By Bristol Posse on 17th March 2012
First of all, to put this review into context I will start off by stating that I am a hobbyist recorder.
I have had extensive experience with other interfaces such as the M-Audio ProFire series as well as boutique pre amps and converters from Black Lion Audio so any comparative statements made will be in the context of this experience
The RME Fireface 800
This is a 1U Rack mountable audio interface in the familiar blue and silver of the RME Product line.
The front panel provides the following:
4 mic/XLR Line/TRS ins with up to 60dB of clean gain.
1 HiZ (Guitar/Bass) in with gain, this channel alos provides a software controlled limiter, cab simulator and drive simulator accessed through the RME control panel
1 Headphone out with volume control
The rear panel provides the following:
8 TRS Analog ins
8 TRS Analog outs
1 SPDIF out
1 SPDIF in
2 ADAT in/out ports
Word Clock ins & out
1 MIDI in
1 MIDI out
1 FW 400 port
2 FW 800 ports
3 time code inputs
The mic Pres and converters on this unit are nice and clear and open, this is not a coloration piece but it provides detailed, accurate conversion of the signals with plenty of usable clean gain. The Cab emulation, Drive and limiter functions are also a useful addition and make a separate DI box for studio use unnecessary unless you are dealing with multiple guitar inputs. For the price (as compared to a high end converter only) the sound quality is extremely good
Ease of Use
This is an incredibly flexible unit. The routing possibilities are enormous as are the number of simultaneous ins and outs possible as well as the ability to link multiple units together and calibrate the converters to three different reference levels for 0dBFS. The software mixer allows for the creation and storing of multiple routing configurations, headphone submixes, loop back setups and so on.
As a result of the enormous variety of set up options the user manual and sheer complexity can at first seem daunting.
Having said this, the default settings will work out of the box providing a logical 1 to 1 routing that will allow you to easily assign inputs and outputs within a DAW.
For Use in a live setting, all inputs/outputs are panable, individually routable to multiple outs and the built in Total Mix software can be controlled via a Control surface such as a Mackie, opening up a whole world of opportunities for use as a mixer too
Because of the sheer tweakability I had to score this a seven because it will take some time to get used to the flow of the signals and how to really take full advantage of the capabilities offered
As mentioned above this unit offers a very broad range of ins and outs, almost limitless routing possibilities, Zero latency monitoring, 3 software controllable reference levels for 0dBFS to allow you to determine how much headroom you get and so much more. This is a feature rich unit
Bang for Buck
If all you need is an audio interface then this would be on the higher end of the price range for such a device. The pres are very good and transparent, the conversion is certainly excellent and the flexibility is awesome. Drivers are very stable in both XP and Win7.
I scored this lower on the bang for buck however as I feel you are paying for many features that many in the home and project studio will perhaps never need however for the quality and reliability it is still a reasonably priced unit
Hope this helps someone considering this unit as an option for their musical endeavors :-)
By robertshaw on 23rd March 2012
Features: This unit is packed with a great set of features.
Ease of use: It is a plug and play type unit which requires little usage of the reference manual. It's E/M packaging is superb and the controls are self explanatory.
Sound Quality: The sound quality of this unit is very poor in comparison to other units available on the market.
Bang for buck: I give this 50/50, it has great features and the unit is rock solid as far as stability with integration into your complete system however, the poor sound sort of negates all of its positive aspects.