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What's The Best 2 Channel ADC/DAC for $5,000?
Old 17th September 2014
  #1
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What's The Best 2 Channel ADC/DAC for $5,000?

So far I'm Looking at these.

Burl B2 ADC
Forssell MADA-2
Prism

I don't know what Prism to consider. The Orpheus or Titan? What's nice about those units they have mic pres. How are the pres in the Orpheus and Titan? I was thinking about a 500 series. If I go with the Burl, I thought about 2 of their pres.

The Prism Dream looks nice but $19,000 for the DA-2 and the AD-2 (hmmm).

I only need 2 channels. I do everything in the box. All styles of music. I only cut vocals, acoustic and electric guitars (stereo) outside of the box. Maybe some percussion, or horns in the future.

Any suggestions?
Old 17th September 2014
  #2
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If you're dropping 5k on convertors why not get your hands on all 3 and demo them? It's fun, it's good for your ears and it will allow you to answer threads like these with experience and expertise whereas most people who are going to reply are going to tell you how great the one of the three that they have or have used is. I know that this is an annoying answer but in this case I think that it's really the only one.
Old 17th September 2014
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AllBread View Post
If you're dropping 5k on convertors why not get your hands on all 3 and demo them? It's fun, it's good for your ears and it will allow you to answer threads like these with experience and expertise whereas most people who are going to reply are going to tell you how great the one of the three that they have or have used is. I know that this is an annoying answer but in this case I think that it's really the only one.

Well... if I DID demo them I'd like to go to a store that had all three to listen to them side-by-side.
Old 17th September 2014
  #4
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Are you in the US? I'd call Vintage King and have them send you all 3 and return the two you don't like. That way you can hear them in your room. you just have to time it just right with your credit card payment so that you they are returned before the bill hits!
Old 18th September 2014
  #5
Putting on my mastering guy hat, or 'print the entire mix' hat for a minute -- Burl, Mytek (specifically the 8x192 or their DSD DAC 192), and Metric Halo (LIO-8 or ULN-8) would be my picks in this price range.

Don't let the fact that the Mytek and Metric Halo are multi channel, they are every bit heavy weight contenders in their class (and are actually underpriced IMO per channel for the quality they provide). The Burl ADC is the most colored, can get pretty round and soft compared to the Metric Halo which is VERY 'neutral and clean'. The Mytek leans more towards the clean side of things in general, but I would say it adds a little touch of 'better than real life'/beautiful vibe to the signal.

Don't forget, unless you are completely digital with processing for mastering or 2 bus processing (not likely), then you'll need 2 DACS (4 channels), and a stereo ADC which makes an 8 channel unit like the Mytek 8 x 192 or Metric Halo LIO - 8 more attractive.
Old 18th September 2014
  #6
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if you are willing to spend that much i have not heared anything better than the meitner stuff.
its so expensive that people dont even talk about it but well worth it.
Old 18th September 2014
  #7
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At $5k you'll only get into the Prism interfaces, which to me have mastering level conversion. If you can get a used ADA-8XR that would be great, but not sure you'll find one for $5k. Maybe. So many options though. One idea is the MADA, which is a great mastering grade AD/DA option. Lynx Hilo is another amazing option that is mastering quality conversion. It also has crazy routing options, so for $5k you could grab a Hilo and have separate AD, DA, and monitoring DA. Also has digital inputs so you could grab a Mytek AD or even a Burl AD and connect to the Hilo using AES. All for UNDER $5k. Then you have an alternative AD if you want something different from the Hilo for different projects. For instance you could grab a Hilo and a Burl B2 AD so use Hilo when you want transparent, or use the B2 when you want to insert some transformers into the signal. People are really territorial about converters though. There are people who are religious about certain converters and only endorse certain companies based on their experience in their rooms with their monitors and their material. Their opinions are based on subjective listening tests and some on technical loopback tests. Man it really depends on what you want. I actually think with $5k you can get into so many great options and make great masters. That's just me though.
Old 18th September 2014
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AllBread View Post
Are you in the US? I'd call Vintage King and have them send you all 3 and return the two you don't like. That way you can hear them in your room. you just have to time it just right with your credit card payment so that you they are returned before the bill hits!
That would be great if my CC's weren't maxed out!
Old 18th September 2014
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slug1 View Post
At $5k you'll only get into the Prism interfaces, which to me have mastering level conversion. If you can get a used ADA-8XR that would be great, but not sure you'll find one for $5k. Maybe. So many options though. One idea is the MADA, which is a great mastering grade AD/DA option. Lynx Hilo is another amazing option that is mastering quality conversion. It also has crazy routing options, so for $5k you could grab a Hilo and have separate AD, DA, and monitoring DA. Also has digital inputs so you could grab a Mytek AD or even a Burl AD and connect to the Hilo using AES. All for UNDER $5k. Then you have an alternative AD if you want something different from the Hilo for different projects. For instance you could grab a Hilo and a Burl B2 AD so use Hilo when you want transparent, or use the B2 when you want to insert some transformers into the signal. People are really territorial about converters though. There are people who are religious about certain converters and only endorse certain companies based on their experience in their rooms with their monitors and their material. Their opinions are based on subjective listening tests and some on technical loopback tests. Man it really depends on what you want. I actually think with $5k you can get into so many great options and make great masters. That's just me though.
That makes a lot of scene Slug! heh

A few years back I was looking into the Lynx Aurora 8 but NOW you got me going on the Lynx Hilo!

I was just reading a review where the end-user said
Quote:
The sound is pristine and very detailed with a 3 dimensional immersive quality that is unlike other interfaces I have experienced before. The Hilo sound is less colored with better detail than my friends Orpheus and Lavry Gold
Now "Let the FLAMES Begin!"

What about the Lynx Hilo with Thunderbolt? Do you think I'd get faster buffering with it than my Liquid Saffire 56?

Also, what about running the Liquid Saffire 56 liquid pres through the Hilo? I heard you can do that and bypass the LS 56 converters and run the pres through the Lynx converters. Then I'll add the 500 series lunch box and try some pres down the road!

Here's an interesting thread with an audio test on Lynx Hilo vs Prism Orpheus / Lyra

Lynx Hilo vs Prism Orpheus / Lyra

And who says world class converters have to cost an arm and a leg!

SEA
Old 18th September 2014
  #10
Save for a little while longer and get a JCF Audio Latte
Old 18th September 2014
  #11
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SEA's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Mixwell View Post
Save for a little while longer and get a JCF Audio Latte
For $6,500 it better MAKE my FREAK'N LATTE!!!!
Old 18th September 2014
  #12
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Yeah, I stay away from the arguments and tests about what's better than what, because its all so subjective. Even the interpretation of technical specs and loopbacks can be different. For every good comment someone will make about just about any converter there is someone else who thinks its the worst sounding thing on the planet. The converter threads are historic around here! People don't even like to talk about it anymore. For me it was about workflow and what did I want in a converter's sonic quality. The best way is to demo. Its long and arduous, and you can lose time getting work done. But its also the best way to really figure out what you want. I actually think converters are like monitors; very very personal.

That said, I actually approached my initial response based on mastering conversion. I think if you are looking at something more on the front end (recording) where you might want something with preamps, then the Prism options are hard to beat (probably Titan thunderbolt). Another incredible option in the under $5k range is the Metric Halo 2882. I think with the MH, you get top quality conversion and lots of I/O for $2k, which will allow you to also grab and insert a few 500 series preamps to complement the four MH pres. For pure converters with no preamps, I would look at the Burl and add a couple of 500 preamps. You can dial in harmonics with the Burl which provides extra flexibility on the recording side. Give a vendor a call and ask if you can demo a couple of units. VKA is pretty cool about it. Grab Titan and a Burl and see what works for you.
Old 18th September 2014
  #13
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SEA's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slug1 View Post
Yeah, I stay away from the arguments and tests about what's better than what, because its all so subjective. Even the interpretation of technical specs and loopbacks can be different. For every good comment someone will make about just about any converter there is someone else who thinks its the worst sounding thing on the planet. The converter threads are historic around here! People don't even like to talk about it anymore. For me it was about workflow and what did I want in a converter's sonic quality. The best way is to demo. Its long and arduous, and you can lose time getting work done. But its also the best way to really figure out what you want. I actually think converters are like monitors; very very personal.

That said, I actually approached my initial response based on mastering conversion. I think if you are looking at something more on the front end (recording) where you might want something with preamps, then the Prism options are hard to beat (probably Titan thunderbolt). Another incredible option in the under $5k range is the Metric Halo 2882. I think with the MH, you get top quality conversion and lots of I/O for $2k, which will allow you to also grab and insert a few 500 series preamps to complement the four MH pres. For pure converters with no preamps, I would look at the Burl and add a couple of 500 preamps. You can dial in harmonics with the Burl which provides extra flexibility on the recording side. Give a vendor a call and ask if you can demo a couple of units. VKA is pretty cool about it. Grab Titan and a Burl and see what works for you.
If I had the cash I'd go with the Burl ADC/DAC and the Forssell MADA-2. That way I'd have some variety!

But the Hilo sounds like a good plan (for starters) and at a price that doesn't break the bank. However, I do get a good sound out of my LS 56 and the end user isn't going to say "Hmmm... that sounds like SEA used the Burl" etc. I mean... if the song and the mix ain't there then converters won't help much.
Old 18th September 2014
  #14
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Jcf audio latte I would save a bit more.
Old 18th September 2014
  #15
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I have had the unit for awhile I'm happy with it
Old 18th September 2014
  #16
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Slug1's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SEA View Post
If I had the cash I'd go with the Burl ADC/DAC and the Forssell MADA-2. That way I'd have some variety!

But the Hilo sounds like a good plan (for starters) and at a price that doesn't break the bank. However, I do get a good sound out of my LS 56 and the end user isn't going to say "Hmmm... that sounds like SEA used the Burl" etc. I mean... if the song and the mix ain't there then converters won't help much.
Agreed. The Focusrite pres are great. So you could absolutely use the LS56. You could connect the Burl to your LS56 through coaxial SPDIF. Or you could keep the LS56, grab a Hilo and hook the LS56 up to it using SMUX optical. Then you would have all of the Hilo connectivity and IO including USB, analog I/O, and digital I/O. Hell, you could even later grab a Burl and hook that up to the system as well through AES digital. Imagine that! Access to all 8 of your LS56 preamps (SMUX), the Burl transformer analog inputs (AES), the Hilo analog IO pair, AND the Hilo independent monitor DA! This would be killer. Oh and you still have the Hilo coaxial digital IO if you wanted to add more to the system later. Just saying.
Old 18th September 2014
  #17
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SEA's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slug1 View Post
Agreed. The Focusrite pres are great. So you could absolutely use the LS56. You could connect the Burl to your LS56 through coaxial SPDIF. Or you could keep the LS56, grab a Hilo and hook the LS56 up to it using SMUX optical. Then you would have all of the Hilo connectivity and IO including USB, analog I/O, and digital I/O. Hell, you could even later grab a Burl and hook that up to the system as well through AES digital. Imagine that! Access to all 8 of your LS56 preamps (SMUX), the Burl transformer analog inputs (AES), the Hilo analog IO pair, AND the Hilo independent monitor DA! This would be killer. Oh and you still have the Hilo coaxial digital IO if you wanted to add more to the system later. Just saying.
Sounds Great!

I also spoke with my Sweetwater rep. He's worked with me for YEARS and always steers me right. Heck... he'll even recommend me a less expensive piece of gear that does the job vs. making more $$$ just to see I get the right gear!

Anyway... I asked if he heard the Burl B2 and the Hilo. He says he has and to his ears he can't tell the difference. If he was TRYING to make the extra $$$ he could of easily said "Oh get the Burl!" but he's very cool about all that.

Now that's not to say if I had them side by side in my studio I couldn't hear the difference, just to him they both sounded great!

SEA
Old 19th September 2014
  #18
I recommend renting from a place like Blackbird or Dreamhire.
Old 19th September 2014
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SEA View Post
Sounds Great!

I also spoke with my Sweetwater rep. He's worked with me for YEARS and always steers me right. Heck... he'll even recommend me a less expensive piece of gear that does the job vs. making more $$$ just to see I get the right gear!

Anyway... I asked if he heard the Burl B2 and the Hilo. He says he has and to his ears he can't tell the difference. If he was TRYING to make the extra $$$ he could of easily said "Oh get the Burl!" but he's very cool about all that.

Now that's not to say if I had them side by side in my studio I couldn't hear the difference, just to him they both sounded great!

SEA
I have both. Trust me, they sound different. They do both sound great. For what the Hilo offers, it's really hard to beat at that price. Especially if you're going to make use of the routing and monitoring options. Sound wise (and money no object wise) I'd go burl ad/da.
Old 19th September 2014
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhiltonlittle View Post
I have both. Trust me, they sound different. They do both sound great. For what the Hilo offers, it's really hard to beat at that price. Especially if you're going to make use of the routing and monitoring options. Sound wise (and money no object wise) I'd go burl ad/da.
Ya! My Sweetwater rep heard them on separate occasions which if he heard them side-by-side I'm sure he'd hear the difference.

I heard the Burl is a bit more "Neve'ish" which is a good thing too! However, I do like having transparency and I also use Slate's VCC and Sonimus Britson (which is inspired by a classic British 8014 console) so "In-the-box" one can certainly add some stuff.

The Hilo is great for the price and can run the Burl through it.

My question is this what about the Burls DAC? Does that give you more of that hardware Neve console sound when you render to WAV or MP3?

Since I do everything in the box, I only cut vocals and some guitar through the ADC. And I can always use a Neve design 500 series mic pre through the Hilo's ADC to give it some color or warmth.

My Focusrite LS 56 also has 10 nice liquid pres that emulate the following pres:

API 3124+ (high gain setting)
Avalon VT-737SP
Focusrite Red 1 (high gain setting)
Helios Console
Manley Slam
Neve 1073 (high impedance setting)
Pultec MB1
Telefunken V72
Universal Audio 610 (low impedance setting)
Millennia HV-3D


With that being said, would having the Burl ADC add anything vs. the Hilo's ADC? Especially since I'm only using the ADC to cut voals and some guitars?

Thanks!

SEA
Old 19th September 2014
  #21
Gear Nut
 

coming from a LS56 i doubt that 5000 $ are spent best on new converters. I guess that the rest go your chain could use some improvement first. Just a guess.
Old 19th September 2014
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Basstian_DE View Post
coming from a LS56 i doubt that 5000 $ are spent best on new converters. I guess that the rest go your chain could use some improvement first. Just a guess.
So you're saying that my LS 56 converters would not be what you'd upgrade first correct?

What would it be then? Lunch Box 500 series and a few pres?

The "acid test" would be get the Hilo or Burls and AB it with the LS 56.

My guess is that my LS 56 is "good" but the Hilo, Burl, Forssell, etc., would be even more clarity. Don't know. So far I have a good sound going with the LS 56.

I've also heard other peoples mixes using the Burl that sounded like crap to me! It's snot the Burls fought... it's the guy mixing!

Like my dad used to say, "A Poor Workman Blames His Tools!"

If you know what you are doing and you know how to mix then of course, the better converters will give you that much more!
Old 19th September 2014
  #23
Gear Addict
 

Get. A. Latte.

That $6.5K is very good value. No expense spared A-D and D-A, and two high end transformer coupled mic pres, they sound as good as the best with their own flavour. The A-D is I would say 99.9% inaudible. The D-A sounds awesome, crystal clear and relaxed with BALLS
Old 19th September 2014
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PartHunter View Post
Get. A. Latte.

That $6.5K is very good value. No expense spared A-D and D-A, and two high end transformer coupled mic pres, they sound as good as the best with their own flavour. The A-D is I would say 99.9% inaudible. The D-A sounds awesome, crystal clear and relaxed with BALLS
Doesn't the Burl give you a similar sound as the Latte?

I already have the Liquid pres so spending 2K more on a Latte vs the Burl B2 ADC/DAC may not be the best choice unless the Lattes converters and pres blow the Burl out of the water :D
Old 19th September 2014
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhiltonlittle View Post
I have both. Trust me, they sound different. They do both sound great. For what the Hilo offers, it's really hard to beat at that price. Especially if you're going to make use of the routing and monitoring options. Sound wise (and money no object wise) I'd go burl ad/da.
You can definitely hear the difference between a HiLo and a Burl setup, and prefer one for being cleaner and one for having stomp, size and smooth presence.

I refuse to say which is which.

War
Old 19th September 2014
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warhead View Post
you can definitely hear the difference between a hilo and a burl setup, and prefer one for being cleaner and one for having stomp, size and smooth presence.

I refuse to say which is which.

War
"Tease!!" lol!!!
Old 19th September 2014
  #27
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SEA View Post
So far I'm Looking at these.

Burl B2 ADC
Forssell MADA-2
Prism

I don't know what Prism to consider. The Orpheus or Titan? What's nice about those units they have mic pres. How are the pres in the Orpheus and Titan? I was thinking about a 500 series. If I go with the Burl, I thought about 2 of their pres.

The Prism Dream looks nice but $19,000 for the DA-2 and the AD-2 (hmmm).

I only need 2 channels. I do everything in the box. All styles of music. I only cut vocals, acoustic and electric guitars (stereo) outside of the box. Maybe some percussion, or horns in the future.

Any suggestions?

Buy Lavry Blue converters, and keep the change.
Old 19th September 2014
  #28
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Don't know the Burl B2 DAC but on the ADC side I slightly prefer the Burl over the Forssell (I own both).

On the DAC side I way prefer Forssell over e.g. Lavry Blue, Lavry Black, ULN-8, Lynx Aurora, Mytek 192... the list goes on...
Old 20th September 2014
  #29
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SEA View Post
Doesn't the Burl give you a similar sound as the Latte?

I already have the Liquid pres so spending 2K more on a Latte vs the Burl B2 ADC/DAC may not be the best choice unless the Lattes converters and pres blow the Burl out of the water :D
The Latte A-D is not colouring, its very transparent ideal for mixdowns or tape transfers. Its actually conversion based on older technology and is clever in its make up., most ADC's use sigma delta conversion.. this has benefits and also drawbacks., the Latte I believe uses whats called SAR conversion which also has benefits and drawbacks, the main difference in this design is the nyquist filtering is not done with DSP on board the conversion chip (which most probably has an effect on sound ), here that filtering is done with a quality analog circuit instead. The Latte at 192Khz is actually 18 bit conversion for whatever reason, all I know is it sounds pretty much exactly like what you put in. Its stunning when you hit play and none of your mixes livelyness is gone, its very deep and natural. basically it sounds like there is no conversion/computer involved. The DAC however does have a slight sound, but it is lovely!
Old 20th September 2014
  #30
The JCF and Burl AD-DA could not be any more different. They sound nothing alike to my ears.
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