02 August 2010

Apollo Studio Tech (Part 4)

Since I have a lot of digital audio signals I need to be able to creatively patch and merge signals. Again I made a stripped version of the studio schematic in the picture on the left. Here you see three boxes called 'DMX12', ''DMX16 and 'DMX32'. These are Friend-Chip digital patch bays / audio routers. The DMX32 and DMX16 are two very important pieces in my studio, because they are able to convert SPDIF  signals to ADAT and back. It can also patch an input signal to multiple outputs. And doing all this it can also convert the sample rate at the same time. As I said before my whole studio runs on 48 Khz. I try to put the output sample rate of my digital synthesizers on that sample rate where possible , but some synthesizers are only able to send out a 44.1 Khz SPDIF signal. The DMX32 and DMX16 are able to convert this to 48 khz. That sounds easier than it actually is. I'm sure Friend-Chip has to do a lot of magic for that.

On the right you see the DMX12 and DMX32 from the front and the back. These pictures are not mine, but come from the Friend-Chip website. The DMX12 is a standard product so it looks exactly the same as mine. It has 3 coax inputs and outputs and the rest is Toslink. It is able to patch SPDIF coax to Toslink, but it can only patch ADAT from Toslink to Toslink. No sample rate conversion on this box. So basically the DMX12 is just a automated patch bay and that is exactly what I use it for. It has a midi input and output as well so that you can configure it remotely and select presets.

The DMX32 and DMX16 are much smarter. They are chassis based and you can configure them like you want by inserting modules. The DMX32 is a 2HE unit that can hold up to 8 modules, where the DMX16 is a 1 HE unit that can hold 4 modules. In the DMX32 I  inserted one SPDIF coax module with 4 inputs and outputs and the rest is Toslink. In both of them are also 2 MAQ modules. These ones are able to fold 4 SPDIF signals (2 channels) into 1 ADAT channel (8 channels) and also the other way around. With these modules I can patch a digital synthesizer with SPDIF out directly into an ADAT channel on the ADI-648 MADI converter. I also have digital effect equipment attached to them. I can easily route signals from my audio PC through an Effects Processor and back or put a synthesizer through an effect unit before it goes into the ADAT channel. That makes my setup extremely flexible. Friend-Chip offers a nice Java based program that looks like a matrix. You can make patches just by the click of the mouse and save complex setups as presets and recall them later. They are controlled by Midi. I really love these boxes. You can find more information on the Friend-Chip website: http://www.friend-chip.de/

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