Once I had decided to sell off my VS-1680 (I wasn't really using it for what it is), I knew that I still
wanted to somehow record audio.
Software wise, I had pretty much decided that, for my needs, I would be quite happy using ProTools Free on either my Pizmo G3 PowerBook or my beige G3. But, I needed someway to get audio into the machine and not spend a lot of money doing it.
My goals were pretty simple - I only needed 2 channels in and out, just line level, no MIDI support, and priced at $200 _tops_. USB would be nice (versus Firewire which I couldn't use with my Windows machines on occasion), and definitely not any card based solution.
The Griffin adapter was the first to get the boot off of the list... I'll admit that it was all about using 1/8" jacks for audio connectors. Plus, while I think the Griffin stuff is great for what it is, it does leave a weird taste in my mouth about what kind of quality I could expect from the device. Plus, it's not really supported in Windows.
The MIDIMan box was next... I own MIDIMan gear, I like the MIDIMan gear I own, but I will admit that getting the gear I own to run under MacOS or Windows has been an interesting experience. I just wasn't looking forward to fighting their driver installs one-more-time.
So... There I was placing an order for the Edirol UA-1A. :) (fyi: Edirol is the desktop division of Roland).
The box showed up overnight - it turns out that the west coast distributor for Edirol is practically in my
Contained with the UA-1A was just a multilingual manual - no software of any kind, either drivers or apps. The manual is fine, in about 20 pages (per language) it covers installing the device under Windows or MacOS. Both OS's use a stock driver that ships with all Mac OS's as well as Windows 9x, Me and 2000.
Installation on the Pizmo was simple - and when I looked at the manual later, I found out that I didn't miss a step. :) I just connected the UA-1A into a port, headed for the Sound control panel, seleted "USB Audio" device as the input and I was done.
There are two options on the Sound control panel, "Play sound through output device" and "Monitor input levels". Checking the "Play sound..." option causes all input to be echoed through the driver and back out the input. You want to leave this unchecked, as the UA-1A has a hardware bridge internal that will allow for no-latency monitoring of the input signal.
Checking the "Monitor..." option allows you to have a quick visual check of the summed signal showing up at the driver level from the device. This option is temporary, and will uncheck itself when you close the control panel.
Nothing could have been easier... I created 2 audio channels, grouped them together, hit the RECORD enable buttons and fed in a signal from a CD player. The channels showed a signal, so I hit RECORD and grabbed my first audio samples.
On playback, I found that, just like the metering was telling me during record, I had hit the zero headroom point while recording. Bummer - and digital distortion is anything but warm! A quick trip back to the Sound control panel reminded me as to why I may have wanted physical level controls on the interface - 'cause there wasn't provision for gain control in software. :(
No matter really - this works out well for this quick test.
As a side note, this was my first time working with ProTool in any form. I gotta' admit that I go sidetracked more than once in playing with the included plug-ins and wandering through the app in general. I'm pretty psyched to get this integrated into my rig. Yahoo!
So, given a Phillips screwdriver and noting the lack of "warranty void if opened" seals... I applied
said screwdriver to the back of the forementioned UA-1A and twisted two screws out of the case.
Inside, I noted the following:
NOTE: I'm not a hardware guy, so if I'm guessing wrong as to what these parts are, lemme know!
Now if that hit on the AK4520AVF is to be believed, it looks like the UA-1A may have the same A/D in it as the VS-1680. Not too shabby.
The fragments below were recorded from a CD player (a consumer model Sony CDP-305) hooked straight to the
UA-1A. As mentioned above, there is no gain control within the UA-1A itself, and there is no output level
control on this CD player. I opted to keep a mixer out of the signal chain in order to keep things as clean
as possible. As such, you _will_ hear distortion in the louder portions of the Infected Mushroom track and
the whole back-end of the Papa Roach track is a massive flat-top. :)
As I get the UA-1A more integrated into my rig, I'll post up samples with a mixer in-line to keep things under control.
Yes, I did try the encoder in ProTools, but I got better results from the image in CoolEdit. The UA-1A encodes native at 44.1khz/16 bit, so there was no sample rate conversion involved.
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