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Old 24th January 2014, 03:13 PM   #1
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Default completely manual ADC?

Has anyone built and/or seen a completely manually operated ADC? The PCM 4220/4222 appear to be capable of completely mechanical control, according to the data sheet, but I do not know of anyone who has done this. The reason I ask is because I was having a conversation with a musician and he was lamenting the difficulty of using software to control his ADC for recording. He really wanted an ADC with manual switches and rotary controls. So, I'm struggling with trying to understand how to design such a beast. Part of my trying to understand is asking questions, hence this post.
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Old 24th January 2014, 03:21 PM   #2
Enzo is offline Enzo  United States
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or learn to use the software properly.

What specifically does he want to control? Without specific goals, we can;t easily make specific suggestions.
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Old 24th January 2014, 05:08 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
or learn to use the software properly.

What specifically does he want to control? Without specific goals, we can;t easily make specific suggestions.
The musician's brain is different than the engineer's, hence the difficulty. Forcing musicians to think like software geeks is unfair and not really nice. It's better to just give them something they want and can work with easily.

I'll have to talk to him some more about it, but as I recall, he had a combined mic pre, mixer and ADC that was all software controlled and he didn't like it because he didn't want to sit in front of a computer screen when he was making music.

For the PCM 4222/4220, I suppose at least manual controls for sampling modes and PCM output. I guess audio data format and other things could be useful as well.
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Old 24th January 2014, 05:48 PM   #4
peufeu is offline peufeu  France
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You could still use a microcontroller to setup the ADC (via I2C for example), but taking input from knobs and dials...
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Old 24th January 2014, 06:43 PM   #5
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Thanks. I just talked with him again and I guess I completely misunderstood his problem. He says that clipping the ADC on music peaks is his biggest problem. I suggested that I build a mixer with built in compression as a solution.
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Old 24th January 2014, 06:54 PM   #6
RNMarsh is offline RNMarsh  United States
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More ! Compression in the process?? Yikes !

He should keep his music peaks at least 6dB away from max input to avoid clipping... maybe more like -10dB from max.

THx-RNMarsh
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Old 24th January 2014, 07:04 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by RNMarsh View Post
More ! Compression in the process?? Yikes !

He should keep his music peaks at least 6dB away from max input to avoid clipping... maybe more like -10dB from max.

THx-RNMarsh
Thanks, I'll let him know. The compressor only functions when the signal level is at clipping level, but yeah, probably not the greatest idea. Still, live music is somewhat unpredictable...
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Old 24th January 2014, 09:45 PM   #8
Enzo is offline Enzo  United States
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Or just turn the darn thing down some so it stays out the red.


the key is to give the guy what he needs, not what he "wants." he wanted "manual control" of his ADC because he was overdriving and clipping the input to the thing.

I realize now it is moot, but forcing musicians to learn is sometimes necessary. try playing a modern synth without understanding its function. As to your original impression of his needs, one does not have to do everything on a computer screen to use recording software. They make all kinds of control surfaces commercially. You get a mixer-like panel of controls, but all they do is feed into the software. But the result is exactly what you described.
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Old 25th January 2014, 06:55 PM   #9
1audio is offline 1audio  United States
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For what its worth the Pacific Microsonics is completely manual as are sme of the other pro interfaces.

I agree that the software UI on some cards is completely impenetrable for most people. I still have not figured out the EMU interface. Others are simpler. The ESI Juli@ is pretty straightforward. But it does not have level controls on the input so you need an external mike pre/mixer.

You can strap the PCM4222 demo board interface into specific modes but you may need to get the PC to match/understand the incoming stream.
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Old 25th January 2014, 08:05 PM   #10
dangus is offline dangus  Canada
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Maybe he just needs a really big wide range level meter. Something like the American Audio "dB Display".

The Behringer SRC2496 is pretty much a manual ADC; there's a level indicator, input gain, buttons for sample rate and bit depth. I wish the level display was more detailed and bigger, but otherwise I'm very pleased with it.

Last edited by dangus; 25th January 2014 at 08:14 PM.
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