Sweet Notes Animation Been Dreaming Of 20-Bit Recordings?

By Rob McGaughey/Sweetwater Sales Engineer

I was amazed to hear that there are now well over 200,000 digital multitrack systems in operation all over the world. Between ADATs, DA88s, DR8s, Darwins, VS-880s and other hard disk systems, modular digital multitracks have really taken over on many levels of the recording industry. So it's no surprise that many customers ask: "What can I do to squeeze a little more performance out of my digital recording system?"

Well, one of the best ways to accomplish this is by increasing the bit resolution of your recording medium. If you've ever had the opportunity to hear a true 20-bit or 24-bit recording, you know just how impressive they sound. These higher resolution recordings exhibit a lower noise floor, improved clarity and detail (particularly in low level signals) and a smoother sound quality without the harshness that some people have attributed to lower resolution recordings.

So now you're thinking, "That's great, Rob, but I can't afford a 20-bit digital multitrack!"

Apogee AD-1000

Think again. A company called Apogee Electronics has a solution that's perfect for any 16-bit digital recorder with AES/EBU, S/PDIF, ADAT optical, TOSLINK, SDIF or SDIF-II digital inputs. It's called the AD-1000 ($3295 list) and I personally feel that it is the best-sounding analog to digital converter on the market. But that's not all! (I promise not to throw in a set of Ginsu knives here.) It also has an ultra high quality stereo microphone preamp with selectable phantom power. These mic preamps offer one of the most direct, cleanest paths to a digital multitrack and are truly worthy of the Apogee name. They have separate multi-turn calibration pots, input peak metering and "over" indicators.

But the unit also includes a feature called SoftLimit which incorporates a unique limiter into the signal path (if you so choose), so you can get a little extra punch out of your recordings and reduce the worries of digital clipping. And this ain't no cheesy, afterthought limiter, either! I think you'll find it to be very useful for a wide variety of applications and the resultant overall hotter levels will definitely bring a smile to your face.

Now you're wondering, "How is this very cool A/D converter going to give me 20-bit performance?" The answer is: UV22!

Huh? Okay, I'll explain: UV22 is a process that encodes 20-bit audio and stores it onto your 16-bit medium. The beauty is that UV22 is an encode only process that will preserve the sonic detail, clarity and tonal balance of a 20-bit recording when played back via any 16-bit converters. How does this work? In a nutshell, UV22 encoding is analogous to bias in an analog recording system and adds an inaudible high frequency tone to the digital signal that smoothes out the rough edges and captures resolution ven beyond 20-bits. I think you'll be stunned by how much better your 16-bit audio will sound encoded with UV22.

Is if this weren't enough (but still no knives!), the AD-1000 also converts between AES/EBU, S/PDIF and ADAT optical formats. It supports crystal, word clock, AES/EBU, S/PDIF and video sync sources with all the standard sync frequencies for film and video situations including 0.1% pull up and down requirements.

If you add this all up, you get world class Apogee A/D converters, a super-clean stereo mic preamp, a digital format converter and 20-bit resolution via UV22 (or 20-bit straight through into something like a Digidesign AudioMedia card) all in a neat little 1/3 rack space box.

We can send you a brochure with quotes from industry notables like Roger Nichols (of Steely Dan fame), or better yet, you can call us here at Sweetwater for complete information and your special low pricing. Of course, if you decide to attain the 20-bit dream and purchase an AD-1000 for yourself (and negotiate for those knives), be sure to tell your sales engineer that Rob sent you - maybe they'll even buy me lunch!