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Is the RME FF800 the best bang for the buck? Audio Interfaces
Old 15th November 2007
  #1
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Is the RME FF800 the best bang for the buck?

It's time to move up from my old M-Audio Delta 1010.

Way overdue actually...

My front end is a Neumann tube U47, x2 tube U67s, x2 KM184s, and various dynamics all into a pair of API 3124+ mic pres. I really don't need any more mic pres (with 8 channels of API) but for an 8 or 10 "analog in" unit the FF800 seems like the best deal out there.

Though there are nice 8-in 8-out type units without pres I can't seem to find anything that compares to the FF800 for the money. I hate investing in computer gear, as in the end the only safe money for the most part is in mics and pres.

Comments appreciated! Thanks.
Old 15th November 2007
  #2
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That's some expensive stuff on the front end.

I like mine personally. I've been toying with getting another.

I really don't see any point in spending more on AD / DA or less really...not until you have the clientelle lined up to warrant the expense. It's an excellent tool with some prosumer level pre's as extras and a highly underrated mixing software system that helps with output pads. The instrument line in is really flexible and creative too.

The only piece I'd choose above it would be the Lynx Aurora...but I know a lot of people love their Apogee, Mytek and Prism stuff too.
Old 15th November 2007
  #3
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The RME FF800 really is a good value. I seldom hear folks talking about how useful the mixer in that thing is. You have a (essentially) zero-latency mixer with 10 analog ins, 8 analog outs, 24 channels of ADAT IN and OUT, plus 24 playback channels from the computer, with independent send levels for every combination of input and output. It's very well built, and the drivers and support are great. And you have a decent future expansion path, since you can gang the units together, add timecode option, etc.

-synthoid
Old 15th November 2007
  #4
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Sinewave's Avatar
 

How do you guys rate the Converters of the FF 800 ?
Old 15th November 2007
  #5
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There was a lengthy thread about the FF's converters not long ago, in which they were compared to Apogees.

I'm afraid to touch this question, haha. The FF is not my favorite converter but I use it, it's perfectly good. I find it to be a little bit sterile. This is probably a taste thing, and the converter that I like the best is probably colored in a way that I simply find pleasing.

-synthoid
Old 15th November 2007
  #6
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I just got one...so I don't have TOO much experience but I'm liking it so far.

The manual is HUGE and by far the most detailed manual I've ever read - for any product, ever. I've learned more about how Firewire works and how PCs handle audio (there's a MacOS section as well, which doesn't apply to me) than just about anywhere else. It tells you exactly where FW's bandwidth will start to break up, how RME+FW handle transfer of audio information (and why it's not as effective as PCI cards), etc.

The drivers are also absolutely rock solid, which is much more of a real-world "professional" feature than any higher level of sound quality. Nice to not hear random pops/clicks and call tech support to figure out why all the electronics aren't playing nicely...

You're essentially paying $1500 for something that will handle just about all of the I/O you'd possibly want on a FW interface, along with 10 channels of AD/DA conversion that most people put on a level just below Apogee, and a latency free mixer to handle all the channels you could possible throw at it, etc.

I will say that if you're using a non-mobile system with a desktop...PCI cards seem like a better direction to go. The FF800 is great, but because of FW's limitations it will be limited compared to PCI interfaces. But for my laptop, I couldn't be happier with my FF800.

I will say that, since you already have all the pres you need, I would look into Echo Audio units as well. They get good reviews.
Old 15th November 2007
  #7
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I've been using mine for about 18 months. I like it. I installed the drivers and hooked it up and it worked right off the cuff with 2 8 channel ADAT pres connected to it. I haven't had one issue with it since.
Old 15th November 2007
  #8
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I should mention my old 2.6ghz Intel PC on a D865perl MB does not have Firewire. I will have to pull the Delta 1010 to free up a clean PCI slot for a Firewire card. I already run x2 UAD-1 cards.

Still, the RME looks like the way to go especically for the $. Thanks folks.
Old 15th November 2007
  #9
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Why not try the Presonus Firestudio and if you don't need adat get the Firestudio Project. Sounds very good.
Old 15th November 2007
  #10
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If you´re on a Mac I found the MetricHalo 2882 I/O to actually sound better than the RME stuff (FF800 + ADI8s) and their drivers and console/routing are just as good and reliable, they also have the DSP-version and some new stuff in the line!

really great company with great products and good support!! happy user here!


the next step up would def. be a Lynx Aurora, which in your case (with the quality of the front end) "could" actually make sense.....that´s up to your ears!

cheers tom
Old 15th November 2007
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geetarpicker View Post
I should mention my old 2.6ghz Intel PC on a D865perl MB does not have Firewire. I will have to pull the Delta 1010 to free up a clean PCI slot for a Firewire card. I already run x2 UAD-1 cards.

Still, the RME looks like the way to go especically for the $. Thanks folks.
For the money you can't go wrong with it. I also bought a new FW card when I got mine. Although a single FF800 uses 400 mbs, if you add one later you can take advantage of 800 mbs.

A good online source for quality FW cards is:
PCI Host Adapters :: FirewireDirect.com (Akumen Inc.)
Old 15th November 2007
  #12
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Don S's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by synthoid View Post
The RME FF800 really is a good value. I seldom hear folks talking about how useful the mixer in that thing is. You have a (essentially) zero-latency mixer with 10 analog ins, 8 analog outs, 24 channels of ADAT IN and OUT, plus 24 playback channels from the computer, with independent send levels for every combination of input and output. It's very well built, and the drivers and support are great. And you have a decent future expansion path, since you can gang the units together, add timecode option, etc.

-synthoid
Absolutely. The mixer and flexibility of the i/o is what makes this a fantastic box. Any input (or mix of any) can be sent to any output. I don't have to take a seperate mixer to feed signals to a back up recorder, PA, TV Camera or monitor. This is one of the few boxes that will allow 28 channels of i/o.
Old 15th November 2007
  #13
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Inner Light's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don S View Post
Absolutely. The mixer and flexibility of the i/o is what makes this a fantastic box. Any input (or mix of any) can be sent to any output. I don't have to take a seperate mixer to feed signals to a back up recorder, PA, TV Camera or monitor. This is one of the few boxes that will allow 28 channels of i/o.
what he said

I'm so enjoying the fireface800 in my setup. it's a swiss army knife. I have my h3000 patched up permanently and since I already have a midi interface, I use the fireface midi to control my H3000 in Nuendo, perfect for automation, my 1178 instant 2 buss, or drum buss compressor ready to go. Etc ETC
probably the best buy I've made! this year.
Old 15th November 2007
  #14
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I think the ff400 is the bang for the buck! Also 8 in 8 out (not only 4 in 4 out !!!! but 8)... only got 2 pre mice amps, and 1 adat channel. So if you wanna record higher than 44khz with more than 8 channels (using the adat input and another converter card): get the ff800... Or get two ff400's... (cause ADAT is restricted to 48khz, if you wanna use 8 channels. you can record at 96khz with only 4 channels)
Another difference: the headphone out is output 7/8 (stereo jack at the front), and it does not have a passive volume controller (I think the 800 can be set up to have one)

I love the ff400... it's the bang for the buck...

The 800 is nicer, if you have the money, or need 2 adat inputs...
Old 15th November 2007
  #15
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thermos's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomdarude View Post
If you´re on a Mac I found the MetricHalo 2882 I/O to actually sound better than the RME stuff (FF800 + ADI8s) and their drivers and console/routing are just as good and reliable, they also have the DSP-version and some new stuff in the line!

really great company with great products and good support!! happy user here!


the next step up would def. be a Lynx Aurora, which in your case (with the quality of the front end) "could" actually make sense.....that´s up to your ears!

cheers tom
Not to me they don't. I did a head to head with the Metric Halo 2882 and the Fireface, and the Fireface definitely won hands down. The A/D headroom on the 2882 was abysmal I found. That being said, I didn't love the Fireface's conversion, especially the A/D (the D/A was better). I would probably get the Apogee Ensemble at that pricepoint.
I have a Lynx Aurora, and it is a step up from all the above mentioned. I just got an Apogee Duet (same guts as an Ensemble) and it is very nice, especially given the price. From my limited testing the Aurora is still a better converter.

It makes sense, with the level of gear you have on the front end to invest in a nice set of converters. Otherwise you'll be wondering what upgrades sound like. I went through around 8 interfaces before getting the Auroras. I can finally think about something else now, as I am totally satisfied.
Old 15th November 2007
  #16
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The Lynx Aurora sounds interesting. I guess you need to get their PCI card to make it work in a DAW? I found the Aurora 8 for about $2k, and then another $700 or so for the PCI card and XLR breakout cables. The XLR kit would nicely connect directly to my APIs.

It's more expensive, but a thought as it might be more inline with my other front end gear. Also, I don't need any more mic pres and have no issues with putting all the money into a straight interface without pres.

That is IF something like the Lynx would really being noticably nicer sounding in the AD - DA department.

Just checked and IF I could live with just 6 ins I could get a Lynx Two-C for around a grand...
I also here it may be tricky to get the Lynx up and running with Sonar 5 my current software.

Hmmm... but we are talking about double the price+ as I have standing deal offered to me on a new RME 800 for $1259 new.
Old 15th November 2007
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thermos View Post
Not to me they don't. I did a head to head with the Metric Halo 2882 and the Fireface, and the Fireface definitely won hands down. The A/D headroom on the 2882 was abysmal I found. That being said, I didn't love the Fireface's conversion, especially the A/D (the D/A was better). I would probably get the Apogee Ensemble at that pricepoint.
I have a Lynx Aurora, and it is a step up from all the above mentioned. I just got an Apogee Duet (same guts as an Ensemble) and it is very nice, especially given the price. From my limited testing the Aurora is still a better converter.

It makes sense, with the level of gear you have on the front end to invest in a nice set of converters. Otherwise you'll be wondering what upgrades sound like. I went through around 8 interfaces before getting the Auroras. I can finally think about something else now, as I am totally satisfied.
Which sample rate do you use, or at which sample rate did you do the shoot out?
Old 15th November 2007
  #18
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thermos's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flying_Dutchman View Post
Which sample rate do you use, or at which sample rate did you do the shoot out?
I was doing I think 48k. I know those boxes sound better at higher sample rates, but honestly a good converter shouldn't sound that different between sample rates. The Aurora sounds great even at 44.1.

I had a real problem with headroom on the 2882 on the way in when tracking drums. I was using external pres and got distortion before my interface showed overs. Not only that, but the clarity wasn't the same as the FF800. Even the client I was doing drums for noticed a difference when I switched to the FF. The FF800 was a good box, don't get me wrong.

To the original poster, you can just buy the Lynx firewire card to run with the Aurora. But I think the AES card is a better way to go, as it provides sychrolock which sounds better than just using the internal clock on the Aurora. When using the Aurora as the masterclock with synchrolock engaged, it sounds very nice.
Old 16th November 2007
  #19
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Thanks folks! I ended up ordering a RME FF800 today. I'm sure an Aurora or Rosetta would have been VERY nice, but I bet the FF will make me wonder why I didn't upgrade sooner to at least this level of box.
Old 16th November 2007
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thermos View Post
I was doing I think 48k. I know those boxes sound better at higher sample rates, but honestly a good converter shouldn't sound that different between sample rates. The Aurora sounds great even at 44.1.

I had a real problem with headroom on the 2882 on the way in when tracking drums. I was using external pres and got distortion before my interface showed overs. Not only that, but the clarity wasn't the same as the FF800. Even the client I was doing drums for noticed a difference when I switched to the FF. The FF800 was a good box, don't get me wrong.

To the original poster, you can just buy the Lynx firewire card to run with the Aurora. But I think the AES card is a better way to go, as it provides sychrolock which sounds better than just using the internal clock on the Aurora. When using the Aurora as the masterclock with synchrolock engaged, it sounds very nice.
Ok, thanks.
I think that the Fireface is really good at 88.2 or 96k, compared to its lower sample rates. So the highend converters get better results at lower sample rates, ok, thats great. But if i decide to work at 96k, do you think the upgrade to aurora still makes sence?
Old 16th November 2007
  #21
R3k
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Quote:
Originally Posted by synthoid View Post
There was a lengthy thread about the FF's converters not long ago, in which they were compared to Apogees.

And the FF800 was preferred by most, no joke, thats what I remember.. I know I did... It was a blind test.


Anyhow, on the original post.

We run 3 of them.


I would not use another sound card at all, except an RME one. Stability, mixer, support, quality, you name it, all top notch.

If I want esoteric pres and or converters, I use outboard. At the moment I use the RME convertes which I do like, with outboard pres. If I went totally high end, then id probably just add some converters and run them into the FF800's adat pipes.
Old 16th November 2007
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miqer View Post
I think the ff400 is the bang for the buck! Also 8 in 8 out (not only 4 in 4 out !!!! but 8)... only got 2 pre mice amps, and 1 adat channel.
Yeah, it's great as well.

Another thing that is seldom mentioned about these boxes: they are outstanding MIDI interfaces, in terms of timing (latency and jitter of MIDI event timing). I ran a bunch of tests of various MIDI interfaces when I was searching for one that would let me put my blessed MPC4000 out to pasture, and the FF800 and FF400 mopped the floor with anything else I could get my hands on. It's timing was, in a word, as good as the MPC's (when paired with Logic 8). The FF manual says about 1ms of jitter and you can verify it easily by measurement (that's roughly 1 tick at 960ppqn and 60bpm).

The FF400 has 2 MIDI ins and 2 MIDI outs! It's kind of a bummer that the FF800 has fewer... Oh well, gotta stock up on some small ones and some big ones. heh

-synthoid
Old 16th November 2007
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sinewave View Post
How do you guys rate the Converters of the FF 800 ?
on a scale of 1 to 10 I would say 3 or 4
from my listening tests. ofcourse this is subjective
and I don't want to flame

1. Behringer
2. Mbox
3. Motu/RME
4. Protool HD
5. lynx
6. mytek
7. cransong/apogee
8. UA 2192 /radar classic/Radar 96/lavry
9. 10. weiss/prism/radar s-nyquist

for rock music I liked the UA or radar nyquist the best
Old 18th November 2007
  #24
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OK, now I will need to get a Firewire pci card to plug into my Intel D865perl mother board.

Anyone try the Lacie Firewire 400 as opposed to the 800 version of this card mentioned on the RME site? I'd rather go with a cheap 400 card, as with one unit 400 should work fine and the FF800 comes with a 400 cord in the box.

Or, anyone know of a 400 card that works in this application with my MB?

?
Old 18th November 2007
  #25
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deve's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by allencollins View Post
on a scale of 1 to 10 I would say 3 or 4
from my listening tests. ofcourse this is subjective
and I don't want to flame

1. Behringer
2. Mbox
3. Motu/RME
4. Protool HD
5. lynx
6. mytek
7. cransong/apogee
8. UA 2192 /radar classic/Radar 96/lavry
9. 10. weiss/prism/radar s-nyquist

for rock music I liked the UA or radar nyquist the best
nice list
Old 29th November 2007
  #26
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Apogee better than Mytek? No way.
Old 30th November 2007
  #27
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I have an FF800 and it is one of the best purchases I've ever made, I have never had an issue with it and I currently own a POS computer. Very impressive if you ask me.
cam
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