I/O Expansion/FX Send advice

Hello there,

So my studio has grown & exceeded my FF UFX’s I/O native capabilities, excluding ADAT expansion. This is new to me so I am looking for advice as to setting this up & making use of the pre’s of my UFX and properly routing my FX.

Here’s a break down of my I/O needs & what I’m trying to do:

Hardware (MIDI):
Expressive E Touche

Hardware (non-FX):

Machinedrum - 3 inputs required (stereo out + BD/SD out)
Toraiz AS-1 - 2 inputs required (stereo out)
MI Ambika - 2 inputs required (3 to 1 patched 1/4s x 2) [may get replaced by a VC340]
Shruthi 4P - 1 input required
Shruthi Dual SVF - 1 input required
Minitaur - 1 input required
Guitar or Mic - 1 input required

Total Inputs Required - 11 inputs

Hardware FX:
Specular Tempus - 2 inputs required (as Ableton send)
Red Panda Particle - 2 inputs required (as Ableton send)
Carolina Guitar Parabola - 1 input (routed directly after synth)
Strymon Deco - 2 inputs required (shouldn’t bus saturation correct? route something directly through this)

Total Inputs Required (if separate buses): 4

(also looking for advice as to how to best setup these FX)

Before expansion, I can handle some weird combinations of this, however ideally my setup would be as follows:

  1. All synths above routed through analog inputs of UFX. Pre-amps dedicated for guitar/mic input but other 3 I am open to whichever synth would best benefit from the pre-amps.
  2. Separate stereo buses for: reverb 1 (Specular Tempus), reverb 2 (particle)
  3. Strymon Deco on outputs of MD or Toraiz AS-1 by default, but with ability to swap to other synths

I think I’ll probably let the Parabola go since it isn’t stereo however I do like the sound of it.

What would you all recommend I do? I’m happy to get an expansion I/O to run through ADAT but what kind of audio quality do I lose vs straight analog input? Can I just get a cheap Behringer ADA8000 and it should work well with my UFX or will there be weird gain staging? Forgive my unfamiliarity with ADAT expansion.

What’s the best way to handle my various, isolated fx loops? I’ll probably end up throwing a delay into one of the reverb chains (or use the onboard delays of the Specular Tempus).

Does this seem like a decent setup? The plan is to swap synths in/out based on usage as I buy/sell ones & to keep the FX chain fairly straight forward.

I’m sure the top response will be “get a mixer” but I struggle with mixing with an analog device and prefer to use Ableton as my mixing application. If I did get one, I’d be looking for something like the SSL SiX but obv I don’t believe that would handle my I/O needs.

Any advice? Would be greatly appreciated.

Don’t Get A Mixer!!!

ADA8000 will not create any weird gain staging, it just won’t sound as good as what you are used to. Assuming money is an issue, try to find a second hand RME (Fireface 800)/MOTU (828) unit that will work in stand alone mode. If that’s too much, get the Behringer and prioritize which sources go the the UFX and which go to the Behringer. In practice, the difference in the end result might be negligible.
If money is not an issue, get another UFX :slight_smile:

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I’d be out of my depth offering advice on your best option(s), but I will offer an experience, and mention ‘aggregate devices’ on the off-chance that you’re using a Mac. These are easy to set up in Audio MIDI Setup (the OS X bundled utility) and mean that you can simply plug in additional devices and compile them as one virtual thing for your DAW to work with.

Using an aggregate device, I have an Apogee Quartet, an iCA4+ and an Analog Heat all plugged in, and everything seems to be working fine in Reason and Logic. The Quartet’s my main box, for bringing in a guitar and a couple of synths (one mono, one stereo) and for sending audio out to an Octatrack (4 channels). The iCA4+ is a MIDI hub, an fx send/return (another 4 channels - 2 stereo pairs) and an iPad-incorporator. I route in the OT via the Analog Heat, which also warms things up over USB (the AH is new in the last few weeks, so I’m still figuring out a few things there).

Using a PC this approach might not be possible (yet) but I’ve not done my homework, so don’t take my word for it. Somebody will know!

As for ADAT vs straight analog input - I think ADAT’s just a connection. As I understand it, you still need preamps and a DAC to generate the ADAT signal, so audio quality relates to whatever it is you’re using there. I’m not sure what the best options are here, or if people are happy with the Behringer. It certainly offers a lot of ins and outs for the money, and there is a simple joy to having everything plugged in and ready to go.

Hope you find a good solution anyway :slight_smile:

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That s correct. Behringer is really not the only one producing an adat ad/da interface so there s many more options between an ada8000 and a second UFX.

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If you’re only using the ADAT expansion for line level sources then pretty much any will do.

I’d make sure though that it has a ADAT in and out as this will allow you to clock (sync) it from the RME, if it only has ADAT out then it has to be master and the RME the slave.

Look for a Focusrite Octopre or something similar.

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For what it’s worth, I can’t hear a difference between my ADA8000 and Creamware A16 Ultra.


Thank you all for your input! I guess part of my thought process was that whatever audio you were streaming through the ADAT connection would use the converters of the main audio interface but it makes sense that it wouldn’t.

While I’d love a second UFX, I think for the purposes of my setup & price range I’m willing to commit to (I’ve got thousands in routing/interfaces not including synths, in a hobby I’m not making a return on) I think a RME FireFace 800 would suffice (seeing as I can find them for around $500).

I wouldn’t even be opposed to the Revive Audio modified ones, if anyone has experience with these. I know with my old ears, a Black Lion or Revive Audio modded interface will not be too different/audibly noticeable but curious to know anyones’ experiences with these companies.

An RME FF802 would be awesome as well but they seem to be holding their value quite a bit.