Tag Archives: Fireface 800

SCI Prophet 5 bought! (and reloaded with patches!)

Today I bought an SCI Prophet 5 rev 3.0! This is cheapest one of the three editions made. That doesn’t mean it came cheap, I’ll have to sell at least 3-4 synthesizers to make up for the loss.

Rev 3.x is the last and most common main revision. 3.3 is the last sub revision and came with support for SCI’s midi kit, but it also got 120 patch memory slots. The 3.2 can easily be upgraded to 3.3, but 3.0 and 3.1 can’t without lot’s of hardware modification. Not having the capability to be upgraded to 120 memory slots or getting the official midi make 3.0 and 3.1 the cheapest ones. Kenton does however offer a midi kit, but it’s a bit expensive, so I think I’ll pass. The P5 has CV/gate for one voice if you need to sequence.

The seller said the P5 had the original patches loaded, but clearly it didn’t. On non-midi P5s patches can be saved to and loaded from cassette. Of course any audio recorder better than a tape recorder will do.  The patch data can be downloaded from analog.no as 8-bit wavs.

I downloaded bank 1 as it contains the first 40 factory patches. To be able to import it in Logic I had to convert it to 24-bit audio. I followed the instructions below taken from Prophet 5 Resources

  1. Look at the Prophet’s rear panel and set the Data Record slide switch to ENABLED.
  2. Set the tape to the position that holds your program. Listen for the announcement.
  3. Set playback level play at 0db.
  4. Hold the Prophet’s orange RECORD switch down while pressing the grey LOAD FROM TAPE switch.
  5. The Prophet front panel will go dark, except for the LOAD FROM TAPE switch indicator will be lit.
  6. The L.E.D. will go out after about 40 seconds, now Stop the tape.
  7. If the LOAD FROM TAPE light blinks, an something has gone wrong. Adjust your playback level and try again.

Unfortunately, this didn’t work. And the instruction doesn’t mention how to try again, or describes the confirmation you get if the loading was successful.

I read somewhere that some poly Oberheim from the same era needed quite a hot signal for it to work, and therefore the headphone jack was recommended instead of the ordinary outputs. Before testing the headphone jack I tried all output settings on my RME Fireface: -10 dBv, +4 dBu and Hi Gain – but it didn’t make any difference. Except on Hi Gain where I once actually got the blinking led, which means error. Maybe the signal was hot enough at least at some point?

I connected the cable to the headphone jack instead and restarted the load procedure. In the first run I had the headphone volume encoder on very low volume, and it actually gave an error – some success! I tried again by pressing the “Load from tape” button. This time I set the headphone volume encoder to point to a quarter to, and believe it or not, the patch data was loaded and it was confirmed by the P5 rebooting.

I shot a quick video of it, first showing a failure, then success:

Here are my additions to the standard instructions:

  • The LOAD FROM TAPE light will stay on until it gets something loud enough
  • The P5 will reboot after a successful load (you’ll notice the TUNE button light up for a couple of seconds)
  • I don’t know how to cancel a load, but if someone knows, please tell me
  • The P5 wants a hot signal. Start low and gradually increase the output level

Alesis AI3 arrived

Since I bought the DMX I’ve felt a lack of analog inputs. My current setup has a total of 18 analog ins, 8 on the Behringer ADA-8000 (all with preamps) and 10 on the Fireface (of which 6 have preamps). The Alesis AI3 will add another 8 ones without preamps to a total of 26. The only way to further expand is to buy an analog to SPDIF converter that will add 2 more inputs, a total of 28.

A couple of days ago I found an Alesis AI3 for a good price. I was first looking for another ADA-8000, but they seem to be keepers. I’ve read in several forums that the ADA-8000 actually uses Alesis manufactured AD converters, the same as in the AI3 and I haven’t found anything wrong with them. What differs from the ADA-8000 is that the AI3 has no preamps, even though it’s price is twice the ADA-8000’s. This means that there are no volume knobs and inputs on the front. That also means that I have to patch the inputs on the rear of the AI3 to a patch bay. Anyway, the package arrived today and here’s a view of it before it was unboxed.

The Alesis AI3 came in a familiar kind of box from Thomann, although this AI3 was a second hand. Thomann hasn't  had it for sale for ages.
The Alesis AI3 came in a familiar kind of box from Thomann, although this AI3 was a second hand. Thomann hasn’t had it for sale for ages.

The install was easy, two toslink cables were included so all I did was to connect the in and out of the AI3 to the RME’s ADAT2 in and out. The ADAT1 is used by the ADA-8000. I opened RME’s excellent Totalmix application and named the inputs accordingly.

View of RME's Totalmix software. 1-10 are the analog ins on the Fireface, 11-12 are the unused SPDIF inputs, 13-20 is for ADAT1 which in my case is the ADA-8000 and 21-28 is the AI3.
View of RME’s Totalmix software. 1-10 are the analog ins on the Fireface, 11-12 are the unused SPDIF inputs, 13-20 is for ADAT1 which in my case is the ADA-8000 and 21-28 is the AI3.

Except for the stereo SPDIF input, my RME Fireface 800 is now maxed. The only way to add more inputs is to add one or two more Fireface 800s and chain them together. When it comes to configuring the AI3, there’s not very much to configure. Two buttons on the front are all there is. One is to select whether the AI3 should output the analog ins or the ADAT in to the ADAT out. The other one selects operating level. I actually use -10dBv although it’s the consumer level (+4dBu is quieter). The reason why is that most of my gear has quite low output signals.

The AI3 has two buttons on the front, what to output to the toslink and what level to operate on. +4 dBu is the professional level, and is actually quieter than the consumer level - 10 dBv which is louder.
The AI3 has two buttons on the front, what to output to the toslink and what level to operate on.
+4 dBu is the professional level, and is actually quieter than the consumer level – 10 dBv which is louder.

One interesting thing is that the AI3 needs to have both the in and out ADAT connected for it to sync. Without the in toslink I got a very interesting “bit-crush” sound when the ADA-8000 was turned on. I don’t know why the ADA-8000 doesn’t need an in toslink, but I’ll buy one anyway just to make sure everything is in sync.

The RME Fireface 800 shows that both ADAT inputs are used.
The RME Fireface 800 shows that both ADAT inputs are used.
View of RME's Fireface settings. The RME is the Master of the ADA-8000 and AI3. I always record at 24-bit 44.1 kHz. Both ADAT-devices goes to max 48 kHz. Without ADAT units, the Fireface can manage 24-Bit 192 kHz!
View of RME’s Fireface settings. The RME is the Master of the ADA-8000 and AI3. I always record at 24-bit 44.1 kHz. Both ADAT-devices goes to max 48 kHz. Without ADAT units, the Fireface can manage 24-Bit 192 kHz!

 

I had to reorganize the rack to make space for the AI3 and one more Neutrik patchbay (which I haven’t purchased yet. The Roland S-330 and U-220 was moved below the Microwave. I had noticed that the S-330 power cable was a bit glitchy, so I decided to open it up and search for the problem. Read more about the power cable replacement here.

Testing the AI3 before mounting it in the rack.
Testing the AI3 before mounting it in the rack.
The AI3 is in the rack and the Oberheim DMX is back on top where it belongs! I saved a 1U free space for another Neutrik NYS-SPP-L1 patch bay. The reason for not putting the ADA-8000 next to the RME is because both have preamps and tend to get very hot. The patch bays are passive, and the AI3 doesn't get hot either.
The AI3 is in the rack and the Oberheim DMX is back on top where it belongs! I saved a 1U free space for another Neutrik NYS-SPP-L1 patch bay. The reason for not putting the ADA-8000 next to the RME is because both have preamps and tend to get very hot. The patch bays are passive, and the AI3 doesn’t get hot either.