The Burl B80 Mothership is a user-configurable 80-channel AD/DA interface that brings the warmth and depth of analog tape to digital recording.
For those who miss the sound of analog tape but not the noise and hiss or loss of highs and transients during frequent passes, Burl Audio gives you the B80 Mothership. For engineers and producers such as Vance Powell, F. Reid Shippen, Michael Wagener, Michael Brauer, Eddie Kramer, and a host of others, the B80 Mothership has abducted the hearts and ears of audio professionals (without the alien surgical probes . . . unless you count using Earthworks mics). Once you hear the warmth, depth, and musicality of the B80 Mothership, you can’t un-hear how sterile and dimensionless your current converters sound in comparison. However, be advised, the B80 Mothership isn’t simply a color generator, it’s as close to analog recording as you can get without the downsides of magnetic tape. Additionally, the 10-space Mothership lets you configure your AD/DA channel count, clocking, and digital I/O. Simply put, the B80 Mothership has redefined digital recording.
Burl Audio B80 Mothership—Just the Facts:
- 4U main chassis
- Class A analog circuitry and custom transformers
- BMB1 (DigiLink) motherboard
- BMB2 (MADI) motherboard
- BMB3 (Dante) motherboard
- 1 BNC Word Clock In
- 2 BNC Word Clock Out
- 10 card slots
- All slots accept AD/DA, AES, and BCLK
- 4- and 8-channel analog cards
Burl Audio B80 Mothership—Under the Hood
The B80 Mothership is the result of over 20 years of tireless research and development. Designed by Burl Audio founder Rich Williams, whose UA 2192 became an instant hit with mastering engineers, the Mothership builds on the technology found in the 2-channel B2 Bombers, plus Burl’s unwavering dedication to analog Class A circuitry. Pushing the envelope even further, the card-based B80 Mothership AD/DA converter has up to 80-channel capability. The Mothership is a no-compromise design with a heavy-duty 4U chassis with superior build quality. It features 10 card slots that can be filled with 4- and 8-channel AD/DA cards, all with the B2-quality signal path.
Proprietary Burl Electronics
Every ADC channel uses a proprietary BX1 transformer and every DAC channel has the latest Burl Audio discrete op-amp. For those who’ve already embraced the B2 Bomber, this is a dream come true. Recording an entire band and playing back through 24 channels of Burl AD/DA is a life-changing experience. With a completely configurable AD/DA, a converter for any situation can be realized. If you just mix, load up the B80 with 8 BDA8 cards for 64 channels of mind-blowing fidelity. If you track live, 6 BAD4 cards will give you 24 B2-quality inputs, and 4 BDA8 cards give you 32 channels of output—great for analog summing boxes or consoles.
Digital interconnect is also completely configurable and controlled by a swappable motherboard. Burl Audio offers four digital motherboards, the BMB1 (DigiLink for Pro Tools), BMB2 (MADI), BMB3 (Dante AoIP), and BMB4 SoundGrid by Waves. The BMB1 comes standard with two DigiLink connectors for direct hookup to Pro Tools. However, instead of an expansion port, both are primary ports on the BMB1, which means you can play 64 DAC channels straight out of Pro Tools with one unit.
The BMB2 features two optical MADI ports for use with ASIO or Core Audio PCIe MADI cards. With two optical ports, the BMB2 supports 64 bi-directional channels at 44.1k, 48k, 88.2k, and 96k; and 32 bi-directional channels at 176.4k and 192k.
The BMB3 features two Ethernet ports for use with Dante-enabled DAWs or any Dante-enabled device, such as a digital mixing console. With two Dante ports, the BMB3 supports 64 bi-directional channels at 44.1k, 48k, 88.2k, and 96k; and 32 bi-directional channels at 176.4k and 192k.
SoundGrid is an Audio-over-Ethernet networking and processing technology developed by Waves. The BMB4 features an Ethernet port for 64 bi-directional channels, one BNC word clock input, and two word-clock outputs. SoundGrid provides extremely low-latency, high-channel-count audio processing using standard Intel CPUs and 1Gbps Ethernet for the studio, live sound, and other real-time professional audio applications. Real-time audio processing is performed on standard Intel-based plugin servers running a Waves-customized real-time version of Linux. Waves SoundGrid audio over Ethernet technology is a robust, proven system for audio-over-IP networking.
B4 Mic Pre
The B4 boasts the new BX6 input transformer designed for true mic/line input impedance. The B4 maintains a no compromise, class-A analog circuit, followed by the same ADC we use in the BAD8. Using a single B80 chassis, 40 input channels of audiophile MIC/LINE inputs can be realized. With digital control and SoundGrid or Dante, the B80 Mothership with the B4Mic/Line daughter card is the ultimate studio-grade stage box.
The BAD4 is a 4-channel analog-to-digital daughter card for the B80 and B16 Mothership. This is a no-compromise design using an all class-A, discrete transistor circuit path and the legendary BX1 transformer coupled input.
The BDA4, transformer coupled, 4-channel digital-to-analog converter Daughter Card for the B80 and B16 Mothership is the result of over 25 years of R&D experience in pro audio digital and analog design. Following on the success of the B2 Bomber DAC and the BDA8 for the Mothership, the BDA4 uses the newly developed BOPA14 with BURL Audio’s NextGen Analog. The BOPA14 is followed by the renowned BX5 output transformer used in the B32 Vancouver Mix Bus.
The BAD8 is an 8-channel analog-to-digital daughter card for the B80 and B16 Mothership. It has a next-generation analog circuit path and the latest in analog to digital conversion. The BAD8 boasts great tone with even greater detail and amazing low latency.
The BDA8 is an 8-channel digital-to-analog daughter card for the B80 and B16 Mothership. It features the same digital-to-analog conversion as the B2 Bomber DAC coupled with the Burl Audio proprietary BOPA2 discrete, class-A op-amp. The combination is a sound that is real, open, and huge.
The BCLK card features 8 BNC-style word clock outputs plus an AES/EBU clock output. An extremely low jitter, high-quality clock is generated by the BMBx card (Burl Motherboard) and passed along the BBB (Burl BackBone) to each B80 and B16 daughter card slot. With the BCLK card, a word clock distribution of 92 total outputs can be achieved with one B80 MOTHERSHIP. An added feature of the BCLK card is that it can output multiples of the system word clock. For instance, if you are running a 96kHz session, you can output 48kHz, 96kHz or 192kHz from each BCLK word clock bank.
The BAES4 card features 4 channels of AES/EBU IO and the ability to recover and sync to the incoming AES stream.
Internal master clock
All channels of the Mothership can run off of one internal master clock—no more cascading units with multiple word clocks, which means a separate word clock generator is a thing of the past. If you need more channels, multiple B80 units run flawlessly with tight clocking. Each BCLK card adds nine additional word clock outputs per slot. 92 total word clock outputs are possible per B80 Mothership.
The technology that makes this all possible is the Burl BackBone, a high bandwidth backplane delivering incredible digital audio throughput. Master clock travels directly to each converter eliminating the need for individual PLLs.
Building a Burl B80 system
Configuring a B80 Mothership is quite literally a snap. Simply slide the card down its guide, snap it in the Burl Backbone, turn the hand screws, and Bob’s your uncle. With 6 BAD8s and 4 BDA8s, you can have a 48 x 32 system. With 2 BAD8s and 8 BDA8s, 16 x 64 I/O can be achieved. With the configurability of the Mothership, the I/O possibilities are limitless.
Powering the B80 Mothership takes some juice, so Burl designed the BP300 to drive the 80 channels of class-A analog circuitry. With a 250-watt continuous power capability, and +/- 24-volt rails, a multi-channel AD/DA converter is finally getting the power it deserves. Burl also plans for film and broadcast grade “Black Face” cards where channel density and price per channel are of greater concern.