Tag Archives: USB3

RME Babyface Pro, More Than Just a Remaster

RME releases always peek our interest here at Scan when they happen as they constantly appear at the top of benchmarking tables, meaning RME drivers are quite often the ones to beat when we do group testing. The Babyface range itself  have been the entry level introduction to the range for a good few years now, with a feature set that that makes them perfect for the home or on the move recording artist.

So with the news reaching us that they’ve released an upgrade to this workhorse interface and the claims that it isn’t just a remaster, rather a whole reengineered beast, well of course we’re going to be intrigued.

RME babyface pro front rightThe first thing that leaps out at you is the physical redesign of the RME Babyface Pro over its early version. The overall shape has been refined althrough it does keep it’s light, yet strong, aluminum case design but overall no big suprise here.

However if we take a look around the back of the RME Babyface Pro we see a different story altogether.

RME Babyface Pro RearThe original design had those connectors now found on the side, at the rear and the XLR and a number of other connections, hanging off a breakout cable from the rear of the unit. This meant that if you wanted a 2 in / 2 out on the road you could carry just the main interface, but if you wanted a balanced solution or a bit more I/O, then the only way to do so, was carry the breakout cable. Having checked the early discussions on this new design, it appears that some people love the removal of the breakout cable, where others are not so sure on the design of having cables plugged into 3 sides of the unit. Personally we’re liking the fact that without the breakout cable, its one less thing to forget or lose out on the road and feel that it only adds to the portability of the unit itself.

For monitoring purposes the RME Babyface Pro has twin headphone jacks come in both TRS and mini-jack form factors both with their own driver stages in order to offer better matching with both low and high impedence headphones. For audio going into the unit the two digitally controlled preamps provide individually switchable 48V ‘phantom power. These brand new circuits feature gain of up to 70 dB, adjustable in steps of 3 dB, plus a relay-driven PAD, resulting in exceptional EIN (Equivalent Input Noise) performance as well as line overload protection, and enough gain for even the lowest level microphones.

Finishing off the I/O options the feature set continues with an optical TOSLINK I/O; use as either an ADAT port with SMUX support or SPDIF for sessions up to 192 kHz. In combination with an external ADAT converter, the Babyface Pro fully supports 12 analog inputs as well as 12 outputs, making it ideal for both live and studio multi-track applications. You can plug any instrument, line or high impedance, into Babyface Pro’s jack inputs 3 & 4. Record your guitar on the go, with no additional hardware required. MIDI I/O via an included breakout cable completes the package.

Software wise the RME Babyface Pro ships with the RME ever superb Totalmix and we’re infromed the has been a convertor upgrade as well meaning an even better signal path on this version over the previous generation.

Lastly but no doubt pretty important for those users with an interface on the road, the RME Babyface Pro design almost never requires an external power supply, designed to run stable on the higher current USB 3 buss power found on most modern laptops and even most modern USB 2 ports, with no degradation in any technical specification.

RME Babyface Pro Connectivity

  • 12 Input and 12 Output channels
  • 4 x Analog Inputs (Mic, Line, Instrument)
  • 4 x Analog Outputs (2 x XLR, 2 x Phones)
  • 1 x ADAT I/O or 1 x SPDIF I/O optical
  • 1 x MIDI I/O
  • 1 x USB 2.0 (USB 3 compatible)
  • Digital Gain control on all inputs
  • Separate outputs for high and low impedance headphones

The RME Babyface Homepage

RME Hardware @ Scan

 

 

 

 

RME Madiface XT – Next Generation Audio Interface

The RME Madiface XT is a first, in fact, it’s not just a first but two firsts!

Just announced at MusikMesse 2013, Not only is it the first USB 3.0 audio interface that we’ve seen, but it also has an even-more-exciting ePCIe connector.

MADIface_XT_02

Now, i’m sure that over the next few months we will start to see a plethora of USB 3.0 interfaces, but RME have set the bar ridiculously high to start with. The reason behind this is that RME refuse to use 3rd party controller chips, instead opting for programming the controllers as software that runs on their own FPGA custom chip. Processes inside the chip run much faster than having them all individually on the circuit board, this method also means that they can streamline the code required to make the device run as efficiently as possible, with the bonus of extra stability of the device, as they are in 100% control of everything happening in the device. We predict that USB3.0 performance will be about halfway between USB2 and PCIE.

Think of ePCIe as somewhat similar to eSATA, essentally the same pins and connections, but put down a different cable. This means that with minimal processing (hence, not adding latency) you can have the same performance as a pci-e based solution (currently the best available), but with all the connectivity of an external “breakout” box.

Some people have questioned the lack of Thunderbolt, but as it is only found on certain mac models (excluding all Power Mac’s) and handful of pc motherboards it’s a small list of possible users. There is currently no way of adding TB to an existing system (apart from a handful of ASUS motherboards), it will be a few years until it becomes widespread, whereas any desktop machine (PC or MAC) can add USB3.0 or ePCIe cards to achive full functionality on those protocols.

What we love about RME MADIFace XT

It’s essentally MADI FX with analogue monitoring, separate, dedicated headphone monitor and two remote controlled analogue mic / instrument / line inputs.

TotalMix FX (if you need a monitor mixer, it pretty much gets no better. The FX section is perfect for the standard vocalist zero latency compression / reverb / delay that helps them perform better and makes your life as an engineer marginally happier!

USB3.0 connectivity to every current generation laptop, Ultra High Performance ePCIe connectivity.

USB2.0 compatible with reduced number of MADI channels.

There is absolutely no way that this won’t take the UCX’s crown as the world’s highest performance external audio interface!

What we don’t love about RME MADIFace XT
The wait until June to get our hands on one.

Not everyone needs MADI, can we please have a version without it that’s just the ultimate low latency production device!

Features:

• 196 Input / 198 Output channels

• 2 x MADI I/O optical

• 1 x MADI I/O coaxial

• 2 x Analogue Mic / Line Preamp Input (XLR/Line TRS)

• 4 x Analogue Output (Main XLR + Phones)

• 1 x AES/EBU I/O via breakout cable

• 1 x MIDI I/O via breakout cable

• 3 x virtual MIDI I/O via the three MADI I/Os

The RME MADIface XT is the world’s first USB3 audio interface – and the world’s smallest portable interface that provides access to hundreds of audio channels in a highly portable package. For highest compatibility the XT also features a PCI Express port for connection to External PCI Express cards, providing the fastest interfacing technologies available for maximum channel count and lowest latency.

Three 64-channel MADI I/Os are accompanied by 4 MIDI I/Os, one stereo AES/EBU and a word clock I/O. To bring together the most complete I/O set for live or studio usage, two digitally controlled high-end mic/line preamps, two balanced line outputs and one stereo phones output, all fully 192kHz capable, were included. For perfect desktop operation RME’s (optional) Advanced Remote Control can be connected.