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Pocket size 24/96+ USB ADC recommendations?

ThisIsValid

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Hello,

I occasionally work on bits of vintage hifi gear, and sometimes need to perform some basic measurements; frequency response, impedance, wow/flutter, etc. But I also live an itinerant lifestyle, spending a large portion of my time on the road. All that matters is what I carry with me, not what fancy gear I have in my home laboratory. I'm currently trying to restore a Luxman K-15 tape deck, and find myself in urgent need of a portable ADC with at least 24-bit/96kHz capture - of which there are many, and cheap ones too (been eyeing the Swissonic Audio 2, for example), but being a curious b*****d I couldn't help thinking there must be something smaller around, if you don't need the all those knobs and buttons (I don't mind controlling gain etc from software, for a portable device). Sure enough, I eventually found the E1DA Cosmos ADC, which is not only very pocket friendly but has some truly mind-blowing specs, and which in turn led me to this very forum. My question is, between the compartively chunky €60 Swissonic and the diminutive €300 Cosmos, is there perhaps a happy medium? TBH I wouldn't mind a USB "thumb" with one or two 3.5mm jacks as long as it would capture at sufficient quality, bitdepth and bitrate - but while there are dozens of DACs meeting these requirements (due to to headphone mania), hours of trawling the web have failed to turn up an ADC equivalent. Any suggestions, anyone?

The ideal device ticks as many of these as possible (roughly in order of importance):
  • Small, even tiny
  • >=24-bit depth
  • >=96kHz sample rate
  • Two mic preamps
  • Balanced inputs
  • >100 dB s/n
  • Phantom power
  • Linux compatible
 
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staticV3

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However, it does not have mic preamps, cannot supply phantom power, and has a rather low input impedance of 640Ω to 3.48kΩ depending on the input sensitivity.
 
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ThisIsValid

ThisIsValid

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Thank you! I think it is astonishing that such a sophisticated piece of electronics can be had for only €150 - maybe I'm getting old but 32-Bit / 384 kHz is just mindblowing. But although I know I sound like like a cheapskate, I have to say I'm still leaning towards the 24/192 Swissonic Audio 2; I simply cannot find a use-case for such incredible resolution, so I would be paying €90 only for the smaller size - losing the mic pre-amps in the process. Also, and here I'm showing my age again, the Cosmos "requires USB-C"? I didn't know USB-C was any different to USB3, other than in the power department (which should not be a factor here). My laptop "only" has USB3 ports, so if there's some magic USB-C sauce involved I'm already excluded anyway.
 

staticV3

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Also, and here I'm showing my age again, the Cosmos "requires USB-C"?
It doesn't. The Cosmos ADC itself uses a Type-C jack, but you can plug it into a PC with regular Type-A ports no problem. Simply use one of the (nowadays super common) Type-A to Type-C USB cables.
 
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ThisIsValid

ThisIsValid

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It doesn't. The Cosmos ADC itself uses a Type-C jack, but you can plug it into a PC with regular Type-A ports no problem. Simply use one of the (nowadays super common) Type-A to Type-C USB cables.
Thank you, that's what I suspected; unfortunate wording in the datasheet.

These are the interfaces I have been considering, ordered by volume:

E1DA Cosmos ADC​

  • €150
  • 32-Bit/384kHz
  • 2 In / 0 Out
  • Balanced inputs
  • No preamps
  • No phantom power
  • No MIDI interface
  • 250cm³

Swissonic Audio 2​

  • €60
  • 24-Bit/192kHz
  • 2 in / 2 Out
  • Balanced inputs
  • Mic preamps
  • Phantom power
  • No MIDI interface
  • 700cm³

Zoom U-24​

  • €110
  • 24-bit/96kHz
  • 2 in / 4 out
  • Balanced inputs
  • Mic preamps
  • Phantom power
  • MIDI interface
  • 760cm³

Zoom U-44​

  • €140
  • 24-bit/96kHz
  • 4 in / 4 out
  • Balanced inputs
  • Mic preamps
  • Phantom power
  • MIDI interface
  • 760cm³

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2​

  • €160
  • 24-bit/192kHz
  • 2 in / 2 out
  • Balanced inputs
  • Mic preamps
  • Phantom power
  • No MIDI interface
  • 830cm³

MOTU M2​

  • €200
  • 24-Bit/192kHz
  • 2 in / 2 out
  • Balanced inputs
  • Mic preamps
  • Phantom power
  • MIDI interface
  • 930cm³

Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD​

  • €90
  • 24-Bit/192kHz
  • 2 in / 2 out
  • Balanced inputs
  • Mic preamps
  • Phantom power
  • No MIDI interface
  • 980cm³

Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD​

  • €110
  • 24-Bit/192kHz
  • 2 in / 4 out
  • Balanced inputs
  • Mic preamps
  • Phantom power
  • MIDI interface
  • 1100cm³

Tascam US-144​

  • discontinued
  • 24-bit/96kHz
  • 4 in / 4 out
  • Balanced inputs
  • Mic preamps
  • Phantom power
  • MIDI interface
  • 1350cm³
They are all attractive in one way or another, so I've been unable to make my mind up. But then I found something else:
adc-analog-to-digital-converter-wm8782-i2s-24bit-192khz.jpg

This module allows to interface a stereo analog signal to a high resolution digital signal. The signal obtained at the output is encoded in PCM 96kHz via I2S, which makes it compatible with digital filtering equipment demanding in terms of audio.
Now there's something really small and portable! And get this: it only costs €20. Of course it fails on most of the points I listed as desirable, but it would definitely get the job done, and in an astonishingly small package; only around 50cm³ if you include a die-cast aluminum enclosure. Could be fun to tinker with. The only thing preventing me from jumping on it is that I haven't been able to find any I2S to USB interfaces. There are certainly plenty that go in the opposite direction, providing a PCM output stream over I2S from USB, but I2S capture only seems to exist for microcontrollers and the Raspberry Pi (and cousins). I use the Pi a lot but for this application I definitely want to use my laptop. Does anyone know of a small and cheap way to provide it with an I2S input?
 
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AnalogSteph

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I didn't know that volume was measured in "cm2" nowadays. :p

Snark aside, have you considered the new Zoom AMS-24? @Julian Krause reviewed it recently.
It's obviously not exactly earth-shattering but definitely tiny for what it is, at 326 cm³. Being specifically intended for use with smartphones and tablets as well, I imagine it ought to work with Linux.

I got an EVO 4 myself for similar purposes - 628 cm³, so still smaller than most of your other candidates. It's class compliant AFAIR (unlike the EVO 8).
 

studio7

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The Audient Evo 4 looks like a great option. Tiny, yet powerful. I myself bought an Audient iD4 Mk2 (only 1 mic preamp though), and was pleasantly surprised with the quality I got for the price.
 
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