German digital audio interface specialist RME celebrated its 20th anniversary at the Frankfurt Musikmesse 2016 show and launched several new products, including the Fireface UFX+, the company’s first Thunderbolt interface and its new flagship recording solution. As RME highlighted, this Thunderbolt interface allows real PCI Express audio performance under Mac and Windows, with the lowest latency, lowest system overhead and lowest CPU load.
This is a very special year, as RME celebrates 20 years of innovative designs and multiple contributions to the pro audio industry. But the celebration didn’t affect the company focus on product development and RME had a lot of new products and technology to show at his booth. Starting with the official launch of the new MADIface Pro, a variant of the popular Babyface Pro audio interface announced last year - now featuring MADI connectivity, replacing the 8-channel ADAT I/O, and offering all the benefits of digital high channel count digital transmission. Because of its physical design and versatile I/O, the MADIface Pro is the perfect mobile solution where quality audio is critical. As well as remote, live, broadcast and industrial applications, the MADIface Pro is a complete solution for any Mac- or Windows-based studio.
The second and probably the most important product is the Fireface UFX+, the first RME interface with Thunderbolt connectivity and now its flagship interface. Third in the quartet is the AD/DA converter ADI-2 Pro, which combines a high-end USB DAC (AES, SPDIF and ADAT), intelligent switching between user modes, and an excellent headphone amp equipped with two separately controlled outputs. Finally, RME presented the Advanced Remote Control USB (ARC USB), a new tactile control unit that allows easy operation of TotalMix FX software.
20 years of RME: A German success story
Launched in 1996, the DAM1 (Digital Audio Monitor) and a PCI recording card marked the beginning of what was to become a long line of innovative contributions to the pro audio industry. 20 years on, RME has grown into an industry leading manufacturer, whose success is in part, due to a design team who develop products from the ground up, rather than relying on 3rd party USB or Firewire technologies.
Today, RME offers a comprehensive range of audio interfaces, converters and mic preamps, all based around its unique and innovative core technologies. Multi-platform connectivity across Windows and Mac OS via PCI, PCIe, Firewire, USB 2 and 3, as well as iOS Class Compliance has earned RME a global reputation for providing support to all users, on all platforms.
Appropriately, Matthias Carstens head of product development and RME’s founder, called three of the main design engineers who have contributed to the company’s success, including the brothers Uwe and Martin Kirst, and Ralf Maennel. Commenting on the company’s milestone 20-year achievement, Matthias Carstens said: “All of us at RME are very proud to celebrate our 20th Anniversary, because it is a reflection of the dedication and effort put forth by everyone in the organization.”
The new Fireface UFX+
RME’s first interface with Thunderbolt and USB 3 connectivity, the new Fireface UFX+ will be the heart of any multitrack studio as it is able to handle up to 94 channels I/O with ease. With unprecedented flexibility, compatibility, the inclusion of DURec (Direct USB Recording) and RME’s famous low latency hardware and driver designs, the Fireface UFX+ raises the bar on the company’s products and is now RME’s new flagship solution.
The new Fireface UFX+ is packed with features not found on its older sibling, including MADI I/O, taking it to 188 channels of I/O (128 channels more than the Fireface UFX), a more powerful DSP for latency-free routing as well as extensive processing of dynamics and effects for all channels. The Fireface UFX+ also features USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, and the new ARC USB optional remote control. This means it can be used both with Mac OS X and Windows, even supporting hot plugging.
The UFX+ has an impressive channel count: 12 analog + 16 ADAT + 2 AES + 64 MADI = 94 channels input plus output = 188 channels in total. Thunderbolt technology gives the Fireface UFX+ real PCI Express audio performance under Mac and Windows, with lowest latency, lowest system overhead and lowest CPU load. The Fireface UFX+ is fully Thunderbolt technology compatible under Windows, including hot-plugging.
All new AD/DA converters, optimized analog I/O circuits, as well as improved SNR and THD values guarantee pristine, crystal clear and transparent audio. A new PAD-free mic circuit design with +18 dBu maximum input level and 75 dB gain range serves even the most critical recording situation and source trouble-free. New low impedance Hi-Power phones outputs (2 Ohms) with +19 dBu maximum output level provide ample output power as well as volume on any phones, high or low impedance
The improved DURec (Direct USB Recording), which is available on the front of the Fireface UFX+, now offers second generation hardware with improved USB functionality and compatibility, providing greater reliability even with slower or multi-partitioned USB thumb drives. The maximum number of recordable channels has been raised to 76, meaning all 12 analog inputs plus 64 MADI channels can be recorded simultaneously. An internal Realtime Clock (RTC) delivers time-stamped files, and playback now includes several advanced player functions previously unavailable. This firmly places the RME Fireface UFX+ as the new reference in multitrack recording, mixing and monitoring.
ADI-2 Pro and ARC USB
The ADI-2 Pro is RME’s new reference AD/DA converter, USB 2.0 DAC, USB 2.0 interface and high-end headphone amplifier at an affordable price. Its design, unique specifications, user features and its ability to deliver crystal transparency, make it perfect for mastering and measurement applications as well as the ultimate tool for audio enthusiasts. Based on the users’ connections, the ADI-2 pro will automatically switch to AD/DA converter, USB interface or analog preamp mode. The ADI-2 Pro supports sample frequencies of up to 768 kHz, a parametric 5-band EQ as well as low cut for all analogue I/Os allowing effective response correction for headphones and speakers.
Thanks to the excellent SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio) and reference-class THD (Total Harmonic Distortion), the ADI-2 Pro is perfect for both mastering and measuring systems. It is also suited for mobile use in combination with an Apple iPad. An optional power bank offers up to five hours of mobile operation. The high-resolution IPS display also ensures perfect overview over all parameters.
The Advanced Remote Control for USB, or ARC USB for short, is RME’s new control unit for easy and tactile operation of TotalMix FX. It’s optimized to be used with the new Fireface UFX+ and offers intuitive control over the DSPbased routing and effects section. The ARC USB can be connected via USB to any Mac OS or Windows computer, or directly to the Fireface UFX+ when employing the stand-alone mode. The control unit features a jog wheel, 15 freely assignable, illuminated buttons as well as a connector for a foot switch that can be assigned individually. The RME ARC USB will also simultaneously control multiple units.