RME Babyface Pro questions

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RME Babyface Pro questions

Joe Hartley
Hi, all.  I'm considering replacing my M-Audio Delta 1010 an Mackie Big Knob
monitor controller with an RME Babyface Pro so that I have preamps available
at my desktop without breaking out my big mixer, and hardware volume control
for my monitors.

I know a few folks here have the Babyface Pro (Hi, Fons and Brent!) and
I'm curious as to whether you're all still happy with it.  I've been reading
that in the class-compliant mode, which is required for Linux use), that
various features are not enabled.

My biggest concern is about phantom power, as I'd seen a mention that
PP is only settable from the TotalMix software, which is a no-op in CC mode.

I'm also interested in any "gotchas" or anecdotes about living with this
unit under Linux.

Thanks!

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Re: RME Babyface Pro questions

bernard
Hi Joe I don't have the Babyface but the phantom power issue is not that
inconvenient, for you can have a cheap external one like these :

https://www.sweetwater.com/c959--Phantom_Power_Supplies/low2high

https://www.thomann.de/fr/millenium_pp2b.htm?ref=search_prv_7

Bernard


Le 27/02/2019 à 17:57, Joe Hartley a écrit :

> Hi, all.  I'm considering replacing my M-Audio Delta 1010 an Mackie Big Knob
> monitor controller with an RME Babyface Pro so that I have preamps available
> at my desktop without breaking out my big mixer, and hardware volume control
> for my monitors.
>
> I know a few folks here have the Babyface Pro (Hi, Fons and Brent!) and
> I'm curious as to whether you're all still happy with it.  I've been reading
> that in the class-compliant mode, which is required for Linux use), that
> various features are not enabled.
>
> My biggest concern is about phantom power, as I'd seen a mention that
> PP is only settable from the TotalMix software, which is a no-op in CC mode.
>
> I'm also interested in any "gotchas" or anecdotes about living with this
> unit under Linux.
>
> Thanks!
>
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Re: RME Babyface Pro questions

audio
On Wed, 27 Feb 2019 18:46:51 +0100, bernard wrote:
>Le 27/02/2019 à 17:57, Joe Hartley a écrit :
>> so that I have preamps available at my desktop without breaking out
>> my big mixer
>Hi Joe I don't have the Babyface but the phantom power issue is not
>that inconvenient, for you can have a cheap external one like these :
>
>https://www.sweetwater.com/c959--Phantom_Power_Supplies/low2high
>
>https://www.thomann.de/fr/millenium_pp2b.htm?ref=search_prv_7

If I were Joe, I would avoid extra cables on the desktop, let alone
that extra connections are prone to cause issues.
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Re: RME Babyface Pro questions

Jeremy Jongepier
In reply to this post by Joe Hartley
Hello Joe,

On 2/27/19 5:57 PM, Joe Hartley wrote:
> My biggest concern is about phantom power, as I'd seen a mention that
> PP is only settable from the TotalMix software, which is a no-op in CC mode.

You can control it from the unit in CC mode:
"48V Phantom power on/off Use IN to select Ch 1/2. Use SELECT to choose
left, right or both channels. A push on SET will activate Phantom power
and turn on the orange LED labeled P48."

Got that from the manual: https://www.rme-audio.de/download/bface_pro_e.pdf
Chapter 34, page 91.

It's almost the same as on the Babyface I have, the non-Pro version.
Very nice unit. Hooked it up to an 8-channel ADAT unit, got 10 channels
at my disposal. Combined with Mixbus this works very nicely.

Best,

Jeremy



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Re: RME Babyface Pro questions

Brent Busby
In reply to this post by Joe Hartley
Joe Hartley <[hidden email]> writes:

> Hi, all.  I'm considering replacing my M-Audio Delta 1010 an Mackie Big Knob
> monitor controller with an RME Babyface Pro so that I have preamps available
> at my desktop without breaking out my big mixer, and hardware volume control
> for my monitors.
>
> I know a few folks here have the Babyface Pro (Hi, Fons and Brent!) and
> I'm curious as to whether you're all still happy with it.  I've been reading
> that in the class-compliant mode, which is required for Linux use), that
> various features are not enabled.
>
> My biggest concern is about phantom power, as I'd seen a mention that
> PP is only settable from the TotalMix software, which is a no-op in CC mode.
>
> I'm also interested in any "gotchas" or anecdotes about living with this
> unit under Linux.
I'm afraid I never expect it to provide phantom power, since both my
outboard preamps and my desk mixer can do that.  So far, I'm only using
it as a secondary interface for mobile use, when I need to record on a
laptop with nothing but an 8-space rack of outboard equipment
available.  I've not been depending on it as a main interface yet in the
studio.

Of course, that may change.  The Multiface II that is my main interface
now is hooked up to a PCI-E card in the computer, and eventually it or
the card will die.  (Does interface hardware go to heaven when it dies,
if it's very good?)  Since pretty much everything new is USB now, I'm
probably going to have to live with that even for my main interface at
some point, and the Babyface Pro is probably as good of a USB interface
as one could ever expect.  (It sounds fantastic, though interestingly,
in a way that I can still distinguish from the Multiface -- subtly
brighter.)  I think the thing I would miss the most if I had to start
using it as my main interface would be not having hdspmixer available to
setup intricate monitor mixes in hardware.

It's a very well behaved unit though, and it works with Ardour on my
Debian laptop right out of the box.

--
- Brent Busby + ===============================================
                + "The introduction of a new kind of music must
-- Studio    -- +  be shunned as imperiling the whole state, for
-- Amadeus/  -- +  styles of music are never disturbed without
-- Keycorner -- +  without affecting the most important political
-- Recording -- +  institutions."    --Plato, "Republic"
----------------+ ===============================================

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Re: RME Babyface Pro questions

audio
On Wed, 27 Feb 2019 13:08:06 -0600, Brent Busby wrote:
>I think the thing I would miss the most if I had to start using it as
>my main interface would be not having hdspmixer available to setup
>intricate monitor mixes in hardware.

It's an advantage, if routing for monitoring could be handled by
software, especially in this case, since Joe mentioned desktop usage
without the need to use a large mixer. In my modest experiences, a
small mixer with a few sub and aux channels is a must-have tool.
Hdspmixer is a good tool, but a small mixer still could be useful,
even if hdspmixer is available. IMHO when using class compliant USB
devices, there is no way without at least a small mixer for monitoring.
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Re: RME Babyface Pro questions

Joe Hartley
On Wed, 27 Feb 2019 21:32:27 +0100
<[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Wed, 27 Feb 2019 13:08:06 -0600, Brent Busby wrote:
> >I think the thing I would miss the most if I had to start using it as
> >my main interface would be not having hdspmixer available to setup
> >intricate monitor mixes in hardware.
>
> It's an advantage, if routing for monitoring could be handled by
> software, especially in this case, since Joe mentioned desktop usage
> without the need to use a large mixer. In my modest experiences, a
> small mixer with a few sub and aux channels is a must-have tool.

Well, I just pulled the trigger on the Babyface.  I went over my use
cases and it works well for me when the Soundcraft board is just too
much.  The fact that it's portable just makes it more flexible, though
it'll rarely leave the desk.  I know the quality of the RME preamps,
and the unit got a glowing review from my son, whose opinion I value
highly.

Another plus here is that I will get rid of the rack which has had
its occupancy dwindle as I did more with plugins.  Now it's just a
power conditioner, patchbay, and the Delta 1010 external unit.

Brent also wrote earlier, "Does interface hardware go to heaven when
it dies, if it's very good?"  It makes me think about the fate of the
pair of 1010s that I have.  At one time I was considering building a
home studio around them (and the work in pairing them with a clock sync
got documented at delta.brainiac.com), but when I bought the Soundcraft
board, there was really no need for me to get crafty.

The hardware got older, and I learned about the 1010's capacitor issue,
and actually acquired my 2nd 1010 from another user here who gave it to
me for free with the provision I document how to fix it for others.
That was actually the start of the brainiac site mentioned above.
(Thanks, Brett!)  At any rate, I'm going to see what I can do to keep
this from becoming toxic scrap in a landfill.

Oh, an odd note - as I was searching my email archives to confirm that it
was Brett that gve me the broken 1010, the first hit contained this exchange:

Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2008
Subject: Re: RME Multiface II
> there are no known issues with it at this time, although a few newer
> features of the h/w are not available.
>
> > And hdspmixer is the Linux equivalent of the TotalMix tool?
>
> correct. you *must* run this before getting any sound out of the box -
> there is no other tool that can manipulate the matrix mixer and its all
> silenced at driver loading time.

Circles within circles...

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 Without deviation from the norm, "progress" is not possible. - FZappa
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Re: RME Babyface Pro questions

Fons Adriaensen-3
In reply to this post by Joe Hartley
On Wed, Feb 27, 2019 at 11:57:56AM -0500, Joe Hartley wrote:
 
> My biggest concern is about phantom power, as I'd seen a mention that
> PP is only settable from the TotalMix software, which is a no-op in CC mode.
>
> I'm also interested in any "gotchas" or anecdotes about living with this
> unit under Linux.

I'm still very happy with my Babyface Pro. Got another one at work.

Phantom power on the mic inputs can be controlled on the device
itself, so also in CC mode.

Two 'gotchas', neither of them serious if you know they exist:

1. Analog inputs 3 and 4 (TRS) are *unbalanced*, somewhat unexpected
on a device in this price range. OTOH, analog outputs 1 and 2 *are*
balanced, with both pins 2 and 3 of the XLR being actively driven,
and the signal on pin 3 being inverted. But this is *not* a
'pseudo-floating' balanced output in the sense that shorting one
of the two pins to ground will make the other one compensate so
you still have the same voltage between pins 2 and 3 (as on some
other RME gear). The signals on pins 2 and 3 are independent.
The result is that if you use a standard XLR->XLR or XRL->TRS
cable to an unbalanced input (e.g. analog inputs 3 and 4), you
are shorting output pin 3 to ground, and the output driver may
or may not not like that.

2. As soon as a valid signal appears on the ADAT input this
becomes the master sample clock, there is no way to change that
in CC mode. The result is that if you connect ADAT out to ADAT in
(e.g. for testing, but also indirectly), the sample clock goes
kinetic as it tries to sync to itself and fails.

As said, neither of these is a showstopper as long as you are
aware of them.

Another thing to watch out for: The gain of ADAT output channels
1 and 2 can be set on the unit itself, the maximum is +6 dB as
in totalmix. The others, 3..8, are always at 0 dB in CC mode.
So if you want the same gain on all 8 channels don't forget
to check 1 and 2. Hit me a few times when doing beamforming
using the ADAT outs.

Ciao,

--
FA

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Re: RME Babyface Pro questions

Joe Hartley
On Sat, 2 Mar 2019 21:19:35 +0100
Fons Adriaensen <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I'm still very happy with my Babyface Pro. Got another one at work.

Thanks, Fons!

I appreciate the heads-up on the balancing issues.  It does seem strange
that the 1/4" TRS inputs are unbalanced.  Are those the only unbalanced
ports on the uniit?

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Re: RME Babyface Pro questions

Fons Adriaensen-3
On Sat, Mar 02, 2019 at 04:02:50PM -0500, Joe Hartley wrote:
> On Sat, 2 Mar 2019 21:19:35 +0100
> Fons Adriaensen <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > I'm still very happy with my Babyface Pro. Got another one at work.
>
> I appreciate the heads-up on the balancing issues.  It does seem strange
> that the 1/4" TRS inputs are unbalanced.  Are those the only unbalanced
> ports on the uniit?

Outputs 3 and 4 (headphone) are unbalanced of course.
In and outs 1 and 2 (on the XLRs) are balanced.

Regarding pure audio quality (i.e. mic preamp and the A/D and D/A
parts), the Babyface is near perfect.

RE the ADAT clock issue: the consequence is that if you have a
network of ADAT devices, and you use both ADAT in and out on
the Babyface, then there MUST be another device acting as the
master clock.

For example, at work the Babyface is connected to an RME ADI-648
(MADI/ADAT switch) which is also the clock master. In that case
you can reroute the Babyface ADAT out to its ADAT in without
problems, as it doesn't receive its own clock back.

Ciao,

--
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Re: RME Babyface Pro questions

Joe Hartley
On Sat, 2 Mar 2019 22:19:24 +0100
Fons Adriaensen <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Outputs 3 and 4 (headphone) are unbalanced of course.
> In and outs 1 and 2 (on the XLRs) are balanced.

Ah, I don't know why but I thought there were (non-headphone) TRS out
on it.  

> Regarding pure audio quality (i.e. mic preamp and the A/D and D/A
> parts), the Babyface is near perfect.

This is why I ended up with it - everyone I know who has used one loves
the converters and preamps.  Thanks again!

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Re: RME Babyface Pro questions

Brent Busby
In reply to this post by Fons Adriaensen-3
Yes, I know, I'm resurrecting an old thread...

I'm starting to find it frustrating that I don't have more control of
routing on the control panel of the Babyface.  My main computer has a
Multiface II, which lets me use hdspmixer to get all the same things
TotalMix would give you on Windows/MacOS, including routing that can do
anything, and I'm used to being able to setup any monitoring I want.
But that's a now-defunct breed of interface, which has a PCI-E host
card, a real Linux driver, and a nice GUI mixer application for Linux.

But because the Babyface is a class-compliant USB device that doesn't
have a real Linux driver or mixer app of its own, I can only do what the
control panel allows.  What I'd like to do is have a mono input on
channel 1 routed to the headphones on both sides (left/right), so it
isn't all in one ear, while a stereo signal coming in on channels 3&4 is
sent as stereo a pair to the headphones at the same time.  As far as I
can tell, it only handles inputs in stereo pairs, and I haven't found a
way to send a single channel to both sides.  I'm sure on Windows/MacOS,
the TotalMix application would let you do this.

This opens the larger question of where Linux recording is going now
that it seems interfaces with PCI-E host cards are becoming scarce, and
things seem to be moving toward all interfaces being USB.  Aside from
USB having latency issues we never suffered from PCI cards, what is this
going to mean when the Linux solution for every interface becomes, "Just
run in class-compliant mode," when that will not give you much control
over monitoring in situations like this.  Maybe I should have gotten a
digital mixer, since that would connect to the computer as a
class-compliant device, but mixing and monitoring would truly be handled
on-board.

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Re: RME Babyface Pro questions

bernard

Some class compliant USB devices have now an agnostic mixer/panel control over ip, like the Motus AVB range.

But not all... On the high end it would be cool to test the Antelope range (Zen, ...) that have such a mixer in browser.

Bernard

Le 13/11/2019 à 16:04, Brent Busby a écrit :
Yes, I know, I'm resurrecting an old thread...

I'm starting to find it frustrating that I don't have more control of
routing on the control panel of the Babyface.  My main computer has a
Multiface II, which lets me use hdspmixer to get all the same things
TotalMix would give you on Windows/MacOS, including routing that can do
anything, and I'm used to being able to setup any monitoring I want.
But that's a now-defunct breed of interface, which has a PCI-E host
card, a real Linux driver, and a nice GUI mixer application for Linux.

But because the Babyface is a class-compliant USB device that doesn't
have a real Linux driver or mixer app of its own, I can only do what the
control panel allows.  What I'd like to do is have a mono input on
channel 1 routed to the headphones on both sides (left/right), so it
isn't all in one ear, while a stereo signal coming in on channels 3&4 is
sent as stereo a pair to the headphones at the same time.  As far as I
can tell, it only handles inputs in stereo pairs, and I haven't found a
way to send a single channel to both sides.  I'm sure on Windows/MacOS,
the TotalMix application would let you do this.

This opens the larger question of where Linux recording is going now
that it seems interfaces with PCI-E host cards are becoming scarce, and
things seem to be moving toward all interfaces being USB.  Aside from
USB having latency issues we never suffered from PCI cards, what is this
going to mean when the Linux solution for every interface becomes, "Just
run in class-compliant mode," when that will not give you much control
over monitoring in situations like this.  Maybe I should have gotten a
digital mixer, since that would connect to the computer as a
class-compliant device, but mixing and monitoring would truly be handled
on-board.

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