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8 channel preamp/converter, to use as stand alone pre converter and DAW interface

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by alidav, Mar 13, 2012.

  1. alidav

    alidav Active Member

    Please i am looking for any suggestion about a good quality audio interface to use as stand alone preamp / converter (lightpipe) for my ALESIS HD 24 (8 channel) and as daw interface with logic or protools on mac book pro, via FW,
    is there something around?
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I also utilize a ALESIS HD 24 XR. The only decent unit I've been able to get my hands on to utilize with that machine and to get things into and out of the computer digitally is the MOTU 2408 PCI-based desktop interface. It's designed with 3 light pipe interfaces to connect directly to the 24 channel HD 24. It features 8 analog line level inputs and outputs. It also features external Word clock inputs and outputs along with the coaxial SPDIF (Sony Philips Digital Interface) which was the stereo only digital connection going back to DAT days. In addition to that, it has a dedicated headphone & stereo monitor output. And it has the TDIF TASCAM Digital Interface D-25 24 channel Digital Interface connections as well. It was also designed to be utilized as a standalone device to transfer between multitrack optical & multitrack coaxial between light pipe-based devices like the HD 24 to the TASCAM Multitrack coaxial digital connections to transfer between machines and/or computers.

    Unfortunately the 2408 has no microphone preamps and requires the use of external preamps and/or consoles. I personally like it for that feature alone. It interfaces very nicely with virtually any piece of professional audio equipment. My microphone preamps are the finest and so, I don't need an interface with built in microphone preamps of a mediocre variety. Otherwise, you may be stuck with having to utilize the analog outputs to a multitrack FireWire computer audio interface? Although MOTU may have other newer interfaces you may want to look into that may feature at least a single multitrack ADAT Light pipe port capable of transferring 8 simultaneous tracks? And that would require that you would have to make 3 separate passes in order to transfer a 24 track production from the HD 24. It would also require some very careful synchronization of each group of eight tracks. When doing transfers like that, you may want to create a audible synchronization source such as the clapper was utilized for film. Something that would make a large transient snap across all 24 channels of the HD 24 will allow for almost perfect synchronization of the three groups of eight tracks. Of course that will also require that you zoom in to that transient spike down to the sample level in order to achieve perfect phase locked synchronization of the 24 tracks from the HD 24 into the computer.

    If you are just going for a 8 channel multitrack FireWire interface, I would highly suggest the Pre-Sonus line. Those can be had for $500 each and up. MOTU also makes FireWire multitrack audio interfaces for the computer which are also quite nice, quite professional and quite good sounding. And the MOTU devices also have quality microphone preamps in their line of equipment that are integrated into their FireWire computer audio interfaces. There are plenty of others such as the RME line of FireWire devices. Those are held in high esteem by many of the other moderators here of which I don't have any myself. I hold the other moderators in high esteem in their recommendations of the RME brand and know that is quality sounding stuff. So there you go.

    Let us know what you're thinking about
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  3. alidav

    alidav Active Member

    i need a flexibile tool,for just 8 channel, since I am using the hd 24 for classical music recording,i guess, that in case I need more channel, i can feed rest of inputs with an analog mixer outputs (bus out or direct outs) or any other
    converter/preamp to use it with hd 24 and as audio interface in daw setup,

    I found this motu preamp MOTU.com - 8pre Overview,
    many years ago, when used to work on adats, i used a RME hammerfall, pci card with just 3 in and 3 out adat lightpipe, and spidf 2 in 2 out, i used it to inport audio recorded on adats into daw (nuendo on windows) now ,m i use to record with ALESIS HD 24 and want the choice to have same tool to use as preamp/converter and as audio fw interface.
  4. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    That MOTU device will work splendidly for your needs. But it is only 8 channels and unless you have the HD24xt you'll only be able to record in 44.1 or 48. And, while it doesnt cancel any inputs whether you're using the mic pres or the adat ins/outs, you'll still only be able to support 12 inputs into your HD24 at a time. Perhaps you should take a look at the Focusrite Liquid Saffire 56 or the Saffire 40. Theres a DSP mixer with the software package so latency in monitoring is nil and you can add a bunch more channels and still have your conversion taken care of.

    Both units, the MOTU and the Focusrite are on a par with each other as far as quality. An RME with the same or similar features is more money but is also more quality sound.
  5. alidav

    alidav Active Member

    which rme are you relating at? and another question the motu 8 pre is firewire 400, does it make sense to choose a fw 400 or 800 or thunderbolt ? I used one maudio 1814, with fw 400 it had to be connected directly to computer otherwise it did not work, so constricted me to create a daisy chain with fw 800 drive plugged in to fw 400, do you know if that motu can work at the end of fw chain?
    are those stable? can I really use them as stand alone preamp or as daw fw interface o in both way simultaneously
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I think you are making is much more difficult than it needs to be? You're doing classical music recording and how many microphones are you utilizing? You really don't need any audio interface device to transfer recordings made on the HD 24 into a computer. You do however need microphone preamps to go into the HD 24. The HD 24 disk drive can then be removed after the recording and with the appropriate software and/or hardware device, the entire recording can be transferred in just a couple of minutes into your computer. So then your computer only needs its audio output capability so you can monitor and mix. And that doesn't require an external audio device of any type. The only reason to have an external audio device for your computer is to be able to plug things into the audio device to record to the computer. Some folks utilize the HD 24 XR as a 24 channel analog to digital & Digital to analog interface to the computer through another external device such as the MOTU 2408 PCI-based desktop system. I also utilize that myself that way. That also allows me to record on the HD 24 while streaming into the computer simultaneously and to be utilized as the main or as the backup recording for the mix. So your whole concept of what you're doing is a little like chicken liver spaghetti sauce. And it's really tough without any chickens.

    Buck Buck cluck cluck, scratch, scratch.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  7. alidav

    alidav Active Member

    thats what i use do of course, i "ingest " my audio directly via software like hd connect or fireport tool, i use for classical music maximum 8 microphones, till know i have been using an analog mixer as preamp, now i want a device with 8 mic pres and and A-D converter that allow me to get into the hd 24 via adat lightpipe, and give me some possibility to monitor with headphone, and since i need an audio interface for my daw too i thought to buy a device that can achieve both pourposes.
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    You're going to have problems finding a FireWire device that offers all that you want. When I utilize my HD 24 in a fly pack setup, I simply utilize a 24 input line level Roland analog mixer for headphone monitoring, soloing. Its output than also goes to my line level USB audio device for a simultaneous stereo recording to a laptop. From the output of the HD 24, I can then also patch in an outboard compressor or two, a reverb & digital effects processor to create a live stereo mix recording for reference purposes and safety backup. I was utilizing my TA-SCAM DM 24 digital mixer from the optical outputs from the HD 24 until it recently blew up. A DSP chip has gone bad which makes it not worth repairing. So I've gone back to my old analog fly pack since it still works and is reliable. Analog, digital, I don't care. Both sound good. Both sound different. Some have more capabilities than others. Most of what I do is based upon microphone selection, placement and mixing before it involves any need for equalization. So actually the simple line level mixer works out quite well for me. It also works well for fine arts/classical music where one doesn't mess with equalizers much anyhow.

    So what I might recommend for you is something like the Pre-Sonus Digi-Max 8 channel microphone preamp, to go into the HD 24. It doesn't have to go in digitally. The HD 24 has decent analog to digital converters even if it isn't the XR version. And I forget if the Digi-Max has ADAT optical light pipe output? I don't think so? But then you'll still need that analog mixer to monitor the output of your HD 24. You only need an eight channel mixer if you're only going to utilize eight channels of the HD 24. So you don't need to spend money on devices that are not going to cut the mustard for you regardless of how good they might be. You just need the right tools to do a professional job. Only you can decide what is the right scalpel to use.

    I'm going to be a brain surgeon!
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  9. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    The problem is getting an interface with 8 preamps that is worth plugging into the HD24. I suggest you just pick up an eight pack or two of decent preamps and worry about an interface if you actually need one. If you do need studio monitor output then there are many two channel interfaces available.

    If you aren't going high end on the preamps then something like a Presonus DigiMax D8, or Mackie Onyx 800R, RME Octopre or many other offerings. For a bump up look for a True Systems Precision 8 which is what I use for classical recordings.
  10. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Like I said, The focusrite allows you to do exactly what you're talking about. You have 8 mic pres, analog outs to the HD24 and adat lightpipe to your computer plus a DSP mixer to set all the levels for the various ins/outs in real time.
  11. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    The Focusrite LS56 or the RME FireFace UFX would both do the job well. At this level, I would choose to use the converters in the interface as these are better than those in the standard HD24. I would set up the interface internal routing to send 8 channels of converted data via a lightpipe to the HD24 in addition to the FireWire interface to the computer (if this route is required). This configuration also means that you can run at 96KHz into the standard HD24 if you wanted to, using a second lightpipe for channels 5 - 8.

    Mixdown is straightforward using two of the interface's D-A converters via FireWire for monitoring.
  12. Controversy Rising

    Controversy Rising Active Member

    I just bought a Focusrite saphire 56 last month, there is also a smaller brother (8 inputs as well). The 56 has 2 "Liquid" channels that model several different classic preamps plus 6 regualr focusrite pre's. Price to feature I think it is the best unit out there.

    Liquid Saffire 56 Audio Interfaces Professional 28 In / 28 Out with 2 Liquid and 6 Focusrite Pre-amps
  13. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    That should be a good start for you. Not sure about those Liquid channels though? I'm really not into emulators. Give me the real deal or give me death. Well, I do utilize IK multimedia T-Racks as my preferred software dynamics and mastering software which is tube emulated. Though I don't use their saturation feature much if it originally originated from a Neve, API or is an analog transfer from analog tape. Sometimes though, if you ended up with a good take in a little bit of distortion from recordings slightly too hot, saturation emulation can actually smooth that out considerably without having to grab for the anti-clipping plug-in. So I think their emulation is merely some tweaked in distortion and filtering? And in my book, that would be a sad imitation of the real deal. Just like the microphone modeling software. That software was designed to be utilized with a SM58 to emulate all sorts of different condenser and ribbon microphones. I heard the software and laughed. So they tell you it sounds like an 87 of course you think it sounds like an 87, it doesn't but it might come close for your purposes and needs? And imitation is the sincerest form of flattery which I guess is also true in the audible sense? As in, it's better to have it and not have it. And you may actually find it useful in that way? So if you didn't get the Sapphire, get one that has the features that speaks to you that seems natural and intuitive. I don't buy that bunk that there are problems with the Pre-Sonus items. They work great! They sound good! They are simple and straightforward to use. If they're not making the Audio Box anymore (they were last year) than they have something equivalent and perhaps even better? I have been truly amazed at their rugged build quality when I've had to open their stuff. Quite impressive inside compared to 90% of the others. I like stuff built like a tank and they are. Personally I think their microphone preamps are almost too smooth being all class A? But I really can't find anything to complain about or put down. I've set up a couple of clients with those Pre-Sonus units and they love them. They have some nice straightforward mixer features right in the little box. Easy to understand, easy to utilize. They kept it simple for stupid people which was the most intelligent thing I've seen. And they are not trying to wow you with any flashy BS you really don't need. But it's all in what you want or need. It's whatever workflow you like to utilize. You'll get better at this as you go. And then you can have even more fun wasting all of your money on what you love to do. We have. I have. Most have. But you have to start somewhere and this will not be your last audio interface, guaranteed. Heck, even these eight channel FireWire interfaces are really not enough inputs for my needs. I would need at least 2 if not 3. But for the average home rock band, you could frequently get by with just 8. But maybe that are necessary? Then you're utilizing an eight channel interface with a two channel interface and you can't monitor the other two channels that you recording on the eight channel interface and vice versa. Then you need an analog or digital console. Like I said, it's never-ending.

    I lied, I might be retiring soon?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  14. Controversy Rising

    Controversy Rising Active Member

    I can't speak for the presonus pre amps, but the interface I bought and returned would not let my line6 stuff run at the same time, I think there was even a disclaimer either on the web site or the driver installation. Last week we mic'd the kick and the beater and then used each of the 10 pre amp models on them as the drummer played straight 4's. On play back some of the models really did jump out, the API and the telfunken. Do they sound like the original? I dunno.. I pretty much just listen and decide whether I like the sound I am hearing out of the monitors or not, pretty much the only way you can do it. I found some interesting proganda on the focusrite web site ... a "shoot out" against the real deal ...Latest news from Focusrite - Focusrite Liquid Channel Shootout take it for what it's worth. The focusrite does model the UA 610, and I have a UA 610 MK2 (compressor has a bypass) so at some point I will be doing an A/B test ... I am hoping this is the last interface for at least 5 years..lol. We rented an ART tube/opto 8 for the month to track the drums on a album in progress ART TubeOpto 8 | Sweetwater.com .... it definitely colours the sound.. is it good? ...hmmmm
  15. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    With that ART Tube Opto 8, I think you've been had? They call it 8 channels of class A tube pre-amplification with 70 DB of gain. I know very well they are not feeding your microphone into an input transformer before it hits that tube. It's going into an integrated circuit chip differentially and that's feeding the tube. You cannot directly feed a tube with a microphone and phantom power with much success or safety. And since they make that simply wonderful little awful single channel tube microphone preamp thingy for $50, that's what that unit is times eight. Complete with what appears to be digital I/O ALESIS optical style. Which is semi-cool. But the preamp isn't. So I could see why you said HMMMM. I think colors the sound is an understatement? Colors it brown with a nice brown muddy color. Great if you like Brown on your Sound but hey, it works. So if you treat it right, it'll work for you too, sort of. I'll use anything when necessary but that doesn't mean I'll like it. I just know what's inside and what it can and can't do. Now you do too. So I can see why you were not thrilled by it. It's thrilling to find out how bad it really is. Stay away from tubes go transistors screw chips. $500 microphone preamps rely upon generally 5-6 transistors in a good input and output transformer. Not always an output transformer. But hey, that's how API and Neve preamps are built. Can't afford those? Try the Seventh Circle products which are near exact replicas from the best of API & Neve and others. And they're only a fraction of the cost of the real things and they are the real things themselves. Not some kind of whoop Dee Doo ART.

    You're not recording Peter Max
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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