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
Whats the difference between buying a High End AD/DA and a High End Audio Interface?
Old 13th December 2009
  #1
Lives for gear
 

Whats the difference between buying a High End AD/DA and a High End Audio Interface?

Hi All,

Im just wondering whether i should be investing into a AD/DA or an Audio Interface with AD/DA in it.

At the moment i have several high quality microphones and preamps (pres are all analog outs). I use a little Motu Ultralite as my interface and AD/DA conversion. i am thinking its time to upgrade this part of the chain, but need to get my head around what are the sorts of issues i should be thinking about when making this choice.

I will be recording: drums, bass, guitar, vocals, synths, horns... the works basically. And i will be doing all the recording and mixing in the box, but plan to use two outboard compressors during the tracking and mixing stage. (UBK Fatso and the API 2500)

I dont need people to tell me exactly what i should be buying, i just want to get several experienced opinions on what soft of things i should be taking into consideration when making this choice.

many thanks
Old 13th December 2009
  #2
Lives for gear
 

what is your budget and what DAW will you be using?

I would personally go with a multi channel converter that you can move to any system you might get along the way. Like Apogee Rosetta or AD-16
Old 13th December 2009
  #3
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by j2dafo View Post
what is your budget and what DAW will you be using?

I would personally go with a multi channel converter that you can move to any system you might get along the way. Like Apogee Rosetta or AD-16
budget is say around 8K US. ok so you've raised modulatory as being a prime consideration. i wonder if an audio interface is less modular than an AD/DA unit? right off the top of my head i cant think of why it would not be...also if i got the something like the Rosetta, then would i be able to through my Motu in the bin?
Old 13th December 2009
  #4
Lives for gear
 
swafford's Avatar
 

A/D/D/A is just one possible component of an audio interface. You need to decide what you need:
data transfer protocol;
how much A/D and D/A;
What sample rates are you going to work at;
AES or ADAT or TOSLINK;
is your choice of DAW driving your choice of audio interface;
etc.
etc
etc.
Old 13th December 2009
  #5
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by swafford View Post
A/D/D/A is just one possible component of an audio interface. You need to decide what you need:
data transfer protocol;
how much A/D and D/A;
What sample rates are you going to work at;
AES or ADAT or TOSLINK;
is your choice of DAW driving your choice of audio interface;
etc.
etc
etc.
Sorry i forgot to mention that i use logic 9 as the DAW and don't plan on changing that
Old 13th December 2009
  #6
Lives for gear
 
mmcfarlane's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajbianco View Post
budget is say around 8K US. ok so you've raised modulatory as being a prime consideration. i wonder if an audio interface is less modular than an AD/DA unit? right off the top of my head i cant think of why it would not be...also if i got the something like the Rosetta, then would i be able to through my Motu in the bin?
Many audio interfaces include the A/D and D/A components so if you want to replace the AD or DA you have to either replace the interface or bypass the A/D D/A circuitry.

How many channels do you need for $8K? If its 8in 8out you are in the realm of Lavry Blues for 8K.

You can spend less than 8K for a Lynx Aurora for 16 channels with a separate Lynx or RME PCI card and have a pretty good system for around $4K.

Windows or OSX?
Old 13th December 2009
  #7
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mmcfarlane View Post
Many audio interfaces include the A/D and D/A components so if you want to replace the AD or DA you have to either replace the interface or bypass the A/D D/A circuitry.

How many channels do you need for $8K? If its 8in 8out you are in the realm of Lavry Blues for 8K.

You can spend less than 8K for a Lynx Aurora for 16 channels with a separate Lynx or RME PCI card and have a pretty good system for around $4K.

Windows or OSX?
we only need 8 channels and its OSX. Ok so the point you have raised is again about modularity.... i am seeing this is a major consideration.
Old 13th December 2009
  #8
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajbianco View Post
Sorry i forgot to mention that i use logic 9 as the DAW and don't plan on changing that
at this stage i am unsure about what sample rate i will use, and haven't looked into the protocol or the connection type so thanks for the heads up, i will research these.

Old 13th December 2009
  #9
Gear Guru
 
lucey's Avatar
I have a client who switched from AD-16x and DA-16x to a pair of Metric Halo ULN 8.

He reports conversion that sounds close to DSD, and a ton of powerful, included features. He's actually left PT entirely, but you don't have to.
Old 13th December 2009
  #10
Lives for gear
 
kooz's Avatar
 

In your price range is the Mytek 8x192, an AES interface card to drop in your host computer, and the cabling to get your system together.
Old 13th December 2009
  #11
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lucey View Post
I have a client who switched from AD-16x and DA-16x to a pair of Metric Halo 2882

He reports conversion close to DSD, and a ton of powerful, included features. He's actually left PT entirely, but you don't have to.
what does DSD stand for pardon my ignorance?
Old 13th December 2009
  #12
Gear Guru
 
lucey's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ajbianco View Post
what does DSD stand for pardon my ignorance?
Direct Stream Digital is an alternate form of digital audio compared to what we nearly all use everyday (PCM or Pulse Code Modulation). It measures a wave more accurately. 1 bit/5.6 MHz or 1 bit/2.8 MHz (SACD) for example. DSD conversion quality varies (as does PCM) from unit to unit, but even the weakest DSD units are superior to all but the very best PCM converters. DSD is open, smooth and as real as was the promise of digital some 20 years ago.

The Metric Halo can be a stand alone mixer/system, or used along with your DAW.

If you're looking at Lavry Blue get the Mytek, it was designed to beat it and does.
Old 13th December 2009
  #13
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lucey View Post
Direct Stream Digital is an alternate form of digital audio compared to what we nearly all use everyday (PCM or Pulse Code Modulation). 1 bit/5.6 MHz or 1 bit/2.8 MHz (SACD) for example. DSD conversion quality varies (as does PCM) from unit to unit, but even the weakest DSD units are superior to all but the very best PCM converters. DSD is open, smooth and as real as was the promise of digital some 20 years ago.

The Metric Halo can be a stand alone mixer/system, or used along with your DAW.

If you're looking at Lavry Blue get the Mytek, it was designed to beat it and does.
Awesome. im an electronic engineer so now you have really got my attention with the DSD modulation ill check this out a bit more now. Thanks for the heads up!!!!!
Old 13th December 2009
  #14
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajbianco View Post
Awesome. im an electronic engineer so now you have really got my attention with the DSD modulation ill check this out a bit more now. Thanks for the heads up!!!!!
ok i just checked it out an now realise that wont work for me... i'm mixing in a daw and that DSD would have to get turned into a 24 bit stream somewhere down the track. so it would be a bit of a pointless exercise for me.....
Old 13th December 2009
  #15
EMM Labs - XDS1 Reference CD and SACD Player Convertetr

AD and DA Converters, Digital Audio Denmark

Grimm Audio

And the allready mentioned Mytek.

But I'd keep it simpler with the Symphony system.

Apogee Electronics > Products > The Symphony System

Not because it's the best. But it will integrate the best with your Logic Setup I think.

And then get an Tascam mastering recorder on the side. This way you can export to DSD if nessesary. And if it's a surround DSD thingy (wich isn''t likely since it's pretty much dead) you can export the tracks on 3 or 4 disks if desired..... The mastering authoring guy can then create his Blu Ray project for you.

TASCAM

Is your room THAT GOOD, that it can display the 110 DB a current converter (any converter in your segment) can handle? And if you have such a file. Will it reach the client without any squashing with a compressor?

The converter has to sound musical. To my ears many do nowaday.



Cheers,


Muziekschuur
Old 13th December 2009
  #16
Gear Guru
 
lucey's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ajbianco View Post
ok i just checked it out an now realise that wont work for me... i'm mixing in a daw and that DSD would have to get turned into a 24 bit stream somewhere down the track. so it would be a bit of a pointless exercise for me.....
The Metric Halo records at 24 bit PCM. It's not DSD, it sounds close to it.
Old 13th December 2009
  #17
Gear Addict
 
Allen Rowand's Avatar
 

At $8k you could purchase a ULN-8 that gives you 8 channels of mic pres with 91.5 dB of gain, 8 channels of A/D, 10 channels of D/A, operation to 192kHz, hardware insert points on every channel (for your outboard) and our full 2d and +dsp packages. The sonic quality of the ULN-8 is in the same ballpark as Lavry, Prism and Mytek's best.

You would also have $2k left over for cabling and other gear…

All MH interfaces feature the ConsoleConnect plugin, which gives our software complete integration with any Mac DAW. You would have control of the interface from within Logic, and all your settings would be stored with your Logic session. Mixers, effects, gain levels… all controlled and recalled from Logic. Or PT, DP, Cubase, etc.

Allen
Old 13th December 2009
  #18
Deleted User
Guest
How many channels will you track simultaneously? I.e how many mics on the drumkit?
How will you mix and sum with the two out outboard pieces?
How do you mixdown: ext deck or internal? Are you mixing down to 16/44?
Do you already own any good plugins? UAD, waves etc?

In my view the Apogee ad16x is a good value coupled with a good monitoring solution. It handles all ad and offers digital output simultaneously. It can interface on firewire, aes and symphony.
Old 13th December 2009
  #19
Lives for gear
define 'interface'
Old 13th December 2009
  #20
Gear Head
 
JTJacobson's Avatar
 

An AD/DA does conversion only. Which means it's going to one job, but do it very well because it was made to solely do that one job.

An interface normally includes preamps as well as AD/DA conversion. Sometimes they'll contain other extra goodies. The thing with interfaces is that they have what you need all in one box, but each component that does a job most likely won't do the best job because they have to balance budget with ease of access.

However, as I've seen in earlier posts, you may be able to bypass or mod certain parts of an interface to get what's just right for you.
Old 13th December 2009
  #21
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by JTJacobson View Post

An interface normally includes preamps as well as AD/DA conversion. Sometimes they'll contain other extra goodies. The thing with interfaces is that they have what you need all in one box, but each component that does a job most likely won't do the best job because they have to balance budget with ease of access.
I've never seen or heard of a highend interface then with pres and a/d d/a.
the only high end a/d d/a that exists are just standalone converters.

But there are a couple highend a/d preamp combos like the DPD and api a2d units. Which sound killer.

I would always want to have separate preamps and conversion but I guess would be happy with say neve dpd and like a mytek dac or something like that. But that's only 2 channels so I dunno.
Old 13th December 2009
  #22
Lives for gear
 
mmcfarlane's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajbianco View Post
...

I will be recording: drums, bass, guitar, vocals, synths, horns... the works basically. ...
I have a hard time recording drums by themselves on 8 channels . I have 16 channels of Lynx Aurora and wish I had at least 8 more. Then if you want to add external hardware and use them as channel inserts on mixdown in the DAW (I do this in Cubase) you want even more AD/DA channels and a great patchbay so everything is always hooked up ready to go.

I don't know what your room is like, or your experience level, or your other gear, but for me, spending $8K for 8 in / 8 out would not make sense unless it was being used in a professionally designed studio alongside another $100-150K in analog gear and mics.

Otherwise you will have world-class AD/DA that isn't getting the signal it deserves to really shine.
Old 13th December 2009
  #23
Gear Guru
 
lucey's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Allen Rowand View Post
At $8k you could purchase a ULN-8 that gives you 8 channels of mic pres with 91.5 dB of gain, 8 channels of A/D, 10 channels of D/A, operation to 192kHz, hardware insert points on every channel (for your outboard) and our full 2d and +dsp packages. The sonic quality of the ULN-8 is in the same ballpark as Lavry, Prism and Mytek's best.
(that's the one he has. I've edited my post to say ULN-8)
Old 13th December 2009
  #24
Lives for gear
 
swafford's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajbianco View Post
Sorry i forgot to mention that i use logic 9 as the DAW and don't plan on changing that
I'm a Logic 9 user also. I use Metric Halo 2882 and ULN 8 as my audio interface / A/D/D/A. It sounds like you don't need the preamps in the MH gear, but as Mr. Lucey points out, the MH software is extremely powerful as an addition, extension or instead of Logic 9.

Again, I would stress you determine your current and future needs and proceed from there.
Old 13th December 2009
  #25
Deleted User
Guest
The interface is what creates the connection with a DAW. Could be an all digital rme pci card, apogee cardbus symphony or xfirewire card designed for the firewire bus etc

Some interfaces come with adda converters: prism orpheus, motu ultralite etc

Some also include mic preamps, effect plugins and mixing/routing software.

Stand alone ad/da converters arent DAW interfaces. They simply convert ad/da.
Old 13th December 2009
  #26
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lucey View Post
The Metric Halo records at 24 bit PCM. It's not DSD, it sounds close to it.
yeah i know, i wasnt saying the halo was useless, just that DSD was for application. sorry i should be more clearer.
Old 13th December 2009
  #27
Lives for gear
 

i wouldn't spent that soft of money, if it turns out i don't need to... so thanks for the tip.

im only tracking 1 instrument at a time. so the drums is going as high channel count at it would eva get. Iv'e only eva used up to 8 channels on a Kit before.
Old 13th December 2009
  #28
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by trashman View Post
How many channels will you track simultaneously? I.e how many mics on the drumkit?
How will you mix and sum with the two out outboard pieces?
How do you mixdown: ext deck or internal? Are you mixing down to 16/44?
Do you already own any good plugins? UAD, waves etc?

In my view the Apogee ad16x is a good value coupled with a good monitoring solution. It handles all ad and offers digital output simultaneously. It can interface on firewire, aes and symphony.
I mix all internal in logic 9 at the moment. i do own UAD with all plugs and Sonnox and a few other higher end plugins. (don't use waves at all)

I would be using the API mostly on the drums buss, on keys and during tracking

The UBK fatso on bass, snare, acoustic guitar.

thanks for all the suggestions guys, really appreciate your comments

i am mixing down to 16/44
Old 14th December 2009
  #29
Deleted User
Guest
You wrote: And i will be doing all the recording and mixing in the box, but plan to use two outboard compressors during the tracking and mixing stage. (UBK Fatso and the API 2500)
I dont need people to tell me exactly what i should be buying, i just want to get several experienced opinions on what soft of things i should be taking into consideration when making this choice.

Okay. I'm sorry that I flaked and really didn't answer your question.

Quality of DAC and ADC. If you intend to send stereo stems out and back in, you want to make sure your AD/DA is high quality. Motu is not.

Really nice speaker monitors, treat your room and a nice monitoring solution (headphones and analog output, so you can hear what you're doing).

I think it's all about the converter with your setup. Depending upon how you work, you might only need a 2 channel ad/da.

For convenience an 8 channel might work better: 2 channels out and in for api, 2 for the fatso, 2 for the monitors, 2 for your mixdown deck or another piece you might decide you want down the road.
Old 14th December 2009
  #30
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by trashman View Post
You wrote: And i will be doing all the recording and mixing in the box, but plan to use two outboard compressors during the tracking and mixing stage. (UBK Fatso and the API 2500)
I dont need people to tell me exactly what i should be buying, i just want to get several experienced opinions on what soft of things i should be taking into consideration when making this choice.

Okay. I'm sorry that I flaked and really didn't answer your question.

Quality of DAC and ADC. If you intend to send stereo stems out and back in, you want to make sure your AD/DA is high quality. Motu is not.

Really nice speaker monitors, treat your room and a nice monitoring solution (headphones and analog output, so you can hear what you're doing).

I think it's all about the converter with your setup. Depending upon how you work, you might only need a 2 channel ad/da.

For convenience an 8 channel might work better: 2 channels out and in for api, 2 for the fatso, 2 for the monitors, 2 for your mixdown deck or another piece you might decide you want down the road.
Considering everyones comments i'm leaning towards the apogee symphony solution then, because i wont have to double up on an expensive interface that has converters in it and then have to buy expensive stand alone converters as well. that seriously is a waste of cash.

unless of course there are other audio interfaces on the market that don't have converters in them.....???

this kind of brings me back to my original question. If you take the converters and mic pres out of an audio interface, is it not then just a bloody patch bay with embedded software in it.



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
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
Soundgeeza / High End
25

Forum Jump
Forum Jump