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ADAT sounds better than AES Digital Converters
Old 7th September 2007
  #1
ADAT sounds better than AES

I've read user comments before that state "AES connections sound better than ADAT optical." Since I've never owned gear with AES and ADAT, I can't say.

Do you believe this?

If so, how can one digital connection sound better than another? IMO, this makes zero theoritical sense. ITs BINARY!!!
Old 7th September 2007
  #2
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kafka's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by joenovice View Post
If so, how can one digital connection sound better than another? IMO, this makes zero theoritical sense. ITs BINARY!!!
Bingo! It's digital. Unless one is dropping more information than the other, it can't because it's the exact same information. In general, optical cables tend to be a little more prone to error in terms of flaky connections or internal damage to the fiber. So yes, AES over good XLRs may sound better than ADAT over a bad optical cable. But, in general, with proper operation, there can't be a difference.

Now you're going to have a bunch of people write in about how one has a wider soundstage, or the other has an airier top-end, or whatever, and that their ears never lie. It makes about as much sense as saying Seagate hard drives sound better than Maxtors.

Go listen for yourself.
Old 7th September 2007
  #3
Quote:
.....that their ears never lie.
No... but the brain that they attach to does. Bias, subjective predisposition, etc.... People will believe their ears heard Alien farts if they invest in Alien fart converters. heh

Honestly.... I would appreciate objective commentary on ANY reasoning that AES could sound better.

I'm considering an purchase and to go AES will increase the cost by thousands. Is it worth it?
Old 7th September 2007
  #4
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StillCrazy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joenovice View Post
No... but the brain that they attach to does. Bias, subjective predisposition, etc.... People will believe their ears heard Alien farts if they invest in Alien fart converters. heh

Honestly.... I would appreciate objective commentary on ANY reasoning that AES could sound better.

I'm considering an purchase and to go AES will increase the cost by thousands. Is it worth it?
In the past I used both (had the same questions you did) and all things being equal there is no difference. I ran signals thru both chains and the output was the same.


From a physics standpoint there cannot be unless you loose bits somewhere.
Old 7th September 2007
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joenovice View Post
People will believe their ears heard Alien farts if they invest in Alien fart converters. heh
so you're telling me my Alien Fartogee is worthless?


I have both ADAT and AES running into my 02R and I can say I have NEVER heard a difference. what's more, I have used the most expensive and the absolute cheapest, dog chewed, kinked, old cables for digital and didn't hear a difference . . . but that's just me
Old 7th September 2007
  #6
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It's just ones and noughts but they don't all get through. Because there are just so many '1s & 0s' error correction was built into all the popular digital audio formats that I'm aware of and this is where the differences lie. The correction process 'extrapolates' between the two good points on either side of an error. Now this is obviously a very small difference on it's own but as it builds up, given that the human ear is ridiculously good at resolving detail, you hear it.

A mastering house that I used to use conducted a test where they made a copy of a copy ten times each on various digital mastering formats (no converters used, just within the digital realm) - in those days, PCM, Exabyte, DAT, CDR - to see what the build up effect was. Particularly with the CDR and Exabyte at high speed it was easily noticeable.

Some errors are introduced at the writing stage, some at the reading stage and some are even introduced by the quality of digtal cables and path used. I'm not talking about digital noises here - this is lost information being replaced with 'something else'. Every time you copy a CD there is some of this going on. The way that this manifests itself in audio is in an analog sense - i.e. subtle changes in depth of stereo field, speed of dynamics and general representation of the whole spectrum.

Now, IMO, this is nothing that most people hear. They could if you took them into a great listening room etc etc and forced them to do A/B tests but for most puposes, who cares? As for recording/GS/types - I guess it all depends on what your focus is. Some very minor digital degradation isn't going to stop anyone from making a classic record but it might be an annoyance if your goal is to make a perfect recording in an audiophile sense.

So to the original poster - I'm not surprised that AES could have a lower error rate than ADAT optical (or equally vica versa if that's true). What, if anything, you should do about that depends on your sense of fidelity... or not.
Old 7th September 2007
  #7
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Resonant Alien's Avatar
 

One cannot sound better than another, the only real question is whether one is more realiable than the other. I would venture to say that reliablity has more to do with the quality and condition of the cables you use than with the specific protocol you are using.
Old 7th September 2007
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by lostinmusic View Post
It's just ones and noughts but they don't all get through. Because there are just so many '1s & 0s' error correction was built into all the popular digital audio formats that I'm aware of and this is where the differences lie. The correction process 'extrapolates' between the two good points on either side of an error. Now this is obviously a very small difference on it's own but as it builds up, given that the human ear is ridiculously good at resolving detail, you hear it.

A mastering house that I used to use conducted a test where they made a copy of a copy ten times each on various digital mastering formats (no converters used, just within the digital realm) - in those days, PCM, Exabyte, DAT, CDR - to see what the build up effect was. Particularly with the CDR and Exabyte at high speed it was easily noticeable.

Some errors are introduced at the writing stage, some at the reading stage and some are even introduced by the quality of digtal cables and path used. I'm not talking about digital noises here - this is lost information being replaced with 'something else'. Every time you copy a CD there is some of this going on. The way that this manifests itself in audio is in an analog sense - i.e. subtle changes in depth of stereo field, speed of dynamics and general representation of the whole spectrum.

Now, IMO, this is nothing that most people hear. They could if you took them into a great listening room etc etc and forced them to do A/B tests but for most puposes, who cares? As for recording/GS/types - I guess it all depends on what your focus is. Some very minor digital degradation isn't going to stop anyone from making a classic record but it might be an annoyance if your goal is to make a perfect recording in an audiophile sense.

So to the original poster - I'm not surprised that AES could have a lower error rate than ADAT optical (or equally vica versa if that's true). What, if anything, you should do about that depends on your sense of fidelity... or not.
Your statements seem logical enough. However, these statements don't add up to AES is better than ADAT. Simply that all digital transfers can potentially lose information. Perhaps this is a better argument for the advantage of analog over digital.

After all, the main function of writing to PCM requires that converters quantize samples using bit depth. This quantization, or rounding, represents the first, theoritical, loss of information.
Old 7th September 2007
  #9
DAS
Gear Head
 

Some people believe that ADAT Lightpipe has more jitter, which if true, could be an issue if you're clocking an A/D or D/A from a lightpipe device as the clock source.
Old 7th September 2007
  #10
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lostinmusic's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joenovice View Post
Your statements seem logical enough. However, these statements don't add up to AES is better than ADAT. Simply that all digital transfers can potentially lose information. Perhaps this is a better argument for the advantage of analog over digital.

After all, the main function of writing to PCM requires that converters quantize samples using bit depth. This quantization, or rounding, represents the first, theoritical, loss of information.
Hi joenovice

Other than having too much time to kill on a Friday afternoon, the point I was trying to convey was not just the losses in digital transfer but the difference between various means of transfering digital information due to the error corrections that inevitably happen. Some methods result in more errors than others i.e. some are rather good and some are less good.

I don't have any info on ADAT optical (it could be better or worse than AES, I don't know) but it could be worse if it results in a higher error rate. There's a common belief that - it's only 1s & 0s, what can go wrong? - but errors are always present (by design in fact) and whilst this isn't noticeable in a photograph or a document, say, it can be in high fidelity audio when that digital signal has to travel down a physical path.

Some years ago, I borrowed a bunch of stupidly expensive digital interconnects from 'one of those shops' to try out and was dumbstruck at how different they all sounded (compared to cheap ones which, to my ears all sound very similar). I'm guessing that each one was showing low errors in different ways. Now, I've since moved on from that - as a professional writer/producer I'm focussed on different things these days - but, if you're into that sort of thing, yes, even the cable can make difference, let alone the format. But only a few people are going to really care - not me at the moment as most of what I do seems to end up as mp3s these days.

Old 7th September 2007
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by DAS View Post
Some people believe that ADAT Lightpipe has more jitter, which if true, could be an issue if you're clocking an A/D or D/A from a lightpipe device as the clock source.
How can that be? Jitter is the bi-product of clocking samples and exist in EVERY converter. (Hence advertisement of low-jitter clocks) ADAT is a format that moves data from here to there but provides NO theoritical change to that info. (yes.... bad cables of exceptional lenght may loose information in theory. This is also theoritically true of AES.)

I can believe that some devices use lower quality converters and transmitting clock can cause more jitter but that would be due to the poor source or reciever of the clock and not the transfer from one source to another.

I also have trouble with generalized statements from "some people." Some people don't know how to properly distribute clock info and often CREATE more jitter by their attempts.

End result = "I used ADAT lightpipe to send my clock here. Now it clicks and pops. ADAT caused jitter! (surely I knew what I was doing) What's a terminator?"

Not good enough..... more evidence is required! Please supply. Thanks.
Old 7th September 2007
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pasta4lnch View Post
so you're telling me my Alien Fartogee is worthless?


I have both ADAT and AES running into my 02R and I can say I have NEVER heard a difference. what's more, I have used the most expensive and the absolute cheapest, dog chewed, kinked, old cables for digital and didn't hear a difference . . . but that's just me
The Alien Fartogee only sounds good when slaved to a JitterInducer 5X external clock... seems their engineering department underestimated the time it takes Mickey's big hand to get to Minnie's little... no, wait a second, I think I'm thinking of something else.
Old 7th September 2007
  #13
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crypticglobe's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
But, in general, with proper operation, there can't be a difference.
Man... I used to say that too! I finally did a real, scientific, blind test. I was amazed!!!

Using Apogee lightpipe cables, and mogami AES cables and the lynx aurora's (which have AES and lightpipe i/o) and RME AES and HDSP 9652 audio cards all clocked to to a Universal Audio 2192.... I was shocked!!

There was a CLEAR difference between the AES and Lightpipe cables sonically!

I switched to all AES shortly after that.

What difference did I hear?

The same music streamed over AES sounded fatter, fuller, more realistic. The lightpipe did sound more boxy, lifeless. Freaked me out!

After that, I tested some different AES cables (surely I thought that couldn't make a difference). However... it did! I called a good friend with great ears to come over and help me be sure I wasn't crazy. He agreed. There WAS a difference (the Mogami sounded the best).

So... my whole studio is Mogami AES. I won't go back. It's nice not having to worry about re-patching everything when I switch sample rates too.

p.s. The technical reason why this is so was explained to me by someone with WAY more brain power than me... and honestly... I believed him... but couldn't even pass it on. Went waaaayyy over my head.
Old 25th September 2007
  #14
Here for the gear
 

Not sure if this is the right thread for this because I'm new here so please forgive me... I recently purchased a Rosetta 200 to run with my Digi 002.

The guys at Guitar Center (I know, there's my first problem- laugh away) told me that it would be much better to connect the Rosetta to my Digi 002 via Adat/Optical cable over a Spdif.
I'm not sure if this is correct or not, but after getting zero sound recognition when trying to record on 96 sample rate and reading the Digi 002's manual, I realized the 002 wouldn't work over 48k when connected this way!

Besides this bummer, my actual problem is that I'm getting these nasty little random pops and clicks even when the units are just sitting there and not recording? Can anyone explain to me what I'm missing here? Has anyone ever heard of this?
Thank you
Old 25th September 2007
  #15
These nasty little pops are caused by clocking errors (jitter). In order for the units to work well together one should be the master clock (Rosetta) and the other set to recieve clock (slave).

As you now know, ADAT digital transfer cables can transmit up to 8 channels of 48kHz audio. Some products can transmit SUMX over fiber optic which is 4 channels of up to 96kHz (maybe 192... can't remember).

In order to have the best operation you should clock with the BNC word clock connections, transfer audio via SPDIF, and monitor analog out of the Rosetta.

With such nice converters you should also make it a priority to have good monitors and acoustic balance in your listening environment.
Old 25th September 2007
  #16
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Bierce85's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joenovice View Post

In order to have the best operation you should clock with the BNC word clock connections, transfer audio via SPDIF, and monitor analog out of the Rosetta.
True, but 002s dont have BNC connectors..

Gilbert, If you're looking to do 96k via external converters the RCA jacks are the only way. AFAIK there's no way to connect the two units this way. Personally I would just record at 44.1 through the ADAT.. unless you have some particular need for the higher sample rates. The Apogee will sound the same either way and you dont have to worry about the potential havoc that SRC can cause when it comes time to put it on a CD. Hope that helps..

Bill
Old 25th September 2007
  #17
Gear Guru
 
kafka's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by joenovice View Post
As you now know, ADAT digital transfer cables can transmit up to 8 channels of 48kHz audio. Some products can transmit SUMX over fiber optic which is 4 channels of up to 96kHz (maybe 192... can't remember).
I looked into that. 96kHz is the max. It seems like it should be possible somehow through extension of the protocol. However, as it is, only 1 bit is allocated for S/MUX signalling, so it's either on or off.
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