A/D converter

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Greggy, Jan 19, 2005.


  1. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    I sold my Palmer PGA 04, and the hole left in my fx rack is killing me.

    So I've checked my recording chain and decided the best upgrade would be a quality A/D converter. This is my current chain for recording acoustic and electric guitar, respectively:

    Neuman KM184->Presonus MP20 mic pre->A/D converter in my Lexicon MPX500 fx box (Alpha Omega converter I believe).

    For electric, same chain but with SM57 and e609 silver mics.

    Am I wrong in concluding that the converter is the weakest link? I'm not exactly certain how the Alpha Omega converter ranks. Or should I aim to replace the Presonus mic pre first? Which item is the weakest link in your opinion? If you agree it's the converter, please make suggestions, I would like a 2 channel converter for under a grand. If you believe it's the mic pre, suggestions for a 2 channel mic pre for under a grand would be swell.
     
  2. LSchefman

    LSchefman Supporting Member

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    First off, you were smart to start with a good microphone.

    The KM184 is one of the best small diaphragm mics out there, so the most important part of your chain, the transducer, is of top quality, and it is the thing that makes the most difference in your recorded sound.

    Before I would answer your question, I have a few:

    What is the rest of your recording chain after the MPX 500? Some sort of computer hard disk system? And how many tracks do you typically record and mix?

    Generally, in order of importance, to my mind, are:

    1. The mic is by far the most important link in the chain.

    2. In a setup where you are taking an analog signal into a digital system, yes, the quality of the converter will often make an audible difference, but there are shades of gray in this one once you reach a certain level.

    3. Finally, the preamp. However, once you reach a certain plateau with A/D converters, the differences between preamps become more audible in terms of their subtle sonic signatures than the differences between A/D converters, in a single track.

    In your case, my wild guess is that the link in your chain you'd want to upgrade next would be the converter.

    However, are you aware that several manufacturers offer a mic preamp with a high quality A/D converter as either a standard feature or as an option, thereby solving both of your issues at once?
     
  3. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    Thanks for the well thought out reply. BTW, I bought the KM184 on your suggestion when I was a newbie on this board. I agree it is a great mic, and I will never get rid of it.

    My signal exits the MPX500 and goes directly into the digital input of my Roland VS1880. I typically record and mix up to 32 tracks for a typical song. Since the 1880 has only 16 track playback and mixdown capability (unless I add send and return loops with fx during mixdown which add a couple of more tracks), I usually have to bounce tracks down to a single stereo mix before recording additional tracks. Requires a lot of planning to do this right, as you know.

    Any converter suggestions in my price range? Any thoughts on how my Alpha Omega converter compares to either the under $1000 converters currently available, or the converters installed in the combined mic pre/converter boxes for under a $1000? I am curious whether I'm wasting my money buying a converter for under a $1000, given the possibility that the Alpha Omega is just as good. Thanks.
     
  4. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    Correction: the converters are 24 bit Delta Sigma. Not Alpha Omega.

    It's all Greek to me.:D
     
  5. LSchefman

    LSchefman Supporting Member

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    OK, Delta Sigma makes more sense.

    In general, I like the converters on Lexicon devices, though the MPX 500 isn't a top-line Lexicon piece.

    Here's my question: Do you feel that anything is missing between what you're hearing when you record, and what is being reproduced?

    Let me put it another way.

    Have someone come over with, say, an acoustic guitar, and monitor with decent monitors or headphones while the person is playing, putting the output of the preamp directly into a power amp or headphone amp, bypassing the converters completely. Then record and play back the instrument using the converters, or monitor on your machine with the converters live.

    If you feel the sound is brittle, changed, papery, whatever, you might want better converters. If the sound is good, leave it alone.

    You know, you can endlessly upgrade this stuff, and it doesn't always make sense.

    And yes, I am guilty of endlessly upgrading since first opening up shop in 1990.
     
  6. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    That's a good idea for an experiment. To be honest, I'm not too desperate for the upgrade, but any noticeable improvement in the chain interests me at this time. I'll try to get my neighbor to come over and play. Thanks.
     
  7. loudboy

    loudboy Supporting Member

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    Check out the Creative Labs CardD Deluxe. It's always consistently rated as one of the best internal soundcards. I think they may be around $300, but I picked up one for $75 and it sounds great.

    DAL Card Deluxe

    Lynx is good too, but pricier.

    I'd put the rest of the money into a single channel of Millennia or John Hardy pre. You wouldn't have to make ANY excuses w/a signal chain like that.

    Here's a great comparison chart...

    Card Comparison

    Loudboy
     
  8. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    I think Les nailed it. That's a nice mic and a nice sounding preamp. I also don't know the quality of the A/D in the MPX 500, so it's hard to say if a change would make a big difference or any at all. If you do a lot of multitracking, using the clock in the outboard A/D will make a difference.

    I've heard that Benchmark A/D is as close to tape as it gets... but I've never used it. Most Nashville studios I know use either the A/D in ProTools HD or Lucid. I find Lucid a little "sparkly," but not in a harsh way. I prefer Apogee to Lucid, me own self.
     
  9. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    Michael, thanks for the advice. Gonna research your suggestions. BTW, I see you hang in Nashville. I'm returning in February to visit a college buddy, I miss Nashville. Will stop by Techstar and check out their inventory, see if i can pick up a bargain or 2.

    Loudboy, ditto. BTW, I'm not recording to computer, so the internal sound card is a no go.
     
  10. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    The Benchmark A/D is apparently not available to the general public, site says coming soon. http://www.benchmarkmedia.com/digital/atod.asp

    The 2400 series is available, but starts at $1,800 for 2 channels. Looks like the ADC1 will list at around $975 and may be more appropriate for the home studio/project studio environment.
     
  11. Gary Ladd

    Gary Ladd Member

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    Apogee Rosetta 200.

    Find-out why DA/AD converters DO matter :cool:
     
  12. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    He asked almost a year ago... but maybe that's the reply he was waiting for! ;)
     
  13. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    Geez you guys are slow. Finally, the "right" answer.:BEER

    Actually, I'm still using the Lexicon MPX 500 as my A/D converter. Instead of buying more equipment, I chose the "radical" approach of improving my ears and tracking skills. For me, getting it right on the front end has made more difference than anything else I've learned or any piece of equipment I've purchased. That's my 2 cents worth.

    BTW, I called Benchmark last March and they still hadn't released the new A/D converter. Not sure if it has hit the market yet. If anyone has tried one, I'd like to know your opinions. If I were to upgrade my recording chain, a converter would be my first purchase. Thanks.
     
  14. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    The Apogee is on my list. I found a used one the last time I was in Nashville. Decided not to pull the trigger, yet.
     
  15. elambo

    elambo Member

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    Yes yes yes, I love Apogee's A/D and D/A. I have a standard Rosetta A/D, MiniMe, and just bought the Rosetta 200 a couple weeks ago. I still remember the day I first plugged them in (the A/D was a huge improvement, the 200 was even moreso) and was almost laughing at the difference (I'm using them with a Digidesign 002). Either one will shame the convertors in your Lexicon. It would be relatively easy, and relatively inexpensive, to find a used Rosetta A/D.
     
  16. TAVD

    TAVD Guitar Player Gold Supporting Member

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    I believe Benchmark started shipping the ADC last month.

    You can try the Kurzweil rumour or mangler.
     
  17. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    You lost me on that one.:confused:
     
  18. TAVD

    TAVD Guitar Player Gold Supporting Member

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    I meant in place of or in addition to the Lexicon. It has excellent sounding converters and it's only around $500. If Apogee is in the budget, that's a different story.
     
  19. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    Got it. Wasn't aware of that option. Gonna look it up on the web. Thanks.
     
  20. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    With the lexicon, you can set the "digital out" parameter to unprocessed, thus using the unit solely as an A/D converter. Or can set it to processed and record wet using the unit as a serial effect. I like that flexibility and often don't mind recording wet (I usually know what I want and what will work in the context of the mix fx wise while tracking).

    Do the Kurzweil units have the ability to function solely as A/D converters without fx processing like the Lexicon? I read a couple of reviews and didn't get an answer.
     

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