An interface with decent inputs

Discussions on sound production outside the synthesizer such as mixing, processing, recording, editing and mastering.
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jeeroj
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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by jeeroj » Sun Jan 01, 2012 3:03 pm

this thread is like a murder mystery film - i'm loving the suspense so much :)

OP - can you put up some sound examples of the synth straight into the interface and with the mixer inbetween?

just to keep the tension high

whodunnit? :D
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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by optimus prime » Sun Jan 01, 2012 3:41 pm

koneyn wrote:Hmmm, but 0404 PCI doesn't support XLR? Only 1/4" TRS. Perhaps you were looking at a USB version, which has more options. Here's the picture and specification if you need it: http://www.creative.com/emu/products/pr ... &pid=20022

The cables I've got are specifically "instrument cables", which hopefully means they are high impedance. 1x0,22mm2 says on the cord, if you find this information useful.
I don't think there's a difference between an XLR and a TRS connection, as long as it's a balanced one (one lead transmits the signal, the other the same thing but phase inverted and the third is ground). And I don't think cables can adjust signal impedance on their own. The whole impedance thing is a bit weird an new to me I must say, but I understand that the signal must go through an impedance regulating circuit (a DI box basically), to preserve all its spectral characteristics. I heard that, for example, the BBC studios have a rule that makes the use of DI boxes mandatory for all equipment, especially old synthesizers and guitars. I guess it seems your mixer acts as a DI box in this case. Or maybe the DX7 really sounds like c**p and the mixer improves it somehow, lol.

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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by koneyn » Sun Jan 01, 2012 3:51 pm

jeeroj wrote:OP - can you put up some sound examples of the synth straight into the interface and with the mixer inbetween?
I was thinking the same thing the other day but didn't grab much time (writing posts in between preparations for NYE :), nice idea and I'll try to do it today.
optimus prime wrote: I don't think there's a difference between an XLR and a TRS connection, as long as it's a balanced one (one lead transmits the signal, the other the same thing but phase inverted and the third is ground). And I don't think cables can adjust signal impedance on their own.
The cable itself has an unbalanced TRS connection, I've unscrewed the connector half an hour ago just to make sure.
optimus prime wrote:Or maybe the DX7 really sounds like c**p and the mixer improves it somehow, lol, idunno. :D
Haha, highly unlikely! ;) Anyway, if it was the mixer that makes it sound good, it would sound good in any case, since the signal to the monitors travels via mixer (because my default routing is interface > mixer > monitors).

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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by optimus prime » Sun Jan 01, 2012 4:23 pm

koneyn wrote:The cable itself has an unbalanced TRS connection, I've unscrewed the connector half an hour ago just to make sure.
Do you mean a stereo connection, or a TS connection (the ring is left unslodered)? TRS connectors can be used for an unbalanced stereo signal, or a balanced mono signal, both need a "stereo" (two leads and coating) cable (just making sure we both understand this).

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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by koneyn » Sun Jan 01, 2012 4:53 pm

It's mono, maybe I didn't get it well, I thought that mono needs also three wires to be balanced? :)
Anyway, it's mono (single black ring) and there are two wires there - so which one is it? (bal/unbal?) :)
It's TS, not TRS, my bad, I thought all of those plug shapes are called TRS.

Btw, I've just recorded a test, I am so curious what will you guys think of it!

http://www.box.com/s/riiv2u4tjsgmfd7m97tu

The first part of the recording is done by routing the synth to interface directly.
Then you'll hear four high pitched clicks, it's just a signal so that you know the second part is coming.
The second part was recorded via mixer (synth > mixer > interface).

Now when I listen to it recorded, I can't hear much difference. BUT, while I play it, there is a more noticeable difference in sound. The moment I plugged the synth to the mixer and the sound blasted through the speakers, I got a hard on. Well, that's as close to an objective perception as you can get from me, lol.

Seriously, though, the difference can be felt, but I think it's quite subtle, perhaps nothing that can't be solved by clever EQ-ing. Could be that I was exaggerating at first, or maybe it also depends on the patches played. This time I chose the ones that I remember sounding fuller.

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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by jeeroj » Sun Jan 01, 2012 5:04 pm

is there a difference in loudness? is it just that it's coming out louder?

(downloading the clip now)

EDIT - the second part sounded a bit better on craptop speakers...
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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by koneyn » Sun Jan 01, 2012 5:10 pm

There is a difference in loudness, but for preview purposes I roughly adjusted the volume to be on a similar level. The difference I hear here in my room while playing it is definitely not about loudness, I've turned the volume faders up and down to make sure ;)

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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by themilford » Sun Jan 01, 2012 5:23 pm

Ok, I was looking at the USB version. sorry.

Usually on a mixer or interface you would put the switch to -10 to get MORE gain. -10/+4 are "standards" so it implies that if you are using a -10 device you would need more gain to get it up to the +4 standard. different companies do this different ways.

If you are really in the market for a new USB interface I'm gonna recommend MOTU. I bet their new Audio Express would be tits. I bet you could avoid using the mixer altogether as the MOTU stuff doubles as a mixer.

I love my 828 MkII and the studio I work at has older MOTU pci stuff that is still kicking a*s. I can't recommend them more highly.

here's a review:
http://www.absolutemusic.co.uk/communit ... ESS-REVIEW

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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by optimus prime » Sun Jan 01, 2012 5:45 pm

koneyn wrote:It's mono, maybe I didn't get it well, I thought that mono needs also three wires to be balanced? :)
Anyway, it's mono (single black ring) and there are two wires there - so which one is it? (bal/unbal?) :)
It's TS, not TRS, my bad, I thought all of those plug shapes are called TRS.
That sounds like an unbalanced connection. You can't make a balanced connection with TS connectors, most usually found on guitar cables. Also, the transmitting device needs to be capable of producing a balanced signal, and the receiving device needs to be capable of accepting a balanced signal for a balanced connection to be made between two devices.

I don't know if you're clear with what a balanced connection is so I'll try to explain it simply: a device produces a signal, as well as its identical copy but inverts it's phase. These two signals travel through a "stereo" cable and on the receiving end a device again inverts the phase of one of the signals and mixes them together. The reason all this is done is to generate phase cancellation of potential interferences that the cable might pick up, for example if the cable passes a PSU an unbalanced connection would transmit some hum from it, along with the original signal. A balanced connection would allow phase cancellation of the hum, leaving the original signal intact. And, as a bonus, there's a 3 dB rise in signal level from mixing two identical signals together.

To be honest, I don't think the DX7 is capable of producing a balanced signal, though I'm not sure. A DI box is your best bet for these types of purposes.
koneyn wrote:Now when I listen to it recorded, I can't hear much difference. BUT, while I play it, there is a more noticeable difference in sound. The moment I plugged the synth to the mixer and the sound blasted through the speakers, I got a hard on. Well, that's as close to an objective perception as you can get from me, lol.
This adds another spin to this mystery, lol. Especially considering the fact that I can't really hear any difference between the two recordings. This is gonna sound mean, but you might be imagining things. I don't think it's weird though, happens to me all the time. Sometimes just wearing different clothes makes some things sound different, lol. Or maybe the clothes one wears affect room acoustics, causing different aural sensations. :D All in all, just do whatever feels right for you, your equipment is good enough for just recording a synth, IMO.

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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by optimus prime » Sun Jan 01, 2012 5:48 pm

themilford wrote:If you are really in the market for a new USB interface I'm gonna recommend MOTU. I bet their new Audio Express would be tits. I bet you could avoid using the mixer altogether as the MOTU stuff doubles as a mixer.

I love my 828 MkII and the studio I work at has older MOTU pci stuff that is still kicking a*s. I can't recommend them more highly.

here's a review:
http://www.absolutemusic.co.uk/communit ... ESS-REVIEW
I heard MOTUs have terrible Windows drivers (causing BSoDs, etc), while the machines work perfectly on Macs. It was mentioned on the forum a few times, I just thought the OP should know.

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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by koneyn » Sun Jan 01, 2012 6:02 pm

I's not a new spin, actually, it is the thing that bugged me from the beginning ;)

Because when I play it with cable plugged directly into mixer, the sound that I am hearing actually never goes through interface. It goes directly to monitors. But when I hear the recorded sound, it feels different to me. Doesn't matter which recorded (as you could hear, they are virtually the same).

The trouble is, there is no way for anyone to hear the difference I am talking about unless you are here in my room. A friend who is also a dabbler in production will drop by in a few days, I'll blindfold him and do the test haha!

The recording was only to prove that the mixer doesn't alter the sound (since samuraipizzacat29 pointed out that it could be down to mixer). I think we can all agree that poor Behringer isn't that bad at all in this case :D

Too bad about MOTU drivers, but I kind of hope they've overcame that kind of thing by now? :/ Audio Express seems fantastic.

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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by samuraipizzacat29 » Sun Jan 01, 2012 8:25 pm

Listening to the clip on my phone, theres bits that sound clear and crisp (like i think a dx7 should) and that strikes me as primarily the first parts of the clip. Im not sure where it divides between whats going through the mixer, but there were parts that seemed slightly distorted and reverby which are not sounds id associate with a dx synth.

Anyway- if the sound recordered into your computer is CLEAR, that is what you want. If you want your sound colored a certain way, you should use quality digital effects like the ones included with the emu kit.

Youre right, theres no way for us to know exactly whats coloring your sound in your room. Like in my room, i have plaster walls which affect the sound character in a way i dont like.

Moral- use what you think sounds good as far as hardware goes. Yet- the purpose of an interface is accurate reproduction and not to color the input in any way. I think you already have that for the level of quality i think you need, but what do i know ;)

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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by optimus prime » Sun Jan 01, 2012 8:43 pm

samuraipizzacat29 wrote:Moral- use what you think sounds good as far as hardware goes. Yet- the purpose of an interface is accurate reproduction and not to color the input in any way. I think you already have that for the level of quality i think you need, but what do i know ;)
Let's summarize:

DX7 -> Behringer mixer -> monitors = boner inducing sound
DX7 -> Emu interface -> monitors = something's missing, no boner
DX7 -> Behringer mixer -> Emu interface -> monitors = still no boner

Conclusion: something's up with the Emu inputs, or with the cabling, or with the impedance compatibility, or with something we haven't thought of yet.

I dunno, maybe it's just the volume? Have you tried just turning up your monitors when listening to the recording? Do you notice a difference in noise level (there's quite a bit of noise from the DX7 in that recording) when listening to the synth through the mixer vs. the interface? That would point to a difference in overall output level...

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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by samuraipizzacat29 » Sun Jan 01, 2012 8:55 pm

I thought the point of the clip was to offer us a "reference" of what the recorded sound is like, and it sounds like id expect a dx7 to sound. Therefore, my conclusion is what i originally offered, that we're arguing over some sort of subjectivity rather than a quantitative lack on any piece of hardware's part.

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Re: An interface with decent inputs

Post by koneyn » Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:02 pm

samuraipizzacat29 wrote:Listening to the clip on my phone, theres bits that sound clear and crisp (like i think a dx7 should) and that strikes me as primarily the first parts of the clip. Im not sure where it divides between whats going through the mixer, but there were parts that seemed slightly distorted and reverby which are not sounds id associate with a dx synth.
There are four clicks (*ping ping ping ping*) in the middle that divide the parts ;)

Believe it or not, it all really is DX7(IID), without any effects or processing included! All of the patches seem to be some kind of analogue synth imitations (the're actually called that way "analogue 1", "analogue 2", etc.). They can sound really gritty and fat. My windows are shaking if I turn the volume up. There are also lots of weird noises going on in the background, especially in one of the patches. Who says that digital hasn't got soul in it? :)

Hope you don't regret selling yours now? :D

I agree with you after all, the recording results are still quite usable. I just keep hearing something more and I am curious if I can get a hold of it ;)
optimus prime wrote: I dunno, maybe it's just the volume? Have you tried just turning up your monitors when listening to the recording? Do you notice a difference in noise level (there's quite a bit of noise from the DX7 in that recording) when listening to the synth through the mixer vs. the interface? That would point to a difference in overall output level...
I've tried it in lower volume also ;)

Let me try to explain the difference in tonal characteristic, at least as I hear it. When going through interface, one way or another, it kind of becomes more "boxy", nasal. Maybe in reality it's not THAT much of a difference, but also my monitors (KRK RP5) tend to bump up exactly those frequencies, I know that from experience.

So maybe if the sound gets even a little bit changed in terms of frequencies while going through the interface, the monitors themselves emphasize that even more?

I'm not bothered so much about it as much as I am curious what is going on.

Or maybe I'm just crazy and really keep imagining things (never underestimate that option! :)

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