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Black Lion Audio - Under The Hood
Old 14th March 2014
  #1
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🎧 5 years
Black Lion Audio - Under The Hood

So basically - this isn't a thread about debating whether a BLA mod is worth the money / makes a difference at all / is a scam / sounds great etc etc...

I'm genuinely interested in what someone can expect to get from the mod - as in - what's involved in the mod, what's replaced / changed. I know it would depend on which interface is being modded - but I am interested in know whether (for the profire 2626 for example) - is are the analogue components replaced? Or do they just have a few tweaks? Are the converters completely swapped out? Or just fiddle with a bit? Is it like getting a completely different interface (sound wise ) - because I know BLA toyed with making an interface based on their tricks and tweaks, but didn't want to get involved in the software side of things, so they decided to stick with putting 'their sound' into the shell of your existing interface. Is this what they are giving you? A 'completely new BLA sounding device that still functions the same way it originally did' or are the modifications a lot less extensive than that ???
Old 14th March 2014
  #2
WKG
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5 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
I had an 003r that BLA did their Signature mod on. Basically involved the opamps, capacitors, decoupled the converters (leaving the originals), new power supply and clock.

Their website has pretty detailed information on each of the modifications they do and they are pretty responsive in their communication if you have any questions.
Old 14th March 2014
  #3
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Why don't you pick up the phone and call and ask them? They're cool dudes and will give you detailed answers. Or, look at their website where they break it down for each type of interface what it is they do. Each brand of interface is different so they all end up different. They don't use the interface as a shell for "their sound".

I had my Motu 896HD done a few years ago and the difference afterwards was mind blowing. The clock helps a bunch too.
Old 15th March 2014
  #4
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🎧 5 years
Cool. The reason I was asking is because my profire is on the way over there at the moment. I'm getting the premium mod, and the micro clock. Really hoping for a great sounding interface when it returns
Old 15th March 2014
  #5
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🎧 15 years
I'd be hesitant to upgrade a lower end converter/interface, especially one that's older. You are upgrading outdated technology which mean the resale value takes a big hit.

Would a $300 interface and another $500 upgrade be better than an $800-1000 converter/ interface? eh.....
Old 15th March 2014 | Show parent
  #6
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknown soldier ➡️
I'd be hesitant to upgrade a lower end converter/interface, especially one that's older. You are upgrading outdated technology which mean the resale value takes a big hit.

Would a $300 interface and another $500 upgrade be better than an $800-1000 converter/ interface? eh.....
Well firstly - i don't think any interface / converter is going to hold its value at all - which is a good reason for finding out if it's true that a functionally awesome, but cheap sounding interface like the profire can sound great when modified. Because I could just use BLA instead of joining the game of buying ridiculously expensive devices that will just rapidly depreciate. I own good high end pres etc - because I figure that they are never going to be become obsolete or lose too much value.

Secondly - it's not exactly 'outdated technology'. Thunderbolt is replacing FireWire - yes - but would the profire be better if it had a thunderbolt port?? No, it would still be the same device. It works fine on FireWire. Will newer device be able to be better with thunderbolt - YES, but probably only interfaces with high amounts of I/O are going to benefit from it. I don't think it matters with an 8 - input interface whether or not it's FireWire. All my future computers can have FireWire if I love the BLA profire and decide to continue with it - so what would be the problem?
Old 15th March 2014 | Show parent
  #7
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Unknown soldier's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gonebytim ➡️
Well firstly - i don't think any interface / converter is going to hold its value at all - which is a good reason for finding out if it's true that a functionally awesome, but cheap sounding interface like the profire can sound great when modified. Because I could just use BLA instead of joining the game of buying ridiculously expensive devices that will just rapidly depreciate. I own good high end pres etc - because I figure that they are never going to be become obsolete or lose too much value.

Secondly - it's not exactly 'outdated technology'. Thunderbolt is replacing FireWire - yes - but would the profire be better if it had a thunderbolt port?? No, it would still be the same device. It works fine on FireWire. Will newer device be able to be better with thunderbolt - YES, but probably only interfaces with high amounts of I/O are going to benefit from it. I don't think it matters with an 8 - input interface whether or not it's FireWire. All my future computers can have FireWire if I love the BLA profire and decide to continue with it - so what would be the problem?
That's fine. I'm just saying that you could probably get something newer for the same amount of money as the BLA profire. In the digital world, newer is better in most cases. For $1K you could probably get something just as good that is more current/flexible/user friendly/less buggy, etc. I just get nervous spending money to upgrade older gear, but that's just me.
Old 15th March 2014 | Show parent
  #8
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknown soldier ➡️
That's fine. I'm just saying that you could probably get something newer for the same amount of money as the BLA profire. In the digital world, newer is better in most cases. For $1K you could probably get something just as good that is more current/flexible/user friendly/less buggy, etc. I just get nervous spending money to upgrade older gear, but that's just me.
I'm not sure if 'newer is always better'. I feel that at the beginning of the digital audio era - technology wasn't that great. But it's still a while ago that we fit the milestone of being able to throw pretty reasonable 8 channels of 192 conversion into a pretty cheap interface (eg. The profire 2626). From using the profire I got the impression that it's actually a very well designed system, but suffers from the use of cheaper components, and cost-saving build techniques to be able to deliver it at such a small price. Aside from that - I really don't see how it is 'old technology' - I'm sure that the newest, most expensive interfaces are based on the same basic design concepts, but have more care / money put into achieving a greater sound quality. It looks to me like the BLA mod address the issue of using cheapo OpAmps, and other cheapo methods and in theory 'replaces and modifies the areas that makes it sound inferior to a more expensive interface'. So, unless newer interfaces are using an entirely new mothod of processing line level audio / converting analogue to digital - then I assume that you are just guessing that "Newer / More expensive = better" without knowing whether or not that is a true statement on a technical level.

Correct me if I'm wrong (as this is why I started this thread)
Old 15th March 2014 | Show parent
  #9
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Unknown soldier's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gonebytim ➡️
I'm not sure if 'newer is always better'. I feel that at the beginning of the digital audio era - technology wasn't that great. But it's still a while ago that we fit the milestone of being able to throw pretty reasonable 8 channels of 192 conversion into a pretty cheap interface (eg. The profire 2626). From using the profire I got the impression that it's actually a very well designed system, but suffers from the use of cheaper components, and cost-saving build techniques to be able to deliver it at such a small price. Aside from that - I really don't see how it is 'old technology' - I'm sure that the newest, most expensive interfaces are based on the same basic design concepts, but have more care / money put into achieving a greater sound quality. It looks to me like the BLA mod address the issue of using cheapo OpAmps, and other cheapo methods and in theory 'replaces and modifies the areas that makes it sound inferior to a more expensive interface'. So, unless newer interfaces are using an entirely new mothod of processing line level audio / converting analogue to digital - then I assume that you are just guessing that "Newer / More expensive = better" without knowing whether or not that is a true statement on a technical level.

Correct me if I'm wrong (as this is why I started this thread)
I'm just saying newer is better in general. New interfaces are usually a cut above previous ones, as manufacturers come up with better designs and address shortcomings/bugs. Take apogee for example - from the early converters to the symphony there is clearly a pattern of improvement.

Manufacturers realize that in order to sell new products they have to improve upon previous versions. I've not heard of too many "MKII" interfaces and/or converters that are inferior to their predessor, but I'm sure it does happen. Word gets around pretty quick if it does.

Another issue with interfaces is compatibility - I'm sure the profire will be good for years to come, but will it play nice with newer operating systems? Driver and software issues annoy the hell out of me...I guess that is why I use a stand along hard disk recorder and external conversion...
Old 15th March 2014 | Show parent
  #10
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknown soldier ➡️
as manufacturers come up with better designs and address shortcomings/bugs.
Isn't this BLA's mission statement? As far as I can see, this is exactly what BLA achieve with their mods.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknown soldier ➡️
Manufacturers realize that in order to sell new products they have to improve upon previous versions.
And BLA would realise that in order to sell their mods, they need to improve upon the stock version

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknown soldier ➡️
Word gets around pretty quick if it does.
Word would get around pretty quick if BLA's mods didn't improve the sound. Instead - everyone who's purchased a mod seems to think it 'drastically' improves the sound. There has been a bunch of people who have said that the BLA profire gives apogee converters 'a run for their money'. May or May not be true. But if it is - that's pretty good value for money.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknown soldier ➡️
Another issue with interfaces is compatibility - I'm sure the profire will be good for years to come, but will it play nice with newer operating systems?
Not that big a problem - people worry about this more than they should. I saw a thread the other day where a guy was selling his profire because there was no driver for OSX Mavericks. I pointed out to him that there didn't need to be . The profire works fine on mavericks with the older drivers. People get scared for no real reason

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknown soldier ➡️
Driver and software issues annoy the hell out of me...I guess that is why I use a stand along hard disk recorder and external conversion...
Well - you are cutting yourself short and missing out. 99% of the so called 'Driver / software' issues I hear about are actually user error. People should just learn how to use gear rather than claiming that it doesn't work
Old 15th March 2014
  #11
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🎧 10 years
The profire works in "stand alone" mode as an option... which means that it's not technically locked in to being used as a firewire interface forever. It will last as long as the ADAT optical standard sticks around. They say a BL modded profire can compete with the Roesetta 200/800's in terms of conversion. $300 interface with $500 mod equals a pinch less than what Rosetta 800's are going for used. Save some coin, and gain some preamps in the process. I'm always on the fence with my finger on the trigger to mod my 3 profires. Though I feel investing in the Antelope Orion is the smartest thing to do... It's just a big jump for an extra 6 i/o.
Old 15th March 2014 | Show parent
  #12
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Highphi ➡️
The profire works in "stand alone" mode as an option... which means that it's not technically locked in to being used as a firewire interface forever. It will last as long as the ADAT optical standard sticks around.
I hadn't even thought of that - but that is an excellent point

Quote:
Originally Posted by Highphi ➡️
They say a BL modded profire can compete with the Roesetta 200/800's in terms of conversion. $300 interface with $500 mod equals a pinch less than what Rosetta 800's are going for used. Save some coin, and gain some preamps in the process.
Exactly - and considering that the preamps can be bypassed. It may be the best value interface in its price range when modded

Quote:
Originally Posted by Highphi ➡️
I'm always on the fence with my finger on the trigger to mod my 3 profires. Though I feel investing in the Antelope Orion is the smartest thing to do... It's just a big jump for an extra 6 i/o.
I have been on the fence for quite a while too. I didn't bother with the Orion because it was more inputs than I need.
Old 15th March 2014 | Show parent
  #13
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1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknown soldier ➡️
I'm just saying newer is better in general. New interfaces are usually a cut above previous ones, as manufacturers come up with better designs and address shortcomings/bugs. Take apogee for example - from the early converters to the symphony there is clearly a pattern of improvement.

Manufacturers realize that in order to sell new products they have to improve upon previous versions. I've not heard of too many "MKII" interfaces and/or converters that are inferior to their predessor, but I'm sure it does happen. Word gets around pretty quick if it does.

Another issue with interfaces is compatibility - I'm sure the profire will be good for years to come, but will it play nice with newer operating systems? Driver and software issues annoy the hell out of me...I guess that is why I use a stand along hard disk recorder and external conversion...
To be fair I cant think of any recently released interfaces with 8 IO for around that money...audient and SPL have come out with 2 nice looking units but not enough IO...New RME and Antelope are a good step up in cost...

If longevity is a real concern perhaps a RME fireface with mod could be a good buy as RME tend to be very good with legacy support as far as I can see...
Old 15th March 2014 | Show parent
  #14
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by SWAN808 ➡️
To be fair I cant think of any recently released interfaces with 8 IO for around that money...audient and SPL have come out with 2 nice looking units but not enough IO...New RME and Antelope are a good step up in cost...

If longevity is a real concern perhaps a RME fireface with mod could be a good buy as RME tend to be very good with legacy support as far as I can see...
Although - the fire face only has 4 micpres
Old 15th March 2014
  #15
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🎧 10 years
(grin) Still very happy with my very elderly RME HDSPE 9652 *pci* setup.
Now that DOES have a few miles on it.
Old 15th March 2014
  #16
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🎧 15 years
Seems you are defending your purchase of the BLA mod. I am not saying it is bad stuff - I'm sure it is very good.

My comments aren't aimed at BLA at all. Again, I'm just saying that spending $1000 on a $400 interface with a $600 mod is not what I would do. I'd get a $1,000 interface. That's just me. I'd rather get later generation converters than mod previous generation converters. But if the BLA mod sounds as good I can see your point. I hope it does.
Old 15th March 2014 | Show parent
  #17
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknown soldier ➡️

My comments aren't aimed at BLA at all. Again, I'm just saying that spending $1000 on a $400 interface with a $600 mod is not what I would do. I'd get a $1,000 interface. That's just me. I'd rather get later generation converters than mod previous generation converters.
Agree.
Old 15th March 2014
  #18
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@OP, I believe it's a full "tweakhead mod". I had the Tweakhead mod on my 1814FW years ago and it made a world of difference.

They swap in better opamps; much faster, quieter, broader bandwidth. This cleans up your circuit and gives you greater detail in and out.

The they upgrade internal clocking, not an easy thing to do.

They also address the power rails.

When you get your box back it's not going to be something that will smack you in the face immediately. You have to listen for a while and you'll soon realize the common description everyone uses: "it's like someone lifted a blanket off of my sound".

The coolest thing about the BLA mods is that it's like getting a whole new mic locker because now you're hearing the real character and detail of your mic's - unfettered by low quality components and poor internal clocking.

It's not a sexy way to spend your money but it will change the way you engineer.
Old 15th March 2014
  #19
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Still rocking bla modded motus for a few years now. They are stable, allow for 24 in out conversion without a hiccup (i can do 96 but havent ever needed to) and I dont plan on getting anything else for a good while. For what its worth a colleague and I couldnt tell the difference between the modded motus and his tdm system but we have also listened to way too much metal over the years. The difference was noticeable.
Old 15th March 2014
  #20
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🎧 10 years
I've wanted to get rid of my BLA 002 for the longest time now just cause FireWire is outdated. So I shot it out against an Apollo with the hopes that the Apollo would win. Usually when you set your mind to a result it will trick you into believing that is the right one.

But the BLA left the Apollo in it's dust. Same goes with a lynx aurora. I've yet to shoot it out with an Apogee Symphony, as that's the interface I want. I really hope the Symphony sounds better haha
Old 15th March 2014 | Show parent
  #21
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknown soldier ➡️
Seems you are defending your purchase of the BLA mod.
No - I'm actually just saying the same things that persuaded me to purchase it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknown soldier ➡️
I'd rather get later generation converters than mod previous generation converters.
Well - before spending the cash - I had a good look around to see what 'amazing new next-generation interfaces' were available. And to be honest - the profire still seemed to be the best fit for my needs!

I had a look at the Universal Audio interfaces - but decided that I'd probably never buy one for the same reason that I always shunned protools interfaces - that silly DSP idea. Don't get me wrong - it sounds like a good idea, but in reality. - my computer is a beast - I don't need my interface to handle any software processing. Either UA think everyone has a crap computer or they are doing it to make people believe that their is a ligitimate reason for forcing you to buy their hardware to use their plugins .
Old 15th March 2014 | Show parent
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sam guaiana ➡️
I've wanted to get rid of my BLA 002 for the longest time now just cause FireWire is outdated.
You must have been in the first group to have their FireWire port vanish. I'm still waiting for mine to dissapear and then I'll be forced to upgrade an obsolete interface too
Old 15th March 2014 | Show parent
  #23
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SWAN808's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknown soldier ➡️
Seems you are defending your purchase of the BLA mod. I am not saying it is bad stuff - I'm sure it is very good.

My comments aren't aimed at BLA at all. Again, I'm just saying that spending $1000 on a $400 interface with a $600 mod is not what I would do. I'd get a $1,000 interface. That's just me. I'd rather get later generation converters than mod previous generation converters. But if the BLA mod sounds as good I can see your point. I hope it does.
which $1000 interface?
Old 15th March 2014 | Show parent
  #24
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by SWAN808 ➡️
which $1000 interface?
That's a good question. I'm not in the market for one, but if I was, I would see what's out there. Maybe the SSL alpha link mx with 4 in/16 out? But that's Madi right?

I just wouldn't feel comfortable taking a $400 interface and spending more than that to mod it.
Old 15th March 2014 | Show parent
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknown soldier ➡️
I'd be hesitant to upgrade a lower end converter/interface, especially one that's older. You are upgrading outdated technology which mean the resale value takes a big hit.

Would a $300 interface and another $500 upgrade be better than an $800-1000 converter/ interface? eh.....
With a BLA mod it is as good as any $800-$1,000 interface or better and instead of spending $1,000 to get there it only costs you $500-$600. Remember, you already have the interface and usually have been using that interface for a couple of years.

You really do have to hear it for yourself to understand. There is a validated reason why they offer these mods and why people continue to buy them and keep BLA in business.

Alison Krauss made the decision to go with a BLA modded 192(?) for "Paper Airplane". Mike Shipley talked all about it here when he first got the gig. I miss his posts around here. What a great guy he was.
Old 15th March 2014 | Show parent
  #26
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboJets ➡️
There is a validated reason why they offer these mods and why people continue to buy them and keep BLA in business.
It seems like simple logic to me that if "insert any expensive brand here" can build a good sounding interface - then BLA should be able to open up a cheaper interface and replace things to make it sound good.

I don't understand why some people lump it into the same catagory as expensive audiophile cables.
Old 15th March 2014 | Show parent
  #27
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknown soldier ➡️
That's a good question. I'm not in the market for one, but if I was, I would see what's out there. Maybe the SSL alpha link mx with 4 in/16 out? But that's Madi right?

I just wouldn't feel comfortable taking a $400 interface and spending more than that to mod it.
fair enough - the resale value prob doesnt hold in terms of the investment of the mod but I cant think of any interface for that money that is high quality with that IO...alpha link will be much more and you only get 4 inputs or 4 outputs and no mic pre...

maybe if audient came out with something with a bit more IO...

if you're happy with a profire and the mod gets it up there it does make some sense...even if its not for everyone...
Old 16th March 2014 | Show parent
  #28
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gonebytim ➡️
You must have been in the first group to have their FireWire port vanish. I'm still waiting for mine to dissapear and then I'll be forced to upgrade an obsolete interface too
I was! More damn extra cables now!! 400-800 or TB-800, which still needs the 400-800. Also it's not the most stable at anything over 48. I want 88.2 all the time!!!
Old 16th March 2014 | Show parent
  #29
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by sam guaiana ➡️
I was! More damn extra cables now!! 400-800 or TB-800, which still needs the 400-800. Also it's not the most stable at anything over 48. I want 88.2 all the time!!!
I'm joking. You'll always be able to have a computer with the correct FireWire port that you need
Old 16th March 2014 | Show parent
  #30
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboJets ➡️
@OP, I believe it's a full "tweakhead mod". I had the Tweakhead mod on my 1814FW years ago and it made a world of difference.
They don't seem to use those names anymore. The mod I purchased is simply called 'The Profire 2626 Premium Modification'. I wonder if they changed the mod at all when they changed the name.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboJets ➡️
The they upgrade internal clocking, not an easy thing to do.
I'm not sure if they do this anymore. I had noticed that they definently used to. But I think they now just get you to buy the micro clock mk2 - which is probably the same (or very similar clock that they were installing in the mods). If anyone can shed some light on this it would be cool.
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