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Upgrade speakers or Audio interface (or both)

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Upgrade speakers or Audio interface (or both)

Postby fdhartog » Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:56 pm

I'm considering upgrading the various components of my Hauptwerk set up and am wondering where I would get the most "bang for my buck". I currently have Behringer B2031A speakers and a Focusrite 6i6 audio interface.
In terms of sound quality what component would have a bigger impact and does it make sense to do this in phases or should I replace both at the same time?
Any input from the experts on this forum would be very much appreciated.
Thanks !
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Re: Upgrade speakers or Audio interface (or both)

Postby magnaton » Wed Nov 01, 2017 3:05 pm

I don't consider myself an expert but I'll answer anyway 8)

I personally think you should have a great sound now; name brand audio interface and active studio monitors. You didn't say how many channels you are running, is there a subwoofer and what sample sets you are using.

Quick comments on your current setup:
Forcusrite receives a lot of accolades for their pre-amp design and British EQ quality for studio sound. This means nothing with regards to HW since we are focused on the outputs (digital to analog). Regardless, the few setups I've heard with the Scarlett series have sounded good.
The Behringer 2031A is an excellent active monitor for Hauptwerk. Simply search for "2031A" on this forum or look at pictures of various Hauptwerk installs for confirmation. Professional and other user reviews confirm its 'wider than normal' sound field and a focus on midrange frequencies, both of which are perfect for pipe organ simulation!

Adding a decent active subwoofer would be a noticeable improvement.

The new crop of MOTU interfaces which includes the 24Ai and 24Ao models, say the sound rivals that of interfaces which costs twice as much (RME for example). Other brands of studio monitors around the 2031A price range you start to get into a personal preference decision. I doubt monitors costing a $100 more will give you $100 worth of better sound.

Without knowing more details of your current setup, my advice to enhance your sound would be to simply add more 2031A monitors and move into the multichannel arena. Spreading a chorus of pipe ranks across multiple speakers is thrilling and a definite upgrade. I currently have 8 Behringer 2031A monitors and every time I've added the next pair, I noticed an enhancement! There are several sample sets that are surround sound sets which use 4 to 6 separate channels. This takes it to the next step to simulate the cathedral or venue the pipe recordings were made. Now that's an upgrade!


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Re: Upgrade speakers or Audio interface (or both)

Postby josq » Wed Nov 01, 2017 4:51 pm

Most people that use a stereo or surround setup can benefit tremendously from room correction software (search the forum). If you don't use it, I would recommend to go for it before upgrading any components.
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Re: Upgrade speakers or Audio interface (or both)

Postby organtechnology » Wed Nov 01, 2017 5:24 pm

I am not an 'expert' either but I have heard some really good things about using 4 speakers and a subwoofer system with two speakers and the subwoofer in the front and the other two in the rear for 'Surround' sample sets and use Reaper and convolution reverb for the rear when using non-surround sample sets. The room correction would seem to be a good idea also as the 'bumps' in the room response are hard to correct otherwise.

I also agree with Danny that the Behringers 2031s are still hard to beat and you already own at least two of them.

Best regards,

Thomas
Complete VPO systems powered by Hauptwerk™. Real Wood Consoles, PC or MAC Computer Sound Modules, Audio for Home or Church.
info (at) organtechnology.com http://www.organtechnology.com

Authorized Hauptwerk Dealer; Milan Digital Audio Dealer..
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Re: Upgrade speakers or Audio interface (or both)

Postby fdhartog » Wed Nov 01, 2017 9:02 pm

Thanks Danny (and others) for your extensive response. Where it comes to audio and related components most people on this forum are experts in my opinion :)
I do like the idea of looking into multiple channels. I have done some reading up in the Hauptwerk manual but I'll probably need some advice in that area.

About my current set up : I have the Haarlem (Bavo) sample set (VoxusOrgans) which I really like.
I have 4 B2031 speakers which are using the 4 output ports on the audio interface. What I've been contemplating is having a separate set of speakers for the Great, Choir and Swell section of the organ. Not sure if I should do anything specific for the pedal section like a sub woofer. Since the audio interface has only four output ports I assume that I'll have to upgrade to one that has at least 6.
Any suggestions or recommendations will be much appreciated regardless whether you consider yourself an expert or not :)

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Re: Upgrade speakers or Audio interface (or both)

Postby magnaton » Wed Nov 01, 2017 11:53 pm

Hello Frits:

Your Scarlett 6i6 has an S/PDIF output port that you could use for an additional 2 channels. You would need to get a digital to audio converter and the right cable adapters to go from RCA to 1/4". Here is one example:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00F4ORTZ6?ref=emc_b_5_i

I reviewed the 6i6 owner's manual and unfortunately your 2 headphone jacks are tied to outputs 1&2 and 3&4 respectively. Otherwise you could squeeze out another 2 output channels using a 1/4" stereo Y-adapter and additional connectors/cables. A few other interfaces I've run across have this same design 'feature'.

MOTU and I think RME & Apollo interfaces offer discreet channels to all their audio outputs including the headphone jack. For example, I have one HW Alt Config that routes the console noises to the headphone jack which has inexpensive, self powered speakers connected via a Y-cable. So with this config I have 14 separate outputs functioning.

You could add a subwoofer to your current design and not use any output ports. Many active subs allow for a "signal pass through" to a pair of full range speakers. The Presonus Temblor T10 has a nice design as they have 1/4" (and XLR) inputs and outputs. So from the 6i6 you would send a signal pair to the Temblor's inputs then with an extra pair of 1/4" TRS (or XLR) cables connect your Behringer monitors from the Temblor's output ports. A nicely spec'd subwoofer definitely adds some bottom end to the 16' ranks. The Haarlem Bavo has a 32' flue so without a sub your missing its potential.

fdhartog wrote:What I've been contemplating is having a separate set of speakers for the Great, Choir and Swell section of the organ. Not sure if I should do anything specific for the pedal section like a sub woofer. Since the audio interface has only four output ports I assume that I'll have to upgrade to one that has at least 6.


Yes that is a classic design, having a speaker pair per division. Another design within Hauptwerk is to have multiple speakers in a single Audio Group. You assign an algorithm to this group on how notes and pipe ranks are divvied out to the number of speakers in that group. This allows all the speakers to share the load without any doubling. Going into further depth on this subject of mult-channel routing could quadruple the length of my response so I'd suggest you search the forum on multichannel audio design. For step-by-step details on multiple speakers in a single audio group, here is an excellent resource from Paramount Organ Works.
http://paramountorganworks.com/downloads/ParamountAudio.pdf

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Re: Upgrade speakers or Audio interface (or both)

Postby fdhartog » Wed Nov 08, 2017 2:05 pm

Hi Danny,

I read through your response again and looked into using the S/PDIF port for two additional speakers.
Being a novice I'm wondering if this single port functions the same as two regular output ports on the Audio interface. I noticed that the converter has two RCA output ports so I assume each port can be used for an individual speaker.
Hoep this question makes sense.

Thanks !

Frits
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Re: Upgrade speakers or Audio interface (or both)

Postby 1961TC4ME » Wed Nov 08, 2017 3:19 pm

fdhartog wrote:
I read through your response again and looked into using the S/PDIF port for two additional speakers.
Being a novice I'm wondering if this single port functions the same as two regular output ports on the Audio interface. I noticed that the converter has two RCA output ports so I assume each port can be used for an individual speaker.
Hoep this question makes sense.

Thanks !

Frits


Sorry to jump in, I saw the question and have done the same here myself using the S/PDIF output for addtional channels, so figured I'd give you your answer. I actually used the S/PDIF for an additional sub I picked up, but you can use it for an extra pair of speakers as well.

Yes, you are correct on all counts. You will need one of these simple converters and you will find them for less than even the asking price for this one >>>> https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product. ... 6ZP4058012

Marc
Last edited by 1961TC4ME on Thu Nov 09, 2017 12:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Upgrade speakers or Audio interface (or both)

Postby mdyde » Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:03 pm

It's probably also worth bearing in mind the audio quality of an S/PDIF DAC (converter), as it is with an audio interface itself. The quality of the S/PDIF DAC (converter), not the audio interface that it's connected to, will determine the audio quality.
Best regards,
Martin.

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Re: Upgrade speakers or Audio interface (or both)

Postby fdhartog » Wed Nov 08, 2017 10:28 pm

mdyde wrote:It's probably also worth bearing in mind the audio quality of an S/PDIF DAC (converter), as it is with an audio interface itself. The quality of the S/PDIF DAC (converter), not the audio interface that it's connected to, will determine the audio quality.


Martin, how can I tell if a converter is "good" one? Are there certain specs that I need to look for or are there certain brands that are known to be a good choice?

Thanks again for all the advice.

Frits
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Re: Upgrade speakers or Audio interface (or both)

Postby magnaton » Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:32 pm

fdhartog wrote:Being a novice I'm wondering if this single port functions the same as two regular output ports on the Audio interface. I noticed that the converter has two RCA output ports so I assume each port can be used for an
individual speaker.
Frits


Correct. The S/PDIF (output) is 2 channels (left and right) a coax cable (RCA cable) acts as a digital conduit. Thus the need for a DAC.

fdhartog wrote:
mdyde wrote:It's probably also worth bearing in mind the audio quality of an S/PDIF DAC (converter), as it is with an audio interface itself. The quality of the S/PDIF DAC (converter), not the audio interface that it's connected to, will determine the audio quality.


Martin, how can I tell if a converter is "good" one? Are there certain specs that I need to look for or are there certain brands that are known to be a good choice?

Thanks again for all the advice.

Frits


I'll too will jump back in. The S/PDIF is a digital output so yes you would need a decent DAC if indeed you wanted the retain the quality that is present in the standard outputs. In other words, audio interfaces focus their digital-to-audio acuity on their TRS outputs; the S/PDIF port is still in the digital domain.

I'm using a very nice, almost top of the line Pioneer home theatre deck which has an S/PDIF input and powers 2 pairs of passive studio monitors (Behringer 2031P to be exact). I route the "surround" or "reflective" ranks in a surround sound sample set to them. This works fine since these surround ranks represent the reflections in the venue; i.e. inherent lack of details. So if the comparative quality is a couple steps below the TRS outputs, its really okay in this configuration. Same should hold true for Marc's configuration as the subwoofer will only sound the lowest of frequencies.

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Re: Upgrade speakers or Audio interface (or both)

Postby mdyde » Thu Nov 09, 2017 5:35 am

Hello Frits,

fdhartog wrote:Martin, how can I tell if a converter is "good" one? Are there certain specs that I need to look for or are there certain brands that are known to be a good choice?


I'll have to leave others to offer recommendations on that, I'm afraid. Very broadly, I would say that some indicators of quality might be:

- Cost (within certain parameters). If it's extremely cheap (less than say £30 GBP) then the audio quality probably isn't going to be great (although it might be adequate for a sub-woofer).
- Manufacturer and market (professional audio, etc.).
- Good reviews in professional audio magazines (Sound on Sound, etc.).
- Manufacturer's specs. (frequency response, noise, distortions, etc.).
Best regards,
Martin.

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Re: Upgrade speakers or Audio interface (or both)

Postby 1961TC4ME » Thu Nov 09, 2017 12:26 pm

Martin makes a good point. If you're wanting to use the S/PDIF output for main speakers, i.e. something other than for a sub like I did or for the rear channels like Danny, and the best sound quality is going to be important, it would probably be wise to investigate, compare reviews and specs and go with either known quality or what you can determine though research. The converter I purchased was the lesser expensive variant, about $40 as I recall and is very similar in design to the one I referenced in the link yesterday. It's just a small little box that comes with it's own power supply, it has a light to show it's on, has a single input (which is correct for S/PDIF) and left and right outputs.

One thing I've noticed, and I don't know if this is inherent to the unit I bought or to S/PDIF in general, but the out coming signal from the converter is a bit weak (i.e., not nearly as hot) compared to the other regular analog outputs (channels 1-8) which required me to raise the db output for the 2 channels (9 & 10) in the audio output section of Hauptwerk. I had to bump channels 9-10 up to +8 to get a sufficient signal, simple enough to do and it now works well.

Marc
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Re: Upgrade speakers or Audio interface (or both)

Postby sjkartchner » Thu Nov 09, 2017 4:08 pm

1961TC4ME wrote:One thing I've noticed, and I don't know if this is inherent to the unit I bought or to S/PDIF in general, but the out coming signal from the converter is a bit weak (i.e., not nearly as hot) compared to the other regular analog outputs (channels 1-8) which required me to raise the db output for the 2 channels (9 & 10) in the audio output section of Hauptwerk. I had to bump channels 9-10 up to +8 to get a sufficient signal, simple enough to do and it now works well.

Marc


Output levels differ significantly between professional and consumer protocols, and S/PDIF is definitely a consumer protocol. See this article for a good explanation: http://www.harmoniccycle.com/hc/music-26-+4dBu-10dBV.htm.

So, if you have a somewhat higher end audio interface such as an RME or MOTU, even though the analog audio outputs will be at a professional level, the S/PDIF output (pre-conversion) will still be at a consumer level. As noted at the link, the difference in levels between the two is significant.

Here is a link that explains how the S/PDIF consumer digital protocol differs from the AES/EBU professional digital protocol: http://www.rane.com/note149.html.

P.S. Don’t get lost in the tall weeds of trying to figure out how the digital protocols compare with the analog protocols — the level differences between the two (professional vs. consumer) in either domain is the central point to be appreciated.
Stan Kartchner, Tucson, AZ USA
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Re: Upgrade speakers or Audio interface (or both)

Postby engrssc » Mon Nov 13, 2017 6:13 am

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