The Lucid ADA8824 ($3,295) is a 2U, 24-bit A/D/A front end for ADAT-compatible audio cards and digital audio workstations. It transfers up to eight channels of audio simultaneously and operates at a maximum sampling rate of 48 kHz. The ADA8824 Sonic, another member of the Lucid family, is available for use with Sonic Solutions' SonicStudio. I reviewed the ADAT version, but the units offer similar features.
Up Front and Around BackThe ADA8824's front panel has a 15-segment LED meter for each of its eight audio channels, as well as a conveniently located power switch. The Sync window to the left of the meters displays the synchronization source. Although five sync options are available (44.1 kHz internal, 48 kHz internal, word clock, AES/EBU digital input, and ADAT sync), the front panel shows only the first four. The ADA8824 highlights the active options; it remains unlit when the ADAT-sync option is activated.
The Metering window to the right of the channel LEDs shows the audio sources being metered (analog or digital input and analog or digital output). DIP switches located on the unit's rear panel change both the sync and metering options. You can adjust settings via MIDI with SysEx messages or through the supplied Macintosh or Windows controller software. Windows 95 or 98 users should control the ADA8824 with a vacant MIDI port or a dedicated interface, because Windows doesn't allow MIDI devices to be shared simultaneously by different programs. (Mac users running OMS don't have this limitation.)
The rear panel has eight female XLR jacks for analog input, as well as eight male XLR jacks for analog output. It also has four female and four male XLR jacks for AES/EBU digital input and output, respectively. Any of the first three AES/EBU inputs can be selected as external-sync inputs. The ADA8824 also includes S/PDIF I/O on female RCA connectors, which can accept an external sync signal.
Word-clock I/O uses BNC connectors; its output is synchronized to the AES/EBU outputs using one of two methods. If the AES/EBU outputs are fed from the analog inputs, the word-clock output gets its signal from the internal clock; if the AES/EBU outputs are fed from the ADAT optical input, the word clock derives its signal from the ADAT data stream.
The ADA8824 also features two female DB-9 connectors for sending and receiving ADAT-sync signals. Although these signals have three components (machine control, ADAT word clock, and time code), the ADA8824 doesn't use the ADAT word-clock signal. Moreover, the ADA8824 needs to be first in any chain of ADAT devices, severely limiting the use of its ADAT-sync option.
Sound OffThe ADA8824 sounds terrific. However, with its substantial price tag, it's obviously not for everyone. This unit may be more product than you need in a personal studio. Besides, using it for overdubbing is difficult unless your ADAT-compatible card also has word-clock capability.
Nonetheless, owners of post-production facilities or high-end personal studios will find the ADA8824 to be a great-sounding device with numerous digital audio routing possibilities. Its controller software simplifies configuring these features on the fly, and its word-clock I/O enables it to work easily with house sync. If you're looking for a high-quality 8-channel, ADAT-compatible A/D/A unit, check out the Lucid ADA8824.
Overall EM Rating (1 through 5): 4.5