Category Archives: Studio gear

RME Octamic D

I just purchased and installed the perfect companion to my Fireface 800 – an Octamic D! This means that the Alesis AI3 and Behringer ADA8000 are out the window.

Even though I now only get 8 ADAT channels in instead of 16, the Octamic D supports S/MUX (sample multiplexing) which means that the 8 channels can be run at 96 kHz using two ADAT connections. Also, the converters are probably much better. I’ve noticed before that most stuff sounds more defined using the Fireface outputs compared to the ADA8000 or AI3. The ADA8000 sounds better than the AI3, according to my ears.

Installation was very simple, I connected the Octamic’s MAIN and AUX ADAT outputs to the Fireface’s ADAT1 and ADAT2 respectively. On the back of the Octamic are six dip switches that I set to internal sync (Master), 48 kHz and “Double mode” (=sample rate *2). The Fireface automatically detects itself as slave (synced by ADAT)  and is set to 96 kHz  when the Octamic is turned  on.

Screenshot of the Fireface Settings
Screenshot of the Fireface Settings

The manual of the Octamic D if anyone is interested!

M-Audio Axiom Pro 25 / 49 / 61 hex files for flashing with JTAG

Download axiom-pro-25-49-61-firmware-hex.zip

Text from the readme:

These are hex files of the firmware for the M-Audio Axiom Pro 25, 49 and 61.

Most 1st gen Axiom Pros sooner or later get “bricked” because of some bug in the firmware – yes, it’s a self-destructing firmware. M-Audio won’t
help you since they changed owners and therefore claims they have no responsibility – a scandal…

Roger Roumen has discovered how to flash the firmware using the JTAG interface directly on the board, instead of using the USB port (which doesn’t
work since the Axiom Pro is bricked).
See the video here: http://youtu.be/mIqwYbaZw28

The problem I ran into was that the hex files generated with bin2hex using the command “BIN2HEX.EXE /O0x4000 /4 opalXX.dfu opalXX.hex” resulted in
276 015 bytes large hex files, instead of the 315 439 bytes large hex file provided by Roger. When flashing these files the Axiom Pro would still
be bricked.

I eventually tested to flash my Axiom Pro 49 with the opal61.hex provided by Roger and the thing actually booted and worked, though it said Axiom
61 in the user interface! I tested some of the features and it seemed to work ok, I guess the mainboard is the same on all models. However, I
wasn’t satisfied with this solution.

After taking a closer look at the hex files, I discovered that the opal61.hex from Roger had 512 more rows (row 2-513) than the ones converted with
bin2hex. I then copy and pasted those rows from the opal61.hex to the opal49.hex and flashed my Axiom 49 Pro. It worked flawlessly! Therefore, I
suspect that this will work on the Axiom Pro 25 as well.
opal25.hex, created by me, untested
opal49.hex, created by me, tested and verified
opal61.hex, created by Roger Roumen

FIY, I used a $15 Keil ULINK 2 clone from eBay to flash.

Check out my blog;
https://www.nattvard.com/cmi

 

Genelec 8030

Yesterday I received a pair of second hand Genelec 8030s. They’re fantastic, I’m hearing stuff I’ve never heard before! They reveal more stuff in all frequencies, and the bass is much fuller than in the old Tannoys. In comparison, the Tannoys didn’t have any bass at all, even though they’re also 5″.

I’m asking myself why I didn’t do this upgrade earlier.

Organix JX-3P MIDI Expansion Kit ordered

I just got added in the waiting list for the Organix JX-3P MIDI Expansion Kit. The JX-3P already has midi, but the Organix kit adds some features. The one I need the most is the ability to use the PG-200 and midi at the same time (this isn’t possible when standard). Another cool feature is that the PG-200 will send midi CC’s, and the JX-3P will receive midi CC’s. This is extra valuable for those who don’t have a PG-200 and want to use a standard midi controller like a Behringer BCR-2000 or Korg nanoKONTROL. Since the JX-3P is from 1983 it can’t even receive midi sysex!

Now I just have to wait… 🙂

JX-8P and JX-10 working with BCR-2000

I just got the BCR-2000 working with the Roland JX-8P and JX-10. I found a JX-8P preset by a guy named Rainer Keizer that works fine! It’s downloadable from the bc2000 Yahoo! Group. However, it took me a couple of hours to realize that it actually works, and the reason was how Logic 9 handles incoming SysEx data. By default, Logic only records SysEx, it doesn’t send it to the MIDI out live. When playing the recorded SysEx back then it transmits the SysEx data. Very, very confusing… The key is to go to Project Settings, Midi and then tick SysEx through. Now SysEx is transmitted through Logic out to the external midi as well.

There are some settings that must be set on the synths for them to recieve.

The JX-8P requires that System Exclusive is on. Press the MIDI button, the enter 26 and set it it to EXCLUSIVE ON with the EDIT slider. The receiving MIDI CHANNEL must also be set, it’s parameter 11. The BCR template from Rainer is working on channel 16, so this must be matched on the JX-8P.

The steps are quite similar on the JX-10 but with one quite big exception. Its’ firmware has to be upgraded to an unofficial version since SysEx is broken on the official firmware! Read about it here. As far as I know, SysEx is always activated with the new firmware, no need to turn it on like on the JX-8P. I’m currently working on translating the whole BCR-2000 JX-8P preset to the JX-10, but have so far only done the filter section. It’s actually only one value that differs, namely the model number, so it’s not that difficult. It’s just tedious. By the way, the MKS-70 (rack version of JX-10) has the same SysEx model number, so this template should also work on the MKS-70.

When finished with the JX-10 modification, I’ll take on the Microwave and the K3.

Another Behringer exception – BCR2000

One of the few Behringer products worth getting is the Behringer ADA-8000. The other one is the BCR-2000 which is a midi controller with 32 assignable rotary encoders that even do SysEx. Today I bought a used one with unknown USB functionality for 400 kr ($60). This will be perfect for the Roland JX-synths whose weakness is the lack of encoders. And the Kawai K3 and Waldorf Microwave as well…

Picture from the ad.
Picture from the ad.

Korg nanoKONTROL bought

Since my M-Audio Axiom Pro 49 just died, and I’m in the middle of an Arduino project, I desperately needed a new midi controller with lot’s of encoders. So i bought a Korg nanoKONTROL 2. Very nice, cheap and usable little thing. One thing that I actually missed to check before buying it was the fact that the “sets” from the nanoKONTROL 1 is gone in the nanoKONTROL 2. The only way to solve this is to use the nano kontrol software and save the settings. That’s very tedious though, and won’t be practical in reality. So my word of advice is to try and get a nanoKONTROL 1 instead.

M-Audio Axiom Pro 49 dead

Tonight my M-Audio Axiom master keyboard died, or at least acted weird. It seems like it had died “blue screen of death”, Google it. I contacted M-Audio for a new main board, but they don’t have them.

Thank you for your interest in M-Audio.

As you may know, M-Audio has recently become part of the InMusic family. We are thrilled to be manufacturing, distributing, and servicing new products under the M-Audio name and expanding the range of products we are able to offer throughout the US and the world. However, as this legacy product (Axiom 49 1st Generation) was not manufactured and/or distributed under the new ownership, these pieces and their parts will not be available from M-Audio.

So I guess I’ll have to scrap it. I don’t have any interest in M-Audio anymore. Never will.

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.

 

Unitor8 and AMT8 chained

One really good feature is the possibility to chain two of these and get 16 I/O, shown to the computer as one device. Note that this works perfectly well with OS X, but on Windows, XP is the last version supported. NO 64-bit Vista / 7 / 8.

Unitor Family Driver 2.5

  1. Connect the two devices with the Mac-lead (haven’t tried the 422 COM ports)
  2.  Plug it in the USB-port
  3. Turn both devices on
  4. Turn Mac on
  5. Go to software update and look for updates
  6. Install the Unitor Family Driver 2.5 update
  7. Restart computer