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RobAnderson 23rd December 2011 06:10 PM

RME Fireface UFX
RME raised the bar on interfaces with the Fireface UFX. It is an incredibly capable and well-thought-out piece of kit.

It features 12-analog inputs (4 mic preamps in the front, 12 TRS in the rear), 2 lightpipe (for a possible 16 channels) and 1 AES (2 channels). It is capable of connecting to your computer via Firewire or USB. It has Wordclock and MIDI I/O as well.

One of the more astounding features is its ability to act as a standalone recorder via the USB port on the front panel. Simply hook up a FAT32 formatted drive, record-arm your tracks and go - no computer necessary.

Considering the size of the screen on the front panel, the metering is actually quite good - you can see the levels and record-arm status of all input and output channels at a glance. RME were smart enough to color code the channels - signal present is indicated by a green color, those that are running a bit hot will turn yellow, a clip will turn red.

It will intelligently switch clock sources when presented with a digital input. The TotalMix software is quite powerful as a routing tool. This box is very easy to just set up and go - the only reason I give it an "8" for ease of use is because there is so much utility here that a bit of manual reading is necessary to grasp the entire set of features.

I have only two minor gripes: the four 1/4" inputs on the front seem to be unbalanced (may or may not be an issue for some), and the line input headroom on these four inputs is a bit low. It would also be great to be able to access all of the routing and configuration features from the front panel - it seems that some can only be accessed via the TotalMix and driver software. However, this is an understandable omission considering how much more complexity this might introduce.

All-in-all, I am amazed at what RME were able to do with this device. kfhkh

oudplayer 15th January 2012 09:37 PM

real world tests of the UFX - it's a winner
Last week, my improvisation group, the Cornell Avant Garde Ensemble, did a four-day intensive live recording session in Cornell's Neylan Hall. The group is a challenge to record, since each musician utilizes a very wide dynamic range in their improvisation technique, from sounds that are scarcely audible above the ambient noise floor of the room, to bursts of sound at the loudest end of each instrument's capacity (but some produce well over 100dB peaks). We used 14 spot mics, 2 Earthworks room mics, 4 line inputs, and had a separate Ambisonic tetramic setup going as well. The goal was to produce a very detailed, live, and "high-fidelity" recording that gave us the greatest number of options for final formats, and towards that end we decided to record at 24/96 (we may release some of the final recordings in 24/96 5.1).

The recording chain was:
Toft ATB 16 (used for preamps) 1-8-->Fireface UFX
Toft 9-16-->Fireface 800-->Fireface UFX (over ADAT)
Line 1-4-->Fireface UFX

We also used 16 outputs of the firefaces into the Toft's monitoring section for quick analog mixes.

There were several things we were worried about concerning this particular rig and this recording:
  1. Clocking/sync
  2. Whether the laptop with an external drive would be able to capture 24 hours of music at 24/96 without buffer problems/glitches
  3. The sound quality of the high transient material characterizing some of the instruments/textures

In order, it took about 3 minutes to get the 2 firefaces hooked up with the UFX as master and 800 as slave; I could do it now in about 10 seconds, as the UFX provides automatic termination of word clock, eliminating one annoying technical problem that I've often seen cause major headaches (and digital glitchiness) in studios. Once we had the routing set at 24/44 in the TotalMix application, getting the 800 to feed SMUX-ADAT to the UFX was automatic; we didn't even need to change settings, it automatically fixed our routings. RME has really thought through the gamut of digital connectivity and sync issues and designed an intelligent converter.

Since we were concerned about buffer problems and didn't have enough setup time to test the reliability of 20 track 24/96 recording on this particular laptop-based setup, I plugged a 500gb external buss-powered 2.5" hard drive into the USB port and used the backup recording feature, too. In totalmix, it's easy to set this up - you click on "record view" in the lower right, arm the tracks you want to capture, and then click record. The UFX takes about 5 minutes when you first plug a large hard drive in to calculate disk space (this would be shorter for smaller drives), and only recognizes FAT32 formatted drives if I'm not mistaken, but other than those 2 details, this feature works flawlessly. 20 tracks at 24/96 used up about 40% of the available bandwidth on that port on average, with occasional peaks up to 50% but well within a safety margin. And not a single error after capturing several hundred gigabytes.

The third issue was sound quality. I'm not going to write much about this, other than to say that we didn't notice the sound of the converters, which for me is the benchmark for AD/DA conversion. I haven't directly A/Bed them against Lavry, Mytek, and Prism, but I would not hesitate to use the UFX for any recording where sound quality was critical. During the few moments when we nominally hit digital clipping, the sound didn't break up in the way it often can with other converters.

Also, I should point out that I've setup the UFX on 2 different generations of mac laptops, on a Windows 7 box, and on a Windows XP box; in all cases the driver installation worked flawlessly and I was ready to go within minutes. Unlike every other interface I've ever used (I've used products made by Lynx, Digidesign, MOTU, Apogee, and even earlier RME products) I never needed to go to support forums, submit trouble tickets, or undertake lengthy work to troubleshoot a driver, installation or compatibility problem.

In sum, the UFX is one of the best-designed interfaces on the market - it works (on usb or firewire), it sounds good, and it has routing, connectivity and backup features that will be very useful for everything from simple to complex recording projects.

Maikoru 19th January 2012 05:42 AM

RME Fireface UFX - Quality way above it's price point
One concern I had, prior to actually using the UFX, was the usability of the menu system in stand-alone mode; after all, that's a lot of functions and routing to manage on the fly with barely any buttons and a tiny screen. I needn’t have worried. This system is designed very intuitively and only takes a couple of minutes to get the hang of. Needless-to-say, you need to learn the structure of the menus, but basic operation is quick to work out and ‘under the hood’ features are where you’d expect them to be. Trimming mic gains is quick and easy – if not quite as quick and easy as dedicated dials.

The display itself delivers great resolution, and each info screen contains exactly the info you need so that even my dodgy eyes don’t struggle at all. The metering is surprisingly clear to read.

Direct to USB recording performs really well. It’s worth visiting the RME forums, as quite a few people are posting the real-world performance of various models of thumb drive with the system – but if you run with an HDD or SSD (bus powered is fine) then you won’t strike any performance problems, even at high track counts and sample rates. Note that it only works with Boot FAT 32 format drives (no probs for Mac or PC) - and doesn't appear to like multiple partitions in my experience.

RME’s Total Mix software (for use when the box is connected to your computer) takes a bit of getting used to – but if you read the well-written manual (really, do it) you’ll have no trouble. The matrix-view is a great addition, and provides a fantastic overview of the routing. Also, a useful feature for those who often switch between several i/o configurations is the ability to save several routing set-ups, which can then be recalled using the front panel of the box at a later date.

In terms of sound, the UFX performs very well. Many reviews I’ve seen note that it doesn’t sound quite as good an Orpheus… I’d say the same, but then that’s kind of a compliment: we’re comparing up into another price point entirely, not with the unit’s direct competition. This box costs a fraction of an Orpheus and offers more functionality with a better user interface. Clocking is solid, the mic pres are perfectly acceptable and the DACs are very good (a step up from what you get in the Sound Devices range, from what I’ve read). My HD650s have never sounded better.

If you’re looking for an all-in-one box for around $2000US you couldn’t buy better than this. Pair it with Reaper as your DAW and kiss your over-priced Pro-Tools LE system good-bye.

Reborn 4th March 2012 12:02 AM

Fireface UFX
I have now owned my Fireface UFX since about 3 days after they were officially released. I Drove from Hollywood(CA) to Irvine to get a unit. Almost 4 hours round trip! I think it is a very good product!

First I have previously owned RME products and not kept them! These include Fireface 800/400 and an ADI-2. I can honestly say the only way I would move from this unit is if a stable next class level device became available for the same price as a UFX. Other than that me and this box are gonna make record!

The mic pres are more than usable, they are in fact good enough to cut lead vocals fro a record! Plug in a excellent mike and don't be afraid of the Digital EQ and Compression it is actually quite good. You'll enjoy re-callable vocal or instrument setups as the individual channel can be loaded up like a channel strip in the DAW Logic. I have an Album I did where every song has a setup saved with full notes on Mike placement and mike used along with all Mic-pre and if used dynamics and E.Q. saved For the UFX. We tool a picture of where the mic was in the room and were able to get a exact punch in on mix day about 5 weeks later! Having real Pres onbaord is a real plus. I do use a Shure inline pad to give the input some breathing room.

AD/DA conversion is on Par with Apogee Ensemble/Duet, though a different sound. The A/D is going to give very good reproduction of what you put into it! Headphone Amps are loud and very deep and clear and have EQ and Dynamics as well. Between that feature and the on board EFX, you can easily give fully mocked up headphone mixes without recording a wet signal. Another plus of the unit. I also store headphone mix settings for Artist, helping me to give them a repeat experience of performing in my room.

The Drivers and USB connection(what I use) are very solid. On occasion(3 days a year) I have had some dropouts at low latencies settings. The included metering software is amazing allowing to track down noise in the -120DB range. I have found bad cables on these meters that my 40 year old ears coudn't hear in the room at -100 db. It was right there on the meters and one cable swap later it was gone - along with some high frequency ringing that was coming from the cable! Cleaned up the upper mids the slightest of a touch on that mix! I'll take it!

Conclusion: An extremly solid no competition device! Why? The level of quality and feature set just doesn't exist in something else at this price. There is two solid levels higher of conversion in the world! This is not as good as Apogee 16X series or Burls. It is as good/better than any mid- level box out there now that does all in one! If you have 2 grand to spend and no good pres. Need to record live location. Need total recall of everything. Need very good A/D converters. Need bullet proof drivers and Midi. This does all that and very well!


molownia 4th March 2012 03:13 AM

RME Fireface UFX - great versatility and sound
I used Presonus Firestudio before and it worked for me well. The sound quality wasn't great but it was stable with my MacBook Pro and did the job. But when RME released the firmware upgrade allowing to record with Fireface UFX via its front USB port I decided to get it. I was using Alesis HD24 as a backup for my Firestudio but it's heavy and takes more time to set up.
I was skeptical at the beginning about the USB recording feature so I kept my HD24 but after a few gigs with UFX the Alesis got retired. The feature works great: recently I recorded 2.5 hr show using regular USB drive (5400RPM), 22 tracks and it worked without a glitch. 30 inputs into my DAW plus full backup in one rack space - you can't beat that.
The drivers are very stable (at least on my MacBook), everything was very easy to install. The RME website is really informative and if you follow their instructions you can't go wrong.
The unit is very well designed, the display is detailed and very easy to read considering its small size. It's easy to operate it in a standalone mode using internal menus which are very clear and intuitive. I had to look at the manual a few times but basic functions are easy to figure out.
The preamps are clean and the overall sound is great - very detailed and very clean so if you're looking for some color you have to use some external amps which is very easy with the UFX due to its connectivity: 4 combo XLR/TRS inputs on the front panel, 8 TRS line ins in the back plus 2 banks of ADAT and one AES EBU digital in/out. 30 channels in and out, all can be recorded at the same time to the external USB drive connected to the front port. The drive has to be formatted in FAT32 which works with Mac and PC platforms.
There's FireWire 400 and USB connection so it's more flexible than just FW or USB interfaces. Both work very well and I tested them recording 24 channels simultaneously - no problems. And it has onboard processing so it doesn't use your CPU resources.
As I mentioned it works without a computer, and I tested it disconnecting FW cable during recording to PT9 - the USB recording didn't stop so it's really a safety backup.
The RME Totalmix FX that is used to control the unit using a computer is the most flexible controlling software I've ever used - very intuitive, flexible, has dynamic processors, eq's and effect units which can be used for monitor mixes etc. The only downside is that you can't really use it in a full mode with a small 13'' laptop screen - it needs to be switched to "2 rows" mode which is little harder to navigate.

Overall very solid unit, flexible, expandable, stable and good sounding. I use it all the time recording live and in my home studio and I can't really work without it now.

EsotericMetal 9th March 2012 10:18 PM

RME Fireface UFX

I got this unit to be the center piece for my studio and mobile recording rig. Previous interfaces I've used have included an apogee duet, mbox 2 and a digi002. I needed something that was high-end, mobile and fully featured as I would be using this for everything from writing, tracking and mixing.

- This is the only interface i've seen that supports both FW and USB. I use different computers all the time and having the ability to use either FW or USB has definitely been really helpful. Especially now that the new MacBook Pro's now only come with one FW800 port and doesn't come with and expresscard slot (which on my older laptop I had used to connect an external HDD via eSata). If I had a FW only interface than that would mean having to connect my hard drive via USB, which in my experience has not been reliable enough for tracking. Since getting the UFX I can now use the FW800 port for my hard drive and a usb port for the UFX.

- Another reason that attracted me to the UFX is that I had heard from many places that it has extremely stable drivers. This is definitely true. So far I haven't had any issues while recording that could have been attributed to the UFX. The performance seems to be pretty much identical for FW and USB. Couldn't be happier.

- The sound quality overall is great. Extremely neutral sounding to me. Higher sample rates sound noticeably better than when i've tried using them with other interfaces. The mic and instrument pre's are high quality and sound very clean. It can be a little noisy if you're trying to record a quiet DI signal and have to crank the gain past half way, but this is probably the same for any preamp out there. I've found that they're best suited for room recordings and DI'ing instruments as these are situations where you usually don't want much coloration.

- TotalMix is absolutely great. Extremely stable and very flexible. There's not much that I would need to do that can't do with TotalMix. RME also seem to be pretty good about updates and implementing new features.

- Standalone operation is brilliant. I'm sure this is partly why the unit is so stable. Having a unit that is fully functional without a computer means is a great investment because of the constantly changing computing industry that always seems to make hardware irrelevant or incompatible over increasingly shorter times. This unit will still be useful long after people stop using USB and FW.

- Recording directly to a usb is such an amazing feature to have and it seems to work pretty flawlessly. I've had one thumb drive that the UFX didn't recognize even though it was formatted correctly, but all the other ones i've tried worked without problems.


- The onboard effects are convenient, but not they're not all particularly great. They are just far too subtle for my tastes. The delay isn't bad at all but I can't say that I have found the reverb to be very useful. It's good if you just want to add a little to take the dryness out of tracking things like vocals or acoustic guitars, but it doesn't quite do the large spacey cathedral type sound. This is a shame because I would have used this all the time since plugins slow down your computer and a hardware reverb unit isn't really feasible for a mobile rig. Haven't tried out the compressor that much but so far it seems to be pretty decent and transparent sounding. Definitely useful if you're using it for live sound or want to use it on a vocalists headphone mix so they can heard their own part a little clearer during a busy mix. The eq is quite good actually. Nothing spectacular, but it works exactly how it should and is pretty clean sounding. Definitely the most useful out of all the effects.

- There is no dedicated output for monitors so you, which means you have to use up 2 out of the 8 analog outs. It's not a problem for me right now since I don't have too much outboard gear, but I plan on getting more so it may mean having to buy a convertor to get more I/O's through the ADAT.

Overall i'm pretty happy with this. It doesn't seem like it will be obsolete any time soon. I generally spend my time between my rehearsal studio where I rehearse and record with my bands, and my home studio where I write and mix. This thing is mobile enough for me to walk over to my studio with it in a 2 space rack case and sounds good enough to use for professional quality work.

andyllf 27th March 2012 10:29 PM

Awesome recording clarity and stable driver
I bought my RME UFX 3 months ago and hooked it up to my Adam A7x and Sub8. I previously had a M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R with the same monitor and sub setup. The RME UFX made the sound much clearer while recording and during playback.

The TotalMix software was a little confusing to use in the first place but was very useful one you got the hang of things. The FX with total mix isn't half bad either. RME is known for their stable driver and I have never once got an error when loading Cubase 5, Cubase 6.5, or Protools 9 on Mac and Windows. I can't say the same about the M-Audio drivers. I hooked the RME UFX via USB connection and the latency was very low.

For around $2000, the RME UFX is quite an expensive option, but I have never regret upgrading from the Fast Track Ultra 8R. One thing I notice is when I'm plugging in my beyerdynamics 880 and AKG 701 headphones, they sound so much clearer and the 3D image is more present. The volume can get really loud and I don't think you would need an extra headphone amp for your Pro Headphones. I can't wait to try out the new UA Apollo to compare the ease of use and sound quality vs the RME UFX.

StewartFungus 28th March 2012 12:31 AM

This is simply the best converter in this price range. I have used mine for about 6 months now and it is just plain rock solid. Conversion is solid. The drivers are unbelievably stable and the features are unheard of in a one rack space u.

I have Apogee, Lynx, UA2192 and Aivd IO converters...this unit holds it's own and is in place in the studio for our native solutions. Not as good as some of those, but I don't feel like I'm missing anything when I'm working through the fact it makes me forget about converters and allows me to just get working.

thebauhub 28th March 2012 12:47 PM

UFX all the way
When it was time to upgrade my older audio interface (MOTU 828 Mk1), which served me very well for about 10 years, I wanted to look at moving up the audio chain a bit. After many hours of reviewing different units I decided the ONLY choice for me was the UFX unit.

I tested it against it's only real rival at this price point, the Apogee Ensemble, and found that there was really no comparison when it came to features. The audio quality was comparable, however there was something more pleasing to my ears with the UFX unit. It was almost warmer, if that can be said about all digital units.

1) Amazing feature set
2) Audio quality beyond belief
3) Headroom to spare
4) Internal DSP
5) Digital mixing / routing through Total Mix
6) Perfect integration with LOGIC PRO

1) Price is great value but still something to save up for
2) Audio apps Total Mix stay on all the time
3) Had problems using the USB 2 drivers on OS X (this may be fixed now). It would cause a kernel panic and force we to restart.

I would like to note that being a UAudio happy user for the cards I WISH that Appollo had been available when I was making my choice. Would have made a great competitor to review.

tws 4th April 2012 11:01 PM

RME Fireface UFX
The RME Fireface UFX was a big upgrade for my home studio. The clarity of its converters has been a noticeable improvement over my Digidesign 003. The drivers are also very solid and stable.

The flexibility of the CUEMIX software, and the generous amount of I/Os is now giving me the ability to start properly integrating some outboard gear.

While I miss having a monitor mute button, and separate headphone and main speaker volume knobs, all of these things can be quickly controlled from within the CUEMIX software.

I feel very happy with my purchase, and would highly recommend this product.

rACgear 4th March 2013 11:46 AM

New interface User
AS someone who was looking for a good interface and newbie to them, I spent hours looking on line. RME was one of the candidates, I then spent a unfruitfull morning with a retailer of them. The retailer did not know much about them and ccould not install the software - this highlighted the lack of detail in the manual (then) on stand alone mode!
As luck would have it shortly thereafter one came up on ebay for a 'good' price I bid and got it within my budget. No problems installing software and I found if you think bottom up with it, it is easy to use.
Highly recommended.

chazhurst 12th March 2013 02:52 AM

Certainly a step up...
In this price range there is nothing that comes close to this feature set for recording. Sure the UAD Apollo might be the better solution if you are predominantly a mix/mastering engineer, but even then the biggest tangible advantage is the DSP plugin package.

The UFX is precisiely the step up in quality I was hoping for over my previous interface (Edirol FA101). The Mic pre's are miles cleaner, AD & DA are miles better and the routing options in TotalMix FX are considerably better than any other solutions I've used. Focusrites MixControl is the only thing I've used that comes close, but hat has limited functionality by comparison.

The DURec USB recording facility really is where this device comes into it's own. I mean a standalone 30 input recorder plus any mixes you might have set up in a 1u rack unit. Nothing else offers that. I remember going out on the road with 32 channel recording systems that come (in the smallest possible configuration) in a 6ft rack unit that had nothing like the routing or mixing capability you can have with this and a cheap laptop.

As for the effects, I actually think they are perfectly usable. Sure that reverb is quite subtle, even in it's most drastic setting, but it's not that kind of reverb. Used in the "Classic" setting it's plenty for monitor mixing and main mixing of already effected sources.

- Awesome mix/routing functionality in TotalMixFX with virtually zero latency.
- DuRec standalone recorder funcionality.
- Usable, if not earth shattering, DSP effects.
- Really clear sounding AD/DA.
- 4 good mic pre's.
- Stable 48 sample latency under typical ASIO operation. (64 in PT10)
- Solid drivers.

- Reduced mixing capability in standalone operation, without TotalMixFX.
- Had to read the manual to work out some functions. Simple once you know.
- Now I need some AD/DA to make use of those ADAT channels
- Requires Mains...

Edit: 4 months into owning the UFX and it's been solid as a rock, even plugged into a USB3.0 port. TotalMixFX is a joy to work with. I've routed other preamps into the analog inputs and enjoyed 12 channels of pre's for recording, and used the analog I/O for using outboard effects units (Lexicon Reverb). I've yet to make proper use of the ADAT though. Thinking about using it in conjunction with an A&H Zed R16...

|-| 21st January 2015 05:21 AM

I've gone through 50+ interfaces in my career, this is by far the best one I've used yet.

I switched to RME from a few high profile friends in the industry who all swore by RME. I bought a Fireface 400 about 8 years ago and I've never looked back.

Converters are great, lots of I/O, midi is super tight, totalmix, DURec, I haven't had a hiccup since I bought it. I really can't say anymore.

A+ for one of the best, if not the best interface you could buy.

Leveuho 27th July 2019 09:16 PM

This is a great workhorse for your small/medium studio. It's rock solid and stable, functional, 30 i/o should be enough for tracking, monitoring etc. There are better sounding pres and converters out there, but still, RME plays in a high league.

What I like about it:

- rock solid, stable working; expect any of your other studio rig to cause issues, place RME at the end of this list,
- lots of i/o inc. 12 analog ins, 2x 8-chan ADAT, AES3, analog/digital outputs,
- well designed TotalMix console, especially in channel strip and routing departments, plus well thought front panel,
- basic on-board DSP inc reverb, EQ-ing, dynamics,

What I don't like about it:

- hard to find a weak point of this unit, really, but you should always think about external pres for critical recording applications,
- TotalMix could have been refreshed visually one day, too old-fashioned, not flexible (poor view customization).

I'm considering moving to a new line of UAD Apollo units one day, but I'm really fine with my RME for now.