More channels for recording?

Hey people,

so, I would like to add a channel or few more to my MR816x. If I don’t want to buy another 816 how should I go about this? Is it possible for me to buy let’s say a 1 or 2 channel quality preamp and use it alongside my mr816?

Typically, ASIO is one device, unless you use something like ASIO4ALL. I have never used it myself, but I am sure others can chime in. Also, you could connect a device that accommodate more channels to some inputs of your MR.

Alternatively, you could also get a patchbay to which you connect all inputs and outputs in the back to, you can then use patch cables to re-route any ins/outs to any other ins/outs and therefor be more flexible. However, this does not extend the concurrent I/O map. It just makes your setup into a very flexible audio router, and all your devices are always pre-wired on the back and then (re-)routed on the front via patch cables.

For high performance it’s best to stick to 1 ASIO driver. This leaves you with 2 options. The first is to buy another MR818 which can be daisychained using firewire and will use the same driver as your first unit.
The second option is using the ADAT input on the MR816 to expand your amount of analog inputs. This allows for another 8 inputs to be connected (If I’m mistaken, someone correct me!).
There are plenty of ADAT devices available on the market, going from a cheap Behringer ADA which gives 8 preamps to ADAT for a mere €200,- to high end stuff.

Thanks for the replies! Feel free to suggest gear. For example would something like FMR’s Really Nice Preamp be something that I could add to my workstation alongside the MR816? That way I would get 2 quality preamp channels more. I am very happy with the preamps of mr816 but I thought I’d try something different to see if there is any difference and FMR’s preamp I mentioned is supposed to be very good at the price range it is offered.
I’m a bit of a newbie when it comes to the technical side of things so any advice is welcome :slight_smile:
At the moment I usually record instruments at a time starting with the drums and 8 channels are enough for this. I thought I’d start recording the rhythm guitar alongiside the drums and 2 channels more would be enough. Althoug I believe I might use the new preamps channels with the drums. My main goal recording drums is to get the best possible sound of the snare and the kick.

You can connect any preamp you want to the MR816, the problem is you are already using all of the available inputs on it for your drumkit.
The MR816 has more inputs than the 8 analog ones you’re using now, but they are digital so if you want to connect more preamps/instruments you will need a converter that can supply the signal from your new preamps to the digital ADAT input on your MR816.

I don’t know where you are located, but here’s a quick selection of AD converters that have ADAT output that you could hook up to your MR816 to create more inputs. link

if I’ve understood correctly to add more channels what I need is to buy a preamp and ADAT converter plus the needed cables. The signal path would be: microphone -> preamp -> ADAT -> MR816 -> PC. Have I understood correctly?

I’ve been thinking I would get myself either one of these:
DBX 386
FMR Really Nice Preamp

This would give me 2 quality channels more to use along the MR816 and in total 10 tracks can be recorded simultaneously (most likely drums + rhythm guitar).

What ADAT device would you recommend(in european market)?

Yes, that’s correct.
I have no experience with ADAT so I’m afraid I can’t really give you suggestions here, hopefully someone else can.

That DBX 386 has spdif digital out…you could connect it directly to your MR for an extra 2 channels.

There is no decent cheap option to convert line signals to ADAT that I know of…you might instead consider something like the Behringer ada8200 which will give you another 8 mic pres to ADAT and then if you want to try standalone preamps later you can just plug them into the mic inputs.
Note that the preamps in the 8200 are supposed to be very useable.

The dbx 386 has got so much bad reviews I’m gonna skip that one.

So if I get myself a preamp with digital out I am all set to use it with my MR816 WITHOUT a separate adat device?

What would your recommendations be for a preamp under 1000€? (note: needs to be easily available in the european market)

Impressive budget :wink:
What do you want to use it for?

Well, I would use it for all basic rock instruments but I’d also do separate vocal, guitar(acoustic + electric) and bass overdubs with it to my recordings. Of course if I am tracking drums without recording the rhythm guitar I’d probably use the preamp to capture atleast the snare and kick.

If you want to expand your analog inputs without unlimited budget but also without buying crap like Behringer, my suggestion is to look at Focusrite. IMHO their OctoPre Mk II gives you the best bang for your bucks (you can find it online for as low as $399.)

Also available with built-in dynamic processors:

It’s a newer unit and therefore less discounted. Average online price $699.

If you want something more high-end, consider the ISA 828, which sells for about $2,500.

BTW, Focusrite is UK-based and widely available in the EU.

And no, I don’t work for them, just a very happy customer… :mrgreen:


thanks for the suggestions. I’d like to find 2-channel quality preamp for under 1000€. I’d rather stay away from cheap 8-channel interfaces 'cos I’d like to try a more high quality preamp to see the difference. The eight preamps I have with MR816x are probably the best of the 8-channels for low cost options so I dont see reason to add another eight preamps at the same price range.

2 channel solution in high quality:

  • FOCUSRITE ISA ONE with digital out option. (currently 600€)
    you can plug in a second preamp to the A/D IN ( labeled EXT I/P) for 2 channel conversion!
    it can do ADAT, SPDIF (both optical), and AES EBU…
    you will be able to use it in the future as well.
    And it has a phones amp with cue input and can be used as a high quality DI Box.

really great preamp for that price, and i hear that the converter are very good too.
just add a second isa one for stereo ( currently 500€)

or add a different single preamp unit for a choice of flavors.

recommendations for the second preamp:

  • Blue robbie (great loooking and smooth sounding. i have 2! the clients love it, highly underrated unit!)
  • Summit 2ba 221 (both solid state and tube)
  • daking mic pre one ( solid state but with plenty of colour)
  • golden age pre 73 DLX
  • warm audio wa 12

golden age and warm audio it you want to keep it under 1000€
i woulnt use true system or grace design, because they are quiet and clean.
if you want to have a different sound it should be TUBE or have a Transformer!

The focusrite Isa is already a clean preamp that you can use on every source without compromise,
but adds a little “charm” to the signal.

Thanks a lot for the suggestions Cut-a-Corner!

I’ve had a lot of trouble trying to decide what to get as there are so many options. Now I will look into your suggestions.


some gear newbie questions so I’m sorry but I have never before had to deal with these details. :slight_smile:

If I get myself a ISA ONE with digital output I will need a cable between the ISA and my MR816x. What type of cable? Does it matter which company’s cable quality wise?

And if I want a second preamp, the signal chain would be: 2nd preamp - ISA - MR816, right? Let’s say 'd choose the Blue Robbie. What type of cable do I need between the Blue Robbie and ISA?

Preamp OUT -> Isa EXT i/P ;

The common Output of Preamps is Male XLR.
For most preamps (including Blue Robbie) you will need - XLR Female to TRS cable -.
Example: cordial_cfm_3_fv_klinkexlr_kabel
(copy that into google)

The most logical digital connection would be SPDIF or ADAT optical.
In both cases you will need a ADAT lightpipe cable.
I personally have good experiences with the MUTEC brand wich Thomann sells.
Thats for the digital connection.
Example: mutec_optisches_kabel_3m

You will need another digital cable:
The Wordclock, because you will have to “slave” the ISA to your MR 816.
That´s a BNC cable. Nothing fancy, the same cables you use for satellite reciever connection.
But use a quality cable, because Wordclock connections are critical.
Example: sommer_cable_bnc_kabel_75_ohm_3m

AND the last thing you will need:
The Wordclock Termination Resistor.
Usually that is integrated in modern Wordclock Connectors inside the Interface.
But i am not sure about the Isa One Ad Card.
Just order one, its very cheap. To make shure everything is fine.

You probably will have to end the wordclock connection this way:
Put the resistor on the other end of a t-piece,
wich you have plugged inside the isa one Wordclock IN.

example: pro_snake_bnc_abschluss_stecker_75_ohm
and: pro_snake_bncwinkeltverbindungsstueck

Really nice of you to write all that down, thanks! That is a lot of cables and I might have to get back to you when I start plugging them in :smiley: So, I need four cables plus a t-piece.

I am still not sure about the second preamp. I guess I might try a tube one but will have to see where my budget takes me. But first I will get the ISA pre.

I usually record 24 bit / 88.2 Khz with my mr816x. Does this affect the choice of preamp?

I noticed a Blue Robbie pre + Blue kiwi bundle deal from Thomann. That might be a good deal as I probably am going to need to get a high quality vocal + acoustic microphone too.

I would buy another MR816 and hook it up via the adat I/O on your present MR816. You never know when you might need more channels and the MR816 pres are excellent.

i recommend that bundle, especially for that price.
I LOVE the KIWI. :smiley:
I have many microphones to compare (neumann, brauner, gefell , sennheiser, akg etc.)
The Blue Kiwi is a very present (i would personally discribe it as modern) sounding mike.
but it isn´t harsh and has some nice colour. It takes EQ well.

And yes, recording in 88.1 does affect your choice of preamp /AD:
You can only add 4 channels in ADAT, because ADAT originally only support max sample rate of 48khz.
ADAT SMUX2 joins two Channels to create 96khz compatibility. Thats 8/2 = 4 Channels.
Because the MR816x only has 1 ADAT port. :confused:
88.1 samplerate is generally no problem for modern AD,
and should be no problem for focusrite isa ad as well.

adding a mr816 doesn´t make any sense. Because you would only be able to use 4 mic pres at 88.1.
If you need many more channels in the future, i would change the audio interface
with compatibilty for more channels in 96khz.