High-end, 36-channel audio interface with full-featured effects an iPad support.
The Fireface UCX from RME is a high-end audio interface loaded to the brim with all of the professional connections needed in a studio environment, but in a compact enough design that you can easily take on the road or in the field for mobile recording applications. With a total of 36 channels of audio, there is certainly no shortage of audio connectivity. Add to that two high-end microphone and instrument preamps, digital I/O, USB 2.0 and FireWire connections, all neatly packed inside of a 19" housing with full mobile usability.
Inputs and Outputs
The UCX provides 36 channels of audio - 18 inputs and 18 outputs. All channels can be used at the same time. Up to 8 analog and 10 digital channels can be recorded onto 18 separate tracks. All outputs can be used for ASIO Direct Monitoring purposes.
On the rear: 4 balanced TRS. On the front: 2 XLR inputs with Mic/Line preamps (65dB Gain) and 2 Hi-Z capable TRS Line/Instrument inputs.
On the rear: 6 balanced TRS outputs. On the front: One additional TRS stereo phones (playback channels 7/8). The high-power phones output offers high volumes even with high-impedance headphones
Equipped with a new 2011 A/D and D/A high-performance converter design all I/O operates at up to 192kHz. The AD/DA conversion supersedes the outstanding technical specifications of the Fireface UC/400 with an impressive 114 dBA dynamic range on both record and playback. The advanced multi-bit converter architecture guarantees excellent S/N and THD specs across a wide analog level range. In the best RME tradition and product philosophy, the Fireface UCX converters and preamps have no characteristic "sound" of their own. They neither add nor remove anything, but capture the original signal just as it is.
Due to its efficient jitter reduction, RME's superior SteadyClock finalizes the state-of-the-art AD/DA conversion, even when clocking to an external digital source.
Low Latency Converters
All analog I/O uses a low latency converter design with impressive 14 samples for the ADC, and 7 samples for the DAC, independent of the used sample rate. These values are about a quarter of the Fireface UC/400 (43/28), and even outperform much more expensive devices. This technological advancement reduces the overall latency of timing critical applications, in live situations, and in computer-based recording studios. The converter latency is so low (0.4 ms at 48 kHz) that it can be ignored, turning analog digital monitoring into real analog-style monitoring.
Microphone/Instrument Preamps with AutoSet
The UCX provides two high-end mic and instrument preamps - built right into the front. Both preamps use core technology of RME's Micstasy. A high-end preamp for supreme sonic demands and critical applications, like professional recordings of classical and acoustic music. The outstanding preamp design boasts extremely low distortion, excellent signal to noise ratio and a perfectly flat frequency response. A premium solution for transmitting and amplifying any audio source truly unchanged, be it high-level stage or typical studio signals, lower level and high-impedance instruments, or dynamic, condenser and ribbon microphones.
The digitally controlled gain of up to 65dB, adjustable in steps of 1dB over a range of 55dB, is individually set for each preamp with the encoder knob on the front or in TotalMix FX on the host computer. All level settings are 100% reproducible and can also be adjusted using a MIDI remote controller.
Each channel can be individually switched to 48V phantom power. LEDs for signal, clip and activated phantom power give a complete overview on the unit's status.
The two TRS inputs on the front will alternatively operate as Hi-Z inputs. Directly plug in up to two guitars or other instruments - no other hardware is required.
The UCX offers a unique RME feature which was previously available only in the high-end microphone preamp Micstasy and the UFX. Usually a limiter is used during the recording to prevent clipping of the A/D converter stage. But analog processing would not only spoil the excellent technical specifications of the UCX mic preamps but also alter the original sound.
Thanks to digitally controlled gain the UCX can reduce the gain automatically, thus providing perfect protection from overload with no degradation of the audio signal, which does not have to pass any additional electronic circuitry. Additionally AutoSet does not cause any of the control noises known from usual limiters. SNR and THD stay completely unchanged.
Digital I/O, Word Clock & MIDI
SPDIF: The UCX provides a coaxial SPDIF I/O working at up to 192kHz.
ADAT: One 8-channel ADAT I/O expands the UCX by 8 channels available simultaneously with the analog channels. They can be used to connect an 8-channel AD/DA converter, a mixing console, or to insert an effect device. The ADAT I/O supports sample rates with up to 192kHz (S/MUX4). Using an external converter like the ADI-8 QS, the UCX will provide 16 analog inputs and outputs, 12 with a sample rate of 96kHz, and still 10 at 192kHz.
SPDIF: The ADAT I/O can be used as optical SPDIF I/O, making the UCX connections even more flexible.
Word Clock & MIDI: A word clock input and output (BNC) with switchable termination plus two MIDI I/Os on a breakout cable complete the I/O list and turn the Fireface UCX into a professional audio system with universal usability.
The DSP-based TotalMix mixer supports fully independent routing and mixing of all 18 input and playback channels to all 18 physical outputs. Up to 9 totally independent stereo submixes plus a comprehensive Control Room section offer monitoring capabilities and unsurpassed routing flexibility.
Every input and output channel comes with a luxury feature set, comparable to a full-scale digital console. The effects per channel include 3-band parametric EQ, adjustable Low Cut, Auto Level, Compressor, Expander, MS Processing and phase reversal. The Reverb and Echo effects unit is available for all channels by way of a stereo send and return bus, all at 192 kHz operation.
Two DSP’s ensure an impressive performance even in extreme applications. As usual with RME, TotalMix is available with all channels at all sample rates, completely unlimited. The second dedicated DSP only renders effects, and therefore always has sufficient resources. For example, at 48kHz 36 EQs, 36 Low Cuts, 26 Compressors and Echo can be activated. With activated Reverb and Echo still 36 EQs, 36 Low Cuts and 16 Compressors are available.
The FX-DSP uses automatic overload surveillance. As soon as no effect can be added anymore the TotalMix surface will clearly signal this condition. When changing to higher sample rates the UCX automatically deactivates all effects that exceed the DSP's performance - the DSP will never be overloaded. This also prevents any possible damage to loudspeakers due to distortion.
Furthermore, the DSP hardware calculates RMS and Peak levels for all 54 level meters, so there is zero CPU load on the host.
The main functions of TotalMix can be remote controlled via MIDI with any Mackie Control compatible controller.
Hammerfall-X-Core: USB & FireWire
RME doesn’t use a third party USB or FireWire audio technology, but its own, self-developed Hammerfall Audio Core with an outstanding performance and uncompromised pro audio features. RME integrated the latest and most sophisticated version of RME's bus technology, the Hammerfall-X-Core - combining both, USB 2.0 and FireWire - within one half-rack sized interface.
Class Compliant Mode
The Fireface UCX is a fully professional audio interface with the option to be used as Class Compliant interface. The Class Compliant mode is a standard that is natively supported by operating systems like Windows, Mac OSX and Linux distributions. No proprietary drivers are required; the device will be directly recognized when the Class Compliant mode is activated by the button on the front panel.
Connect to an Apple iPad or iPad2
The iPad is not only an attractive mobile music creation and recording platform, but a closed hard- and software system without common driver problems and interferences from 3rd party hardware, like graphic or network cards. It provides stability, a good realtime performance and easy handling.
The UCX provides the iPad with the professional analog I/O connections it lacks. Superb microphone preamps with EQ, dynamics, even with the AutoSet feature, in addition to professional balanced line outputs, and a hi-power headphone output that also excels with high impedance headphones. Plus level adjustments, reverb, echo, zero latency monitoring, digitally via USB, without any limitation in quality, at up to 96kHz and 24-bit.
Supported Inputs and Outputs
When connected to an iPad, the analog mic/line input 1 works with mono apps, inputs 1 and 2 with stereo apps (both dual mono and stereo), and all 8 analog inputs with 8-channel applications, like MultiTrack DAW and Music Studio.
Playback will use analog outputs 1 and 2 (there is no app supporting 8-channel playback at this time). The output signal 1/2 will be copied to outputs 7/8, SPDIF and ADAT, and can be processed independently (Volume/EQ/Dyn/FX Return).
Audio Routing and Processing . The UCX is also a very powerful tool in CC mode, and can even be pre-configured via TotalMix FX under Windows/Mac. Apart from the current configuration up to 6 previously saved configurations can be loaded from the setup memory, allowing for a quick reconfiguration without a connected host PC/Mac.
The input signal will pass through all activated functions of the TotalMix FX input channel, namely settings, EQ, and Dynamics, and is then sent to the iPad. Like under Windows and Mac, the input fader controls direct monitoring to any output. The FX send control for echo/reverb is also active. The iPad's output signal passes through all activated functions of the TotalMix FX hardware outputs, namely settings, EQ, and dynamics. The third row's fader sets the output level.
More details are found in the Tech Info Fireface UCX Class Compliant Mode - Technical background, mode of operation, practical use
RME's unique jitter suppression technology guarantees perfect sound quality throughout, making the device completely independent from the quality of external clock signals. Due to the highly efficient jitter reduction, the UCX converters operate independently from the quality of the external clock signal, as if they are working with internal clock all the time - guaranteeing a prestine sound quality.
SteadyClock allows the Fireface UCX to control the sample rate freely on its own. The settings dialog includes a direct choice of the video and audio world's most often used sample rates.
Intelligent Clock Control not only displays every clock status, but will also retain the last valid input sample rate in case of failure of the external source. Other renowned RME technologies like SyncCheck offer a quick detection of clock problems.
The UCX comes with RME's unique software toolbox for metering, testing, measuring and analyzing digital audio streams. It provides a multi-track recorder, calculates the level meters peak and RMS in hardware and is able to analyze and display playback data from any software, no matter which format the software uses.
Stand Alone Operation with Setup Recall
Additionally internal memory allows for the permanent storage of six different states of the unit. Therefore the Fireface UCX is able to operate fully stand-alone, without any connected computer. In stand-alone operation it can transform into totally different devices by the simple click of a button. Furthermore, in this mode TotalMix FX can also be controlled via MIDI. Application examples include: 8-channel AD/DA converter, 4-channel mic preamp, monitor mixer, digital format converter, analog/digital routing matrix.