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Microphone Month 4

RME Fireface 800 Reviews

4.5 stars based on 31 customer reviews

Sweetwater Advice

  • Carson McClain

    Are you looking to design your own high-end home studio? Look no further. You have done your research on your computer, you have figured out which software you like, and all that's left is the bridge between analog and digital. RME will give you pro quality at a low price. Great preamps, great converters, and a reputation for quality all the way around. RME will take you to the next step every time.

  • from Brentwood, TN February 5, 2014Music Background:
    Professional Pianist/Composer

    Outstanding!

    I have owned three of these for about 9 years now. The units are awesome. You will not find anything better!

    That said, if you plan on connecting more than one on a single system, there are some things you should be aware of. While the Windows driver will recognize three of these devices and will provide a separate mixer for each, you will only be able to run two of them through your DAW on a PC (not sure about MAC since I do not own one). If you try to run three on a PC, you will notice immediately that the devices will exceed the FW800 spec and your audio path will be riddled with latency, pops, clicks, etc.

    I have all three of mine connected to the same system but I only use one in my DAW. I route the audio out of the others into ADAT 1 and ADAT 2 respectively on the unit that is configured in my DAW. I use SONAR X2a on Windows 8.1 64-bit and I find this works best as it minimizes bandwidth while providing more than enough inputs for my usage. I could use two in my DAW and I have done this but I find that for the number of audio inputs I am using, it is not worth consuming the extra bandwidth and complicating the DAW UI either.

    As an added benefit, the mixer/routing configuration can be stored in the FF800 for standalone use. I am thinking about getting the RME DSPe RayDAT

    I love these things so much I want to frame it's box cover ;-).

  • from Va Beach, VA USA October 9, 2012Music Background:
    Pro Mixing Engineer

    CLEAN!!

    RUNNING AVALON 737 pre x RME 800..WOW!! Switched from 003 and there is no comparison.. Highly recommended

  • from Ukraine April 6, 2012Music Background:
    Composer, Sound Artist

    Great!

    The Best interface if you want highest quality!

  • from Manteca, CA USA November 15, 2011Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, production manager, co-owner Neologic Studios

    Professional quality, home affordability

    I've been running a small service studio out of my home for quite some time now and grew up on Presonus gear which was nice, but the quality in all the components of the Fireface 800 trumps all the lower priced recording interfaces out there. On windows 7 there is no support for Firewire 800 but unless you plan on daisy chaining a couple of these you'll never run into a bandwidth issue even at 96k / 24bit ! I immediately noticed a much crisper cleaner more transparent sound in the Preamps and AD/DA converters with this unit compared to my Presonus units from the past. I've used just about every routing options available on this and having the flexibility of the built in matrix to control live throughput for doing shows is amazing! This interface is really so flexible, and now with Pro Tools 10 going native and unlocked to 3rd party hardware I can easily see getting a second one of these puppies to ramp up my rig for doing live sessions!

  • from Burlington,NC September 30, 2011Music Background:
    Producer, Recording Engineer

    RME + ADL 600 + Earthworks?

    I finally, in my studio got to get rid of my digi 003 rack. My other engineer was telling me about RME after reading reviews I got it in today. Unboxed it. pluged in. installed drivers. hooked it up to all my pre amps. it blew me away the clarity of the converters in this unit. THEN! I ran a pair of Earthworks TC30's though a PreSonus ADL 600 in to this. UNBELIEVABLE!!! I thought i was in a multi million dollar studio!! (running Pro tools 9)

  • from USA April 7, 2011Music Background:
    Professional recording artist, producer/engineer

    Professional high end level quality and functionality

    A completely professional grade interface. I track live instruments with Neumann M149 tube, AEA R84, RE20, Rode and modified Shure SM 57s , all in a real studio through high end tube pres and 1950s vintage mic pres etc... This interface has phenomenal sound quality even at 44.1.

    The multiple connections allow me to connect a Lexicon hardware digitally via SPDIF. I also use all my vintage tube gear - not only to track- but to mix as well in Logic pro in the same way as you use plugins..except they are the real thing! and with the same flexibility as a plugin. So if you desire to be able to use all your analog gear to mix in the box alongside your plugins simultaneously, this interface makes it happen and Logic pro 9 is set up for it, so it is very easy.

    The clock is so good it has become the master clock in the studio. Clocking makes an audible difference in terms of audible phase shift harshness. I have not yet used the mic pres, as I have plenty of amazing vintage ones by Altec, UA, UREI, and a Buzzaudio MA2.2.

    The headphone monitor volume is very powerful and clean. The overall sound -if coupled with Logic pro 9- approximates the sweetness of 30 ips Ampex tape in general character and vibe (at 44.1). At higher rates it becomes more" Hollywood soundtrack" in detail level and vivid transient response as well as dynamic range perception.

    I am shure it will sound very different depending on what DAW you have ( protools, nuendo, cubase all have their own sound character due to differing algorithms and design priorities.

    But the great news is it's superb -smooth non ear-fatiguing- performance at CD quality 44.1.

    I hope this gives an idea of how this unit performs in strictly professional circumstances (the studio has a IT 20 series II Furman balanced power supply conditioning) for very long hours at a time.

  • from Philadelphia, PA March 21, 2011Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Pro Musician

    Had it since 2005 and it is still rocking

    Killer is all I can say, reliable gear from a great company. I've had this since Win XP and Sonar 3.0 and it's still going with Win7 64bit and Sonar X-1. The company is right on top of all the release patches supporting Windows and MAC.

  • from Union City, TN November 18, 2010Music Background:
    Home Recording Engineer, Live Sound Engineer, Pro Musician, Singer, Songwriter, Guitarist's.

    Very Professional Sound and Quality!

    I bought the RME Fireface 800 in July, 2010. Since that time I have been using it with ZERO Issues! At first I was a little concerned about spending the money on this Interface. But Now I am Glad I Did! If you are wanting to bring your music up to Pro Levels this is one of several pieces of equipment you will need. Remember the Old Saying "You Get What You Pay For" in this case thats exactly right. This Unit has everything you need Great Preams, Lots of Instrument in's, Lots of Line Level In's and out's, ADAT, Professional Quality A/D D/A Converters! (Ect...). You have spent alot of time and money on your system make it all worth while. I am using this Interface with Windows 7 32 bit and Presonus Studio One Pro. It has Never Crashed My System or Caused any Conflicts to my Knowledge! I have read that it preforms best with Texas Instruments FW Chipsetes. This Unit is Very Stable, Clean, Quiet and Professional! Highly Recommended!

  • from Keystone State, PA February 3, 2010Music Background:
    Gear Head

    Pro Quality

    I purchased the Fireface 800 about two years ago and it has always worked perfectly. I've never experienced this with a sound card previously - they would always glitch, break, and be difficult to set-up. It's very reliable, very good sound quality, and has excellent drivers even for Vista-64 bit. The case does not do this unit justice and could use a cosmetic upgrade. I would rate the sound quality as 8 out of 10, very good. I've used this device with Steinberg Cubase with near perfect integration on PC. For me its greatest utility has been its rock solid reliability and definite pro quality electronics.

  • from Stockholm Sweden (Scandinavia , Western Europe) November 28, 2009Music Background:
    SongWriter / Artist / Record Producer / Engineer

    Works 4 Me

    I Bought The FireFace 800 in 2004 . I remember how crystal clear the music sounded the first time I used it . The AD concerters asserted themselves quite pleasantly .
    Now After 5 years and countless productions , regardless of my auditioning other Firewire Audio Interfaces ....I can't part with the Fireface 800 .
    Pound for pound there are other great Interfaces out there but the Fireface 800 has CHARACTER !!!!
    It is smooth and does add a bit of Magic Dust to the sound .
    Not fancy But That's my story and I'm Stickin' to it !!

  • from San Francisco, CA April 25, 2009Music Background:
    Engineer, Musician.

    This is the one!

    Here's the thing...it's really difficult to tell subtle differences between low end interfaces - before upgrading to the Fireface I was using a Toneport UX2 and a Presonus Firepod. They're both totally adequate, but you don't realize what you're missing until you upgrade two key components - AD/DA conversion and Preamps. In terms of the converters, you'll hear it right away - and it's both good & bad. I have a ton of 192 bit rate AAC files in iTunes, and they suddenly sound harsh through the FireFace - on the other hand, the crispness of quality recordings is fantastic. In regards to the Pres - these are extremely clean, and most importantly, quiet. You completely avoid a layer of grunge that you don't even realize is there until you record through the Fireface - part of it is just the reduction in noise floor while still getting good levels.

    All that said, it's not perfect. TotalMix is confusing to setup, and the manual's a beast to read. My recommendation is just to click preset 1 and then edit from there. It's also really annoying that there's no main volume control - so unless you want to edit everything through phones, you're jumping back and forth to the software control - not ideal. But the quality of the hardware is so good that the small annoyances are completely worth it. Look, I'd give the TonePort UX2 5 stars too, but it's really two different categories they're competing in - when you're ready to step up to professional sound make this investment first over expensive mics, compressors, or even outboard pre's. You'll end up building your studio around this one piece.

  • from Kingston. Jamaica. November 18, 2007Music Background:
    Pro Musician

    Fireface 800

    I bought the fireface 800 and use it with the Presonus Central Station.It is hard to imagine it becoming obsolete.This combination is simply.VERY HEAVY.

  • from Miami June 7, 2007Music Background:
    Urban Music producer (reggaeton, hip hop), Commercial Jingle Production

    Best Audio Interface in its Class

    I've used several M-Audio interfaces, the Digi 002 rack and the Mackie Onyx w/firewire option and to be honest the Fireface 800 beats them all.

    First of all it sounds great. Even the pres sound smooth and silky. Obviously not as good as a external dedicated Pre but get the job done for most applications.

    I bought it because of the converters and all the I/O options.

    Windows compatibility is excellent. Drivers rock solid and RME is always updating the firware and drivers. A plus for me.

    Firewire 800 and 400 options are great but check if your firewire 800 controller PCI card is compatible.

    Totalmix takes a bit of a learning curve but once you have it it gives you tons of routing options for EFX, submixes, headphone mixes, or just as a preamp or converter.

    I spent 4 months researching audio interfaces and for the price/quality/value the fireface was the right choice.

  • from Beirut Lebanon October 4, 2009Music Background:
    Recording engineer, musician, compositor, mixing engineer

    Gr8 unit

    This is a gr8 unit, once u plug u can already hear the difference in the audio and even MIDI quality!!

    The first channel which includes the Drive, and limiter is a plus, but the speaker emulation i found it useless most of the times.

    Other good options are the front part located pre amps which are gr8 quality, i record many times without using my 610 pre, and i assure that there is no loss in quality at all.

    The master clock is not bad, sometimes i still experience crackles and clicks and pops when i plug my profire 2626 via ADAT when im recording drums, but much better than other interfaces.

    I would prefer more XLR plugs where available even without pre amps, but not a big deal.

    A very good option, get one.

  • from Roanoke, VA July 2, 2009Music Background:
    Engineer

    Reliable, killer sound, reliable, great I/O, relaible

    Did I mention this unit's rock-solid reliability? I've been using the FF800 for about 3 years with a mac pro/logic setup. (now using logic studio) This unit came in from sweetwater, I plugged it in and installed software, and it's been running like a tank since. 0 issues. I have a quad 4x2.6 GHz mac pro with 4 gigs RAM. I run 8 channels into the interface via ADAT, 8 rear analog ins and 2 front analog ins routinely for a total of 18 inputs. Haven't connected a 2nd A>D as of yet. I monitor directly from the output of the interface and *so do my bands*. No detectible latency at all. I have never had a problem or any complaints. I use the 8 analog outs during tracking to feed a headphone system and it works great.

    The sound is open and clean. Very transparent. I trust the sound coming from the interface. The pres are so-so. A little sterile for my taste. They get the job done. That's worth half a star in this review, I suppose.

    I have upgraded several key (read:$) components of my system over the last 3 years. I have no need to upgrade my interface. Until I can afford RADAR and a good console, I'm sticking with the FF800. Buy with confidence. It is a great unit and has held up under every day use in a busy studio here for the last 3 years with no problem. It should cost twice what it does.

  • from Iran February 10, 2009Music Background:
    Composer

    "Amazing"

    In one world "Amazing".After reading many reviews and researches on the net ,i found this device one of the best sound cards and now after 2 years of working with it ,i have to say that i love the sound quality.If you don't have enough money to buy RME ,go and buy M-AUDIO that i had before.M-AUDIO really sounds good and pro ,and you must have very sensitive ears to identify the deference between M-audio & RME & MOTU.

  • from PA June 7, 2007Music Background:
    Gospel, Acid Jazz, Hip Hop, R&B & Pop

    This is HOT!!!

    I read all of this jargon; its so transparent, so warm, so musical, bla bla bla! People want plain english. The sound on this baby is amazing. What goes in comes out! I have heard other converters, I have experienced the best of the best. I must say The sound from these outputs are exactly what the digital world needs. It doesnt make your sound too electronic. It maintains the full sound. The mic pres are so amazintg they capture every nuance of complicated vocals (vibrato, creschendo, riffs you name it) I do not even use a compressor or limiter with this. My drums are "BANGIN".

    I have friends who use Pro Tools and thats great (big name great sound etc). I use FirFace and I appreciate the sound from it more than their pro tools rigs. yes i used lower case for pro tools. I use the UAD-1 with the FF in Cubase 4. WHOA Daddy! So my opinionation is that the FireFace is equal to all the big boys. worth every penny. PL

  • from burns46824@yahoo.com April 2, 2007Music Background:
    Everything

    Great!

    This converter is about as good as it gets below $3000 or so. My recordings sound pristine like they never have before. CAUTION: If you're running windows on an Intel Mac, make sure to disable your wireless internet connection. If you don't, the Fireface will behave erratically and create LARGE amounts of extra noise. Otherwise, it's fantastic!

  • from Los Angeles October 25, 2006Music Background:
    Musician/Engineer

    Recommend It

    As far as converters and the clock goes, this one blows away devices I've owned from MOTU, Presonus and Echo. No question. Highs are all crispier. Could have used a physical Main Outs control, but that's why we own our Central Stations...

    Just buy one...

  • from San Francisco, CA June 21, 2013Music Background:
    producer, pro musician, composer/sound designer

    A very transparent I/O

    So I've owned this box for a couple years now, and it is definitely a work horse. The first thing I really noticed was the overall transparency in the I/O. Crystal clear transparent. It's nice to have a box that doesn't sound digital.

    The design is very simple and straight-forward. I appreciate that. And I've never had a single problem with it. Very solidly built.

    My one main issue is that it really could use some more gain. I find myself cranking the pots all the way up just to get a decent signal into Logic. I didn't fully realize the difference though, until I had a chance to record on some Neve 1073s (yes, I know they're top of the line, but still gave me a better idea of what to shoot for). It's made me think about purchasing a separate box just to get some analog pre-amps with a little more juice, and maybe a little more warmth too. Still plan to use the RME for I/0 conversion though.

  • from Hudson, WI July 18, 2011Music Background:
    Classical music recording engineer

    Sounds very good

    This digital converter sounds very good. Used it with ProTools 9. Recorded a Guarneri, Solo violin playing Bach with a Neuman 147, 2- 4003's and 2- TLM103. The quality was impressive.

  • from IRAN January 14, 2008Music Background:
    recording engineer,pro musician

    WARM!!

    I have worked (mixing and recording) with m-audio firwire 410 and then buy fireface800 for my job.WOW! this harware has warm and amazing sound ..my recordings are so clear and warm and thick enough with almost all sonic characters of acoustic instruments. .i don`t work with apogee!! but i think the converters of RME FIREFACE800 is very good. I think that recording the midi channles via totalmix outputs in my DAW (NUENDO) is better than exporting them with NUENDO. the preamps is good , not the best. but in this price FF800 is a amazing device for professional musicians and sound editors.

  • from drobinsondn@gmail.com November 7, 2009Music Background:
    Pro Musician

    Awesome ...on PC

    I used the FF800 for about three years. Its worked great on all my PC machines. The sound is simply professional. BUT I switched to Mac about two months ago and the drivers dont work. If youre going to be using a Mac you might want to check the website for updated drivers. The 10/15/09 drivers DONT WORK!!!

  • from Hayward,CA May 18, 2007Music Background:
    Hip Hop/ R&B

    Great Sound!

    The RME 800 sounds great when it's working. I just pick one up and the sound is amazing! But the sound cuts out and i have to keep restarting nuendo. I downloaded the newest drivers and it still has promblems if they can fix the bugs in the 800 it will be the best sound card in the biz.

  • from USA March 22, 2011Music Background:
    Producer, composer, engineer

    Rarely works properly

    There is much ooohing and aaaahing over RME interfaces. Based on my experience with the FIreface 800 I would advise would-be purchasers to be highly skeptical. I've never been able to get mine to work reliably. It fails in terrible ways, often resulting in a loss of volume control that threatens to destroy boards, monitors and eardrums. Firmware updating often does not work properly. Software is, to say the least, primitive. The support provided to US customers is indifferent, unhelpful and inadequate. These are just my opinions, but I've been doing this for decades and had many positive experiences with products by M-Audio, Apogee, and numerous others. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!!

  • from Maryland, USA May 28, 2010Music Background:
    Professional Musician, Recording Engineer

    RME FF 800 unit did not work with any PC configuration

    I have a Lenovo notebook PC (T400, Intel Core2Duo P9500 2.53GHz, 3GB RAM, 7200RPM HD, FW400 port, EXPRESSCARD slot with SIIG FW 800 ExpressCard). I tried the FF 800 on both Win7 64bit and XP 64 bit OS. I had intermittant errors with all combinations of OS driver and Firmware Update Tool software for all combinations of new and legacy drivers, where an error meant that I could not record at all! Besides that frustration, I had loud crackling on the audio out while recording or mixing. Changing latency did not help. I spent hours with the RME (USA) support company without success. Their conclusion was that "it was a crap shoot with PCs, that only about one out of four works successfully." I had to return the FF 800 unit after much frustration. The only positive was that when it did record, the sound was beautiful. I also tried the RME FF 800 on a Dell notebook and a (loaded) desktop PC (which I assembled myself) and each had the same problems (driver and output crackling). Hopefully, it was just that particular unit.

  • from Austria May 15, 2006

    Magical Sound

    I bought this after reading all the rage reviews on the net. I asked so many users on the forums, and they all said its a must but interface, for it sound alone. I can confirm that all the reviews were not wrong. This interface sounds so musical and warm, my ears still find it hard to beleive. It was quite easy to setup on my DAW. I was looking at the Apogee Esemble, but its not available yet. I figured this had to be better, especially for the price, and at least with the fireface you get what you pay for. To me Apogee seems to work like Apple (going off the 'name'). The fireface has to be the best studio purchase i have made. I have already completed a serious Pop album which is set for worlwide release in a few weeks. The sound quality is awsome...period.

  • from UK March 30, 2006

    Probably the best sounding recording interface...period

    This sound interface is just beautiful. It has a beautiful lush sound and a stunning dynamic range on playback. I was using an audiphile 192 before the rme, and noticed a huge difference in audio quality. The RME Fireface 800 has one of the decent AKM chips used for the A-D stage, and the best AKM chip for the D-A stage. The sound recrodings i have made from my romplers, etc has to be the best to date. Very clean, clear, and like for like quality is captured. The output of the card just shows off its high specs on the D-A, and all i can say is 'detail'. This soundcard is nothing short of capturing every detail and presence of the original source. The stereo imaging was also improved via my monitors as soon i started using this beast.

    Even my Sen HD600 cans sound pristine through the headphone amp on the RME (which also outputs at 119db on the D-A). What more can you ask for.

    At first, i was nervous spending this amount on a sound card, and also not being sure on driver reliabilty, etc. On my Mac, it as all plug and play, and no problems. I had the fireface installed in 5 minutes, and all was set to go in both Itunes and Logic Pro.

    The RME drivers perform like a charm, no problems yet, and i plan on keeping it this way. With so many I/O's, you can do so much with this unit. It really impresses ground up, throughout. The fireface was destined to be a winner. Im glad that i didnt buy the motu 828 mk2 that i was all set on prior to hearing about the fireface. For a little more money, you get exactly what you pay for. Suberb drivers, pristine conversion, and professional performance all around.

    The best studio purchase i have made to date...probably.

  • from Michigan February 26, 2006

    The Mesa Boogie of Soundcards

    And yes I have a Mesa Boogie so I can say that LOL.
    This soundcard absolutely blows my mind for so many reasons, where to start?

    I bought mine about 5 months ago from Sweetwater, where sales ace Mike Picotte did some creative math and finalized a package deal with the Fireface amounst some good stuff.

    The fireface has discrete analog inputs on the front face, one of which is a dedicated instrument input. The Fireface takes my guitar signal and I route that to the non-included TS-AudioToMIDI, which is a pitch to midi translator. It's flawless with an old Gibson SG! I'm strumming gothic choirs and the neighbors are freaking! Aside from squeeky-clean A/D conversion, another reason TS-AudioToMIDI tracks so well is the clickable Limiter included in RME's software.

    The rest of the inputs are exactly what you'd think perfection is - with the Rode K2 I just bought a month ago (from Sweetwater) it's the best I've ever heard my voice. I all honesty this combo taught me the obvious choice in new music is a tube mic then solid state preamp. Actually I bought an NT2a along with the Fireface in the first place and that sounds awesome too. Not good. Not great. Awesome.
    And when you're talking 47 SAMPLES latency, that isn't a concern anymore, you may need 256 samples if you're running lots of plugins lol.

    Before you seriously consider a great audiocard, check out RME's site and newsgroup:

    http://www.rme-audio.com/

    I forgot to mention another selling point for me: the clock on the Fireface is ROCK stable, due to some technology RME developed. You can have the best AD and DA converters in the world and if you have jitter then you're screwed. RME spent a lot of time researching and perfecting this less glamerous aspect in analog/digital conversion and sync.

    Get this, you will not be sorry!
    Lonstah
    D

  • from New York February 1, 2005

    awesome

    The connection options with this unit will keep you busy for years to come! The dynamic range of this unit was unexpectedly amazing and the converters are quite natural and clean. Using an old laptop and some external "8 ch preamp-Litepipe" interfaces you can record 20 XLR lines at once in just a few rack spaces. Add some direct lines and 'other' preamps and your rockin! With the ability to chain multiple units together... wow! My old laptop (p3 800) easily handled the 28 tracks at once recording. Not only is this an unprecedented bang-for-your-buck value but with a Firewire800 interface this unit will last for years. No oblsoletion issues here!

  • February 1, 2005

    Fireface 800 Review!

    I just recently bought the Fireface 800 and I have to say this is an absolutely beatuful and transparent peace of equipment you could ever hope to have at this price point. I've been recording audio for 8 years and I must admit I have never enjoyed hearing my mixes translate over different systems this well with my own studio ever. The converters are the best I've ever purchased, Total mix is easier to use than the Maudio interfaces I've used in the past and the Mic Pre's and other connectivity blasts this baby out of the Universe. Total mix is a key feature that actualy acts like a real world mixer with actual gain rather that the just level indicater's like the Maudio interface had. Not only do you get the +4 reference level you come to expect but you can actualy dial in an aditional 6dbs of gain! Incredible! Since I've bought my unit I've had zero problems. I also subscribed to the RME audio forum which keeps you up to date on all things RME! The drivers are rock solid and have been tweeked several times since its realease which has improved an already excellent product. This is hands down the best sounding interface I have ever purchased. I justed stepped up from the Delta 1010. I don't have anything negative to say about Maudio, it's just older technology, converters, and etc.. It has taken my music to another level sonically. Compared the to Fireface my Maudio cards sounded muddy and lacked that sonic clarity I was shooting for. Hit and miss mixes are now a thing of the past. I absolutely love it. It's perfect for recording Hip Hop and R&B. "The most powerful Firewire interface in the world! You can believe the hype!"

Questions about the RME Fireface 800?

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