Quality of Converters a big upgrade?

briandampsim
KVRist
34 posts since 30 Jan, 2018

Post Thu Mar 22, 2018 12:25 pm

Hey gang,

I am learning more and more about studio gear and applying it to my specific situation. Im a mostly apartment player and budget minded so that plays into most all of my decisions.

I have been wondering about analog to digital converters for some time now. My biggest questions is whether the quality of the converters plays a large role in the sound quality of units like Axe and Helix and how large the gap is from the converters in these boxes and the converters in the budget interfaces. Is the gap large enough to give a significant difference in tonal quality from the amp simulations?

User avatar
Burillo
KVRAF
2962 posts since 15 Nov, 2006 from Hell

Re: Quality of Converters a big upgrade?

Post Thu Mar 22, 2018 12:42 pm

depends on what you mean by "large role". sometimes people point out tiny details and claim it's "night and day" difference. short answer - it doesn't. but the difference might still matter to you, depending on how budget your "budget interface" is.
From Russia with love

briandampsim
KVRist
34 posts since 30 Jan, 2018

Re: Quality of Converters a big upgrade?

Post Thu Mar 22, 2018 12:48 pm

right now im using a Behringer UMC204HD

User avatar
Kazrog
KVRian
787 posts since 24 Oct, 2009

Re: Quality of Converters a big upgrade?

Post Thu Mar 22, 2018 12:54 pm

Once KClip 3 is released, I'm going to be doing an interesting converter comparison for YouTube. I actually don't know what to expect. I'll be comparing audio quality as well as low latency performance between two current interfaces at low and high price points.
Shane McFee
CEO/CTO - Kazrog LLC

A_Gruesome_Discovery
KVRist
77 posts since 27 Nov, 2003 from Boston, MA

Re: Quality of Converters a big upgrade?

Post Fri Mar 23, 2018 1:59 am

IMO, we've gotten to a point in time where even "cheap" converters yield accurate, high quality results. I'm very interested to hear Kazrog's upcoming tests, and my expectation is that there will be little discernable difference between the high-end unit and the more budget-minded one. Although I'm sure there's some lousy units out there... but I'm speaking generally.
I think it's when multiple rounds of conversion occur that the differences in quality will potentially become apparent - it's a cumulative thing. Subtle - if any - differences in the initial A/D, but once a signal goes back out through the D/A and returns through the A/D a couple of times, as would occur when using hardware insert and send fx on tracks and buses, the limitations of the converters will start to become a factor. This is where I think the high-end converters get their value. But this is just stuff that I *think* I've noticed - let's find out! :D

User avatar
Kazrog
KVRian
787 posts since 24 Oct, 2009

Re: Quality of Converters a big upgrade?

Post Fri Mar 23, 2018 8:27 am

I'm going in with an open mind, and I'll be approaching this as scientifically as possible, comparing a variety of specs. I don't expect there will be much audible difference, but the low latency performance tests are where I expect to find some interesting differences.

My goal is to try to help people achieve the best performance they can on a tight budget - I get dozens of support tickets about this, and I feel bad because I've been rocking the same RME Fireface 800 setup for a decade+ and I never looked back, but at the same time, I never really explored the low end options in the audio interface space after about 2006 - which is ancient history now. I've not been able to give people very good advice on what to do in the sub $200 USD price range, and since the entire experience of using my plugins is heavily dependent upon both the audio interface and its drivers, it's something I have to address.

More soon...
Shane McFee
CEO/CTO - Kazrog LLC

User avatar
EvilDragon
KVRAF
16914 posts since 7 Jan, 2009 from Croatia

Re: Quality of Converters a big upgrade?

Post Fri Mar 23, 2018 8:44 am

Focusrite's Scarlett is supposed to be decent. So is Steinberg UR series and Audient iD series.

lajosuti
KVRer
26 posts since 25 Jan, 2014

Re: Quality of Converters a big upgrade?

Post Sat Mar 24, 2018 12:13 pm

I upgraded from Steinberg UR22 mk2 to Audient id22, and it helped a bit with amp sims. I didn't like most of the amp sims with the Steinberg, and with the Audient I can enjoy a few of them now.

lajosuti
KVRer
26 posts since 25 Jan, 2014

Re: Quality of Converters a big upgrade?

Post Sat Mar 24, 2018 12:24 pm

Now I have to admit that I am not sure if the difference was due to the different converters, or due to the different Hi-Z input on the sound cards. As I understand Audient has something called a JFET DI built-in? Maybe if I would have tried both soundcards with a DI box into the mic pres, I wouldn't have noticed a difference.

Zydraka
KVRist
57 posts since 4 Aug, 2015 from U.S.

Re: Quality of Converters a big upgrade?

Post Sat Mar 24, 2018 2:25 pm

The 2nd gen Scarletts are probably the best budget option as far as low latency goes, and the Windows drivers actually work pretty well with higher CPU usage unlike some brands. I use the 48k, 64 sample setting mostly and it yields a round trip of about 7.8ms. The 32 setting gets it down to about 5ms, but my computer's older i5 2500k starts to get dodgy with that setting at higher CPU levels.

There's a helpful thread at Gearslutz where someone tests various audio interfaces under specific conditions and charts the latency, but performance is also tested as well so the manufactures can't just cheat the latency numbers down to get a higher rating.

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/music-c ... -base.html

Of course RME dominates the top of the list, but the 2nd gen Scarletts are only slightly below the Babyface's score.

I just ordered one of the new Focusrite Clarett USB interfaces because it was $100 off the regular price and I couldn't resist. It'll be interesting to hear how the higher quality converters sound compared to the Scarletts.

briandampsim
KVRist
34 posts since 30 Jan, 2018

Re: Quality of Converters a big upgrade?

Post Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:34 pm

my question with most of this has to do with why purchase a hardware unit vs just using kazrog and my pc.

the units have stuff "together". Helix Native is even kinda nice for that but assuredly I can get just as nice if not better outboard fx from other vst.

What the units do have are lots of supposed high quality inputs and outputs. Axe in particular is supposed to have this adaptable impedence matching deal that makes it feel more authentic? if thats even the word for it.

Is that like a gimmic or something that would help if something with those features was added to the pc signal chain

briandampsim
KVRist
34 posts since 30 Jan, 2018

Re: Quality of Converters a big upgrade?

Post Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:19 pm

do you think the thunderbolt interfaces will make a difference in feel from the usb 2.0 since they have the whole no latency going on?

wondering if i should not upgrade interface at all until i get a newer laptop with thunderbolt anyway

User avatar
EvilDragon
KVRAF
16914 posts since 7 Jan, 2009 from Croatia

Re: Quality of Converters a big upgrade?

Post Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:46 pm

There's no such thing as "no latency".

User avatar
Burillo
KVRAF
2962 posts since 15 Nov, 2006 from Hell

Re: Quality of Converters a big upgrade?

Post Fri Mar 30, 2018 1:45 am

EvilDragon wrote:There's no such thing as "no latency".
this reminds me of a joke about a mathematician and an engineer and being "close enough for all practical purposes" :) there is no such thing as no latency, but there is such a thing as "no perceivable latency". the good news is, humans can't really perceive anything below ~20ms of latency (which, for a guitar player, equates to standing a couple of meters away from an amp), so anything below that will count as "no latency" for all intents and purposes.
From Russia with love

Scotty
KVRAF
1657 posts since 23 Dec, 2002

Re: Quality of Converters a big upgrade?

Post Fri Mar 30, 2018 2:40 am

If your round trip latency is below 6ms I would tend to agree with this. 20 MS latency I believe is detectable and can be a distraction.

Burillo wrote:
EvilDragon wrote:There's no such thing as "no latency".
this reminds me of a joke about a mathematician and an engineer and being "close enough for all practical purposes" :) there is no such thing as no latency, but there is such a thing as "no perceivable latency". the good news is, humans can't really perceive anything below ~20ms of latency (which, for a guitar player, equates to standing a couple of meters away from an amp), so anything below that will count as "no latency" for all intents and purposes.
Asusp9712Core,RayDats,OASYSPCI,Cubase9,KorgLeg,Avalon737s+2022,UA4710D,6176,DCS,LA610MK2s,Neve, ARC2, Soundtoys,UADOCTO,AdamA7X, SphereMics, BCF+R2000s, DrmBrut,MiniLog,Volcas,MoogSubPhat,EnsqDP4,VirusC,Scope,MinBrut,Plugiator,NIS61 Ultimate,ComposrsCld.

Return to “Kazrog”