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Expand MOTU 828mk3
Old 18th September 2012
  #1
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Psychlist1972's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Expand MOTU 828mk3

I have a MOTU 828mk3 Hybrid that I use for the following:
  • Synth audio inputs for recording (tons of little guys built from kits or purchased, plus a bunch of rack devices)
  • MIDI output
  • A single mic I use for podcasting, video recording etc. (Shure SM7 with an additional preamp)
  • Headphone out, as I don't use speakers very often. All PC (skype, Lync etc.) and instrument audio goes through the 828 and out the phones.
Machine is a home-built PC. Gigabyte UD9 motherboard (with TI firewire chipset), 6 core, etc. Windows 7, about to pave to Windows 8.

The problem is that first bullet: I'm out of analog inputs for my synthesizers and I want to expand without submixing if possible. The 828 does have ADAT inputs to allow an additional 16 tracks which will even integrate with its mixing software as discrete channels. However, I can't find anything reasonably priced (under $1000) which will give me those 16 tracks. I can daisy chain another 828, but that only gives me 8 more inputs and I spend a fair bit on features I won't use. Similarly, I can add an 8pre (or two), but that's only 8 inputs and is more mic oriented. Again, paying for stuff I don't need.

I've also considered going with one of their PCI solutions and adding the 24 input module, but that means junking the 828, and spending more money than I want. That said, if there's a better long term solution, I will definitely consider parting with the 828.

Any suggestions?

My home studio/office is short on space, so I prefer a rack solution, but I can make most anything work.

Thanks.
Pete
Old 18th September 2012
  #2
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
I'm gonna use the dreaded B-word, but the Behringer Ultragain ADA8000 will do what you want. 2 of those will cost you $500. Each will fit a 1U rack space.

Btw, I myself am looking at buying an 828mk3. How has your experience with it been so far wrt conversion quality etc? And have you ever used it via USB?
Old 18th September 2012
  #3
Deleted User
Guest
The cheap and easy answer 2 Behringer ADA8000 units connected to ADAT A and B banks on the 828mk3. Both 1/4" and XLR inputs, good pre amps (better than you'd expect), wordclock or ADAT clock, everything on one CueMix FX console, but limited to 48k if that matters. I use one for my outboard synths connected to an 828mk3. Try one - you don't like it, return it - you like it add the other.
Old 18th September 2012
  #4
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
Presonus' D8 or Focusrite Octopre mkII, ART Tubefire come to my mind. Even used Saffire Pro26io. Decent units, and more affordable than MOTU's 8pre. Never mind the mic pre's.
I'd keep the 828 if I were You, it's a nice versatile hybrid machine, quite underrated IMHO.
Old 18th September 2012
  #5
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Psychlist1972's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Thanks all.

I'll check out the Behringer. Annoying that the inputs are all on the front of that unit, but I can make it work. I'm relatively clueless about ADAT, so can I reallt daisy chain them?

I'll check out the Octopre as well. Looks like I can get those for not a whole lot more than the behringer (bot it starts approaching the 8pre pricing). Inputs are on the back, which is a plus.

The MOTU has done really well. I haven't measured latency down to the sample or anything, just enough to know that I'm able to get out of it what I need. I run it at 48khz sample rate; no need for me to go higher than that.

I do use its on-board mixer and EQ quite a bit. Not so much the reverb and other effects. It's my sound card for everything and it has worked really well in that regard.

The preamp on it wasn't anywhere nearly powerful enough to get the Shure mic up to level (I had to add an external preamp), but otherwise they sound fine to me for my uses.

Aside: I had issues with the MOTU audio output breaking up after several hours of combined usage (I had the same issues with an earlier E-MU external box). That audio would start to sound like it was being bitcrushed or ring modulated or something. It was distortion, but not quite. If it didn't happen during the middle of Lync calls I could have made something interesting of it . To temporarily fix it, I'd have to go into my audio devices, switch the bitrate to 44.1 to cause the output to reset, and then switch back to 48. Turns out the real fix was to crack open their audio console tool and turn off the "Use WaveRT for Windows Audio" option. It has been the better part of a week with that change and no issues since. Pretty sure this

Pete
Old 18th September 2012 | Show parent
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Psychlist1972 ➑️
I'll check out the Behringer. Annoying that the inputs are all on the front of that unit, but I can make it work. I'm relatively clueless about ADAT, so can I reallt daisy chain them?
You can't chain ADAT - you'd attach one to ADAT bank A on the 828mk3 and the other to ADAT bank B. If you're going to clock to ADAT, you need to connect both the in's and outs between units. I clock via wordclock. Better to set the ADA8000 as slave - it will follow the clock if you need to switch the 828 between 44.1 and 48.
Old 19th September 2012
  #7
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🎧 5 years
Forgot to mention that I haven't used the 828 over USB. I have three powered USB hubs hanging off my PC, all full, plus all on-board ports taken. It's a serious amount of data going through them. I didn't want to add audio
Old 19th September 2012
  #8
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🎧 5 years
Update:

I ordered two ADA8000s, earlier models with the Alesis chip in case that odd fade-in problem is for real. I don't care for having all the inputs on front, but I'll just keep an empty rack space above them to route cabling around back, like I do with my network switch

Thanks for the advice!
Old 19th September 2012
  #9
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Thanks for commenting on usb usage. FWIW, I did find a review for the track 16 that also contained some benchmarks using usb and firewire. According to the test results, usb performance on motu interfaces is equal to or better than firewire performance, provided of course the usb busisnt already overloaded.
Old 19th September 2012
  #10
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🎧 5 years
Good to know. USB is definitely loaded pretty heavily for me. Firewire is the odd man out on my system: I don't use anything else on firewire, so it has more available bandwidth regardless. PCI would probably be even better, but it does cost a fair bit more, and you're more likely to get IRQ conflicts and similar. I had serious ones with an E-MU board I once had, and finally just had to give the board up. Performance tends to be better, though, and you have more expansion options, at least with MOTU.

I figure with the ADA8000s I can find a use for them regardless if I stick with the 828 long term, or move to something else.

Pete
Old 27th September 2012
  #11
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🎧 5 years
Just a little follow-up: My two Behringer ADA8000s arrived today. I need to pick up two more ADAT cables, but the one 8000 I tried with my MOTU 828 worked perfectly. The additional inputs all show up in Cuemix as though they're native, which is just perfect.

And, because I can't help myself, I cracked one open to see what was inside
Behringer ADA8000 Teardown - a set on Flickr

Pete
Old 1st October 2012
  #12
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🎧 5 years
So, one of my two Behringers from ebay is already dead. It won't power on at all. I'll have to open it up and see if some crappy cap leaked or something. My second one powers up from the same cord, so it's something on the device itself.

Pete
Old 1st October 2012
  #13
Gear Addict
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Maybe get one PreSonus if the Behringer is completely shot. Might be good to have one good quality box and another budget one for just in case
Old 1st October 2012
  #14
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Psychlist1972's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Looks like those ADA8000s are prone to frying their transformers when on US power. Behringer ADA-8000 owners: PLEASE READ!!!

I'm annoyed it fried, but I don't mind an electronics project, and several mods were suggested in that thread. I may do one of them.

Pete
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