Home Page
Archive > Posts

RME Babyface Pro in Linux
An exercise in patience

After years of saying I’d do it, I'm finally moving my ecosystem from Windows to Linux. After some experimenting and soul searching, I've decided to go with Linux Mint, as it's not exactly Ubuntu with their atrociously horrible decisions, but it provides stability, ease of setup, and a similar enough interface to Windows so as to not lower my productivity.

Getting all of my legacy hardware working, including my 6-monitor setup, was mostly painless, but my beloved Babyface Pro (external professional audio mixer hardware) has been absolute hell to get working. It only natively supports Windows, OSX, and iOS for the “PC” (USB audio passthrough) mode, and the CC mode (class compliant) does not offer my custom waveform transforms. So, my only real option was to use the other analog input interfaces on the Babyface (XLR, SPDIF, or quarter inch audio).

The first hurdle was the power. Normally the device is powered through USB, however if I was going to be using the other audio inputs, I didn't want to leave the USB plugged in all the time, and the Babyface doesn't come with a power adapter. Fortunately, I had a 12V 1A+ power adapter in my big box of random power adapters. The second hurdle was when I discovered that the Babyface does not store the mixer settings when it's powered off. So, every time it gets powered on, it needs to be hooked to another (Windows) machine that can push the mixer settings to it. This also isn't too big a deal as I keep it on a UPS so it generally won't lose power, and if it does, I can use a VM to push the settings.

The next problem was deciding what interface to go through. I was really hoping to use SPDIF/optical since it is a digital signal that does not suffer from interference and degradation, but all the SPDIF interfaces I tried (4 in total) all sounded like garbage. I guess the SPDIF interface on the Babyface is a piece of Junk, which was very disheartening.

My only remaining option was using the analog inputs. I decided to use a mini (3.5mm; 1/8") stereo to quarter inch (6.35mm) mono splitter cord to run into “IN 3/4” and this worked perfectly. However, if the USB interface is plugged in at the same time then this actually creates very audible line noise on the analog inputs within the Babyface itself! This is a horrible design flaw of the device that I was shocked to run into. Fortunately, as mentioned in step 1, I already planned on having the USB cord unplugged, so not a deal breaker.

I first tried the headphone and line out jacks on my motherboard, but the audio quality was only at about 90%. I next tried the line out on my Creative Sound Blaster Audigy from 2014 and the audio was at about 95% quality. It also felt like a cardinal sin to plug in a PCIE 1.0 1x device (0.250 GB/s) into a PCIE 5.0 16x slot (63 GB/s) - lol. So, I bought a Sound Blaster Play 3! USB to mini audio adapter and the audio was perfect! I finally had my setup figured out.

As a fun note, I went to an audiologist a few days ago to have my hearing tested, and the waveform I had devised (through brute force testing) that I had been using through the Babyface for the last 7 years was the exact inverse of the results on the hearing loss frequency chart.