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Black Lion Audio Revolution EXP

Eight-channel A-D/D-A ADAT Expander By Matt Houghton
Published July 2024

Black Lion Audio Revolution EXP

Audio interface modders Black Lion Audio enter the world of ADAT expanders.

ADAT expanders add more I/O to compatible audio interfaces via an optical Lightpipe. There are lots to choose from, and the latest to jostle for our attention is Black Lion Audio’s Revolution EXP, a 1U rackmount device that offers eight analogue line‑level inputs and outputs (no mic preamps) and 24‑bit A‑D/D‑A conversion.

Its two pairs of ADAT ports support up to 96kHz operation for all eight channels in both directions, or four channels at 176.4 or 192 kHz. All the analogue connections are balanced TRS jacks on the rear, where I prefer them (when hooking these up to rack gear or a patchbay you’re not left with cables trailing from the front). Each input socket has a ‑10dBV switch. A pair of BNC connectors on the rear cater for word‑clock input and output. It’s also possible to have a clock embedded in the ADAT signal, so you don’t actually need a word‑clock cable, and if you have an interface that lacks word clock then this feature is particularly helpful. But word clock can be very useful, not least when synchronising multiple devices. Also, worth noting is that Black Lion have pedigree when it comes to building low‑jitter digital master clocks, and here they recommend using the word‑clock connection where possible as it can often deliver more reliable sync.

Finally, a USB‑C socket (reserved for firmware updates) is joined by a DC power inlet for the supplied switch‑mode supply, a lightweight wall‑wart type. I’d have preferred a locking connection of some sort, and ideally a PSU that terminated in an IEC socket for convenient connection to my rack PSU. But on the plus side, the external PSU keeps mains AC well away from the audio circuitry, and external supplies are easy to replace if ever they fail.

The Revolution EXP includes both word‑clock in and out as well as dual ADAT ports supporting S/MUX operation up to 192kHz for four channels, and a maximum of 96kHz for all eight channels.The Revolution EXP includes both word‑clock in and out as well as dual ADAT ports supporting S/MUX operation up to 192kHz for four channels, and a maximum of 96kHz for all eight channels.

In terms of build quality more generally, the case is robust and nicely finished; flawless. The controls and meters couldn’t be easier to use either. On the front, every input and output channel has its own eight‑segment LED level meter,...

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