Topic: Fireface UCX for AES/EBU applications
I'm having a hard time trying to decide between Fireface UCX and Fireface UFX to adopt for my typical application.
I need to drive a sound system via long AES/EBU cable runs (50 meters and longer) with 48kHz feeds of stereo and multitrack music program from a MacBook Pro Retina 15" laptop running Ableton Live 9.
As Daniel Fuchs already pointed out in a previous reply to my questions, Fireface UCX needs an ADI-4 DD in order to drive the long line with the proper transformer-balanced AES/EBU output at 110-Ohm.
In this respect, Fireface UFX already has onboard a proper, 110-Ohm AES/EBU output on XLR which would make it self-sufficient in itself, but in the typical setup of the frequent flyer with a single backpack system, UFX it is considerably bulkier than the tandem UCX + ADI-4 DD, as two smaller units pack easier into different pockets.
Another potential benefit of the twin half-rack units, in purely speculative terms about troubleshooting at remote locations, is that one unit can fail, but two is very unlikely, and if the failure lies with power supply, two external units is better than an internal one.
DuREC is not a feature that my application will ever need, as I will hardly ever feel the limit of having only 2 mic inputs, and these two aspects clearly speak in favour of the UCX.
And, again in favour of the twin-units setup, while a single AES/EBU output is sufficient in almost all instances of my application, having 4 separate output from the ADI-4 DD might inspire or suggest new ways of handling my application that I never considered before.
If this makes the UCX quite a strong candidate for my choice (hence, why shall I bother asking for suggestions in this forum?), for lack of direct experience I'm concerned with the reliability of an optical ADAT connection used almost entirely open-air, in dusty, windy, sandy locations, with an extreme range of temperature and humidity.
As optical ADAT connector seems to be the only way into the ADI-4 DD from the Fireface UCX, I find it hard not to question the reliability of a tiny, notch-sized optical connector that was invented to hook your CD player to your home theater amplifier in your living room. Apart from asking the more experienced ones, I mean.
Apropos input, I've read the manual more than once looking for clues, but I couldn't find any reference to the possibility of feeding the SPDIF coax output of the UCX into the AES/EBU XLR input of the ADI-4 DD in order to get the AES/EBU output; with my limited knowledge, my poor reading of the ADI-4 DD block diagram seem to suggest that this functionality isn't provided.
Could anyone from RME Support, or any user more experienced than me, confirm that ADAT is the only way into my possible Fireface UCX / ADI-4 DD setup? Or will an SPDIF coax work too, fed via a simple cinch/XLR adapter described in the user manual, right into the AES/EBU XLR input, when the only outputs I need are AES/EBU again?
(on second thought: this would be called an AES/EBU to AES/EBU converter, and it seems not described in the manual if I'm not wrong).
Given all this, would a UFX win hands-down in terms of reliability and performance, and I shall just accept its bulkier size and its "black box" concept with internal power supply as the most acceptable compromise for my application?
I'm running out of time and I need to buy whatever solution in order to have it delivered within the deadline of my next event.
I'm aware my application isn't that widespread to count on a huge number of users' experiences, but thanks in advance anyway for any hint in solving this (I admit, possibly silly) dilemma.