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June 21, 2007

Native Instruments Audio8 vs. Edirol FA-101 to digitize vinyl (a not so scientific analysis)


I just started to digitize some vinyl using the Audio8 into Ableton Live.

I conducted a not so scientific test between Audio8 interface and previous my digitizing setup.

I was running Technics 1200 turntable (shure m44 cart) > rolls phono preamp > inputs 1+2 with gain control on an edirol fa-101 to the mac > input channel into ableton live with a Tracks Limiter plugin then bus output of that channel to a new channel to record the audio file.

New setup with Audio8 is almost the same.

Turntable > Audio8 > Mac. Since there is no gain control on the Audio8, I use the Utility Plug In in Ableton to boost level on the input channel (which I do need to do a little, and then adjust left/right balance with the width parameter on the Utility plug-in> still use the Tracks Limiter and bus over the output to a separate track to record the file to disc.

My basic testing of recording the same record with both setups, I tried to eyeball the peak level meters in Live as best I could to capture an even volume. In my listening tests of a/b’ing the tracks by editing the two files to play in sync and simply muting track 1 & 2 back and forth, i could certainly hear some sonic differences between the two rigs.

I did not employ any spectral analysis or any other measurement devices, it was just a pure subjective listening between the two files both recorded at 96Khz and 24 bit wav.

I preferred the sound of the Audio8 over the Rolls>Edirol setup. The Rolls/Edirol sounded perhaps a touch louder maybe in the midrange frequencies, but, it also had a tad more brittle or harsher tone. The Audio8 maybe a touch quieter in volume/punch, produced a bit more even/pleasing sound. Louder doesn’t always mean better, right?

So, in conclusion, for now.. i’m recording my Vinyl through the Audio8 into live at 96K and 24 Bit wav files. I then convert the wav files in iTunes using the Blacktree iTunes LAME converter to make 320kbps constant bit rate stereo mp3 files. I’m so far pleased with the results, until I find or hear about something better. Can probably hand it to the chips in the Audio 8 and a built in phono preamp and just being a newer piece of hardware that made me come to this decision.