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Are there any professional audio interfaces to just drive a surround system? Audio Interfaces
Old 10th October 2008
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Are there any professional audio interfaces to just drive a surround system?

I don't work in a music studio, but I am a full-time in house sound designer working on AAA games.

In our profession, most of our recording is done in Foley rooms or with portable recorders, but we still need to design in the DAW, output to 5.1 and mix trailers with professional quality. To me, this means low noise floor, 24/96 (or higher, but not essential), low failure rate of equipment (must be robust too), good customer support, low latency, etc. You guys know what makes for good equipment.

I've looked at a few options. I really like the RME Fireface 400, but the Audio Director here doesn't want to spend the money for it which, to me, seems foolish... but sometimes you can't teach old dogs new tricks. He still thinks mixing a game means loading individual .WAV files in Audition and manually gaining them.

Then I looked at the Edirol UA 101 which I hear is a nice piece of gear for the price, but it's way more I/O than I need (10x10).

The closest thing I've seen to what I'm looking for is M-Audio's Firewire 410 which is 2x8 and can output 24/96, but it's a P.O.S. from what I've read in the reviews and sounds like crap.

Can you guys think of anything that's worth looking into? I'm pretty set on getting the Blue Sky 5.1 Media Desk for monitors and we've got nice computers here (USB 2.0 firewire, ASIO drivers, 4 GB of RAM, etc), it's just getting an audio interface. Basically, I need it to be of high enough quality that I can create professional assets, do MIDI I/O and drive a 5.1 system at 24/96. Any other inputs above and beyond that aren't as important.

Oh, and we use Sony Vegas. Not Pro Tools.

Thanks!
Old 12th October 2008
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pfraser View Post
Sorry, off topic, but need music for your games? I'm looking for gigs.
No, we've got that covered. I just need an audio interface...
Old 12th October 2008
  #3
Gear Guru
 
Ethan Winer's Avatar
 

I use a Presonus FireBOX for mixing 5.1 surround though a consumer grade receiver and it works great.

--Ethan
Old 12th October 2008
  #4
R3k
Gear Maniac
 
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We have three surround setups here.

All three, the surround mixing takes place inside our DAW software, with the ouboard hardware I am about to describe takes care of monitoring.

2 of the setups are a RME Fireface 800 as our soundcard. We output 6 channels from our Daw. It gets sent out the Fireface via ADAT into a RME ADAT to AES/EBU Converter, and then we run the AES cable into a 5.1 Dynaudio Air monitoring system. One setup has Air-6's, the other Air-15's.

The Air series include their own D/A , and most importantly come with a remote control and surround software, so they handle all levels, the bass management and calibration themselves. No need for a separate monitoring box. The D/A is excellent too.

The Air system is one of the best 5.1 deals around.

For the last setup, we went the cheapest professional option I could find, which is using a Blue Sky BMC Mk2. This is a 5.1 Bass Management controller. We run FF800 analog out into the BMC, and the BMC runs 5.1 analog out to our monitors. The BMC controls volume, calibration, and bass management.

As you are getting a Blue Sky Media Desk system, your best bet would be the Blue Sky BMC Mk2 5.1 controller.. a 5.1 media desk system comes with it i think. That said, if you only want to know about the audio interface, it really doesn't matter 5.1 wise, as long as you can output 6 channels of analog. Its all about budget.

Hope this helps
_R3k
Old 13th October 2008
  #5
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Hey Ethan and R3k. Thanks for the replies.

Man, those Dynaudio's look nice, but there's no way my audio director is going to spring for those. To a certain extent, I would agree with him since we're mostly creating SFX which doesn't require as much clarity as when making music. After all, even if you make the perfect sound effect, you can only give the computer a loose set of parameters with which to automatically mix them in the game as it's played. There's no way to account for every conceivable permutation of simultaneous events, so the mix is never going to be perfect anyway. Game trailers and cutscenes are the one area where linear, locked audio occurs...but we can probably do with Bluesky's in that regard. But I digress.

Anyways, that said - I like your idea of routing the audio interface (I'll probably use the Presonus Firebox Ethan reccomended) to the BMC which, if I'm understanding you correctly, has individual analog outs that go directly to the monitors? Are these XLR outputs?

That will probably do us just fine.

Thanks again.
Old 13th October 2008
  #6
Gear Guru
 
Ethan Winer's Avatar
 

The FireBox has 1/4 inch outputs. Not sure if they're balanced or not because I send them to the analog inputs of a consumer grade receiver.

--Ethan
Old 13th October 2008
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
The FireBox has 1/4 inch outputs. Not sure if they're balanced or not because I send them to the analog inputs of a consumer grade receiver.
What receiver? Just curious...
Old 13th October 2008
  #8
Gear Guru
 
Ethan Winer's Avatar
 

It's a Pioneer that cost $150 at Costco. I forget the model, and I'm too lazy to walk downstairs to look it up. It's actually quite a fabulous receiver with 100 real watts per channel. But my speakers are all powered so I use only the line inputs and outputs, other than the digital cables to decode Dolby and DTS from my DVD player and cable TV box.

If the exact model really matters, ask again and I'll go look. heh

--Ethan
Old 13th October 2008
  #9
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
It's a Pioneer that cost $150 at Costco. I forget the model, and I'm too lazy to walk downstairs to look it up. It's actually quite a fabulous receiver with 100 real watts per channel. But my speakers are all powered so I use only the line inputs and outputs, other than the digital cables to decode Dolby and DTS from my DVD player and cable TV box.

If the exact model really matters, ask again and I'll go look. heh

--Ethan
Nah, it's all good. I don't need a receiver for this solution, I'm just a gear nerd and was curious. Thanks again for the replies.
Old 15th October 2008
  #10
Lives for gear
 
KeithMoonwannabe's Avatar
 

Focusrite Saffire is about $300 and is designed to send surround sound out. It's a simple input/output interface but the quality is terrific imo better than the PreSonus and other similarly priced units.

I've been thinking about picking up the Saffire LE or regular Saffire to use as a mobile/practice interface so I don't have to lug around my PRO 10 i/o.

And if you decide to use it for scratch tracks or basic recording the preamps are quite good as are the bundled plugins. So you have some expandability should you need it. My pro 10 io has terrific converters.
Old 15th October 2008
  #11
R3k
Gear Maniac
 
R3k's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by memeories View Post
Hey Ethan and R3k. Thanks for the replies.



Anyways, that said - I like your idea of routing the audio interface (I'll probably use the Presonus Firebox Ethan reccomended) to the BMC which, if I'm understanding you correctly, has individual analog outs that go directly to the monitors? Are these XLR outputs?

That will probably do us just fine.

Thanks again.
Hi.

Yes, the BMC is a 1 u 19'' rack unit, with 6 XLR ins and 6 XLR Outs, and also a breakout 'controller' unit that sits on your desk, and acts as volume control and all other settings and presets.

Simply run 6 Analog outs to the BMC from your soundcard, and 6 lines from there to your speakers. Everything is then controlled via the tabletop unit, such as volume, and bass management. By bass management, I mean thus...... these are some settings that you will use while monitoring through the unit:

True 5.1 (no management) - The outputs of your soundcard go directly to the repective speaker.. Eg, Out 5 Will go to Centre, Out 6 will go to Sub

2.1 - same as above, but muting C, LS, and RS.

Bass Managed 2.1 - you send out a stereo mix via outputs 1 & 2, and the BMC runs a low cut over the stereo mains and sends the low frequncies to the sub. For when you want to use a sub with stereo material.

Bass Managed 5.1 - i think this is possible with the BMC, it is the same as above, but with 5 channels.

The exact Bass managed crossover frequency should be selectable from the unit, 80hz or 50hz etc, depending upon what works better for you.

Of course, sending out normal stereo mixes via outputs 1 & 2 will play your stereo speakers as normal.

I agree the unit is your best bet, and im very sure that it will work for all your needs.

P.s. I have no affiliation with blue sky, nor do i necessarily have a good or bad opinion regarding the company at large ;-)
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