I’m about to upgrade my home studio to a bigger one and will need to be able to record a minimum of 12 analogue balanced audio input signals at the same time, but 16 would be best.
What models and brands of cubase compatible audio pre-amp/A to D converter would be recommended?
(I have done a lot of searching already, but I only seem to be finding 8 mic/balanced input ones)
What recent model of a compatible and fast Desktop computer would be best?
*mac or windows, but windows would be preferred (more universal compatibility)
**I would need the fastest CPU’s and also be able to install maximum / required memory.
I will not be using a separate outboard mixer either for inputs or outputs.
*I will only need a stereo analogue output returning from a cubase output master buss for monitoring control.
**if possible also a separate desktop controller knob to adjust the output volume when monitoring
*** a stereo headphone output - 2 would be good.
I will need to be able to adjust /attenuate / hi-pass the input levels when recording, via the interface, plus cubase internal input level settings.
All mixing plus FX etc. will be done via cubase, then exporting the mix to a final mix stereo wav file.
There are so many options to chose from these days.
Have you looked into a MADI or DANTE system? They’re both very versatile and allows for plenty of growth. An RME PCIe card is what I would look into, but there are other brands.
For AD/DA and mic pres, check out Burl Audio if you haven’t already. Especially one of their Motherships if you’re into 500-series stuff (which is a great option for hybrid workflows!).
Ferrofish also makes some pretty good converters that won’t break your bank.
Indeed, it is an abundance of choices. What kind of budget you thinking of?
Well one of those two paths is a lot more pricey than the other.
I’m a big proponent of getting purpose built PCs for Audio work. This will cost a bit more than a consumer brand, but not much more and you get real value for it. They vet all the various components they use to make sure they play nice in an audio environment - so you don’t end up with some generic network interface throwing glitches into your audio. The machine you get is designed to play nice with all the major DAWs.
It depends on the store, but many offer extended technical support. I just got a new PC about 6 months ago and it has a year warranty on Parts but lifetime technical support. So if 2 years from now I run into a weird driver problem I can call them and chat about it.
Finally they offer expert advice for making configuration decisions. When I ordered my PC, I went in with how I thought I wanted it configured, but after a bit of discussion it got changed in a few places (for the better). When you ask about Audio Interfaces here, you will get well meaning advice from folks with all different levels of experience and expertise vs. asking someone who evaluates Audio Interfaces as part of their job.
If this path interests you, post where you live and I’m sure folks here will recommend local builders. In the US I’ve used ADK Pro Audio for my last 3 (???) computers.
Hey Raino, many thanks for the advice.
I am in the city of Salvador, Brazil, and I have heard that there are folks who will build a custom high powered PC, specific to my needs, so I’m going to ask around in the musical / production community next.
However I just saw that the Brazilian government has reduced the import tax on electrical goods, so I will be checking out the options and delivery charges with ADK next.
And it looks like they also do audio interfaces as well, so a ready to go package might indeed be the way to go.
Many thanks again for the advice!
Most of the folks who specialize in this also carry a lot of the peripheral hardware & software too. In the past ADK would even install software that you already own (in addition of course to installing stuff you buy from them). Don’t know if that’s a service they still offer - but if so, large sample libraries are good picks.
What are you currently using? It may be expandable by ADAT for example to suite your needs. Otherwise RME is a good choice in this category offering interfaces that can be expanded by ADAT, MADI, or Dante, and they have a reputation for some of the best drivers and long term support in the business. I have a Fireface 800 which was launched in 2004, and they did the last driver update in 2019 - 15 years after launch. Few, if any, other vendors provide that level of support.
They offer 4, 8, and 12 mic pre expansion units that support MADI, ADAT, and other connectivity depending on model.
Thanks guys, RME is now top of my list!
Quick question: Should I also invest in an external wordclock generator or is the internal RME wordclock solid?
And to answer SF Green’s question, for the last few years I’ve been using an apogee duet 2 channel interface, which has served me very well for my own small projects.
The RME word-clocks are very good; possibly the best built into an interface. Personally I would save my money for other things, like getting the best interface you can afford. Just my opinion.
If you’re really looking to step up, you already had a great brand in Apogee. Also Lynx, Avalon Design, Burl Audio, and Prism make some great interfaces in the upper end of the home studio and small pro studio range.
You can find reviews on a lot of gear by these companies, as well as articles and advice on choosing interfaces at these two websites/magazines: Sound on Sound TapeOp