Converters


#15

All the conversion is done within the ES-8. Tthe ES-8 generates an internal clock and samples the inputs at the selected clock frequency and converts the samples to 24 bit integers and sends them serially to the host via USB. Likewise the outputs are received via USB, converted from digital to analogue signals and output from the ES-8. With an active ADAT connection the clock can be sourced from the ADAT signal, but otherwise operation is the same. From looking at the user manual, it looks like connecting 2 ES-8s via ADAT would work, giving you 16 outputs and 8 inputs.


#16

Thanks for the rundown. I really don’t have room for another ES-8. Still makes me wonder about the ADC/DAC quality. Obviously the ES-8 is not intended for high end conversion.


#17

I guess it boils down to how good is good enough? The ES-8 supports sample rates to 96K which should be fast enough for anyone. The noise and THD specs are also pretty good. A dedicated audio-only interface might outperform it, but how would you judge? You can objectively measure noise, distortion, phase response etc. using very expensive lab equipment but the end user has no choice but to use the signals they have access to. If you use Audulus for example to compare two units, how would you know which one was the more accurate? You could use a microphone and compare the output to the original source, but now you’ve introduced several more elements into the mix. A $3000 Neuman mic is definitely better than a $80 Shure. The same is true of mic preamps. Personally I believe that particularly with respect to digital electronics you rapidly reach the point of diminishing returns. The quality of the analog circuitry front-ending the converter is obviously important and clock jitter can introduce unwanted artifacts, but once the analog to digital conversion has taken place it’s all just numbers. There may be some justification in a studio situation where you may be dealing with a large number of channels, but IMHO the high end consumer DAC/ADC market is more about separating the gullible from their money than any actual performance gains. It’s the same impulse that drives the high-end audio market in general. I once had a Best Buy salesperson try to sell me a $80 HDMI cable on the basis that it was very low noise, but HDMI is a digital signal and noise isn’t really a factor. As long as the cable meets the HDMI specs for bandwidth etc. it will work.


#18

These are obviously valid points and I trust your judgement on most of it.

To cut to the heart of it…If I ran my analog signal through just the ES-8 (remember, I have a ‘pure’ path right now), then I ran everything through this Lucid converter and A/B’d the two I am willing to wager that there would be a perceivable difference. Side by side perceivable. But I think the difference would be hard to detect without the A/B. But I don’t really know.

There is a video I wanted to post but I didn’t because I post too much here on the forum anyway. I found the whole video useful and entertaining in many ways. It fits well with this topic and I am sure someone will get something out of it.


#19

If there is any difference sonically, it would be most detectable on acoustic instruments, not synths. Synths don’t have as complex harmonic content as stuff like the human voice or guitar does. You’re not using the ES-8 to send audio in and out of a $20k compressor in a mastering studio - it’s more than adequate for any synth recording stuff.

Remember too that a lot of great hits were made back in 16-bit days - it still sounds good now. Has much more to do with recording technique and composition than it does the equipment.


#20

Not so sure. Depends on the patch. I am also a user of acoustic instruments.


#21

For most synth sounds, they have less complex harmonics. Also when you’re talking about recording accuracy, it’s accuracy to what? The original, right? But if you synthesize some wild new sound, we don’t really have a reference for what it’s “supposed” to sound like. So you’re not really losing anything if it sounds a teensy teeny tiny bit different.


#22

But then where do you draw a line? We like the quantness of the old samplers. When we shop for new samplers we want to know what chips are in there and whether they are worth it – when to go with the less expensive module and when to pay the extra few bucks for the mid range, just before we get into “diminishing returns.” But where is the line and how do you draw it?


#23

I think that ultimately it has to be a judgement call. What are you going to use to listen to the end result? If it’s a pair of earbuds plugged into an iPhone, just about anything will do. If you’re using a good set of speakers or headphones on a good quality amp then it might matter more. The bottom line is, if you’re happy with the sound and what you paid, you made a good choice. As @biminiroad points out, with a synthetic instrument you really have no basis for comparison other than I like the sound of this better than that. After all, I loved my Fender SuperReverb amp, but it hummed, had a very noticeable hiss, the reverb was very colored, and it was generally very distorted, since it was almost always running on ten. A horrible amplifier in a technical sense, but I loved the sound. Tube audio amps are still popular, not because they’re particularly accurate amplifiers, but because they’re not.


#24

@biminiroad, I would like to add that most of the music of my generation was made using 8 or 16 track analog tape running at 15 IPS. No digital technology was involved. You would record until you ran out of tracks then mix down until you had some more room. Ultimately you bounced down to a stereo master. Editing sometimes involved physically cutting the tape and splicing it back together. Each generation of recording added more noise and distortion to the end product. By today’s standards, the technology was actually pretty bad, but we still got some incredible music. The digital revolution has allowed all of us the ability to do very high quality multitrack recording for very little money.
I find it ironic that just when the technology makes very high quality music reproduction possible, that same technology has changed the way most people listen to music. The iPod, earbuds and highly compressed MP3’s basically killed high fidelity music reproduction for most people. MTV, the music video and auto-tune made appearances more important than musical talent for the mass market. There is certainly good audio equipment still being made and there are plenty of talented people still around, but the music industry is a very different animal these days. Bluetooth speakers? What’s wrong with a few wires. It ticks me off that iTunes is still delivering compressed audio when we now have plenty of bandwidth available. At some point high fidelity music will be a very small niche market. Enough rant from an old guy. At least you can still buy a decent set of studio monitors.


#25

Empires have always caught fire and, thankfully, the monks have tended to run for the hills with the scrolls tucked under their arms.

I should clarify though at least this. I am completely satisfied with the ES-8. However, seeing that it has ADAT I thought I would try to figure out what the options were in terms of adding I/O. When I saw the Lucid I thought maybe this is something much more interesting than the latest audio interface. Especially because it is accessory hardware. So if I just loved the sound of it I could get the next MOTU/fireface/etc. in a few years, but keep the converters.

But I understand. It’s the quality of the music not the audio equipment that matters.


#26

I mean, today people go to great lengths to add tape hiss into their compositions intentionally. I think artistry trumps fidelity.

not to be a wet willy, but My friend has one of these and it seems to sound pretty good.


#27

I don’t think that tape hiss really has a place in this discussion. Equipment from the 2000’s is not vintage.

The company that makes those has been behaving in ways that has very little to do with what I like about the modular synthesizer and broader synth crowd. I was looking at that unit, since it is half the price of the other guys. Once you go with the other guys things start to get up to the price of the Lucid. I am not sure what I’ll do, but there are other things that interest me between now and then. However, it is nice to know what to look for so that if something does come up then you already have an idea of what might make a piece of gear worthwhile.


#28

The ubiquitous presence of ‘lo-fi’ electronic music techniques for the last few years has oversaturated the style. In the thread here there is a subject that isn’t being directly discussed but has been mentioned. While the original post had to do with converters, which samplers incorporate, sampling as an art in itself has a role here.

The thing is, I am very interested in sampling my euro rack. The idea that I could make a kick, snare, hats, etc., then sample them and patch my rack in other ways, but then be able to use the samples I just made is one thing I want to be able to do. The thing is though, I want to be able to sample on the fly so that creating and then sequencing drums could be performative. I think it would be pretty cool if someone synthesized their drums for a set in a few minutes then started sequencing everything. Not all modular samplers can sample on the fly though. Some only allow you to load onto an SD card, then play.

I also have pretty much maxed out my case. While the elekron Digitakt seems like a great unit, at one point I was looking at the Bastl sampler that came out a few years ago. Here is the specs:

  • monophonic mono sampler
  • microSD card (storing + recording samples, storing presets)
  • 6 sounds with full adjustments storable in a preset at once
  • 60 presets in 10 banks (6 preset per bank), stored as .txt files on microSD card
  • wav sample playback from microSD card (mono, 22050 Hz, 8 or 16 bit, two letter file name)
  • 8-bit 22050Hz wav recording via line input or onboard microphone
  • hold button
  • sample rate (tuned or free run)
  • crush
  • start, end position with repeat, instant loop
  • granular settings: grain size and shift speed (positive or negative)
  • amplitude envelope attack and release
  • MIDI Input – responds to note, cc and clock (synchronize loop and grains)
  • MIDI side chain envelope restart

Also a video:

I had a Teenage Engineering KO! I even 3d printed my own case.


But I found the workflow bothered me. It felt like it was close to the fun of Korg’s Gadget DAW, but too quickly led to getting stuck in repetitive loops. The sampling also seemed finicky and syncing with my equipment at the time was just not what I was looking for.

So I am hesitant to consider a ‘neat’ sampler instead of a full featured unit like the Digitakt. However, the DIY kit of the microgranny is tempting. I got a new soldering iron for Christmas.

It is monophonic though. That’s problematic for arranging drums; which is one of my issues with the ‘lo-fi stuff’. You spend a lot of time programming the machines and fighting their quirks, then you hit some serious limitations you might not have forseen. If you already have your gaps filled with your gear it’s fine, because you are after the ‘neat’ factor. But if you are trying to functionally achieve something, there can be some crushing surprises.

The Lucid converters were not of interest so much for this kind of sampling. But I would still like to be able to do this kind of sampling on the fly.


#29

Not many standalone samplers out there. Have you looked at this?


Specs look pretty good. No sequencer built in but on-the-fly stereo recording. The video is worth watching.


#30

I bought an Akai LPD8 a while back. When I opened it it just felt clunky and I returned it right away. He starts off the video saying something like, “its just a light plastic thing, but it has many features…”

The fact that it is a box with 16 pads in that form but it doesn’t do any sequencing makes it a no go for me. Also, everyone has different taste. Some people like to get a deal on things, and the fact that they got it for a good price brings up their cheer. I am not like this. I am OCD about stuff. So if something is slightly off I can’t stop thinking about it. The upside is that when something is really well put together I get a lot out of that fact.

I appreciate the recommendation though. If it were a vintage Akai sampler I would be interested. But then you start to go down the road of N.I.'s Machine and all of that. Sampling as a core production technique is not what I am after. Not sure if that makes sense.


#31

Moving back into conversion. Once again this dude has produced a solid video. At some point I recommend scrolling down through some comments to see the calibre of differing opinions.


#32

What’s kind of funny is that guy kind of gets it wrong how the sampling theory actually works with frequencies approaching the nyquist frequency and there are tons of comments pointing this out to him. I do enjoy his videos though, I think he has a good personality.

The Octatrack is still the best sampler I know of for doing this. The workflow is arcane but the crossfader and mute controls make it a very playable instrument despite this. Loopop also happened to just put out a video on it.

Despite this, I still prefer the digitakt. You have to sample, then assign to a track before you can start chopping and tweaking but unless you are really looking for that glitched out IDM feel, it’s fine. Digitakt is almost more like the analog series where sound design is concerned and is deep enough you can use it as 8x mono synths.


#33

Yes I suspect the Digitakt is the way to go. I feel like the Octatrack would just confuse what I have going. It’s also alot bigger. Although I do like the whole idea of using a crossfader so that you can have something going but also prepare something in secret, then bring it in.

I did enjoy the comment reel. However, in these cases, someone basically sticks their neck out, some know-it-alls correct them, then the know-it-alls get corrected. I would call this ‘communal knowledge’.

I get a lot wrong on here. But I figure we have enough proud quiet lurkers and not enough people actually interacting with people who build the modules, like yourself.

It seems like the cool thing is to roll up, say nothing, then bust out some creation you made. But I find that not enough people seem to stick around after. At the same time, the pace here is nice. :no_mouth:


#34

Yeah the truth-seeking game is a pretty special one. If we keep ourselves humble and don’t pretend we cannot be wrong, together we can cancel out our individual confirmation biases. Of course we will still have collective majority biases, but over time we eventually get something approximating the truth to a reasonable degree.

There is one video on the sample theorem that was really good because it showed how sample-impulses can reconstruct analog signals (below the Nyquist freq.) with perfect fidelity by phase cancellation. I can’t for the life of me remember what the channel was or the video title.

That’s kind of the way I feel. It may not always be like this, so we might as well enjoy the forum the way it is.