Author Topic: Digital to analog converters  (Read 41549 times)

ffcal

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Re: Digital to analog converters
« Reply #20 on: November 21, 2013, 11:35:12 AM »
Though this strays off of the D/A topic, I agree with Seren that it's important to have some sense of what you are trying to achieve, especially if you are just getting started, before accumulating too much expensive gear.  I actually stuck with open reel four-track recording for a very long time before I finally felt ready to make the shift into digital in the early 90s with the purchase of an ADAT.  The economics of it can also be a big factor if you don't have the means to maximize the potential of the gear you are acquiring or if the gear doesn't really address the core of what you sense you need.  Who hasn't at least once purchased an instrument or a piece of gear and later felt buyer's remorse?  Though electronics has been a big part of my sound, I've always been partial to acoustic instruments, so I've never felt the need to acquire the biggest and baddest modular synth or processor.  But everyone has different needs, so one size doesn't really fit all.

Forrest

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Re: Digital to analog converters
« Reply #21 on: November 21, 2013, 01:35:33 PM »
I agree with Forrest, and was also going to mention Seren's line:

"We also have to consider what we and our peers are trying to achieve in our music
before making suggestions or decrying what facilities they have. If we are not wanting
to create music that is 'true to source' then what we are looking at and why changes."


If you are recording a vocal or acoustic instruments, then pristine clarity and realism is what you probably need, and you need the gear that will achieve it (great mics, preamp,  etc), but not too many of us in the ambient-electro realm are actually doing that. So consider what it is you are creating and match the gear to the expected musical product. Not a lot of reasons for expensive purity if you are going to overdrive, lo-fi, or glitch it up later, for example. Why spend $2000 when $250 will do and leave you money for other things. Plus of course there is the old adage: having the best equipment in the world does not mean you will now create better music.

On reverbs, I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. I very rarely use the things except built in as part of a synth patch.
Way back I found Ambience to be a very good free one: http://magnus.smartelectronix.com/#Ambience
I have used Breeze by 2CAudio. It's great if you need some very long reverb. But has delicacy too.
My favourite is probably WizooVerb. It's very flexible. It was bought buy some other company, digidesign I think.

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Re: Digital to analog converters
« Reply #22 on: November 21, 2013, 01:44:11 PM »
On AD/DA converters, I also think that the technology has improved greatly over the years so that the basic integrated circuits used in even the inexpensive converters is now on par with what used to be considered top of the line. Such is the nature of electronic advancement. We see if with today's computers and cameras for example. What was once top of the line is now matched by relatively cheap lower-end electronics. And at some point there is simply not much to be gained by spending a ton more money on one piece. That gain may not outweigh putting the money to use buying more equipment or software you currently don't have.
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petekelly

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Re: Digital to analog converters
« Reply #23 on: November 21, 2013, 01:49:26 PM »
Very good advice here from Forrest and APK, I think this is one of the advantages of this forum, there are people here who know their onions and give informed advice on technical stuff.

I would go as far as saying these days, most modern gear is good enough (mostly), it's very easy (I speak from experience !) in trying to find the 'best' reverb or whatever. Time spent learning the things that you have is time well spent, in my view. 

El culto

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Re: Digital to analog converters
« Reply #24 on: November 21, 2013, 01:54:27 PM »
My 2 cents about that…

Agree with most APK said before! Also use Wizooverb W2 and it´s great

But it´s really a matter of what you want to archive…for me any reverb work for ambient (even a lot of freeware…still use Sanford a lot). For me it´s quite funny making a fuss about reverb and then to look for plugins sounding like tape-emulations or trying to archive an old sound (i.e with bit reduction) :-D

Is anyone really believe the audience will hear the difference which reverb is used and judging then the music by this then in another way? In my opinion this is just a marketing gag of the audio industry…otherwise, how it possible to have great albums in the 80´s just made with a D-50 (incl the internal effects)?

Lets say it this way…the audio industry in today simply needs this "higher and better" just for selling their products. And beside that, most people starting with music today are just confused by all the "the best" options.

Cheers,
Tomas

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Re: Digital to analog converters
« Reply #25 on: November 21, 2013, 02:36:27 PM »
Wow, I didn't expect this many responses. I think I'm still leaning toward getting a DAC for my main laptop in the near future since the quality probably isn't that good from the laptop but I'll stay within my budget on that. Also, I did buy Toraverb but I haven't tried it out yet.

Really appreciate all the responses so far.  :)
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Re: Digital to analog converters
« Reply #26 on: November 21, 2013, 02:54:28 PM »
I've got my sights set on the Modi USB Digital to Analog Audio Converter:

http://www.amazon.com/Modi-USB-Digital-Analog-Convertor/dp/B00CICPN0K

It's made by Schiit Audio, which has a good reputation from what I've heard, and the reviews on Amazon and elsewhere are unanimously positive, which isn't always common for audio equipment that cheap. And it's well within my grad student budget.

Even if it's not the best on the market, it should still be an improvement over what I've got now.
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Re: Digital to analog converters
« Reply #27 on: November 21, 2013, 03:00:54 PM »
This is home stereo DA converter, not for recording. It doesn't have analog-to-digital conversion, which is something you would get with a pro audio converter. This could certainly be a good device, but just for listening, not recording.
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El culto

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Re: Digital to analog converters
« Reply #28 on: November 21, 2013, 03:01:57 PM »
My 2 cents about that…

Agree with most APK said before! Also use Wizooverb W2 and it´s great

But it´s really a matter of what you want to archive…for me any reverb work for ambient (even a lot of freeware…still use Sanford a lot). For me it´s quite funny making a fuss about reverb and then to look for plugins sounding like tape-emulations or trying to archive an old sound (i.e with bit reduction) :-D

Is anyone really believe the audience will hear the difference which reverb is used and judging then the music by this then in another way? In my opinion this is just a marketing gag of the audio industry…otherwise, how it possible to have great albums in the 80´s just made with a D-50 (incl the internal effects)?

Lets say it this way…the audio industry in today simply needs this "higher and better" just for selling their products. And beside that, most people starting with music today are just confused by all the "the best" options.

Cheers,
Tomas

It seem you are not a big fan of tape sound, and it sounds also like you have got wrong idea of what good tape sound is. Great tape sound will not in any shape or form destroy the audio it will just make it sound all better when it it is done right, it might just give the reverb the the final saturation which many reverbs lack,  Lexicon has beautiful satuartion and colour.   The highest quality converters such as  Crane song HEDD like Mike was talking about or BURL have both try to make the best from high quality tape sound.   It seem you worship the sound of cold sterile and "clean" digital sound.
problem is it is dead boring to listen to.. no interesting complex details and harmonics which you get from analogue sound by nature.
Especially synths in ambient need all saturating that you can get to make them sound good in my opinion,  tape saturating make everything sounds right in many cases and make beautiful harmonics so lets not talk down about tape sound, many of the absolute top producers use tape sound to summarize mixes, tape sounds does not need to be bad sounding "old scool" sound, it can also be super clean with just beautiful saturation and harmonics, this is the reason people adore the BURL transformers which is considered to be the best converters right now those transformers add "tape like" qualities.

will the audience here the difference which reverb is used ? if you asked me a couple of years ago, I would say no.  But since that time I have tried many different reverbs, and all reverbs have a different character same goes with synths,  I have some days ago received my Eventide H8000fw, looking forward to hear the reverb, but it is the pitch shifting reverbs with eventide that is very hard to not hear... if you have heard it.
I

I find quite often I hear what reverbs that is used,
But of course often it is really hard to tell.. some times more obvious...steve roach sound is unmistakably lexicon, I know he use eventide H3000 on some (darkest before dawn). But almost all of the time I am just surprised how bad reverbs people use, a lot of people use probably the internal effects of the soft synths which is always useless.  I have not heard one synth with good internal effects, omnisphere included.  Of course everyone decide what bar of sound quality they want.  but there is so many factors invovled if you have speakers that colour the sound that most people probably have a bad sounding reverb might sound beautiful,  all I can say is with my new Trident HG3 speakers I find it way easier to hear clear difference between good and bad reverbs.  The biggest problem with most reverbs is that they do not represent the full frequceny spectrum, they are capped ofteh the thigh end gets lost in the mud,  I am allergic to muddy reverb , and unfortunately this artifact is very common in the ambient scene today.

Before talking too much about "better" "best" etc…what about making an example on your side so anyone can hear the differences you are talking about? By seeing and haring all the gear you have I´m now really curious, so please give us the chance to understand the difference! So, can you please provide some examples/clips? Only that would be really helpful to understand what you are talking about!

Cheers,
Tomas

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Re: Digital to analog converters
« Reply #29 on: November 21, 2013, 03:03:08 PM »
This is home stereo DA converter, not for recording. It doesn't have analog-to-digital conversion, which is something you would get with a pro audio converter. This could certainly be a good device, but just for listening, not recording.

Thanks for clarifying. It wasn't really clear at all to me from the descriptions.
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Re: Digital to analog converters
« Reply #30 on: November 21, 2013, 03:12:33 PM »
I've got my sights set on the Modi USB Digital to Analog Audio Converter:

http://www.amazon.com/Modi-USB-Digital-Analog-Convertor/dp/B00CICPN0K

It's made by Schiit Audio, which has a good reputation from what I've heard, and the reviews on Amazon and elsewhere are unanimously positive, which isn't always common for audio equipment that cheap. And it's well within my grad student budget.

Even if it's not the best on the market, it should still be an improvement over what I've got now.

If you do not have a big budget, please try to buy something second hand, it is really the only way to get something substantial for a very low budget. Newer is not better. 

El culto

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Re: Digital to analog converters
« Reply #31 on: November 21, 2013, 03:31:16 PM »
My 2 cents about that…

Agree with most APK said before! Also use Wizooverb W2 and it´s great

But it´s really a matter of what you want to archive…for me any reverb work for ambient (even a lot of freeware…still use Sanford a lot). For me it´s quite funny making a fuss about reverb and then to look for plugins sounding like tape-emulations or trying to archive an old sound (i.e with bit reduction) :-D

Is anyone really believe the audience will hear the difference which reverb is used and judging then the music by this then in another way? In my opinion this is just a marketing gag of the audio industry…otherwise, how it possible to have great albums in the 80´s just made with a D-50 (incl the internal effects)?

Lets say it this way…the audio industry in today simply needs this "higher and better" just for selling their products. And beside that, most people starting with music today are just confused by all the "the best" options.

Cheers,
Tomas

It seem you are not a big fan of tape sound, and it sounds also like you have got wrong idea of what good tape sound is. Great tape sound will not in any shape or form destroy the audio it will just make it sound all better when it it is done right, it might just give the reverb the the final saturation which many reverbs lack,  Lexicon has beautiful satuartion and colour.   The highest quality converters such as  Crane song HEDD like Mike was talking about or BURL have both try to make the best from high quality tape sound.   It seem you worship the sound of cold sterile and "clean" digital sound.
problem is it is dead boring to listen to.. no interesting complex details and harmonics which you get from analogue sound by nature.
Especially synths in ambient need all saturating that you can get to make them sound good in my opinion,  tape saturating make everything sounds right in many cases and make beautiful harmonics so lets not talk down about tape sound, many of the absolute top producers use tape sound to summarize mixes, tape sounds does not need to be bad sounding "old scool" sound, it can also be super clean with just beautiful saturation and harmonics, this is the reason people adore the BURL transformers which is considered to be the best converters right now those transformers add "tape like" qualities.

will the audience here the difference which reverb is used ? if you asked me a couple of years ago, I would say no.  But since that time I have tried many different reverbs, and all reverbs have a different character same goes with synths,  I have some days ago received my Eventide H8000fw, looking forward to hear the reverb, but it is the pitch shifting reverbs with eventide that is very hard to not hear... if you have heard it.
I

I find quite often I hear what reverbs that is used,
But of course often it is really hard to tell.. some times more obvious...steve roach sound is unmistakably lexicon, I know he use eventide H3000 on some (darkest before dawn). But almost all of the time I am just surprised how bad reverbs people use, a lot of people use probably the internal effects of the soft synths which is always useless.  I have not heard one synth with good internal effects, omnisphere included.  Of course everyone decide what bar of sound quality they want.  but there is so many factors invovled if you have speakers that colour the sound that most people probably have a bad sounding reverb might sound beautiful,  all I can say is with my new Trident HG3 speakers I find it way easier to hear clear difference between good and bad reverbs.  The biggest problem with most reverbs is that they do not represent the full frequceny spectrum, they are capped ofteh the thigh end gets lost in the mud,  I am allergic to muddy reverb , and unfortunately this artifact is very common in the ambient scene today.

Before talking too much about "better" "best" etc…what about making an example on your site so anyone can hear the differences you are talking about? By seeing and haring all the gear you have I´m now really curious, so please give us the chance to understand the difference! So, can you please provide some examples/clips? Only that would be really helpful to understand what you are talking about!

Cheers,
Tomas

My studio is incomplete my signal chain is not complete,  also I am going to sell my Lynx converter and buy a BURL converter instead, I am still need a pre amp, to plugin my guitars, synths and microphones,  I use mostly software right now.. the things I use in my studio so far is only my HG3 speakers and dangerous audio source monitor controller. Most people would probably just buy something cheap But I prefer to buy the good stuff direcely life is too short to waste time with gear you do not like I am tired of it.  I hope in a few months I will be able to show you some examples of my gear if you want.

That would be helpful!…Just wondering how someone can talk about all the differences and how good/great/better it sounds like if he still haven´t got a ready made setup to provide any example?

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Re: Digital to analog converters
« Reply #32 on: November 21, 2013, 05:07:13 PM »
My head is spinning from all this :o    Castleview next time you should put up some sort of specific parameters so us gear heads keep our big guns in the cabinet.....like what was your first studio setup  ;)  because just the sight of the word converters or ad/da brings out the hoarding mass.  This sounds familiar...must have seen it in another threads somewhere.
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Re: Digital to analog converters
« Reply #33 on: November 21, 2013, 06:24:18 PM »
My head is spinning from all this :o    Castleview next time you should put up some sort of specific parameters so us gear heads keep our big guns in the cabinet.....like what was your first studio setup  ;)  because just the sight of the word converters or ad/da brings out the hoarding mass.  This sounds familiar...must have seen it in another threads somewhere.

But I love how this thread turned out. I should get an award from mgriffin for stimulating all this discussion.
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Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: Digital to analog converters
« Reply #34 on: November 21, 2013, 06:57:41 PM »
Yes...its been an interesting read and hopeful educational.

 
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Re: Digital to analog converters
« Reply #35 on: November 21, 2013, 09:01:56 PM »
I've learned more from this forum in a short amount of time than I have from anywhere else on the internet about recording ambient music.

I've only been recording for a year and it's been all at my house. I've never been inside of an actual studio and I don't know anyone else in my area who makes this type of music. This forum has really opened my eyes to recording and also, more ambient music that I hadn't even heard of.
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Re: Digital to analog converters
« Reply #36 on: November 21, 2013, 11:12:10 PM »
I have tried to make sense of this thread and it seams like there are two trains of thought here...converters and reverb.

For converters my question really is what is your realistic end goal? If you are just getting started I would actually say, be conservative.

Do you want to learn sound design? Compose? Release CD's? Put up music on youtube and soundcoud?

I ask because there are folks out there doing great stuff with very conservative set ups. For around $200 there are some great 2 in and 2 out boxes from Event, Focusrite, and others that are more than fine for what you may want to do as it sounds like right now you are working in the box entirely.

Sure, Lynx, Orion, Apogee, Burl, Lavree, Benchmark and more make some great pro converters that are stellar, but each of these multi-channel boxes will set you back $2-3k or more. So its kind of like telling a starting guitarist to go buy a high end Les Paul to learn on.

The gear should serve you, your ideas and needs, not the other way around. If you have the skill and the ears which come with time and practice you CAN make killer high end and professional recordings with cheaper gear. Good gear only makes it easier.

My 1st two albums here on Hypnos from 1999 and 2000 (I think) both were done on an ADAT XT, a Mackie 1604/later a Yamaha 01V, with Shure SM-81, CAD E100 and Audix mics and mixed down through  TC M3000 and Alesis Wedge reverbs. A lot of my work prior to that done in a computer was done with a sound blaster soundcard.

My point being that I have long since moved way beyond most of that gear (still have a wedge laying around) and none of it was state of the art. But I still had to start somewhere and I am quite proud of the albums I made with all of it. In fact sometimes I miss the days when it was harder and I had to really push the gear's limits and problem solve to get my results.

So, again just start somewhere with what you can afford.

Now reverbs...

This is a huge issue of taste and I am as snobby as anyone when it comes to reverb. Up until just two-three years ago I would have told you that no plug-in reverb will ever equal high-end hardware. Well now two years later I almost never turn my hardware lexicon on and I traded my Eventide HW8000 for 2 high ticket microphones as I found I could do everything it could do in the box, especially with SoundToys (the ex-eventide program team) and PSP and others...with the one exception being pitch shifting, and that should change soon.

Reverb wise though the new Spark Verb is incredible and capable of black hole like reverb, The Lexicon PCM bundle sounds virtually identical to the hardware PCM96, Softube's TSAR is great for rooms and my absolute go to reverb for big ECM and spacemusic spaces is the Lexicon 224 available by UAD (not cheap, as you need a DSP card to run it, but its still software).

Point being there are tons of choices in the computer now that can do great things. Many others listed elsewhere here.

Pick some starting tools, push them until you know you their limits and beyond and enjoy your self.

Oh and be very wary of advice on internet forums (yes this is an odd place to say this), my point is that on an audiophile forum or on gearslutz  or where ever, opinions become facts! Never treat any of it as empirical data. There is no best mic pre, or best converter or best reverb. In any situation you need to hear it, touch it and use it in your space and then you can decide if its best for you.

To bring this back to your original question...yes better converters can clean up your sound and as I said there are some great $200'sh to $400'sh boxes that might be a nice step up from your Lexicon. If you can swing $500 or so street the Apogee Duet 2 is amazing in terms of sound and function, and it can actually turn the soft synths on your iPad into a real serious sounding instrument.

Ok...I will muddy the water a bit more, and will challenge you with the thought that maybe the lack openness and mud  or whatever you feel is sonically lacking in your mixes is not the converters, but could be cleaned up in better mixing techniques IE equalization, compression, and even synth programing.

I am not attacking your skill, but you have only been at this a year I think you said? Audio engineering, synth programing, performing and sound design are all skills to be learned and mastered over time and in many cases each one is a separate skill, you don't need to master all of them at once.

Paul
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Re: Digital to analog converters
« Reply #37 on: November 22, 2013, 01:35:50 AM »
I've never been inside of an actual studio and I don't know anyone else in my area who makes this type of music. This forum has really opened my eyes to recording and also, more ambient music that I hadn't even heard of.

You may be surprised to find you are not alone in this....... :o

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Re: Digital to analog converters
« Reply #38 on: November 22, 2013, 08:23:17 AM »
Quick note on reverbs.
- Interesting to hear Paul say he has forsaken the hardware for software reverbs.  8)
- Just been demoing the Valhalla reverb plugins. Damn good !!! At $50 these are a steal. And looks like the guy making them knows exactly what he is doing, technically. I think if these were released by a company with overheads and staff to maintain they would cost a LOT more.
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Re: Digital to analog converters
« Reply #39 on: November 22, 2013, 09:04:29 AM »
APK,
Yes, absolutely regarding these Valhalla plugs, reading the developers blog, it's obvious he really knows what he's doing - studying and developing all those 'classic' algorithms that actually make digital reverb (which is inherently 'fake' in itself, compared to say, a real plate reverb). It's those actual algos that are creating the reverb, not all those esoteric components on the circuit boards in these esteemed hardware verbs ? (correct me if I'm wrong)

I've spent a long time with UberMod and even as reverb (which it isn't marketed as) it's much deeper than other things I've looked at.