There is always a time that comes for us all; when the mic preamps of our audio interface no longer do the job.
There could be two reasons why:
- It could need more channels for recording
- It could ask for a premium channel mic to make vocals shine
But whatever the reason is in your case, we’ve got you covered!
We’re going to share with you everything there is to know about ADAT preamps, with your choices being:
- On the budget
6 Best ADAT Preamps to Check Out!
We’ll share some of the best on-the-budget, high-end, and single-channel Alesis digital audio tapes that could help you search for the best one.
We assure you that all products on this list are reliable regarding price, record quality, and even your computer.
1. Audient ASP800
When we hear the name Audient, the first thing we think of is great quality, clean recordings!
The Audient ASP800 is an 8-channel preamp that can be used as a standalone or cost-effective expander for the compact USB and Alesis digital audio tape interfaces.
It also builds on the design of the company’s retired ASP008 in packaging its ASP8024 console’s mic preamps into a standalone box.
They are each capable of receiving mic or line inputs, with channels 1 and 2 also offering optional JFET DIs.
- The first two channels of the ASP800 feature advanced tone-shaping functions with two different color circuits allowing you to add harmonic saturation and alter the overall character of the recording.
- Out of the eight channels provided, channels 3-8 specifically use a circuit that is identical to the mic preamp found in all of Audient’s full consoles.
- This preamp has a clean, snappy sound that is full and detailed but doesn’t impose itself. It is a great tool for precise capture, leaving room for coloration in the mix.
- Each channel has a sturdy-feeling gain knob with a comfortable, smooth-cornered, continuously variable knob.
- Each preamp has a backlit phantom power button and a -15 dB pad.
2. Grace Design M101 – Single
This Grace Design M101 is one of the few pre-amplifiers they make that’s significantly cheaper than the rest!
Besides its pristine sound, one notable feature of this preamp is its unique “ribbon mode,” specifically tailored to protect your fragile ribbon mics and allow them to perform at their best.
The Grace Design features:
- A high-performance amplifier and output with a gold-plated gain switch with 12 positions, giving anything up to 65 decibels of boost.
- There is a simple trim knob for fine-tuning output. The whole signal path is enhanced with the addition of precision metal film resistors.
The Grace Design does not really add more channels because they’re mainly useful for microphones, despite both instrument and microphone functionality.
You can use it with anything, but don’t expect any voodoo with electric guitars.
Basses, acoustic guitar with piezo pickups, and keyboards will do just fine! It’s also really handy for those who need a preamp for their analog synth keyboards.
3. Behringer 8-Channel ADA8200
Behold the Behringer ADA8200!
The Behringer ADA8200 is the IDEAL 8-channel for anyone on a tight budget that needs an expansion slot for their input count.
An eight-channel mic preamp offers eight input channels for connecting microphones or line sources.
It has an eight-channel analog output and can also be connected to an audio configuration via the optical ADAT interface.
The analog inputs and the associated controls largely take up the front. Each channel has:
- An XLR socket for microphones and instrument inputs
- A 6.3 jack socket for line sources
- A gain potentiometer with signal
- Clip LEDs that help you adjust the input level
The processing is perfectly fine! The plastic caps of the potentiometers are not particularly nice to look at, but at least they cannot be easily pulled out of their base.
The ADA8200 doesn’t come with MIDI I/O or S/PDIF, but:
- The phantom power can be activated or deactivated globally for all channels using a push button.
- The eight-microphone preamp that comes from the British manufacturer Midas makes outputs crystal clear and provides you with a lot of headroom.
- It has additional features such as an impact sound filter, phase rotation, or pre-attenuation to decrease excessively loud input signals.
The minor drawback is a slight HF droop, but this converts into a smoother and more classy-sounding overall tone.
4. Focusrite Clarett OctoPre
The Focusrite Clarett OctoPre is the great extension you need for your recording input necessities.
The layout of the Focusrite OctoPre is a front-panel input on combination XLR/TRS jack connectors to its first two channels and similar rear-panel inputs to the remaining six.
Two switches of this Focusrite are adjacent to these connectors that route the phantom power to all eight XLR mic-level inputs in two banks of four.
The TRS inputs can accept balanced or unbalanced optical cables. A further pair of switches can be engaged to configure the jack inputs on channels 1 and 2 as instrument inputs.
Plus, 8 rotary controls with an overload LED set the channel’s gains.
- Plumbing the Focusrite Clarett OctoPre into your setup provides that you own a Tascam-format 8-channel D-sub audio loom terminated with your choice of analogue connector.
- Focusrite also features the Air circuit, which, when triggered, will enhance the higher end, giving it more “airy” and open music outputs.
- Focusrite provides outstanding audio quality and flexibility for its price and is one of the most cost-efficient eight channels you can get.
A drawback is that the phantom power cannot be switched per channel but only in groups of four channels.
5. ART TubeOpto 8
The TubeOpto 8 gives you eight channels of discrete Class A valve mic amps, each with XLR and quarter-inch jack inputs and up to 64dB.
These feed the built-in A/D converters, connecting to the outside world via an optical output of eight channels.
The Alesis Digital Audio Tape input feeds eight D/A converters accessed by quarter-inch balanced jacks.
Interface channels 1 and 2 also have front panel quarter-inch high-impedance instrument inputs so guitars and basses can be easily connected and recorded.
In addition to the instrument inputs and vintage vibe, it also features:
- A PAD
- A Phase
- A low-frequency roll-off gear
- 2 phantom power control
- A power control
- The sample rate/sync selector.
These operate on both the line and mic music. Two phantom power buttons enable channels one to four and five to eight accordingly.
Although this is perhaps done to save space, to see phantom switched individually on channels may dictate an illogical mic patch.
The unit also prevents using a ribbon microphone or two in a mostly condenser setup.
Some drawbacks would be:
- Rubbing against the front console
- This unit can get quite hot after running for a long time
- The phantom power cannot be supplied to each channel individually
You can expect the preamps to perform well when you record instruments like guitars for its price.
6. RME OctaMic XTC
The 8-channel RME OctaMic XTC stands out from all the preamps on this list because it is a digitally controlled microphone preamplifier.
The RME unit can be remotely controlled via MADI, USB, or MIDI using the RME MIDI remote app.
RME has an extremely versatile interface that can be linked up to 8 units, giving you a whopping total of 64 additional channels within its budget price!
The USB 2.0 connector is added largely to facilitate firmware updates rather than to transform the device into a complete audio configuration.
- This unit features eight channels of AES/EBU and 3 ADAT ports, two outputs and singular inputs.
- These units come with two headphone jacks, and you can create two completely different mixes for each one, add music effects, and control those mixes remotely from a PC or iPad.
- You also get a pad for recording loud music sources in the studio, and the other four can be switched to accept direct Hi-Z inputs from electric guitars and basses.
- RME also has an intelligent word clock control, SyncCheck, and SteadyClock to clarify clocking and minimize jitter when recording.
- The unit features a D-sub 25 connector that provides four AES/EBU inputs and four AES/EBU outputs.
Its internal routing matrix allows any external preamps output or digital code.
It is patched freely to any digital outputs, making extremely flexible signal routing and format conversion.
What Is a Preamp?
The main goal of a preamp is to cleanly raise the volume of a mic-level signal.
A preamp also amplifies low signals to line-level inputs. It converts it to a standard operating level of your recording gear.
The preamps are the first pitstop for an audio signal before it travels through the amplifier and into your speakers.
In a home theater, the preamps perform two main functions:
- It handles the switches between line-level inputs
- Boosts the signal before sending it to an amplifier
In other words, a weak electrical signal becomes strong enough for additional processing, preventing noise and offering a clearer output.
You don’t need a dedicated preamplifier if you have an AV receiver with an integrated preamp.
Many home theatre enthusiasts prefer a separate setup with a preamp and amplifier because it can deliver richer, fuller sound with minimal distortion.
The higher gain and independent power supply per component provide the cleaner sound audiophiles crave.
What Is ADAT?
If you have no idea what that little port on the back of your audio configuration labeled “ADAT In” or “Optical In” does, this part will tell you all about it.
It is an optical audio protocol designed to transfer digital audio to and from two audio devices.
An ADAT can transport 8 uncompressed digital audio channels to and from an interface and peripheral device with just one Toslink cable.
It also means that you can expand the number of inputs on your audio configuration by hooking it up to an external device!
It is short for Alesis Digital Audio Tape.
ADAT inputs are generally used for adding eight-channel info via additional microphone preamps and audio interfaces.
It allows an easier expansion of the info count of your recording equipment.
ADAT outputs are also generally used to send signals out of your audio interfaces to other equipment, such as a headphone distribution system, D/A converters, etc.
Even though it can increase your eight-channel count and outputs, it will mainly rely on the audio quality that’s being transferred.
Ideally, the higher the audio resolution, the lower the ADAT channel counts.
What are ADAT preamps?
These preamps are designed to let you EXPAND the input count of your recording equipment.
It expands by providing 8 channel inputs to connect your microphones and other recording devices.
These signals are sent out via output and sorted by the audio interface’s ADAT Input, expanding your total number of channels to 8.
How Does ADAT Work?
It is an optical audio protocol designed to transfer digital audio to and from two audio/instrument inputs.
It is similar to compressors that transport 8-channel uncompressed digital audio to and from an interface.
They are used for word clock information, though it is not necessary to use word clock connections.
Most pre-amplifiers with Alesis digital audio tape outputs don’t have inputs.
You can select either the external preamp or connect word clock cables with the internal clock as your clock master when running an external preamp.
Consider an ADAT lightpipe as an expander that features higher-quality record equipment to control and create balanced outputs in the studio.
The rule of thumb is to use the unit that has the most accurate clock as your clock master.
How Do I Use ADAT Inputs?
A connection with an ADAT input can accept an ADAT expansion unit with up to 8 channels.
It will work as long as your current interface has a standalone mode (no computer connection required to run) and you have a computer capable of connecting to it to adjust its settings.
With a USB 2.0 connection, you can put it to work as an ADAT expansion with a more modern audio interface as the host.
If you record higher resolution outputs, like 24bit and 96kHz, you’ll need to make sure your ADAT extension unit features Sample Multiplexing (S/MUX).
However, it might be limited by the Alesis Digital Audio Tape format and reduce the line of input to 4.
How Do I Use ADAT in Pro Tools?
The procedure for using the Alesis Digital Audio Tapes with an app or Pro Tools are all similar.
- Connect the Alesis Digital Audio Tape to the lightpipe on the PCI card on your computer or mac.
- Make a session in Pro Tools 16 bit, create 8 channels.
- Put them into recording and set their optical outputs in 1-8.
- Go into hardware setups and choose optical sync set sample rate to 44.1 or 48, whichever your Alesis Digital Audio Tape is.
- Hit capture on Pro Tools and play. If you have more than 8 tracks, add 2 blips or pops at the same spot on the ADATS before the song starts.
- Make groups for each pass with 8 tracks in each. Once all the passes are in Pro Tools, line up the pops from each pass.
- Make sure the groups are active, zoom in closer and make each pop line up with the others. Each pop represents each group of 8 tracks; when they line up, your tracks will sync.
In conclusion, it could be ideal for you to get 8-channel ADATS for the point of being supplied with higher-quality studio equipment.
We wouldn’t ask you to stick with any of these ADATS if they aren’t what you prefer; whether you want more balanced outputs or not, need an 8-channel audio interface or just more channels.
Your art of music will depend on your creativity and taste!
We hope this post helps you search for the right preamps that will be able to expand your channels and come up with balanced outputs.