No Mid-Grade 8 Channel AD Converters With ADAT Lightpipe

Brandon Drury —  January 9, 2008

Now that I have selected my Presonus Firestudio, I need an AD converter with ADAT Lightpipe to expand the Firestudio up to 18 simultaneous inputs. (8 analog inputs in the Firestudio and 2 S/PDIF inputs with my Mytek AD96). 10 inputs simply isn’t going to cut it in full band land.

Presonus M80
I already own a Presonus M80 8 channel preamp. I bought it for a $1,000 used a few years ago. I’ve been pretty happy with it overall. No complaints. I’d rather have have an API Lunchbox, but I’d also rather have a juicy steak instead of this microwave burrito. Then again, this burrito is better than Ramon noodles. Long story short: I’m happy with the Presonus M80.

The only problem is the Presonus M80 is entirely analog. There are no digital outputs on the Presonus M80.

Shopping For A Mid-Grade 8 Channel AD Converter with ADAT Lightpipe Outputs
So I started doing a little bit of searching. Maybe I’m an idiot (I don’t expect to see a flood of emails disputing that one), but I didn’t see a single 8 Channel AD converter (disregard the Behringer ADA8000) for under a grand. Note: It’s not the Behringer sound quality that bothers me so much. It’s the fact that Behringer doesn’t appear to test the products before I buy them. I don’t have time for that. Maybe you’ll have better luck than I have had in the past.

I couldn’t believe that there wasn’t an 8 channel analog to digital converter with ADAT Lightpipe outputs for around $300-1000. I find it shocking! I don’t need anything to hardcore. I don’t expect to have high end conversion on every channel in my studio until I have more money than sense. (I appear to be low on both these days! Ha ha).

I Guess I’m Buying More Preamps
The preamp situation is a funny one. The biggest reason I started Recording Review back in the day was to really help home recorders make better recordings and quit feeding them horse crap about how they need this $2000 per channel signal path. In short, my biggest issue is with the way preamps are glorified online before the most important parts of music and recording. So, there really isn’t anything exciting about buying a new preamp. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to try out a new API A2D again, but the notion of buying an 8 channel preamp just to get the ADAT converter is less than fun. Maybe I’m a snob, but I feel like I’m forced to buy a Musician’s Friend guitar amp because I need X functionality even though I have some REAL amps at home.

So here I am. I have a fairly okay preamp in my Presonus M80. There doesn’t appear to be any standalone AD converters with ADAT out. My only option? I ordered a M-Audio Octane. It’s an 8 channel preamp with ADAT output. So, I paid $600 for preamps I don’t need just to get an AD converter. While I’m not convinced that converters are something the average home recording idiot should put too much thought into, if I’m going to blow $600 on a converter, I’d prefer all $600 of that go towards the converter. In this case, I’m going to guess that about $300 of that went into preamps I don’t need and the other $300 went into the converters. There is nothing more pleasing than purchasing $300 worth of gear for $600!!

I Should Have Done My Research
I’m not sure why I didn’t look into this whole ADAT situation beforehand. I just assumed that I’d have no problem finding an 8 channel AD converter with ADAT. Nope! I was dead wrong. I can’t believe there isn’t a product out there for this. I guess with the boom of 8 channel preamps with ADAT outputs, there isn’t much need.

Putting My Money Where My Back Pocket Is
So, it’s about time I step up to the plate. I’m going to give these M-Audio preamps a real test and see how they stack up with the Presonus M80. I’m really going to put them through the ringer. (How you ask? Easy. I’m going to mic up a guitar amp. When I don’t like the sound, I’m going to adjust the tone controls on the guitar amp or fiddle around with mic placement! I’ll mic up a snare drum. When I don’t like the tone, I’ll ask the drummer to adjust his/her tuning of the drum. Maybe I’ll tell them to hit the snare harder or something. Then I’ll use parallel compression on the snare in addition to compression on the entire drum bus. Maybe I’ll move the mic). Long story short. I highly expect to be selling my Presonus M80. Maybe not, though.

It just doesn’t make sense to have a Vintech 1272, a Trident S20, 8 channels of Presonus M80, 8 channels of stock preamps on the Presonus Firestudio and now 8 channels of M-Audio Octane preamps.

This gear stuff is ALWAYS confusing. WHYYYYYYY!!!!!!!

Brandon Drury

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Brandon Drury quit counting at 1,200 recorded songs in his busy home recording studio. He is the creator of and is the author of the Killer Home Recording series.

17 responses to No Mid-Grade 8 Channel AD Converters With ADAT Lightpipe

  1. TheSilentDrummer January 9, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    If you didn’t know and didn’t purchase yet (I think you did though), you can daisy chain presonus interfaces together by firewire. Just saying, if that helps.

  2. Brandon,

    I mentioned this in another post last year, but I have three Firepods daisy chained together and it works great for me. 24 simultaneous channels (overkill, maybe) but you can slap a whole bunch of mics on a drum kit and really expand the possibilities tracking a band live (additional room mics, too)
    I use Sonar Professional 6 and the only gripe I have is that I have not taken the time to see if you can rename the inputs when they show up in the drop down menu as they repeat with the same input names for each of the three units ( you know 1L, 1R, 1 Stereo, etc.) Just lazy I guess. I do have a standard input routing set-up saved in Sonar which helps.

    I just have a 24 channel snake running from the control room to my live and recording rooms and can plug in anything. granted, I do not have the subtle control of Avalon, Manley, etc. premaps at my disposal, but as you alluded to…why do you think they put all those knobs on the instruments and amps themselves. Adjust those knobs and buttons, select the right mic and take your time and the presonus premaps can be fairly transparent.

    I did things this way, because I got so confused about how to take multiple preamps into a firewire interface and do it with more than 8 channels. At one time even considered a Tascam DM3200 with the firewire option, but that just seemed totally unnecessary being that it is very easy to mix in the box with Sonar (my opinion)

    Sorry for the rambling, but to cut to the chase, it was a real pain trying to decide how to set everything up initially with all of the potential options out there. So everybody can take this post for what it is worth…wasting 3 minutes of your day.

  3. I know I can hook up multiple Firepods and Firestudios. I had ran 2 Delta 1010s in tandem for years. Would I be able to retain the use of the headphone mixing matrix if I was to use a different audio interface?


  4. TheSilentDrummer January 10, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    To the best of my knowledge, yes. What you do is make one unit a slave to the other. I don’t know how that would work in detail. You might actually get some more headphone mixes out of the second unit.

  5. How about this?

    M-Audio Octane

    “(disregard the Behringer ADA8000) for under a grand. Note: It’s not the Behringer sound quality that bothers me so much. It’s the fact that Behringer doesn’t appear to test the products before I buy them. I don’t have time for that.” unquote

    Hi Brandon

    I have seen about a gazillion of these ADA8000s around the traps. The only problem I have ever heard off was that some of the earlier batches, flipped the polarity on the analog output signals. Once spotted, this was not a big issue.

    I have been using three ADA8000s on a road PA and so far….. not one issue (touch wood!!). I have another two in the home studio. Behringer seemed to have got this one right.
    I also have a DDX3216, Ultracurve and Virtualiser Pro, and none of these have ever played up.

    Actually, most of the Behringer digital gear seems to be very good! (did I just say that?)
    It is almost like they actually know what they are doing in the digital world. (Maybe the digital stuff is just easier to copy)

    Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about a large part of their analogue gear.


  6. Dooh! That was not the one I wanted to link to… I was just looking at that one as you had mentioned it!!!!Dooh!!!

    Try this one:

  7. Some buddies had bought a Behringer ADAT thingy to go with their Yamaha 01V96. It worked the three days that I took to practice on the mixer. The day of the show it died.

    Maybe this was an isolated incident, but it was a profound enough experience that I decided I had no need for a Behringer product. Maybe I’m cheating myself.


  8. If you want to take a moral standpoint them leave the Behringer alone. They have copied a lot of gear but changed it just enough to avoid a “black and white” suit.

    If you need something to get you out of trouble, and you need it cheap and quick, then Behringer can be one answer.

    The Behringer that fell over on you is unfortunate but I have had a large frame Midas console do the same thing!

    I suppose the difference is, when I rang the Midas distibutor, they delivered and setup a replacement in under two hours!!!!

    Behringer: “Welcome to Behringer customer service. Our office hours have not been decided on yet so please call back when we make up our minds or the product, in question, is discontinued”



  9. For me, I’ve had the following Behringer products crap out on me in time of need:

    The ADA8000, The omni test microphone, a 4-channel headphone amp, and 2 pairs of headphones. Most of this stuff was brand new when it failed. I usually don’t like making across the board statements, but it’s clear to me that Behringer saves its money through lack of quality control.

    Then again, if you can get a good one, it usually is a decent product.


  10. Man, I’m feeling your pain. I have a Focusrite Saffire 26 i/o and a Mackie Onyx 1640. I really just want an 8-channel converter to ADAT to run from the Mackie’s direct outs (using the onyx preamps) into the saffire’s ADAT. When I’m ready, I’ll grab an Apogee, but in the short term why can’t I find a decent CONVERTER without cheap preamps that I’ll never use and don’t want to spend the money on?

    Argh! I wish someone had a good solution.

  11. Mackie makes one in that range. Sounds great. On the cleaner side of things. It’s not a color/personality piece. Supports a bunch of different sampling rates, comes with a M/S decoder built in, word clock i/o, a few of the pres have variable impedance. Digital connections are rock solid. It’s nice. About $1000. I’ve had mine for 2 years and have had 0 problems under every day, heavy use in a bust studio. I’d recommend it to anyone.

  12. Check eBay for RME -ADs of RME” anniversary” or frontier design’s Tango . These will provide more than you asked for and cost less than you’d expect.

  13. I’m in the same boat, so I’m curious if you’ve settled on anything. On the cheap end, other then the Behrigher and the ones discussed above there’s also the Aphex 142 (around 400).
    I am trying to upgrade from my current cheapo solution, which is to use my old ADAT XT-20 tape machines. They only do 20/48, but they do it quite nicely. Actually, given how cheap used XT-20s are (I saw them listed at Muscigoround for under 150; it gives me a headache thinking about it), it’s always a possible solution as long as you don’t mind the 20 bit limit. Just ignore the tape machine aspect (and the size and weight of the things), plug line inputs into the RCA or Elco inputs, and you have instant 20 bit data coming out through the ADAT lightpipes. Also, they to D to A as well, so you can use the outputs to monitor, etc.

  14. whats wrong with the PreSonus DigiMAX? Its well under 1k and has the exact same preamps you have in the firestudio.

  15. I don’t think the Digimax D8 (which I just finished up the review for) was out at the time of this writing.

    I was actually looking for just the converter since I already had the 8-channel Presonus M80.


  16. I guess the real kicker here in this argument is that after 2 years nothing has changed in the market except that behringer bought Midas….

    I too have been in the field when the main outs on a Midas 56 Chan Verona decided to go bad and fart every 10 seconds….
    Sent to authorized repair center, came back doing the same thing… Sometimes its nice to be able to go to the local shop and pick up a sub $500 replacement in the middle of a gig and not be dead in the water while you 10K+ board is on vacation….