RME Fireface 400 or Octave II - Differences?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by gvdv, Dec 2, 2007.

  1. gvdv macrumors regular

    Feb 18, 2007
    I've been fooling around with multitracking for the past 25 years, having tracked on Tascam 4 track cassette based units, a Sony minidisc 8 track, a 'stand alone' DAW, and various reel-to-reel machines.

    Now I'm moving into computer based digital audio, and there are a few things that I still don't understand (not necessarily only related to digital audio/computer multitracking).

    Having bought my Mac Pro, and wanting an audio interface, I had thought that I was going to go with an RME Fireface 400 (firewire). However, now I see that RME has an 8 input unit out called the Octave II (that's 2).

    I'm having a bit of a problem understanding the difference between the units other than the Octave II has more mic/line inputs than the Fireface 400 and appears to not be firewire.

    If this is the case, and the Octave II is neither firewire nor USB, then how do the inputs get into a computer DAW? Perhaps, as one description I read seemed to imply, the Octave II 'just' provides mic./line inputs and needs to have its outputs connected to a firewire or usb based device in order to get the signal into a computer.

    If anyone can enlighten me about the difference between the two units, and the Octave II's function, I would be most grateful.

    Also, is the Fireface 400 superior hands down, or does the Octave II have something to recommend it beyond the extra number of inputs in comparison to the Fireface 400?

    Many thanks,
  2. Tarkovsky macrumors 6502


    Jan 4, 2007
    Ok, if I'm patronising you I apologise, I'm guessing you're a far better engineer than I am, but I just want to make sure you understand everything here.
    In a daw you have an analogue signal which is then preamped, which is then converted into digital form, which then hits the computer>which then hits the D/As, which then hits your pre amp, then your amp, then your monitors back at ya.

    To record analogue you need a chain like this Input>pre>digitalconverter>interface>computer

    The octave 2 does not have an interface
    Instead you connect it digitally to an external interface (firewire, pci or USB or whatever)
    But it still handles the pre amping and the digital conversion

    So you need an interface before you start using the Octave 2
    Most D/As for the purpose come with an interface, and usually outboard D/As and preamps are used to achieve better quality by defeating the weakest links in your all in one hardware 'soundcard' (not usually the interface)
    In terms of the interface you want firewire IMHO.

    The confusing terminology here is that an interface almost aways has its own converters, but converters don't tend to have an interface.

    About the hardware you mentioned I have no idea as I haven't used it.
  3. zimv20 macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002
    do you mean the octamic II?

    if so, you're looking at adding an AES/EBU PCI card to your mac in order to connect it. firewire is popular and all, but AES/EBU connections tend to be more stable.
  4. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    Tarkovsky is mostly correct, but I would quibble a bit with the semantics.

    The Octamic II is an 8-input preamp and A/D convertor which does have a digital interface -- a choice of AES/EBU digital signals, or ADAT TOSLink signals.

    Your Mac unfortunately does not have AES/EBU or ADAT inputs, so you have to go through a second device to convert the digital signal for the Mac's use - either to Firewire, or USB (not as common with multichannel interfaces) or possibly as a PCI or PCI-e card as zimv suggests. But - there is a limitation -- the Octamic II doesn't seem to have any D/A conversion -- it is an input-only device, so there wouldn't be a way to get the sound out of the computer and back into the real world, unless you had a separate interface, or used the Mac's built in headphone jack.

    Better Firewire A/D-D/A interfaces will have digital ports for AES/EBU and .or ADAT, but many don't. Some also may be limited in the number of digital inputs they provide.
  5. gvdv thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 18, 2007
    Hi Tarkovsky, zimv20 and CanadaRAM,
    Many thanks for your replies, and sorry, yes zimv20, I did mean the octamic ii.

    I think that I'll go with my original idea of purchasing the rme fireface 400.

    Thanks, once again, for the replies.

  6. Tarkovsky macrumors 6502


    Jan 4, 2007
    Yeah Canada AES, ADAT, SPDIF and TOSlink are all technically interfaces, just like you don't actually store data on a hard drive as actually it's not a medium, just like Canada is not actually a country but a principality of mighty Britannia. ;)

    Actually the mac pro has a digital in and out capable of SPDIF/TOSlink just like all modern macs, but it's meant for home theater use not really pro audio use, well that's how I use it. I'm guessing it's got more jitter than a Wham re-union concert.

Share This Page