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A highly integrated professional audio interface solution for live and studio use

15 October , 2023

Fireface 802 FS

The Fireface 802 FS is a professional audio solution for live and studio use in a 19″ cabinet. The new interface from RME offers 60 audio channels, improved sound quality, SteadyClock FS, improved digital connections, professional high-transparency preamps, a full effects section. and operation at frequencies up to 192 kHz.

The fact that the new Fireface has been tailored for professional and flexible use is already evident from some of the main features that RME would like to convince here – ultra-low latency operation with RME USB 2 technology, RME driver stability, SteadyClock FS jitter, individually switchable references levels for each input and output, full standalone functionality and identical operation on Windows and Mac PCs.

Fireface 802 FS is based on a newly developed analog-to-digital board. While the analog board offers, for example, DC-coupled analog outputs as well as new ADCs and DACs, the digital board also offers exciting new features thanks to updated high-tech components.

The front panel of the Fireface 802 FS features four powerful XLR/TRS combo inputs for microphone, instrument and line signals, as well as two stereo headphone jacks with +17 dBu output level for high volume even with impedance headphones.

The Fireface 802 FS showcases the variety of connectors on the rear panel. In addition to MIDI and Word Clock I/O, there are two ADAT optical I/O, one AES/EBU I/O, and eight balanced analog line-level inputs and outputs. Thanks to the new multi-mode mode, the two ADAT I/Os can be used as separate optical SPDIF inputs and outputs in addition to AES I/Os. There is also a USB A port for direct connection to the optional USB ARC port.

The Fireface 802 FS includes the TotalMix FX DSP mixer, which offers extensive routing and monitoring capabilities. In addition, it can use the DIGICheck analyzer to measure and analyze digital data flow in both directions. TotalMix FX can completely replace an external mixer and allows you to create multiple zero-latency monitor mixes with EQ, dynamics, reverb and delay for any output, including main monitors and headphone mixes. The optional TotalMix Remote is a remote control for TotalMix FX designed to control the hardware mixer and effects in RME audio interfaces. TotalMix Remote displays the current state of the host system on iPad and Windows/Mac computers in real time. This includes, for example, all mixing status, full routing, all FX settings, right down to the level meters.

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The Fireface 802 FS has two different modes: USB 2 Driver Based and Class Compliant. Class Compliant mode is a standard natively supported by operating systems such as Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux distributions. No proprietary drivers are required, the device is recognized immediately when loading the CC firmware. Alternate CC mode can be activated using a recessed push-button switch directly on the back of the interface. Fireface 802 FS offers full USB 2.0 support in Class Compliant Mode. This means that all channels are available in driverless mode for Linux, Mac and iPadOS. iPad Pro with USB C port can control up to 60 channels for recording and playback in TotalMix FX for iPad and at the system level.

Most audio interfaces traditionally come with what are called “AC-coupled outputs,” which use capacitors to filter out extremely low frequencies. While these frequencies are generally considered undesirable for audio as they can take up headroom and potentially damage other equipment, DC coupling is desirable in the world of modular synthesizers, where static or slow signals are used to control various parameters such as pitch values or LFO. All of the Fireface 802 FS’s line outputs are fully DC-coupled, allowing control voltage (CV) or gate information to be sent to modular synthesizers (such as the popular Eurorack and Moog/MOTM/Synthesizer formats) and other studio equipment.

The ARC USB remote control connects to your computer via USB and communicates directly with TotalMix FX. It features 15 freely assignable backlit buttons, an encoder wheel and a footswitch jack. ARC USB is a USB 1.1 MIDI remote for the Fireface 802 FS. Operating as a Class 1 UAC device, it is natively compatible with Windows and Mac OS X. Once logged into the operating system, the USB ARC is automatically recognized by TotalMix FX, and communication to control the 802 FS is accomplished using simple MIDI commands.

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RME explains that the Fireface 802 FS offers superior analogue design with the latest digital converter technology. All balanced TRS and XLR inputs/outputs, plus two headphone outputs, ensure low noise and distortion. Converters and preamps are not designed to add “sound”, they are designed to record everything as it is.

Featuring the latest low-latency A/D and D/A converter chips, all I/O operate at up to 192 kHz and provide a wide dynamic range during playback, including two headphone outputs. High power technology delivers high volume whether using high or low impedance headphones. With effective jitter reduction, RME’s SteadyClock FS provides state-of-the-art AD/DA conversion even when clocked from an external clock source.

Each input and output can be individually switched to professional studio levels: -10 dBV, +4 dBu, HiGain (corresponding to +2 dBV, +13 dBu and +19 dBu at digital full scale). All outputs can be used for direct ASIO monitoring (ADM).

The 802 FS features four highly transparent preamps with low-latency converters. The microphone and instrument preamplifiers use classic OctaMic II technology. The symmetrical design of the preamplifier impresses with extremely low distortion, excellent signal-to-noise ratio and perfectly linear frequency response.

The four front panel inputs use balanced XLR/TS combo jacks and operate alternately as Hi-Z inputs. You can directly connect up to four guitars or other instruments. Each channel can be individually switched to 48V phantom power or instrument mode. LEDs for signal, limit, TS operation and activated phantom power provide an overview of device status.

The Fireface 802 FS can be configured directly on the device via iPad, MIDI Remote and ARC USB. It also contains six internal memories for permanent storage of all configuration data. This means that the Fireface 802 FS works completely autonomously, even without a computer, and in standalone mode, i.e. without a connected computer, can be transformed into a variety of devices at the touch of a button.

Intelligent clock management not only shows the status of all clocks, but also maintains the last valid sampling rate in case of external source failure. Technologies such as SyncCheck, known and proven from other RME products, should allow error conditions to be easily detected.

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