Take Behringer's best-selling product and add a sprinkling of input from the Midas design team. Is this a recipe for sonic success?
Behringer's Ultragain ADA 8000 — a simple ADAT interface with mic and line inputs and analogue line outputs, which we reviewed in SOS June 2004 — has been one of the company's most popular and best-selling products, typically being used to expand the analogue I/O of USB or Firewire computer interfaces via their spare ADAT ports. Its technical specifications were, shall we say, less than whelming: it was never going to set the world alight from a quality point of view, but many users appreciated its usefulness and cost-effectiveness nonetheless. A decade later, and both technology and users' quality expectations have climbed, even for budget gear — so Behringer decided to revise this old favourite.
The new ADA 8200 is identical in all practical respects to the ADA 8000, except that it now features higher quality converters and new mic preamps, courtesy of the Midas designers (Behringer's parent company having acquired Midas and Klark Teknik a few years ago). Comparing the original and new models side by side, the only visible differences are a stylish satin-red front panel on the new version, and slightly different gain knobs with much narrower fluting. The gain-knob detents have gone, too, but in essence all the controls and connectors are identical, front and back. Digital interfacing is still via ADAT lightpipe ports, with electronically balanced analogue outputs via XLRs at the back, and both mic and line inputs connected on the front.
All the important changes, therefore, must be on the inside, and one of the most significant is that the linear power supply of the old model, which used to run very hot and was a common point of failure, has been replaced with a universal switched-mode power-supply module. This accepts any mains supply between 100 and 240VAC, and it runs considerably cooler than the old design. A bonus benefit is that the power consumption has been reduced from 25W to 15W, and the absence of a toroidal mains transformer also makes the unit lighter and better balanced.
As before, phantom power is switched globally with a push-button on the right-hand side of the front panel, and this illuminates green when disabled and red when active. On the review model, the phantom-power voltage measured fractionally low, at 46.5V, but that's still within tolerance and it didn't drop significantly when all eight channels were supplying power to microphones.
Clock-master (yellow) and clock-lock (green) LEDs positioned just above the phantom button indicate the unit's clocking configuration and status, as before, which is determined by a rear-panel slide switch. The master internal clock sample-rate options are still restricted to just 44.1 and 48kHz (no double or quad rates have been added, I'm afraid), and the same slave-clock options have been retained from the ADAT input or an external word-clock connected via a BNC socket.
That's the end of the trailer folks!
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