Is it too good to be true? These preamps use the same Invisible mic preamp circuitry found in the newer Behringer mixers, and my experience of them so far has been favourable. Phantom power is switchable globally, so the preamps may be used with active DI boxes or capacitor mics that need a 48V power source, and each of the channels has a rotary gain control with up to 60dB of gain plus a pair of LEDs to show signal present and clipping. No mention of this limitation is made in the manual, and no suggestion for a workaround is provided, but the obvious solution is to use an optical cable to connect the ADAT input and output ports together.
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The gain-knob detents have gone, too, but in essence all the controls and connectors are identical, front and back. Digital interfacing is still via ADAT lightpipe ports, with electronically balanced analogue outputs via XLRs at the back, and both mic and line inputs connected on the front. This accepts any mains supply between and VAC, and it runs considerably cooler than the old design.
On the review model, the phantom-power voltage measured fractionally low, at The master internal clock sample-rate options are still restricted to just Phantom power only appears on the XLR, of course. Both input formats are actually active and summed together all the time; the line input is simply padded down and mixed with the mic input before being fed into the mic preamp.
A rotary gain control, without detents, has no panel markings at all on the new model. Of course, the important practical issues are what the workable minimum and maximum signal levels really are. On the rear are found the line outputs, along with the ADAT and word-clock ports.
The line and ADAT outputs can be used simultaneously, to allow the unit to function as an eight-channel splitter if required. Harmonic distortion is also usefully lower across the entire bandwidth in the new model, and especially across the high end. The ADA employs different converters, the new devices being made by Cirrus, and the latency through the unit is substantially lower, measuring just 0.
Further improvements can be seen in the frequency response, too: although the low-end has an identical roll-off -3dB at 6Hz to the outgoing model, the high-end shows far less in the way of amplitude ripples around the cutoff frequency. It appears that minimum-phase filters are being employed here, too, rather than the linear-phase filters of the previous design: the impulse-response plot certainly appears to show an absence of pre-ringing, anyway.
A reasonably useful indication of converter quality is the AES17 dynamic-range figure, and in the case of the ADA my tests obtained values of dB A-wtd for the A-D stage, and To be blunt, both are quite disappointing figures, since most modern mid-range interfaces achieve around dB, and the best high-end converters are delivering figures in the low- to mids.
Yes, there are welcome improvements in the tech specs, but they really are only small improvements. It features eight valve mic preamps two with instrument inputs plus high-pass filter, phase and pad switches on every channel.
The new model is clearly much better and more consistent, especially above 1kHz. The spikes to the left are power-supply residuals all close to or below dBu , while those to the right reveals some harmonic distortion again typically around dBu. Compare this with As above, but with the equivalent plot from the previous ADA model purple trace. They would contribute to the impression of harshness, too. Fortunately, the new model has overcome this problem completely.
Note the very expanded gain scale. Both products have similar LF roll-offs reaching -3dB at 6Hz. The latency through the converter is also considerably shorter 0. The converter chips used in some later ADA s were also known to suffer from unwanted muting with low-level input signals. Pros Competent mic preamps, quieter and more neutral than before. More linear gain controls without detents. Improved A-D and D-A converters that sound noticeably sweeter.
ADAT sync and converter muting issues corrected. Cons Still no direct analogue output from mic preamps. Still no double sample-rate option. Baseline technical performance.
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