The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
DACs for mixing - please add perspective! Monitor Controllers
Old 6th February 2017
  #1
Lives for gear
DACs for mixing - please add perspective!

Gents,

I suffer no delusions of attempting to build a mastering grade studio at home. With recording and mixing as my main focus, my RME 9632 and modest treatment has served me well so far. I've no plans to ditch RME's drivers anytime soon.

But the slew of affordable hifi DACs (w/ spdif, montior controllesr, headphone amps) has got me wondering. I could pick up something claimed by audiophiles to be God's own DAC for under $500. Or for a little more I could spring for older used entry level mastering grade DACs - Lavry DA10, Becnhmark 1 or Mytek 96 for example.

So 2 questions if I may. I didn't get much traction in Music Comps or So much gear, maybe because we don't have your perspective.

1) For mixing do you consider RME to be sufficient? Will decisions be easier if I upgrade?
2) If I do upgrade, would you suggest a traditional studio Mytek/Dangerous etc or are these new gen DACs the equal of or even superior to the old brigade?

thanks
Old 7th February 2017
  #2
Gear Addict
 
bzone's Avatar
 

Burl or Convert 2, these may be over budget for what your looking for, and there could be other items in your chain that would allow you to hear what you need. This is high end, you may get a lot of expensive or top of the line, if you will, suggestions. Perhaps more specifics with your complete set up could help. Good luck in your search.
Old 7th February 2017
  #3
Lives for gear
Thanks Bzone. i appreciate this is high end. I also accept that converters are just one part of the chain. This is why I've got an ancient RME 9632; the driver's stability and low latency have been more important to me than the conversion. That card sounds ok but falls below some of the better usb interfaces I've used. I haven't been scientific or A/B'd stuff, but it's obvious that my card is not the last word in conversion. I never use it for recording.

So I am convinced that an older high end DAC like the Mytek/Benchmark/Kavry would be a step up and will spring for one, even in preference to a newer RME or Lynx pcie card. Still, I was hoping for a high ender's view on those compared to the newer hi fi DACs. Many accept spdif, ADAT or AES awhich makes them appealing to me as i would hang one off of the RME. Are they superiror? Their designs are 10 years newer at least.
Old 7th February 2017
  #4
Lives for gear
 

The D to A converter is only part of the back end monitoring chain, thus you have to look at each part of that chain for overall improvement. The room, speaker positioning, and listening positioning will have the most impact. Have you run testing to see exactly what is happening there and do you have the optimal setup given your room geometry (should be your first step)? Next in importance are the speakers (or speakers and amp if using passive speakers). There are plenty of threads already covering that subject here but don't discount the importance of using speakers you already know well and are comfortable with. After you have all of that stuff sorted out THEN comes the D to A converter. Don't think that adding the "worlds best" D to A converter is going to be magic unless you have all the other stuff right first. Even then you likely will only hear a little more clarity / depth. You also have to keep in mind that converters come in two flavors, transparent which for monitoring purposes is what you want, and colored. Some of these audiophile converters are likely colored and why they get glowing praises (add a smiley curve / presence boost at that stage). Sadly we have yet to have a major converter shootout to determine quality / transparency / if colored then most liked so there are NO objective rankings and price may or may not be an indicator.
Old 7th February 2017
  #5
Lives for gear
Agreed your points about the chain. I'm realistic about the results I'll get. I am not buying a Weiss anytime soon! That would just be silly. I do know however, that my (recording) USB interface has a superior DA sound to my RME so I definitely need to address the RME DA. The USB interface falls apart in heavy mixing projects so is unusable. I know, you high enders are shocked. But yes, in the 'real world' people use USB for audio. It should be criminalised, I know.

Very interested in your views on possible coloration of audiophile DACs. I hadn't considered that so I'm glad I asked. I know you're not pointing fingers, but you do nudge me towards a used Mytek 96 DA. That is certainly superior to my USB and probably superior to the rest of my setup..

Hope you guys will shoot out some of these audiophile DACs one day.
Old 7th February 2017
  #6
Lives for gear
 

I don't know enough to point fingers but know even with converters marketed for studio use there are both colored and transparent. I'm sure it's the wild west in the audiophile world with little to hold marketing and tricks in check. The only real effective way to test transparency is quick switching between a full loop though both A to D and D to A converters against a monitored live stereo source (one with good 3D info to start). Closest to the original source is the most transparent. The problem with just testing only a D to A converter with files or tape is that you have already done a conversion and thus are stuck with what that may strip out. What got stripped could mask what a D to A converter is weak with or changes. So audition in your place using the quick switch against source method and take any converter marketing / net postings with a grain of salt.

I'd keep the RME to use as an interface and audition other converters against it. The RME interface is simply going to give you the most there and you can hook up outboard converters to it. Also look into converter threads where Jim Williams talks about the Texas Instruments evaluation board. You may get top end there without breaking the bank with some effort on your part.
Old 7th February 2017
  #7
Lives for gear
Thanks again. I've aborted any forays into the Wild West and will stick closer to home. Benchmark or Mytek I think, plugged into the back of the RME. I certainly will look into the evaluation board stuff. Should be interesting. Thanks for the heads up.
Old 7th February 2017
  #8
Gear Nut
 
noiseintheattic's Avatar
 

I just did this myself- had good room treatment for a while but put in a Dangerous Monitor ST to replace Central Station and Lavry DA10 now freeing up Rosetta 200 for other duties. I'm very pleased with the improvements - biggest gains were with the Dangerous
Old 9th February 2017
  #9
Lives for gear
wow. The Dangerous sounded better than your Lavry?
Old 9th February 2017
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaolin View Post
The USB interface falls apart in heavy mixing projects so is unusable. I know, you high enders are shocked. But yes, in the 'real world' people use USB for audio.
Not trying to be argumentative, but I'm using the RME MADI USB running a Burl B80 and have zero issues. One AES card, two BDA8's (B2 ADC in). You're right about the drivers for sure. Least bit of worry there.

My point is, does your DAW host need an upgrade?
Old 9th February 2017
  #11
Lives for gear
Anything by RME is great driver wise and I wouldn't lump their usb offerings into the common pool. I had thought of getting a Babyface for the pres once and I'm sure it would have been fine.

I use Reaper for mixing which just went to 5.3.3 yesterday so I'm up to date there. Most efficient DAW by far for Nebula which I use heavily. I tried my usb which I use with Cubase for arranging and recording (because I know Cubase so well) in Reaper the other day, and the screen in Reaper didn't fill in and then just froze. I messed with the buffer and screen resolution and got it to play but didn't have to do that with my trusty 9632.
Old 9th February 2017
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaolin View Post
Anything by RME is great driver wise and I wouldn't lump their usb offerings into the common pool. I had thought of getting a Babyface for the pres once and I'm sure it would have been fine.

I use Reaper for mixing which just went to 5.3.3 yesterday so I'm up to date there. Most efficient DAW by far for Nebula which I use heavily. I tried my usb which I use with Cubase for arranging and recording (because I know Cubase so well) in Reaper the other day, and the screen in Reaper didn't fill in and then just froze. I messed with the buffer and screen resolution and got it to play but didn't have to do that with my trusty 9632.
Yeah, sounds like a different world than mine, but whatever works, go with it.
Old 10th February 2017
  #13
Gear Nut
 
noiseintheattic's Avatar
 

No - the Lavry is my DAC the Dangerous is my monitoring
Old 10th February 2017
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaolin View Post
...
1) For mixing do you consider RME to be sufficient? Will decisions be easier if I upgrade?
2) If I do upgrade, would you suggest a traditional studio Mytek/Dangerous etc or are these new gen DACs the equal of or even superior to the old brigade?

thanks
RME, the brand, is sufficient. But the specific thing you're working with could probably be easily bettered by their newer stuff.

Some of the older converters by the specialists in conversion are still pretty excellent. Benchmark has some great stuff if you can find the old stuff for sale.

There are a few biases in this game.
-New is better.
-Old is better.
-Analog is better.
-Digital is better.
-Mine is better.

Avoid those and you'll find something good.
Old 10th February 2017
  #15
Lives for gear
 

Basically RME's USB interfaces will give you a bit lower latency and more load at that low latency / buffer setting than the rest of the bunch of USB interfaces. RME's PCI / PCIe slot interface options will however give you much lower latency than that with increased load at that lower latency / buffer setting. In general, USB interfaces can be twice or more the latency of PCI / PCIe slot interface offerings. Thunderbolt while basically an exterior PCIe slot is performing in between the two groups presently and may get better as their drivers develop (it's not where it should be, slightly more latency - equal loading to PCIe slot). Details and testing are laid out in the "Interface Data base" thread located in the "Computers" section of this site if you want to know more.

Long story short Shaolin, sticking to your existing RME PCI slot interface will give you your best interface performance. What converters to use through it is the puzzle to solve.
Old 10th February 2017
  #16
Lives for gear
Yup. And I'm suspecting the Dangerous Source will be a good solution for me. Might not quite equal older mastering Dacs sound wise like the Mytek 96 but better feature set for my needs. Simple things like headphone volume attenuator or speaker mutes that MEs might not use.
Old 10th February 2017
  #17
Lives for gear
 
Plush's Avatar
RME is perfectly good to make artistic mastering decisions. Refine all parts of your listening chain.
Old 10th February 2017
  #18
I have to agree, a lot of the newer converters are just so much better then 10 years back. Other things could make a bigger difference....
Old 10th February 2017
  #19
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by batlanyard View Post
Not trying to be argumentative, but I'm using the RME MADI USB running a Burl B80 and have zero issues. One AES card, two BDA8's (B2 ADC in). You're right about the drivers for sure. Least bit of worry there.

My point is, does your DAW host need an upgrade?
but your using Madi which isolates the grounds of the computer to the converters. Non isolation is the shortfall of all usb and firewire converters otherwise.
Old 10th February 2017
  #20
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mahasandi View Post
I have to agree, a lot of the newer converters are just so much better then 10 years back. Other things could make a bigger difference....
Part of that was from better designed surface mount op amps. One of the major issues DACs always had was recreating the transients correctly (and the right amounts) because of poor slew rate performance. Once someone overcomes that issue, they will have a great sounding DAC. Its getting easier to get that.
Old 10th February 2017
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by audiospacific View Post
Part of that was from better designed surface mount op amps. One of the major issues DACs always had was recreating the transients correctly (and the right amounts) because of poor slew rate performance. Once someone overcomes that issue, they will have a great sounding DAC. Its getting easier to get that.
Very cool I did not know that, makes a lot of sense...
Old 10th February 2017
  #22
Quote:
1) For mixing do you consider RME to be sufficient? Will decisions be easier if I upgrade?
2) If I do upgrade, would you suggest a traditional studio Mytek/Dangerous etc or are these new gen DACs the equal of or even superior to the old brigade?
IMO,
1) Yes, No (Two questions).
2) Personally, I haven't found anything worthy.

For the record, I own the DA11, Mytek Stereo 192, the RME UFX, and the XTC A/D D/A.
Old 10th February 2017
  #23
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Enlightened Hand View Post
There are a few biases in this game.
-New is better.
-Old is better.
-Analog is better.
-Digital is better.
-Mine is better.

Avoid those and you'll find something good.
I love this
Old 10th February 2017
  #24
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaolin View Post
Yup. And I'm suspecting the Dangerous Source will be a good solution for me. Might not quite equal older mastering Dacs sound wise like the Mytek 96 but better feature set for my needs. Simple things like headphone volume attenuator or speaker mutes that MEs might not use.
I can attest to the quality and ease of use of the Dangerous Source. There are plenty other choices out there, but this one works just fine for me.

I thought this might be of use to you

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVSdcDSRF1I
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump