[PD] [OT] choice of sound cards for 16 output channels

Derek Kwan derek.x.kwan at gmail.com
Sat May 7 22:17:38 CEST 2016

On May 07, Jaime Oliver wrote:
> Hi Derek, 
> Do you have the UFX working properly in Ubuntu?
> Are you able to control the hardware from there? like setting the gain or compressor or phantom power for a mic for example?
> best,
> J


I have the little brother UCX with less ins/outs but it's only halfrack
size instead of full rack (handy for throwing into an old GPS device
case and taking to gigs!), but I'm assuming that the software situation
will be similar. The way to control these interfaces from the computer
is TotalMix and as far as I know, RME only makes these for Windows and
OS X only and there's no Linux clone. Looking on my install of Ubuntu
Studio, there's Linux clones of the software for the Hammerfall devices,
but the UC* series isn't a part of that (and the original UC without the
X isn't even class compliant). I haven't really done any massive
multichannel recording stuff, I'm a percussionist by training so I
usually use the UCX for live processing myself with Pure Data or
Supercollider or on the rare occassion record myself so at most the
number of mics I have going in at one time have been about two or three.
I could imagine it being a hassle if you're trying to close-mic a
chamber to even larger ensembles if you're stuck with adjusting the
gains of even 8 separate inputs with just the knob...

Here's the big problem (even outside of that) though and imho a pretty
big design flaw: you CAN'T set phantom power to the individual XLR ins
from the interface itself. I remember spending hours trying to figure it
out... What the interface allows though is to set separate presets so
what I did is I went on a friend's Mac, opened up TotalMix and saved all
the possible 2^2 = 4 phantom power combinations for the 2 XLR ins of my
interface (off/off, on/off, off/on, on/on). So I just set the preset
combo in the knob I want. The UFX has 4 XLR ins = 4^2 = 16 possible
combinations for phantom on/off... I just looked it up and it notes that
it has 16 presets for EQ/Low cut but I'm assuming you can use those to
set phantom as well since the UCX can? I'm not sure since I don't have
access to a UFX so you might have to investigate that further...

I got my UCX when I was still a OSX user so I didn't consider these
options at the time... but I'm pretty happy with using the interface
under Linux with the minor (for my small-scale stuff) hassle of only
being able to control settings via the one knob on the device.

I'm hoping that with the (very) slowly growing popularity of the Linux
desktop via Steam games and dissatisfaction with W10/OSX that pro audio
companies will pay more attention to Linux in the future. We finally got
our first commercial DAW in Bitwig a while back and I think Reaper is
finally making its way to Linux. Until then, it's sort of like being a
second-class citizen in the pro audio world using Linux, but I'd much
rather use it over the two major alternatives... There's great
open-source options for Linux, but the larger commercial software
companies don't pay us much attention just yet... 

Hope this helps!


Derek Kwan

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