Grace Design release new Audio Interfaces M108 & M801
The M108 from Grace Design is a remote controlled 8-channel microphone preamp, with built-in ADC for use with USB, ADAT, AES/EBU and an optional Dante card. This all sounds normal for modern standards, but this connectivity only seems to facilitate use of their high quality mic pres and converters in a modern set up. Is this a good investment in quality preamps and converters, or does it fall short of modern expectations as an ‘audio interface’?
Grace Design M108 8-Channel Remote Controlled Mic Preamp and ADC
Grace Designs haven’t been around as long as some of the bigger players in the market, but have steadily grown a reputation for producing some of the finest preamps and interfaces available. Therefore, on the face of i,t the M108 looks like a really attractive unit, providing Grace Design high-quality preamps and converters with a range of modern digital connections. The M108 is certainly aimed at professionals who are likely to integrate it, or several of them, into existing systems. However, Grace Design are also describing the M108 to be a ‘DAW front end’, so how well does it meet modern expectations?
The M108 offers 8-channels of their pre-amps with AD converters to ADAT, AES/EBU and USB connections as standard. An optional Dante card is also available which is now virtually imperative for modern digital audio workflows, both studio and live sound. Two channels of audio can be monitored through their high-quality headphone DAC to check any of the inputs, or stereo feed from the USB connection. It’s not clear from the info available, but the 8 channels of analogue outputs only seem to function as line outputs from the preamps, and aren’t 8 channels of DA converters. If this is the case then I think this is a shame, and doesn’t facitialte even one simple pair of studio monitors to be connected.
The M108 follows in the footsteps of Grace Design’s flagship M802 remote controlled preamp unit, but in a smaller 1U rack space with optional connectivity. The M108 can be easily integrated with M802 systems for higher channel counts of remote preamps. The remote features of the M108 can be controlled via the M802 hardware remote control unit, Pro Tools MIDI integration, a soon to be released mobile app, or any computer web browser.
This all sounds really impressive, and in the right scenarios I’m sure the M108 will provide 8 channels of very clean mic pre amplification and ADC. However, as a stand-alone audio interface it doesn’t quite match other options in terms of modern features. There doesn’t appear to be any internal DSP power, even capable of simple low-latency monitoring options. If this isn’t a necessity for your setup however, then this is perhaps an attractive solution. At least you’ll know your investment was spent on the areas that really matter – the preamps and converters.
Possibly the world’s most evolved mic preamplifier, the m802 delivers functionality and performance which simply doesn’t exist in any other mic preamp design.
The core is a high fidelity 8 channel microphone preamplifier designed to be extremely transparent and musical. But that’s just the beginning. The m802 is fully remote controllable. With our full featured stand alone hardware RCU (optional), up to 64 channels (a system of 8 m802’s) can be addressed and controlled seamlessly from up to 1000’ away. All preamplifier functions, including gain, phase, 48V phantom are instantly accessible and adjustable. These settings can then all be stored into preset locations and instantly recalled.
The m802 can also be controlled directly from Digidesign® ProTools|HD® systems, compatible control surfaces and many other MIDI devices. Working with Digidesign®, we have adapted their control spec to directly address the m802 as an integrated part of a ProTools|HD® system. Additionally, the m802 can be controlled by a wide variety of MIDI mappable devices, making it easily integrated into a wide variety of remote recording situations.
Next, consider the optional 8 channel 24bit/192kHz A/D card option. Developed as the perfect complement to the m802 mic preamplifier design, this converter card provides pristine, musical A/D conversion to rival even the finest stand alone units available. Included is our proprietary unique s-Lock™ dual stage PLL for extremely low intrinsic jitter and rock solid digital performance.
The m802 now includes ribbon mic mode, which shifts the preamplifier’s entire gain range up 10dB, while deactivating 48V phantom power, optimizing input impedance and bypassing the decoupling capacitors.
While the m802 works beautifully as a stand alone mic preamplifier, the optional Remote Control Unit (RCU) provides fantastic ergonomics and enhanced system control. This updated RCU now offers dedicated individual channel select switches and a new highly visible blue LED numeric display for channel gain settings. Both the RCU and the m802 now come with a high contrast, neutral backlight LCD.
Whatever your application, we invite you to discover the remarkable sonic performance, functionality and reliability of the new m802. We’re confident that it will help you make the finest recordings of your career.