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Old 13th September 2020
Gear Head
Mr.E's Avatar

If anyone happens to stumble across this in the future with a similar problem, I'll vaguely explain how I solved this riddle.

After reworking plans several times, making many phone calls and sending 200 emails, and much internet digging and head slamming, I found the best option was to get a mix of used and new gear.

I initially found that pretty much every dealer and manufacturer had reading problems and broken listening skills. Be prepared for that. Even if you explicitly state what you need to do, they will offer up some garbage hardware that will not work correctly, try to convince you to buy hardware that is overkill, or just blow you off. Because of this, I was basically on my own and dug through data sheets, videos, and old documents to figure out what would work together.

I acquired some used video ADCs and DACs and some new Blackmagic micro converters. A USB3 to HDMI converter will output uncompressed video from the Mac, but make sure the one you choose supports your formats, fps, codecs and host software. I also added a direct box to handle converting unbalanced and balanced audio to and from my interface's balanced I/O.

It was a bit more expensive and involved than I'd originally planned (and hoped), but the quality and flexibility of the system will be higher than expected and I can expand over time easily by swapping a micro converter with one that handles higher data rates. I also can ingest and output to and from various analog and digital sources at high quality now. The only missing piece, that I don't need until the future, is a quality time base corrector and frame sync.

The biggest bitch doing this (besides dealing with companies) is finding the used gear—which may be produced by alien brands unless you work in specific industries—catching deals, and getting replacement parts. Some companies that make this gear seem clueless to how their own products work and even referred me to resellers with outdated contact info.

To keep myself inspired (and maybe slightly tortured), I decided to make most of the new cables I need for this crazy project. It's a good excuse to get the tools, the experience and get a bit sluttier in the process. Hopefully, I will survive.