Getting the most Focusrite 18i20 inputs up and running?

Hi guys.

It’s been some time since I posted as I was quite embarrassed about my ordeal and the stupidity on my behalf having a great many good naughts trying to help my helplessness!

But I’m back with a question/questions I have no idea about so this time people contributing will not feel like they are waisting their time on an idiot lol

So I have an 18i20 coming soon. I’m ridding myself of the baulky soundcraft MTK mixer and my very reliable edirol sound card in favour of a patchbay and 18i20

My question is what does a DI look like other than having fibre optic outputs? My searches find not much and I assume this is because I’m not asking the right questions but truthfully I don’t know what to ask? All I know is all my analog inputs on the 18i20 will be used the moment it enters the studio and I have more gear I wAnt to plug into the 18i20 also? So the spidif accepts 2 channels, I have no idea how an analog instruments connect using the spidif and the optical input interests me but again I have absolutely no idea how analog gear can be routed into the optical input on the 18i20?
Can someone explain the process and perhaps provide links to the bit of hardware (I assume) that sits between the anolog gear and the 18i20 optical input?

Big thanks in advance!!

You can expand the number of analog ins and outs (up to the 18 and 20 in the product’s name) by using:

Essentially, you would get a second box, typically a similar size to the 18i20. This connects over the light-pipe (fibre optic) connections.
This will give you an additional 8 in, 8 out [assuming you run at 44.1/48kHz sample rate - increasing rate = fewer channels useable].
Obvious products:
Focusrite Octopre
Behringer ADA8200

This will give you up to another 2 in/2 out.
Typically you might have little palm-sized boxes - one for D>A conversion (plugged into your ‘out’) to give 2 analog outs, one for A>D conversion (plugged into your ‘in’) to give 2 analog ins.
Obvious products:
Swissonic (Thomann)
[search for ‘spdif a/d’ or ‘spdif d/a’, as needed].

I’d suggest going with ADAT extension in the first instance, then push to Spdif when you need it.

As above, but consider if you need to have them all plumbed in at the same time…your patchbay could be used for the core connections so you’re always ready to roll, with non-core items patched in as you feel the need.

I’d go down this route until you feel you’ve outgrown your number of simultaneous i/o, then consider the adat route as recommended above and if it’s mainly synths, rather than mic inputs, I’d be looking at the behringer.

As an aside, you mentioned DI boxes…the use case for DI boxes that I’ve come across most often is getting different signal levels talking to eachother - i.e. getting a line or inst output to a mic input on a mixer. I’m not sure that’s what you’re looking for in this case.

I bought a used Behringer ADA8000 off eBay to expand my 18i8 so it now has 16 mono inputs, cost £70 and seems to work great for synths. You might want something more expensive if you are wanting it for the mic pre’s as others have said