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  • #46
    The Panasonic DA7 mixer is pretty old at this point and hasn't been marketed by Panasonic in years. But it's been a real workhorse for me, and remains one of the better-sounding digital mixers I've heard.

    Its main limitations are an inability to do sample rates higher than 48kHz (although the EQs are double-clocked, which I think is one reason why I like the sound of the EQs). The other is that there are only 8 LXR mic inputs in a stock unit. You can buy expansion cards with breakout cables and such for more inputs, but given that the mixer has two ADAT expansion cards, I wanted to see if the DigiMAX FS could serve as a suitable expansion unit.

    I patched the DigiMAX FS ADAT out to the DA7's ADAT in that gets distributed to channels 17-24. In this situation, the FS had to be the master because I didn't hook up a DA7 ADAT out > DigiMAX FS ADAT in connection. At first, there was something really weird about the sound -- a sort of metallic, midrangey effect. After scratching my head for a bit, I noticed that the DigiMAX FS's internal clock rate was -- doh! -- still set at 96kHz from my SMUX experiments. Frankly, I was amazed I heard anything at all.

    Once I sorted that out, and endured a few headphone blasts when there wasn't a clock frequehcy, the DA7 was more than happy to sync to the FS and locked with no problems.
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    • #47
      Now that I had 8 channels of XLR mic pres coming into channels 14-24, I figured the next step was to compare the mic pres in the FS to those in the DA7.

      It should be noted the DA7's mic pres were quite something for their day. Panasonic had developed some big-bux mic pres for a theater console they were selling in Japan, and the DA7 benefitted from trickle-down technology and economies of scale. In fact, the mic pres were one of the reasons I bought the DA7 in the first place. So I was curious to see how they'd stack up.

      Although the low-end fullness was pretty much the same, I did notice that the FS preamps had more "definition" in the high frequencies. It wasn't so much a question of better frequency response; they both "hit the high notes." But the FS ones had more detail, as if you were playing back at a somewhat higher level (no, I wasn't!).
      N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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      • #48
        As the DA7 has word clock out and in, I thought I'd check out how nicely it played with the DigiMAX FS. I decided to make the FS the master, so I ran FS word clock out to DA7 word clock (terminating the DA7 in, of course) and switched over to word clock sync from ADAT sync.

        It worked just fine. I didn't notice any sonic difference bouncing back and forth between the two sync sources, which implies to me that a stable clock is a stable clock, regardless of the medium over which it appears (word clock, ADAT, SPDIF). Does anyone from PreSonus (or anyone else, for that matter) know if one clock format is inherently more stable? In other words, all things being equal, if one has a choice of sync sources is one the "premium" one?
        N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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        • #49
          Hi Craig,

          Thanks for the answers and further posts. In relation to the above posts any chance you could upload samples of the DA7 vs Digimax FS for us avid readers to listen to? I'd love to do an A/B here at home to 'audibly' hear your findings.

          Thanks again

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

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          • #50
            Another DA7 limitation, in fact a limitation of most digital mixers, is that there never seem to be enough aux outs. The DA7 has six aux outs: stereo digital over SPDIF, and two stereo outs that can be used as four mono outs. There are of course insert jacks on the inputs, but patch in an analog vocoder and reverb, and that's all she wrote.

            However, the DigiMAX FS has a cool and unexpected feature: 8 DAC outputs that can "listen" to the ADAT in (these DAC outs are in addition to the direct outs that come from each input). The DA7 has a total of 16 analog ins (the aforementioned eight XLR ins plus eight line-level balanced inputs), making it well-suited to the DigiMAX FS.

            I hooked up the DA7 ADAT out to the DigiMAX FS ADAT in, set the DA7 to master, and synced the DigiMAX FS to external ADAT sync. The ADAT outs show up as bus outs in the DA7, so now I had eight bused aux outs. I patched one of the DAC outs back into one of the analog line in channels. So far so good.

            The big limitation, of course, is that as the auxes are bused signals, there's no way to control the level going to the bus except by altering the channel fader, which of course alters the mix. I was hoping that I might be able to use the bus pan control with mono devices to serve as a pseudo-volume control, but I never got that far: The sound coming back into the DA7 had a nasty distortion, as if it had gone through bit reduction.

            I tried other sync scenarios, other DAC outputs, balanced audio lines, audio unbalanced lines...nothing could get rid of that nasty distortion. Was it somehow a problem with the DA7 ADAT outs? I looped the ADAT out back to the ADAT in on the DA7, and it performed exactly as expected.

            After beating my head against the wall for over an hour, I gave up...I just couldn't get the DAC outs to be happy. Could it be a hardware problem within the DigiMAX FS? I'm going to try the DAC outs with some other ADAT-compatible gear and see what happens. Stay tuned...
            N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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            • #51
              This time I took the ADAT output of the Konnekt 24D, patched it into the DigiMAX FS, and there was a hopeful sign as the FS synched right up to K24D. With the K24D, the ADAT outs go to ADAT channels 1+2. I monitored DAC outs 1 and 2, and...same problem, same nasty distortion. This was such a simple setup, with so few variables, I don't think there any sync or level mismatches.

              As I can't imagine that the FS is operating as it's supposed to, and as I'm really quite sure I didn't do anything wrong with the hookup, my gut feeling says it's a hardware problem. I realize hardware problems are pretty rare these days, but...I don't know what else it could be. Rick? Have you heard about anything like this...am I doing some bonehead thing?
              N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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              • #52
                Well at this point I only had two things left to test: The inserts and the direct outs. So hold on a second while I patch an Aphex Compressor into the channel 1 insert...

                Okay, that works.
                N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                • #53
                  Okay, let's try the direct outs...I'll patch into an input of my DA7...

                  Yup, they work just fine too. And just to make sure there's no confusion, these are post-preamp direct outs, not direct outs from the mic inputs. But you knew that
                  N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                  • #54
                    <<Thanks for the answers and further posts. In relation to the above posts any chance you could upload samples of the DA7 vs Digimax FS for us avid readers to listen to? I'd love to do an A/B here at home to 'audibly' hear your findings.>>

                    The only problem with that is the biggest file I can attach to a post with this version of VBulletin is 102K, which is a little over six seconds of audio with 128kbps MP3 audio. So while I've used quite a few audio examples in pro reviews (for example, check out the Sonar 6 Pro Review) to show obvious effects like quantizing drums or specific guitar effects, the kind of subtle differences I'm talking about get demolished just by being converted to MP3.

                    I've been lobbying for private hard disk space on the HC server to stash bigger audio and video examples that people could download...maybe someday
                    N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                    • #55
                      Originally posted by Anderton
                      However, the DigiMAX FS has a cool and unexpected feature: 8 DAC outputs that can "listen" to the ADAT in (these DAC outs are in addition to the direct outs that come from each input). The DA7 has a total of 16 analog ins (the aforementioned eight XLR ins plus eight line-level balanced inputs), making it well-suited to the DigiMAX FS.

                      I hooked up the DA7 ADAT out to the DigiMAX FS ADAT in, set the DA7 to master, and synced the DigiMAX FS to external ADAT sync. The ADAT outs show up as bus outs in the DA7, so now I had eight bused aux outs. I patched one of the DAC outs back into one of the analog line in channels. So far so good.

                      ... The sound coming back into the DA7 had a nasty distortion, as if it had gone through bit reduction.

                      I tried other sync scenarios, other DAC outputs, balanced audio lines, audio unbalanced lines...nothing could get rid of that nasty distortion. Was it somehow a problem with the DA7 ADAT outs? I looped the ADAT out back to the ADAT in on the DA7, and it performed exactly as expected.

                      After beating my head against the wall for over an hour, I gave up...I just couldn't get the DAC outs to be happy. Could it be a hardware problem within the DigiMAX FS? I'm going to try the DAC outs with some other ADAT-compatible gear and see what happens. Stay tuned...


                      I was wondering if the problem with the nasty distortion coming from the DAC outs is solved or solvable. I was looking to use the digimax fs as filler pres and the DAC outs as main outs plus for different headphone mixes (since it'll give me 8 new outputs for my daw). In all scenarios the nasty bit reduction type distortion was present? This is actually a mayor flaw then. Any news?

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                      • #56
                        great review by the way

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                        • #57
                          <<In all scenarios the nasty bit reduction type distortion was present? This is actually a mayor flaw then. Any news?>>

                          Yes. I contacted PreSonus about this, and they were going to overnight a new model to me on Wednesday, but the shipping department was closed because of the Thanksgiving holidays. They'll be sending one out on Monday and I'll have it on Tuesday.

                          They could not duplicate the problem there and no one else has reported anything similar, so it seems likely this is a hardware problem unique to my unit. UPS is not always kind & gentle with their shipping practices and I did notice the side of the box had been hit pretty hard. The fact that everything else works perfectly also leads me to believe it's an isolated issue. I'll report back on Tuesday.

                          BTW based on what other people have told me, PreSonus is responsive to customer problems in general, not just to some guy doing a Pro Review on Harmony Central
                          N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                          • #58
                            Cool. It hopefully and probably IS an isolated issue (would be ridiculous if not). Thanks. Looking forward to more on this pro review.
                            I wrote to presonus once and they never answered. But i'm not yet a customer, so, maybe that's why.

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                            • #59
                              <<I wrote to presonus once and they never answered.>>

                              FWIW, they opened up a forum last week to help provide support for potential as well as existing customers.
                              N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                              • #60
                                I just installed my new Digimax FS, due in part to this review. Thanks for the good information guys and gals.

                                It hooked up to my RME 9652 card and I was up and running in minutes. After an hour or two all of my Sonar (4PE 6PE on the way) sessions were up and running without a glitch. I A/B'd the converters in the FS with my old 16 bit converters and the difference was immediately noticeable.

                                I need extra outs since I will often submix effects though my hardware boxes and I only have one set of SPIDF outs that are dedicated to my DAT or Lexicon MPX-1. They also make monitoring and cue mixes a breeze, particularly when I work with a couple of guys who are seriously into the MORE ME thing.

                                JT

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