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Prism Sound ADA-8XR Firewire Converter

Prism Sound ADA-8XR Converter with Firewire Card front

One of the greatest converters ever made, the ADA-8XR is Prism Sound’s Magnum Opus. Featuring a modular design, it is still the converter of choice of professional recording studios and mastering facilities everywhere. This version comes with the Firewire Card.

The ADA-8XR is a multi-channel AD/DA converter that can be configured in numerous ways using plug-in modules to suit a very wide variety of applications. It can be a 16 channel AD converter, a 16 Channel DA converter or an 8 channel AD/DA converter. It can be a multi-channel FireWire interface, or an AES/EBU / AES3 / SPDIF Digital to Analogue or Analogue to Digital converter. It can act as a high resolution Pro Tools Interface for recording or post-production. Similarly it can work with a wide range of other popular Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) including Logic, Cubase, Nuendo and others. In fact, there's not a lot it can't do when it comes to digital audio conversion.


The ADA-8XR is the top professionals' converter of choice in the most exacting applications in music and sound recording, mastering, broadcast and post-production. Offering the cleanest and most transparent conversion available, the ADA-8XR is ideal for producers, engineers and songwriters wanting to produce top-quality results when recording, tracking & overdubbing, mixing to stereo or surround, mastering and monitoring. The ADA-8XR is perfect for recording vocal, single instruments, drums or orchestra and is just as much at home providing multiple outputs for external analogue summing. It is in use in the top studios around the world as well as being used in numerous film sound tracks.

Design Philosophy

The ADA-8XR takes the philosophy of the widely-acclaimed Prism Sound converter range a stage further: Now, the goals of ultimate sound quality, unbeatable performance and un-matched versatility have been realised in a modular multi-channel, 24-bit 192kHz-capable format. The ADA-8XR provides A/D and D/A conversion and the essential digital interfaces with a stereo monitor mix output in digital and analogue formats.

Clocking and Synchronization

Unlike most other converter systems, the ADA-8XR is ideal as a master clock for your entire system, whether running from its precision internal reference or from an external source. No external clock source can improve the performance or influence the sound of the ADA-8XR. In addition, the ADA-8XR can run in Pro Tools Loop Sync mode, or lock to AES3, AES11 or Wordclock. The ADA-8XR delivers your recordings with perfect transparency, whatever the setup.

Configuration options

The ADA-8XR is a modular system and this provides great flexibility when creating systems with larger numbers of channels. Whether you need just a few channels of high-quality conversion or large a multi-track setup, the ADA-8XR is the natural choice. Using combinations of the basic system options and the range of digital interfaces you can build the system that perfectly matches your requirements.

Channel Configurations

  • Up to 16 channels of state-of-the art 24-bit, 192kHz conversion in one great-sounding 2U package.
  • Choice of 8AD plus 8DA; 16AD; 16DA or D-D only configurations.
  • Dual-path architecture allows independent operation of two 8-channel paths:
    • Each path (bank of 8 channels) can be assigned to either record or play functions;
    • Each path can have independent clock references at different sample rates if desired;
    • Each path is independently configurable;
    • Each path can drive analogue and digital outputs simultaneously if desired
    • Allows Source Monitoring with simultaneous A/D and D/A conversion.
  • Electronically balanced, transformerless, galvanically isolated XLR analogue inputs and outputs ensure freedom from noise pick-up and crosstalk, with software-controlled balance and line-up;
  • Prism Sound 'Over-killer' selectable on analogue inputs: the best-sounding gentle limiting for louder masters - with no 'overs';

Digital Interface options

  • AES3,S/PDIF up to 192kHz. Handles & converts 2-wire formats for 96k and 192k;
  • FireWire - for direct connection to DAW software on PC or Mac;
  • Pro Tools|HD - replace 192IO/96IOs; up to 32 channels in and out per Digi Core/Process card;
  • Pro Tools|24 MIX - direct connection in place of 888|IO;
  • DSD - for SACD production, with SDIF2/3 and optional MAC-DSD (Cat5); also allows sample-rate-conversion between any PCM rates;

For computers without FireWire, the FireWire equipped ADA-8XR can also be used with Thunderbolt equipped computers via third party Thunderbolt to FireWire adaptors. Of course FireWire adaptors are also available for ExpressCard and various flavours of PCI cards.

Clocking and synchronisation

  • Ultimate Prism Sound clock-stability and jitter-rejection for crystal-clear imaging, with independent multiple PLLs for A/D and D/A paths;
  • Locks securely to an external reference working stand-alone or with DAWs.
  • 8-channel LED bargraph with peak hold and status monitoring, switchable between paths.

Monitoring and other features

  • Stereo monitor, with headphones and analogue line AND digital S/PDIF outputs, can monitor any input or output pair, or a panned stereo mix of all eight channels;
  • Built-in Prism Sound 'SNS' noise-shapers for ultimate quality 16-bit & 20-bit transfers;
  • Built-in Prism Sound 'MR-X' word-mapping for lossless recording up to 24-bit, 96kHz on standard DA-88 or ADAT MDMs, or other 16 or 20-bit media;
  • Built-in Prism Sound 'DRE' for 24-bit performance on 16-bit media WITHOUT losing tracks;
  • Intuitive user interface, provides fast access to all I/O and processing functions; with continuous display of all settings;
  • Noise-shaping, MRX or DRE processing functions can be also be carried out in 'D-D' mode, including conversion between different digital interface formats;
  • Modular construction allows upgrading of all input and output cards (INCLUDING A/D, D/A, and DSP boards); no need to worry about future converter advances or new interface standards;
  • Internet-upgradeable software - loads from your PC or Mac into 'flash' memory inside the ADA-8XR;

Prism Sound Guarantee

  • All new Prism Sound products are supported by a 3 year guarantee.

Technical Specs

Unless otherwise stated, specifications are RMS, unweighted, band-limited 20Hz-20kHz, 24bit sampling and 96kHz, line-up at 0dBFS=+18dBu.


  • Dimensions: W: 483mm D: 390mm H: 88mm
  • Power: 90-125/180-250VAC, 50/60Hz, 60W
  • Module slots:
    2 x Analogue I/O module slots
    2 x Digital I/O module slots
    Utility slot (monitor, sync,RS232/485/MIDI)
    1 x internal DSP expansion slot

Monitor: Two-channel, analogue and digital outputs.


  • Format: Electronically balanced, RCA/phono sockets
  • Output impedance: 50 Ohm
  • Headroom: 0dBFS=+15,+18,+21, or +24dBu
  • Absolute gain accuracy: +/-0.05dB
  • THD+N (997Hz, -1dBFS): -101dB (0.0009%)
  • Dynamic range (997Hz, -60dBFS): 105dB
  • Channel separation 1kHz: >120dB


  • Format: 6.3mm stereo jack
  • Output impedance: 115 Ohm
  • Max Sensitivity: 4.7Vp-p


  • aes3-ID / S/PDIF, 24bits

8-ch bargraph with peak hold; 2-channel readout; Assignable ‘Alert’ function

  • Overload indicator threshold: 1 sample full scale or -0.05dBFS


  • Prism Sound Super Noise Shaping (SNS):
    TPDF dither, plus 4 curve shapes
    Intelligent ‘auto-dither-defeat’ system
  • Prism Sound ‘MR-X’ bit-mapping:
    20-bit/24-bit/hi-rate on 16-bit tracks
    24-bit/hi-rate on 20-bit tracks
  • Prism Sound ‘DRE’:
    20-bit dynamic range on 16-bit tracks
    24-bit dynamic range on 20-bit tracks - without loss of tracks


  • Prism Sound ‘MR-X’ bit-mapping: as above

Multi-stage, auto-ranging PLL per Path

  • Ultra-high-precision mode: (+/- 0.15%)
  • Jitter rejection corner frequency: ~80Hz
  • Jitter rejection slope: 60dB / decade
  • Jitter attenuation: >60dB above 700Hz
  • High-precision mode: (+/- 6.0%)
  • Internal: 32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 kHz +/-25ppm

Each path can be separately synchronized. Path sampling rate can be frequency-locked to a different reference frequency, for example: 96kHz path locked to 48kHz Worldclock.

8C-AD 8-channel A/D converter

  • Connections: Electronically balanced inputs, female XLRs
  • Differential input impedance: 21k5 Ohm
  • Full-scale input range (software-controlled):
    +5dBu..+24dBu in 1dBu steps, trims in 0.05dBu steps
  • Absolute gain accuracy: +/-0.05dB
  • CMRR: 60Hz:
  • Overkiller: Software selectable On/Off
  • THD+N : (997Hz, -1dBFS) -105dB (0.0006%)
  • Dynamic range: (997Hz, -60dBFS) 112dB
  • IMD (SMPTE/DIN, 60Hz@-3dBFS & 7kHz@-12dBFS):
  • Maximum aharmonic spurium (997Hz @ -1dBFS):
  • Frequency response fs=192kHz -0.05dB: 6.2Hz..50.2kHz; 3dB:
  • Frequency response fs=96kHz -0.05dB: 6.1Hz..43.3kHz; -3dB:
  • Frequency response fs=48kHz -0.05dB: 5.5Hz..22.8kHz; -3dB:
  • Frequency response fs=44.1kHz-0.05dB: 5.0Hz..20.1kHz; -3dB:
  • Passband ripple: 96kHz
  • Interchannel phase difference
  • Channel separation: 1kHz >125dB, 20Hz..20kHz: >117dB
  • Group delay (input to AES3 output) 20/fs

8C-DA 8-channel D/A converter

  • Connections Electronically balanced outputs, male XLRs
  • Differential output impedance 50 Ohm
  • Full-scale output range (software-controlled)
    +5dBu..+24dBu in 1dBu steps, trims in 0.05dBu steps
  • Absolute gain accuracy +/-0.05dB
  • Output balance 54dB
  • THD+N: (997Hz, -1dBFS) -102dB (0.0007%) typical
  • Dynamic range: (997Hz, -60dBFS) 108dB
  • IMD (SMPTE/DIN, 60Hz@-3dBFS & 7kHz@-12dBFS)
  • Maximum aharmonic spurium (997Hz @ -1dBFS)
  • Frequency response: fs=192kHz -0.05dB: 5.2Hz..37.2kHz; -3dB: 1.4Hz..74.4kHz
  • Frequency response: fs=96kHz -0.05dB: 5.1Hz..38.9kHz; -3dB: 1.4Hz..47.4kHz
  • Frequency response: fs=48kHz -0.05dB: 5.1Hz..22.6kHz; -3dB: 1.4Hz..23.9kHz
  • Frequency response: fs=44.1kHz -0.05dB: 5Hz..20.8kHz; -3dB: 1.4Hz..22.0kHz
  • Passband ripple
  • Interchannel phase difference
  • Channel separation 1kHz: >115dB; 20Hz..20kHz: >110dB
  • Group delay (AES3 to output) 49.5/fs

DSD I/O Module
Unless otherwise stated, all performance specifications are quoted RMS, A-weighted, bandlimited 20Hz-20kHz, with PCM sampling at 96kHz and wordlength 24 bits, and with DSD lineup normal. Note that quotation of performance using A-weighting filters is not generally the policy of Prism Sound; however, the noise-shaped nature of DSD signals means that A-weighted measurements are more representative of subjective performance than are unweighted measurements.

PCM to DSD Performance

  • Maximum output level 0dB SACD (Normal) / +3.1dB SACD (Hot)
  • Absolute gain accuracy +0.05dB
  • THD+N (997Hz, -1dBFS) -118dB (0.00013%)
  • Dynamic range (997Hz, -60dBFS) 120dB
  • Frequency response: fs=96kHz -3dB: 0Hz…43.5kHz
  • Frequency response: fs=88.2kHz -3dB: 0Hz…40kHz
  • Frequency response: fs=48kHz -1dB: 0Hz…22kHz
  • Frequency response: fs=44.1kHz -0.05dB: 0Hz…20kHz
  • Frequency response: fs=32kHz -0.05dB: 0Hz…14.5kHz

Analogue to DSD Performance
As the Analogue Line Input Module except for the following:

  • Maximum output level 0dB SACD (Normal) / +3.1dB SACD (Hot)
  • Absolute gain accuracy ±0.1dB
  • THD+N (997Hz, -1dBFS) -103dB (0.0007%)
  • Dynamic range (997Hz, -60dBFS) 110dB
  • Frequency response -0.05dB: 10Hz…35kHz -3dB: 3.9Hz…42kHz

DSD to PCM Performance

  • Maximum input level 0dB SACD (Normal) / +3.1dB SACD (Hot)
  • Absolute gain accuracy -0.05dB
  • THD+N (997Hz, -1dBFs)
  • Dynamic range (997Hz, -60dBFS) >128dB (limited by DSD input signal)
  • Frequency response: fs=96kHz -3dB: 0Hz…41kHz
  • Frequency response: fs=88.2kHz -3dB: 0Hz…38.5kHz
  • Frequency response: fs=48kHz -1dB: 0Hz…22kHz
  • Frequency response: fs=44.1kHz -0.05dB: 0Hz…20kHz
  • Frequency response: fs=32kHz -0.05dB: 0Hz…14.5kHz

(PCM to) DSD to Analogue Performance
The following DSD to Analogue specifications are measured using an ADA-8 Path in PCM to DSD mode as the signal source (since no standard DSD test source is available). They are as the Analogue Line Output Module, except for the following:

  • Maximum input level 0dB SACD (Normal) / +3.1dB SACD (Hot)
  • Absolute gain accuracy ±0.1dB
  • THD+N (997Hz, -1dBFs)
  • Dynamic range (997Hz, -60dBFS) >106dB
  • Frequency response -0.05dB: 10Hz…35kHz -3dB: 3.9Hz…40kHz

AES/SPDIF I/O module

  • Group delay (AES3 to output) 34/fs
  • Connection Transformer-coupled female DB25 connector
  • AES3 mode: I/O impedance 110 Ohm;
  • Output carrier amplitude (loaded) 3.2Vp-p
  • S/PDIF mode: I/O impedance 75 Ohm;
  • Output carrier amplitude (loaded) 0.5Vp-p
  • Output channel status Professional or consumer
  • Input jitter tolerance
    15UIp-p below 200Hz; 0.5UIp-p above 8kHz (1UI=163ns @ 48kHz)
  • Wordlength 16, 20 or 24-bit

One-wire or two-wire (“Split96”) input and output modes supported @ 88.2, 96, 176.4 and 192kHz

FireWire I/O module

  • Electrical Interface 2 x 6 Pin IEEE-1394a Compliant
  • IEEE-1394 Power Class 4
  • Audio Format IEC 61883-6 (2nd Edition)

Up to four ADA-8s may be connected on the same FireWire bus allowing up to 32 channels of simultaneous recording and playback.

Each FireWire card caters for 8 simultaneous input and output channels at up to 96kHz sampling rate, or for 4 simultaneous input and outputs channels at 176.4 and 192kHz sampling rates. 8 channel simultaneous input and output applications at sampling rates over 96kHz require two FireWire cards. 16 channel input or 16 channel output applications are also supported at up to 96kHz with two FireWire cards.

Pro Tools|24 MIX I/O module

Direct connection in place of 888 IO (or two 888|IOs for 16-channel A/D or D/A unit)

Pro Tools|HD I/O module

Direct connection emulating 192 IO; up to 32 input and output channels can be connected to each card;


All Prism products come with a 3 year guarantee.

The Prism ADA8-XR in action

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