System Components

Introduction

SAC, in its most basic implementation, replaces an analog or digital console in all regards. You have input signals that are processed, routed and mixed into physical outputs which are then connected to other components to reproduce, transmit or record the output signals. Like other digital mixers, the analog input signals are converted into digital signals that are processed mixed and routed digitally then output from the system as either digital or analog signals.

Components

Host Computer

SAC is a Windows based application compatible with Windows 2000 through Windows 8. While it may run fine on a retail computer straight out of the box, it is best run on a computer running only basic services and software required for the operation of Windows. While it is multi-threaded, no more than a dual core processor is of benefit and newer processors with higher clock speeds are preferred over more processor cores. SAC is CPU and memory intensive so opt for faster memory as well. As of this writing, an Intel Core2Duo E8400 or E8500 are well recommended for 32-64 channel sytems. The basic interface is designed to be usable in live situations with only a mouse and keyboard for control.

Interface

It's recommended to use high quality, studio oriented, audio interfaces with stable drivers and quality components. While other manufacturers make suitable devices, interfaces from RME Audio and MOTU are most frequently recommended. RME is well regarded as having some of the best and most stable drivers among interface manufacturers.
Interfaces will be connected as either an internal card for a desktop system using PCI or PCIExpress, or as an external box connected by Firewire or a proprietary connection protocol. USB interfaces are not typically recommended for live use and large channel counts. Firewire is not usually recommended for systems with more than 24 inputs or outputs. Proprietary protocols and interface cards often allow for much higher channel counts.

Pre Amplifier inputs and outputs

Some external interfaces have microphone preamplifiers built into the interface. Others connect to external preamplifiers using digital multichannel protocols such as ADAT or MADI. Still others only connect via analog i/o. External preamps are most often purchased in banks of eight and may be input only or provide both input and output.
A basic low cost unit is the Behringer ADA8000. It provides 8 channels of input and 8 channels of output connected to an interface by ADAT for $200 or less. A SAC system built around this preamp still competes with the audio quality of high-end digital consoles.
Users with larger budgets will find many alternatives with higher quality, lower noise and progressively higher costs per channel. As the budget per 8 channel input device increases, additional features such as remote control of gain and phantom power per channel can be added to the system.
While many interfaces will support equal numbers of inputs and outputs it is only neccessary to provide enough inputs and or outputs to meet the needs of the situation.

Additions

Beyond the basic system components above, additional components can be added to expand the capabilities of SAC. Devices such as touch screens, motorized fader controlers and other computers running the SACRemote control software over a wired or wireless network will enhance the control abilities of SAC.

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