RME Fireface UFX by RobAnderson
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.