RME Fireface UCX
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Continuing the line of pristine quality X-Series interfaces, the Fireface UCX packs an incredible amount of technology into a half-rack unit. Featuring 18 ins and outs in total, 8 analogue i/o, 2 digitally controlled mic preamps, 2 instrument inputs, SPDIF, ADAT, Wordclock, 2 MIDI i/o all piped through FireWire 400 or USB 2.0 (USB 3 compatible) computer connections.
The Fireface UCX has impressive technical specifications, with 115dBA dynamic range on the analogue inputs and outputs; an excellent signal-to-noise ratio with very low distortion and jitter. Latency is negligable (0.4ms at 48kHz), surpassing that of many, more expensive interfaces, making the UCX a serious recording tool for studio or stage. The mic preamps use technology from the RME Micstacy, ensuring flat response and supreme dynamic range, and can also provide automatic and intelligent level control to ensure distortion-free recording.
TotalMix allows for flexible DSP mixing and routing of all i/o's plus effects even at the highest sample rates. Every channel can have 3-band parametric EQ, adjustable HPF, dynamics, MS processing and phase reversal. A stereo auxiliary send gives access from any channel to the reverb and delay effects engine, allowing DSP-based mininal-latency monitoring effects. There are limitations to the total number of simultaneous effects depending on sample rate, but when the DSP load is too high, the Fireface UCX will use the FX-DSP automatic overload surveillance to inform you, or deactivate some DSP, ensuring the DSP engine is never overloaded.
As well as using RME's proprietry USB and Firewire drivers, the Fireface UCX can also be used standalone, or in Class Compliant Mode. This allows the unit to be used without a driver on several operating systems including (via the Camera Connection Kit) the iPad or iPad2, making these mobile platforms capable of studio quality audio recording.
The main features of the RME Fireface UCX include:
36-channel, 192kHz USB and Firewire hybrid audio interface
FireWire 400 or USB 2.0 (USB 3 compatible)
8 analogue i/o
2 digitally controlled mic preamps
2 instrument inputs
SPDIF, ADAT, Wordclock
Very low distortion and jitter
Latency: 0.4ms at 48kHz
Flexible DSP mixing and routing
3-band parametric EQ, adjustable HPF, dynamics, MS processing and phase reversal on every channel
|Short Description||FireWire & USB 18 in/18 out Hybrid Audio Interface Featuring DSP Mixing and Effects, Ultra-Low Latency and Class Compliant Operation.|
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- Awesome quality & usability Review by Tony (Posted on 22/09/2014)
I purchased the UCX as an upgrade/cross-grade from the RME fireface800 as I simply didn’t need the slightly extended I/O and the increased usability looked appealing. I use the UCX in my home mixing/mastering set-up with only little bits of overdubbing.
First off in terms of usability the UCX is ideal, for me anyway. The single knob on the front allows for great intuitive control, and whilst the cryptic two letter coding used to identify the separate channels is slightly confusing initially, it’s learnt soon. Also via assigning one set of outputs as the “Master outputs” you gain some additional monitoring control that allows you listen to the mid and the side separately, if that’s appealing to your workflow. The indents in the digital volume control allow accurate control, and display, of the current listening level in dB steps rather than the vague information portrayed by a continuous potentiometer; for me this is great as I can implement the k-system on monitoring hence always know how loud dB(SPL) everything is. The ability to control the monitor section in this was eradicates the need for a separate monitor controller, therefore removing a stage that adds cost and colours the output from your computer system. If you truly hate changing windows in order to reach some of the monitoring options the UCX remote can also be purchased for a far cheaper cost than any monitoring controller, for my uses though, the control of the single knob and computer mouse is perfect. This unit also can make use of RME’s Digi-check which is a monitoring software I find invaluable in my workflow, especially during mastering work however I keep it on screen throughout tracking and mixing as well just as a reminder of where my gain staging is all sitting at/how much dynamic range I’m playing with.
In terms of the sound quality of the conversion, this is a typical RME product, not imparting any sort of colour, or hue, of it’s own, only replicating the waveform with such clarity, and exactness, that you’ll notice accents and artefacts that you’d never heard before. I wasn’t expecting to notice much of a step up from the fireface800 convertors but I was pleasantly surprised, with the UCX seeming slightly more accurate in the transients, especially on mix’s with busy mid frequencies.
Physically it’s solidly built, looks great on the desk, and the small footprint is a huge bonus for me, I don’t use it racked in anything, just sat on the small rubber feet included in the box and runs absolutely silently which is hugely important for me. Even though it’s a small unit it still has a hugeeee amount of i/o in terms of both analogue ins and outs an digital expansion capabilities. Whilst large i/o this isn’t my main priority, it’s invaluable to know that if I ever need to I can use an ADAT interface to expand enough to record a full drum kit with tones of room mics, or a live performance, for example. Currently I make use of this unit with a API lunchbox going into the analogue input/outputs on the rear, using the front as extras and I find this workflow keeps everything tidy and sounding good.
This is a great unit for anyone whose priority for an interface is pristine conversion with a transparent and effective monitoring section. It can also cover a lot of i/o potential for mix engineers utilising various outboard processing however if you’re looking to often record with a large track count then a large interface will be necessary, or you’ll have to make use of the digital i/o possibilities. Therefore I’d say this interface is more focused towards mix/mastering studios, or portable high quality set-ups, however not large tracking studios.
Video1: RME Fireface UCX Overview
Video2: RME Fireface TotalMix Overview
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