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Where do high end converters really shine? Audio Interfaces
Old 17th February 2015
  #1
Where do high end converters really shine?

Im at a bit of a loss. I just got a HEDD 192 as an upgrade to my Apollo. I'm waiting for some cables to come in so at the moment all i can really do is use the HEDD for monitoring. However I wanted to dig in and hear the difference, so I set up the apollo on one TSR on my monitor control and the HEDD playback on another so I could a/b them and pulled up a bunch of source material, including some older mix downs i did and some .wav files i burned from CDs.

After toggling back and forth and listening hard to a bunch of different pieces of music across the board, I was really bummed to discover I really couldn't hear a monumental difference between the HEDD and the Apollo. There were some very VERY minimal differences, but more often than not i had to look at the monitor control to double check which TSR source I was listening to, it was that close. I realize that Apollo's converters aren't terrible, but for the price point i was really expecting to hear a night and day difference between the two boxes.

Because I'm using an Apollo 8, I'm connecting the HEDD using SPIDF (no AES) and the source material I was listening to was all burned from CD (16/44.1,) So I'm wondering...

Do the converters really shine in the tracking process or working at higher bit rates? Or is my expectation for the HEDD just to high? Or am i missing something?


Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
Old 17th February 2015
  #2
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KRStudio's Avatar
 

After you are done tracking an entire project with the HEDD and start mixing, then you will know.
Old 17th February 2015
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by terraamb01 View Post
Im at a bit of a loss. I just got a HEDD 192 as an upgrade to my Apollo. I'm waiting for some cables to come in so at the moment all i can really do is use the HEDD for monitoring. However I wanted to dig in and hear the difference, so I set up the apollo on one TSR on my monitor control and the HEDD playback on another so I could a/b them and pulled up a bunch of source material, including some older mix downs i did and some .wav files i burned from CDs.

After toggling back and forth and listening hard to a bunch of different pieces of music across the board, I was really bummed to discover I really couldn't hear a monumental difference between the HEDD and the Apollo. There were some very VERY minimal differences, but more often than not i had to look at the monitor control to double check which TSR source I was listening to, it was that close. I realize that Apollo's converters aren't terrible, but for the price point i was really expecting to hear a night and day difference between the two boxes.

Because I'm using an Apollo 8, I'm connecting the HEDD using SPIDF (no AES) and the source material I was listening to was all burned from CD (16/44.1,) So I'm wondering...

Do the converters really shine in the tracking process or working at higher bit rates? Or is my expectation for the HEDD just to high? Or am i missing something?


Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
You're probably just underestimating the Apollo.
Old 17th February 2015
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by KRStudio View Post
After you are done tracking an entire project with the HEDD and start mixing, then you will know.
I had someone else say that to me as well... So I guess I'm just expecting too much out of better converters right out of the gate? I guess I was expecting a night and say difference the way I had when I upgraded to the Apollo from my old RME. I suppose the higher you go with these things the more it comes down to minutia?
Old 17th February 2015
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Caffrey View Post
You're probably just underestimating the Apollo.
Well not underestimating per se. I'm actually reasonably happy with the Apollo... That's why I was hoping to have my socks blown off by the HEDD... But I haven't done any tracking or mixing yet, so maybe that's where the rubber meets the road?
Old 17th February 2015
  #6
Could be a combination of things are contributing...source material, composition of the source, monitors, etc..How is your room?

When I went to outboard DA off my Apollo (Dangerous), I noticed the biggest difference in a couple of areas...dynamics, depth (front/back) and things like reverb tails, delay decay, etc...it was the little things in the details that I heard consistently, that prior, maybe weren't represented as well.
Old 17th February 2015
  #7
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It's been said before. The night and day difference comes when you compare the low end budget gear and old converter technology with the higher end units and newer converter technology. Compare your Apollo or HEDD to an MAudio MobilePre or Firewire 410 . You will absolutely hear night and day. I heard the difference just going from Firewire 410 to Echo Audiofire4 (older tech vs. newer tech). It was so blatant I thought I blew a speaker. The only tech masked a LOT of highend noises that were there but I didn't realize it. But.. comparing the Audiofire4 to my current UCX... wasn't night and day at all. Subtle changes... the UCX is less bright... the sound feels cleaner... as though it's live. I could see how someone could call it sterile... but i think sterile is a good thing, it's true. If the mojo isn't there, it isn't there lol. My next upgrade, I'm not expecting to be wow'd... I'm moreso expecting to be given sonic information to help me mix even better. I'm in no rush... UCX is fine... but I'll be doing the samething you did when I can afford to do so... b/c I'm a slut :( lol

So yeah... when comparing the upper end interfaces and standalone highend converters like the HEDD, it's more a game on inches. You'll notice differences. They'e more minute but they're there. One converter may tell you to dial back 3db at 4k, another may tell you 4k is fine but you actually need to bump 3db at 1k. One may tell you your saw bassline doesn't have enough bite, but another tells you it has too much bite.

The Apollo's DA (and other comparable interfaces) are too good to experience a night and day difference from. If the perfect converter is a 10, then Apollo is like going from an 8 to a 10... not really a huge difference, they're both very good. The night and day difference is when you break out that old cheap interface that's a 4 or 5 on the scale lol. If you can manage those expectations I'm sure you'll begin to appreciate whatever subtle differences you hear w/ your HEDD.
Old 17th February 2015
  #8
141550
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by CPhoenix View Post
It's been said before. The night and day difference comes when you compare the low end budget gear and old converter technology with the higher end units and newer converter technology. Compare your Apollo or HEDD to an MAudio MobilePre or Firewire 410 . You will absolutely hear night and day. I heard the difference just going from Firewire 410 to Echo Audiofire4 (older tech vs. newer tech). It was so blatant I thought I blew a speaker. The only tech masked a LOT of highend noises that were there but I didn't realize it. But.. comparing the Audiofire4 to my current UCX... wasn't night and day at all. Subtle changes... the UCX is less bright... the sound feels cleaner... as though it's live. I could see how someone could call it sterile... but i think sterile is a good thing, it's true. If the mojo isn't there, it isn't there lol. My next upgrade, I'm not expecting to be wow'd... I'm moreso expecting to be given sonic information to help me mix even better. I'm in no rush... UCX is fine... but I'll be doing the samething you did when I can afford to do so... b/c I'm a slut :( lol

So yeah... when comparing the upper end interfaces and standalone highend converters like the HEDD, it's more a game on inches. You'll notice differences. They'e more minute but they're there. One converter may tell you to dial back 3db at 4k, another may tell you 4k is fine but you actually need to bump 3db at 1k. One may tell you your saw bassline doesn't have enough bite, but another tells you it has too much bite.

The Apollo's DA (and other comparable interfaces) are too good to experience a night and day difference from. If the perfect converter is a 10, then Apollo is like going from an 8 to a 10... not really a huge difference, they're both very good. The night and day difference is when you break out that old cheap interface that's a 4 or 5 on the scale lol. If you can manage those expectations I'm sure you'll begin to appreciate whatever subtle differences you hear w/ your HEDD.
i am not expert on this subject but do you think mid-priced interfaces (converters) have caught on with the technology and there is not much difference left with paying 1000+ or so for 2 channel converters? i could be wrong on this... anyway i have a crimson,and it sounds pretty dam good. if im payin more than what my interface cost, the difference better be worth it, thats what i think. i would be interested to see how much difference exist between these very hi-end converter units vs something thats midpriced like rme, crimson (alot cheaper) and or any other small interfacees..

not trying to hi-jack the thread from the orig owner, it was just very interesting topic about bout not noticing much sonic difference. i been curious about this myself to make an investment in myteks wondering if its not worth it now a days or coverters still a niche market?

Last edited by 141550; 17th February 2015 at 08:06 AM..
Old 17th February 2015
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by terraamb01 View Post
Well not underestimating per se. I'm actually reasonably happy with the Apollo... That's why I was hoping to have my socks blown off by the HEDD... But I haven't done any tracking or mixing yet, so maybe that's where the rubber meets the road?
Or maybe the Apollo is just as good.
Old 17th February 2015
  #10
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Jazz Noise's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Caffrey View Post
Or maybe the Apollo is just as good.
This.

I think a lot of high end converters are most likely to shine out of people's rear cavities. As long as they're driving their rated load and can handle the voltages in question the school is out on whether anyone can reliably hear a difference between most ADC/DAC stages.
Old 17th February 2015
  #11
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I am simply a novice, but I think the difference will be apparent when you track with your new device. I believe the advantage is in the conversion and how much of a hit you take each time it occurs.
Old 17th February 2015
  #12
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Fidelis's Avatar
 

As a HEDD owner, I think it really shines on AD! The da is ok but not amazing imo.
Old 17th February 2015
  #13
Huh... Interesting feedback. Well I have yet to get in and really start tracking / mixing with it as it just came in yesterday. But perhaps I need to adjust my thinking and retrain what I'm looking for.

And again, I'm not dissing the Apollo here, I've used it for years, but when your paying that much for a conversion box as opposed to an "all in one" box, you'd expect the stand alone to be significantly more pronounced in its performance.

Unless in order to really hear a difference you need to jump to the $6k range where your buying individual DAC/ ADC boxes?
Old 17th February 2015
  #14
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Since both converters in your test are playing back the same program material, whey should there be any difference. There should not be.

The playback fidelity is controlled by the way the the source material mix sounds.

The converter offers up the mixed sound. That is all.

Modern converters excel at retrieving low level details like ambience retrieval, conveying depth that comes from recording with stereo mic technique, offering up room ambience.

The better the converter, the better the source material is conveyed.

In your case, both are good converters, so both offered close to the same sound when playing back YOUR material.
Old 17th February 2015
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
Since both converters in your test are playing back the same program material, whey should there be any difference. There should not be.

The playback fidelity is controlled by the way the the source material mix sounds.

The converter offers up the mixed sound. That is all.

Modern converters excel at retrieving low level details like ambience retrieval, conveying depth that comes from recording with stereo mic technique, offering up room ambience.

The better the converter, the better the source material is conveyed.

In your case, both are good converters, so both offered close to the same sound when playing back YOUR material.
Thats a good point... I suppose I was expecting to hear a lot more detail and ambient information in the program material i was listening to.

I suppose the real test will come from tracking / mixing with the HEDD as the conversion box.
Old 17th February 2015
  #16
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I say this all the time and find it a bit amusing when people are bummed about not hearing the difference. I did the same thing
The high end converters will yield a difference when u start tracking and stacking tracks. Huge difference at that point
U can't really change the stereo image from a single playback of an already tracked song. Unless in a super tight and accurate accoustical room u just aren't going to hear the wow and ahh factor
Now I gauramtee when u complete tracking your first session through high end conversion (we use a symphony) then u will simply amazed at how the depth and image can change. It's hard not to look at those words as a marketing ploy but it is the truth
They are complete game changers in today's modern recording environment. Good conversion is that extra sparkle added to a good mix. It's not going to be a magic silver bullet that makes everything sound good. Nothing really does that in this business
its a bunch of gear adding 20% here and 10% there to all add up to a 100% solid commercial release. But that being said. I do feel that commercial sound and polish is really high end conversion on top of a solid mix. niw we will get folks who cry foul and say what about records cut before converters. Well that's what those high end converters do. They emulate add subtract a bunch of 1 and 0 to equal an analog sound (not greates words)
Also the symphony has the chiloice of soft limit for saturation befor that signal hits the conversion so u get natural analog distortion

I promise u that your new converters will shine and add a presence not currently there. Just wait till u track that first session : )
Old 17th February 2015
  #17
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I will add to the chorus and say the major difference is on tracking multiple instruments through your new A/D. D/A is often much subtler. My friend did a test comparing tracking through 4 different converters. The A/D differences were quite noticeable, but not nearly the same on the playback side. So... Track a project and let us know how it goes!
Old 17th February 2015
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by ebenard913 View Post
I say this all the time and find it a bit amusing when people are bummed about not hearing the difference. I did the same thing
The high end converters will yield a difference when u start tracking and stacking tracks. Huge difference at that point
U can't really change the stereo image from a single playback of an already tracked song. Unless in a super tight and accurate accoustical room u just aren't going to hear the wow and ahh factor
I'm hoping this is the case...

I think part of the initial let down was that I think I was oversold a little bit on the glories of high end conversion by my sales guy... and i say that with all due respect cause he's definitely a straight shooter. He's steered down the right path on countless occasions, including refraining me from making purchases that he thought might not be suitable for my room/setup. But i think maybe I was expecting more of a epiphany when i heard the box based on his own admiration for the unit (and all things Dave Hill.) I mean, at no point did he say "this is a magic bullet" or anything of that nature, but i had the distinct impression that I'd hear a noticeable difference between the Apollo and the HEDD. Plus there are no shortage of accolades for the HEDD even here on the forums.

Still and all, I hope your right that once i get to tracking and mixing the aha will happen.
Old 17th February 2015
  #19
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So... What's taking ya? Hurry up and get at it! ????

And... Please report back to us what you find, ok?
Old 17th February 2015
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terraamb01 View Post
I'm hoping this is the case...

I think part of the initial let down was that I think I was oversold a little bit on the glories of high end conversion by my sales guy... and i say that with all due respect cause he's definitely a straight shooter. He's steered down the right path on countless occasions, including refraining me from making purchases that he thought might not be suitable for my room/setup. But i think maybe I was expecting more of a epiphany when i heard the box based on his own admiration for the unit (and all things Dave Hill.) I mean, at no point did he say "this is a magic bullet" or anything of that nature, but i had the distinct impression that I'd hear a noticeable difference between the Apollo and the HEDD. Plus there are no shortage of accolades for the HEDD even here on the forums.

Still and all, I hope your right that once i get to tracking and mixing the aha will happen.
I promise u will. It's not a marketing ploy.
Track some analog through that bad boy and watch how it all translates and sits "IN" the mix. Not all on top of each other. U will see. Promise. And your sales guy is right. U weren't oversold
Old 17th February 2015
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Kelly View Post
So... What's taking ya? Hurry up and get at it! ????

And... Please report back to us what you find, ok?
haha, well whats holding me up is a bunch of TRS and XLR snakes currently grounded somewhere in Wisconsin because of the weather front blasting across the US right now.
Old 17th February 2015
  #22
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S2udio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ebenard913 View Post
I say this all the time and find it a bit amusing when people are bummed about not hearing the difference. I did the same thing
The high end converters will yield a difference when u start tracking and stacking tracks. Huge difference at that point
U can't really change the stereo image from a single playback of an already tracked song. Unless in a super tight and accurate accoustical room u just aren't going to hear the wow and ahh factor
Now I gauramtee when u complete tracking your first session through high end conversion (we use a symphony) then u will simply amazed at how the depth and image can change. It's hard not to look at those words as a marketing ploy but it is the truth
They are complete game changers in today's modern recording environment. Good conversion is that extra sparkle added to a good mix. It's not going to be a magic silver bullet that makes everything sound good. Nothing really does that in this business
its a bunch of gear adding 20% here and 10% there to all add up to a 100% solid commercial release. But that being said. I do feel that commercial sound and polish is really high end conversion on top of a solid mix. niw we will get folks who cry foul and say what about records cut before converters. Well that's what those high end converters do. They emulate add subtract a bunch of 1 and 0 to equal an analog sound (not greates words)
Also the symphony has the chiloice of soft limit for saturation befor that signal hits the conversion so u get natural analog distortion

I promise u that your new converters will shine and add a presence not currently there. Just wait till u track that first session : )
And thats the best answer.
Sounds like a badly spelt/worded marketing post ?
Old 17th February 2015
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by terraamb01 View Post
I'm hoping this is the case...

I think part of the initial let down was that I think I was oversold a little bit on the glories of high end conversion by my sales guy... and i say that with all due respect cause he's definitely a straight shooter. He's steered down the right path on countless occasions, including refraining me from making purchases that he thought might not be suitable for my room/setup. But i think maybe I was expecting more of a epiphany when i heard the box based on his own admiration for the unit (and all things Dave Hill.) I mean, at no point did he say "this is a magic bullet" or anything of that nature, but i had the distinct impression that I'd hear a noticeable difference between the Apollo and the HEDD. Plus there are no shortage of accolades for the HEDD even here on the forums.

Still and all, I hope your right that once i get to tracking and mixing the aha will happen.
If you're *really* looking for that ROI carrot, and you need something besides your own content in the short-term. Go out to SuperHiRez.com and grab the 24/192 copy of Supertramp's Crime of the Century and listen to "Bloody Well Right" - toggle between your HEDD and the Apollo. The space between the tails, separation and depth and width should be noticeable.

Last edited by Screamer; 17th February 2015 at 08:16 PM.. Reason: Typo
Old 17th February 2015
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S2udio View Post
And thats the best answer.
Sounds like a badly spelt/worded marketing post ?
Yeah. I'm always typing from my iPhone while in between sessions or overdubs so it's a race between thought and timer on a little iPhone 5 lol. It's a real challenge trying to get a bunch out while pushing in a talk back
Lol my wife has actually been scolding me for too much gs lol. I told her there needs to be a forum for wives like a support thread on hear lol
Old 17th February 2015
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Screamer View Post
If you're *really* looking for that ROI carrot, and you need something besides your own content in the short-term. Go out to SuperHiRez.com and grab the 24/192 copy of Supertramp's Crime of the Century and listen to "Bloody Well Right" - toggle between your HEDD and the Apollo. The space between the tails, separation and depth and width should be noticeable.
AH now thats a good idea... why the hell didn't i think of that. lol. thanks!
Old 17th February 2015
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terraamb01 View Post
Im at a bit of a loss. I just got a HEDD 192 as an upgrade to my Apollo. I'm waiting for some cables to come in so at the moment all i can really do is use the HEDD for monitoring. However I wanted to dig in and hear the difference, so I set up the apollo on one TSR on my monitor control and the HEDD playback on another so I could a/b them and pulled up a bunch of source material, including some older mix downs i did and some .wav files i burned from CDs.

After toggling back and forth and listening hard to a bunch of different pieces of music across the board, I was really bummed to discover I really couldn't hear a monumental difference between the HEDD and the Apollo. There were some very VERY minimal differences, but more often than not i had to look at the monitor control to double check which TSR source I was listening to, it was that close. I realize that Apollo's converters aren't terrible, but for the price point i was really expecting to hear a night and day difference between the two boxes.

Because I'm using an Apollo 8, I'm connecting the HEDD using SPIDF (no AES) and the source material I was listening to was all burned from CD (16/44.1,) So I'm wondering...

Do the converters really shine in the tracking process or working at higher bit rates? Or is my expectation for the HEDD just to high? Or am i missing something?


Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
you have to record a whole song to really appreciate the sound or lack therof. Also Hedd is not really high end
Old 17th February 2015
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by chainrule View Post
you have to record a whole song to really appreciate the sound or lack therof. Also Hedd is not really high end
well unfortunately branching out into the $5-7 k world to get independent A/D D/A boxes or the REALLY high end A/D/A boxes is a little out of my range at this point. The HEDD seems to be used by a lot of mastering houses and within the budget i have for upgrading at the moment. I have to assume that it SHOULD be a significant upgrade to the Apollo converters.
Old 17th February 2015
  #28
141550
Guest
have you looked into SPL madison, they seem like great bang for the buck too!
Old 17th February 2015
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by unmasked truth View Post
have you looked into SPL madison, they seem like great bang for the buck too!
No i haven't, i certainly can, but now I'm wondering, if the price is comparable, if ANYTHING in that price range is going to be markedly different than the Apollo, or if in order to really rock the ceiling if you need to be in that $6k range.
Old 17th February 2015
  #30
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burns46824's Avatar
A lot of variables here, especially since you didn't track with the HEDD, which is really the whole point of the unit -- capturing -- but I would remind you that the HEDD is 10+ years old and the Apollo is relatively new. That's not everything, but it is something.

I never thought of the HEDD as being some super-duper DA converter. I always looked at it as an AD specialist for a "vibey" sound. And, remember, the HEDD is NOT a piece of gear used by high end mastering houses. It is used by low end mastering houses. It is a tracking and mix-capture piece above all...
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