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A high-quality microphone preamp can make all the difference in the sound of your recordings. Without a quality preamp, the expression “garbage in, garbage out” is especially apt. And customers and reviewers alike have long insisted that the PreSonus XMAX™ Class A solid-state preamp is the finest in its price class.

The DigiMax D8 provides eight of these prized preamps—enough to raise your entire studio rig to a higher level. And that’s just the beginning of the story.

At PreSonus, we know that the mic preamplifier is a key component in the sonic quality of a recording. Many other companies that offer mobile recording interfaces add the cheapest possible microphone preamplifier as an afterthought.

In contrast, the DigiMax D8 includes custom-designed, high-voltage, discrete, XMAX Class A microphone preamplifiers that are suitable for use with all types of microphones.

The job of a microphone preamplifier in an audio interface is to boost a microphone-level signal to line level before conversion to the digital domain. A good preamp boosts the level to almost 400 times that of the original signal, making the preamp one of the most important stages in an interface. A cheap, off-the-shelf, op-amp-type mic preamp delivers thin, noisy, harsh results.

But with XMAX preamps, the sonic quality is limited only by what microphone you plug into it.

XMAX preamplifiers are built with three key elements:

  • High Voltage. The XMAX preamplifier runs on power rails of 30V. Most off-the-shelf, op-amp-based designs run on power rails of 10V to 18V. Higher-voltage power rails deliver more headroom, deeper lows, smoother highs, and a richer overall sound.
  • Discrete components—not op-amps. We only use genuine transistors, resistors, and capacitors. Op-amps add noise, coloration, and harshness to a signal. Our discrete design delivers ultra-low noise and transparency.
  • Class A. Class A circuits have no crossover distortion and deliver purer, clearer, and more musical results than the Class AB designs that are found in many preamps.

 

The net result of the XMAX preamp design is high headroom, low noise, wide dynamic range, extended frequency response, and—most important—musicality and transparency, with smooth highs, solid deep lows, and everything in between.

The Lightpipe Kid

With its eight XLR mic inputs and eight ¼” balanced, direct channel outputs, you can route each channel’s signal independently. This makes the DigiMax D8 a premium front end for virtually any system.

And thanks to its eight-channel, 24-bit ADAT Lightpipe output (which operates at 44.1 or 48 kHz), the DigiMax D8 provides an excellent front end for Lightpipe-equipped digital-audio devices, such as Avid's Digi 003. You’ll immediately hear the improvement.

Better yet, add a DigiMax D8 to a Lightpipe-equipped PreSonus AudioBox 1818VSL. This combination provides a two-rackspace rig with 16 XMAX-equipped recording channels—enough to record an entire live band.

To keep your digital audio in sync with ultra-low jitter, the D8 receives word clock at its BNC connection and sends word clock via Lightpipe.

The ADAT Optical interface—commonly referred to as “Lightpipe”—was originally designed by Alesis for use with its revolutionary eight-channel ADAT digital tape recorders. The interface uses fiber-optic cable to transfer a high-speed serial bitstream carrying up to eight channels of 24-bit, 44.1 or 44.8 kHz digital audio between compatible devices.

ADAT Lightpipe employs a Toslink optical connector, which is the same connector used for S/PDIF optical transfers but the two datastreams are mutually incompatible. It always transfers at 24-bit resolution; for example, if a 16-bit signal is sent via Lightpipe, the first 16 bits carry the audio information and the remaining bits are a string of zeros.

The Lightpipe is “hot pluggable”; you don’t have to turn off the devices when plugging or unplugging the optical cable. However, you should turn down the master level because making and breaking optical connections creates a significant signal spike that can damage your speakers.

Transferring digital audio via Lightpipe is simple, and fiber-optic cables are not subject to electromagnetic and radio-frequency interference. Furthermore, you can use fairly long cable runs; a 16-foot optical cable is no problem.

However, it is important to protect your optical cables from sharp bends and turns, as the cables are relatively fragile and are almost impossible to repair without specialized tools. Don’t stand on optical cables or put heavy weight on them.

Note that Lightpipe ports emit a red light beam. The beam is harmless. However, it’s important to keep the optical ports clean, so cover them with the small plastic plugs that come with your unit when the ports are not connected to cables.

Careful, It’s Loaded!

In addition to its eight rear-panel mic inputs, the DigiMax D8 offers two front-panel instrument inputs so you can conveniently plug guitars into your system. All outputs are in the rear, keeping the wiring out of your face.

All of the key features you need are here: all eight preamps include variable trim control, 48V phantom power (switchable in odd-even pairs), ultra-fast acting LED metering, and a 20 dB pad.

The DigiMax D8 is a great solution for adding eight professional microphone preamplifiers to any digital recording system, especially a system with ADAT Optical expansion capability. It’s the perfect choice for expanding an AudioBox 1818VSL. And the price is so reasonable that your budget won’t need to expand!

Ryan Bruce

With self-taught guitar skills honed during his years with As Fate Would Have it and All in All, Ryan Bruce... read more

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