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A/D Converter Shootout (with samples)
View Poll Results: Which converter or converters did you like best?
I like converter 1
43 Votes - 9.91%
I like converter 2
52 Votes - 11.98%
I like converter 3
97 Votes - 22.35%
I like converter 4
89 Votes - 20.51%
I like converter 5
77 Votes - 17.74%
I like converter 6
48 Votes - 11.06%
I don't have a preference
84 Votes - 19.35%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 434. You may not vote on this poll

Old 29th October 2009 | Show parent
  #91
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Boro's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Great job! And, of course, I first have listened to all the tracks in a friendly side-by-side environment where I am "at home" and can discriminate all the elements which are within my (definitely somewhat limited) expertise.
That's why I resort to objective analysis when my critical listening skills can't help describe and specifically define the differences.

I'd highly appreciate if someone of extremely high expertise in both listening and analysis like Bob Katz could be invited to evaluate the experiment and the results!
Old 29th October 2009 | Show parent
  #92
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Boro's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Waltz Mastering ➑️
Any clipping would only expand the test so that you can hear how that particular AD sounds when it is clipped.
Yeah, Tom, but only if we had unclipped as well as clipped versions - to compare them working clean AND in clipping mode!
Old 29th October 2009 | Show parent
  #93
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funka's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
There's always a difference of one D/A conversion between the original and sources to compare to, whatever the test setup is. That's unfortunate but inevitable and no one has ever chosen converters in any other way.
That's why we tried to make A/D tests with an analog source, tape.
But with this test, the problem is to be able to listen to the original tape sound, without being at the place where the tests where done...

Big A/D converter test session

Soon maybe we will add some other converters in this test, Lavry Gold...will post on the other thread when done...Sorry for hijacking.
Old 29th October 2009 | Show parent
  #94
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9 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by 24-96 Mastering
There's always a difference of one D/A conversion between the original and sources to compare to, whatever the test setup is. That's unfortunate but inevitable and no one has ever chosen converters in any other way.
Quote:
Originally Posted by funka ➑️
That's why we tried to make A/D tests with an analog source, tape.
An analog setup doesn't solve the principal problem that there's one more stage of D/A in the test signals compared to the original source. You can't listen to an A/D without D/Aing it first. Whether your source is analog or digital, that problem remains the same.

In the absense of an ideal D/A converter, it seems the only way to take the variable out of the mix to some extent is to repeat the test using different D/A converters.
Old 29th October 2009 | Show parent
  #95
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1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I just tried something crazy:

I put the free plug attacker from spl on the master bus and while listening
to a small looped part of the original file I raised the attack knob till the red overload light was blinking.

Then I checked the other files to see what happened.
The loop was like 3 seconds long and on 1 kickdrum the over light turned red
when listening to the original track.
The only 2 other tracks, that made the over light turn red were the tracks
from converter 2 and 3 with the same setting of the plug.

Maybe all other converters don't translate the transient as well as #2 and #3 ?

It might be completely crazy to try this at home but check it out yourself and see what results and conclusion you might get.

Just my 2 ct as usual
Old 29th October 2009 | Show parent
  #96
Gear Nut
 
Boro's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by 24-96 Mastering ➑️
An analog setup doesn't solve the principal problem that there's one more stage of D/A in the test signals compared to the original source. You can't listen to an A/D without D/Aing it first. Whether your source is analog or digital, that problem remains the same.

In the absence of an ideal D/A converter, it seems the only way to take the variable out of the mix to some extent is to repeat the test using different D/A converters.
OK, let's set up an "ideal" set of input signals (at least two programs of different dynamic and corresponding spectral contents, each 2 minutes minimum) and define the test conditions! I mean:
- level to the ADC input;
- identical "filter" settings (phase-linear, steep, or whatever they offer identical!);
- NO manipulations of any kind over the input files! after the "agreement"!;
- perfect (as possible) power supply for every single unit;
- optimal interconnects, corresponding to manufacturers' requirements! NO optical connections, of course;
- double checked in-situ settings, i.e. test made at two (at least) different locations.

Please, add what you find appropriate to make it as objective as possible!
Old 29th October 2009 | Show parent
  #97
Gear Nut
 
Boro's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by soundgeezer ➑️
I just tried something crazy:

I put the free plug attacker from spl on the master bus and while listening
to a small looped part of the original file I raised the attack knob till the red overload light was blinking.

Then I checked the other files to see what happened.
The loop was like 3 seconds long and on 1 kickdrum the over light turned red
when listening to the original track.
The only 2 other tracks, that made the over light turn red were the tracks
from converter 2 and 3 with the same setting of the plug.

Maybe all other converters don't translate the transient as well as #2 and #3 ?

It might be completely crazy to try this at home but check it out yourself and see what results and conclusion you might get.

Just my 2 ct as usual
Not a fair test - simply because the files were manipulated (properly by the author of the test) to provide exactly the same RMS level, which doesn't mean exactly the same peak level doe to the distortion caused by clipping!
Just make your test only with the "Original" file and see what happens, then read THE WHOLE conversation here and you'll find out why!
Old 29th October 2009 | Show parent
  #98
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Waltz Mastering's Avatar
 
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1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boro ➑️
OK, let's set up an "ideal" set of input signals (at least two programs of different dynamic and corresponding spectral contents, each 2 minutes minimum) and define the test conditions! I mean:
- level to the ADC input;
- identical "filter" settings (phase-linear, steep, or whatever they offer identical!);
- NO manipulations of any kind over the input files! after the "agreement"!;
- perfect (as possible) power supply for every single unit;
- optimal interconnects, corresponding to manufacturers' requirements! NO optical connections, of course;
- double checked in-situ settings, i.e. test made at two (at least) different locations.

Please, add what you find appropriate to make it as objective as possible!
When will you be posting the files ; )
Old 29th October 2009 | Show parent
  #99
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Boro's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Waltz Mastering ➑️
When will you be posting the files ; )
I am not performing the test, just offering a fair conditions! Are you capable to make a really objective test happen? Do you have at hand that bunch of oh-so-expensive DAC/ADC converters?
Well, if someone has it all I'd be more than happy to help with the preparation for a serious and revealing test!
Old 29th October 2009 | Show parent
  #100
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1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boro ➑️
I am not performing the test, just offering a fair conditions! Are you capable to make a really objective test happen? Do you have at hand that bunch of oh-so-expensive DAC/ADC converters?
Well, if someone has it all I'd be more than happy to help with the preparation for a serious and revealing test!

It was a joke; ) Yes, I have done a shoot out between Mytek 8x192, Lavry Black, Blue, Gold, Apogee 16, and Digi192 in my room a while back, but appreciate that Robin and Mr Velvet have gone to the trouble of posting what they have done.

...and like Jaakko and others have said it's how any one component integrates into YOUR rig/room, but certainly some conclusions can be drawn.
Old 29th October 2009 | Show parent
  #101
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3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
who cares if it all was 100000000000,9999999999999999 % straight/clear test ...
just have fun, listen, make up your own mind, listen once more .. tickle your brain ...
life is there to enjoy ...

really enjoyed what robin did ...
Old 29th October 2009 | Show parent
  #102
Gear Nut
 
Boro's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by inlinenl ➑️
who cares if it all was 100000000000,9999999999999999 % straight/clear test ...
just have fun, listen, make up your own mind, listen once more .. tickle your brain ...
life is there to enjoy ...

really enjoyed what robin did ...

The most favorable result of all is that we all have FUN working with these really well designed pieces of equipment, and our clients enjoy how their recorded (and hopefully well mixed!) music can sound when reproduced through all possible commercially available "equipment" ;-)

Hey, please don't forget we're working for the MUSIC!!!
Old 29th October 2009
  #103
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by 24-96 Mastering ➑️
[size=3][b]

On the recording setup:

- All A/D converters were fed the digital source via the same D/A converter
- All A/D converters were clocked internally at 44.1 kHz
- All converters were at their neutral or default settings
- There was a bit of copper between the D/A and the A/D
- The files have been aligned and level matched to make objective comparison easier
- I took reasonable care in making those samples, but this is by no means a scientific test setup, so don't rely on this alone to make any important decisions.
- Since the differences are reasonably small, it may be useful to make a loop and listen to a short repeating segment to factor out changes in the music over time. Others advocate long term listening to get to conclusions. Whatever works! If you want to completely rule out placebo, use ABX or another blind testing method to confirm your findings.


The converters sampled are (listed in random order):

Prism Orpheus
Crane Song HEDD192
Mytek 8x192
Universal Audio 2192
Lavry Gold
Forssell Technologies MADA-2 (prototype)

A big thanks to MrVelvet for bringing 4 of the 6 converters along!



If you want to make sure your result is not biased by other people's observations, do the test before reading posts below or viewing poll results. They will (in all likelihood) influence your perception!

ok im kinda slow but am i reading that the A/D 's are not level matched(set at some factory default) but then the files After going thru A/D were level matched ??? The A/D's should all be level matched within .01 then the files recorded shouldn't be touched at all (level ). If the A/D's themselves aren't level matched it doesn't seem to make sense if you really want to shootout each other, well atleast to me



louie
Old 29th October 2009 | Show parent
  #104
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Verified Member
9 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrlouie ➑️
ok im kinda slow but am i reading that the A/D 's are not level matched(set at some factory default) but then the files After going thru A/D were level matched ??? The A/D's should all be level matched within .01 then the files recorded shouldn't be touched at all (level ). If the A/D's themselves aren't level matched it doesn't seem to make sense if you really want to shootout each other, well atleast to me



louie
We did adjust / looked after gain but most units were close enough in level to make us not want to open the bonnet on loaned test units.

And to be frank, I personally am convinced that a clipped tom at 1.11m doesn't change everything, and I don't believe that the character of a converter changes completely depending on whether you drive it 0,5 dB hotter or lower. If you think differently, then these files are not for you.

And most of all: as I wrote, this is not a scientific test, this is me listening to some converters that a friend brought round and recording the output so that I can do a good level match in the digital domain and compare. The conditions were satisfying my own requirements for the purpose; I believe the samples represent the 'character' of the converters well.
Old 30th October 2009 | Show parent
  #105
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Ben F's Avatar
 
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1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Bump for results...I've finished work.
Old 30th October 2009 | Show parent
  #106
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by 24-96 Mastering ➑️
We did adjust / looked after gain but most units were close enough in level to make us not want to open the bonnet on loaned test units.

And to be frank, I personally am convinced that a clipped tom at 1.11m doesn't change everything, and I don't believe that the character of a converter changes completely depending on whether you drive it 0,5 dB hotter or lower. If you think differently, then these files are not for you.
Robin,

it's not much to think about really since it's been prooven that gain changes as small as 0.1dB can be heard in some situations and therefore that's the minimum when matching sound files for serious testing. Often 0.05dB is used when level matching.

Small gains changed like 0.5dB can easily be heard on some material and you typically do not hear it like a difference in SPL but as differences in tonality and dynamics.

The test becomes even less useful if normalizing take place after clipping depending on how the software judge rms and peaks.

Changes are you are fooling yourself using these files to evaluate the character (or lack thereof) of the converters.


/Peter
Old 30th October 2009 | Show parent
  #107
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funka's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
An analog setup doesn't solve the principal problem that there's one more stage of D/A in the test signals compared to the original source. You can't listen to an A/D without D/Aing it first. Whether your source is analog or digital, that problem remains the same.
Yes, but in your case, there is a D/A before the test A/D.
Testing A/Ds from a D/A'd digital source is more limiting(the used D/A being the limiting factor) than testing A/Ds directly from a real analog source, as high quality tape.
Then, I agree, there is still the monitoring D/A that will play a big roll in final perception, for sure.
Those tests can always lead to some "criticism"...because we cannot do a perfect test.

Anyway, thank you for this interesting test.
Old 30th October 2009 | Show parent
  #108
Gear Addict
 
mischa janisch's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiop ➑️
Robin,

it's not much to think about really since it's been prooven that gain changes as small as 0.1dB can be heard in some situations and therefore that's the minimum when matching sound files for serious testing. Often 0.05dB is used when level matching.

Small gains changed like 0.5dB can easily be heard on some material and you typically do not hear it like a difference in SPL but as differences in tonality and dynamics.

The test becomes even less useful if normalizing take place after clipping depending on how the software judge rms and peaks.

Changes are you are fooling yourself using these files to evaluate the character (or lack thereof) of the converters.


/Peter
I honstly think it's time to give Robin a break. He clearly stated upfront that this was NOT a scientific test and explained how things were done in his first post - no surprises when someone decides to download and listen. AFAIK Robin did not force anyone to participate, and I believe after 100+ posts all possible flaws have been discussed in depth. I would think it is the right time to reveal the converters...



BTW, as far as I can tell the levels were matched in terms of RMS, otherways AD 1 and 4 would have been louder because of the clipping.
Old 30th October 2009 | Show parent
  #109
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1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boro ➑️
Not a fair test - simply because the files were manipulated (properly by the author of the test) to provide exactly the same RMS level, which doesn't mean exactly the same peak level doe to the distortion caused by clipping!
Just make your test only with the "Original" file and see what happens, then read THE WHOLE conversation here and you'll find out why!

It is a fair test, as the files provided by Robin do have a very close RMS and Peak-Level.
The differences of the transients between e.g. converter 1,2 and 3 and 4, 5 and 6 are bigger than the small differences of peak-level.
Of course I did my test on a part that was not clipping and also I think you don't even need to do this test, just listen to the transients.

I voted for #4 maybe because I like the softer sound ... for another kind a music or beeing in another mood I might prefer #3 ...

I guess we learned once again that the differences are subtle and I could work with any of those converters and concentrate on the music

Robin, you did a great job and it was a pleasure to listen to the subtle nuances of those high end devices, thanks very much ...
Old 30th October 2009 | Show parent
  #110
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24-96 Mastering's Avatar
 
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiop ➑️
Robin,

it's not much to think about really since it's been prooven that gain changes as small as 0.1dB can be heard in some situations and therefore that's the minimum when matching sound files for serious testing. Often 0.05dB is used when level matching.

Small gains changed like 0.5dB can easily be heard on some material and you typically do not hear it like a difference in SPL but as differences in tonality and dynamics.

The test becomes even less useful if normalizing take place after clipping depending on how the software judge rms and peaks.

Changes are you are fooling yourself using these files to evaluate the character (or lack thereof) of the converters.


/Peter
???

Duh.

Are you guys not getting that the files are indeed level matched (to 0.0X dB by nulling test)? It's only that the fine tuning was done in the digital domain, not analog.

PS: To be a smart ass, gain changes smaller than 0,1 dB can be heard. I confirmed 0,04 dB confirmed by blind ABX in my room (with tones though, not complex material).
Old 30th October 2009 | Show parent
  #111
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mischa janisch ➑️
I honstly think it's time to give Robin a break. He clearly stated upfront that this was NOT a scientific test and explained how things were done in his first post - no surprises when someone decides to download and listen. AFAIK Robin did not force anyone to participate, and I believe after 100+ posts all possible flaws have been discussed in depth. I would think it is the right time to reveal the converters...

totally agree, I really enjoyed the test and learned a lot !

Quote:
Originally Posted by soundgeezer ➑️
I guess we learned once again that the differences are subtle and I could work with any of those converters and concentrate on the music

Robin, you did a great job and it was a pleasure to listen to the subtle nuances of those high end devices, thanks very much ...
+1
Old 30th October 2009 | Show parent
  #112
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mischa janisch's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by 24-96 Mastering ➑️
???

Duh.

Are you guys not getting that the files are indeed level matched (to 0.0X dB by nulling test)? It's only that the fine tuning was done in the digital domain, not the analog.
I guess we're in some sort of loop mode - now someone has to ask again why you didn't match the levels...
Old 30th October 2009 | Show parent
  #113
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24-96 Mastering's Avatar
 
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mischa janisch ➑️
I guess we're in some sort of loop mode - now someone has to ask again why you didn't match the levels...
Indeed

I think it's about time to publish the results. Everyone wishing to listen to the samples before I do, go ahead now. I'll post which # is which converter model in a few hours.
Old 30th October 2009 | Show parent
  #114
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John Moran's Avatar
 
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by 24-96 Mastering ➑️
Indeed

I think it's about time to publish the results. Everyone wishing to listen to the samples before I do, go ahead now. I'll post which # is which converter model in a few hours.
i think it was well done and and a lot of effort put out for no personal reward that is greatly appreciated.

i'm also lucky because i have 8x192 so my source comparison will be pretty darn close and the differences once you get your ears dialed in aren't that subtle. they all sound good but there are some very obvious differences tonally that appear more spectral than transient or level related. very interesting and worthwhile, it will be interesting to see which is which. anyone complaining about a few clipped samples on a fast transient is studying the tree bark and not the forest when it's the forest that matters.

thanks for the test comparo!

jm
Old 30th October 2009 | Show parent
  #115
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Verified Member
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by 24-96 Mastering ➑️
I'll post which # is which converter model in a few hours.
Taps on the clock to check it is working.

Thanks alot Robin for taking the time and making the effort to record and share these files!

Personally, based on these files and listening in my home studio, I would probably be happy with any of these converters. There are very small differences but it is hard to decide which is the "best" or even which I prefer.

Of course I have changed speakers and converters in the last month so I am still getting accustomed to how things sound let alone deciding which delicate variation I prefer.

Cheers,

Alistair
Old 30th October 2009 | Show parent
  #116
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24-96 Mastering's Avatar
 
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9 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
The results are coming in now.... they are:
Old 30th October 2009 | Show parent
  #117
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🎧 10 years
converter #1:

Crane Song HEDD 192
Old 30th October 2009 | Show parent
  #118
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🎧 10 years
converter #6:

Universal Audio 2192
Old 30th October 2009 | Show parent
  #119
Gear Guru
 
Verified Member
🎧 15 years
There seems to be a problem with the satellite connection to the EuroVision Converter Contest Studios. Robin, can you hear us?



Alistair
Old 30th October 2009 | Show parent
  #120
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converter #5:

Prism Orpheus
πŸ“ Reply

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