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.
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!
• 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.