Many Multichannels

One of the limitations on home recording has always been not enough inputs and outputs. Whether it's a studio-in-a-box system or a full-blown computer interface, the downside has always been the limited number of inputs. It's not too hard to find an eight-channel computer-recording interface, but what if you need more than eight? One of the simplest ways to get more channels is to take advantage of digital inputs. Let's use the MOTU 828MKII as an example. The 828 boasts ten analog connections and ten additional digital channels. How do you take advantage of the extra inputs? On the 828 and many other recording interfaces, you will find an ADAT optical connection that sends its signal, not as analog audio, but as a digital signal, on a beam of light no less. Yes, fiber optics!

There is a new breed of microphone preamps that output to ADAT digital, which is also commonly referred to as “lightpipe.” With a preamp like this, you can easily add eight additional microphone and line channels. Even better news is you can get a good unit for $200, and a really nice one for around $800. Voilà, more channels — better yet, more microphone channels, and you can never have too many of those.

ADAT lightpipe inputs are becoming common on recording interfaces. The addition of the lightpipe input might be a good reason to choose one interface over another — especially if you expect to grow with your studio.

The other alternative is to look for an interface that allows “daisy chaining.” Daisy chaining is a way for interfaces to flow into one another, combining the inputs. Many of the MOTU interfaces allow you to chain as many together as you want. If one interface has sixteen inputs, then buying a second one and linking it together gives you thirty-two, and so on. If you were recording a jazz big band, for instance, thirty-two channels would come in handy.

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