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Prism Orpheus vs. ULN-8 Metric Halo Sound Quality Audio Interfaces
Old 18th August 2009
  #1
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Prism Orpheus vs. ULN-8 Metric Halo Sound Quality

Ok, I'm sure the verdict is out by now. I don't care about the features, price, or anything else for that matter. I just wanna' know one thing & one thing only between these two:

Which one sounds better to you? Sonically? Best converter? For any style of music, live or sampled instrument, digital or analog? Help me, quick...I know all my tech friends can get this done...lol
Old 18th August 2009
  #2
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My opinion, at this level, attempts to quantify sonic differences is like pissing into a gale: futile, puerile and sterile. Any difference between the two units is evident in the stability of their drivers, the usability of their software and the flexibility of the hardware.
Old 18th August 2009
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swafford View Post
My opinion, at this level, attempts to quantify sonic differences is like pissing into a gale: futile, puerile and sterile. Any difference between the two units is evident in the stability of their drivers, the usability of their software and the flexibility of the hardware.
So, you've heard both units?
Old 18th August 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by inthere View Post
So, you've heard both units?
No I have not heard both units, just one, but I don't need to hear both, I have ringing in my right ear about the level of a 6000BTU air conditioner blowing on high and ringing at a high C and an octave above a high C combined. But if you need opinions of people who have, read the ULN8 thread in New Products.

I'll go out on a very short and strong limb and say in a blind test, less then 1% of the hearing population will be able to discern one from the other, let alone make a determination that one is --->sonically better<--- then the other.
Old 18th August 2009
  #5
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Well..

Will the 1% answer?! Make it cut & dry...
Old 18th August 2009
  #6
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I intended to do a straight comparison between the two, maybe to write a review for Tape Op. I haven't made it happen yet. I have the feeling it's apples and oranges. Both great. To each according to his or her needs. I wouldn't be surprised if ULN-8 won. I'd be very surprised if the Prism was a clear winner. But I think sonically both units are probably remarkable. As to straight facts or opinion based on personal observation, I have no idea. I haven't made that comparison yet.

But this bias is based on my love affair with the ULN-8.
Old 18th August 2009
  #7
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He's read the ULN-8 thread extensively as well as others on the subject and both of us feel the subject of sound quality differences between the two units has been avoided in all threads. As he is about to spend a great deal on either unit immediately, I suggested he come here and get opinions, because I'm personally biased on the subject towards the Prism Orpheus.
Old 18th August 2009
  #8
Well coming here won't supply much useful information for the OP, anymore than one can gain insight from balancing Fox News with MSNBC. Multiple, differently-skewed perspectives expressed by implicitly biased parties do not enhance understanding, but just add confusion and noise to difficult questions. Witness the healthcare thread here... not a lot of light, plenty of heat.

This truly depends on your goals... I suspect that >1% of trained listeners could detect the difference but the bigger question this can't answer is WHAT the difference consists of. A lot of people love RADAR converters for their sound but wrt fidelity there are many better converters. Do you want something that's accurate or euphonic (sounds good)? In practice there are frequently different answers to those questions... obvious examples are analog 2" tape (that has measurably WORSE fidelity to source than most modern digital formats), or analog summing devices (that rarely null vs source as well as a digital bus). People love lower fidelity in many instances, when the alternative tickles our ears the right way.

In the case of converters, that's really critical. Doug Sax' view of analog "preconditioning" signals for speakers is pretty astute, and explains many things. In particular it provides a model for explaining how measurably near-perfect equipment can "fail" versus considerably lower fidelity devices in direct comparison.

There are some differences between units that could affect performance: The ULN8 has end-to-end phase linearity, and I've not measured/heard another device so "perfect" at low frequencies (sub 40Hz to DC) in terms of phase (converters and filters make a mess of time domain in roundtrips). Not sure about the Prism, but nothing else I've encountered delivers this performance (or makes that claim). And doesn't the Orpheus ship with a linear power supply instead of a switching one? While I've heard improvements with linear supplies on 2882s (there are boutique power supply makers for the MIOs!), I've not noticed any difference with the ULN8 using those supplies, so I'm not sure if it matters for whatever reason. But it is a difference that folks have found changes things in other settings, so the benefits may just be below my threshold of hearing/detection.

I suspect the differences are pretty small. But training can push ABX performance considerably, so if one exists, ears will almost certainly be able to detect it, small or not.

Anyway, you can certainly measure to find out which of the two is more accurate wrt any given source. Fidelity is knowable and can be established and proven on some objective basis (e.g. nulling is an absolute, irrefutable, and multi-dimensional measure of fidelity). But in terms of "quality", any detectable difference is by definition purely a matter of taste. At this price/quality point you'd be foolish to trust any opinions you might elicit here. If the difference exists and is detectable only your ears matter (the degree of "difference" implies a measure of performance failure, btw).

-d-
Old 18th August 2009
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swafford View Post
No I have not heard both units, just one, but I don't need to hear both, I have ringing in my right ear about the level of a 6000BTU air conditioner blowing on high and ringing at a high C and an octave above a high C combined. But if you need opinions of people who have, read the ULN8 thread in New Products.

I'll go out on a very short and strong limb and say in a blind test, less then 1% of the hearing population will be able to discern one from the other, let alone make a determination that one is --->sonically better<--- then the other.
He wants the best sounding unit, period. Over the past few years, the Orpheus has gotten rave reviews in that department. There is nothing conclusive or even suggestive in any previous thread that the ULN-8 is even in the same ballpark as the Orpheus. The only thing he's heard is that the ULN-8 basically sounds awesome.

Now I've heard the same thing said about Apogee, Lynx, and RME, and even the ULN-2, but none of those belong in the same conversation as the Orpheus if you're talking sound quality, at least IMO.

What he wants is someone that's heard both units, and either dumped the Orpheus for the ULN-8, or dismissed the ULN-8 as not quite up to the Orpheus' level, but still a nice unit. Or even say they're in the same ballpark but with different positives/negatives.

Is ULN-8 converter quality in the same ballpark with Lavry, Weiss, Prism, etc?

Last edited by inthere; 18th August 2009 at 08:00 PM.. Reason: simplifying:
Old 18th August 2009
  #10
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So nobody has heard them both?
Old 18th August 2009
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by inthere View Post

What he wants is someone that's heard both units, and either dumped the Orpheus for the ULN-8, or dismissed the ULN-8 as not quite up to the Orpheus' level, but still a nice unit. Or even say they're in the same ballpark but with different positives/negatives.

Is ULN-8 converter quality in the same ballpark with Lavry, Weiss, Prism, etc?
https://www.gearslutz.com/board/new-p...-8-here-2.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbssound1 View Post
It is every bit it's competitor, and I dare say leaves it in the dust!!! I sold my prisms after I got my first ULN-8 test unit. there is more functionality, flexibility, and the sound is even more transparent and robust.



The biggest difference is 8 preamps!

I am a fan of Prism (still have a dream with 16 inputs) but I have not used it since I got the ULN-8.
The ULN8 has not been out long enough for the consensus your looking for, on the Internet you can find individual cases of people preferring one unit heh over the other. This I do know: folks who use the Orpheus and folks who use the ULN8 (me included) tend to be rabid about thier unitshehheh. That is a good thing. You may like Ducati's. I like BMW's. They are both high performance bikes that cost as much as and will always smoke any Harley. There ain't nothing like an air cooled, horizontally firing, internal combustion engine to hit the turns.

My main point is while we may be talking about peaches and nectarines here regrading the differences in sonics, I believe there are as important things in the quest of a great unit hehhehheh once performance has reached a certain level: do the drivers have a history of stability; does the company have a positive attitude towards their customers and the product cycle; how is the functionality of the hardware and software, etc.

I get that this may not be what your interested in, I know guys with ears (Dave Davis is one of them) and while I may get giddy over the functionality of the MIO software, he's pissing himself over phase linearity.

Good luck in your quest!

and I said unit hehhehhehheh 4 times.
Old 18th August 2009
  #12
This is what the Prism sounds like;

Video

Multi-track session 24/48

Multi-track session 24/96

Input List and Write Up

I've never used the Metric Halo, but I'm sure its a favorable device.

The Prism is one of the best boxes I have used. It sounds phenomenal.
Old 18th August 2009
  #13
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The OP has an interesting question since all have raved at the sound quality on the Orpheus.
Old 18th August 2009
  #14
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Orpheus=what goes in comes out the other side.
Metric Halo? Who knows but it costs a helluva lot more. I dont need the extra features.
Soundwise, convertor shootouts are a nightmare to do well. The only way would be to have both side by side yourself or to have examples from someone you truly trust.

tutt
Old 19th August 2009
  #15
TRW
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I'd love to try the MH, but the Orpheus has changed my mixing world. Direct translation- improved the tightness of the bottom end in the room and has a very real image... software works great and really simple too.

-T
Old 19th August 2009
  #16
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OMG!

Roc what a test! If you could ever get that same setup on the MH that would be awesome!! That imaging had my skin crawling! lol
Old 19th August 2009
  #17
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@ Henry Rob...

Henry you can be biased as I'm biased to your opinion anyway, anytime you sit near Mr. Massenburg...lol Big fan of his...There's some reccordings he's done in the past that I still stay no other recordings can match up to today...
Old 19th August 2009
  #18
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@ Dave Davis

Can you post some links or point us to the the boutique power supplies for the 2882?
Old 19th August 2009
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TRW View Post
I'd love to try the MH, but the Orpheus has changed my mixing world. Direct translation- improved the tightness of the bottom end in the room and has a very real image... software works great and really simple too.

-T
Just curious... what converter were you using before, that the Orpheus was such a big improvement over? What monitors were you using when you switched to the Orpheus and heard the big improvement? Thanks.
Old 19th August 2009
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by siddhu View Post
@ Dave Davis

Can you post some links or point us to the the boutique power supplies for the 2882?
I'd like to know more about these PSUs as well.

Thanks.
Old 20th August 2009
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UrgentMW View Post
Ok, I'm sure the verdict is out by now. I don't care about the features, price, or anything else for that matter. I just wanna' know one thing & one thing only between these two:

Which one sounds better to you? Sonically? Best converter? For any style of music, live or sampled instrument, digital or analog? Help me, quick...I know all my tech friends can get this done...lol
I can't comment on subjective differences, but you should take a look at the tech specs before making any decision.
Old 20th August 2009
  #22
TRW
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Quote:
Originally Posted by javahut View Post
Just curious... what converter were you using before, that the Orpheus was such a big improvement over? What monitors were you using when you switched to the Orpheus and heard the big improvement? Thanks.
Between me and my colleagues we have used Ensemble, Lynx Two and Aurora, Fireface, Motu192 among others. The Orpheus was a significant step up from the FF and completely destroys the horrible Motu192. The Ensemble and Lynx seem closer to me, but the Prism is stunning.

Monitors wise we have been working with Event ASP8s but mix translation over the past year has been checked on the TV, Proacs, ATC, NS10s etc.

-Tom
Old 20th August 2009
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Saul View Post
I can't comment on subjective differences, but you should take a look at the tech specs before making any decision.
Quote:
For example, the ULN-8 has Mic Pre THD D/A/A/D loop @ -0 dBFS specified as 0.0023%. Orpheus has THD+N -111dB for all inputs, which is 0.00028%. Orpheus also has a flatter frequency response, +0, -0.05dB to ULN-8's +0,-0.1dB.

Does this means something for audio quality? At -50 dBu input level and 50 dB gain, my Fearn VT-2 has 0,2 % THD + N. I should avoid to use it with these babies for not compromising their pristine sound ?
Old 20th August 2009
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TRW View Post
The Ensemble and Lynx seem closer to me, but the Prism is stunning.
-Tom
Thanks for that Tom, I'm about to upgrade from the Apogee Ensemble to the Prism Sound Orpheus and really just need the assurance that I will hear the same difference in sound as the extra amount I'm paying in price difference.
Old 20th August 2009
  #25
TRW
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The ensemble is very good. I own one and a colleague has the Orpheus. The apogee has more of a sound to my ears, a sort of roundness, the Prism is glassy and clear. Tighter in the bottom end. Both are very very good boxes.

Personally have no issues with the Ensemble and if you could stack them I would stay with it, but I will likely upgrade to Orpheus at some point, so we can stack them for more I/O when mixing.

-T
Old 20th August 2009
  #26
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The Orpheus pres are incredible.
Old 20th August 2009
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goldphinga View Post
The Orpheus pres are incredible.
Are'nt they just http://focus.ti.com/lit/ds/symlink/pga2500.pdf ?

3 conductors from microphone cable XLR plug on pins 25, 26, 27, and one gets a line signal from pins 25, 17, 16. Also used in Fireface 400 and Apogee Duet and Ensemble.
Old 20th August 2009
  #28
Actually, Prism goes out of their way to "tune" these electronics, which makes them different from every other interface with a PGA2500 preamplifier card. Everything Prism builds and designs has exacting precision and it is becasue they go out-of-their-way to enhance the capability and specifications of the circuit, that the results you read about, [and then audibly audition] offer the difference we can relate the proper buzz saw words too. You may find the below post, from Andy helpful.

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/4140114-post41.html
Old 20th August 2009
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roc Mixwell View Post
You may find the below post, from Andy helpful.

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/4140114-post41.html
Not so much informative. PGA 2500 from Texas Instrument is a microphone preamplifier integrated circuit intended to get a microphone signal as an input and to deliver line signal as an output. Does Prism state that because of external components, they made it better than it is in the Fireface 400 and in the Apogee Duet and Ensemble?
Old 20th August 2009
  #30
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Oh my word!
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