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Where have all the ADC's gone - Phono biased especially


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For anyone interested in the Parks Audio Puffin a quick update / clarification from Shannon Parks:

  • Currently only offer one SPDIF output option - either with an 1) RCA coaxial output or a 2) Toslink/optical output.
  •  The upgraded Puffins currently ordered from my website are now at 24/96. Two months ago, I've changed to a new hardware revision that permits it, as the older version had to down sample the SPDIF to 24/48 due to a clock limitation.

 

Edited by gibbo9000
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On 12/09/2020 at 3:04 PM, Ittaku said:

Don't forget the Parks Audio Puffin, phono stage completely in digital with a myriad of equalisation curves and the option of pure digital out if you want to use a separate DAC/DAC integrated amp.  http://parksaudiollc.com/ The quality of this is decidedly above mid-fi.

If you want to capture the digital permanently, you can attach it to an SPDIF to USB converter and record it on your PC. The most affordable option is from miniDSP. https://www.minidsp.com/products/usb-audio-interface/usbstreamer-box

So $639USD + $105USD. For a bit over a grand AUD you get an extremely high quality phono stage, multiple equalisation curves, surface noise silencer, digital out, and capture to PC.

$760 from Amazon Au, https://www.amazon.com.au/Puffin-preamp-Parks-Audio-systems/dp/B07DKHM2HS

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Before managing to get my grubby little paws on a PS Audio NuWave Phono and eliminating a few cables to keep my Home-CEO happy I was using an (old) Edirol FA-66 ( https://www.roland.com/au/products/fa-66/specifications/ ) with a Macbook Pro for digitising vinyl  vire Firewire (in my case to take with me when I travel!) as well as sending an optical digital signal to my Cyrus DAC. 

 

Things have certainly moved on since the days of the Edirol but from a price/performance perspective I had no cause for complaint.

 

@gibbo9000 - I'm not sure where in Melbourne you are and given lockdown it's harder to pass things around but if you'd like to have a play around with the Edirol to get a feel for how the 'pro audio' style boxes might fit in for you let me know and I'll try and dig it out of the garage while I'm in there this weekend.  

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1 hour ago, PSherriff said:

Before managing to get my grubby little paws on a PS Audio NuWave Phono and eliminating a few cables to keep my Home-CEO happy I was using an (old) Edirol FA-66 ( https://www.roland.com/au/products/fa-66/specifications/ ) with a Macbook Pro for digitising vinyl  vire Firewire (in my case to take with me when I travel!) as well as sending an optical digital signal to my Cyrus DAC. 

Great pick up of the PS Audio.  The Edirol looks like a great Swiss Army knife of conversion - and another one that joins the 'where have they all gone' list.  Given I already have a competent phono pre-amp this is exactly the kind of device that would do the trick, as would the Behringer.  Certainly some real options in the pro audio field that this thread has drawn to my attention.

Will PM

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. .  and within a few hours of each other both an RME ADI FS V2 and an Apogee Rosetta A/D appear in the Classifieds . .

 

Note: then I checked and it is Pro version of the RME that has Analog In for A2D

Edited by gibbo9000
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Hi all,

 

This might be a dumb question but on the ADI-2 Pro FS how do you attach a turntable? The analogue inputs are "two servo-balanced analog inputs on combo XLR / TRS jacks" – does this mean that the TRS jacks are compatible with RCA cables? How do you ground a turntable in this configuration?

 

https://www.rme-audio.de/adi-2-pro-fs.html

I'm another person interested in the possibilities of room correction via MiniDSP etc ... 

Edited by Art Watson
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1 minute ago, Art Watson said:

Hi all,

 

This might be a dumb question but on the ADI-2 Pro FS how do you attach a turntable? The analogue inputs are "two servo-balanced analog inputs on combo XLR / TRS jacks" – does this mean that the TRS jacks are compatible with RCA cables? How do you ground a turntable in this configuration?

 

https://www.rme-audio.de/adi-2-pro-fs.html

I'm another person interested in the possibilities of room correction vis MiniDSP etc ... 

You would need an RCA-TRS adapter. Something like this (no idea if it's any good, just for illustrative purposes).

 

As for grounding, you would ground your TT to your phono stage just like you do now. You can't plug the turntable directly into the RME as it doesn't have a phono stage in it

 

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On 12/09/2020 at 12:13 PM, gibbo9000 said:

Have been working through an issue that has come up in a number of threads recently - analogue to digital converters for integrating vinyl into digitally based, mid level systems.   And I am thinking integration for day-to-day playing of vinyl, not just for connection to computer for digitising.  Mid level for me is solid Phono preamp around Rega Fono MM/MC level. 

From what I can tell the landscape looks something like:

I use the Teac/Tascam branded unit,

 

https://tascam.com/us/product/uh-7000/top

 

main_en_uh-7000.jpg

uh-7000_i_rear_perspective.jpg

 

not sure if available here, I got mine from overseas... and they work on our local voyage as happens... been using some years for vinyl rips... for streaming, the DAP and car :D 

 

 

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48 minutes ago, Art Watson said:

The analogue inputs are "two servo-balanced analog inputs on combo XLR / TRS jacks"

Also struggled with that question.  My takeout is that the analogue jacks in the professional gear seem to be combined XLR and TRS.  So in HiFi world it is just an unbalanced RCA connection to balanced XLR.  So an RCA to XLR adapter or cable would also work similar to TRS to RCA adapter mentioned above.

So for these type devices I am aligned with sir zingmore - turntable connection to phono preamp with associated grounding, and then RCA out of phono preamp (in my case) to ADC using RCA to XLR.  From my reading, for short runs RCA / unbalanced cables should be fine, with XLR / balanced better over longer distances.  

The bit I don't really understand is the role of the 'transformer' based unbalanced to balanced cables versus the static/wired adapters (and also suggested in things like the Behringer SRC manual.

It does feel a bit untidy and will be interested to do some listening tests vs the Schiit Jil via RPi.  

As per the title for this thread - it is good to hear of additional options available in the pro world - but there must be limited demand for this type of solution if the HiFi side are exiting stage right apart from specialists like Parks Audio etc.

Gibbo

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If you're really keen, I've read of people making their own XLR cables to match the turntable cartridge load impedance then doing the RIAA phono equalisation in software.  

 

Pretty much any audio interface for a PC from 2002 onwards would do this equalisation in software with a decent ADC stage. I've got an ageing Motu Ultralite on the shelf behind me that I'd drag out if I needed to do any mobile ADC work. Most of the time I just use my PreSonus StudioLive digital mixer if I need to digitise anything at home. 

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1 hour ago, sir sanders zingmore said:

As for grounding, you would ground your TT to your phono stage just like you do now. You can't plug the turntable directly into the RME as it doesn't have a phono stage in it

Doh, of course it doesn't have a phono stage! Not sure why I thought it did – momentary lapse of logic. Thanks for clearing this up, and for the link to the RCA–TRS adapter.

For my money though, if it's purely a phono ADC that's needed, this makes the Puffin seem like a great bet. 

For me, I guess I'm still looking at Dirac-enabled digital preamps like the NAD C 658 (though the folks at ASR bag its capabilities) or the MiniDSP SHD, which would still require a phono stage. (I also wish the SHD had just a couple more line-level unbalanced inputs.)

 

1 hour ago, gibbo9000 said:

Also struggled with that question.  My takeout is that the analogue jacks in the professional gear seem to be combined XLR and TRS.  So in HiFi world it is just an unbalanced RCA connection to balanced XLR.  So an RCA to XLR adapter or cable would also work similar to TRS to RCA adapter mentioned above.

So for these type devices I am aligned with sir zingmore - turntable connection to phono preamp with associated grounding, and then RCA out of phono preamp (in my case) to ADC using RCA to XLR.  From my reading, for short runs RCA / unbalanced cables should be fine, with XLR / balanced better over longer distances.

This all makes sense Gibbo!

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58 minutes ago, Art Watson said:

Doh, of course it doesn't have a phono stage! Not sure why I thought it did – momentary lapse of logic. Thanks for clearing this up, and for the link to the RCA–TRS adapter.

For my money though, if it's purely a phono ADC that's needed, this makes the Puffin seem like a great bet. 

For me, I guess I'm still looking at Dirac-enabled digital preamps like the NAD C 658 (though the folks at ASR bag its capabilities) or the MiniDSP SHD, which would still require a phono stage. (I also wish the SHD had just a couple more line-level unbalanced inputs.)

 

This all makes sense Gibbo!

sounds like we are considering very similar alternatives :)

 

I guess it depends on what you wanted to use the RME for. The "pro" version is quite expensive if all you are using it for is as an AD converter.

I've considered using it to replace my preamp altogether - then it's more of a value proposition.

 

But I'm also thinking about the Dirac preamps - for me the MiniDSP SHD ticks the right boxes (apart from the current issue with Roon certification) 

 

Not sure which way I'll go

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27 minutes ago, sir sanders zingmore said:

But I'm also thinking about the Dirac preamps - for me the MiniDSP SHD ticks the right boxes (apart from the current issue with Roon certification) 

Yeah, Roon would be great to have, too. Doesn't it work with the SHD? I.e. it's only issues around it getting Roon Ready certification? I just noticed that our OP, Gibbo, was in the MIniDSP forum asking about Roon and volume control. (Also, sorry – I don't want to get this thread too far off topic!)

 

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1 minute ago, Art Watson said:

Yeah, Roon would be great to have, too. Doesn't it work with the SHD? I.e. it's only issues around it getting Roon Ready certification? I just noticed that our OP, Gibbo, was in the MIniDSP forum asking about Roon and volume control. (Also, sorry – I don't want to get this thread too far off topic!)

 

Yes it's the Roon Ready stuff that I'm talking about. Kinda important to me that it works with Roon otherwise that's a bit of a deal breaker.

I'll wait and see how that resolves itself 

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41 minutes ago, Art Watson said:

Gibbo, was in the MIniDSP forum asking about Roon and volume control

Maybe wandering a bit - but it is all part of the same integration issue we are working around / through.  From my read of the Roon and miniDSP issue (and NAD M10 etc.) I sense DIrac enabled devices got into the too hard basket from both sides - particularly around Roon's desire to declare the full digital decoding stream for their interface for any bit of music playing.  Feels like just too many moving parts with Dirac in there as well and a bit of a stalemate.  The miniDSP guys suggest there has now been a meeting of minds around a potential solution and that this is now not far away - and that is supported by the Roon Labs community support input.  Not sure they will make it by the 21st, but hopeful soon after.  And as a committed SHD user I eagerly await that as I find it a brilliant device as a digital preamp -- source selector / volume / PEQ / X-Over /Roon End point / Dirac processor etc.  Sometimes wonder whether the full SHD (vs Studio which I have) would be a better choice, but expensive change now. 

Just need to find a neat, way to do the A2D from TT / Phono pre-amp that provides one of Optical / SPDIF / AES output to SHD, and also USB out to PC for digitising without too many adapters / converters or devices in train - and get the right 'quality' price point to match rest of system. 

Gibbo

 

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Great info there Gibbo. I must admit I haven't even tried Roon yet but I know a lot of people swear by it. My digital chain is pretty elementary, at least at the moment. MacBook to DAC with the phone controlling Spotify. (Not even Tidal, after I tried it years ago and experienced too many dropouts. This was pre-NBN and I haven't picked it up again yet. If I'm honest, on my system I couldn't tell the difference between lossy Spotify and lossless Tidal. But Spotify just worked, and had the better catalogue and interface.)

 

I always thought I'd try Roon if I buy an iPad, since I own every other darn Apple product LOL.

 

Now I really am off-topic. 

 

1 hour ago, gibbo9000 said:

Not sure they will make it by the 21st, but hopeful soon after.


What I meant to ask was is there some significance to the 21st? Of this month?

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2 hours ago, gibbo9000 said:

I find it a brilliant device as a digital preamp -- source selector / volume / PEQ / X-Over /Roon End point / Dirac processor etc

Can you control volume via Roon or do you have to do it via the SHD remote?

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1 hour ago, Art Watson said:

What I meant to ask was is there some significance to the 21st? Of this month?

Yes - Roon have basically got tired of what they regard as a bunch of freeloading HiFi component vendors that claim 'Roon Ready' without being certified.  So last week they announced an ultimatum that as of 21st September you would not be able to enable a non Roon Ready certified device on Roon, or renable an existing one.  This caught a number of us by surprise (including miniDSP SHD users) and concerned about implications for our ongoing usage, and certainly phased a few potential purchasers.  Ensuing public s$#% fight between users, vendors and Roon COO played out in public in Roon Labs Community Forum made entertaining reading, and rapidly led to some backing down on the ultimatum and apparent new levels of cooperation with vendors. 

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That sort of behaviour makes me very wary of subscription services and locked-in ecosystems. I wish vendors could get together on an open standard. It was looking like mpd might have been that standard for a few minutes, but it appears not. 

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1 hour ago, sir sanders zingmore said:

Can you control volume via Roon or do you have to do it via the SHD remote?

Either, but with a nuance.  The Roon options available for the SHD (in current implementation) are Fixed Volume or Device Volume.

  • Under Fixed Volume, Roon outputs at 100% and volume control is via SHD remote or front panel knob only.
  • Under Device Volume, Roon and SHD volumes 'integrate' for lack of a better word.  So SHD physically does the volume controlling, but can be changed from Roon, SHD remote or SHD knob.  Change volume in Roon and it changes on SHD.  Change in SHD and the change is reflected in Roon volume display.

So that is a long winded way of saying it is a vaguely intelligent integration where you can control volume via Roon or SHD inputs, but Roon isn't physically doing the volume controlling.  So mine stays in Device Volume mode and has no issues.

Hope that makes sense.  If not blame on Vic Covid crazy!

Edited by gibbo9000
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6 minutes ago, gibbo9000 said:

Either, but with a nuance.  The Roon options available for the SHD (in current implementation) are Fixed Volume or Device Volume.

  • Under Fixed Volume, Roon outputs at 100% and volume control is via SHD remote or front panel knob only.
  • Under Device Volume, Roon and SHD volumes 'integrate' for lack of a better word.  So SHD physically does the volume controlling, but can be changed from Roon, SHD remote or SHD knob.  Change volume in Roon and it changes on SHD.  Change in SHD and the change is reflected in Roon volume display.

So that is a long winded way of saying it is a vaguely intelligent integration where you can control volume via Roon or SHD inputs, but Roon isn't physically doing the volume controlling.  So mine stays in Device Volume mode and has no issues.

Hope that makes sense.  If not blame on Vic Covid crazy!

Makes perfect sense, thanks 👍

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15 hours ago, gibbo9000 said:

Yes - Roon have basically got tired of what they regard as a bunch of freeloading HiFi component vendors that claim 'Roon Ready' without being certified.  So last week they announced an ultimatum that as of 21st September you would not be able to enable a non Roon Ready certified device on Roon, or renable an existing one.  This caught a number of us by surprise (including miniDSP SHD users) and concerned about implications for our ongoing usage, and certainly phased a few potential purchasers.  Ensuing public s$#% fight between users, vendors and Roon COO played out in public in Roon Labs Community Forum made entertaining reading, and rapidly led to some backing down on the ultimatum and apparent new levels of cooperation with vendors. 

Yikes! Glad to hear they've reached a truce - hopefully they can resolve the underlying issues too, especially for MiniDSP. 

 

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Back to the core ADC question.  Current search is purely for an ADC as I have a phono stage.

After some reading around the Behringer Ultramatch (@muon* suggestion) I was impressed with the reviews, and regard for the AKM A/D chip they use.  Also has a good mix of outputs for flexibility (Optical / SPDIF and AES/EBU).  The AES is useful as miniDSP SHD accepts it, and it keeps optical / SPDIF free on SHD for CDP and Cassette deck.  And Audiosmile do an Analog stage upgrade for it as well. 

So I grabbed one. It is wide with busy front panel, and as pro-audio doesn't have feet - and lockdown stops me going and grabbing some.  I have connected it from phono stage with 6 inch RCA interconnects and (at present) cheap RCA to XLR adapters, and optical to SHD.  Very easy to put in A/D mode and select bit depth / sampling frequency. 

And after half a dozen albums I am impressed.  Certainly on par with Schiit Jil if not better - great sound stage width and depth, and a clear 'warmth' of cartridge / TT coming through.  Chuck Mangione - Feels so Good (Audiophile Vinyl) a definite step up from streamed version.

So certainly not budget quality performance - feels well up to the task on Project Xpression / Ortofon Black./ Rega Fono MM feeding the SHD.
Next step to upgrade the cheap XLR adapters and try the AES/EBU connection to SHD - and get it some feet.  It is the 1RU silver fronted thing on top of CDP.

Gibbo

 

UMSml.JPG

Edited by gibbo9000
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  • 5 weeks later...

A month on I have now done some extended listening across the four devices I have been with. 

I have been looking at purely ADC's between line level output of phono pre-amp and digital inputs to miniDSP SHD / Kii 3's.

Bottom line is the Behringer Ultramatch, Uwe Beis AD24QS (Kit) and Schiit Jil are, IMHO, pretty much transparent and all more than competent for the task as pure ADCs.  The test for me has been playing with a couple of turntables and cartridge combos and all three show up the nuances / differences in the source combos, and deliver the sound stage and depth expected from the Kiis.  In terms of their utility:

  • Schiit Jil is great for ripping vinyl to digital given its USB out, but that is also its limitation.  It can solely connect to a USB host (read PC, for smarts and power) and needs an RPi or similar between it and digital inputs to SHD.  It (was) the most expensive and least flexible - perhaps that is why Schiit pulled the plug on it.  So it stays in the cupboard other than for digitising sessions.
  • The AD24QS is more flexible with SPDIF / TOSLINK out and a tiny form factor (pic attached in 3D printed box).  It requires an external 12 v power supply and can be set to a range of bit / sampling rates up to 24bit / 192kHz.  Kit is EUR 150 plus freight.  I put some notes in the DIY build thread on building it with adjustable gain - which I would do if I built one again. 
  • The Behringer Ultramatch is massive value for money as a swiss army knife for format conversion.  As an ADC has adjustable gain, formats up to 24/96, and also AES / EBU output along with SPDIF / TOSLINK.  Also has on board power supply (so just plug into 240 V mains).  Only drawbacks are feint transformer hum (mechanical) and its large form factor and sharp edges.

To my ears they are all pretty much transparent and solid / consistent in how they sound.  The Behringer using AES/EBU out is the one that has taken up residence in my system - partly because it frees up SPDIF and TOSLINK on miniDSP for CD and tape (now via AD24QS) and some mild but highly subjective preference for its control of mid frequencies at the margin.  On that last point, the <$100 48/96 switchable cheaper option is not bad - but if you feed it marginal female vocals or 'bright' piano recordings it is just a bit harsh - and that is the area where there may be slight but subtle differences between the others.

 

Gibbo

 

IMG20201001191905.jpg

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