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How many of you found no sonic benefit after upgrading your audio interface? Audio Interfaces
Old 19th June 2017
  #1
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Thread Starter
How many of you found no sonic benefit after upgrading your audio interface?

So about two years ago I went through the process of trying out a couple higher end interfaces. I use an Audiobox 22vsl. I tried a babyface, and I tried an audient. I seriously wanted there to be a marked level of sonic improvement but I found none. It is two years later and I am considering trying again, although I feel it will be the same process.

How many of you experienced the same thing?
Old 19th June 2017
  #2
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Unclenny's Avatar
I recorded through an old MBox1 with RME converters in front of it for years. A few years ago I upgraded to PT11 and decided to use my Avid Eleven Rack as an interface while I figured out my next move.

Fast forward to today and that 11R is still doing interface duty. I admit that I keep things simple in my songwriting room but I just have not felt the need to upgrade and I don't think my productions have suffered for it.

I have a very good main microphone and input channel and I never push things too hard.
Old 19th June 2017
  #3
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I've recently went up from an M-Audio fast track pro USB to a Mackie onyx blackbird
I've found quite some sonic benefits really, but it's surely vastly because the fast track pro sounds very bad
Old 19th June 2017
  #4
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strangeways's Avatar
 

I have been recording on pt since 6.4, and have endured many of avids sub par conversion offerings. My last interface upgrade was a lynx aurora 16. I got a second 8 ch rosetta for mixing, and theres just something spatially that happens with the lynx, at least on the a/d side. I mostly mix itb, but when i do process otb for comps and whatnot, things seem to get better with the lynx. Never used burl or any other big guys, but even between the Rosetta/lynx, the lynx does something.
Old 19th June 2017
  #5
Gear Head
 

M-Audio FastTrack to Mackie Onyx 400 to RME Fireface 400. Huge jumps each time--sound quality, latency, reliability.
Old 19th June 2017
  #6
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20 years ago every converter upgrade was huge.
They get more insignificant by the day.

Good luck!
Old 20th June 2017
  #7
Gear Addict
 

Most of the converters in this thread wouldn't not be considered an upgrade in mo opinion except maybe the lynx.
I'm not saying the others are bad or you can't make a record with them .
But if I'm upgrading well then apogee,lynx,(the new)Motu, Burl,etc etc
Old 20th June 2017
  #8
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fireberd's Avatar
I went from a Roland Octa-Capture to an MOTU 896Mk3 Hybrid. Sonically I don't hear any difference (may be but I can't hear it) but my latency is much better. The MOTU "Cue Mix" control program is much better than the Roland Octa-Capture control program.
Old 20th June 2017
  #9
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Well.....yes,

I noticed a big difference when I got an ID22, sounded better in everyway, than my apogee converters.

For the most though, I agree, When I "upgraded" to Apogee converters a way's back it was a huge letdown.

Apogee converters have to be the most overrated thing in Audio.
Old 20th June 2017
  #10
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I think my Apogee Symphony sounds excellent. I've had a bla modded 002 and a BLA modded Apollo. I don't see any reason to go anywhere else except for a different color/texture. You can chase convertors all over the place, and I'm sure there are those that sound a bit better...but do some searches for opinions on the Apogee Symphony. Hard to find someone who doesn't think they are excellent. If you can't make excellent recordings with a Symphony, it's not the Symphony's fault.
L.
Old 20th June 2017
  #11
Years ago my Mackie 400F died so I got a Roland Octo-Pre and found new levels of depth and details I had never heard. Turns out the old Mackie was the main reason I always struggled with hi-hats.

Then I went from the Roland to an Audient iD22, and I was prepared to be blown away… except I wasn't. It sounded exactly the same to me (to be fair, I had cheesy monitors and a horrible room back then)

But then, I soldiered on and something amazing happened: I no longer struggled to make my vocal tracks mesh with the mix, and layering vocals sounded natural instead of forced. And the best part was, when connecting an external preamp to the iD22 (using the Return jacks to bypass the internal preamp), it basically disappeared and let the external pre do its thing, while the Roland always forced it's slightly hard Rolandesque quality on top (again, not easily discernible, but gets noticeable as you layer tracks)

But I have come the conclusion that, barring the cheap bus-powered stuff, most interface will work just fine for most people and you should choose one based on the features and workflow, instead of obsessing over lowest THD and highest dynamic range.
Old 20th June 2017
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by thevisi0nary View Post
So about two years ago I went through the process of trying out a couple higher end interfaces. I use an Audiobox 22vsl. I tried a babyface, and I tried an audient. I seriously wanted there to be a marked level of sonic improvement but I found none. It is two years later and I am considering trying again, although I feel it will be the same process.

How many of you experienced the same thing?
These 3 boxes sound very different. Maybe your monitoring or acoustic environment is really bad?

Quote:
Originally Posted by terrible.dee View Post
Apogee converters have to be the most overrated thing in Audio.
Not sure what model you are talking about, but AD8000, Rosettas, AD16X/DA16X and Symphony are great converters. Not sure about their interface converters, I haven't tried these (for obvious reasons ).

But as usual, taste plays a role as well.

And no, we don't sell Apogee...
Old 20th June 2017
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
Jay Asher's Avatar
 

Not me. When I changed from my Echo Layla to an RME HDSPe-AIO, I noticed a definite improvement and this year when I transitioned from the RME to the Apogee Element 24, the same again was true.
Old 20th June 2017
  #14
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by DAW PLUS View Post
These 3 boxes sound very different. Maybe your monitoring or acoustic environment is really bad?


Not sure what model you are talking about, but AD8000, Rosettas, AD16X/DA16X and Symphony are great converters. Not sure about their interface converters, I haven't tried these (for obvious reasons ).

But as usual, taste plays a role as well.

And no, we don't sell Apogee...
With all respect to your reply, which I fully appreciate, I have found this to not be the case. I have also seen many posts that confirm a similar experience of no benefit when upgrading. For what it's worth my room is treated and I am using Yamaha hs8.
Old 20th June 2017
  #15
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Thread Starter
Unhappy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lenzo View Post
I think my Apogee Symphony sounds excellent. I've had a bla modded 002 and a BLA modded Apollo. I don't see any reason to go anywhere else except for a different color/texture. You can chase convertors all over the place, and I'm sure there are those that sound a bit better...but do some searches for opinions on the Apogee Symphony. Hard to find someone who doesn't think they are excellent. If you can't make excellent recordings with a Symphony, it's not the Symphony's fault.
L.
I would love to try apogee. Alas...windows
Old 20th June 2017
  #16
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I haven't been through many interfaces, but I did find a difference in the ones I have tried after having to go back to the old one. OS compatibility and inputs were more the reason for my upgrade.
Old 20th June 2017
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by thevisi0nary View Post
With all respect to your reply, which I fully appreciate, I have found this to not be the case. I have also seen many posts that confirm a similar experience of no benefit when upgrading. For what it's worth my room is treated and I am using Yamaha hs8.
All fine, I was just looking why you may hear no difference.
Old 20th June 2017
  #18
I have limited experience with brands/models of interfaces, but I've not noticed by a great deal any sonic benefits with what I've used myself. My very 1st was an Aardvark Q10 back in about 1998 or so? Since then I picked up several more Q10's, and Aardvark Aark 24 cards. I also briefly used an Aardvark USB3 unit on a laptop. I've used these for years... and they're still in use (not the USB3 though) on my XP DAW's.

On what is my current main DAW, Win 7 64 bit, I'm using Tascams FW-1884 & FW-1082. They also sounds very good to my ears. I'm not so sure that they are any better or any worse than my Aardvarks. If anything at all, I'd say my Aardvarks have more sparkle/punch on their mic pre's than the Tascams?, but I can't say this with absolute certainty. They all sounds good to me.

Unless you simply have a crap interface, and I don't consider any of mine crap, the biggest deal for me, beyond sounding good, and having all the features & I/O's I need, is to have an interface that's stable & reliable. But I'm not running a pro studio, and what I have is plenty good enough IMO.

All mind fit the above criteria, although they're old by most people standards. I do not feel the need to replace or buy any other interfaces at this time for my XP DAW, or my Win 7 64 bit DAW. I don't have any plans to go beyond Win 7 64 bit, nor any other DAW software & hardware. If I do need anything more, there's is plenty available in the used market place that's compatible with what I already have.
Old 20th June 2017
  #19
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The difference in converters are pretty insignificant now. 20 years ago they could make a big difference and I suppose there are some really cheap chops being made that don't do the job. Even if there was a converter quality issue, most people don't know what to listen for in order to identify them as a problem.

The converter (DAC) don't produce the kind of fidelity issues most people associate with analog audio. There can be digital artifacts, jitter, distortions and pops/crackles. Digital to Analog converters are manufactured almost exclusively on integrated circuits and the best ones are created by a few companies who specialize in this type of chip architecture. Many audio interfaces share the same DAC circuits (Cirrus Logic chips show up in many devices.) There are many kinds of DAC's and companies are constantly trying to create better chips.

Today even your low end interfaces use high quality converters so much of the controversy of one interfaces converters being better then another have completely disappeared. So long as you compare interfaces of the same age, there shouldn't be much difference in conversion. Its when you compare old with new the differences can sometimes be more significant.

I can say, even my oldest ISIS PCI card from the 90's can still do a fabulous job recording. Its too bad its drivers couldn't be updated beyond Win ME. It had the wrong chip architecture for XP and above.

The biggest differences you'll find between interfaces is undoubtedly the quality of the analog portion of the device, its recording and playback preamps. This falls under the same heading as microphone preamps having varying differences in quality/gain/coloration etc. The DAC will scan anything its fed. Feed it a quality analog signal and you'll have a quality recording. Feed it cheap tinny mic tones from sucky preamps, that's exactly what you'll get.

Overall, the manufacturers do a great job matching the best preamps to the converters given the price range and the quality of the interface has practically nothing to do with the quality of the recordings you get. If I were to break it out into percentages I'd likely rate it like this:

1. Inexperience/lack of knowledge, lack of patience learning to record properly, over expectations of existing skills 30%
2. Inexperience mixing/mastering/use of software/monitors/room acoustics/targeting proper goals etc. 30%
3. Quality of the source of sound, Musical skills, performing, arrangements, (misidentifying musical issues with gear) 30%
4. Quality of recording gear/ buying the right gear for the job, instruments/amps etc. 10%


Most issues getting a good recording should fall under these categories. You can surely tweak the percentages based on an individuals experience levels.
I left #4 low because the quality of gear today is vastly superior to any time in the past. Even the least expensive mics and instruments and interfaces are capable of making good recordings.

The question is what are the recording for. If you need a first class album its highly unlikely you'll get that done in your bedroom unless you have 10 or more years to waste learning how to do it.

I think the important thing is to simply be aware these categories exist. If I were to list these in order of importance, #3 overshadows them all. If you cant play music well and sound good playing why bother recording. Nothing inside that computer is a short cut to being a great performer who produces great tones worth listening to. Everything else can be sub par in comparison, in fact the audio quality can be very bad yet people can identify a great musical performance.

On the flip side, you can have the best gear, best mix and best playback monitors and all it does is make performers skills, or lack of more apparent.
In other words, if you musical skills are good or suck, the transparent details brought out in a quality recording are self evident.

I think many who get into recording too soon after just learning to play become discouraged because they begin to actually hear what they sound like and don't like the results. They are impatient and focus on gear as being a cause of the poor results instead of the music. I think that's where many in my generation had an edge. Few people could afford quality recording gear. For what you spend $500 on for a basic setup, it would have cost +10K for a similar setup and that was 40 years ago. 10K then was more like 50K today.

Musicians were much more communal playing together and sharing ideas. They didn't have DAW's or drum machines to play along with themselves. If they wanted to play, they played out live with other musicians. This sets up disciplines much more important to getting a good source of sound and playing parts flawlessly from beginning to end.

If you did record it was a group effort where everyone paid they're fair share. Even a 3 song demo might cost you a grand or more in a small studio so it put even more pressure on playing well and rehearsing those songs to death before you ever thought about recording. 6 months rehearsing several times a week, then playing out for a year was pretty typical. By then you'd know your part and everyone else's too. If the players have what it takes to take it to the next pay scale and making that demo was the next step on the ladder. Then another year you might think about doing an original album, if your players had the creative talent to get the job done.

This was pretty typical of how all pro bands worked. They'd work the local club circuits playing several nights a week, every week for years. It was a job, not a hobby. Compared to what people are doing today its just isn't the same thing. A good 50% are perfectly happy with it being a hobby. Maybe another 25% have hopes of playing professionally. You have another 20% that play part time and that last 5% full time on an off. That number keeps shrinking because there simply isn't much money left in the business recording or performing. Last club band I was in we made $2500 a night which wasn't bad but we only played out once or twice a month, most of that was private and business parties. Recording has pretty much become a tool for music writing at this point. Likely less then 1% make money selling albums any more. Commercial advertisement for radio spots does better then what most musicians can pull in these days.

I realize my rambling doesn't have much to do with interfaces beyond the fact, its of such small potatoes compared to everything else in the big picture. I make recordings so I don't have to waste countless hours communicating with other musicians in a live rehearsal setting. If people are able to learn by listening on they're own time, they likely have good musical skills. I don't need to spend the kind of time needed to make high quality recordings until the band is up to speed and is ready to record those songs.

I usually go well beyond what's needed for my purposes, mainly because I'm a perfectionist, but even with my relatively modest gear, the interfaces I use are just about the lowest thing on my list of importance when it comes to audio quality. Its one of those things, one you get it you can forget it as being a big contributing factor. Its technically interesting but rarely a bottleneck.
Old 20th June 2017
  #20
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trock's Avatar
 

I have had an interesting run with converters, speaking for myself I have had RME FF 800 -> Yamaha N12 - >Apogee Symphony -> MKii

i was exepcting the N12 to Symphony to be HUGE but it wasn't, however once i got used to the Symphony I did hear some differences. I would play the exact mixes done on the N12 thru the Symphony in a well treated room with opals. its not a huge diff, but there was more clarity and depth and it helped, was it worth it? eh, not sure, but it was not HUGE at all. So it made my decision to go to an MKii alot easier and as I expected the MKii had no let down compared to the symphony and i got alot more in that box that i wanted.

so for me, i dont think there is alot of diff at a certain level at all. for me it then comes down to stability support and workflow
Old 20th June 2017
  #21
JAT
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Too often the entire system is overlooked. Don't hear a difference between preamps? Maybe it is the pres, maybe it is the room, or the speakers, or, most tricky, your ears. You'll find plenty of people to say there is no difference in sound, but will only play X brand and year of guitar. Since they are a guitar player they can hear (and feel) the difference - why should engineers be any different? They have their favorite chains and techniques from playing them so often and know that an Neumann > Neve > La2a works on vocals, esp. female (among other instruments), and is nigh perfect if you drive everything right.

The simple fact is the differences you can hear are subtle, and it helps to know what you are listening for. And you have to have a system that can show those subtle differences. Each of those factors can keep you from being sure you hear what is there. If you don't hear it, don't worry. If you keep recording and put some money into your system, you probably will. And it doesn't mean your old recordings are crap, just not as good as they could be. And sometimes, the older stuff is better. I recorded a Jimmy Rodgers cover with a band where ancient Presonus pres were kinda cloudy and those worked better for a vintage effect, rather than cleaner and brighter TC pres/conversion. An anomoly, sure, but just goes to show you to use what you got.
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