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Looking for advice on choosing A/D hardware

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by bvaniman, Feb 26, 2003.

  1. bvaniman

    bvaniman Guest

    Hello everyone, this is my first post to the forum.
    I have just recently installed a multi-track recording/mixing software package on my computer. Now I need a way to get the inspired music created by my band into that program. I will be supplying the signal from a 16 channel analog mixer. I would appreciate any suggestions for A/D hardware and a PCI card. The A/D box would preferably have 16 analog channels in and out, and some kind of digital in/out for interfacing with the PCI card. Although most of the posts I've looked at so far make me think that most A/D boxes only have 8 channels, so I guess I'd have to get 2 units that are linkable. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    I can tell you what I have that does this. I got the Frontier Dakota card for 18 in and out. 16 on adat lightpipes and 2 spdif in out. I also got the Alesis AI3 converters (2). The whole thing was under $1000 USD and IMO it sounds good. If you want to hear something I recorded on that system check my songs in the Audio Streaming / Crituque forum. The songs are "In My Dreams" and "How They Belong". I posted them a few weeks ago so you may have to look deep for them. If they have been pruned from the list go to NoWhere Radio and look for "Kurt Foster singles".. Fats
  3. sdevino

    sdevino Active Member

    I agree with Flats. The Dakota card from Frontier Design is an excellent and expandable PCI card.

    For converters you have many choices, the AI3 Cedar mentioned is good, you can also pickup an 8 channel ADAT for under $300 these days. There were many hit records recorded on ADAT over the past 10 years. And the 20 bit converters will still give you more resoultion than your analog board can pass, plus you can run tape as a backup to your computer crashing.
  4. lorenzo gerace

    lorenzo gerace Active Member


    I don't know Frontier converters so I cannot comment on them; my other suggestion would be to get a MOTU (Mark Of The Unicorn) A/D converter: the new line has units with 24 analog I/O at 24/96 resolution that sound pretty good, and they come bundled with the PCI card with DSP chip on it for near zero latency, ADAT sync, Word Clock, check it out Here .

    It's an expandable system that could grow with your needs and allows you to use your software of choice, or their own (Digital Performer or Audio Desk on Mac).

    Hope this helps

  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    The Dakota isn't a converter, the AI3 is. Frontier does make a converter box but it’s called the “Tango” ... I considered the MOTU stuff when researching this for myself. I found it to be expensive and I noticed that they were constantly coming out with newer upgraded products every few months. That bugs the stuff out of me. I wish these companies would just develop a product and then support it for a while instead of constantly trying to entice us to purchase "the next best thing" every 6 months. The capper was when I realized that MOTU was slanted towards use with Macs (waaaaaay to expensive). That was the capper. I have a screaming system with 18 in and out, high track count, lots of incidents of eq, comps and verbs, all with good sound quality, 24 bits, 6 ms latency, 30 % CPU usage, on PC for about $3000 (about the base price of a Mac). This is Hardware, computer, OS, music software and monitor. In addition the system is modular and expandable. I can add another card form Frontier, (the Montana) that adds an additional 16 in and out plus word clock in/out connections. If I decide I want to use different higher end converters for a given project, I can. It’s very simple to connect ant lightpipe compatible converter to the system. I highly recommend the Frontier stuff, it is well made, runs on PCs, has very good driver implementation, is expandable and sounds damn nice. ….. Fats
    Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D , Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
    Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.
  6. bvaniman

    bvaniman Guest

    Cedar, Steve, Lorenzo,
    Thanks for your help. I will check out your suggestions, but I think the MOTU stuff is going to be out of my price range. Steve brought up a good point about the ADAT though. I have an LX20 ADAT, so I could record up to 8 channels at a time. All I would need to get started then is the interface card, and a lightpipe.
    Cedar, you mentioned several brand names at the end of your message. Are these suggestions for companies that make A/D converters or interface cards?
    I have another related question too. The software I've got lists the minimum processor speed requirement as 233 MHz, and recommends 700 MHz. The computer in my band room is my old Pentium II machine, with a 266 MHz processor. Do you think being this close to the minimum requirement is going to be a problem for me?

    Thanks again for all your help.
  7. bvaniman

    bvaniman Guest

    Oh! I almost forgot another question...
    The LX20 ADAT is going to be spitting out a 20-bit stream. My software only works in 16-bit or 32-bit. Will the interface card handle the conversion, and are there any bad consequences to having to do all this conversion? Also, I assume that I would run my software at the same 48 kHz sample rate as the ADAT is putting out, right?

    Thanks again,
  8. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    The problem with using an ADAT as a converter is you need 2 machines to do this. One to record and one to monitor. When you put an ADAT into digital mode it disaables the analog inputs. A solution is to record on the ADAT and then transfer the tracks into the DAW for mixing.

    The brand names in my signature line refer to studio monitors. I was being asked about monitor speakers every other day so I just placed my recommendations in my signature line to make it simple.

    I do think you would be pushing the limits using a 266 PC. If you use this machine, make sure it has at least 256 of ram. I wouldn't do any upgrades to that machine however. Sort of like throwing money down a hole. You really should try to get a better computer.

    If you record in 16 bit, the 20 bit output from the ADAT will work fine. Your soundcard will simply drop the extra 4 bits.
    .......... Fats
    Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D , Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
    Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.
  9. robb007

    robb007 Member

    I agree with Cedar .I own a Dakota,Montana ,and sierra midi box plus 3 Tango s and one RME-ADI-8DS.I can use either the Tango converters or the RME converter it works great !!GO FRONTIER MAN!!!!

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