Best audio interface that supports 24 tracks Analo

Hi Guys,

I have 3 x DA7 mixers in my studio that I pretty much use as a big monitoring station. It looks really cool to in it’s Argosy console enclosure, but I get now use out of it.

So… I want to get rid of them and buy a great analog I/O along with (say) 32 digi I/Os.

I’m guessing that a MADI system or similar mght be the way to go. I was looking at the SSL Mixtreme with the Alph Link interface a few years ago but I got too busy… are they reliable?

Is the new UAD awesome? Is there a new crop of Thunderbolt interfaces that ware going to change the world?

I’ve been out of the hardware loop as of late… and could use any good recommendations.

Thanks in advance.


Andrew K

Hey T,

long time… hope all is well with LASS.

how great is the question…

RME Raydat (32 i/o) -> some ADAT AD/DA (or RME Madi)
as mentioned SSL Alpha, this gives you 24 analog and 24 ADAT pretty decent converters and cant be touched for the $ with concern to I/O count… however connecting it via Adat gives you only 24 I/O analog, Madi gives the full 48.

or 3x Aurora, 3x Apoogee or any mix of Adat enabled AD/DA

you could also buy the SSL Madi card/Alpha combo…
SSL Madi lacks a few things that RME has.

Optical MADI only.
No routing at all.
No MIDI (no total mix )
One WC port that is assigned to in or out.
No WDM support so no Windows sounds.
Also because of that Pro Tools does not work with it.

Motu 24 i/o: big jump down from the above (one extreme to the other)
if the Motu HD 192s were available they are actually a decent option but they are premenently back ordered…

or something like the RME UFX: 12 channels analog plus 2 Adat ports to add your choice of AD/DA

UAD: the UAD2 are more powerful than older by far. 1 Solo = 2.5 of the UAD1…
a quad = 10 UAD1.
on the other hand some of their newer plugs “NEED” a lot of dsp so you can quickly eat up a quad…
native plugs have come along way but i still favor UAD as you know if you own a UAD card those plugin can be like crack…

how are you connectiong those DA7 now RME 9652? you might still be able to use that card…

Tanks JCschild,

Thanks for all the info.

Right now I use the RME RayDAT card.

The concensus I’m getting around town here (LA) is to go with a MADI system (Probably RME) and then get the I/Os I want. I already have 3 interfaces that use ADAT Light Pipe:

Nuendo 8 io
Metric Halo Mobile io
Frontier Tango 24

But it might be nice to get a nice dedicated unit like the SSL Alphalink… or similar.


Andrew K

Hey Andrew,
why would you change from the Raydat to Madi unless you need more than 32 I/O
makes no sense at all…

Because I need more than 32 IO… I’d like at least 32 digi IO with additional analog IO.


Andrew K

Ahh i missed the analog plus digital…

SSL Madi with Alphalink ax will give you 24 and 24
or same with RME Madi and Alphalink
thats really the lest expensive way to go with the SSL/Alpha being the least…

after that it gets complicated. (or can)

RME Madi to RME ADI-648 Madi to Adat converter then you can have 8x 8 channel AD/DA via Adat

A vote for the Alphalink. IMHO the A/D - D/A beats most everything out there - all but the very most expensive stuff available. Holds up incredibly well to my Crane Song converters.

No sure what digital I/O you need in addition to the analog, but I believe the MADI interface will give you 24 analog I/O along with another 24 channels of Lightpipe I/O (@ 48 kHz - I think 12 @ 96). Edit: This I/0 would be when using a MADI interface with the Alphalink AX - I wasn’t clear initially.

I’ve been using my Alphalink with a RayDat and have been very happy with the setup. MADI would give me more options, but I don’t know that I have any justification for the expense right now.

Thanks man… this is the kind of advice I’m looking for.

I think the MADI is the way to go… and then the SSL Alpha Link.


Andrew K

Andrew, Brain from JAM Productions here.
I don’t know if you remember, but we emailed back and forth about the SSL Alphalink series a few years ago.

When we bought our Alphalink MADI SX convertor box, it was the most cost effective multi-channel I/O out there (24 analog I/O + 64 MADI + 24 channels of AES/EBU, Simultaneously !!!). It may still be the most cost effective.
On paper the converters may not look as good as the Euphonix converters on our System-5 console, but Aurally I would never be able to tell.

At the time the 2 options I had on the table for computer interface cards that spoke MADI were the RME HDSP MADI card or the MixStreme from SSL (Soundscape). I would have used either card to connect to my Alphalink MADI SX.
With the RME card you would not be able to individually assign single or multiple channels from one format to another (say taking 2 channels of Analog input and routing them back out to 2 channels of your AES/EBU). With the RME MADI card used with the Alphalink, you would have to assign all 24 I/O from the Alphalink analog to the AES/EBU (or use totalmix to route in the PC). With the Mixstreme card you could design a virtual console to do any kind of routing you wanted going to and from the computer, or from any input to any other signal type on the Alphalink. You can also add VST processing and complex routing in the Mixstreme virtual console interface.
This is great if you are having to mix in the box and Totalmix doesn’t cut it for you.

The Mixstreme interface was a bitch to learn how to use. It connects to your Computer with a 3 foot cable (a length you cannot change for system stability reasons). And the driver is not nearly as stable as my RME MADI on
our other PC.

If you do not need complex routing outside Nuendo, go for what works easier.

Since then, SSL has come out with their MadiXtreme 64 or 128, MADI PCIe cards. Don’t know if the MadiXtreme have any type of virtual console like Mixstreme or Totalmix for routing outside of Nuendo.

So whether you choose an RME product or the MadiXtreme line is up to you. I would say from my experience I have had very few issues with the RME drivers. more stable and loads faster. I found out the hard way that having 2 systems that use different interfaces (i.e. different drivers) is a real PITA. If I record a project on the RME system then have to record vocals using the SSL system, I load the project, reassign the VST connections I/O pages, then reassign every track in my project before I can record, 10 projects a session, 48 tracks per project. takes 45 minutes to prep a session.

What I wouldn’t give for another RME card.

For the money I see no reason not to buy a SSL Alphalink box. the AX probably makes more sense for you given your list of existing gear.

The only question is what computer card you want to interface with.

I probably have not remembered everything I wanted to say on this topic, nor am I sure I have written it in a way that makes sense. Feel free to PM me if you want more input. I am not up to date on what is new out there, just on how the Alphalink works, and the way ours interfaces to the Computer.


Wow Brain!!

Thanks for that awesome insight and real-world experience. Stability and latency are really important to me and RME has always been good to me… their drivers are great… so I’m am leaning the RME MADI. THe SSL Alpha link sounds like a great solution… not only audio-fidelity-wise, but also it’s not horribly expensive.

Thanks for your help in this… I really appreciate it.


Andrew K