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June 2017 Giveaway

DiGiGrid IOS Reviews

4.0 stars based on 7 customer reviews
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  • Tom Piang
    from Chicago March 27, 2017Music Background:
    Producer

    Wow!! Blown Away

    IOS is one of my favorite audio interface with built-in DSP Server, I used it with eMotion Live1 mixer. eMotion live1 mixer has 64 channel I/O and it is also very vey great digital mixer, so I can record and mix through eMotion live1 with all of waves plugins and with ultra low latency. So, I don't really need additional outboard gear and if you would like to record live or full band, you just need to add another Digigrid IOX or IOC and connect them directly to IOS. Moreover, mic preamps are incredible and very stunning.

  • Jon Russell, Table Syrup Records
    from Minneapolis MN December 9, 2015

    The IOS is KILLER!!!

    I run Pro Tools 11HD with a Waves IOS, and Pro Tools HD Native PCIe with HD I/O 16x16 and a 192 16x8.
    I also run Logic Pro X, DSP Quattro, Final Cut Pro X, and Live sound.

    Summary:

    The IOS covers a lot of bases for me; I/O, DSP, improvements to Monitoring, and my workflow and functionality in general; it's also a great integration between studio and live.

    My system performs better, but more importantly -- working with the SoundGrid Network in conjunction with Pro Tools HD has actually inspired better performances and mixes.

    Real world application:

    Right out the box you'll be up and running in no time. So, while I had been running with a PCIe HD Native Card, now that I've worked with Waves hardware, I am switching my entire rig over and parting ways with my Avid gear.

    For me, this is great. I am impressed with what my Mac Pro 5,1 Hex 3.33 with 32GB RAM will handle, but I have had some larger sessions (Songs) that got close to being capped out. With the IOS I'm not even close! HUGE sessions with HUNDREDS of plugins, and my Mac Pro is still sitting there trucking along at 10%, and I can still track into the session without any dropouts or buffer issues, and monitor with plugins, all at super low latency !!!

    My workflow is substantially improved as I no longer have to be cautious of playback buffers, and I can track into a session at any time without any workarounds whatsoever. So, I can start recording directly into session templates with loads of plugins, without having to worry about buffer and latency conflicts inherent to native systems.

    Set and forget your playback engine buffer. No need to fiddle around. You can track into a hefty session late in the game, without buffer concern, no matter how crazy heavy it is on plugs (so long as they are in SoundGrid DSP mode via StudioRack), and track with virtually zero latency.

    Sound Grid Studio and eMotion Mixer:

    I strongly suggest reading the manual and putting focus into understanding the routing and mixer as much as possible in order to configure everything to best suite your needs. There is more than one way to skin the cat here.

    SoundGrid Studio automatically maps your I/O to a standard 1 to 1 fashion so you are up and running immediately, but it is also fully customizable to fit whatever workflow and routing you can dream up – and then some...

    For personal monitoring, eMotion Mixer can provide you with custom headphone mixes in super low latency.... It can operate independent of the Pro Tools mixer and playback buffer, and the IOS allows you to input monitor at 1.5ms at 96KHz. The StudioRack plugin component can be set to Auto and automatically handle these input monitoring modes, keeping the workflow in the DAW seamless. When you enter record mode in Pro Tools, audio is split as it enters the IOS. One split feeds eMotion and SoundGrid Studio for monitoring or other routing, while the other feeds your DAW for recording, thereby skipping the round trip through the DAW mixer. Think of this as a splitter. In Auto mode, Hit record and StudioRack switches to Input and you get a signal for monitoring that skips the DAW Mixer. Exit record, and the track automatically goes back to normal/playback. For monitoring effects, eMotion offers insertion of up to 8 plugins per channel, so setting up effects for you talent monitoring is easy, and the setups can be saved (and set to default), so you really only need to do this once.

    So, in Record mode, the Studio Rack Sends (which feed the Aux's/Groups in eMOTION) are enabled, and the talent gets a direct feed from the IOS input with whatever plugs I instantiate in eMOTION ST.
    Playback mode for monitoring in headphone cues, I use sends from the DAW to feed eMOTION ST input channels.
    The channel and aux/group outputs are set routed to feed our personal monitor systems (Hear Technologies).
    The switch takes place automatically, and the talent gets headphone feeds from either source without me having to do anything.
    Because I am routed this way, I can use the eMOTION channel faders to match levels between playback and record, so there is no discrepency in the levels I am feeding the talent.
    This has been a very fast and efficient workflow for me, and my clients love that they can get better headphone feeds with near limitless plugin setups now.
    There is also less time involved in configuring session or monitoring changes in the event of overdubs late in a session.

    A novel could be written on everything you can do with SoundGrid Studio and the eMotion Mixer routing and configuration, so I'm going to move on...


    Live Production:

    I've been using the IOS for live production. Waves MultiRack SoundGrid lets me insert into analog consoles, insert into some digital consoles, and I can also stab directly into loads of digital consoled with the Waves cards. Alternatively, MultiRack Native allows me to also plug directly into lots of digital consoles direcltly as well! This allows me to run my Waves Plugins for Live Production, as well as use Tracks Live to record shows, as well as run Virtual Soundchecks and be really dialed for the band before they ever set foot on stage!

    Along with the IOS, my plan is to add a pair of IOX's so I will have 32 I/O, which will also allow me to use them as a stage box, and my snake will then be nothing more than a single Cat5e/6 cable !!!! No more pulling hundreds of pounds of copper hundreds of feet to FOH or Monitors. Goodbye Quarter Pack. My back loves this.

    One thing I have been doing with a smaller channel count group, is running their entire show into and out of eMOTION mixer, track for track, with individual channels feeding FOH post effects but Pre Fade. Then, I am feeding talent custom monitor mixes from within eMOTION. This is killer, as we have the show really dialed, so our sound follows us from gig to gig, right from where we patch in on stage. It couldn't be any quicker and easier. This also allows us to maintain their sound, even if we are not running FOH for the show. It also makes the techs job easier.

    For small gigs where we bring their PA, we are also running PA from the same rig, and mix the show from eMOTION. This is a VERY flexible solution I had not even considered prior to working with the IOS! Now all we need is a touch screen, or iPad app!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    A very cool feature.... CHANNEL STRIPs can be shared between StudioRack (DAW), eMOTION, and MultiRack.
    This is AMAZINGLY useful, as I have used Tracks Live to record shows. Then, I took those back to the studio, mixed them to get everything super dialed from in a studio setting, then saved each channels StudioRack settings, and imported them into both eMOTION and MultiRack. VERY VERY VERY COOL! This is a huge convenience and a huge time saver. It improved the quality of shows having had the opportunity to use the same plugins both live and in the studio, and to work with the same source material from a real show, in a controlled environment, save my channel settings, and then return those settings back to the live production environment.

    These are incredibly flexible systems. There isn't anything I've been able to think of that I couldn't do with it.

    The DSP (and I/O) Powerhouse:

    The IOS offers up to 64 voices for DSP. A Mono instantiation of StudioRack is 1 voice. A Stereo instantiation of StudioRack is 2 voices. Each instantiation has 8 plugin slots. So, 64 Mono instantiatons equals up to 512 plugins to be hosted via DSP (256 Stereo). Sessions with DSP instantiations are fully compatible for systems without SoundGrid hardware. StudioRack automatically handles this, and runs in Local mode without a server.

    Note Regarding Pro Tools: Pro Tools limits 3rd Party interfaces to 32 Channels I/O.... So, while the SoundGrid network works to it's full capability of up to 128 channels in other DAWs, in Pro Tools it is limited to 32 I/O (However, the server still retains it's 64 voices for DSP)... More than 32 can be connected, but only 32 can be active and seen at a time. This can be configured and changed in SoundGrid Studio, and can be saved as presets for fast and easy recall. (Again, this is a limitation of Pro Tools... So, a user could run more channels of I/O in other DAWs)

    Scalability:

    Just a Cat5e/6 cable away.... I can now easily and cost effectively add Converters, Remote Controlled Mic Pre's, Custom Mixed Headphone Distribution with Effects, and more DSP with just a single cable (DiGiGrid Hardware).

    The system can easily and cost effectively grow with me as needed. I can also easily take my rig with me with a laptop. I can also easily integrate into live rigs.

    Pro's & Con's:

    Pro's: Easy initial set up. Super low latency! (1.5ms at 96KHz). Set and forget your playback engine buffer. Up to 512 plugin instantiations via DSP. Greater routing flexibility than within the DAW itself. Use multiple DAWs, other applications, or computers, simultaneousy and also seamlessly route between them. Use your plugins in live production in an extremely stable environment and in a very portable system (with either eMOTION, or MultiRack).

    Con's?: Complex routing capabilities can take some time to get your head around fully. Fan in the IOS will remind you of the fans in the Avid HD I/O or 192, so be prepared for that.

  • Ivan Lee
    from Redmond, WA May 14, 2015Music Background:
    Musician/Studio Owner (Tape->ADAT->PT)

    IOS - an excellent all in one (I/O + DSP server)

    The IOS is an excellent sounding all in one unit that for many may be all they ever need. It combines 8X8 analog I/O + Mic Preamps + 2X2 Digital I/O + 2 headphone outs + MIDI I/O with a SoundGrid server all in a two rack space box. The converters are excellent and the preamps are very good. Best of all this connects via a simple ethernet cable to my computer and is compatible with most modern DAW's. The integrated SoundGrid server gives me DSP assisted low latency recording capability plus host CPU plugin offload. With the IOS I can also easily expand my system as needs change. Today I have an IOX plus a DLI and AVID I/O in addition to the IOS. Adding more I/O or changing things around is just an Ethernet cable away. My only negative was that the IOS has a fan that required some extra sound isolation for quiet recordings

    For those of you who are not well acquainted with the SoundGrid system:
    SoundGrid is the name of the technology created by Waves for routing audio over Ethernet. DigiGrid is the name of the joint partnership between Waves and DigiCo to manufacture the DigiGrid I/O boxes. Though not required, to run all the low latency features of this system and to do host CPU offloading of plugins requires a SoundGrid Server. These servers use standard Intel CPUs and are Linux based devices designed for doing all the real time SoundGrid processing. The IOS combines a SoundGrid Interface with a SoundGrid server plus all the I/O, mic preamps and headphone outputs in one box.

    NOTE: I ran the sound tests below with the IOS and IOX in system but mostly used the IOX inputs and converters. I followed all this by running a similar test with the signals being split between IOX and IOS. In that test I heard no sonic difference between them. Since I know that the preamp and converters are the same I am confident that all the preamp and converter test results apply to both the IOX and IOS. Mics used were Lawson L47 + Gefell M300 on guitar and Flea 47 on Vocals.

    With finger-style solo acoustic guitar I heard no significant difference between the NPNG preamp split to IOS or AVID converters (all takes are played back through AVID Converters). I got the same result when doing vocals and splitting the output of a GTQ2 preamp between IOS and AVID converters. For me this means the converters are excellent.

    I then went on to compare the preamps in the IOS with my outboard ones. With solo finger-style acoustic I heard a small difference in both NPNG and John Hardy M1 versus the IOS preamps. The NPNG followed to a lesser degree by the JH have a small increase in brightness, note separation and clarity in the higher melody notes. We are talking a 5% change that you have to A/B to hear but its there. Once I went to strummed Singer Songwriter style the difference in the guitar sound was much smaller. I was hard pressed to hear it at all. The NPNG and John Hardy were just a little brighter but nothing that would be any issue in the final mix. On male vocals, what I didn’t expect was that I heard no significant difference between GTQ2 and IOX preamps. My thoughts are that the voicing of the IOS preamps are just a little more in the GTQ2 vein as opposed to the ultra clean that NPNG is known for .

    To me the IOS preamps are very good but the boutique ones have a particular sound that some may find compelling enough to invest in. Regardless, I am confident that any of these will make a great recording. For comparison, the NPNG Dual Mic Preamp costs $2600 and the John Hardy M1 dual is ~$1900 with dual output transformers. The IOS sells on Sweetwater for $3196.

    In all of these tests I have no doubt that others will find differences that I did not. Whether these are significant to the user is the key thing. For me and what I believe to be the overwhelming majority of users out there, the preamps and converters of the IOX (and IOS) are excellent sounding and will make great recordings.

    I really didn’t expect the headphone outputs to be a big deal - wow - was I wrong. Having ones that can be quickly configured as to what was feeding them via software (instead of Patchbay and wire) let me switch what I was listening to with ease. They also sounded great and drove my headphones with no issue.

    The IOS has a fan in it and this can be inconvenient for people recording very quiet instruments or passages. With Vocals and singer songwriter style acoustic guitar I was able to reduce this enough by placing a Gobo (sound isolation panel on wheels) in between me and the IOS. One can also reduce the effect even more by using mics with a sharp null (like Cardioid or HyperCardioid) and pointing the null at the IOS. Another option is mounting the IOS in a rack and including some well placed acoustic treatment (with proper airflow of course). For super quiet stuff one can simply locate the box far enough away. 40dB signal to ambient noise is fairly easy to achieve.

    I measured the Analog in to Analog out latency using an Oscilloscope and function generator in SoundGrid mode. These were seen to be 1.7ms/2.8ms (96kHz/44.1kHz). These are independent of the DAW buffer and are as good or better than AVID HD Native at the lowest buffer setting in Pro Tools 11 (1.7ms/3.4ms (96kHz 64Buffer)/(44.1kHz 32 Buffer)).

    As a final note - I believe the IOS is a great sounding all in one box with I/O, preamps, headphones and DSP server. With the three free Network ports on the IOS it is easy expand the system at any time with just an Ethernet cable to any other DigiGrid I/O box.

  • Alex
    from NYC April 24, 2015Music Background:
    Experienced producer and studio rat

    It's more than great but less than stupendous

    First let me get the negative aspect out. The user interface is truly difficult with so many windows of input and output options, which is good, but it becomes mind boggling trying to get your head around the routing madness available. Especially if you're using a hybrid setup like I'm using. However after that everything is nice! The sound of the A/D is spectacular, I mean top tier spectacular and the networking of multiple computers with different DAWS is a collaboration godsend. I also can't forget the DSP that this machine cranks out for any computer connected to its network. This device truly makes any native system a music production powerhouse! Compared to the Apollo, which I owned, the IOS is Windows friendly.
    Waves only have to fix a few things and what comes to my mind now is the user interface needs an overhaul. Make it powerful still, just more friendly. Maybe have routing templates for popular DAW's and their setup. Even templates for people with hybrid approaches should probably be created from Waves. Heck they should have more in depth tutorials on their YouTube channel. Granted I am figuring out how this monster operates, these suggestions are for the potential customers with little to no knowledge of digital routing. Waves has a great product , which is comparable if not better than UAD's offerings and they should try their best to make some tweaks. Also waves plug ins are awesome and now Plug in Alliance software is compatible, but I feel if they opened up this system to any plug in developer it will be a break away hit! Still with the learning curve and strange UI, I recommend this wholeheartedly!

  • Michael Moore
    from Trevose, PA December 16, 2015Music Background:
    Musician, home studio, live sound engineer

    Overall a great piece, but not perfect (yet)

    Pros:
    1. Great sound pres and converters!! Totally exceeded my expectations. :)
    2. Very low latency (not noticeable at all, even with plugins).
    3. Good DSP (far from unlimited though, especially if your sampling rate is 96k) but definitely helpful. I ended up freezing most of my plugins anyway as I CAN overload the DSP and get crackling if I push it hard.
    4. Recallable preamps and sessions.
    5. Multirack compatible, although I haven't used it for live yet.
    6. Digigrid has good support and answered my questions in under 24 hours.

    Cons:
    1. Soundgrid studio software makes my 2015 Macbook's fan go crazy. After talking to waves, their solution was to minimize the mixer app when I'm not using it. This actually kind of works, but I feel like for a premium product like this, I shouldn't have to do that. I hope waves updates their firmware or software to not need so much CPU just to run the mixer. According to activity monitor (mac) it uses more CPU than Logic most of the time, which makes no sense to me.

    2. Mixer application is a little on the complicated side, especially when viewing sound grid plugins that are running in your daw on the mixer application. It takes a few days to get used to this way of working, but you do get used to it and see the benefits over time.

    3. I leave the ethernet cable plugged in, but Soundgrid studio does not always "see" the IOS. Sometimes I have to scan my ports manually, which again is something I think that can be fixed via software.

    4. IOS itself has a loud fan which could be an issue if your tracking near your control area.

    Summary:
    Great unit. If they clean up the software to always see the IOS right away, quite the fan and lower the load on the host computer just when it runs the mixer application, then they would have a real winner. Hopefully they will do this for IOS V2. I know there is competition in the UAD world, but I'd say if you are happy with the Waves plugin eco system, you pretty much can't go wrong with one of these after you wrap your head around the design and imperfections of IOS V1.

  • Kenny Scott
    from Seattle, WA May 24, 2015Music Background:
    Professional Musician

    Waves VS Apollo ... Still on the fence.

    I just purchased the Digigrid iOS 2 months ago. I was really unhappy with the sound, but the new audio driver update corrected a few of my issues. The unit sounds great. I have to say the the Waves customer service has been excellent. Amazing guys. Although, I'm still a little nervous moving forward. My main issues is with the plugin update fees.... I can see them losing customers to the Apollo. No fees with UAD. A few of my colleagues have the Apollo and the stuff they are doing sounds amazing. So, sound quality is suppose to be better on the Digigrid. My opinion... it's too close to compare. For this much of an investment, update fees should be waived. I'm still on the fence. Waves needs to sweeten the deal more. No other plugin companies have signed on yet and I'm upset they took away the $500 waves voucher. I'd be a lot happier customer for sure.

  • Moore
    from Los Angeles March 27, 2015Music Background:
    freelance recording engineer.

    Pretty cool, but not quite there yet

    First off, I was REALLY excited when I saw this product it the market. I'm in a hard place that a lot of studio owners are in; We need A LOT of DSP power for today's demands in music production, but PT HD systems are really hard to justify for those of us who aren't making our full income from our studios. I'm excited to see more products like this one coming out, and It's about time Avid had some real competition. I purchased this unit because I was after the DSP, not because I wanted an all in one package. If Waves had a DSP standalone unit I definitely would have gone for that. I'm really happy with my current setup aside from a lack of DSP. I'm running a ton of plugins - Anywhere from 20 to 60. 40 is where I usually start maxing out. Sometimes well before depending on which plugins in particular I'm using, sample rate, etc.

    I should note a few things about myself that are relivant to this review and my experience. Above all, I'm looking for QUALITY above all and I will pay for it. I want professional grade as opposed to "pro-sumer" grade. This isn't necessarily the case for everyone and nor should it be. We are all doing different things with our tools. Secondly, I have been using Waves plugins since I first started working in pro audio and I think they are great. I own a good percentage of all the waves plugins available. Finally, I like to think of myself as a savvy computer and DAW user. I have worked in all of the major DAWS and like them for different reasons. I mainly work in PT.

    Setting up and installing all the software was a bit tedious, and you have to do a good bit of reading in the manual to really wrap your head around all the parts to this system. I would not recommend this system to a beginner recording enthusiast at all, unless you feel like you have really good understanding of digital routing.

    Once I was up and running I was mostly paying attention to the D/A conversion to see how it compared to my lynx aurora. Without going to far in to it, I think the Digigrid IOS sounds really good, but (as expected) It was lacking the definition that my Aurora has. I would still consider it to be a pro level converter versus "pro-sumer". In other words, better than any 003, Ensemble, scartlet, etc.

    Waves StudioRack is really cool system. The benefits of being able to save plugin chains is obvious and it worked well for me. Again, the routing to get it to work with the IOS is slightly confusing at the beginning, but there are some presets that simplify it a lot until you are ready to customize it for yourself. I like to mix analog, so this makes it slightly more complicated, not that big of a deal though.

    PLUGIN PROCESSING AND STABILITY
    This is where I was a bit disappointed. Waves advertises that you can "run up to 200 plugins in some cases!" I'm sure it's been done with the right configuration and with the right plugins, but this just isn't true in my experience. With that said, I didn't really expect it to be true. I did however expect to run at least 50 or 60. Sometimes I could sometimes I couldn't. There's one session I have where I can't seem to run more than 25 or so without getting a weird crackling. It's definitely related to the number of plugins I have running on Soundgrid in that particular session. I even called waves and after trying to troubleshoot it, we decided it was only specific to that particular session. It was suggested that it might also be because I was sampling at 88.2... I have my reasons for sampling at 88.2 (instead of 96) and want to be able to do so. It does seem to be particular to that one session though, and I don't necessarily blame the IOS. On some sessions everything ran great, on others it didn't and I got weird glitches, pops, cracks, etc. If I had to guess it might have more to do with the ongoing instability in Pro Tools and not with IOS. At the end of the day though, if it doesn't work well with pro tools, then it's useless to me for the most part. Really sad but true. I didn't find any issues when I experimented with it in Logic, and found that I could get a lot more plugins running before it started to max out. at least 80.

    All said and done, I decided to exchange the IOS for a UAD package. it was a hard decision, and if waves comes out with a standalone DSP unit then I'll probably consider using both! That's assuming it would be priced competitively. Finally, I'll note that after being back on my Lynx Aurora my ears are pleased. I didn't realized how much I missing this crystal clear D/A conversion. My guess is that the whole system will be a lot more stable in the next 6 to 12 months. I need to make music in the mean time though. I'm excited to see what they do and I will definitely still consider investing in something similar in the future.

    Sweetwater is probably my most favorite company of all time. I like to know very specific technical details about gear. Kurt Martin either has the answer (extremely knowledgeable) or he will go above and beyond to get the RIGHT answer. The advice I get is always honest and I never feel pressured to make a purchase. The customer service is all around AMAZING from everyone at Sweetwater. These are the reasons I only shop at Sweetwater now for my pro audio gear.





    I like to think of myself as a savvy computer and DAW user.

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