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RME Hammerfall HDSP9652

Dolphin id:1697 Product SKU:RMEHF

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Professional 24 channel soundcard with: ADAT I/O, 2 x MIDI I/O, SPDIF and Total Mix Software. PC & Mac.

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HDSP 9652 is the long-awaited successor of the well-known PCI card Project Hammerfall (DIGI9652). Like the original Hammerfall, HDSP 9652 offers 3 x ADAT optical I/O, ADAT-Sync In, SPDIF I/O and word clock I/O. On top, there are 2 MIDI I/Os and TotalMix, a DSP-based real-time mixer/router.

The HDSP 9652's Secure BIOS Technology allows to perform hardware updates via software/driver without any risk. And thanks to its unique 'Zero CPU Load' technology Hammerfall DSP guarantees highest performance and lowest latency on both notebooks and desktops!

Hammerfall also allows to connect Analog Expansion Boards (AEB). Two internal ADAT inputs and two internal ADAT outputs allow you to realize up to 16 analog inputs and 16 analog outputs directly inside the computer.


  • 3 x ADAT digital I/O, based on RME's reliable Bitclock PLL 
  • 1 x SPDIF digital I/O, based on RME's reliable DIGI96 technology 
  • 1 x Breakout cable for coaxial SPDIF operation 
  • 1 x Word clock I/O (BNC) on included expansion board 
  • 1 x ADAT Sync In (9-pin D-type) for sample accurate transfers 
  • 2 x MIDI I/O, 32 channels high-speed MIDI via breakout cable 
  • HDSP Meter Bridge: freely scalable level meters, peak- and RMS calculation directly in hardware 
  • TotalMix: 1456 channel mixer with 40 bit internal resolution 
  • S/MUX poured in hardware: 12 channels 96 kHz/24 bit for record and playback on ADAT optical 

...and numerous other features found already in the Hammerfall series. And all this for an unbeatable price!

The Hammerfall® DSP System comes with drivers for Windows 98/ME (MME with multi-client operation, ASIO 2.0, GSIF), Windows 2000/XP (full multi-client operation of MME, GSIF and ASIO 2.0) and MacOS (ASIO 2.0).
Just click on the hammer symbol in the systray of the taskbar and the settings dialog of the HDSP 9652 comes up. The clear structured, easy to understand window plus the unique informative status windows for input signal, clock mode, sample rate and time code make your work with Hammerfall DSP to a real pleasure. With a simple mouse click you gain access to the full power of your card.

When working with several digital sources it is not only necessary to know if these are properly locked, but also if they are totally synchronized. RME's exclusive SyncCheck checks all input signals and displays their actual state, and thanks to our new Intelligent Clock Control concept you have all clocks and states under control - with ease.

A display of the time code at the ADAT Sync-In port offers a quick check of the communication between external device and Hammerfall.

Technical Specifications

  • Supported sample rates: 32 kHz, 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz, variable
  • 8 buffer sizes/latencies available: 1.5 ms, 3 ms, 6 ms, 12 ms, 23 ms, 46 ms, 93 ms, 186 ms
  • ASIO zero CPU load technology: 0 (zero!)% CPU load when using ALL 52 channels!
  • All settings changeable in realtime
  • Clock modes slave and master
  • Automatic and intelligent master/slave clock control
  • Enhanced Mixed mode: All inputs and outputs simultaneously operational
  • Unsurpassed Bitclock PLL (audio synchronization) in ADAT® mode
  • Enhanced Zero Latency Monitoring for latency-free submixes and perfect ASIO Direct Monitoring
  • Comes with DIGICheck: the ultimate measurement, analysis and test tool
  • Input 3 x optical (TOSLINK), 1 x coaxial (Cinch), 2 x MIDI, word clock (BNC)
  • Input format SPDIF, AES/EBU (Consumer, Professional), ADAT® optical 
  • Output 3 x optical (TOSLINK), coaxial (Cinch), 2 x MIDI, word clock (BNC)
  • Format output SPDIF, AES/EBU (Consumer/Professional), ADAT® optical

Intelligent clock control according to operational mode and present/desired sample rate. 

With AutoSync activated Project Hammerfall continuously searches for a valid input signal to lock on to. So starting a recording on-the-fly is possible (as well as anytime during playback, thanks to Full Duplex) without first having to synchronize the card to the input signal. When using more than one card synchronizing is easy, just spread an input signal to all inputs. Vari-speed is operational over the whole supported sample rate range.
Bitclock PLL
The most reliable receiver circuit for ADAT optical signal.

The Hammerfall series always uses RME's bitclock PLL (already in its second generation, with improved HF noise suppression), whether it is synchronized via Optical In or via word clock. Thanks to the high resolution, this remarkable circuit is capable of following the entire range of an ADAT recorder's Varipitch without losing a single sample. Compare this with the much coarser wordclock PLL, where any rapid changes in sample frequency can cause several false reads, before the next impulse finally arrives, letting the PLL track the current sample frequency. This behavior leads to dropouts and clicks. 

Dynamic Bus Utilization
Scalable computer load according to the current usage.

Hammerfall (DIGI9652) always transmits all channels via the PCI bus. 52 channels equal about 9 MByte/s transfer rate. Although this should be no problem at all (PCI should be capable of about 130 MByte/s), there exist computers (Mac and PC) showing problems already at this low rate of 9 MByte/s. Especially notebooks often suffer from an insufficient PCI-bus bandwidth, in case their CardBus controller or BIOS do not handle PCI-bursts correctly.

Therefore RME added a dynamic bus utilization to the HDSP series. With this the hardware can switch every single channel on or off according to the current usage. For example when performing a simple 2-channel playback, only 344 kByte/s will be transferred via PCI!

So the HDSP series allows to work even on computers which otherwise would be totally incompatible. By switching off the record and playback channels one by one, the user can find the maximum number of possible record and playback channels, thus is able to work non-DAW systems.

Enhanced ZLM®
Monitoring of the input signal, independent from clock mode and sample rate.

The direct pass through of digital data requires the input and output to carry the same AND synchronous sample frequency. In most cases a monitoring is only possible in clock mode slave (AutoSync). Enhanced ZLM® removes those restrictions and allows a monitoring of the input signal completely independent from the clock mode. 
Professional status and level display at lowest CPU load.

Hammerfall DSP implements RME's DIGICheck in hardware. This means: level metering of all inputs, all playback channels and all outputs at the same time with a minimum of CPU load, because the display data is already calculated in the hardware. The hardware catches both peak and RMS values. With these features, you have a unique multichannel level meter in broadcast quality worth several thousands of Dollars virtually at no cost. In addition, the level meter is integrated into the mixer surface, thus making setting and control easier. 

Intelligent Clock Control
Measurement and display of all incoming and used clocks.

Our unique SyncCheck and AutoSync technology has evolved into the new Intelligent Clock Control of the Hammerfall DSP system. HDSP is the only digital I/O-system worldwide capable of measuring and displaying the frequency of all clock sources. Even word clock! Based on validity and current sample rate the system then decides which clock source should be used - fully automated and performed in hardware! With this the HDSP system offers the most easiest handling of the present clocks, although having a lot digital inputs, plus the most advanced support when configuring the clock setup. 
Latency Fast Change
Change latency on-the-fly under ASIO, without manual reset or re-boot.

RME's ASIO drivers have become reference. They were the first and only (beginning with the Hammerfall, followed by the DIGI96 series) to allow a change of the latency while under operation (on the fly). No manual reset, no re-boot - simply continue when using Cubase. 
Secure BIOS Technology
Automatic BIOS replacement when flash process fails.

The hardware design of the HDSP 9652 can be altered in big parts. This is achieved by re-programming the firmware of the card via a Flash Update Tool (FUT), and for sure one its mightiest features. Bug fixes and improvements are possible without any physical modification of the hardware.

But such a feature is not completely free of risks. In case the flash process fails (Status: Failure) the hardware eventually stops working, and has to be re-programmed at the manufacturer. To completely prevent this very seldom case, the HDSP 9652 includes a second, non-flashable BIOS, which guarantees both a re-start and a new flash procedure. Additionally the hardware surveills the flash process, and automatically activates the second BIOS in case flashing fails. It can't be more simple - and more secure. 
Surveillance and sample accurate synchronization of all channels.

SyncAlign includes several methods and techniques to guarantee absolute data alignment with regard to time and channels. No RME digital audio card will ever swap channels, not in stereo nor in multi channel mode, regardless what you do with the card and the signals it gets. SyncAlign also controls the timing among the channels, no matter how much are used, they will always start sample-aligned. When the record while play mode is activated, the corresponding software first starts record and then playback (or playback then record). SyncAlign can compensate the time difference so that an exact simultaneous start of record and playback in the record while play mode is guaranteed. In asynchronous mode (different programs use different stereo devices of one card) this part of SyncAlign is automatically deactivated.

Comparison and display of all input clock status.

When working with several digital sources it is not only necessary that these are all properly locked, they also have to be totally synchronized. Else drop outs and crackling occurs. RME's exclusive SyncCheck checks all input signals. In clock mode Master the synchronous operation to the internal clock is checked. This outstanding and unique technology helps to find errors immediately. The actual state of each input is displayed in the settings dialog. 
Mixes all inputs and all outputs on all outputs. Several independent submixes possible.

All I/O boxes of the Hammerfall DSP System contain a hardware mixer in TotalMix technology. Any input and output can be routed and mixed to any output. Limited only by the available outputs of the I/O-box, up to 14 independent submixes are available. Internally, the mixer works with 40 bit wordlength. For level alterations there are 65536 steps that allow for a virtually continuous change between 6 dB gain and maximum attenuation. In unity gain setting, the mixer is even bit-transparent and can pass the input signal unaltered. The Digiface processes 1456 channels in real-time, which corresponds to the computing power of a Motorola DSP at 100 MHz.

TotalMix not only leads to perfect and complete ASIO direct monitoring, but is also useful without ASIO. Thanks to a proprietary mixer surface, submix and Zero Latency Monitoring can be used with all audio applications. An external mixer thus becomes unnecessary in many cases. 
Zero Latency Monitoring (ZLM®):
Automatic monitoring of the input signal with zero latency

ZLM brings real tape machine feeling to the PC. Each cassette recorder and tape machine passes the input signal of the track in record to the output when record starts. On the PC such a kind of track dependent pass through wasn't available. Often all channels are put in monitoring or pass through mode all together. Or the monitoring is handled by the software, resulting in a big delay (latency) between the signal at the input and the output. After all the pass through mode is activated at record, not at Punch-in. ZLM now solves all these problems with a simple technique. At Punch-in the corresponding track is switched into bypass directly in the hardware, at Punch-out it switches back to playback. Thus the PC behaves exactly like a 'normal' tape machine. ZLM is already available with SEKD's Samplitude and Sequoia, and SAWStudio. It is included as ASIO Direct Monitoring in ASIO 2.0.

Image: RME Hammerfall HDSP9652

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