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Author Topic: RADAR 96K differs from all other ad/da's how?  (Read 3863 times)

McLovin

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RADAR 96K differs from all other ad/da's how?
« on: October 26, 2015, 02:55:08 pm »

I'm wondering if there's any experienced opinions on how RADAR's sonic footprint might differ from today's converters, and in particular the Prism Lyra 2?

I'm aware of the work flow benefit to the session controller for RADAR, but what is it about the RADAR that seems to have this magic sonic character, (which I've only read about) that makes it special (or would you disagree otherwise)? 

As a novice, my understanding so far is that it's not the gear that makes for a great sonic outcome (and I'll refer to Fletcher's post on the Yayhoo's first album out of a Barn with Adat)..

In terms of hierarchy my thoughts go something like this (feel free to correct me), as it pertains to the final product/song/sound.

1. Source: Musicians, the songs/music.
2. Engineer/ears, skill set.
3.Monitors, room treatment which includes the mixing area and the tracking area
4. Microphones
5. Preamps
6. Converters

If this list is true, than should I really worry about the converters in the signal chain before I worry about all the other things, and if so, what percentage might the conversion make to the overall outcome sonically?

I appreciate the session controller element of RADAR is purposeful, and one doesn't have to be 'clicking' with a mouse and arming tracks etc, but apart from this workflow aspect, is there something about RADAR that just leaves the other conversion products behind? (or will you say it's  just 'different', which I would ask, how so?)
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Weekend Warrior

Fletcher

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Re: RADAR 96K differs from all other ad/da's how?
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2015, 09:59:36 pm »

There is an element to the RADAR system that is different from [as far as I know] every other converter system out there.  I can't tell you what I know because I'd be in violation of an NDA [Non Disclosure Agreement] -- which was the reason that part of the process wasn't patented [in a patent, you have to disclose all the design elements].  That said, at the end of the day, this is a game of inches -- and each inch is exponentially more expensive than the inch before.

I have zero experience with the Prism Lyra 2 -- so a comparative analysis I am unable to render -- but I can say, from other Prism hardware [well previous to the Lyra 2] I've experienced, that they make an exceptionally good product, so I would think that the particular product you referenced would be some of the top tier of converters [at the level of what I've heard of previous Prism products -- they are "top shelf"... that said, I have no knowledge if the system you're talking about is "top of the line", or a "budget" product].

Every element of a recorded signal is as important as every other element -- there will always be obvious priorities -- but the main priorities are the "talent", followed [by a great distance], the environment [room] -- followed by the the 'skill set" of the equipment operator [a.k.a. "engineer"], and well after all of that are the microphones, the amplifiers, the converters, etc., etc., etc.

At least to me [being an asshole in his mid-50's] -- the way the session controller works like a tape machine transport is amazingly convenient [and conducive to my personal work flow], but nothing more than a convenience.  The real question at hand is your comfort level, your experience, your goals [vis a vis - what YOU want to hear], and your "work flow".

To me -- I find the RADAR system about the best set of converters in the business -- but, I live in a world where the last inch is something I'm greedy to grab -- I live in a world where I prefer RADAR to tape [less noise!!], and I live in a world where I can go for that "last inch" -- which doesn't mean you can't get absolutely acceptable product with a less expensive system -- it just means that I personally find the iZ stuff complements my "sense of aesthetic", as well as working exceptionally well with the way I want to work [workflow].

I hope this makes sense... its a bit difficult to describe with the written word.

Peace
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

Jim Williams

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Re: RADAR 96K differs from all other ad/da's how?
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2015, 11:39:08 am »

Which Radar? There are several versions all with different converters.

I did give one a go against my poor man's Radar, the Alesis HD24XR, mine was modified with better chips, psu work, low noise fan, etc.

It was the Radar 96k nyquist version, it used the same converter chips (AKM) as my HD24XR. Radar used NE5532 opamps, the 1976 era standard.

Drums were recorded to both machines. The playback was informative. The Radar does have very creamy mids, smooth. The HD24XR had better low end depth and better top end details, that little stuff we sometimes hear. The Radar was so acoustically loud in the control room it really needs to be put into a machine room. The HD24XR is silent with SSD's.

I did call Barry at IZ and discussed the results. I asked if there was a digital high pass function as that was the only way I could explain the low end loss of depth. He said no. The analog path used linear regulators and large 220 uf el output caps. He was a loss to explain what everyone in the room heard.

I'm still rockin' that HD24XR here, I did a live acoustic jazz session last week here with it and it sounds spectacular. Jack in my Burrbrown PCM4222 ADC's and it's about as good as good gets in 2015. I don't do much digital editing (play it again, Sam is my technique) so I don't need the Radar DAW features, it's an all analog studio sans the recorder.
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McLovin

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Re: RADAR 96K differs from all other ad/da's how?
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2015, 01:20:52 pm »

Thank you both Fletcher and Jim for the replies and info!


Jim,

The RADAR in mind is the latest incarnation, the RADAR studio, along with 96k Classic converters (16 channels).

I have tossed about the notion that the 2 channel Prism may suit my needs more aptly, as I record no more than 4 mics (likely more 1 or 2) at a time/session.

I understand the noise levels from the RADAR have improved, but I have no experience with RADAR on any level.

Regards this HE24XR? I expect this is a very unique piece of gear, you have upgraded/altered, and as such would not be in my reach to acquire, but it sounds/reads impressive
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Weekend Warrior

Fletcher

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Re: RADAR 96K differs from all other ad/da's how?
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2015, 04:10:14 pm »

I haven't heard Jim's Alesis unit... but what makes the RADAR as special as it is doesn't really have anything to do with the chip part of it... and like Jim mentioned, it has a very nice "creamy" midrange that I find very musical... for me the bottom works and the top sounds a LOT clearer [as in less "grainy"... as in cymbals sound like cymbals!!] than most every other converter I've ever used.  For me, it sounds more like the tape sound I was always hoping to hear... without the intermodulation distortion, the compression, the noise, etc., etc., etc.

As always, YMMV.

Peace
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

McLovin

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Re: RADAR 96K differs from all other ad/da's how?
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2015, 06:58:12 pm »

Fletcher,

I would expect so, but do you have experience with mastering type converters such as Weiss or Prism or Larvy or Crane song Hedd, as a comparison to how the RADAR sounds relative to such?

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Weekend Warrior

Fletcher

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Re: RADAR 96K differs from all other ad/da's how?
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2015, 07:08:26 pm »

Yes, all of them... JCF converters too.  The Lavry are my least favorite, the Prism is rather nice, the Weiss is about as clean and clear and open and deep as I've ever experienced... but if I were looking at two channels of converter -- for me, it would be a choice between the JCF and the Crane Song HEDD-192.  The JCF has a lovely overall "vibe" to the audio -- great depth and dimension... the HEDD-192 has those lovely controls on it [which I will caution you -- when you have a tone you love -- back off each knob by one number and you will like what you hear the following day].

Hope this is of some assistance.

Peace
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

Jim Williams

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Re: RADAR 96K differs from all other ad/da's how?
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2015, 10:50:51 pm »

The best part of these machines is the ability to jack in external high end converters. Then they are never out of date and always sound as good as those converters can. Makes them future proof.
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Jeanclaudetransam

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Re: RADAR 96K differs from all other ad/da's how?
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2016, 10:50:51 pm »

Hey  there!

I just got onto this forum after deciding to leave a different one, I'm getting older and have lost patience for less than congenial interaction. I was one of the first guys in Canada to buy a RADAR studio after owning both an Alesis XR and a RADAR 24 classic. Prior to that I was an analog guy with a 2" machine trying to run a "serious hobby" studio and I tell you, when an indie band is told they need to shell out hundreds of dollars for tape when their budget is  hundreds, they go to a DAW guy with plugins for that analog vibe!

When I first got the Alesis, I was pretty happy. It was quite neutral and decent sounding, I never had a full remote to control it but it was OK for my workflow.

I'm a Canadian and back in the early 90s I worked at a commercial studio in Vancouver, still fully vested in tape and 2 lovely neve rooms. There were da 88s and the adat machines that some clients would rent but we saw them as toys and couldn't care less. We had a Scottish tech who would always say "nothing that dainty could sound any good"

Barry, the president and CEO was bringing the early versions of what was to be RADAR marketed by Otari to all the big studios in the city. That was the first time we all thought that maybe there is hope for digital. It was 16 bit no less! They were prohibitively expensive for most folks but still great.

I bought my RADAR 24 off ebay from some kid in South Korea for $2000. When it arrived I powered it up and...boom! They did some mod to the power supply and it didn't work right at 120v. I called iZ and they set me up with a psu from a RADAR 6, put in a new motherboard and software and shipped it back to me about 2 weeks later. Barry said I have the quietest RADAR 24 in existence. They will do anything to support the users of their products and take a great deal of pride in what they do. I vowed to buy a RADAR 6 as soon as I  could, but the studio was released at NAMM last year so I phoned and put in an order.

I have a decked out RADAR studio but went with the older 96k Nyquist converters. I have classics and feel no need for anyhing greater than 96khz.

The classic converters at 44.1/48 sound is really good, a bit closed off up top but in a good way, the classic 96s seem to have the same bottom, mid range character and certainly some extension up top at higher sample rates.

I love the Nyquist 96k converters, likely my favorite sound for multitracking. I've used ssl alphas, various apogees and a few others in different studios. I have a Burl B2 that I transfer my mixes from my ag440 1/4". Lovely converters but expensive. If I didn't have it, I'd be just as happy going through 2 channels on the RADAR.

To me, the Nyquists remind me of 2" at 15ips through dolby SR...kinda. Very close to what I loved about tape. At 44.1/48 they sound wonderful and very meaty in the low end. I suspect that there is a level of non-linearity in the filters with radar, at least at lower sample ratea. I guess the Alesis XR has the same chips but mine was unmodded and it never had the vibe of the RADAR. Still, it was pretty good.

The RADAR has separate PSUs for the analog and digital side and run at 18volts vs. 12, its switching function is synchronized to the clock for less induced noise. The clock is great! My friend with the SSL rig tried my 24 as the master and he begrudgingly preferred it.

The thing I find with the RADAR studio, using it in daw mide with Harrison mixbus or cubase through the asio drivers doesnt sound as good as playback straight through RADAR mode (its own system with basic editing). Straight off the converters just seems a little tighter to me. You can freely fly files back and forth in either mode as per your  preferences. The remote is awesome, when doing overdubs, I've had the talent set up punch ins with like a minute of instruction!

Sorry for rambling but being a proud Canadian and an audio enthusiast, I cannot say enough good things about iZ and what they do. You could buy a used RADAR 2, like 20 years old and make very viable recordings. That says a lot considering the shelf life of technology these days.

Converter these days are a matter of preference but good workflow is timeless!

Cheers!
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Fletcher

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Re: RADAR 96K differs from all other ad/da's how?
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2016, 08:42:00 am »

Wow -- thanks for the post -- interesting history, though I'm  sure most of us lived it -- "$125- for 16 minutes worth of tape? -- I'm going to ______  he has unlimited storage time I don't have to pay for!!".

There was a rather prestigious school of classical music that was interested in chucking their Pro-sTools conversation systems and checking out a RADAR [this was when the "V" was out].  They wanted to check out the "192k" converter set, and needless to say, I arranged it.  When I spoke to the director the next week he couldn't find enough kind things to say about the sound of the RADAR system.  I told him he, his staff, and his students would prefer the sound of the "96k" converters -- and that as my studio wasn't booked for a bit, I would run my unit down for him to run "simuls" between the two [and as I had a 48 track controller / meter bridge, I set up both machines to run from one remote].

He called me a week later and thanked me.  Not a single member of the faculty, nor a single student preferred the sound of the 192k converters -- they said it felt like the 96k conversion set was picking up the "soul" of the music as well as the audio.  He also mentioned that he found it interesting that I went to such great lengths to "down sell" him -- and that from now on we were going to be their main supplier as it seemed like we actually cared about "audio quality" more than sales [I explained it was the difference between being on "salary" vs. "commission"... but since that shop is deader than fried chicken, I am definitely digressing!!!].

At any rate -- just wanted to share my "192 vs. 96k" story with you -- and welcome to "R/E/P" -- we're a small forum set, but it seems kind of comfortable.

Peace
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

Jeanclaudetransam

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Re: RADAR 96K differs from all other ad/da's how?
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2016, 11:06:25 pm »

Well thanks for the kind welcome, Fletcher. I tend to be an advocate for iZ but in no way disparage anything else, whatever floats one's boat. Honestly, converters are the least of my concern, I like things that just work. I've been recording a lot of younger bands and it kind of blew my mind, and I took it for granted that these guys have never been in a control room that didn't have a big ass computer monitor as its centerpiece. Its amazing how much more engaged a group of musicians can be when they are part of the process, getting a hand on a fader, turning a knob and tangibly hearing what it does. This, as opposed to sitting behind a guy who could just as well be playing Call of Duty on a computer as making a record. Sure, I edit and do some stuff in the DAW but it always comes out of the RADAR and through my console. Sadly, my Neotek series 2 was sold and I now have a GSR 24m but its pretty darn nice sounding.

To sum up, RADAR is how I like to work, the sonics are a very welcome bonus. There is a world of quality out there but you need to hear it to feel it. Adjectives are a subjective thing. With that being said, I have had many fellow engineers (some I like and some..) hear my "old" Nyquist 96khz (made in the early 2000s) converters and they all agree that there is a unique character to them that they would be happy to work with. Some were eating crow at the time though.

Cheers!

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Jim Williams

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Re: RADAR 96K differs from all other ad/da's how?
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2016, 11:36:12 am »

Those are AKM's 4396 DAC and 5396 ADC chipsets. They have a creamy quality about them and they still sound great at 96k.

They were also used in the Alesis Masterlink and the HD24XR.
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Jeanclaudetransam

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Re: RADAR 96K differs from all other ad/da's how?
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2016, 03:28:39 pm »

I liked my HD24XR quite a lot, I could imagine your mods sounding very good as the components peripheral to the chips are likely more important than the chips themselves. When I recapped my old neotek, it was suggested that I replace all the TLO 7 series opamps with "better" ones. I did a few channels and didn't like it. It takes a bit more skill than the cookbook and a spec sheet to make sonic decisions. That's why I'd leave such things up to guys such as yourself.

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Jim Williams

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Re: RADAR 96K differs from all other ad/da's how?
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2016, 11:50:11 am »

That's a common problem. Many think they can drop in a higher performance opamp without changes. Neotek's require a bit of circuit treatment like most consoles to get those parts to work properly. Otherwise, it's an oscillating, spitty, distorting mess of a sound with unpredictability. I can imagine that putting some off on high performance opamps even though it's not their fault for not working right. (The "I put these so called "fast" opamps in and they sounded like crap" scenerio is likely).

The only console that I've had success in dropping in 'some' opamps without changes is Harrison. They did the "housecleaning" and have phase compensation and power supply bypass caps fitted for every opamp. Still, pcb parasitics make the success dependent on exisiting layouts that may not cooperate either. The other designs require carefull analysis and testing before that will work. A scope, THD analyzer and pulse generator are required for the best results. Throwing dirty underwear against the wall is only going to make the wall dirty.
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