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the absolute most superior way of connecting external preamp to a pc Audio Interfaces
Old 1st September 2011
  #1
Gear Head
 

the absolute most superior way of connecting external preamp to a pc

my drunk friend killed my gear. he knocked over my mic stand and sat on my headphones. an akg perception 420 and akg mk 271 cans.

i am now left with a less than ideal mic stand and a focusrite pro 24 dsp interface.

its been a while and ive saved up a decent amount of money making mcdoubles at mcdonalds and now im gonna give gear acquisition another shot. this time im aiming a little higher.

i did some research on youtube and listened to hundreds of recorded singers and have a good idea of what i want based on the singers that
matched my vocal range and delivery style.

its hard to describe my style but ive been told i sound like cross between eric hutchinson, jason mraz, postal service, vampire weekend, maroon 5 and (i know its a chick) but regina spektor.

a shure sm7b microphone for vocals (singing and rapping), an audio technica at4050 for acoustic guitar, audio technica headphones, and a focusrite isa one digital preamp.

the only thing I am ignorant to is whether or not I should keep the focusrite interface or ditch it for something else. i primarily record on a pc.

i stayed up really late last night researching on how to bypass the saffire 24's preamps and the only thing I could find was with the pro 40.

with the pro 40, i gathered that i need a toslink cable between the focusrite isa one digital to the optical in on the back of my saffire pro 24. i feel so stupid.

is there a way to do this and, is if so is there a more superior sounding vocal signal path to my computer?

i wasnt sure of where to put this so i posted in low end and music computer sub forums...

the maximum im willing to drop on this whole affair is 2000 so any miscellaneous suggestions would be really really appreciated. thanks.
Old 1st September 2011
  #2
Gear Maniac
 

honstly man i wasn't that impressed with the focussrite pro 40 i had.. but then i got an RME and my world changed.
Old 1st September 2011
  #3
Lives for gear
 

With all that research you'd think you'd have done a search on the forums! heh
Old 1st September 2011
  #4
Lives for gear
 
Jimsi's Avatar
 

Some friend!!, let him replace the gear he destroyed...shake him down....beer and friends are always anti gear...one of mine sit on my Gibson Firebird when i was younger and broke its poor neck and of course they ALL denied it

oh, high Chris, how are things today?...have a great day, do you own Google stock?
Old 1st September 2011
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Bob Ross's Avatar
 

Gaffer's tape.
Old 1st September 2011
  #6
Lives for gear
 
Boschen's Avatar
 

Your best signal path is straight digital:

Preamp digital toslink out > Interface toslink in > Firewire out to PC

You want an optical toslink cable for the connection from the preamp to the interface. Get a decent one, not the cheapest or most expensive, and not too long.

With this setup, the conversion is happening at the preamp, and the path stays digital all the way to the PC.

If your PC has an optical input that can match the sampling rate of the isa one, you could try going directly into the PC, and bypass the digital stage of the interface. Less gear in the path that way.

I have a Grace lunatec connected directly to my macbook pro using optical toslink. The only downside is that my MBP can't match the screaming 192khz the grace converters can put out, but I don't work at higher than 44.1 anyway, so it's no big deal for me.
Old 1st September 2011
  #7
Gear Head
 

i was thinking of getting something like this

RME HDSPe AIO | Sweetwater.com


how much better would my recordings sounded if I used that instead of the optical in on my saffire.

what about this?

LS-ADAT

combined with this?

AES16e


i dont have any pci ports on my mobo. just a pci express x4 and x16. i got one of those micro atx motherboards by asus when building my machine


also if I went and got, say, a grace 101 that didnt have an optical out port, what would the best path be to my pc?
Old 1st September 2011
  #8
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by miliefisathand View Post
i was thinking of getting something like this

RME HDSPe AIO | Sweetwater.com


how much better would my recordings sounded if I used that instead of the optical in on my saffire.

what about this?

LS-ADAT

combined with this?

AES16e


i dont have any pci ports on my mobo. just a pci express x4 and x16. i got one of those micro atx motherboards by asus when building my machine


also if I went and got, say, a grace 101 that didnt have an optical out port, what would the best path be to my pc?
Generally speaking, most pros prefer the sound of the AES over the sound of optical I/O.

I picked the RME HDSPe AES card over the Lynx AES card. Do the research, figure out what works best for you. I already had Mytek converters with AES and optical I/O, so I had choices. I went with what I thought was the best for my needs. Mytek, Lynx, and RME (as well as Larvy and some others) are high on my list of affordable audio solutions, better than the budget offerings usually discussed here, not near as expensive as the top of the line offerings.
Old 1st September 2011
  #9
Gear Head
 

if i don't use optical than how do you recomend I connect the preamp to my computer?

the lynx card i looked up had an optional cable that had xlr inputs on the other end. if I get an all analogue preamp like an analogue isa one or grace preamp should I take the xlr outputs on the pres and take it to the card that way?

its hard for me to visualize the connections.
i tried searching for diagrams and pictures that showed inputs and such. i can't find anything.

i really want my setup to have the best possible sound that I can afford
Old 1st September 2011
  #10
Gear Head
 

If you have a Pro 24 I wouldn't expect to find any improvement switching to a Pro 40 unless you need more inputs.

Try the Pro 24 try it out, I would be surprised if you didn't like the way it sounded.
Old 1st September 2011
  #11
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by miliefisathand View Post
if i don't use optical than how do you recomend I connect the preamp to my computer?

the lynx card i looked up had an optional cable that had xlr inputs on the other end. ...
I don't know your preamp. You need to know your preamp. The RME card that you referenced has ADAT/Lightpipe optical I/O for 8 channels of digital if this is what you need, as well as other I/O options. (The card name means "All In One", claiming all common I/O formats in one card.) Their RayDAT card handles more channels. All of this assumes ( from your stetement, ..."if i don't use optical ...") that your preamp has converters built into it. (None of mine do.)

The Lynx AES card does not have converters either, and uses copper lines to transfer the digital data instead of fibre, which can be glass or plastic. "AES" or "AES/EBU" is a conversational shortcut for a digital format for transfer of audio data, just as ADAT/Lightpipe, or SP/DIF describe other digital audio transfer formats. So the XLRs that you see coming from the Lynx card are carrying digital audio in the AES format, usually two channels per connector.

The cables from the Lynx or RME AES cards carry 8 channels of AES data on each dsub connector, and the XLR breakouts of the other end of the cable (if XLR is what you need or choose for the other end) have four input and four output connectors. As I said above, two channels on each XLR.
Old 1st September 2011
  #12
Lives for gear
 
Boschen's Avatar
 

If you have spdif in on the interface or PC you could go toslink out from the digital preamp to a digital format converter like the 50$ Co2 from Maudio, which turns toslink into spdif.

I agree with Bill on the AES outputs; better than optical if you have the ins and outs.

Going with an analog preamp, and moving the conversion stage to a card tied to the PC would be another route. This decision will come down to the quality of the conversion.

I would try the toslink out from the pre into your interface into your PC, and see what results you get. Again, it's digital all the way to the PC, and you're bypassing the focusrite pre and conversion, effectively using it like a format converter like the Co2 anyway--but in this case, it's changing toslink to firewire.
Old 1st September 2011
  #13
Lives for gear
The saffire 24 has 2 dedicated line ins. Use XLR to Trs cable from preamplifier out to saffire line in.


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Old 2nd September 2011
  #14
Gear Head
 

i dont have any preamp yet. im actually debating right now whether or not to get a focusrite or a grace 101..or hold out later on for
something better

since from what Im hearing from most of you is that aes is better than optical i/o, what is the best way to get from an analogue preamp to an aes card?

if I use something like this;

ALVA: Products

would it be good?

or is it better to use a converter in between the preamp and aes card?

ive been looking for preamps with aes connections on them and i cant find very many of them
Old 2nd September 2011
  #15
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by miliefisathand View Post

since from what Im hearing from most of you is that aes is better than optical i/o, what is the best way to get from an analogue preamp to an aes card?

if I use something like this;

ALVA: Products

would it be good?

or is it better to use a converter in between the preamp and aes card?

ive been looking for preamps with aes connections on them and i cant find very many of them
Alva makes cables, not converters. I'm using Alva cables between my RME digital audio computer interface and my Mytek ADC and DAC audio converters (ADC=analog to digital, DAC=digital to analog). A cable will not convert audio from analog to digital.

Okay, you seem to be confused about what does what.
Assuming that you plan to work in a software computer based DAW :

Starting from the output of the microphone or instrument...
You need: a preamp. This can be a stand alone preamp or a mixing board, but something has to boost the low level signal of the mic or instrument.

Then you need a converter to change the signal from analog to digital.

Then you need an interface to get that digital signal into the computer. (interfaces usually work bi-directionally, and can also be used to get the signal OUT of the computer, but not always. Mine aren't.)

You need the DAW software.

You need the interface again.

You need converters to change the digital signal into an analog signal.

You need some sort of analog output control.

You need an amplifier.

You need playback speakers.

These things can be bought in various combinations. For example, you'll often see powered speakers, which combine the amplifier and the speakers. You'll see combination units which have mic preamps, converters, and the computer interface all in one box, and various other combinations. This is good and bad. Good, because it keeps costs down and saves space. Bad because you cannot upgrade a single part of what you have, you then need to replace the whole package. So if you wanted to upgrade the converters in your combination unit (or any other part), you can't do it.

It is also worth noting that makers of combo units aren't always the best choice for all parts of the unit...a company that excels at the interface aspect may not make the best preamps, for example. So when you buy one of these combo boxes you are usually making a compromise.

So, on a budget a combo unit is a good deal. But if you want the Best of everything, or you want to be able to easily upgrade to improve your rig, you might prefer separate components.

To use my own rig as an example: I wanted 16 channels, 8 for mic pres and 8 for other sources. And I wanted MIDI. I also wanted to stay in the AES format.

I bought 8 channels of decent microphone preamplifiers, picking a combination which brought me a pair of clean channels and three pair of various interesting colored choices.

I bought a pair of Mytek ADC 8 channel converter boxes.

I bought the RME 16 channel AES/PCIe interface card set.

The output of the interface again goes to Mytek DACs, through a stepped attenuator for repeatable audio control, to a high quality amplifier and on to good speakers. (Side issue, I have also treated the room with acoustical panels... in my case from Real Traps.)

Most of these tasks could be performed by a single box from RME, MOTU, or other manufacturers, but it would not be as good. I have not bought "THE BEST" I have bought the best that I could afford. You need to look at what is available, determine your needs, set a budget, and start to price your setup BEFORE you buy anything... don't spend a dime until the complete system is planed out and costed on paper. And double check everything! (Simple example.... a lot of people pick Lynx Aurora converters because they are a good value. A lot pick the RME interfaces for the same reason. If you try to plug RME AES interface and Lynx Aurora converter box together, you need to know that one company uses the Yamaha pinout standard for their cabling and the other uses the tascam pinout standard for their cabling... this is no big deal, and doesn't cost any more, but you have to know this when you order cables so that they are wired correctly.)
Old 2nd September 2011
  #16
Lives for gear
 
Boschen's Avatar
 

@ above :

He done said it all.

Way to help out, Bill!
Old 2nd September 2011
  #17
Gear Head
 

yes thank you so much. a lot of these converters are way expensive. can you recommend something around the 500-800 range?
Old 2nd September 2011
  #18
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by miliefisathand View Post
yes thank you so much. a lot of these converters are way expensive. can you recommend something around the 500-800 range?
How many channels do you need? There are complete 2 channel solutions (mic pre, converters in, interface, converters out, MIDI and other stuff, with software...) for anywhere from $200 up. These are a great place to start out, as you can learn the ropes for minimal cost and still get acceptable recordings.

Off the top of my head, for my needs if I had close to $800 to spend I'd probably buy a Babyface.

If you mean stand alone converters, I would not be up on those budget choices. I know that there is a Behringer 8 channel mic/line/and converter set for about $230 that a lot of people use. But I can't recommend it as a great choice, it is a budget choice. There is a 2 channel USB DAC that you can only buy on ebay
.... I don't remember the name, but I'm sure someone here will chime in and this is a very respectable sounding DAC for about $300.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #19
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by miliefisathand View Post
my drunk friend killed my gear. he knocked over my mic stand and sat on my headphones. an akg perception 420 and akg mk 271 cans.

i am now left with a less than ideal mic stand and a focusrite pro 24 dsp interface.

its been a while and ive saved up a decent amount of money making mcdoubles at mcdonalds and now im gonna give gear acquisition another shot. this time im aiming a little higher.

i did some research on youtube and listened to hundreds of recorded singers and have a good idea of what i want based on the singers that
matched my vocal range and delivery style.

its hard to describe my style but ive been told i sound like cross between eric hutchinson, jason mraz, postal service, vampire weekend, maroon 5 and (i know its a chick) but regina spektor.

a shure sm7b microphone for vocals (singing and rapping), an audio technica at4050 for acoustic guitar, audio technica headphones, and a focusrite isa one digital preamp.

the only thing I am ignorant to is whether or not I should keep the focusrite interface or ditch it for something else. i primarily record on a pc.

i stayed up really late last night researching on how to bypass the saffire 24's preamps and the only thing I could find was with the pro 40.

with the pro 40, i gathered that i need a toslink cable between the focusrite isa one digital to the optical in on the back of my saffire pro 24. i feel so stupid.

is there a way to do this and, is if so is there a more superior sounding vocal signal path to my computer?

i wasnt sure of where to put this so i posted in low end and music computer sub forums...

the maximum im willing to drop on this whole affair is 2000 so any miscellaneous suggestions would be really really appreciated. thanks.
that is no friend

make him pay for your new gear
and then dump him

unless you want a repeat smashup with the new stuff too
Old 4th September 2011
  #20
Gear Head
 

he's payed me back.

anyhow i already have a focusrite saffire pro 24 dsp and i need a preamp that has enough gain to make a shure sm7 sound as nice as reasonably possibly.
and i was concerned to that maybe a pcie aes interface to standalone converter, to stand alone preamp to mic would be a better sounding solution. but im also concerned about cost.
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