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Thread: RCA vs Digital

  1. #11
    Tech Guru SlayForMoney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the_bastet View Post
    It's not a huge difference, but still a cool observance. :-)
    Ah yes, the latency. EDM DJ's number one enemy.
    I would dare to say it's a almost unmeasurable difference, I would love it if somebody proves me wrong.

    Anyway, can we conclude that if you buy top-of-the-line, 6000$ worth of gear, it makes zero sense not to invest in a few digital cables?
    Denon X600 - 2x Denon SC-2000 - AKG K181DJ - NI Audio 2

  2. #12
    Tech Mentor dsquareddan's Avatar
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    Sonically, you will not hear a difference, even on the biggest sound systems at major festivals...

    ...However, there is one key point to note for why you should ALWAYS spring for digital connection when possible on pioneer gear:

    When hooking up gear to DJMs with digital connections (either S/PDIF or USB) it is NOT POSSIBLE to clip the channel gains on the mixer. You can (but you shouldnít) turn the gains and the EQís up 100% on the channels well into the ďredĒ and it still will not be physically clipping (only on the channels, the Master Out & Booth Out is different. More on that in a minute).
    Iíve contacted Pioneer reps directly on this to confirm and tested myself.

    The reason is because of the 32bit floating point DSP (on NXS2, I think itís 24bit on first gen 900nxs and djm2000) makes the headroom so huge that it is *pretty much* impossible to clip the gains on a digital signal.

    When I set up gear for international artists on tour at major festivals I always use digital inputs, have the Master Attenuation at the lowest setting it will go (-12db on NXS2, -6db on DJM900nxs) and also booth attenuation on nxs2 the same. As well the Peak Limiter turned on in mixer settings.

    This means that I can safely not worry if a DJ ďredlinesĒ (which happens WAY more than you think with major artists) because I know the signal leaving the mixer will not be distorted no matter how loud the DJ turns it up and I donít have to play the silly game of explaining to them that if they turn it down, Iíll turn it up on the Front of House mixing console running the show sound system.
    It also has the added benefit that if the previous/next DJ uses a Serato box (because they STILL havenít gotten Serato Club Kit expansion in 2017 &#128580 or some other analog sound card device, you donít have to worry about unplugging a live signal cable as only the cdjís will be digital.

    So in summary, always use digital when possible simply because you can drive a mixer louder (which you donít need to do, but DJs never learn...) without distortion, and it makes changeovers with other pieces of gear into the same mixer a breeze

  3. #13
    Tech Guru SlayForMoney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dsquareddan View Post
    ...However, there is one key point to note for why you should ALWAYS spring for digital connection when possible on pioneer gear:

    When hooking up gear to DJMs with digital connections (either S/PDIF or USB) it is NOT POSSIBLE to clip the channel gains on the mixer.
    Not only on Pioneer gear.
    And I would count that as a con, not a pro argument. Why would I enable lousy DJ to pass as competent one? :P
    Denon X600 - 2x Denon SC-2000 - AKG K181DJ - NI Audio 2

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlayForMoney View Post
    Not only on Pioneer gear.
    And I would count that as a con, not a pro argument. Why would I enable lousy DJ to pass as competent one? :P
    Isnt that Pioneer DJs entire business model?

  5. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by dsquareddan View Post
    Sonically, you will not hear a difference, even on the biggest sound systems at major festivals...

    ...However, there is one key point to note for why you should ALWAYS spring for digital connection when possible on pioneer gear:

    When hooking up gear to DJMs with digital connections (either S/PDIF or USB) it is NOT POSSIBLE to clip the channel gains on the mixer. You can (but you shouldnít) turn the gains and the EQís up 100% on the channels well into the ďredĒ and it still will not be physically clipping (only on the channels, the Master Out & Booth Out is different. More on that in a minute).
    Iíve contacted Pioneer reps directly on this to confirm and tested myself.

    The reason is because of the 32bit floating point DSP (on NXS2, I think itís 24bit on first gen 900nxs and djm2000) makes the headroom so huge that it is *pretty much* impossible to clip the gains on a digital signal.

    When I set up gear for international artists on tour at major festivals I always use digital inputs, have the Master Attenuation at the lowest setting it will go (-12db on NXS2, -6db on DJM900nxs) and also booth attenuation on nxs2 the same. As well the Peak Limiter turned on in mixer settings.

    This means that I can safely not worry if a DJ ďredlinesĒ (which happens WAY more than you think with major artists) because I know the signal leaving the mixer will not be distorted no matter how loud the DJ turns it up and I donít have to play the silly game of explaining to them that if they turn it down, Iíll turn it up on the Front of House mixing console running the show sound system.
    It also has the added benefit that if the previous/next DJ uses a Serato box (because they STILL havenít gotten Serato Club Kit expansion in 2017 ��) or some other analog sound card device, you donít have to worry about unplugging a live signal cable as only the cdjís will be digital.

    So in summary, always use digital when possible simply because you can drive a mixer louder (which you donít need to do, but DJs never learn...) without distortion, and it makes changeovers with other pieces of gear into the same mixer a breeze
    I think the difference can be heard. I find less grunge on the highs and a clearer, more phase-accurate midrange. A little harder to tell on the bass. I do think Pioneer's ADCs have always been excellent from the DJM800 on, though.

    Older digital Pioneer DJMs were 32bit DSP. NXS2 is 64bit. Other than their choice of dither to the output stages, it shouldn't make any difference. None of their filter Qs are narrow/tight enough to get ringing errors in 32bit domain. Doesn't hurt, though.

    You're right that using the SPDIF inputs prevents input clipping, but it's to do with the ADCs being before a variable analog trim/gain stage rather than the type of DSP. Those trims on the Pioneer digital DJMs are analog controls when using the analog inputs, and digital domain when using the digital inputs. EQs and everything further down are digital domain for everything, obviously. That said, the DSP stage also cannot be clipped regardless of the input due to the floating point math. Pioneer added those Clip LEDs because the channel meters below don't actually represent the input stage but the DSP section. You're right that the outputs can be clipped, since they become fixed point with a real, finite scale. The Clip LED on the master, though, is just an extension of the master meter that previously served its purpose just fine. Seems they wanted to stick with a theme and keep it obvious.

    The attenuation settings for the outputs, however, do not give you more headroom prior to the DJM output stages (sample depth/rate conversion, DACs, digital outs). All they're for is conforming the DJM outputs to outboard gear's input needs, nothing more. The max digital output level has always been strangely 5 or 6dB down from full scale, anyway.

    I find it strange Pioneer still hasn't allowed for the master out volume knob to have unity at max, as some other brands have allowed in their settings. But sticking it at about 1:15 and putting a blue speakon cap and tape over it does the trick. You could just turn the master out even lower to give yourself more master out headroom, but there's nothing preventing the DJ from just crushing the DSP section even harder and getting to the same peaks as before on the outputs. You might as well just stick the knob at unity so the master out shows the same levels as the channel outs. Otherwise, if you're running the master out at max, unity on the upfaders becomes 7 instead of max on those. That was more intended for the when Pioneer still had the rotary option so those guys could run the mixer without fussing with the trims.

    A compressor limiter is also not all it's cracked up to be in this kind of situation, either. It's one thing if you've got a rock band, analog sound board, and a guy to babysit the levels. Adding one there can be a nice safety for someone going heavy metal caveman and smashing an electric guitar. Compressors are very useful obviously for production purposes and absolutely essential for the output stages of power amplifiers. Without a limiter on an amp's output stage, you can get distortion peaks that are many multiples of the amp's rated power, since the rated power is usually just the max output below 1% THD. Without a limiter on an amp's internal output stage, the only thing preventing higher distorted outputs is the amp's power supply and the venue's circuit fuses that even will allow many amps more than they're rated for a few milliseconds. Some of these cheap mega amp power supplies lack power factor correction caps and could potentially try to draw nearly 100 amps if they were unlimited and distorting!

    A digital DJ mixer, however, is already a brick wall peak limiting device. Unless you're running unprotected tweeters right up against their handling AND are confident your front-end source gear will never have issues (cables disconnecting, software glitches, etc) AND the content music never has any square wave-like aspects (good luck with that), having the limiter on does nothing advantageous except be more forgiving of stupid DJing habits by sounding better when they push the mixer too hard. That might be useful recording a one-off DJ mix in the studio where you want to smooth over mistakes and not ruin it, but in a live big-sound environment you're just inviting its abuse and that can spell death to woofers by heat as a result of crushed dynamics over normal crest factor of program content. Even if you don't cook your woofers, you're still incentivizing less musical dynamics that can make people think the sound system is poor. If the DJ clips overtly, everyone knows whose fault that is. Whether they trigger a compressor limiter or hard clip digitally, dynamics are crushing either way. Let it sound like shit when they clip and they'll do it less.

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