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New setup question Audio Interfaces
Old 10th April 2008
  #1
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New setup question

Is anyone using at least 16 inputs of firewire interfaces succesfully? How? Which cards? What sample rate? I am tryng to get my MOTU 896HD and 828mk3 to play well together and I feel like I am in soundcard hell!!! I am starting to miss my Delta 1010's!!!

Thanks,
Old 10th April 2008
  #2
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I am....sort of.

i am using an 8-channel firewire interface with another 8-channels via ADAT lightpipe.

My primary IF is an FW-1884 with a Digimax as an extension.

I run this setup 'professionally', and have been for quite some time now. I regularly track all 16 at the same time. In fact, I push it pretty damned hard and it never, never screws up. I hope to GOD I'm not jinxing it. But I've never been embarrassed in front of a client by this setup.

Also, given the features of the 1884, this setup allows for 0 latency monitoring for beds and overdubs.

I am glad you brought this up. I've been thinking about 'upgrading' to a whole different setup lately. Not because there is anything wrong with mine...in fact i absolutely love it...but I am maxed out. I want to add more tracks and do things a little differently. I was considering the MOTU HD stuff....maybe I'll wait to see how things pan out for you.

If there is anything i can do, or if you have any questions, please feel free to ask.
Old 10th April 2008
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Thanks Mike. The next thing I am going to try is to see if anyone I know has an external clock and try to clock them to it. It's getting very frustrating. I too record other artists, but for the time being I don't know if I would want to given the state of things. Unfortunately MOTU is no help and of course Microsoft... well, I wouldn;t even bother calling them, they would have no clue
Old 10th April 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tazman View Post
Thanks Mike. The next thing I am going to try is to see if anyone I know has an external clock and try to clock them to it. It's getting very frustrating. I too record other artists, but for the time being I don't know if I would want to given the state of things. Unfortunately MOTU is no help and of course Microsoft... well, I wouldn;t even bother calling them, they would have no clue
How do you have them set up? Are you using them with the PCI card? Are you using them as 2 separate entities, or are they set up as a primary and extension (like mine)?


I am on XP Pro as well and I use SONAR7. I am extremely adept at setup and optimization (I am an IT Director by day and have been in IT 'engineering' for 15 years). I am happy to try to help in any way.

Also...external clocks are typically never the answer here. In fact, according to stuff I've read from G. Massenburg, external clocks are a bit of a problem and that you are typically always better off using your interface's internal clock. I am NOT prepared to argue this with any one smarter than me...I am just repeating what I've read AND passing along what I've experienced. I tried running 2 interfaces with an external clock once and it was a disaster. Once I went to using my primary interface's internal clock and extending my inputs with ADAT (substitute AES, SPDIF, or whatever), everything has been rock solid!
Old 10th April 2008
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I too am running SONAR 7.02. The units are connected via firewire using the firewire as the means of sync'ing. I have not used the ADAT because the 896HD does not support SMUX therefore losing 4 inputs when I record at 96kHz.
Old 10th April 2008
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tazman View Post
I too am running SONAR 7.02. The units are connected via firewire using the firewire as the means of sync'ing. I have not used the ADAT because the 896HD does not support SMUX therefore losing 4 inputs when I record at 96kHz.
I am in the same, exact situation. the 1884 does not support SMUX either. When I record at 88.2, I can only record up to 12 tracks. I record at 48 FAR more, so it was a fair trade for me.

Like I said before, trying to use 2 interfaces was a nightmare! When I moved to ADAT, the stability went through the roof! I can't break this thing no matter how hard I try heh

the lower channel count at higher sample rates is the very reason I've been looking at upgrading. MOTU was what I was looking at for this...maybe I will look elsewhere. I didn't know the 896 didn't support SMUX! I ultimately want up to 24 channels at 96k, but I'll take 16 for now. I might look at the Lynx stuff again, then and build slowly instead of all at once (16 channels at a time).

If you can stand either: A - recording @ 48k, or B - losing 4 channels - I bet you can get your setup rock solid very easily!
Old 10th April 2008
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I'll give ADAT a try. The alternative woul dbe to get 2 828mk3's. That would provide you with 16 inputs at 96. But you need extra pre's if you were planning on using the 896HD's pres.
Old 10th April 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tazman View Post
I'll give ADAT a try. The alternative woul dbe to get 2 828mk3's. That would provide you with 16 inputs at 96. But you need extra pre's if you were planning on using the 896HD's pres.
Let me know how it works out. I'll look closer at 2 mkIIIs, thanks. This is a great interest to me!

PS - I use 100% outboard preamps and channel strips already. I rarely use any onboards, although the 1884's preamps are discreet transistor preamps that do sound quite good. I'm fortunate to have close to 20 outboard preamps to choose from. I'll need to grab a few more when I make it to 24 inputs (which is my ultimate goal), but I'm at least set for now. Regardless, I am still thinking of getting another 4-channels for additional flavor options. Can't decide between the API, Daking or starting a lunchbox and trying some of the available 500 series offerings
Old 10th April 2008
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I am running 8 channels of Seventh Circle Audio pres and couldn't be happier. I have 4 A12's, 2 N72's and 2 J99's.

What I like about the mk3 is the built in DSP, mostly the reverb for tracking. I don't like to use effects on the way in, but I will say that I tried to record some bass the other day using the LA2A emulation in the mk3 and I was happily surprised. Really smooth. It also has a built in compressor that is not too bad. The EQ is ok, but I never use it.

24 inputs eh? That's quite a few. I usually end up using 12-14, but I guess if I had more...
Old 10th April 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tazman View Post
I am running 8 channels of Seventh Circle Audio pres and couldn't be happier. I have 4 A12's, 2 N72's and 2 J99's.

What I like about the mk3 is the built in DSP, mostly the reverb for tracking. I don't like to use effects on the way in, but I will say that I tried to record some bass the other day using the LA2A emulation in the mk3 and I was happily surprised. Really smooth. It also has a built in compressor that is not too bad. The EQ is ok, but I never use it.

24 inputs eh? That's quite a few. I usually end up using 12-14, but I guess if I had more...
Yeah, there have been times when I've wanted to use 12 mics on a drum setup. Here is a typical tracking scenario for me that could warrant 24 channels:

Drums - 12
Percussion (tambourine, etc) -1
Bass - 2 (1 mic on the cab and a DI track)
Guitar - 2 (i pretty much always put 1 mic on the front and 1 on the back of the cab)
Guitar #2 - 2
keys/piano/organ - 2
Vox (scratch?) - 1

That is 22, but I could probably find a way to use the others.

the last full band i tracked could EASILY have been set up like that. We did a lot of overdubs for things they would have preferred to track live!

Thanks for the info on the preamps. I've looked at the 7th Circle stuff too, but not as closely. Did you do the DIY thing?

So, the mk3 converters are pretty good? I like to mix with outboard too. Is the DA as goos as the AD? I could definitely see the reverb being a GREAT tool for tracking vox!

How do you have monitoring set up. Do you use 0 latency, like me. In my case, the 1884 is also an analog board...and actual analog board. The ADAT extension becomes part of the board because it is a digital hybrid. As such, When tracking and overdubbing, monitoring can be done right off of the board, before it ever touches the AD converter.

Is something similar available with the MOTU stuff?
Old 10th April 2008
  #11
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MOTU provides Cuemix which is a great applet to control the routing of the inputs and outputs for zero latency. The only draw back is that with firewire cards, you cannot monitor the output of one card thorugh the other one unless you connect them via ADAT .

The way I monitor I do use the zero monitoring provided by the MOTU Cuemix application. One way I have goteen around the ADAT monitoring is by using a separate mixer to which I feed the outputs of both soundcards and then I route the mixer to the headphone distribution.

The AD DA of the 828mk3 is really good, I have no complaints at all.
Old 11th April 2008
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yesterday I got a word clock cable and slaved the 896HD to the 828mk3. I didn't have too much time to experiment and will do more today. Things did appear to be snappier, but I can't say for sure until I do more testing. One of the problems is that I cna't find anywhere whether or not the MOTU cards need to be terminated or if they are internally terminated. I will disconnect the firewire to the 896HD today and see if it still clocks using the BNC. That should, I hope, tell me if the BNC clocking is working or not.
Old 11th April 2008
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tazman View Post
yesterday I got a word clock cable and slaved the 896HD to the 828mk3. I didn't have too much time to experiment and will do more today. Things did appear to be snappier, but I can't say for sure until I do more testing. One of the problems is that I cna't find anywhere whether or not the MOTU cards need to be terminated or if they are internally terminated. I will disconnect the firewire to the 896HD today and see if it still clocks using the BNC. That should, I hope, tell me if the BNC clocking is working or not.
I'm surprised that there isn't a setting on the driver applet to set the clocking. Tascam has a drop-down on their driver applet that lets me set the clocking...

Good luck and let me know.
Old 11th April 2008
  #14
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There is a drop sown but it's global for all MOTU interfaces. I have to set it to 828 internal since it's the clock master, but I can't set the 896HD, so I assume it automagically switches to BNC as priority.
Old 14th April 2008
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I decided to go with the Lynx Aurora16 and AES16 card. I still have inthe back of my mind the MOTU HD192 (2 of them), but I think 16 inputs should be plenty. So far with most bands that has sufficed.
Old 15th April 2008
  #16
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Hey Manthe, are you wanting to stay firewire? You may want to look at the Lynx converters. And when the new firmware is released, you'll be able to add another 16 channels of ADAT to give you 32 total channels.
Old 15th April 2008
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tazman View Post
Hey Manthe, are you wanting to stay firewire? You may want to look at the Lynx converters. And when the new firmware is released, you'll be able to add another 16 channels of ADAT to give you 32 total channels.
The Lynx stuff is at the top of my list. I've been thinking very hard about the Aurora 16. My biggest fear is that there will not be a difference big enough to emotionally justify the cost. Even though converter quality is not the reason I'm changing...it is channel count, but I want to do it right and that is going to cost me quite a bit!
Old 15th April 2008
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The way I finally justified it is that I too want to get up to 24 or even 32 tracks. With the Aurora I will be limited to 16 at first, but if they release the firmware update I will be able to add to it. I decided to go with the Aurora16 because I am changing my studio and with the Aurora16 I should be set for quite a while to come.

You may want to consider the HD192's. For the same price you will get 24 inputs and Cuemix. The converters won't be on par with the Lynx, but that may not matter to you. I just didn't want to regret not having spent a few extra dollars now. Especially cause the gear I get drives the rest of the potential gear so the cost will compound (at least in my case).
Old 16th April 2008
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hey Manthe, one of the things that I am going to try is to run both the Lynx card and the 896HD (firewire). If it works correctly, that would also solve your issue. In my case I will use the Lynx for all the tracks unless I need extra, then I can kick in the 896HD. The 896HD also has ADAT, so that would potentially alloe me to connect 8 more inputs for a total of 32. (wordclock would be a nightmare to figure out since I don't have an external generator). The 896HD also has AES/EBU (2 channels).

I will let you know once I get everything hooked up...
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