This week I packed up the Antelope Zen Studio which I had for review and sent it on its merry way.
And that left me with the question above? I can get AES into the computer, I can get MADI into the computer, I can get analogue at mic or line level, but getting ADAT in there is not so easy. There are two reasons for this, one that is particular to me and one that is general. My problem is that my Marian UCON usb interface doesn’t have drivers for Windows beyond XP, and my two Roland interfaces don’t have ADAT and my laptop doesn’t have firewire so I need a new USB interface with ADAT. Which is where we hit the general problem. There aren’t hundreds of USB interfaces with ADAT and actually I would be very happy with ADAT in and out and very little else, whereas in the market ADAT is available only on higher specced models with features that I probably don’t need. Well like the Zen, lovely though it is. I already have eight fantastic mic amps in an RME Micstasy and I can access them easily over MADI but that rules out location recording as I don’t have a MADI/USB interface. Of course I could use the Micstasy’s ADAT output but that’s where we came in.
Focusrite have been big players in the interface market and their USB range include models with ADAT at under £300, probably the most cost effective way of getting that ADAT fix. RME have a massive reputation in the field of interfaces and their Babyface is probably the most portable and innovative way of marrying ADAT to your DAW. More expensive than some of the Focusrite range, but then you can slip it into your pocket and it is bus powered. Audient have spotted the gap in the market and their iD22 has some interesting professional features like balanced inserts and their highly regarded mic amps. I’m ignoring Firewire here because I’m thinking primarily of an interface I can use on the move with a laptop. Now if you have a Mac laptop with thunderbolt this might be a good time to buy a cheap second hand firewire interface assuming you can get it to work with a firewire to thunderbolt converter. Or Focusrite are just introducing a range of Thunderbolt interfaces. I don’t have thunderbolt so I can’t really help you there.
I’ve never owned any MOTU gear but they too have USB to ADAT options. The Track 16 Hybrid seems to be the cheapest and looks like a competitor for the Babyface if a bit beefier. At the moment though in an effort to reduce outlay (always a consideration) I think I will have to try and put XP on the laptop and keep my UCON in business. Hopefully a review model of the iD22 will be forth coming as that looks like the best bet for me at any rate in the short term.