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Monitor Chain Question Audio Interfaces
Old 16th May 2018
  #1
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tourtelot's Avatar
Monitor Chain Question

Maybe the wrong forum but there are a lot of guys here who know their stuff so I'll ask away.

I do all location recording, but I have a tiny Pro Tools editing setup in a dedicated space.

Mac Pro (2012) running Pro Tools 12 without a hitch. All that part is in great working order. But I am having some audible issues with my monitors, and while it will take some time to figure out what is causing the problem, I'd love to hear about other's methods of getting Pro Tools out of their computer and into their speakers.

I don't edit daily, or even weekly, but like any slutz, I want the best rigs that I can afford. So I will find the bad actor, root it out, and replace it with something that costs much more than I could reasonably justify.

I am currently using a (pretty) respected USB D to A but I am wondering if a specific Pro Tools interface would be a better call. I really only need two analog outputs and no inputs but I wonder about the old mac's ability to output a clean digital signal over USB.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

D.
Old 16th May 2018
  #2
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radial usb di
Old 16th May 2018
  #3
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tourtelot's Avatar
I don't believe it is my USB D to A that is the problem, well, unless it is broken. It was relatively expensive and well regarded. I have actually switched out the D to A with another and found no difference.

I was wondering about the actual treatment of the audio in the Mac Pro via USB.

D.
Old 16th May 2018
  #4
Gear Head
 

Your MacPro output should be fine over USB. I run a 2008 MacPro PT11 and it sounds great. What are the issues you are having? What are your monitors?
Old 16th May 2018
  #5
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Methodical troubleshooting will identify the problem, as always. Since you've already swapped DACs you might as well swap USB cables and ports to eliminate the rest of your conversion hardware.

It would help a lot if you describe the problem ...
Old 16th May 2018
  #6
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Are you hearing ticks and pops? General grunge? Hum? Distortion on peaks? Do you hear whatever it is on headphones too (given the same DAC as feeds the speakers)?
Old 16th May 2018
  #7
Gear Head
 

You could also use onboard audio out and test on headphones if you suspect a USB problem.
Old 16th May 2018
  #8
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I am using Hafler TRM6s as monitors and a Schitt Modi 2 Uber as a USB D to A.

Yes, I know the monitors are not Westlakes but I am hoping not to need to replace them, either because of cone issues or electronic failure. The issue is distortion but it is not consistent. Sometime the feed sounds good and sometimes it sounds bad. Ugh! Could be source problems so I will sweep the system today and see what I hear.

I have a great power amp, literally doing nothing, sitting around and I am looking at passive near fields, but that is a place I'd rather not spend the money right now. I do such little work on that system. It just needs to work.

D.
Old 16th May 2018
  #9
Gear Head
 

I'm going to guess DAC might be causing the problem. Try using onboard sound with headphones plugged into MP for a day. If the problem ceases, you know it is the DAC. If it is, we can trouble shoot that. Sometimes it takes a little tweaking to get things to play nice.
Old 16th May 2018
  #10
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Yep. Start at one end

D.
Old 16th May 2018
  #11
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I use one of four different set ups, depending on where I am working:

Protools HDX through Focusrite Red 4Pre networked through Dante to our Yamaha CL5 (HDX and Dante)
Protools vanilla through Focusrite Clarett 8Pre (Thunderbolt)
Protools vanilla through Roland OctaCapture (USB)
(rarely) Protools vanilla through my Lenovo P50 laptop's onboard WDM sound card

Monitoring is through Presonus Sceptre S6s, Equator Audio D8s, my Audio-Technica ATH M50x headphones, or occasionally my Westone ES30 IEMs.

You can get a decent 2x2 audio interface from any of the usual manufacturers for not very much money these days.

It's not uncommon for older laptops to start putting noise into the audio sub systems as the batteries and power supply start to fail. It's happened on every other laptop I have owned after 5 or 6 years. If you can, try to borrow a USB audio interface from a friend and see if you get the same noise. And use your USB interface on their computer to see if it is producing noise.
Old 16th May 2018
  #12
It's all bits until it comes out of the D/A... and the kind of artifacts you get in the digital domain before the D/A are likely to manifest as dropouts or horrid noise, not a distorted signal. So my money is on the D/A interface or in the analog chain beyond it. Since you've got the M108s and DVS, can you try using the M108 as a stereo D/A for comparison?
Old 17th May 2018
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TMetzinger View Post
the M108 as a stereo D/A for comparison?
Yep, I get that. In monkeying around with it today, I think I can really all put it down to room acoustics. The room that all this is in isn't very friendly and I found that by pulling the speakers a bit further from the (treated) wall that the things I found so objectionable have calmed down a good bit.

As it may be for many who don't have a "real" studio space, I am somewhat constrained in my placement by the wishes of other family members who share the space but I will keep pushing boundaries until I am told to stop.

I may also try some "room correction" software to see if that yields any results and report back.

Better is better right?

D.
Old 17th May 2018
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lumbergh View Post

It would help a lot if you describe the problem ...
True and sorry but I am just coming to terms with my dissatisfaction. Peaky and muddy lows and mid-lows that actually sound like distortion at a bit higher level.

My monitors, which I swept today and sound fine, are rear ported and I just think that I had them too close to the back wall. I tried running toslink into the D to A and while that didn't seem to make any difference, this device was, until recently, used in my home rig with no really disappointment. It went to the studio after I bought a better box for the living room.

I am using a Dangerous box for the monitor controller and everything sounds pretty good on my Sennheiser HD650 phones. So it's either the active monitors, which, while they are not top-of-the-pops, are okay if they are functioning correctly, or the room. My bet, right now, is on the room.

More as I find out more.

D.
Old 17th May 2018
  #15
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
I may also try some "room correction" software to see if that yields any results and report back.


D.
In that case I can recommend Sonarworks. I am satisfied over here...
Old 17th May 2018
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Issadore View Post
In that case I can recommend Sonarworks. I am satisfied over here...
Just bought and paid for!

D.
Old 17th May 2018
  #17
Gear Head
 

Excellent! It helped some room problems I was having and the headphone calibration is really nice as well.
Old 17th May 2018
  #18
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Peaky and muddy lows and mid-lows sure sounds
like room modes. Any chance your spouse would
accept nice-looking corner base traps?
Old 17th May 2018
  #19
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tourtelot's Avatar
Folkie: Maybe

D.
Old 17th May 2018
  #20
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I have a very small work room and some RealTraps (and some LA Soun d panels and some foam pieces) make all the diff...
Old 18th May 2018
  #21
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Larry Elliott's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
Just bought and paid for!

D.
Will be very interested in your comments!
Old 19th May 2018
  #22
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any speaker system in any room can benefit from some dsp! the hard part is to measure, analyze, interpret and implement data - once done, you'll wonder how you ever could compose/record/mix/master without a little help from your friends...

i carry (at least) a 2in/4out box with me everywhere i go for both live and studio use.
Old 19th May 2018
  #23
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Very few DSP are effective imho
Trinnov dem was v good though
Pragmatic approach is good ring radiator cans and active near field LS
Roger
Old 19th May 2018
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
Very few DSP are effective imho
Trinnov dem was v good though
Pragmatic approach is good ring radiator cans and active near field LS
Roger
which dsp are you referring to?
and what advantage of active nearfields?
Old 20th May 2018
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
and what advantage of active nearfields?
Nearfields reduce the effect of the room, and hence the extreme peaks and troughs which the dsp is called upon to (attempt to) fix. Nearfields become more like the best headphones, in terms of shortest path to the ear...but with the addition of cross-feed between speakers, which headphones deprive you of.

The main thing to be wary of with nearfields is bounce from adjacent surfaces...eg mix desk, table, LCD screens etc...but this can be somewhat minimized with careful placement
Old 20th May 2018
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Nearfields reduce the effect of the room, and hence the extreme peaks and troughs which the dsp is called upon to (attempt to) fix. Nearfields become more like the best headphones, in terms of shortest path to the ear...but with the addition of cross-feed between speakers, which headphones deprive you of.

The main thing to be wary of with nearfields is bounce from adjacent surfaces...eg mix desk, table, LCD screens etc...but this can be somewhat minimized with careful placement
all fine with nearfields (i was wondering which would be the benefits of ACTIVE nearfilelds, besides that there are probably more to choose from than from passive speakers)
Old 20th May 2018
  #27
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Proper DSP on speakers is incredible. Using Acourate to measure and design FIR filters for convolution in JRiver here for dipole speaker xovers and EQ. Amazing results.

The most significant benefit for $ you can spend on your monitoring.
Old 20th May 2018
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
all fine with nearfields (i was wondering which would be the benefits of ACTIVE nearfilelds, besides that there are probably more to choose from than from passive speakers)
The damping factor between amp and speaker is more easily optimized....and according to Neumann:

"Active speakers offer some advantages. Usually, they contain not only one power amplifier but several. The woofer, the tweeter and (if available) the mid-range speaker each get their own power amplifiers, which results in a punchier, more accurate dynamic response.

That’s because the woofer, which requires lots of power on each bass note and kick drum hit, won’t take away any energy from the other speakers – as it might on a passive speaker, powered by only one amp for all speakers.

Having dedicated power amplifiers for each speaker also makes it easier to build top quality crossovers. Not only because the crossover can be placed before the power amps, but also because active circuitry can be used to obtain steeper filter slopes. This reduces overlap between the woofer, mid-range speaker, and tweeter, which results in a clearer, more detailed sound image"

Also (more relevant for the low budget end of the market): https://www.soundonsound.com/sound-a...ssive-monitors
Old 20th May 2018
  #29
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thx - in my case, the obvious advantages that you described are outweighted by both superior quality and control via external dsp and poweramps of my choice (always lake, often lab gruppen, pmc for years, powersoft lately). nothing wrong with my smallest active speakers (fostex) and the occasional genelec's though (as long as i have my b&k, smaart and lake in front of them).
Old 20th May 2018
  #30
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Actives always better than passive, clean power to each driver, good headroom always
Cleaner x/overs, steeper 8 th order filter
Near field obviously better than far field
Proper cans always better for detail
DSP only when necessary imho
Roger
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