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Old October 19th, 2007, 04:01 PM
geezer geezer is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Martinsburg, WV
Posts: 181
Current A/D and D/A boxes....

....There are a lot of A-D and D-A boxes out there now that "sound good", and you will find proponents for many of them, at all price levels. I think "sounds good", however, is a highly relative term, and any given system, sync method and upstream/downstream device setup will yield different sounding results....They may all still "sound good" but will sound different, in my experience.....

That being said, I don't think there is much doubt anywhere that nearly all converters these days that sample at 96k and up are usually supererior sounding to those of the era of the MTU boxes, when, that is, they are properly and well clocked.....MTUs converters, as far as I know, are limited to 16bits and 48k (+,- their syncing range). They were/are very good sounding within these limits, very good sounding, indeed.....Some of the best sounding for that era. I have noticed, however, that when I use newer, higher bandwidth converters, I tend to notice more detail and clarity (especially in the higher frequencies) than with the converters of the earlier era, depending on the material I am feeding in.

That, of course, is the bugaboo.....On one forum I used to participate in, someone was touting a new set of converters (AtoD, I think), and I asked this question: "What converters are you using to listen to your converters?"...Noone ever answered me, but that is the issue. The whole chain matters, and how you hear it at the end of the chain will color all opinions about any other part of the chain....

So, enough philosophical theory. As far as bang for the buck and great quality, I hear more and more about the Lynx Aurora 16 channel A-D and DA, which can be gotten for a street price of around $2500. Many people are foregoing the Apogees for these, especially since the Apogees cost at least twice as much (since you buy separate A-D and D-A).....Lynx also makes an 8 channel bi-directional version of the same box for, obviously, something like half the money.

As far as the new ProTools HD I/O, my only experience with this system was producing a recording at the NPR studios last year. NPR does not use the I/O boxes, but uses the conversion in their huge Studer digital console. I could not tell you whether that was a good decision or not, but I know they probably made the decision based on supposed technical and quality considerations from their point of view. Would I agree with those viewpoints? Would you? Who knows.

I personally will be taking a hard look at the Lynx box when I get some money, but my views may be different than others. I know Prism and Mytek have the votes of some of the high end guys and gals, but I like the converters on my DM2000 console for a lot of things, and I've been told they sound "gritty" by some of my trusted colleagues.....I also like the converters on my TC6000 because I can hit a button and change the way they sound! ("Vintage", "Bright", "Natural", etc.)

ProTools stuff is plain expensive, too, so that always colors my thinking about anything from them.

The other thing about the newer converters for me is that it has opened up a whole can of worms about digital stuff....When everything was limited to 48k, and you kept things in 16bit most of the time, the quality considerations were markedly fewer, to my way of thinking. I miss that sometimes. There are a bunch of my old 02R mixes to Medit at 16bit that still hold up really well....They may sound a tad band-limited to me compared to some of the newer stuff, but they still hold up.....When I made the change, it took me a long time to get things to settle down to where I understand what was needed to work with the new perception of greater bandwidth and detail. I don't really want to go back, but there are days when I miss the simplicity.

.....It is definitely confusing sometimes, too. I was just listening to one of my Blues Alley albums ('92 or so) yesterday, and much more pleased than I remembered. It was recorded to a 2" with Dolby SR through my Soundcraft 600B console (that printed eq to the tracks, which was a smarter decision on my part than I really understood at the time), then mixed back through the Soundcraft to DAT in sections, and edited on the Turtle Beach 56k editing system that I abandoned for MicroSound in '94.....It sounded better than I remembered. All the A-D conversion was solely at the input of the Panasonic 3700 DAT machines I was using.....In those days, there wasn't any real CD "mastering". People were just transferring to 3/4" video decks and inserting track IDs (PCM1630?).

So, all the stuff from those days sounds quieter, but the sonic characteristics seem to hold up. Pretty interesting.....There is one album from that era that I edited mosly on Medit (with a little bit of pop and click redrawing on Turtle Beach, which Medit never did, and which Turtle Beach did well) that received a loudness boost from an early TC box. The loudness change was astounding, and sounded pretty natural, but I can hear the compression now, at least compared to the newer software and hardware boxes.

I'm not sure what all this means except that I think the Lynx box is pretty spanky, and that the quality of the converters these days has a lot going on, but kind of increases our decision possibilities again, so doesn't exactly make our lives easier.
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