PC-based, Firewire or ADAT?

Discussion in 'Converters / Interfaces' started by mrelwood, Sep 6, 2005.

  1. mrelwood

    mrelwood Active Member

    Sep 5, 2005
    Hi. I'm starting to turn my external live recording rack into the computer, to avoid the time wasted in troublesome file transfers for one. The heart of my rack has been Fostex D2424LV, which has done it's work marvellously.

    What I need is atleast 12 mic preamps to be recorded to computer. I don't do recording gigs more than once in a month or two, so I'm not anxious of getting the latest state of the art. 48KHz 24bit will do, no reason to pay for more. I know there is a technology coming to replace FW, but it's not for my budget. I used the Behringer DDX 3216 for a few years with great success, the mic pre's were good enough for my use.

    Plan A:
    2x Presonus Firepod (or any Firewire /w 8 mic-pre)

    Plan B (for now, until more suitable systems come around):
    2x Behringer ADA8000
    Soundcard with 2x ADAT in

    Plan C:
    Presonus Firepod (or such)
    Behringer ADA8000
    Soundcard with 1x ADAT in

    Could I use the 8 Firewire inputs at the same time as I'd use the ADAT inputs?

    I do have a dual-boot WinXP Pro, but I do realize that it'll never be as dependable as an outboard system. Still, this is the way I have to go.

    What would You guys suggest? Small size would be good, since I already have to carry my PC-unit + TFT display.

  2. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    mrelwood, I'd be curious to chat with you more here or offline about your Fostex unit. I have one of them as well, in a completely outfitted rig with mixer, cables, CDr, etc. that serves as my second/backup system. 90% of the time, it works wonderfully well, but I've had an occasional hard drive issue happen. For the cost, it's a fantastic system, and as long as there are HD's available at the low cost they're going for now. (FYI, I use my MOTU 896 for transferring files OUT of the Fostex, eight tracks at a time, via the ADAT light-pipe outputs into my computer(s). It's slow and has to happen in real time, but it works! I just schedule the transfer time to happen while I"m busy doing other things.)

    That said, I think ADAT is about dead for all but data/file transfers from machines like the above. I'm very happy with all my FW devices, and I think the "New format' you're talking about is probalby the FW 800 spec. (Twice as fast/powerful as FW 400 spec.) Don't worry, though, you can run at least 16 and possibly as many as 24 tracks at 24/44, certainly 24 at 16/44 bit depth/sample rates.

    I'd go with anything FW at this point; it's only going to get better and more stable in the long run. I have extra external FW HD's on several computers, along with FW i/o devices for all of my studio and remote recording systems. The FW spec itself is NEVER a problem, any problems have been cable issues, drives themselves, or pilot error. From digital audio to FW DV camera controllers and capture devicces running on WINXP SP2, there's no downside that "I" can see here. (And it's also neck and neck with the Fostex 2424 in terms of reliability. BOTH will bite you in the butt if you turn your back on it someday. ALWAYS run a CDr backup at the same time!)
  3. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    May 25, 2004
    Short take on my setup. I do on-site acoustic recordings. The Motu 828mkII in my current setup does its job without much fuzz or trouble. It runs firewire in and has 10 analog ins, 2 with preamps. In addition there is an 8 channel optical ADAT (at up to 48kHz that is, at 88.2 or 96 it is only 4 channels). Occasionally I use an ADA8000 connected to that port to get 18 channels of AD. This has worked with my laptop computer.

    Now, the ADA8000 is not the very best equipment the world has seen, so you might want to listen to it first. For the occasional touchup mic it is adequate. I would not use it for my main mics though.

    The 828mkII is on of many in the "middle ground" so to say sound-wise. There are a few others there, just to mention a few digidesign and RME has boxes.

    So I would say that firewire is a good way to go if you ever want to go with a laptop. It is a good way to go even with a normal computer, but there is a number of further options then.

  4. mrelwood

    mrelwood Active Member

    Sep 5, 2005
    Thanks for the replies guys!

    Does any of the small 2-4 channel FW boxes (Presonus Firebox etc) have ADAT in? I started thinking that I would do quite well with an ADA8000 and basicly anything that has a few mic pre's and converts ADAT to FW. I did love the ability to record 24 tracks simultaneously with the Fostex, but I only did it once so there is no reason for me to pay for the possibility.

    Then again, the cheapest way would be to get a soundcard with 2 adat ins, and use two ADA8000's. Not a pro solution, but I think it would serve me well at the moment. Any FW-based unit seems to cost around $800, and for that I would get two ADA's AND a 2x ADAT sound card. This really seems to be suitable for me, since atleast the Behringer DDX pre's were good enough for me.

    This would be a system for now, and I'm confident that in 2 or 3 years I'd be looking for something else. When I will, I'd already have extra mic pre's and a sound card that would help the cpu load. Both of which I would have to buy anyway when going with FW.

    Something I'm not thinking thru correctly?
  5. Spy

    Spy Guest


    Greetings Mr Elwood,

    If you're going for plan A, might I suggest that you have a look at the Mackie Onyx 800R and Onyx 400F.

    Whilst I haven't had first-hand experience of them I have heard recordings made using the 800R (guitar based band into Cubase SX) which were better than I'd expected them to be.

  6. tnjazz

    tnjazz Active Member

    Jan 4, 2005
    One of my remote compact recording rigs is 3x ADA8000 to a Nuendo Digiset. We use it in small clubs, typically when the band is looking for a budget alternative in terms of preamps.

    The ADA8000 pres are nothing spectacular to be sure and in some ways the box is rather limiting and even inconvenient (really bad design to put the inputs on the front!), but if you've been happy with your B pres up until now I'm pretty sure you'll be very satisfied with the ADA8000.

    I've actually gotten some rather surprising results out of them in less than optimum recording situations. YMMV though.

  7. mrelwood

    mrelwood Active Member

    Sep 5, 2005
    Boy, those Mackies looked nice! Until I looked a bit deeper. 800R doesn't have FW and costs about as much as 6 ADA8000's. 400F doesn't have ADAT inputs, so it wouldn't be expandable in my use.

    The design issue about cable placement is something I'm not ready to pay a dime for. Besides, if I would build a case for them, it would seem convenient to have the regular cabling at the back, and the changing mic cables at the front. Just a guess though.

    I realized when recording with the DDX3216 that it was a bit troublesome to every time double check that no EQ or compressor are involved in the signal path. So, if this is what You refer to with the ADA8000 being "limiting", I'd be happy with it.

    Oh, one question. Could I use the ADA8000 analog outputs for digital source at the same time I would use the mic pre's for recording? That would make it a marvellous monitoring system.

    It really seems that an ADA8000 and RME Hammerfall LE 9636 soundcard would be the choice for me. It would cost me around 550 euro, and it would be easily expandable with either ADAT or FW inputs (I do have FW in my mother board).

    Although, there are problems with my video card that has to be solved to make my PC more stable. But it should be easy to figure out.

    Anything seriously wrong with ADA8000 + RME?
  8. tnjazz

    tnjazz Active Member

    Jan 4, 2005
    I say there's nothing wrong with the combo at all. As long as you don't expect stellar results from these pres. They are definitely budget gear. They are not garbage though. It's one of the few B products that's not total junk.

    By limiting, I meant the following:
    1. phantom can only be applied to ALL or NONE. Only way around that is to use the line level inputs for channels not requiring phantom. there are no compressors/limiters on it at all.

    2. no direct analog out on these devices. in order to use the analog outs, you have to loop back the digital outs! so if you're going analog in and lightpipe out, you're fine. You can't take the analog outs without routing the digital out back to digital in. Confusing, but basically your signal path choices are as follows:

    analog in -> digital out only
    digital in -> analog out
    analog in -> digital out -> digital in -> analog out

    You could go analog in, digital out to the RME, and back out of the RME back into the ADA8000 to use the analog outs for monitoring. There would be latency issues, but it's the only way you'd be able to use both outputs on the ADA8000.

    Hope this helps.
  9. mrelwood

    mrelwood Active Member

    Sep 5, 2005
    Am I correct, that phantom can only do harm to a ribbon mic?

    This is the way I was planning to use it. I can send anything to the outs from Cubase, can't I? Shouldn't the latency stay at around 3ms with the RME card? That equals standing 1m (3ft) away from the source. For monitoring purposes, easily good enough.

    About the RME. I can't figure out what is the difference between HDSP9532 without the extension and DIGI9636. Both support Zero Latency Monitoring, and the DIGI9636 is remarkably cheaper.

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