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Multiple passes through motu 828 mkII? Studio Headphones
Old 26th December 2010
  #1
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Multiple passes through motu 828 mkII?

So I'm thinking about picking up an outboard comp or two, nothing too fancy. Since my current interface, the motu 828 mk II has a bit of a reputation (perhaps exaggerated?) for lousy conversion and introduction of jitter, I was wondering what people's opinions might be about routing tracks out from the MOTU, into outboard units, back for another pass of A->D conversion. Is it anything to worry about? Would degradation of the signal cancel any of the benefits of using cool hardware vs. plugins?
Old 26th December 2010
  #2
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cdog's Avatar
Short answer: yes, you are better off with plugins, it isnt worth the trip.

Ive owned a lot of MOTU products. They have a lot of awesome features and you cant beat the price. The sound quality is good, but not great. To get that last 5-10% sound quality, you have to spend 2-3x as much.

That being said, if it is the USB version I will gladly buy it off you as I currently need a mobile solution for a new laptop with no firewire. PM me if you are upgrading!

For plugin compression, I recommend the full UAD arsenal.
Old 26th December 2010
  #3
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uncle duncan's Avatar
 

The Motu units benefit from the Black Lion Audio mod, which upgrades the analog components. The actual chip that's doing the conversion is fine, it's just the analog section that sucks.
Old 26th December 2010
  #4
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Funny Cat's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by prontold View Post
So I'm thinking about picking up an outboard comp or two, nothing too fancy. Since my current interface, the motu 828 mk II has a bit of a reputation (perhaps exaggerated?) for lousy conversion and introduction of jitter, I was wondering what people's opinions might be about routing tracks out from the MOTU, into outboard units, back for another pass of A->D conversion. Is it anything to worry about? Would degradation of the signal cancel any of the benefits of using cool hardware vs. plugins?

I've had my 828mkII now for about 6 years and from time to time I run my tracks through outboard gear for flavor when I'm not being lazy and it sounds fine. I wouldn't worry about it.

Check out Ethan Winer's "Audio Myths" video on Youtube where he runs some classical music through A/D conversion on a Soundblaster card 10x and the difference is unnoticeable. It's eye opening. Just go out and make good music...thumbsup

Last edited by Funny Cat; 26th December 2010 at 08:11 AM.. Reason: small addition
Old 26th December 2010
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prontold View Post
So I'm thinking about picking up an outboard comp or two, nothing too fancy. Since my current interface, the motu 828 mk II has a bit of a reputation (perhaps exaggerated?) for lousy conversion and introduction of jitter, I was wondering what people's opinions might be about routing tracks out from the MOTU, into outboard units, back for another pass of A->D conversion. Is it anything to worry about? Would degradation of the signal cancel any of the benefits of using cool hardware vs. plugins?
There's a lot of MOTU-bashing on this forum but little in the high end forum. It's a decade-old design and still very good, when it came out there was really nothing to compare with it. The analogue section isn't bad but it's not as good as it could be. You can buy a Behringer ADA8000 for better conversion (genuinely high quality conversion) and plug it into the ADAT input/output of the MOTU to bypass the converter stages and just use the MOTU as a FW interface if you want to, but I wouldn't worry about it. Conversion is one of the smallest and least significant elements of the chain. Many people who say "Once I plugged in my £10,000 Prism kit I heard a fresh and new amazing sound" actually mean "Once I spent £10,000 on converters I heard what I wanted to hear in order to justify it".

I have a BLA-modded 828 and a non-BLA-modded 828 and yes there's an audible difference but no it doesn't matter.
Old 26th December 2010
  #6
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Jerrick's Avatar
 

I have a motu mk3 ultralite, and once I got to this forum I started to read all the bashing on motu which kind of worried me. Then I remembered, I play tons of cds through the Motu and its never sounded worse, I always hear sounds and details that I never notice from all the playback system in cars, speaker systems in a lot of peoples living rooms and blah blah.

I wouldnt worry, specially with only a few passes of going out and back in. Maybe if I ran it out and in 100 times there would be a more noticable difference, but im sure whatever I ran it through 100 times would make a bigger audio difference than the smaller changes from conversion.
Old 26th December 2010
  #7
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Thanks for the responses everybody.

Quote:
Originally Posted by therealbigd View Post
I have a BLA-modded 828 and a non-BLA-modded 828 and yes there's an audible difference but no it doesn't matter.
Just out of curiosity, what is the difference?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
Check out Ethan Winer's "Audio Myths" video on Youtube where he runs some classical music through A/D conversion on a Soundblaster card 10x and the difference is unnoticeable. It's eye opening. Just go out and make good music...thumbsup
Yes! That's what I wanted to hear... heh

I think maybe just for reinforcement, I will try to compose some pretty full spectrum wav file with midi and then run it in and out of the 828 five times to see what happens each time. I think I'll post it in a new thread.
Old 26th December 2010
  #8
You might consider borrowing one or more of the devices you're considering buying to see how you feel about not just any potential degradation (which I suspect would be fairly minimal but, of course, the best signal route is the most direct) but about the whole process.

Now, I suspect that the sound of the compressor(s) would have a much more noticeable effect -- which you might like or might not.

Of course, it can take more than a second to learn the characteristics of a given real world device, but, in my experience, trying things out almost always trumps reading about them. That said, I'm talking about getting some quality time in -- not just a quick listen in a dealer listening room.
Old 26th December 2010
  #9
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Hmmm yea. I buy used for pretty much everything. I managed to score a new B stock pro vla 2 for $220 and I'm looking at some other comps for cheap that I don't really want to identify just yet...
Hopefully there's nothing that I can't resell for minimal losses or gains if I can't work with it.
Old 26th December 2010
  #10
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Funny Cat's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by prontold View Post
Thanks for the responses everybody.



Just out of curiosity, what is the difference?



Yes! That's what I wanted to hear... heh

I think maybe just for reinforcement, I will try to compose some pretty full spectrum wav file with midi and then run it in and out of the 828 five times to see what happens each time. I think I'll post it in a new thread.

The silly thing about all this MOTU bashing/A>D nonsense is that we (read, I) run stuff through outboard gear because we want character, i.e. grit, dirt, depth, "warmth" (feel free to insert your favorite audio descriptor here). Digital is just too clean for some things and running a bass track or a stereo drum stem through a nice outboard comp/processor is sometimes just what the doctor ordered
Old 26th December 2010
  #11
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uncle duncan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by prontold View Post
....Just out of curiosity, what is the difference...
More clarity and detail after the mod. It's like removing a veil from the sound. I traded my modded 828 to a local studio that was using a stock model. The studio called a couple of weeks later, raving about how much easier it was to mix tracks that had been recorded through the modded 828.

My own experience with the mod reflects that same result. I even had a client asking me why the new tunes of his project sounded so much better than when we started the project a year earlier. We started the project with a stock 2408. Then I bought a second 2408 used and sent it in for the mod. The downside to getting the mod is doing without your interface for a week, but you can make an appointment and wait until your appointment date before sending it in. BLA is really good about their turnaround time.

To discover just how bad your stock 828 sounds, record a CD track (with a lot of detail - acoustic guitars, reverb tails) through the analog ins of the 828. Then import that CD track into your DAW and compare playback. That's what convinced me to get the mod.
Old 26th December 2010
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle duncan View Post
To discover just how bad your stock 828 sounds, record a CD track (with a lot of detail - acoustic guitars, reverb tails) through the analog ins of the 828. Then import that CD track into your DAW and compare playback. That's what convinced me to get the mod.
That's no good, that's also taking into account the D-A converter in the CD player, which is probably poo.

Playing a track out of the DAW and back in then comparing to when which hasn't been out and in is probably more use, but still you've got 3 stages of conversion as opposed to 1.

As I said above, a Behringer ADA8000 is a good cheap alternative to the mod.
Old 26th December 2010
  #13
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cdog's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by therealbigd View Post
That's no good, that's also taking into account the D-A converter in the CD player, which is probably poo.


No, hes talking about flying the WAV file into the DAW for comparison to the same file recorded by playing the CD through the MOTU DA --> AD.

Who owns CD players? lol
Old 27th December 2010
  #14
Gear Head
 

it is definately worth running stuff thru outboard gear even with a motu, the conversion hit is minimal compared to the sounds that cant be acheved with plugins, behringer micpre will be much worse conversion, just use what youve got and save up for a lynx
Old 27th December 2010
  #15
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So, the realbigd, you think the conversion on the behringer ada 8000 is better than on the stock 828 mk 2?
Old 27th December 2010
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle duncan View Post
To discover just how bad your stock 828 sounds, record a CD track (with a lot of detail - acoustic guitars, reverb tails) through the analog ins of the 828. Then import that CD track into your DAW and compare playback.
I was just going to suggest this very thing. However, my results were different. In a blind A-B test (gotta be honest with yourself lest biased results creep in)... I didn't detect a significant, if any, difference. Couple that with rock solid drivers for the mac... I kept the 828mkII.

Monitored through MSP5s and SONY 7506 phones. Pre-loudness war-era CDs only.

I'll hold off trading up until either the MOTU dies or the lightpipe stuff coming down the pike offers something better (in a couple years).
Old 27th December 2010
  #17
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Me and my MOTU

I have had both good luck and bad with my 828 MK II. I had a unit that had defects out of the box and had to send it back 3 times before they finally sent me a new one. Once I got the new one, I haven't had a ton of issues with it. I've been using it for a few years now and I think the recordings sound fine. Could they be better? Always! But one has to weigh the cost vrs how much better the songs will sound. Will 20 grand worth of equipment make the recording sound 20 grand worht of better? That's the real question we are aalways struggling with, IMHO.
Old 27th December 2010
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trunk79 View Post
it is definately worth running stuff thru outboard gear even with a motu, the conversion hit is minimal compared to the sounds that cant be acheved with plugins, behringer micpre will be much worse conversion, just use what youve got and save up for a lynx
what? Because it's Behringer?

That argument is boring now. Sound engineers are supposed to use their ears not their eyes to judge a product.

Bought an ADA8000 for Hphone mixes and did an A/B against the MOTU conversion through PMC monitors and HD650s. And I'm pretty happy it sounds better, and my spectrum analyser says it's flatter. So go away with your 'Behringer sucks because it's Behringer' view, that's just not what the whole ethos of the Low End forum is all about. But not massively. Most of the converter hype on here comes from people who know nothing of the converters. Trunk79 - do you have, a MOTU 828mkII, a Behringer ADA8000 and a Lynx Aurora - and a decent enough monitoring setup to judge?

The mic pres are dump but the conversion is actually very good on the Behringer.

If you want to buy and know you have amongst the best conversion out there, then the Lynx is a good buy. But the amount you spend on it, you just won't see in return from owning the unit. Spending that money on outboard for the MOTU will offer a much greater return.
Old 27th December 2010
  #19
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@ therealbigd:

So I know the ADA8000 is supposed to have a bit of a rise/hype from 8k to 10k. What was the motu's characteristic frequency pattern when you compared the two? Also, can you bypass the pres on the ADA? I get the message from the replies here that the converters probably aren't making all that much of a difference, but if the ADA offers better conversion and costs $100 less than what I can sell the MOTU for, that's a whole other consideration...

BTW, I'm in the process of recording 5 runs of a ITB generated wav file through the 828 @ 88.2 khz and 44.1 khz to try to qualify whatever effect the converters may have. Will be posting when I'm done tonight, if anybody is interested.
Old 27th December 2010
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prontold View Post
@ therealbigd:

So I know the ADA8000 is supposed to have a bit of a rise/hype from 8k to 10k. What was the motu's characteristic frequency pattern when you compared the two? Also, can you bypass the pres on the ADA? I get the message from the replies here that the converters probably aren't making all that much of a difference, but if the ADA offers better conversion and costs $100 less than what I can sell the MOTU for, that's a whole other consideration...
Replied in colours:
I can't remember much being honest. I've broken my leg and away from the studio until it gets better as it's up some steep and narrow stairs and I can't really get there. When I do I will screenshot the S.A graphs and let you have a look
Yep you can. There's mic or line ins. So line ins go straight to converters and bypass the mic stage. On here somewhere there's a blind test Behringer ADA vs Lynx vs Prism vs Apogee and the Behringer got put 2nd place when used with line ins. The pres do suck but it's a great unit for A/D/A.
Yes that's correct it's $100 less, but it's not a firewire interface, it's JUST converters. So you would need to keep the interface for FW connections, the ADA would just handle the inputs and outputs conversion, and plug in the ADAT sockets.
Old 27th December 2010
  #21
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Ah... so it's not an easy way to better conversion + $100 ... Still a good deal on expansion of I/O.

sorry to hear about your leg...

For any interested, here is the thread with audio files to see the effect of repeated rounds of conversion through the MOTU 828 mk ii...

How bad is MOTU 828 mkII audio conversion? (Let's find out)
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