DA as important as AD?
stellar
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#1
20th February 2006
Old 20th February 2006
  #1
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Thread Starter
DA as important as AD?

I am looking at upgrading my coverters, and obviously the AD is the first place I would look. Do you all feel that DA is just as important and should be upgraded at the same time? (for monitoring the final mixdown). Or is DA something that can be upgraded later? Thanks for your opinions.
#2
20th February 2006
Old 20th February 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stellar
I am looking at upgrading my coverters, and obviously the AD is the first place I would look. Do you all feel that DA is just as important and should be upgraded at the same time? (for monitoring the final mixdown). Or is DA something that can be upgraded later? Thanks for your opinions.
I'd say it depends on what you currently have. A lot of cards have a great D/A but terrible A/D and vice-versa.

Personally, i'd say both are pretty equally important - one enhances what's going in, one enhances how accurately you're hearing that. "Garbage in, garbage out" should be the mantra for this stuff. That said, from just a general standpoint, I lean towards the D/A first - improve that and you'll probably be able to get a better sense of the quality of your A/D stage, then can upgrade that accordingly. A lot of folks have a fairly basic audio interface (MOTU, M-Audio, whatever), but have paired that up with a good quality 2-channel DA like the Lavry DA10 or Benchmark DAC1. Seems to be a good compromise between quality and price.
#3
20th February 2006
Old 20th February 2006
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This is what I tell my students....

First the trick question.... which of these links is the least important:

A. A/D
B. D/A
C. Mic
D. Pre

The answer is none of the above. You can have the best sounding mix going in but not be able to recognize it because of a crappy D/A...
stellar
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#4
20th February 2006
Old 20th February 2006
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by drosophila
"Garbage in, garbage out" should be the mantra for this stuff. That said, from just a general standpoint, I lean towards the D/A first - improve that and you'll probably be able to get a better sense of the quality of your A/D stage, then can upgrade that accordingly.
Wouldn't this be "Garbage out = Garbage in" ? I understand that you need to hear what you are doing accurately in order to make a good mix. But what if my mixer has two sets of outputs, and I were to use one set to feed the monitors and the other set to feed my AD coverters which boast "transparency". Would this not work? If this does not work, does this mean that the converters are not, indeed transparent? Thanks again.
#5
20th February 2006
Old 20th February 2006
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If recording to a DAW and mixing ITB, the quality of D/A is only significant to the extent it affects your mixing or re-amping. Otherwise, it's simply not going to make any difference at all.

But everything you record through your A/D is going to be colored by the A/D, so I believe it makes the most affect. Especially if you can remove 14dB of noise simply by using better converters.

Sure - you have to be able to hear properly to mix properly, but average PC soundcards can probably let you hear enough to mix properly. Then when you burn a CD, you are hearing the CD players converters, which may not be significantly better. And anyone listening to your music will probably be hearing it through similar low quality converters.

But for re-amping stuff, I think it's worth springing for better D/A converters. That extra 14dB of noise is no fun in front of a guitar preamp.
#6
20th February 2006
Old 20th February 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwiburger
the quality of D/A is only significant to the extent it affects your mixing or re-amping.
That is a pretty massive "only". Perhaps the biggest there is.

Quality A/D will increase stereo image and clarity of digital audio. Quality D/A will maintain it in the analog world. "average PC soundcards" are worlds away from quality D/A.

The final format or playback device is irrelevant. Quality D/A allows more accurate listening which directly reflects the decisions you make.

Why send thousands of dollars on monitoring and acoustics to create an accurate listening environment if you are going to run your mixes through sub-par D/A? It entirely defeats the purpose.
#7
20th February 2006
Old 20th February 2006
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i think great monitoring chain is a must.

by that i mean : your ears, listening position in room, speaker position, loudness, speakers stands, speakers itself, speaker power amp, da,cables if really bad,the room itself,acoustic treatments.....

but not every part of the chain contributes the same... so...

if youre sorted your ROOM/POSITIONS first and youre got the best SPEAKER/AMP you can have then upgrade your DA...

that way you will more and more actually mix your tracks - not compensate your monitoring chain

#8
20th February 2006
Old 20th February 2006
  #8
Gear addict
 

If your mixing in the box good DA is super important...Hear better Mix Better, sure you could mix a song ITB with a somthing really low end in theory and bounce your mix and it would sound the same as some one with an Apogee or like pro products provided you worked entirely in the digital realm, but this is music and you want to hear and feel it and a good DA makes working ITB pleasurable and inspiring as it can be.
A different set of DA as I have gone thru a bunch over the years can be shockingly almost as different sounding and respond in different ways as the difference between monitors. You want somthing that translates reality in a pleasing way.
stellar
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#9
20th February 2006
Old 20th February 2006
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I should have clarifyed....

Right now I am tracking to tape. I am using the converters as my final stage, and I am only converting a stereo file. So, thereotically, like I said, i can monitor of a separate mixer output, if my converters truly are "transparent".

How bout this...when mixing to tape, you can't really mix off of the "repro" head... you have to use the "sync" head (which doesn't sound as good usually). I guess it would be the same concept here.

I guess I have three options (other than do nothing): upgrade my AD and monitor off the board, upgrade my AD and monitor off my 'ok' DA, and upgrade both to monitor off the spectatcular DA. I know what the 'true' gearslut answer is but I am trying to avoid spending unncessary money right now.

Any thoughts??
#10
20th February 2006
Old 20th February 2006
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I just heard a track with a decent singer but they used the wrong mic (at 4040), shitty pre (mackie 1402), and shitty comp Alesis 5150 (model ?) that it sounded like the vocal was a freakin square wave. Pres and comps etc really do make a big diffference. Conversion was also mediocre.
#11
20th February 2006
Old 20th February 2006
  #11
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drosophila's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by stellar
Wouldn't this be "Garbage out = Garbage in" ? I understand that you need to hear what you are doing accurately in order to make a good mix. But what if my mixer has two sets of outputs, and I were to use one set to feed the monitors and the other set to feed my AD coverters which boast "transparency". Would this not work? If this does not work, does this mean that the converters are not, indeed transparent? Thanks again.
In either instance, you should hear the AD more accurately. Whether the DA reveals them to be transparent or not is kinda dependent on what kind of AD you've got going.

Still, just talking generally, it still doesn't necessarily address your particular situation. What's your budget? What do you currently have? For all i'd know, you'd be better off picking up acoustic treatments before upgrading this part of the chain.
stellar
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#12
20th February 2006
Old 20th February 2006
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Thread Starter
I've got some pretty good acoustic treatments going...not the best but I've got 6' tube traps in the corners, and 2" panels on the sides and ceiling. Right now I am using an Echo Layla which has served me well for years and years....but right now I am trying to squeeze that extra 10%. My monitors could be better but the only ones on the market that I feel are a marked improvement (Genelec 8040s) are way outta my budget right now so those will wait. I was looking at Mytek for the AD. The rest of my chain includes a few pieces of nice stuff (Dual 72, LTD-2) and a selection of decent mics for rock music (D12e, RE20, 4050, that kind of stuff). Its been a long process of upgrading stuff and now I am getting just a few pieces of pricey stuff to last me for the next few years. Hope this helps. I appreciate all of the feedback so far.

It looks like I am leaning towards just the AD for now but I'm still not sure where I should monitor off of.
#13
20th February 2006
Old 20th February 2006
  #13
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I would say it all depends. If you're already pleased with your DA and can achieve mixing results that you like or are of great quality with the current DA you have, then I'd say go for the AD. If you think that your DA isn't good enough to support a great mix, then upgrade it first. Some guys are perfectly comfortable with the DA provided by their audio interfaces, think that they can mix just fine on it, and decide to upgrade the AD instead.
#14
20th February 2006
Old 20th February 2006
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RecTeach
This is what I tell my students....

First the trick question.... which of these links is the least important:

A. A/D
B. D/A
C. Mic
D. Pre

The answer is none of the above. You can have the best sounding mix going in but not be able to recognize it because of a crappy D/A...

100% agree. Even if you don't mix OTB, nor route final mix to 2-buss, you need a good D/A for monitoring. Imaging, transients, reverb/delay tails, the mix details.... all of them will be blured with a poor D/A....
#15
26th February 2006
Old 26th February 2006
  #15
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If you upgrade to the Mini-Me for AD, you could monitor off that via the 1/8" stereo plug in the back. That signal is pre-USB circuit.

As a potential added bonus, you can also play out from the computer at 24-bit/44.1 via USB, which is then routed through some sort of DA in the Mini-Me to the same 1/8" plug; there's a knob on the front to control the direct vs. USB mix. (The USB cannot play out at better than 24/48.) Anyone know what kind of DA is driving the Mini-Me's analog out?

Like another poster, I have a Layla and upgraded my AD to the Mini-Me. I'm really glad I did. I think AD is the better first choice vs. DA; if I can get better recordings now, I could always redo the mix the future once I have better a monitoring environment... also, by using the Mini-Me's clock to drive the Layla the quality of the DA improves. Of course, this is just a hobbyist perspective.
#16
26th February 2006
Old 26th February 2006
  #16
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In a theoretical, desert island situation where you can only have EITHER a good A/D or a good D/A - I still strongly suggest the good A/D first.

I totally agree that monitoring is important, and that you will hear details better with a good D/A. True - but this is an either/or situation, and my argument is this:

"Bad" converters mean something like M-Audio right? I'm talking about bad, not outright crap - like 16 soundblaster that won't let you record at 24 bits. If that is the case, then you probably do need to upgrade your D/A first.

But assuming we are talking about simply bad converters, like the cheap MAudio stuff, they should be adequate for mixing. They aren't that bad that they will cause you to mix incorrectly. And they are probably equal or better than consumer playback devices. So if you have to work a little harder to get the depth you want - this will pay off in the real world.

I don't see the point in tracking anything with inferior A/D - given the chance to have superior A/D. The difference in noise floor and general quality is huge, between MAudio and Apogee, Lucid, RME etc.

Obviously it would be nice to have superior A/D and D/A. But I would rather make a mix, knowing it will sound even better on somebody elses audiophile system because I used superior A/D. I don't think higher quality D/A would really make me mix much different - relatively speaking.

My point is - the A/D converter is definately in the signal path, probably many times. The D/A converter doesn't have to ever be used in the signal path for burning a CD.

But if we are talking about a crap 16 bit soundblaster, then yes - you will need to upgrade this first. If only to be able to record at 24 bits.
#17
27th February 2006
Old 27th February 2006
  #17
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lofi's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwiburger

But I would rather make a mix, knowing it will sound even better on somebody elses audiophile system because I used superior A/D. I don't think higher quality D/A would really make me mix much different - relatively speaking.
i think it doesnt work that way cos you cant mix what yiu cant hear... but i could be worng...

i use m-audio cheapo ad and not so cheapo benchmark da...

dac-1 made me mix FASTER ! but maudio made me mix CHEAPER


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwiburger
My point is - the A/D converter is definately in the signal path, probably many times. The D/A converter doesn't have to ever be used in the signal path for burning a CD.
it depends...if youre doing electronica you could live WITHOUT any ad but you still need da ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwiburger
But assuming we are talking about simply bad converters, like the cheap MAudio stuff, they should be adequate for mixing. They aren't that bad that they will cause you to mix incorrectly.

true but that goes for vice versa too ! if theyre good enough for mixing they arent that bad that they will cause you to track incorrectly.. but how will you know that if your da is "not good enough" and masks your situation ?


the bottom line is...(itb speaking)

if you only mix/master you need good da
if you only track you need good ad and da
if you track/mix/master you need good ad and da
if you have great monitoring speakers,amp and room then you can think of upgrading the convertors cause theire impact is much smaller in the big picture of things

i did and album on clabs 16 bit ad and da that you can buy in the stores no prob so....

anyway...
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