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Analog vs Digital recording test

Rhiza

Inspired
Hi guys, just for fun I decided to test the difference when recording an Axe FX directly into a RME fireface 400, the analog way and then the digital way.
The results were... Interesting.
the signal chain is: Axe FX II --> Analog 1 and 2 and SPDIF --> RME fireface 400
I used Mogami wires identical in length, using Neutrik Jacks and RCA jacks.
These files were recorded and exported in 48 khz and 24 bits before being uploaded to soundcloud.
In my opinion, the digital sample sounds better, with more low end and more high end.
The analog sample sounds good too, and loss of frequencies is barely audible, especially in compact disc or Mp3 quality.
the conversion from soundcloud makes it less audible, but in the studio I heard a difference in the bass and treble frequencies.
The reason for this is that the guitar signal is converted one more time than needed.
The analog signal chain goes Analog converted to digital, then from digital back to analog, out through analog 1 and 2 outputs, then into an analog input of the RME Fireface 400, then back to digital to be recorded on the hard-drive, then from digital back to analog into my monitors.
but the SPDIF signal only goes through two stages of conversion: analog to digital, then digital to analog.
This is equivalent to plugging my monitors directly into my Axe FX II.
So by recording through SPDIF Into my sound-card of choice, I loose no tone!
I would recommend recording/monitoring through USB, but if the converters on the sound-card is better, in theory you would have a better "image" of what the preset sounds like.

Analog: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5576791/Axe%20FX%20II/Analog.wav





Digital: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5576791/Axe%20FX%20II/Digital.wav


 
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guittarzzan

Inspired
Unless you're running through some high end analog gear or trying to capture a particular room sound, there's no reason not to just go digital in. I agree that the digital recording sounds better in your example and that probably because the RME mic pre and a/d conversion is not doing you any favors. :) If you were running through a nice preamp, tube or ss, and great converters, you may like the coloration added to the tone, but maybe not. I would put my faith in Fractal's a/d any day over RME's.

thanks for sharing,
Steve
 

Drama

Inspired
I prefer recording via my Ensemble personally. I don't record via inputs with pre's though. The pre's in the Ensemble are great but the coloration isn't too favourable with most of my patches.
 

knoll

Inspired
I agree that the digital recording sounds better in your example and that probably because the RME mic pre and a/d conversion is not doing you any favors. :) If you were running through a nice preamp, tube or ss, and great converters, you may like the coloration added to the tone, but maybe not. I would put my faith in Fractal's a/d any day over RME's.
I think he didn't go through RME mic preamps but instead used the line ins which should be quite flat.

I would put my faith in both, Fractal and RME. I thought RME is considered to have good a/d/a. Am I wrong?
 

guittarzzan

Inspired
I think he didn't go through RME mic preamps but instead used the line ins which should be quite flat.

I would put my faith in both, Fractal and RME. I thought RME is considered to have good a/d/a. Am I wrong?
In the recording world RME is generally considered adequate, but certainly not a top tier converter. Cliff seems to have a no compromise approach to this thing so considering that fact, the price of the unit and using my ears, I would say that unless you're going to go through some very nice outboard gear, you won't likely do any better with your sound than just going digital out from the Axe. Going analog out into a mediocre a/d box is just putting one more, unecessary conversion in the process for really no reason. My two cents.
 

Rhiza

Inspired
Well you guys are right about most of it. I should have explained that I went "Line in" on the RME fireface 400. So no coloration by a preamp.
I've noticed that there are some pro artist who use the Axe FX, are actually just using the analog signal of the axe FX instead of digital.
I'll upload the tracks on dropbox so you can take a listen to the files without conversion from soundcloud.
I have to say that I'm impressed with the A/D D/A conversion on the Axe FX 2, I think it sounds awesome!
And to answer your question about RME: RME products are for middle priced customers. There are better converters on the market but it's mostly High-end (Lynx, Prism sound and such)
Personally I prefer RME over Apogee, not just for the great conversion, but also because of the features and stability. There is so many functions and things you manipulate to your liking!
But let's not go off topic here please.

Either way, I hope this test I made can show new comers that they should stick to digital when recording into a DAW. May it be SPDIF or USB.
 
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sonofmickel

Inspired
Personally I kind of like the Analog version. It had a soft smoothness in the low mids. The digital seemed really tight and "unfriendly". They sound almost like they were eq'd differently. Analog has a roll off of the highs and the Digital has a high-pass and a upper-mid-boost. What is up with that?

I reserve the right to change my mind. I may have already changed my favorite, I am liking the brighter Digital now...
 

Rhiza

Inspired
well, the thing about cables is mostly what frequencies gets cut out, so the wires have a major factor as well yes!
I wouldn't call it coloration, I would call it loss of frequencies. Very often low quality wires will give the guitar a very scooped sound. The lows and highs would be cut off.
But as I stated before, I use mogami wires, and they should be pretty high quality and give a decent and wide range of audio quality.
I'm still impressed how close the analog is to the digital. Just shows what good wires and decent converters can do.
This was a fun test, and I'm happy that so many people responded to this :)
Since we are talking techy stuff here, does anyone know what converters are in the Axe FX II?
 

FractalAudio

Administrator
Fractal Audio Systems
Moderator
We use the flagship Cirrus converters along with Analog Devices "Butler" op-amps. Film caps where possible. All I/O to the converters is balanced to provide optimum SNR and distortion performance. One of our op-amps costs ten times what is commonly found in other products.
 

Tone Seeker

Forum Addict
We use the flagship Cirrus converters along with Analog Devices "Butler" op-amps. Film caps where possible. All I/O to the converters is balanced to provide optimum SNR and distortion performance. One of our op-amps costs ten times what is commonly found in other products.
Cliff, would most of this apply to the Ultra as well?

Terry.
 

Rhiza

Inspired
We use the flagship Cirrus converters along with Analog Devices "Butler" op-amps. Film caps where possible. All I/O to the converters is balanced to provide optimum SNR and distortion performance. One of our op-amps costs ten times what is commonly found in other products.
Well thank you for the info! :)
 

Stratman68

Fractal Fanatic
I simply do not want to record at 48k. I have many projects I am adding to and they are all recorded 24\44.1. I know I can convert but I don't want to. Just me of course. All I do is record mainly.
 

Rhiza

Inspired
I simply do not want to record at 48k. I have many projects I am adding to and they are all recorded 24\44.1. I know I can convert but I don't want to. Just me of course. All I do is record mainly.
I know a lot of people who record only at 44.1
Many don't see the point in filling up the harddrive with 48k if the tracks are being lowered in quality by Compact disc and mp3 anyway.
 

larryseyer

Inspired
I use rme stuff day in and day out. They're great.

I also have a Pacific Microsonics HDCD Model 1 ($20,000 approx when new) and I also have a Benchmark Media D/A so I know what good converters should sound like.

RME is very close in sound to the higher end stuff. In some cases they even sound better. But that mostly depends on the source. But I would not hesitate to use RME converters for ANY serious recording project.

That said, I do almost everything at 44k1 (most of my stuff is music projects). I find that the conversion to 44k1 from 48k is not pretty. In fact, I prefer recording analog from a 48k only device.

But I don't have my Axe-fx (yet) so I look forward to the A/B

Curious. Did you have the RME clock to the fractal SPDIF digital out? Does the axe-fx have word clock in?


L
 

Rhiza

Inspired
Don't get me wrong. If I had the money, i would still buy RME!
Nothing matches the build quality, stability and ease of use.
Anyhoo, I used the clock from
Axe fx. No word clock. Was very easy to do in the settings menu :)
 
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