Upgrading converters


New Member
May 7, 2013
Gear owned
dm 3200
Hi to all !

I want to upgrade DM's converters to something better to patch my outboard preamp (ADL 600, Isa 428, Sebatron vmp 4000) and free up some channels on Dm 3200. I'm leaning toward ferrofish a16 mkII converters. They've got AKM AK4620B converter chipset. What do you guys think regarding converters, is it worth or should I go for some more high endish converters to hear as an improvement in sound conversion ?

I think chasing better convertors is mostly a fool's errand. In order to hear any real difference, you have to have already reached your highest peak in songwriting, arranging, vocal processing, mic technique, quality of mics and preamps, mixing and mastering. When you're a drop-dead expert all across the board in all these aspects, then maybe better converters might be worth it. Just MHO, YMMV, etc., etc.
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If you change converters, you have to match the software for the DM also.
Because the Converters are also software controlled. Better get a good outboard converter like Burl or Benchmark, you will be better off with time and money to spend for writing a new OS for the DM.
I suggest the Tascam DA-3000. Definitely an upgrade in converters AND it also brought my mastering process up a notch as well.
I have touted my Tascam UH-7000 in past threads, but, really, Jim has a great point. There is nothing wrong with the DM's converters. They do an excellent job of, well, converting. I believe that the sound you seek with the more expensive units (Burl is a great example) has more to do with the analog signal path just before and after the conversion then just the converters themselves. If there was a way to A/B compare the Burl's converter chip only with the DM's converter chip, at the same frequency, I would bet that you couldn't hear a difference. But the analog signal paths before and after the conversions would sound completely different.
We have been down this path before, as well as the path of higher Sample Rate recording pros and cons. Just listen to Dan's stuff at Glisk Records. The man makes fantastic sounding jazz guitar records that have everything to do with technique...not IC chips. However, being a gearhead as well, I know only one thing can scratch the itch. Will that be VISA or MASTERCARD?
On the subject of scratching the itch (a feeling I know extremely well), you can often make the desire for gear go away by simply sitting down and learning something new about what you have... not by reading, but by working. Stay off the Internet for a couple days and just work your rig.

I got to know Mitch Gallagher when he was a "sales engineer" in the early days of Sweetwater.... He was my sales guy. I had put together my first pro rig but wasn't happy with the way my stuff sounded. Everybody was buying the TC Finalizer then, and everything I read was saying this unit could put the magic "sheen" on my poorly-recorded productions. So I asked Mitch how much (VISA warm and at the ready), and he asked me why I wanted it. We had a conversation about what I expected from the unit, and he finally said, "You know what? You don't need a Finalizer. Your gear is good. You just need to learn how to use what you have."

So when I'm just dying for a new guitar, I go play the excellent guitars I already have until I realize that I won't play any better on the new one.
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Thanks guys ! Everybody's got a point, but the thing is that I need to expand my channel counts 20+. There is nothing wrong with conversion, I'm using DM since 2007 and I have made a whole bunch of great records. I record everything from Big band, funk, pop, rock, etno, ambient, hip hop...and lately very often live tracking full band. Ferrofish seems to fit my need especially because of adats I/O, great metering and converter calibration, but I wanted to hear second thoughts or first hand user experience.

"Learn to use what you have...." and what we've got here is pretty awesome. Just this morning I started playing with recording the DM's Effect returns into separate stereo tracks into my DAW over two pairs of FW channels. Why didn't I think of this before? I can use "Input Bypass" for the original signal into one track (vocals for example), assign a couple of good sounding effects (maybe a short verb and doubling) to said vocals using my aux buss sends at unity, then assigning those effects to two stereo tracks in my DAW's vocals group. Can anyone say...Duh! It sounds great. And now, I can control the amount of recorded effect in my daw via it's fader. No phase issues at all. Maybe I want to gate the effect, or compress it...I can do that!
AND, just for the hell of it, why not record the vocal's clean signal via "input Bypass" on one track while recording the module's effects..EQ, Dynamics, etc., via the DIRECT button, on another track. Great for instruments. Use one, use the other, use both...it don't matter! Sweet!
Sorry, got off track.
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Not off track at all. There are many elements to recording and mixing affecting the outcome more than conversion. Applying 'parallel' efx and eq channels (as you described), discovering and 'killing' an annoying studio acoustic artifact, or exploring the wonders of a new microphone (as in the recent 'mic shootout) are - in my humble opinion - far more rewarding than worrying about converters.

The DM's converters WILL get the job done, and done well. $5000 converters will get the job done about 8% better. Or - using Tascman's formula: 120% more investment yields 12.5% (I averaged it :) ) results. Not a very attractive performance-to-price ratio.


Hey Jazbina, if I read you correctly you're after additional convertors, not replacements? Do you have an analog card in your DM? That is a good way to expand your I/O count by 8. I'm happy with the convertors in the DM, but if I was adding more I'd go high end (mastering grade).
Hi there ! Yes I'm after additional converters. I don't have analog card but I need more additional channels because sometimes I need more than 20 ch at once. I' m patching outboard preamps through returns and line inputs. I dont need mastering grade converters because any serious project has been sent to the professional mastering facility, and it is out of my budget.

Gotcha - so I guess you have 16 line ins + 4 returns + 2 2-track ins (22 total).

An analog card would cost you about $500 and give you 8 more analog ins (it has convertors on the card) if you have a spare slot. I have 2 of these cards in my DM4800 and can vouch that they're good - I use them for I/O to my external pres.

I'm guessing you have a firewire card in one slot for 32 I/O to your DAW?
The ferrofish looks like an interesting and incredibly useful tool. Just remember that you are limited to 44.1k or 48K for full channel count if you are going to use the 2 ADATS. Any higher and you will have to Halve the count, using Smux.
Yes I have a firewire card and using 44,1 kHz sometimes 48 kHz. Ferrofish would be very elegant solution and it is not expensive.
If you have two slots available, two analog cards would only cost 740 bucks from B&H. You would have 16 channels in and out, with the option of full channel counts at higher sample rates. Then you could save your ADATS for something else. Get them here.
Ooops, you are on a 3200. Just caught that. I am too.
Some here are using the MOTU 2408MK3 to do the same thing you want, but with an 8 analog I/O limit. The advantage is that you can hook it up using your TDIF ports or ADAT. It is 24channel in and out, but digitally. 3 ADATS/24Channels TDIF/8 channels analog I/O. Two of these would serve your purpose, or 1 with a patch bay, if you don't use all 16 preamps at the same time, or 1 with an AF-AN/DM card. Here's a pair found on ebay for a lot less than the ferrofish.
Thank s, but I'm from Europe and I would have to pay shipping 60 $ and import charges 252 $ for Motu. I can get here used Ferrofish for around 900 $ without additional cost or the new one but only adat edition for almost similare price.

Well then, there you go. Sounds like that's your best option.
You could have all the gear in the world, but it’s just be a pile of junk if it hinders or delays you from being creative.

I sometimes wonder how many people that applies to. I've known one example - a guy who invested about $25K in gear, including a 7 foot Yamaha grand. Several years later, all he had to show for it were 10 unfinished tracks, a room full of scattered cables, and an angry spouse.

Maybe a world cruise would've been a better investment.

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