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Apollo vs Korg Kronos as sound card?

 
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Artcutech
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Joined: 27 Oct 2018
Posts: 57

PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2018 7:43 pm    Post subject: Apollo vs Korg Kronos as sound card? Reply with quote

So recently I got someone a Korg Kronos, I gave them my old Focurite claret also so theyíre using this setup with a 2015 MBP, recently we set things up to use the Kronos as the sound card in and out, and my goodness, thereís no comparison in sound quality, pluging a guitar into the Kronos blows away any interface Iíve used including my Apollo with unison, even running through a physical 610 mk 2 before hitting the Apollo as a straight line input cannot compare to the warmth the Kronos gives, Iím wondering if I should setup my u87 to the 610 mk 2 (cause the Kronos doesnít have phantom power but says to get an external preamp if when using condenser)and record vocals this way from now on?

I think the Kronos runs a Linux operating system and I wonder if instead of spending 5 grand on a iMac pro I should have built a Linux computer? I understand that itís not just the operating system but the internal components of the Kronos but i think 5 grand is enough money to build a dedicated music computer and I just assumed that my choices were either Mac or Pc, which in theory prob was the case as I was not willing to or knew how to geek out and maintain an operating system

Maybe the quality has nothing to do with Linux but all the components and if so , how the heck can I build a computer that sounds as good as the Kronos?
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Gunnar
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Joined: 27 Jan 2016
Posts: 174
Location: Norway

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 10:41 am    Post subject: Re: Apollo vs Korg Kronos as sound card? Reply with quote

Artcutech wrote:
So recently I got someone a Korg Kronos, I gave them my old Focurite claret also so theyíre using this setup with a 2015 MBP, recently we set things up to use the Kronos as the sound card in and out, and my goodness, thereís no comparison in sound quality, pluging a guitar into the Kronos blows away any interface Iíve used including my Apollo with unison, even running through a physical 610 mk 2 before hitting the Apollo as a straight line input cannot compare to the warmth the Kronos gives, Iím wondering if I should setup my u87 to the 610 mk 2 (cause the Kronos doesnít have phantom power but says to get an external preamp if when using condenser)and record vocals this way from now on?

I think the Kronos runs a Linux operating system and I wonder if instead of spending 5 grand on a iMac pro I should have built a Linux computer? I understand that itís not just the operating system but the internal components of the Kronos but i think 5 grand is enough money to build a dedicated music computer and I just assumed that my choices were either Mac or Pc, which in theory prob was the case as I was not willing to or knew how to geek out and maintain an operating system

Maybe the quality has nothing to do with Linux but all the components and if so , how the heck can I build a computer that sounds as good as the Kronos?


Very nice that you're liking the sound of the Kronos Smile

But I'm going to say this has absolutely nothing to do with the Operating System. The thing about digitial audio is that is precise and reproduces things exactly without coloration and modification. Any _digital_ audio system that fails to do this has failed and generally does not get released.

Of course, there are digital processes which purposefully affect the sound, like delays, reverbs, guitar amp simulations, compression, EQ, and all that goodnees. All of which are digital, with the purpose of changing the sound, but act of reading bits from disk or an input buffer and sending that to an output buffer does not change that signal.

So no, the OS has nothing to do with the color of the sound. The A/D and D/A conversion stages in the audio interfaces and Kronos can and most likely will color the sound to some extent though. And the levels running into and out of these convertors and preamps will also affect the tone they produce.

A quite common reason for hearing a difference is level variance. Doing unbiased A/B comparisons with audio is really hard. Especially if you plugged a few cables in between. If A is 1-2dB louder than B and there was a 10 second gap in between, chances are you perceived A sounding better, even though they were in fact identical, with just a slight level difference..

---

As for using Linux for your audio workstation for the sake of using Linux, I would suggest not going there unless you know what you're doing. I'm a programmer by trade, and I run Linux on my main computer, but I use that for work only, not music. Audio drivers are unreliable and USB class compatible interfaces are generally untested. Only a few DAWs will be available and your selection of effects and instruments and VSTs will be greatly limited. You can run windows software through WINE which might get you most of what you wanted, but then you might as well go full Windows.

I have lots of respect for the guys that work on the linux audio stack and those that use Linux for their audio work, but it does involve far more hassle, so I've decided to focus on the creative parts instead.

Linux works for the Kronos internally because they have a dedicated team building that Hardware / OS / Kernel / Driver / Software stack and they picked the components and it doesn't change very often. A lot of consumer hardware runs linux, actually.. The world of desktop linux is quite different and fragmented and finding a reliable setup will take a lot of trial and error.

---

Whatever you choose, have fun and good luck Smile
_________________
Gear: Korg Kronos 2 73, Arturia Microbrute & MiniBrute 2, Moog Mother-32, Ibanez RG320DXFM Guitar, ESP Viper 254FM Bass, Blackstar HT-1
Software: Reaper, EZ Drummer
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/gunnarsletta
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Artcutech
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Joined: 27 Oct 2018
Posts: 57

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 5:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Gunnar

even if i wanted to i prob wouldn't be able to run linux as i don't even like using pc as i try to limit the amount of maintenance and focus on the creative process as well haha

and for the most part i had an idea that it wasn't the operating system but just needed to get it out and try and make the point as to pin point why exactly the Kronos gave such a fuller richer sound as opposed to the clarett or the apollo when running a guitar through it no effects. The Apollo would get close after unison and other things but simply A/D back to back the Kronos won, although i wouldn't trade my Apollo or 3 satellites for anything as i need them and the iMac to do the heavy lifting in the mixing process, i just felt like if i could use the Apollo with a computer made out of the same juice as the Kronos it would put me over the top

I once owned PC 15 years ago that was built strictly for music and the interface came with a physical sound card and i can tell you that my results were amazing, since i recently got back into music a couple years ago using all Mac stuff i've always felt like jumping through hoops in order to recreate just a level of professional depth, thats the reason i ended up buying an Apollo and 3 satellites, but what seemed to just be the normal standard with my old computer i now have to put on the heavy treatment to get there and it still doesn't feel the same

I honestly think it has something to do with CORE AUDIO, as the interface might act as a sound card, the real sound card is in the iMac/core audio and it just sound weak and thin as ever compared to my old computers physical sound card that went into the computer and then connected with a physical interface, you think the iMac core audio has something to do with the audio sounding so thin and weak even when an Apollo/PCI card are set to in/out as the sound card? i know it says pci card on the in/out but it connects via thunderbolt to the actual sound card in the iMac and maybe that play a bigger role in rendering the audio than the actual apollo interface
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Artcutech
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Joined: 27 Oct 2018
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Edit: sorry double post Sad
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Gunnar
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Joined: 27 Jan 2016
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Location: Norway

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Artcutech,

What sounds good is very subjective, so it is hard to make recommendations one way or the other.

There are a few objective things I can comment on though, I'll tackle those first.

- Thunderbolt is an extension of the PCI bus. What this means is that you have tons of bi-directional bandwidth going through a thunderbolt interface. In practice for an audio interface this means lower latency compared to a USB interface. Similar, your old PC with the built-in audio would perform equivalent to a thunderbolt card as the built-in card was mounted on the PCI bus. Not better or worse, exactly the same, as the underlying bus is the same. USB is very different, and USB 3 is also technically inferior to thunderbolt / PCI, for this specific topic. But this is a practical issue. The audio produced is identical between USB and thunderbolt and PCI, because this is just digital signal "transmission", which doesn't color the sound.

- Core Audio also doesn't color the audio. It is purely digital adaptation layer in OSX and is just a means for hardware and software to speak together and an enabler for audio signal processing (both internal through VST / AU and similar plugins and external, like the Apollo onboard effects)

From my personal experience I noticed a huge difference when I moved from Kronos USB audio to my Clarett 8pre interface. The Clarett 8Pre was faaaaar superior to the Kronos for an external guitar. But when I went back and adjusted input levels on the Kronos, I couldn't tell the two apart. So what I originally thought was a big fault on the part of the Kronos, was just me running the signal in a less than optimal manner. This is why I brought up the level balancing before. And I still haven't side-by-side A/B matched the two to see if there is a real difference. I just know it is currently close enough that I can't tell an obvious difference.

There is a test you can do..(*) Run a loopback of your favourite song back into the DAW through your interfaces line out/in. Then level-match and compare that to the original. If it degraded, you have a problem. Otherwise, move on Smile

(*) https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?t=29283)
_________________
Gear: Korg Kronos 2 73, Arturia Microbrute & MiniBrute 2, Moog Mother-32, Ibanez RG320DXFM Guitar, ESP Viper 254FM Bass, Blackstar HT-1
Software: Reaper, EZ Drummer
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/gunnarsletta
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BobTheDog
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Joined: 21 May 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is no way that plugging a guitar into the Kronos should sound better than into an Apollo unless something is set up incorrectly.

First the Kronos hasnít got hi-z inputs so unless you are running the guitar through a DI box or something similar itís not going to be right, also the converters and general hardware in the Apollo will be of higher quality.

So we need to find out what is going wrong when you connect your guitar to you Apollo?
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Artcutech
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Gunner, Core audio May not color the recording but it processes the recording, Iím not saying I know it all and just trying to understand how much of a role core audio/apples internal soundcard plays a role in processing the audio

an observation

Letís say you send me a wav, and I have my setup as core audio and in/out set to internal, I drop the wav into Ableton and render

Now letís say I have my setup set to core audio Apollo in/out and drop the wav in Ableton and render

If I go to my vehicle and play the audio it will be exactly the same, which makes apples sound card the boss and a much bigger part of the audio playback, processing and all in general and those apple soundcards are not the best imo

Hi Bob the dog, iíve sat running this guitar hi-z into my Apollo unison, and even directly through a physical 610-mk 2 before going line in Apollo and my output to my monitors are coming out of the Apollo, it doesnít sound as good as me running the guitar into the Kronos not even with a di box but set to mic level with touch of input gain when the Kronos is set to sound card in/out and my outputs are Coming from the Kronos left and right out to my monitors

Aside from everything else I really think it sounds so amazing is that my output to my monitors are coming from the Kronos, but even when the audio has been recorded and sequence and playback is coming from recorded audio in Ableton back into the Kronos which my outputs to my monitors is coming from it sounds so much fuller and cleaner with the Kronos as in/out as opposed to Apollo in and out, itís like the Kronos and itís components are juicing everything from recording to playback to monitoring

EDIT: there is truly no comparison in sound quality from the Kronos to clarett, Kronos completely smashes it so I must be doing something wrong, mind you that I am monitoring left and right output from the Kronos and Kronos is set to in/out on sound card in Mac, sounds top notch, focusrite not so much, even with the the in set to Kronos and output to focusrite can't get the same sound out of the clarett, but when running out of the Kronos the sound coming out of the daw is just beautiful

thanks to the both of you for your time and help! Happy New Year


Last edited by Artcutech on Sat Dec 29, 2018 3:28 am; edited 1 time in total
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Artcutech
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Joined: 27 Oct 2018
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2018 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Bob

Another thing I wanted to mention is how itís imossible to get the type of depth from sampling(mostly from records) directly into my Apollo as opposed to a external sampler or keyboard like the Kronos, itís jist not the same, even with 4 saturation plug-ins, console/tape/single band/multi band might get 85% of the way there but not the same and even close to dry playback on the Kronos, why is that? Is it so hard to believe that running a guitar through the same input and components would produce the same type of juice?
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BobTheDog
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2018 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There has to be something weird going on, the apollo should not sound worse than the Kronos.

I guess a good first step would be to use some headphones plugged into the Apollo and then in to the Kronos. Make sure you have a clean audio path on the audio ins on the Kronos and Apollo, so no fx anywhere. And match the levels correctly.

First test audio from external source, so maybe the guitar through the 610 with both setups.

Second test audio from a DAW with both setups.

Do you hear a difference with the headphones?
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Artcutech
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2018 5:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Bob

Iíll do the tests with the headphones in the next couple days, really busy with work and the kronos and the guitar are at one place and the Apollo plus my 610 are at my place, Iíll def use head phones

But Iím telling you In regards to sampling, the Kronos and most other hardware samplers completely obliterate any straight up A/D into a interface going into a computer in regards to fullness and playback, itís not even close, I get that the Apollo gives a flat response which you want so you can build on, but hip hop and other producers for years have been trying to recreate the sound of a hardware sampler itb with heavy saturation plug-ins including myself, and you can get close, but the depth and punch and all around openness that comes from a hardware sampler straight up A/D cannot be done with the Apollo
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