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Quality of AD/DA chipsets Virtual Instrument Plugins
Old 15th August 2008
  #31
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ad

Quote:
Originally Posted by rkwyent View Post
Thanks for clearing this up Jim. Are the Crystal (Cirrus) converter chips also voltage output or are they current output?

Also, I notice that some of the better DAC units like Benchmark and Lvry DA10 use AD (Analog Devices [i think]) brand converter chips.

Can someone elaborate?
hello,

yeah, i have seen analog devices stuff in other "exteme high end" boxes. i guess their stuff is pretty good.

bottom line is i do not think that there are all that many choices available that are usable for audio stuff, so you see a lot of companies using the same.

those burr-brown [texas instruments] dacs are apparently the ones that are considered the better ones. you find them in a lot of "high-end" or "pretty high end" audiophile stereo equipment. it do not think they are as well known for adc though.

userofgear
Old 16th August 2008
  #32
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whitepapagold's Avatar
 

I will say after buying a Lavry DA10, I will always drop a little extra for the monitor d/a... Just based of fatigue alone. They are butter... Makes long mixing session a dream- and Ive been in front of it for 2 days now.

The experience as a whole is just more pleasurable.

That said, you could get the job done with anything... But why not enjoy yourself a little along the way.
Old 16th August 2008
  #33
I've seen a bit of the AD 186x stuff in Radar's, Apogee, etc. They are current output dac chips, now obsolete since the 196x series was released. I haven't seen those used yet.

The Crystal stuff is voltage output including the top-o-line CS4398 which still requires an external low pass filter. The on-board opamps are generic and not as good as one can use externally. The switched capacitor low pass filters are not as neutral as one can do externally with good caps and opamps. The AKM stuff is the same but I believe their new 32 bit dac is current output.

The best monolythic dac I've heard or used is the BurrBrown PCM/DSD1792. A pair in a co-phase config gives a -132 db dynamic range, or 8 db within the theoretical 24 bit resolution. I find I hear new stuff on these even from old discs.

The Tascam DSD recorder uses these along with the excellent PCM4222 A/D converter, the best monolythic A/D I've heard. Other threads discuss it in detail as it can be had from TI as an evaluation pcb for $149.

The main reason I don't get into converter design like my friend Michal at Mytek is the design cycle is very short as new silicon is being released constantly. Once you have a design worked out, it's obsolete as the next generation parts have been released. If you don't get it done in 6 months, you are never done. This is why larger companies can shorten the design time as they have the staff to do it quickly.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 16th August 2008
  #34
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Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
...Problem is, you don't find the top-o-line converter chips in pro audio gear...
I suppose it depends on how you define "pro."
Old 16th August 2008
  #35
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Casey's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
I've seen a bit of the AD 186x stuff in Radar's, Apogee, etc. They are current output dac chips, now obsolete since the 196x series was released. I haven't seen those used yet.
You own at least one pair of AD1955s.

-Casey
Old 16th August 2008
  #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
The Tascam DSD recorder uses these along with the excellent PCM4222 A/D converter, the best monolythic A/D I've heard. Other threads discuss it in detail as it can be had from TI as an evaluation pcb for $149.

Jim, do you mean the Tascam DV-RA 1000?

I was looking at that unit but the spec sheet doesn't seem that promising. Perhaps good enough but not SOTA measurement wise.


/Peter
Old 16th August 2008
  #37
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peeder's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
The Tascam DSD recorder uses these along with the excellent PCM4222 A/D converter, the best monolythic A/D I've heard. Other threads discuss it in detail as it can be had from TI as an evaluation pcb for $149.
Whatever you do, don't buy that TI board. I still haven't hooked mine up, and there's no way to rack it as the jacks point out both ends (and upward!). To change the sample rate, you'd have to unrack it and open up the casing. And the one guy I heard actually hired a tech to build a kludge for it didn't like it, saying it sounded miserably "edgey" and not musical.

tutt tutt tutt

Quote:
The main reason I don't get into converter design like my friend Michal at Mytek is the design cycle is very short as new silicon is being released constantly. Once you have a design worked out, it's obsolete as the next generation parts have been released. If you don't get it done in 6 months, you are never done. This is why larger companies can shorten the design time as they have the staff to do it quickly.
There are no converter companies that have a product cycle time of 6 months...most are like 6 years. So this is a cop-out answer.

Really, it's just easier and lazier to occupy that modder niche like Black Lion does, and tell people they have some disease they never felt any symptoms of and sell them a "cure." You can't A/B before payment and you can't get your money back after either. Same business as quack doctors etc.

Call a spade a spade.
Old 16th August 2008
  #38
Gear Addict
 

bored of evaluation

Quote:
Originally Posted by peeder View Post
Whatever you do, don't buy that TI board. I still haven't hooked mine up, and there's no way to rack it as the jacks point out both ends (and upward!). To change the sample rate, you'd have to unrack it and open up the casing. And the one guy I heard actually hired a tech to build a kludge for it didn't like it, saying it sounded miserably "edgey" and not musical.

tutt tutt tutt



There are no converter companies that have a product cycle time of 6 months...most are like 6 years. So this is a cop-out answer.

Really, it's just easier and lazier to occupy that modder niche like Black Lion does, and tell people they have some disease they never felt any symptoms of and sell them a "cure." You can't A/B before payment and you can't get your money back after either. Same business as quack doctors etc.

Call a spade a spade.

hello,

yeah.

but is the chip itself squirrely, or is it just that the evaluation board is clutzy? i am no expert on chip design, but it seems to me that it is mostly designed to be low-cost and to use very little power, therefore good for consoles and stuff. at least that is what their marketing material talks about.

not saying it couldn't work great though, but i did not see anything in the spec sheet that was remarkable or good/better than the akm.

what products are they found in? i think the neve dpa used its predecessor or something.


masterize your bad self.

userofgear
Old 16th August 2008
  #39
All you need to do is hook up a + - 15 volt supply and a +5 volt supply. Power One makes a nice 3 output linear for around $60. Sample rate selection, bit depth, output select are all easily configured on the pcb. It's not a finished product with a front panel switch for every convenience and a nice shinny box, but it does work very well and specs very well. For the price of $149, there is nothing even close to that level of quality for anything near that price. If you can't figure it out maybe it's not for you. Anyone attempting to re-route the data lines for a rack mount convenience will discover the pitfalls of sloppy digital routing. Not from this eval pcb or the chip itself, but from mis-applied kludging.

As to design cycles, 6 years is enough for 2~3 generations of parts to be released. If I were designing a monolythic converter and it took 6 years, I would find another way. Just who has taken 6 years to release a monolythic converter design? 6 year old converter parts are obsolete.

I don't know the Black Lion people, but I always give folks their money back if not pleased. It's just good business and the right thing to do. I just don't do very often as I make sure the customer is fully informed as to the costs and results expected. I am not a spade, but most of you already know that. I shoot straight, give out as much free info as I can and I use my real name.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 16th August 2008
  #40
Gear Addict
 

less complicated

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
All you need to do is hook up a + - 15 volt supply and a +5 volt supply. Power One makes a nice 3 output linear for around $60. Sample rate selection, bit depth, output select are all easily configured on the pcb. It's not a finished product with a front panel switch for every convenience and a nice shinny box, but it does work very well and specs very well. For the price of $149, there is nothing even close to that level of quality for anything near that price.


Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
hello,

i was thinking of building my own years and years ago, but never did. actually, i was going to get someone with some chops to come up with a power supply design, and so forth. went so far as to order the eval boards and everythng. so i do not think of it as a silly idea or anything.

question though: when you say "there is nothing even close to that level of quality for anything near that price", that is kind of an open statement, because there is really nothing at all near that price, even total crap, so it does not have to to be very good to be "better at that price".

how does an evaluation board with a power supply compare to a good quality finished product is the question, no? i am asking in good faith and not to be confrontational or anything of that nature.

sometimes i think the whole business went sideways when oversampling came into vogue, and also the need for numerous different sample rates [which is guess is one of the reasons for the oversampling]. i have often thought that if someone made just a straight ahead 192khz a to d, with no "oversampling", using the best components available , and analog filters, it would probably blow all the other stuff away, and be cheaper too.

userofgear
Old 16th August 2008
  #41
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The market is driven by philistines...really it is.

Almost all of these chip bakers are designing for volume sales, which means the end use will be buying the chip off the shelf at Walmart.

TI will practically give you the chips in development stage in the hopes that a volume market will come out of it.

The AKM stuff and AD stuff is in DVD players and 3g phones...thats what is driving the market.

The A/D and D/A development is just the red-headed step child of the consumer electronics market.

That being said there is no reason not to live off of the crumbs that fall from the table of mass consumerism...

I've A/B'd the TI PCM4222 against Prisms and there is a noticeable improvement anyone who says different has colored the sound somewhere else.

I cannot find a justifiable reason for manufacturers to use old digital chip technology when such improvements exist at such a reasonable price point.

For the most part the average studio doesn't have the capacity to fully appreciate the quality of the new designs, but who cares, shouldn't we be pursuing excellence in all our design?
Old 16th August 2008
  #42
Gear Addict
 

bbbbbaby

Quote:
Originally Posted by iomegaman View Post
The market is driven by philistines...really it is.

Almost all of these chip bakers are designing for volume sales, which means the end use will be buying the chip off the shelf at Walmart.

TI will practically give you the chips in development stage in the hopes that a volume market will come out of it.

The AKM stuff and AD stuff is in DVD players and 3g phones...thats what is driving the market.

The A/D and D/A development is just the red-headed step child of the consumer electronics market.

That being said there is no reason not to live off of the crumbs that fall from the table of mass consumerism...

I've A/B'd the TI PCM4222 against Prisms and there is a noticeable improvement anyone who says different has colored the sound somewhere else.

I cannot find a justifiable reason for manufacturers to use old digital chip technology when such improvements exist at such a reasonable price point.

For the most part the average studio doesn't have the capacity to fully appreciate the quality of the new designs, but who cares, shouldn't we be pursuing excellence in all our design?

hello,

which prisms did you listen to, the old 2-channel one or the the ones with 8 or 16 or whatever it is?

also, is that TI chip brand new or has it been used in anything?


userofgear
Old 16th August 2008
  #43
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whitepapagold's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
All you need to do is hook up a + - 15 volt supply and a +5 volt supply. Power One makes a nice 3 output linear for around $60. Sample rate selection, bit depth, output select are all easily configured on the pcb. It's not a finished product with a front panel switch for every convenience and a nice shinny box, but it does work very well and specs very well. For the price of $149, there is nothing even close to that level of quality for anything near that price. If you can't figure it out maybe it's not for you. Anyone attempting to re-route the data lines for a rack mount convenience will discover the pitfalls of sloppy digital routing. Not from this eval pcb or the chip itself, but from mis-applied kludging.

As to design cycles, 6 years is enough for 2~3 generations of parts to be released. If I were designing a monolythic converter and it took 6 years, I would find another way. Just who has taken 6 years to release a monolythic converter design? 6 year old converter parts are obsolete.

I don't know the Black Lion people, but I always give folks their money back if not pleased. It's just good business and the right thing to do. I just don't do very often as I make sure the customer is fully informed as to the costs and results expected. I am not a spade, but most of you already know that. I shoot straight, give out as much free info as I can and I use my real name.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Responded to a nasty attack with class. Nice Jim!thumbsup
Old 16th August 2008
  #44
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thermos's Avatar
FWIW, Jim also said he noticed a measurable improvement with the TI board when he changed out the analog stages. I'd love to hear what improvement that made. From what I heard of my eval board, it definitely had enormous potential, but it lacked body to me in its stock state.
Old 17th August 2008
  #45
Quote:
Originally Posted by thermos View Post
FWIW, Jim also said he noticed a measurable improvement with the TI board when he changed out the analog stages. I'd love to hear what improvement that made. From what I heard of my eval board, it definitely had enormous potential, but it lacked body to me in its stock state.
I found the same thing myself. I wasn't that impressed by the differential opamp they selected. I went and put a couple of proto pcb's together using the circuit on page 32 of the pcm4222 data sheet, figure 51. I changed the input resistors to 1 k ohms, that allows about +20 dbu input levels which I like when I track or mix. I used TI THS4012 chips. The low end is massive now, the top end very clear like water. I use a nice psu based on LT 1085 regulators with very large low impedance caps and high voltage polyprop film bypasses.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 18th August 2008
  #46
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Looking in this SSL alpha link i see it uses AKM AK4620BVF A-D/ D-A chips and JRC 4565 ICs..
It would be interesting to know what converter chips they are using in the Aurora's and Apogee converters..
Old 18th August 2008
  #47
Quote:
Originally Posted by RobJB06 View Post
Looking in this SSL alpha link i see it uses AKM AK4620BVF A-D/ D-A chips and JRC 4565 ICs..
The JRC 4565 op amps are your first indication that they are building this product to a price point. This is the same op amp used in Behringer mixers. These are commonly used in a lot of pro-sumer gear because they don't sound too dreadful and they're very cheap. If people are going to buy your product primarily because of the brand name on the front, there's little incentive to spend $2.30 on a great op amp when you can buy an adequate one for $0.23.

They used the AK4620B, because they didn't want to shell out for separate ADC and DAC chips. They part in question is a CODEC (ADC and DAC in one chip). It's actually a pretty good one, but not on par with what one can buy in separate chips. For instance, AKM makes an ADC chip with 10 dB better dynamic range, and TI makes a DAC with 12 dB better dynamic range. So it goes.

David
Old 18th August 2008
  #48
Gear Addict
 

choices for ada

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Rick View Post
The JRC 4565 op amps are your first indication that they are building this product to a price point. This is the same op amp used in Behringer mixers. These are commonly used in a lot of pro-sumer gear because they don't sound too dreadful and they're very cheap. If people are going to buy your product primarily because of the brand name on the front, there's little incentive to spend $2.30 on a great op amp when you can buy an adequate one for $0.23.

They used the AK4620B, because they didn't want to shell out for separate ADC and DAC chips. They part in question is a CODEC (ADC and DAC in one chip). It's actually a pretty good one, but not on par with what one can buy in separate chips. For instance, AKM makes an ADC chip with 10 dB better dynamic range, and TI makes a DAC with 12 dB better dynamic range. So it goes.

David


hello,

it is my understanding that the ak5394a is currently still the better choice for adc. however, do you know if the pcm4222 adc is being used in any standalone devices yet, or if it is appropriate in that regard? also, it seems that people find the ti dacs to be the better choice. it appears you agree. is that correct? thanks.

userofgear
Old 18th August 2008
  #49
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peeder's Avatar
 

This is like trying to judge restaurants by where they buy their ingredients.

A restaurant a mile away from me that proudly displayed its boutique organic supplier list in a big poster in the front window just went out of business.

The food was awful.
Old 18th August 2008
  #50
Gear Addict
 
rkwyent's Avatar
 

So as far as what i get from this discussion is that unless you are on the higher-end side of things Lavry. Mytek and so on...

It is basically a crapshoot with the same sets of chips with slightly different specs.

Basically everything pro-sumer depends on how the manufacturer implements the analog stages and clocking around these chips.

Although there are still some fine sounding prosumer units under $500.
Old 18th August 2008
  #51
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just.sounds's Avatar
Grimmaudio ad-1 is another discrete ad converter.
Old 18th August 2008
  #52
Gear Addict
 

we know

Quote:
Originally Posted by peeder View Post
This is like trying to judge restaurants by where they buy their ingredients.

A restaurant a mile away from me that proudly displayed its boutique organic supplier list in a big poster in the front window just went out of business.

The food was awful.

hello,

masterizer sez:

we know. you will have to eat at olive garden now, or western sizzler, or norms.

it o.k. to try to see who uses better parts though.

a good adc and / or dac chip allows the designer to make a good product. as some have pointed out, even the evaluation boards for the better offerings can be better than a finished product based on the lousier stuff.

often, those who use the better parts are also those who put the extra effort into good design too. it goes hand in hand. not necessarily, but normally. so it is reasonable to be interested in who is putting what in their little metal boxes.


userofgear
Old 18th August 2008
  #53
Gear Addict
 

quality

Quote:
Originally Posted by rkwyent View Post
So as far as what i get from this discussion is that unless you are on the higher-end side of things Lavry. Mytek and so on...

It is basically a crapshoot with the same sets of chips with slightly different specs.

Basically everything pro-sumer depends on how the manufacturer implements the analog stages and clocking around these chips.

Although there are still some fine sounding prosumer units under $500.

hello,

the truth seems to be that even the best chips commercially available are just barely cutting it from a pro audio standpoint.

to actually be in the same ballpark quality-wise as was found with high-quality analog recording, you pretty much have to use conversion based on the very best offerings from chip manufacturers, and then look to who is working toward getting all the other stuff right too. it is kind of useless to go all out on the analog and clocking while using anything but the best chips available. anyhow, the chips are cheap [its those advertisments in mix magazine that are expensive].

i'm pretty sure i do not want to hear, "yeah, we're using a marginal adc chip, but our clocking is so damn good it makes it sound almost like a good one". why not splurge and spend the extra $2.00 on the good chip?
there may be an issue with availability of the flagship chips, and they may not be willing to sell to all manufacturers. oh no, maybe digidesign has monopolized that too! (:


userofgear
Old 18th August 2008
  #54
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by peeder View Post
Really, it's just easier and lazier to occupy that modder niche like Black Lion does, and tell people they have some disease they never felt any symptoms of and sell them a "cure."

and easier still to sit on the bleachers and criticize --- anonymously and from a safe distance --- those who are actually playing the game in some substantive capacity.


Quote:
Originally Posted by peeder View Post
Call a spade a spade.
indeed.


gregoire
del
ubk
.
Old 19th August 2008
  #55
Lives for gear
 

I dont know much about the TI converters, but they used to be Burr Brown, right?
I dont know how they compare to other converters but i noticed a lot of "vintage" digital FX stuff i really liked the sound of used the Burr Brown converters.
Is this just coincidental?

Quote:
Originally Posted by userofgear View Post
hello,

it is my understanding that the ak5394a is currently still the better choice for adc. however, do you know if the pcm4222 adc is being used in any standalone devices yet, or if it is appropriate in that regard? also, it seems that people find the ti dacs to be the better choice. it appears you agree. is that correct? thanks.

userofgear
Old 19th August 2008
  #56
Gear Addict
 

digital

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobJB06 View Post
I dont know much about the TI converters, but they used to be Burr Brown, right?
I dont know how they compare to other converters but i noticed a lot of "vintage" digital FX stuff i really liked the sound of used the Burr Brown converters.
Is this just coincidental?

hello,

burr brown is part of texas instruments. they are known for their dacs, which have been, and are, well-liked and used in a lot of "higher end" home audio cd players and so forth, as well as in pro audio.

the akm ak5394a is apparently still "the one" for adc. i do not see anything published on their "news" list for a replacement.

i think a lot of these companies are trying to sort out whether or not dsd or dxd is going to "happen". who knows what they are thinking. they probably figure the 5394a is plenty good.

the lynx aurora / apogee boxes use a cirrus logic adc [used to be crystal semiconductors], the cs5381. fwiw, it does not spec as good as the akm chip. it has also been abandoned by some because of some other issues [including heat]. there is some other issue about it not running at 128xfs, but only 64xfs. Basically, the AKM chip generates twice as fast a clock in "normal mode", or something to that effect. you would have to speak to the manufacturers to really know everything about them, but, basically, the cirrus chip appears to be a lower cost offering while still trying to give above-average performance. they specifically advertise themselves as a cost-effective solution. it does not seem to have been all that successful, and the akm chip is still used by for example, daniel weiss, among others who could use anything they wanted to use.

there are obviously other issues besides just the chip involved in converter design, but if all other things are equal .............

i also heard that the akm stuff is hard for some manufacturers to use because it is not only more expensive, but, appararently very difficult to get in smaller quantities for some. the cirrus logic chip is easier to obtain in small quantities, at least they appear to advertise themselves that way.

userofgear
Old 30th August 2008
  #57
Gear Addict
 
tonymite's Avatar
 

Old 27th March 2013
  #58
FYI... I'm selling my TI PCM-4222-EVM, PSU wired up in polycases.
TI PCM-4222-EVM Mastering Grade A/D
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