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Connect an ADAT hardware extender to your audio Interface

jesse g

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Hello folks,

I purchased a Focusrite Scarlett OctoPre because I am a hardware junkie and I love recording and mixing with hardware and plugins.  I needed a way to connect extra hardware as I ran out of channels with my Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 and so, the Focusrite Scarlett OctoPre justified the purchase and allowed the use of 8 more external connections.

I had the hardest time getting this set up in Cakewalk By Bandlab because all of the videos I watched didn't say anything much about DAW Setup, but here is where reading is fundamental. The Audio Interface manual spells it all out if you just read it.

It is important that you know the In and Out table for the mode being used for the Audio Interface you are using.

Audio Interface connected to the computer via USB-C = Focusrite Scarlett 18i20.

Expander unit being used to provide 8 extra channels of I/O = Focusrite Scarlette OctoPre

Only have the Audio Interface on at this port for setup.


To expand your audio Interface,  you will plug a Toslink (ADAT) cable into the primary Audio Interface (Scarlett 18i20) ADAT IN port on the back of the unit. Then plug the other end of the Toslink (ADAT) cable into the ADAT OUT port on the back of the Preamp you are using, (Focusrite Scarlett OctoPre). 

Open the audio configuration software for your Audio Interface. For my Scarlett 18i20, I use Focus Control. 

The simplest way of syncing the devices is to set the Clock Source of the Audio Interface to ADAT, next set the Sample Rate to either 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz.  The Sample Rate used here will allow for 8 channels to be used within the Audio Interface from the Preamp. Finally, set the I/O Mode to S/PDIF RCA and Save and Close out of your Audio Interface Software and shut down your Audio Interface.

Next, turn back on your Audio Interface and at least for the Focusrite brand, you should have everything already set up for you in the software.

The ADAT digital format can carry up to 8 channels of audio and this depends on the sample rate you wish to use.

44.1/48kHz - 8 channels
88.2/96kHz - 4 channels
176.4/192kHz - 2 channels

For Focusrite: In the Focus Control Software, set the following:

(Monitor Outputs)          select Playback 1-2
(Line Outputs 3-4)         select Playback 3-4
(Line Outputs 5-6)         select Playback 5-6
(Line Outputs 7-8)         select Playback 7-8
(Line Outputs 9-10)       select Playback 9-10
(S/PDIF Outputs 1-2)     select Playback 11-12
ADAT Outputs 1.1-1.2   select Playback 13-14
ADAT Outputs 1.3-1.4   select Playback 15-16
ADAT Outputs 1.5-1.6   select Playback 17-18
ADAT Outputs 1.7-1.8   select Playback 19-20

Click Monitor Outputs,  and it should now be highlighted black, now click the plus "+" symbol to the right and highlight  Analog numbers 1-8 or click the number pairs if you want to add Stereo channels to Focus Control. If using S/PDIF click that also and then select ADAT channels 1-8 either as stereo pairs or as individual channels, If you want to add Loop Back, select that too .   For the Software Playback, Click the "+" symbol and click the numbers 1-8, as individuals outs or as pairs. Next,  save as a preset or just quit

You can decide if you want the above to remain stereo or mono channels.

Save and Close out of your Audio Interface software and shut down your Audio Interface.
Now turn on your Preamp, for me I use the Focusrite Scarlette OctoPre. On the unit set the Clock Source to INTERNAL, set the SAMPLE RATE to 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz, and then turn on the Audio Interface to make sure they sync up. You should see GREEN lights or the word SYNC appear. 

 For the Focusrite OctoPre, there is only a green dot on the front screen, the lock itself doesn’t turn green.

In Cakewalk go to Edit > Properties and you will see the the Focusrite inputs and outputs.  The have to be renamed in order to properly assign the correct input and output to the correct channel.


Set the Friendly Naming Convention in Cakewalk:

Focusrite Input 1/2
Focusrite Input 3/4
Focusrite Input 5/6
Focusrite Input 7/8
Focusrite Loopback 9/10
SPIDIF 11/12
Focusrite ADAT IN 1/2
Focusrite ADAT IN 3/4
Focusrite ADAT IN |5/6
Focusrite ADAT IN 7/8

Apply, OK.  When in the Track Pane, the IN’s and OUTs will work with the inputs and outs selected for the Focusrite 18i20 or the Focusrite Scarlett OctoPre.

You will see when selecting inputs in Cakewalk

Focusrite Input 1 L  = Channel 1 L
Focusrite Input 1 R = Channel 2 R
Focusrite Input 1 S  = (Stereo) 1L/2R

Focusrite Input 3 L =  Channel 3 L
Focusrite Input 3 R = Channel 4 R
Focusrite Input 3 S  = (Stereo) 3L/4R

Focusrite ADAT IN 1L = Channel 1L
Focusrite ADAT IN 1R = Channel 2 R
Focusrite ADAT IN 3 S = (Stereo) 1L/2R 

and so on... 

Edited by jesse g
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thanks for the detailed setup instructions. I've got a similar setup with a focusrite 18i20 and an audient ASP880 but i'm not getting audio information to come into cakewalk.

I've set the clock source to ADAT on the 18i20 and both the devices are running at 44.1kh and the clock status is synced. the inputs on the audient are definitely working as they're all lighting up with input signals, and i've even check to see if there's light being send down the cable to the 18i20 and all is good. The digital i/o mode in focusrite control is set to S/PDIF RCA and I also tried setting this to S/PDIF Optical and didn't get any results.

I've got cakewalk set up to 44.1kh too which I've set as the the default for new projects etc. All analogue and digital inputs and outputs are appearing in the driver preferences page and all are selected, analogue and digital and loop.  I've also ticked the box to show mono inputs as this is mostly how i'll be using the asp880.

When I create a new track in a project and select the input, I can see all the channels that should be there (analogue, didital mono and stereo options) but when I select  Focusrite USB ASIO Digital 1 which should be mono input 1 on the audient and play something through the mic pre and arm the track, I get no signal appearing in cakewalk.


I'm probably making a silly mistake but if anyone could help me out that would be incredible as I'm excited to get this setup working!



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Hello Pete,

This is the part that was killing me.  Here is the answer.  Look in the 18i20 manual on page 28.  You will see when using ADAT that the input channel is not the actual channel from the expansion unit, therefore channel 1 of the ASP880 does not equal ADAT 1, it equals  it equal ADAT 3.

On page 28 

1. You have the first 8 input channels of the 18i20 matching  S/PDIF input 1-8  (These are you actual 18i20 input channels)

2. Next you have Loopback 1 and 2

3. Then you have Digital In 1 and 2 for actual S/PDIF channels from the 18i20

4.  Now for the EYE opener (Look over the 18i20 chart  because the ADAT ins Automatically go to the ADAT Outs.  CH 3 IN is CH 13 OUT )  Look carefully

ADAT  Inputs Start at Channel 3 on the ASP880, so that will = ADAT 1.1 in the 18i20
ADAT  Input  Channel 4  on the  ASP880 will = ADAT 1.2
ADAT  Input  Channel 5  on the  ASP880 will = ADAT 1.3
ADA T Input Channel 6  on the  ASP880 will = ADAT 1.4
ADAT  Input  Channel 7  on the  ASP880 will = ADAT 1.5
ADAT  Input  Channel 8  on the  ASP880 will = ADAT 1.6
ADAT  Input  Channel 9 on the  ASP880 will = ADAT 1.7
ADAT  Input  Channel 10 on the  ASP880 will = ADAT 1.8


ADAT  Output Start at Channel 13 on the ASP880, so that will = ADAT 1.1 out for the 18i20
ADAT  Output  Channel 14  on the  ASP880 will = ADAT 1.2
ADAT  Output  Channel 15  on the  ASP880 will = ADAT 1.3
ADA T Output Channel 16  on the  ASP880 will = ADAT 1.4
ADAT  Output  Channel 17  on the  ASP880 will = ADAT 1.5
ADAT  Output  Channel 18  on the  ASP880 will = ADAT 1.6
ADAT  Output  Channel 19 on the  ASP880 will = ADAT 1.7
ADAT  Output  Channel 20 on the  ASP880 will = ADAT 1.8

This is where the Friendly naming in Cakewalk  comes in so you will know which input is which.

ADAT 1.1  in Cakewalk will now become "ASP880 Input ADAT 1"
ADAT 1.2  in Cakewalk will now become "ASP880 Input ADAT 2"
ADAT 1.3  in Cakewalk will now become "ASP880 Input ADAT 3"

The Outputs Start with Channel 13

ADAT 1.1  in Cakewalk will now become "ASP880 Output ADAT 1"
ADAT 1.2  in Cakewalk will now become "ASP880 Output ADAT 2"
ADAT 1.3  in Cakewalk will now become "ASP880 Output  ADAT 3"

And so on.. ,  or however you want to name it.  Call it ADAT or Channel 

I hope this helps


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Thanks again. 


Do you have any idea what may be causing it?  This is the first time in my many years here having a problem with posting.   It just suddenly turn red and I can't do any thing else until it is reviewed.    Really, it's not that bad. but it's just a little annoying, that's all.   

Thanks for the rescue 👍

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Gang!


 I’m new to this thread, but I’ve had such a setup running (still do) here using a Presonus Audiobox 1818VSL as primary interface and a very old device, a Soundscape (I forget the model #) 8 i/o interface. No preamps on this puppy only +6 lines so I gotta hit them hard enough (pro vs semi at -10). I have rarely used it this last decade but it runs clean.

The VSL interface software makes this really simple as my adat connection simply shows as additional faders after the Presonus 8. Labeled as adat and grouped in general. Displayed in Cake in respective fashion. I found this an easy way to acquire 16 i/o.

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  • 3 months later...

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