TapeOp Review: Lynx: Aurora(n) Interface
Good digital conversion has come a long way in a relatively short time. There are now so many great options, ranging from streamlined 2-channel desktop interfaces and modular systems all the way up to multichannel I/Os that serve the needs of large format professional studios. Lynx is not new to the game, consistently building top-of-the-line converters for audio tracking, mixing, playback, and mastering needs for over 20 years. The latest offering from Lynx is their Aurora(n). Lynx continues to use swappable LSlot cards with their Hilo [Tape Op #90] and original Aurora [#73] interfaces. They’ve carried on that LSlot technology to the Aurora(n) and have introduced several new modules that allow you to configure the interface to fit your workflow. These can be configured at the time of purchase (lynxstudio.com/custom-shop) or upgraded later. This modular system (when using the LSlot for computer connectivity, paired with firmware updating) makes the Aurora(n) essentially “future proof.” Currently swappable LSlot cards are available for USB, Thunderbolt, Pro Tools | HD, and Dante.
My single rack space review unit came configured with 32×32 I/O (also available in 8×8, 16×16 and 24×24 versions) with a Thunderbolt LSlot card. Because I planned on using the Aurora(n) with both with my newer Apple laptop and my older Mac Pro tower setup, Lynx also sent me an LT-HD LSlot card (for my Pro Tools | HD system) that I could swap out for the Thunderbolt card. The analog line inputs and outputs are connected via DB-25s on the back panel. The back panel also sports BNC connectors (1 in and 3 out) to an ultra-low jitter word clock. Different rear module configurations and combinations allow you to customize your entire I/O, within reason. Lynx currently offers a 4-channel mic pre with A/D (LM-PRE4), an 8-channel analog I/O (LM-AIO8), and a 16-channel AES/EBU digital I/O module (LM-DIG) with more options on the way. Setting up was “plug and play.” Simple changes to my DAW’s I/O configuration were all that I needed for use with laptop via the Thunderbolt LSlot card, and, when switching to the LT-HD LSlot to integrate with my older Mac Pro / Pro Tools 10 [#86] system with HD Accel cards, the converter appeared seamlessly as a compatible 192 device (more on this later)!
The real highlight of the Aurora(n) is its sound, due in part to the analog signal path for each channel that has been designed as a self-contained and shielded circuit. Plus, each channel pair has its own dedicated conversion device. This offers the sonic advantage of reducing crosstalk and distortion while significantly increasing dynamic range and performance, resulting in transparent imaging and detail. HCT (Hilo Converter Technology), which borrows the mastering grade conversion design of the Lynx Hilo, makes up the core of the Aurora(n).
But how does the Aurora(n) sound? In a word: awesome! It’s uncolored, and elements of my mixes were presented with what I perceived as more of their own “space.” After working on a mix for several hours, I found myself using less EQ and reverb. Maybe we had done such a fantastic job of recording it that it was unnecessary, but regardless, with this clarity I knew that I was making informed choices. Stereo imaging was solid and the sound stage expansive. With any conversion, my preference is to not hear it. I just want to be confident that what I am hearing is not being altered in the conversion process. If something needs grit, great! I can add it. If the low end of a track needs to be tidied up, I want to have a crystal clear idea of just how much. The Aurora(n) delivered on all fronts in this regard, and I worked more efficiently when using the Lynx.
Another standout feature of this unit is that microSD recording is built-in. When you are tracking, and the band plays that magical idea during a run through of a song, you won’t miss it – even if your DAW wasn’t actively recording or, worse yet, crashes in the middle of a take! This is a great safety net and dummy check. Imagine the uses (and redundancy) for live show recordings…
Front panel function buttons control a menu that provides easy navigation of the LED display, which offers two main metering options: stereo or multichannel. Here the user has the option to route pairs of audio outputs to the SD recorder or to the two built-in, fantastic sounding, audiophile grade headphone outputs with individual level controls. Without referencing the manual, it was easy to understand and operate.
Due to the compact form factor for all this I/O, the Aurora(n) makes for a great mobile rig option that is a snap to throw into a manageable rack along with some preamps and select outboard gear. Because of the SD recorder onboard, you could skip the computer altogether and just record straight to the card, noting however you have no DAW control functions beyond record and stop. All tracks from the microSD card can be dragged right into your favorite DAW for editing later!
Swapping out the Thunderbolt LSlot card for the supplied LT-HD LSlot card was very easy; a screwdriver was all I needed. I especially wanted to audition this option because I am sure that not everyone that’s upgrading converters will want to completely replace their computer, software, etc. The thing that sucks about working in the digital realm is that a single update of a system component is almost never just that, but rather an extensive and expensive endeavor. Set up was straightforward, and, as mentioned earlier, with a few adjustments in Pro Tools, the system saw the Aurora(n) as a compatible 192 I/O. I ate up all my I/O options with analog connections, but, with the use of some mults and patchbay magic, I was working in the same way I had for years – only it sounded markedly better.
Gear at this level doesn’t come cheap. A maxed out 32×32 Aurora(n)configuration will run about $5600, which, in my opinion, is a more than fair price if you never have to think about buying another converter – well worth the cost for its high-quality and uncompromising audio. Comparing the Aurora(n) to other converters in its class is like comparing bad-ass sports cars. They look great and are fast as hell, so it’s just a matter of taste really. With that in mind, the Aurora(n)’s ability to integrate future forms of connectivity makes it a stand out amongst the others.
Universal Audio Showcase New Apollo X Series
Universal Audio has announced their new Apollo X models, now with hexacore processors as standard. The Apollo X is UA’s new flagship Thunderbolt 3 audio interfaces, “featuring elite-class A/D and D/A conversion, new HEXA Core UAD plug-in processing, Unison mic preamps, +24dBu operation, Surround Sound,* and more. All in a sleek, expandable Thunderbolt 3 package for Mac and PC.”
According to the company, the base X6 model offers 6-core UAD power for plugins, andh comprehensive 5.1 surround monitoring support. Apollo x6 is a boon for engineers and producers working on audio and music for video games, television, and the web. In addition, Apollo x6 offers selectable +24 dBu operation for out-of-the-box compatibility with professional mixing consoles and other high-end pro audio equipment.
Apollo x6 offers 16 x 22 simultaneous inputs/outputs (6 x 6 analog I/O) and two built-in Thunderbolt 3 ports. This allows users of any Thunderbolt-equipped Apollo Twin or Apollo rackmount audio interfaces to easily combine up to four Apollos and six total UAD-2 devices — adding fast, high-bandwidth I/O and DSP as your studio grows.
Additional models include:
* Apollo x8 — 18 x 24 Thunderbolt 3 audio interface for Mac and Windows; Elite-Class conversion with 129 dB D/A dynamic range; 4 Unison-enabled mic preamps; HEXA Core UAD plug-in processing; 7.1 Surround Sound monitoring.
* Apollo x8p — 18 x 22 Thunderbolt 3 audio interface for Mac and Windows; Elite-Class conversion with 129 dB D/A dynamic range; 8 Unison-enabled mic preamps; HEXA Core UAD plug-in processing; 7.1 Surround Sound monitoring.
* Apollo x16 — 18 x 20 Thunderbolt 3 audio interface for Mac and Windows; Flagship conversion with 133 dB D/A dynamic range; 16 channels of analog I/O via DB-25 connectors; HEXA Core UAD plug-in processing; 7.1 Surround Sound monitoring.
Introducing The Slate Digital VRS8 Thunderbolt Interface
The result of nearly three years of development, the new VRS8 Virtual Analog interface unifies Slate Digital’s software and hardware into a robust audio ecosystem called The Virtual Recording Studio. We used a “no compromise” design approach, resulting in a fantastic-sounding eight channel audio interface that leads the industry when it comes to components, specs, price and performance.
EIGHT ULTRA LINEAR PREAMPS
The start of any signal chain is extremely important, which is why the VRS8 features EIGHT high bandwidth Ultra Linear microphone preamps. These are the same ‘blank canvas’ design as the VMS-One preamp from our award-winning Virtual Microphone System, enabling you to use our modeling software to recreate the authentic sound of famous microphones and preamps. Each preamp has its own high-quality metal knob, so you can easily set levels like a regular analog preamp – instead of using single logic controller knobs and menus, as some of our competitors have chosen to do.
INDUSTRY BEST CONVERTERS
The next step in the signal chain is the converter itself. Instead of using budget components, the VRS8 offers mastering-quality conversion by incorporating the newest AKM AK5578 converter chips – offering a whopping industry-best 124db of dynamic range on all 8 inputs!
HIGH QUALITY COMPONENTS
The sound of an audio interface relies on much more than the converter chip itself – all of the components in the audio circuit have a direct result on the audio quality. Keeping to our “no compromise” design aesthetic, the VRS8 utilizes high-quality WIMA capacitors for the entire audio path.
LOW LATENCY NATIVE
Part of the goal behind creating the Virtual Recording Studio was to provide a near-realtime experience when using our analog modeled plugins while tracking. In order to achieve that goal, we created a new technology called LLN, which stands for “Low Latency Native”. LLN utilizes a custom hard-wired converter chipset, which reduces managed components in the audio path and allows an incredible .7 milliseconds of latency at 96K (with a 32 sample buffer). This latency spec allows you to monitor through mic and preamp emulations while tracking, giving you the ability to hear your audio in context while still allowing you to change your mind later.
XTC AUDIO CLOCK
The audio clock is the heart of any recording interface, which is why it was important that the VRS8 had a killer clocking system onboard. We use satellite-grade XTC clocking technology, utilizing four temperature-compensated crystal oscillators for ultra-stable audio performance, keeping your audio jitter and distortion free.
DISCRETE HEADPHONE AMPLIFIERS
Most engineers listen to music on headphones when working in the studio, but headphone amplifiers are the first place that manufacturers usually look to cut costs when building an interface. Instead of using typical designs that cost mere pennies, we use discrete amplifiers to ensure that your headphones sound robust and clear for all of your monitoring tasks. Not only that, we also added in two separate monitor mixes and the ability to use the VRS8 as a speaker switcher.
CROSS PLATFORM LOW LATENCY PERFORMANCE
The world of audio interfaces is rarely cross-platform when it comes to performance, meaning that Mac devices (using Thunderbolt) usually far outperform PC interfaces (using USB). While USB can be effective for two-channel designs, it requires more CPU overhead to manage, resulting in higher CPU usage and latency versus Thunderbolt – and the problem just gets worse as you add more channels. Unlike any other interface on the market, the VRS8 offers both Thunderbolt and PCIe connectivity for maximum cross-platform compatibility. The PCIe performance is the same as Thunderbolt. You can also link up to 6 VRS8’s via Thunderbolt to achieve 48 inputs and outputs.
NATIVE MIDI IO
Our “no compromise” design goal extended well into areas that other manufacturers simply ignore, which is evidenced by the VRS8’s native MIDI IO. Unlike USB MIDI interfaces (where MIDI information has to fight with your mouse, keyboard, and other USB traffic) MIDI IO on the VRS8 never touches the USB bus. You can count on hyper-accurate MIDI timing, and stuck sustain pedals when tracking keyboards and synths should become a thing of the past.
EVERYTHING BUNDLE – FREE FOR ONE YEAR!
The Slate Digital Virtual Recording Studio Ships With A Year License Of The Everything Bundle. The Everything Bundle includes all of the award-winning Slate plugins, worth thousands of dollars. Using the VRS8 and VMS Microphones, you’ll be able to track through world-class microphones, preamps, equalizers, and more in real time.
THE VRS EXPERIENCE
Now you can experience the Slate Virtual Recording Studio including all of our microphone models. Click below to go to the VRS Experience page where you can download all the Slate plugins including demos of our VMS microphone plugins, as well as a multitrack session recorded with VMS mics through our VRS8 interface. When you download the plugins and the session, you can load up a track, and experiment with different world-class virtual microphones from the mic locker. Hear the vintage FET47F, 414, and ribbon 121. Try the vocals through the vintage tube 67s, 251, 47s and more.
Family Guy Composer Walter Murphy Shares His Process
In this Youtube feature frommagazine, composer Walter Murphy shares the process he goes through to score an episode of Family Guy, the hit Fox series Walter has been scoring since the show’s very first episode in 1999. Walter also details how he collaborated with the show’s creator, Seth MacFarlane, to conceive, write and record the show’s opening music theme before they even had a budget for the show. Walter’s original recording of that theme is still used to this day. Walter uses Digital Performer extensively in his daily workflow, both in the studio and on the sound stage.
Universal Audio Announce Their New Arrow Desktop Thunderbolt Interface
UAD has just announced the latest edition to their desktop interface range, and world’s first Thunderbolt 3 powered interface, Arrow. The new unit features an onboard UAD-2 Solo core, allowing for near-zero latency when using the UAD plugins, regardless of buffer settings in your DAW. Arrow also features acclaimed Unison mic preamp technology, giving musicians the tone, touch and feel of the world’s most sought-after tube and transformer-based mic preamps and guitar amplifiers.
Priced at around $499, the unit could be considered the “entry level” unit for perspective UAD customers, but that’s about as entry level as it gets. UAD interfaces have become synonymous with the best hardware-emulated plugins on the market, and having access to these at this price could make this one of the best selling pieces of studio gear this year. Better yet, Arrow is available now worldwide.
- Desktop 2×4 Thunderbolt 3-powered audio interface with class-leading 24-bit/192 kHz audio conversion
- Unison mic preamp technology provides the tone, touch and feel of the world’s most sought-after tube and transformer-based mic preamps and guitar amplifiers from Neve, API, Manley, Marshall, Fender, and more*
- Realtime UAD Processing allows near-zero latency tracking with classic UAD plug-in effects, regardless of software buffer setting
- Includes studio compressors, EQs, reverbs, and guitar amp emulations, and more as part of the “Realtime Analog Classics” bundle — featuring 14 quality UAD Plug-Ins
- Bus-powered connection to modern Mac and Windows systems for easy portability and reduced cable clutter
The 624 wins a 2018 Electronic Musician Editors’ Choice Award
“A portable interface for every occasion.”
— Electronic Musician
Read more here:
MOTU 624 A PORTABLE INTERFACE FOR EVERY OCCASION
In addition to being compact and ruggedly built, the highly portable MOTU 624 is designed for a wide range of users—from singer/songwriters to industry professionals. For the former, MOTU put a pair of ¼-inch, high-impedance inputs (with gain knobs) on the front panel, giving guitarists and bassists easy input access. For the latter, the rear panel includes two XLR mic inputs, sets of four TRS input and output jacks, in addition to its main outs and optical digital connections accommodating S/PDIF or ADAT I/O.
As you would expect, the 624 is capable of 24-bit, 192kHZ resolution with pristine clarity, thanks to the interface’s new converters. But what helps this model pole vault over its competitors is its wealth of interfacing options. The 624 is a hybrid interface sporting USB3, Thunderbolt 2, and AVB connectivity. A recent firmware update allows you to record directly through Ethernet to any Mac that can also support Thunderbolt. And, you can network up to five AVB interfaces via Ethernet, which can support long cable runs and recording setups in multiple rooms.
Compact audio interfaces are in plentiful supply these days, but few can approach the versatility, sonic quality, and generous I/O of the MOTU 624.
Grace Design M108 wins a 2017 Resolution Award
Grace Design M108. 8-ch Microphone Preamp with 8 A/D Converters, AES and ADAT Output, Ethernet, BNC, and USB.
Congratulations on the Grace Design M108 has won the 2017 Resolution Award in the preamp category.
From 25 years experience of creating acclaimed professional audio products, comes the latest evolution of their mic preamplifier design: the Grace Design M108. With eight channels of their transparent, musical mic preamplification, state of the art A/D conversion, multiple digital output formats, and flexible local or remote controlled operation, the m108 is a vital addition to any modern audio production environment.
View more about the Grace Design M108 here:
MOTU ships redesigned 828es audio interface
MOTU has announced that its redesigned 828es audio interface is now shipping.
New in the 828es, renowned ESS Sabre32 DAC technology delivers 123dB dynamic range and the same proven, award-winning audio quality as MOTU’s flagship 1248.
The 828es delivers 60 total channels of I/O, 48-channel mixing and 32-bit floating point DSP effects processing.
New control room features appearing for the first time on a MOTU interface include a built-in talkback mic with front panel “talk” button and “A/B” monitor select, mute and sum-to-mono buttons for the main outs.
Advanced extras, incorporated from MOTU’s flagship 1248 interface, include ESS™ Sabre32 Ultra™ DAC technology with 123 dB dynamic range, ultra low round trip latency (RTL) performance as low as 1.6 ms at 96 kHz over Thunderbolt (and 1.9 ms over USB), USB audio class compliant firmware for connection to iOS™ devices (with a standard camera adapter, sold separately), convenient web app control from any mobile computing device, flexible matrix-style routing and splitting, stand alone mixing with Wi-Fi control and AVB-TSN audio networking for system expansion.
Numerous features brought forward from the award-winning 828x model include pre-converter sends for the two mic inputs, dedicated quarter-inch time code input and output jacks, MIDI in and out jacks, BNC word clock I/O, a foot switch input for hands free talkback or punch-in during recording, AudioDesk workstation software and a suite of audio analysis apps.
Housed in a sturdy, aluminum alloy chassis (one rack space), the 828es provides 28 inputs and 32 outputs, including two redesigned mic/guitar “combo” style inputs featuring high quality, transparent preamps with front panel control (and remote software control) of individual gain/pad/48V phantom power. The hi-Z quarter-inch sockets on the combo jacks provide amp-like performance when plugging in a guitar. Additional I/O includes eight balanced (TRS) analog in/out (with DC coupled outputs), separate main outs on XLR jacks, two banks of 8-channel optical I/O (switchable to stereo TOSLink), RCA S/PDIF digital I/O and two independent front panel headphone jacks with volume controls.