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Thread: What is better? ADAT connection or analog line connection?

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    What is better? ADAT connection or analog line connection?

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    Hi everybody,
    I currently own a Fireface 400 audio interface, which I connect via firewire to my laptop.
    It has two mic pres, so I am thinking adding some more pres for multichannel takes.
    I have two chances:
    1) I get a standard mic pre (es RME Quadmic) with analog line output, and I plus those outputs to the line inputs of the FF 400;
    2) I get a mic pre with A/D conversion and ADAT output, and I plug such an ADAT signal into the FF400.

    Is there a general rule that says if an alternative is better than the other? Would there be any advantage in having a mic pre with ADAT output and choose - from time to time - to connect it either via analog line input (which is normally provided) or via ADAT?

    Hope the question was understandable (I am sorry if my english is poor).
    TIA
    Giovanni

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    Any hints?

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    My rule of thumb is to keep the clock and converters in the same box if possible, which would make me lean towards an analog connection to the Fireface.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bouldersoundguy View Post
    My rule of thumb is to keep the clock and converters in the same box if possible, which would make me lean towards an analog connection to the Fireface.
    Makes sense, thank you.

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    I can't be as definite as bouldersoundguy. I'd have to say "it depends".

    First, bouldersoundguy mentioned clocking and this is important--you need a scheme to keep things synchronised. I use some ADAT interfaces and have the ability to distribute wordclock from a single source (in my case, my digital mixer). Done this way it's not an issue--and so long as your gear allows you to set up wordclock in some way, it shouldn't be for you either.

    FYI, in any large digital setup, distributed wordclock is the norm--keeping clock and converters in the same box only works in a pretty small set up.

    Second, the big difference will be the quality of the gear you're using with the choice of ADAT vs. analogue not making all that much difference. Top quality mic pre amps with ADAT out will outperform cheap and nasty mic pres with analogue out. Conversely, a nice analogue mic pre will probably out perform Behringer ADA8000 pre amps with ADAT out.
    That's what I do. I drink and I know things.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobbsy View Post
    I can't be as definite as bouldersoundguy. I'd have to say "it depends".

    First, bouldersoundguy mentioned clocking and this is important--you need a scheme to keep things synchronised. I use some ADAT interfaces and have the ability to distribute wordclock from a single source (in my case, my digital mixer). Done this way it's not an issue--and so long as your gear allows you to set up wordclock in some way, it shouldn't be for you either.

    FYI, in any large digital setup, distributed wordclock is the norm--keeping clock and converters in the same box only works in a pretty small set up.

    Second, the big difference will be the quality of the gear you're using with the choice of ADAT vs. analogue not making all that much difference. Top quality mic pre amps with ADAT out will outperform cheap and nasty mic pres with analogue out. Conversely, a nice analogue mic pre will probably out perform Behringer ADA8000 pre amps with ADAT out.
    This makes sense, too.
    I my case we're talking about a quite small setup (the digital core of it being my FF400).
    As I wrote, a no-ADAT pre like the Quadmic could be an option (from what I read, RME pres are well ranked). On the other hand, I am wondering if something like the Audient Mico (with ADAT output) would be better.
    I found a used Quadmic for 250 euros (about 320 dollars) which seems a good bargain...

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    Just on the merits of analog connection versus ADAT connection I would go with analog. It's far more likely that ADAT connection will add jitter (to the converters receiving external clock) than decrease it. But with any decent gear the effect is likely to be very small, so that pretty much leaves you with the sound of the preamplifiers as the main deciding factor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bouldersoundguy View Post
    Just on the merits of analog connection versus ADAT connection I would go with analog. It's far more likely that ADAT connection will add jitter (to the converters receiving external clock) than decrease it. But with any decent gear the effect is likely to be very small, so that pretty much leaves you with the sound of the preamplifiers as the main deciding factor.
    Do you know the RME pres? Do you consider them clean and neutral (I happen to record only ancient music, so I think I'd better aim at this kind of non-colored sound)? Somebody makes me think that 100 euros per channel (here in Italy the Quadmic goes for about 400 euros) isn't that much if you look for quality...

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    Quote Originally Posted by giopad65 View Post
    Do you know the RME pres?
    I've had my hands on a Fireface, but not enough to really have an idea how they compare.

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    I've used RME interfaces with built in pre amps and can confirm I'd call them "clean and neutral". It seems likely their stand alone pre amps would follow this trend--but I guess there's no guarantee.
    That's what I do. I drink and I know things.
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