AD/DA converters or preamps makebigger difference with 002R

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Sean Sullivan
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AD/DA converters or preamps makebigger difference with 002R

Post by Sean Sullivan » Wed Jan 30, 2008 11:07 pm

So, I've had a Digidesign 002R for a long time, and I have some nice preamps (Sytek, Chandler, and Universal Audio) and microphones but I haven't experimented with outboard converters. Am I selling myself short running these preamps through the 002R? I was pretty sold on the Tango 24 for a long time, but will I notice a difference?

One product that interest me is the Focusrite ISA 428 with the optional AD/DA card, it would give me 4 preamps with 4 more channels of conversion, but I never hear about the quality of the converters. Will the Tango 24 compare equally to it? I usually record in 24/48, so the limitations of the Tango 24 doesn't bother me.
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Post by norton » Thu Jan 31, 2008 7:03 am

I'm not sure You're selling yourself short... but i think digidesign is selling all of us short, on the converter side of things.

I had my 002r modified by black lion and the difference was HUGE. It's been talked about to death here.... but what you'll get is a much wider extension of the low and high end... but the hash at the high end will be gone, and the lows will be much less blurry.

Chandler, sytek and UA will definitely give your 002 way more than the clock and converters can currently handle. Go check out blacklionaudio.com and read up on all of the short-cuts built into the 002 interface, and what can be done to fix them. I can tell you that those design and material compromises add up to blurry low end and a stuttering hashy ringing high end that drives me to madness!

Sure you can make nice sounding records on a 002... BUT you're not cutting corners on your front end... so why handcuff yourself with shitty converters? That's like baking a cake with mud but decorating it real nice on the outside with some great tasting frosting.

If you can hear the difference with your preamp selection...you'll be able to hear the difference better clocking and conversion will make. And the more tracks you stack up... the more apparent that difference will be.

The guys at black lion will be able to answer all your questions much better than I ever could.
Last edited by norton on Thu Jan 31, 2008 7:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Recycled_Brains » Thu Jan 31, 2008 7:05 am

i've been thinking alot lately about a converter upgrade. maybe going to a rosetta 2 or 800. my uneducated guess, and thus my plan has been to get good preamps, and good mics, and maybe a couple good compressors/EQs, then worry about the conversion. i figure the aformentioned things make more of an immediately noticeable difference.

if the converters were any worse in the 002r, i might feel differently about it, but they're not terrible. i'm becoming increasingly more happy with my recordings, and a lot of it is because i'm recording through Hamptones and TAB/Funkenwerks, and using solid mics (in addition to my evolving abilities as an engineer, or course).

on the other hand, i reckon that if i did move up to an apogee or the like, it'd be a noticeable improvement.


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Post by Red Rockets Glare » Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:00 am

My Apogee Mini-Me has made a massive difference in clarity and dynamic range on my 002R, plus clocking to it makes the 002 sound much better with dense mixes. The fact that it has two great mic preamps and compressors is just kind of gravy.

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Post by Sean Sullivan » Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:13 am

The Apogee Mini-Me is appealing because I could use two more quality preamps. Only having two channels doesn't affect me too much, as the only time I use more than two microphone is when recording drums (I have a small room).

Do you clock to the Mini-Me as well as use the A/D conversion? I'm a little confused. Can you plug outboard preamps into the Mini-Me and bypass the preamps?

The reason I haven't gone the Black Lion Audio route is I don't plan on using the 002R forever, it's getting pretty old, and in a few years I'll probably upgrade. I'd rather have quality A/D conversion I can take with me instead of being stuck with the 002R.
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Post by JdJ » Thu Jan 31, 2008 11:43 am

I think the unfortunate reality of the situation is that converters are somewhat expendable. Like computers, technology will effect converters resale and how the end user views their performance (well... maybe the resale doesn't drop as quickly as computers, but what does?).

FWIW- I had my 002 BLA'd recently, and I legitimized it by realizing that I am sticking with PT (and specifically) the 002R until they either come out with the elusive "mid-level" system, or I get enough work to legitimize a HD system. In addition, if I was to move to a different platform, I'd be spending more to get into a different set of conversion that would replace the 002. So really, it was the most economical choice to upgrade and stick with PT.

Prior to the upgrade I was clocking the 002 off of an RME ADI8. Now I am clocking the RME off of the 002. Huge difference in the 002 conversion and pres, and the RME's sound better clocked to the 002.

I'm not saying that you are better off going the BLA route than with a MiniMe, but either way I bet if you are still recording you'll be upgrading in a few years...

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Post by norton » Thu Jan 31, 2008 11:44 am

understood.... staying away from the bla mods...

I had a minime paired up with a 002r for a while. I clocked to the mini-me which tightened up the entire sonic picture on projects with high track counts to be sure.

Tracking though the mini-me was also a pleasure... those preamps are really much better than they generally get credit for. I don't think you can bypass the preamps on the minime....but i could be wrong.

Stlll having it as a clock source will certainly make you smile... and you'll be able to squeeze more out of the 002's conversion and get better results with your adat inputs too. Nice boxes and a pretty good deal 2nd hand.

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Post by mwingerski » Thu Jan 31, 2008 12:09 pm

The ISA428 is a pretty decent converter and pre amp. A bit on the pricey side, but at a cost per channel basis, it's still a good deal.

The converter upgrade for the 428 is pretty much the same converter found in a digi 192. Which is a far better converter than the 002, but not as nice as the Apogee.

Worth upgrading converters though. You'll hear a huge difference.

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Post by Sean Sullivan » Thu Jan 31, 2008 12:39 pm

mwingerski wrote:The converter upgrade for the 428 is pretty much the same converter found in a digi 192. Which is a far better converter than the 002, but not as nice as the Apogee.
That's good to know. I think the Apogee is probably the best bet because I do a lot of small sessions around campus (there are several areas with 002R with access to a nice vocal both) and having something that can fit in my pocket and give me two solid preamps will be a lot easier than carrying a Focusrite ISA428 or something else around campus.

So, I'm trying to understand this still. While tracking I can run the Apogee as an A/D converter, but when mixing use it as a clock? Or does it do both functions at the same time?
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Post by Recycled_Brains » Thu Jan 31, 2008 1:14 pm

one thing that i didn't consider, is that if you're using an external converter via the ADAT in/out on the 002r, you can only sample at 44.1 or 48.

has any of you using better conversion found that to be a drawback?

should one be confident that tracking through, say, an apogee @ 48k is far superior than doing the same through the 002 at 96k?

probably a stupid question, but i have to ask.

EDIT: it reviewing the 002r manual, the S/PDIF inputs support 88.2/96k operation, which would be great if using a 2-channel converter.


-ryan
Last edited by Recycled_Brains on Thu Jan 31, 2008 1:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Al_Huero » Thu Jan 31, 2008 1:27 pm

minorleagues wrote: So, I'm trying to understand this still. While tracking I can run the Apogee as an A/D converter, but when mixing use it as a clock? Or does it do both functions at the same time?
The minime has a setting where you can have it just spit out a clock signal; or use the converters at a designated sample rate which carries the clock signal as well. You just designate the S/PDIF input on your 002R as the clock signal input.

Also, the preamps can be pretty much bypassed by detenting them off and using the line level pots.

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Post by kittonian » Thu Jan 31, 2008 2:50 pm

We've had quite a few customers going with the Lynx Aurora with the LT-ADAT card for the conversion on their 002's and 003's. The great thing about going with the Aurora is that if/when the decision is made to move up to PT|HD, you can just pop out the LT-ADAT card and pop in an LT-HD and you've got 16x16 analog AND 16x16 AES/EBU simultaneously up to 192khz.

I think both upgrading the conversion and getting maybe one or two channels of nice high end preamps are a must-have when you're dealing with a Digi LE interface.
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Post by weatherbox » Thu Jan 31, 2008 4:27 pm

I picked up one of the Lucid 8 channel converters and it made a pretty notable difference. As soon as I did a large mic setup on a drumkit, it was just so much better. Clearer, tighter.

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Post by rwc » Thu Jan 31, 2008 7:17 pm

Get a presonus digimax fs or lt and get a new clock, set of converters, and 8 ins and outs as well as 8 new mic pres.

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Post by Sean Sullivan » Thu Jan 31, 2008 7:17 pm

The Lucid 8 channel converter is $2600 and the Lynx is $2000, and that's out of my budget. I'm sure their both great, but a little out of my league at the moment.

I think the Apogee might be best for me, since I need two more preamps, portability, and quality.
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