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Comparison: ADC interface for Hifi Recording < 1000$. USB Pre2, ADL Esprit, RME Babyface, ADL... - Page 2

post #16 of 34

Personally I've had no problems with my unit, the previous owner did digitalized some vinyls and was thoroughly impressed by the quality of the files.

 

I haven't tried yet a turntable, because I don't even own one, and I've not done ADC conversion but I know from the previous owner that it is functional and well, but all the rest satisfies me about it, the DAC, the headamp and the preamp. Yet like ursdiego explained, it's good for me because I'm coming from using just my laptop, and I didn't have money for more.

 

Very much all the reviews I've read about the GT40 were positive on all aspects but the phonostage which sounded lacking to some of the reviewers. Sound quality-wise, the ADL GT40 beaten single-handedly the DACmagic plus according to a reviewer, and the NuForce Icon HDP according to another. The DACmagic+ is 600 dollars (same as GT40) and Icon HDP 450$.

 

The GT40 is fully silent, with black backgrounds, so I like that... but the potentiometer could be better in my opinion (be smoother and allow lower volumes listening).

 

I never had compatibility issue, it's plug and play. I have had 3-4 bugs in the year I've owned it but all it took was a power-off + power-on to fix the unit.

 

 

Also, it comes with a linear external power supply already, and not switching! I can't copy text on ADL-AV.com but here's the last question of the FAQ for the GT40, look at the last paragraph of the answer:

Capture-6.png


Edited by devouringone3 - 6/14/12 at 1:21pm
post #17 of 34

Yep... still waiting for the Esprit. The specs look great. Lots of features... but expensive. Could be worth it. (?)

And I think you may be right... learning from the first to make improvements on the second.

post #18 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:

Originally Posted by devouringone3 View Post

... Also, it comes with a linear external power supply already, and not switching!

 

 

Indeed an interesting detail. I think I read in a couple of reviews something about a switching supply deliverend by default with the GT40. However, it seems they were wrong. A 9V 500mA linear supply already has a weight of probably over 50g, and a certain volume that still might fit into a wall-plug but a bulky one, and it heats a bit. Can you confirm that?

 

I wonder where this answer in the FAQ comes from. 500mA may be a rather low value for a device that includes a DAC, a preamp and even a phono stage. This might explain partly, that the device is described to sound too "thin", when the phono stage is in use. As in this mode, all parts are active: Phono Stage - pramp - ADC and for monitoring maybe even the DAC.

 

So I would not be surprised, if a higher capacity and higher quality PSU would make a noticable improvement.

 

I'm pretty sure, that there are high quality PSUs available that have a good regulatior that avoids too high "no-load" voltages. However, the price for one of those might be a bit high in comparison to the price of the whole device. If you are interested in upgrading, you may however look out for a "super teddy reg" that is available for DIY. Just ask Teddy, what he would recommend, given the specs of the GT40, and the voltage warning.

post #19 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by ursdiego View Post

Indeed an interesting detail. I think I read in a couple of reviews something about a switching supply deliverend by default with the GT40. However, it seems they were wrong. A 9V 500mA linear supply already has a weight of probably over 50g, and a certain volume that still might fit into a wall-plug but a bulky one, and it heats a bit. Can you confirm that?

 

So I would not be surprised, if a higher capacity and higher quality PSU would make a noticable improvement.

 

I'm pretty sure, that there are high quality PSUs available that have a good regulatior that avoids too high "no-load" voltages. However, the price for one of those might be a bit high in comparison to the price of the whole device. If you are interested in upgrading, you may however look out for a "super teddy reg" that is available for DIY. Just ask Teddy, what he would recommend, given the specs of the GT40, and the voltage warning.

 

Lol, I don't think I'll ever do ADC + headphone listening + preamping (to speakers or something) all the the same time, lol that would be improbable and very temporary. Most of the time mine only acts as a DAC, sometimes it becomes a headphone amp-more.

 

They do not recommend changing the power supply in the F.A.Q. I also think it would be overkill on such a small device, seeing that the PSU would cost a big fraction of it already.

 

Yes, the box of the wall wart is approximately the size of a medium apple that you'd squeeze in a box (not as bulky as you seem to think ;), it's about 50-60 g in my hand, and it's always a bit hot, but slightly (and mine is plugged 24/7, so it's not bad at all); it's made in China, not Japan :/.

post #20 of 34
Thread Starter 

Are you sure about the size of Chinese half apples...?
 

post #21 of 34

Chinese Apples, like the Chinese watermelons?! lol!!

Square_watermelon.jpg

 

Yes I am, and I took picture to show you:

DSCN8470.jpg DSCN8471.jpg

post #22 of 34
Thread Starter 

I think you should open a audiophile thread about this new apple mod, I am sure it would be very controversary and you would get in no time 1321 pages full of hot disputes!

 

EDIT: The chinese apple mod of course.

post #23 of 34

Regarding the RME Babyface, from another thread:

 

AD is AKM 5385 and DA is a TI PCM4104
AD from Fireface 800 and DA from M-32 converter (very pricey) DA

 

I did buy a linear power supply for it, which replaces the USB 5V rail but don't have the details with me (PS also available from RME). 

 

My son has used the Babyface to sample my older vinyl with a Rega P3 24 table and a Dynavector P75 phono pre with a 10X5 cartridge and been happy FWIW.
 

post #24 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by julius_the_cat View Post

Regarding the RME Babyface, from another thread:

 

AD is AKM 5385 and DA is a TI PCM4104
AD from Fireface 800 and DA from M-32 converter (very pricey) DA

 

I did buy a linear power supply for it, which replaces the USB 5V rail but don't have the details with me (PS also available from RME). 

 

My son has used the Babyface to sample my older vinyl with a Rega P3 24 table and a Dynavector P75 phono pre with a 10X5 cartridge and been happy FWIW.
 

Thanks! I found this thread where many many are listed:

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/geekslutz-forum/542009-audio-interfaces-their-ad-da-chips-listed.html

 

However, Sound Devices USBPre 2 is not there, and based on comments I saw on the net, that one is getting even more interesting...

post #25 of 34
Thread Starter 

Hello again friends

As it was pretty difficult to find decent answers due to the lack of reviews of some of the rather new devices, this thread had a little rest. However, I'd like to give it new life. Maybe somebody got some more experience or information as reviews/links, that can give us a reliable answer to this simple sounding question:

Which < 1000 $ USB Analogue-Digital-Converter does give the best sounding results ???

As far as I can judge, the two top choices are today:

1. Sound Devices USBPre 2

2. ADL Esprit (mainly for its Multi-bit ADC architecture)

If somebody knows links to good reviews of those devices, that emphasize on sound quality for ADC-operation, this would just be awesome!


In my case, its mainly for digitising analogue sources like vinyl, over a pretty high-end analogue chain. However, I guess, that experiences and views of producers and musicians can help as well, given the fact that we all want the same: Good sound. Anyway, in a Hifi-environment, uncoloured, natural, neutral and high resolution characteristics seem particularly crucial, as (in other cases maybe wanted) sound colouring etc. should not happen when it is to record from one medium to another.

Cheers!


 

post #26 of 34

If you go to this web page there are links to quite a few reviews of the ADL Esprit.

 

http://www.adl-av.com/products/usbdac/esprit/

 

I bought one and should be receiving it either tomorrow or Monday. Going to rip my vinyl collection for more source material for my AK120. At least it will keep me off the streets at night this Fall. wink.gif

 

I'll give you my impressions after I've ripped a few albums.


Edited by Erethrin - 7/18/13 at 4:49pm
post #27 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Erethrin View Post

If you go to this web page there are links to quite a few reviews of the ADL Esprit.

 

http://www.adl-av.com/products/usbdac/esprit/

 

I bought one and should be receiving it either tomorrow or Monday. Going to rip my vinyl collection for more source material for my AK120. At least it will keep me off the streets at night this Fall. wink.gif

 

I'll give you my impressions after I've ripped a few albums.

 

Can't wait to hear your impressions.

At some point I may try this route again. I've been looking at the Lynx Hilo, which has many more features than I know I'll ever use... but it gets great reviews and has an ADC.

It's also sick expensive... much more than I'd want to spend, which makes the Esprit pretty attractive.

post #28 of 34

Hi,

 

I thought I should add my 2 cents, as I have been using an ADL Esprit since about a week now.

 

First a bit of history:

I recently replaced most of my T+A stereo system, and searched for a new pre-amp. When I first heard about the GT40, I have to say I had my doubts about it's sound quality. It simply seemed that there was "too much" in one package for that price. I instead bought a vintage pre-amp (Nakamichi CA-5) that has a highly praised phono stage. I mated the CA-5 with two Herron M-150 mono blocks, and Totem Mani-2 speakers until I rebuilt the T+A speakers (documented here). My turntable is a Project RM 5 with an Audio Technica AT120E/T. Not the fanciest cartridge, but very good sound for the price (my Shure V15 is on hold for a new stylus). Anyway, vinyls sounded great, the Nakamichi pre-amp really adds something special to the sound. I tried a Classé CP40 preamp as well, and also compared a couple of Musical Fidelity amps to my new setup--the Nakamichi with the Herrons sounded a great margin better (the Classé was especially disappointing).

 

OK, now let me get to the point. I have used the Esprit for digital playback, but also for a few tests to record vinyl (from the Nakamichi's tape out into the Esprit's line in). Setting up the Esprit was a snap, at least with Mac OS X and Linux (I don't really use Windows anymore). Just open your sound preferences and choose the ADL Esprit as your sound device for input and output.

 

Then I used Audacity for recording. You can easily adjust the levels in Audacity, so no going back and forth between sound preferences and audio app. And the results were truly great. I switched Audacity's settings to record in 24bit/96KHz, and it all worked without a glitch. I have not experienced any noise or static strangeness as some other people have reported about the GT40. If there is anything I could complain about, I would say that I do notice a very slight loss in treble, e.g. cymbals just sound more crisp on vinyl when the drummer swings the ride cymbal. But the difference is very minor, maybe even just psychosomatic. 

 

The real fun for me was to discover that some of my vinyls that I also own as CDs sounded better than their CD counterparts. I assume that in the early days of CDs digitizing was not that great. For example, my Tower of Power "Urban Renewal" album sounds tremendously better on vinyl than on CD. 

 

I should also mention that I used a Benchmark DAC1 for a little while before the ADL Esprit. The Benchmark is a great device, but I thought it was a bit overkill for me, and exchanged it for the Esprit (also due to the ADC feature). I could not make a direct A/B comparison, but, at least to my ears, I doubt that the Esprit sounds any worse than the Benchmark.

 

Back to the Esprit: I am very happy with it. I move it around in the house to use as a DAC, and have now started to digitize some old unique tapes of my bands. Otherwise I mostly use it as a DAC, fed to my preamp, mono-blocks, speakers, so I cannot say much about the headphone output. But it works great as a DAC, and I really appreciate the ADC feature for the times when I need it.

 

When it comes to your situation, I believe you are much better off sticking with the phono stage from your pre-amp (which I believe you already like very much), as opposed to finding a device like the GT40 with a built-in phono stage. Give the Esprit a try, I think you will not be disappointed. I got mine from musicdirect, which has a 30 day return policy, so in the worst case you would only loose the shipping costs.

 

'hope that helped,

DrTebi

post #29 of 34

Okay, I've recorded 4 albums now using the ADL esprit. Using a B&O T2 turntable with MM3 cart > RSA F-117 Nighthawk phono-pre > ADL Esprit > PC with Windows XP using Audacity. As drtebi stated above, set up was very easy. Downloaded drivers from ADL website and they installed with no problem. Set audio device in PC to the ADL Esprit and then selected 24 bit 96khz through Audacity and began recording.

 

My impressions are for recording purposes the ADL seems fairly tranparent. I'm not noticing any major changes in the sq from the vinyl. I'm saving files off as 24/96 FLAC files and having been playing back through AK120. Pleased with results so far. As I get more familiar with Audacity I expect I'll get even better results once I settle in on all the post recording tweeks.

 

I'm going to do some A/B testing this weekend. Going to plug in the AK120 to my home system and compare the vinyl to the recorded FLAC file to get a true sense of how the recordings sound in comparison to the source through my equipment chain.

 

One issue that I'm going to e-mail ADC support about, the driver install sets up a little program that aparently is supposed to let you change the recording settings from a drop down control box. However, it is grayed out (and lists 16 bit, 32khz as setting......eek.gif). I've tried reinstalling drivers and can't find anyway to make the drop down control box active in this app. Audacity states that it is recording at 96khz. I guess the bad news would be that I'm just upsampling a 16 bit 32khz transfer and I need to find out from ADL what the problem is with their app on my computer. The good news is I like the recorded sound so far, so if I'm really just getting upsampled 16 bit 32khz recordings, sound should only get better if a fix is needed.

 

I'll post my thoughts on the A/B tests next week.

post #30 of 34
Quote:
Audacity states that it is recording at 96khz.

Something similar happened to me with my soundcard. It was a setting that I needed to change for the soundcard.

 

However, Audacity actually has two places where it states the recording frequency; on the bottom left it shows your chosen frequency, and on the bottom right the actual frequency. Have you checked what Audacity tells you at the bottom right?

 

One thing I wonder about... why are you not using the Esprit to also play back your recorded files? It should be the fairest A/B comparision, don't you think? I am not saying that the AK120's DAC is better or worse, but if the Esprit converts something from A to D, it should know best how to convert it back from D to A.... if that makes any sense :)

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Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › Comparison: ADC interface for Hifi Recording < 1000$. USB Pre2, ADL Esprit, RME Babyface, ADL GT40. Other Analogue-Digital USB Convertsers??? Experiencies??? Comparisons??? Reviews???