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RME Fireface 800 questions

Discussion in 'Converters / Interfaces' started by audiokid, May 27, 2009.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Staff


    I'm finally getting time to start working on my new studio. Ya! Ten years has passed since I upgraded from PT mix.

    I'm using a Fireface 800 (oo la la) and Sonar 8 loaded into the new Rain ION 64 Octo Core, 16 gig of ram Vista 64. This system was tested and tweeked specifically for Sonar 8 Producer by Cakewalk. This should be fun.

    Question 1 of many ( thanks ahead of time here. I'm going to need some help)
    I am trying to get my head around how to connect my pre's and other hardware into the Fireface 800 and use the mixer to route it all. I can do this correct?

    How do I bypass the pre in the 800 and use some of mine?
    How good do you find the pre's in the 800?
  2. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Hey Chris -
    The Fireface is a super cool interface that sounds awesome. You're going to love it.

    First, on the FF800 pres - they're not bad. Actually, they're quite nice. I've used them along side Millennias, Graces and Trues with great luck. They're pretty transparent with a decent amount of headroom and of course, they mate perfectly with the AD in the box.

    As for coming into the fireface with external pres, there are 8 line inputs on TRS. All of these bypass the preamps by their very nature and go straight into discrete inputs on the FF. You *can* operate 2 of the line inputs simultaneously with the 2 mic inputs, but bear in mind, those channels are no longer discrete. You'll, in essence, be matrixing two sources together on a single mono channel.

    The mixer software is great too -
    Along the bottom row, you select your output pair. Say for example, you want to set up a mix for your artists' headphones on outputs 1&2 (TRS 1&2 on the rear).

    You click either channel 1 or 2 on the bottom row. Now, all of the faders in the top two rows will be controlling the output to hardware channels 1 and 2.

    The top row is inputs. You can send any input directly to the mix bus and out to channels 1 and 2. Say you have a vocal on channel 3 - bring that fader up and voila...instant gratification (with near 0 latency).

    The middle row is "virtual" outputs. This means, any output you assign through a DAW. Say in Sonar, you assign an aux bus that feeds out to software outputs 3&4. In the RME mixer, you can pull up the faders in the middle row on 3&4 and anything that aux bus in your software hears, so will the outputs of the RME.

    You can mix and match these, but bear in mind -
    If your input channel and your DAW channel are getting the same information (say that vocal that was on channel 3 of the inputs is also on your Aux bus in Sonar), you're going to hear delays. Because the DAW has some inherent latency (determined by your ASIO settings), you'll get the near-0 latency feed and the ASIO-latency feed simultaneously. This won't cause any physical problems other than that it will freak out your singer.

    Let me know if you have any other questions about the FF800. It's my favorite interface of all times - there's so much that can be done with this unit!

  3. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the world of Fireface 800, audiokid. I love this box, and jumped in with it thanks to reading so much good feedback from Jeremy Cucco. I use mine almost exclusively "live" for remote hi-end recording.

    I wrote a review of it for Mix that never got run (space considerations, timing, etc.) and i have to tell you; there's so much to the thing, it was one of the hardest things I ever tackled to fit into only 900 words. It was almost a list of features rather than a review.

    The manual is intense too. Somewhat steep learning curve, but WOW, once you get a handle on everything, it rocks.

    There's a Youtube page (created by RME) with some video tutorials, including the TotalMix software feature.

    To answer your first question, there are eight balanced analog inputs on the back that will accomodate your other preamps. In my case, I have my Grace m802's in the same road case, with a 10" bundled cable going from the DA25 outputs of of the Grace directly to the eight 1/4" inputs.

    In the software provided with the FF800, there's a control tab that will allow you to select front panel (XLR) or rear-panel inputs for numbers 1, 7, 8, 9 and 10. (if memory serves correct.) You can select front, back or both. Inputs 9 and 10 can also function as talkback or room-listen mics.

    On remote recordings, I use my Grace's for the first eight inputs, and if I need more, I add the front-panel 9 and 10 mic pre's for non-critical things. From what I've heard, however, these pre's are no slouches and are more than adequate in a pinch.

    The total mix software really is the key, and getting a handle on that will get you up and running for everything else. There's a Matrix as well, although i've found I don't need to mess with that at all. (Yet!)

    Drop me a note or post more questions here when you need to know more. :cool:
  4. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I love my FF as well. I'm still in the learning curve but climbing fast. I run my Trues in via the DB25 to the FF TRS inputs. I also have and can run an Onyx 800r via adat into the adat inputs. I love the sound quality. For redundancy I go out the adats into my Alesis HD24XR.

    Honestly, I haven't tried to work with the mixer too much other than create presets. I've been using the matrix to route everything. My biggest hindrance is that even though I'm a computer guy, when it comes to audio I still visualize a big a** analog console and the matrix helps me in that regard.
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Thanks guys, that helps a lot!

    Joe, what did you do with the Fireface 800 review? If its just sitting collecting dust, would you like to publish it on RO reviews?
  6. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    audiokid....Wow.....excellent choice! You will have no regrets....
    I absolutely love my FireFace 800...the TotalMix mixer is awesome. powerful and beautiful...check out RME for TotalMix "skins"...I have a Cubase version skin and I believe there are Sonar version skins out there and the skin graphics from the default are very cool some are stunning!!. The DigiCheck tool is also something you can use for metering as well as software tools in there for sound and file analysis..It has an incredible amount of setups and features not to mention the patching matrix....it just goes on and on.!!....be sure to use a HD big screen!....It's like having a true virtual console

    Be sure and try out the 192Khz setting and record a few tracks....have a listen to the clarity and presence....not that you need to run it at that speed but if you want to really test your system out and see what it can really do definitely try it....you'll get some horrendous audio files of course...but it really is something to give a critical listen to...I typically use the 48Khz setting when recording and then switch back down to 44.1Khz for standard speed playback of MP3's or CD mixdowns...
    The guitar/instrument input is very clean and stable (selectable Limiter and Speaker Emulation on input) I typically bring the guitar into that and use GuitarRig as a plugin in Cubase and away you go...
    I have keyboards into the rear balanced stereo input pairs....I've tried using the SPDIF but wasn't completely happy with the signal ( just a little glitchy)

    I have not used any outboard mic preamps yet....let me know what sort of signal chain you end up trying...I would think the back TRS would be your best bet for your outbd pres....gain setup should be a snap from Totalmix

    I have been going straight into the FF800 mic inputs and then using plugins from there via Cubase (which I'm sure is the same using Sonar)

    Output monitors feeds I have routed within Cubase Studio and then linked out to the FF800 outputs for headphone feeds and monitor outputs plus I use the master headphone output on the front of the FF800 thru my ATH-M50's and I tell you what....your hearing some pretty incredible sound!
    That manual needs to read several times because there is so much info in there and so many ways to configure the unit and when you have it configured with Sonar or Cubase you have a very flexible "board"....
    Be sure and post some tracks and maybe photos of your updated setup...
  7. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    The matrix mixer was great- I had two of these units. I thought the pre's wer ok, no flavour but no bad taste either. The ADC is decent, however between it and my cranesong, I choose my cranesong.
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Are you guys using firewire 400 or 800?
  9. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I use firewire 800 (1394b). I have both Express Card adapters as well as Card Bus and a PCI in the old desktop. All Siig. I did spend some cash on some nice braided firewire cables too.
  10. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    I'm using 400 because my system doesnt have 800.
    I would like to upgrade at some point to the Lacie FW card but at this point I have had no problems with anything
  11. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I don't like the LaCie brand. Maybe it was just their initial offerings but they didn't seem to work very consistently for audio drives.
  12. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    They shipped the unit with a braided 400 cable. I'm wondering why if 800 is better, and wondering how you would connect a 400 cable to the PC when it only has a 400 input. I'm sure I could step ( use an adapter) to connect to the 800 port but that doesn't seem like a full 800 bandwidth yes?

    Is your PCI or cards actual 800 ports?

    My PC only having 400, what do you think?
  13. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Update... I'm now told windows doesn't support firewire 800. So, even if I bought a 800 PCI card, it still doesn't make a difference?

    I guess I'm now wondering if it all makes a difference when I am using internal HD then? What is main benefit to the 800 port?

    Would that tighten up latency?

    What buffer are you able to use with the Fireface 800? The lowest I can go is 765 without dropouts.
  14. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    My cards are actually dual cards. They all have an 800 port and a 400 port (or 1x800 & 2x400 ports). My desktop is a PCI card and my laptop cards are Siig Express Cards (x2) and one PC Bus Nitro combo card.

    800 has much more bandwidth available to it. It is not universally used by manufacturers though, so laptops (when they even have 'em) use the 4 pin 400 (1394a) protocol. To take advantage of the 800 (1394b) protocol you would need to go in a PCI or PCIe slot on a desktop or an Express Card slot on a laptop. Card Bus (laptop/PCMCIA) is too throttled back to fully take advantage of the 800 speed (1394b).
  15. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    That's crap. I'm successfully running firewire 800 (1394b) on Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. I also rammed it through on a Win 2k machine several years ago.
  16. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Hmmm...FW800 has Windows support. I don't know to what extent, but I've used it just fine on mine.

    However, I typically use FW400 because that's the main card I have.

    As for latency, I can easily run down to 128 for up to 6 tracks or so of recording. I definitely use that low of a latency when I'm overdubbing a single track so that I don't have the talent complain about delays.

    One critical trick that I've found is in Windows, under the Hardware Device Manager, under network interfaces, there's actually a tab for a Firewire networking device. You need to disable this device or you will get dropouts. Also, make sure your video monitors are running at 16 bit and all of the fun little screen animations and sounds are turned completely off.

  17. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I think the Chimp with a Gun can get down pretty low on his machine-maybe 128 or 256. I don't do overdubs at all so I don't ever push it.

    On my Inspiron 9400 I can record 8 tracks 24/88.2 at around 512 with no effort and has done it at 256.

    On my Latitude D820 (Win7) I'm at around 768 or 1024 for the same rate. The mobo just isn't as streamlined.

    The Inspiron will record 16 tracks at 24/88.2 at 1024 without any artifacts at all for an entire 90 minute orchestra/choir concert. DPC checker shows consistant 76u-128u latency on that machine though.
  18. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    There are articles out there that discuss issues with the bus side speed multipliers in the registry for Windows especially after SP3 in XP. For some reason Microsoft restricts the Firewire bus speeds in some cases to 200Mb/s.
    There are registry tweaks that will fix this from MSand newer FW800 PCie cards may resolve that issue within their drivers
  19. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    My bad in speed reading and kids pulling my arm for attention. John, here is the quote from PC Audio

  20. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Thanks for the tips. Going to try this right now!

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