Got the RME Fireface 800...

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by Cucco, Oct 17, 2007.

  1. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    and loving it so far!

    In the process of trying to scale down, I'm moving to Firewire and a laptop instead of Lynx AES 16 cards and a desktop and monitor...

    The conversion in the RME is surprisingly QUITE nice. I got it so that I could do the extra optical inputs from my other converters, but to be honest, unless I need more than 10 to 12 channels, I don't see the disadvantage in using the RME! It really does sound quite good!

    And I LOVE the mixer software! It makes sense!!! (Lynx - I love you guys to death, but seriously, look at RME's mixer software and get yours working like this!!!) I can make just about any submix combination I want - this is perfect for in-studio recording!!! I can have 5 stereo submixes! 1 for me (digital out to my monitor controller), 1 for the vocalist ("MORE ME!"), 1 for the guitar ("WAY more me"), one for the bass ("DUH....I like me...") and 1 for the drums ("I hit things...YAY")

    Or I can insert outboard processing for monitoring or recording or both!!

    Oh...and it sounds really friggin nice too! Hey, even the preamps are usable! I've actually done a couple stereo tests using the Royer SF12 with the pres at max gain and I'm not hating the sound (and they're pretty quiet too!!!)

    I think I may have to pick up a couple more of these! If you haven't tried one, you owe yourself the time to play with it!

    Something else I find odd (and seriously - nothing against Lynx! I absolutely love Lynx!), but for 8 tracks of recording with my AES 16s, I'd need 1024 samples in my ASIO buffer. For the RME, I've needed to use at most 256 and I've even been without hiccups below that!

    Just thought I'd pass on the thoughts.

  2. johnthemiracle

    johnthemiracle Active Member

    hi cucco...nice to hear you're liking the ff800, too...
  3. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Are you running a single 800?
    If so keep it that way. I had two for a short amount of time. I had lot of trouble get both units converting in cooperation. But yes the ADC's are nice. I did a quick test before I got rid of them, so I could compare it too my new cranesong ADC. And the FF800 did pretty well. I have to say to my ear the Cranesong Hedd was a bit clearer and had slightly better low end response. But it was close.

    Oh and the PCB layout on the FF800 is great!
    have fun.
  4. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    I'm envious, Jeremy; I've had my eye on one of these for a while now, and am getting closer to making a decision for an important recording in December. Looks like a winner, indeed. Please keep us posted on how it's going with this. (Although it looks like you're head over hells in love with this already!) :cool:

    The Multiface II is also interesting, but it doesn't have the pre's and it needs a PCI card to hook it up to a computer. (I see that RME has come out with PC Express cards now, too, although that COULD be just vaporware at the moment....) The Fireface 800 still looks like the best deal overall.
  5. Zilla

    Zilla Active Member

    I have had one since '06 (I think) and also have a FF400. Anyway, I have been very content with mine. The unit is quite good out of the box. As usual, mine is highly modified and now compares very well against much higher-end converters. I still haven't yet got the HP amp to be something special, but its still totally usable. There is another thread floating somewhere discussing this.

    The driver/mixer software is mo' pro. I have found that other (not to be named) manufacturer's drivers to be poorly implemented. In fact, I have found level shifts through these drivers when their controls where supposedly set at unity.
  6. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    It sure looks that way.

    I've always heard good things about the way RME integrate their hardware AND software to produce a complete solution.

    Now that you've got that system up and running, your next purchase ought to be a new 'exclamation mark' key - I'm sure you've worn out your existing one. :wink:
  7. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Ha.....I think I've worn out my period key first..........
  8. Costy

    Costy Guest

    And the next post by Cucco, I bet, will be "got a laptop, it's freaky
    light !!!!!" Right, Jeremy ?
    Just kidding. Anyway, it seems that Onyx 800R could be a nice
    extention for this RME 800, isn't it ? Or you are going for some
    better pre's ? Cheers,
  9. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    The 800R would be a great option for extra channels through lightpipe. They'll occassionally get some use. I'll likely use the Graces or the ones that Zilla's making for me right now though.
  10. aracu

    aracu Active Member

    I use the Fireface all the time, but not usually for recording with mics. I use it mostly with software to set midi orchestral music to indie films and to do audio editing. The drivers are good although there are some issues with the WDM drivers. In terms of recording with mics, the preamps have very low gain untill turned way up, then the gain increases very quickly at a very short ratio of turning the knob. No other complaints except that the phones jack broke inside but was fixable. I use it for recording multitracked recordings when tracks need to be layered one at a time, but prefer to use linked Sound Devices recorders for location or basic studio recording. I'm interested to hear about any mods for the Fireface. It's definately a good all around problem solving interface.
  11. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    As I mentioned in another thread, I picked up one and really like it so far. Got a great deal on it locally, from 8th Street music here in Phila.

    I'm using Vista & Seq. V.8.3 on my laptop, so this should be interesting, once I have it up and running. So far, so good. The ASIO drivers come right up, with no problems. The WDM drivers need some re-naming, and RME doesn't recommend using them anyway....we'll see! :cool:
  12. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I've only used ASIO thus far. I don't suppose I have a need for the WDM drivers, so I don't anticipate any issues with them. (The software that I use...Sequoia, Finale, Garritan, Reason 3.0, Fruity Loops, etc. all support ASIO.)


    I definitely agree about the pres being strongest in the final throws. It makes it a pain for minor adjustments, but for a single spot mic, etc, I think it will do the trick just fine. We'll see tomorrow - I'm doing a recording of a large, collegiate marching band and will need to use the mic pres in addition to my existing ones. Should be interesting.
  13. ptr

    ptr Active Member

    As a user of the FW800 for almost two years now, I can second most of whats been said above. But I have a question for those of you who use it with a PC laptop!

    How do you connect?

    The regular 4-pin outlet You find on 101% of laptops I find localy, seem to be a pityful excuse för a FW port.. I've been testing an "EXpressCard" with FW400 & 800 port on my latest laptop and while I'm not totaly satisfied, it works..

    What sollutions are there?

  14. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    I too wonder about the FW issue, esp with Sony laptops, which have the 4 pin FW connector (which they call i-link) as standard issue, and usually nothing else, other than USB 2.0 connectors. This is a shame, since Sony was one of the first with this anyway. I've never been comfortable with it in general. At one point, on my previous laptop, the 4 pin connector just stopped working. (Probably stress & breakage on one of the tiny, unsupported pins inside the connector). For 3-4 years since then, I've been using a PCMCIA/FW card with dual connetions instead, with no problems at all.

    I almost didn't buy my current laptop (PCG-5G3L)because of this very issue, until I made sure the new ExpressCard slot would support FW adapters. It does, so I did, and so far so good. HOWEVER, the springloaded mechanism seems to be VERY hair-trigger in that it could easily be bumped and pop right back out of the socket, plus it's up near the front of the machine now, instead of the middle of the unit. Pretty scary, and I might have to start gaff-taping things down again when I'm out on remotes.

    Otherwise, I don't know how else to get FW into this thing, unless there's an ethernet to FW adapter option out there somewhere. I plan to stick with the 6pin to ExpressCard option for now, with a 6 to 4 pin FW cable ready as a back up, just in case....
  15. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Another VERY sweet little extra with the Fireface 800 is the inclusion of Samplitude 8 SE. I didn't know this was included, and it solved a couple of silly/stupid problems with my laptop upgrade.

    For years, I had simply been upgrading my legal copy of Samplitude, through V5, 6 and 7 on my laptop. (V7 being good enough to still use in the field for live tracks, on those rare occasions when I'd forget the dongle for my copy of Sequoia V8. Arrrrggg!)

    With the new laptop, I was forced to go without my old copy of Samplitude (long story short - almost impossible to load it witithout an A floppy drive, which holds the now-outdated user validation keys, etc. etc.) so I just put my legit copy of Sequoia on there and pray I won't ever forget the dongle.

    I opened the FW 800 box and - surprise! - a copy of Samplitude V8.3 SE was in there. Now of course it only allows up to 8 tracks of recording at a time, but I can work with that in most cases, or I can upgrade to the next level for more tracks. Very nice surprise, indeed.
  16. aracu

    aracu Active Member

    I should mention that one disadvantage of using linked Sound Devices
    recorders compared to using a Fireface / laptop for location or basic studio
    recording is that playing back linked Sound Devices recorders from the machines themselves, to check the mix etc., is not synchronised between the units, and therefore not usefull, unless you want to listen to an Elvis style slap back delay on a classical ensemble. Not something they go out of their way to tell you unless asked. But it looks like they are working towards it in the firmware updates. Some advantages are having built in ms decoding for monitering without having to process it, much smaller size and possibly better sound (or at least a different sound character), and easier to adjust preamp volume controls with more gain.

    For people needing a similar interface to the Fireface (but without
    firewire) for a studio, with twice as many preamps, check out the ESI Maxio, looks like a monster. I have used an earlier version of it and the audio quality was impressive. There's an interesting review of it online
    from S.O.S.
  17. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Dumb question time....Jeremey (and other FW 800 users): What are you using to get from your pre's outputs to the inputs of the 800? Anything special?

    I'm putting mine in the same rack as my m802, directly underneath it, actually. So, I'll need about 6-12" at MOST of cabling, going from XLR outs on the Grace to balanced 1/4" inputs on the RME. I might just roll my own at this point, having enough raw materials on hand, but I'm wondering all the same if it would be cheaper to just go with something off the shelf. Any suggestions?
  18. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    From back in my commercial studio days, I had a bunch of 6" XLR F to TRS M cables that I had either rolled or purchased. I just used those and then banded the short slack together using a velcro tie.

    The thing I am really digging is the lack of cables needed for this system.

    In my old system, I'd have the snake coming into the pre, an 8 channel XLR to DB25 snake running from pre to converter (try to get one of these in lengths shorter than 6'!! and making them is a pain in the butt!), plus the DB25 to DB26 cable from the converter to the computer, the DB26 cable to the AES breakout cable for the Benchmark, a Word clock cable or two and if necessary (for more than 8 channels) another DB25 to DB26 cable. This was about 7 pounds of cable plus the whole mess of wires all over the place.

    Now, I've got the snake coming into the preamp, the 8 very short leads and a firewire cable. I'm down to less than a pound of cable and hardly any cable spaghetti.

    I just used the Fireface last night for the first major engagement recording a college marching band for their annual CD release. The RME worked without a hiccup or a surprise. I was thoroughly impressed. What was so friggin amazing was the routing capabilities.

    I had the outputs routed this way -

    Outputs 1&2 - Feeding the Adam A7s with the mix as I intended to hear it.
    Outputs 3&4 - Feeding the backup recorder with the same mix as above.
    Outputs 5&6 - Feeding an external headphone amp with the rough mix
    Outputs 7&8 - Feeding another headphone amp with a boosted drum mix so rhythm sections could clearly be heard.


    I did have one minor horror story last night. It's a bit off topic, so I'll keep it short. No names will be used as I really enjoy working with this client, but every once in a while, someone comes along and makes things difficult, even with your good clients...

    So, I set up my mics in a hostile environment (think recording a 250 piece marching band outdoors on a practice field in about 70% humidity with rain clouds looming overhead). I had a grand total of 10 minutes to place the mics since they had to get going as quickly as possible - they had to relinquish the field at a set time.

    I set everything up where I was sure it would work - A pair of cardioids overhead in wide ORTF, wide omnis as flanks, omni spot on the bass cabinets, XY flanks over snares, AB Omnis over tonal bass drums (none of these were "cheap" mics either. The omnis over the tonals were Schoeps CMC62s).

    During the VERY short sound check, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that I had nailed the setup right off the bat. No tweaking of placement necessary! (I love it when that happens!!!)

    So, I was a bit surprised when, during the first take of the first track, I noticed that the tonal bass drums started getting weak disappearing. The band directors commented on it too..."Somethings wrong with the bass drums - we need more sound from them."

    After the second take, I said "I'll go change out the mics and get a different sound."

    I go out to find that the Schoeps (which I had placed on VERY heavy stands at about 8 feet up and 4 feet in front of the tonals aiming towards them) had been lowered and moved.

    The drum instructor told me that he felt that the sound would be better if the mics were in different places so he moved them DURING the take!

    Trying to maintain my composure, I said that they were where they needed to be. I proceeded to replace the mics however with a pair of LDC cardioids. As I was doing that, he asked if I could put the mics about 7 or 8 feet further back (in front of the cymbals and quads, etc.). I stated that this would not work. Again, he said that he felt that it would sound better this way and that I should do it anyway. He left a little bit perturbed when I wouldn't pay attention.

    I wound up talking to the guy after the sessions and he turned out to be a cool guy, but that still didn't make me want to beat him any less at that moment!

    Anyway - the client is great, the band is great and I love the work, so I can live with the occassional trauma of someone manhandling my mics.


    PS -
    Simmo - sorry if I used too many exclamations this time...............or too many periods... ;-)
  19. BRH

    BRH Active Member

    Well, I would tell the Conductor, "I never want to see that dude on the set again!"
    The mixer should be in charge during all recordings.
  20. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    Totally agree about the FF800 and the built-in mixer. A lot of functionality in that box. Solidly working with my computer.

    A small piece of warning. I had a set of headphones plugged into the front output. Somehow, a large pull on the cord, and the headphone output was physically broken. As it is mounted directly on the internal circuit board, it got slightly cracked as well. Seems I was half lucky, half unlucky as the repair was not that expensive.

    What I will do however is to mount a separate headphone output in the rack, with a cable and a side access plug in the FF800. If the pull happens again, then only the separate headphone output will be affected.


Share This Page