• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Need DAC/ADC/headphone amp/mixer for consumer devices - is an Audio Interface the right choice?

carat

Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2021
Messages
8
Likes
2
I've been trying to find a low-latency Hi-Fi consumer-oriented mixer to combine a handful of digital and analog gear. So far, the Creative X7 is the closest thing I've been able to find, but even that falls short of my requirements. This has led me into the realm of "audio interfaces".

What I want to do is mix these sources together:
  • 1x USB Windows PC stereo source
  • 1x (2x preferred) S/PDIF digital stereo source
  • 2x (3x preferred) consumer line level -10dBV analog stereo sources
And then output that mix to:
  • 1x headphones (50 ohm)
  • 1x (2x preferred) S/PDIF digital stereo
If it can also act as an adapter between an XLR mic and my PC, then that's another bonus.

The MOTU UltraLite-mk5 is just within my budget and seems to fit even my "best-case" requirements, with USB, 3 pairs of analog lines on the back, as well as 2x digital in and 2x digital out (all of which appear to be S/PDIF-capable and simultaneously usable, unlike on the Scarletts).

My main concern is the issue of +4 dBu vs -10 dBV line level standards. The analog sources I want to mix are all -10 dBV consumer devices but most of these "audio interface" devices are intended to accept +4 dBu pro inputs. Some mixers I looked at has physical switches on the input to select between these specs, but it doesn't seem to be terribly common. I read the manual for the UltraLite-mk5, and it states that: "Each line input can be digitally boosted up to + 20 dB. This allows the inputs to easily accommodate +4 dB and -10 dB reference levels". But won't that just result in an elevated noise floor from the input devices?

Is the MOTU UltraLite-mk5 a good choice for my usage? Suggestions for alternatives are welcome. Thanks for reading.
 

Trell

Major Contributor
Joined
May 13, 2021
Messages
1,402
Likes
1,452
From the review the Ultralite-mk5 has a SINAD of 111 dB at 0.8 Volt using lowest gain, so with your -10 dBV devices you still have SINAD over 103 dB with a gain of +8. That might be enough for your use.


For conversion to get the +8 I used the following handy online calculator.

 

JayGilb

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
Messages
628
Likes
874
Location
West-Central Wisconsin
I've been trying to find a low-latency Hi-Fi consumer-oriented mixer to combine a handful of digital and analog gear. So far, the Creative X7 is the closest thing I've been able to find, but even that falls short of my requirements. This has led me into the realm of "audio interfaces".

What I want to do is mix these sources together:
  • 1x USB Windows PC stereo source
  • 1x (2x preferred) S/PDIF digital stereo source
  • 2x (3x preferred) consumer line level -10dBV analog stereo sources
And then output that mix to:
  • 1x headphones (50 ohm)
  • 1x (2x preferred) S/PDIF digital stereo
If it can also act as an adapter between an XLR mic and my PC, then that's another bonus.

The MOTU UltraLite-mk5 is just within my budget and seems to fit even my "best-case" requirements, with USB, 3 pairs of analog lines on the back, as well as 2x digital in and 2x digital out (all of which appear to be S/PDIF-capable and simultaneously usable, unlike on the Scarletts).

My main concern is the issue of +4 dBu vs -10 dBV line level standards. The analog sources I want to mix are all -10 dBV consumer devices but most of these "audio interface" devices are intended to accept +4 dBu pro inputs. Some mixers I looked at has physical switches on the input to select between these specs, but it doesn't seem to be terribly common. I read the manual for the UltraLite-mk5, and it states that: "Each line input can be digitally boosted up to + 20 dB. This allows the inputs to easily accommodate +4 dB and -10 dB reference levels". But won't that just result in an elevated noise floor from the input devices?

Is the MOTU UltraLite-mk5 a good choice for my usage? Suggestions for alternatives are welcome. Thanks for reading.
If the "up to +20db boost" is variable you should be able to boost the consumer level devices the required 12db difference between pro and consumer. Yes, noise will also get boosted along with the music, but there will be no additional noise added due to it being a digital boost.
It's no different than increasing the volume control on any device.
 
Top Bottom