After using Slate Digital VCC on the past few mixes, it was time to put it under the microscope. Curiosity had me wondering what changes if any were happening to the frequency spectrum, & harmonic content.
In my downtime I decided to do a in-depth comparison between the A/D converters I have at hand. With the amount of “Night & Day” reviews you read about it’s easy to question if converters are drastically different from box to box, It got me questioning at-least. The technical converter specs over the last 10years or more out perform most sound sources, processing, & environments. I have done my share surgically analyzing the THD+N, frequency response, Jitter, & so on, But that never answered the question if one can audibly hear the difference? Time for a real-world test I say.
Got my hands on a pair of JCF LEVRs. I wanted to see how they compare to my usual “go to” API 312 for makeup gain after the folcrom. After a week of pulling my hair out trying to get the LEVRs to play nice with my setup, (more on that later) they do have a nice presence that sets them apart.
I decided to run a quick comparison between programming a 2 bar drum loop via the Akai MPC 3000 & doing the same via Protools/midi track & a software sampler. I used the same samples for both. (my MFB-522 sample set.) I transferred the samples into the MPC via the analog i/o. I also wanted to compare the “swing”, For the MPC I set the swing to 52%, & for the protools midi track I applied the “MPC 52%” swing quantize. The swing is very close but you can hear a difference with the hats & dual snare hits. The biggest audible difference is from the MPC’s signal-path. The MPC changes the overall frequency response & can add some grit if pushed.
I have to mention this comparison is only focusing on the “sound” not the functionality or advantages of using one over the other. For myself the MPC is 2nd to none with realtime sequencing workflow & interchange with my hardware synths/outboard. DAW midi timing/latency has never been consistent for me when dealing with hardware.
Marketing leads us to believe that AD/DA Conversion will improve with external synchronization/clocks. This is not the case.
It’s no mystery that multiple digital devices need common clock reference to communicate properly. Large studios need common (house clock) to communicate from device to device & room to room. But do personal project studios benefit from external synchronization?
For everyone that designs, tests, creates, calibrates, or has an odd preference for what they consider “listening enjoyment”, This is for you.
Having calibrated utility & test files is a must for any audio engineer. The corner-stone being pink noise. When it comes to generating tones/noise ITB I have found most DAW to be severely lacking in this area. After much frustration with the incorrect Pro Tools signal generator “Pink”. I’ve captured Tones/Noise from a calibrated D-Scope & Dolby SDU4. I’ve also included the “industry standard” DMU file that is most commonly used.
The never-ending question ITB vs OTB summing. I’m an advocate for analog processing no doubt, So in turn analog summing is convenient. But in terms of summing alone without processing..?? The question is still up in the air.
As an experiment I’d like to see what is preferred after some blind A/B testing. One of these is summed ITB. The other is 16 channels worth in the analog realm via a passive summing bus + makeup gain.