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Author Topic: Metric Halo ULN-8 - field impressions  (Read 4988 times)

Tim Boyce

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Metric Halo ULN-8 - field impressions
« on: July 22, 2009, 11:42:09 am »

*edited to add sources*

I came to the ULN8 from both the ULN2 and 2882. I was somewhat familiar with the software and hardware of the MH family.

First Impressions:

   the unit is amazingly light! I've felt empty 50's lunch boxes heavier. which is great for location work, although it was hard to find a backpack that would fit it well. It also does not run on bus power like it's older siblings. It is DC powered (12V on the 4 pin plug, 16V on the 2.1mm plug) 3-3.5A. It also will pass firewire bus power if a ULN2 or 2882 is later in the chain.

   the plaback (especailly in headphones) is staggering. It took a day to get used to its character. which is a lack-there-of. Everything I listened to seemed to have more space between elements. The overall acoustic field wasn't wider, but everything inside it was deeper and easier identified. This was tested at another mastering room in Brooklyn, (with slayer ~90dB at 192kHz) ... even with loud dense material, it held together. All articulation was finely shaped and distinct.

    I recorded a jazz trio with QTC1's and 4061's through the ULN8 preamps. They have 90 dB of gain on digitally recallable headamps, ~20dB was plenty for the QTC1's. I used my Ipod Touch to control the ULN8 gain structure from my seat. (this includes phantom, and pads, etc..) The unit also has comprehensive front panel tactile controls, with excellent responsive multi-color metering. The Pre's have a very fast response and crisp full transients without sounding 'peaky', only accurate.
    Complex material like brushes and harmonically rich material like guitar came in with the biggest notion being 'detail'. The brushes felt touchable, with the apparent feeling of being able to sense imperfections in the snare head or feather differences. And the guitar (while amped), gave a sense of finely tuned vibrations, as individual harmonics joined together to create a rich full tone. (*my opinion after listening, on a spectragraph it looks like guitar*)

     Mixing back later with a Euphonix MC Mix was mostly smooth. I had a few crashes that MH Support got me straight on in a matter of hours, most of them were related to the flakey Ethernet drivers of the Euphonix. Sends are not currently assignable from the control surface, neither is +DSP processing. but once I built the mixer and processing I wanted, it was pure mixing bliss. Level control is down to 0.05 of a dB, and these volume changes are done within the 80-bit mix bus of the ULN8 (not in the 32-bit computer land, or 48-bit of PTHD) the 0 sample latency between channels allowed me to create 8 parallel busses on mixdown in perfect phase (no matter how much processing) and mix them in real-time into the sum.

     The Metric Halo software is solid. the ULN8 ships with a newer version 5.2 than (currently) is offered on their site. This version not only support mirrored recording in many formats, and auto-breaking files (at 1/2/4GB sizes), but includes new +DSP building blocks. There is a new Math section of the +DSP which includes processes like ASDR, RMS, Band Split, and more.

     When the outputs are set to 'Monitor Out' the 0 point was excactly 83dB SPL per speaker (20/20bas) w/ -20 RMS pink noise. (K14) The volume is calibrated in 1/2 dB steps, on a dented digital pot. (this needs to be tested and calibrated per user, all speakers and rooms are different) It is possible to set-up a totally recallable monitor enviroment with only the ULN8.

I am very happy with the performances of unit.  Smile

Second Impressions

     After working with the ULN8, I decided to delve deeper into it's workings. Disassembly is simple. 12 philips screws hold the outer case to the under case. The top case will fit either front or backwards, but there is a strip of silver across the back that is used for grounding. The ULN8 is built with more PCB than the older models. the Mic Pre's have their own PCBs, the analog section, it's own PCB, power supply and digital section each have thier own PCB as well. The tops of all screws are hot glued to prevet accidental shorting, and it's apparent much care was taken in designing the spacing of PCBs and how it fits together.
     My only concern is that the DI board is very close to the right side case. With the screws provided to attach the rack ears, there is no problem. However if one were to use 'second hand' screws of longer length it may be possible to short the DI board. I put a small piece of electrical tape along the inner wall of the case to prevent this possibility. (*Note: I never shorted the board, even when I tried. I'm just being proactive*)

      I am happy with the build of the unit, I feel it is a piece that will last me years and not only has a feature set that will still be relevent then, but will likely improve.  (*personal opinion, ymmv*)

--- Sources ----
http://www.mhsecure.com/technotes/v5MixerOverview/ULN-8Front Panel.html


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Re: Metric Halo ULN-8 - field impressions
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2009, 02:36:30 pm »

Nice review,

Nice to hear that you're happy with it, as I have one on order.  how do feel about it's ergonomics,  (software and hardware)?

Lance Ketterer

Mazo Audio

Tim Boyce

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Re: Metric Halo ULN-8 - field impressions
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2009, 01:21:55 pm »

ergonomics of connectors ... as much as you like DB25, some love them, some hate them ... They are mounted staggered, not stacked which is nice.It makes it easier to get to the thumb screws.

All the knobs/buttons feel good, but I really only use them for level changes, not any linking or sub mixing stuff. (which they can do)

The software is very good, but takes some getting used to. Since everything has to be built from scratch. .. (want a bus, make a bus .. want to see the bus? make a channel, assign it the bus, now there's a useable mix bus to be sent to a destination)

But once you have a set-up you like it's easy to save it to file, or to the box itself as a recall state, or within the project. (so whenever you open cubase/logic,etc.. it automatically recalls the hardware, including headamp gain, and mixer state) .. nice Smile

It's basically a mixer window, and a control window. Once you get your head around when to use which everything is pretty logical. Although there is some overlap (ex. you can change headamp gain from either page, but only change clocking from the Control window) It definatly pays to learn the keycommands.
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