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  • #31
    I've been hooked on CreamWare system since they introduced Pulsar in 98/99...can't remember exactly what year, hehehe.

    I started out with the humble Pulsar I Plus then eventually ended up with 23 DSP system with A16 Ultra box. I'm on SFP 4.5 BTW.

    I'd assume the digital mixer in this test drive is going to be DA7. I'll have to look for your review of CreamWare stuff to see if there are any other options for adding mic pre's to the system.

    Some of those digital mixers nowadays don't seem too far out of range either considering they also provide nice control surface.

    But anyway, I don't want to derail your review anymore then I already have so I'll just shut up and watch the master at work.

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    • #32
      << I'd assume the digital mixer in this test drive is going to be DA7. I'll have to look for your review of CreamWare stuff to see if there are any other options for adding mic pre's to the system.>>

      The way I used to add mic pres to the Creamware system was indeed by feeding the DA7 ADAT outs to the Creamware ADAT ins. I also tried using a mic pre directly into the analog ins, but that didn't sound as good.

      The DigiMAX FS seems well-suited to the task. Although (as you mentioned) it's lacking a mixer's control surface, these days you might just be better off getting something like a Mackie control anyway.
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      • #33
        Taking a cue from Mike Martin's comment, and with the TC Electronic Konnekt 24D sitting in front of me, I figured I'd see how the DigiMAX FS works as an "expander module" for the Konnekt 24D. The K24D has two mic ins, so being able to add another 8 could definitely be useful for many recording situations. (I will also be posting some of these comments in the Konnekt 24D Pro Review thread, as it will be of interest to those readers as well.)

        I hooked up an ADAT light pipe connector from the DigiMAX FS optical out 1-8 to the Konnekt 24D optical in, but got little warning exclamation marks for each channel in the TC mixer panel. This is because there are actually two sync settings in the K24D control panel, one when it's working in stand-alone mode, the other for when it's part of a system (which of course is the case when using it with the DigiMAX FS). I wanted to try both synching the DigiMAX FS to the K24D and vice-versa, so I scooted over to the System Settings page to edit the system clock settings.

        I set the Sync Source to ADAT, matched the sample rates, and all was well. I wanted to see what would happen if I deliberately misset the DigiMAX FS, so I changed its sample rates and also set it to external clock. In the latter case, the DigiMAX FS's four sample LEDs "chase" so it's kind of hard to miss that there's a problem. At the K24D end of things, the "External Lock" status turns red and says "No Reference" if you either change the sync relationship or sample rate at the DigiMAX FS.

        I then set the K24D sync source to "Internal" without changing the DigiMAX FS to "External sync." A warning symbol (exclamation mark) showed up next to the ADAT inputs in the K24D ADAT channels, but audio still made it from the DigiMAX FS to the K24D, showed up in the meters, and sounded just fine. I must admit this mystified me; could it be that because both use the JetPLL technology that the clocks were so close they appeared to be synched, even if they weren't? And that if I waited long enough, eventually there would be enough drift to create a pop or other artifact? Maybe someone from PreSonus or TC could weigh on in this, because it always seems strange when something works when it supposedly shouldn't be working.

        I then set the DigiMAX FS to External ADAT sync. The little warnings went away, and all was happy in sync-land. Still, I'm curious how I could get away with the mic sounding just fine going into the Konnekt 24D even though in theory, there was a sync problem and the K24D put up a clear graphic warning that things weren't as they should be.

        Another surprise is that doing all these nasty clock things produced no clicks, pops, or "tearing" in the sound. I'm not sure if the K24D or the DigiMAX FS gets the credit for being well-behaved, but in case, it's nice to know I could be really careless with these settings and not have to worry about blowing out my eardrums or monitors.
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        • #34
          I figured while I was here, I'd do another comparison between the FS mics pres and those in the Konnekt 24D. I used the same basic procedure as when comparing to the E-Mu 1820m (see previous post). I did note that the K24D's control panel had the Fabrik C channel strip enabled in the input I was using, so I made sure that I turned it off before proceeding.

          On playback, unlike with the 1820m, it was very hard to pick out any differences whatsoever. Click on the attachment to see both signals run through Sonar 6's Analyst plug-in. The upper curve is the DigiMAX FS; the lower curve, the Konnekt 24D. Before looking at the graphs, I thought I might have heard a bit more fullness with the K24D, but wasn't at all sure if what I was hearing was "real" or not. As you can see from the curve, there is just a slightly higher average response in the 40-80Hz range in the K24D, but that could easily be due to interaction between the mic and input rather than anything inherent in the preamps.

          Given that both E-Mu and TC really tout their mic preamps as being something special, and only have two of them in their interfaces, the DigiMAX FS's eight mic pres certainly hold their own against the K24D -- the similarity between the two curves speaks for itself -- and seem slightly more "accurate" than the 1820m pres. Granted, we're not comparing the DigiMAX FS pres to some high-end audiophile box like the ADL 600, but as far as I'm concerned, no one need worry about the accuracy or quality of what they're buying into with the DigiMAX FS. They're about as good as you're going to get for the money.
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          • #35
            So far, I must say that this is one of the more uneventful Pro Reviews I've done -- and that's a good thing! The DigiMAX FS works as expected, syncs cleanly with several sources, behaves when I set things wrong just to see what will happen, has really fine mic pres, doesn't run hot, and certainly appears to have a sturdy build quality.

            Based on what I've seen so far, I expect the "Digital Mixer Expansion Test" will go smoothly. That will also give me a chance to check out work clock sync with the DA7. If there are going to be any fireworks, I expect it will be checking out the SMUX function with the Creamware card, especially as I've never tried using SMUX ADAT connections so it's going to be a learning experience!

            Meanwhile, it took a little longer to set up for that test than I expected, so I won't be getting to the DA7 test tonight. But there's always tomorrow...

            As always, this is an open forum so feel free to ask comments and make comments. And don't forget that if you're a registered user, you can check the "EMail Notification" box at the bottom of this page so you can get an email whenever someone replies in the thread.
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            • #36
              What with the interest about using the DigiMAX FS with Creamware (or other ADAT-interfaceable gear), I decided to postpone the DA7 test and dive into SMUX land. It was not without some trepidation that I approached the ADAT SMUX capabilities, because I'd never attempted it before, and besides, the only piece of gear in my studio with SMUX compatibility is my Creamware SCOPE system. So if the DigiMAX FS didn't work with that, it was either going to be a very short evening -- or a very long one, as I beat my head against the wall trying to figure out what was wrong. But SCOPE has always been very trustworthy for me, and so far the DigiMAX FS had passed all its tests with flying colors, so...

              I started by setting up a suitable routing in the SCOPE routing window. I wanted to use SCOPE as the interface for Sonar, so I grabbed two SMUX sources in SCOPE, and fed their outs to 8 ASIO destinations that could show up as inputs for recording within Sonar. To keep things simple, I set up a stereo ASIO source to feed the SCOPE analog output. Click on the attachment to see the SCOPE routing window and system settings. I fed the SCOPE analog output to the TC Konnekt 24D, as it's set up for another Pro Review that I'm doing. It basically served as a headphone amp.

              In the SCOPE Samplerate Settings window, note that the system was slaving to the DigiMAX FS, with a sample rate of 96kHz. The sync source was the SMUX A input. For latency (not shown), I chose 3ms at 96kHz.

              In the screen shot, you'll also note I set up a SCOPE MicroMixer module. I split the outs from the SMUX sources to the MicroMixer, which basically served as a meter bridge so I could verify what signals were coming in, and on what channels. Note that channel 7's meter indicates activity, which was from the mic plugged into channel 7 of the DigiMAX FS. I tested all the DigiMAX FS channels and yes, they all came through just fine. The only problem I had was that occasionally, there would be weird distortion but it was easily fixed by just switching a SCOPE parameter to something else (e.g., different sync) then switching back again. Once it settled in to the right setting, it stayed there -- the distortion would happen only when first initializing the system.

              I must say that the DigiMAX FS sounded pretty phenomenal as I monitored it through the Konnekt 24D. I don't know if this was because it was running at 96kHz, the SCOPE system was getting the JetPLL clock, the electronics in the Konnekt 24D, or a combination of factors; but it seemed sweeter than what I was hearing last night at 44.1kHz. However, given the complexity of the initial setup, I wasn't about to try to do an A-B comparison of 96kHz vs. 44.1kHz right now because I was anxious to see how all this was going to work in Sonar. Maybe a little later...
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              • #37
                At the Sonar end of things, I enabled the ASIO SCOPE drivers, set the sample rate to 96kHz, and restarted Sonar (when you change drivers or sample rates, you need to close and re-open). I set up a track to record, assigned the correct input to the track, and...yes! The meters moved, and monitoring through the program yielded that same great sound quality. So I clicked on record, and the whole process worked flawlessly. Click on the attachment to see the screen shot of Sonar's Track View in the process of recording at 96kHz.
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                • #38
                  The SMUX protocol was, I believe, developed by Sonorus. It represents an ingenious way to get the old-school 48kHz ADAT light pipe to work at 88.2kHz and 96kHz, and I was impressed that it worked in my system without any head-scratching.

                  However, I also should give some props to the perennialy-underrated Creamware SCOPE system. Getting it to work with SMUX was just one more example of its exceptional versatility. Every time I use it, I'm reminded why it's my "desert island" audio interface system...because with the DSP, soft synths, and signal processors, it's a whole lot more than an audio interface.

                  Anyway, having little experience in SMUX-land, I wonder what other gear is compatible with the SMUX protocol. Maybe someone from PreSonus, or the HC community, can chime in with some examples of SMUX-compatible gear you might use with the DigiMAX FS.

                  One nice thing about the DigiMAX FS implementation is that it still delivers 8 channels in SMUX mode. Of course, though, the SMUX thing is really just an extra added attraction for the DigiMAX FS because you can always go out the regular ADAT port and get 8 channels at 44.1/48kHz.

                  And speaking of which, it seems that with the SCOPE system, if you have the SMUX input set up and are slaved to the DigiMAX FS, you can toggle between listening to SMUX at 96kHz and "old school" ADAT at 48kHz simply by changing the sync reference within the Samplerate settings window. In other words, when you set the sync to ADAT A only, the sample rate pops down to 48kHz; sync to SMUX, and it goes to 96kHz.

                  So could I hear a difference? Actually, I do think the 96kHz setting did sound a little better...and I'm someone who is pretty skeptical about high sample rates. I'm not talking any kind of big difference, just a sort of very subtle "air" that didn't seem to be there at 44.1kHz or 48kHz. Or maybe it was just my imagination, but one thing's for sure: 96kHz sure didn't sound any worse!
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                  • #39
                    This experience basically answers the question about whether the DigiMAX FS is a worthwhile accessory to a digital interface that has only ADAT I/O, or to devices that have limited I/O and could use a mic input expansion box: The answer is "yes." It sounds really good, can be a slave or master, and is extremely straightforward to set up. There really aren't any downsides.

                    I'm surprised no one has brought up the fact that there's no input pad, and asked whether that's a problem. I'll need someone from PreSonus to confirm this, but I'm assuming the preamp design is such that there are no distortion or headroom issues if you turn the gain down far enough, i.e., turning it down is equivalent to adding a pad, as opposed to running with gain and using an input pad to reduce the incoming level. I haven't been able to overload the input but maybe I'm just not trying hard enough. Rick? Anyone?

                    All right, that's enough for now. Next up is the "expand digital mixer to give more aux buses" test. Meanwhile, it seems there are a lot of page views for this thread, but not a lot of questions. I hope it's because I'm explaining everything so well but please, don't be shy if there's something you want to know.
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                    • #40
                      From my experience with using SCOPE with Soundcraft's Digital 328 via ADAT interfaces, I remember having sync problem when I'd set Digital 328 as master. Of course, when SCOPE was set as master, everything was fine.
                      Between CreamWare A16 Ultra & SCOPE, I'm pretty sure I have to set SCOPE as master.

                      Reading from prior posts, I assume DigimaxFS's JetTPPL takes care of any jitter problems regardless of which device is set as sync master. I just wonder if one device functions better as a master verses the other (between DigimaxFS & SCOPE).

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                      • #41
                        I didn't test SCOPE as master, because I figured setting it as the slave was the more difficult of the two tasks for it. I can try it in Master with the DigiMAX FS as slave if you'd like, but the DigiMAX FS slaves well with everything else I've tried so I didn't make testing that aspect a big priority.
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                        • #42
                          Hi Craig,

                          Thanks for a very informative review. I'd be interested in the results of setting the FS as the master as well. I am a Digi002R user and am looking to add an additional 8 outputs (which is why I'm looking forward to the next part for your test as additional Aux Busses/Outputs) and the additional pres would be nice (although I have a fairly large selection of Boutique designs as well as my own creations). The 002R clock is notorious for being bad and I'm wondering if the FS improves it with the newer/better clock?

                          I assume you are clocking via the ADAT port NOT the BNC/Coax terminals?

                          I'd also second a closer look at the electronics. It seems to be strongly SMD based and would also love to know what IC amp the pres are designed around.

                          Thanks again for the informative review.

                          Regards

                          Matt
                          -------
                          Matt Allison
                          www.matt-allison.com

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                          • #43
                            Hi Craig. I'd also like to thank you for your in-depth review! Definitely a great resource.

                            Clocks
                            I'm looking to add better pres and AD/DA to my M-Audio Projectmix I/O. I have heard others mention that a more stable clock source could make the pres in the Projectmix sound better as well. Or I guess not the pres themselves, but the AD in the Projectmix. Do you think the Digimax FS might have this effect? As in, in addition to the expanded i/o I'll get, do you think the Digimax will make the pres in my Projectmix sound better? If so, this would only work with the Digimax as the master clock, right?

                            While I'm on clocking questions, I was wondering if there's any difference between using the BNC word clock connector or getting a clock signal through ADAT lightpipe or SPDIF. Is one method more accurate/preferable?

                            Pads
                            As you mentioned pads on the pres, or the lack thereof, I thought I'd put in a vote to get some more info on this topic. Currently with my Projectmix I/O, which doesn't have pads, my Snare mics (sm57 and 58) and overhead condensers peak fairly often when playing loud. Just wondering if I get the Digimax, will I need to also get some outboard pres with pads to take care of this? It would be nice if the Digimax could handle these hot inputs...

                            Thanks again for the great review!

                            Nick

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                            • #44
                              <<I assume you are clocking via the ADAT port NOT the BNC/Coax terminals?>>

                              Yes.

                              <<Thanks for a very informative review. I'd be interested in the results of setting the FS as the master as well. I am a Digi002R user and am looking to add an additional 8 outputs (which is why I'm looking forward to the next part for your test as additional Aux Busses/Outputs) and the additional pres would be nice (although I have a fairly large selection of Boutique designs as well as my own creations). The 002R clock is notorious for being bad and I'm wondering if the FS improves it with the newer/better clock?>>

                              I may not have been clear. I've used the FS several times as the master, including with the Creamware card doing the SMUX thing. The FS works great as a master or slave with everything I've tested. Unfortunately, I don't have a Digi002R for testing so I can't comment on that particular unit. However, if it has a jittery clock, I think you'll find that synching to the FS would clean it up.
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                              • #45
                                <<I'm looking to add better pres and AD/DA to my M-Audio Projectmix I/O. I have heard others mention that a more stable clock source could make the pres in the Projectmix sound better as well. Or I guess not the pres themselves, but the AD in the Projectmix. Do you think the Digimax FS might have this effect? As in, in addition to the expanded i/o I'll get, do you think the Digimax will make the pres in my Projectmix sound better? >>

                                In theory, it should as long as the FS clock is more stable than the Projectmix I/O.

                                <<If so, this would only work with the Digimax as the master clock, right?>>

                                That's what I would assume; maybe someone from PreSonus could give a definitive answer.

                                <<While I'm on clocking questions, I was wondering if there's any difference between using the BNC word clock connector or getting a clock signal through ADAT lightpipe or SPDIF. Is one method more accurate/preferable?>>

                                Again, this is pushing the boundaries of my knowledge a bit, but I my understanding is that a stable clock is a stable clock, regardless of whether its output appears on a BNC connector or ADAT light pipe.
                                Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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