Prism Sound Orpheus


 Prism Sound Orpheus

 Orpheus is a FireWire multi-track audio interface for personal recording and sound production, for professional musicians, songwriters, engineers and producers as well as recording studios, post production facilities and scoring stages. Orpheus is ideal for music and sound recording, multitracking, overdubbing, stem-based mastering, analogue summing and critical listening applications. 

Orpheus provides Prism Sound's renowned performance, sound quality and state-of-the-art clock technology in a dedicated FireWire unit compatible with both Windows (XP & Vista, ASIO & WDM) as well as MAC OS X 10.4x (Intel & PPC). Once configured with a computer, Orpheus can also operate stand-alone using its ADAT and S/PDIF or AES3 I/O. Orpheus provides Prism Sound's renowned performance, sound quality and state-of-the-art clock technology in a dedicated FireWire unit compatible with both Windows (XP & Vista, ASIO & WDM) as well as MAC OS X 10.5 (Intel & PPC). Once configured with a computer, Orpheus can also operate stand-alone using its ADAT and S/PDIF or AES3 I/O. 

Orpheus has line, microphone and instrument inputs, selectable RIAA Equalization for turntables, a built-in premium-quality monitoring mixer for each output providing for performer foldback and surround monitoring, concurrent ADAT and switchable S/PDIF or AES3 digital I/O plus support for outboard MIDI devices. Microphone inputs include MS matrix processing. High-performance digital sampling-rate conversion (SRC) is available for digital inputs or outputs. Dual headphone outputs are provided each with its own volume control, both monitoring the same headphone feed. 

Orpheus signal path 
Eight analogue input channels and up to 10 digital input channels are available as inputs for your audio workstation software through the host computer's audio driver. Similarly, eight analogue output channels, up to 10 digital output channels and stereo headphone outputs can play 20 different channels. For low-latency foldback or monitoring to headphones or main outputs, each output pair (1-2, 3-4 etc or the headphone output) can optionally be driven from the built-in DSP mixer with an individual local mix of any selection of inputs through the controller applet. All analogue inputs are electronically balanced with automatic unbalanced operation. Analogue outputs are electronically balanced with 'bootstrapping', i.e. level is maintained if one leg is grounded. 

Orpheus in brief 
No-compromise, full Prism Sound audio quality
Dedicated FireWire interface
ASIO and WDM drivers provided for Windows XP and VISTA
Directly compatible with CORE AUDIO on Mac OS X 10.4+ (Intel & PPC)
Eight "Prism Sound" premium-quality AD and DA channels
Concurrent operation of ADAT and switchable S/PDIF or AES3 ports
Four high-end integrated mic preamps (typ.-130dBu EIN), switchable phantom
MS Matrix processing on mic inputs
Two instrument inputs
RIAA Equalization on inputs 1 & 2
Prism Sound "Overkillers" on every channel to control transient overloads
Fully-floating (isolated) balanced architecture for optimum noise rejection
Mono or stereo input configurations
Outputs selectable between workstation bus or Orpheus mixer
Low-latency "console-quality" digital mixer for foldback monitoring
Fader, pan, cut, solo on every mixer channel
Dual headphone outputs each with its own front-panel volume control
Front-panel master volume control, assignable to selected channels
Configurable for stereo, 5.1 or 7.1 or surround monitoring
Built-in sample rate conversion (SRC) on DIO channels
Prism Sound 4-curve SNS noise shaping on digital outputs
State-of-the-art clock generation with proprietary hybrid 2-stage DPLL
Stand-alone operation possible with ADAT and S/PDIF or AES3 I/O
MIDI in/out ports 

No-compromise, full Prism Sound audio quality 
Orpheus makes no compromises on audio quality. It is the result of years of research and development into digital audio conversion and extensive dialogue with Prism Sound's customers. 
The Orpheus design brief was: Get Prism Sound quality conversion and mic preamps into a 1U box at a more accessible price point. Sound quality just wasn't negotiable. Orpheus has the same no-compromise analogue front and back ends, with the same fully-balanced-throughout architecture, the same isolation barriers protecting the analogue from digital and computer interference. 

Orpheus draws on Prism Sound's years of experience in developing digital audio products, including its range of audio test equipment, adopted by a wide variety of clients across the audio industry from pro-audio to consumer electronics. This experience means that Orpheus is well-behaved both as a computer peripheral and an audio processor. 

Reliability is vitally important in professional recording. Prism Sound has always made extensive use of precise software calibration techniques in its converters - pots and tweaks are always unreliable, so there are none. 

The design team has gone to great lengths to minimise noise and interference, in particular hum. All of the analogue circuits have galvanic isolation, while the unit's electronically balanced I/O allows it to handle common mode interference sources as well as enabling trouble-free connection to unbalanced equipment. 

It is often said that THD+N figures do not always correlate well with the perception of sound quality and this is true - partly because the traditional measures of THD+N or SINAD expressed as RMS figures are rather a broad measure. With this in mind, we have taken great care to make sure that not only is the Orpheus noise and distortion spectrum beyond reproach, but the RMS distortion result measures up to the state of the art. 

Standards compliant FireWire interface 
Increasing standardisation is leading to more choice for those wishing to "mix and match" editing and production software with various audio interfaces. Prism Sound has taken on board the increasing importance of native processing power for professional users and the fact that software products for standard PC and Mac platforms have been greatly enhanced in recent years. 

Prism Sound is probably best known for A/D and D/A converters, not least the ADA-8XR, which already provides a solution for those needing a FireWire interface. However, the flexibility and versatility of the ADA-8XR comes with a higher price tag, reflecting the fact that no other interface provides such exceptional audio performance or can work directly into Pro Tools Core/Processing cards, as well as running a concurrent DSD processor or FireWire interface. 

The solution was to create a unit that is dedicated as a FireWire interface and is compatible with Windows PC and Apple Mac computers. 

Orpheus is easy to connect to your computer and to your outboard gear. For Windows XP or Vista users ASIO and WDM drivers are provided, while for Mac OS X 10.4 or later, Orpheus interfaces directly to Core Audio. For both Mac and PC platforms, there is a controller application to configure the unit and control its built-in mixer and other functions. Aside from the monitor and headphone level controls, everything else is operated solely from the Orpheus controller application. The controller software opens on-screen as a separate panel alongside your existing editing software. 

Flexible Inputs and Outputs
Our customers told us that, along with FireWire connectivity, many professional users wanted a highly integrated solution with instrument and microphone inputs, and line outputs that could be used for stereo or multi-channel monitoring and/or foldback to performers. Orpheus offers eight analogue recording channels, eight monitoring outputs, stereo digital input and output on a phono connector plus concurrent optical digital I/O ports that can interface to S/PDIF or ADAT data formats, giving Orpheus a maximum capability of 18 concurrent input and output channels plus stereo headphones. 

Orpheus' eight analogue inputs support various capabilities. Orpheus has four really good mic amps with software-controlled gain in 1dB steps, individually-switchable phantom power - and very low noise and distortion. These inputs are auto-sensing, and support microphone and line input, with digitally-controlled mic gain in excess of 60dB. Two of these inputs also support direct injection (DI) instrument connections with quarter-inch jacks on the front panel. RIAA Equalization can be selected in the controller applet on channels 1 & 2 so that turntables can be connected for archiving or sampling applications. By selecting the input type (Mic or DI) , low- or high-impedance cartridges can be loaded with suitable termination impedances. All inputs have individually-selectable Prism Sound "Overkillers" built in, just as on the higher-priced ADA-8XR, to catch those fast transients. The Overkiller threshold automatically follows the operating line-up level selection (+4dBu or -10dBV). Overkillers are ideal for percussive sounds, particularly drums, where headroom can be a problem. 

The co-axial digital I/O port can be switched in the Orpheus controller applet between S/PDIF and AES3 formats. This control changes the operating voltage and the Channel Status format and is complemented by two in-line adaptor leads that provide external XLR connections for AES3 devices. Other connections include MIDI in and out and wordclock sync I/O. 

Orpheus can also operate in a stand-alone mode using its ADAT or co-axial digital I/O connections. Once set up using the Orpheus controller applet, the unit can be disconnected from the host computer and used independantly. Orpheus will retain its settings when powered down so even if it is switched off, Orpheus can be re-powered and stand-alone operation can continue with the automatically-stored settings. 

Digital Mixer
Our customers also identified a need for a unit that could provide low latency foldback to performers, particularly when tracking and overdubbing. In answer to this need, Orpheus has a powerful built-in digital mixer that can be configured from the host computer to provide foldback feeds to performers, each with their own stereo mix of workstation playback and any of the inputs. 

The question of latency in computer interfaces, especially USB and FireWire boxes, is an important one. Obviously there are situations where the round-trip latency needs to be really short, like in overdubbing. The problem is that even if the latency on the interface and in the driver is as short as it could ever be, a native DAW is busy with plug-ins and other software and buffer times are probably set long. The only answer is to provide local foldback mixing in the interface. This is not new, and other products feature it, but most local mixers in competitive products are just too basic. Orpheus provides 'console quality' local mixing - every output has its own independent mixer, with channel strips for all inputs and workstation feeds, complete with fader, pan/balance pot, solo and mute buttons, and full metering. Strips can be stereo or mono, and the mixes are dithered with filtered coefficients, just as in a top-end digital mixer. 

There is a very small residual delay through the A/D and D/A conversion process in the foldback path, mostly from filters used for decimation and interpolation. However, with the low-latency Prism Sound DSP mixer, the worst-case delay through the A/D and D/A path is only 0.5ms and is significantly less at higher sampling rates. This is generally reckoned to be small enough not to be problematic. 

Although the unit's outputs will mainly be used for monitoring or foldback, the fact that they are of such high quality makes them suitable for a range of other applications such as insertion points, analogue summing or stem-based mastering. 

Flexible Monitoring
Professional users demand more sophisticated monitoring capabilities and are getting used to surround sound with HDTV and DVD, so it is becoming important to support surround monitoring setups. 

As well as wanting great analogue recording channels, the DAW user also needs top-quality monitoring. The eight analogue outputs on Orpheus allow monitor setups from multi-stereo up to 7.1 surround. Orpheus has a real volume knob which can be assigned to any or all of the analogue or digital outputs for use as a control room monitor control. There are two headphone amps, suitable for all types of headphones, each with its own independent volume control. As well as having its own workstation feed and mixer, the headphones can also be quickly switched across the other output pairs, which is handy for setting up. 

Sample Rate Conversion and Noise Shaping
The digital output is equipped with the four Prism Sound SNS noise-shaping curves and includes Prism Sound's renowned synchronous sample-rate conversion, allowing outputs to various external devices at other sampling rates. The sample-rate converter can be used at the outputs as well as the inputs, so as well as dealing with unsynchronised or wrong-rate digital inputs, Orpheus can also generate, say, a live 44.1kHz output from a 96kHz session. Since Orpheus also includes the full suite of the famous Prism Sound 'SNS' noise shapers, you can also reduce to 16-bits at mastering-house quality. 

Unsurpassed Jitter Rejection
In the 1990s Prism Sound pioneered testing of sampling and interface jitter and as a result our digital audio products deliver unsurpassed jitter rejection. Prism Sound digital audio products lock up fast and re-generate ultra-stable clock outputs. Another aspect of the traditional Prism Sound converter that is retained was the clocking - it's just as important as analogue-path considerations sound-wise. So whether it's providing a high-quality master clock for the rest of the room, or dealing with a jittery clock from outside, Orpheus is as rock-steady as its forbears. 

Over the years, Prism Sound's reputation for audio quality has been matched by its reputation for after-sales support and technical advice. Orpheus has the benefit of that support and customers have access to one of the best technical teams in the business. 

The Last Word
We believe that Orpheus delivers exactly what our personal studio customers have asked for - all the performance of a Prism Sound product in a dedicated FireWire unit that handles line, microphone and instrument inputs with good foldback and monitoring capabilities, yet at a more accessible price tag. We are confident that customers using the new Orpheus converter will agree that it sounds as good as it looks.


Instrument Inputs 2 x 6.3mm mono jack sockets, auto-select to analogue inputs 1 & 2 when plugged
Headphone Outputs 2 x 6.3mm stereo TRS Jacks, each with illuminated volume control
Master volume Assignable encoder / push switch with halo indication
Standby button with standby indicator (also flashes when unit is in 'identify' mode)
Level Meters 10 x multi-segment bargraphs with overload indication, 8 for analogue, 2 for digital, assignable to inputs or outputs
Input selection Indicate mode of analogue inputs 1-4 as Mic / line / inst & plus phantom power indicator for mic mode
Overkiller For every analogue input, lit when Overkiller limiters are acting
Digital Input indicators for digital input unlocked and SRC (sample-rate converter) selected
Digital Output indicator for SRC (sample-rate converter) selected
Sync Master indicator, lit when interface is providing system sync
Mic / Line inputs 1-4 4 x combo connectors with XLR sockets for mic input and 6.3mm TRS jack sockets for line input (balanced or unbalanced)
Line inputs 5-8 4 x 6.3mm TRS jack sockets (balanced or unbalanced)
Line outputs 1-8 8 x 6.3mm TRS jack sockets (balanced or unbalanced)
Digital inputs 1 x RCA
1 x TOSLINK for S/PDIF or ADAT Optical input; 
(RCA can operate as AES3 input using XLR-RCA adapter supplied)
Digital output 1 x RCA
1 x TOSLINK for S/PDIF or ADAT Optical output; 
(RCA can operate as AES3 output using XLR-RCA adapter supplied)
MIDI I/O 2 x 5 Pin DIN sockets
(in and out)
Wordclock 2 x BNC sockets, output and input (75R)
FireWire ports 2 x FireWire IEEE1394A
(allowing cascading of multiple units)
Mains power 3-pin 6A IEC inlet

Mac OS Support OS X 10.4 or later, PPC or Intel platform
Windows OS Support Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 (32 or 64 bit)
Mac audio driver Core Audio device
Windows audio driver WDM and ASIO devices
Control Panel applet Graphical user interface for control of single or multiple Orpheus units under Mac OS X or Windows.

Configuration Electronically balanced, with fully-balanced analogue signal path
Input Sensitivity Switchable '+4dBu' (0dBFS = +18dBu) or '-10dBV' (0dBFS = +6dBu)
Input Impedance 14.5kΩ
Unbalanced Mode Automatic
Total harmonic distortion -117dB (0.00014%, -0.1dBFS)
THD+N -111dB (0.00028%, -0.1dBFS)
Dynamic Range 116dB (-60dBFS)
Gain Accuracy ±0.05dB
LF roll-off -0.05dB at 8Hz; -3dB at <1Hz
HF roll-off fs = 44.1kHz: -0.05dB at 21.1kHz; -3dB at 22.0kHz
fs = 48kHz: -0.05dB at 23.0kHz; -3dB at 23.9kHz
fs = 96kHz: -0.05dB at 32.0kHz; -3dB at 47.9kHz
fs = 192kHz: -0.05dB at 32.0kHz; -3dB at 78kHz
CMRR 20Hz..20kHz: >70dB
Inter-channel cross-talk 1kHz: <140dB; 20Hz..20kHz: <-120dB
Inter-channel phase 10Hz..5kHz: ±0.25°,
5kHz..20kHz: ±1.0°,
20kHz..50kHz: ±2.0°,
Overkiller Progessive limiter, auto-aligning, selectable per channel
Impact Filter High-pass filter, -3dB at 80Hz, 40dB/decade (selectable for channels 1-4; whether in line, mic or instrument mode)
RIAA de-emphasis filter Response accuracy:
±0.22dB at fs=44.1kHz;
±0.14dB at fs=48kHz;
±0.015dB at other sample rates
M-S matrix Allows direct connection of mid-side mics, or non-matrix mic-preamps (selectable for channels 1-4; whether in line or mic mode)

Configuration Electronically balanced, with fully balanced analogue signal path
Gain 10dB to 65dB in 1dB steps (0dBFS = -56dBu to -1dBu)
Gain accuracy ±0.05dB
Input impedance 5.5kΩ
THD +10dB gain: -116dB at -0.1dBFS (0.00016%)
+40dB gain: -110dB at -0.1dBFS (0.00032%)
THD+N +10dB gain: -108dB at -0.1dBFS (0.00040%)
Equivalent input noise (EIN) +30dB gain: -128.5dBu (0Ω source); -126.3dBu (150Ω source)
+40dB gain: -130.9dBu (0Ω source); -127.6dBu (150Ω source)
+50dB gain: -131.2dBu (0Ω source); -127.7dBu (150Ω source)
+60dB gain: -131.4dBu (0Ω source); -127.8dBu (150Ω source)
LF roll-off -0.05dB at 20Hz, -3dB at 5Hz
HF roll-off As per analogue line input data (dependent on fs)
CMRR 50Hz/60Hz: >110dB at all gains
1kHz: >100dB at all gains
20kHz: >90dB at all gains
Phantom power +48V, switchable per channel
Configuration Unbalanced, high impedance buffer
Gain 10dB to 65dB in 1dB steps, 18dB pad (0dBFS = -38dBu to 17dBu)
Gain accuracy ±0.05dB
Input impedance 1MΩ

Configuration Electronically balanced, with fully-balanced analogue signal path
Output amplitude Switchable '+4dBu' (0dBFS = +18dBu) or '-10dBV (0dBFS = +6dBu)
Output impedance 100Ω balanced, 50Ω unbalanced
Unbalanced mode Automatic, with bootstrapping level compensation
Total harmonic distortion -107dB (0.00045%, -1dBFS)
THD+N -106dB (0.00050%, -0.1dBFS)
Dynamic range 115dB (-60dBFS)
Gain accuracy ±0.05dB
LF roll-off -0.05dB at 8Hz, -3dB at <1Hz
HF roll-off fs = 44.1kHz: -0.05dB at 21.4kHz; -3dB at 22.0kHz
fs = 48kHz: -0.05dB at 23.2kHz; -3dB at 23.9kHz
fs = 96kHz: -0.05dB at 32.0kHz; -3dB at 47.8kHz
fs = 192kHz: -0.05dB at 32.0kHz; -3dB at 76kHz
Output balance >50dB
Inter-channel cross-talk 1kHz: <135dB; 20Hz..20kHz: <-120dB
Inter-channel phase 10Hz..5kHz: ±0.4°,
5kHz..20kHz: ±0.25°,
20kHz..50kHz: ±0.5°,

Sample rates supported S/PDIF (2 channel): 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 and 192kHz
ADAT (8 channel) 44.1 and 48kHz
ADAT S/MUX (4 channel): 88.2 and 96kHz
Channel Status ignored
Word-length 24 bit
AES3 operation via S/PDIF RCA, using RCA-XLR adaptor (supplied)
Sample-rate converter (SRC) Selectable at S/PDIF input; allowing input at any sample rate
Bit transparency Maintained (allows recording of Dolby or DTS streams)

Sample rates supported S/PDIF (2 channel): 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 and 192kHz
ADAT (8 channel) 44.1 and 48kHz
ADAT S/MUX (4 channel): 88.2 and 96kHz
Channel Status Full implementation, Consumer (S/PDIF) or professional (AES3)
Word-length 24 bit, or reduction to 16 bits using flat TPDF dither or Prism Sound SNS (Super Noise Shaping - four alternative shapes available)
AES3 operation via S/PDIF RCA, using RCA-XLR adaptor (supplied)
Sample-rate converter (SRC) Selectable at S/PDIF output; output rate can be referenced to Wordclock, DI or local clock at 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 or 192kHz
Bit transparency Maintained in 24 bit mode (allows playback of Dolby or DTS streams to external decoder)

System sample rates 44.1 / 48 / 88.2 / 96 / 176.4 / 192kHz
Sync sources:
Master local, Wordclock, DI (S/PDIF input) or ADAT
Slave FireWire bus master (another FireWire interface or Host computer)
Local clock accuracy ±10ppm
Jitter rejection >60dB / decade above 100Hz
Internal mixer delay
(total analogue in to out)
fs = 44.1kHz: 0.56ms;
fs = 48kHz: 0.52ms;
fs = 88.2kHz: 0.2ms;
fs = 96kHz: 0.18ms;
fs = 176.4kHz: 0.09ms;
fs = 192kHz: 0.08ms;

Form factor 1u 19inch rack mountable 
(rubber feet and rack ears supplied)
Dimensions Table top (inc feet):
W: 440mm D: 290mm H: 50mm

Rack-mount (inc ears):
W: 483mm D: 290mm H: 44.5mm
Power: 90-250VAC, 50/60Hz
internal power supply
IEC 6A connector
Power consumption 35W
Fuse rating 0.5A(T), 20mm, ceramic
Weight: 3.7kg
Operation ambient conditions 0 to 35°C, 85% maximum relative humidity

Printed manual x 1
Software CD x 1
IEC mains lead x 1
19" Rackmount ears x 2 (pair)
Allen key (for rack ears) x 1
FireWire lead 4pin to 6pin x 1
FireWire lead 6pin to 6pin x 1
XLR-F to RCA-M adaptor
x 1
XLR-M to RCA-M adaptor
x 1

Except where otherwise stated, audio performance data are RMS, unweighted, 20Hz..20kHz figures, measured at 997Hz, using fs = 96kHz and '+4dBu' sensitivity settings. 

In keeping with our policy of continual development, specifications are subject to amendment without notice. E&OE.

All Trade Marks Acknowledged. +