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Almost blew up my speakers with the RME Fireface UCX, please advice
Old 7th July 2016
  #1
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Almost blew up my speakers with the RME Fireface UCX, please advice

So my newly bought RME Fireface UCX is a great device, BUT it only has digital volume control. This is very scary to me! And, I know, I should have known this before buying.

So I guess my options would be:

-Get a physical volume controller and keep the UCX

-Get an Apogee Quartet maybe? Or will that put me in the same situation?

Last edited by Parzival; 7th July 2016 at 03:47 PM..
Old 7th July 2016
  #2
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And where exactly is the problem? What issues you have with digitally controlled volume control?

Michal
Old 7th July 2016
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msmucr View Post
And where exactly is the problem? What issues you have with digitally controlled volume control?

Michal
Hi Michal,

Well, I've always been used to a physical control, and having it only digitally controllable seems so dangerous, haha.
My speakers are always at the same volume and I'm afraid that something will crash (or otherwise change) and reset the mixer (and destroy my ears).
Old 7th July 2016
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Parzival View Post
Hi Michal,

Well, I've always been used to a physical control, and having it only digitally controllable seems so dangerous, haha.
My speakers are always at the same volume and I'm afraid that something will crash (or otherwise change) and reset the mixer (and destroy my ears).
I see, but I think, it's just matter of habit.. I've worked with quite a few devices with digitally controlled volume controls and never have any issues with that. Similarly with RME devices, if physical outputs are assigned to main volume control, levels were always correctly recalled upon power-up. Also as the interface is completely functional standalone (kinda like digital mixer), it doesn't rely on TotalMix software to store the level value.. it's happening inside of box.
Similarly, your concern with software issue (eg. DAW or plugin crashes and produce some noise burst or repeated buffer with high-pitched patter) doesn't make any problem, because all that happens in computer, before signal goes to hardware DSP with volume control.. so this signal can't really go with full blast at unity level to your monitors.

Only thing, which I always do regardless of used interface or mixer, is proper startup sequence - eg. source first, then monitors..
I don't remember how exactly is at UCX, but some devices has anti-thump circuit, which switches off main outputs until device is fully powered, so it can avoid usual power-on pop, but mentioned powering order makes it is safe regardless of used device or particular line outputs feeding your monitors.

Of course, you can add some additional analog monitor controller, but I definitely wouldn't do that just for better feel, digitally controlled monitor is naturally free of any low level tracking issues and outputs has always constant output impedance to monitors. If more tactile control will be a nice thing to have for you, then I would consider RME ARC.. which is multifunctional controller, that can be used with UCX.. again, although you can set it via TotalMix software, controls works directly with interface.

Michal
Old 7th July 2016
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Parzival View Post
My speakers are always at the same volume and I'm afraid that something will crash (or otherwise change) and reset the mixer (and destroy my ears).
If you calibrate your rig (see Monitor Wizard | Sound On Sound) this is less of a problem because your monitors are already turned down to a safe(ish) level.
Old 7th July 2016
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msmucr View Post
I see, but I think, it's just matter of habit.. I've worked with quite a few devices with digitally controlled volume controls and never have any issues with that. Similarly with RME devices, if physical outputs are assigned to main volume control, levels were always correctly recalled upon power-up. Also as the interface is completely functional standalone (kinda like digital mixer), it doesn't rely on TotalMix software to store the level value.. it's happening inside of box.
Similarly, your concern with software issue (eg. DAW or plugin crashes and produce some noise burst or repeated buffer with high-pitched patter) doesn't make any problem, because all that happens in computer, before signal goes to hardware DSP with volume control.. so this signal can't really go with full blast at unity level to your monitors.

Only thing, which I always do regardless of used interface or mixer, is proper startup sequence - eg. source first, then monitors..
I don't remember how exactly is at UCX, but some devices has anti-thump circuit, which switches off main outputs until device is fully powered, so it can avoid usual power-on pop, but mentioned powering order makes it is safe regardless of used device or particular line outputs feeding your monitors.

Of course, you can add some additional analog monitor controller, but I definitely wouldn't do that just for better feel, digitally controlled monitor is naturally free of any low level tracking issues and outputs has always constant output impedance to monitors. If more tactile control will be a nice thing to have for you, then I would consider RME ARC.. which is multifunctional controller, that can be used with UCX.. again, although you can set it via TotalMix software, controls works directly with interface.

Michal
Thank you very much Michal for clearing this up. I was probably too quick to panic over here.
Probably because of the shock of my 1032's blasting at full volume for a few secs!
I've now set up my Main outputs correctly, and the 1032's input sensitivity is turned all the way down.
I'm finding that my monitors can still be turned up pretty loud, even with the -10 dBV setting, but if the UCX stores all its settings and remembers where it took off, I'm guessing that won't be a problem.

This has been educational :-)

Last edited by Parzival; 7th July 2016 at 08:58 PM..
Old 7th July 2016
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Parzival View Post
Thank you very much Michal for clearing this up. I was probably too quick to panic over here.
Probably because of the shock of my 1032's blasting at full volume for a few secs!
I've now set up my Main outputs correctly, and the 1032's input sensitivity is turned all the way down.
I'm finding that my monitors can still be turned up pretty loud, even with the -10 dBV setting, but if the UCX stores all its settings and remembers where it took off, I'm guessing that won't be a problem.

This has been educational :-)
Uff.. those full blasts are never enjoyable.. Of course.. sometimes this also happened to me.. and honestly, usually it was because of some my stupid mistake rather than some failure .. For me it is typically followed by heart stroke examination, then tweeters examination..

I'm glad, you found some suitable setup for UCX and your monitors.
Good luck with gear and music!

Michal
Old 7th July 2016
  #8
Gear Head
I use the RME ARC controller with my UFX, I like it, and use it with TotalMix FX.
Dunno if it's available for the UCX, as I haven't read about the UCX.
Old 7th July 2016
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Parzival View Post
Probably because of the shock of my 1032's blasting at full volume for a few secs!
Take it from someone who once sent phantom power to ~3kW of Krell amps and bespoke main monitors ... it happens to the best of us
Old 8th July 2016
  #10
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Haha, been there, done that

So I used to use a SMPro Audio Nano Patch for this purpose but towards the end I just switched to digital volume. Just be aware that re-installing the drivers will reset the output volume to unity gain again. Simple rule for me is just to keep speakers turned off until your OS fully boots and Totalmix loads.

The one advantage of the digital control is precision tho.

Last edited by fgimian; 17th July 2016 at 02:16 PM..
Old 8th July 2016
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lumbergh View Post
Take it from someone who once sent phantom power to ~3kW of Krell amps and bespoke main monitors ... it happens to the best of us
Ouch. That must have been quite a shock
Old 8th July 2016
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Parzival View Post
I'm finding that my monitors can still be turned up pretty loud, even with the -10 dBV setting
I don't know these speakers, and i'm not completely sure about that switch, but i think if set to -10dBV your speakers expect consumer level (which is lower), so they should be set to something like +4dBu (if possible), which is the proper operating level for most pro gear (like your UCX).

It might be counter intuitive, but basically the higher the number you set it to, the lower your output. Probably try it out at a low level.
Old 8th July 2016
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lou latch View Post
I don't know these speakers, and i'm not completely sure about that switch, but i think if set to -10dBV your speakers expect consumer level (which is lower), so they should be set to something like +4dBu (if possible), which is the proper operating level for most pro gear (like your UCX).

It might be counter intuitive, but basically the higher the number you set it to, the lower your output. Probably try it out at a low level.

Thanks Lou, I should have specified that I'm talking about the gain in the Totalmix app.
Old 8th July 2016
  #14
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Don't worry about the digital volume control.
I was also in the analog volume camp before but it really isn't any different than a digital mixer.
RME's volume control works in standalone and will work even if the computer goes haywire.
Old 8th July 2016
  #15
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I'd say if you're having to set the interface to -10dBu with monitor sensitivity at +6 and its still too loud at unity ITB, you probably should go for a simple passive monitor controller. Luckily they are pretty cheap
Old 8th July 2016
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Parzival View Post
Hi Michal,

Well, I've always been used to a physical control, and having it only digitally controllable seems so dangerous, haha.
My speakers are always at the same volume and I'm afraid that something will crash (or otherwise change) and reset the mixer (and destroy my ears).
In my five years of daily use of RME hardware I've never had the software crash the volume controls and blow my speakers up. Whether connected to a computer or used stand alone. There's also a dim button in the unlikely event that ever happens. Bare in mind even analogue control can fail if there is a hardware fault. But RME software is very reliable and rock solid.

I'd also be very wary about adding anything superfluous to the signal path because of the potential for colouration to the sound. Anything you add to the signal path will colour the sound. So make sure any monitor controller you add is passive to minimise this.
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