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Thread: converter specs for all to read

  1. #1
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    Heres some specs that may help you decide what you need to get to upgrade your sound.
    By far the best deal I've seen is the M-audio Delta 1010.
    Don't confuse the Delta 1010 converters with the other Delta cards... no comparison.
    Best specs of all of these seems to be the Lucid, of course.. they're dedicated converters.
    Aardvark 2496
    a/d 100db... fair
    d/a 110db... nice

    Aardvark LX6.. same

    Aardvark Q10.. no specs avail.

    Aardvark Aark 24.. same again
    All Aardvark cards are shielded heavily to avoid picking up noise. They seem to be the only brand to bother.

    M-audio Delta 1010
    D/A 108db... good
    A/D 109db... good
    excellent buy for the money, you get 8 converters

    Delta 66
    A/D 99db
    D/A 103

    Delta 44
    Same as Delta 66

    Delta DiO 2496
    D/A 101
    no A/D

    M-Audio Quatro
    No specs posted. If you encounter them, let me know.

    M-Audio Audiophile 2496
    A/D 99db
    D/A 103

    Lucid
    A/D 2496 (A/D only)
    114db... very nice

    Lucid D/A 2496 (D/A only)
    114db... very nice
    Word has it that the Lucid are VERY top of the line.

    Thats all for now, these are the important ones, in my opinion. I'll post more later when I have more time.
    Peace,
    Paul
    Peace!
    Paul

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    cool man,

    I also wanted to chip in that music recorded on the delta 1010 does seem to have this nice sound to it.

    You can verify in the mp3 mixing clinic.
    MrLipp
    Emeric
    Jon-x
    Cyanjaguar
    and many others

    The converters just sound so sweet.so present

    NOt to say that I wont be jumping on the lucid a/d as soon as I can afford it
    My mind is made up. Dont confuse me with facts.

    The kind of girl I want, wants the kind of guy I'm not.

  3. #3
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    Tubedude, is the difference between the delta 66 and 1010 the fact that the 1010 has the convertors outside the computer? Or are they actually totally different convertors?

    I was sure they were the same convertors, but now, I'm not so sure.

    Also, were those comparisons done at equal settings.....24bit, 96kHz......on all tested cards?

    Romeo

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    Thanks for the info, but S/N ratio should not be your only concern. I've been looking at converters myself and more often than not it's what companies aren't specing that has me more concerned. You can have S/N ratio of 117db, Harmonic Distortion of 0.001%, but still have significant coloration of the sound. If the balanced input passes through a transformer, or capacitor, or if the analog logic is not well designed its possible for there to be distortion of frequency response and/or phase of the incoming signal.

    For example, the Lucid AD2496 Users Guide, which has some pretty impressive specs says that frequency response of the converter is 20Hz-40Khz +/- 1db. That +/- 1db could mean there is a 1db drop in response at the extreeme frequencies, but it also leaves the door open for having a response curve is not completely flat. It could mean it has a 2db boost at 1 Khs for example. Most converters don't list clock jitter as a spec, they often don't qualify levels or frequencies at which the specs were measured, and the list of things not covered goes on.

    One company that seem to be extreemely thorough in its specs is Apogee. The user guide for the PSX-100 provides the following specs. I've even edited this down quite a bit:

    Dynamic range:
    –60 dB, Unweighted 116 dB –60 dB, A-weighted 119 dB
    Relative THD+N:
    -0.1 dBFS –110 dB (unweighted) –112 dB (A-weighted)
    Frequency Response (10 Hz–20 kHz):
    Gain ±0.025 dB
    Phase < 0.01 degrees
    Passband Ripple: ±0.001 dB
    Channel Separation: Left/right 120 dB (worst case)
    Crystal Oscillator accuracy ±50 ppm
    Clock Jitter, 32kHz–106 kHz << 22 psec

    ----------
    Compare that to MOTU who provides as little info as possible (its 24 bits what else do you need to know). You can't download user manuals for their stuff online. I went looking for 1296 information all I could find on their web site was A-weighted dynamic range of 117db. Thanks, but that doesn't tell me much.

    -----
    Lucid is not too bad (both in price/performance and in the specs they provide), they lie somewhere inbetween Apogee and MOTU. They provide the following in their AD2496 users manual.

    Dynamic Range: > 115dB, A-weighted, 48kHz sampling rate
    THD+Noise: < 0.002% (-1dBFS out, 1kHz)
    Frequency Response:
    For sample rates of 88.2kHz and 96kHz 20Hz - 40kHz (+/-1dB)

    And for the DA2496:

    Dynamic Range > 114dB, A-weighted
    THD+Noise < 0.002% (-1dBFS in, 1kHz)
    Frequency Response
    For sample rates of 88.2kHz and 96kHz 20Hz - 40kHz (+/-1dB)

    -----
    M-Audio Delta 1010

    Dynamic Range:
    Outputs: 108dB (a-weighted),
    Inputs: 109dB (a-weighted)
    THD (at 0dBFS):
    Outputs: less than 0.0015%,
    Inputs: less than 0.001%
    Frequency Response: 22Hz - 22kHz, -0.3,-0.2dB

    -----
    Aardvark Ark 24

    Dynamic Range: 100 dB A/D; 110 dB D/A A-weighted
    THD+N: .002%, 20Hz-22KHz, A-weighted
    Frequency Response: 7Hz-22KHz, +/- .5 dB

    -----
    Aardvark Pro 24/96

    Dynamic Range: D/A 110dB, A/D 100dB
    THD+N: .002% @ 1 kHz
    Frequency Response: 7Hz-44KHz, +/- .5 dB at 96 kHz


    ----
    Here are a few high end converters for comparison...

    For your drooling pleasure (most of us can't afford $8000 just for a sterio AD), the award for most rediculously high S/N ratio goes to...
    db Technologies AD122-96. Their web page lists the specs as.

    Noise (true 21-bit noise floor):
    -127 dBFS (10Hz to 20kHz unweighted)
    -129 dBFS (A weighted)
    -123 dBFS (10Hz to 48kHz unweighted)
    THD+N over 20Hz to 20kHz:
    121 dBFS (.00005%) for -40dBFS or lower
    108 dBFS (.0004%) for -20dBFS signals
    100 dBFS (.001%) for full scale signals
    Bandwidth: 43kHz at 96kHz sample rate
    Channel Separation: 120 dB at 1kHz
    Flatness Response: 0.05dB (0Hz to 20kHz)
    Phase linearity: 0.1 degree (0Hz to 20kHz)

    -----
    Prism Sound Dream ADA-8

    Transformerless electronically-balanced XLR inputs and outputs
    Input Dynamic range:
    112dB typical, rms unweighted, measured at -60dBFS
    Input THD+n:
    -105dB (0.0004%) typical, rms unweighted at -1.0dBFS
    Over-killer function provides soft-knee limiting preventing converter overload

    Output Dynamic range:
    10dB typical, rms unweighted, measured at -60dBFS
    Output THD+n:
    -104dB (0.0004%) typical, rms unweighted at -1.0dBFS

    -----
    Mytek Digital 8x96

    Dynamic Range: 120dB A-weighted, 117dB Total
    THD+Noise: -105dB (<0.0005%)
    Internal clock jitter: <10picoseconds

    -----
    Swissonic AD96

    Frequency response
    Passband: 2–22100 Hz (FS= 48 Khz)
    passband scales with sample rate
    Passband ripple: 0,01 dB
    Group delay variation with freq: 0 linear phase
    SNR & dynamic range: 115 dB (A-weighted)
    THD+noise: -100 dB (@-1 dBFS)
    THD: 0,003 % (@-1 dBFS)
    Inter-chanel phase deviation: 0,1 degrees
    Inter-channel isolation: -110 dB

    -----
    I've run out of time or I'd have included more, perhaps later....


  5. #5
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    Ah, good posts... I like to get people thinking. Lets get this one to the point that people can reference it and save themselves days of work.
    Paul
    Peace!
    Paul

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    Cool

    Also, everyone need to be reminded that even if you have the card with the best specs, going in with a Radio Shack mic thru the preamps of your old 4 track with crappy ass cables wont sound all that good...every link in your signal chain counts, down to the cables......

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    Cool

    Ed, that is exactly why the Lynx card goes for 3 times more $$$ than a M-Audio card......

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    the fact stands. 8 A/D, 8 D/A, the BEST headroom in prosumer/homerecording. i noticed the clipping deal as well. my delta is very sensitive to exagerating peaks. how to solve this? believe your ears not the meters.

    the other solution? i have 4 channels of compression. you can take away all the peaks and it will not be "compressed" per se, and then you bost the output. its quite simple. and it works like MAGIC. now, you have 16 total channels that are -1dB down (peak) from what the would if you could afford 4 lynx one card. but when you mix 16 channels, the -1dB doesnt matter as much because of how signal levels increase with the adition of channels.

    just use 2 channels of the 1010 and yes, especially if you arent sending it though a limiter, or something to tame the peaks then it wont compete. but layer upon layers? and it defintely WILL compete.

    somusman. i know you work for money in your studio/live. but if you made a trial with the 1010 and recorded a 16+ track song on a computer. i think you would find youself please with the results. HALF the price of XTs. lets us spend money on a mic, a pre, monitors, etc.

    me with an SSL and a 2" studer vs. You name any pro and make them use my 1604VLZ and delta 1010. who do you think will make a better sounding record?
    (hint - not me)

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    Specs are just specs and are totally manipulated by manufacturers.

    M-Audio and Aardvark, as well as 90% of other soundcard manufacturers use the SAME converters, mostly AKM4524s. Some manufactures, do not overblow their specs others do. It should all be taken with a big grain of salt. Dont base your buying decisions on specs.


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    Another issue is just generalized specsmanship. My Audiophile 2496 is spec'd as having a D/A dynamic range of 104dB(A). This pretty well implies that the noise floor should be at -104dBFS. The converters used are all from Crystal, and really ought to be able to do those numbers very easily. However, in my real-world system, the *actual* noise floor is more like -80dBFS. The noise floor is entirely dominated by EMI hash resulting from living inside the computer's box, and there is a lot of it, and you can't easily ignore it. It also masks the bottom maybe 8 bits of my data.

    I have no doubt that the 2496 design could achieve a usable dynamic range of 104dB(A): on an extender card, or more likely with the host computer halted (clocks stopped), just driving its own SPDIF outputs. Or maybe it was just installed in a _really quiet_ computer, eh?

    The same converter devices from Crystal are used by the same company in a different product, the 24-bit Flying Cow standalone converter box. I have one on order, after a lot of study. Here's one independent review of the thing:

    www.midiman.de/files/cowrev.pdf

    I'll bet a beer that the A/D, D/A circuitry in the Cow is _identical_ with what's on the 2496. However, the EMI shielding and isolation provided by being in a separate box is critical to actually achieving the promise in the real world.

    When you're getting down into the -100dBFS range, you are going to have a damned hard time getting world-class performance to happen inside a computer case. In a breakout box, maybe, *IF* the converters and their power supply filtering and regulation are all in there too- and if the grounding is handled very well indeed.

    If some manufacturer casually specs that they can do a noise floor at -113dBFS with a card in a PCI bus cage next to forty-leven SCSI disks, a frigabyte of memory, and a Pentium 9 overclocked to somewhere near daylight: feel free to laugh at them. Doing wide-dynamic-range analog circuit design is _hard_, and doing it in the hellish EMI environment of a computer case is nigh-unto-impossible.

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