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Audio interfaces and their AD/DA chips LISTED Audio Interfaces
Old 27th January 2018
  #301
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But there are still only a handful manufacturers, I mean not that many.

32-bit sounds (pun intended?) logical for computations, historically data processing is based on 8, 16, 32, 64... etc. bits. Typically DSPs and algorithms are optimized to handle data of 2^n bits length. Processing 24-bit data doesn't make sense, I expect it to be handled internally as 32-bit with 8 padded bits. Also it helps avoiding rounding error issues.

Noise levels will ultimately be limited by physical laws and the only way to reduce them would be to lower temperatures. Now I could imagine cryogenically cooled electronics for audiophools.


Still wondering about the probably-not-so-outstandingly-breathtakingly-magical ADCs and DACs used high end professional (not audiophool) equipment like (in no specific order) Sonosax, Nagra (Audio Technology Switzerland), Sound Devices, Aaton...

My bet is that recent designs mostly rely on very good common off-the-shelf (COTS) audio chips, possibly carefully individually hand-picked based on extensive lab screening tests.

Older designs are possibly based on non-audio-specific semiconductors, typically parts used more for test and measurement equipment as well as some higher-end industrial (non-audio) instrumentation.
Of course some parts used in top notch instruments are custom designed, which contributes to high prices.
Old 29th January 2018
  #302
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The chips are the same in many brands

The Ak4413 and AK5388 are popular now. There are 32 bit versions available but have not seen them.
The differences are in layout, firmware, and drivers. This is how RME and Apogee do so well with the same components as their lower priced competition.
This is a good thread.
Old 29th January 2018
  #303
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kasami08's Avatar
I just read about Focusrite doing something a little different with thier Red range than what others would do with thier conversion lay out by using summing. Here's an interesting video on using the two AK4413 DACs summed together in parallel. The Rednet converters have just the standard layout like Lynx and everyone else. They also go into how they designed the ISA AIR modeled impedance circuit improving on from the Clarett range. YouTube
Old 29th January 2018
  #304
Gear Maniac
 

AK5388

The AK5388 are ADC’s. That is why there are maybe four in your 8Pre. Eight channels for Mic input and eight for line inputs. Total of 16 channels of inputs.
There are only two channels of monitor output. So a single CS stereo dac should work.
The paralleled channels give a 3 dB drop in S/N ratio. Some of the dacs using ESS chips combine four dacs to drop noise by 6 dB.
Old 29th January 2018
  #305
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Panelhead View Post
The AK5388 are ADC’s. That is why there are maybe four in your 8Pre. Eight channels for Mic input and eight for line inputs. Total of 16 channels of inputs.
There are only two channels of monitor output. So a single CS stereo dac should work.
The paralleled channels give a 3 dB drop in S/N ratio. Some of the dacs using ESS chips combine four dacs to drop noise by 6 dB.


In the Clarett 8 Pre its actually two Ak5388 4ch ADCs for the 8 mic/line ins, 2 AK4413 4ch DAC for the line outs 3-10 and the CS4398 2 ch for the Monitor out 1 and 2. I just posted a photo of my 8 Pre mainboard on the other page. Line out 7-8 shares with Headphone phone 1 while, Line out 9-10 shares with Headphone 2. I'm not sure what codec is used for the ADAT and Spdif, but it's on the board some where.
Old 30th January 2018
  #306
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Does someone know if the current best off-the-shelf audio chips or chipsets, if sorted carefully in the lab, can match audio quality of high-end recorders if the overall design is done very carefully?

As often mentioned, it's not just about ICs with amazing datasheet specs (measured under ideal test lab conditions with high-end equipment), overall performance is limited by the weakest points of the design. For example the best audio CODEC IC is useless if there are power supply noise or sampling clock jitter issues.

Sadly many manufacturers using per se great ICs don't allow them to perform optimally because they just wanted to save a few $$$$ manufactruing costs. Stating that DAC model XYZ is used in some device is not a very useful statement as it all depends on how the device performs, not about the datasheet specs of some single components.

And BTW datasheet data must be read carefully, especially for parts operated over a wide temperature range. Some specs are mentioned over the whole temperature and power supply voltage range while others are only "typical" or sometimes it's not even clear which test conditions apply.
Old 30th January 2018
  #307
Quote:
Originally Posted by Schoeller View Post
Does someone know if the current best off-the-shelf audio chips or chipsets, if sorted carefully in the lab, can match audio quality of high-end recorders if the overall design is done very carefully?
What "high end recorders" did you have in mind? And what did you imagine they're built from? Everyone has access to the very same chips. It's all about what you do with them.
Old 31st January 2018
  #308
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I meant Nagra, SD, Aaton, etc.

Was mostly wondering if current state-of-the-art (i.e. not necessarily referring to somewhat older designs like the Nagra VI) dedicated COTS audio chips or chipsets are used or if it is still meaningful to rely on non-audio-specific high-end ICs like those used for industrial or scientifc instrumentation purposes, which also supposes that the integration design is more demanding as relying on COTS specialized audio ICs.
I suppose the Nagra VI with its older (though not obsolete) design still outperforms many more recent designs, referring to audio quality.
Old 1st February 2018
  #309
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If digital is considered

The golden age of analog has passed. But it really seems digital gear continues to improve and get cheaper.
The boards are 4/6/8 layer. Grounding and shielding improve. The quality of the onboard clocks improves with time. The power supplies also can be made quieter, lower impedance, wider bandwidth.
The chip performance also gets better in each new generation. I doubt this has plateaued yet. The golden age of digital recording and playback is still ahead.

Last edited by Panelhead; 1st February 2018 at 04:17 AM.. Reason: Spelling
Old 2nd February 2018
  #310
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I fully agree.

Purely analog signal paths are also expensive, they require a high amount of high quality both active and passive components. Both development and production are more expensive and require very specific audio know-how.

That said, until we get digital mics we still require an analog frontend which means that analog audio R&D know-how is stil required. Further, going digital requires knowledge in the design of digital circuits as well as very good programming experience (which is typically a problem, see how many devices have oddly designed firmware, very common are user interface issues which clearly show that software developers don't know how the device is used in real life).

Like you said, I expect that performance of audio ICs will still improve. Indeed I even suspect that mostly price constraints rather than technological limitations dictate the current audio IC specs.
Typically audio IC manufacturers like AKM and others (I say manufacturers even if most don't operate their own foundry) may focus more on volume markets and will propose ICs costing a couple of CHF/USD/EUR ea. rather than developing high-end ICs which would maybe cost 10 or 20 times more and remaining only interesting for high-end niche products like Nagra, Sound Devices, Sonosax, Zaxcom, Aaton,...

The other solution without audio-specific ICs is much more expensive, from R&D to production and also way more complex from an engineering POV (even if possibly higher performances could be achieved????).

That said, I expect that recent audio chips and chipsets have reached such a high performance level than in most cases they won't be the limiting factor of the whole design even for fairly demanding applications. Interestingly (AFAIK) they're all relatively inexpensive.
Old 14th February 2018
  #311
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shooten's Avatar
This is a great thread. I design high frequency interfaces for radios (ADC/DAC). These designs operate at GHz sampling rates. Many of the same rules apply, however. Quiet power supply rails, low jitter clock source (phase noise), good layout and gain staging can make or break a design. The number of units that are sold is tiny compared to so many other markets in audio ADCs. There's also a huge amount of consolidation taking place in the IC industry (just noticed TI bought Burr Brown...) as well. I think given that every stereo, phone, car radio has a bluetooth or usb interface there is a ton of audio DACs out there compared to ADCs.

You're never going to get rid of analog interface. At some point, a speaker needs to push air (or your jawbone as my VMODA M100's do, they are amazing too). The whole chain needs quality IMO.

I'd like to hear opinions on what the biggest cause of distortion and noise is in a signal chain. A 24 bit ADC has a theoretical dynamic range of 144 dB (6 dB/bit). Nobody gets close to that in their design. Is it the analog gain in front that's doing it?

Update: I pulled the data sheet for the AK5388A and they do have a noise floor very close to -140 dBFS. The harmonics are responsible for the higher noise floor so it's more of a SFDR. The eval board looks familiar to higher frequency designs too.

Last edited by shooten; 14th February 2018 at 10:33 PM..
Old 14th February 2018
  #312
I have a DAC here that is a bit unique. It doesn't use an audio designed DAC but instead a multibit industrial DAC chip. It uses the Analog Devices AD5547 DAC. It has current output and a very linear dynamic range. It is 16 bits but an honest 16 bits. It's made by Schiit Audio. It's the Modi Multibit and sells for $249.

It uses a servo-ed Analog Devices AD8512 dual opamp like the Bricasti M7. Me, I swapped that for the ADA4898-2 and WOW. Huge clear sound with remarkable detail. I use it in the TV room for the home theater experience and it's pretty darn good for that. The low end makes you take bathroom breaks.
www.schiitt.com
Old 15th February 2018
  #313
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Interesting. The AD5547 DAC belongs already to the more expensive ICs, at least compared to the average audio ICs used in most devices.

Wondering how something like an AD5791 would perform as audio DAC.

I'd also be curious to see how top notch industrial/scientific ADC, DAC and programmable (pre-)amplifiers would perform if used for audio (while normally used for data acquisition and test & measurement and not optimized for audio).

Overall the ADC or DAC ICs are only the beginning of the story. For very high performances the whole circuit design is very demanding as zillions of small design inattentions can negatively affect the analog signal quality.
Old 15th February 2018
  #314
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
I have a DAC here that is a bit unique. It doesn't use an audio designed DAC but instead a multibit industrial DAC chip. It uses the Analog Devices AD5547 DAC. It has current output and a very linear dynamic range. It is 16 bits but an honest 16 bits. It's made by Schiit Audio. It's the Modi Multibit and sells for $249.
I don't really understand why someone would use this DAC for audio conversion, though it would make a rather nice digital volume control. (It's a multiplying DAC.) As a gain control, it has very high bandwidth, but not when you're changing the actual DAC value. For the later mode, it appears that you could update it at 2 MHz and get maybe 10-bit performance. But Schitt doesn't like oversampling so they have time for it to settle to higher resolution. Used in that way, there are no AC plots or specs at all. When used as a gain control, they quote THD at a rather unimpressive -104 dB, and only at 1 kHz.

Have you put that Schitt product on the bench, Jim? What are you seeing in the spectrum?

David L.Rick
Old 17th February 2018
  #315
THD at below the 16 bit 96 db dynamic range isn't an issue with this design. It's intended for PCM audio playback like CD's and DVD's, the consumer market. Designed by industry legend Mike Moffet who designed the highly rated Theta Digital DAC's 30 years ago.

Shiitt also makes a high end converter with that DAC chip, the Yggdrasil for $2300. It's apparently quite good and unique. It won the 2017 DAC of the year in The Absolute Sound mag against some very top notch contenders. You can see the build quality on their web site as they post pics of the innards...
Old 22nd February 2018
  #316
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Presonus quantum converters chips

Does someone know DAC and ADC converters of the presonus QUANTUM?, I wrote to Presonus but they answered me a generic AKM...someone could kindly photograph the quantum motherboard please?
Old 26th February 2018
  #317
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kasami08's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by passpass View Post
Does someone know DAC and ADC converters of the presonus QUANTUM?, I wrote to Presonus but they answered me a generic AKM...someone could kindly photograph the quantum motherboard please?

The quantom is essentially the Thunderbolt version of the Studio 192. From looking as the specs between the two, far as I know the Studio 192 used the TI Blur Brown PCM4202 ADC which is a 24bit 118 dynamic range chip. The Quantom uses 120 dynamic range chips. It would not suprise me if the Quantom are using the same AK4413eq DAC AK5388 ADC chips found in the the RME Babyface Pro and Focusrite Clarett/Red range.



The AK5388 is a very popular ADC chip as its also found in the Blackface UA Apollos and Apogee Ensemble.


For what ever reason Zoom is notorious for quoting chip datasheet specs rather than real world performance specs as I notice the specs they published on their website are the same as the chips. No audio interface or converter would operate the same performance as the chip because the analog circuitry around the chip effects its sonic quality and performance. They obviously never did any precision testing for their equipment to AES17 standards.
Old 26th February 2018
  #318
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kasami08 View Post
For what ever reason Zoom is notorious for quoting chip datasheet specs rather than real world performance specs as I notice the specs they published on their website are the same as the chips. No audio interface or converter would operate the same performance as the chip because the analog circuitry around the chip effects its sonic quality and performance. They obviously never did any precision testing for their equipment to AES17 standards.
I was wondering about the same.

While datasheet specs are not formally binding if they're clearly misleading it's still a highly questionable practice.

It would be interesting to compare the specs "degradation" between a high-end AKM chipset (datasheet specs measured under ideal test lab conditions) and a real [ready-to-sale] design.

Anyway, I wouldn't focus too much on some specs which in most cases won't make a relevant difference (for example I expect that noise is more critical that small THD differences as THD is typically already very low).

BTW I never checked if cooling down electronics would audibly lower the noise floor. Cooling is commonly used for some imaging sensors (especially infrared for scientific and defense/surveillance purposes).

About cooling... Off-topic but interesting little machine:
MM-7 Stirling Engine | American Stirling Company
Old 5th March 2018
  #319
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I had more specific news, ADC is AK5574 (very good!), while the dac is AK4413
Old 5th March 2018
  #320
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kasami08's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by passpass View Post
I had more specific news, ADC is AK5574 (very good!), while the dac is AK4413

I wasn't too off as I had the DAC right. Presonus really cut corners on the THD+N as the Ak5574 has a maximum THD+N low as -112 dB or 0.000251% while the real world performance for the Quantum has a higher noise floor at -86 dB or 0.005%. If they used higher grade capacitors and higher end op-amps, that would bring up the cost of the unit. They might as well have implemented the AK5388. I don't see much benefit for 32bit ADCs since there isn't a such thing as 32bit PCM material. 32bit DAC's only has its benefits for DSD in the DAW for mixing, but at the end of the day, all recorded material will be dithered down to 24bit or 16bit PCM. 32bit is not audible as the human ear can only hear between 20-21 bits, a maximum of 120 dB dynamic range and 20Hz to 20kHz frequencies or less. Here's a good read. The great audio myth: why you don’t need that 32-bit DAC
Old 6th March 2018
  #321
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kasami08 View Post
I wasn't too off as I had the DAC right. Presonus really cut corners on the THD+N as the Ak5574 has a maximum THN+N low as -112 dB or 0.000251% while the real world performance for the Quantum has a higher noise floor at -86 dB or 0.005%. If they used higher grade capacitors and higher end op-amps, that would bring up the cost of the unit. They might as well have implemented the AK5388. I don't see much benefit for 32bit ADCs since there isn't a such thing as 32bit PCM material. 32bit DAC's only has its benefits for DSD in the DAW for mixing, but at the end of the day, all recorded material will be dithered down to 24bit or 16bit PCM. 32bit is not audible as the human ear can only hear between 20-21 bits, a maximum of 120 dB dynamic range and 20Hz to 20kHz frequencies or less. Here's a good read. The great audio myth: why you don’t need that 32-bit DAC
why do you talk about real world performance at -86? is it an official tech spec? or have you checked this performance in your quantum interface?
Old 6th March 2018
  #322
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kasami08's Avatar
It's not the Chip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by passpass View Post
why do you talk about real world performance at -86? is it an official tech spec? or have you checked this performance in your quantum interface?
Real world performance is the actual maximum performance a device is tested. Audio precision test equipment is used to analyze and make measurements as a benchmark to AES17 standards. Quoting chip datasheet specs tells you nothing about how an Audio interface would perform or its conversion quality. All manufacturers uses the same chips from the same companies including companies that designs Home Theater system's, Blu-Ray players, Digital Mixing consoles etc. Just because they all use the same chips doesn't mean they all sound the same or perform the same. The analog circuit, sound staging, clocking, power supply unit, compacitors and op-amps around the converter chip effects the performance in sound quality and Digital conversion performance. The lower the noise floor, the lower the THD and the higher the dynamic range, the better the digital conversion performance. Just because a Chip is spec'd at 123 dB Noise to Signal Ratio, doesn't mean it would perform the same once it's implemented into a circuit layout. Quoting chip datasheet is misleading and false marketing. There's a reason why some interfaces cost more than others besides features and I/Os.

The Focusrite Red and Clarett range maybe closely related that has a similar mic pre design and uses the same AKM chips, but the Red range cost 2x more that out performs the Clarett range in digital conversion that has a much lower noise floor and higher dynamic range. Two AK4413s were summed together to improve the noise to signal ratio to achieve a Dynamic Range of 121 dB. It all comes down to engineering design, quality of semiconductor components and how a chip was implemented.

What is AES17? | Focusrite

Audio Precision(C) - The Recognized Standard in Audio Tests & Analyzers
Old 7th March 2018
  #323
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kasami08 View Post
Real world performance is the actual maximum performance a device is tested. Audio precision test equipment is used to analyze and make measurements as a benchmark to AES17 standards. Quoting chip datasheet specs tells you nothing about how an Audio interface would perform or its conversion quality. All manufacturers uses the same chips from the same companies including companies that designs Home Theater system's, Blu-Ray players, Digital Mixing consoles etc. Just because they all use the same chips doesn't mean they all sound the same or perform the same. The analog circuit, sound staging, clocking, power supply unit, compacitors and op-amps around the converter chip effects the performance in sound quality and Digital conversion performance. The lower the noise floor, the lower the THD and the higher the dynamic range, the better the digital conversion performance. Just because a Chip is spec'd at 123 dB Noise to Signal Ratio, doesn't mean it would perform the same once it's implemented into a circuit layout. Quoting chip datasheet is misleading and false marketing. There's a reason why some interfaces cost more than others besides features and I/Os.

The Focusrite Red and Clarett range maybe closely related that has a similar mic pre design and uses the same AKM chips, but the Red range cost 2x more that out performs the Clarett range in digital conversion that has a much lower noise floor and higher dynamic range. Two AK4413s were summed together to improve the noise to signal ratio to achieve a Dynamic Range of 121 dB. It all comes down to engineering design, quality of semiconductor components and how a chip was implemented.

What is AES17? | Focusrite

Audio Precision(C) - The Recognized Standard in Audio Tests & Analyzers
Very interesting! is there a list of interfaces tested by the standard AES17? an "indipendent" list!
Old 7th March 2018
  #324
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kasami08's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by passpass View Post
Very interesting! is there a list of interfaces tested by the standard AES17? an "indipendent" list!
It's quite simple since most manufacturers test their equipment before publishing specs. Just go to any manufactures website and look at their specs. If you all ready know what chip is used in the product, all you have to do is make a comparison of the datasheet to the published specs. Some companies publish both the chip dynamic range specs AD/DA and real world performance together for validated proof. I believe Prism Sound makes audio analyzing test equipment too. They are famous for thier conversion quality and DSP pioneers in the field that also worked along with Mr. Rupert Neve, the same man that started Focusrite. Seems like all the best Electronics Engineers in the Audio field have came straight out of the UK.
Old 7th March 2018
  #325
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Old 7th March 2018
  #326
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Hi
There are several well known and many other lesser known manufacturers of precision testing gear and all of them will be capable of giving meaningful measurements. The issue is however the interpretation of the readings and consideration of it's validity. A distortion measurement of 0.000025 percent is probably the 'best' and is given for a signal near maximum level. What is arguably more important is the distortion at say 30dB less than full level which will be nearer the range of signal levels used in practice. Obtaining these results is more difficult (without measuring yourself).
It should also be borne in mind that microphones have distortion levels in the 'percent' range and speakers in the couple of percent or more. Admittedly the distortion they exhibit is a different nature to 'electronics' but it makes the triple zero amount produced by the electronics to some degree meaningless, being simply a 'numbers' game, which has existed since cavemen started comparing their parts.
Dynamic range figures also need interpreting with care as applying the values obtained to real world practicalities leads to various compromises. 120dB is something like the level in an anechoic chamber to a jet engine in terms of variation, not relevant to (most) music.
Matt S
Old 7th March 2018
  #327
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kasami08 View Post
It's quite simple since most manufacturers test their equipment before publishing specs. Just go to any manufactures website and look at their specs. If you all ready know what chip is used in the product, all you have to do is make a comparison of the datasheet to the published specs. Some companies publish both the chip dynamic range specs AD/DA and real world performance together for validated proof. I believe Prism Sound makes audio analyzing test equipment too. They are famous for thier conversion quality and DSP pioneers in the field that also worked along with Mr. Rupert Neve, the same man that started Focusrite. Seems like all the best Electronics Engineers in the Audio field have came straight out of the UK.

I am very interested in buying a Presonus quantum, but I can not find in their specifications the value (-86 S/N ratio) that you reported, Presonus still does not report exactly AKM chip datasheet, the declared performances are different, and probably the result of real test on the interface...

Test de l'interface audionumerique Thunderbolt PreSonus Quantum - Audiofanzine
Old 7th March 2018
  #328
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kasami08's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by passpass View Post
I am very interested in buying a Presonus quantum, but I can not find in their specifications the value (-86 S/N ratio) that you reported, Presonus still does not report exactly AKM chip datasheet, the declared performances are different, and probably the result of real test on the interface...

Test de l'interface audionumerique Thunderbolt PreSonus Quantum - Audiofanzine

I'm reffering to the ADC THD+N (Total Harmonic Distortion). The AK557EN is spec'd at -112 dB or 0.000251 which is a very low noise level. The THD+N on the Quantom for the line Ins, mic pre and Instrument performs at -85 dB also known as 0.005 which is clearly stated in your link. The chip it's self is over kill for an interface in that price range as it was crippled to a lower performance. Corners had to be cut to keep the price down. The AK557EN has a maximum Dynamic range of 121 dB but Presonus posted 120 dB for the converter ADC/DAC chips on their website. The maximum Dynamic Range for the mic pre amp is 110 db, 106 dB for instrument in and 118 dB line ins.

The Clarett has slightly more head room with a higher dynamic range on thier mic pres at 118 dB and slightly lower THD+N at -100 dB or 0.001. That's why I said, the 5388aeq would of been a better implementation since it's seems to be used by it's competitors. Universal Audio, RME, Focusrite and Apogee all have used the same AK5388A ADC chip. If you want to spend a few extra bucks to improve the digital conversion performance, that's where black lion comes in as they swap out the stock op-amps and capacitors for higher grade ones.

AK5574EN | Product | AKM - Asahi Kasei Microdevices
Quantum | Tech Specs | PreSonus
Mic Preamps, Audio Conversion, Pro Audio | Black Lion Audio
Old 7th March 2018
  #329
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kasami08 View Post
I'm reffering to the ADC THD+N (Total Harmonic Distortion). The AK557EN is spec'd at -112 dB or 0.000251 which is a very low noise level. The THD+N on the Quantom for the line Ins, mic pre and Instrument performs at -85 dB also known as 0.005 which is clearly stated in your link. The chip it's self is over kill for an interface in that price range as it was crippled to a lower performance. Corners had to be cut to keep the price down. The AK557EN has a maximum Dynamic range of 121 dB but Presonus posted 120 dB for the converter ADC/DAC chips on their website. The maximum Dynamic Range for the mic pre amp is 110 db, 106 dB for instrument in and 118 dB line ins.

The Clarett has slightly more head room with a higher dynamic range on thier mic pres at 118 dB and slightly lower THD+N at -100 dB or 0.001. That's why I said, the 5388aeq would of been a better implementation since it's seems to be used by it's competitors. Universal Audio, RME, Focusrite and Apogee all have used the same AK5388A ADC chip. If you want to spend a few extra bucks to improve the digital conversion performance, that's where black lion comes in as they swap out the stock op-amps and capacitors for higher grade ones.

AK5574EN | Product | AKM - Asahi Kasei Microdevices
Quantum | Tech Specs | PreSonus
Mic Preamps, Audio Conversion, Pro Audio | Black Lion Audio
many thanks for your precious information, beyond the numbers (very important), I would like to understand which sounds better and guarantees the best overall quality, unfortunately I do not have the opportunity to listen or compare them, I would like to read the opinion of those who heard them, many think that Quantum sounds better than clarett...
Old 7th March 2018
  #330
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kasami08's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by passpass View Post
many thanks for your precious information, beyond the numbers (very important), I would like to understand which sounds better and guarantees the best overall quality, unfortunately I do not have the opportunity to listen or compare them, I would like to read the opinion of those who heard them
Sound quality and which sounds better is very subjective as it varies from person to person. There are many shoot outs on here as well as YouTube. I only have experience with Focusrite equipment so i can't tell you what the Quantom sounds like. With my experience with Focusrite equipment is they have a very clean transparent neutral sound like a modern Neve. There's no boost in the highs or lows, it's more of a true flat response and not harsh or muddy sounding. The frequency spectrum just seems fuller and very well balanced across the board to my ears. That maybe different for another person as it all comes down to personal preference. I'm sure the Presonus Quantom delivers excellent quality.
Your ears are your best friend when making decisions. I included a couple links of those two interfaces in action but at the same time nothing beats comparing them in a listening test in person.

Clarett
YouTube

Quantom
YouTube
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