Dante: The new Ferrofish A32 converter looks awesome. When are you planning to ship the first batch?
Juergen: We are planning to ship the first units in September.
And you have the
press already rolling on this hot little number?
Dante: So pre-production activities will continue after these shows?
Juergen: In June I will do another prototype and in August the first production. I always wanted to document this as I think it is interesting to see the many things to organize and see how the parts of the A32 come together to be the final product. People from many companies are involved and we always have fun together besides the work.
Dante:. Now that you have doubled the channels from the A16 MkII, would that imply that a user now only needs to buy 2 units to chain (rather than 4 of the A16) to get 64 channels?
Juergen: Exactly. This is now much more convenient to only chain two units instead of four. And since there are MADI interfaces with two or three channels already on the market, its easier now to have 64 channels even with 96kHz by just having two separate MADI loops. Even now all 32 channels are possible with MADI at 192kHz by using the optical and coaxial MADI connectors together, because they work separately at 192kHz.
Dante: Or, indeed, would it be possible to chain together 4 of the units to get 128 channels ?
Juergen: To have 128 channels you would need two MADI ports. But for example even 192 channels at 48kHz are possible when using the MADIface XT from RME using a single USB3 connection.
Dante: I notice that you have had to use 25 pin D-Sub for the analog I/O now rather than 1/4 inch jack sockets. Does the unit come with any of the breakout cables and/or do you you have any recommendations for where users can get them ?
Because of the limited
space on the 1HE unit we needed to switch to 25pin D-Sub. Each D-Sub can
carry 8 analog channels and conforms to Tascam's
standard so it should be easy to find cables from your dealers.
Juergen: The Cirrus Logic converters have a better dynamic range (114dB) and THD+N (-100dB for D/A and -105dB A/D) than the AKM's And we have a much improved analog front end with four op-amps for each channel. We implemented analog switches for gain settings so the good performance of the converters are preserved even if you play around with the gains.
It seems you have implemented other 'doubles' as
well like the power supply, TFT and MADI. This means that there is plenty of
redundancy built in. Was this a user demand given the rigors of live use and
unpredictability of power quality on location?
Juergen: Better not limit your ideas to an SDK, the only limitation would be the processor power of the Sharc. When we did the B4000+ we replaced the Leslie emulation and put in the Reverb by first designing everything with Scope. Then we put the description of the modules and wiring in a text file and wrote a program to link the DSP-modules together using this file. Finally we added these new 'mega-modules' in the code of the B4000+. It would be cool if we can do a similar way for the A32 too but we will have to find out if this would be a reasonable way. Unfortunately the A32 is already packed full of electronics. If I had more space I would put in a second and third Sharc too. I am sure it wouldn't take five minutes to fill them.
Dante: Regards a custom application for mixing. For example someone owning a Alesis HD24 - 24 track digital recorder. In a live scenario with 32 channels coming into the A32, could the A32 mix 4 lots of 4 channels down to 4 stereo pairs then leave the other 16 channels direct to get a total 24 channel feed into the HD24 e.g. Input : 32 channels. Mix 16 channels down to 4 stereo pairs + 16 mono direct = 24 output.
Sharc is the center of the audio processing: all analog and digital inputs
are routed to the Sharc, and from there they go back to the outputs.
So, from the hardware point of view, you can mix everything with everything
and output it everywhere. In fact, mixing will probably the most
important feature of the A32. The standard firmware will have two sub-mix
busses, one go to the headphones and another to analog out 31/32 for monitor
mix. We will have more than enough flash memory space in the A32 (128
megabytes of which only about 1 megabyte is currently used for graphics) to
alternative versions of the firmware which you can select when you turn on
the A32. So one of these could be a special 'Dante Mixer'. But
first we need to release the A32 in September, then we implement the custom
Juergen: Our recommended price is around $2399. I think this is more than fair for the many features the A32 has to offer.
this would be comparable to 2 x A16 but with more functionality and up to
date technology. At PlanetZ there is a saying - why buy 2 when you can
have 1 in half the space!