The HDSPe MADI FX marks a new milestone both in the history of audio interface cards in the past two decades and within the long series of outstanding RME devices. Never before has such a high-performance multi-channel audio system existed.

Connectivity and Features

The HDSPe MADI FX marks a new milestone both in the history of audio interface cards in the past two decades and within the long series of outstanding RME devices. Never before has such a high-performance multi-channel audio system existed. The HDSPe MADI FX features 390 audio channels.

Three MADI I/Os – two optical and one coaxial – are accompanied by one AES/EBU I/O and one analog monitoring output. To complete the feature set, a Word Clock connection and four MIDI I/Os were added. The complete technology and connectivity are highly integrated into the smallest possible amount of space – typical for RME. Only one PCIe slot is required on the motherboard, plus one free slot opening on the case.

To guarantee RME’s unique low latency performance with such a huge amount of audio channels, the HDPSe MADI FX introduces a newly developed modular Hammerfall Pro Audio Core. The high-tech core will process three times as many channels as the channel count of the previous MADI flagship, while actually reducing the system load and enabling ultra-low latencies down to 32 samples on modern computers.

A sophisticated new efficiency technology will automatically deactivate currently unused channels, so that they require no processing power or bandwidth. A simple stereo playback will not require any more performance than from a standard stereo audio card – despite the use of a professional multi-channel system with almost 400 channels.

The new core technology is accompanied by a special version of TotalMix FX, which allows using the enormous channel count in an efficient and practical manner. The addition of numerous performance optimizations ensures that the 4096-channel mixer of the MADI FX responds just as smoothly as its 1800-channel counterpart in the Fireface UFX. A new and faster DSP allows for a greater number of EQs and compressors.

TotalMix FX

An innovative new layout of TotalMix enables ergonomic handling of the enormous number of channels. A special option makes it possible to visually hide unused channels. Complete “Hide setups” can be saved at any time, and switched with a simple mouse click, for example between the channel view of the drum mix and the full band setup.

The 192 kHz RME effects engine allows latency-free monitoring with numerous effects like EQs, Compressors, Reverb, and Echo rendered directly on the hardware of the card, independent from the DAW software in use.

The integrated TotalMix matrix conveniently allows the use of the card as powerful MADI router. Unlike most other router solutions, each channel can be routed individually – even with separate level settings for each routing. The unparalleled flexibility of TotalMix can turn the most exotic applications into practical reality.

RME’s unique Seamless Redundancy Operation uses the card’s 3 MADI receivers to provide professional users with state-of-the-art fail safe operation. In SRO mode the card operates as single MADI input device, recording up to 64 channels. As soon as the current input fails the audio data received from one of the other two inputs is used. The audio data is not interrupted when switching to another input – and the card can use not only one, but two more sources for redundancy. No reclocking and synchronization to a different clock source is required, and the interruption caused by the external failure is minimized to a few samples.

The card also features SteadyClock, RME’s active jitter suppression and the unique professional meter and analysis toolbox DIGICheck – including EBU R128 metering – as well as nearly identical operation of the card under Windows and Mac OS.

3 x MADI I/O

The MADI FX provides two optical and one coaxial MADI I/O*. Thus a total of 192 inputs and 192 outputs are simultaneously available in MADI format (at 44.1 and 48 kHz). At 96 kHz there are 96/96, and at 192 kHz an impressive number of 48/48 inputs and outputs can be used.

The HDSP MADI FX provides a sufficient amount of audio channels for every conceivable project, and enough reserve to grow with future needs. In general, two optical MADI-I/Os are adequate to implement a major studio or live setup with long cable lengths. The additional coaxial MADI I/O provides maximum flexibility and provides in-the-box conversion between both formats.

* The optical connectors are SC industry standard, in multi-mode technology. The coaxial MADI I/O is configured as 75 ohm BNC.

Analog Monitoring Output

The HDSPe MADI FX provides an analog stereo output in reference quality with RME’s proven low-latency converter technology. The output is ideally suited for high- and low-impedance headphones.

Thanks to the powerful monitoring features of TotalMix, any input channel, recorded tracks, or complex sub-mixes can be selected for listening. An advanced Cue function allows each of the 98 possible stereo sub-mixes to be monitored with just a single mouse click.


An audio interface which is limited to MADI I/Os needs expensive multichannel converters to perform a conversion to other digital formats or even a simple sync connection. Those who work with MADI usually have also AES/EBU devices in use and would like to connect them easily to their DAW.

Therefore the HDSPe MADI FX provides a digital I/O in the professional AES/EBU format. This allows the connection of a simple AD/DA converter (e. g. RME’s ADI-2 for example) to get a 2nd monitoring output, or to create a talkback setup. Even the connection of an external digital effects unit without a costly external MADI to AES/EBU interface can be realized easily.

The AES/EBU I/O can also be used for synchronization, e. g. with Steinberg’s synchronizer and clock device, the Nuendo Sync Station.

MIDI integration and remote control

The HDSPe MADI provides four MIDI I/Os:

  • 1 x external via breakout cable
  • 3 x internal as virtual MIDI ports – one for each MADI I/O

RME MADI devices will not only transmit 64 audio channels with a single connection, but also regular MIDI signals. The HDSPe MADI FX is no exception: each MADI I/O owns a virtual MIDI I/O in the operating system that can be addressed by any MIDI program.

MIDI signals will be transmitted invisibly through the same lines and distances as the MADI data. At the other end of the MADI cable, the MIDI signals can be played back from RME MADI devices via a standard MIDI DIN port.

MIDI over MADI also allows remote control of all RME MADI devices, including monitoring and configuring a device’s complete status. This outstanding feature makes MADI transmission across large distances practically usable, with host computers and devices far from each other – for example, FOH and stage.

All units can be programmed with their own ID, allowing independent remote control of multiple devices via a single MIDI channel.

RME provides a free Windows and Mac software to control all RME MADI devices. This “MIDI Remote” can use any existing MIDI port within the system to remotely control and monitor all connected devices. The software provides both a front-panel like operation and an extended Matrix display.

Wordclock I/O

A word clock I/O with switchable termination completes the connectivity of the MADI FX card. While most MADI-based devices require an additional word clock or AES/EBU line, the MADI FX card uses SteadyClock to extract the reference clock directly from the MADI signal, while reducing possible jitter to a minimum, making long-distance connections even more convenient. The word clock input processes signals automatically in single, double or quad speed.

  • 1-Lane PCI Express Endpoint device (no PCI Express to PCI Bridge), revision 1.1.
  • 2.5 Gbps line speed
  • Packet-based full-duplex communication (up to 500 MB/s transfer rate)
  • All settings changeable in real-time
  • Automatic and intelligent master/slave clock control
  • Sync sources: MADI coaxial, MADI optical, AES/EBU, word clock, internal
  • Varipitch: by input signal or word clock
  • Sample rates: 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz, 176.4 kHz, 192 kHz, variable (Sync/word clock)
  • Sample rate range: MADI: 32 kHz – 96 kHz, word clock: 27 kHz – 200 kHz
  • Jitter: < 1 ns, internal and all inputs
  • Jitter sensitivity: PLL operates even at 100 ns Jitter without problems
  • Comes with DIGICheck: the ultimate measurement, analysis and test tool
  • Input word clock: Signal Adaptation Circuit (functional from 1.2 Vpp input signal), switchable termination
  • Output word clock: BNC, low-impedance driver stage, 4 Vpp into 75 Ohms, short-circuit-proof
  • MIDI input and output: via two 5-pin DIN jacks

Stereo Monitor Output (Phones):

  • Signal-to-Noise (DR): 110 dB RMS unweighted, 113 dBA @ 44.1 kHz
  • Channel separation: > 100 dB
  • Output: 6.3 mm TRS
  • Output impedance: 75 Ohm
  • Output level at 0 dBFS: +13 dBu