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New Preamps VS. New A/D Converters
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CameronCampbell
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#1
3rd November 2011
Old 3rd November 2011
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New Preamps VS. New A/D Converters

So I am looking to improve the quality of my recordings overall from my Focusrite Liquid Saffire 56. I am looking at the Lynx Aurora 16, and the API 3124. Just wondering whether it makes more sense to get the converters before the new pre's that way I can abandon the a/d's on my liquid saffire. Any thoughts?
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3rd November 2011
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You'll get completely opposing views on this topic but I'll be the first to say go for the upgrade in ADAC first. It's so much easier to mix when your DAC is on a higher level, it really is. Again, you'll get conflicting opinions on this but seriously, it's just common sense that doesn't require getting out a microscope, putting on a lab coat and getting all mental about it. Higher quality ADAC will give you a whole new sonic perspective on your mic pre's and your mic's. It will help you make better choices from the beginning on mic placement as well. Personally, I feel my recording/mix engineering skills pushed forward rather quickly after upgrading my ADAC with BLA.
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3rd November 2011
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Quote:
go for the upgrade in ADAC first
Agreed.
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3rd November 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboJets View Post
You'll get completely opposing views on this topic but I'll be the first to say go for the upgrade in ADAC first. It's so much easier to mix when your DAC is on a higher level, it really is. Again, you'll get conflicting opinions on this but seriously, it's just common sense that doesn't require getting out a microscope, putting on a lab coat and getting all mental about it. Higher quality ADAC will give you a whole new sonic perspective on your mic pre's and your mic's. It will help you make better choices from the beginning on mic placement as well. Personally, I feel my recording/mix engineering skills pushed forward rather quickly after upgrading my ADAC with BLA.
++1
plugging a $2000 mic pre into a cheap AD makes absolutely no sense
mixing on a cheap DA makes no sense either


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3rd November 2011
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another vote for the ad/da chain
makes so much difference when you can truly hear and make good decisions about what you are doing
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3rd November 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DannyMac View Post
another vote for the ad/da chain
makes so much difference when you can truly hear and make good decisions about what you are doing
1++

in about 2 minutes we will see the infamous gs audio chain 'order of importance' list:

1. room
2. source
3. mic
4. mic cable
5. microphone pop filter
6. mic stand
7. pre
8. compressor
9. did I forget mic clip?
10. insert patch cable
11. eq
12. chair that engineer sits on
13. wordclock cable
14. DAW
15. wordclock terminator
16. monitors
17. speaker cable
18. lunch
19. speaker power amp
20. cable from D/A to power amp
21. converter

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3rd November 2011
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converters all the way from me too.

the lynx converters brought the single biggest improvement to my ears....

i can only dream about what higher quality than lynx means.
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3rd November 2011
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Converter...but do you really need a 16 channel converter? Maybe scale it back to 8 channels and buy your self a luncbox with a pre or two for now. When I thought about my setup I thought why buy all that good I/O when I can only afford so many high end pres right now anyway? Just figured when I hit that point I'll upgrade then to a higher count of ad. See what I'm saying though? You said all you could get is 4 channels of API anyway. Its not like you were going to drive the saffire pres through that converter with the interfaces converter also. Unless you have a bunch of other high end pres you didn't mention. You would get a better clock and better DA though.My guess is you are going to hook it up with your saffire interface using both. Use a little bit of everything

Get a 2 or 8 channel converter to save and spend the rest on a lunchbox with a pre or two and clock everything including your current interface to the new converter. I did 2 pres and new conversion for 2,600 or so and added it to my digi 003. Check ebay too for converters! It could save you enough to buy another pre
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3rd November 2011
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Yo Cameron!

I haven't personally heard the Focusrite unit you're upgrading from, but i'm pretty sure the Lynx and the API will be a giant step up....

...as for which one to get first? Well, if u buy the converters first, will u even have a preamp to plug into it? it looks like the pre's on the focusrite are wired directly into the converters on the unit. If you bought the lynx first, i don't know that you'd be able to utilize it in your setup...unless of course u already have a great pre.

If u bought the API's first, you could at least output the 4 channels of it to the line inputs on the Focusrite.
Doing this will let u hear the conversion on the Focusrite, and also let u at least use the API pre's for now...

Just a thought...
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3rd November 2011
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get the lynx, you wont be sorry!
CameronCampbell
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4th November 2011
Old 4th November 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattg082 View Post
Converter...but do you really need a 16 channel converter? Maybe scale it back to 8 channels and buy your self a luncbox with a pre or two for now. When I thought about my setup I thought why buy all that good I/O when I can only afford so many high end pres right now anyway? Just figured when I hit that point I'll upgrade then to a higher count of ad. See what I'm saying though? You said all you could get is 4 channels of API anyway. Its not like you were going to drive the saffire pres through that converter with the interfaces converter also. Unless you have a bunch of other high end pres you didn't mention. You would get a better clock and better DA though.My guess is you are going to hook it up with your saffire interface using both. Use a little bit of everything

Get a 2 or 8 channel converter to save and spend the rest on a lunchbox with a pre or two and clock everything including your current interface to the new converter. I did 2 pres and new conversion for 2,600 or so and added it to my digi 003. Check ebay too for converters! It could save you enough to buy another pre
Great Point! I was actually looking at the Aurora 8 of course too. I just a do a lot of drum tracking where 8 mics is typical for me, and if I ever want to add another room mic or something I want to be able to, but you make a great point.
CameronCampbell
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4th November 2011
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good point! It's sort of a lose lose sitaution untill both are in my hands really haha.
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4th November 2011
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what's your workflow?

with better converters you are not only getting better quality on the way in, you also have better converters on the way out, for monitoring, for adding in outboard gear during mixdown etc,

if you are on a strict budget i'd do what mattg said,

get the 8 channel lynx with the aes16e card, get a lunchbox with 2 api type channels for the time being. that covers some of your immediate needs and gives you an excellent platform for the next purchase which is either another 2 api modules or any of the many other modules available.... like the daking....
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4th November 2011
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It's really hard to say that one is important over the other because the fact is, both options you mention would be a significant upgrade and offer improvements in their own way. You could have great converters with so-so micpres....which means your converters will allow those so-so mic pres to sound, well....just "okay". On the other hand you could have killer pres with average converters which means those pres will only sound, well---average. WITH THAT SAID.... the Focusrite interface you have is an excellent interface and the pre you're looking at offers some serious tone, punch, and a great impact of the sound. From my experience I would lean towards a micpre first, because your converters aren't bad at all. Once you have the mic(s) and pre(s) in place, then make the move to the converters.
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#15
4th November 2011
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Get the Lynx converter! I got one my self a year ago and it is the best investment I did for my studio!
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4th November 2011
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I have he same interface. My choice was pres first as I'm told that the LS56 converters ain't that bad. However now I'm itching so much to upgrade my converters!!! Is the lynx a major step up (ie can I hear it in an untreated room with so so monitors) from the ls56?

Bonus is just around the corner w00t!!!
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4th November 2011
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I disagree with upgrading the converters first.

I feel very strongly that the most important stuff by far happens before the converters.

Today's run-of-the-mill converters in the usual suspect audio interfaces considered by most professionals to be "meh" happen to be good enough to get great sounding records out of. They are the least of your problems.

That's not to take away from the increase in quality you'll get out of cutting edge conversion. It's just that in perspective converters are audibly subtle things and aren't what make or break the overall quality of the recording, unless they are truly horrible, which is RARELY the case these days. I have raw recordings made with average converters and preamps on average interfaces if you ever get interested in hearing for yourself.

Now there are those that dogmatically adhere to the argument that everything must be top notch or at least "high end" approved to sound professional. For those cats nothing that an average joe can easily afford is good enough and they will argue tooth and nail about the "night and day" difference between this and that box of electronics and how it "changed everything" for them when they splashed out for "x" big name famous or esoteric (really expensive) piece. But I took a slightly different road a while back and actually sought to find out what I'm really paying for.

I have Prism converters and Presonus and for a brief moment I had a Behringer in here for testing. I've found that yes there is a difference. But when I go through the trouble of being careful about gain staging, being careful about source sound and mic selection and placement and being careful about preamplifier choice the differences in conversion become VERY slight. A little more haze and lack of fine detail from the cheaper stuff. But we're talking subtlety here. If it ever came down to only considering money outlay and headache of pondering being saved I would have no problem anytime tracking with average converters. It doesn't change the game IMO. Your experience may vary.
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4th November 2011
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I think you'll be unsatisfied till both are up to snuff. Good pres just make everything sound kinda how it's supposed to, with stock pres, I always feel like something isn't quite exciting enough. As far as converters, I always thought the converter thing was overrated until I got a decent one, and saw the difference. Like taking the cotton out of your ears.

I think of the mic and pres as the 'tone', where the converter is the 'clarity'. You really want both to be at their best.
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#19
5th November 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw View Post
1++

great!
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5th November 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enlightened Hand View Post
I have Prism converters and Presonus and for a brief moment I had a Behringer in here for testing.
Are there two A/D converter manufacturers named Prism?
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5th November 2011
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I just jumped from a MOTU interface to a Apogee Duet 2... its been a huge difference in sound so I would recommend the convertors [Edit: if you already have really nice press]. Great mic pres do make a difference.... especially if you`re recording track after track with the same mic... but now that I have several decent ones, the next step was conversion and I have to tell you, the difference really is night and day.

I`m not sure what type of mics you have have but accurately hearing what you`re putting in and getting out is huge. Go with the convertor.
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#22
5th November 2011
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I'm on the get a nice pre first side of this debate. I can't tell you how much my recordings improved when I got my first high end channel after going digital almost 10 years ago, the channel was an x73i. Don't get me wrong, converters are a very important part of the chain in a pro setup; I'm just of the opinion that pres are more so important.

Another thing to think about is that high end pres will still have a place in your studio for many many many many years. On the other hand, today's top of the line converter will most likely be replaced with newer technology much much sooner. Unless your running a commercial studio I say put your money into pres and mics before high end converters.
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5th November 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw View Post
Are there two A/D converter manufacturers named Prism?
No but there are plenty Prism (and other big name gear) sycophants that just don't get it.

I love my converters. I think they are awesome. I use them as much as practical. I think that the differences between great and run-of-the-mill are definitely there. But the perspective of the opinion giver has to be evaluated.

What really make things sound good or bad? It's not the converters, not these days. Designers know how to do a basic converter that doesn't destroy what you record to a point that you'll hate it no matter how good everything else is. If you don't think so then it's because you don't want to think so.

The distance between a great sounding converter and an okay one is like the difference between a 100K house in a working class neighborhood and a 1mil house in an upscale suburb. Yeah in the upscale neighborhood with the 1million dollar houses the yards are nicer, the cars are nicer, the houses are bigger and newer and have more luxurious stuff. But the 100k house is still a house by comparison and a pretty decent one. You guys describe things like the difference is between a mansion in the hills compared to a slum in Mumbai.

I've used both. When you know how to record and it's not a matter of you worshiping at the alter of the ever just out of reach "high end" then you realize that hey, this ordinary stuff can actually work well. The most important stuff happens before the converters.
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24th November 2011
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Yo

Hey! I'm new on GS and decided this would be a good time to hijack this thread instead of start another one.

I'm working on building up my home studio and only have a digi 003 but am drooling over the lunchbox... I want to record a full set of drums (yeah, I know you ideally want at least 10 channels but I will get there eventually) and would like the added channels from the 6 slot lunchbox with 4-6 pres from the start.

Anyway... will the converters in the 003 be sufficient for now? With 8 existing AD converters in the 003 and a 6 slot lunchbox, could I still use the remaining 2 channels on the 003 to make 8 altogether? I know everyone is stressing a good converter and I completely agree, but it may have to come second after the lunchbox.

Say I had to get an 8 channel converter, what are your thoughts for around $1000? I'll most likely get it from ebay...

Also looking at the Beyerdynamic dt 880 pro headphones for mixing (live in a duplex)... any thoughts?

thanks!
nas
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24th November 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enlightened Hand View Post
I disagree with upgrading the converters first.

I feel very strongly that the most important stuff by far happens before the converters.

Today's run-of-the-mill converters in the usual suspect audio interfaces considered by most professionals to be "meh" happen to be good enough to get great sounding records out of. They are the least of your problems.

That's not to take away from the increase in quality you'll get out of cutting edge conversion. It's just that in perspective converters are audibly subtle things and aren't what make or break the overall quality of the recording, unless they are truly horrible, which is RARELY the case these days.
Agree with this 100%

I have upgraded my mics, mic pres, and convertors over the past few years and by FAR the most audible improvement was with the mics and mic pres and lastly the convertors. Yes the convertor upgrades made an improvement but it was more subtle and as Enlightened Hand has mentioned, nowadays most "averagae converters" don't sound so horrible as to seriously hinder your recordings. I think the jump in sound quality is much bigger with a mic or mic pre upgrade and if I had a limited budget then I would look at those before the converters.
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24th November 2011
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Like several other people have said all converters are pretty good these days. I'd expect to get the biggest impact with pres so, if you have to do it in stages, that's what I'd buy first.
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24th November 2011
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Having good/great converters is the difference....!!!
How come my recordings don't sound like that? What Pro?
It's the converters!!
Trust me..
Vintechs, API, Grace, ISA's, Bae, all sound great but if they going into firepods, 003, or anything inexpensive it won't sound as real, open, definitioned, and/or punchier!
When you have shootouts the first thing they ask is What Converter was used!
BTW-
All Converters have different sound to them!!
It's a subtle difference but after 20-30 it's not subtle anymore. You need to start staking tracks to notice the converters....
After a bass, guitars, vocals, drums, there is difference, a noticeable one, that where all the subtle differences add up!!
My pre only sounds a little brighter or has better midrange, only sounds like there was only a smaller inprovment after a few tracks, you got it!!! A Difference!!!!
My .02
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#28
24th November 2011
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The fact is that, in a blind test, most people would struggle to identify the differences they claim between different converters.

A "punchy" sounding preamp would be a bit more noticeable though.
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24th November 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcgruff View Post
The fact is that, in a blind test, most people would struggle to identify the differences they claim between different converters.

A "punchy" sounding preamp would be a bit more noticeable though.
Ok!
Let hear your mix or final product?
#30
24th November 2011
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Without a doubt...preamps.
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