Affordable interface with best DA converters?

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Lerian
KVRist
53 posts since 15 Oct, 2004

Post Wed May 20, 2020 10:20 am

Hi, im looking for an interface to replace my 15yo m-audio and im interested in the best possible DA converters, but also latency. I mostly work in the box so inputs are not really that important.

In my range i found used RME FF400, Focusrite Clarett2pre, Audient ID22, used RME ADI-2 (to use only as DA converter for my M-audio), maybe SSL 2? Which one of these have the best/cleanest/most analytical DA converters (and balanced outputs)? Any other interfaces i should know about? Used or new doesn't matter, as long as DA is crystal clear.

Thank you,
L
Last edited by Lerian on Wed May 20, 2020 10:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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telecode
KVRAF
1783 posts since 24 Mar, 2015 from Toronto, Canada

Re: Afordable interface with best DA converters?

Post Wed May 20, 2020 10:25 am

GS your friend.

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

FWIW.. I am looking at upgrading to a RME BFS Pro. Still debating.

Lerian
KVRist
53 posts since 15 Oct, 2004

Re: Afordable interface with best DA converters?

Post Wed May 20, 2020 10:30 am

telecode wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 10:25 am
GS your friend.

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

FWIW.. I am looking at upgrading to a RME BFS Pro. Still debating.
Thanks, for latency that thread is very informative, but doesn't really say anything about DA converters.

Babyface pro is a very nice unit indeed, just a bit above my budget (300-400euros).

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BertKoor
KVRAF
11822 posts since 8 Mar, 2005 from Utrecht, Holland

Re: Affordable interface with best DA converters?

Post Wed May 20, 2020 12:57 pm

DA converter specs are usually published on one of the last pages of the owner's manual. Just do your homework. It's easy.

Not easy is to put the numbers in perspective. Because chances are in a blind listening test and normal listening conditions you cannot tell the difference between your old m-audio (delta 2496?) and the new cards.
We are the KVR collective. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. Image
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telecode
KVRAF
1783 posts since 24 Mar, 2015 from Toronto, Canada

Re: Afordable interface with best DA converters?

Post Wed May 20, 2020 1:17 pm

Lerian wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 10:30 am
telecode wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 10:25 am
GS your friend.

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

FWIW.. I am looking at upgrading to a RME BFS Pro. Still debating.
Thanks, for latency that thread is very informative, but doesn't really say anything about DA converters.

Babyface pro is a very nice unit indeed, just a bit above my budget (300-400euros).
yup. i dont want to spent that much either. but in my case, i figure i am upgrading from a $200 to $300 interface, so instead of upgrading to a similar priced interface, maybe go a step higher. interfaces seem to last a long time.

how is knowing the DA converters going to make a difference in long run? can we assume companies have outsourced interfaces to South East Asia over the past 20 years. So odds are, your old interface maybe has better quality DA converters than new ones made in SE Asia. Who knows for sure?

Lerian
KVRist
53 posts since 15 Oct, 2004

Re: Affordable interface with best DA converters?

Post Wed May 20, 2020 4:38 pm

BertKoor wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 12:57 pm
DA converter specs are usually published on one of the last pages of the owner's manual. Just do your homework. It's easy.

Not easy is to put the numbers in perspective. Because chances are in a blind listening test and normal listening conditions you cannot tell the difference between your old m-audio (delta 2496?) and the new cards.
Did my homework, but i don't know exactly how to put those numbers in perspective. I already listened to few DACs, each one having different color, punch, dynamics, even with somehow similar numbers, so there seem to be some differences beyond numbers (or maybe my cables are broken).

I was hoping maybe others have more real life experience than i do, otherwise judging only by the numbers and lab measurements i would choose a totally different DAC to use with my m-audio's spdif, something designed for home use - like SMSL M500 ($400 new) that seems to beat even the new RME ADI-2 DAC in distortion and dynamic range.

But those are numbers, should i draw the conclusion that they always transparently reflect into the actual listening/mixing experience? Would that be a true statement?

Passing Bye
KVRian
1457 posts since 5 Nov, 2014

Re: Affordable interface with best DA converters?

Post Wed May 20, 2020 4:42 pm


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CrystalWizard
KVRian
1190 posts since 10 Jul, 2008 from Orbit Sol III

Re: Afordable interface with best DA converters?

Post Wed May 20, 2020 5:03 pm

telecode wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 1:17 pm

how is knowing the DA converters going to make a difference in long run? can we assume companies have outsourced interfaces to South East Asia over the past 20 years. So odds are, your old interface maybe has better quality DA converters than new ones made in SE Asia. Who knows for sure?
There’s almost no chance that 20 yr old converters in a similar price range are going to be better than new ones.
gadgets an gizmos...make noise
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perpetual3
KVRian
1387 posts since 28 Sep, 2012

Re: Affordable interface with best DA converters?

Post Wed May 20, 2020 5:27 pm

Check out the Motu M4. Its DAC is the same as in Apogee and it’s output has been rated quite a bit better than the Duet and Ensemble, and slightly below Symphony 1 and Rosetta. I have it, it’s very well built and sounds good to me, but I have not compared it to anything recent.

Here is the link to gearslutz with the AD/DA comparisons. https://www.gearslutz.com/board/showpos ... count=1850

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telecode
KVRAF
1783 posts since 24 Mar, 2015 from Toronto, Canada

Re: Affordable interface with best DA converters?

Post Wed May 20, 2020 7:09 pm

oh no. now i found me a new fav forum. why the hell didn't i know about that before?

Lerian
KVRist
53 posts since 15 Oct, 2004

Re: Affordable interface with best DA converters?

Post Thu May 21, 2020 3:33 pm

telecode wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 7:09 pm
oh no. now i found me a new fav forum. why the hell didn't i know about that before?
Whoa, that's audio pornhub right there! Thank you! Even though the behringer sounds great for its price, i found some really neat alternatives on that forum. :party: :hyper:

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BertKoor
KVRAF
11822 posts since 8 Mar, 2005 from Utrecht, Holland

Re: Affordable interface with best DA converters?

Post Fri May 22, 2020 1:42 pm

Lerian wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 4:38 pm
i don't know exactly how to put those numbers in perspective.
It's not rocket science.

There are reputable sources saying that the ideal volume for listening to music for prolongued periods (that's what you do while mixing) is 83 dB SPL. This is also how loud sound in cinemas is, in average.

If your music is not compressed to smithereens, you need some 20 dB headroom. In total, that's 103 dB dynamical range. That's about the dynamical range of the M-Audio Delta 2496, if I'm not mistaken.

Given the fact your ears can't pick up noise of 10 dB SPL while you hear sound already at 80 dB (masking) it's even reasonable that the 96 dB dynamical range delivered by compact dfsks, is good enough already.
Processing is different, but recording or playing in only 16 bit is totally fine and highest fidelity audio for human consumption.

Apart from a decent signal noise ratio, you also need a fairly flat frequency response. If it's only +/- 0.1 dB from perfecf, its hard to notice. Especially with speakers that deviate +/- 2 dB from the flat line.

If this does sound like rocket science to you, then go ahead - be a fool and pay $600 for a simple stereo dac.
We are the KVR collective. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. Image
My MusicCalc is back online!!

Lerian
KVRist
53 posts since 15 Oct, 2004

Re: Affordable interface with best DA converters?

Post Sun May 24, 2020 5:19 am

BertKoor wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 1:42 pm
Lerian wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 4:38 pm
i don't know exactly how to put those numbers in perspective.
It's not rocket science.
You have a point there, even 83db sound pressure is too much for me, i monitor around 60db spl, maybe 70 at most.

Yes, 600 is too much, but $200 for balanced outs, THD+N < 0.00016 (-117db), 119db dynamic range and perfect linearity i think is a fair price.

Currently im running a $50 firewire audiophile with 108db DR, THD+N 0.002 (96db), and -10db rca unbalanced outputs. Even my audioengine D3 seem to sound better for some reason.

perpetual3
KVRian
1387 posts since 28 Sep, 2012

Re: Affordable interface with best DA converters?

Post Sun May 24, 2020 5:33 am

Lerian wrote:
Sun May 24, 2020 5:19 am
BertKoor wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 1:42 pm
Lerian wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 4:38 pm
i don't know exactly how to put those numbers in perspective.
It's not rocket science.
Yes, 600 is too much, but $200 for balanced outs, THD+N < 0.00016 (-117db), 119db dynamic range and perfect linearity i think is a fair price.
Sounds like the Motu M series. I paid $200 for the M4. M2 is less.

Chapelle
KVRian
1117 posts since 28 Dec, 2007

Re: Affordable interface with best DA converters?

Post Sun May 24, 2020 6:21 am

Thanks for that link! Interestingly, that guy did another review last year:
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/foru ... view.9856/

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