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Author Topic: Comments on proposed setup?  (Read 2702 times)

Gregg Janman

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Comments on proposed setup?
« on: November 22, 2010, 06:44:12 am »

Sorry for all these questions and random musings, but I am taking my mastering more and more seriously as each day goes by, and there are a few things still unclear to me.

I want to upgrade a lot of components in my mastering chain next year, and I have a few questions regarding these changes. If you have any suggestions, or see any pitfalls, please let me know!

Chain:

1) Clients stereo digital audio file in PC running DAW software, and "surgical" Linear Phase EQ plugin, if needed.

2) File out of PC into DAC 1 feeding the analogue outboard gear (Compressor, EQ etc.)

3) Analogue outboard gear's outputs into ADC 1 back into PC.

4) DAC 2 feeding the powered monitors.

How does that look?

I currently intend to purchase a pair of ATC SCM20ASLs for monitors, a Forssell MADA-2 for DAC 1 and ADC 1, and a Grace Designs M903 for DAC 2 (which will also act as a monitor controller and headphone amp etc.) At the moment I'm using a lowly Echo Audiofire 12 for all my ADC and DAC. I already own the analogue outboard.

Questions:

1) As far as I understand it, professional DACs and ADCs do not connect directly to PCs. How do I get the audio file out of the PC and into the two DACs? And then back from the ADC into the PC? I am guessing I'll need some kind of a PCI card with at least two digital outs and one digital in. Any recommendations?

2) With this set up, will I easily be able to switch between the original file and the file after it has been through the analogue outboard, ADC and back into the PC? I.e. how do I easily switch between "before" and "after" versions on my monitors? I currently do this in my interface's software mixer. Could the Grace act as this switch? Will it require a hardware solution?

3) I could save a bit by going with a Benchamark DAC-1 instead of the Grace M903, what say you?

I know what I want to be able to achieve, just not the logistics of how to achieve it. I want a minimal high quality signal chain, involving analogue and digital stages, with the ability to easily switch between before and after in real time. It sounds so simple!

Big thanks in advance to anyone who takes the time to help me out with some of these basic concepts!
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Darius van H

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Re: Comments on proposed setup?
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2010, 06:53:04 am »

Gregg Janman wrote on Mon, 22 November 2010 05:44


2) With this set up, will I easily be able to switch between the original file and the file after it has been through the analogue outboard, ADC and back into the PC? I.e. how do I easily switch between "before" and "after" versions on my monitors? I currently do this in my interface's software mixer. Could the Grace act as this switch? Will it require a hardware solution?



I use an Avocet for this: it has multiple digital inputs that can be switched between with level matching.

What i like about it is you can A/B between sources at two different sample rates, and the Avocet doesn't need any "lock" time: it doesn't glitch - it just instantly locks and switches.

This is very inportant for A/Bing and if i was looking for a monitoring controller, this would be top of my list of things to check.

urm eric

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Re: Comments on proposed setup?
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2010, 10:04:24 am »

Gregg Janman wrote on Mon, 22 November 2010 05:44


Chain:

1) Clients stereo digital audio file in PC running DAW software, and "surgical" Linear Phase EQ plugin, if needed.

I currently intend to purchase a pair of ATC SCM20ASLs for monitors, a Forssell MADA-2 for DAC 1 and ADC 1, and a Grace Designs M903 for DAC 2 (which will also act as a monitor controller and headphone amp etc.)

Questions:

1) As far as I understand it, professional DACs and ADCs do not connect directly to PCs. How do I get the audio file out of the PC and into the two DACs? And then back from the ADC into the PC? I am guessing I'll need some kind of a PCI card with at least two digital outs and one digital in. Any recommendations?

2) With this set up, will I easily be able to switch between the original file and the file after it has been through the analogue outboard, ADC and back into the PC? I.e. how do I easily switch between "before" and "after" versions on my monitors? I currently do this in my interface's software mixer. Could the Grace act as this switch? Will it require a hardware solution?




Hello Greg,

A few suggestions - East Anglian support:

Have you decided on a DAW? If not, I'd seriously think about Samplitude: the new EQ included with that is very good.

On I/O - the RME cards are hard to beat.

On monitor control - have a word with Crispin about one of his smaller Crookwood monitor controllers (e.g. the C2, which has a h/phone out). Very flexible and can be fitted for a ridiculously small sum with an internal DAC that (IMHO) is rather better than the Benchmark and more natural than the Grace. Very pure/minimal design (no alt analogue outs) and it seems to work very well.

Cheers,

Eric



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Philosophers Barn Mastering
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Peter Beckmann

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Re: Comments on proposed setup?
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2010, 05:42:40 pm »

I agree with both Darius and Eric!

I have the Avocet as my monitor controller and it is excellent. The instantaneous lock time from any different source/sample rate is essential to my work flow.
Crispin also makes great stuff and as bespoke as you like if necessary. I have a set of his excellent VU meters with stepped attenuator [ essential for those 'cough' louder projects ]

You still need some DA-AD convertors for your analogue loop as you mention. I know a few of us use the Hedd for this, and I highly rate it. If it's price is a little steep I'd look at the Lavry black series. I had a Lavry DA10 for a while and it wasn't too shabby as they say.

Ah I love shopping!!

Peter
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Peter Beckmann
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Gregg Janman

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Re: Comments on proposed setup?
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2010, 10:02:13 pm »

Thanks for all the great tips, I really appreciate it.

Yes, shopping for new toys is fun.  Very Happy

The Crookwood or Cranesong stuff looks perfect. Good to know Crispin will work with you for a custom design. But this will all add a lot of cost! Having aid that, being able to A/B quickly is one of the most important things for me, so I guess I shouldn't try and skimp here.

A Crookwood monitor controller with a DAC and VU does sound scrumptious! I have been meaning to pick up the 2u Crookwood VU for some time.

I haven't decided on a DAW yet, I currently use Adobe Audition, but I'll look into Samplitude. I was probably going to get the Sonoris Mastering EQ for surgical EQ duties (I have the Pullet for "program" style subtle enhancement).

RME for PC digi in and out? OK, I'll check their lineup. I heard good things about Lynx PCS cards too. I guess I need to find out what digital I/O my prospective AD/DAs have.

Thanks once again,

Gregg
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jdg

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Re: Comments on proposed setup?
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2010, 10:35:39 pm »

i had the avocet, and now a crookwood.

as a monitor controller, the avocet was easier for me to use.
but the features of a full crookwood M1 are perfect, everyday, always.

YMMV etc.

anyone in japan you could checkout that has some of these things?

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john mcCaig
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Gregg Janman

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Re: Comments on proposed setup?
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2010, 11:17:14 pm »

Just checking out the Crookwood site once again...

It appears that I could basically do everything I want with one of their mastering consoles. A/D & D/A for transfer, second D/A for moitoring, VU metering, and all the A/B switching options I could possibly dream of.

It's basically "just add powered monitors and analogue outboard", and you're ready to go, with a very streamlined system. I like the idea of having an all in one solution!

Unfortunately, I don't know any other mastering engineers in Japan. I would love to hear and see some of this stuff in the flesh.
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Table Of Tone

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Re: Comments on proposed setup?
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2010, 10:10:09 am »

Gregg Janman wrote on Mon, 22 November 2010 11:44

Sorry for all these questions and random musings, but I am taking my mastering more and more seriously as each day goes by, and there are a few things still unclear to me.

I want to upgrade a lot of components in my mastering chain next year, and I have a few questions regarding these changes. If you have any suggestions, or see any pitfalls, please let me know!

Chain:

1) Clients stereo digital audio file in PC running DAW software, and "surgical" Linear Phase EQ plugin, if needed.

2) File out of PC into DAC 1 feeding the analogue outboard gear (Compressor, EQ etc.)

3) Analogue outboard gear's outputs into ADC 1 back into PC.

4) DAC 2 feeding the powered monitors.

How does that look?

I currently intend to purchase a pair of ATC SCM20ASLs for monitors, a Forssell MADA-2 for DAC 1 and ADC 1, and a Grace Designs M903 for DAC 2 (which will also act as a monitor controller and headphone amp etc.) At the moment I'm using a lowly Echo Audiofire 12 for all my ADC and DAC. I already own the analogue outboard.

Questions:

1) As far as I understand it, professional DACs and ADCs do not connect directly to PCs. How do I get the audio file out of the PC and into the two DACs? And then back from the ADC into the PC? I am guessing I'll need some kind of a PCI card with at least two digital outs and one digital in. Any recommendations?

2) With this set up, will I easily be able to switch between the original file and the file after it has been through the analogue outboard, ADC and back into the PC? I.e. how do I easily switch between "before" and "after" versions on my monitors? I currently do this in my interface's software mixer. Could the Grace act as this switch? Will it require a hardware solution?

3) I could save a bit by going with a Benchamark DAC-1 instead of the Grace M903, what say you?

I know what I want to be able to achieve, just not the logistics of how to achieve it. I want a minimal high quality signal chain, involving analogue and digital stages, with the ability to easily switch between before and after in real time. It sounds so simple!

Big thanks in advance to anyone who takes the time to help me out with some of these basic concepts!

The Forssell MADA 2 is a great choice.

Maybe try the Lavry DA11 for monitoring?
It has a digitally controlled, analogue attenuator, is very connectible and also works great with headphones.

You can use a Lynx PCI or PCIe AES 16 card to get from the puter to the converters.

Another option would be the Weiss AFI1, a firewire IEEE1394 to AES interface.
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