RME Newsletter January 12, 2001

1. The revolution in mobile hard disk recording: Hammerfall DSP
2. ADI-8 DD: 8-channel 24 bit/96 kHz universal format converter
3. Update: USB kills audio

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1. The revolution in mobile hard disk recording: Hammerfall DSP (Top)

A real revolution in mobile recording is introduced with the new Hammerfall DSP series. The system consists of a PCMCIA type II card as computer interface and various I/O boxes optimized for different applications, offering several analog, digital and MIDI I/Os.

In order to demonstrate the power of this notebook card, RME has in the first place realized a highly extended version of the PCI card Project Hammerfall (DIGI9652.) The I/O box of the Hammerfall DSP system called Multiface has 3 ADAT optical I/Os, ADAT-Sync In, S/PDIF I/O and word clock I/O like its predecessor. On top, there are 2 MIDI I/Os and a separate analog line out. All this can be used on usual notebooks with the same 'zero cpu load' and low latency (down to 1.5 ms with ASIO) as on a desktop PC!

The Hammerfall DSP technology also includes a hardware mixer in TotalMix technology. Any input can be routed and mixed to any output. On top, every input and output can also be mixed to the analog output (submix.) TotalMix not only leads to perfect and complete ASIO direct monitoring, but is also useful without ASIO. Thanks to a proprietary mixer surface, submix and Zero Latency Monitoring can be used with all audio applications. An external mixer thus becomes unnecessary in many cases.

Hammerfall DSP implements RME's DIGICheck in hardware: level metering of 54 channels at the same time with a minimum CPU load, because the data for display is already calculated in the hardware. The hardware catches both peak and RMS values.

Hammerfall DSP will be shipped March 2001. Further I/O boxes will follow during the second quarter: Anaface offers 8 analog inputs and outputs, S/PDIF, ADAT and MIDI. Proface offers digital I/Os in AES/EBU format. Portaface is the professional broadcast solution, with 2 microphone inputs, phantom powering, Limiter, S/PDIF I/O and analog monitor output.

More information can be found on our website.

2. ADI-8 DD: 8-channel 24 bit/96 kHz universal format converter (Top)

The ADI-8 DD is the all-in-one format and sample rate converter for every application, from 2 to 8 channels. It converts ADAT optical and TDIF to and from AES/EBU. 4 AES/EBU inputs and outputs each (XLR) and two ADAT optical and TDIF inputs and outputs each allow for full 8-channel operation at up to 24 bit/96 kHz. Switchable sample rate converters (SRC) in 24 bit quality allow for both highest quality sample rate conversion and clock decoupling of all AES/EBU inputs.

The compact device with 19" width and 1 HU has numerous exceptional features like Intelligent Clock Control (ICC), SyncCheck, SyncAlign, Bitclock PLL, digital patchbay functions, active jitter reduction per SD-PLL and 96kHz/24bit sample rate conversion. 16 LEDs on both input and output display the actual state of the incoming and outgoing signals and the operations within the device in a clear way. The rear of the ADI-8 DD is fitted with two ADAT optical and TDIF I/Os each (for 8 channels @ 96kHz), word clock I/O and 4 AES inputs and outputs on XLR jacks. Thus the ADI-8 DD also represents an ideal AES/EBU front end for the Hammerfall series.

Like all other ADI-8 the DD too includes a useful patchbay functionality. Thanks to the easy to use Copy Mode all attached devices can send signals to each other without the need to rearrange the cabling between them.

The ADI-8 DD shows an unsurpassed flexibility and compatibility together with a sensational price point. The ADI-8 DD is the long-awaited link in the semi-professional and professional area, from project studio to broadcast applications!

More information can be found on our website.

3. Update: USB kills audio (Top)

Shortly after NAMM an updated version of our Tech Info 'USB kills audio' will be uploaded to the website. Here is the most important information:

In the last weeks we have done many comparison tests, and were able to track down the real cause behind the effect of USB-caused distortion at low latency: it's the well-known Intel BX-chipset!

The contained USB controller 82371AB hogs the PCI bus, in case (as already described in the Tech Info) the Bulk transfer mode is used. BUT: this is only true for older BX-based motherboards, like the Asus P2B series, or the popular P3B-F. To be more precise: it only affects BX-boards that have only 2 USB ports!

On all newer boards having more than two USB ports the hogging no longer occurs, even when using the BX chipset (for example Asus CU-BX.) It seems the additional hub de-couples the controller, or changes the way it is used.

This also shows a simple solution for all owners of older boards, how to solve this problem: simply get yourself a (cheap) USB PCI card, and use its USB ports instead of those on the board.

According to our tests boards with Intel's i815, VIA's KT133 and 694 also work problem-free in critical USB usage.

Best regards
The RME Team

Copyright © Matthias Carstens, 2001.
All entries in this Newsletter have been thoroughly checked, however no guarantee for correctness can be given. RME cannot be held responsible for any misleading or incorrect information provided throughout this document. Lending or copying any part or the complete document or its contents is only possible with the written permission from RME.

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