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-   -   Burl B2 DAC vs RME UCX (my thoughts) (https://www.gearslutz.com/board/high-end/1226611-burl-b2-dac-vs-rme-ucx-my-thoughts.html)

CPhoenix 10th August 2018 04:50 AM

Burl B2 DAC vs RME UCX (my thoughts)
 
Well, I've finally made it to the High End forum... after 16 years of being on a tight budget, I've finally splurged.

I've been debating on whether I should use the Burl B2 DAC for monitoring or for feeding my outboard gear. I decided I'm best serviced capturing the potentially "high end" sound in the recording as opposed to hearing it in a "high end way" but not being talented enough to do much with it like the top dogs. So outboard was the way to go. But before I did that, I was curious if I could even hear the difference between the B2 and the UCX's DA converters.

I distinctly remember about 8 years prior having my first gigantic AH HA moment going from Firewire410 DA to Audiofire4's DA, it was night and day. I never thought I'd experience that big of a jump again.

I .... was ..... WRROONNGGG.

Look, for those of you considering selling a kidney in the name of music, this is the real deal scoop you've been looking for.

The UCX is nice. But when you A/B it with the Burl... it is another night and day difference. It's the difference between a 3D movie and a live action play. My monitors are Presonus Eris8 and I swear to you they came to life. I've already gotten compliments for how clear the audio is out of them, but I didn't know they were capable of reproducing THIS level of quality sound. The bass is the first thing I noticed, as it instantly became much more foreward. I felt like I could reach out and hold it. And the other spectrums just sound much more pleasing to listen to. They're sharper... clearer... I can hear everything there. My arm was close to the monitor as I A/B'd, and I could legit feel the hairs on my forearm moving from the sound waves. I then realized that the output was set much louder, so I matched the levels as much as the options allow.. and even at close to similar volume, the B2 just sounds more lively.

The crazy thing is that... when you turn the output dial down to -14db, -16db, -18db... the Burl does into a territory of sound the UCX simply does not have a dropdown menu for in TotalMix. It can not do it. At all.

Will the Burl give you a hit record? No. But will it make your hit sound like more of a hit? If you route it to outboard... yes. And will you be able to hear over, around, under, inside the song? YES. YES YOU WILL. Hopefully you can do something with that.

Anyway, I just wanted to share my findings b/c I found it difficult to find direct comparisons. I also have a Rosetta 800 getting a BLA mod, and I will be interested to see how that unit comes back sounding. I will be sure to return.


Edited to be a little bit more descriptive.

Yummerz 10th August 2018 05:49 AM

I recall a blind shootout some years back between RME and Lavry converters. RME was the clear winner... but it turned out that the song was mixed through the RME. If it had been mixed through the Lavry, everyone probably would have picked that instead.

Friedrik83 10th August 2018 02:18 PM

Interesting!

CPhoenix 10th August 2018 04:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Yummerz (Post 13463088)
I recall a blind shootout some years back between RME and Lavry converters. RME was the clear winner... but it turned out that the song was mixed through the RME. If it had been mixed through the Lavry, everyone probably would have picked that instead.

I can absolutely see that.

My next test today will be running some things through the Burl in the mix and seeing if the enhancements come through the ucx da in my listening. So basically I'm going to test what you just said haha. If I have enough time I'll post examples.

This is a no contest situation btw, it's dead obvious. You don't need much experience to hear the Burl sounds better, even with the output levels close. And the fact that the burl can go up SEVERAL notches in output and deliver more meat thank the ucx is capable of is icing on the cake. I have no choice but to eventually have all of my outboard driven by the Burl. But.... we'll see how the Rosetta stacks up soon.

I'm posting this bc all these units seem to be pretty common recommendations, but there don't seem to be too many threads about them in tandem. And the small details I experienced seem to not be thoroughly discussed much.

elegentdrum 11th August 2018 04:18 AM

From what I understand, only RME units w/MADI get the premium converters. so RME does have a step up from what you are comparing. Thank you for posting your findings.

Yummerz 11th August 2018 04:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CPhoenix (Post 13463687)
I can absolutely see that.

My next test today will be running some things through the Burl in the mix and seeing if the enhancements come through the ucx da in my listening. So basically I'm going to test what you just said haha. If I have enough time I'll post examples.

This is a no contest situation btw, it's dead obvious. You don't need much experience to hear the Burl sounds better, even with the output levels close. And the fact that the burl can go up SEVERAL notches in output and deliver more meat thank the ucx is capable of is icing on the cake. I have no choice but to eventually have all of my outboard driven by the Burl. But.... we'll see how the Rosetta stacks up soon.

I'm posting this bc all these units seem to be pretty common recommendations, but there don't seem to be too many threads about them in tandem. And the small details I experienced seem to not be thoroughly discussed much.

Well then, thanks for the info! Interested in your findings.

So you’re saying, when level matched, the Burl sounds better, but the Burl additionally has more output gain?

Would you mind posting level matched clips — ITB, Burl, RME? I’m curious to hear the difference.

When the Burls first came out, the owner posted comparisons between the B2 ADC and an Avid box... and it sounded so much better that people accused him of cheating.

deedeeyeah 11th August 2018 07:23 AM

did you do proper level matching in the analog domain, so in dbU? i'd consider any 'test' invalid before doing so (but i'm having no doubt that the burl sounds nice though)

MIKEHARRIS 11th August 2018 09:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by elegentdrum (Post 13464589)
From what I understand, only RME units w/MADI get the premium converters. so RME does have a step up from what you are comparing. Thank you for posting your findings.

RME actually has two steps up

CPhoenix 11th August 2018 06:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by elegentdrum (Post 13464589)
From what I understand, only RME units w/MADI get the premium converters. so RME does have a step up from what you are comparing. Thank you for posting your findings.

Nice!

And I'm not calling the conversion bad at all. It's good. I could easily keep working on it. But the Burl is an eye opener. I hope this doesn't lead to people thinking if it's not an eye opener it's sub-par. Not the case at all.

CPhoenix 11th August 2018 06:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Yummerz (Post 13464621)
Well then, thanks for the info! Interested in your findings.

So you’re saying, when level matched, the Burl sounds better, but the Burl additionally has more output gain?

Would you mind posting level matched clips — ITB, Burl, RME? I’m curious to hear the difference.

When the Burls first came out, the owner posted comparisons between the B2 ADC and an Avid box... and it sounded so much better that people accused him of cheating.

Yeah, I'm going to run the same clip out of each da and into the ucx. Just need some time, have other things going on at the moment

CPhoenix 11th August 2018 06:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by deedeeyeah (Post 13464679)
did you do proper level matching in the analog domain, so in dbU? i'd consider any 'test' invalid before doing so (but i'm having no doubt that the burl sounds nice though)

I choose the closest settings. I'll outline it in the post when I run the sound. And if I need to make adjustments for a good comparison you guys can let me know.

CPhoenix 15th August 2018 02:58 PM

Sorry for delay guys. FYI...

1) I will be posting BURL vs UCX DAC examples tonight.

2) Rosetta 800 with BLA mod comes in this week. I have 2 Rosettas now. One modded, one not. I like how it sounds before the mod, so figured I'll stock up on Rosetta's now so that next year I can add more outboard. So I figured, since there's absolutely NO example of before/after that are easily accessible, I'll be the fall guy... since I'm going to mod it anyway.

3) In light of having too much gear and running into sync issues, I bought a BLA Microclock III. I'll also post differences with that. I'm not expecting much, as I bought it for system stability with having too many things that need to be clocked. Sound improvement would be cool, but I truly don't care. Also, not the RME interface is reported to reclock everything anyway with it's SteadyClock, so they report that if you hear any difference in sound, it's truly in your head. Well... let's test that too. The problem is, I'm having trouble clocking the Rosetta with the UCX and I'm actually using my Sparrow Red to clock everything. So, I'll try my hardest to get the UCX to clock the Rosetta and then to an A/B between UCX and Microclock.

For all of these tests, I'm simply going to run existing loops out the test unit and into the UCX's rear line ins.

deuc647 15th August 2018 03:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CPhoenix (Post 13463047)

I also have a Rosetta 800 getting a BLA mod, and I will be interested to see how that unit comes back sounding. I will be sure to return.

Please please keep us posted on this one. Ive been so curious to know what this does to the already good Rosetta 800. I got the Avid HD I/O BLA XB mod myself.

deedeeyeah 15th August 2018 05:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CPhoenix (Post 13465297)
I choose the closest settings. I'll outline it in the post when I run the sound. And if I need to make adjustments for a good comparison you guys can let me know.

there is no way of 'outlining things in post' and 'the closest setting' may not be close enough: either gear is properly matched in the analog domain or it isn't - +24dBu (or anything down in 3db steps) would be nice...

CPhoenix 15th August 2018 05:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by deedeeyeah (Post 13471058)
there is no way of 'outlining things in post' and 'the closest setting' may not be close enough: either gear is properly matched in the analog domain or it isn't - +24dBu (or anything down in 3db steps) would be nice...

Look up the UCX's output options in TotalMix online.
Then look up the front panel of the Burl B2.

And tell me which analog settings you'd like to see this run in. I'm a noob at testing, and I want to help everyone out with a test that's not going to be disqualified b/c it wasn't done right.

So I'd appreciate guidance here.

CPhoenix 15th August 2018 05:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by deuc647 (Post 13470921)
Please please keep us posted on this one. Ive been so curious to know what this does to the already good Rosetta 800. I got the Avid HD I/O BLA XB mod myself.

Same here. I've been reading about it forever. Saw a deal on a 2nd unit last month and figured... why not. I'm eventually going to have more outboard anyway, might as well pull the trigger on a good deal and sit on it. It then occurred to me, oh crap... I've always wanted to try a mod. If I get the mod, I can actually do an A/B. And given that I doubt there's many people with 2 Rosetta's at the same time... why not give back to the community that's given to me for the last 15 years!

So I'm excited. If the mod doesn't do much... hopefully we can just be done with it and confidently recommend folks to stay stock on this particular mod. But we'll see!

deedeeyeah 15th August 2018 06:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CPhoenix (Post 13471129)
Look up the UCX's output options in TotalMix online.
Then look up the front panel of the Burl B2.

And tell me which analog settings you'd like to see this run in. I'm a noob at testing, and I want to help everyone out with a test that's not going to be disqualified b/c it wasn't done right.

So I'd appreciate guidance here.

the maximum analog output level of the burl is +22dBu, the maximum analog output level of the ucx is +19dBu, so the burl's output is 3db hotter. for a proper comparison, you'd need to put a pair of 3db line attenuators on the burl's output to get both devices to the same analog level.

if you cannot get any attenuators, you could lower the file that you are sending through the burl's output by 3dB; not perfect, but close enough for a fair comparison (thd, noise and hiss would still be somewhat different, even if both devices would have the same specs).

the burl's front panel switch does not affect the maximum analog output before clipping (at least i don't think so after quickly checking the manual).

have fun and let us know your findings!

CPhoenix 18th August 2018 02:03 AM

Okay...

Rosetta 800 BLA mod vs stock test is done.

Does anybody know what the file size limit is for uploading? I attempted to upload the stems but the upload is failing.

For now, inbox me your email and I will send you a link, until someone coaches me on how to upload Wav files here.


Notes:
- Rosetta settings are 24bit resolution, soft limit button on.
- Everything is clocked via Black Lion Audio Sparrow red. I figured if they swapped out capacitors I better still hear a difference no matter what's clocking the unit lol. Let me know if this is bad and I will retest for you.
- I semi-crushed the loops with the 3A and DBX 160a.
- I labeled the changes I made with the Tonelux and Electra EQs.

CPhoenix 20th August 2018 04:57 PM

Here's my thoughts with the 2 tests I've done so far.

I exported the following bounces and compared in a fresh session, A/Bing things one at a time... paying attention to the bottom end for one listen and mid/top (snare range) for another listen. Again, I ran some loops out/in the Rosetta, using it for my outboard.
1) Rosetta stock
2) Modded Rosetta
3) Modded Rosetta with microclock mkiii

Firstly, the Rosetta 800 sounds good. No complaints about the sound at all. In my opinion, it doesn't handle a hot signal well... however, you really shouldn't be sending a hot signal anyway! Soooo... I can't call that a complaint... moreso an obversation that you need to mix well. This will not save you lol. It doesn't sound good when it clips.

The difference with the modded Rosetta, to me... was that the low end was extended. I noticed it. I'm confident I could pick it out in a blind test that I initiated... b/c I know what the bass was before the mod and I can hear how it's different. However... I would never be able to listen to a recording of someone else's and say "hey, you didn't get your Rosetta modded bro..." b/c my brain would just accept the recording as is. So... does it make a difference in the bottom end? Yes. It actually does. It sounds like there's an extra 10-20hz worth of frequencies I can now hear and feel in the speakers. Kinda cool.

In the snare-range of sound.... it feels like it has a nice subtle compression in that range. I hate to use catch phrases but the best I can describe is it feels more "analog". It's a similar sound to adding a good tapesim plugin, but better.

With those two differences... my verdict is I prefer the BLA. Not b/c I spent money on it, I honestly was just curious and I had $$ that I didn't mind losing (ie.. I view it the same as going to the casino). If it did absolutely nothing... I'd have no issues admitting it as a waste of money. It's not. It improved this unit in a pleasing way, and I will be modding my 2nd stock unit also when I'm ready to expand. It turned it from a good unit to a really good unit that will surely make things easier for me to achieve professional level mixing results, with less mixing experience than many.

From a loudness standpoint, the stock Rosetta felt a few db "louder". However that loudness felt like it was moreso the harsh elements of the loops. The mod felt like it tamed the sound, especially in the snare-range.

Also, just for sh-ts/giggles I inverted the phase on one of the bounces to compare further, and it didn't come close to cancelling each other out at all. Normally you can hear a little bit of artefacts, however the playback showed me a ton of low end that was created by the mod.

On to the clock. I tested the clock not expecting to hear anything... b/c RME said so lol. Well, where they may be right if I was just A/Bing it thru listening to a finished mix with my monitors.... when you clock the Rosetta 800 (even with a mod) you absolutely hear the difference in the A/B. I now understand what people mean when they say "tighter". It feels like, instead of a sound being visually represented by 5 XXXXX's in a row that equal the number 15, it's now 3 XXX's that still equal the number 15. That's best way I can describe it. The sound is punchier and doesn't drag for as long. It gets to the point a little quicker, and more succinctly. I really like that. A lot. This is a pleasant surprise. I only bought it b/c I had 4 units in my studio that required a clock, and I was curious enough to be okay with gambling. If it did absolutely nothing... I would've just clocked everything with my Sparrow red and some extra BNC T cables and then returned the clock. But I'm not returning this thing. It's good!

Again... with the clock, the difference is that it's improving how the Rosetta processes sound for the brief time it's in the analog domain. I have no idea of it's doing anything for the UCX internally. I doubt it. This is likely what RME was stating anyway... their Steadyclock reclocks the signal so there's no point in trying to improve your RME unit with a microclock.

I would recommend the microclock hands down if you have the money, have outboard gear, and want to give your outboard a little more tightness.


The Burl vs UCX test is coming. Sorry guys, I've been unexpectedly busy and was more curious about what the mods do in the limited time I had these past few days since I already know what the Burl does. With the Burl, I'm just moreso curious if the improved sound gets captured in the mix when going out the Burl, back in the UCX and out the UCX to the monitors.

I have files for the above 2 tests I've done, they're too big to post. If anyone knows the posting parameters here that would be great.

Just wanted to share my thoughts, since these are units that don't seem to get many reviews, and few people have 2 for direct comparisons.

deuc647 20th August 2018 05:48 PM

Good to hear ur feedback on it! I got to wiring everything up this weekend and didnt get a chance to listen to the file but will do it Thursday(first day off). :cowbell:

CPhoenix 20th August 2018 05:56 PM

Black Lion Audio rated their premium mod for this unit at an 8.5/10 compared to a 5.5/10 stock.

Surprisingly I agree with this assessment.

CPhoenix 20th August 2018 05:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by deuc647 (Post 13478277)
Good to hear ur feedback on it! I got to wiring everything up this weekend and didnt get a chance to listen to the file but will do it Thursday(first day off). :cowbell:

Cool. I'll tell you which is which whenever you'd like to know. Just DM me lol

And let me know if you want the microclock files also.