1 (edited by mattgreer 2020-04-21 23:54:46)

Topic: Newbie Question - What are the signal chains for these devices?

I wasn't sure where to post this, so Miscellaneous in my mind wouldn't get me banned, heh.

The tl;dr for this post is really, what would you all recommend within the RME product line?

I'm coming from an Echo Audio AudioFire12.  I have an 8 channel mixer (Presonus M-80) that takes my microphones/keyboards/etc. feeds each channel at line level to the AF12, and then via Firewire to the computer.  Unfortunately the ASIO driver for the AF12 is "not very compatible" with Windows 10, and I'd like to stick with Windows 10, so here I am trying how to best understand RME's product line and what would be best for me.  I'd like at least 8 channels of analog input but 12 is really preferred, like the AF12.  I would also like to have MIDI on the unit as well.  I'd like to get away from Firewire if I could.  I have a good firewire card in my Windows 10 computer, but motherboard manufacturers are no longer including that hardware so going to USB seems to be more future-proof for me.

My confusion stems from RME's stated abilities with the number of channels that their products can handle.  I'll pick the Fireface 802 as it's closest, I think, to what I'd need.  I think.  It has the 12 channels of analog audio, so that's good.  The product info says it'll take 60 channels of audio. I have a bunch of idiot questions, again, sorry.  I'll just list them out.  Some I already know the answer, or at least I think I know, so better to ask the obvious, just in case it's NOT obvious. Thank you in advance for your patience and time.

(I watched a video for the Digiface USB just before submitting these questions and I think that filled in several blanks.  Microphones/inputs to mixers with included ADAT interfaces to RME to computer.  So it seems that a mixer with an ADAT output would be needed to use all the channels available within these units.  Which means I'm out of luck as I'd have to buy a mixer with ADAT in addition to what I already have.  Seems wasteful?)


For the Fireface 802:

  • With the obvious 12 analog inputs, what connections would be used for the remaining 48 channels?

  • What kind of gear is required for those other 48 channels?  If you can list specific examples (don't worry about cost, I just need to understand what goes to what, etc.)

  • If I wanted to save money, the Fireface UC can handle 36 channels, but I only need 12 channels, so how could I use that unit instead?  I only see 8 total analog inputs.  I'd want four more.  How would I get for additional analog signals into the unit?
    Going to something more extreme, such as the

At the end of the day, I really just need to convert analog to digital, line level.  I don't need mic pre's, I have those.  The AudioFire 12 was perfect for me.  But the drivers are just... done.

2

Re: Newbie Question - What are the signal chains for these devices?

60 is the total number of I/Os. 12 analog in plus 16 ADAT channels in plus 2 SPDIF/AES in = 30. Now add the same as outputs. To extent the number of analog I/Os any ADAT AD/DA converter will do.

Regards
Matthias Carstens
RME

Re: Newbie Question - What are the signal chains for these devices?

A couple of questions from my side not knowing your complete setup and requirements.

1. What are the requirements to the new solution ?
    You mentioned so far: 12 analog inputs and MIDI I/O.
    As you are getting now a more modern solution, do any new wishes arise from that ?
    E.g. to be able to record also at double speed (88.2/96 kHz) ?

2. What about your other gear that needs to be integrated into the new solution ?
    What Mic Pres do you have and what connection possibilities do they offer (analog, ADAT, ...) ?
    Do you have any other AD/DA converter that could be connected by ADAT in stand-alone mode to re-use them ?

3. What is your maximum budget for that ? Open for new functionalities that can make life easier ?

BR
Ramses
X10SRi-F, E5-1650v4, Win10Pro20H2, Cub11Pro, UFX+ (v0.9735), XTC, 12Mic, ADI-2 Pro FS R BE

4 (edited by mattgreer 2020-04-22 18:12:53)

Re: Newbie Question - What are the signal chains for these devices?

Thank you both for responding!

ramses wrote:

As you are getting now a more modern solution, do any new wishes arise from that ?
E.g. to be able to record also at double speed (88.2/96 kHz) ?

I'm tracking with Cubase Pro 9.5, so I could record at double speed.  Disk access should not be an issue, running (4) SSDs in RAID 0.

ramses wrote:

What Mic Pres do you have and what connection possibilities do they offer (analog, ADAT, ...) ?
Do you have any other AD/DA converter that could be connected by ADAT in stand-alone mode to re-use them ?

Mic pre: Presonus M80 - 8 channel mic pre, also have a Presonus ACP88, 8 channel compressor.  They're both in excellent working condition so I'd hate to buy redundant gear or try to sell them for pennies on the dollar, so to speak.

As I was writing my post and doing more reading, it appears that many people have mixing boards with ADAT outputs.  I built my home studio around the Echo Audio line of products, starting with two Laylas a long time ago and now the AudioFire.  They all take balanced line-level inputs.

Another product I'm considering is the MOTU 16A, or an 8A and eventually another 8A.

I'm just wondering where all the gear is with these ADAT outputs?

ramses wrote:

What is your maximum budget for that ? Open for new functionalities that can make life easier ?

Always open to new/better solutions.  I'd say my budget is somewhere in the neighborhood of $2K.  I realize that's not a lot of money for RME devices, however...

Thank you!

-Matt

Re: Newbie Question - What are the signal chains for these devices?

Thanks for giving further information Matt. I understand your setup now much better.

Quick answer to your question to ADAT. This is an optical interface which allows two operation modes
ADAT protocol: 8 channels @44.1/48 kHz, but reduces channel cound at higher sample rates because of channel bundling
                        4 channels @88.2/96 kHz
SPDIF protocol: 2 channels @44.1-192 kHz.
Therefore many Preamps with 8 Mics have 2 ADAT output ports to be able to support 8 channels @88.2/96 kHz.
This transmission has the advantage to be fully digital without any loss over the wire.
The signal stays digital until it enters the recording interface for final D/A conversion towards phones or speakers.

So you are using an Echo Audiofire Firewire Interface with 12x Analog I/O and 1xMIDI I/O.
There you connect the 8 Analog Outputs of your M80 which serves as Mic Premap and connects your keyboard.
I assume you are using the M80's send/returns to insert the ACP88 into each of the 8 channels.

Computer <---- Firewire ----- Echo Audiofire 12 + MIDI IN/OUT
                                             12x Line IN/OUT
                                             ++++++++++++
                                              | | | | | | | |
                                              ++++++++
                                              8x Analog OUT
                                              Presonus M80<--- ACP88 inserted into each channel via send/returns of the M80
                                              8x Analog IN
                                              ++++++++
                                              Mics/Keyboard/Compressor (ACP88)

My proposal to you is to simplify the setup
- base everything on one RME recording interface like one of the flagship models RME UFX II or UFX+
- you can connect your Mics directly to the 4 Mic Pre's in front of the UFX II/+ which have an excellent quality
- keyboard can be connected to two of the eight analog ports on the backside
- in terms of compressor I would work "itb" (in the box) with VST plugins
  this allows you to record your signals unmodified which is better than to have the compression already in the recording
  then you can decide later in the mixing phase what compressor to take or what sounds best for the song / the instrument
  less devices, less cabling, much better SNR
- if you really want (I wouldn't do it anymore) you can also connect some of the analog ports of M80 and ACP88 to the
  remaining analog ports in the back of the unit or use the ACP88 as external compressor
- you could - if you want - sell the old stuff later to get a few bucks back to refinance, but not sure if this is your goal.

The RME UFX II or + will deliver to you RME quality and features, that you never had before
1. DURec - backup recording to USB Stick or Disk, can also be used for recording in stand-alone mode without DAW
2. Standalone capabilities, the unit is fully operateable via display
3. AUTOSET for the Mic Pres
4. Much comfort and flexibility by TotalMix FX
5. Comfortably working with the optional ARC USB Remote Controller which can be connected to either PC or can be attached directly at the back of the unit to a special USB port which is dedicated for this purpose
6. Two excellent phone outputs for you and e.g. a guest musician
7. Everything in one Rack Unit
8. 2(!)x MIDI I/O, so you can use 1 MIDI port for connecting devices and the other to e.g. remote control other RME devices
9. Possibilites to expand the setup using ADAT1+2 or AES

Totalmix FX is a highly optimized Mixer which is absolutely lag free.

On top of the solution you can download DIGIchecl which is an excellent audio analysis suite consisting of different analysis software modules, that run standalone on your PC and analyze audio directly as it comes in / out the routing matrix inside of the unit. This software is free of charge. One of the tools is a lightweight recording software called "Global Record" which you can use alternatively to a DAW if you need a stable recording and do not want to load a laptop with a DAW program with a heavy CPU/memory footprint.

As the UFX+ is not far away from the UFX II I would recommend you to take the UFX+.
This gives you the possibility to expand the solution in the future by using MADI which is a very nice option.
By this you have also two connection possibilities to your PC (in fact even three)
USB3 and Thunderbolt. The 3rd is USB2 (but then without MADI).
But it gives you a lot more flexibility to use either something which is USB based or something like thunderbolt which is in fact "external PCIe". This is then like using a PCIe card.

If you shall need it .. both Interface UFX II and UFX+ are using the new MADIface USB driver which allows very small ASIO buffersizes (which before only the PCI/PCIe interfaces had) down to 32 samples buffersize at 44.1/48 kHz.
The previous USB driver , that is also being used by the 802, had 48 samples as minimum. Still excellent, I only wanted to mention it.
Another thing is that the Thunderbolt driver has the feature "pitch" to be able to adjust / "pitch" the sample rate a little. This feature is not possibile using the MADIface driver, this in unsupported in the USB transfer modes of the MADIface driver.

UFX II and UFX+ have also the other advantage over the 802, that you can also save the Mic settings (phantom power, gain, etc) digitally in TotalMix FX. The 802 had in that regards another concepts for the friends of real potis.
I personally like the feature more, that you can save and recall a complete setup including routing and all gain levels that you use an hour a day or months before.

Sorry, but Motu I personally dislike, look in reviews where people say that they have laggy Operation Software.
Then they claim to have advantages becase they have insert ports.
With RME you can do this more generic / elegant by using the features of TotalMix FX to route the signals as you need.
You're mileage may vary, try both if you are unsure.

If you want to read a little bit about how I use the UFX+, even as tape deck without DAW, then you can have a look at a few blog articles of mine, one also contains the RTL (round trip latency times) of different RME solutions: https://www.tonstudio-forum.de/blog/ind … 8-RME-UFX/

In terms of driver stability I recommend you to read about my 400 track load test with over 800 VSTs in use using a minimum ASIO buffer size of 32 samples @44.1 and 64 samples @96 kHz: https://www.tonstudio-forum.de/blog/ind … cks-de-en/

These are the products I talked about:
UFX+: https://www.rme-audio.de/de_fireface-ufx.html
or
UFX II: https://www.rme-audio.de/de_fireface-ufx-ii.html

Optional: ARC USB
https://www.rme-audio.de/de_arc-usb.html

Ok, thats from my side, enjoy. If you have further questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

BR
Ramses
X10SRi-F, E5-1650v4, Win10Pro20H2, Cub11Pro, UFX+ (v0.9735), XTC, 12Mic, ADI-2 Pro FS R BE

Re: Newbie Question - What are the signal chains for these devices?

Wow, thank you so much for putting so much effort into that post.  You have my setup exactly correct.

Ironically I just bought the ACP-88 but had planned on using it mostly for live applications or tracking drums when the transients are so much greater than I would expect to see with other instruments.

Will take a bit to digest everything, but I wanted to thank you immediately.  smile

Best,
-Matt

Re: Newbie Question - What are the signal chains for these devices?

You're welcome Matt.

A few additional notes that I forgot to mention:

All mentioned devices (802, UFX II and UFX+) have a full implementation of FX chip
The FX chip includes EQ, Dynamics (Compressor, Limiter) and Delay / Reverb

Default behavious is, that all input signals are recorded unaltered .. so audio arrives in the DAW in save harbour.
But you can also turn on an option, that EQ and Dynamics will be within the recording path, so that you can record with
the FX effects.
If EQ and compressor would be fine enough for you, then you could even use those.
Although might recommendation would be to use them only for the monitor mix while playing and singing in.
And to record audio unaltered and doing compression and EQing in the mixing phase in the DAW.

But the internal effect section of those units you would have the advantage that you can use the effects
very easily for your monitor Mix inside of the unit. You do not need to configure special sends on the DAW,
where the signal has to go over USB and back. All is being done for your e.g. phones mix inside of the unit in near-realtime.

And here an example how I use the UFX+ in stand-alone mode for performing recordings like with a tape deck.
Also a nice example how you can build a parallel effect loop for your marshall amp to retain a punchy amp signal.
Enjoy, a little demo recording you can find there as well.
Old style like I did with analog Mixer years ago and new style with UFX+:
https://www.tonstudio-forum.de/blog/ind … -DURec-DE/

BR
Ramses
X10SRi-F, E5-1650v4, Win10Pro20H2, Cub11Pro, UFX+ (v0.9735), XTC, 12Mic, ADI-2 Pro FS R BE