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RME Digi 96/8 series sound cards

Last updated: 2005-09-08

At the last update, the latest verion of ALSA is 1.0.9 and the latest version of JACK is 0.100.0. If things have changed over time, edit this page and change the date and ALSA/JACK versions listed. This info is mostly valid for the 2.4 kernel series, but the 2.6 kernel series has become quite stable and is generally recommended over the 2.4 series.

ALSA Section


Device 0 - (accessed as hw:x,0)

SPDIF Coaxial and Optical


Analog IO

Digital pass through (dolby, ac3, dts)

Device 1 - (accessed as hw:x,1)


Buffer Size, Periods & Frames

This card has a fixed buffersize of 64KBytes, and must be divided into either 8 or 32 periods (a.k.a fragments or buffers). Any app that does not have the number of periods and frames per period (a.k.a. buffer size) set correctly will not play back properly. The following table shows possible combinations. Any other combination will not work! Note: 20 and 24 bit words are padded to make 32 bit words.

Device 0 -

(16 bit wordsize)

--2048 frames and 8 periods

--512 frames and 32 periods

(32 bit wordsize)

--1024 frames and 8 periods

--256 frames and 32 periods

Device 1 -

(16 bit wordsize)

--512 frames and 8 periods

--128 frames and 32 periods

(32 bit wordsize)

--256 frames and 8 periods

--64 frames and 32 periods

Update: This is no longer completely true with newer versions of alsa. In laymans terms, the number of periods created and number of periods actually used are no longer necessarily tied to each other. This means you can set the number of periods used to any number below the number of periods created, resulting in much lower latency. This functionality can be accessed in versions of Jack > 0.99.0


# ALSA portion
alias char-major-116 snd
alias snd-card-0 snd-rme96

# OSS/Free portion - card #1
alias char-major-14 soundcore
alias sound-slot-0 snd-card-0
alias sound-service-0-0 snd-mixer-oss
alias sound-service-0-1 snd-seq-oss
alias sound-service-0-3 snd-pcm-oss
alias sound-service-0-8 snd-seq-oss
alias sound-service-0-12 snd-pcm-oss

alias /dev/mixer snd-mixer-oss
alias /dev/dsp snd-pcm-oss
alias /dev/midi snd-seq-oss

# Set this to the correct number of cards
options snd cards_limit=1

# Other available module options
# index int array (min = 1, max = 8),
#  description "Index value for RME Digi96 soundcard."
# id string array (min = 1, max = 8),
#  description "ID string for RME Digi96 soundcard."
# enable int array (min = 1, max = 8),
#  description "Enable RME Digi96 soundcard."


pcm.rme_stereo {
    type hw
    card 0
ctl.rme_stereo {
    type hw
    card 0
pcm.rme_adat {
    type hw 
    card 0
    device 1
ctl.rme_adat {
    type hw
    card 0

To connect an app to Device 0, use the rme_stereo interface. To connect an app to Device 1, use the rme_adat interface. This is a minimal .asoundrc, you can always add more interface definitions, like the DmixPlugin, and the alias names used here can be changed as well.

JACK Section


  • If you are getting a continuous stream of delay warnings after starting JACK on Device 0, you may have your input connector set to a connection that has nothing plugged into it. For example if your input is set to "Coaxial" and no externial hardware plugged into your coaxial connection, or there is hardware plugged in that is not on or not set to use the coaxial connections then this may be the cause of the delays. Either set your input to "Analog" or configure the connected hardware properly.

  • If you are connecting JACK to SubDevice 1, the following must be set correctly or JACK will fail:

    1. Input Connector must be set to Optical.
    2. Your Sample Clock Source should be set to work correctly with your connected ADAT hardware. (Internal == Master. Autosync == Slave and matches the format of the Master. Word == Both card and ADAT hardware are slave to a word clock generator) Usually you will want your hardware slaved to the card.
    3. The external hardware MUST be in Digital Optical ADAT mode so that it can communicate with JACK. If the external hardware can only go into that mode when there is an ADAT signal present, run aplay -D rme_plug anyfile.wav in order to get the ADAT device turned on. You can then stop aplay and switch the external hardware to Digital Optical ADAT mode. JACK should then startup properly. (This had been addressed in the newer versions of jack/alsa, but I'm leaving it here in case anybody with and older distro runs into this problem)
    4. Make sure you are not connecting Input to Input and Output to Output. :)
    5. Be careful about 32 bit and 16 bit mode. By default Jack starts in 32 bit mode. If the connected interface does not support 32 bit mode then it will attempt to connect in 24 and 16 bit mode.
  • As of Jack 0.90.0 you can connect directly to PCM hw:x,1 and Jack will know to use the Controller hw:x,0. There is only one controller for both devices. If you are using an earlier version of Jack it will attempt to use Controller hw:x,1 which doesn't exist.

  • Using the a plugin interface is sluggish! Don't connect Jack to a plug interface like dmix unless you absolutely have to.

  • If your desktop starts a sound server (Arts or esound for example) you may want to turn thses off. They serve no purpose anymore now that ALSA has the dmix plugin available. The only reason you would need them is if a certain piece of software will only connect to a sound server.

JACK Options

Here's some examples of JACK options that work, with the .asoundrc file listed above.

Connection to SPDIF device

jackd -R -t 2000 -u -d alsa -d rme_stereo -r 44100 -p 256 -n 32 -m -H -M
jackd -R -t 2000 -u -d alsa -d rme_stereo -r 44100 -p 1024 -n 8 -m -H -M

Connection to ADAT device

jackd -R -t 2000 -u -d alsa -d rme_adat -r 44100 -p 512 -n 8 -H -M
jackd -R -t 2000 -u -d alsa -d rme_adat -r 44100 -p 128 -n 32 -H -M

There are many other combinations that work. These are just some examples that show some options available through JACK.

Misc. Section

Digital Pass Through


# device used for 5.1-channel output

Sequencer Issues

If you are useing a 2.4 series kernel, or 2.6 with Alsa loaded as modules, and plan to use a soft synth such as timidity++ or fluidsynth, you need to make sure that synth module is loaded at boot time. (Or load it manually with modprobe) This card does not have a MIDI interface, so the Alsa sequencer modules needed by the softsynths will not be loaded by default. Most distros have a means of specifying which modules you want loaded at boot time by default. Add the alsa sequencer modules to this list.

If you are using a 2.6 series kernel with Alsa compiled directly into the kernel, you need not worry about this as long as the kernel was build with the Alsa sequencer built in.

GUI Mixer

There is a GUI mixer that comes with ALSA tools for the RME 96/8 card series, but i think the one found at this site is nicer. (This is a personal web site so if the link goes dead, remove this section.) When using Jack there is a nice interface for starting and stopping Jack called qjackctl. It also can be used for patching both Jack and the Alsa Sequencer and saving preset for almost anything.


There is a jumper on the card that can be set so that the card starts up in ADAT mode. If you will be using ADAT a lot, you may want to set this jumper. The jumper (JP4) is labeled "Boot ADAT".

ADAT as regular ALSA channels

There is an article about how to configure .asoundrc to use the RME ADAT interface as multiple stereo channels.

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