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Zed R16 & RME UFX

Discussion in 'Converters / Interfaces' started by Earthless, Mar 19, 2015.

  1. Earthless

    Earthless Active Member

    Im in the process of setting up a home recording/mixing studio, but being kind of stuck at the moment.
    I have been using an A&H Zed R16 for some time, but just recently bought the RME UFX interface.

    So question 1 is : Since both these units are functioning as firewire audio interfaces, should i sell the Zed R16 or can these interfaces be combined in a nice way and fulfill eachother ?

    I have a lot of stuff going on with synths, sequencer and effects etc and often play "live" and record all tracks to a daw. But i would also like to route the daw outputs back into my mixer when mixing the recorded tracks.

    So question 2 is : How can i set up my mixer both as a front and back end to my interface ?
     
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    You should not be looking at one fixed setup. The interconnection of equipment such as this will almost certainly need to vary from project to project. Unless you have a couple of universal patchbays, it probably means you should be re-cabling for each project, carefully documenting what you had plugged into where.

    As it happens, I use a Zed-R16 in conjunction with an RME FireFace 800 for a lot of my projects, and no two projects have the same set of interconnections. The FF800 (like the UFX) has a comprehensive internal routing matrix, and this can serve as a patchbay for most of the interconnects, with the advantage of being able to store and recall the patch configuration on your computer.

    The Zed-R16 and UFX should be connected to separate FireWire ports on your computer. If you don't already have one, I would get a FireWire PCIe card that uses the TI chipset and has at least two external FireWire connectors. As an example, the Lycom PE-101 card is a suitable low-cost board for FW400, and there are probably similar FW800 boards if you want to use the UFX at 800MHz. However, in this case you would have to use an in-line converter to connect to the Zed-R16 at 400MHz.

    Do you have other devices that you need to use with ADAT lightpipe connection? Since both the Zed-R16 and the UFX have two ADAT lightpipe ports in each direction, it's likely that you would want to connect the two devices with 4 lightpipes to give you the flexibility of routing at analog or digital levels. For example, I frequently connect a Lexicon reverb unit via S/PDIF to the S/PDIF ports on the FF800, and then can route these to Zed-R16 channels via ADAT as required.

    For outboard mixing from tracks already on a DAW, you can use the Zed-R16's FireWire connection to replay into the internal DACs. However, for the 2-bus mix, I prefer to come out of the Zed-R16 main analog outputs and digitise them separately, either into a pair of channels on the FF800 or on a couple of tracks of an Alesis HD24XR. This is because (in my opinion) the 2-bus ADCs on the Zed-R16 are not quite up to the standard of the rest of the board, and I get better results by external conversion. In addition, since my source tracks are already 96KHz, I like to make simultaneous captures at 96KHz and 44.1KHz.

    The Zed-R16 is annoyingly limited in relation to the number of combinations of how the ADAT and FireWire routing can be set up, especially as its ADAT does not support S/MUX and hence is confined to use at standard rates. This means that for higher-rate recordings, I have to mix from analog inputs, sourced from the HD24XRs. It's a bit of an irony to use one of the best digitally-equipped analog boards in the price range solely as analog in - analog out, but it's worth it as the analog sound is glorious.

    If you were to give some examples of your recording and mixing projects (number of channels, use of external effects, compression etc), we could probably be a bit more specific about recommendations for interconnecting the gear.
     
    pcrecord likes this.
  3. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I've looked around a bit and under 3k I haven't found a single mixer that has ADAT ports like the Zed.
    Most digital mixers have DAW connectivity but I don't know why they don't offer expension capability to grow them into a recording studio.
    The only alternative with most mixer at that price is to use a converter unit like the orion 32 and send the direct outs of the mixer to it.

    So Boswell gave you a nice plan, keep both unit and make some music ! ;)
     
  4. Earthless

    Earthless Active Member

    Hi

    And thanks for the respond. I already have a firewire pcie card installed in my computer, its got both the 6 pin and 9 pin connectors.
    At the moment i use Pro Tools 11 as my main DAW.

    In my setup i would like to:

    1. Use connected effects and signal processors when tracking and/or recording multiple tracks "live".
    Use (the same) connected effects and signal processors when mixing down to a stereo track from
    the individual daw tracks, without having to recable all the time.


    2. The secondary goal is to make use of the different synths and their external inputs so
    i can send any chosen audio source to the inputs of the different synths to process external audio.

    Right now im not able to think straight on how to hook things up. Sometimes i focus on the "frontend"
    and the next moment im thinking about the "backend". Its kind of confusing at the moment.
    As im thinking i have 3 options when it comes to connecting the outboard/effects:Send/return on
    the R16, in/out of the UFX or use the behringer patchbay.I have no experience with a patchbay except
    ive heard its nice to have one when interconnecting gear. At the same time im not sure if it gives me
    any benefits, as totalmix seems pretty useful in that manner.

    Connecting both interfaces via firewire would mean id have to choose between them one at a time
    or i can use both at the same time ? Adat is something ive never used until now, just for
    testing i did connect the adat out 1-8 from the R16 to the adat in on the UFX and it worked as expected,
    i also took a cable back from the UFX 1-8 into the R16 in 1-8 just to see what happened. To be honest
    i didnt know what to expect from the last connection, it made no difference, probably me not
    tweaking the right buttons or maybe it didnt make any sense.

    I have made a list with my gear so its easier to get an idea on whats going on. Cheers.

    AMPS/INTERFACE:

    RME UFX
    ZED R16
    AVID ELEVEN RACK
    MESA BOOGIE STUDIO PRE
    BEHRINGER PATCHBAY
    EUPHONIX ARTIST MIX

    INSTRUMENTS:

    2 OKTAVA MICS ON ACOUSTIC RECORDINGS, PERCUSSION ETC
    SYNTHESIZERS.COM MODULAR SYNTH
    KORG MS20 mini
    LOGAN STRING MELODY
    ELEKTRON ANALOG 4
    ELEKTRON OCTATRACK
    MOOG SUB 37

    EFFECTS:

    MOOGERFOOGER MF103 x 2
    GIBSON ECHOPLEX RACK DELAY/LOOPER
    WARM AUDIO WA76 AMP LIMITER x 2 (STEREO)
    BOSS DD20 PEDAL
    BOSS SPACE ECHO PEDAL
    BLACKOUT EFFECTORS WHETSTONE PEDAL
    EVENTIDE H9 PEDAL
     
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I haven't read through this entire post but if I'm reading this paragraph correctly on what you are looking to do, I use an SSL X-Patch to connect an arsenal of outboard gear to my DAW without ever having to pull cable. I can use the same gear for recording, mixing and mastering and switch them all seamlessly on the fly. The SSL XPatch is only 8 channels so I bought a few of them for that purpose.
    I also used a Dangerous Master to sum and switch 2-bus duties in this system. The Liaison would be another 2-bus switching system I might consider. Basically you are looking for routers that switch hardware around transparently. If they include software and Midi, its a bonus.

    The point in my post, once you understand how to do this, and know you can, :) it opens up all sorts of ideas and economical ways to use a few really great products in more ways. I've learned how technology can save me a bunch of money while achieving absolute world standards in sound at a fraction of the cost of yesteryear.

    Hope that helped a bit in your quest.
     
  6. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Connecting the UFX and the Zed-R16 to your PC via two separate FireWire ports means that you can use the two devices concurrently and independently, software permitting. You could, for example, have TotalMix running for control and routing selection in your UFX while connecting the Zed-R16 as the I/O to your DAW.

    I would caution you to be a little careful about using the effects in a DAW in real-time while mixing in analog, as there can be latency issues to consider. On the other hand, using a DAW as the source for the tracks to mix but routing some of the replays through DAW effects usually means that you can line up all the replay tracks so there is no relative latency.

    You have an impressive list of instruments and effect units, but it would help a lot if you could add to your post short summaries of the main audio connection method of each of the pieces of gear. For example:
    GIBSON ECHOPLEX RACK DELAY/LOOPER: (Unbalanced analog I/O)
     
  7. Earthless

    Earthless Active Member

    Ok. I will try to collect the required information. Just give me some time and ill get back to it. Lots to think about :eek:
    I dont want it to look like im showing off my gear here, its some nice stuff but its not all that, the impressive part is that i need
    help to guide me on how i should connect it all :LOL:.

    I would really like to hear some more details about the use of the 4 adat ports on the UFX and the R16 when connected together. What possibilities will this give me? And
    how can i take advantage and have "control" over these ins and outs? For example when it comes to the adat in 1-8 on the R16, will these digital inputs then go to the faders 1-8 on the R16?
     
  8. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I'm not sure that I would agree with #1 : the "tracking while using FX" part...

    I guess I never could understand why people track that way - even back in the bad ol' days of tape, with limited track counts, tracking with printed effects was very rare, short of some rare exception, or maybe using some light gain reduction to reign in occasional transients.

    Just my two cents here, but once you track that way, those effects are there for good, and as the song progresses, you might find that those FX aren't working as well as you initially thought they might.

    If you track dry and clean, you can always add processing after the fact, and, if you decide you don't like something, you can always just simply bypass the effect, or, remove it... it's a non-destructive approach - as opposed to tracking a signal with processing on it, where it's now there permanently, whether you want it to be or not, and if you decide you don't like it, the only option you have is to completely re-track from square one... which can be dicey, because often, some performances are so good, kinda like catching lightning in a bottle, and the performer may not be able to reproduce that performance in the exact same way the next time around...

    It's up to you, and just my own opinion of course.
     
  9. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Donny's right about not tracking with effects. I must have read your #1 paragraph too quickly and automatically assumed that you would be applying the effects only to the monitoring while tracking the dry signal.

    Interconnecting the ADAT ports between the Zed-R16 and the Fireface UFX is a straightforward thing to do, but you must think carefully about which end should be the clock master for each type of use. For example, if you are using the Zed-R16 as pre-amps and converters during tracking, then you should have the Zed-R16 as the clock master and the UFX clock slaved from one of the two incoming ADAT lightpipes. My general rule is that if you don't have a high-quality wordclock piped round your studio using terminated BNC cables, keep the clocking local to whatever devices (ADCs for tracking or DACs for mixing) are handling the conversion of the "money" channels, i.e. the principal tracks of the song. Usage of the ins and outs will change between tracking and mixdown, so be prepared to be flexible. To change the clock source for the converters in the Zed-R16, use the "Sync Source" field in the "Global Settings" window of the AllenAndHeathFW.exe program.

    On the Zed-R16, to convert a channel from analog input to digital input, simply push the DIG RET button next to the fader for that channel. This routing gives you full effect insert and EQ control of the signal from the digital source. The channels go in numerical order, that is, lightpipe 1 carries channels 1 - 8 and lightpipe 2 carries 9 - 16 in each direction.
     
    pcrecord likes this.
  10. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member


    Wait a sec... am I reading this correctly? Not only are you planning on printing FX on the tracks as you record, but you are also planning on adding those same FX to those same tracks again during the mix-down?

    I'm confoozeled...

    o_O
     
  11. Earthless

    Earthless Active Member

    Im talking about connecting effect units like rack processors or effect pedals or whatever, so they can be used in a frontend situation (while tracking) AND a backend situation (when mixing) without having to recable/repatch the units.
    Say i have recorded a guitar track with the echoplex looper ( printed ) and in the mixdown process i wanna use the same effect unit (echoplex looper) on another track. Based on my gear RME UFX and the ZED R16 in what way should i connect the effect unit? Is this such a strange thing to do?
     
  12. Earthless

    Earthless Active Member

    In my situation its more like a concert scenario where i want to tweak and process the audio using hardware gear while recording into multoiple tracks in Pro Tools (anywhere from 1-10 tracks). So yeah, theres is no turning back. But that would be the case with a live concert anyway, wouldnt it? So since im doing this only 50% of the time and the other 50% goes to mixing and playing around ITB. It would be nice to still have the hardware units available to process tracks also in the mixing process.
    Hope this makes sense.
     
  13. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Just a FWIW....I think you should use the inserts on the ZED channels for all your hardware gear, if you want to track with those inline. The UFX doesn't have inserts but you could still do that by connecting FX inline before it goes into the RME pres. Not as easy. That's would also work if you plan on doing a chain of multiple effects. Having all of your I/O on a patchbay would be the perfect method of arranging and organizing all your stuff easily without having to do a bunch of cable changes though. I think that is must for all the stuff you have and gives you an organized setup and lots of flexibility. The 16 ZED insert send/returns on a patchbay and all your outboard hardware gear ins and outs would be a good start.
    You could even go further with the patchbay(s) and have all your inputs and outputs from both your units on there as well. Then just use ADAT to combine the two units together digitally over FW so you can send and receive all your tracks back and forth from PT.
     
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

  15. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

  16. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Hey Don, its what I use. Love it. Stellar.
     
  17. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    I know ....but then you have lots of stellar gear and not doubt that is one of them....I wonder why they were discontinued?
    And what is out there that would be similar?? Regular patchbays are so archaic....LOL
    You know Totalmix in the RME stuff is sort of like a digital router/patchbay....especially if you view it in the "matrix" view.
     
  18. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Actually, when I got the Xpatch, I starting selling off thousand of $ in redundant gear. So, A $1000 item saves me 30 times in redundancy over spending. Plus, my sound increased because my cable is only 6ft to all directions. Now I'm down to very little hardware, I don't need much.

    I admit these aren't the easiest to understand. It took me a while to get it right for my flow. They say they are 16 channels but they are really only eight, done my way. Then you can seamlessly switch gear via many ways as noted. and they are so transparent, amazing. I use it as a 2-bus router. I buy top quality mastering gear that shines as tracking and mixing gear, I start out using it for tracking, switch to mixing, then to summing followed by the capture which at that time it 100% ITB. One product does it all. This makes it possible to use one product for three uses/ steps. tracking, mixing mastering.


    I have a feeling the next generation of these will be 32 channels. There are a few other companies but the Xpatch is what I went for.
     
  19. Earthless

    Earthless Active Member

    Hi guys,

    I will keep my eyes open if the Xpatch is for sale somewhere. But can someone tell me the difference between this and a regular patchbay ?
    Am i right that with the Xpatch there are no physical patching once its setup, only routing in the computer, like using hardware effects as plugins.
     
  20. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Precisely.
     

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