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Looking for the best sounding audio interface Audio Interfaces
Old 10th February 2018
  #31
Lives for gear
 

With regards to HP amps at Babyface Pro, I think, it's one of most apparent improvements over Babyface, when I've tried it.
Satisfaction with it naturally depends on personal preferences for listening level and also on used headphones.

There are certain types of headphones like planar magnetic types with lower sensitivity (Audeze for example) or some older, hard to drive, 600 Ohm studio headphones (like older Bayers, which were used in times, when it was rather common to drive multiple pairs by normal power amp), which IMO doesn't really work properly with integrated headphone amps in any audio interface, you really need a dedicated amp, which is pushing significant power to them IME.
FWIW I haven't experienced any volume or quality issues with BF Pro and several different cans, I've tested - say Sennheisers HD280, HD580, HD800, AKG K240 up to portable Koss Porta Pros with notebook.. I couldn't say that about original BF.
One additional note to BF Pro HP amps.. there are two sockets, but each has own separate driver. So if you connect two headphones or single headphones and say some alternative active speaker pair or line-out feed, then there's no impedance interaction and deterioration with running both outs simultaneously, which is definitely worthwhile advantage over some designs, where you have two jack sockets simply wired in parallel.
Small 3,5mm socket has different properties than larger one, and it's designed to drive some more sensitive low impedance headphones like some IEM. It has low own output impedance and lower gain compared to the the other one. You might try both to find, what will be better fit for your particular headphones.

Also when you for any reason decide to use external unbalanced HP amp, you can easily feed it by one of those outputs at unity gain just with any standard 3,5mm TRS->2xRCA adapter cable without any concerns about quality drop compared to XLR outs.
My affordable tip for such route is Schiit Magni 3.. I've got it at the end of last year, primarily because I was curious, how it sounds for such price and how they managed to do that from discrete components (as opposed to more common designs with op-amps or ICs).
I have to say, it's fantastic value IMO. It has own beefy 15V PS, it can put up to 1,3W into 50ohm. So if someone has issues with headphones volume or generally some crappy amps, it's my honest recommendation.

Michal
Old 11th February 2018
  #32
Here for the gear
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by msmucr View Post
With regards to HP amps at Babyface Pro, I think, it's one of most apparent improvements over Babyface, when I've tried it.
Satisfaction with it naturally depends on personal preferences for listening level and also on used headphones.

There are certain types of headphones like planar magnetic types with lower sensitivity (Audeze for example) or some older, hard to drive, 600 Ohm studio headphones (like older Bayers, which were used in times, when it was rather common to drive multiple pairs by normal power amp), which IMO doesn't really work properly with integrated headphone amps in any audio interface, you really need a dedicated amp, which is pushing significant power to them IME.
FWIW I haven't experienced any volume or quality issues with BF Pro and several different cans, I've tested - say Sennheisers HD280, HD580, HD800, AKG K240 up to portable Koss Porta Pros with notebook.. I couldn't say that about original BF.
One additional note to BF Pro HP amps.. there are two sockets, but each has own separate driver. So if you connect two headphones or single headphones and say some alternative active speaker pair or line-out feed, then there's no impedance interaction and deterioration with running both outs simultaneously, which is definitely worthwhile advantage over some designs, where you have two jack sockets simply wired in parallel.
Small 3,5mm socket has different properties than larger one, and it's designed to drive some more sensitive low impedance headphones like some IEM. It has low own output impedance and lower gain compared to the the other one. You might try both to find, what will be better fit for your particular headphones.

Also when you for any reason decide to use external unbalanced HP amp, you can easily feed it by one of those outputs at unity gain just with any standard 3,5mm TRS->2xRCA adapter cable without any concerns about quality drop compared to XLR outs.
My affordable tip for such route is Schiit Magni 3.. I've got it at the end of last year, primarily because I was curious, how it sounds for such price and how they managed to do that from discrete components (as opposed to more common designs with op-amps or ICs).
I have to say, it's fantastic value IMO. It has own beefy 15V PS, it can put up to 1,3W into 50ohm. So if someone has issues with headphones volume or generally some crappy amps, it's my honest recommendation.

Michal
Thanks again Michal

I have a pair of Beyer DT770 Pro 80s that I 've had for about 5 years, they seem to work well with most things that I've fed them with. I did see a couple of comments on youtube that reviewers had said that they wished the BFP had a bit more HP gain, that's really my only worry. It arrives on Tuesday, so i guess we will see!

I will certainly keep the HP amp suggestion in mind, I borrowed a Scarlett 6i6 and was quite impressed with the headphone output, both in terms of clarity and volume.

I was going to ask, if, in the future, I need some extra ins and outs, I'd need an Adat interface, right? Or could something like the RME Fireface UCX be used in that way? I'm not looking to buy one, I'm just curious.

Thanks!
Old 11th February 2018
  #33
Lives for gear
 

Hi,

I believe, 80ohm variant of DT770 will be absolutely fine. Those are relatively easy to drive phones.

Regarding channel expansion.. yes, it could be done via ADAT I/Os at BF Pro. You don't need necessarily an audio interface (with own connection to PC), but AD/DA converter with ADAT and two optical cables.
Some full blown audio interfaces are possible to set into standalone mode, when it works like ADAT converter, although this isn't their primary mode of operation, as its audio interface part will be unused then.
There's quite a selection of various ADAT converters at different price levels. Budget king is Behringer ADA8200, midrange ones can be for example Presonus, Focusrite.. up to rather expensive pieces. Also you can commonly find them at used market.

Michal
Old 11th February 2018
  #34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkey_Chops View Post
Thanks again Michal

I have a pair of Beyer DT770 Pro 80s that I 've had for about 5 years, they seem to work well with most things that I've fed them with. I did see a couple of comments on youtube that reviewers had said that they wished the BFP had a bit more HP gain, that's really my only worry. It arrives on Tuesday, so i guess we will see!

I will certainly keep the HP amp suggestion in mind, I borrowed a Scarlett 6i6 and was quite impressed with the headphone output, both in terms of clarity and volume.

I was going to ask, if, in the future, I need some extra ins and outs, I'd need an Adat interface, right? Or could something like the RME Fireface UCX be used in that way? I'm not looking to buy one, I'm just curious.

Thanks!
You'll be fine. I have a DT990 Pro (250 ohms) and the BFP drives it with ease.
Old 11th February 2018
  #35
Here for the gear
 

Thread Starter
Thanks again, much appreciated
Old 11th February 2018
  #36
Lives for gear
The Babyface Pro (and a number of other choices) are perfectly adequate for an extremely detailed 24/96 or 24/192 transfer from vinyl.

I’d like to comment on previous posts doubting that vinyl is worthy of anything beyond 16/44.1.

First, the original tape AND the original vinyl usually ROLL OFF above 20khz, but they provably do not stop at that frequency (assuming that the vinyl was not mastered from a 16/44.1 digital master, and that there is nothing wrong with the playback stylus and cartridge). There is usually a little content way up there that is audible to exceptional ears and/or may interact with more audible frequencies in a way that enhances the music, even for more casual listeners.
More importantly to this thread, 16/44.1 imposes a brick wall at about 20khz. That brick wall is implemented with severe filtering that can change the audible high frequencies in a way that does not enhance content. Also, 44.1 digital samples high frequency wave forms only once, twice or at most a few times and then reconstructs those complex waveforms (somewhat inaccurately) on playback. If you intend to do any sort of EQ or manipulation of the digital signal at 16/44.1, you do not have accurate HF waveforms to start with, and your manipulation of impaired waveforms rarely results in any “audio goodness” being added.
It is not a useless wank to make vinyl transfers at a high sample rate.
Old 12th February 2018
  #37
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
The Babyface Pro (and a number of other choices) are perfectly adequate for an extremely detailed 24/96 or 24/192 transfer from vinyl.

I’d like to comment on previous posts doubting that vinyl is worthy of anything beyond 16/44.1.

First, the original tape AND the original vinyl usually ROLL OFF above 20khz, but they provably do not stop at that frequency (assuming that the vinyl was not mastered from a 16/44.1 digital master, and that there is nothing wrong with the playback stylus and cartridge). There is usually a little content way up there that is audible to exceptional ears and/or may interact with more audible frequencies in a way that enhances the music, even for more casual listeners.
More importantly to this thread, 16/44.1 imposes a brick wall at about 20khz. That brick wall is implemented with severe filtering that can change the audible high frequencies in a way that does not enhance content. Also, 44.1 digital samples high frequency wave forms only once, twice or at most a few times and then reconstructs those complex waveforms (somewhat inaccurately) on playback. If you intend to do any sort of EQ or manipulation of the digital signal at 16/44.1, you do not have accurate HF waveforms to start with, and your manipulation of impaired waveforms rarely results in any “audio goodness” being added.
It is not a useless wank to make vinyl transfers at a high sample rate.
Most digital systems nowadays employ over-sampling at the front and back ends of the system. So there is no brickwall analog filtering in these systems. At 8x oversampling most or all of the filter anomalies are pushed outside of the audio band.

As far as frequencies above 20KHz affecting the audio experience, hard to say. Possible.
Old 12th February 2018
  #38
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
I’d like to comment on previous posts doubting that vinyl is worthy of anything beyond 16/44.1.

First, the original tape AND the original vinyl usually ROLL OFF above 20khz, but they provably do not stop at that frequency (assuming that the vinyl was not mastered from a 16/44.1 digital master, and that there is nothing wrong with the playback stylus and cartridge). There is usually a little content way up there that is audible to exceptional ears and/or may interact with more audible frequencies in a way that enhances the music, even for more casual listeners.
More importantly to this thread, 16/44.1 imposes a brick wall at about 20khz. That brick wall is implemented with severe filtering that can change the audible high frequencies in a way that does not enhance content. Also, 44.1 digital samples high frequency wave forms only once, twice or at most a few times and then reconstructs those complex waveforms (somewhat inaccurately) on playback. If you intend to do any sort of EQ or manipulation of the digital signal at 16/44.1, you do not have accurate HF waveforms to start with, and your manipulation of impaired waveforms rarely results in any “audio goodness” being added.
It is not a useless wank to make vinyl transfers at a high sample rate.
The thought here is that you have a hard limitation with what the stylus/cartridge is capable of reproducing and that's typically 20-20kHz. I'm sure there's higher end and thus higher response models for audiophile systems, but I'm specifically referring to what you'd find in a typical DJ setup with Shure, Stanton, Ortofon and the like. Out of curiosity, I'll try recording something at 24/96 and 16/44, then comparing them to see what exists in the high end just for myself.

I'm not really disagreeing with you, it's all perfectly valid points, but for me it was just diminishing returns at the time. Whatever works for the OP or anyone else is fine by me.
Old 12th February 2018
  #39
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by GregkoNYC View Post
Since you're not looking for a typical studio unit, you should have a look at the Mytek Brooklyn. It's an audiophile converter that also has a built in phono pre. Perhaps you were intending to use your own MM or MC pre, but this would at least eliminate one component in your audio chain during recoding.


It's more or less in your price range and would complement any audiophile setup. Oh - And it will handle pretty much any format including DSD, MQA, etc.

Greg
Unfortunately, this answer to the OP is giulty of the fact that we all tend to see what we are seeking in a product - and do not check all the facts.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with the Mytek Brooklyn - in principle ( OK, even that is not entirely true, otherwise there woulds not be an improved model carrying suffix + be available ).

It is actually funny HOW this thread has been able to finally force me, longtime lurker, to join the Gearslutz. Specifically, I have been looking for a 192/24 USB "soundcard", meant primarily for measurements using ARTA and similar software. For a ton of intertwined reasons and requirements, I finally settled for Terratec DMX6 Fire 192/24 - which is a successor to the model used by the OP that went to 96kHz. Specifically, I was looking for sound quality comment(s) - for I might use it for music now and then, too. Too bad, not a word about SQ, even if for the older version.

Terms "souncard", "audio interface", "DAC", "ADC" - all can be used in context of the device in question. Depends if you ask a computer guy/gamer, audio pro, audiophile, measurement engineer, etc. And inputs and outputs required, of course.

What is "wrong" with Mytek Brooklyn ? Simple, everything - it does not exist. There is Mytek Brooklyn DAC (and improved Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ ) - and Mytek Brooklyn ADC. At $ 2k (or so ) - EACH ... For digital recording of vinyl, BOTH are required - alone DAC will only handle the playback.
Taken together, it is approx $4K "audio interface" or "soundcard" - capable of DSD256 and PCM384 recording and playback. As one of the few options that can work with these sampling rates, to my knowledge the least expensive one if 2 channel stereo is all that is required.

Merging Horus and Hapi are 8 channel devices capable of the same sampling rates at appeciable higher prices - and there are a few others I am not familiar with even on "saw it on internet" basis. I am familiar with Mytek Brooklyn DAC - and a friend just took the delivery of Mytek Broolyn DAC+, which I hope I will be capable of auditioning soon.
Old 13th February 2018
  #40
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkey_Chops View Post
Hi,

I'm looking for recommendations for a good quality audio interface.

I have 2500 or so vinyl records to archive and I have been looking for a high end (maybe?) audio interface that can help extract as much detail as possible. I have done much reading and the difficulty I'm having is that because this isn't the conventional use, there's not much information around, so while people might recommend one unit because it has excellent mic pres, I'm not sure if that translates into giving me the best sound from a line in from a turntable via a phono stage.

I'm open to USB or thunderbolt, don't mind spending a bit extra if it's worth it, but it needs to be fuss free and rock solid, as well as sounding great.

Gear I'm using:

Technics SL1200Mk5 with upgraded cables and RCA connectors.
Phono stage, yet to be decided upon.
iMac 21.5 2017 that has TB3.

Any help, much appreciated, thanks
I am sorry I did not stumble upon this thread a bit sooner - before you opted for RME Babyface Pro.

At the time, as far as I know, for your budget mentioned, stretched by not too much, the best option is Tascam DA-3000 - which has been mentioned among the answers. It is a DSD ( up to DSD128 ) and PCM 192/24 recorder. It can be used as USB ADC and/or DAC, it supports both balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA inputs/outputs; something RME does not do, it only supports balanced XLR.

I spent the last week digging all possible information regarding a "soundcard" primarily meant for audio measurements using ARTA and similar software. For a myriad of intertwined reasons, ending up ordering Terratec DMX 6 Fire 192/24, a succesor to the model you used to use back in the day - and that is how I stumbled on this thread, as I was hoping to see any mentions of sound quality for the Terratec, even if a model of the previous generation.

In one of numerous threads regarding "measuring soundcards" there was a VERY detailed description of the experience with another balanced XLR only input card - when used with unbalanced source ( shorting one of the 3 pin XLR to the ground ). This connection resulted with approx -60 dB 2nd or 3rd order distortion readings - while this soundcard provides at least -120dB or better results with balanced connection loopback test.

I mention this because I had on loan RME Babyface and did measure using ARTA quite a few unbalanced devices - and, try as I might, could not get rid of approx -80dB second and/or third harmonic readings, even if and when DUT should have had much lower readings. Again, loopback balanced XLR check of the soundcard yielded approx -120dB or better results...

Make no mistake, RME Babyface Pro is a VERY GOOD device; I was astonished how well Babyface actually sounds, as pro gear is usually not that transparent sounding. There is one more caveat with RME; Babyface has input impedance of only 2 kohm, which is quite low for most audiophile phono preamps, where usual loads are from 10 kohms and up. Depending on phono preamp, it might mean LF response will not be as extended because the phono preamp has not been designed with so low load impedance in mind.

As digitising 2500 + LPs is a monumental task ( I am in the very same boat, give or take a couple of LPs ), I am surprised you do not mention the cartridge. OK, SL1200 is "usable" ( far from top choice ...) - but cartridge choice and in particular, proper alignment of the cartridge, is definitely make or break of this endeavour. Just to make it PERFECTLY clear, and well in advance; expect to use up/exchange at least three styli for the amount of LPs you intend to digitise - phono cartridge diamonds are NOT forever.

Before you begin, you must take care of the proper hygiene of your records. Record Cleaning Machine is a MUST when dealing with such quantity, as already at approx 200 LPs to be cleaned professionally it makes financially sense to buy your own RCM. There is nothing that can beat ultrasonic record cleaner(s) - and prices have come down to as low as 185 EUR + shipping ( and import duties, depending where you live ). There is - and never will be - software that in digital can remove as much noise, distortion, ticks and pops as a properly cleaned record can ... - so, proper cleaning is MUCH MORE important than anything else, stylus/cartridge included. Please do not forget new inner sleeves; at 2500+, a careful shopping at or close to your location is in order; audiophile boutique qty/price will, in most cases, simply not be sustainable. A decent quality inner sleeves can be found priced considerably below boutique audiophile variety - particularly for the quantity you will require.

If you need any advice regarding phono cartridges/styli, phono preamp, etc, please feel free to ask - but please always mention your budget.
Old 13th February 2018
  #41
Lives for gear
 

Hi Surviver,

I really agree with you with regards to preparation of turntable, cleaning of records.. it's completely in-line with what I wrote in one of my posts before. It's alter important to achieve good results.

Couple of personal comments to your remarks.

Personally I don't think 192k rate or DSD is really so killer feature, especially if OP intend to use recorded files also for DJing or some post-processing.

RME BF Pro compared to original BF has pair of "true" unbalanced inputs.. those are at TS jacks and has 470k input impedance. Those aren't meant just for instruments, but can be used for connection of outboard gear or phono pre.. and are very clean. I won't see any issues to use those inputs.

With regards to your description of issues with interfacing of unbalanced gear to balanced inputs, it's not really given, you'll got deteriorated signal.. First of all, I wouldn't short negative to ground by default. I know lot of people do that and that's essentially what happens, when you plug say TS cable to TRS input. Best type of such connection depends on design of particular devices (chassis vs signal grounding of connector, type of I/O stages), operating environment (some RFI hostile place, noise from comptuer) etc.
It's always kind of compromise compared to true balanced interconnection and sometimes it's best to use good balancing transformer, however my starting point for that is to use normal balanced microphone cable (twisted pair with shield) connected in standard way at XLR side, solder RCA input jack to + and - wires and leave shield (coming to pin 1) unconnected at unbalanced side... usually this works pretty well. I can further experiment with variations of what to do with the unconnected shield and test what that will do with noise (FFT analyzer like Arta is handy in that case).
I can try to connect the shield to metal source device chassis somewhere, if that's available (for example phono pre has definitely suitable screw for grounding of turntable, where would be possible to add also shield from audio interface). In specific conditions, where for example this shield connection cause hum, but it's beneficial to fight RFI, there can be also option to test simple RC filter with basically allows passing of high frequencies, while blocks the ones around mains.
Finally also shield can be connected to signal ground at RCA side and although it might look like the same like shorting it in XLR and running single conductor unbalanced cable, it isn't. In the case of two conductor cable some natural rejection of balanced receiver takes place, although it's not as efficient as with true balanced connection.
Some further reading can be found for example at Rane website among their papers.

Michal
Old 13th February 2018
  #42
Here for the gear
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by analogsurviver View Post
I am sorry I did not stumble upon this thread a bit sooner - before you opted for RME Babyface Pro.

At the time, as far as I know, for your budget mentioned, stretched by not too much, the best option is Tascam DA-3000 - which has been mentioned among the answers. It is a DSD ( up to DSD128 ) and PCM 192/24 recorder. It can be used as USB ADC and/or DAC, it supports both balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA inputs/outputs; something RME does not do, it only supports balanced XLR.

I spent the last week digging all possible information regarding a "soundcard" primarily meant for audio measurements using ARTA and similar software. For a myriad of intertwined reasons, ending up ordering Terratec DMX 6 Fire 192/24, a succesor to the model you used to use back in the day - and that is how I stumbled on this thread, as I was hoping to see any mentions of sound quality for the Terratec, even if a model of the previous generation.

In one of numerous threads regarding "measuring soundcards" there was a VERY detailed description of the experience with another balanced XLR only input card - when used with unbalanced source ( shorting one of the 3 pin XLR to the ground ). This connection resulted with approx -60 dB 2nd or 3rd order distortion readings - while this soundcard provides at least -120dB or better results with balanced connection loopback test.

I mention this because I had on loan RME Babyface and did measure using ARTA quite a few unbalanced devices - and, try as I might, could not get rid of approx -80dB second and/or third harmonic readings, even if and when DUT should have had much lower readings. Again, loopback balanced XLR check of the soundcard yielded approx -120dB or better results...

Make no mistake, RME Babyface Pro is a VERY GOOD device; I was astonished how well Babyface actually sounds, as pro gear is usually not that transparent sounding. There is one more caveat with RME; Babyface has input impedance of only 2 kohm, which is quite low for most audiophile phono preamps, where usual loads are from 10 kohms and up. Depending on phono preamp, it might mean LF response will not be as extended because the phono preamp has not been designed with so low load impedance in mind.

As digitising 2500 + LPs is a monumental task ( I am in the very same boat, give or take a couple of LPs ), I am surprised you do not mention the cartridge. OK, SL1200 is "usable" ( far from top choice ...) - but cartridge choice and in particular, proper alignment of the cartridge, is definitely make or break of this endeavour. Just to make it PERFECTLY clear, and well in advance; expect to use up/exchange at least three styli for the amount of LPs you intend to digitise - phono cartridge diamonds are NOT forever.

Before you begin, you must take care of the proper hygiene of your records. Record Cleaning Machine is a MUST when dealing with such quantity, as already at approx 200 LPs to be cleaned professionally it makes financially sense to buy your own RCM. There is nothing that can beat ultrasonic record cleaner(s) - and prices have come down to as low as 185 EUR + shipping ( and import duties, depending where you live ). There is - and never will be - software that in digital can remove as much noise, distortion, ticks and pops as a properly cleaned record can ... - so, proper cleaning is MUCH MORE important than anything else, stylus/cartridge included. Please do not forget new inner sleeves; at 2500+, a careful shopping at or close to your location is in order; audiophile boutique qty/price will, in most cases, simply not be sustainable. A decent quality inner sleeves can be found priced considerably below boutique audiophile variety - particularly for the quantity you will require.

If you need any advice regarding phono cartridges/styli, phono preamp, etc, please feel free to ask - but please always mention your budget.
Thanks for taking the time to wrote all that, much appreciated

OK, so the tascam does look fantastic and if my budget had allowed it, it would most certainly have been on the list, but my budget was £700 ish, the Tascam I couldn't find any cheaper than £957 in the UK. I did find it new in the USA for just over £500, which was quite tempting, but knowing my luck with electronic devices, posting back to the US isn't something I want to do (again!). It's a shame though, because it does tick all the boxes for recording and I'm not sure if I read correctly, but doesn't it also record direct from a turntable without the need for a phono stage?

Regarding the cleaning machine, I've always used a mix of isopropyl and/or white vinegar and a soft toothbrush, cut off and attached to an old headshell, weighted and then a drop of whatever solution I'm using on the record and let it spin for a while. It may make some people cringe, but it has always served me well. I suppose the principal is similar to some machines. It does get the records very clean though. This current batch that I'm doing have real ingrained dirt or whatever that makes quieter passages on the record sound like it is covered in tiny scratches. A spot of the solution on the record, and old stylus and play the record backwards. Believe it or not, that's usually enough to get them clean. I've tried all kind of stuff over the years, but admittedly, not a machine, so I will look into that, thanks!

The reason I never mentioned anything else really apart from the interface, was that I wasn't sure if this place was more about musician's gear. This is my first post here and wasn't sure about the answers I'd get, that's all. That said, I have a number of options and I haven't settled on anything yet. I'm not going to be making a start on the vinyl ripping until probably mid March, so plenty of time to get all the necessary bits and pieces together. If you have suggestions, please feel free to offload them. The stylus and cart will only be used for the recording of the vinyl and nothing else. I use Shure M44-7 for DJing with DVS/Serato/traktor/Whatever. They don't sound too great for real vinyl (to me at least), other than for club use as they are quite loud with an emphasised low end and quite a brash top end, but they stick like glue for DJ stuff. I also have an Ortofon Arkiv that I got in a deal. Now that does sound reasonable, I ripped a few records with it and the recordings sounded not bad at all, given that the Turntable had it's original fixed RCAs.

The budget for stylus, I dunno, it's not something I've bought before, just DJ stylus and carts. £100 sound right?

Much of the vinyl will be sold, that's why I want to archive it at the best possible quality. Unfortunately, the collection is in our bedroom and it is taking up too much room! I'm down to a 2ft x 6ft corner of a bedroom in my own house now

So, about the Babyface. I've only just unpacked it and had a bit of an A/B comparison with the borrowed Gen 1 Scarlett 6i6, purely using it as a headphone amp via Ableton. First impressions are that it does go louder than the 6i6. It sounds a touch more detailed, but it also kind of sounds a little coarse on the high mids and highs when pushed. The 6i6 will go full whack with no obvious signs of it struggling. I think it is just a different type of sound, more clinical (Babyface Pro) vs slightly warmer (6i6). I will persevere with this and see what i can come up with. The headphone amp was one of the things that attracted me to the Presonus Quantum 2, I'd seen a few people mention that they were very good.

Thanks for the help
Old 13th February 2018
  #43
Gear Head
 

Best sounding for who?
Old 13th February 2018
  #44
Here for the gear
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by the_mixer View Post
Best sounding for who?
What do you mean?
Old 13th February 2018
  #45
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by msmucr View Post
Hi Surviver,

I really agree with you with regards to preparation of turntable, cleaning of records.. it's completely in-line with what I wrote in one of my posts before. It's alter important to achieve good results.

Couple of personal comments to your remarks.

Personally I don't think 192k rate or DSD is really so killer feature, especially if OP intend to use recorded files also for DJing or some post-processing.

RME BF Pro compared to original BF has pair of "true" unbalanced inputs.. those are at TS jacks and has 470k input impedance. Those aren't meant just for instruments, but can be used for connection of outboard gear or phono pre.. and are very clean. I won't see any issues to use those inputs.

With regards to your description of issues with interfacing of unbalanced gear to balanced inputs, it's not really given, you'll got deteriorated signal.. First of all, I wouldn't short negative to ground by default. I know lot of people do that and that's essentially what happens, when you plug say TS cable to TRS input. Best type of such connection depends on design of particular devices (chassis vs signal grounding of connector, type of I/O stages), operating environment (some RFI hostile place, noise from comptuer) etc.
It's always kind of compromise compared to true balanced interconnection and sometimes it's best to use good balancing transformer, however my starting point for that is to use normal balanced microphone cable (twisted pair with shield) connected in standard way at XLR side, solder RCA input jack to + and - wires and leave shield (coming to pin 1) unconnected at unbalanced side... usually this works pretty well. I can further experiment with variations of what to do with the unconnected shield and test what that will do with noise (FFT analyzer like Arta is handy in that case).
I can try to connect the shield to metal source device chassis somewhere, if that's available (for example phono pre has definitely suitable screw for grounding of turntable, where would be possible to add also shield from audio interface). In specific conditions, where for example this shield connection cause hum, but it's beneficial to fight RFI, there can be also option to test simple RC filter with basically allows passing of high frequencies, while blocks the ones around mains.
Finally also shield can be connected to signal ground at RCA side and although it might look like the same like shorting it in XLR and running single conductor unbalanced cable, it isn't. In the case of two conductor cable some natural rejection of balanced receiver takes place, although it's not as efficient as with true balanced connection.
Some further reading can be found for example at Rane website among their papers.

Michal
Hi Michal !

I agree with most you have said - to a point.

Thank you on pointing out RME Babyface Pro does sport "proper" unbalanced line input with high enough impedance - I did not know that.

I thank you for your explanations and suggestions regarding unbalanced to balanced connection - since XLRs are otherwise banned from everything I do, for more reasons than just increased distortion whenever unbalanced to balanced transitiion occurs. For the same reasons, Bruel & Kjaer always uses unbalanced connection for all the measurements. Therefore, until recently when I have been forced to, I adhered to the " I would not touch XLR with a barge pole" position - firmly so.

Regarding the sample rate for capturing vinyl - I could have not disagree more. Analog records contain signals ( be it intended recording or artefacts/distortion ) that exceed each and every digital medium so far, including DSD512 and PCM764 - with output past 250 kHz. Using commercially available test records, reliable sine sweep response up to 67 kHz ( 50 khz sweep recorded at 33 1/3 RPM played back at 45 RPM ) is definitely possible to measure.

Even if it is a far fetched and extreme case : approx 120 kHz signal has been recorded to a regular analog record ( late Stan Ricker managed to record the bias from tape machine - even if not intentionally .... ) - and that CAN be played back in real time by at least one cartridge - Technics EPC-(P)100CMK4 .
On more regular basis, CD-4 records requiring accurate tracking of carrier approx 45 kHz were commercially available product; too bad that only Japanese could master this technology properly, either from point of view of cartridges ( original JVC CD-4 cartridge is, 40+ years later, still one of the Holy Grails of analog ) or vinyl formulation(s) capable of anything approaching decent record life. That's why CD-4 never took off properly and ultimately failed in the market - but has contributed to better phono cartridges and styli to this very day.

Just how good is the "record player as a whole" - and its digital recording - can be listened to how does it treat the - scratch. PCM44.1kHz sampling is definitely too slow - which is also true of PCM96kHz. Things get better with PCM192, but start to sound almost indistibuishable from the original with DSD128. Still, not QUITE there. That is why I will postpone my vinyl transfer untill I have the DSD256 capability.

However, it has to be said that cartridges that go that high - and particularly those that do behave themselves really well up to and beyond mentioned frequencies - are few and far in between, most of the time being vintage models from the golden age of analog, nowadays in so extremely short supply that I do not even wish to disclose which make/models they are/were. They used to be TOTL ( or very close to TOTL ) 3-4 decades ago, that is to say they were costly back then; today, NOS or mint/still usable samples command silly prices - if and when they appear for sale at all. Although I did measure lots of present day or more "recent" cartridges, I have not found ( yet ) anything that can compare to the best champions of the past. Even from the very same manufacturers...

Phono cartridges/styli are also notorious for their sample to sample variation(s) ; there is no way one can be certain that the sample purchased is truly ship-shape; except perhaps in rare cases where the manufacturer selects
to within certain criteria, selling the same model for different prices according to how tight tolerances are attained by each and every sample in question. If the manufacturer does offer such possibility and the user has the means and knowledge to align the cartridge optimally, it is no doubt a very sound idea to purchase the tightest tolerance/highest price option.

I have, unfortunately, been able to see/measure/hear many 4 digit price in $ cartridges that were, basically, rejects ... - so price alone, unless in the 5 digit zone with first digit not neceserilly being 1, is no guarantee of a "perfect" stylus.

Why did I mention all of the above details ? So that OP can decide for himself how far he wishes to go. If the cartridge is a DJ model ( anything sold by Stanton or Ortofon today ), it is rolled off just above 20 kHz thus capturing its output up to 96kHz using 192kHz sampling rate is not only overkill, but wasteful. But moving not too far higher in price ( say Denon DL-110 or DL-160 ) already requires response to 40 kHz ... - and so on. Unlike digital, analog can quickly become botomle$$ pit ...

I have to say I have not found anything better for recording (vynil or live music ) than DSD so far. To be exact - DSD128 at the time, with eyes longingly on DSD256.

Are you possibly familiar with any OBJECTIVE comparisons among software for conversion of DSD to PCM ? I did find one measurable discrepancy with any PCM sample rate so far I find audible and disturbing to the point I always prefer native DSD ( DSD is inherently free of this issue ) - regardless of all the hassles it imposes on the post production in as native DSD as possible ( requiring Merging or Sonoma DAW, after Sadie discontinued support for DSD ) ? I am curious whether others have identified the same problem; I have not been able to find any mentions of the specific problem so far, almost all comparisons I did see published concentrating on frequency response/filtering - and even that with a SINGLE channel. Any help most appreciated !

Aleksander
Old 13th February 2018
  #46
Lives for gear
This is getting into outer orbit esoteric hoohaw. We seem not far from hearing that DC to light is not really acceptable frequency response. I expect this thread and the one about alien audio are contenders for that occurrence.
Old 13th February 2018
  #47
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
This is getting into outer orbit esoteric hoohaw. We seem not far from hearing that DC to light is not really acceptable frequency response. I expect this thread and the one about alien audio are contenders for that occurrence.
This is why I peruse Gearslutz wearing my trusty tinfoil hat.
Old 13th February 2018
  #48
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkey_Chops View Post
What do you mean?
Best sounding interface does not exist, because it's a very subjective matter. The same goes for all audio equipment. BTW, what's your budget?
Old 13th February 2018
  #49
Here for the gear
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by the_mixer View Post
Best sounding interface does not exist, because it's a very subjective matter. The same goes for all audio equipment. BTW, what's your budget?
I realise that, but it wouldn't fit in the title £700 ish was the budget, already bought the Babyface Pro. What would you have suggested?

Just posting here because if enough people recommend something, it's got to be at least worth a look? The choice is bewildering, so the more ideas, the merrier! Cheers.
Old 13th February 2018
  #50
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by the_mixer View Post
Best sounding interface does not exist
Or it’s in a bunker in Area 51, next to you-know-what.
(Cue the theremin!)
Old 13th February 2018
  #51
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkey_Chops View Post
Thanks for taking the time to wrote all that, much appreciated

OK, so the tascam does look fantastic and if my budget had allowed it, it would most certainly have been on the list, but my budget was £700 ish, the Tascam I couldn't find any cheaper than £957 in the UK. I did find it new in the USA for just over £500, which was quite tempting, but knowing my luck with electronic devices, posting back to the US isn't something I want to do (again!). It's a shame though, because it does tick all the boxes for recording and I'm not sure if I read correctly, but doesn't it also record direct from a turntable without the need for a phono stage?

Regarding the cleaning machine, I've always used a mix of isopropyl and/or white vinegar and a soft toothbrush, cut off and attached to an old headshell, weighted and then a drop of whatever solution I'm using on the record and let it spin for a while. It may make some people cringe, but it has always served me well. I suppose the principal is similar to some machines. It does get the records very clean though. This current batch that I'm doing have real ingrained dirt or whatever that makes quieter passages on the record sound like it is covered in tiny scratches. A spot of the solution on the record, and old stylus and play the record backwards. Believe it or not, that's usually enough to get them clean. I've tried all kind of stuff over the years, but admittedly, not a machine, so I will look into that, thanks!

The reason I never mentioned anything else really apart from the interface, was that I wasn't sure if this place was more about musician's gear. This is my first post here and wasn't sure about the answers I'd get, that's all. That said, I have a number of options and I haven't settled on anything yet. I'm not going to be making a start on the vinyl ripping until probably mid March, so plenty of time to get all the necessary bits and pieces together. If you have suggestions, please feel free to offload them. The stylus and cart will only be used for the recording of the vinyl and nothing else. I use Shure M44-7 for DJing with DVS/Serato/traktor/Whatever. They don't sound too great for real vinyl (to me at least), other than for club use as they are quite loud with an emphasised low end and quite a brash top end, but they stick like glue for DJ stuff. I also have an Ortofon Arkiv that I got in a deal. Now that does sound reasonable, I ripped a few records with it and the recordings sounded not bad at all, given that the Turntable had it's original fixed RCAs.

The budget for stylus, I dunno, it's not something I've bought before, just DJ stylus and carts. £100 sound right?

Much of the vinyl will be sold, that's why I want to archive it at the best possible quality. Unfortunately, the collection is in our bedroom and it is taking up too much room! I'm down to a 2ft x 6ft corner of a bedroom in my own house now

So, about the Babyface. I've only just unpacked it and had a bit of an A/B comparison with the borrowed Gen 1 Scarlett 6i6, purely using it as a headphone amp via Ableton. First impressions are that it does go louder than the 6i6. It sounds a touch more detailed, but it also kind of sounds a little coarse on the high mids and highs when pushed. The 6i6 will go full whack with no obvious signs of it struggling. I think it is just a different type of sound, more clinical (Babyface Pro) vs slightly warmer (6i6). I will persevere with this and see what i can come up with. The headphone amp was one of the things that attracted me to the Presonus Quantum 2, I'd seen a few people mention that they were very good.

Thanks for the help
No problem, you welcome !

I am a newbie on gearsalutz as well, not knowing exactly how things work over here - particularly regarding private messages. I would like to send you one to help you out.

Regarding the record cleaning - I admit to cringing at your method, but considering the condiion of a few DJ's records I got to see, you take very good care of your records...

I suggest you to check for "ultrasonic vynil record cleaner" on Youtube; from ultra high end ( 5k and up ) to DIY . There is even ready made, perfectly usable US RCM for 185 EUR; usually, one can not even buy components required for this outlay ...

To answer regarding TASCAM DA-3000 - no, it does not have a phono stage built in.

One example of phono stage that performs better than its price suggests is the TC-750 built in China. It is a fully discrete design and costs roughly 40 $/eur/Lstg/ whatever - depending where you are buying it from. Please do not dismiss it because of the low price; you would have to move apreciably up with intended phono cartridge etc in order for the phono preamp to require upgrade. It can also be called TCC-750 in some markets. Its only limitation is the input capacitance, set quite high with added 220pF capacitors on the input - a typical capacitance load with phono cartridge cable combined ending too high for some MM cartridges. If you are reasonably good with a soldering iron, it is about 10 minute job to remove those 2 capacitors.

There are other phono preamps, but nothing really worth the difference in price unless you are willing to spend A LOT MORE, not just say 100 LSTG-ish.

I advise against it; the money is better spent on a decent, better cartridge/stylus. A better cartridge/stylus with lower priced phono preamp will always perform better than a better phono preamp with a lower priced cartridge/stylus, particularly if the amount of money for both will be kept constant.

I am afraid 100 LSTG ( British Pounds ) is the lowest limit to be spent on a new phono cartridge - unless you are very lucky and score some vintage NOS model that for one or another reason somehow managed to sneak below the radar of people in market for a new cartridge and its sale price does not reach the level it should considering its true objective quality. These opportunities are getting ever rarer and will eventually dry up for good. Over the last 3 years or so, the prices for phono equipment have gone considerably up - on average 2 to 3 times, both for new and vintage.

One serious consideration; only you can judge how well you can take care of the cartridge/stylus; because there are stylus tip profiles that last much longer amount of time prior to threatening an irreparable damage to the grooves due to wear compared to the common elliptical - but they do cost more and if you are a bit more clumsy or have small children in the household, they may well not live quite to their death due to natural causes (wear). But a Micro Line stylus tip profile should, if taken proper care of, last approx 1000 hours of play with CLEAN records; not exactly as new, but definitely not starting to erase high frequencies in inner grooves. An elliptical will only manage about half that time , so approx 500 hours prior it gets worn to a point when permanent damage to the record is guaranteed with a single play. So, cold mathematics: 2500 LPs, assume 40 minutes programe for one LP , that is 1667 hours ( if all the recordings will be performed at the first time, without any oopses and recording level adjustment(s) ) or, under more real world conditions, for 2000 hours with usual mistake here and there, not to mention recording level adjustments. That is to say you will eventually end up using/wearing down two Micro Linear styli - or four or more of any other stylus tip profile. Provided they do not get damaged/destroyed before by improper handling, children, pets or the ultimate nemesis of phono cartridges - The Cleaning Lady.

Please do note the times given above are maximum, not some assumption that has still a healthy reserve built-in; whoever will tell you otherwise, does not wish your records well. For truly proper inspection of the stylus tip profile for wear, a very high magnification ( approx 1000x ) metalurgy microscope is required - and it takes experience to look for the vear properly. By the time you can actually see wear on a stylus using an USB microscope, without knowing perfectly what to look for and how to best spot it, if at all - it is FAR too late; if any stylus is collecting white-ish "dust" on itself while playing a clean record, REPLACE IT IMMEDIATELY - because that "white-ish dust" is nothing else but erased high frequencies from YOUR records; no remedy can restore them back to anything approaching the original condition. All the "glory" of a worn stylus is clearly visible to even complete layman on an electron scanning microscope - but hardly any are available to even most high heeled users of phono cartridges. Even most manufacturers do not posses one ... - because of the price.

You would not believe after what little amount of play the diamond styli - according to manufacturers who made them in the first place - have already been recommended for replacement; sometimes well below 100 hours of play !!! The most severe "testers for stylus wear" are/were women who actually produce/test for QC of cartridges/styli ... after hearing that ( and seeing the hole burnt in your pocket ), my above mentioned figures come as a blessed relief. But are streched to the absolute limit - if you want to preserve the quality of your records.
Old 13th February 2018
  #52
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkey_Chops View Post
I realise that, but it wouldn't fit in the title £700 ish was the budget, already bought the Babyface Pro. What would you have suggested?

Just posting here because if enough people recommend something, it's got to be at least worth a look? The choice is bewildering, so the more ideas, the merrier! Cheers.
RME is a very good choice, I own the FF 802 myself Another great choice would be Audient iD22. I had it for a while - very clean sound both preamps and converters.
Old 14th February 2018
  #53
Here for the gear
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by analogsurviver View Post
No problem, you welcome !

I am a newbie on gearsalutz as well, not knowing exactly how things work over here - particularly regarding private messages. I would like to send you one to help you out.

Regarding the record cleaning - I admit to cringing at your method, but considering the condiion of a few DJ's records I got to see, you take very good care of your records...

I suggest you to check for "ultrasonic vynil record cleaner" on Youtube; from ultra high end ( 5k and up ) to DIY . There is even ready made, perfectly usable US RCM for 185 EUR; usually, one can not even buy components required for this outlay ...

To answer regarding TASCAM DA-3000 - no, it does not have a phono stage built in.

One example of phono stage that performs better than its price suggests is the TC-750 built in China. It is a fully discrete design and costs roughly 40 $/eur/Lstg/ whatever - depending where you are buying it from. Please do not dismiss it because of the low price; you would have to move apreciably up with intended phono cartridge etc in order for the phono preamp to require upgrade. It can also be called TCC-750 in some markets. Its only limitation is the input capacitance, set quite high with added 220pF capacitors on the input - a typical capacitance load with phono cartridge cable combined ending too high for some MM cartridges. If you are reasonably good with a soldering iron, it is about 10 minute job to remove those 2 capacitors.

There are other phono preamps, but nothing really worth the difference in price unless you are willing to spend A LOT MORE, not just say 100 LSTG-ish.

I advise against it; the money is better spent on a decent, better cartridge/stylus. A better cartridge/stylus with lower priced phono preamp will always perform better than a better phono preamp with a lower priced cartridge/stylus, particularly if the amount of money for both will be kept constant.

I am afraid 100 LSTG ( British Pounds ) is the lowest limit to be spent on a new phono cartridge - unless you are very lucky and score some vintage NOS model that for one or another reason somehow managed to sneak below the radar of people in market for a new cartridge and its sale price does not reach the level it should considering its true objective quality. These opportunities are getting ever rarer and will eventually dry up for good. Over the last 3 years or so, the prices for phono equipment have gone considerably up - on average 2 to 3 times, both for new and vintage.

One serious consideration; only you can judge how well you can take care of the cartridge/stylus; because there are stylus tip profiles that last much longer amount of time prior to threatening an irreparable damage to the grooves due to wear compared to the common elliptical - but they do cost more and if you are a bit more clumsy or have small children in the household, they may well not live quite to their death due to natural causes (wear). But a Micro Line stylus tip profile should, if taken proper care of, last approx 1000 hours of play with CLEAN records; not exactly as new, but definitely not starting to erase high frequencies in inner grooves. An elliptical will only manage about half that time , so approx 500 hours prior it gets worn to a point when permanent damage to the record is guaranteed with a single play. So, cold mathematics: 2500 LPs, assume 40 minutes programe for one LP , that is 1667 hours ( if all the recordings will be performed at the first time, without any oopses and recording level adjustment(s) ) or, under more real world conditions, for 2000 hours with usual mistake here and there, not to mention recording level adjustments. That is to say you will eventually end up using/wearing down two Micro Linear styli - or four or more of any other stylus tip profile. Provided they do not get damaged/destroyed before by improper handling, children, pets or the ultimate nemesis of phono cartridges - The Cleaning Lady.

Please do note the times given above are maximum, not some assumption that has still a healthy reserve built-in; whoever will tell you otherwise, does not wish your records well. For truly proper inspection of the stylus tip profile for wear, a very high magnification ( approx 1000x ) metalurgy microscope is required - and it takes experience to look for the vear properly. By the time you can actually see wear on a stylus using an USB microscope, without knowing perfectly what to look for and how to best spot it, if at all - it is FAR too late; if any stylus is collecting white-ish "dust" on itself while playing a clean record, REPLACE IT IMMEDIATELY - because that "white-ish dust" is nothing else but erased high frequencies from YOUR records; no remedy can restore them back to anything approaching the original condition. All the "glory" of a worn stylus is clearly visible to even complete layman on an electron scanning microscope - but hardly any are available to even most high heeled users of phono cartridges. Even most manufacturers do not posses one ... - because of the price.

You would not believe after what little amount of play the diamond styli - according to manufacturers who made them in the first place - have already been recommended for replacement; sometimes well below 100 hours of play !!! The most severe "testers for stylus wear" are/were women who actually produce/test for QC of cartridges/styli ... after hearing that ( and seeing the hole burnt in your pocket ), my above mentioned figures come as a blessed relief. But are streched to the absolute limit - if you want to preserve the quality of your records.
Thanks for all the info again, much appreciated, I'll start looking into this once I sort this Babyface Pro out, having sound quality issues at the moment.
Old 14th February 2018
  #54
Here for the gear
 

Thread Starter
Ignore this, I've sorted it!
Old 14th February 2018
  #55
Lives for gear
 

Hi,

I'm not sure, what's going on.
If there's some increased distortion, it could exhibit as emphasized sibilance, ugly highs etc. Excluding clipped signal before it reaches the amp, this increased distortion could be in amp due to lack of power or in headphones itself, when you really abuse them with volume.
How does it behave, if you lower the listening volume?

As I've mentioned earlier, for example my HD800 are 300 ohm headphones and could be driven to moderate volume (up to the extent, it was uncomfortable, but well that's a personal thing) with BF Pro. Yours 80 ohm DT 770 are less sensitive than HD800 by 6dB, but on the other hand thanks to its lower impedance, it requires much less voltage swing to drive them.
Diogo's mentioned DT 990 Pro has very similar sensitivity as your 770, but with three times higher impedance, so higher voltage is necessary to properly drive them to the same level.
Hence I wouldn't really expect, BF Pro amp won't be sufficient with your cans.

I haven't done any direct comparison between Scarlett 6i6 and BF Pro, but its HP amp seemed to be definitely better than in 2i4, which we use at field NLE editing suite for voiceovers.
With regards to rated output power of HP amp there is 50mW, which is somewhat in-line with most of other compact interfaces. Smaller socket has tad more power, lower impedance, but also 6dB lower voltage. You might try that with adapter, but I don't think, it would be a change for a better according to your description.

Headphone output sound there shouldn't be really affected by TotalMix (TM) settings, unless you apply some EQ there.. besides of that, it's just levels and mixing signals from your applications or physical inputs you can control from there.
If you're in doubt, there's something wrong, you can do some basic setup of TM from scratch.

Quick way..
- Menu / Options / Reset Mix / Total Reset
- hit Assign button at monitoring section and assign physical output PH 3/4 to Phones 1 and AN 1/2 (likely where you have your monitors connected) to Main out.
- Menu / Options / Reset Mix / Straight playback with all to Main Out
...
Then if you don't want to route specifically to headphones output (PH 3/4) at your software and rather prefer to always hear the same signal as in your monitors.
- right click to Main output fader and select "Copy/Mirror output Main" from context menu
- right click to Phones output fader and select "Mirror of output Main" from context menu

That's basically everything you can do in TM. From that point, it's just about level control of output fader, which is also affected by top panel physical encoder.

Michal
Old 14th February 2018
  #56
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkey_Chops View Post
Ignore this, I've sorted it!
Sorry, I've left my tab with my reply opened to for hour or so in the browser (I had to do some real work in the meantime ), so I've missed, that it's already solved.

Glad to hear, it's sorted out

Michal
Old 14th February 2018
  #57
Here for the gear
 

Thread Starter
Thanks for the replies, Michal . Apologies, I accidentally deleted the rest of my post while I was editing it.

I was getting poor sound quality. It was a little confusing as I had the 6i6 hooked up at the same time to do A/B comparisons and the 6i6 was much clearer at louder volumes in the same Ableton project. It was only after much experimenting with the Totalmix settings that I realised that the problem was with a gain setting in Ableton. The really odd thing, and hopefully other users may be able to tell me why this happens, is that the 6i6 were being fed the same signal from Ableton, just 44.1 wav audio, nothing else and with all the gains at 0db, the 6i6 sounded fantastic and the Babyface sounded kind of overdriven, not quite clipping, but as though something was pushing the volume past where it was comfortable. The sound was slightly harsh, kind of sibilant on vocals, and the vocals sounded much smaller and kind of compressed in comparison to the 6i6.

So I lowered the main volume in ableton by around 4db and now I can hear a clear difference, the Babyface is kind of louder and clearer and the 6i6 sounds as you'd expect if you lowered the volume by 4db.

Another odd thing was that, I opened some flac files in VLC, just CD rips, stuff that is mastered reasonably loud and woah, distortion! Sounds like clipping, a horrible racket! Looking at the volume in VLC it is at the max, this is generally where I leave it and then adjust the volume on the interface (either the mac or 6i6) as needed. Right away, I headed to the Totalmix and with the master gain at 0, the distortion is terrible. If I set the master to maybe -10db, it sounds as you would expect. So there's some kind of volume gain/boosting happening, but I can't find where it is coming from and the total mix panel doesn't show anything as clipping. if I switch to the 6i6, it is set up exactly the same and works fine and sounds great.

And, likewise, if I play something a bit older that's mastered much lower, it sounds OK.

So temporary workaround is lowering the master volume to -10db.

Slightly confused by it all

Thanks again for the replies, by the way, much appreciated
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