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Building the BEST setup for my equipment

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Protools5LEGuy:
I want to build my best possible setup. This includes choosing 4 things:
My best preamp
My best A/D  converter
My best clock
My best D/A converter.

I can play with :
Focusrite Saphire Liquid 56
Digidesing Digi 001
Digidesign Audiomedia III
M-Audio Audiophile 24/96
Behringer UCA200

I suspect my best solution is the simplest: To use the Focusrite as Pre/Standalone AD/MasterClock/DA solution with the 001. But maybe the Audiomedia has better clock (?)
Audiomedia III has 18 bits AD/DA but sounds cool too.
I think AP24/96 has better converters than the 001, but is surpassed by the Liquid 56.

My best friend/procuder in Madrid has a HD2 on a hack i7 with 96 I/O and it sounds better with the wordclock from a MOTU 828 mk2 and a Presonus Central Station as DA.

I want to find my best combination with my hardware.

Any thought is welcome 
I feel the clock from the AM III being the best

Protools5LEGuy:
I have also for preamps:
Focusrite Trackmaster http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov01/articles/trackmaster.asp
HK Original Tubeman http://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-many-guitars-so-little-time/840201-h-k-tubeman-mk-1-a.html
Yamaha DG-60 112 http://en.audiofanzine.com/modeling-combo-amplifier/yamaha/DG60-112/medias/pictures/a.play,m.158855.html
And a StudioMaster 16-4-2 console upgraded to 24 channels. http://www.gearslutz.com/board/low-end-theory/380329-studiomaster-16-4-2-opinions.html

I think the more flexible is the Liquid 56. Based On Syntefex DSPs (?). With 2 Liquid channels "LE" edition(second). Liquid Channel is manufactured exclusively by Focusrite Engineering Ltd under licence from Sintefex Audio Lda, Portugal. Liquid Channel is a trademark of Focusrite. Dynamic Convolution is a trademark of Sintefex Audio Lda. http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/may09/articles/liquidsaffire56.htm

The emulations are interesting, but to change the Focusrite PREs setup I have to go tiger/leo...And plug it to setup the standalone mode. Worth dual booting, I guess.

I have been using the Audiomedia III with the focusrite trackmaster with PT5-6 for years and it has only 18 bit converters but it sounds to me someway better than the AP2496 with logic and same pre...

The Studiomaster Console is too big to use as PREs, even in 16-4-2 setup.


 

Protools5LEGuy:

--- Quote from: DieHard on July 06, 2014, 11:02:13 PM ---As it is common knowledge that many inexpensive audio interfaces have cheaper clock chipsets, it may be less known that a "word Clock In" can be a very powerful tool.  There is a reason why RME stuff is more expensive than MOTU and that Apogee stuff is 4X the price of RME (the price of the A/D Converters and respective internal clocks directly correlate to the accuracy of the digital file created). 

For producers on a budget that have a lot of digital audio devices all interacting with each other or just want the best quality absolutely possible, then using 1 external master clock can help tremendously. I remember a being in a studio that was comparing tracks that were transferred from 24-track Studer reel to reel into a G4 using 3 different methods; Method 1 was to have (2) 1224s use their Motu Clock, Method 2 was the 1224s "word clock in" slave from a Apogee "Big Ben" master word clock and Method 3 was to have the 1224s "word clock in" slave from a Lucid genx192 master word clock.

So the results ? The tracks created letting the MOTU clock off the Big Ben or Lucid sounded far superior in Bass response and clarity to the tracks created with the same interface using it's own clock… so bottom line is that not all clocks are equal… Even though the different clocks are responsible to coordinate taking the same number samples per second, some clocks are more accurate of "when" during each slice of that second to take a sample.  The studio owner in charge of the test told me "it's like having 44 thousand soldiers, the cheaper clock represents them marching when they are drunk, and that is why the low end of the audio tracks sound smeared, while the more expensive clock represents them in peak performance in perfect step and the sonic clarity of the audio track is the end result"

So IMO at the level of most project studio interfaces the "Word Clock in" is by far more important then having a "Word Clock out" for those who need the next level, but cannot afford an Apogee or RME 24 track setup.  The Luicid genx192 was less than half the price of the Big ben (about $800) and to my ears it produced tracks that sounded the same (the four other engineers who were there shared the same opinion)

Now, if you are using a $99 PCI AudioPhile 2496… then ignore all of this.  When tracking one or 2 tracks at a time the quality will still be amazing.  Remember, in a low complexity studio setup with 24-Bit audio files and MIDI controlled VSTIs the results will still exceed what was available back in the day

--- End quote ---

In my setup the only Wordclock capable soundcard is the Focusrite Saphire Liquid 56. Any of my cards can have the clock internal or external (thru SPDIF or ADAT).

I can't afford RME or Apogee. My posible "Big Ben" (best clock) is my AM III, the DIGI 001, an AP 2496 and the Focusrite 56.

I think my best preamp is the Focusrite SL56 followed by the Focusrite Trackmaster. 3rd is the StudioMaster. 4th the HK Tubeman and 5th the DIGI 001

I think my best A/D the Focusrite SL56, AP2496/AM III, Digi 001.

I  feel my best clock AM III, 2nd the SL56, 3rd AP2496 and last 001.

My best D/A should be the SL56.

What would  all you suggest?

DieHard:
Thanks for the PM… but I Figured I would reply here in case someone else needs this info.

OK… let's do some basics on the stuff you mentioned…


--- Quote ---Focusrite Saphire Liquid 56
Digidesing Digi 001
Digidesign Audiomedia III
M-Audio Audiophile 24/96
Behringer UCA200
Trackmaster
--- End quote ---

1) The Audiomedia III has 18-bit converters on the analog A to D hardware side… but 24 Bit via S/PDIF RCA in/Out…
so if you are only recording 2 analog tracks at a time… just use the 2496 (Media III is a step backward)… so for nows let's ignore the Audio Media III all together
also for now let's ignore the Behringer UCA202 USB "toy" Audio Interface

2) The number of tracks you need to record simultaneously is a big factor…. you never mentioned it.. If you have and old DAT… like a Panasonic, the A to D converters are very good and you can go up to 4 tracks with the 2496… 2 analog and 2 digital S/PDIF simultaneously… the S/DPIF signal from the dat will provide audio word clock and digital audio info to the 2496 from the signal itself…so far looking good… but need a mixer :( also 4 inputs is probably not enough… so scratch the 2496

3) The Digi001 001 uses CS4223 (Cirrus Logic A to D) 105 dB Dynamic range and 110 dB signal to Noise Ratio (very respectable and 24 Bit Data Path)
Full specs Here CS4223: http://www.cirrus.com/en/pubs/proDatasheet/cs4223-f1.pdf

Note: Jitter Tolerance is 500 psRMS… so basically the internal clock of the CS may not be as accurate as the AK in the 2496… which according to spec is almost jitter free…. however, if you are really crazy about the details and your are recording outside in freezing weather or inside a volcano, then research the temp range of both chips

4) Audiophile 2496 uses AsahiKASEI AK4528, slightly better Dynamic range 108… but better, and signal to noise of 94 DB (this number is basically negligible as long as you have basic audio levels coming in… if your audio level is extremely low…like not even on the meter… then the Cirrus would have ness noise when recording (in Theory)

AK4528 Datasheet: http://pdf.datasheetcatalog.com/datasheets/320/137041_DS.pdf

Big plus of the Digi001 is Ins (8) and Outs while the 2496 shines superb quality of the digital-out (due to the separate transceiver chip CS8427)

Digi001... One MAJOR negative (my biggest turn-off) is TL074 op-amps used in the mic preamp and line inputs.  Basically known to have a analog stage noise issue added to your signal during the input stage which can never be removed, so the signal to noise ratio of the entire device is much lower than the stated in the A to D chip data sheet

5) Focusrite Saphire Liquid 56 - Input Winner over Digi001  Mic Pres on this baby beat the balls off of the Digi001 and the other specs are very good, super bang for the buck, converters are CS 4272 (cirrus logic) (same as Echo Layla 3G) with 114 dB dynamic range, -100 dB THD+N http://pdf.datasheetcatalog.com/datasheet2/4/08q97yp6h0s7yrzq74qzk60396yy.pdf

But no jitter specs anywhere ?!
From Cirus Logic...

--- Quote ---Jitter is a measure of how consistent a clock is and how close the edges are to their ideal positions. A perfect 10MHz clock for example will have an edge (rising or falling) every 50 nSec. Noise on the power supply, quality of the PLL (when syncing to an external clock), circuit design, etc. all produce a clock that is less than perfect. The actual edges will often occur slightly before or after when they theoretically should. This is jitter and it is measured in units of time (either pSec or nSec) and is generally expressed as an average deviation from the ideal. We don't specify the jitter on our products but it is generally around 200 - 300 pSec with internal clocks being the best.
--- End quote ---
hmmm, 300… better than the Digi001

More Focusrite Saphire Liquid 56
Microphone Inputs: Dynamic Range (A-Weighted): 109dB, SNR (A-weighted): -109dB
Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz +/- 0.1 dB

Line Inputs: Dynamic Range (A-Weighted): 109dB, SNR (A-weighted): -109dB
Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz +/- 0.1dB

Instrument Inputs: Frequency Response 20Hz-20KHz +/- 0.1dB
Maximum Input Level min gain no pad +8dBu
Maximum Input Level max gain no pad -42dBu
SNR 109dB "A"
DNR 109dB "A"

Were are we at now ?
Focusrite Saphire Liquid 56 is the overall winner so far, 8 ins (XLR or 1/4) and 8 outs… so basically, use the Saphire as the Main Interface (plus no mixer needed), headphones out, especially since you said you do not want to use your large board for Mic pre(s)…

You can use the additional inputs of the Digi001 for Line level stuff, avoid the Mic pre(s) since they will amplify the noisy input stage discussed earlier… and yes use the Saphire as the master clock, but setup my be a little tricky..also the DIGI Optical output for 8 channels of ADAT (on the card itself) will now be fed into the Focusrite Saphire… however telling the DAW how to deal with this setup may get a little tricky also

From the Web...

--- Quote ---I recently bought a Lucid GenX6 Wordclock generator, have this sending WC via BNC into DBX 386 into 001 via spdif. The 001 WILL clock to incoming WC signal, you must go into session setups and choose spdif as the clock master.
BTW, i think the most cost effective way to have your DAW sounding better is to get a dedicated wordclock generator. The difference, when comparing a session that was clocked w/ the 001, verses a session clocked to the Lucid was nite/day...really.
--- End quote ---

The difference, when comparing a session that was clocked w/ the 001, verses a session clocked to the Lucid was nite/day...really.… Yeah, we kinda guessed that… the problem is you need to make sure that all the setting hold for both audio interfaces in the DAW itself… my advice is to forget the Digi001 all together… get an Octpre MKII (used on ebay $350)

Guitar Amp… the Yamaha DG60-112 is nice guitar amp, I am a big fan of of the tones, If you have 2 inputs avail for guitar I would definitely use the line out of the DG60, but also record the signal totally dry for re-amping later in the DAW via a direct box.

Final Setup…. Yeah !!!

1) Keep Liquid Saffire 56 and BUY OctPre(s) as needed http://global.focusrite.com/answerbase/connecting-a-liquid-saffire-56-to-2-external-preamps-via-adat
via ADAT lightpipe… clock as shown or shot the moon and buy a LUCID Clock ($300 on ebay) as the master clock…. not really needed though unless you have $300 extra dollars… also BUY a direct box for guitar
http://www.ebay.com/itm/LUCID-GENx6-WORD-SUPER-CLOCK-GENERATOR-96K-FREE-CABLES-PRIORITY-SHIPPING-/291174524028?pt=US_Computer_Recording_Interfaces&hash=item43cb5aa47c

2) Sell 2496 (or save for Mac #2) the mixing mac :)

3) Sell Digi001 and keep the 56 as the main interface

4) Sell Audiomedia III (was awesome in the day at 16Bit/44K… but now we need to record in 24Bit/88K or at least 24Bit/44K)

5) Use the "track master" as Main Vocal PreAmp line out to the 56 (Great reviews on Compressor and EQ) which should be done at input stage

supernova777:
how does the sapphire 56 work in mac os 9????
i check compatibility http://uk.focusrite.com/downloads/os?product=Liquid+Saffire+56
do u use some funky driver?
this says 10.4 tiger +

i dont even think the original saffire worked in mac os 9?
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/sep05/articles/saffire.htm

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