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Will an Audio Interface Improve Recording Quality ?

Started by Indy33, August 26, 2023, 06:08:01 PM

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I have recently upgraded my turntable to a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO with a Sumiko Rainier cartridge and a ifi Zen Phono pre-amp. My motherboard will be a MSI H97 Guard Pro v2 using a RealtekĀ® ALC892 Codec (Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 2).

My question is about adding an Audio Interface(AI) that would eliminate the sound in the computer. Would this improve the quality when ripping my vinyl albums?

I've been researching the AI's and I'm looking at the Solid State Login SSL2 model. But I'm not sure if I can connect the output of the ifi Zen to the input of the SSL2. Not sure about the line levels, balanced and unbalanced connections. Can anyone clarify this for me?

I know this has way more capability than I need with other features, but if it improves the audio quality, then the $180 now before I start ripping would be worth the cost to me.

BTW, the ifi Zen has balanced outputs.

Appreciate any feedback !!! ..... Thanks !


Paul Sanders (AlpineSoft)


Well, ask 10 people and you'll get 20 opinions, but my own view is that built-in sound cards work very well.  The most likely possible problem is background noise emanating from the electronics inside the PC.

So I'd make a few test recordings and listen out for that.  And if possible, arrange a 'blind' listening test to compare one or two of those recordings with the original disc, playing them through the same amp.  Then you'll know.

96 / 24 more than enough, btw, but your sound card probably can't go beyond that anyway.


Thanks Paul!

There is not an obvious difference then 95% of the time sounds like.

One of my reasons for picking the SSL2 was for it's low noise level.

If I decided to go with the Audio Interface, will it connect properly with the ifi Zen Phono that has a Balanced RCA Outputs??? Would I use the XLR or TRS input to the AI?


Paul Sanders (AlpineSoft)

I would ask on their forum, I'm not an expert in such matters, sorry.


I recently made the switch from using the built-in digital output of my Audio-Technica AT-LP5 turntable to the Audient ID4 MKII audio interface. While the digital output was satisfactory, I was looking for an upgrade, and a knowledgeable staff member at a reputable electronics store convinced me to try out the Audient interface. Is it an improvement? Perhaps. I must say that it has provided me with the capability to monitor audio in real-time from the balanced output to my hi-fi system, which wasn't possible when using the computer's audio output. Additionally, the Audient interface offers greater flexibility in terms of routing and editing. In theory, it allows for the application of EQ, tone adjustments, compression, and other audio enhancements within the digital domain through its software before the signal is sent for recording. While I don't consider myself an expert, there are a few subpar recordings in my collection, particularly in the hardcore and gritty punk genre, that I'm tempted to enhance. These recordings tend to sound quite poor on a high-resolution audio system. Please forgive the lengthy response.
AT-LP5 + Ortofon 2M Blue + iFi Zen Phono
Mac Mini + Audient iD14 + ifi Zen DAC v2
Denon PMA-720AE + Wharfdale Dovedale


Thanks for the feedback !

Since my posts above, I purchased the Korg DS-DAC-10R. It has allowed me to rip my vinyl to a DSD file. Whether it sounds better I don't know yet since I'm just now getting to ripping the vinyl and breaking the file into songs/tracks, but it should! ;D  I hope to do some comparisons with some vinyl I ripped years ago using the computer sound.

Question is whether my hearing is critical enough to tell, with the more time I spend listening, this should improve. I wanted the highest quality audio within my budget so I don't have to repeat ripping the same vinyl again later.

Paul Sanders (AlpineSoft)

Hi cannieman,

I wouldn't do any audio cleanup at the recording stage.  I'd do it all in VS after recording verbatim.  That way you can experiment freely until you get the sound you want.

As for monitoring while recording (and indeed when cleaning up audio), I use a decent pair of headphones plugged into the computer's speaker socket.  Works for me.


Hi Paul, I agree. Better to have an honest recording to work with. I just pointed out it is possible, if not advisable.

Another approach... I know a guy who rips a lot, though he switches his cart when he moves between metal, jazz, classical etc for different characteristics. I just trust my Ortofon Blue for everything... he has fallen much further down the rabbit hole than most ;)
AT-LP5 + Ortofon 2M Blue + iFi Zen Phono
Mac Mini + Audient iD14 + ifi Zen DAC v2
Denon PMA-720AE + Wharfdale Dovedale


Would this improve the quality when ripping my vinyl albums?
Virtually no. Talking about ifi Zen Phono.
ISTM your way of thinking about improving the quality. Let me put it simple.
#1 No interference. Use ifi Zen Phono balanced output only.
#2 Good power supply. Reliability means no mains-powered power supply. Ref #1. Discard the supplied AC/DC adaptor.
#3 Perfect knowledge of digital audio basics. Keep your recording level as low as possible for avoidance of mutilation.

Korg DS-DAC 10R is an affordable thing but. I highlight _but_. The integrated A-D chip is out-of-vogue, wicked. Google the specifications.
DSD tm is no use for ripping. You are deprived of editing/refining/making adjustment. Sony-Philips invented DSD tm for archiving.
Nowadays, delta-sigma is king, though.


Thanks for the feedback Lewis!

ISTM ? Not familiar with this term.

Is the delta-sigma different from DSD?


Rick, you are welcome
It seems to me. Pardon. I was on the point of typing other thoughts.

Regarding your second question. Historically, DSD (the Direct Stream Digital trade mark) aka PWM (pulse-width-modulation), for certain it is P_D_M (where D is for density), 24 years to date, IMMDFM, came up to deliver so-called a-la analog sonic performance. One bit (either 0 or 1) at pretty much higher frequency (e.g. DSD 64 (Super-Audio CD) means 1 bit sampled at 64*44,100 Hz)) rather than conventional PCM (multi-bit) Redbook (CD.) They even coined their 'Scarletbook' label.
Sadly, so far the delta-sigma has replaced multi-bit converters (both Analog-to-Digital, alas, and Digital-to-Analog) as it it the simpliest, cheapest technology to process digital audio.
To bottom-line: DSD is based on the delta-sigma.