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Review of the Behringer ADA8000
by TweakHeadz Lab
Its been known quite a while that one of the better Behringer values, in addition to their fine Direct Box (the DI-100) is the ADA 8000. Officially, the product is named the Behringer ADA8000 Ultragain Pro 8-Channel A/D D/A Converter
If anything, my work here today is short. I just got one. I can tell you with certainty how it works here: Perfectly. I have not been able to say that ifor a long time about anything. I should tell you though that I don't plan to use it for the mic pres. I bought the device to give me more analog line inputs for my collection of synths. I connect it to one of the ADAT inputs on my MOTU 896mk3. As advertised, it gives me 8 more analog inputs. These are on combo jacks, so you can plug in XLR microphones, TRS or TS line inputs. I am using a mixture of TRS and TS at the moment. My E5000 sampler and 3 Proteus modules are connected. Even with the unbalanced inputs, the ADA8000 is not adding any hum or noise. The signal is quite nice and it sounds good and crystal clear.
Things you should know about the ADA8000
There are 3 ways to get it in word sync, by setting a switch on the back
You do want to have a sync plan before you get the ADA8000. If you can't get a BNC cable to it because your word clock out is assigned to some other piece, you might read my article on setting up word clock distribution. The ADAT solution might not work if you have other items that need Word Clock. Ditto for making it the master. If you do make it the master you have to get the word clock out signal to all your other digital pieces.
Ok, even though I am not planning to use the preamps, mmm, a lot, I did test them with my SM7b dynamic mic just because i knew you would want to know how well it did. The SM7b is a mic that can punish a cheap pre by exposing its noise floor as you turn up the gain. Verdict: Very good. Excellent, given what you are paying. I did have to turn it up full throttle. If there was hiss and noise when jacked up to the full 60db, the room completely masked it. There was no hum. This was shocking. I was expecting performance like on the Behringer UB mixers. But no, this is a different preamp, much quieter and cleaner. I think they would be fine for a drummer wanting to mic the kit. A pro might want something better, perhaps with pads and more "personality" (and a better brand name), but for all you home gamer's, the ADA8000 rocks.
Other 8 ch preamps to ADAT converters cost a bit more. An excellent unit with decent preamps is the Presonus FS8. A little less pricey, and not as good quality is the Presonus DS-8. These units have direct outs that the behringer lacks, but do not convert from ADAT back to analog. There is also the M-audio Octane. There is the SM Pro Audio EP84 8 preamp unit which becomes a converter if you add the PR8IIA adat adapter. There's a couple more like the Focusrite Octopre that require adapters. Many times these these adapters are just ways to deplete your wallet. Don't get slayed by all the hype. "Hey why am I paying $400 for just an adapter when i could get two ADA800s for that same cash" Now U Be tinking! You might also think of going with an audio interface that can be used in stand alone mode or chained up with your current audio interface. If you already have a MOTU firewire interface, consider adding the 8pre.
Summing it up
There is your start for your research. After i did mine, it was an inescapable fact that for someone who just wants line inputs, the Behringer ada8000 is in a class by itself at a great price. Add to this that you can use the preamps and you have a great deal. I had reservations when i bought the item. I bought it at zZounds because I knew I could return it if I didn't like it. It came to me double boxed, perfectly mint, never opened before, with the 2009 Behringer product guide inside, so I knew it was a new unit. I love it when things work this way.
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