You are here

ADAT/MADI expansion strategy

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

ADAT/MADI expansion strategy

Postby plodsmeade » Wed Feb 05, 2020 2:56 pm

Hi all

I need to expand the analogue I/O on an RME UFX+, but I'm not sure of the best strategy. I would need minimum 8 simultaneous line in and out, and at least 4 of these with preamp option.

My inclination is to stick with RME for quality and longevity. An ADI 8 DS MKIII would give me the ins and outs but I would need separate preamps. I intend to use these extra channels (in connection with another post) with dynamics and ribbons so the preamps would need to be able to handle these.

Most 8ch preamp units seem to have ADAT included, so it feels redundant to get an AD-DA as well as an ADAT enabled preamp. On the other hand, most 8ch preamps with ADAT are input only (e.g. the RME offerings) i.e. they may have preamp direct outs but not ADAT outs. The exception I've found is the Presonus Digimax DP88.

There is also the option of exploiting the UFX+ MADI option somehow.

In summary:
RME AD-DA + analogue only preamp (4ch+)
Presonus Digimax DP88 or simiar
Some MADI option

Any insights on the best way to go? I would favour quality and longevity (support) over low price.

cheers

p
plodsmeade
Regular
Posts: 76
Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2006 12:00 am

Re: ADAT/MADI expansion strategy

Postby James Perrett » Wed Feb 05, 2020 3:24 pm

From personal experience I can highly recommend the Audient offerings. I have an older ASP008 which has handled everything I've tried to use it for and should certainly be quiet enough for ribbon mics. The only problem is that it doesn't have any digital to analogue convertors. However, if you don't mind going secondhand you might find one without the digital interface (it was an optional extra) which will should be going cheap nowadays.
User avatar
James Perrett
Moderator
Posts: 8746
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2001 11:00 pm
Location: The wilds of Hampshire
JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration. JRP Music Facebook Page

Re: ADAT/MADI expansion strategy

Postby n o i s e f l e ur » Wed Feb 05, 2020 4:17 pm

Does the RME Fireface 802 not kinda sorta fit the bill to a tee?

It's got everything you asked for, with the added bonus you get a backup / spare if the unthinkable happens and the UFX suddenly quits working for any reason. Extra phones outputs too!
n o i s e f l e ur
Regular
Posts: 179
Joined: Sat Aug 04, 2018 5:20 am

Re: ADAT/MADI expansion strategy

Postby CS70 » Wed Feb 05, 2020 4:31 pm

If your main goal is to run preamps, one of the many 8-in-line options will do fine. If it is I/O towards outboard, then a converter box will be better.

If it’s a mix.. it’s tougher. One option worth looking at are old good FW interfaces from Motu, Apogee etc which often have a stand-alone mode which allows you to use then as converters via ADAT. The flip side is that to configure them as such or for preamp operation you need a FW equipped PC. The quality of conversion will be a little lower than with more modern offerings but still very useable and the value for money is high.
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 4744
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 12:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: ADAT/MADI expansion strategy

Postby nathanscribe » Wed Feb 05, 2020 5:28 pm

I've just bought a Focusrite Clarett Octopre, that has 8 in and 8 out, and will sync over ADAT. The analogue outs will either pass the preamp signal, or the digital returns, and there's an insert on every channel (though it's post-pres, and not inline with the digital returns).

Favourable price, solid build, sounds fine to me but I'm not using fancy mics, so might be worth auditioning before buying.
User avatar
nathanscribe
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1108
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2007 12:00 am
Location: Wakefield, for my sins.
I have no idea what I'm doing.

Re: ADAT/MADI expansion strategy

Postby plodsmeade » Wed Feb 05, 2020 6:13 pm

Thanks everyone

Clarett Octopre a good shout. Similar to the Digimax DP88.

It is a mix - of needing lines for running in synths and sends and returns for hardware effects, and just a few more preamps to make things easier with the new mics.

I like the idea of separate preamps. Are ADAT interfaces just cheap now and that's why they are always on them, it's tricky to buy analogue only unless you want boutique. So maybe a 2nd hand ASP008.

RME Fireface 802 would do it but, perhaps irrationally, I just feel like I'm paying for features I won't use.
plodsmeade
Regular
Posts: 76
Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2006 12:00 am

Re: ADAT/MADI expansion strategy

Postby n o i s e f l e ur » Wed Feb 05, 2020 6:36 pm

Nah - you're paying for the features you use and getting the rest for free.

For example, my interface has Firewire, but I connect it over USB . . . and lose zero sleep over the unused Firewire port, or the unused SP/DIF . . . preamps, standalone capability, Wordclock I/O and until very recently - the ADAT ports!
n o i s e f l e ur
Regular
Posts: 179
Joined: Sat Aug 04, 2018 5:20 am

Re: ADAT/MADI expansion strategy

Postby Mixedup » Wed Feb 05, 2020 10:45 pm

Depending how much IO you want to add and what sample rates you'd like to support... the Ferrofish MADI AD/DA converters are good and good value. They can also act as ADAT<>MADI converters, so you can hook up more ADAT mic pres when required. But this might be overkill!

Eg A16 MkII or A32 or Pulse 16. Just be sure to get the MADI version...

https://www.kmraudio.com/ferrofish-a-16 ... verter.php
User avatar
Mixedup
Jedi Poster
Posts: 4395
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Cambridgeshire, UK

Re: ADAT/MADI expansion strategy

Postby n o i s e f l e ur » Thu Feb 06, 2020 12:44 am

I have a Ferrofish Pulse 16 MX (MADI) hooked up to my RME and can vouch it's excellent value, and the quality seems very good to my ears - though I really haven't had time to evaluate that aspect as thoroughly as I'd have liked yet.

But no mic pre-amps on the Pulse models. Also, and this caught me out a little, they're routers not mixers. You can only route audio in groups of eight. Thankfully in my case that hasn't proved to be an obstacle, and since my intention is always to have RME as the actual interface to the computer RME Totalmix can handle any more granular routing necessary at that stage.

I want to add a little to what I said earlier re; unused features and the value proposition:

I just think it's a little shortsighted to look at the featureset RME bring to the table as "paying for features I don't use". Instead, I look at the situation as RME provide an enhanced and advanced set of features over and above most if not all of their peers at any given pricepoint. There might be a few exceptions to that premise, and if one considers subjective audio quality (y'know, the sound), almost certainly be legitimate debate to be had. Objectively however, they sound pretty damn good according to most measurements - effectively transparent is the description I see most. I only mention the audio quality as it's the most important feature of all, but clearly there may be a tradeoff to consider when looking at something like pre-amps as those can be a very subjective choice, as well as the creative use thereof for colour etc.

plodsmeade wrote:
Any insights on the best way to go? I would favour quality and longevity (support) over low price.

p

Obvious answer seems obvious!

Whichever RME device anyone buys - and it makes no difference to me if the OP decides to go another way, the above is what you're paying for. It's not ALL that you're paying for mind - they throw in a bunch of features you may never use too! On the other hand one or more of those facilities could prove to be a lifesaver on a paid gig, or open up some opportunity hitherto unseen. Versatility, contingency.

So, I hope you (the OP) don't take this as me berating you, saying "PICK MINE OR YOU@RE A FOOL!" because it's not, at all. It's more of a musing on the merits of versatility and contingency and value for anyone reading the thread faced with a similar buying decision.

I wish you the very best of luck with whatever you decide to go with. :)
n o i s e f l e ur
Regular
Posts: 179
Joined: Sat Aug 04, 2018 5:20 am

Re: ADAT/MADI expansion strategy

Postby Aural Reject » Thu Feb 06, 2020 8:53 am

James Perrett wrote:From personal experience I can highly recommend the Audient offerings. I have an older ASP008 which has handled everything I've tried to use it for and should certainly be quiet enough for ribbon mics. The only problem is that it doesn't have any digital to analogue convertors. However, if you don't mind going secondhand you might find one without the digital interface (it was an optional extra) which will should be going cheap nowadays.

A word of warning about this...one of the long time forum contributors found a measurable issue (can't remember the details, sorry) with some of these digital expansion boards....to the point where all of their units were offloaded becuase they weren't capable of delivering what they promised.

I've not been party to any of the measurements myself, but I'm told whatever the issue was is fixed with the later generations of ASP800 and ASP880.
User avatar
Aural Reject
Frequent Poster
Posts: 936
Joined: Thu May 01, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Lancashire born, living in Yorkshire :s

Re: ADAT/MADI expansion strategy

Postby The Elf » Thu Feb 06, 2020 9:17 am

I use an RME MADIFace XT and a pair of Ferrofish A32s. It's a neat system, but it would leave you short of mic pre's. You seem keen on the idea of separate pre's, so this might not be an issue. Similarly I have a choice of a few decent separate pre's, such that I'm covered for what I need - you could take a similar approach. None of this is budget gear, though, so be prepared!
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 13419
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2001 11:00 pm
Location: Sheffield, UK
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.

Re: ADAT/MADI expansion strategy

Postby jaminem » Thu Feb 06, 2020 11:50 am

I have a Fireface 802 and 2 x DP88's

The quality of DP88's is as good if not better than the RME. Marketing hype talks about Burr Brown converters, maybe its that maybe its not, but it sounds great to me, to a point where I don't even think about conversion anymore.
Usefully You get the direct AD/DA access at line level via Dsubs on the back and the preamps which can be switched from the front panel so everything can be plummed in and you can go between them without having to go round the back of the rack.

Tbh, whenever anyone asks this question I always recommend the DP88 and it always falls on deaf ears. I don't know why this is. People seem to prefer the Audient, the Octopre, the Ferrofish or even the Behringer for this task. Pretty sure the specs of the DP88 are as good if not better (in terms of dynamic range) than any of the more frequently recommended ones?

Maybe Presonus is not as fashionable so people have less exposure to it? Maybe there are some concerns about reliability and build quality (unfounded on my personal experience) I don't know, but for this task I couldn't find anything with a better balance of quality, features and cost.
If I could change anything it would be external PSU but aside from that it was the least compromised expander for what I wanted when I was buying.

I got 2!
jaminem
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1093
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2001 12:00 am

Re: ADAT/MADI expansion strategy

Postby plodsmeade » Thu Feb 06, 2020 12:34 pm

n o i s e f l e ur wrote:I hope you (the OP) don't take this as me berating you

Not at all, thanks for taking the time to comment, I get what you're saying. Like I said, perhaps its irrational, based on wanting an uncluttered rack without duplicates of things, and the belief that if they'd chopped out the unused features it would be either cheaper or the quality of that remaining be better. Will definitely think about this as an option.

Good to hear about the quality of the DP88 jaminem, it does look like a clean and simple option.

Another option would be to use the opportunity of an upgrade to really futureproof things and get more I/O than needed right now, in which case perhaps MADI like the ELF says and choose a couple of stereo preamp modules that would be good with ribbons and low sensitivity dynamics. Any recs on this?
plodsmeade
Regular
Posts: 76
Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2006 12:00 am

Re: ADAT/MADI expansion strategy

Postby James Perrett » Thu Feb 06, 2020 12:37 pm

Aural Reject wrote:
James Perrett wrote:From personal experience I can highly recommend the Audient offerings. I have an older ASP008 which has handled everything I've tried to use it for and should certainly be quiet enough for ribbon mics. The only problem is that it doesn't have any digital to analogue convertors. However, if you don't mind going secondhand you might find one without the digital interface (it was an optional extra) which will should be going cheap nowadays.

A word of warning about this...one of the long time forum contributors found a measurable issue (can't remember the details, sorry) with some of these digital expansion boards....to the point where all of their units were offloaded becuase they weren't capable of delivering what they promised.

I'd be interested to know more. I've looked at the output of mine on a spectrum analyser being fed by various sources and haven't noticed any issues.
User avatar
James Perrett
Moderator
Posts: 8746
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2001 11:00 pm
Location: The wilds of Hampshire
JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration. JRP Music Facebook Page

Re: ADAT/MADI expansion strategy

Postby n o i s e f l e ur » Thu Feb 06, 2020 4:11 pm

plodsmeade wrote:
n o i s e f l e ur wrote:I hope you (the OP) don't take this as me berating you

Not at all, thanks for taking the time to comment, I get what you're saying. Like I said, perhaps its irrational, based on wanting an uncluttered rack without duplicates of things, and the belief that if they'd chopped out the unused features it would be either cheaper or the quality of that remaining be better. Will definitely think about this as an option.

Cool, no woken furies then!

And I get where you're coming from, it's not a wholly irrational belief. What I think is going on is the digital interfacing options on these devices are quite inexpensive these days, especially if a company can leverage inclusion across many devices as a value-add. The analogue circuitry / design though . . . well, that's expensive regardless. In other words I don't think dropping those features would allow for much more or better of anything else at the pricepoint. But obviously I'm not privy to RME's cost-structure!

I've already mentioned, but another perspective on "duplicates" is "redundant / spare / backup".

I'm sure you'll be fine whatever you get in the end up, and this bit's actually sorta fun dont'cha think? :)
n o i s e f l e ur
Regular
Posts: 179
Joined: Sat Aug 04, 2018 5:20 am

Re: ADAT/MADI expansion strategy

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Feb 07, 2020 1:07 pm

James Perrett wrote:
Aural Reject wrote:A word of warning about this...one of the long time forum contributors found a measurable issue (can't remember the details, sorry) with some of these digital expansion boards....to the point where all of their units were offloaded becuase they weren't capable of delivering what they promised.

I'd be interested to know more. I've looked at the output of mine on a spectrum analyser being fed by various sources and haven't noticed any issues.

I've got a feeling it was a word-length issue -- claiming to be 24 bits but only delivering 16 active audio bits and I believe it only affected the earliest digital cards in the 008 models, not the cards in the current 800 and 880s. ... but that's a vague recollection, not a definitive fact!

H
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 25747
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound

Re: ADAT/MADI expansion strategy

Postby forumuser840717 » Fri Feb 07, 2020 11:22 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
James Perrett wrote:
Aural Reject wrote:A word of warning about this...one of the long time forum contributors found a measurable issue (can't remember the details, sorry) with some of these digital expansion boards....to the point where all of their units were offloaded becuase they weren't capable of delivering what they promised.

I'd be interested to know more. I've looked at the output of mine on a spectrum analyser being fed by various sources and haven't noticed any issues.

I've got a feeling it was a word-length issue -- claiming to be 24 bits but only delivering 16 active audio bits and I believe it only affected the earliest digital cards in the 008 models, not the cards in the current 800 and 880s. ... but that's a vague recollection, not a definitive fact!

H

It was indeed a word length issue. Though not quite delivering 16 active bits whilst claiming 24bits. And the cards in question were the Version 2 AES plus ADAT S-MUX cards that replaced the original ADAT only or AES plus ADAT (non S-MUX) option cards in the 008. I'm told that it doesn't affect the ASP880 which "definitely" is 24bit and I tested my ASP880s (before getting rd of them) and found them to be outputting 24bit (don't know about others).

It was claiming to deliver a fixed 24bit AES output and switchable 16-20-24bit ADAT outputs whilst actually deliivering fixed 20bit output on both, regardless of the word length indication on the front panel where a "Format" selection switch and associated indicators showed 16-20-24bit as the output word length.

And what pissed me off even more was the response from Audient's Technical Support people who, when I queried it, told me without a hint of apology or embarrassment, that it was "normal" that the AES and ADAT digital outputs on my nine ASP-008s were fixed at 20bit, despite every bit of publicity, review, published tech spec, etc. claiming that the AES output was fixed at 24bit and the ADAT ouptut was switchable between 16, 20 and 24 bit.

In my book there's a word for that, actually several, and none of them are "normal"!

It's arguably not that technically serious but I hate being lied to and felt thoroughly let-down/disappointed by a company I'd formerly trusted (I'd been a DDA user since 1986/7 and still had a lot of DDA consoles as well as a load of Audient preamps and other kit). They knew that the boards didn't deliver the advertised 24bit outputs yet they continued to claim that they did (or lied by omission in not pointing out that the boards had been redesigned and no longer did). Either way that's not the behaviour of a company I want anything to do with so I'll never again by choice use or recommend an Audient product.
forumuser840717
Regular
Posts: 94
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2016 4:20 pm

Re: ADAT/MADI expansion strategy

Postby James Perrett » Sat Feb 08, 2020 12:07 am

Thanks for the info. I'll have to check which card I have but I think that it is the later combined card as it certainly does SMUX and has the 9 pin AES connector. I've checked with Schwa's Bitter plug-in and I can see all 24 bits active on files recorded with it (both 96kHz and 44.1kHz) but I'll check more thoroughly when I have the unit in front of me.
User avatar
James Perrett
Moderator
Posts: 8746
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2001 11:00 pm
Location: The wilds of Hampshire
JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration. JRP Music Facebook Page

Re: ADAT/MADI expansion strategy

Postby Martin Walker » Sat Feb 08, 2020 9:56 am

James Perrett wrote:I've checked with Schwa's Bitter plug-in and I can see all 24 bits active on files recorded with it (both 96kHz and 44.1kHz)

Schwa Bitter is one mighty useful plug-in isn't it? And it's still free! :thumbup:

bitter_ss.jpg


https://www.stillwellaudio.com/plugins/bitter/


Martin
User avatar
Martin Walker
Moderator
Posts: 14951
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 8:44 am
Location: Cornwall, UK

Re: ADAT/MADI expansion strategy

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Feb 08, 2020 11:34 am

forumuser840717 wrote:It was indeed a word length issue. ... And the cards in question were the Version 2 AES plus ADAT S-MUX cards that replaced the original ADAT only or AES plus ADAT (non S-MUX) option cards in the 008. I'm told that it doesn't affect the ASP880 which "definitely" is 24bit and I tested my ASP880s (before getting rd of them) and found them to be outputting 24bit (don't know about others).

Thanks for the clarification. :thumbup:

And what pissed me off even more was the response from Audient's Technical Support people who, when I queried it, told me without a hint of apology or embarrassment, that it was "normal" that the AES and ADAT digital outputs on my nine ASP-008s were fixed at 20bit, despite every bit of publicity, review, published tech spec, etc. claiming that the AES output was fixed at 24bit and the ADAT ouptut was switchable between 16, 20 and 24 bit.

Hmmm... I agree. Disappointing and not what I would have expected from a company that's normally so on-the-ball.

But I'm glad the newer models are working correctly!

H
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 25747
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users