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Mid vs High End. Really? Audio Interfaces
Old 28th May 2015
  #31
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In my estimation, the UR824 is stepping into the realm of very good conversion. Better than the prosumer stuff. The preamps are pretty good too. I wonder if this unit is a bit under the radar, it offers a lot. Certainly one would not be a bottleneck to a professional result. I feel like the lower end stuff really can be a bottleneck, though. Stuff like Presonus interfaces and my old Echos. In fairness, the Echo is a little bit better than the Presonus, but still not as good as the UR824.

It's getting to where good conversion is so cheap, Audient and Tascam come to mind, that there's really no reason any person can't have it. That Berlin Wall has been torn down. Now once that's covered, it's more about everything else in the equation. Both of those brands I mentioned even include impressive mic preamps built in, so that's less of a concern now too.

People still need to be educated enough to step away from truly low end interfaces and monitoring though. I suppose that's why a forum like Gearslutz is useful.
Old 28th May 2015
  #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted User View Post
Yeah by sterile I just meant clean. How clean can clean get? To me the point of all expensive recording gear is color.
yeah - sometimes. Ive got Prisms here that are very clean. Ive got a Maselec EQ that is super clean - both get used a great deal!!
Old 28th May 2015
  #33
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Originally Posted by narcoman View Post
yeah - sometimes. Ive got Prisms here that are very clean. Ive got a Maselec EQ that is super clean - both get used a great deal!!
Sure, options are great once you have enough color, and there are plenty of great needs for expensive clean gear like in mastering. My point was addressed to people like the op who only have a budget integrated interface, asking if they'll get much improvement from switching to another all in one interface at a slightly higher price point. And I think not, put your money towards an actual preamp or converter, etc.
Old 28th May 2015
  #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted User View Post
Sure, options are great once you have enough color, and there are plenty of great needs for expensive clean gear like in mastering. My point was addressed to people like the op who only have a budget integrated interface, asking if they'll get much improvement from switching to another all in one interface at a slightly higher price point. And I think not, put your money towards an actual preamp or converter, etc.
The Tascam UH-7000 ($399) and Audient iD22 ($599) are clearly an exception to every part of your statement.

Not trying to be controversial or argue, just stating this from real life experience. The conversion, and the preamps, in both of these units are superb. A clear cut above some of the lower end units. More similar to higher end separates in performance. And less than the price of a single API preamp, for example.
Old 28th May 2015
  #35
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Originally Posted by monkeyxx View Post
The Tascam UH-7000 ($399) and Audient iD22 ($599) are clearly an exception to every part of your statement.

Not trying to be controversial or argue, just stating this from real life experience. The conversion, and the preamps, in both of these units are superb. A clear cut above some of the lower end units. More similar to higher end separates in performance. And less than the price of a single API preamp, for example.
I'm sure they're impressive for the money, but doubt they sound like an Api level pre.
Old 28th May 2015
  #36
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I just tested the Audient preamp DI input vs my API style DI input with a bass guitar and it was a tossup. I could have used either one in a track. Maybe DI bass is not the most challenging source, but they both sounded very good.

Don't get me wrong, I love API style preamps more than anything, but there are other useful and usable things out there. My perspective has really shifted with these new interfaces. I don't feel like I am relying so much on my fancy outboard preamps as I used to. I still use them all the time though. I just don't feel like I "have" to.

A pair of top notch mic preamps is a really smart investment for anyone, however. If they've already got their other bases covered, I would add.
Old 28th May 2015
  #37
Tui
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I certainly love my Apogee ADs and Ross Martin DAs. However, I was reminded recently that, at the end of the day, it is talent that counts. This track was recorded with a Zoom R8 ($299) and an AT4033 mic ($399).

Old 29th May 2015
  #38
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Originally Posted by monkeyxx View Post

It's getting to where good conversion is so cheap, Audient and Tascam come to mind, that there's really no reason any person can't have it. That Berlin Wall has been torn down. Now once that's covered, it's more about everything else in the equation. Both of those brands I mentioned even include impressive mic preamps built in, so that's less of a concern now too.

People still need to be educated enough to step away from truly low end interfaces and monitoring though. I suppose that's why a forum like Gearslutz is useful.
agreed.... quality is much more affordable
Old 29th May 2015
  #39
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Well guys, thanks for all the duscussion, very informative. I'll drag myself down to a shop to have a listen to the id14. I suspect the Echo usb2 is already pretty good but it will be fun to find out how it compares to the Audient.
Old 29th May 2015
  #40
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From my experience... I've seen people use everything from a usb interface to a maxed out HDX system and make it onto commercial releases. maybe it's just us Slutz who care about converters and tube quality, but it doesn't seem like the rest of the industry does. have fun!
Old 29th May 2015
  #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Claborn View Post
From my experience... I've seen people use everything from a usb interface to a maxed out HDX system and make it onto commercial releases. maybe it's just us Slutz who care about converters and tube quality, but it doesn't seem like the rest of the industry does. have fun!
There is some truth to this because everything ends up on Spotify, mobile devices and so on. Converter quality is important but it's just that quality can be found at a significantly lower cost than in the past.

I was in absolute shock when I heard the Steinberg UR824 because I didn't expect it to sound better and clearer than the Apogees. Comparing tracks before and after is pretty amazing and admittedly, somewhat frustrating because I should have made the change much sooner.
Old 30th May 2015
  #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Claborn View Post
From my experience... I've seen people use everything from a usb interface to a maxed out HDX system and make it onto commercial releases. maybe it's just us Slutz who care about converters and tube quality, but it doesn't seem like the rest of the industry does. have fun!
Yup.

I've mixed many a film score on none optimal gear!!!
Old 31st May 2015
  #43
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Originally Posted by Deleted User View Post
Yeah by sterile I just meant clean. How clean can clean get? To me the point of all expensive recording gear is color.
Well, if you got all the color you want from whatever you're recording and you don't want to change the color, then clean is really helpful, if not critical.

This all assumes you're working with something that makes sound in the air and you use a microphone to record it. I keep thinking that every post on GS should include a note explaining whether the poster is talking about recording things that make noise vs. things that make electrical signals in your computer that only make noise when you play them through your monitors.

This is not to say one's better than the other, it's just that the tools and the process for the two can be very different.
Old 10th February 2018
  #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike P View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Claborn View Post
From my experience... I've seen people use everything from a usb interface to a maxed out HDX system and make it onto commercial releases. maybe it's just us Slutz who care about converters and tube quality, but it doesn't seem like the rest of the industry does. have fun!
There is some truth to this because everything ends up on Spotify, mobile devices and so on. Converter quality is important but it's just that quality can be found at a significantly lower cost than in the past.

I was in absolute shock when I heard the Steinberg UR824 because I didn't expect it to sound better and clearer than the Apogees. Comparing tracks before and after is pretty amazing and admittedly, somewhat frustrating because I should have made the change much sooner.
Which apogee converters are you referring to? I have a Steinberg UR824 and am gasing for apogee symphony mkii
Old 8th March 2018
  #45
Gear Maniac
 

I think there seems to be a slightly dividing discussion going on but I think I can help.


No it makes no difference really. Ok yes there are subtle differences in what you hear but I can mix on a Mac book sound card and some reasonable headphones if I have to.

2 areas it helps are if you want an audiophile experience and accuracy and whether or not you are selling much more to clients.

But I don't listen to music like that when I mix (I used to) I now feel it. I have used high end and low end gear. I settled on an RME Babyface pro - mainly stability and probably the best convertors for the price. I use Yamaha HS5's and some Sennheisser HD 650s. That's pretty much it. I have much better monitors and when learning I actually found them more beneficial as I hadn't grasped so much the concept of learning my own system.

But after a while I started to grasp what I was doing to how it effected things. I can't say I can master truly professional masters with my setup obviously. I can say that I am happy to mix and do my own rough masters. Anything serious would get sent to a mastering engineer - but then for the cost of sending it to him, I don't need to buy silly amounts of high end gear.

The convertors in the RME were considered to be the high end a few years ago so it's not like the technology in something like that is out of date really.





And here's the other question - you spend serious money on high end, in a few years it will be the mid range as that technology gets incorporated into the more prosumer devices.

Really what is it we are doing - making music! Convertors won't help. Mixing - convertors don't make much difference here these days in my view. Mastering that's different as the aim of mastering is to have that final icing on the cake which only makes sense of you have serious high end gear.

but... you could debate that last statement as well. It's so subjective. Music doesn't depend on quality convertors, only awe inspired audiophiles do - or paying clients in my view.

But having said that I prefer to have something that's of reasonable quality to work on, just doesn't need to be silly money - and I am sure big studios don't really need the quality of conversion some have, but if they can afford it why not - see below as there is a big exception I have added to clarify this.


Sorry I just read this and realised I needed to add one thing I forgot. Convertors actually do matter if you are using external summing. If you need to go back out and back in you are adding 2 stages of conversion. I did this with some focusrite sapphire stuff a while ago and decided to not bother - it does seriously suffer on the cheaper end - that could be more internal design than convertors though.

I can rephrase a bit...

for ITB mixing and just recording to an interface convertors won't matter as long as they are reasonable quality ie RME/Audient/Apogee etc.

For outboard due to going back out and in I think the best convertors do make a difference.
Old 8th March 2018
  #46
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitarist9891 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike P View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Claborn View Post
From my experience... I've seen people use everything from a usb interface to a maxed out HDX system and make it onto commercial releases. maybe it's just us Slutz who care about converters and tube quality, but it doesn't seem like the rest of the industry does. have fun!
There is some truth to this because everything ends up on Spotify, mobile devices and so on. Converter quality is important but it's just that quality can be found at a significantly lower cost than in the past.

I was in absolute shock when I heard the Steinberg UR824 because I didn't expect it to sound better and clearer than the Apogees. Comparing tracks before and after is pretty amazing and admittedly, somewhat frustrating because I should have made the change much sooner.
Which apogee converters are you referring to? I have a Steinberg UR824and am gasing for apogee symphony mkii
You are asking for someone to clarify details about something that they posted more than three years ago. The answer to your question about the hardware exists further up thread, in an earlier post quoted below. Note that a key point that he was supporting was that it is important to have good room acoustics (and that will continue to be the case as long as the room is included in that process).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike P View Post
Great sounding records were made in the 80's using digital converters that pale in comparison to today's offerings. While I haven't used the "low end" boxes mentioned in the thread starter, I have used the Steinberg UR22 and was blown away by the quality of conversion, so much so that I sold my Apogee Rosetta 800 and DA16x and replaced them with a Steinberg UR824. My mixes and recordings since switching to the UR824 are clearer sounding and far more revealing than the old Apogee's.

The bottom line is that if you don't have a great room, aren't recording excellent sounding instruments and don't understand how to mix, expensive convertors won't make a bit of difference because in my experience, it just doesn't matter much, if at all.
Old 5th October 2018
  #47
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I am torn between Ta scam uh 7k and the Audient id22, but find myself leaning towards the ta scam. Scare point is there are very poor reviews about tascam's drivers and latency. Otherwise, the samples I have heard are impressive indeed
Old 6th October 2018
  #48
I just upgraded from an M-Audio Firewire 1814 and ADA 8000 to a Focusrite Clarret 8Pre with a Clarret Octopre.
The difference is quite noticeable. I can imagine the high end stuff must be pretty awesome.
Old 7th October 2018
  #49
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Originally Posted by CPhoenix View Post
Sure... I think my experiences so far may be helpful. I'll try to touch every major part of my journey thus far. I'll stick to just my "sound difference" observations

I started with an MAudio MobilePre.
In general, it's considered a sh-tty interface for lack of a better word. Spec wise it's garbage. It's cheap. I had an AKG Perception 100 mic with it... stock preamps. In retrospect, I got an amateur sound out of the interface. HOWEVER... once I recorded in a naturally good sounding room... I got some really good recordings out of it... despite how "inferior" the mic and interface are. One song I tracked is still one of my favorite recordings. It doesn't sound hyper realistic... but it's true that when you get the acoustics correct then almost anything will work and be enjoyable. That's the word... the resulting recording was enjoyable.

I then upgraded to a MAudio Firewire410. I noticed the preamps had more gain and were less grainy. There was less noise in my recordings. I had to do a little bit less work.

Then I up/sidegraded to an Echo Audiofire4. I noticed the preamps were even cleaner. The mic felt a little more difficult to clip. The resulting sound was a little crispier but nothing to write home about. The BIG BIG difference was the DA conversion! I almost cried... b/c it felt like a blanket was lifted off my old instrumentals and I could finally hear the sounds properly. I figured out it was the DA making the difference by listening to already recorded sounds that I knew very well... and hearing different characteristics about them that I seriously never heard before. The tail ends of my favorite crash sounds were absolutely horrible.... so it helped me most with mixing.

Then I grabbed my first external preamp.. a Project Studios VTB. I liked it... it gave whatever I put in it more "balls" from the tube. Made things sound stronger and more aggressive. The biggest thing I noticed was I could NOT clip my voice w/ the same AKG Perception mic that I had always had clipping issues. So... I could give the gain more juice without being afraid of clipping my vocals. That really helped with performance. I didn't have to worry nearly as much.

Then I upgraded to RME UCX. Oh my god... this was the biggest overall preamp difference. The UCX sounded super clean whether it was 40db or 63db of gain. That was insane. Also... the voice begin sounding more real... it felt like the person was right in the room with me. I didn't feel like I was listening to a recording.. I felt like I was listening live. The definition of the preamps was a huge improvement. The DA was similar to the Audiofire4... but a little darker... and a little more accurate. The Audiofire4 was perhaps a little bright. I could mix on both though. I would never ever want to mix on the cheaper old MAudio stuff I used (I'm sure they've improved since then as technology has advanced).

Now... I shelled out and bought a WarmAudio Tonebeast, run into Warm Audio WA76, and into a Black Lion Audio Sparrow Red. My f-cking god. This stuff isn't considered "highend" with exception for maybe the Sparrow depending on who you ask.... but the units are very good quality at a budget cost. The difference now is that not only is the sound real..... but it feels like I can hear "around" the sound if that makes sense. Like... imagine looking at a painting and it's in 2D. Now... imagine looking at that same painting in 3D. That's the difference. When I hear the voice... it sounds like I can hear behind the vocal too. It has more weight & depth. This is subtle... you have to know what you're looking for and be experienced to notice it. But.... it's the difference between good budget quality and professional major studio. I feel like I can dial up EXACTLY what I want my voice to sound like... this is how my voice should sound on everything. It's the best I've ever sounded... and I'm not even in a good recording environment. So.. granted, there is background noise that I don't like... but the voice itself sounds exactly how I want it to sound. No combination of UCX preamp + UAD 1176 plugins has gotten be this sound... though it's certainly comparable.




So my final observations are:

1) Room acoustics are king. If you have good acoustics... any equipment you record with will sound good enough to use and be enjoyable. Even the cheap stuff isn't SOO bad that it yields a bad result in a good room. They're not THAT inferior
2) The difference as you go up the chain are related to noise, clean gain, tone, definition, clarity, "real"ness.
3) Performance is huge. Cheap still may not perform quite as good, as I explained above.
4) Just realize lastly that if you were to do a shootout with all of this gear... there's no way you can pick out which one is which. So.... try not to worry about all of this too much. The most important things to worry about are acoustics and mixing skills. That's what really yields enjoyable songs. Don't go out trying to break the bank to upgrade. BUT.... If you can afford to do so... upgrading is worth it, b/c you do get improvements in your sound if you are experienced enough to notice.
old-ish thread resurrected, so I'm going to add to my journey.

Since typing this... I've grabbed a few more items:
1) BLA modded Rosetta 800
2) BLA Microclock mk3 (not the XB... b/c nah man... too much money for 40picoseconds or whatever)
3) Burl B2 DAC

I'll start with the Burl. This is my first actual "high end" unit. I am 100% floored. Compared to my UCX's DA's... the sound coming from this is a cannon versus assault rifle. (I don't own a gun, so I hope that's a good analogy lol... not disrespect to assault rifle owners). The first difference is that at similar loudness levels (non-scientific... sorry) you can hear every single detail of the sound. You can hear where it is... how it is.. what it is.. when it was. It's like 3D vs 4D. This alone was not worth the upgrade in my opinion, b/c that's a lot of money and I could still get good mixing done in 3D world.

But.... this unit is special to me b/c you can adjust the output knob and go to levels of sound that you've never experienced before. Note my above paragraph is basically comparing the loudest UCX setting to the quietest Burl setting, as the "loudness" was similar enough here for my ears to A/B without feeling I was biased to the louder unit. But once you start turning that knob... OH MY GOD.... you begin to feel the vibrations of the sound in your hand. And it's not a "loudness" thing... b/c when in A/B'd I turned the overall volume up for my UCX to try to get the same feeling and it absolutely did not happen. There's something about the Burl that brings the speakers to life, to a level I personaly didn't think was possible. I honestly skimped on speakers and got Presonus Eris8's... and they fully came to life in a way that the UCX could not do... or come close. I hate using "night and day"... but it's night and day. Worth every penny.

Since I am not a pro-level mixer... I decided to use the Burl to power 2 of my favorite outboard units to capture the sound in the mix, as opposed to using the high end sound just to make better decisions in my room. I want that sound fully imparted on my songs. I may even just route it to my UCX's AD honestly... it's THAT good.

Okay... moving on, I'll try to keep it short. I have two Rosetta 800's. I modded one unit and kept the other stock, so I could compare and decide if I wanted to mod both. I ran some drum loops through both units, and routed my outboard EQs/comps through both Rosettas, bouncing down the tracks. WHen I A/B'd the files (I have them if you'd like them, b/c BLA mod samples are really to come by online) I noticed two things. 1) the low end was extended and rounder. The playback of the bass went a little bit deeper. It was noticeable. Also... the unit tamed the mid/highs (in the snare/ hihat range) in a very nice way that felt like tape compression. Overall, I liked what the mod did. It eas not night and day... but absolutely an improvement and worth it. I have less work to do with my mixes b/c of the mod.

Lastly.... I compared one of those bounces by clocking the Rosetta 800 with the microclock mk3. In my A/B tests, I don't want to use a cliche word but... uugghhh.... the resulting sound is tighter. It feels like the sound is punchier and more "to the point". If i'm compressing something... the actions of the compressor feel like they occur quicker. It's like... if I punch you in the face... without the clock you'd feel the residue from my fist for a longer period of time... with the clock, the pain onsets and subsides a little quicker.

The other note about the microclock is that I'm happy I got it around the time I got the Burl, b/c at that point in time I officially had too much outboard to clock and my Rosetta was getting some funky static/pops when clocked from both my UCX and Sparrow Red. The microclock fixed that. (It was weird though, I got pops/clock with everything clocked from BNC output1-2-3. But using BNC 1-2-4 the pops went around. Not sure what that was all about).

So.... further the journey... high end is noticable. Worth it if you can afford it. Yes, you go to another level that you simply cannot achieve with mid-range gear. But... the caveat is.... the listener has no idea what you used.... so your mixing decisions are still top of the food chain. But... higher quality gear makes it easier to get a great sound.
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