melville

Portable 2 channel AD/DA recommendations
« on: August 01, 2011, 10:41:48 PM »
As the title suggests, I'm seeking suggestions for a high quality portable 2 channel AD/DA converter. Preferably with USB or firewire connection, but not essential as I've got an mbox 2 I could run digitally in and out of if needs be. I run an SSL madi system in the studio but want something small and portable for remote work and writing whilst on tour. Also be nice to have good enough convertors for recording my main mixes in the studio out from the desk on a different machine to the studio mac and SSL system.

Anyone got any suggestions from the usual suspects, such as the small apogee units, that they've used and know well? Are the little apogee models really that good? Also any others I may not of come across?

Main requirements are sound quality, reliability and 96K operation. Cost isn't too much of an issue but I'm not looking to spend thousands on it.
Secondhand is cool too, doesn't have to be the latest all singing all dancing thing. So long as the convertors are good and the device is rock solid I'm
happy.

So what would you all suggest?

Thanks
"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months" Oscar Wilde


Rybow

Re: Portable 2 channel AD/DA recommendations
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2011, 11:39:13 PM »
Well, the 2 that come to mind are the Apogee Duet and the RME babyface.

I owned a Duet for a long time, and I really liked it. Now I'm on an ensemble, and I don't hear any difference as far as sound quality. The Duet was stable, sounded great, nice onboard pres, and I think punches well above it's weight. The Duet 2 looks nicer. If my Duet hadn't been stolen, I'd probably still be using it.

No experience with the babyface. One thing it has over the Duet is it's expandability.

Have fun shopping!

deuce42

Re: Portable 2 channel AD/DA recommendations
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2011, 10:14:18 AM »
The duet 2 intrigues me - apogee don't publish what converter chips are in it. Apparently some policy of theirs. I wonder if its becuase its the same chip as their higher end stuff. Of course anyone with a basic understanding of circuitry would know that the analgoue sections are often more important that the chip itself and perhaps they fear everyone will start rumour spreading that their products are all the same becuase of the same chip. Who knows. I am purely speculating about something I have no evidence whatsover to base on.

I think for what it is it sounds pretty sparkly at least from samples I have heard. Its good value for what it is.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2011, 11:42:50 AM by deuce42 »

deuce42

Re: Portable 2 channel AD/DA recommendations
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2011, 10:22:35 AM »
And to add weight to my Apogee happy thread, I attended an AVID organised blind shootout of different converters, conducted in probably Australia's most prestigious recording studio.  In the blind shootout I was in, pretty much everyone picked the Apogee converter over the new Pro Tools HD one. I got the distinct impression that the AVID reps were pretty dirty about this but they had to pretend to be good sports about it. 

I certainly wasn't going to return the sandwiches and drinks they fed us after choosing their competitors product at a third of the price over theirs:)  I wonder if they will organise another one?

Matthew Jacobs

Re: Portable 2 channel AD/DA recommendations
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2011, 07:56:51 PM »
Just got the Duet 2. I'm very happy with it. great sound and cool functions.

Sounds great to me, the best sound card I have ever heard, but I have never really used any other high end converter.

canidoit

Re: Portable 2 channel AD/DA recommendations
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2011, 01:15:29 AM »
Do you think the duet converters is as good as say the top of the line converters back in 2000, like the early top model apogees and myteks?
iva dunit formerly known as canidoit

Rybow

Re: Portable 2 channel AD/DA recommendations
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2011, 11:42:15 AM »
I am actually thinking of picking up an apogee one. Gotta wait 3 months for my gear when I move to NZ, and I think this will fit the bill. May try to find a used duet as well. I see the Duet 2 has soft limit which is nice.

I am a bit of an Apogee ho.

No idea on the converters from back in 2000, but I don't feel that you have to compromise with a Duet as far as sound goes. My Duet came after a presonus firebox, and it was like stepping from a chevette to a corvette.

melville

Re: Portable 2 channel AD/DA recommendations
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2011, 04:42:20 PM »
Seems to be a big leaning towards the apogees. Which I did expect. Have any of you used one next to other quality convertors? I'd be interested to hear your opinions on the comparison. I work in a studio a lot that has rossetas and ADX16's and I really like the sound of them. If the duet is getting near that ballpark I could be sold.

Thanks for the input so far
"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months" Oscar Wilde

deuce42

Re: Portable 2 channel AD/DA recommendations
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2011, 03:53:45 AM »
Its a horrible question to answer this one because I feel that the audio quality of converters is a very subjective thing. Its a matter of taste.  I can say this  - i've tried to read as much as I can about converters after embarking on the RKN AD/DA project on this board which has taught me a bit. From what I have read, the keys to converters are:

1) Op amps in the analogue path.
2) The power supply.
3) The chips.

It seems that really high end converters have sorted out the analogue path and power supply issues that plague most prosumer gear, yet the chips are often very similar if not exactly the same in both units.

So if the only difference between the gear of 2000 and 2011 is newer generations chips, I would contemplate not enormous differences between them. If the difference between these units of 10 years ago and now is different analogue circuitry or ripple free power supplies, I would think they would be way better. I don't really know the answer to this. Just my ruminations and observations.  I can say that its worth trying to hear a difference between the Apogee Symphony and Duet 2, since the Symphony was the unit chosen as the best by a group of listeners in the AVID blind test I mentioned earlier and attended. If the Duet 2 sounds good relatively in comparison to the Symphony, it would be pretty amazing. Of course it wont sound the same, but if the results are pleasing after hearing the Symphony, you're onto a winner in my opinion.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2011, 03:57:00 AM by deuce42 »

e.oelberg

Re: Portable 2 channel AD/DA recommendations
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2011, 10:04:36 AM »
I own a prism orpheus and compared it to a apogee ensemble, on my speakers the difference was obvious and prism was much faster.
I did the same with the babyface and there is a difference, but it's smaller



living sounds

Re: Portable 2 channel AD/DA recommendations
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2011, 10:35:55 AM »

1) Op amps in the analogue path.
2) The power supply.
3) The chips.


That's not all:

4) The Clock
5) Circuit Design (both digital and analog)
6) Caps in the signal path

Not in this order, BTW.

deuce42

Re: Portable 2 channel AD/DA recommendations
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2011, 01:40:48 PM »

1) Op amps in the analogue path.
2) The power supply.
3) The chips.


That's not all:

4) The Clock
5) Circuit Design (both digital and analog)
6) Caps in the signal path

Not in this order, BTW.


Yes acknowledged - its just that the three I mentioned were what I perceived to be the most relevant.  For instance, when I experimented with a clock upgrade on my card I noticed very little difference, at least compared to op amp changes which had quite dramatic effects. 

On another note, I am alarmed at the shootouts people do on youtube demonstrating the intricate audible differences in their high end gear, almost always recorded through the microphone of a handycam, but I did notice a guy do one between the Rosetta 800 and Duet 2 which was properly miked and recorded. The recording was quite good actually. This may shed some light on the queries in this thread about the Duet 2 vs older Apogee gear. I dont really have an opinion myself, just noting if anyones interested get onto youtube and make of it what you will.

living sounds

Re: Portable 2 channel AD/DA recommendations
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2011, 04:33:39 PM »


Yes acknowledged - its just that the three I mentioned were what I perceived to be the most relevant.  For instance, when I experimented with a clock upgrade on my card I noticed very little difference, at least compared to op amp changes which had quite dramatic effects. 



An external clock doesn't do much as it has to go through the PLL and is limited by the latter's quality. It's the clock on the board that counts, and how it's implimented. Clean power is vital, ideally analog and digital circuits get their own respective PSU.

As for hearing differences, it really comes down to using a converter, that's when it becomes obvious. The better it is the better the signal takes EQ, tracks mix easier, the subtle qualities of good analog equipment shine through etc. A loop test only reveals much if you have a much better converter to hear the degradation.



 

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