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DA Converter Plateau
Old 17th August 2005
  #1
Gear Guru
 
lucey's Avatar
DA Converter Plateau

A lot of worry on converters, and rightly so.

But A/B/C ing the Mytek StereoDAC96, the new converters for the HEDD192/Avocet and the Lavry Blue DA I can honestly say the choice at this level is PURELY subjective. These 3 are at a very similar, and very high plateau. Never before on any gear have I thought "it really doesn't matter" but after 4 hours of listening and working with all three (played back through an Avocet) I'm really feeling like a high level is upon us, even with these non-top-o-the-top boxes.

Preferences are possible, they do sound a little different, but it's just that - preference.

The Lavry Blue is the most flat and detailed. It could also seem scooped with rock in a multitrack setting. Preference.

The Mytek has a softer top and bottom but very similar mids which results in a musical sound (especially for multitrack playback, as the mids are revealed as a result)

The new HEDD DA puts the old one to shame. It's not as detailed as the Lavry in the low mids and has a different sense of midrange ovreall than the Mytek, with more meat and more up top like the Lavry. A bit more analog/aggressive overall. Again, not a perfect sound like the Lavry goes for, but a very nice sounding DA that could be used for monitoring.


IMO any of these these are plenty good for monitoring and multitracking, far more will happen with 2" of a mic turn or +/- 0.3 on an eq than the differences here.


Life is good with so many nearly identical, good choices. Bottom line, it's not life or death folks ... dont have a heart attack over any of these 3 nice converters!
Old 17th August 2005
  #2
Quote:
Originally Posted by lucey
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Preferences are possible, they do sound a little different, but it's just that - preference.

The Lavry Blue is the most flat and detailed. It could also seem scooped with rock in a multitrack setting. Preference.

Yeah but who realistically will purchase 24-48 channels of Lavry D/A conversion for multitrack mixwork?

Same goes for the Cranesong D/A.

I think another D/A worth considering which you omitted is the upgraded Prism ADA-8.

This unit can be configured as 16 outs.
Old 17th August 2005
  #3
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lucey's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor
Yeah but who realistically will purchase 24-48 channels of Lavry D/A conversion for multitrack mixwork?

Same goes for the Cranesong D/A.

I think another D/A worth considering which you omitted is the upgraded Prism ADA-8.

This unit can be configured as 16 outs.
Of course youre right, how silly. I wasnt thinking practically ... and I'm not trying to A/B all of them ... just for these 3, it's pretty darn close. And I should note that these are not the newest or best designs from thse folks ... so life in converterland is very good!



For a 2 track DA, seems to me it matters most how we hear music and how our monitors are set up. Lavry's with a scooped monitor may just be too much that way. The Myteks with a monitor that's soft on the top and bottom might lack a little size.

The HEDD is at the moment my personal fave, only because it's detailed and also a tiny bit analog/aggressive, which suits the way I hear. So if I'm mastering and the edge I like is already in the DA I wont be putting it in everyone's master to suit my personal sense of rightness. The converter is the bias killer, in that sense.

Similarly, if we hear more technically, and are looking for evenness and detail bordering on flat, the Lavry would be the choice (between these 3) that would resonate with how we hear music. With a HEDD, we would look to cleanse the music to suit our ear, working against the converters nature. Others would hear it as having gone too far.



So assuming the details are sufficient, which is a big assumption as there are many better converters, even from these manufacturers ... the timbre we hear in our inner ear is what we should monitor with. A DA/Monitor combo that makes pre-recorded music sound like we hear it in out heads away from the studio is going to work best to neutralize our preferences.
Old 17th August 2005
  #4
Instead of going completely for the subjective nature of what sounds 'better' for each ones strengths, why not run an analog (as in tape) program track into the best A/D you have, and then run it out of the 3 D/A's and see which one sounds most like the original analog stereo signal. It's not a perfect test (although it would be closer with something like a high end A/D such as Weiss or Lavry Gold or dCs), especially with these 'mid level' converters, but I personally heard more distinct differences than you are describing here FWIW.


BTW, which generation of Crane Song are you talking about? There are 3 generations now.
Old 17th August 2005
  #5
Gear Guru
 
lucey's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanEldred
Instead of going completely for the subjective nature of what sounds 'better' for each ones strengths, why not run an analog (as in tape) program track into the best A/D you have, and then run it out of the 3 D/A's and see which one sounds most like the original analog stereo signal. It's not a perfect test (although it would be closer with something like a high end A/D such as Weiss or Lavry Gold or dCs), especially with these 'mid level' converters, but I personally heard more distinct differences than you are describing here FWIW.
I use the Pacific Microsonics HDCD for AD and primary DA ... still. Love it. Not really looking to go past a few observations here.

The main one being that even at mid level converters, they're all very good.


Quote:
BTW, which generation of Crane Song are you talking about? There are 3 generations now.
I assume the latest, just got the AD and DA last week ...
Old 18th August 2005
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanEldred
Instead of going completely for the subjective nature of what sounds 'better' for each ones strengths, why not run an analog (as in tape) program track into the best A/D you have, and then run it out of the 3 D/A's and see which one sounds most like the original analog stereo signal. It's not a perfect test (although it would be closer with something like a high end A/D such as Weiss or Lavry Gold or dCs), especially with these 'mid level' converters, but I personally heard more distinct differences than you are describing here FWIW.
You have a interesting point. I have been in recording studios for 15 years recording with reel to reel. I heard the harsh PT converters several years back and the mcuh improved converters that are out now such as the Lavery and Mytek.

Personally I am not as in favor of the reel to reel sound as I was way back then.
I am more interested in capturing the sound of what the band, artist sound live. Yes we can still add color by different mic's, pre's, compressors, and EQ. But saying that "Tape is still king in getting the best sound" I strongly disagree. (Not sure if you meant this, but that is the impression I got).
People throw Manley MU's, tube mic's, tube pre's, Manley Massive Passive and other gear to add color, warmth, smoothness, or any other word you want to use on mixes. I found any color you want can be added with other tools in the studio. Reel to reel added a certain color to the music. Then with the wear and tear of the tape, tape heads, alignment, and the need to demagnitze the tape heads just has shown it it's age. Rupert Neve has a new box and mastering box that adds the 2nd and 3rd harmonic distortion that reel to reel gave us if you want it that color as well. But hey it's just one guys opinion. After spending some time with George Massenberg one time, he really influenced me to get wonderfully sounding clean sounds in your studio. We can do that now, since the good converters don't sound harsh anymore.

ps. I love my Mytek.
Old 18th August 2005
  #7
as an owner of the latest hedd and apogee da-16x i'd like to support your experiences. the differences are very subtle. sometimes i'm not sure if they're even there. i think it depends on the source you're listening to.

for me it was a huge step from my old protools system with his 882/20 converter. and as it seems i won't upgrade my converters the next 20 years. maybe get some more da's for mixdown
Old 18th August 2005
  #8
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanEldred
BTW, which generation of Crane Song are you talking about? There are 3 generations now.
As far as the Hedd192 goes, I thought there were only 2?
Old 18th August 2005
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Revelation
But saying that "Tape is still king in getting the best sound" I strongly disagree. (Not sure if you meant this, but that is the impression I got).


It's not what I meant. It has nothing to do with tape versus digital in the way you are implying. Tape is the true analog representation of the wave form (minus maybe a neglible amount of distortion and compression). If it's coming off the tape machine you don't have to worry about the audio being chopped up by digital conversions. The tape is the point of reference for the A/B'ing, so it's the only way to figure out what it the original stereo source 'really' sounds like (sans the analog machines unique set of electronics). But a sine wave versus one that's chopped up 441,000 times per second (or even 1,920,000 times) isn't the same thing, regardless of our 'subjective' opinions. There must be a standard of comparison in regards to the accuracy of a converter, and the best way to establish that accuracy is with our ears. I suppose DSD technology would work just as well too but that too will be reliant on the actual quality of the converter. If the tracking room was well isolated enough from the control room, one could also avoid the tape machine by having the bands mix come straight off the bus of an analog console, have the band play a relatively constant 'loop' (i.e. a chorus of a song), record the same performance through the converters, match levels between converter and live performance and compare.
Old 18th August 2005
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by dingo
As far as the Hedd192 goes, I thought there were only 2?

That's correct, but there really never was two HEDD 192s in reality. There was the first HEDD, which I believe was only capable of 48k. Then the second one which was called a HEDD 192, but only did 96k, and now the newest one truly capable of 192k.
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