Which I/O expander to go with? Opinions wanted.

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bradkë
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Which I/O expander to go with? Opinions wanted.

Post by bradkë » Sun May 10, 2009 1:21 am

I currently have a MOTU 828mk3 and am looking to expand my I/O because all channels are used up.

Looking for something to connect with ADAT optical cable. Opinions on anything in particular you guys are using?

Looking at:

MOTU 8Pre - http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/8pre

Presonus DigiMAX FS - http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/DigiMaxFS

or something by Focusrite, maybe OctoPre or something. - http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/OctoPre


Thanks for any insight or experience with these or any others I've left out.
Roland Juno-106, TR-707, SDE-1000 | SCI Prophet-5 (3.3) | Oberheim OB-8 | Yamaha DX7IID with E! | Alesis Ion, MMT-8, DataDisk
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Re: Which I/O expander to go with? Opinions wanted.

Post by OriginalJambo » Mon May 11, 2009 4:03 pm

I'm using a Behringer ADA8000 at the moment, but I managed to pick up an Octopre LE for not a lot of cash a couple of days ago. It hasn't arrived yet so I'm unable to comment on its performance but do bear in mind that both this and the original Octopre are not ADAT capable out of the box - for this you require the addition of the "digital board". However, if you shop around you can probably nab an LE + this board for less than an FS.

Personally if I had the money I'd probably go for the DigiMAX FS as it's ADAT capable from stock, very flexible and apparently has great pre-amps . The ADA8000 is dirt cheap and does the job if you are lucky enough to find one that works - I'm on my third as the first two I received weren't usable! It's true that Behringer gear has quite a reputation, but Paul White from SOS gave it a rather favourable review:

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jun04/a ... gerada.htm

Just make sure you get one that works!

There's also the M-Audio Octane and Mackie Onyx 800R as well, although I don't know much about 'em.
Last edited by OriginalJambo on Tue May 12, 2009 2:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Which I/O expander to go with? Opinions wanted.

Post by shaft9000 » Mon May 11, 2009 5:33 pm

Are you recording acoustically or not? If not the pre's barely matter; get DI's for old synths and you should be good.
If you are recording w/ mics, then imho the mics and especially the room treatment makes a bit more difference than the pre's alone do.
Can save hours+days+years of frustration by getting the room acoustically balanced.
You should do this anyway since you'll hear your mixes much better, too.:!:

Anyhow, when you find you do need mic preamps, then the choices are vast for 1 & 2-channel; not so many for 4-8 or more channels. Some go the lunchbox format (which I will when i get more mics and money) but for high-end starters I want less color, more clarity. There's Sytek, True and Focusrite..some smaller botique(ultra$$$) builders... and not much else are made in these 4-8 ch units.
I will not spend my money ever again on a bunch of cheap pres in one unit under $1,000(new).

I use a Focusrite ISA428 w/ 8-ch ADAT out and it is nice. The difference next to my other (sub-$1,000) units is obvious, and mixes are much more robust and clear after I track through these, particularly HF clarity and LF consistency - the '12-string guitar 70's duo' is my initial test-drive (hear soundfile below), and the ISA sounds leagues better w/ my C1 than the mic pre (VTB-1) that was built for it. I've made recordings recently that have had my avid music-loving friends asking if I'd spent days in a high-roller studio. It's embarrassing that I waited so long, actually. Again, I will not spend my money ever again on a bunch of cheap pres in one unit under $1,000(new)....
If you're patient you can deal or find one second-hand with convertors for under $2k, I got mine 1st new w/out converters for $1300 and added A/D for $650. It's really freaking sweet. :D


http://www.awrongturn.com/mp3/shaft9000POTW428.mp3
(with apologies to Roger Waters)
here's a martin 12-string doubled, recorded through a StudioProjects C1 thru ISA 428. Vocal uses same chain. Tracked and mixed in Sonar using the Sonitus plugs for EQ and reverb. VC64 for main-out compression.
2600.solus.modcan a.eurorack.cs60.JP8.Juno6.A6.sunsyn.volcakeys.jd990.tb303.x0xb0x.revolution.
999.m1am1.RY30.svc350.memotron

shaft9000.muffwiggler.com <- singles & mixtape
shaft9000.bandcamp.com <- spacemusic album
youtube.com/shaft9000 <- various synth demos and studies

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Re: Which I/O expander to go with? Opinions wanted.

Post by madtheory » Mon May 11, 2009 6:37 pm

The Behringer ADA is actually one of the few things they make that is actually good. It uses very similar parts to the Alesis AI2.

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Re: Which I/O expander to go with? Opinions wanted.

Post by bradkë » Tue May 12, 2009 3:42 am

Thanks fir the insight guys. Thinking I might actually do the MOTU 8pre connected with Optical.

I dont do any acoustic recording. Its all synths and drum machines, so it should be OK.

Octopre wouldnt even work for me, dont know why i threw it in there. Need TRS connections only. I have two XLR ins with the 828mk3. I cant ever imaging needing more than 2, or even 2 period for that matter.
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Re: Which I/O expander to go with? Opinions wanted.

Post by Stab Frenzy » Tue May 12, 2009 5:26 am

madtheory wrote:The Behringer ADA is actually one of the few things they make that is actually good. It uses very similar parts to the Alesis AI2.
If only you could bypass the preamp circuitry when using the line ins!

If you're handy with the DIYs, buy one of these and put it in a box with a +-5V power supply and some transformers and resistors and you've got something that sounds great and is super-dooper cheap. :thumbright:

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Re: Which I/O expander to go with? Opinions wanted.

Post by Stab Frenzy » Tue May 12, 2009 5:33 am

bradkë wrote:Thanks fir the insight guys. Thinking I might actually do the MOTU 8pre connected with Optical.

I dont do any acoustic recording. Its all synths and drum machines, so it should be OK.

Octopre wouldnt even work for me, dont know why i threw it in there. Need TRS connections only. I have two XLR ins with the 828mk3. I cant ever imaging needing more than 2, or even 2 period for that matter.
Don't get the 8pre if you aren't planning on using the pres, you're paying for the pres and audio interface that you won't be using and you could get something better for the same price, or something the same quality for cheaper.

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Re: Which I/O expander to go with? Opinions wanted.

Post by bradkë » Tue May 12, 2009 5:37 am

Stab Frenzy wrote:Don't get the 8pre if you aren't planning on using the pres, you're paying for the pres and audio interface that you won't be using and you could get something better for the same price, or something the same quality for cheaper.
OK, I like where this is going. What units did you have in mind or recommend?
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Re: Which I/O expander to go with? Opinions wanted.

Post by Stab Frenzy » Tue May 12, 2009 10:55 am

If I were in the market for an ADAT convertor I'd go for this:

http://www.jlmaudio.com/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=22

or just make one myself using the board I mentioned earlier. Or see if I could find a second-hand Creamware AD16.

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Re: Which I/O expander to go with? Opinions wanted.

Post by OriginalJambo » Tue May 12, 2009 2:33 pm

bradkë wrote:Octopre wouldnt even work for me, dont know why i threw it in there. Need TRS connections only. I have two XLR ins with the 828mk3. I cant ever imaging needing more than 2, or even 2 period for that matter.
The Octopre LE happens to have all 8 TRS inputs on the front.

Image

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Re: Which I/O expander to go with? Opinions wanted.

Post by madtheory » Wed May 13, 2009 12:23 pm

The thing that most people miss is that preamps are actually very cheap. The expensive parts are the case and power supply together with any DSP chips and software to go with the DSP chips. So the preamps probably cost less than a tenner to add but their perceived value means that the unit can be sold for much more.

The Behringer ADA8000 offers a lot for the money. Balanced i/o, A to D and D to A, low noise, low distortion preamps.

The JMP audio thing is a nice concept, but to do it yourself, it's expensive to source the case, PSU etc.

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Re: Which I/O expander to go with? Opinions wanted.

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed May 13, 2009 2:10 pm

Case, AU$50
PS, AU$30

8 TRS jacks will cost you more than that if you get good ones.

The ADA8000 is usable, but it's really a stretch to call it low noise.

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Re: Which I/O expander to go with? Opinions wanted.

Post by madtheory » Wed May 13, 2009 11:20 pm

OK, so how much are 8 transformers? And how much will it cost you to figure out the right resistor values to interface with the A to D at the right voltage?

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Re: Which I/O expander to go with? Opinions wanted.

Post by OriginalJambo » Thu May 14, 2009 12:12 am

Stab Frenzy wrote:The ADA8000 is usable, but it's really a stretch to call it low noise.
Could you please elaborate? The ADA 8000 may be a lot of things but it sure ain't noisy. I received my Octopre LE today so I decided to put it to the test. The result? There is virtually no difference when it comes to self-noise. Here's the evidence:



ADA 8000 mic input one (+60 dB gain) vs. Octopre LE mic input one (+60 dB gain). Both then normalized to add insult to injury. Notice a massive difference? I sure don't.

I'd say unless you are recording a non-amplified electric guitar with a dynamic microphone that's 3 ft behind you, on the floor and pointing in the wrong direction then I think noise won't be an issue with the ADA. In the scheme of things the noise added to the system is almost negligible when compared to other factors.

Or are you referring to quantization noise? Clock jitter?

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Re: Which I/O expander to go with? Opinions wanted.

Post by Stab Frenzy » Thu May 14, 2009 12:41 am

madtheory wrote:OK, so how much are 8 transformers? And how much will it cost you to figure out the right resistor values to interface with the A to D at the right voltage?
AU$18 each for the transformers, so $144. I have a big box of 500 of each resistor value from 1 ohm to 1MOhm, a multimeter and knowledge of Ohm's law so the second part wouldn't cost anything.
OriginalJambo wrote:
Stab Frenzy wrote:The ADA8000 is usable, but it's really a stretch to call it low noise.
Could you please elaborate? The ADA 8000 may be a lot of things but it sure ain't noisy. I received my Octopre LE today so I decided to put it to the test. The result? There is virtually no difference when it comes to self-noise. Here's the evidence:



ADA 8000 mic input one (+60 dB gain) vs. Octopre LE mic input one (+60 dB gain). Both then normalized to add insult to injury. Notice a massive difference? I sure don't.

I'd say unless you are recording a non-amplified electric guitar with a dynamic microphone that's 3 ft behind you, on the floor and pointing in the wrong direction then I think noise won't be an issue with the ADA. In the scheme of things the noise added to the system is almost negligible when compared to other factors.

Or are you referring to quantization noise? Clock jitter?
Both of those recordings sounded pretty bad, I wouldn't record acoustic instruments in that room again without treating it if I were you. :thumbright: Also if you had to normalise them to get the levels even then you didn't set your gain evenly, or did you just normalise it to get the levels up?

Anyway, I said it's usable. It's just not my choice at that price. I also think my 002 is usable but not that great, but I get stuff done on it.

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