November 2, 2005

Hacking the ADA8000

by Chris Randall

There are some interesting threads over at the Prodigy-Pro forums concerning the Behringer ADA8000 AD/DA box. At around $220 street, it seems like a reasonable way to utilize those lightpipe I/O ports on your interface, doesn't it? However, when one digs a little deeper, one finds just about the stupidest possible design for a mic pre ever. The box has been pretty thoroughly reverse-engineered by the guys on the Prodigy forum, and a lot of thought has been given to improving its operation.

The main idea is, of course, to lose the stupid and terrible mic pres, and get right to the AD, which is of reasonable quality. The ADA8000 doesn't have real line inputs, which is where the problem lies. Your signal is going to travel through a pair of extra shitty op-amps and get padded even if you use the line input. That being the case, better to bypass the whole thing, and presto, you have an okay-quality AD/DA for not much money. (The caveat is, as always, that you need a good clock.)

Anyways, you can start with this thread, then hit that search button at the top of the page and type in "ADA8000" which will get you about 20 other threads on the subject. One of the more comical suggestions was to go straight from XLR, through a $70 Jensen transformer right on to the pins of the AD chip. This would get you a pretty fucking good line level to lightpipe interface for the low cost of $830 for 8 channels. Quite frankly, I'd say off hand that wasn't worth it, but to each their own. It is possible to bypass the mic pres in this hunk of junk and actually turn it in to a usable device, so caveat emptor, but there you go.




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