USB device for Dolby Atmos with 16x analog outs, ADAT, DANTE & 32-bit/192 kHz support

I’m currently looking for a hardware solution to build an affordable Dolby Atmos home studio:

USB audio interface for Dolby Atmos with 16 x analog output + 2 x ADAT + DANTE and 32-bit/192 kHz support

In short, I don’t need any inputs channels with preamps since I’m not doing any instruments recording.

What I mainly need is a 16-channel analog output driven by a reliable DAC supporting up to 32-bit/192 kHz to create Dolby Atmos music with Nuendo 12.

After looking at the latest products on the market, it turns out that all professional audio interfaces come with pre-amplified inputs and a quite limited number of analog outputs (4/8/10), which is not suitable for a Dolby Atmos installation.

I have found some interfaces with 16 output channel but they all come with as much input channels with pre-amps and that make me feel like I’m paying more for something I’ll never use in the end.

With 16 output channels, ADAT and DANTE, it would be good enough for my current and future needs. 5.1.4, 7.1.4, 9.1.6.

Maybe I’d better wait for the new Atmos products, since it’s a relatively new technology.

If anyone is aware of something close to the setup above, I would appreciate your inputs.

Thanks in advance.

You probably should give people a budget you’re looking at. From what I can tell (and I looked both in the past and recently) the most common brands as you pointed out offer both ins and outs in symmetric amounts. I got the MOTU 16A with the intent of being able to set up for Atmos and it’s a good box for sure, but you’re right that I’m sort of paying for both ins and outs. Temporarily out of stock though.

The one brand I’d recommend you look into is Lynx Audio. I had one of their 2-in 6-out cards for like a decades and it was super solid and sounded very good for a PCI card. Their Aurora line has slots in the back so you might be able populate the interface according to your requirements, and I would think you probably could get 16 outs plus ADAT with fewer analog inputs. Not sure if you can also add Dante to that. Probably will end up being about 4,000-4,500 without Dante I’m guessing.

Should also add that they announced that a future firmware update would include room tuning options etc. (not sure if that’s been added yet)…

NAMM 2023: Lynx Aurora n - Dolby Atmos Updates - YouTube

Antelope also added room correction ‘for Atmos purposes’ and the one time I got to listen to one of their boxes it sounded really good. More expensive though I think and not customizable, and same ins as outs.

Metric Halo maybe?

Btw, why would you need Dante?

1 Like

Thank you very much Mattias for your great contributions.

As you mentioned, I should have given the budget I’m willing to spend on this setup. For now, I was thinking of something between 1K and 2K to bring those 16 channels out of this awesome Dolby Atmos renderer to the analog world. Obviously, this doesn’t include the amplifier nor the speakers, just the Atmos audio to analog conversion.

Regarding your Lynx Aurora n, that seems to be exactly the kind of interface I’m looking for right now except for the price. But if that’s the minimum price to pay to be Dolby Atmos compliant, then maybe I should consider heighten my budget, not part of my short term plan at the moment though but I’ll keep that in mind for sure.

What I like about the Lynx Aurora n is the ability to customize it for your needs. But again here, to get 16-out, you need to add 16-in along with it. But I might try to reach them to see if that would be possible to get only the 16-out option and see how much saving I can get.

Another thing I really like from the video is about the calibration processing that could be taken out from the computer and taken fully in charge by the audio interface. And the possibility to upgrade the unit for Atmos support with a simple firmware update is a big huge winner point for me from a long-term perspective.

My findings so far

Here are the cheapest setup I’ve came across so far after doing a bit of searching and analysis:

  1. Audio interface choices by price preference order:
  1. 8 channel expansion:
  • Aphex 141B thru ADAT. ($550 CDN)
    No clock issues involved here since the unit only converts to analog whatever is on the ADAT input. Limited to 48 kHz though.
  1. Analog Breakout Snake:


At start, I was thinking of using DANTE for the analog output distribution to speakers but in the end that seems a bit expensive and overkill for a small home studio setup.

In counterpart, AVB or MANDI might be better and cheaper alternatives but I’ll need to dig a bit deeper about which one might fit with my needs.

Also, I was thinking of using this networking feature so I could quickly switch audio from my computer to a home theater system for tweaking purposes with translation while mastering.

That’s pretty much it so far but I’m still doing further research and analysis that I’ll share here in hope it could be helpful to others.

Again, thanks for your inputs. Cheers!

* Price can be less depending on selected options.

I would separate the interface part and the conversion part.

For interface I would do a RME Digiface USB:

This will give you 32 channels out via ADAT, an excellent internal mixer with infinite routing options and rock solid drivers, for a great price (since it doesn’t have any converters).

Then shop for whatever DA converters (with ADAT) that would fit your budget, as low- or high-end as you see fit.

RME themselves have some high end models, but the options are huge while you’re only looking for DA instead of interface with lots of analog outs.

1 Like

Since those are all digital over some sort of non-audio connection all that would happen is that you’d either need speakers with those inputs and possibly with a through path, or you would need more converters. I don’t really think that’s worth it and definitely not even doable in your budget. I would probably just skip that or see as a nice ‘bonus’ if it’s included (like in the MOTU).

With your budget I’d just keep it simple and try to just get started and then if you find a way to warrant spending more on this you could upgrade.

As for ADAT:

This would blow the budget pretty quickly I think as well as limit options for connectivity because of ADAT limitations:

ADAT needs s/mux to go beyond 48kHz cutting the channel count in half with each doubling of frequency, so at 192kHz the 4 x 8 channels @48k would be reduced to 4 x 2 @ 192kHz. Unless I’m missing something.

“Ferrofish” is another brand to look into. Seems to be in the budget range. Disclaimer: I know nothing about this brand really. I’ve seen some good reviews but that’s it.

So it seems much better to get all that in one box instead.

1 Like

That sounds good to me considering how much I’d have to add to get 16 analog outputs with my previous findings.

The Ferrofish seems to be offering exactly what I need for $1500 CDN, which fits my current budget.

Thank you for your time guys, I really appreciate it. Now, I feel like I’m paying for exactly what I currently need. Nothing more, nothing less!

Case closed!

It does, but it’s only converters. You still need that RME Digiface or some other interface that can carry 16 channels via ADAT.

Agree, but I wanted to suggest something withing the budget.

There’s also the RME Madiface USB MADIface USB - RME Audio Interfaces | Format Converters | Preamps | Network Audio & MADI Solutions , at a different price point.
Combined with a Ferrofish with MADI, it’s an elegant solution, for a decent amount of money, IMO.

1 Like

I understand. I think the combo will take it above the budget at least with USD (in the US) at list prices (about 20% above). That’s why I suggested just going with the one device.

1 Like

You still need that RME Digiface or some other interface that can carry 16 channels via ADAT.

Good catch here! I hadn’t even noticed that there is no USB connector on it and saw it as an audio interface ready to get connected to the computer.

BTW, I found this by chance while searching:
Behringer U-PHORIA UMC1820

It’s currently back order but for $300 CDN, if I connect 2 of them thru ADAT I would get 20 analog output. At that price, I don’t really care anymore about paying for extra analog inputs and other features that I won’t be using in the end cause even if I get 2 of them, that would still the cheapest solution so far BUT… there’s a couple of things I’m wondering though: Where’s the catch? Why the price is that low? Is there any sound quality issues? Short lasting device? ASIO Driver issues?

Maybe I could start with one device that would allow me to test at least Atmos 7.1.2 on speakers with one device and see the results.

Are you aware of anything wrong with Behringer? I read a couple of reviews and a lot seems ok but some others seems against it.

It’s currently backorder but should I consider it?

What interface do you currently use?

Behringer has gotten a bad rep to some degree because it used to clone other manufacturer’s devices with zero shame, and then produce those knockoffs cheaply in China. I don’t actually own their stuff but it’s possible they’re worth the money.

If I were to guess where they would save money on that interface it would be driver development, maybe channel-crosstalk (analog domain), SNR and maybe headroom.

1 Like

Focusrite Scarlett Solo (2nd Gen) USB

Good enough for stereo mixing and monitoring up to 24-bit/192 kHz, but now obsolete for Atmos mixing.

My workflow in short:

  1. COMPOSING: I compose with virtual instruments (VST plugins)
  2. MIXING: I print my stems and then kind of do some pre-mastering (Volume automation, EQ, reverbs, etc.)
  3. MASTERING: I glue everything together ready for the outside world (Streaming MP3, Pure WAV, atmos, etc.)

I’d like to improve my step 2 by integrating atmos and experiment those new channels. For instance, I want to experiment with the different atmos channels by moving my stems around.

I’ve seen a Youtube video where a producer is converting plain stereo music to atmos doing simple moves to Side speakers, Top speakers, Front to back, etc. Obviously, he’s achieving this with the stems (drums, bass, vocals, etc.) from the original song so there’s no need for remastering in his case but it’s giving awesome results. Really cool!

But all I have right now for monitoring Atmos is Dolby Atmos for Headphones and the binaural mode from the Atmos renderer. It’s good but not enough to get the real thing out of this atmos beast :slight_smile:

The first name that comes up when you say “low cost” (plus, as @MattiasNYC mentioned, “low ethics”).
Some people, me amongst them, think their quality is right where their price is, others see them as just an incredibly good deal.

1 Like

That’s what I tend to think. If something is twice the price, there must be something BETTER happening behind the scene for sure.

Regarding Focusrite, my small Scarlett revealed me good cues about the quality of their products. It has never failed after all these years, they updated their ASIO driver even though I never experienced any issues with it under Windows. I know by experience that quality pays back over time.

I was thinking that by cutting off on the features such as the inputs, I’d save on the device. For instance, by replacing 8 inputs with 8 extra outputs for a total of 16 channels I’d kind of get something more useful for me for the same price. But that doesn’t work this way up to now unless you’re willing to pay more.

In conclusion, I think that I might stick with Focusrite even though I won’t use everything from their device. I understand that from a business perspective they need to build something that will reach the most consumers as possible to make it profitable.

But the MOTU 16A seems to be the best fit for my current needs. If it last for the next 10 years, that’s only $200 per year after all.

The more I learn about it, the more I love it. Everything is there and the AVB networking seems to be much more easier to configure than DANTE. Mac users can even connect directly to the device with AVB, no USB needed.

MOTU 16A is my best bet so far.


And in my case the routing will be quite simple. A 1 to 1 connection between the DAW output channels and the device output channels. Something similar to this:

I can get it from a Montreal's store at $2030 CDN with free shipping. Sounds like a no brainer for me.

I have no experience with MOTU and I know they are a respected, high quality brand and I considered them when thinking about my next interface.

But I keep seeing reports of awful driver behaviour on Windows (on Mac they seem to be awesome).

Which is true of other respected brands like Antelope for example. That was one of the reasons for me recommending RME, as their drivers are as good as their hardware.

But indeed, if number of analog outputs is what matters, RME has no product as convenient as MOTU’s offering.

1 Like

I actually have the MOTU 16A and the only issues I’ve had have been related to my motherboard. The driver has been solid.

Are the problems reported about instability or are they about low-latency / small buffer performance? Or something else? Certainly for those doing music not getting the latency they want is annoying.

I’m not trying to sell anyone on any brand btw.

1 Like

I’ll just add one more thing to consider: Some brands or models have drivers that don’t allow for multi-client access of the interface. The MOTU does and I think RME allows it too.

I think that all else being equal you should choose an interface that allows it over one that doesn’t. It allows you to do pretty neat things like have simultaneous access to the interface by both Cubase/Nuendo and other software like YouTube or Netflix and it can make it easier to set up things like audio reviews over Zoom etc.

1 Like

Stability. Brand agnostic as well, and I researched the MOTU (UltraLite in my case) quite a bit as it would be perfect for my needs, so no hostility towards the brand from my part.

Yep, RME does that as well.

1 Like

I consider RME’s drivers to be the gold standard, at least on PC:
Low latencies, rock solid, multi-client, loopback on every channel, support of ASIO Direct Monitoring and ASIO Positioning Protocol, long support period.
Not sure if there’s is anything their drivers can’t do that other brands can.


An RME MadiFace USB plus a Ferrofish Pulse 16MX will set you back about $2,300, but will give you 192kHz sample rate if that is an important criteria.

1 Like

Not a must but since I already have up to 192 kHz on my current small Scarlett, I thought it must not change the price that much.

Thanks for your suggestion by the way, I’ll check that out!

Up to now, my 2 top choices are the MOTU 16A and the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20.

I’m currently in an ATMOS UPGRADE PROCESS, and I started by upgrading my computer even though my Ryzen 5 was handling quite well the Atmos renderer with over a hundred of objects spinning all around, all without ASIO-Guard. I’ve been surprised. But once I engage the video player, it’s starting to struggle a bit.

But my Ryzen 5 computer is lacking power at the video level. I noticed this when I was experiencing issues with DaVinci Resolve, more specifically with Fusion animations and effects. I have enough RAM and SSD space but with a poor graphic card.

But Nuendo is doing very well so far. Even better than Studio One 6 with Ashlight and Straylight together. With Studio One I’m experiencing glitches in the sound when playing too much notes with both instruments simultaneously. With Nuendo, they’re playing nicely without any sound gliches. Even when using the Reverb and Headphones match plugins, while playing live.

Obviously, I compared with the same settings on both DAWs (32-Bit processing, 48kHz sampling rate, plugins, etc.)

After 3 weeks experimenting with Nuendo, I have to admit that I have a crush for Nuendo over Studio One even though it’s an awesome DAW in my opinion.

I’m supposed to receive my new computer next week. Once it’ll be all set for music, I’ll order my next audio interface, fully ATMOS compliant :crazy_face:

See You!

1 Like