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.

Dante:  And you have the press already rolling on this hot little number?

Juergen:  I also did lots of interviews with magazines and dealers which will be published soon or by the time this ScopeRise goes out.  So far there has been a  French interview from the distributor booth at the Frankfurt show.

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 ?

Juergen:  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.

Dante:  What sort of improvements do the Cirrus Logic converters deliver compared to the AKM on the A16? 

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. 

Dante:  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:  Correct.  People buy the A32 not just for studio but for live work also.  For live use two power supplies and redundant MADI is highly welcome for obvious reasons.

Dante:  Storage of seven mixes sounds like a great feature and then the possibility of extensibility via Sharc.  Since you've asked for ideas on future use of the Sharc via Scope library, it might be easier to limit our recommendations if we know whether this would be based on any particular SDK?

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.

Juergen:  The 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 put in 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 firmware feature.

Dante:  Do you have a few comments about the success of the shows and industry and crowd reactions?

Juergen: We're just back from the Frankfurt show and rather exhausted but happy.  It was fun to explain the A32 to the people and see the 'wow' in their faces. What makes the A32 extraordinary I think is the idea that it's not only a converter but also you have all visual and auditive control you need for your work.  And thanks to the multi lingual help feature the A32 will be self explanatory so you don't need to search for the manual (usually this is what I lose first).  I think these features together with the price makes the A32 unique.  In the USA our distributor showed the A32 and our other products at the NAB show and the feedback was very positive.  I also met some Scope users in Frankfurt and talked a lot with them.  Its nice to see the 'scene' is still very much active!  Even the very small subset of the Scope tools we implemented for the first version will make the A32 so much more useful.  And besides that I brought home lots of good ideas for new things to implement in the A32 and for future products.  If you like to be kept updated follow us on Facebook:

Dante: Last but not least
the RRP?

Juergen:  Our recommended price is around $2399.  I think this is more than fair for the many features the A32 has to offer.

Dante: Exactly, 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!

Juergen and Dante April 2015