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Assessing Lynx Hilo and Prism Lyra Audio Interfaces
Old 20th February 2014
  #1
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Assessing Lynx Hilo and Prism Lyra

I’m planning on buying either a Lynx Hilo or a Prism Lyra 2. Both are available at a price, although the Hilo would need an additional pre-amp. For now I’ll just be recording one channel at a time, so was thinking along the lines of a single channel DAV with DI for now if I went for the Hilo. I would upgrade pre-amps and add additional outboard gear later.

I’ll be mixing with headphones a lot, so a decent headphone amp will be useful.

It looks like I’ll be able to arrange a demo of the Prism, and I’m hopeful I might be able to also arrange a demo of a Hilo with a pre-amp.

I’ve read a number of threads on these units, but most people seem to have bought one or the other, then become fanatical about the one they’ve bought. There’s a fair amount of conflicting opinions (around accuracy and musicality etc), so I’m pretty confused now.

I’m not the most experienced “sound engineer” so any tips on how to assess these units within a short demo period would be helpful! I’ll be using them with Cubase on a PC to record electric guitar and bass.
Old 23rd March 2014
  #2
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burns46824's Avatar
I haven't tried the Prism stuff. Really would like to, especially the ADA series. I have a Hilo and it sounds very good to my ears. The headphone output isn't the best, but the A/D is great. Let me know how you compare them.
Old 29th March 2014
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deejayen View Post
I’m planning on buying either a Lynx Hilo or a Prism Lyra 2. Both are available at a price, although the Hilo would need an additional pre-amp. For now I’ll just be recording one channel at a time, so was thinking along the lines of a single channel DAV with DI for now if I went for the Hilo. I would upgrade pre-amps and add additional outboard gear later.

I’ll be mixing with headphones a lot, so a decent headphone amp will be useful.

It looks like I’ll be able to arrange a demo of the Prism, and I’m hopeful I might be able to also arrange a demo of a Hilo with a pre-amp.

I’ve read a number of threads on these units, but most people seem to have bought one or the other, then become fanatical about the one they’ve bought. There’s a fair amount of conflicting opinions (around accuracy and musicality etc), so I’m pretty confused now.

I’m not the most experienced “sound engineer” so any tips on how to assess these units within a short demo period would be helpful! I’ll be using them with Cubase on a PC to record electric guitar and bass.
I have used and like the Aurora line, and presumably I would very much like the Hilo as well.
However, I do own the Lyra and very much like it. In fact, I use it a lot in mobile situations with headphones, and other than the fact that the headphone out can be a touch quiet, it is a pretty outstanding unit.

Given your situation, I would suggest buying on feature set alone - Which one does what you want, how you want. If you are "not the most experienced engineer" then do not expect to fully perceive the nuanced differences between the units until you are a bit more experienced. Neither of these units will be holding you back sonically...and if one day you think they do, then you will be experienced enough to know exactly what you are looking for.

For the record, the preamps on the Lyra are handy to have when you need them, and are certainly better than the preamps found in low end and most mid range interfaces, but they are not quite in the league of the high end preamps, as you would expect. And if you get the Lyra 1, take note that even though it looks like there is an ADAT option, it is not. I made that mistake because I wasn't paying attention!
Old 29th March 2014
  #4
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I have them both using mainly for mastering. Had Hilo for 1 year and loved it. The routing capabilities are just so lovely. I can do so much with it and its SUPER transparent. But, like a husband whose not satisfied with my wife, I decided to have an affair, and I took the Prism plunge to see if it would blow me away. And sound wise she did. I think it's the analog path. But I really didn't like the software and just thought the Hilo was more intuitive. The touch screen is more tactile and made it feel more like pushing buttons rather then clicking a mouse. Especially when comparing pre and post analog chain. So... I decided to hook the Lyra up to the Hilo using digital I/O, and using the Prism DA/AD for feeding and capturing my chain, but using the Hilo analog out DA for monitoring. I can use the Hilo controls, and get the Lyra sound. Also if I ever decide to use another DA or AD, I can add. It's a very versatile set up. I'm going to get a Dangerous Master which has two inputs and two outputs. So I'll be able to hook up both the Lyra and Hilo converters and mix and match as I want. I'm very happy with this set up. About $5000.

If I was recording and mixing only, I think I would go with Lyra2 because of the pres and the sound. But for mastering I'm loving the combo.
Old 29th March 2014
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slug1 View Post
I have them both using mainly for mastering. Had Hilo for 1 year and loved it. The routing capabilities are just so lovely. I can do so much with it and its SUPER transparent. But, like a husband whose not satisfied with my wife, I decided to have an affair, and I took the Prism plunge to see if it would blow me away. And sound wise she did. I think it's the analog path. But I really didn't like the software and just thought the Hilo was more intuitive. The touch screen is more tactile and made it feel more like pushing buttons rather then clicking a mouse. Especially when comparing pre and post analog chain. So... I decided to hook the Lyra up to the Hilo using digital I/O, and using the Prism DA/AD for feeding and capturing my chain, but using the Hilo analog out DA for monitoring. I can use the Hilo controls, and get the Lyra sound. Also if I ever decide to use another DA or AD, I can add. It's a very versatile set up. I'm going to get a Dangerous Master which has two inputs and two outputs. So I'll be able to hook up both the Lyra and Hilo converters and mix and match as I want. I'm very happy with this set up. About $5000.

If I was recording and mixing only, I think I would go with Lyra2 because of the pres and the sound. But for mastering I'm loving the combo.

Agreed on the Lyra software, serviceable but not my favorite...and man the touch screen controls on the Hilo alone nearly sold me!
Old 29th March 2014
  #6
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Are the preamps on the Lyra fully bypassable?
Old 29th March 2014
  #7
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Hendyamps's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LobCity View Post
Are the preamps on the Lyra fully bypassable?
yes...with the software you can tell Lyra to use the TRS Line in or the XLR/TS in.
Old 30th March 2014
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hendyamps View Post
yes...with the software you can tell Lyra to use the TRS Line in or the XLR/TS in.
Just to be clear, are you saying the XLR in is mic input only? I think i'm misunderstanding, surely you can run the XLR input as a line-in, correct?
Old 30th March 2014
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LobCity View Post
Just to be clear, are you saying the XLR in is mic input only? I think i'm misunderstanding, surely you can run the XLR input as a line-in, correct?
Unless I'm losing my mind, the TS on the front panel is unbalanced instrument input for the preamp. The XLR on back is for a mic preamp.
The two TRS inputs on the back are for Line in.
The Lyra detects which one is in use...or you can manually switch.
Old 30th March 2014
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hendyamps View Post
Unless I'm losing my mind, the TS on the front panel is unbalanced instrument input for the preamp. The XLR on back is for a mic preamp.
The two TRS inputs on the back are for Line in.
The Lyra detects which one is in use...or you can manually switch.
Oh i get it, front panel input can be instrument or line, back panel XLR can be mic input or line input.
Old 30th March 2014
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slug1 View Post
I have them both using mainly for mastering. Had Hilo for 1 year and loved it. The routing capabilities are just so lovely. I can do so much with it and its SUPER transparent. But, like a husband whose not satisfied with my wife, I decided to have an affair, and I took the Prism plunge to see if it would blow me away. And sound wise she did. I think it's the analog path. But I really didn't like the software and just thought the Hilo was more intuitive. The touch screen is more tactile and made it feel more like pushing buttons rather then clicking a mouse. Especially when comparing pre and post analog chain. So... I decided to hook the Lyra up to the Hilo using digital I/O, and using the Prism DA/AD for feeding and capturing my chain, but using the Hilo analog out DA for monitoring. I can use the Hilo controls, and get the Lyra sound. Also if I ever decide to use another DA or AD, I can add. It's a very versatile set up. I'm going to get a Dangerous Master which has two inputs and two outputs. So I'll be able to hook up both the Lyra and Hilo converters and mix and match as I want. I'm very happy with this set up. About $5000.

If I was recording and mixing only, I think I would go with Lyra2 because of the pres and the sound. But for mastering I'm loving the combo.
It is refreshing to hear of a Hilo owner and fan who actually dared to try out a Prism. I'm not at all surprised that you liked the sound better but I'm having a hard time understanding why you would still need the Hilo at this point. The Lyra has monitoring outs and a volume knob, yes? And if you prefer the DA in the Lyra for capture, wouldn't it be better for monitoring as well? If you need more channels you could get an Orpheus used for around $3,000.

I guess it's just my feeling that it isn't necessary to spend $5000 for this particular feature set. It's of no consequence to me and if you are happy with it that's cool, but there isn't any reason I can see for other people who aren't already invested in a Hilo to aspire to this particular setup. A Lyra2 or Orpheus offer the same functionality at nearly half the price. For a little more than $5000 you could just get a used ADA-8XR and have 8 channels of even better Prism conversion. Don't get me wrong, I think the conversion in the Lyra/Orpheus/Titan is fantastic and I would be totally happy to use it, but part of what makes it so fantastic is the price to quality ratio. Throwing a Hilo in there would seemingly erase that benefit without offering any benefit in sonics.
Old 31st March 2014
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

I've just seen these responses - thanks, everyone!

It's been a few weeks since I posted, but I still haven't had a chance to listen to either unit. In the meantime I've bought a new microphone and a DAV pre-amp, and ordered a DAW upgrade. I decided to get that side of things ready so that I can maximise test time with a new interface.

In one way it would be easier to simply order one of the units and just live with it. In recent days I've been edging more towards the Hilo as one pro audio dealer told me that he has customers experiencing issues with a Windows/Prism combination. I suspect latency would be less with the Hilo (the DAW Benchtest showed the Orpheus to be relatively poor in that department). The Hilo might also be nicer to use with its separate touch screen rather than the Prism's control panel software. From what I can tell the Hilo is also very transparent. However, at the back of my mind I hear voices like Shelterr's telling me the Lyra will sound better. I've also just read and noted Slug1's comments above…

The other option would be to buy something simple such as an RME Babyface, and add external AD and DA converters as and when. However, I could end up spending more in the long term, and still not get anything which sounds a lot better than either the Lyra or Hilo.
Old 5th April 2014
  #13
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So, the Prism sounds better than the Hilo then?
Old 5th April 2014
  #14
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This seems to be the case. I've never used the Hilo, but I always had a hard time believing it sounded better than the Prism. The Lyra won over a die-hard Hilo fan in Slug1 so that's a pretty good sign.
Old 6th April 2014
  #15
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GeneHall's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by deejayen View Post
I’m planning on buying either a Lynx Hilo or a Prism Lyra 2. Both are available at a price, although the Hilo would need an additional pre-amp. For now I’ll just be recording one channel at a time, so was thinking along the lines of a single channel DAV with DI for now if I went for the Hilo. I would upgrade pre-amps and add additional outboard gear later.

I’ll be mixing with headphones a lot, so a decent headphone amp will be useful.

It looks like I’ll be able to arrange a demo of the Prism, and I’m hopeful I might be able to also arrange a demo of a Hilo with a pre-amp.

I’ve read a number of threads on these units, but most people seem to have bought one or the other, then become fanatical about the one they’ve bought. There’s a fair amount of conflicting opinions (around accuracy and musicality etc), so I’m pretty confused now.

I’m not the most experienced “sound engineer” so any tips on how to assess these units within a short demo period would be helpful! I’ll be using them with Cubase on a PC to record electric guitar and bass.
If you are tracking in real time, synths etc, neither of these boxes are going to benefit your workflow.
Maybe better for mastering , printing.
The PrismSound drivers are abysmal for sample rates. The RTL is beyond usable if interval and measure in music matter to you.
If you write on a piano roll both these will let you down as I believe the most value they can add to a setup is post, mastering printing.
Old 6th April 2014
  #16
Gear Maniac
 

Thanks, Gene. I saw your post about the Titan last night, and your experience is definitely worth noting. Another option I've been considering is the RME UCX, and maybe adding a separate ADC and DAC such as Mytek, although I'm not sure how that would work in terms of monitoring etc. I'll mainly be tracking guitars etc, but I will also be using a midi controller to play VSTi's, in which case minimal latency might be important. I'm just not convinced on the operational aspects of RME (no meters or knobs, and the need to use TotalMix), and that was one reason why the Hilo appeals. Have you experience of poor latency with the Hilo?
Old 6th April 2014
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deejayen View Post
Thanks, Gene. I saw your post about the Titan last night, and your experience is definitely worth noting. Another option I've been considering is the RME UCX, and maybe adding a separate ADC and DAC such as Mytek, although I'm not sure how that would work in terms of monitoring etc. I'll mainly be tracking guitars etc, but I will also be using a midi controller to play VSTi's, in which case minimal latency might be important. I'm just not convinced on the operational aspects of RME (no meters or knobs, and the need to use TotalMix), and that was one reason why the Hilo appeals. Have you experience of poor latency with the Hilo?
I didn't go near the Hilo at all. I saw folks were struggling with the software development and steered clear.
I cannot appreciate a company rolling out a very spendy product and then spend 18 months fiddling to get it to work. It's absolutely reprehensible the manner in which these companies treat our money, not to mention us as people.
I've had an assful of this particular gear category. I'm glad we can share experiences and truths here, to some extent, on GS.
I understand the Hilo works pretty well now, but again, these boxes cannot do what the UFX or ucx can do for you.



Your monitoring can all stay in TM. Deploying the Hilo , I'm assuming you intend it to serve on your 2 bus.
I'm going to integrate a Mytek and just leave it at that.

Yet tonight, I finished work on probably the best I personally have done in years. UFX did nothing to hinder composing arranging and mix. It tracked every track with no complaints from anyone. And if I don't say so myself, sounds phenomenal!

I've found my box really, my mix engineer can stress 2 bus stuff and I'm just gonna write track etc best I am able. The UFX makes it an absolute joy.

Good luck shopping, lots of impressive 'distracting from the true facts' campaigns out there, and Schillers talking up boxes they get paid to talk up.

Be well man

Last edited by GeneHall; 6th April 2014 at 10:54 AM.. Reason: here hear
Old 22nd December 2014
  #18
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeneHall View Post
I didn't go near the Hilo at all. I saw folks were struggling with the software development and steered clear. I cannot appreciate a company rolling out a very spendy product and then spend 18 months fiddling to get it to work. It's absolutely reprehensible the manner in which these companies treat our money, not to mention us as people.
My studio has Lynx Hilo, Prism and has had two Symphony interfaces. We sold the Symphony interfaces due to fan noise and other issues.

Hilo has excellent conversion, and just works without any issues. Titan conversion is a bit more transparent than the Symphony and is more pleasing to me than the Hilo.

I could easily use Hilo or Titan, but Titan is my favorite. Once you learn the interface, the Prism Titan just disappears and lets you get it done.
Old 22nd December 2014
  #19
Gear Maniac
 

It's been a few months since I started this thread. As I initially stated, I found buying a new audio interface quite a daunting experience, especially after reading all the conflicting opinions on this forum.

I was fortunate in being able to test both the Hilo and the Lyra. I only had the Hilo for a few days, but the Lyra demo ran on for weeks. The Lyra arrived first, and I thought it sounded stunning. However, it was flaky on my PC, and although I'm pretty laid back about things, I was leaning towards thinking it was unworkable - but then I'd take another listen! When the Hilo turned up it turned out to be the polar opposite - very robust with low latency driver, but it didn't sound as good as the Lyra in my system. I was surprised at the difference between them. I'd been listening to loads of gear reviews and shoot-outs, and could rarely hear any differences through my PC's internal sound and cheap headphones. Also, some comments indicated there wouldn't be much between them, and one individual loudly sang the praises of the Hilo. However, to me, there was a very noticeable difference, and it just seemed that the Lyra allowed me to hear everything in a mix. I think what made my decision easy was that on one fairly simple recording from the 60's or 70's which had extreme panning for each part, with the Hilo one instrument 'disappeared', and if I hadn't been familiar with the recording I might not even have known the instrument was there. Perhaps the Lyra adds a little 'something' which might enhance things, but when listening it just sounds accurate.

I was expecting the Lyra to be a little 'plasticky', so I was surprised at its build quality. I had thought I would prefer the Hilo's interface and metering, but I actually found the Lyra to be good.

I managed to sort out my PC issues, and I worked with Prism to test and improve the latency and other issues. They were pleasant to deal with, and were honest in saying that they are a small company with limited resources, so they can't provide all software features which are requested, and some minor bugs may take some time to be addressed. They provided me with beta releases of new drivers which I was able to test, and after some further troubles, the newer versions appeared to be stable. It also coincided with their driver version which allows USB buffers to be adjusted, which allowed me to see latencies close to the Hilo's. It all seemed to be stable for my system and my limited requirements, so I ended up buying it. I can sympathise with Gene's experiences, and I did agonise over the decision in the early days when the Lyra kept crashing. I suppose what I've learned is not to trust what everyone on the Internet says, and to listen and make up my own mind. It was great to have a dealer arrange the demos, and to be able to trial the Lyra over such a long period - I needed that time to be able to get it working.
Old 23rd December 2014
  #20
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by deejayen View Post
I suppose what I've learned is not to trust what everyone on the Internet says, and to listen and make up my own mind...
So true....

Many times the hype in favor of a product and the dissent are overwhelming.

I personally find the Prism converters to be stunning and for me outshine Apogee and Lynx. Just my opinion, I have agonized over demos and made a few mistakes along the way.

I also find that not using ones own ears and depending on the loudest of Slutz can be a financial disaster waiting to happen.

Jake O.
Old 27th December 2014
  #21
nms
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Hilo is hands down the more transparent unit. Too clean for some, but that depends on what's going into it.

Lynx Hilo vs Prism Lyra

Lynx Hilo / Metric HAlo LIO8 / Orpheus / Lavry Black shootout
Old 7th January 2015
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deejayen View Post
I managed to sort out my PC issues, and I worked with Prism to test and improve the latency and other issues.
Hi, I found a good deal on a Lyra 2, and about to buy. Would be using it as my interface for Cubase 8 on W8.1.

I see on the Prismsound site there are drivers dating back 3 or 4 months. Are those what you are using? I'd be interested to read any details you're willing to talk about!
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