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Help me plan my hardware FX system - digital vs analog connectivity?
Old 7th May 2012
  #1
Help me plan my hardware FX system - digital vs analog connectivity?

To preface: I do only my OWN music which is all synths, both hardware analog and VSTs. I run Cubase on a Lynx-TWO C sound card.

I am going to upgrade to either an Aurora 8 or 16 depending on what I decide based on the situation below. Either way I will be running the Lynx AES16e card in the computer for a total of possible 16 I/O.

Regardless of going with the 8 or 16, I/O 1-8 will be used with synths on inputs, and 1-8 outs summing to D-box.

So my question is this, i want to use the second set of 8 I/O to run effects:

Should I stick with the Aurora 8 and run the effects digital over the remaining AES I/O not being used by Aurora 8 and use one of the the AES out from the card to D-box for monitoring?

OR

Get the aurora 16 and run effects analog as well as monitor though the Lynx's analog outs to D-Box?

If digital, I run at 96 K so I would probably get a Bricasti, a TC4000 and an Eclipse (or other Eventide?) (more expensive units but cheaper Aurora 8)

If analog I would probably go with an H3000, PCM70 and PCM91. (cheaper units but more expensive Aurora 16, more retro style units which is good because i do retro styled music? But, also involves an extra DA step for these sends in addition to analog summing, bad? better, more mojo?)

To sum up, it's not just weather the effects will run digital, it's also if i will be monitoring from the Lynx DA or the D-Box DA. It's also a matter of the vastly less options of effects that run at 96K, but the ones that do are very good indeed.
Old 7th May 2012
  #2
nobody?
Old 7th May 2012
  #3
Lives for gear
 
popmann's Avatar
IME.

The answer if this is NOT a project studio (for your own projects mainly) is analog. Why? You configure all the boxes on the analog IO via Cubase--it all integrates nicely, right? You can do that with digital OR analog...BUT...client sends a project at a sample rate you don't normally work at? Now, you are manually resetting all the units individually. Switch to the next project, at yet another? See my point? And some really great FX won't lock to X sample rate...so, you have to discontinue their use for those sessions.

16 will be close for what you're proposing analog (3 stereo FX=6x6)...Dbox summing=2x8 analog or 2x10 if you count the stereo feed to the DA...you can do the same thing with the AES16e and an Aurora8, if the FX and digital feed to the Dbox comes from the second AES port broken out. But, see above about changing sample rates...and having to buy FX based on the sample rates available to their digital IO instead of the sound of them.

You will be close either way. No hardware inserts for any compressors or EQ...no outs left to reamp...4-6 analog ins means you're overdubbing only, right? 1-8 on synth inputs? Don't think so unless you're just going to unplug two of them to record your mix. If it's a project studio working on your own stuff, six of one--you're going to record everything at whatever sample rate and leave the boxes all set to it. If you're in an environment where you switch based on client source sample rate, I'd go analog all day. Cubase freaks out when external FX/instruments/inserts are no longer "present and accounted for"--life will be much easier when you just set the rate in the Cubase project, and everything is analog. Also allows you to leave the external FX on whatever their highest/optimal sample rate is which positively affects them at lower sample rate projects. IMO.

YMMV. Analog is more money for the bigger interface and cabling up front...but, I won't build another system based on a spaghetti of digital connections...just not worth the heartache day to day.
Old 8th May 2012
  #4
thanks for the reply. I appreciate your detail.

This is STRICTLY for my own music and I always work at 96K in Cubase. I do no reamping and no need for external inserts for compressors except on bus. i do not like a lot of recall. (very anal about such things)

with the aurora 8, i would have 6 inputs for synths including the 2 for sum return. that is enough as I use a ton of VSTIs too.

The Aurora 8 system would be like so:

inputs 1-6 - synths (have to run 1 polys in mono and the moog into my preamp but no big deal at all...2 synths have to share one input, again no big deal i have them all situated and wired so it's very very easy and organized. Juno 106 - stereo, Poly Evolver - Stereo, Prophet 08 - mono, Slim Phatty into EL-9 Mike -E mono (can just pull out when doing vocals)
inputs 7/8 - sum return
outputs 1-8 - to D-Box/API 2500/API 5500

AES card:
1-8 I/O to and from Aurora 8
9/10 - FX (Bricasti)
11/12 - FX (Bricasti 2)
13/14 - Eclipse or DSP 7000 or Yamaha SPX 2000 or TC4000
15/16 out to D-box for monitoring
15/16 input open for when a 96K digital synth comes out
(keep in mind I also have Lexicon PCM Native)

pros:
- less snakes
- less analog wire runs
- all inputs and outputs used so taking full advantage of all equipment
- less noise
- less conversion
- less latency

cons:
- smaller choice of FX boxes
- less analog I/O for future changes, perhaps less options (this can be good because when i have empty I/O my mind goes nuts till I fill it!)


With the Aurora 16 all analog:

pros:
- more connectivity options now and in future
- more inputs to run all synths in stereo and all simultaneous (not such a big deal honestly)
- can choose any effects and they would probably be cheaper than above (not a big concern, i said this time i was building my dream setup)

cons:
- way more analog cables/snakes (big to me)
- not using D-box DA which I love
- more latency on inserts because analog is slower
- more noise

I think I like the Aurora 8 option for sure....
Old 8th May 2012
  #5
Lives for gear
 
popmann's Avatar
Analog is "slower" is irrelevant. Cubase compensates. And you are not proposing gear that warrants inserts...but even on aux sends-compensated. Doesn't matter. At all.

You can still use the DA of the Dbox. AES transfers in pairs...so, you just need an appropriate cable to pull say 15+16 out to feed the Dbox DA.

More "noise"? Seriously? Ok.

I think you've made up your mind...and I've explained why it's the less flexible, less professionally viable setup of the two you proposed.
Old 8th May 2012
  #6
yea man, noise....i've had a pretty good sized outboard rack before including PCM70s and such and those things do create some hiss, and especially when you have like 3 going at once and then through the bus comp it does start to get noisy.

And they would be inserts ON a Aux send track...they are still inserts on that bus....and even though Cubase compensates (perfectly I might add) it will still add latency and there is more with analog, a lot more from what I have been reading.. You gotta remember I am composing through this setup and I start my mix with the first sound so I am always going through analog summing to begin with...so that extra compensation for effects even before that add even more latency. it's gotta be really tight because i am laying down midi.

Right now with the analog bus trip I get like 1ms at 96K/32 which is nice.

I am not saying you make bad points, just ones that doesn't seem to matter to me for my particular setup.

good point also about pulling out 15/16 to feed D-box.....that does change things a bit in my mind.
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