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Orion 32 BLA Mod ? Has anyone tried it?
Old 13th August 2014
  #1
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smoovemode's Avatar
 

Orion 32 BLA Mod ? Has anyone tried it?

I couldn't find anything on Forum about reviews of this Mod for the Orion 32. It seems like an interesting consideration. I like the sound of the Orion 32 but would like to make it sound better (mostly for mastering/printing). Has anyone tried the Mod and does the mod put this converter up there with the other high end stuff?
Old 14th August 2014
  #2
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Duke Murdock's Avatar
I'm interested to hear any feedback on this as well.
Old 14th August 2014
  #3
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No!! And I am not too sure I would be interested in such a thing. I would just take that cash and put it toward something else that fit what I needed better.

I have always felt the BLA mods were only good for someone who really loved their interface and wanted to gain a few more years out of it, but it did not age too well. Like the old avid/digi 00 interfaces. They sounded decent for their time, but they lacked a few things that could easily be fixed with a clock and some analog "fixing".

I personally think the Orion sounds great and has one of the best internal clocks that I have heard to date. I think a mod might give it something, but the thing is, I would be afraid to lose that 3D depth and width that the Antelope clock brings it.

Jim
Old 14th August 2014
  #4
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To me, what BLA did/does for the 002/003s made sense; people who wanted to use Pro Tools but weren't going to need an HD rig wanted an improvement in the lackluster gear they were being forced to get for PT's sake. But Modding things like the Orion or the Apollo plays into this fetishizing of modded gear that seems to be going on lately. I would assume the modifications on gear of that caliber would create more of a lateral change, which could suit someone's taste... but still. At some point it seems like they should just release their own multi-channel converter to compete with the high-end gear they mod.
Old 15th August 2014
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbridgman View Post
No!! And I am not too sure I would be interested in such a thing. I would just take that cash and put it toward something else that fit what I needed better.

I have always felt the BLA mods were only good for someone who really loved their interface and wanted to gain a few more years out of it, but it did not age too well. Like the old avid/digi 00 interfaces. They sounded decent for their time, but they lacked a few things that could easily be fixed with a clock and some analog "fixing".

I personally think the Orion sounds great and has one of the best internal clocks that I have heard to date. I think a mod might give it something, but the thing is, I would be afraid to lose that 3D depth and width that the Antelope clock brings it.

Jim
Hi Jim,

Thanks for your reply. When you mixdown do you mix down back into the Orion 32 or use a dedicated converter to do the work? If I'm splitting hairs I'll just use the Orion 32 but if I get a better sound, I will probably invest in something.
Old 15th August 2014
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoovemode View Post
Hi Jim,

Thanks for your reply. When you mixdown do you mix down back into the Orion 32 or use a dedicated converter to do the work? If I'm splitting hairs I'll just use the Orion 32 but if I get a better sound, I will probably invest in something.
Yes I mix back into the Orion 32 from my A&H GS3000 40 channel consoles main 2 channel mix bus and it sounds awesome. I am using 99% analog outboard now and do very little tweaking ITB anymore, maybe some surgical eq on tracks, but I mostly use sends and inline processing from the console's routing.

I am getting some of the best sounding stuff this way, than I ever have, and I really have no desire to look at the BLA mod. Now saying that I did get my GS3K modded by Creation Audio labs last year. That was one of the best things I have ever done. I modded a digi 001 many years ago and was really not all that impressed with the BLA mod. I also tried it with a 002 and it was just ok, as well. The one thing it really did was fix the clocking on both of those units, but the Orion does not really need the clock to be fixed in my opinion. If you feel that you need something "fixed" with the clock save for the 10M clock, that is my next piece I think. I have heard it and it is just crazy awesome with the Orion and the 10M together.

Jim
Old 16th August 2014
  #7
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It'd be interesting to hear some before and after samples. I'm skeptical because the Orion already sounds great. I'm never listening to it wishing that it sounded better, that's for sure.
Old 18th August 2014
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbridgman View Post
Yes I mix back into the Orion 32 from my A&H GS3000 40 channel consoles main 2 channel mix bus and it sounds awesome. I am using 99% analog outboard now and do very little tweaking ITB anymore, maybe some surgical eq on tracks, but I mostly use sends and inline processing from the console's routing.

I am getting some of the best sounding stuff this way, than I ever have, and I really have no desire to look at the BLA mod. Now saying that I did get my GS3K modded by Creation Audio labs last year. That was one of the best things I have ever done. I modded a digi 001 many years ago and was really not all that impressed with the BLA mod. I also tried it with a 002 and it was just ok, as well. The one thing it really did was fix the clocking on both of those units, but the Orion does not really need the clock to be fixed in my opinion. If you feel that you need something "fixed" with the clock save for the 10M clock, that is my next piece I think. I have heard it and it is just crazy awesome with the Orion and the 10M together.

Jim
WOW! The 10M cost 8K plus! That's not going to be on my list anytime soon...lol
Old 18th August 2014
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjeffers View Post
It'd be interesting to hear some before and after samples. I'm skeptical because the Orion already sounds great. I'm never listening to it wishing that it sounded better, that's for sure.
I agree! Everyone who's listened to my mixes on the Orion like the sound of it. The only concerns I have is the latency and maybe it's mastering/print capabilities vs something like a Lavry Black or Apogee Symphony. The soft limit is very tempting for the sort of music I usually produce.
Old 19th August 2014
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoovemode View Post
WOW! The 10M cost 8K plus! That's not going to be on my list anytime soon...lol
The 10M is not $8K, it's $6K. Still, pretty pricey.
Old 19th August 2014
  #11
I just did some of my best sounding work on an Octopre and a Mackie 800R using the onboard converters. Whether my work is any good is up to you guys to decide but with that said I certainly doubt there is a drastic improvement to be had on the Orion 32. I've been using the Zen for a week and it too sounds just fine. The converter craze is just ridiculous. Modding an 003 or a Firepod might make a bit of sense but I doubt I can really detect that.
Old 19th August 2014
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thesolipsist View Post
To me, what BLA did/does for the 002/003s made sense; people who wanted to use Pro Tools but weren't going to need an HD rig wanted an improvement in the lackluster gear they were being forced to get for PT's sake. But Modding things like the Orion or the Apollo plays into this fetishizing of modded gear that seems to be going on lately. I would assume the modifications on gear of that caliber would create more of a lateral change, which could suit someone's taste... but still. At some point it seems like they should just release their own multi-channel converter to compete with the high-end gear they mod.
yeah BLA is sort of snakeoilish. 002s made sense like you say since prior to pt10 or whatever you had to run their hardware or an mbox with the LE. And 002 sounded so bad even a small improvement was worth it even getting ripped off at $600 or whatever they charged.

Swapping opamps and changing a few components is not going to make a converter better. Converter is a system design thing. There are so many aspects and good converters are designed as a "system". It's not just a bunch of components based of a sample Cirrus logic schematic bundled with $10.00 ADCs and then tossed in a chassis with a chinese power supply. This is how great designers like Rich Williams and Fred Forssell have succeeded by carefully designing a solid unit through and through.
If something needs to be modded it's poorly designed.

Why don't people just buy BLA converters if their stuff is so great? I might do a BLA sparrow mod. I'll change a couple capacitors and charge $600 some sucker will fall for it.


I have a friend of mine who had his 002 modded 3 times by BLA. They keep charging him huge dough to do it and the things still sounds terrible. He just got some Tony Maserttati mod for like $1000 ... He has spent over 2000 in mods. I'm like....... just buy a burl? I don't get it. It's just mind boggling.
Old 19th August 2014
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoovemode View Post
WOW! The 10M cost 8K plus! That's not going to be on my list anytime soon...lol
It is not 8K in the US, more like just under 6 new, and you can find one used for like 3500-4500, easily:
Antelope Audio Isochrone 10M | Sweetwater.com

Trust me it is well worth that price once you hear it with the Orion.
Old 21st September 2014
  #14
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once a roadie's Avatar
 

BLA Orion mod...Has anyone heard one? Just curious...
Old 21st September 2014
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by once a roadie View Post
BLA Orion mod...Has anyone heard one? Just curious...
Really? There is such a thing? WTF
Old 21st September 2014
  #16
Saw it...makes no sense to me.
Old 24th September 2014
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by climber View Post
Saw it...makes no sense to me.
Did you hear it? I'm very curious myself. If it made it more competitive with a Symphony I/O or something that costs a lot more, it seems like a good idea.
Old 24th September 2014
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by climber View Post
Really? There is such a thing? WTF
this is why I love this place .. I didn't know either..

cheers
Old 30th September 2014
  #19
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Ok, SO the consensus seems to be I'm better off buying a 3500.00 clock than buying "snake oil" ? :-)
Old 30th September 2014
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoovemode View Post
Ok, SO the consensus seems to be I'm better off buying a 3500.00 clock than buying "snake oil" ? :-)
No, not really.

The ONLY reason to get the clock, is if you have more than 1 digital device in the chain, and need them all to operate with one clock. Like lets say you used the Orion for your I/O into your console, then you mix from your 2 Buss into a Burl B2 Bomber and you want them both clocked properly together. Then the 10M makes sense. Otherwise, just don't worry, the Orion is just killer and I have heard the symphony and the Burl MS next to the Orion and the stock Orion holds it own next to both of them. Are any of them better, maybe, but it depends on too many factors that need to be considered.

If there is something lacking that you are trying to fix, then help me out and tell me what that is. We can then try and start looking at what when and why, and try to fix it. Maybe the Orion is just not the right A/D D/A for you.

Jim
Old 30th September 2014
  #21
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rob61's Avatar
 

I got an Orion for use with my new laptop sporting USB (can't find a PC laptop with firewire anymore). I had been using a BLA modded MOTU firewire interface. The Orion sounds better straight out of the box. When BLA modded the MOTU, I also bought their micro clock. Since I already had it, I figured I'd try using the BLA micro clock with my Orion to see what happens. Well, I felt it improved the imaging and depth. For someone with the Orion, it would be a $600 clock upgrade (the micro clock has three outputs) instead of a $6,000 "atomic" clock upgrade. Good results for 1/10 the cost. Something one might want to consider if they want to go with an external clocking device.
Old 30th September 2014
  #22
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smoovemode's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbridgman View Post
No, not really.

The ONLY reason to get the clock, is if you have more than 1 digital device in the chain, and need them all to operate with one clock. Like lets say you used the Orion for your I/O into your console, then you mix from your 2 Buss into a Burl B2 Bomber and you want them both clocked properly together. Then the 10M makes sense. Otherwise, just don't worry, the Orion is just killer and I have heard the symphony and the Burl MS next to the Orion and the stock Orion holds it own next to both of them. Are any of them better, maybe, but it depends on to many factors that need to be considered.

If there is something lacking that you are trying to fix, then help me out and tell me what that is. We can then try and start looking at what when and why, and try to fix it. Maybe the Orion is just not the right A/D D/A for you.

Jim
Hi Jim,

Both you and Rob brought up good points. When I had a symphony I/O I clearly admit it didn't sound any better until you pushed both of them. The Symphony would get a gluey vibe to it before it would distort badly and the Orion 32 would go from pristine to bad. Understand that has to do with the "soft clip" circuitry the SIO has, but I'm looking for that "tape like" vibe. It was funny you mentioned the Burl 2 buss cause I was looking into that too. At the moment I'm running my Orion 32 through my Focusrite 2802 (audient) and then using the two bus compressor to add that Glue. It's been working, but you know how it is. Could the "grass be greener"? LOL

So, My question is, if I mix down into a Burl or a SIO will I get more of that delicious chewy flavor I love so much :-)?
Old 30th September 2014
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rob61 View Post
I got an Orion for use with my new laptop sporting USB (can't find a PC laptop with firewire anymore). I had been using a BLA modded MOTU firewire interface. The Orion sounds better straight out of the box. When BLA modded the MOTU, I also bought their micro clock. Since I already had it, I figured I'd try using the BLA micro clock with my Orion to see what happens. Well, I felt it improved the imaging and depth. For someone with the Orion, it would be a $600 clock upgrade (the micro clock has three outputs) instead of a $6,000 "atomic" clock upgrade. Good results for 1/10 the cost. Something one might want to consider if they want to go with an external clocking device.
Thanks for your feedback about the BLA mod on the Motu and the Micro clock. I'd feel a lot more comfortable spending 600.00 on a clock than 3500.00 on one.
Old 30th September 2014
  #24
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Highphi's Avatar
 

There is one for sale locally for $350 if you are interested... shoot me a PM. I have my eye on the Orion, I plan to buy it within a year or two. At the moment I am running the SSL alphalink converters (clocked by a bigben) into my console and then mixing down to a rosetta 200 (also clocked by the bigben). I am very happy with this setup, but I'm limited to working at 44.1/48k @24 tracks. Would love the extra 8 outputs the Orion has for fx sends and such. It's just a big upgrade for 8 channels. I just wanted to mention that in my experience, I prefer mixing down to a converter that is different than the 24ch. of DA feeding the console. But it has to be superior 2ch. converter, not just anything/different like an Apogee duet or something.
Old 30th September 2014
  #25
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Another question would be... has anyone clocked the Orion with a bigben?
Old 30th September 2014
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Highphi View Post
There is one for sale locally for $350 if you are interested... shoot me a PM. I have my eye on the Orion, I plan to buy it within a year or two. At the moment I am running the SSL alphalink converters (clocked by a bigben) into my console and then mixing down to a rosetta 200 (also clocked by the bigben). I am very happy with this setup, but I'm limited to working at 44.1/48k @24 tracks. Would love the extra 8 outputs the Orion has for fx sends and such. It's just a big upgrade for 8 channels. I just wanted to mention that in my experience, I prefer mixing down to a converter that is different than the 24ch. of DA feeding the console. But it has to be superior 2ch. converter, not just anything/different like an Apogee duet or something.
Yeah the Orion is stellar. I had the Alphalink just before the Orion and there was a nice change there in depth and width that was not there with the alphalink. I mix at 96K 24bit, with 32 outs to my console and handle ALL my sends/receives from the console. After hearing the Orion it really did show that the upgrade and price was worth it, not just for, 8 more I/O, but for the difference in the depth and width that the Orion provided. I would keep your SSL MADIXtreme card and use it with the Orion, I did and it works great like that.

I have not used it with a Big ben, but I would bet that the clock in the Orion would Rival the big ben and probably provide a noticeable improvement with your other devices. The Orion has 4 BNC clock outs, and it uses the same clock that Antelope is famous for, I think it is similar to an OCX maybe better than the OCX.

Jim
Old 30th September 2014
  #27
Gear Maniac
 

Hi all:
I don't think we will find someone here who did the mod, just because the warranty is still outstanding on the Orion 32.
Probably next year maybe.
dan
Old 1st October 2014
  #28
really love my Orion. like it waaay better than the RME UFX. hard to believe that BL could make it "enough" better to justify
the significant $$...
Old 1st October 2014
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by climber View Post
really love my Orion. like it waaay better than the RME UFX. hard to believe that BL could make it "enough" better to justify
the significant $$...
$600.00 wouldn't be much if it clearly made the box sound better and Jim is right about it holding it's own vs other more expensive converters. My thinking was more on the lines of getter a mastering quality converter and mult channel converter, all in one. Then 600.00 would be cheap.
Old 16th October 2014
  #30
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Overdrive's Avatar
 

Have an Orion32. It has a Trinity level clock in it and sounds way better than most anything else I've tried. I doubt a BLA box can improve on that but I may be wrong.
I even poked into the thing (breaking the warranty seal, yeah I know...) - the layout is exemplary! Nice electronic work.
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