What's a decent A-D converter?

Dear folks,

I’m looking for a good A-D converter for digitizing my vinyl. I want something that’s decent, and definitely better than what’s built into the computer. I’m able to throw a few hundred bucks at the problem, but I can’t come close to affording “gold standard” quality like this:


Trying to find alternatives turns out to be a lot more work than I thought. The searches are dominated by the extremes; obviously-cheap crap that I’d never look twice at, and high-end stuff in the mid-four figures. But I found two, so far.



Does anyone here have any opinions about Behringer or M-Audio as companies? All around, these folks talk a good game. but I know that talk is cheap. In a situation like this I think I have to rely more on the reputation of the company than anything else, absent being able to find reviews for these two products (which I haven’t been able to).

Do you think either of these units would serve me?

If you don’t think much of either of these vendors or units, can you name some midrange audio manufacturers I should be looking to? Thanks!

(FYI, My audio system is decent but definitely low-midrange; nothing that would impress an audiophile. A cheap but acceptable direct-drive turntable, a Shure M91ED cartridge, etc. I’m running a MacBook Pro and digitizing at 48kHz, 24bit. I’ll be archiving the transcribed audio to external FireWire drives as lossless FLAC files.)

Thanks for your help!

~ pax Ctein
[ please excuse any word salad. MacSpeech in training! ]

– Ctein’s online Gallery http://ctein.com
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I use the Behringer UCA 202 and I’m very happy with it (Waxcylinder, another regular on the forum uses a similar product by Edirol I believe). The sound quality is much better than you might reasonably expect from something in this price range.

With your budget, the low price of these products will leave you an adequate budget for a nice phono pre-amp if you’ve not got one yet.

Dear Steve,

That’s reassuring.

I’d just been planning to use the preamp (line out) from my stereo-- a mid-80’s vintage Technics SA-104. You saying I’ll get noticeably better sound from a dedicated preamp? (given my so-so setup, overall)


pax / Ctein

P.S. to Steve…

Someone over on the Apple Forums just pointed me at this:


Seems to have the phono RIAA preamp built in. So, if you definitely think I should be getting a dedicated premap, this looks attractive.

Too many goshdarn choices in the world!




stevethefiddle was right in his earlier posting in this thread I use the Edirol UA-1EX http://www.rolandus.com/products/productdetails.aspx?ObjectId=743

And I also use a small dedicated phono preamp - the ARTcessories DJ Pre-II http://www.artproaudio.com/products.asp?type=90&cat=13&id=109 (I bought this when the old technics preamp from my wife’s old stack system died part way through my LP conversion project). See this thread which I started to help me select the one I chose: http://audacityteam.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=3114&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&hilit=recommendations.

I have produced excellent results with these pieces of kit - combined they make good recordings from LP - and the Edirol makes excellent recordings from FM radio tape and minidisc.

I do note that since I purchased these pieces of kit ART released a combined unit, the USB Phono Plus http://www.artproaudio.com/products.asp?type=91&cat=14&id=110 - if I was starting over I could be tempted to buy this unit.


Dear Waxy,

Thanks for all that great info.

Sounds like either the Behringer FCA202 or the Edirol UA-1EX would make me happy (enough). I’ll look into which I can get fastest; I’m kinda champing at the bit to get going.

Impression I got from your email and the thread you directed me at is that I should be fine with the pre-amp built into my Technics SA-104, unless I’ve got some reason to want to work sans amp. I already moved it into the office and near the computer, so physical convenience is now moot.

Anyone else want to chime in pro or con on the separate pre-amp business?

(BTW, unless I misunderstood the ART web page, I don’t think the USB Phono Plus would have any benefits; it doesn’t seem to be a digitizer, just a USB-mated amp. If one’s going into an external A-D converter, that’s kind of a useless feature.)

Ah well, off to bed, dreaming of audio bits…

pax / Ctein

One thing you might want to consider is that the Edirol gives you control over the output level sent to your computer - the vovlume conrol on the FCA202 only appears to affect the headphone output level (this is also true of the USB version of this card the UCA202 which Stevethefiddle uses - and it’s one of the reasons I chose the Edirol over the Behringer). You may be able to control the signal level ok from your Technics amp though.

Yes you should be ok with that - provided that you plug the turntable into a phono input (you need this for the RIAA equalisation). I would use the output to Tape as my output to the ADC

No, it looks from the specs that it is a combined phono pre-amp with ADC (analog to digital converter) and DAC with a USB interface. IIRC it can also be switched from phono to line-level input so it can be used with FM radio and tape as well as turntables. The build quality of the ART devices is extremely high.

Iv’e just noticed from the ART website that they have an improved version theUSB Phono Plus V2 http://www.artproaudio.com/products.asp?type=90&cat=13&id=128

All three manufacturers are good at putting specs and manuals on t’interweb - and will answer technical questions on the phone - so you can check specs before you buy.

Happy digi-bitting …


I use the phono pre-amp in a 20 year old Sony Integrated Amplifier. The power amp part was not that great, but the amp has a “pre-amp out” and is a discrete transistor design and sounds wonderful (much better than my modern amp). If it ever decides to give up the ghost, I picked up a second identical model for the grand price of $0.00 :smiley: