RME ADI-8 DS MkIII – Why this could be part of the world's best audio interface

The RME ADI-8 DS Mk III is announced today, with 8 analouge ins and outs, ADAT and AES-32 digital connections.

So what makes this so very special?

Well, it’s not the 120dBa dynamic range, even though that makes it sit in the absolute top 0.1% of interface specs.

Its not even RME’s Steadyclock that gives an unbelievably low jitter rate, meaning the waveforms are the shapes that they should be and not distorted due to timing errors.

It’s simply the fact the the unit has been re-designed with the latest generation of A/D converters.

Now before you all snooze off, i’ll explain why this is so important. The current generation of conversion (with the exception of the horrendously expensive ESS Sabre chips, which seem to have sacrificed latency in exchange for accuracy) have not made any leaps and bounds advances in dynamic range or harmonic distortion performance, the only thing they have really managed to do is to reduce the latency of the signals being converted.

How can I make the statement that this could be part of the world’s best audio interface?

Well, RME’s ADI-8QS, used in conjunction with thier HDSPe-AES pcie card was the best performing interface tested using the DAWbench software, with it being the benchmark that every other interface has been tested against by DAWbench’s creator Vin Curigliano. Vin (with a bit of help from ourselves on a compatible system) has tested most common interfaces, and if the major improvement is in conversion latency in the latest ADI-8 DS mkIII, then this must surely take the crown.  The RME UCX did the same thing compared to the UFX that it was based on, shaving a few ms off the conversion time, so i would completely expect this to do the same to the previous ADI-8 generation.

In RME’s own words…

The new RME ADI-8 DS Mk III is the latest addition to the ADI series. The ADI-8 DS Mk III is an 8-channel high-end AD/DA converter with a unique and incredibly versatile collection of very useful features. The RME ADI-8 DS Mk III combines excellent analogue circuit design with the very latest generation of outstanding low latency AD/DA converter chips.

What does “best performing” actually mean? 

It simply means that at the same latency, you will be able to run more plugins and have more notes of virtual instrument polyphony than with any other interface.

 

How much difference is there in performance? 

 

Here’s the results from another couple of interfaces, the UFX (apart from the UCX, the best preforming USB interface) and the now discontinued USB1 Saffire 6 from Focusrite

(In the intrests of nuetrality, The Saffire replacement (Scarlett 2i4) perfoms signifcantly better, and although doesn’t share the same buffer sizes, so cant be be directly compared, has an average LLP rating of about 5, which is respectable for USB 2.0)

The Buffer size shows how many samples big the buffer is, the RXC is how many RXC compressor plugins can be run before breaking up (to demonstrate DSP perfomance) and the CV and NCV fields show how many notes of polyphony can be run inside Kontakt before the audio starts to break up.  The I/O column is the latency times reported by the ASIO driver and the RTL is the Round trip latency (ms) of a signal coming in and going back out of the interface. The overall LLP rating is derived from a calculation of performance against latency time.

 

So, we wait with baited breath to see how the unit will perform when we actually can get our hands on one, as well as definitively finding out how well it can compete with competition from the likes of Lynx’s Hi-Lo and Lavry’s converter range, although as an 8 in / 8 out option it’s in a class of it’s own.

Related posts: