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Future upgrade?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by HaHallur, Oct 22, 2010.

  1. HaHallur

    HaHallur Active Member

    I'm currently making plans on creating a more professional like recording setup in my home.
    I want to be able to prioritize what are the most important upgrades and make them accordingly.

    Let me give you a quick background on the gear I'm currently using.

    Soundcard and AD/DA contverter is RME Fireface 800, for additional pre's I use Focusrite Octopre.
    Monitors, KRK Rokit 5 and couple of headphones.
    Mics, SM57's SM58, Beta 52, Beta 57, Rode NT4, EV 27.
    Computer, PC Win7 64, i7, 6GB ram.

    What i'd like to have is something like a console and more inputs, something like 24 ins.
    I'm not sure how that works in junction with the computer.
    I'd have to get a AD/DA converter and it would be console > AD/DA (soundcard) > Computer... right ?

    Could someone give me a few options regarding how i should upgrade from the Fireface and explain how consoles a connected to PC's

  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    A typical low-to-medium budget signal route for home recording is mics->preamps->multichannel interface->computer via FireWire. The preamps and interface can be in the same unit or be separate, so in your case, the FF800 can be used with its 4 internal pre-amps plus 6 more external pre-amp channels via its line inputs and up to 18 external pre-amp channels (at 44.1/48KHz) using the ADAT and S/PDIF inputs. You also need active monitors or passive monitors with a power amp for monitoring. The DAW software in the computer performs the recording, monitoring and mixing. Note that this setup does not include or need a mixing console.

    The RME FireFace800 is an excellent unit, and I would recommend keeping it. If you want to extend this system, there is a choice of how to do it. Adding another ADAT-output multi-channel pre-amp such as your Octopre is an obvious step, but you may want to choose an alternative make and model to give the option of a different sonic colour. You can go to 28 channels using the single FF800, but you could use the Firewire800 capability and daisy-chain a second FireFace800 if you need more channels in total. Most people would say you are moving away from a "home studio" system if you were to go that far.

    An alternative to consider is moving to OTB mixing on an analog desk. I have had very good results from an Allen & Heath Zed-R16 used as a recorder into a computer via its FireWire interface and then during the mixdown phase as an analog mixer. Whatever one says about digital mixing, the sounds created by a medium-price analog desk like this one stand out as being exceptional for the money. Note that there is a hard limit of 16 channels with this unit. I have not heard the new GS-R24 24-channel A+H desk under studio conditions, but it looks good, however at a higher price and without the ADAT I/O as a standard fitment.

    Note that you would not be able to mix FireWire interface types on a PC (a Mac will allow this), so you could not run the FF800 and the Zed-R16 as simultaneous FireWire recording units. You could, however, use the Zed-R16 as a 16-channel ADAT expander for the FF800 during recording and then use its FireWire capability for later 16-channel mixdowns. You would have to question exactly what you would gain from this if you wanted mixes from more than 16-channel sources.

    If you can afford it, keep the FF800 for times when its appropriate, but consider the GS-R24 as your FireWire recording input and mixdown unit.
  3. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    To echo Boswell, I don't even use my Onyx 1640 anymore. I run two RME Fireface 800's when I need more channels than one will provide. I utilize outboard preamps into the line inputs of the FF800 and into the ADAT I/O. I also do analog summing during mixdown by utilizing a summing mixer(s) which is still not my Onyx. If I were going to go back to a mixing desk I would definitely look at the ZED R16 or the 24.

    Note that the FF800 is no longer the king of the RME firewire/usb devices. The new UFX now fills that rolle. Hopefully I'll be able to pick up a third FF800 for cheap when the rush to get the latest greatest occurs.
  4. HaHallur

    HaHallur Active Member

    I looked at a video of the GS-R24, looks very good, he also mentioned that you could use all 24 channels and the additional 8 channels via ADAT.

    Would the R24 fuction as the primary soundcard or would the Fireface still be the AD/DA device ?

    Price 6500 pounds... for the motorized version, probably 8000 dollars, I should start saving up :)

    edit: I knew about the new Fireface UFX, I started thinking if I could daisy chain the UFX with the 800.
  5. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    As I understand it, you cannot chain a UFX with another UFX or with the Fireface.

    As to the GS24, you need to make sure you read specifically how many channels can be simultaneously recorded. Even on the R16, you can only use 16 channels at a time for a DAW even if you have both ADAT pipes active. Boswell can perhaps address that when he wakes up tomorrow.
  6. HaHallur

    HaHallur Active Member

    Yeah well, I'd still be able to use external pre's on the R24 right?
  7. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Oh yeah, don't get me wrong. The GS24 is definitely candy.
  8. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Yawn... Yes, the R16 is limited to 16 channels of input. It can write those 16 plus the stereo output pair via FireWire to a host computer. My information is that the GS-R24 can write 32 channels via FireWire. Of those, 24 are the direct outs of the input channels and the other 8 are assorted buses and the stereo output pair.
  9. HaHallur

    HaHallur Active Member

    I'm really interested in getting the GS R24, although it would probably mean that I had to sell my Fireface and Focusrite pre's.
    But that be ok right ?.... since the R24 would function as the soundcard of the computer?

    ...and just to be sure, are we overlooking any similar consoles?
  10. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Inre the GS-R24: Not in that price category. Yamaha makes some digital boards but in their small format line I don't believe they have anything with 24 mic pre's. Plus, the A&H pre's are much better than the Yamaha. Avoid anything made by Tascam. That leaves......nothing.
  11. HaHallur

    HaHallur Active Member

    Do you think i'd need additional preamps for other flavors?

    Are the pre's e.g. better than those found in the Fireface 800?
  12. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    I've not yet had the fortune of getting live use of a GS-R24, but if the pre-amps are at least as good as those in the Zed-R16, that puts them in the same or higher bracket than those in the FF800. Whether you have additional pre-amps of other sonic flavours is more a matter of how you run your studio rather than a property of any one piece of gear, but it's perfectly possible to plug the outputs of external pre-amps into the line inputs of any of these medium/high-end mixers or interfaces.

    I remember some time ago taking one of my Alesis HD24XRs to record a live session and hooking all the inputs up to the direct outs of the venue's mixer, a 24-channel Soundcraft. I don't have the details to hand of exactly which model it was, but the results were excellent. I had to get the FOH sound engineer to keep an eye on the HD24XR meter display so as not to overload the recorder's inputs, but it wasn't a problem.

    It might be worth your considering a purely analog 24-channel mixing board and using an HD24XR as the input (and output) converters, and then something like a Presonus FireStudio Lightpipe as the ADAT interface to a FireWire port on your computer. You could record to the computer while making a backup recording on the HD24XR, which would also act as the output converters back to the desk during mixdown if you did not want to mix ITB.

    With the move to hybrid desks like the GS-R24, that approach is now seen as a little old-fashioned, but it works well. The snag is that the HD24XRs have been discontinued...

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