The PreSonus Digimax is an ingenious device. I purchased it initially as an interface with my Pro Tools LE rig at home to provide eight more 24-bit clean converter channels rather than rely on the analog inputs provided by Digidesign. Though I've found the analog inputs in my LE box to be useful when recording guitars, I've found it lacking when tracking other instruments or voice, and LE provides only two channels of pure 24 bit digital inputs via the SP/DIF connection. With the litepipe interface on the Digimax "patched" directly into your computer litepipe input, you can bypass the analog converters entirely and input your sounds with pristine 24-bit technology on eight simultaneous channels. It makes a big difference, believe me, and the converters are quite good - better than most I've heard at a similar price point or slightly higher. But it doesn't stop there. Each channel of the Digimax contains a Class A discrete input buffer followed by a dual servo gain stage, providing wide gain control and low noise. Each channel has phantom power available, a -20 dB pad and channels 1 and 2 have phase reverse switches and Hi-Z inputs (only channels one and two have the 1/4" input option). Also available to each channel is an enhance feature which provides a "smoothing" effect on some mid-rangy signals and a limiter which is part of a dual-concentric control (the inner control of each channels' potentiometer provides up to 60 dB of gain in addition to the units' inherent gain of 12 dB for a possible total of 72 dB). The outer control sets the threshold of the limiter from 0 to +24 dB.
In addition to the ADAT litepipe on the rear of the unit is a 9 pin connector which can provide either AES/EBU or SP/DIF outputs as well as eight XLR balanced outputs, one for each channel. The word clock output and input are accessed through separate BNC connectors on the back of the unit and can be set to send 32 k, 44.1 k or 48 k.
The mic pres on the Digimax are surprisingly good, as are the limiters, though you have very little control over the parameters of the limiter as there is no attack, release or ratio selection. One area the Digimax has really come in handy for me (which I hadn't anticipated) is as an interface for my Akai MPC 2000 sampler/drum machine. I run the analog outs from the back of the MPC directly into the XLR inputs on the back of the Digimax then straight into Pro Tools. This is where the enhance feature and the limiters really come in handy for me and have gotten the most use. I find I can clean up some of the "woof" associated with rough, 16-bit samples with the enhance function and tidy up level discrepancies with the limiters before it enters the digital domain. Having 24-bit converters for each channel via the litepipe is just a sweet bonus. Rarely have I heard samples or the drum machine sounding so good on the way in, which leaves much less work and hassle for me when it comes time to mix.
This is a versatile, hearty unit that is surprisingly sturdy, is built well and I really like the separate power supply which is also solid. It's a thoughtful, terrific interface for DAWs and so much more. One note of caution: The Digimax runs very hot. Do not rack it close to other susceptible equipment. ($1699, www.presonus.com)