Topic: My signal chain, getting there, PC stereo playback
I have a new (old stock, serial number is 22897852) Raydat card, fed by a fairly recently acquired HD24XR, and am pretty happy so far, have traversed a lot of the learning curve. It has taken me a week to get to this point, I'm studio savvy but old school I guess, though I am a programmer by profession so should be able to put this all together.
I have a question, perhaps you can help. Here is the signal chain, all is working:
Input to the DAW:
Mackie Onyx 24-4 analog outs channels 1 thru 12 ->
HD24 analog ins x 12 recording at 96K ->
HD24 digital outs x (3 ports x 4 channels, since channel count is halved MX'ing at 96K) ->
Raydat ins x (3 ports x 4 ch) ->
Vista 32 hosting Reaper (while testing, or whatever future DAW s/w and platform I decide on), input channels assigned to ADAT 1 thru 10 (not sure why only 10 not 12, Reaper is limiting me to creating 10 but that's another issue)
Output from the DAW:
Reaper output channels assigned to ADAT 1 thru 10
Raydat outs x (3 ports x 4 ch)
HD24 digital ins (3 ports x 4 ch)
HD24 analog outs x 12
Mackie analog ins channels 13 thru 24
All OK so far. RME's DSP Settings dialog looks fine, TotalMix looks as expected, I can track channels 1 thru 10 to to the DAW from the HD24's playback via Raydat. I can also playback all 10 tracks on individual channels from Reaper via Raydat, to the HD24 and then to the board channels 13 thru 22 I've set up as returns. Since it's not an inline console and has no tape returns "flip switch" I've dedicated the remaining 12 channel strips for the returns.
My question boils down to what is the best way to use the Raydat as the Vista applications' "default soundcard", specifically how to get stereo output all the way back to the Mackie when not using multichannel DAW software, for example, playback from iTunes which I tend to use a lot. I have turned off windows OS annoying system sounds as recommended. I would use the board's tape returns for this since I'm not going to be tweaking that signal, listening only.
This is what I'm thinking. Since all three of the the HD24's lightpipe inputs are occupied playing back 12 CH at 96K, I could set the Raydat 'speaker output' to SPDIF or AES/EBU, and find a SPDIF (or AES/EBU) interface box with analog outs.
But then again, since I would not be using the DAW at the same time as the stereo consumer playback apps, perhaps I could set them up to use a Raydat port somehow?
Alternatively, I have a pretty good Blaster card laying around doing nothing here. I could install it and hope it might coexist with the Raydat card. If so I could then switch the Raydat's ADAT 4 output to SPDIF, and plug it directly into the blaster's SPDIF input. I could then run the blaster analog output back to the Mackie, bypassing the HD24.
Or, yet again, I could set the system default device to the Blaster just for iTunes and other non-DAW apps. What would you do in my case, apart from get a new brain? :-)
Many thanks for any comments or suggestions. I'm just looking to hear what the "best practice" would be, whether blaster cards can coexist with Raydat, and generally how you all are dealing with this very common requirement.