Recording: Antelope Orion 32+

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The world of converters is a crazy rabbit hole of features and supposed improvement in sound quality... frankly, I don't buy 99% of it. A $15,000 D/A converter is going to sound better than a $300 D/A converter... but will it sound 50 times better? 

The difference in quality when comparing converters doesn't really regard A/D; You'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference between sound recorded through a $250 USB mixer and a dedicated multiple-thousand-dollar interface. Things are very different comparing the return to analog. 

And this makes sense: in a world increasingly staying in-the-box, it really doesn't matter if your D/A is ultra-clean if your music will only be leaving the digital domain after it leaves Pro Tools and gets played back on iTunes or an MP3 player. In that case, an audio interface with decent preamps and a monitor section will suit most people fine, even if what they hear while mixing isn't pristine. 

This isn't true when you're integrating a Pro Tools rig into an environment with a significant amount of analog hardware. If your converters darken or muddy the sound at all, just a few loops through hardware inserts can have a noticeable detrimental effect, just like generational loss when transferring analog tape. The goal of a converter unit in a primarily analog studio is to replicate the original signal sounding exactly as it went in, neither better nor worse. D/A with a "sound" of its own is more like recording to tape, in that your source material is being changed by the recording device. You monitor from a tape machine's inputs, then switch to the playback head and everything's gotten a little less bright. The concept of transfer degradation is still present with less-than-adequate digital conversion.

Anyhow, this is just a long-winded way to come around to the real reason we run Antelope Orions: 95% the quality of a Burl or iZ Radar box for less than 1/4 the price. Their rich routing options and low-latency Thunderbolt operation is a bonus.