1 (edited by AdamBier 2021-06-22 02:19:04)

Topic: MADIface USB + Ferrofish Pulse 16 DX or Digiface Dante + Pulse 16 MX?

I’m planning for the future, specifically a case where I have 16 channels of 96kHz ADAT/SMUX coming from a pair of Cranborne 500ADAT units (via 2 TOSLINK outputs each), plus up to another 16 96kHz channels of line-level analog from other sources, and want to make all of these available over Dante and to provide a fast Dante connection to my Mac as well.

It occurs to me I could take two approaches:

(1) Connect 4 ADAT/SMUX cables to a Ferrofish Pulse 16 MX, and then send the 8 channels from each of the two Cranbornes plus the 16 channels from the Pulse 16’s converters (a total of 32 channels) over MADI to the Digiface Dante, which handles all routing to the Dante network; or

(2) Same, but use a Ferrofish Pulse 16 DX and a MADIface USB, with the Ferrofish Pulse 16 DX handling the Dante routing.

Are both of those indeed viable approaches? Other than the higher speed USB interface on the Digiface Dante (USB 3, versus USB 2 on the MADIface), is one approach clearly superior to the other?


Re: MADIface USB + Ferrofish Pulse 16 DX or Digiface Dante + Pulse 16 MX?

I use this almost exact setup and went through a similar decision process less than 12 months ago.

Madiface USB to ADI-648 and then 2 x Cranborne Audio 500 Adat Racks and RME UFX for extra Adat IO. I looked at the Ferrofish Pulse MX but decided on the ADI-648 instead because I found a good price on a second hand one. Also the analog specs on the Pulse MX analog IO doesn’t read too well. In practise this may not be the case but on paper at least that is how it reads. Also the ADI 648 offered more Adat expansion so seemed more future proof. I may end up with a third Adat 500 rack..

I have a few comments that may help you. My understanding is that Dante/ AVB can never offer as low round trip latency as RME’s USB/ Thunderbolt/ PCIe drivers. This was a dealbreaker for when I considered Dante/ AVB solutions. It’s my understanding that RME’s USB 2 drivers are still lower RTL that either Dante or AVB.

My previous interface was a Fireface UFX which I still use as additional IO expansion via Adat mainly to feed headphone amps to avoid sacrificing recording inputs on the 500 Adat’s.

Be careful you have enough IO with 2 x Cranbourne Audio Adat 500 racks. Unlike other Adat IO expansion if you are using an analog input you can’t use the same adat to analog output to route different audio. Ultimately this might mean you run out of headphone sends in a busy session because you’re prioritising recording inputs which also take away from the number of available outputs.

Even if you use the Ferrofish Pulse MX you can route a stereo pair of analog outs from it to drive Adat 500 headphones to avoid sacrificing a Adat 500 recording inputs to send to headphones but you will still only get one headphone send per Adat rack without sacrificing recording inputs on the 500 Adat directly.

Mixdown summing is a beautiful thing with the 500 Adat racks. My mixes have never sounded better and it seems easier to get there with the combination of transformer based 500 modules and the summing mixer in the 500 Adat’s.

Paul Najar
Jaminajar Music Production

Re: MADIface USB + Ferrofish Pulse 16 DX or Digiface Dante + Pulse 16 MX?

Paul, that's super helpful, thank you!

At present, I don't actually need to use either network protocol (AVB or Dante), so for the time being I'm just using MADI, which is mature and gets great performance with RME gear. I think the long-term plan is to see how things shake out and whether, for example, more network infrastructure ends up supporting AVB and lower-value deterministic latency becomes the norm and allows the protocol to supplant MADI.

I've got one 500ADAT right now and ended up buying a used ADI-648 and a used MADIFace USB, both a great prices, even counting the cost of shipping from Europe. They're working great. And I'm SUPER impressed with how RME are continuing to support (and provide software updates for) gear that's a decade or more old.

Until I fill up my 500ADAT more (at which time I will likely buy a second in any case), I can just use empty slots on bypass for extra ADC or DAC (but, as you point out, not both) and some other existing converters in standalone mode. I also saw a cryptic post on the Cranborne Facebook group that they are working on additional, likely slot-less, expansion devices. And the 12Mic looks impressive as well.

I've also got a used ADI-4 DD on order and plan to use that to send AES out to my Neumann KH 750 sub and KH 80 monitors and a spare headphone preamp with DAC I've got lying around.

How are you clocking everything in your setup? Right now, I'm running BNC word clock from the 500ADAT (master) to the ADI-648 (slave), with the MADIFace slaving off of the ADI-648 via the optical connection. Once the AD-4 arrives, I'll either run BNC from the ADI-648's out to the AD-4's in, or will reroute the BNC from the 500ADAT to the AD-4 and thence to the ADI-648. And when I get a second (and possibly third) 500ADAT, I plan to insert that into the chain right after the master 500ADAT using INs and OUTs rather than T-connectors. Does that sound right?


Re: MADIface USB + Ferrofish Pulse 16 DX or Digiface Dante + Pulse 16 MX?

Adam that’s funny we have exactly the same setup. I too use a Madiface USB and ADI 648 for now along with 2 x 500Adat racks, Gen 1 Fireface UFX and also a ADI-2 Pro FS B.

The ADI-2 has the best clock in my room but for you I guess your 500adat rack will ideally be the master clock. When I first got my current hardware it took a fair amount of fiddling to get it all to clock well without having to manually switch too many things manually every time I worked at a different sample rate. I still have unanswered questions on these very forums about it so that I don’t have any answers suggests my current understanding is correct. Even now the 500Adat racks won’t switch sample rates automatically. Cranbourne have teased that a firmware update that they claim is in progress will allow the 500Adat, 500R8 to auto switch. Also the ADI-648 will not auto switch between 1x and 2x rates automatically either. Phew!

So the best I’ve been able to achieve is to get the UFX & Madiface USB to switch automatically. In my system to do this I needed to connect ADI-2 AES out to UFX AES in. This then allowed me to run Wordclock out from UFX to wordclock in on Madiface USB. The 2 500Adat racks & ADI 648 both have to be switched manually anyway so they are only connected via adat and MADI cables. That’s it for now.

For you I would simply run word clock out from 500Adat to WC in on Madiface. It’s worth doing this rather than let the MADIface get it’s clock from the MADI cable because if it gets clock this way MADIface will not switch auto between 1x and 2x rates - even if you switch manually to ADI-648 96K frame button. If by WC it will. Every time you switch (around the back of the 500Adat rack) between 44.1 and 48 ADI846 and Madiface will switch auto. If you then switch to 88.2 or 96 you will have to manually change the ADI648 into 96K frame mode but the Madiface will still switch auto.

Paul Najar
Jaminajar Music Production