an additional gain stage at the output, which also provides 0.5 dB gain step instead of 1 dB gain step in the Firefaces.
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7th February 2013
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I wouldn't say the converter doesn't matter. I would say the converter chip doesn't matter very much. The weak link in the UFX is the corners cut to fit all that functionality in a tiny space. That means the analog paths need to be consolidated with opamps, shared power resources, and less than optimal channel isolation. Mytek converters, as well as Micstasy, are higher performance devices with discreet components, isolated analog paths, and over sized power supplies, and you will get more dynamics and clarity if you listen on a good system.

For going on a remote job, however, schlepping around another piece of hardware, having to add another power cable, AES cable, and dealing with word clock sync with multiple digital devices and preamps seems a little much for two channels of limited improvement. Any listening comparison already on Gearslutz with supposed "high-end" devices will support the idea that the UFX is not lacking in the sound quality department.

My Mytek stays in the studio and I use if for AD transfer from tape or vinyl.
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7th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fafalio View Post
For me it is so strange that a lot of people say that:
A) converters are not so important
B) RME and Mytek are not so different
I didn't say that Converters aren't important. What I *did* say is that compared to everything else, converters are a long way down on the list of what is important. Especially if you are doing acoustic music, the room, the microphone (and its position) and preamp are going to have FAR greater effects on your sound. I've made great recordings with really substandard conversion (ie Digi 00x interfaces, Yamaha consoles, etc...). The levels of my recordings take a nose-dive when I have mics that aren't cutting it. They also take a dive when I have substandard pres, although I've done better work with crap pres than crap mics.

I also said that as technology marches on, the difference between the top and the bottom of the heap is getting smaller and smaller. Mytek, Lavry and other higher end converters have a sound (or rather a lack of sound) that you are going to find difficult to match. The latest generation or RME, though, has come up so far that considering all else, you really can't discount what you'll get out of it.

I have heard from other engineers things that reflect what Da-Hong has posted about. I've thought seriously about getting my UFX modded to pull out the garbage that I'll never need. I have seen what happens to a FF800 when modded, considering how much higher the UFX starts, I'd be really interested to see what would come of it (especially now that it is out of warranty)

--Ben
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7th February 2013
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Originally Posted by fifthcircle View Post
I have heard from other engineers things that reflect what Da-Hong has posted about. I've thought seriously about getting my UFX modded to pull out the garbage that I'll never need. I have seen what happens to a FF800 when modded, considering how much higher the UFX starts, I'd be really interested to see what would come of it (especially now that it is out of warranty)

--Ben
Other than modding, does it make sense to petition to RME to make a simplified version of the UFX without all that "garbage"? Something like UFX Lite?
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7th February 2013
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From what I've seen, most mass-marketing companies aren't really interested in doing things like that. What I've been told is that the A-D chips generally don't have a huge amount of headroom in them. To get around that issue, RME has a digitally controlled pad (essentially- controlled by totalmix) that they can bring into and out of the circuit. Modifications to that circuit to increase headroom without using pads will increase the fidelity of the unit.

I'd be happy to have a set of A-D converters in my UFX that have more headroom (ie more input before clipping) even at the expensive of the input level control in totalmix.

--Ben
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7th February 2013
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All the modern AD converter chips use differential input configuration, the audio inputs are inherently balanced on these chips. In order to get the best performance out of these chips, one has to make sure to feed the chip with perfectly balanced analog signal. Most of the AD chips also require very little input voltage to drive them to clipping. Therefore, if terminated correctly, (with simply resistor padding) they can be very easily driven with a truly balanced line source without any additional analog circuit. A lot of those chips can be easily driven to clipping with a truly balanced, actively driven, high output microphone directly without any amplification in between because the high input sensitivity of the chip design. Most of analog circuits employed in AD converters are there to make sure whatever the analog sources are, balanced or otherwise, high level or low, by the time the signal gets to the AD chip it is properly balanced and level matched to meet the input requirement of the chip. Those analog circuits don’t make your sound any better, actually they degrade the sound every step of the way.

For example, the AD chips used in UFX are 4 Cirrus Logic CS5368, a very commonly used chip, came out around 2009, it only needs 1.13V differential signal to reach clipping. Schopes microphones and Sennheiser MKH microphones can all put out more than 1V differentially and therefore, can drive the AD chip directly without any preamp in between. And guess what; the sound is fantastic when you interface the microphone directly to the AD chip. There are no mic preamp and AD converter combination in the world can come up close to that kind of clean sound from a directly driven AD converter, none! Not very practical and user friendly, but this is the best approach in terms of getting the very best sound. There are no electronics that sound like no electronics. I always thought that is a great principle to follow.

Best regards,

Da-Hong Seetoo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dseetoo View Post
For example, the AD chips used in UFX are 4 Cirrus Logic CS5368, a very commonly used chip, came out around 2009, it only needs 1.13V differential signal to reach clipping. Schopes microphones and Sennheiser MKH microphones can all put out more than 1V differentially and therefore, can drive the AD chip directly without any preamp in between. And guess what; the sound is fantastic when you interface the microphone directly to the AD chip. There are no mic preamp and AD converter combination in the world can come up close to that kind of clean sound from a directly driven AD converter, none! Not very practical and user friendly, but this is the best approach in terms of getting the very best sound. There are no electronics that sound like no electronics. I always thought that is a great principle to follow.

Best regards,

Da-Hong Seetoo
Da-Hong, have you ever entertained the idea of building your own line of products so that people like me who have no clue how to mod can get a dream box for our Schoeps/Senns?
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8th February 2013
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Originally Posted by didier.brest View Post
The closest one could be the Fireface 400, UC or UCX : these RME audio interfaces have 2 mic channels with the same preamp like in the Micstasy but they do not provide direct analog output : the analog outputs are DA converted from the digital outputs. I do not think that the converters being the same or not makes a significant difference. The Micstasy can accomodate larger dynamics at its inputs and delivers higher maximum output level and higher maximum gain because of an automatically switchable pad (on or off depends on the gain value) at the input and an additional gain stage at the output, which also provides 0.5 dB gain step instead of 1 dB gain step in the Firefaces.
Thanks Didier. That sounds like bankable information. I think the UFX has more channels than I need, and units like the Orpheus cost more than I wish to spend. Also there is something aesthetically wrong with having more inputs and outputs. I might be tempted to plug in eight microphones at once. But with power from a USB source, laptop or other, perhaps the Babyface is the way to go? Is there much difference between the mic amps in a Babyface versus a UCX? Babyface why not?

Last edited by jacktadoussac; 8th February 2013 at 04:58 PM.. Reason: Babyface thinking
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8th February 2013
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Quote:
Is there much difference between the mic amps in a Babyface versus a UCX? Babyface why not?
The UCX has the micstasy style preamps, same as UFX. I think it would be worth the extra money over the Babyface, especially since RME seems to be spending their efforts on UCX functionality over their other interfaces, including UFX.
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8th February 2013
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Interesting to read the comments here. I myself have no experience with the RME UFX, but in my experience the Orpheus sounds way better than the RME 800 (both in AD and DA). I think the strongest point of the Orpheus is its very good AD, which should mean a lot to us (?).

I can very well imagine that the UFX is a bit better than the FF 800, and that the Mixtasy is several steps above the FF800, probably on the same level as the Orpheus. RME is absolutely great in their approach to drivers, software and convenience. Way above the competition. However, it is their philosophy that in these price ranges (1000 to 2000 Euro) the buyers don’t care too much on sound quality (and maybe they are right!), so they follow a very down to earth design philosophy. If it measures well and if it’s rock solid, then it’s fine for 99% of the buyers. They do not tweak these products by conducting extensive listening tests (as Prism does).

For the Mixtasy they probably wanted to do better (it’s in a different price league), and the comments by Plush, and the use by labels like BIS, confirm that it must be a very good sounding unit. It is also very convenient with short cables to the mics and then a long run over Madi to the control room with all possible remote control. This is the main reason why BIS choose it.
Some people have had problems with the Orpheus being a Firewire interface, but as long as you use a TI chipset in your Notebook, Desktop or Express card, you will have a very stable interface. (If you use a Macbook with those terrible cheap LUCENT chipsets, you are in for some nasty glitches and other problems).

Although Firewire has extinguished in newer notebooks, there a two other options open. Some of the business models still offer express card slots in which you can use a TI Firewire card (preferably not a combined 400 and 800 or USB card!). Another exciting option is the use of a Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter. Apple offers one for 29 USD. Prism has tested these and they work flawlessly. In due time it is also expected to become available for Windows notebooks. Therefore Firewire does not have to be a problem, provided you get the right hardware.
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8th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rumleymusic View Post
The UCX has the micstasy style preamps, same as UFX. I think it would be worth the extra money over the Babyface, especially since RME seems to be spending their efforts on UCX functionality over their other interfaces, including UFX.
The Babyface preamp is a slightly different version, the PGA 2505, of the preamp IC of the the Fireface 400, UC, UCX and UFX, the PGA 2500. It features 3 dB gain step instead of 1 dB and 60 dB maximum gain instead of 65 dB.

More information in this video from Texas Instruments

A shoot-out between Babyface and UFX (two different takes):
Attached Files
File Type: mp3 Babyface.mp3 (2.97 MB, 291 views)
File Type: mp3 UFX.mp3 (3.02 MB, 260 views)
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8th February 2013
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Interesting to read the comments here. I myself have no experience with the RME UFX, but in my experience the Orpheus sounds way better than the RME 800 (both in AD and DA). I think the strongest point of the Orpheus is its very good AD, which should mean a lot to us (?).
The strongest point I think in the Orpheus is the no compromise analog design. Both UFX and Orpheus use the same preamp chip, both use equal quality converters, but the Prism is just better component quality all around.

Most companies don't mind splurging $15 for a PGA2500 or $30 for the best AKM or Cirrus Logic chips. It is everything else in the design that makes the real difference. If it were not, the MOTU 828 could also claim they have "Micstasy" preamps.

Quote:
A shoot-out between Babyface and UFX (two different takes):
Pretty darn close, which is to be expected. The UFX is less brittle though.
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8th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
I can comment on both since I use both regularly. Mytek is very good and I use here the Mytek ADC96. Pure tone and proper tonal balance. Does not announce its presence--heard as neutral. I use it as an important part of the some recording chains.

I also use RME Micstasy. I started using it after I met Stephan Flock, the Micstasy designer and ex head of the technical dept. at Deutsche Grammophon. Stephan described to me how the Micstasy was designed while he was at DG and that is what they use(d).

I really like the mic amp and the a/d on Micstasy. It is very high quality and among the best. Also check the RME ADI-8QS, an 8 channel a/d and da and format converter. These are part of the RME premium series and have better converter electronics than the rest of the RME line.
I also like both of the above because they work on MADI and can be daisy chained.

Lest you think that I am new to high quality conversion, we are still a house of dCS here--have been since 1995.

However, I can tell you that my recommend here, for this OP, is for RME Micstasy.
A rather new RME option is the ADI-8 DS Mk III.

Like the ADI-8 QS, RME says the DS Mk III is also a "hi-end AD and DA converter in reference quality." Specs are very close with the QS having slightly better crosstalk and the DS MK III having more dynamic range.

Feature-wise the QS has better metering, MIDI, and optional MADI. Otherwise they seem identical.

Sweetwater sells QS for $3,049 and DS Mk III for $2,099.
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9th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rumleymusic View Post
The UFX is less brittle though.
Because they are different takes and the playing is softer in the UFX take. I recorded this test several months ago. I did again a test on this evening. Instead of a pair of condenser microphones, I used a pair or ribbon microphones (Beyerdynamic M 160) and a microphone splitter (LA Audio MS424) linked to the UFX and the Babyface, each interfaces being linked to a PC. I got some hum, which I attenuate (-10 dB at 50, 150, 250 and 350 Hz Q=30 applied by means of Waves X-hum) to UFX and Babyface tracks of take 2. Both tracks of take 3 are not processed (except for gain correction). UFX and Babyface preamp gain is 54 dB. I had to add 1 dB gain in DAW to the UFX tracks for balancing the levels w.r.t to the Babyface tracks.
I don't know why there is a bit slightly more hum on the UFX tracks. It may be due to my installation. The Babyface PC was operated on battery and the Babyface fed from USB while the UFX and its PC were fed from the mains (50 Hz - 220 V).
Attached Files
File Type: mp3 UFX_2.mp3 (3.34 MB, 650 views)
File Type: mp3 Baby_2.mp3 (3.34 MB, 574 views)
File Type: wav UFX_3.wav (8.81 MB, 278 views) File Type: wav Baby_3.wav (8.76 MB, 232 views)
#30
9th February 2013
Old 9th February 2013
  #30
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MichaelPatrick is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by didier.brest View Post
...I used a ... microphone splitter (LA Audio MS424) linked to the UFX and the Babyface, each interfaces being linked to a PC.
I appreciate your thorough description of the setup and want only to note that the signal goes through 2 buffer amplifiers and a transformer before it reaches the mic preamps. http://www.laaudio.co.uk/resources/d...4datasheet.pdf

Nevertheless, this is a better approach than recording multiple takes.

Thanks for the clips!
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