June 29, 2006

Using a Rosetta w/ a MOTU box...

by Chris Randall

I got this question in my email this morning from a Bill:

I just ordered a rosetta 800 and was curious as to how to hook it
up to the MOTU. For now, I just want to use as a front-end (not using with
the firwire card). Are there configurations that capitalize on the
conversion that are better than others? How exactly do I hook it all up? Do
I input my external pres directly into the rosetta, or do I just connect
them to the MOTU as always and let the rosetta via optical and wordclock do
the rest? Also, I use the Mackie Big Knob for monitoring .. how do I
monitor the rosetta DA? Does it still come out of the MOTU main outs or
would go out from the rosetta directly into the Big Knob?

I replied, but the mail bounced, and I thought the answer might interest other people, so in the interests of posterity, here 'tis:

It's pretty easy. You hook the Rosetta to the MOTU via the optical
cables (in and out.) I strongly suggest clocking the MOTU from the
Rosetta, rather than the other way around, as the clock in the
Rosetta is much better than the one in the MOTU. You _can_ clock the
MOTU from the ADAT input, but it is generally accepted that the
better way to go is with the Wordclock input.

So get yourself a BNC cable, as well, as you'll need that for the
wordclock. Just run the WC out of the Rosetta to the WC in of the
MOTU, and set the MOTU control panel to clock off the Rosetta. Set
the Rosetta to whatever sample rate you normally work at, and you're

As for the other bit, that's really a matter of taste. As soon as I
hooked up my Rosetta, I sold my MOTU and used the money to buy a Lynx
AES16 card. The MOTU is a nice box, and I made several albums with
mine that I'm happy with, but it just isn't in the same league as the
Rosetta, and I could see that I wasn't going to use it. Also, with the Lynx AES16, you're going to be able to get down to 1ms or less of latency; the lowest I ever got my 896 to run without error was about 6ms. I have the Eventide Eclipse hooked to the AES16 as a send effect, and since there isn't any A/D/A conversion, it is even lower latency, 0.45ms according to the "External Effect" doohicky in Nuendo, which is basically instantaneous, as far as we humans are concerned.

But, if that isn't in the cards, I'd hook all your pres to the
Rosetta to take advantage of its far better A/D convertors, and
monitor from the output of the Rosetta, and just use the MOTU as a
Lightpipe to Firewire convertor, basically. To do this, you'd set the
stereo output of your DAW to be Lightpipe 1/2. Of course, you need a
DB25->XLR cable to get the outputs of the Rosetta, but otherwise
you're good.

I really frown on the Mackie Big Knob, and it is definitely going to
be the weak link in your chain at this point. It uses op-amps in the
signal chain, and colors the sound. At the VERY LEAST, switch to a
Presonus Central Station, which just has relays inside, and has no op
amps in the signal chain for the mains. The Big Knob will kind of
take away the benefits you're getting from having a Rosetta in the
first place.




Jun.29.2006 @ 1:37 PM
Fredrik Carno
...I'd hook all your pres to the Rosetta to take advantage of its far better A/D convertors...

Amen to that. I plug two germaniums into my rosetta 200. If that's not porn I don't know what is.
I use it with r84 ribbon and a sm57 on a ac30 and it blow me away everytime :-)

Fredrik Carno


Jun.29.2006 @ 3:36 PM
On the edge of the topic but another suggestion on replacing the Big Knob is the SM Pro Audio M-Patch.

Jun.29.2006 @ 6:57 PM
Speaking of that 896, check your email.

Jun.30.2006 @ 12:35 AM
I have an original Motu 828 (MK1?) and a Presonus Central Station. Any advice on how to get the best out of that situation?

I think I should bypass at least the "outputs" on the Moto... am I correct?

Im going to buy a new mic-pre very soon. (Im thinking about a Vintech). I wonder if I should somehow hook that directly into the Presonus somehow.

Thanks for any advice.


Jun.30.2006 @ 7:18 AM
At what sample rate do you record now ? Did you take a higher SR when getting the rossetta ?

Jun.30.2006 @ 11:35 AM
Chris Randall
I record at 44.1 still. I would switch to a higher sample rate if consumers would decide that they like a medium better than MP3. Since they don't, I figure "why waste the disk space?"



Jul.01.2006 @ 11:57 AM
Chris Randall
Hey, Sleezy...

Your next step is better mic pres and convertors. The 828 is a great starter box, but if you want to step up to Big Boy territory, you're gonna have to lose it. If I was you, and I was short on cash, the first thing I would buy would be a pair of mic pres. My reasoning here is that if you get something like a Rosetta, you still need mic pres, but you're gonna see a sizable gain in quality using high end mic pres with an 828.

My current recommendation for Best Bang For The Buck is the API A2D. You just ram that bad boy in the AES inputs of the 828, and you bypass the whole operation. $1600 and money well spent. If that's too much, the Vintech Dual 72 can be had for $900 to $1100 new.

Once you have that done, the next logical step is a Rosetta 200 (if you can live with stereo I/O) or Aurora 8 or Rosetta 800 (if you need 8 channels.)



Jul.02.2006 @ 5:55 AM
Thanks for the advice Chris,

For some reason in my searching the Vintech X73i keeps coming up as something that looks good to me... have you ever used one or know anything about it?


Jul.02.2006 @ 11:04 AM
Chris Randall
I haven't ever used one, but the reviews I've read are all positive. I have to admit I'm looking at that, as well. I can't afford a real 1073 (and don't really think they're worth the money they bring, personally) but it'd be handy to have that sound in the pallette, plus if you take outside clients, you pretty much need to have a pair of 1073s or clones. Thus, the X73i is probably a good choice in that regard.

If you buy one, let us know how it is.



Jul.02.2006 @ 1:54 PM
Im going to NYC next week... Im hoping Dale Pro Audio has one in stock for me to check out (and hopefully 50 other mic pres!)



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