DiGiGrid DiGiGrid D by George Necola
I needed something for my homestudio to replace my focusrite i2. My main concern was "latency". I was not able to record heavy guitars with the focusrite due to the latency. it was always disturbing.
I learned from an old friend who works now for Digigrid as product specialist that they carry the digigrid M/S series for desktop use. When he first mentioned Digigrid, my brain automaticly made a connection to the highend Digigrid Server systems. I used them in the past mostly with digico desks for live applications. You are able to run Waves plugins in real time with your live-mixing-desk which I used to do back in the day together with Jessy Brustolin (Karma to burn FOH, Waves product manager).
I learned about the lower cost audio interfaces from Digigrid. I got a Digigrid D which features 2 line inputs, 2 preamps + monitoring possibilities.
My audio computer is by default offline. So I installed the requried Waves Central software on my laptop, extracted the offline-Installer and moved the installation-package to my audio computer. The Waves Central-Software is required to install drivers and licence the interface. It also installs the Digigrid Routing Software SoundGrid Studio (think about RME totalmix).
First time with the interface:
After I solved all the installation troubles, licencing the interface, plugged it in to a switch (remember it's LAN-interface, not USB or therelike) and make it work in my Cubase was easy. I had instant sound coming out of Cubase after switching to the digigrid asio driver.
latency: 0.8ms (this is shown in the digigrid routing software). Digigrid told me that you have to add 2ms because of the converter in and output which totals at [email protected]/24bit. It will be less if you switch to higher sampling rates. Impressive. I could not feel any latency at all recording myself. Even the singer did not complain about latency. She told me that she could hear herself and the mix very well. Seems to be a good headphone amp built into the unit.
"For Native users of DiGiGrid IOS in low-latency monitoring mode, internal processing latency is 0.8 ms + the latency introduced by A/D and D/A convertors. No matter which native buffer parameters are set on your DAW, this is the round trip when you use the StudioRack and eMotion ST low-latency path:
A/D latency – less than 1 ms (see device manual for specific figures).
SoundGrid processing (StudioRack + eMotion ST mixer) – 0.8 ms.
Plugin latency – depends which plugins and how many of them are instantiated (consult this Waves plugin latency chart).
D/A latency – less than 1 ms (see device manual for specific figures)."
There is a mix button on each input channel to engage direct monitoring. Needs to be explored by yours truly George and will be added to this review soon.
I did listening sessions with my prefered soundfiles and compared it to my Antelope ZEN/Orion interfaces and the focusrite. Impressive again! the sound is clear, detailed, phantom mid is stable, you get a good portion of attack and you get the whole soundstage. you can clearly hear the reverbs and delays and listen trough the mix. It was even more precise then the antelope orion. The sound-image feels accurate and flat. Not a noteable pronounciation of any frequency area. One of my favourite interface and I heard a lot. I do prefer the mytek stuff in the bass area but that might be up to taste.
I recorded DI guitars and vocals for my new album. The handling is easy, the preamps are clean, accurate and have headroom. it's easy to find the sweetspot. Recording vocals was also a no-brainer. The artist was able to make his own playback mix and adjust the loudness on the interface. I tried the direct monitor feature and works flawlessly. Very low ASIO-CPU-usage! Good driver programming there at Waves/digigrid.
We did a rehearsal session in my studio, where we connected aero-drums (midi), 2 guitars, 2 vox (and the bass-player playing trough his amp) and the band members had totally new feelings concerning rehearsal. I was able to record it, very transparent, everybody was able to hear his instrument very well, everyone was happy. no hickups, no delays, practically no latency, great stuff. We will continue like this in the feature.
I might need more inputs. Digigrid told me that I can just buy an expansion interface, connect it to the network, it will show up in my Digigrid routing app and I can continue recording with much more channels the same way I did. Simply love the idea that you can connect stuff on your network, in independent rooms and just plug and play (the interfaces work with POE as well!).
this interface kills all the other stuff I tested in the <1000 euro range. Except the setup, it's straight forward, simple, just wonderful playback DA-part, monitoring built in, headphone monitoring built in, metering built in, 2 preamps, 2 line ins and a second line out for feeding the stereo signal for example into a mastering unit or do a second headphone mix or whatever.
I rarely get over something "new" and am all excited about it. This is such a unit. I have no clue why no one is talking about it on gearslutz or FB or whatever your preferred network is,... this product is killer. While I sound like your favourite vacuum-cleaner door dealer... "this is a fantastic product and maybe the best investment I did in a long time". Makes my workflow a lot easier and it's built forever (tank like.. like my TC G-System).
I will add more content to this review while I work with the unit.
[update]: I recorded guitar lines for 6 of my new own songs and let me tell you that my recordings sound better, my guitar playing (on the record) improved a lot because of the reduced latency and for whatever reason, the guitar emulation sounds better as well. Seems like the DiGiGrid is more advanced sampling DI-Guitars than my old focusrite.
I also use less compression and EQ on the vocal tracks than before.
Still very fukkin much impressed with the DA-quality of the interface.