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.