Expand Your Inputs With ADAT

| Tips

Behringer ADA8000Some of you out there may own and use an audio interface that features an optical ADAT input. If you haven’t used it yet you might be wondering what it’s for and how best to take advantage of it. Today I want to briefly go over how great this option is and how to practically use it in your studio.

Do You Lightpipe?

It has a few names, but many audio interfaces include a digital connection called ADAT or lightpipe. Like it sounds, this fiber optic technology can stream up to 8 channels of stable 44.1 or 48 khz 24 bit digital audio between audio hardware. Why is this helpful? Imagine being able to add 8 additional mic pres to your rig with a single cable connection. Simple, clean, and affordable

Many audio interfaces come with this connection on the back. It may be labeled ADAT or Optical in, but it’s all the same. Your total available I/O usually takes this connection into the equation so if you think you’re missing some of the advertised inputs this is probably where they are hiding.

Expanding Your Horizons

Smart as they are, pro audio companies have been manufacturing multi-channel preamps featuring an ADAT connection specifically to be used in conjunction with your lightpipe enabled interface. Popular examples are the M-Audio Octane, Focusrite OctoPre, and the whole line of DigiMax pres from Presonus. Simply hook up your mics to one of these multi-channel pres, connect it to your interface via an optical cable, and BAM! 8 more channels of rock n’ roll bliss with no fuss!

One of the most obvious applications of this is for recording drums. Many interfaces come with only a handful of pres on them, but if you need more than you built in options you can add 8 more with a single cable. In fact that’s how I track drums all the time. My Digi 002 comes with 4 mic pres built in, which is fine in most situations. But when I want to do 8 to 12 channels of drums I simply plug in my trusty Behringer ADA8000 (another great option, and for under $200!) and I’m ready to go. In fact this is the exact setup I used up in this video when tracking a band the other week. And the fact that it’s only a 1U rack space, I’ve got a totally portable studio with 12 mic pres. Nice!

Something To Consider

If you happen to be in the market for an audio interface and plan on recording drums or doing high track count live recording, look for an ADAT (lightpipe) enabled interface. Even if you don’t have the money (or need) to drop on one of the units mentioned above, at least you’ll have the option for expansion.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share

Ready to transform your recordings and mixes?

Sign up now and get my BEST material absolutely FREE.

13 Responses to “Expand Your Inputs With ADAT”

  1. joe

    thanks for the info esp. the behringer ada 8000.just bought a zoom r16 mainly for its portability(beats lugging a 24 channel mixing board and an adat to friends houses) i thought it might be possible to transfer adat tapes to pro tools with it via flash drive.i never could get” alesis edit”(came with light pipe) to work even had a windows 98 computer built for it. no luck.i wonder if the card has drivers for windows xp the software will not work with windows xp at any rate
    your post gives me a reasonable alternative to my zoom r16 as i would rather use a light pipe and the price of behringer is acceptable beats the 600.00 average from other companies.

    Reply
  2. Jay Bradshaw

    I have been using an actual ADAT unit via the optical (lightpipe) interface, but have had brief audio loss on those recorded tracks. Has anyone else encountered this, and is there fix for this problem? (Yes, I set the clock to ‘optical’).

    Reply
  3. aaron

    People seem to misunderstand what a ADAT interface does for them. It provides 8 tracks up to 24 bit digital audio in real time. This is different than a USB computer interface that can transfer large wave files between two hard drives more quickly. And a few of the all-in-one multitrack machines have ADAT interface, but usually newer ones have USB only. However the ADAT interface is what you want if you want to talk in real time and record all 8 tracks live at once to say a ADAT digital mixer, and also a Behringer ADAT ADA8000 8 microphone interface, and or if you want more live inputs for your laptop/computer DAW recording software. Although the Behringer BCA2000 is discontinued, you can still find it used and it has ADAT optical in/out, plus gives you 2 seperate 32 channel MIDI outputs, also has 2 mic pre-amps(and 48 volt phantom power) and 2 analog inputs, and one for guitar input. Together with a Behringer ADA8000 and or a real ADAT machine you then will have many live track options for recording anything into a laptop/computer DAW. You can also use ADAT sound card interfaces such as E-MU 1212m PCI and PCI-E, Frontier Designs PCI cards, and many others for your desktop computer ADAT connections. Some can be found used on eBay and Craigslist. Now ADAT is both definately a cheap way to go and convenient to get 8 tracks or more of high quality audio in real time, live at once recording with an easy to use optical cable.

    Reply
  4. Katherina

    Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something.
    I think that you could do with a few pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is
    magnificent blog. An excellent read. I will certainly be back.

    Reply
  5. michael

    Okay so im still a little confused. I understand that this adat is used to add more channels, but can it be used to connect an eq rack or compresdor rack? I want to start building a better home studio now and want to buy a compressor, but have no clue how, or even if it would be possible to connect it through my audiobox 1818vsl. I just have no clue where to start…

    Reply
    • Graham

      Michael,

      If you have the AudioBox VSL then you already have EQ and compression on every channel via the DSP.

      Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1.  Optimize Pro Tools: Setting Your Clock Source | The Recording Revolution
  2.  Mixing Drums | The Recording Revolution
  3.  My Portable Studio In Full Force | The Recording Revolution
  4.  The Hidden Gem Of Affordable Studio Gear | The Recording Revolution
  5.  How To Use Your ADAT Input [Video] | The Recording Revolution

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Read previous post:
Are You New To The Revolution?

Today I want to address you new readers...those of you who have started following The Recording Revolution in recent weeks...

Close