In the end, all converters impart a tone, and most of the time this has to do with phase issues that are inherent in all digital conversion. The use of transformers actually corrects these phase issues, and helps make the sound fuller, more accurate, and more cohesive. This is not a matter of coloring your audio. It’s a matter of doing a better job of converting it from analog to digital.
BURL Audio B80 Mothership - The Mother of All Converters
The BURL B80 Mothership is a self-powered chassis that can hold a "motherboard" and up to ten 8-channel "daughter" cards for audio conversion, hence the name B80. There are different styles of motherboard and daughter cards, all completely interchangeable. Depending on the types of cards installed, the Mothership can be used for simple analog-to-digital conversion or networking audio, including AoE (Audio over Ethernet) or AoIP (Audio over Internet Protocol).
In the simplest scenario, you could run a B80 Mothership fitted with a BURL BAD8 card straight into your computer via an Ethernet cable. The flow goes from analog source to digital recorder to audio greatness. In a more complicated scenario, you could run multiple channels of audio into your DAW or analog recorder, either directly or over a networking system, with the B80 Mothership acting as a Command and Control center, and one or more studios interfacing with it.
The B80 Mothership chassis comes unloaded, ready to be configured by the user for their studio's workflow. Included with the B80 Mothership is the main chassis, the BP300 outboard power supply, and the Motherboard of your choice.
BURL Audio B16 Mothership - Different Size, Incredible Power
For those who don’t need the full-size B80 Mothership experience, BURL offers the more portable and affordable 2U chassis called the B16 Mothership. This package is smaller, but it holds all of the same motherboards and daughter cards as the flagship B80, and is the exclusive home of the BMB5. The B16 features an internal PSU and slots for any motherboard and two daughter cards.
Don’t Just Convert – Transform!
Regardless of how it is used, the Mothership will provide you with audio that has not just been converted, but transformed. Literally. The secret is in the use of transformers. Every analog-to-digital audio stage goes through a custom transformer. This is what makes the difference between a sterile and lifeless conversion of analog to digital, and a thrilling transformation of sound that is fertile and alive - a sound that is full of "soul power."
Don’t think for a minute that just because a transformer is involved, that the audio is somehow not "pure" enough. A BURL Audio converter has enough headroom to be pristine and transparent if used at nominal levels. But for that extra edge, just push the converter a little with your favored preamp and it will reward you with astonishing richness and vitality, without going into distortion or clipping.
The Daughter Cards Of The BURL Mothership
The BURL B80 Mothership takes up 7U in your rack: the 1U BP300 power supply, and 1U of venting above and below the 4U main chassis. This chassis can house various cards, all of which determine the overall function and versatility of the unit. Mix and match them to configure the unit exactly the way your workflow requires. Let’s take an in-depth look at the different daughter cards.
The BAD8 is an 8-channel analog-to-digital converter card that follows in the footsteps of the B2 Bomber ADC. Naturally, you still get 24-bit precision at sampling rates from 44.1 to 192 kHz, but you also get improved A/D conversion. You can expect incredible detail, more clarity in the mids, and lower latency. The BAD8 features the same BX1 input transformer used in the B2, which employs a new form factor that allows for more channel density. Like all of BURL’s converter cards, the BAD8 features an all Class A discrete signal path with no capacitors and no feedback.
BURL Audio's BAD4M daughter card is a more recent addition to its B80 and B16 Mothership lineup. The card was designed specifically for use in mix and mastering facilities and employs the brand's latest technology for pristine sounds. The BAD4M features the BX1 transformer in its circuit path and utilizes the BOPA14 transformerless analog front end. This new approach from BURL is an all discrete Class-A op-amp that features a minimal amount of transistors and offers much higher definition. If your signal is already warm and peak limited, the BAD4M will make sure that your audio sounds clean and remains faithful to the sounds you've crafted.
The digital side of the BAD4M employs a number of helpful features, including an ADC Filter, which allows you to switch between the clean BURL sound and a more aggressive tone that is more forward in the mid-range. The card's AVID delay matching allows you to match the input delay of an AVID I/O.
The BDA4 is a 4-channel digital-to-analog converter featuring the BURL BX5 output transformer found in the B32 Vancouver mix bus, and the NextGen BOPA14 op amp. This adds not only clarity but a little beefier sound, great for kick drum, bass, guitar and vox. And the BDA4 also provides a switchable DAC filter to toggle between the classic BURL tone and a punchier midrange that is more in your face. The analog signal path is pure Class A and discrete; no capacitors and no feedback. Delay matching to Avid software is supported. Sampling is 24-bit up to 192 kHz and the card offers four XLR connectivity.
The BDA4M is a mastering-grade 4-channel digital-to-analog converter that has been designed specifically for use in mix and mastering studios. This daughter card employs the same BX1 transformer-coupled circuit path as the BAD8 (no op-amps are employed) and employs the BOPA14, meaning the analog front end is transformerless. It's an all-discrete, class-A op-amp with a minimal amount of transistors used for incredible clarity.
This daughter card also provides a switchable DAC filter to toggle between the classic BURL tone and a punchier midrange that is more in your face. A stepped attenuator allows you a 10 dB range to fine-tune your output level, when you need to back off a maxed out mix. Delay matching to Avid software is supported. The card features sampling from 24-bit up to 192 kHz and features four XLR connectivity.
Many engineers have traditionally used tape machines to give them a touch of analog goodness. By building a Mothership set-up and employing the BDA4M routed to the BAD8, you'll be able to achieve the same results and have final results with more headroom and an even higher dynamic range.
The BDA8 is an 8-channel digital-to-analog converter based on the signal path originally used in the B2 Bomber DAC, updated with BURL’s NextGen analog circuitry. The all-discrete, Class A signal path uses no capacitors and employs the proprietary BOPA14 op-amp. This design will ensure tighter bass and higher definition, in addition to an even wider stereo image and balance to your tracks. Delay matching to Avid software is supported. As with all BURL daughter cards, you get 24-bit precision at sampling rates from 44.1 to 192 kHz and an 8-channel D-SUB connection.
B4 Mic Pre
The B4 daughter card is a 4-channel microphone/line preamp with phantom power and features the BURL BX6 input transformer. This transformer has been designed specifically for mic/line impedance. The B4 utilizes a deliberately simple, all Class A discrete circuit with minimal transistors. It also includes the next generation BOPA14 op amp for extra heft and clarity and the same ADC found in the BAD8 module. Delay matching to Avid software is supported and the card features connectivity via four XLR connectivity.
B22 Orca Control Room Monitor
The BURL B22 Orca is a monitoring card that comes in several different formats including a vertical card for the B80 with ALPS attenuator, a vertical card with ELMA attenuator, a horizontal card for the B16 with ALPS attenuator, and a horizontal card with ELMA attenuator. This card is based on BURL Audio's B26 ORCA.
The set-up of the BURL B22 ORCA includes four DAC channels, including two mix/mastering grade channels that feature switchable BX5 output transformers and the second two channels feed main the monitor section. This section includes two stereo speaker outputs and one stereo headphone output. What can you expect from the sound? Incredible transparency and 3D stereo imaging.
The BAES4 is a 4-channel Input/Output card based on the AES/EBU protocol. The perfect tool to fly other devices (like a B2 Bomber), into the Mothership. The BAES4 features a pair of stereo AES/EBU Inputs and Outputs. In one single chassis, you can get up to 40 simultaneous channels of digital I/O. Clocking can be fed from the BMB module, AES In 1/2 or AES 3/4. Connection comes by way of AES/EBU XLRs, along with a BNC Word Clock Output.
The BLCK is an 8-channel Word Clock distributor for the B80 Mothership, with 8 BNC connectors and one AES XLR output (clock only). With this card, engineers can achieve a word clock distribution of 92 total outputs with a single B80 Mothership.
BURL Audio Motherboard Cards
All BURL Mothership motherboards feature sample rates from 44.1 to 192 kHz (with LED indicators for each), Lock and Power on LEDs, one Word Clock In and two Word Clock Outs via BNC connectors. There are currently four styles of motherboards (their letter prefixes standing for BURL Motherboard) and two additional cards for the B16 Mothership. Let's learn what each motherboard does.
BMB1 - B80 & B16 Mothership
The BMB1 B80 and B16 Motherboard are for Digilink capability. Clock control is either Internal, External or from the DAW, (where Pro Tools switches the internal clock to follow the session). Two Digilink connectors to hook up directly to Avid Pro Tools. Play 64 ADC or DAC channels right from PT.
BMB2 - B80 & B16 Mothership
The BMB2 B80 and B16 Motherboard are for MADI capability. Clock control either Internal or External. Two optical MADI ports connectors to hook up to Windows (ASIO) or Mac (Core Audio) PCIe MADI cards, (such as the RME). Each port on either daughter card can accommodate 32 channels at 96 kHz sample rate, or 64 channels at 48 kHz.
BMB3 - B80 & B16 Mothership
The BMB3 B80 and B16 Motherboard are for DANTE capability. Clock control either Internal, External or via Dante. Two Ethernet connectors to hook up directly to any Dante enabled device. May require a physical PCIe card: the Dante Virtual Soundcard (DVS) will suffice for tracking, but its long latency means that for overdubbing and full capability, a hardware card is required. Powered by the Brooklyn II card from Audinate, the BMB3 provides 32 I/O at 96 kHz sampling rate. This can be doubled to 64 I/O at 96 kHz by the purchase of an additional BKII card to enable the second Ethernet port.
BMB4 - B80 & B16 Mothership
The BMB4 B80 and B16 Motherboard are for Waves SoundGrid AoE capability. Clock control either Internal, External or from SoundGrid. One Ethernet connector to hook up to 64 channels of SoundGrid I/O. Extremely low latency, no PCIe card required. Connect directly via Ethernet or by a switch for networked audio. Limited to 96 kHz sampling. The BMB4 requires only a free driver from Waves, with no need for Waves hardware. It can be used in conjunction with Waves server if Waves DSP is desired.
BMB5 - B16 Mothership
The BMB5 is the BURL Motherboard for USB connectivity, and is used exclusively with the B16 Mothership. Clock control either Internal, External, or USB. The BMB5 is the perfect answer if you don’t need high channel counts, and want a simple interface straight to your computer, via USB 2.0. Up to 16 channels of I/O capacity, sample rates up to 96 kHz supported. For use on a Mac, it’s just plug and play. For use on Windows, a free driver is available for download.
BMB6 - B16 Mothership
The BMB6 Motherboard for the B16 Mothership is the choice for engineers looking for AES/EBU connectivity. This Motherboard features eight channels of AES/EBU I/O connectivity and supports sample rates of 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, and 192 kHz.