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Steinberg AXR4 - who will buy this?

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Steinberg AXR4 - who will buy this?

Postby jaminem » Mon Jan 28, 2019 12:59 pm

Well, what a lovely looking thing that is...
Love the idea of the silk circuit integration and its got loads of connectivity and I'm sure it sounds great. The integration with Cubase and the 32 native resolution are all good

But its going to be £2-3K which puts it in Apollo, Antelope and top end RME territory.

...and personally I think you'd have to be insane to drop that amount of coin on a product with Steinberg's record of hardware product support.

I love Cubase, and have been using it for years, but I've fallen foul of their hardware support before:

Midex 8
MR816
CMC-TP
CC121

So i'm wondering, who will actually buy this...?
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Re: Steinberg AXR4 - who will buy this?

Postby Wonks » Mon Jan 28, 2019 1:13 pm

I was wondering what the price of that would be. And I have no idea what benefit 32-bit integer recording will be, when the electronic noise floor limits even good 24-bit A/D converter performance.

And 324kHz sampling? Why?
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Re: Steinberg AXR4 - who will buy this?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Jan 28, 2019 1:55 pm

Bigger numbers, innit!

I completely agree about the 32-bit integer recording and 324kHz sampling rate. Both completely and utterly pointless... but the world is increasingly being driven by the technically illiterate marketeers, rather than solid common sense engineering. :x
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Re: Steinberg AXR4 - who will buy this?

Postby Tim Gillett » Mon Jan 28, 2019 2:27 pm

Wonks wrote:
And 324kHz sampling? Why?
Yes useless for most but possibly useful in transfer of pro reel to reel audio tape recordings with wow/flutter issues especially speech where Celemony Capstan doesn't work. Record bias signals of approx. 150 kHz or less can be captured and used as a stable time base reference. Commercially it's called
Plagent Process.
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Re: Steinberg AXR4 - who will buy this?

Postby The Elf » Mon Jan 28, 2019 2:39 pm

The thing I like about hardware being capable of such numbers is that I get a warm feeling that when I'm running it well within its limits it's doing a better job... Maybe naive.

Nice numbers,. but no MADI and no Dante? Hmmm... Odd choice.

But Steinberg long ago lost my trust in it as a hardware provider. I won't be burned again. It's only by the grace of a maverick programmer that the MIDEX8 managed to make its way to Windows 10 64-bit. You can't rely on that record for hardware support. All those plans for supporting future formats?... I'd love to be proved wrong, but I doubt I will.

So, no matter how good it is, it's a no-sale here. Now go and sort out the right-click menu of Cubase 10!
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Re: Steinberg AXR4 - who will buy this?

Postby jaminem » Mon Jan 28, 2019 3:27 pm

So...when it lands its going to be more expensive than an Apollo x8 and an RME UFX2 so potential buyers will have a decision to make...

All have similar specs, except you loose an additional ADAT I/O with the Apollo, but you get a proper S/Pdif with RME and Apollo which counteracts the ARX4 since you STILL have to share the optical ports and therefore loose 8 tracks of ADAT if you want to connect your digital monitor controller on the AXR4 - on a 2K-3K unit!!

The Apollo has better audio performance, RME the same, which may or may not matter to you.

but the Apollo also gives you a 6 core DSP engine that lets you run the best plugins around...

And if you don't need that just get an RME UFX+ that will be supported forever and all outputs and inputs work without compromise. and about a grand less.

I just don't understand the point of it?

The USP of it seems to be the ability to have impressive numbers, 'Silk' emulation (500 series and in built non obsolescence anyone?) integration with Cubase (i've never had a problem with totalmix in this regard) and some rebadged Yamaha plugins running on the DSP, which don't look desperatley cutting edge to me...

Did anyone do any market research on this thing?
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Re: Steinberg AXR4 - who will buy this?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Jan 28, 2019 4:11 pm

Tim Gillett wrote:Yes useless for most but possibly useful in transfer of pro reel to reel audio tape recordings...

Yes, there are a few specific applications where ultra high sample rates have potential uses, of course. Sound design involving significant slowing down of the source sounds, for example, analysis of animal sounds (eg bats, dolphins etc), and some forensic applications. But it remains utterly pointless for music work, and potentially even degrading of the sound quality through the inevitably increased jitter artefacts!

... with wow/flutter issues especially speech where Celemony Capstan doesn't work. Record bias signals of approx. 150 kHz or less can be captured and used as a stable time base reference. Commercially it's called Plagent Process.

Yes, the idea of using the recorded bias signal as a speed reference is a clever one (I'm aware of other systems that try to use inherently recorded mains hum for the same purpose). However, the Plagent system requires a special custom head-block and ultra-wide-band preamp system to be used along with a dedicated DSP hardware unit (that does indeed operate with a very high processing sample rate). So it's a very specialised system indeed that involves quite major tape machine mods.

I'd be rather surprised -- not to say concerned -- if the recorded bias signal leaked out of most standard tape machines analogue outputs at a level that was usable, even if an alternative DSP processing system to Plagent's was available to use the leaked bias for speed correction (I don't think there is, but it's not an area I've researched).

H
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Re: Steinberg AXR4 - who will buy this?

Postby Sam Inglis » Mon Jan 28, 2019 7:42 pm

The AXR does have 16 channels of AES3 input and output which I don't think you get on those rival products. I believe it also has some expansion capability, so there may be scope for something like a Dante card in the future.

Having seen it at NAMM it certainly looks lovely in the flesh!

One would hope that, having gone to all the trouble of developing Thunderbolt drivers, Steinberg/Yamaha will get behind the product for the long term, but who knows.
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Re: Steinberg AXR4 - who will buy this?

Postby Sam Inglis » Mon Jan 28, 2019 7:52 pm

... more here if you haven't already seen it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIZ5omxeyWs
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Re: Steinberg AXR4 - who will buy this?

Postby Tim Gillett » Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:16 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:...I'd be rather surprised -- not to say concerned -- if the recorded bias signal leaked out of most standard tape machines analogue outputs at a level that was usable...
H

It would also surprise me. Mods to a standard repro preamp card would be fairly trivial but a standard repro head's coils are optimised for resolving roughly 20 Hz to 20 kHz. I'd imagine Jamie Howarth's Plagent Process uses repro heads with custom wound coils to resolve the ultrasonic bias signal.

Another use for converters with ultrasonic capabilities is for fast digitisation of audio cassettes. Your UK Graff high speed cassette digitiser systems use a standard 192 kHz sample rate capable AD converter. At around x9 speed, up to 10kHz (real time) can be resolved. Comparable systems are/were made in the US by Audio Telex.

Thankfully these are at least some practical uses for such usually ridiculously high sample rate converters.
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Re: Steinberg AXR4 - who will buy this?

Postby Jack Weaver » Mon Mar 11, 2019 10:22 pm

Sam Inglis wrote:The AXR does have 16 channels of AES3 input and output which I don't think you get on those rival products.

Didn't the SOS review say there was 8 AES? I see on the SOS NAM 2019 video where Greg Ondo says that there are 16 channels of AES. On the back of the unit it seems like there is only one 8 channel AES-capable connector.

So which is it - 8 or 16 channel AES?

Thanks.

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Re: Steinberg AXR4 - who will buy this?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:36 am

It has 16 channels of digital I/O which can be accessed in one of two ways: either as two sets of eight-channel ADAT (at base sample rates), -- OR -- one set of 8-channel ADAT plus 8-channels of AES3 via the AES59 (D-sub) interface.

The SOS news article is correct: https://www.soundonsound.com/news/steinbergs-axr4-most-impressive-interface-ever ... I think Greg 'mis-spoke' when he was talking to Sam at the show. :-D

Hope that clears up any confusion.
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Re: Steinberg AXR4 - who will buy this?

Postby OneWorld » Wed Mar 13, 2019 4:03 pm

jaminem wrote:
I love Cubase, and have been using it for years, but I've fallen foul of their hardware support before:

Midex 8
MR816
CMC-TP
CC121

So i'm wondering, who will actually buy this...?

Yep, I am one of those chumps that got sucked into the 'wonders' of MLAN

BTW - for what it's worth, I am using a MIDEX 8 under Win10/64 and not had a problem (cross fingers!) and it performs a whole lot better than the MIDISPORT 8 I used to use which was a nightmare regarding timing, I think it had embedded Artificial Stupidity built into it.
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