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taking my diapers off, buying audio hardware

Member for

21 years 2 months
the quick and dirty:

i bought my computer system, amd athlon xp 1600 on an abit kr7a-raid motherboard. the other day i went to find a good audio hardware package to get to the recording part and ended up choosing the MOTU 2408 mkii.

i'm sure a lot of other people already know this but the best lessons are often the hardest. MOTU hates PCs. i know a few specific pc setups will work fabulously with the motu, but suffice it to say mine didn't.

never one to give up though, i return the abit motherboard and got an asus a7m266-d. this is the dual processor motherboard i was pining for from the outset. it has the new amd 762 chipset on it.

so as many know, MOTU and many other cards dislike the via chipsets. well guess what? MOTU also dislikes the amd 762 chipset. your guess is as good as mine.

to make a long story even longer, i returned the MOTU 2408 unit, and replaced it with one geared more towards the PC. the frontier design dakota/tango24. installed flawlessly, and after a bit of toying around, i was recording.

something stuck in my gut though.. i had the VST device setup in nuendo as ASIO dakota 24 bit, but i couldn't set the sample quality above 48000. it took me awhile, but i finally realized why. the dakota card is only 24/48, not 24/96.

i'm currently getting ready to return it on monday, but here's the problem: i've decided on the RME Hammerfall 9652 card, however RME isn't shipping the multiface for it until the end of february, possibly longer as they've apparently identified some bug in it relating to windows 98.

so the question now is, i DO have a tango24 still, and it does use optical ADAT in and out like the RME hammerfall card seems to. can i use the hammerfall in conjunction with the tango 24, or do i need to get an RMEmultiface? which sounds better?

the tango 24 website says it supports up to 128khz oversampling.. i'm assuming that means it can work at 96khz with the rme.

i just want to make sure these items are all interchangeable. if they are i can return just the dakota card, swap up for the hammerfall, and continue on my way without having to buy a totally new a/d converter.


it's almost frightening, but my posts are starting to look a lot more like everyone elses with respect to tech talk :) . guess that means i'm actually learning.


Member for

19 years 10 months

knightfly Sat, 02/02/2002 - 15:48
Hey, C&U&ALSTYW - (The last stands for "A Lot Smarter Than You Were"... Guess my analogy of the "fireman in training" really was close - hope you got an asbestos jock strap with a steel cup, 'cause otherwise you may not survive your "trial by fire"...

First, by now you've found out that when these sound card bozos can REALLY do 24/96, they scream it - if they're only bragging "24 bit", they DON'T have 96k capability.

Second, 128x "oversampling" has absolutely nothing to do with sampling RATE - Yeah, I know, it's a dirty trick - got that steel cup in place? What "oversampling" does, and I may not have this exactly right, but for now it'll do - If you have a system that samples at (say) 48 kHz, and you want to do as little damage to the higher audio frequencies, (20k - few people old enough to care about this forum can hear that high, at least overtly, BUT the timbre of music and the feeling of "air" is affected) Starting over, digital systems have to use pretty serious filters on the outputs of converters, in order not to get any artifacts from the sampling frequency. So, what almost everyone does, is "oversample" the signal by converting the 48 kHz to several times that, by adding more identical samples in between the real ones. In an 8x oversampling circuit, for example, if you could see what was going on in the circuit, you would see each sample, copied 7 more times, and clocked at 8 times the original clock freq. - Then, when the samples are converted back to audio, you can use a much more relaxed filter circuit to get rid of the digital "remnants", because they are at 8 times the original sample frequency, or over 16 times the frequency of the highest audio frequency you have recorded. This is great for sound improvement, but has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the sampling frequency, other than internally multiplying the sample freq. by the "oversampling" rate.

I'm not sure what you mean by
"i just want to make sure these items are all interchangeable. if they are i can return just the dakota card, swap up for the hammerfall, and continue on my way without having to buy a totally new a/d converter."
The Tango appears to be 8-in/out analog, which means it has converters in it (hopefully in the box, not in the interface card) So is the Multiface, but the Multiface uses either a PCI or PCMCIA interface to the computer, and puts all the conversion stuff in the "box" - I would be absolutely amazed if the Tango's internal card could talk to anything but a Frontier product, and ditto the RME stuff. The RME stuff has an excellent reputation, DOES do 24/96, and also (if the need ever arises) does "dual line 24/96 ADAT", which you may never care about unless you get either a Tascam DM-24, MX-2424, or DA-98HR - This is because ADAT format isn't set up to do beyond 48k sample rate, so to double that two lines are used, bit-split at 48k, then put back together at the other end and made into a 96k signal. Of course, Tascam doesn't know how to do this, so the complete interface to their stuff also requires an RME ADI-8DD, which can talk "dual line ADAT", "dual line TDIF", and probably swahili if you dig deep enough.
The RME Multiface is basically a 9652 Hammerfall system, plus some extras, all moved to a breakout box instead of taking up two slots (one only physically) in your computer. One other thing the RME has that the Tango doesn't seem to, is a midi port.

There is at least ONE PCI card that will do 96k when externally clocked (Mixtreme) but it has no converters, it is a TDIF in/out PCI card. Since TDIF is already a digital format, no converters.

To recap - The Tango and the Multiface are similar products as far as function goes - Each has converters (A-D,D-A) each talks to your computer by means of a PCI card (but not the SAME PCI card) - The RME does 96k in several ways, and has a Midi port, neither of which the Tango does. RME claims to "play nice with the other kids" and share IRQ's, I'm not so sure about the Tango - So it SHOULD be possible to use both systems in one 'puter, but as two separate I/O systems. So, if you want to know if you can ADD the RME later, sure. If you want to know if you can "mix and match" - most likely you can, soon after pigs fly. (Plus, unless you were running the RME stuff at 44 or 48kHz, most software won't allow you to use both at once anyway.) So, if you can't wait for RME, keep the Tango. If you want to get closer to perfection AND get a free MIDI port (which could probably come in handy for MTC to other stuff eventually) then wait for the RME to get re-"anal"-ized.

All the above is based on my own research while trying (in vain) to interface my new DM-24 to something that DOESN'T say Tascam on it (at 24/96), and most of it has no basis whatever in actual "experience", just weeks of intensive research.

Man, my fingers are so dry by now, they need a cold bottle of beer to hold onto - Happy "coin-flipping" - at least, by now you know not to stand UNDER the coin with your eyes open watching it fall... LOL ! Steve

Member for

20 years 7 months

Logan Sun, 02/03/2002 - 05:16
Hey C&U
Make sure that you get the Hammerfall DSP if you want to use the multiface, the original Hammerfall does not hook up to a multiface. As far as I know the Hammerfall does support 96k but the ADI PRO and Tango 24 will only do 48K. I suggest that you walk before you run and get a system happening that will record 48 but will upgrade to 96. 48K sounds very good and remember that you will need some whopping hard drives to record a multi track project in 96k. Backup is also an issue and will require twice as much disc space with 96k. I record all 24/48 in the 32bit float setting in Nuendo and think that it's good enough for pro sound. You can always add a 96K converter later to add over dubs etc.
There are many out there who feel that 48 sounds better than 96 ,something about artifacts in the high end with 96 that they don't like. YMMV, take care Logan

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Sun, 02/03/2002 - 06:35
awesome, i think based on the feedback from knightfly i'm going to return the dakota card ad exchange it for the hammerfall, the dsp version as suggested.

this brings up two enlightened little questions then.

1 - where's the 32 bit float setting in nuendo? is it under the device setup -> vst multitrack? if so then the dakota doesn't support it because i only have 24 bit as the highest option.

2 - i'm going to go with the hammerfall (dsp version) as suggested, but what i meant by "items being interchangeable" was that since the rme multiface a/d converter is on backorder, indefinitely here, can i get a different a/d converter to work with the rme hammerfall dsp? in other words, i want to start recording now, and i'm not inclined to wait for the rme multiface. will the tango 24 work just as well with the rme hammerfall dsp card, or should i return it as well and buy a different a/d converter such as an apogee for example (if i had the cash for one)?

p.s. knightfly, the asbestos jock is tight.

Member for

19 years 10 months

knightfly Sun, 02/03/2002 - 10:44
Hey, C/U - I'm not familiar with Nuendo, but in Samplitude 32 bit float is separately set up in "Options/system/audio", and is global (works that way til you change it) 32 bit float is the INTERNAL mode of calculation used by software when you decide to "bump up the low-mid EQ by .5 dB" for example - it has next to nothing to do with the sound card. My laptop running Samplitude can run in 32-bit float with the cheesy 16-bit "wanna-be-soundblaster" audio hardware. You would set the preferences for hardware to the highest setting, even if it's 24 bit - then tell Nuendo (I'm guessing in a global menu somewhere) to run internally in 32-bit float mode. That way, all your internal math is done at best resolution for your software, and you "throw out less baby with the bathwater."

What I do with ANY software package, is when I first click on help, I click on the "search" tab, then click the choice that will index EVERY WORD, usually called "maximum" something or other - It takes a little more disk space, but sometimes you can find stuff they didn't index like you think they should have. (For the answer to your Nuendo question, I would click help/search/float (after building the search index) and follow the bouncing ball to the right menu.

On the other question, I finally got off my ass (actually, I stayed on it and clicked the right places) and downloaded the manual for the Tango - I wasn't very familiar with their stuff before, because I stopped looking when I saw that none of it went to high sample rates (tired of buying yesterday's news if today's will be eventually useful to me) It appears that the Tango is just a converter box with no interface to a computer except thru the Dakota - So, you would need either the Dakota or the Hammerfall - The hammerfall DSP series, according to RME's sometimes decodable website, consists of choosing your interface (PCI (or PCMCIA if using a laptop) and choosing your "box", either Multiface or Digiface, depending on what you want to connect to the box. RME's connection between their interface card and "box" uses Firewire components (connectors/cables) BUT does NOT follow the firewire protocol. (Meaning that even though you could use anybody's firewire cables, ONLY RME's stuff will hook up to their computer interface. If you get rid of your Dakota, it looks to me like you've just gotten rid of your interface to the computer, so you would need something to replace it. If RME isn't shipping the Multiface yet, then their PCI card would have nothing to connect to, because even if the Dakota (I haven't downloaded the manual for it) uses firewire cables, it wouldn't be able to understand the RME Proprietary protocol.

Near as I can tell, the only thing you could do with the Tango if you ditch the Dakota, is hook it up to the ADAT i/o on the Hammerfall Multiface (once they ship it) and have 8 more Analog i/o, albeit only at 48k. (There's the downside to that steel cup, when your balls sweat the thing rusts)

On the bright side (this is called "getting their hopes up so you can crush them once again") From everything I have seen so far (which doesn't include hearing 96k for myself yet, thank you Tascam) 24 bit vs. 16 (or even 20) makes a lot more discernable difference than 48 vs. 96k. (I am also going to make use of this "rationalization technique" until I can get a high sample highway going between my DAW and the DM-24, then I'll know "fer shur", and possibly kick myself for bothering. Who knows 'til they experience it ? Sorry for the mis-info earlier on the Frontier stuff, I should read my own BBS logo more often... Steve

Member for

20 years 7 months

Logan Sun, 02/03/2002 - 17:07
Hey C&U
Yah the Tango is just a converter box and you need to hook it to your sound card. The Hammerfall DSP and the Hammerfall are two different products and if you go the DSP route you will have to wait for a Multiface which is probably more than a few months away. They are shipping in Europe but they can't meet the demand and are having trouble getting product to NA. RME also make the NUENDO cards and converters they are just RME product with a different face plate, but RME has to supply Steinberg as well as their own customers so I think the Multiface will be awhile yet. If you go with the RME Hammerfall card (non DSP) you can use the Tango converter box hooked up to it which has 8 analog in and out. You can also use the ADI PRO 8 which is more expensive than the Tango, and has 8 analog in and out. The ADI Pro 8 has better S/N than the Multiface. You can also get the ADI PRO 8 DS which will do 96K but only 4 tracks at a time, it will do 8 at 48k, it is more expensive than the ADI Pro 8. If you are going to put together a 96k system that will multi track you need to spend some serious coin at this time. If you buy a Hammerfall card you will have 8 tracks of 24/48 right away with the ability to add 96k converters when the price comes down. The only thing you lose against the Hammerfall DSP/ Multiface setup is midi.
Knight is right the 32 bit float thing is an internal rate in Nuendo and there are no 32 bit converters available at this time. You can select it when you set up your project in Nuendo, it definitely helps when you are adding plug ins to the track, and seems to give a little more head room on the input. Take care Logan

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Mon, 02/04/2002 - 18:17
yes, i'm understanding now. i decided to go with the hammerfall 9652, and ditch the dakota. the price difference wasn't too bad for the ability to eventually move up to 96khz when i add my second processor and get a better a/d converter.

oddly enough though the hammerfall isn't allowing me to record higher than 44.1/16bit. i have no idea why this is. also, the clip lights on the tango box are always on for the tracks i have inputs in. in other words 1+2 and 3+4 constantly show clip lights when i record.. i've tried turning the volume down and so on but to no avail. i think i'll be swapping the tango24 for the adi pro 8 now as well. it looks like a much tighter unit as well as having the benefits you've mentioned.

thanks for the heads up on the 48 vs 96. i found the 32 bit float as well, but again right now it doesn't help much because i can't set the hammerfall past 44.1/16 and it's driving me insane.

another oddity. my 9652 is listed as a 9636. the rme page mentions i have to change the eeprom to get it to list as 9652. i don't think that matter smuch at the moment anyway though, because they forgot to give me the cable that connects the hammerfall's daughter board.

suggestions? could the tango be preventing me from going up to 24bit or 32 bit float? could it be preventing me from goingto 48khz or higher as well?

ah well, i'm reading manuals and FAQs in the interim so maybe i'll stumble across something in my travels.

this is turning out to be quite an adventure and i think i'm enjoying it almost too much.

logan, can you please resend that email to me as well? we moved up to xp from 2000 and i forgot to backup the email. a true sign of a computer geek.



Member for

19 years 10 months

knightfly Tue, 02/05/2002 - 08:57
Just general advice here, since I don't (yet) own an RME product (but soon will) and probably never will own a Tango - Any time you change a computer system, you should always do it in as small increments as possible, so you can narrow down where any problems are coming from. In this case, remove the Tango from the ADAT in on the hammerfall (that's where you have it plugged in, right?) and try to set up just the hammerfall the way you want it, 24/96, etc. Some of the things that may be holding you back - Since the Tango can't do 96k, it could be keeping the Hammerfall from it. Who's the clock master ? Is 96k selected in any RME setup AND in Nuendo? Is Nuendo "smart enough" to know the Tango's limitations?

Also, since the extra "16" I/O on the hammerfall comes from the (presently)non-existent daughter card, once it's hooked up you may see 9652 instead of 9636 ? Not sure on that one.

Anyway, if you start "simple" with just the hammerfall and you still can't get it to "get high" (sample rate, that is) THEN you won't have to listen to as much "He said she said" crap about whose fault it is that you will never be able to actually USE what you paid for (sorry, my "rant filter" temporarily lapsed - been happening a lot lately) What I mean by that is that it's hard enough Listening to MicroSlop blame Steinberg, who blames RME, who blames VIA, who blames Intel, who blames MicroSlop, without adding yet another "excuse" for failure.

BTW, if you're tight on PCI slots I'm told you can put the daughter card anywhere its cable will reach, that the only reason for it going in a slot (actually just mounting to the rear panel ) is to physically secure it. What I had planned to do (before I discovered the Digiface) is to use a chassis "nibbler" and cut out a mounting hole above the row of normal card slots and at 90 degrees to them. This requires a case with some headroom above where the other PCI cards mount, but could save you one PCI slot if you need the room. (That last was just in case you need yet another excuse to keep from actually making music...) Gotta run, bills to pay, (I hate when that happens) Later... Steve

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 02/05/2002 - 16:30
yeah, i found the only way i can get it to work is to set the Tango24's clock to internal and 48khz, then make the RME the slave. i know this isn't the best solution, but like i said, if i make the tango24 the slave to the RME it won't do more than 44.1 no matter where i've set the Tango's switch. also as mentioned i can't change the sample rate in any recording software past 16 bit, 44.1 if the RME is the master.

now, add to that the fact that i have no options for sample rate in the DIGI control panel, and i think i can conclude something very whacked is going on.