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Help me pick a recording setup: Cranborne 500R8 vs interface + outboard vs console Audio Interfaces
Old 6 days ago
  #31
Lives for gear
Something often gets forgotten in discussions of new gear. Not much of the 500 gear is ergonomically user friendly. Maybe I’m unusually clumsy, but I haven’t found any 500 gear, other than some very simple preamps, that allow me to easily see and manipulate the knobs and switches. I don’t want the layout and size of the control elements to be an impediment to efficient workflow. To be honest, I have already sold some regular sized rack units that I liked for sound, because the physical experience of using them was so unpleasant. That makes me very leery of investing in a 500 rack, which will house devices that have even more compact and packed control surfaces than the full-sized gear.
Old 6 days ago
  #32
Quote:
Originally Posted by jgstarcaster View Post
To sum up here - I don't feel any closer after all these responses to choosing the Cranborne or an interface. Not much discussion of interfaces in posts here.

I'm in Norway, so you can assume everything costs roughly 25% more than in the US. So for example, the Metric Halo LIN-8 and Apogee Symphony Mk2 have been recommended to me, but both are more than $4,000 here. Is there something very high quality (assuming I'm using outboard pres and mostly just want nice converters and the ability to route more than just 2 channels in/out at a time for processing) that's more affordable than these?

Perhaps Cranborne does make the most sense, but I'm not clear on how to expand inputs via ADAT or some other means so that I'm not plugging non-500 preamps into just empty slots on the CA.

Also not sure if for example 2x Chroma is really the same as the Silver Bullet. How can one match these for example for stereo processing? I'm totally unfamiliar with 500 gear and don't own any. Can one expect 500 gear to sound as nice as the equivalent rack unit version? Is it really just a more affordable option for a lot of nice outboard stuff? Part of what I'm looking for here is the ability to have and physically handle outboard gear for the tactile experience of it, so more physical surface area is a plus for me. Seems like maybe the 500 stuff can be a bit cramped to use. But I've never owned any so I can't speak from experience.
I’d go with the Cranborne, but I also recommend iD22. It’s unbeatable for the cost, or for anything within $1k or so for that matter. Top notch. 2x4 analog IO and 10x14 total of quality ADDA and the best monitoring function you’ll see period. That said pretty much any newer interface ~1k+ is not going to sound bad. And the Cranborne specs a little higher so I’m willing to bet it’s quality/clear ADDA, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy it.

ADAT is a digital protocol. You can expand your IO with an ADAT converter. I use the Aphex 141 to get an additional 8 DA channels on my iD22 rig. There are numerous AD’s and ADDA ADAT boxes too. You can expand the Cranborne system with the Cranborne ADAT 500 rack/summing mixer thing. That would be awesome!

You have routing freedom with the Cranborne to make chains out of your 500 series units in the rack (eg pre>comp>EQ) and assign the last unit in your chain to record in your DAW. No worries. I don’t see what is limiting about it?

The Chroma is a bit of a different thing. It is the first section of the pre from the Silver bullet. Exactly the same according to LTL. You get “A” OR “N” you do not get the ability to cascade the two, BUT you have a Colour circuit following that. Colour is a modular format which supports dozens of different audio circuits currently, most of which reside in the saturation/“mojo” category, but there are many more. You can put IMPLODE which is LTL’s 1176 clone on a Colour card. It is what is in their Mr. Focus COMP I mentioned. So it’s a different thing. It’s AWESOME! Anyway, from there you have some of the EQ and filter options from the Silver Bullet in fixed settings. Same, but in an on or off format, not the flexibility of variable control like on the SB. So it’s kind of like a mini SB, it has heritage from it, but it’s really it’s own thing.

AFA 500 series being clumsy or awkward, I think that’s silly. It’s small yes, but I have no problems personally.
Old 6 days ago
  #33
Gear Nut
 

Hey @jgstarcaster!

I'm Elliott, the Product Manager at Cranborne Audio - thought I'd chime in and hopefully answer some of your questions regarding 500R8 to hopefully help you on your way to finding an interface that works for you but most importantly get you making music ASAP!

First of all, thanks for your interest in 500R8, and for your great questions!

A good approach to help quantify the possibilities of 500R8 is to almost disregard the 500 series slots entirely and look at it purely as a:

- 28-in/30-out USB Audio Interface (with high-end conversion and reference-quality clock)
- 8 Channel ADDA Converter
- 8 Channel High-Headroom Summing Mixer
- 16-in/16-out ADAT Interface
- Monitor controller (with speaker A/B, Mono, Dim, Mute, and Talkback Facility)
- Dual-Channel Reference-Quality Headphone Mixer

Converter performance-wise we achieve 121dB (unweighted) signal-to-noise ratio and - 112dB THD+N on our ADC, whilst our DACs achieve 127dB (unweighted) signal-to-noise and -115dB THD+N. Our converters are also governed by an extremely accurate clock that features <0.5 picoseconds of Jitter, which is the same figure as a Cranesong Avocet (which is almost 3 times the price of a 500R8!).

We also do some clever things with our converters; unlike 99% of other audio interfaces, we are bypassing the converter’s built-in filters (having them on adds latency, processing load, and phase shift) and using filtration in the analogue stages instead (more costly, requires more expertise, but it’s the kind of expertise we have!).

500R8 also shares many of the same facilities as an Apollo, Quartet, Ensemble etc, however the approach we take to facilitating some of those areas is a little bit different. For example, our headphone mixer is driven using the analogue summing mixer for a true, zero-latency analogue cue/monitor mix that you can get your hands on when you need to adjust, whereas the Apollo etc creates its monitor sends in the digital domain using a software mixer. Our monitor controller is also all-analogue and controlled using dedicated, physical controls compared to the Apollo that uses a mixture of hardware switches and software panels.

Ultimately, whilst 500R8 looks like a 500-series rack, we have all of the same facilities as a high-end audio interface, but our approach is a lot more hands-on with an analogue feel - which many users (including ourselves!) quite like! It's quite nice to reach for a physical control rather than a mouse!

Another important factor to consider is that 500R8 can be used completely standalone without any 500 series modules inserted. Each of the 8 slots has a module bypass switch on the backplane connectors that can be engaged to bypass the slot.

Even when a slot is bypassed, the rear XLR, insert point, ADC, and summing mixer below is still operational so you can still connect external 19" preamps, EQ's, Compressors etc and still record directly into your DAW. Even if you bypassed all of the slots and forgot about the 500 series stuff entirely, 500R8 is a great high-end audio interface and line-level converter!

When you combine the powerful USB interface aspect of 500R8, with it’s fully customisable analogue signal path that leverages the 500 series, then it now starts to look like a bit more of a cooler product and alternative to any other audio interface.

You've mentioned that you only record a couple of channels at a time, and so 8 500 series slots may seem excessive, however something to bear in mind is that you can use the slots to build up processing chains. For example, if you were recording an acoustic guitar, you could insert a 500 series preamp into slot 1, EQ into slot 2, and compressor into slot 3 - and then CHAIN them together into a channel strip using 500R8's front panel 'CHAIN' switches. This allows you to easily configure a nice recording chain using up the slots available to you and get the most out of your audio in the 'analogue domain' before you record into your DAW. Its worth noting that in this configuration, you can still record the output of slots 1,2 and 3 individually to print a clean preamp signal, preamp+EQ signal, and a whole 3-slot chain so that you can 'undo' if needs be!

Whilst you may only record 2 to 4 channels at a time, 500R8 comes into its own during summing... Below each of the 500 series slots is a 'source' switch. This source switch assigns the input of the 500 series slots between 3 possible sources; ANLG (the rear-panel XLR), USB (the USB channel assigned to the slot), and the rear CAST input (which I wont cover in this post!) - I'm babbling on enough as it is

If you switch the source switches to USB, and send your DAW stems out of USB channels 1-8, you can then insert EQ's, compressors, saturation modules etc into the 500 series rack, pass your USB stems through those modules, through the rear insert point (for external 19" hardware etc), into the summing mixer, sum a stereo mix of that audio using the mix level and pan controls, and then re-record that stereo sum back into your DAW using 500R8's dedicated summing ADC's on USB channels 27/28... all using one box and a USB cable!



The 500 series in general does have a mixed reputation and unfortunately that is largely due to the amount of poorly designed 500 series products. We love the format ourselves as there is SO much choice... from DIY kits, to the big names, to boutique manufacturers offering incredible kit (I saw someone mention Louder Than Liftoff ), the possibilities are endless and there is no more cost effective way to build up a collection of analogue outboard than with the 500 series. And not to mention that I can fit more 500 series modules into my studio than I can 19” racks!

As I say, some manufacturers play a bit loose with the rules regarding the voltage and power delivery in their racks meaning that modules can have varying performance and the Noise/THD of some 500 series slots can increase the closer your module lives to the power supply... Our rack has buckets of voltage regulation per-slot and has 250mA supply + headroom to each slot. We also use an external power-supply to keep PSU emissions away from the audio rails. Ultimately, the 500 series is the perfect way to integrate analogue into your studio - provided the rack and modules you insert have been designed properly!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jgstarcaster View Post
Perhaps Cranborne does make the most sense, but I'm not clear on how to expand inputs via ADAT or some other means so that I'm not plugging non-500 preamps into just empty slots on the CA.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jgstarcaster View Post
Part of what I'm looking for here is the ability to have and physically handle outboard gear for the tactile experience of it, so more physical surface area is a plus for me. Seems like maybe the 500 stuff can be a bit cramped to use. But I've never owned any so I can't speak from experience.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jgstarcaster View Post
Also wondering how the 500R8 would work with external preamps - vis ADAT I guess? I've never used ADAT, and don't currently own any 500 gear.
ADAT is a bit of forgotten hero in the studio world! It's essentially free I/O that is injected into 500R8's USB interface. 500R8's USB channels 9-24 correspond with ADAT 1-16 and they are fed from 500R8's rear ADAT ports.

Companies like Focusrite, Audient, and ourselves make devices that accept analogue audio signals, convert them digital signals, encode them into ADAT, and then send those channels down a toslink cable, into the back of an audio interface - such as 500R8 - 8 channels at a time.

Traditionally, ADAT expansion would be used to attain more inputs for recording, however an ADAT expander with outputs can be used to integrate more analogue equipment into your setup. For example, you can send audio from your DAW out of ADAT OUT 1 and out of the output of the ADAT expander. You can then send that audio off into your desired piece of analogue gear, take the output of that processor, connect that back into the input on your ADAT expander, and then record that signal into your DAW via ADAT IN 1.

Not to plug another piece of gear that we make.... however 500ADAT works in the exact same way; Audio can be sent from your DAW, out of 500R8's ADAT Outputs, into 500ADAT and into its 500 series slots to be processed. The output of those slot are then converted into digital on 500ADAT (that shares the same digital performance as 500R8) sent down the ADAT OUT ports and into 500R8 for recording in your DAW. 

500R8 + 500ADAT = 16 channels of recording and 16 channels of analogue summing

You could also use 500ADAT in conjunction with an Apollo or other audio interface if you wanted integrate 500 series compatibility into your studio by using the unused ADAT ports on the back of your interface!

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrentA View Post
Last I saw Cranborne was on the fence about including spdif but if they do that would give you yet another 2 I/o, if you get a device to connect via spdif.
We were on the fence, but it is indeed back! Although none of the web images show it, I promise you it will be there on the final production models!

I really apologise for the long essay guys… and I don't want to clog the thread with Cranborne Cranborne Cranborne! But I hope that helps a little bit!? We kinda shot ourselves in the foot a little bit by shoehorning all of these features into a 500 series rack-like box!

Please let me know if you have any more questions! - promise I'll keep my responses under control next time!



Thanks all!

Ells
Old 5 days ago
  #34
Lives for gear
 

No Ellis we think you can babble as much as you like. Nothing like a good read.

Not many manufacturers tell it like it is and go into detail even if they have a good product.

Not in the 500 market myself but looks like you have some amazing products.

Cheers
Old 5 days ago
  #35
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ells View Post
If you switch the source switches to USB, and send your DAW stems out of USB channels 1-8, you can then insert EQ's, compressors, saturation modules etc into the 500 series rack, pass your USB stems through those modules, through the rear insert point (for external 19" hardware etc), into the summing mixer, sum a stereo mix of that audio using the mix level and pan controls, and then re-record that stereo sum back into your DAW using 500R8's dedicated summing ADC's on USB channels 27/28... all using one box and a USB cable!
Hi Ells - apologies if this has been covered before but is there any provision for inserts on the 2-buss there before ADC27/28 ?
Old 5 days ago
  #36
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutetourettes View Post
Hi Ells - apologies if this has been covered before but is there any provision for inserts on the 2-buss there before ADC27/28 ?
Hey mutetourettes!

Don't think I've been asked that yet - great question!

There is no provision for that on 500R8 as in order to retain the maximum signal integrity of the summing mixer and the ADC, we wanted to keep the path clean and free of insert points - also... we completely run out of space on the back panel!

If you’d like to sum your stems and pass it through some outboard on the way back-in then the most efficient way of doing so would be to sum the mix using your modules, record it back in via the summing mixer, and then pass the stereo mix back out through your desired stereo processing in another separate pass.

This method allows the most flexibility and also allows you to use not only the 500 series slots as a final bit of stereo processing but also the insert points dedicated to each slot to insert further 19” outboard processing onto the stereo mix.

All the while, you have your dry summed mixed incase you decide you were over exuberant with the bus comp!

As our conversion is so clean and our analogue stages have such low THD (0.0002-0.0003% THD), you aren't 'loosing' anything by running the mix through the modules for a second pass and whilst it is a second pass when time is money etc, it might be a safer bet!

Hope that helps mate!
Ells
Old 5 days ago
  #37
Gear Guru
I think the Cranbourne makes sense. Don't drive yourself crazy and 500 format is super flexible. I bought my stuff piecemeal and like stand alone recording importing into a DAW. I use a Sound Devices MixPre6 which has great pres and conversion. I have a UA 610 Solo and PBC6a comp for tracking and color. Works great, and in a pinch is a portable setup that I can set up anywhere (since rooms in my house have different sounds). Getting a controller, since I do record other people, and will make the transport less fiddly.

You will get gazillion opinions here, and probably most of them good. Great times we live in! My point is, figure out how you like to record, and base your decisions around that. I would concentrate on a great pre and conversion and then branch out. I do not use digital for anything but mixing and like to use a compressor going in to help my performance. I don't see the point to eq recording but that's just a personal preference. Obviously a great mic is the key! I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted and reading threads on here, very helpful. The minute I saw the Cranbourne offering i thought it'd be a winner and the Silver Bullet is versatile and comes from a great engineer. The reason I personally like the 610, is I find it versatile and you can crank the input for woolly, and use the impedence switches for more range. It can also record pretty clean and the PBC offers a few options and is dead simple to operate. Suits what I need and not for everyone, but I decided I like a simple recorder since I record myself (singer/songwriter) most often.....

Good luck!
Old 4 days ago
  #38
Gear Head
 

Hmm. I suppose I'm just on the fence in terms of price, then.

The Cranborne seems like the right choice for really high quality conversion. From what I'm understanding, you'd have to move up to Metric Halo or the Symphony or something similar to get the same kind of I/O with that level of conversion, but then you're looking at about twice the price.

For me, the Cranborne will be about $2,000 whereas MH or the Symphone would be $4,000.

Of course, I then have to add at the very least the Cranborne Camden and another mic pre to really get up and running.

The alternative is something like the Presonus DP88, Focusrite Clarett 8pre, etc., with some mic pre's built in to get started and what I assume is decent conversion for about $1,000 here.

I'm trying to think long term, as I'd like to hang onto this gear for a very long time and slowly build up a nice collection of outboard gear.

So, if a couple of people want to chime in to the effect that the cost of the Cranborne + a couple outboard preamps is going to mean significantly better and more interesting sound right out of the box (both in terms of preamps and converters) than, say, the Clarett or Presonus with their built-in pres, that would be nice to hear. It's just difficult for me because I've never been able to A/B this kind of gear in person, and there really isn't a suitable place to do so anywhere near me.

Also, as an aside I'd like to keep my budget for a condenser mic to around $1,000, and there's not a lot of variety available here in Norway for me to order and potentially return something if it doesn't work with my voice. The best option I've found that can actually be ordered and returned here is the Warm Audio WA47. Does anyone have another recommendation for something with a U47 sound? Every review I've read of the WA47 says it sounds exceptional and almost indiscernible from something in the $3,000+ range.

Lastly, I should add that while I plan to only typically record 1 or 2 tracks at a time, I also like to do a lot of vocal tracks in different ranges, harmonies, etc. Not uncommon for me to do 8 vocal tracks on a song. So I'm especially wondering if something like Cranborne Camden or Sebatron VMP or Avedis MA5 or WA73 other nice mic pre plus the 500R8 is going to produce an especially audible difference over something like the built in Presonus DP88 or Clarett pres + conversion when you're talking about stacking lots of vocal tracks.

Thanks.
Old 4 days ago
  #39
Quote:
Originally Posted by jgstarcaster View Post
Hmm. I suppose I'm just on the fence in terms of price, then.

The Cranborne seems like the right choice for really high quality conversion. From what I'm understanding, you'd have to move up to Metric Halo or the Symphony or something similar to get the same kind of I/O with that level of conversion, but then you're looking at about twice the price.

For me, the Cranborne will be about $2,000 whereas MH or the Symphone would be $4,000.

Of course, I then have to add at the very least the Cranborne Camden and another mic pre to really get up and running.

The alternative is something like the Presonus DP88, Focusrite Clarett 8pre, etc., with some mic pre's built in to get started and what I assume is decent conversion for about $1,000 here.

I'm trying to think long term, as I'd like to hang onto this gear for a very long time and slowly build up a nice collection of outboard gear.

So, if a couple of people want to chime in to the effect that the cost of the Cranborne + a couple outboard preamps is going to mean significantly better and more interesting sound right out of the box (both in terms of preamps and converters) than, say, the Clarett or Presonus with their built-in pres, that would be nice to hear. It's just difficult for me because I've never been able to A/B this kind of gear in person, and there really isn't a suitable place to do so anywhere near me.

Also, as an aside I'd like to keep my budget for a condenser mic to around $1,000, and there's not a lot of variety available here in Norway for me to order and potentially return something if it doesn't work with my voice. The best option I've found that can actually be ordered and returned here is the Warm Audio WA47. Does anyone have another recommendation for something with a U47 sound? Every review I've read of the WA47 says it sounds exceptional and almost indiscernible from something in the $3,000+ range.

Lastly, I should add that while I plan to only typically record 1 or 2 tracks at a time, I also like to do a lot of vocal tracks in different ranges, harmonies, etc. Not uncommon for me to do 8 vocal tracks on a song. So I'm especially wondering if something like Cranborne Camden or Sebatron VMP or Avedis MA5 or WA73 other nice mic pre plus the 500R8 is going to produce an especially audible difference over something like the built in Presonus DP88 or Clarett pres + conversion when you're talking about stacking lots of vocal tracks.

Thanks.

Assuming your hearing isn’t damaged and you ear is even mildly developed musically you WILL hear an improvement with a high end preamp. I’m using Hairball Lolas among other things, the Lolas being my best preamps, the difference is not subtle against the Audient preamps which are some of the best integrated pres you’ll find in an interface. So I highly recommend going the external 100% and the Cranborne is insanely cost effective. If you have the budget I say it’s a good way to go. In fact, if budget is a concern it doesn’t make sense to get an interface (~$1k) and a 500 rack(~$300 for something like the Heritage 4 space thing) when the Cranborne offers A LOT more functionality for little more $.

Last edited by chinesewhiteman; 4 days ago at 08:19 PM.. Reason: Typos
Old 4 days ago
  #40
Gear Maniac
 

I gotta say, that Cranborne 500ADAT kinda makes me tingle in my nether regions. I've been avoiding the 500 series stuff pretty much strictly because I had no good way of integrating a 500 rack without also purchasing additional ins/outs to make use of them. Having ADAT I/O on board is kind of awesome.

Then factor in all the on board routing options. Then factor in the summing capabilities.

Sheesh.

My hat's off, Cranborne. You've given me much to think about.

Edit: also, thanks to @Ells for being so participatory.

Last edited by Mag J; 4 days ago at 08:57 PM.. Reason: converting multiple hats to a "hat is" construction
Old 4 days ago
  #41
Gear Maniac
 
askomiko's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jgstarcaster View Post
The best option I've found that can actually be ordered and returned here is the Warm Audio WA47. Does anyone have another recommendation for something with a U47 sound?
How about Golden age project GA47? It's brand new so basically no user reports yet, but someone had it and liked it a lot.
Old 1 day ago
  #42
Lives for gear
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
I think buying a $2000-3000 interface off the bat would be a little bit pissing your money away

I would look at something in the $500-1000 range, then you can get some of the other fun stuff you want.

I would focus on monitoring and microphones. And instruments. Rack gear is fun but it's less of a concern. To me it comes later.

Other than a couple of really nice preamps, which you do in fact need.

EDIT: I just read the Cranborne posts. I can't advise on those since they are brand new and unproven. You can still buy separates in that price range.

Last edited by monkeyxx; 1 day ago at 12:56 AM..
Old 12 hours ago
  #43
Lives for gear
 
Quetz's Avatar
Have to agree with the above that monitoring, mics and room treatment should be at the top of the priority list.

But even if you bought a cheap interface at 500 and let's say you want a monitor controller, which you will, then that's another 300 or so, and a 500 series rack which will run you close to a thousand for a good one with decent power supply, and you've already spent more than the Cranborne, which also gives you a summing mixer and hi-spec clock.

For me, the R8 is the best investment/gives the best value for money and you will not need to upgrade core assets (conversion/clock/chassis etc) for a long time.

You can easily expand it with cheaper adat units for normal I/O.

You asked about how I had things set up earlier but I forgot to reply.

So the centrepiece is (when it arrives.. ) the R8.
I have nearfields and grotboxes that will run off the monitor outs on the R8 and that gives me speaker switching, dim, mono etc.

I've got two Golden Age Project Comp 554s (500 series) that will take up four slots of the R8, and I've got two Klark Teknik EQP-KTs that are fed to/from the R8.
For controllers I have a Behringer X Touch Universal and an extender, and then I have a Softube Console 1 which gives me hardware channel select functions and EQ control, controlling either the SSL 4000E strip built in, or UAD plugins, Softube plugins, or a mixture of all 3.

I have a UAD Satellite Quad and a good selection of plugs, including lots of non-UAD stuff.
I'm not looking to go OTB, but wanted some nice analogue touches on the mixbus and to have some interesting hardware to run whatever through.

I will still use the new UAD Pultec alongside the KTs, and will have a soft plug on the mixbus (bx_digital V3) as well as the hardware etc.

I love the versatility and instance count of soft, but having a few choice hardware pieces never hurt anybody
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