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 Post subject: Re: Soundcards
PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 2:31 pm 
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quest wrote:


Generally you would pay for what you can hear - if you can't hear the difference of a budget DAC compared to the Apogee hardware then why pay more? The counter-argument is that if you are committed, in some years you will be able to hear the difference, and then if you already have an RME or Apogee there'll be no need to upgrade.



I seem to be getting this out a lot recently.

[youtube] [/youtube]

We conducted a slew of ABX tests at the record producers association (what is now called the music producers guild), concerning ultra high end, mid level and prosumer DAC's years ago at Angel studios and bbc Maida Vale, the testers were engineers across the industry at all levels. There were no conclusive results.
Ie on OUTPUT at 24bit no one could conclusively tell the difference between DACs costing thousands and thousands, and DACS costing hundreds.

The video above, years after the fact, explains why.

Obviously there are more factors on input, but this becomes a preamp comparison.

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 Post subject: Re: Soundcards
PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 3:24 pm 
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In a DAW > Interface > Speaker setup, go first with any that have good support and good drivers and a ease of use etc.

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 Post subject: Re: Soundcards
PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 7:11 pm 
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got myself the focus rite one for €150. And it sounds very good! Happy man over here.


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 Post subject: Re: Soundcards
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 3:37 am 
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Good choice, I think the first interface should be in that quality zone - no lower, but as I'm arguing below, not higher, not even if you think you're committed in the long term (the mid-high end interfaces in 5-10 years from now will be much more fully featured!)

Lost to the Void wrote:
We conducted a slew of ABX tests at the record producers association (what is now called the music producers guild), concerning ultra high end, mid level and prosumer DAC's years ago at Angel studios and bbc Maida Vale, the testers were engineers across the industry at all levels. There were no conclusive results.
Ie on OUTPUT at 24bit no one could conclusively tell the difference between DACs costing thousands and thousands, and DACS costing hundreds.

The video above, years after the fact, explains why.

Obviously there are more factors on input, but this becomes a preamp comparison.



Yeah this makes sense to me. I think there are so many variables that no arbitrary blind/double-blind test could have conclusive results - because in that case the test isn't framing the problem correctly.

Where I think it makes a difference is when you've trained your ears for a certain sound with a consistent but potentially complex set of inputs. In the case of my studio, piping everything I have through a 48ch console and out to one of only two soundcards.

The first was the Presonus FP10. To me the converters were adequate but I felt something was lost which was still there when monitoring directly from the desk.
After switching to Apogee DACs, in my specific context I could hear a difference. There was more precision in the mid-high end, something I could hear very well on my ADAM A7's.

There was also more body and dynamics across the entire spectrum.

But if I were presented audio DACed through these two interfaces and I had no familiarity with the music being played or the interfaces themselves previously, I doubt I could tell the difference either.

So I guess at the end of the day, if you work to a certain point in your production/engineering career and you really think the quality bottleneck is at the converters, and you can rent a new interface from the music store and have someone blind you and play music through your old one and the new one and you pick the new one as the better sound, then there must be something to DAC quality after all.

Otherwise, you might be just wasting budget that would be better spent elsewhere.

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 Post subject: Re: Soundcards
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 4:37 am 
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quest wrote:
Good choice, I think the first interface should be in that quality zone - no lower, but as I'm arguing below, not higher, not even if you think you're committed in the long term (the mid-high end interfaces in 5-10 years from now will be much more fully featured!)

Lost to the Void wrote:
We conducted a slew of ABX tests at the record producers association (what is now called the music producers guild), concerning ultra high end, mid level and prosumer DAC's years ago at Angel studios and bbc Maida Vale, the testers were engineers across the industry at all levels. There were no conclusive results.
Ie on OUTPUT at 24bit no one could conclusively tell the difference between DACs costing thousands and thousands, and DACS costing hundreds.

The video above, years after the fact, explains why.

Obviously there are more factors on input, but this becomes a preamp comparison.



Yeah this makes sense to me. I think there are so many variables that no arbitrary blind/double-blind test could have conclusive results - because in that case the test isn't framing the problem correctly.

Where I think it makes a difference is when you've trained your ears for a certain sound with a consistent but potentially complex set of inputs. In the case of my studio, piping everything I have through a 48ch console and out to one of only two soundcards.

The first was the Presonus FP10. To me the converters were adequate but I felt something was lost which was still there when monitoring directly from the desk.
After switching to Apogee DACs, in my specific context I could hear a difference. There was more precision in the mid-high end, something I could hear very well on my ADAM A7's.

There was also more body and dynamics across the entire spectrum.

But if I were presented audio DACed through these two interfaces and I had no familiarity with the music being played or the interfaces themselves previously, I doubt I could tell the difference either.

So I guess at the end of the day, if you work to a certain point in your production/engineering career and you really think the quality bottleneck is at the converters, and you can rent a new interface from the music store and have someone blind you and play music through your old one and the new one and you pick the new one as the better sound, then there must be something to DAC quality after all.

Otherwise, you might be just wasting budget that would be better spent elsewhere.



That's the point though, you THINK you could hear the difference, your judgement could have been totally subjected and effected by expectation bias and many other factors.

The ABX tests conducted by repro were on the best possible monitoring equipment in some of the best studios in London in amazing treated rooms. The tests were conducted with different types of music, if requested the engineers were allowed to have their own "test reels" played with music they were familiar with and the testers could have the music played and repeated in any order.
These were engineers working, as I said, across the board, mix and mastering engineers from places like Air studios, alchemy mastering, Strongroom studios (where incidentally the first ABX testing with the SCD format was conducted), liquid mastering...., places from all over the UK, including engineers familiar with the rooms the tests were conducted in.
It's about as scientific a test as you will ever get, and the results were inconclusive. The science backs this up.

Beyond that you get into the dangerous world of subjectivity, which explains why you thought there was more body and dynamics, for example,, in your own citation, which im willing to bet if the test was conducted scientifically, you also would have gained inconclusive results.

At least on output, this is not a discussion concerning input where preamps fuddle the standardisation.

The world of audio production is sooooo splattered by subjectivity when it comes to standards, there needs to be much more science applied to even out the information into something more useful.

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 Post subject: Re: Soundcards
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 4:57 am 
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That's not to say I haven't fallen into the gear trap.
I use Lavry DA11, which is my "cheap and cheerful" DAC as I sold my benchmark media which was over twice the price of the Lavry (about £3300 at the time of purchase).
However mastering clients kind of expect poncey converters, so I have no choice, and although I didn't conduct true ABX, I did A-B and didn't notice any difference between the benchmark and the Lavry.

However occasionally I run my mackie onyx box when producing with the laptop, and again it stands up just as good as the Lavry, and sounds wonderful on a soundsystem.

The science stands.

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 Post subject: Re: Soundcards
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 6:19 am 
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i use a M-Audio 1814, and have done for about 7 or 8 years. I chose that one because it had the most Inputs i could afford at that time, and i wanted individual Ins for my 909 and it gave me good outs so i could have 2 separate digital channels on a DJ mixer back in the days before Traktor existed.. The firewire aspect meant i had to buy a Macbook when my old Windows laptop died, as there were no windows laptops with a FW port available. I think the drivers might become unsupported soon by M-Audio, but shit happens.


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 Post subject: Re: Soundcards
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 3:02 pm 
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M-audio are actually pretty good with keeping drivers running. They still update some of the real old ones like the 10/10

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 Post subject: Re: Soundcards
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 6:41 pm 
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I'm so tempted to agree I think I will. Maybe I was just rationalizing - but I have a way I can test this, as u still have both interfaces wired to record off group or master. I'll try with both interfaces and see if I can blindly pick the Apogee as the better sound. Let me know if anyone else would like to try a blind test as well.

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 Post subject: Re: Soundcards
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 6:47 pm 
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Are you recording through the cards? in which case the test would be invalid.

This is an output test only, input brings preamps into the equation which is not being discussed here

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 Post subject: Re: Soundcards
PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2015 2:45 am 
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Yup this will be a purely line level input test though.

We can do the tests for electronic music and also an Alt Rock project I have going.

I'll link to four mixes, 2 styles done through Presonus FP10 and 2 styles through Apogee Duet, but not say which is which.

If everyone picks the Duet for both styles, maybe differences in ADCs can be heard, if not, then I'm simply using both interfaces out of convenience and not quality.

I care a lot more about ADC than DAC for my use case.

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 Post subject: Re: Soundcards
PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2015 2:52 am 
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Sure I'll do the test. Look forward to it really as I also have an Apogee product.

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 Post subject: Re: Soundcards
PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2015 6:56 pm 
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quest wrote:
Yup this will be a purely line level input test though.

We can do the tests for electronic music and also an Alt Rock project I have going.

I'll link to four mixes, 2 styles done through Presonus FP10 and 2 styles through Apogee Duet, but not say which is which.

If everyone picks the Duet for both styles, maybe differences in ADCs can be heard, if not, then I'm simply using both interfaces out of convenience and not quality.

I care a lot more about ADC than DAC for my use case.


Rather pointless test completely out of context for this discussion though innit.
You are dealing with preamps and inputs, this was talk about output DAC.
To make this a scientificly sound test will be very very hard.

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 Post subject: Re: Soundcards
PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2015 11:58 pm 
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I suppose so, I do suspect that DAC quality still makes a difference in specific contexts, and that it's only in the general sense that higher quality DACs can't be blindly identified as being superior to lower quality. There's also the matter of whether components used in more expensive DACs are really better than the cheaper ones or not. Are we evaluating purely based on price, or on components involved?

It makes me want to ask what you think about: http://www.audiofile-engineering.com/fidelia/
Would it really be any different than any other digital audio player, or is it just a gimmick? I have heard digital errors from players not meant for audio playback like VLC.

Anyway, I realized that in my case, what I really do care about is ADC quality because it was what motivated me to put the Apogee on the master out from the console and move the Presonus over to the Group bus outputs. It was also what motivated me to buy Mogami directional cables for this part of the signal path, and it is what will likely motivate me to do upgrades on my Soundcraft Ghost (in a way similar to: http://www.creationaudiolabs.com/#!ghost/c1q51 )

So the question becomes where to draw the line between where things matter and where they don't. From an electrical engineering standpoint, potentially all things matter.

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 Post subject: Re: Soundcards
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2015 12:39 am 
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I think people fuss over this kind of shit too much.

Their mixes aren't so good, they blame their DACs, their monitors, their cables, their room treatment, their pre amps everything, throw loads of money at the problem, when their basic mix philosophy and sound choices are what needs more work.

Amazing amazing music has been produced and mixed on some shockingly gash gear.

So no, I really don't think it matters that much at all, and certainly not as much as techno production communities seem to like to make it.

I work in mastering, I'm fully aware of the need for a clean path and the shrine of audio fidelity, it's my job, but the most important thing is how the ear has learned to see in to a mix and also the musicality of the ear.
I wish people fussed more over musicality and mix skills.

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 Post subject: Re: Soundcards
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2015 4:57 am 
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Yeah you are absolutely right. I haven't had anyone take issue with the technical side of my productions lately, but with all of the more artistic side of them yet to be done, that side is sorely lacking, and it's what's needed more than ever in a day and age where a show like South Park can joke and say that the comments on music videos are more important than the videos themselves (and the songs in them) and be perfectly correct at the same time.

The thing is that people have to want it enough. We keep alternating every decade or 1.5 decades between becoming complacent and being hungry for real innovation again in the various entertainment industries. Like you I want us to be really making music again instead of picking over minor technical details.

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 Post subject: Re: Soundcards
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2015 5:30 am 
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I think you can do both, the longer you do it, the more you refine your art, hopefully at least, so then the tiny details become the little challenges to your skill, but it's important that the music, the passion for and of the music, the drive to create, to express the self is always at the forefront.
I think we have reached that time again now, the superficial and the bourgeoise has reached saturation in a time of increasing austerity. Branding is so obvious now.
It is in these times that the exceptional, the considered, the passionate art made with razor sharp veracity and with meaning, becomes more important to people.

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 Post subject: Re: Soundcards
PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2016 2:32 pm 
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I'm looking to upgrade my soundcard. My M-Audio Fast Track pro basically has stuff I need but at the same time it keeps jamming now and again plus I'm looking for something with better sound output. I was looking for Duet 2 but then realized it's Mac only (I'm a PC user).
Can you guys suggest something of mid to high quality with two mic inputs plus phone input/control?

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 Post subject: Re: Soundcards
PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2016 5:20 pm 
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Lost to the Void wrote:
I think people fuss over this kind of shit too much.

Their mixes aren't so good, they blame their DACs, their monitors, their cables, their room treatment, their pre amps everything, throw loads of money at the problem, when their basic mix philosophy and sound choices are what needs more work.

Amazing amazing music has been produced and mixed on some shockingly gash gear.



exactly


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 Post subject: Re: Soundcards
PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2016 8:13 pm 
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I like RME. Rock solid and great driver support.

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