With either no input connected or a dummy balanced input load termination and the input gain set to minimum, what digital output signal level should I be seeing on my DAW system? This is a noise floor question. If the gain is set at +20dB, what would the noise floor be? I'm assuming around -100dB down from peak (0dB) at minimum gain and around -95dB with the gain set to a moderate level.
Is this an accurate way to determine how clean the front-end and A/D is on the Gold Channel?
It should be a possible to compare different front-end and A/Ds using your DAW. Depending of the filters and analyzing methods in your DAW you will most likely also get figures which you can compare to the tech specs.
Our noise measurements are performed with a 40 ohm termination on the inputs. You can expect a noise floor at approx. -100dBFS with a gain of +20dB, fairly relative to the gain setting.
If comparing diffent front-ends and A/Ds you must pay attention to the fact that the gain and headroom also must be comparable when making noise measurements. Please note: distortion, frequency response / phase linearity are also factors that you must consider if you want to determine which is the "cleanest".
And it is not always the unit which have the best specs which sounds right, but we are convinced that you will find the Gold Channel to be on the top in both categories though.