Also known as the "Ultragain Pro-8 Digital," this unit is an eight-channel analog-to-digital, digital-to-analog converter with ADAT Lightpipe digital I/O and BNC word clock. Plus, it's also eight mic preamps! And it sells for $200 street price. Units from Apogee cost over ten times more, and companies like Frontier make well-received units that cost over three times more. So what's the catch? We tested this unit up against an Apogee Rosetta 800, which has similar features (minus the mic preamps), and also against the built-in converters and preamps in a Digidesign Digi 001. Through the ADA8000, we dumped 2'' tapes of drums and guitars into Pro Tools, and it sounded a slight step better than the 001's analog inputs. Next to the Apogee, the ADA8000 seemed a bit tougher in the mids (which was kinda cool on some guitar tracks) but was lacking a bit of low-end depth and overall clarity. The mic preamps were given a quick test on an acoustic guitar (with two Audix SCX25 mics), up against an Avalon AD2022 and the Digi 001 front panel preamps. The ADA8000 sounded a bit better than the 001. Unsurprisingly, it wasn't as full- sounding as the Avalon-but no worse-sounding than an inexpensive console's preamps. In playback mode, listening to a stereo Pro Tools mix through all units, the 001 easily sounded quite a bit better than the Behringer, and the Rosetta 800 was much better than both. Mostly, the ADA8000 sounded less wide image-wise, the lows were slightly lacking, and the mids a bit harsher. But for someone looking to expand a DAW through Lightpipe this would be the way to do it without spending much money. It will allow a stock 001 to handle 16 ins and outs, plus you'll get eight mic preamps. I'm imagining many folks will be picking one up and getting to work in their home studios. What a deal! 

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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