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SSL Alpha Link AX vs. Antelope Orion32 Sample Files
Old 10th July 2014
  #1
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gatiii's Avatar
 

SSL Alpha Link AX vs. Antelope Orion32 Sample Files

I've seen many ask for it, so I decided to create a simple quick test with subsequent files for anyone to download. Each sample is about a minute long. The audio files were recorded at 88.2/24bit and are .wav files and were converted to AAC 256kbps (MFIT). If someone knows a good way to link/upload I'll gladly upload the full resolution files which reveal more.

The two files were recorded in my Studio A live room on a Yamaha C7 FII. The piano was close mic'd with a matched pair of DPA 4011's, using two channels of the Shadow Hills Gama Eight. The nickel transformers were selected on the preamp. The signal was multed in our SSL patchbay and sent directly to both the SSL Alpha Link AX and the Antelope Orion 32 simultaneously. Both carried the audio to and from Pro Tools HDX cards via an SSL Delta Link utilizing MADI. Due to our complex setup in studio A, both converters were clocked with our Big Ben. Before you call the test "faulty", it was necessary so the exact performance could be recorded to both converters and so we would not have to get into massive rewiring. As a side note, I tested each converter with internal clock vs. the Big Ben. It didn't seem to make much difference with the Antelope and I assume the Antelope is using this word clock input as a reference only and actually clocking with it's internal clock. I'm sure someone from Antelope could enlighten us more. However, the Big Ben does make quite a difference with the SSL. The highs and lows become more extended versus the internal clock. No other processing was applied.

I'll post the answers as to what each file is in a day or two. Enjoy!

Glenn Tabor
www.gat3.com

Full resolution files link...
http://we.tl/bwWBD2dyf7
Attached Files

Piano Zeus.m4a (2.11 MB, 3445 views)

Piano Athena.m4a (2.10 MB, 3274 views)


Last edited by gatiii; 22nd July 2014 at 04:58 PM.. Reason: Updated link to 88.2/24 files
Old 10th July 2014
  #2
Gear Addict
Thanks ! That's a great initiative.
For the larger wav files you could use https://www.wetransfer.com/ and post the links here ?
Old 10th July 2014
  #3
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Link to original resolution 88.2/24bit .wav files (SSL vs. Antelope)

Original resolution files! Thanks for the tip, phutureboy.

http://we.tl/ug4ZUss4DX
Old 11th July 2014
  #4
Gear Addict
Well, thanks to you !
Old 11th July 2014
  #5
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Deckdaddy's Avatar
Just listening to the mp3s on DT770 from an iPhone I thought the Zeus sounded more fluid/emotional/natural/real/lifelike. I'm hearing the mp3 artifacts tho, but can't unzip the real files on the phones. Hoping it's the Antelope and it's clock as I'm about to order it (reardless of results, because of the 32 i/o count).
Old 12th July 2014
  #6
Gear Nut
 

I can't tell the difference at all. phase nulling test says like -45 or -50db of difference. I counted a 6 sample delay difference between the 2 files. I assure nobody here is able to point out any difference. anyone that can hear a difference between these 2 files is a liar.
Old 12th July 2014
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magoostus View Post
I can't tell the difference at all. phase nulling test says like -45 or -50db of difference. I counted a 6 sample delay difference between the 2 files. I assure nobody here is able to point out any difference. anyone that can hear a difference between these 2 files is a liar.
I think you have bad monitoring. Everyone at my studio, including the studio manager heard a difference EVERY time, even with blind testing. It is subtle for certain, but you should check your monitoring/room acoustics.
Old 12th July 2014
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gatiii View Post
I think you have bad monitoring. Everyone at my studio, including the studio manager heard a difference EVERY time, even with blind testing. It is subtle for certain, but you should check your monitoring/room acoustics.
No need for checking. The difference file from both files provided by Audio DiffMaker is at -90 dBFS RMS and it peaks at -70 dBFS. Not hearing such difference 70 dB below the signal level is quite normal.
Old 12th July 2014
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by didier.brest View Post
No need for checking. The difference file from both files provided by Audio DiffMaker is at -90 dBFS RMS and it peaks at -70 dBFS. Not hearing such difference 70 dB below the signal level is quite normal.
Did you guys use the 88.2 files?

Certainly not trying to be difficult, but that proves there is a difference. Wether you can hear it or not is dependent on quite a few factors. Everyone here, including the intern heard a difference, in a blind test, and articulated those differences 100% of the time (well, the intern got it wrong once).
Old 12th July 2014
  #10
Gear Nut
 

ya, i used the 88.2 files. it's safe to say that the differences.. don't make a difference
Old 12th July 2014
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magoostus View Post
ya, i used the 88.2 files. it's safe to say that the differences.. don't make a difference
No one here feels that way, even on a solo piano. The small difference is very cumulative across 96 tracks on our SSL as well. I'll have the Antelope 10M clock to try next week as well.

Many small percentages of improvement make one HUGE improvement overall. However, it's expensive to squeeze out that last bit.

Last edited by gatiii; 12th July 2014 at 09:19 PM.. Reason: Typo
Old 12th July 2014
  #12
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Now, you certainly can make a great record with either of these converters - they won't be your limitation! What D/A converter are you monitoring with? That in combination with other things, could be why you don't hear a difference.

Last edited by gatiii; 12th July 2014 at 09:32 PM.. Reason: Added text
Old 12th July 2014
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gatiii View Post
Did you guys use the 88.2 files?
Yes.
Old 13th July 2014
  #14
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whatever. I'd be happy owning either. Im going to trust my spectrum analyzer over your ears
Old 13th July 2014
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magoostus View Post
whatever. I'd be happy owning either. Im going to trust my spectrum analyzer over your ears
Your spectrum analyzer tells you there is a difference and your ears don't. You are correct - trust your analyzer over your ears!
Old 13th July 2014
  #16
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So you heard a noticeable difference,, can you describe the difference? And which converter do you prefer?
Old 13th July 2014
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Analogue Mastering View Post
So you heard a noticeable difference,, can you describe the difference? And which converter do you prefer?
It's is subtle, and you'll need a good d/a, great monitors/acoustics to reveal what's really going on, but one of them sounds cleaner and less hazy than the other. The extreme top is slightly extended, as are the extreme lows. Stereo imaging is also a touch better. Once again, this adds up over many channels. You also notice a greater difference when comparing a/d and d/a simultaneously. With these files, you're only hearing the difference in the a/d section. I'll post the results soon.
Old 13th July 2014
  #18
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I didn't listen to your files yet, but I've got an Alphalink MADI AX and a SPL Madison and a RME ADI DS MK3 and the highly recommended DAC in the TASCAM DA3000 mixing on a SSL SIGMA (basically AWS in a rack without bells and whisttles)

I did play with the ORION before, not, in my room though and i thought it was a tad bright. the SSL in my perception a bit darker, more ballsy, but then again it wasn't 1:1
Old 14th July 2014
  #19
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SSL = Athena
Antelope = Zeus

I feel like the Orion is more extended in the extreme highs and extreme lows. I also feel like there is a subtle haze in the mid range of the SSL. The SSL does have more low mids than the Antelope, but it feels like a bit too much. When spreading out many channels on the SSL, the cumulative effect of that was low mid build up. However, you can make a great record with either of these converters. I'll be adding the 10M clock this week to see if that improves anything.
Old 14th July 2014
  #20
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aligns with my previous findings. SSL for me is still the converter to beat after all these years
Old 14th July 2014
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Analogue Mastering View Post
aligns with my previous findings. SSL for me is still the converter to beat after all these years
You mean SSL + good external clock right ? as SSL alone is very average...
Old 14th July 2014
  #22
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I find the alphalnk sounding good as WC master, clock over madi is not so good
Old 14th July 2014
  #23
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OK, good for you.
Old 14th July 2014
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phutureboy View Post
You mean SSL + good external clock right ? as SSL alone is very average...
Correct in my situation! A good external clock made a fairly big difference on the SSL alpha link.
Old 14th July 2014
  #25
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also experimented with several WC masters
RME HDSPe MADI FX
SPL Madison
TASCAM DA3000
RME ADI 8 DS MK3
but did find the SSL better/as good sounding as above
never experimented with dedicated clock though.
Old 17th July 2014
  #26
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Wow BIg difference for sure , good to hear , AThena Harder sounding , Zeus warmer , I prefered Zeuss for sure ! Edit , just saw what was what , I picked the Orion as a preference .Also I could the difference with just the MP'3's . Didnt need the hi rez to hear the diff . The SSL seeemed to have an upper midrange push which made it sound harsher . The Orion had a nice extended low sub that the SSL did not capture , the hi end on the Orion was smoother and nicer . I heard this on my Logitech speakers as well as MY main system . Very impressed with the Orion .
Old 18th July 2014
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ARIEL View Post
Wpw BIg difference for sure , good to hear , AThena Harder sounding , Zeus warmer , I prefered Zeuss for sure !
I felt the same way. In fact, I could blindly pick which was one was which on laptop speakers, with the low-res files.
Old 18th July 2014
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gatiii View Post
I felt the same way. In fact, I could blindly pick which was one was which on laptop speakers, with the low-res files.
For me it was not as subtle as I thought it was going to be , there was very much a clear difference . Thanks for posting this . So your sticking with the Orion then ? I would love to hear a comparison with the Lynx and the Orion , I own a Lynx Aurora . But love to have 32 channels of I/O . I wont be getting SSL converters unless they do some work on them . Also I like the way you did the test , none of this loop back stuff . An actual A/B recording . Also lovely piano tone !
Old 18th July 2014
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ARIEL View Post
For me it was not as subtle as I thought it was going to be , there was very much a clear difference . Thanks for posting this . So your sticking with the Orion then ? I would love to hear a comparison with the Lynx and the Orion , I own a Lynx Aurora . But love to have 32 channels of I/O . I wont be getting SSL converters unless they do some work on them . Also I like the way you did the test , none of this loop back stuff . An actual A/B recording . Also lovely piano tone !
Thanks! It is a special piano for sure - and the B&Ks work well on it.

I initially did a loop-back test with all the converters in the building, including Radar Nyquist, Lavry, SSL Alpha, Antelope Orion, UA 2192, Apogee 16Xs, Cranesong, and AVID. It really was a mess to be honest. So then I started thinking that the test wasn't very musical or productive for that matter. If you do null tests and and analyze the resulting specs, well - same thing - not musical! I'm all for good specs and scientific data, but at the end of the day, when I'm mixing or tracking, it's a visceral and emotional experience where performance and impact rule (or at least that's what I try to do).

To answer your question, I am putting three of the Antelope Orions in studio A (96 I/O), all connected via MADI (tracking primarily at 88.2). I'm waiting for the demo Antelope 10M clock to arrive to see if any improvement occurs. I'll also demo the Antelope Eclipse for our mastering suite at the same time.
Old 18th July 2014
  #30
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Your getting me to think about the Orion Yes I agree we have to use our ears in the end . When doing tests I dont do the level match by the #'s I use my ears to level stuff off evenly to make it more balanced . I track all of my stuff at high rate as well 96K . I saw The UBK post on tracking stuff at 192 !
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