Digital Audio Denmark (DAD) have announced the upcoming launch of the AX Center, a modular Thunderbolt audio interface that is capable of handling a huge amount of digital I/O in multiple formats as well as housing two DAD cards for analogue I/O expansion, and is also equipped with onboard summing and processing options for monitoring control and speaker calibration.
The front panel of the AX Center is equipped with a pair of XLR/TRS combo sockets that will accept either microphone or instrument signals, and feed into preamps that have previously only been available as part of the company’s Analog In expansion card. In terms of analogue outputs, the device boasts two stereo line-level outputs that are provided on four quarter-inch TRS sockets on the rear panel, as well as a pair of front panel stereo headphone outputs. All of these connections utilise the company’s renowned A-D and D-A converters, which they say offer quality that is unmatched in any Thunderbolt interface.
Further analogue audio inputs and outputs can be added thanks to a pair of expansion card slots on the rear of the unit, which are able to accept any of the company’s optional expansion cards. Analogue expansion choices include an eight-channel line-level input option, and an eight channel line-level output option, the first of which can be upgraded via an additional licence, which will allow it to accept either line-level or microphone inputs thanks to its switchable built-in preamps. Users are free to choose any combination of the two cards, allowing the device’s analogue I/O count to be specified to match their intended use.
A large amount of digital connectivity is provided by the AX Centre, with 256 channels of Thunderbolt 3 I/O joined by up to 256 channels of Dante, 182 channels of MADI and 16 channels of ADAT on the standard model. For those who need additional channels, or different formats, the rear expansion slots are also able to accommodate the company’s Dante, AES, Dual MADI and Dual SDI cards.
Monitor Control & Speaker Calibration
The AX Center also comes with DAD’s renowned Pro | Mon monitor controller functionality. Used by thousands of music and post production facilities around the world, the system provides a wealth of speaker configuration options from mono all the way up to 64-channel immersive audio formats. Listening levels, dim and cut functionality, and alternate monitor sets with their own independent output formats can all be configured within the software, and it is also possible to control the functionality using the company’s MOM hardware monitor controller, or EuCon-enabled surfaces such as Avid’s Dock and S1/S4/S6, or even the free Avid Control app.
An SPQ feature allows users to configure different filter characteristics and channel layouts from within the interface’s DADman control software, all of which are integrated with, and can be managed by the monitor control section. 128 channels of processing are available, and users can employ up to 1024 bands of EQ as well as utilising individual output channel delay settings. These settings are stored as part of the monitor profile in DADman, allowing different configurations to be quickly saved and recalled.
The interface offers some impressive latency figures thanks to DAD’s Thunder Core technology, which provides near-zero latency interfacing between audio applications on macOS or Windows and the hardware interface. The interface’s channel capacity is up to 256 channels at 48 and 96 kHz, and the company specify a latency figure of 95 microseconds at 96kHz. Total round-trip latency will depend on the audio application’s buffer size, but DAD say that they have measured a figure of 670 microseconds at 96kHz with a buffer size of 32 samples.
Pricing & Availability
The AX Center will be available in Q4 of 2023, priced at $3999€3695.