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Repair or replace my RME MF II? Audio Interfaces
Old 17th May 2018
  #1
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Repair or replace my RME MF II?

Looking for some initial feedback and opinions on a decision to repair or replace my RME Multiface II/PCIe card. In the past four months or so my MF II has been giving me fits. In a nutshell, sporadic issues with random loss of sound at 44.1, loss of sonics such that the lows disappear and mics sound thin, harsh, and with a widened field...almost like a hyper phase inversion. Have done my due diligence with RME support...latest drivers, move card to different slots, clean the card connections, reboot, restart, power off, change Firewire cable. Sometimes it works, most times it doesn't. And when it works it may do so for a few days or only a few hours, but ultimately the sound degrades. Bottom line, recording has ground to a halt.

I only record my own vocals. Been researching new mic options for a considerable time and about to the pull the trigger on some higher cost mics when this came along. So now it's a decision of priorities. $35 bench fee for RME tech to evaluate the unit. No clue if they can fix, or what the cost will be. Love the ins/outs of the MF 2. I have 500 series pres/comps that I like TotalMix routing for, like to plug an outboard verb unit in (send/return) for tracking, and have two sets of monitors. But I'm not recording multiple sources at a time, and I'd like to stick with my outboard pres, so really won't leverage multiple onboard preamps like most units have now.

Have been researching the Babyface Pro. If I understand correctly, with that unit (and most new units) I could leverage built-in effects/verb during tracking so that would eliminate the outboard unit. But I don't see how I'd get the multiple monitors hooked up, and I'd be more limited on ins for multiple 500 series units (or another out for routing back to my 2A style comp). Looking at the Audient units as well, but I'm Windows 7 and I'm seeing some scary driver issues. I do like the function/latency of the PCIe card. USB scares me a bit.

All that to say that I'm trying to determine if the converters in the MF II are worthy of unit repair due to its age, or if current technology means I should just bite the bullet and get something new and better. The RME 802 can be had right now for $1,699, but wow...that will make a severe dent in my mic budget. If the 802 is going to greatly improve the sound of my current mics, that may be a justifiable first step. If getting the MF II repaired (provided it's not an unreasonable amount) means better mics won't sound as good as they could/should, that's not good. I know. Weakest link.

I've got the return authorization from RME. They are speculating it's the breakout box rather than the card. (Could also buy a used MF II box, but no guarantees there.) I know this post may be premature since I don't yet have any repair analysis, but if the gains of getting a new unit far outweigh the sonics and limitations of an older unit, I may just need to delay the mic changes and upgrade my conversion. If I could reasonably do that for under $1K, I could still pursue at least one better mic right now.

Sorry for diatribe here. Open to suggestions, and thanks in advance for any feedback.

TJ

Last edited by packermans4; 17th May 2018 at 04:14 AM.. Reason: Update
Old 17th May 2018
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Seccione's Avatar
 

I would let the RME tech to check it. Could be easy and cheap fix.

If not, $35 is not end of the world.
Old 17th May 2018
  #3
Lives for gear
 
login's Avatar
Definitely send it to repair, if it is ok you could add preamps/converters of another brand trough the ADAT inputs of the MF.

Audience has preamps with ADAT for example, this way you will keep RME drivers and performance.

In that way you could also check the Digiface.
Old 17th May 2018
  #4
Lives for gear
 
ChrisLudwig's Avatar
 

Hi ,
I would get it repaired unless it is something major. Synthax RME support/repair people will let you know if it is worth doing or not.
You can pick up a used MF2 fairly cheap. Other than RME is not really a better replacement IMHO. How well their USB 2 or 3 products will work on your system is more up to the USB chipsets used on your system. Some 3rd party USB 3.0 chipsets have a lot of compatibility issues. Much like firewire.
If thre are no compatibility issues then the RME USb 2.0 interfaces will work as well as RME's PCI/PCI-e devices. Slightly higher latencies but still better than most any other manufacturers USB 2, USB 3, PCI-e or Thunderbolt interfaces.
So if you had to replace it there are a lot of great options from RME.

Chris
Old 18th May 2018
  #5
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Great advice and much appreciated. I'll send it in and keep my fingers crossed!
Old 13th June 2018
  #6
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Update: RME service has had my unit for 2+ weeks and are returning it. Good news is they could not find nor duplicate the problem. Bad news is after my $80+ investment I'm still facing the issue of the problem being somewhere else...like in my PC. No idea how to troubleshoot that one. I don't know if bailing to a USB interface will solve the problem, still present the same problem (not connectivity dependent), or create new problems!
Old 14th June 2018
  #7
Gear Maniac
 

Have you also checked the pcie interface card for the MF2?
Old 14th June 2018
  #8
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by AreYouHuman View Post
Have you also checked the pcie interface card for the MF2?
Thanks for the suggestion. Yes, I sent both the MFII box and the PCI card to RME support. They checked both. Had considered buying a used card, but that doesn't seem to be the issue either.
Old 14th June 2018
  #9
Tui
Gear Guru
 
Tui's Avatar
RME interfaces of that era are still great and cutting edge with respect to latency and general stability.
Old 16th June 2018
  #10
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by packermans4 View Post
...sporadic issues with random loss of sound at 44.1, loss of sonics such that the lows disappear and mics sound thin, harsh, and with a widened field...almost like a hyper phase inversion. ... And when it works it may do so for a few days or only a few hours, but ultimately the sound degrades. ... I have 500 series pres/comps that I like ... and I'd like to stick with my outboard pres, so really won't leverage multiple onboard preamps like most units have now.
To me those problems seem closely related and more likely exist in the analog domain rather than in the digital domain, maybe something like a cold solder joint or a failing series coupling capacitor.
Old 16th June 2018
  #11
Gear Nut
That RME MF-2 has an ADAT I/O port pair.

Focusrite Clarett OctoPre connects via ADAT and offers 8 inputs and 8 ouputs with good AD/DA conversion or optional hardware monitoring, and includes some nice microphone preamps that provide you with more options and system flexibility and alternative functionality. Next time you have problems which I suspect exist in the analog signal chain, you can switch over to a microphone plugged into the Clarett OctoPre and if the problem does not continue then you know it exists in the other analog signal chain, and can hunt for it there.
Old 18th June 2018
  #12
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by JRT_in_WMass View Post
That RME MF-2 has an ADAT I/O port pair.

Focusrite Clarett OctoPre connects via ADAT and offers 8 inputs and 8 ouputs with good AD/DA conversion or optional hardware monitoring, and includes some nice microphone preamps that provide you with more options and system flexibility and alternative functionality. Next time you have problems which I suspect exist in the analog signal chain, you can switch over to a microphone plugged into the Clarett OctoPre and if the problem does not continue then you know it exists in the other analog signal chain, and can hunt for it there.
Thank you for the advice and direction on this. I appreciate the suggestion. Just got it back and noticed when I plugged it back in that the box became very warm...almost hot to the touch. I've always had it racked so haven't handled it when it's on in the past so not sure if this is normal, but it really felt unusually warm.
Old 18th June 2018
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Seccione's Avatar
 

My Multifaces run quite hot as well. Not necessary anything to worry about.
Old 18th June 2018
  #14
Tui
Gear Guru
 
Tui's Avatar
Yup, Multiface II gets quite hot.
Old 23rd June 2018
  #15
Gear Nut
What did you decide to do in this, your next forward move?
Old 23rd June 2018
  #16
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Trying to make it work for the time being. I removed my PC's Bios battery and installed a new one, which impacted the bios. I then reconfigured the bios, and when I plugged the card back in Windows installed it as a new device. Still saw some issues with the inability to run at 44.1k, so was at the point of thinking I needed to reinstall Windows 7. However, I first went through and disabled every possible sound-related setting I could find on my PC that was not part of the RME device in case there was some conflict. Still having issues, so I took a chance and reinstalled much older drivers and firmware for the MFII that I still had in my downloads file. It's sounded better and has been stable since I did that. I'm going to give it a little more time to see if it reverts to the previous problem, but it's possible something I did or a combination has resolved it.

Thanks for the follow-up, and if it rears its ugly head again, I'll follow your advice for next steps.
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