Audio Interface for 7.1.4 Surround

I am currently still using my Digital Console as my audio interface for my stereo and 5.1 arrays. I’m seriously considering upgrading to a Atmos Home Theater Array of 7.1.4. What kind of audio interface would I need to support that type of monitoring system?

99% of the Monitoring controllers I see are for multiple stereo setups and I’ve only seen one 7.1 Unit by Coleman Audio. As a result, I am ironically still considering another desk just for the monitoring connectivity. Any suggestions?

If you go the RME route (which I recommend!) - then you can use the, very cheap, RME ARC as a monitor controller for as many channels as your sound card has.

I’m using an SPL 7.1 (NOT atmos) but the ARC has made that more or less redundant

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Totally not jealous, just so you know. I think its mostly about having an appropriate number of outputs isn’t it? Its convenient to have surround aware plugins like Pro tools has, but most of the rack mounted systems have 10+ analogue channel outputs, and you can map them however you wish in the DAW? Could be claret, apollo, apogee, Burl… Just my thoughts.

I use an 18i20 with SPID/F for an additional set of ins and out. The outputs go to an inexpensive patch bay so you could switch from a mixing config to a multi sets of monitor mixes during recording config quickly if you wanted. The thing I’m mostly missing is an appropriate number of quality monitors - oh yeah, and the skill.

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My soundcard is a an RME RayDat. I’m running 24 (of the available 32 ADAT) channels into my DA7 desk. That’s doing the A/D conversion out to my stereo speakers and my 5.1 speakers. The DA7 desk is actually designed to do this.

I was looking at the RME UFX+ to replace the desk and go completely ITB. But it didn’t have enough I/O to handle all of my synths and mics, let alone feed the monitors without using a breakout box which was twice the price of the interface! That’s literally what sent me back to looking at digital desks (Allen & Heath SQ6, Presonus SL32, etc.). They all had at least 16 outs already built in to feed the monitors.

But with surround being such a solid market platform now, I’m surprised that I’m not seeing something along the lines of the Coleman Audio 7.1 being offered by numerous manufacturers to go along with Nuage, S6 and SSL Matrix like controllers.

If you want hardware then SPL and drawmer do budget 7.1 but It would be cheaper (better?) to get the UFX+ and the RME arc


Dr. Strangelove: … " I’m using an SPL 7.1 (NOT atmos) but the ARC has made that more or less redundant"

How do you mean? I can configure the ARC to handle the additional 4 monitors?

The ARC connects to TotalMix - the rme mixer - and you can gang as many faders as you like together. It’s more of a hardware level thing.

You could always use the control room volume but I worry about nuendo’s ability not to glitch and send 120db to you monitors

Theoretically this could happen with totalmix too but it’s less likely

plus the ARC is about £100 in the UK = $120 ish I suspect

Okay, I get what you’re saying. The Coleman would run the 7.1 array and the RME Arc would run the 4 ceiling monitors. How would you keep them calibrated/locked together as one system? Is the software going to do that?

I’m not totally clear on your setup at the moment - but I don’t think you NEED to buy a hardware 7.1 controller.

I’m going to make some assumptions:

you have a 7.1.4 speaker system
You have an RME soundcard/interface with 12 outputs with the appropriate convertors to connect to your speakers

If that is true then totalmix and the ARC can do the lot - all synced up

I personally like to have a ‘physical’ controller just in case of random computer lockups and full volume audio but the totalmix stuff is pretty solid

also all the bass management and speaker delay tools are built into nuendo

arguably you don’t even need the ARC …IF you trust nuendo control room - but that wouldn’t work for other software obviously

Current setup is RME card feeds 24 digital channels to my DA7 desk. The desk does the A/D -D/A and is sent out to my Stereo Monitors in stereo configuration or to my 5.1 monitors in surround configuration. This would have been obvious on the old platform, when we had our riggs located at the bottom of each post in our signature section (HATE this new look!).

I’m thinking of expanding the 5.1 to 7.1.4 at the top of 2021. So, I want to see what all will be involved to do this.

I don’t know that specific desk but does it have 12 outputs ?

If you are going to feed 12 separate speakers you need 12 output - simple as

They could be digital or analog but depends on the speaker obviously but ONE feed per speaker

Here’s the desk.

It has enough outs to handle the current configuration. But not the 7.1.4. I purchased a Presonus SL32 desk last month, which had 16 outputs. But the desk itself turned out to be useless beyond it’s I/O capability. So I took it back.

Now, I’m trying to figure out what to get to replace the DA7. I need a minimum of 24 I/O for the synths and mics and, as you said, at least 12+ discreet outputs to feed the monitors.

I figured all the Nuage people would be chiming in with their setups for suggestions. Thanks a lot BTW for your replies.

no probs - I think trying to continue to use that desk is gonna make life much more complex.

I’m using an older SSL convertor with Raydat - 24 analog ins/outs plus a spare adat I/O

Probaby $1000 S/H - and you’re all set

I’m mulling the same thing over. For “just” the 7.1.4 I’m looking at the MOTU 16A which has 16 analog outputs. Then if possible I’d still take care of all control room duties using Control Room in Nuendo - assuming it can handle the full format.

In your case if you need more i/o for synths etc why not look into Antelope’s converters? To me they seem to be the best bang-for-buck outside of this MOTU unit. You’d get 32 channels of analog i/o with the Orion 32 I think, and it’d be about 2,500-3,000 bucks. Somewhere around there. I really don’t see how you can get more for the money.

No experience with either interface as of yet unfortunately. If my budget allowed for it I’d get a Lynx 16-channel interface, but it’s just a bit much seeing that I’d also need to change/expand my monitor setup (going from Equator D5 to something else…)

You could use an RME raydat with 4 behringers ada82000 (which are fine, ignore the despite what some may say). However this a bit clunky, . Alternatively MOTU make great cards - a 16 or 24 ao (jus bear in mind the 24ao has xlr outs via dsub). Another great box thats really cheap and good quality is the Utrack 24 which is only around 350 euro and has 24 in and outs (no preamps but fine fo r line level) this is also via dsub breakout cables.