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BLA ADA8000 Premium Mod vs Apogee Ensemble Test
Old 17th January 2012
  #1
Lives for gear
BLA ADA8000 Premium Mod vs Apogee Ensemble Test

BLA ADA8000 Premium Mod vs Apogee Ensemble Test - BOTH are clocked by a BIG BEN

OK, this will just be my opinion. Sorry, no time to post an audio test. I started with a new ADA8000 - $200 plus shipping.

BEFORE
I did compare this to my Big Ben clocked Ensemble (a good clock makes a big difference) and the stock ADA (clocked with Big Ben). The stock ADA8000 was certainly not the quality of the Ensemble (clocked with Big Ben) - by a long shot. But heck, what a deal for $200! (Heck, I do DIY and just a case costs $200!)

AFTER
Just got my BLA premium mod back ($450 + return shipping) and I will let you guys know what I think!
Old 17th January 2012
  #2
Lives for gear
http://www.groupdiy.com/index.php?topic=20591.0

Link for doing power upgrade. Not really needed on the new unit I purchased.
Old 17th January 2012
  #3
Lives for gear
My upgrade posts for the ADA8000 with pics inside the unit.

ADA8000 - What opamps for upgrading?
Old 18th January 2012
  #4
Lives for gear
 
GoldMember's Avatar
files files files!

can you do?

Analog---> AD-ADA8k
Analog---> AD-Ensemle

ADA8K-DA---->AD-ADA8k
ADA8K-DA---->Ensemble-AD

Ensemle-DA--->AD-ADA8k
Ensemle-DA--->AD-Ensemble-AD

multichanel-DA-->suming analog mixer--AD ?

Thanks
Old 18th January 2012
  #5
Lives for gear
Heh! Sorry, no time to do a scientific test. Here are my pics of my mod. I modded them with special LT1358 and LT1359. BLA was nice enough to install them for me - I did have to purchase these separately. So, basically this is a 'super' premium mod! I am a DIY guy having built several jaw dropping pieces of gear and I have to say BLA does nice clean work. The pics to not give scale but this mod has VERY tight tolerances. Kudos to them for the skilled work.
Attached Thumbnails
BLA ADA8000 Premium Mod vs Apogee Ensemble Test-img_2783.jpg   BLA ADA8000 Premium Mod vs Apogee Ensemble Test-img_2784.jpg  
Old 18th January 2012
  #6
Old 18th January 2012
  #7
Lives for gear
Now for the real test: how does the ADA8000 mod with external clock stack up to the Apogee with clock.

This is why I will NOT be posting audio. The time to set this up for you guys and do it RIGHT is tremendous.

For now, there is a difference in volume between the two and I need to clock them at the same time (need another WC cable). That alone will take time.
Old 19th January 2012
  #8
Gear Head
 

I just did a similar listening test and I do not have files either, but will give you my opinion.
I am a long time user of the Apogee Ensemble and Logic. Very solid.
In the past I had used a Rosetta Hi Def 96k into the Alesis Masterlink. I've still got both units sitting in my rack and they both work well.

The reason for my shootout, has been that my mixes sound great here, but a bit hazy lows and harsh high end when I burn CDs out of the Mac and play them on other systems. I'm also having a problem with the Ensemble hiss and wanted to locate the problem.

I decided to do an A/B/C comparison of the Ensemble D/A/D, the Rosetta A/D into the Masterlink via SDIF, and the Masterlink using it's own converters.

Since the Masterlink outputs come up on a different 2 track return on the Big Knob, I was able to match levels and instantly tell there is a hiss problem coming from the Ensemble. I've seen other posts on GS reflecting the same issue.

My current track is recorded 24/48. I use the Logic Output channel i/o plug to send out to an SSL G384 bus comp and record back into Logic. The D/A for this send was the Ensemble in all 3 cases, but the return to the Mac was back through the Ensemble, while the other two were send to the Rosetta/ML and M/L onboard converters respectively to an identical 2-tr return on the BK.

The A/B/C results were surprising to me.
I had low expectations for the Alesis, as it is an old technology. Using it's own converters, to me it was the most neutral. Clear and honest.
The Rosetta converters into the ML was my favorite. Bold, better definition on the low end, and that typical Apogee color in the top.
I like the Ensemble as well, but I heard some of that overall vagueness and a bit of brittle quality in the high end.

After the test I also did a digital A/B of the Mac to Ensemble D/A, verses the Mac to ML D/A. Again big difference in the hiss. Overall the D/A in the Masterlink sounded more defined and natural than the Ensemble, but by a smaller fraction.

All 3 are still quality sounds, but with small, yet obvious differences in the end result. I'd say it was like an orange, a tangerine and a tangelo.

That was my afternoon. Later, J
Old 19th January 2012
  #9
Lives for gear
 
ScumBum's Avatar
 

Thanks for starting this thread .

So for $650 you get 8 channels of pro A/D and D/A ? Sounds good to me . I'd love to hear samples though , not really between the two units , but just the Modded ADA8000 alone with its own internal clock .
Old 19th January 2012
  #10
Lives for gear
 
MicDaddy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by piano View Post
Heh! Sorry, no time to do a scientific test. Here are my pics of my mod. I modded them with special LT1358 and LT1359. BLA was nice enough to install them for me - I did have to purchase these separately. So, basically this is a 'super' premium mod! I am a DIY guy having built several jaw dropping pieces of gear and I have to say BLA does nice clean work. The pics to not give scale but this mod has VERY tight tolerances. Kudos to them for the skilled work.
Why was IC23 not swapped?
Old 19th January 2012
  #11
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by MicDaddy View Post
Why was IC23 not swapped?
Ha! You are good!

According to BLA there was a problem with using my LT opamps in that position. So, it got the usual treatment.

This was a bit of an experiment using the the higher specked out LT's.
Old 19th January 2012
  #12
Lives for gear
Hmmm.... the LT op amps tighten up the bass a lot. But I can not truly tell until levels are set properly.

I have to design a test to get the levels equal between the two. In which case you boys will be getting a little treat. AUDIO TEST>>>>
Old 19th January 2012
  #13
Lives for gear
 
ScumBum's Avatar
 

So do did Behringer address the power supply issue with the new units ?

I have one with a 0810 date code , but have weird noise , extra pops and clicks , random audio drop out .


If someone got their ADA8000 modded and the power supply went out , would that damage the mod BLA does in anyway ?
Old 19th January 2012
  #14
Lives for gear
Yes, I understand that Behringer did address the power issues with the new units.
Old 19th January 2012
  #15
Lives for gear
I think I am going to throw in some of the BLA op amps they use just for testing.

As you can see, they do a lot more work than just op amp replacement.
Old 18th August 2012
  #16
Lives for gear
Well,

I have finally gotten around to testing the OUTPUTS of the my experiment with my 'super modded" very custom ADA8000 with Linear Technology op amps.

The LT's sound great SPECTACULAR but the channels are reversed in pairs 1 is 2 and 2 is 1, 3 is 4 and 4 is 3, 5 is 6 and 6 is 5, 7 is 8 and 8 is seven. Also channel 8 is not working.

NOW, BLA was nice enough to do this experiment of mine. SO.... BIG TIME KUDOS to them. They also did it on the condition that it it may NOT work perfectly as it was a bit of an experiment to them as well. BLA did great work.

Also, I understand that LT's quality control is not the greatest - so often, the op amps ordered are duds. I tried to order the fully tested versions but they were out of those. I am not sure of the problem here but I am going to try another set of opamps on the outputs. So replacing the LT1359 quads with another quad.
Old 18th August 2012
  #17
Lives for gear
A surface mount to IC adapter (quick pullout instead of soldering) to test out other OP AMPS with out soldering.

You want 4 for the QUAD OPAMP OUTPUTS
E14-0130 DIP-14 to SOIC-14 IC Adapter

Converting DIP 14 pins package (with socket on the top) to SOIC NARROW 14 pins (150 mil / 200 mil wide) on the bottom and more...

and 4 for the DUAL OPAMP INPUTS
E8-0130 DIP-8 to SOIC-8 IC Adapter

Converting DIP 8 pins package (with socket on the top) to SOIC 8 pins (150 mil / 200 mil wide) on the bottom and more...
Old 18th August 2012
  #18
Lives for gear
LT1359 PDF schematics.

Since each set of pairs of channels is reversed, I am wondering if the chips were put in backwards perhaps. That is the only thing I can think of here.
Old 25th June 2013
  #19
Lives for gear
OK, finally!!!, worked out all the bugs on this. The LT's sound good.

I have a Symphony I/O. I'd like to do a blind test. It seems I have to somehow get the volume the same between the two. The closer I get the volumes the same the harder it is to choose between the two.

The ADA-8000 with LT1359's mod hypes the sound in some way but there you go. Personally I like the Symphony for now but it seems like the LT makes the sound more 3D. I'll probably change my mind once I get the volumes matched. LOL.

Keep in mind I am clocking the ADA8000 with the Symphony clock. The clock is a BIG problem in the stock ADA8000 and using an external clock really cleans it up.
Old 25th June 2013
  #20
Gear Maniac
 
JeromeMason's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by piano View Post
OK, finally!!!, worked out all the bugs on this. The LT's sound good.

I have a Symphony I/O. I'd like to do a blind test. It seems I have to somehow get the volume the same between the two. The closer I get the volumes the same the harder it is to choose between the two.

The ADA-8000 with LT1359's mod hypes the sound in some way but there you go. Personally I like the Symphony for now but it seems like the LT makes the sound more 3D. I'll probably change my mind once I get the volumes matched. LOL.

Keep in mind I am clocking the ADA8000 with the Symphony clock. The clock is a BIG problem in the stock ADA8000 and using an external clock really cleans it up.
I had the premium mod done from BLA on my ADA, before I sent it to them I did some nulling test with track. I used the ADA's clock, then my Ensembles clock, then I have a BLA Sparrow MKII ADC that uses the same clock in the FM192, or it actually might be a better version of that clock I'm not positive.

The results were staggering. When I would null out the ADA's clock to the Ensembles you could hear hear more of just about every frequency coming through. Then I would compare the ensemble to the BLA's clock and that was not quite as bad, but you could definitely hear some low's and highs making their way through. When I compared the ADA's stock clock to the BLA that's when it was jaw dropping. It's incredible the quality and accuracy of BLA's Sparrow MKII's clock.

After that I ran some mixes through the stock ADA clocking off the BLA and then using it's own clock to see if I could hear those frequencies that were coming through the nulled files, and sure enough, it made that unit sound like a totally different unit, just by externally clocking.

When I got the modded version back, well all I can say is it blows my ensemble out of the water. I was even more impressed with the preamps. I found myself picking them over my API 3124 alot of the time. When you combine the improvements in the analog circuitry and the improvements in the conversion of the modded ADA it almost makes me feel like I've stolen something. They take a $250 box that in it's own right is great for routing and the fact it gives you 8 pre's w/ conversion, into a contender for units 3x it's cost. It's the best $600 I've ever spent, and I also got mine modded when they were running the specials on the mods.

BLA is a great company, I have a lot of trust in them, and whenever I have a piece of equipment laying around that doesn't see much use I always think to give them a call and just ask if they can do something to make it useful. They can mod just about anything if you ask. Great company.

Thanks for the thread!
Old 24th August 2013
  #21
Lives for gear
OP here, YES! This mod does compare well with my Apogee Symphony with sound. Keep in mind I am clocking with the Apogee Symphony. The clock is a big part of the upgrade - so upgrade the clock as well.

This modded unit (I successfully used LT1358 and LT1359 opamps) sounds amazing. Really cool!
Old 3rd October 2019
  #22
Here for the gear
 

Hi, piano,

could you kindly tell me the values ​​of the condensers used by bla for the modification?
Thanks.
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