AD Converter Shootout: Mytek AD96 vs Presonus Firestudio

Brandon Drury —  June 29, 2008

It’s popular to wonder how big of difference the analog to digital converter makes in a modern computer recording rig. It’s common for people to really push to get the “best sounding” analog to digital conversion possible. There is often a debate as to which audio interface / converter sounds best particularly with those who are still shopping for the right audio interface. (If you are, see the Home Recording Soundcard Wizard).

Several years ago I dumped $2400 into 4 channels of analog to digital conversion and 2 channels of digital to analog conversion (for monitoring). I purchased 2 Mytek AD96s and one Mytek DA96. This past December I purchased a Presonus Firestudio for $700.

Mytek AD96
I want to make it clear that the Mytek AD96 does not contain preamps and does not contain any form of an audio interface. It simply converters the output of my preamps (2 channels) into digital and spits that into the S/PDIF inputs of my audio interface. If memory serves me well, these converters cost about $1,000 per AD96 but I got a discount for purchasing in bulk.

Presonus Firestudio
On the other hand, the Presonus Firestudio costs $700, has 8 AD converters and 8 DA converters built in not counting the 8 preamps, routing matrix, audio interface to the computer, ADAT ins and outs, etc. In other words, they crammed a bunch of stuff in there for a price that is still 30% cheaper than purchasing just the 2 channels of AD conversion.

The Shootout
I have included two tiny little, unscientific tests. One is myself speaking in a Audio Technica AT4050. Just in case you are wondering, I had a member who wanted to terminate his membership because I made a joke about my home recording book in the voiceover shootout. The AT4050 is ran into my Vintech 1272 and then into either the Mytek AD96 or input 6 of the Presonus Firestudio with the preamp volume on the stock Presonus preamp turned all the way down.

The electric guitar is my Jackson Kelly with EMG 81s ran into my Rivera Knucklehead through a THD Hotplate and a custom 1×12′ cabinet with a Celestion G12H30 speaker. I mic’d the cabinet with a Sennheiser MD421 and ran that into a Vintech 1272 into either a Mytek AD96 or the stock Presonus input with the preamp turned all the way down.

Member’s Only
This analog to digital converter is for members only. Check out here: AD Converter Shootout: Mytek AD96 vs Presonus Firestudio If you are not a member, join today. It’s free! If you are a member, login and head here.

Brandon Drury

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Brandon Drury quit counting at 1,200 recorded songs in his busy home recording studio. He is the creator of and is the author of the Killer Home Recording series.