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Choice of addon pre via ADAT to a Focusrite Liquid Saffire 56

Discussion in 'Converters / Interfaces' started by pcrecord, Jul 8, 2013.

  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

  1. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    Hi Guys, Following my purchase of a Focusrite ISA 2 Preamp unit, I decide to upgrade my 4 m-audio delta cards. I went with the Saffire 56, seemed a good choice with good reviews. The Preamps quality is honest and for the small tests I did, the converter seemed better than the delta cards.

    So the question : I'm used to have 16 inputs, what can I get to upgrade the Saffire 56.

    I saw the focusrite octopre that seem a good choice, I just wonder if the pre equal those in the Saffire (since the low price)

    Any alternative (24bit 96khz) 8 pre, with ADAT outputs (below 1000$ if possible)
     
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

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    From my experience, the quality order for those units would be: Octopre (good), Saffire 56 (better), ISA2 (best). That means you could get away with the Octopre if you rank the importance and dynamic range of the channels you have to put through them.

    However, it begs the question about what you do with the analog outputs of the ISA2. If you are intending to put them through two channels of the Saffire for conversion, you will suffer a reduction of quality because of this. You might consider a separate high-quality two-channel ADC with S/PDIF output that you could feed into the S/PDIF input of the Saffire, thus preserving the native sonics of the ISA by not going through any of the Saffire's analog circuitry.

    The difficulty is cost, of course. If your $1K is needed just to add 8 acceptable mic input channels before considering further improvements in sound quality of existing channels, then it's something you could step up to when the budget permits.
     
  3. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    Boswell, you got it right, I just upgraded up from the converters of m-audio delta cards to the saffire 56 but I miss the 16ins/outs I had.
    So once I'm up there with the inputs I need. A converter for the ISA seems like a good plan! But now I need to be fonctionnal and start recording ;)

    I did test the ISA through the Saffire (via line in), It sounded good, very different from the liquid pre or the standard ones. I read a guy who plays around puting preamps in chain to get different textures (like output of a liquid pre to the second liquid pre..) But I'm not that adventurous..

    I will indeed prioritise preamps in there quality order.
     
  4. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    Hey I just saw the saffire pro 40 is actually at a lower price than the octopre(50$ less) ?? any difference for the preamp quality ? Will passing firewire instead of the ADAT be cleaner ?
     
  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

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    The Pro 40 pre-amps are certainly better than the older Octopre, but what you need is an ADAT expander for your Saffire 56 rather than another interface. That said, it may be possible to configure the Pro 40 to output its converted data via ADAT and feed that into the Saffire 56 rather than use the FireWire interface on the Pro40. There's no quality difference between the various methods of getting the digitized data back to the computer as it's not modified in any way.
     
  6. blaumph2cool

    blaumph2cool Active Member

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    You can't connect a saffire 40 to a Saffire 56 via firewire in Duel link mode. Only the saffire 24 and 14. :-/ Which units can I combine in dual unit mode? | Focusrite you could still connect the 40 Pro via lightpipe.
     
  7. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Distinguished Member

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    i use the octopre mk2 for drums, and describe them as clean, and useful, not exciting, not sterile.
     
  8. Kilgore Trout

    Kilgore Trout Active Member

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    The only caveat i can think of, is the pro 40 has 1 ADAT in and 1 ADAT out...This stops you from having 16 channels at 96/24. Even with the pro 40 & OCtopre, the best you can hit is 48.1/16, if not mistaken. The 56 and Octopre both have 2-2 way lightpipes, plus connecting a BNC cables wordclock makes all 16 Channels 96/24 in "SMUX" mode....my 56 is arriving any moment, so i can elaborate more soon.


     
  9. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    Actually 1 adat port can support 8 channel in 44-48khz or 4 channel at 96khz
     
  10. Kilgore Trout

    Kilgore Trout Active Member

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    Right, and with the 56 and Octo, i can dual lightpipe 16 Channels at 96/24, in SMUX mode, is that correct? The only reason i ask about the S/PDIF is in the even i wanted to use a single channel, specialized Pre, a Compressor/Gate or an EQ, in addition to the other channels and remain at 96/24. Obviously, i could just drop a channel from the Octo, and set for gain unity, and run a pre or other outboard, without taking down the sampling rate. i also need to understand how the 56 uses the loopbacks...this would probably solve any effects hardware. Of course this isn't taking the Liquid Pres into account, nor the "in the box" software effects, which are quite good, which can compress, gate, limit and EQ. It would just be good to know how much gear the 56 can run at optimal bitrate...and i havent even brought midi into the pic. ::::Full Plate, considering a Punk Band is in Late Feb/Early March for a full LP, complete with mix, sent to master and stamp a short vinyl run at QRP::::

    Staying Afloat,

    —trout

    ...wait, a floating trout is a dead trout....ive merely been stunned, back to swimming.
     
  11. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    No. On the 56 (I have one) you have 2 in and 2 out ADAT ports. Those will either give you 16 channels at 44khz or 48khz. But if your project is at 96khz each ports will give you 4 channels so a total of 8.
    The limitation comes from the ADAT format. Any ADAT port will act the same on any unit (My main interface is the RME FF800 and it's the same deal as the Saffire 56)

    The SPDIF gives you 2 in / 2 out in what ever format. 44 to 96khz. Again I use the spdif with a Mitek AD96 digital converter and it works perfectly fine at 96khz. You need a digital signal or a converter to use the spdif.
    One thing you should know is that multiple digital units need to be in sync. If you only have 2 units, one is master the other slave and you can pass the clock through the ADAT signal But if you have 3 you can't cascade clock via adat and then spdif. So you will need wordclock cables to sync them. (if available)
    In my case, my master is the AD96 converter then the chain starts with my UA 4-710, then my interface FF800.

    What you call loopback may be roundtrip for me.. Taking a signal from an output, send it to an external unit and back to an input.
    The 56 has a virtual realtime mixer. you can route things pretty much any way you like. The only thing is not to do feedbacks having the input going to the output who comes back to the input...
     
  12. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    Btw I had an octopre mk1 and sold it. It sounds ok for the price but I was aiming more proffesionnal and if you push the preamp you get noise fast.
    I got a ISA 428 and a UA 4-710. The 428 is the best preamps I've ever used with 80db of clean power.
     
  13. Kilgore Trout

    Kilgore Trout Active Member

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    Well Everything i have learned from Focusrite and Sweetwater disagrees with not being able to do an additional 8 channels of 24/96, as long as you run 4 channels each on 2 lightpipes from the 2 ADAT outs of the Octopre, into the 2 ADAT ins of the 56, but you MUST run Word Clock using the BNC Coax connections on the back of both units, or it wont sync. You just cannot use ADAT for syncing. I studied all of this at length before stepping up to the 56. In fact, i nearly bought the 56 from the go for just that reason. Please read about SMUX Mode, it explains it better than i
     
  14. Kilgore Trout

    Kilgore Trout Active Member

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    That is weird, i have heard a lot of great things about the octopre...i got it mainly for drums, haven't had any issues yet, but i also haven't had all 16 channels recording simultaneously, either
     
  15. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    That's right : 8 channel at 96khz that's what I said... you initially said : i can dual lightpipe 16 Channels at 96/24, in SMUX mode, is that correct? .. so this was wrong, not 16 ch.. only 8... lol
    Yes you can use adat to sync 2 units together.. the Octopre would be the master and transmit timming through the ADAT output port but can't receive since it doesn't have Adat input. The octapre dynamic has adat inputs so it should be able to be the slave...
    When you absolutly need BNC cable is if you add a third or more units into the setup.

    I've experienced all the setup possibilities, with the Liquid saffire 56 and Octopre (adat, spdif etc...) Just wait to use them and you'll say thanks...

    As I said the Octopre is honest for the price, but nothing compared to the ISA. At the moment I bought the Octopre it was for a project with a band and I already had a ISA Two.. When I compared the sound I was disapointed with the octopre because I was spoiled with the ISA.. Doesn't mean you will be.. Altought running a soft source with a ribbon mic on the octopre or the 56 would meen pussing the pre to a degree where you'll get a lot of noise. It won't be the case with condenser mics who have more outputs...

    The pic above is my actual setup but I just changed the monitors for 2 x 24 who supports broadcast color space.
     

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  16. Kilgore Trout

    Kilgore Trout Active Member

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    i Definitely was about as clear as mud, i meant 16 simultaneous XLRs or Lines, so yeah, lol, i am only pulling the 8 in from the Octo, to gain a total of 16. i dont know how far i will go with digi-hardware right now, save for mics. i don't that i will add a specialized Pre via S/PDIF to this current config, unless i find something that is a dream deal. One question, do you think either an Active ribbon Mic, or a Ribbon mic with (since i cannot think of the name of it) an XLR sized pre, or signal boost would make a ribbon mic useful with this? Oh, and what i'm mentioning as loopback is just as you said.

    See, i still am living down selling my 16 track Telefunken 2", and 2 - Studer 1/4"s and DDA Console in 2002.

    Now my 5 year plan is to have an ample Digi Studio for local bands, and my and other colleague's projects, while re-creating my analogue studio in the meantime. If i planned to only do digital in the future, i'd have waited and purchased an Apollo or other system to get things rolling. Once the analogue is back in place, i will make stepping the digital side a priority, so either or combination is available at very high level. i know. i am often asked why i would want to hassle with big analogue units, their heat, maintenance, etc. i guess its because i can do most all of the maintenance on the machines, and to quote George Harrison, "i actually like a bit of tape hiss." (the only part i don't care for is tape cost, but occupational hazards). i guess i'm a Luddite. Not quite as extreme as Jack White, but i do like the old stuff.
     
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  17. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    Of course you can use a cloudlifter or equivalent to boost low level ribbon mics and certain dynamic mics.
    Tape Hiss is easy to add later but can't be removed.. and tape hiss isn't the same as electronic noises.. not so pleasant. (at least to my ear)
    where it gets tricky is when you have multiple tracks with noise you end with an unpleasant buildup...
    To my own opinion, I despite noises in my recordings. I fear that customers will shy away thinking I'm an amateur if they hear hiss...

    If you are to record full band, I'd recommand having at least one channel with compression going in for the vocal. Riding gain knobs isn't easy and when you have to concentrate on 16 ch.. it's hard.
    In that regard you could get a channel strip with integrated digital converter and make use of the spdif input. This would push up your channel count to 17.
    I have 2 UA LA610 that serves that purpose when recording live bands (in studio) mine are on the Ad96 converter.
    Could be a ISA 430 with the optionnal digital card or other similar.. .
    You see having at least 1 high end pre adds to the credibility when you want to get customers.. But hey, if you have a good list of contact, your skills alone will give you jobs... ;)
     
  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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