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Budget DAC Review: behringer UMC204HD

Discussion in 'Audio Reference Library' started by amirm, May 18, 2017.

  1. Name

    Name Member

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    So now I am curious as to how the various 3rd party measurements look for this ODAC rev B..... I would like to arrange for you to measure Amir.
     
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  2. Sal1950

    Sal1950 Major Contributor The Chicago Crusher

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    Are you having someone assist you doing blind listening tests, or is this just another valueless "what I reckon" report?
     
  3. Name

    Name Member

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    Look, I'm not an audiophile, and I'm not the subjective type. I am telling you what I hear, and now I want to know why. That's why I want Amir to objectively measure it, if he is willing. He has accurate tools for doing so... I want to know why the ODAC distorts bass before the IDAC and the Behringer do. I have read about the Texas Instruments PCM5102A having some sort of clipping issue, and perhaps that is the cause of this. I am not sure.

    Everyone has subjective thoughts, but those of us who are objective first and foremost put our subjective thoughts into submission to objective fact. That is what I do...
     
  4. Thomas savage

    Thomas savage Moderator Moderator The Watchman

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    If you send it to @amirm he will take measurements and send it back to you.

    Thanks for coming here and posting your thoughts, hopefully something intresting will pop up in the measurements.
     
  5. Old Listener

    Old Listener Active Member

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    Name, you described listening through headphones. Was all your comparison listening done through headphones? If so, you are not just comparing DACs, you are also comparing the devices as head-phone amps. Differences in ability of DACs to drive head-phones is different from their ability to function as input to a preamp, power amp or powered speakers.

    The ODAC itself was not intended to function as a head-phone amp. It was intended to be paired with a head-phone amp. The companion project for that head-phone amp was not finished.

    You said that you matched levels. How did you do that? How small was the residual difference in level? A small difference in sound level (a fraction of a decibel,) usually produces a clear preference for the louder device.
     
  6. amirm

    amirm Founder/Admin CFO (Chief Fun Officer) Staff Member

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    I am happy to measure. Please PM me and I will send address.
     
  7. Name

    Name Member

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    Old listener, I only used the Behringer, the IDAC2, and the ODAC as a dac and paired them each with the same amp. The amp I used has both 3.5mm input and rca input, so I was able to hook up two dacs at the same time. I used my blue yeti mic to match levels, and then I swapped out playback devices while listening to a variety of songs. The delay was very minuscule.
     
  8. robertzombie

    robertzombie New Member

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    Why not use the Behringer as ADC and make comparisons using RMAA?
     
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  9. amirm

    amirm Founder/Admin CFO (Chief Fun Officer) Staff Member

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    Welcome to the forum. In my quick testing the ADC in behringer is not as good as its dac.
     
  10. SoundAndMotion

    SoundAndMotion Member

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    I believe you, but I'm curious what the "quick testing" consisted of.

    Much more interesting to me: Are there any ADCs that you have quick- or slow-tested that are "good"? "Good" value, as the Behringer DAC is, or just straight "good", independent of price.
     
  11. amirm

    amirm Founder/Admin CFO (Chief Fun Officer) Staff Member

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    I don't want to get into it much without proper testing. But I did what was suggested above: used it to run RMAA. It immediately showed a bunch of low frequency spurious responses that is not in my DAC measurements with Audio Precision analyzer. I also didn't like the RMAA software by itself. After spending an hour with it and getting frustrated, I stopped.
     
  12. RayDunzl

    RayDunzl Major Contributor Central Scrutinizer

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    I downloaded RMAA and couldn't get it to install itself.

    upload_2017-10-10_11-40-20.png

    I guess I saved 59 minutes, and any further frustration.

    REW has my vote for amateur hour room measurements. Useful, apparently accurate, and so on.

    Still being actively developed, developer is responsive to suggestions, and its free, although I "donated" (very unusual for me).

    Now I see the newest versions of REW will export filter settings to rePhase - as well as FR and phase measurements - from which FIR filter files can be generated (and manually adjusted) for my miniDSP. I haven't tried that functionality yet, but that might be a way to a solution for my bass phase cancellation dip. It has like 16 banks of 17 sliders (272 total?) to define phase and Q and frequency and amplitude, along with some more generic canned slopes. Using it manually can be quite a chore.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2017
  13. amirm

    amirm Founder/Admin CFO (Chief Fun Officer) Staff Member

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    I tried that one for my parametric EQ and did not like the results. It creates too many filters to achieve perfectly flat response and subjectively I liked my 2-3 filters that I had created better than it.
     
  14. Blumlein 88

    Blumlein 88 Major Contributor

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    I have been using the Focusrite Forte which is a two channel recording interface. It has lower noise and distortion than most affordable devices. It was $400 or so originally, but has been discontinued. Used ones crop up for $250 or so. Some report issues with Macs they work fine with Windows. If you have a Mac with a Thunderbolt interface, the Focusrite Clarett line uses the same ADCs and circuitry. One thing handy about the Forte is gain is done in exact 1 db steps. Makes repeating tests exactly much simpler than having an analog adjustment knob for gain.

    An Audient ID14 is a similar interface available for $299 new. The specs are similar or only slightly worse.

    You could get a Motu 8A (which one of the members here has) or 624. The 624 is fewer channels with 2 microphone preamps and the 8A is more channels without mic inputs. These have slightly better specs than the above gear, are a bit overkill just for testing and go for $795. These also do gain in exact 1 db steps.

    Plenty of good recording interfaces would do okay for basic testing to confirm operation is okay. The issue is they have similar distortion and noise levels to the gear tested. So ultimately part of the artifacts will be the testing ADC as much as the device under test. The Behringer on the ADC side is substandard for these purposes. Though other Behringer gear might be better.

    I also don't much care for RMAA. It isn't too much trouble to make your own test signals and evaluate them with Audacity and WaveSpectra or similar free software. It just isn't automatic like letting RMAA run itself and spitting out parameters.

    You can look at the budget DAC review of the HDMI switcher I posted for some examples.

    Also here are a couple of examples of being able to make your own test signal. Click on the images for an enlarged view. Each panel has a single frequency sweep on the left and a twin frequency sweep on the right with the two frequencies always 1 khz apart.

    This is using a spectrogram view. I think I chopped off the frequency scale by accident, but it shows 0-24 khz bottom to top in this case. In the first one the floor is -100 db. Anything below this level will not show up.

    100db floor spectro.png

    It looks perfectly clean other than the sweep signals. So any harmonic distortion in the left half and any intermodulation distortion in the right half is below this level. Usually if it is lower than this you have no reason to care.

    Now I drop the floor of the spectrogram to -120 db. You'll see a slightly steeper sloping line in blue above the main signal. This is the third harmonic distortion which lies between -120 and -100 db. The oppositely sloping faint blue line is low level aliasing as the filter of the tested device isn't quite as steep as needed to eliminate all aliasing.
    120 floor spectrogram.png

    Now the spectrogram floor is dropped to -130 db. You'll see multiple faint blue lines. In the left side you see 2nd, 3rd and 4th harmonics. In the right you see additional low level IMD products. The device being tested btw was an old Tact RCS 2.0 room correction unit set to flat response.
    130db floor spectro.png
     
  15. in_awe

    in_awe Member

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    If all I am looking for is a good PC to headphones DAC/Amp for under $100, is this the device to buy? I wouldn't be using any of the mic or other inputs, so I'm not sure if this is the right fit. I'm mainly looking to get rid of the background noise (jitter?) that I hear whenever I move the mouse on my PC while the sound is quiet. I've had that issue across several different PCs and soundcards, so an external DAC seems like the solution. Improvement in overall sound quality would be great too. I'm not using high-end headphones - I mainly alternate between a pair of Sony MDRV6 and a pair of Koss KSC75, depending on whether I still need to hear what is going on around me or not.

    Behringer has several several smaller units in the U-PHORIA product line - UM2, UMC22, UMC202HD. Would one of those be a better fit since I won't be using the inputs? I know those haven't been reviewed here, but do you think they would have the same DAC and sound quality? It looks like the UMC202HD drops MIDI support and has fewer inputs and outputs. The UM2 and UMC22 are only 48 kHz (16 bit?), so maybe a different DAC?

    Thanks in advance for any advice.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2017 at 6:19 PM
  16. Old Listener

    Old Listener Active Member

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    Amir was measuring the Behringer's performance as a DAC. If you are using it to drive headphones, there are some additional considerations. How well implemented is that headphone amp functionality? How well can it drive the headphones that you use?

    I'd avoid the older models that are limited to 48 kHz. I have an old Behringer UCA202 DAC that is limited to 44.1/48 kHz. It does not use async mode for USB audio output. Performance is mediocre at best.
     
  17. Soniclife

    Soniclife Member

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    What are you using currently to drive your headphones? Apart from the noise how does it sound?
     
  18. Jinjuku

    Jinjuku Senior Member

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    I use the 204HD to drive Audio Technica ATH50's. Does a fine job of it. Get the 202HD for $59 if your HP's aren't too difficult to drive.
     
  19. in_awe

    in_awe Member

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    I'm currently using the built-in sound on the PC's motherboard. The sound seems OK other than the noise. I found when trying out different headphones that you often don't know what you are missing until you hear it though. I'm guessing that the same will be true with a good external DAC versus the built-in sound.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2017 at 4:18 AM
  20. in_awe

    in_awe Member

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    Thank you. The built-in sound on my PCs seems to drive the headphones I use just fine, so I'm assuming they aren't hard to drive. I honestly don't know how to tell what ones will be hard to drive though. I know it has something to do with the impedence, but I also imagine the size of the drivers are part of it (or are those two directly related?). Is there something in the specs for headphones that tells you?

    According to the specs for the two main headphones that I am using, the impedence for one is 63 Ohms and for the other is 60 Ohms. The specs for the ATH50s list an impedence of 38 Ohms. Does that mean than mine are significantly harder to drive than yours?

    Sorry for the noobish questions.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2017 at 4:33 AM

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