The Behringer ADA8000 is probably already known to most, especially in the home/project studio market, as it's by no means a new product. However since mine recently died (adat out stopped working), I have been looking at alternative products lately, and it has since crossed my mind that a perfect replacement for a Behringer ADA8000 is... a Behringer ADA8000. I couldn't find any reviews on here so I thought I'd add one, in case anyone was in the market for one and wanted the opinion of someone who has used it for about four years.
For about US$170 (new on ebay), this one rack space piece of gear offers 8 channels of mic pre, and 8 channels of AD/DA conversion at 44.1 or 48kHz. The mic pres have phantom power, but this is not individually selectable - it is either on for all 8 channels or off. On the front face of the unit, each channel has an XLR input and a TS unbalanced line input (however the line input does not bypass the circuitry of the pre amp - it is still affected by the pre's gain control).
Metering is taken care of via two lights for each channel; one to indicate there is signal present, the other to indicate the channel is clipping. Considering the size of the unit, this is a sensible approach and I haven't had any trouble with it, especially as I (like the majority of people, I'd imagine) can monitor the signal in my DAW. The adat I/O and XLR analogue outputs are located on the back of the unit, along with wordclock in, an adat/wordclock in switch, and a 44.1/48 switch for when the unit is being used as the master.
In terms of sound, the unit holds its own with the pre amps/converters in my Digi 002. The pre amps become a little noisy when boosting quiet signals, but that's par for the course at this level. The volume also jumps up radically on the last step of the gain pot, but I haven't found that to be a serious issue. I haven't used the unit with external pre amps, but the quality of the converters seems to be quite good. There is an interesting thread here on gearslutz comparing it to a Lynx Aurora converter in a shootout. Worth a look if you're interested in the ADA8000 mainly for its converters:
As far as reliability is concerned, after four years without a hitch, the adat out on mine stopped working. I don't want to read too much into this though, as I've had far more expensive pieces of gear stop working on me in less time.
Although the sound of this unit is far from special, it gets the job done, which is fine considering the features and the price-point. In fact when you consider its just over US$20 per channel, it's amazing that it sounds passable at all. If you're broke and need to add 8 channels to your rig, I'd say go for it. I think I'm going to. Again...
Oh Behringer......How can I say this. You rock because you’re so inexpensive but why didn’t you provide a direct input! Ok for the money these things are great. But if you use them to track your latest project you will sadly be disappointed. The clock isn’t great and the pres just sound bad. Highs are tinny and the lows need a boost in order sound good. The converters themselves are a bit of a mystery mainly because we have no way of bypassing the pre amps. The unit does also get a bit warm so I often power it down when not in use.
In a pinch they do provide a really cheap way to bump up your inputs. On a positive note, these are amazing if you use SawStudio in live mode. For those who aren’t in the know, SawStudio is an amazing piece of software, check it out. I have a rack of these just for that reason they allow you a really cheap way to do live sound. And trust me you won’t care if the pre’s and converters don’t sound perfect in a live situation. I literally have a laptop a fireface and 3 ada8000’s. Output as to an amp and you’re ready to go.
I put this unit in the same category as my DIGI 002. It works just fine for most of the things I do. I record bands in a home studio. Nothing especially fancy, but my clients never complain about the sound. If you have a studio full of high-end equipment you won't want to even consider this unit. But if you feel like you know how to place a mic to get a good sound and you need an extra 8 I/O that will barely make a dent in your bank account this is highly recommended. No the preamps are not as good as a high-end unit. Do they suck? Not really. For recording this unit usually takes the mics for a drum kit. If the drums sound bad I've never blamed the preamps and I've always been right. I often use a summing mixer and the 8 outputs are quite handy in conjunction with my DIGI 002. The converters are as good as many more expensive units. It doesn't go above 48k and there isn't a way to bypass the preamp so I feel it does lack in the features department. Still, if you feel your skills outweigh your need for the best of the best then search no more.
I like this piece, but, even brand new the phantom power was faulty. I use this mostly when I record live events so I don't really need phantom power. But I tried running a pair of condensers through her and she wouldn't run them. That sucked. It's bang for your buck though for sure. The quality if there and if you got mic placement down, she'll be pretty honest in her translation. Lately I been trying her out on drums and I don't have complaints other than the phantom being shot...