The Fireface UCX, a new member of the RME Fireface X-Series - is a highly integrated pro audio solution in an ultra-compact format for studio and live recordings. It continues RME’s long tradition of designing high-end interfaces as compact as possible, and frequently packing into a half-rack size unit what usually is spread out over two or three 19 inch panels.
In doing this the Fireface UCX marks a new space-cramping record, that's 300 electronic components more than in the already well-stocked Fireface UC! And 50 alone are to shield the internal high-end electronic from the pulsing DSP heart. In an immensely expanded effort RME have once again shoe-horned all their latest technologies which were introduced with the award winning flagship Fireface UFX, plus a whole bunch of newly developed ones, into a half 19” housing making it the perfect partner for mobile use.
The result is an awesome combination of RME’s most successful products: Fireface UFX, Firefaces UC/400 and the Babyface.
The Fireface UCX is not only a smaller version of the famous UFX, the UCX continues the legacy of RME’s tremendously successful compact interfaces such as the Fireface 400 and UC and combines it with the great usability experience of the Babyface by using one of the optional remote controls.
With the Fireface UCX, RME demonstrates once again how to reinvent an already perfect product, by improving existing features and characteristics with new sophisticated additions.
Low Latency converters of the mastering class with outstanding specifications.
Two mic preamps with the premium technology from RME’s high-end recording bestsellers Micstasy and UFX, including the AutoSet overload protection.
A newly developed Hammerfall audio core, supporting USB and FireWire with the maximum performance and ultra-low latency operation, combined with the legendary RME driver stability and maintenance, on both bus protocols.
TotalMix FX with the complete Fireface UFX DSP engine, including all zero-latency effects up to 192 kHz.
Monitoring Controller: by combining the impressive flexibility of the TotalMix FX monitoring tool set and the optional RME Basic or Advanced Remote Control.
RME’s unique DIGICheck metering and analysis toolbox for Windows PC and Mac.
Plus support for RME’s Remote Controls, active jitter suppression technology, AutoSet for safe recording, professional reference level support, advanced stand- alone functionality, full 192 kHz operation, and last but not least two high speed MIDI I/Os.
And if all of that is not enough: The Fireface UCX is the first professional audio interface with class compliant mode to work with Apple’s iPad, for perfect stereo recording and playback, and addition of truly professional I/Os.
Inputs & Outputs - High End converters with low latency design
The UCX provides 36 channels of audio - 18 I/Os. All channels can be used at the same time. Up to 8 analogue and 10 digital channels can be recorded onto 18 separate tracks. All outputs can be used for ASIO Direct Monitoring purposes.
The UCX provides 8 analogue I/O in a very flexible combination:
On the rear: 4 balanced TRS.
On the front: 2 XLR inputs with Mic/Line preamps (65 dB Gain) and 2 Hi-Z capable TRS Line/ Instrument inputs.
On the rear: 6 balanced TRS outputs.
On the front: One additional TRS stereo phones (playback channels 7/8).
The high power phones output offers high volumes even with low-impedance headphones.
Digital I/O SPDIF (coaxial)
The UCX provides a SPDIF I/O (up to 192 kHz).
One ADAT I/O expands the UCX by 8 channels, available simultaneously with the analog channels. They can be used to connect an 8-channel AD/DA converter, to connect a mixing console, or to insert an effect device. The ADAT I/O supports sample rates at up to 192 kHz (S/MUX4). Using an external converter like the ADI-8 QS, the UCX will provide 16 analog inputs and outputs, 12 at a sample rate of 96 kHz, and still 10 at 192 kHz.
The ADAT I/O can be used alternatively as optical SPDIF I/O, making the UCX connections even more flexible.
Available I/O (channels) with different Sample Rates
Equipped with a new 2011 A/D and D/A high-performance converter design, all I/Os operate at up to 192 kHz. The AD/DA conversion supersedes the outstanding technical specifications of the Fireface UC/400 with an impressive 115 dBA dynamic range on both record and playback.
The advanced multi-bit converter architecture guarantees excellent S/N and THD specs across a wide analogue level range. In the best RME tradition and product philosophy the UCX converters and preamps don’t produce “sound”, they do not add or remove anything from the source signal, just capture it as it is.
Due to its efficient jitter reduction, RME’s superior SteadyClockTM finalizes the state-of-the-art AD/DA conversion, even when clocking to an external digital source.
Low Latency Converters
All analogue I/Os provide a low latency converter design with impressive 14 samples for the ADC, and 7 samples for the DAC, independent of the used sample rate.
These values are about a quarter of those from the Fireface UC/400 (43/28), and even out-perform much more expensive devices. A technical breakthrough that reduces the overall latency of timing critical applications, in live situations and in the computer-based recording studio. The converter latency is so low (0.4 ms at 48 kHz) that it can be ignored, turning analog digital monitoring into real analog-style monitoring!
Professional Level Support
A great converter needs to support the common studio levels for the perfect adaptation to other analog equipment without loosing headroom. Like all other RME devices the UCX supports the common professional studio levels: -10 dBV, +4 dBu, Lo / HiGain. The software-controlled reference levels, realised discretely in the analog domain, ensure highest dynamic range and fidelity.
Inputs 3 to 8: -10 dBV, +4 dBu and Lo Gain (adjustable in TotalMix in two groups – channels 3/4 and 5 to 8).
Outputs 1 to 6: -10 dBV, +4 dBu and Hi Gain.
Phones/line out 7/8: -10 dBV, +4 dBu and Hi Gain.
The phones output (channels 7/8) can be set to a different reference as channels 1 to 6.
Microphone Preamps - Digitally controlled . with AutoSet
Quality over quantity
The crown jewels of the UCX are the two high-end mic and instrument preamps – built right into the front.
Like in the UFX both preamps use the core technology from RME’s Micstasy - a high-end preamp for supreme sonic demands and critical applications, like the professional recording of classical concerts. The outstanding preamp design impresses with extremely low distortion, excellent signal to noise ratio and a perfectly flat frequency response that lets these preamps surpass those of other devices costing several times the price of the UCX. A premium solution for transmitting and amplifying any audio source truly unchanged, be it high-level stage or typical studio signals, lower level and high-impedance instruments, or dynamic, condenser and ribbon microphones.
The digitally controlled gain of up to 65 dB, adjustable in steps of 1 dB over a range of 55 dB, is individually set for each preamp with the encoder knob on the front or in TotalMix FX on the host computer. All level settings are 100% reproducible and can also be adjusted using a MIDI remote controller.
Each channel can be individually switched to 48V phantom power. LEDs for signal, clip and activated phantom power give a complete overview on the unit’s status.
The two TRS inputs on the front can operate alternatively as Hi-Z inputs. Directly plug in up to two guitars or other instruments - no other hardware is required.
The UCX offers a unique RME feature which was previously available only in the high-end microphone preamp Mistasy and the UFX.
Usually a limiter is used during the recording to prevent clipping of the A/D converter stage. But analog processing would not only spoil the excellent technical specifications of the UCX mic preamps but also alter the original sound.
Thanks to the completely digitally controlled gain the UCX can reduce the gain automatically, thus providing perfect protection from overload with no degradation of the audio signal, which does not have to pass any additional electronic circuitry. Additionally AutoSet does not cause any of the control noises known from usual limiters. SNR and THD stay completely unchanged.
Example: In a recording session, the recording engineer asks the vocalist or guitarist to sing or play a reference part and sets the UCX preamp gain to an unusual high level (e. g. 50 dB). AutoSet will automatically reduce the gain when the level reaches -6 dBFS. The reduction is done in a musical way, based on the intensity and duration of the input signal. Manual gain adjustment becomes obsolete most of the time, but the gain can still be set manually. AutoSet can be switched on for each of the 4 front panel mic and instrument preamp channels individually.
Hammerfall X-Core - USB + FireWire Made by RME
With the release of the Fireface 800 in 2004 RME stirred up the FireWire audio market, setting the benchmarks and providing a superior solution with a unique feature set. It is no surprise many customers and testers respect RME as the reference and technology leader for FireWire audio interfaces. In 2009 RME released the Fireface UC, a pioneering USB solution which again provided an exceptional performance, previously not available from USB audio interfaces. RME once again became the technology leader from the start.
The secret of success: RME is the only manufacturer not to use a third party USB or FireWire audio technology, but an own, self-developed Hammerfall Audio Core with an outstanding performance and uncompromised pro audio features.
RME integrated the latest and most sophisticated version of RME’s bus technology, the Hammerfall X-Core - combining both, USB 2.0 and FireWire - within one half-rack sized interface.
USB 2.0. Like other RME USB 2.0* interfaces the Fireface UCX has been optimised for highest performance under Windows and Mac OS. It uses a special customised firmware for each operating system, and provides revolutionary ultra-low latencies even with multiple channels.
* The Fireface UCX is compatible to USB 3 chipsets.
FireWire. The completely redesigned Hammerfall FireWire technology of the X-Core provides the UCX with the same exceptional compatibility and performance as RME’s USB solution. The UCX does not have any FireWire chip inside – the complete bus technology is programmed into the FPGA and remains under direct control of the RME masterminds. If ever necessary, it can be updated anytime by a simple firmware update.
Class Compliant Mode
The Fireface UCX is the first professional audio interface with the option to be used as Class Compliant interface. It then works without a driver as audio/MIDI interface on several operating systems, and with Apple’s iPad and iPad2 (Camera Connection Kit required). The UCX provides the iPad with the professional analogue I/O connections it lacks. Superb microphone preamps with EQ, dynamics, AutoSet, in addition to professional balanced line outputs, and a hi-power headphone output. Plus level adjustments, reverb, echo, zero latency monitoring. All of this digitally via USB - which means no limitation in quality.
TotalMix FX - Built-in high-end hardware mixer
The UCX provides the complete effects engine from the UFX - all effects are available at all sample rates.
The DSP-based TotalMix mixer allows fully independent routing and mixing of all 18 input and playback channels to all 18 physical outputs. Up to 9 totally independent stereo submixes plus a comprehensive Control Room section offer unrivalled monitoring capabilities and unsurpassed routing flexibility.
And there is more: The latest generation of TotalMix delivers hardware mixing/routing with lots of new features and a highly improved usability. For a seamless integration of the new features TotalMix FX has been rewritten from the ground up.
Every input and output channel comes with a luxury feature set, comparable to a full-scale digital console. The effects per channel include 3-band parametric EQ, adjustable Low Cut, Auto Level, Compressor, Expander, MS Processing and phase reversal. The Reverb and Echo effects unit is available for all channels by a stereo send and return bus. The UCX easily surpasses the competition by offering all these effects even at 192 kHz operation.
Two DSPs ensure an impressive performance even in extreme applications. As usual with RME, TotalMix is available with all channels at all sample rates, completely unlimited. The second DSP calculates the effects only, therefore has sufficient resources. For example, at 48 kHz 36 EQs, 36 Low Cuts, 26 Compressors and Echo can be activated. With activated Reverb and Echo still 36 EQs, 36 Low Cuts and 16 Compressors are available.
The FX-DSP uses automatic overload surveillance. As soon as no effect can be added anymore the TotalMix surface will clearly signal this condition. When changing to higher sample rates the UFX automatically deactivates all effects that exceed the DSP’s performance - the DSP will never be overloaded. This also prevents the user from destroyed loudspeakers.
The complete effects section not only adds a lot of flexibility to the recording chain, but makes latency burdened software dispensable. TotalMix can easily replace any external mixer, e.g. to create different latency- free monitoring mixes with EQ and Reverb for the main studio monitors and the headphone of the vocalist(s) in the recording room.
Furthermore the DSP hardware calculates RMS and Peak levels for all 54 level meters, so there is zero CPU load on the host.
The main functions of TotalMix can be remote controlled via MIDI with any Mackie Control compatible controller.
Integrated Monitoring Controller with the optional RME Basic or Advanced Remote Control
Thanks to the multi-functional rotary encoder the UCX is not only a perfect desktop level controller for the main monitors and phones. The integrated TotalMix FX high-end mixer provides an impressive set of monitoring control features for modern Mix-In-the-Box studios or live mixing sessions. Among them Dim, source selection, monitor switching, integrated Talkback, a flexible CUE setup, Mute and Mute FX, Mono and much more.
In contrary to a 3rd party external monitoring controller the built-in UCX solution preserves the original sound, as its hardware outputs stay directly connected to the studio monitors, avoiding another device with a possible signal alteration in the signal path.
The flexibility of RME’s DSP-driven TotalMix FX monitoring tool set is impressive: any physical output can be assigned to the directly knob-controlled monitor outputs (Main out, Speaker B, Phones 1, 2 ...). Just assign the SPDIF output as Speaker B or as Phones Out - any output can be used. The functions Talkback, Listenback, Mono and Dim will work automatically for the assigned outputs in the expected way. CUE mixes can be sent to a predefined output, an external input can be assigned and monitored with a simple click. Convenience for any studio or live situation at its best.
The UCX provides an integrated connector on the back for RME’s remote controls.
The optional Basic Remote Control provides one big wheel dial, a button for level storage/recall, and a freely programmable button for nearly all TotalMix FX functions.
The optional Advanced Remote Control (ARC) adds 6 freely programmable buttons with LEDs to the feature set. Just assign all frequently used TotalMix functions to these buttons.
Both remotes come with a flexible, 5 m (16 ft.) long cable.