Login / Register
 
2 x ssl alpha channel and ganged stereo spdif- which interface?
New Reply
Subscribe
andrew caramia
Thread Starter
#1
28th April 2012
Old 28th April 2012
  #1
Gear addict
 
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 330

Thread Starter
andrew caramia is offline
2 x ssl alpha channel and ganged stereo spdif- which interface?

hi guys
i have two ssl alpha pres, and i'd really like to gang both together so i can track my gear's stereo out into them and pass the ssl's digital stereo signal into an interface or soundcard via spdif.
are there any interfaces that have 2 spdif ins for stereo tracking? i also have a hosa spdif to optical converter, so an interface that will accept both spidf and optical at the same time should also do the trick.
i also have a presonus central station and would also like the interface to allow me to monitor via the optical out of the interface into the central station at the same time.
clear as mud?
help!!!
some interfaces i am looking at are-

emu 1820m
steinberg mr816 (i think they can be stacked, so will two of them will give me stereo spidf? anyone had experience with this?)
mackie blackbird
tc electronic x32 (ive heard that they are a little flakey, arent available anymore and driver support isnt very good.... correct me on this, as it seems like the best option!)
lynx
etc.... i have no idea if any interfaces/soundcards can actually do what i'm wanting to do with these two great pres. info on this type of configuration is scarce!

or...how about a digital patchbay of some kind that can accept 2 spdif ins as a stereo signal and output via 1 optical or spdif (wishful thinking?) into an interface?

anyone?
cheers
andrew
andrew caramia
Thread Starter
#2
1st May 2012
Old 1st May 2012
  #2
Gear addict
 
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 330

Thread Starter
andrew caramia is offline
Come on... surely theres SOMEONE out there thats using 2 ssl alpha channels linked via spidf that can give me some advice on how to do it! Anyone?
#3
9th May 2012
Old 9th May 2012
  #3
Gear interested
 
Joined: May 2012
Location: 51.210688,7.237179
Posts: 10

SonicAxiom is offline
hi andrew,

for quite some time I found myself sacrificing both precious digital 2-track-ins of my Yamaha DM1000 (one SPDIF, one AES/EBU) just to get hold of the two desired left SPDIF channels of my 2 alphas.

Then, finally, I figured out how to set up the two units to just use one single digital input (via the SPDIF output of unit 1). You won't need any supplementary merging device - the two alphas can do this. It's a bit tricky at first and your possibilities of adjusting levels will be somewhat limited, especially for the second source. But it's still a very useful configuration.

Here's how to setup the two units:

As you will end up getting the signals of both alphas merged into the SPDIF output of unit 1, connect this output to your soundcard/mixer/DAW/etc.

Feed the signal of the first sound source into the input of alpha unit 2 (!) and input the second source into unit 1.

Connect the analog output of unit 2 to the insert return of unit 1.

Connect an available SPDIF output of your system to the SPDIF input of unit 1 to achieve wordclock sync for that unit (the actual audio content of that signal is irrelevant). This step is imperative!

Next, on unit 1, engage both the INSERT button and the POST EQ button.

The device that receives the SPDIF output of alpha unit 1 will display the level of alpha unit 2 on the left and that of unit 1 on the right.

You can now adjust the appropriate input level of the first audio source by turning the input gain on unit 2. Apply VHD, EQ and limiting to your taste (still using unit 2). However, be aware that the output pot (resp. the limiter) on unit 1 (!) will also effect the signal coming from unit 2! So you might need to experiment a bit to find the right setting.

The level of your second audio source connected to alpha unit 1 can be adjusted ONLY by the first unit's input gain pot! You can make use of VHD and the EQ section (because you engaged the POST EQ button on that same unit before) however its output gain pot is actually working on the other audio source coming in via the insert return! Be sure to allow for some headroom on the input gain (still unit 1) because in the case of signal amplifcation due to heavy EQ settings later in the signal path of the unit the pad button WILL NOT FLASH in red as usual indicating input overload while the output will in fact clip. Check the output level on your DAW and use your ears!

a little side note:
The alpha channel has an internal routing feature that forwards the pure post gain (post VHD) signal straight to the right channel of its SPDIF output while the left channel carries the "processed" signal (including filters, EQ, output gain and limiter). Engaging the INSERT button will change this routing and feed the signal connected to the insert return jack to the left SPDIF channel. Engaging the POST EQ button will make the EQ section available on the right SPDIF channel - quite confusion, eh??? I just checked it again and it worked for me.

Hope that helps an let me know if it works for you, too.

Cheers,

Frank
andrew caramia
Thread Starter
#4
9th May 2012
Old 9th May 2012
  #4
Gear addict
 
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 330

Thread Starter
andrew caramia is offline
Thanks frank!
Now thats the kind of answer i was waiting for. brilliant!
I have also emailed ssl and hopefully i will eventually be able to report their take on this.
Frank, your way of doing this will definately work. Complicated, and genius.
But i still wonder if its possble to record with 2 ganged spidf... Seems like it might be a hard ask...
#5
9th May 2012
Old 9th May 2012
  #5
Gear interested
 
Joined: May 2012
Location: 51.210688,7.237179
Posts: 10

SonicAxiom is offline
hi andrew,

cool if it works for you that way, too. What exactly do you mean by "ganged SPDIF"? Other than merging the two signals by using one unit's insert input I can't think of any other method without involving supplementary gear.

I've been wondering about the same question some time ago and contacted swiss engineer Rolf Eichenseher from appsys.ch who manufactures great digital audio tools like the adat/toslink extender (a super tiny box that converts adat opticle into cat5 and back to adat which makes a very cheap and robust digital multicore; I have one and it works great). He told me that he could manufacture a box that would be able to merge two separate SPDIF inputs into one single SPDIF output signal (incl. the necessary channel swap feature to get the second unit's processed left channel signal to the right side). He explained that this task would not be as trivial as it seems and that the device would be around 300,- EUR - too much for me just for this ...

I ended up connecting both analog outs of the two alphas to my old Grundig DAT 9000 and use it as an SPDIF interface to get what I want. Fortunately, this DAT has some quite decent 16 bit converters.

However, just a few days ago, I resolved the problem by upgrading my rack with a UA 4-710d. Its four excellent twin finity preamps are merged with 4 naked supplementary line ins running into its adat converter. So now I've connected the two SSL's outs to line in 5 and 6 on the 4-710d letting the two signals show up directly alongside the twin finity signals in my DM1000 which turns out to be the perfect solution for me.

Having used both devices now for a while, I have to say that the UA plays in another league soundwise compared to the SSLs even though the alphas are not bad. Anything I run into the twin finities comes out so pleasant and smooth. No more de-esser needed in most cases. Much more headroom available yet no noise at all, 4 "simplified" 1176LN's and this clean-to-tube-blending feature make it worth every euro. Never heard a git plugged into a preamp sound like that: huge, clean or crunchy and without perceptible noise floor.

Please do not think that I'm affiliated with UA, I'm only quite excited about the results I get from this gear since I have it! It's my actual personal experience comparing the SSLs and the UA. I'll probably end up selling the SSLs and get myself another 4-710d (or an api 3124+ to vary sound flavours). The 4-710d is my first "high-end" peamp. It convinced me that a real GOOD preamp can do the trick on almost every tracking session. Some people seem to minimize the impact of good (and expensive) preamps telling that the room or the performance are more important than the gear. I don't think so. With a Neve 1073 dpa even a poor performance will sound GOOD! (slightly drifting off-topic here???)

Cheers,

Frank
andrew caramia
Thread Starter
#6
11th May 2012
Old 11th May 2012
  #6
Gear addict
 
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 330

Thread Starter
andrew caramia is offline
thanks frank
ok ill do my best to explain what i'm talking about- im no tech head so sorry if my description isnt very clear.
if you go to the ssl website and look up the xlogic alpha channel section, in 'putting it to work- tips and tricks' pdf- 'two alpha channels as a stereo pair'. on the back of the alpha channel next to the spidf out is another rca called 'link'. it says to link two together via this connection so that each are aware of what the other is doing for a stable stereo image. this is what i mean by 'gang both together'. The 'LINK' inputs connect the lite limiters so that they are doing the same thing on stereo material - it has nothing to do with the converters.
so, i want to do that, as well as record that stereo signal via spidf to my daw.
ive found this on another thread-

"You can hook up 2 alpha's by SPdif, but you need:
1- an interface with 2 spdif in ports
2- an interface with coax and optical spdif and use a converter so you can use both in parallel
3- a stackable interface like the RME HDSPe series, or Steinberg MR series (and just use 2 interfaces)"

hopefully this explains my question a bit better...
so i was wondering if anyone has done this, what interface(s) are they using, and how did they set it up?
i'm thinking two steinberg mr816 units will fit the bill, or just one mr816 using the coax and optical in parallel, BUT i dont want to shell out that kind of money until i hear from someone that has done this successfully.
cheers!
andrew
#7
11th May 2012
Old 11th May 2012
  #7
Gear interested
 
Joined: May 2012
Location: 51.210688,7.237179
Posts: 10

SonicAxiom is offline
ok, I see what you mean. As you poited it out already, the "gang" feature will only link both limiter's operation parameters, synchronizing the key-in signals of both limiters to maintain stereo balance while processing a true stereo source. Obviously, you do not want this while working on two independent sources.

Furthermore, using the SPDIF merging method described in the beginning, the first unit's lite limiter is not of much use really (because it will only affect the signal coming from the second alpha!) let alone engaging the link feature which will only mess up the stereo image in this case.

So, if you want to use both unit's limiters (in fact unsing both units completely independent) using a 2-SPDIF-in-interface will be the best solution (I would probably go for some RME stuff as you get the incredible DigiCheck utility for free).

Cheers,

Frank
#8
11th May 2012
Old 11th May 2012
  #8
3 + infractions, forum membership suspended.
 
Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 2,303

Analogue Mastering is offline
you can also use 2 steinberg mr816x's you can stack these units as 1 interface (RME can too) and use their 2 spdif ports
andrew caramia
Thread Starter
#9
12th May 2012
Old 12th May 2012
  #9
Gear addict
 
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 330

Thread Starter
andrew caramia is offline
great responses all round...
anybody put this into practice though?
i'm curious to know about the quality of results and how it was configured with their daw.
seems like not many people have done this which isnt surprizing- but at the same time a logical thing to try...
imo the results should be outstanding on a stereo source, eg. analog mixdown, mastering, tracking synths etc. for that lovely ssl sonics.
#10
13th May 2012
Old 13th May 2012
  #10
Gear interested
 
Joined: May 2012
Location: 51.210688,7.237179
Posts: 10

SonicAxiom is offline
For stereo tracking, I've been hooking up the analog outs of my two alphas to a Grundig DAT-9000, then connecting its SPDIF out to a DM1000. The attached sound sample is an improvised song (no metronome) of a 15 year old boy having been quit by his girl friend two days before to make her come back.

Recording chain for the guitar was KM184 x2 (XY) -> SSL alpha x2 (slight EQ, lite limiters engages and linked) -> line outs -> Grundig DAT-9000 line ins -> SPDIF out -> DM1000 SPDIF in -> VCM EQ601 + VCM Comp276S inserted into the input channel in series -> HD24.

For the vocals (overdubbed), I used a TLM170 and hooked up one alpha directly into the SPDIF of the DM1000. Vox also ran through the two VCM fx before hitting the HD24.

In the mix I used DM1000's onboard comps and added some Lexicon PCM-90. Mastering was L1.

Cheers,

Frank
Attached Files
File Type: mp3 Lukas W. - Conny (excerpt).mp3 (4.39 MB, 10 views)
#11
21st May 2012
Old 21st May 2012
  #11
3 + infractions, forum membership suspended.
 
Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 2,303

Analogue Mastering is offline
into 2 spdifs is the only solution
Since i don't have spdif in my setup anymore i just use the analogue out :D problem solved (patched to an X-patch)
#12
21st May 2012
Old 21st May 2012
  #12
GS Community Manager
 
Whitecat's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2006
Location: Surrey / London
Posts: 9,205
My Recordings/Credits

Whitecat is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by SCDBM View Post
into 2 spdifs is the only solution
Correct.

I ran my 2 Alpha Channels into a TC electronic Digital Konnekt x32 which has 8 channels of SPDIF in.

There is absolutely no way to make them both work on 1 stereo SPDIF connection.
__________________
Scott J. - Gearslutz.com Community Manager

Gearslutz on Facebook!

My personal Twitter - @WhitecatTV
#13
21st May 2012
Old 21st May 2012
  #13
Lives for gear
 
unitymusic's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Baltimore
Posts: 1,956

unitymusic is online now
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whitecat View Post
Correct.

I ran my 2 Alpha Channels into a TC electronic Digital Konnekt x32 which has 8 channels of SPDIF in.

There is absolutely no way to make them both work on 1 stereo SPDIF connection.
So along with this, is it absolutely impossible to utilize the stereo conversion in a single alpha to carry two different signals? I know the R channel bypasses the EQ, but does it also bypass the insert? This thread had me thinking, but I can't get onto the SSL site at the moment for some reason to check the manual, and can't try it out till later.
#14
21st May 2012
Old 21st May 2012
  #14
GS Community Manager
 
Whitecat's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2006
Location: Surrey / London
Posts: 9,205
My Recordings/Credits

Whitecat is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by unitymusic View Post
So along with this, is it absolutely impossible to utilize the stereo conversion in a single alpha to carry two different signals? I know the R channel bypasses the EQ, but does it also bypass the insert? This thread had me thinking, but I can't get onto the SSL site at the moment for some reason to check the manual, and can't try it out till later.
Yes. Impossible.

The converter carries two versions of the signal from the box it's on - one on the left at a "nominal" level and the right has a "safety" version of the signal 6db down. There's no way around it.
#15
21st May 2012
Old 21st May 2012
  #15
Lives for gear
 
unitymusic's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Baltimore
Posts: 1,956

unitymusic is online now
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whitecat View Post
Yes. Impossible.

The converter carries two versions of the signal from the box it's on - one on the left at a "nominal" level and the right has a "safety" version of the signal 6db down. There's no way around it.
Ah I see, thanks.
#16
21st May 2012
Old 21st May 2012
  #16
Lives for gear
 
unitymusic's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Baltimore
Posts: 1,956

unitymusic is online now
So I did a test in my DAW, and it turns out it is possible to use the stereo converter to carry two independent sources, though the usefulness depends on what exactly you're doing because of the 6db thing you mentioned.

Anyway, here's what I did. I set up a guitar going out of my interface into the insert return, with the insert button on the front engaged but not the sum function.

Then I took a harmonica track out of another output on my interface and sent that to the pre in the front.

Then I set up two mono tracks in PT, one with each of the spdif inputs and recorded a short test. What I ended up with was the guitar on the L channel and the harmonica on the R channel.

Again, not really a solution for mixbuss or anything that needs a stable stereo image, but due to the way I'm working right now, knowing this will actually come in handy.
#17
22nd May 2012
Old 22nd May 2012
  #17
Gear interested
 
Joined: May 2012
Location: 51.210688,7.237179
Posts: 10

SonicAxiom is offline
hey folks, please read my first reply (#3). You'll understand that it IS possible to feed the ANALOG OUTPUT of one alpha unit into the INSERT RETURN of another unit to make both signals come out of the latter's SPDIF output seperately (left/right)! It's even possible to use both unit's VHDs and EQs if needed.

However, it is impossible to merge the two SPDIF outs together without a third device (obviously).
#18
23rd May 2012
Old 23rd May 2012
  #18
Lives for gear
 
unitymusic's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Baltimore
Posts: 1,956

unitymusic is online now
Quote:
Originally Posted by SonicAxiom View Post
hey folks, please read my first reply (#3). You'll understand that it IS possible to feed the ANALOG OUTPUT of one alpha unit into the INSERT RETURN of another unit to make both signals come out of the latter's SPDIF output seperately (left/right)! It's even possible to use both unit's VHDs and EQs if needed.

However, it is impossible to merge the two SPDIF outs together without a third device (obviously).
I read it, which is what got me thinking but I didn't put two and two together that is was pretty much the same concept for what I was trying to do, which was use a single alpha to convert two sources without blending them. Thanks for the insight though.
#19
23rd May 2012
Old 23rd May 2012
  #19
3 + infractions, forum membership suspended.
 
Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 2,303

Analogue Mastering is offline
Sorry but it's not. The spdif on the Alpha's are dual mono. L signal is processed and R signal is unprocessed directly from mic pre-amp.
the full topology of the Alpha is MONO. By using the insert as a return your just injecting an mono signal from unit 1 into the mono signal of unit 2. Where the spdif of unit 2 wil play the processed and unprocessed channel. you will only hear the processed channel on the L (as the insert chain is broken) but the output is NOT a usable stereo channel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SonicAxiom View Post
hey folks, please read my first reply (#3). You'll understand that it IS possible to feed the ANALOG OUTPUT of one alpha unit into the INSERT RETURN of another unit to make both signals come out of the latter's SPDIF output seperately (left/right)! It's even possible to use both unit's VHDs and EQs if needed.

However, it is impossible to merge the two SPDIF outs together without a third device (obviously).
#20
23rd May 2012
Old 23rd May 2012
  #20
Lives for gear
 
unitymusic's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Baltimore
Posts: 1,956

unitymusic is online now
Quote:
Originally Posted by SCDBM View Post
Sorry but it's not. The spdif on the Alpha's are dual mono. L signal is processed and R signal is unprocessed directly from mic pre-amp.
the full topology of the Alpha is MONO. By using the insert as a return your just injecting an mono signal from unit 1 into the mono signal of unit 2. Where the spdif of unit 2 wil play the processed and unprocessed channel. you will only hear the processed channel on the L (as the insert chain is broken) but the output is NOT a usable stereo channel.
The converter is stereo. Try it out with one or two alphas. The R signal is unprocessed but it also bypasses the insert. When you have something going to the insert return with 'IN' engaged but no sum it bypasses the pre on the front and goes to the L channel. But if you at the same time have something going into the pre it will go to the R channel. It was mentioned that the gain staging is limited, especially with only one alpha so a "usable" stereo channel it might not be, though I've never tried it with two. But you can definitely use a single alpha to convert two sources on two tracks, so it's not mono.
#21
23rd May 2012
Old 23rd May 2012
  #21
3 + infractions, forum membership suspended.
 
Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 2,303

Analogue Mastering is offline
I guess it boils down to what one calls usable....
#22
23rd May 2012
Old 23rd May 2012
  #22
Lives for gear
 
unitymusic's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Baltimore
Posts: 1,956

unitymusic is online now
Quote:
Originally Posted by SCDBM View Post
I guess it boils down to what one calls usable....
That is more subjective than mono. I wouldn't us it for stereo mics or anything, but I only have a profire 610 and the alpha for conversion, and I like sending stuff out to a tascam 388, and after further balancing in the DAW it's worth it to me to use the alpha when possible over the profire, and this trick allows me to print two tracks at a time instead of the one I had always done before. So yeah, it's neat for a fairly limited home studio setup, probably pointless for a commercial facility with plenty of hardware and conversion.
andrew caramia
Thread Starter
#23
30th May 2012
Old 30th May 2012
  #23
Gear addict
 
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 330

Thread Starter
andrew caramia is offline
Ok after a lot of research ive found a great solution to my problem. besides 2 steinberg mr816 interfaces working in parallel or a tc electronic x32, the way to merge the two ssl spidf outs into one spidf to your daw is to use a roland m-1000! Its a digital mixer/merger/problem solver that can merge up to 4 spidf inputs into one spidf output. what great piece of gear.... i cant believe there isnt much else out there like it.
Another solution is the mutech mix merge which is a similar concept. but thats about it. if anyone knows of any other device like these units, let us know.
If anyone has a m-1000 they want to sell, contact me.
Email- redkerbkiss@hotmail.com
cheers
andrew
New Reply Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook  Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter  Submit Thread to LinkedIn LinkedIn  Submit Thread to Google+ Google+ 
 
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
Buzzgrowl / Remote Possibilities in Acoustic Music & Location Recording
3

Forum Jump

SEO by vBSEO ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.