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What's the bottleneck in this audio solution?

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Peter Cutler
What's the bottleneck in this audio solution?
on Mar 28, 2012 at 9:46:12 pm

Setting up a new audio editing environment based around a new Mac Pro. Here's the setup:

Mac Pro - (via usb) Duet 2 - Duet 2 Breakout Box - Mogami Gold RCA to XLR Female - Genelec 5040 - Genelec 6010 A

Are there any significant bottle necks in this to be aware of? Does anyone have any recommendations to improve this setup?


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Andrew Rendell
Re: What's the bottleneck in this audio solution?
on Mar 28, 2012 at 10:28:52 pm

RCA to XLR cables? I'd be looking at keeping everything balanced.

I personally wouldn't choose a subwoofer system for when I'm sitting at a desk, I'd go for a nearfield 2 way pair. I do like Genelecs though, but maybe the 8030a or 8040a.

[This is very much a personal opinion and YMMV over subwoofers. I'm track laying this week in a room which has 8020a's and I'm loving them!]


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Jordan Wolf
Re: What's the bottleneck in this audio solution?
on Mar 29, 2012 at 2:12:58 am

Absolutely go XLR out of the breakout box. If you need to unbalance it, I recommend using an interfacing box that will properly match the impedance and voltage characteristics involved in going from a professional line level output to a consumer-grade line level input.

You would go XLR into the unit and then go 1/4" TS (not TRS) to dual RCA or mini jack (1/8"/3.55mm TRS) to get into the Genelec 5040.

Wolf
<><


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Richard Crowley
Re: What's the bottleneck in this audio solution?
on Mar 29, 2012 at 1:34:40 pm

Ebtech makes decent products But in this application you do not need level shifting, the levels are already compatible. And you do not need impedance matching, The Apogee has a 90 ohm output impedance, and the Genelec has a 10K input impedance. And you do not need balanced to unbalanced transformers in this application. The Apogee is designed to drive either balanced or unbalanced loads.

To be sure, you might need one or more of these features in SOME OTHER applications, but putting an Ebtech box into this proposed signal path would definitely make it the "bottleneck" (or perhaps more precisely the weak link) in the chain.

Since the input of your speaker is unbalanced, using the breakout box XLR outputs doesn't really provide any benefit over the stock breakout cable. A simple TS 1/4 inch phone to RCA cable is exactly what is needed here. I wouldn't pay an excessive premium just to buy gold-plated connectors.


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Ty Ford
Re: What's the bottleneck in this audio solution?
on Mar 29, 2012 at 1:53:03 pm

Richard makes very good points.

Having said that, I use Ebtech boxes to scrape the noise of of the unbalanced outputs of my Mac towers before they go to my Mackie Big Knob, which then goes to my Event Opal monitors.

And, yes, there is noise on the ubalanced outs.

Regards,

Ty Ford


Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Peter Cutler
Re: What's the bottleneck in this audio solution?
on Mar 29, 2012 at 2:01:28 pm

Thanks for the replies.

Richard, I chose the Duet's breakout box due to its expanded I/O options over the stock breakout cable. But in general, I want to prioritize the accuracy of the sound over the expandability of the options, so I'm happy to stick with the stock breakout cable using a TS 1/4 Phone to RCA if it will have a more accurate and less degraded result. But if it simply achieves the same result, I would rather pay a little extra to have the same sound quality and the expandability of the breakout box.

So I guess it comes down to, is XLR to RCA any better/worse than TS 1/4 to RCA? And that probably should have been my original question. And, as always, you're right, gold plating is so often a throw-away...


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Richard Crowley
Re: What's the bottleneck in this audio solution?
on Mar 29, 2012 at 2:45:47 pm

It does not appear that there is ANY difference between the balanced TRS outputs from the stock cable vs. the XLR outputs on the breakout box. I would be quite surprised if there was any active circuitry in the breakout box. It appears to be simply a convenience, mainly for the XLR outputs (which you don't need with your unbalanced destination).

Certainly, if you have a ground loop or ambient EMI noise problem, a transformer like the Ebtech is a life-saver. But under controlled conditions in your own studio, the fewer links in the chain the better. And remember that people go to extreme lengths to avoid transformers anywhere where accuracy is desired. if you really must use transformers and you care about better than average sound quality I would pay the premium for something like Jensen transformers.
http://www.jensen-transformers.com/dm2xx.html


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Ty Ford
Re: What's the bottleneck in this audio solution?
on Mar 29, 2012 at 3:49:44 am

Hello Peter and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

A USB I/O has been known to cause latency (delay) although not always. If you'll be having someone doing VO, latency is a pain in the cans.

Regards,

Ty Ford
Audio Forum Leader


Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Jordan Wolf
Re: What's the bottleneck in this audio solution?
on Mar 29, 2012 at 5:07:07 am

Hey All,

Any device with one or more conversions between the analog and digital domain(s) will have some amount of latency due to the processing involved to convert the voltage from an analog waveform into 1's and 0's that the computer can understand and manipulate. There are various ways to reduce latency, but it will always be a part of digital processing. Most people are comfortable with 10ms or less; most interfaces are capable of 3ms or less nowadays.

The main thing for what most of the readers here need to consider is that, unless you are hearing both the original signal AND the affected signal at the same time, you don't have to worry about the latency.

Another term is "propagation delay", which more specifically refers to the combined A/D and D/A latency times to arrive at the total delay from input to output. I deal with this in my Sound Reinforcement work when using a DSP to processing loudspeakers or when interfacing digital equipment with analog signal chains. In my line of work, it's definitely audible sometimes…which is never a good thing.

Wolf
<><


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Ty Ford
Re: What's the bottleneck in this audio solution?
on Mar 29, 2012 at 12:06:24 pm

Jordan, my friend,

Over the last few months I have had personal experience with small USB devices owned by my students. In one situation, the same box was quite unusable with one Mac-based DAW software, but OK with Audacity, all due to latency. I'm not sure why we had this problem. We did due diligence in searching for a Low Latency mode, but couldn't find one. So please proceed carefullly.

I've been using Pro Tools LE ( now just Pro Tool 10) with Firewire interfaces and have never had a problem with latency. My preference remains Firewire over USB. Given that Firewire will slowly disappear, I'm not sure how that will affect me, but I'll find out. :)

Jordan, can you list some USB, software/hardware solutions that work?

Regards,

Ty Ford


Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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