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  • #91
    The first audio example uses the plate set for a tight, bright sound. This is great for making drums sound more "live," or giving vocals a more upfront, intimate quality. The first screen shot shows the settings used to obtain this sound.

    The second audio example is the Plate Algorithm set for too much of everything: It's too big, decays too long, and is too bright. I did this so you can hear what happens when you take an algorithm designed to model a smaller space and extend it: You hear a periodic effect as the algorithm tries to stitch together a bigger sound from a small one. I'm doing this not to embarrass Steinberg, because this actually shows you can abuse an algorithm a fair amount and still get away with it The second screen shot shows the settings used to obtain this sound.
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    • #92
      Tomorrow we'll do some examples of the Room algorithm, because it's time to sign off for tonight. Meanwhile, here are a few conclusions based on what I've worked with so far.

      First, I really do like the sound, which is more organic and natural compared to early Yamaha reverbs (they've been at this game a looooong time). It's unfortunate that because it's hardware you're limited to using it only once in a project, but stick it in a send bus and you have an "old school" busing technique for reverb to match it to the "old school" sound quality. I'd consider the Rev-X a fairly major selling point, actually.

      Second, I appreciate the interface's small footprint. I'm getting a little burned out on these art deco plug-ins that take up half your monitor - the Rev-X gives you what you need, makes it accessible, then gets out of the way.

      Third, remember you get only three algorithms: Don't expect reverse reverb, gated reverb, or the like. This is a "working" reverb that gives 90% of the sounds most engineers will use on a session, and while it's not spectacular, it doesn't try to be - it's a solid, quality reverb.

      Okay, let's get the Room sounds...
      CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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      • #93
        Immediately useful information. We recorded a live 14 track session and are applying the tools you just presented.
        Woohoo.... Doh!

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        • #94
          Immediately useful information. We recorded a live 14 track session and are applying the tools you just presented.


          Very cool!!!! Keep reading...
          CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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          • #95
            Time for some room sound examples. For these examples, I used presets supplied with the system.

            The first audio example is the "Basement" room preset. It's a good, general-purpose ambience maker, especially if you shorten it up and adjust the tone to suit the music at hand. The first screen shot shows the settings used to obtain this sound.

            The second audio example is the "Bedroom" preset. All I can say is that Steinberg has a bigger bedroom than I do, but you can hear it's quite different from the basement preset even though both use the same algorithm. The second screen shot shows the settings used to obtain this sound.
            CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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            • #96
              The audio example uses the room algorithm, which I modified to create a preset I call "parking garage." I set a really long Reverb Time and Room Size, but cut the Decay down to give a more unusual reverb tail. The Lowpass filter is at maximum for maximum brightness, and I even moved the Highpass filter up a notch to take out the lower frequencies. And in the spirit of glorious excess that only digital reverbs let you do, I kicked both the high and low ratio decay times up to max - but because they're multiplying an inherently short decay time, it makes for an interesting effect. The screen shot shows the settings used to obtain this sound.
              CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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              • #97
                Craig, wouldn't it be a good idea to come up with some sort of subjective sound quality grading system ? Hotels have a grading system, so do high end restuarants (if that isn't subjective then.....), so does Consumer Reports. CR grades everything and tell you why.

                If say Lavry Gold's are 95 out of 100 with current SOA technology and JoeShmo convertors are a 50 out of 100, surely we can quantify the sound quality of every other convertors out there. Even if they all end up being betwen 70-80 at least we know, O.K. yes, these convertors are right up ther with "A-B-C" convertors.


                Well, my answers won't endear me to anyone...but there are a couple "facts of life" we need to take into account.

                The first is that a lot of units use the same converter chips, as they offer the "sweet spot" of cost and consumer-level quality. So, any differences tend to be quantitative rather than qualitative. Most of the time when A-Bing converters my reaction is not "Wow, this one sure sounds a lot better!" It's more like "I think this one is a little different...maybe...let's switch it again."

                The second is that to my ears, how a dynamic mic's output impedance reacts with a preamp's input impedance has a far larger effect on the sound than the converters themselves. To give a really definitive answer of which sounds "better" would have to take input source differences into account as well, and by the time I finished testing every mic out there on multiple sources, the next generation of converters will have already arrived.

                If you A-B a Steinberg MR816csx with a TC Electronic Konnekt or Cakewalk V-700R, you're really not going to hear a substantial difference. Sure, they all claim to have some "special sauce" but when the rubber meets the road during mixdown, you'd be hard-pressed to identify what was recorded with what.

                As far as I'm concerned, the subjective sound quality of the converters will depend mostly on when the unit was made and how much it costs. For example, the E-Mu 1820m (which I have) was considered to be pretty much at the top of the "non-boutique" interfaces when it was introduced many years ago. It's still good, but devices in the same price range introduced within the last year sound a bit more open. Is the difference significant? Well, it's audible, but only barely. If you're just recording one vocal, you'd probably never know the difference. If you're recording 24 acoustic tracks through mic pres, then there might be a cumulative difference but it's not going to hit you over the head.

                Basically, I sort converters into four groups:

                1. Consumer electronics. This is what comes with onboard sound cards, camcorders, and the like. Even these, however, are often better than what was available for pro audio not that long ago.

                2. Middle-class converters. This is what you'll find in inexpensive interfaces, like the Line 6 KB37, some of the less expensive M-Audio interfaces, and so on. They're perfectly adequate for recording and will likely not be the determining factor in a recording's sound quality.

                3. Upper-middle class converters. This is what you'll find in the MR816csx and other interfaces in the same general price range. Here the cost depends a lot on how many preamps are included. For example, the preamps in the Alesis Master Control sound surprisingly good, given that the price is less than the MR816csx and there's a control surface with moving faders. So how is that possible? Simple: There are only two preamps, whereas the MR816csx has eight.

                4. Boutique converters. These are the ones that cost a zillion dollars and have low-noise resistors made from carbon brought back from Jupiter by aliens, and capacitor dielectrics made from butterfly wings. When you hear them in action, there's a noticeable difference compared to lower-cost units in terms of imaging, transparency, and noise floor. So you go "Wow, that sounds great!," then look at your bank account balance...and decide the upper-middle class converters will do just fine, thank you.

                I'd put the MR816csx sound squarely in the upper-middle class category. In my opinion the mics you use, recording resolution, playback system, and other elements will be the limiting factor in your recordings, not the preamps and converters in the MR816csx.

                One last thing...when rating a hotel, there are objective standards you can apply: The shower did or didn't work, it took minutes or hours for maintenance to show up, you could or could not hear the couple in the next room making sexy time, there was or was not wi-fi, etc. You'd think specs would provide the same function for converters and preamps, but when one converter has 0.0005% distortion+noise and another has 0.0004% distortion+noise (typical figures for high-quality converters), are you going to hear a difference? I strongly doubt it. When noise levels are at the threshold of perception, it doesn't really matter whether one converter has a noise level you can't hear, and another converter has a noise level you also can't hear.

                Ultimately it's the surrounding circuitry that has the most impact on performance - the power supply, circuit board layout, etc. At this point along the technological timeline, companies like Yamaha know how to design circuit boards! But these differences are what account for the different "sounds" of different converters. As I said, though, these are quantitative so person A might like preamp X because he records harpsichords through them using condenser mics, while person B might like preamp Z because he likes the way it sounds when recording guitar amps through ribbon mics.

                So...my take is that chasing the last 1/8 of a dB is a waste of time that interferes with the most important aspect of all this gear: Making music. One of my lines at seminars that always gets a laugh is when I say "No radio station has ever called me up and said 'Y'know, we were going to play your CD, but you used an E-Mu 1820m for the background vocals, didn't you?'"

                Remember: All that matters is the emotional impact of the music. To tie this back to the MR816csx, the Quick Connect feature that lets you record instantly will probably have a more important effect on the music you create than the mic pres, because it will allow you to be more spontaneous.
                CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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                • #98
                  By the way...if you want to know about the basics of converters, typical specs, how they're measured, and other considerations, there's a highly educational PDF by Ken Pohlmann at http://www.clir.org/activities/details/ad-converters-pohlmann.pdf.

                  So...seems to me it's time to move along to the CC121, but I'll wait a day or two to see if there are any remaining questions/comments on the MR816csx.
                  CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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                  • #99
                    Well, my answers won't endear me to anyone...

                    Basically, I sort converters into four groups:

                    1. Consumer electronics. This is what comes with onboard sound cards, camcorders, and the like. Even these, however, are often better than what was available for pro audio not that long ago.

                    2. Middle-class converters. This is what you'll find in inexpensive interfaces, like the Line 6 KB37, some of the less expensive M-Audio interfaces, and so on. They're perfectly adequate for recording and will likely not be the determining factor in a recording's sound quality.

                    3. Upper-middle class converters. This is what you'll find in the MR816csx and other interfaces in the same general price range. Here the cost depends a lot on how many preamps are included. For example, the preamps in the Alesis Master Control sound surprisingly good, given that the price is less than the MR816csx and there's a control surface with moving faders. So how is that possible? Simple: There are only two preamps, whereas the MR816csx has eight.

                    4. Boutique converters. These are the ones that cost a zillion dollars and have low-noise resistors made from carbon brought back from Jupiter by aliens, and capacitor dielectrics made from butterfly wings. When you hear them in action, there's a noticeable difference compared to lower-cost units in terms of imaging, transparency, and noise floor. So you go "Wow, that sounds great!," then look at your bank account balance...and decide the upper-middle class converters will do just fine, thank you.

                    I'd put the MR816csx sound squarely in the upper-middle class category. In my opinion the mics you use, recording resolution, playback system, and other elements will be the limiting factor in your recordings, not the preamps and converters in the MR816csx....
                    .


                    Craig, you should use this every single time you do a review. Seriously. This was the best way of classifying a unit I've ever seen.
                    88 keys

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                    • Hello Craig and all....

                      I appreciate your continued support and review of our MR Series interfaces.

                      I noticed some have asked about a "smaller" MR unit. At this time, Steinberg and Yamaha do not have any immediate plans for a smaller version of the MR. This may change and if so, I will be sure to let all know.

                      Something that is very exciting is the new promotion that Steinberg North America announced today on the existing MR 816 interfaces:

                      Purchase 1 or more new Steinberg MR816 Series products between Sept 1, 2009 and Jan 31, 2010 (MR816X or MR816CSX any mix) and receive a $300.00 mail-in-rebate.

                      http://steinbergnorthamerica.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/mr_rebateform_2010.pdf

                      If I can be of any assistance, please feel to write me directly at info@steinbergnorthamerica.com
                      Best regards,

                      Brian McGovern
                      Steinberg North America

                      Comment


                      • hi all

                        I am reading this good review and i am asking about a small unit too.
                        Steinberg reads this forum or what ?

                        http://www.steinberg.net/en/products/hardware/ci2.html

                        Steinberg small unit : CI2.
                        A mix with a small BR (i don't need 8 micpre), a little bit of CC121 (i don't use Cuabse EQ), a little bit of Nocturn knob control, shipped with Cubase AI5 !

                        The unit use Yamaha component.
                        If the AD/DA would have same MR quality it would be perfect.

                        Craig, i like the way you classify things, i need your review on this small unit.
                        I hope they quicly send you a unit.

                        Have fun.

                        Comment


                        • Craig, you should use this every single time you do a review. Seriously. This was the best way of classifying a unit I've ever seen.


                          Thanks much. I found an article you might find interesting from Pro Audio Review that shows just how hard it is to be objective about mics and pres. Take this quote about the Millennia Media HV-3D:

                          We all picked the HV-3D as our overall favorite on drums for being the most "natural with the most separation," although, frankly, some of the other preamps offered compelling, more colorful sounds on particular drums. Our AEA R44 ribbon microphone loved the HV-3D on drum room, picking up deep, resonant kick tones nicely balanced through the mids and rolled-off top. The Millennia was our favorite preamp paired with the R44.

                          None of us were fond of the HV-3D on bass guitar, where both our DI and mic were smooth, yet lacked punch. Electric guitar tones — both clean and dirty from a fine, all-tube Mesa Boogie — were accurate and natural but unexciting. It elicited the word, "vanilla," from some of us.


                          The other parts of the review are equally detailed, yet contradictory in the sense that they liked particular preamps with particular mics on particular sound sources, but not on other sources with other mics.
                          CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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                          • hi all

                            I am reading this good review and i am asking about a small unit too.
                            Steinberg reads this forum or what ?

                            http://www.steinberg.net/en/products/hardware/ci2.html

                            Steinberg small unit : CI2.
                            A mix with a small BR (i don't need 8 micpre), a little bit of CC121 (i don't use Cuabse EQ), a little bit of Nocturn knob control, shipped with Cubase AI5 !

                            The unit use Yamaha component.
                            If the AD/DA would have same MR quality it would be perfect.

                            Craig, i like the way you classify things, i need your review on this small unit.
                            I hope they quicly send you a unit.

                            Have fun.


                            Steinberg does read this, but I only told them today I'd re-started the review now that the 1.5 software is out. I also asked if there were any plans for a mini-MR816.

                            As to the CI2, I don't have one here but maybe I can get one from Steinberg on loan to try out with Cubase 5.
                            CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

                            Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                            • Thanks much. I found an article you might find interesting from Pro Audio Review that shows just how hard it is to be objective about mics and pres. Take this quote about the Millennia Media HV-3D:
                              ....
                              The other parts of the review are equally detailed, yet contradictory in the sense that they liked particular preamps with particular mics on particular sound sources, but not on other sources with other mics.


                              Hmmm....well...I see what you mean. However, I think they may be over-doing "the review" thing a tad. If I had a Millenia Media HV3D in my rack, I'd be pretty happy with how it sounded on pretty much anything.

                              And, there is the old school of thought/practice that using one set of pre's for everything - ala a desk - works to glue many tracks together much, much better than than using too many different pres. The cohesiveness can become difficult to manage in the mix.
                              So, if the MR816 is in the "2nd category from the top," I think I'll be pretty happy.
                              88 keys

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                              • All:

                                I will definitely send Craig a CI2 for review once our first shipment reaches the US. Today, we announced the unit, but they will not reach the US market until the first week in October.

                                Yes, this is a smaller 2 in and 2 out device. However, it is much different item than the MR. The CI2 is a USB interface with quality Yamaha build, mic pres, AD/DA conversion and an AI knob for control of numerous parameters found in Cubase AI5 and the rest of the Cubase 5 line up. Once Craig gets one, we can dig into a bit more.

                                For now, please visit www.steinberg.net or www.steinbergnorthamerica.com for more information.

                                Thanks for all the support.
                                Best regards,

                                Brian McGovern
                                Steinberg North America

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