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How to evolve my digital io

Discussion in 'Recording' started by rjuly, Feb 4, 2015.

  1. rjuly

    rjuly Active Member

    Everything must change... I have been a medium term user of UA's Apollo Quad interface, along with an RME AD-8-DS for extra inputs via ADAT. Recently, UA has started putting greater emphasis on their MAC/Thunderbolt development effort, and letting the firewire support lag behind. As someone who has chosen Sequoia/Samplitude as their DAW, this situation means I think I need to find a better digital io solution going forward, but what?

    I would like to be strategic in my choice, perhaps investing a bit more up front, but maintaining some quality and flexibility for the future.

    I currently have one x86 pc tower, and two MacBook pro laptops, so it would seem that usb would be the preferred interface, but discussions on this forum, most notably comments by Chris (audiokid), have given me to understand that usb is not the most robust choice; that MADI or AES is a more resilient option in terms of bulletproof sync and latency.

    My needs are fairly straightforward, but choosing the right combination of replacement products is not turning out to be. I really won't need more than 16 inputs for general use, going into a laptop, for remote recording of rock bands, and that's where the criticality in terms of latency and sync would be most apparent. In addition, I would like to use my pc tower, when I am recording and mixing at home, as I think it is a more solid platform than the macbook pro running Boot Camp. My current best laptop, late 2013 MacBook pro, has a single usb 3 controller, and Thunderbolt. Given that the PC tower and USB 2 and 3, it would seem that usb is the common factor.

    I realize that with that number of inputs (16) usb 2 or 3 should be sufficient, but my gut tells me I should invest in options that allow me to use better protocols like MADI if it makes sense.

    The ideal solution would be a single rack space 16 in/out that has MADI and usb2 and3. I could then have a MADI pci card for the tower and connect the laptop via usb.

    I like RME both for TotalMix as well as their driver stability and wide variety of different solutions, but they don't seem to like doing more than 8 channels for AD/DA.

    Something like the Antelope Orion would be nice, if it came in a 16 channel version. 32 seems like overkill to me for a portable setup, although otherwise ideal. Plus, the software is not as respected as TotalMix.

    Any thoughts would be welcome...
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Are you going to mix OTB? Do any stem mixing, adding analog hardware possibility down the road ?
  3. rjuly

    rjuly Active Member

    Not likely, but I am hoping to future-proof. How would that affect your advice? Can you give me options for both yes and no?
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Well, if you are needing 16 I/O, your are looking at what, $3000 for that. You might as well buy an Orion32. You you will want the extra 16 DA channels going OTB. This is when hybrid mixing gets fun!!!
    I've owned quite a few very expensive ADC's and the Orion is by far the best option sonically and price.

    Now, here is the crunch. You need an interface for what ever you choose. And that should be PCIe.
    Your top options are AES EBU or MADI. Add the cabling in for AES x 16 or 32... that 4 dsubs or 8 dsubs.
    8 channel 110 ohm DAC Mogami snake is at least $100 USD. X that by your needs and its more$

    MADI starts to look pretty sweet. You still need dsubs for your analog when you decide to start hybrid summing but you can ease into it as your budget allows. Plan ahead.

    RME PCIe is the way I went. I like their drivers and they work. A MADI PCIe is going to cost anywhere from $1000 to 15 new. I bought a used one for $1000 USD.

    The Fiber Cable was $20. !

    What ever you do, look at all you need the complete the process.

    I Had AES EBU and a few ADI 8 QS 's. To get what I have with the Orion I was looking at well over $20,000 just for the conversion.

    the Orion32 and an RME MADI PCIe, it excellent. Thousands less than anything marginally better.

    Hope that helps.
  5. rjuly

    rjuly Active Member

    Yes the Orion32 is very compelling. What about the software mixer and realtime effects? Are they a help or a hindrance?
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    The Orions 32 mixer is useless when you are on Sequoia and RME totalmix. But, I never explored the Orion mixer at all so,
    I hate to keep adding more products but if you get a taste for this, you will eventually be looking at digital patchbays and how routers and relay switching works for you. I'm calling the Liaison or the SSL XPatch a relay router. These devices work excellent as a way to swich hardware around , inbetween dsubs between your Orion32 and the DAW ADDA

    Going way ahead for a moment.
    I don't think analog is going to improve, in fact I think its never going to be sonically better,. I think switching devises are what we are going to see more of. Things that can route hardware between the DAAD via routers that can be triggered by Midi / CAT5 or controllers. Something that connect old school with your ADDA is the next thing you will be looking at. So even though I'm way ahead of you right now... if you keep going... this is where you will be lovin it all.

    I say get the Orion 32 and a MADI interface and and you will be set up and ready.

    Does this help or am I confusing?
  7. rjuly

    rjuly Active Member

    No, not confusing - clear. It's just a question of how far along the curve I want to go in my pursuit of sonic excellence. I will only ever be recording remotely or working out of my home, so I have to be careful not to get carried away. Your advice seems spot on. If I am recording remotely, I wouldn't be using the MADI card and so would be using the antelope software for realtime fx and monitoring. So from that perspective I will need to see how well it works.
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    If all you are doing is AD, the Orion 32 USB will get it done! Antelope should make an Orion 16 for like $1600.
    Maybe the Zen is right. You need a DA so you can hear what you are doing.
  9. rjuly

    rjuly Active Member

    MADI connectivity aside, the Zen Studio seems like a no brainer for remote recording. Mic pres, effects etc...It probably more than fits the bill if I am not going to be doing a lot of round trip activity. The Orion32 doesn't have effects processing for latency free flavoring of realtime monitoring, does it? I wonder if Antelope has any of the utilities for measuring errors that RME does...

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