Hercules 16/12 first impressions

gotten a few requests, TBC.

Picked up a Hercules 16/12 FW 2 weeks ago after hearing about it over a year ago, thinking it would be suitable for my needs. So, while I’m writing a proper review for another website, here’s a quick summary of what I’ve found so far.

Good points:

- 2 preamped (w/48v phantom power, high impedance switch), 10 line level, 2 stereo Spdif inputs - 16 total. Most units in this price range get a few more inputs by adding an ADAT interface (MOTU 828mkII, M-audio 1814, EMU 1820), and I can’t think of another unit with 2 spdif inputs.
- 2 midi inputs.
- Input/output metering on the front panel. The leds change color depending on the level - green, yellow, red.
- wordclock (not really special, but relevant for later reasons).
- Nice loud headphone outputs on front panel.
- Supplied with Firewire card
- Asio drivers seem really quick, and stable. Live mode in Ntrack 3.3 works fine.
- The firmware is updatable. Hopefully they’ll add some more features.

Bad points. Most of these are driver/control panel related:
- Goldplated jacks on the back (good!) appear to be PCB mounted (bad!)
- No firewire through
- Hardware monitoring of only one stereo pair at any one time. Otherwise, you have to set up tracks and monitoring levels before recording in the software. The manual explains how to do this in Cubase, but overall Not Good Enough Hercules!

Control Panel (got some real issues here):

- The control panel (which was updated in the new drivers to have VU meters and Rewire on the 26/1/05) allows for input level control (+4, -10db or some custom level) but not recording level monitoring. Something really irks me about this. Even the two channel hardware monitoring doesn’t have any level control.
- Sample rate is controlled by the recording software. Can’t be done from the CP.

This was a real bitch for me. I’ve got no idea who I did it, but I finally got it installed. Followed the instructions, installation appeared to freeze, turned the Herc back on (not in the instructions), install continued. There was much rebooting and device detection, and it was running.

Somewhere along the line before I realised what was going on, I killed the install. When you install any Herc drivers, they’re supposed to remove the old ones first. Nayway, in the end, all I was getting was the removal message, and no option to install them. So, I found all the refs to the Herc in the registry, deleted them, and still had no luck. I ened up reformating and reinstalling XP/SP2.

After a similarly convoluted process of installation, I realised that after installing the drivers the Herc wasn’t being detected properly every time. XP wouldn’t finish booting with the herc on (turning it off allowed XP to finish booting), but while I could hear the device connected/disconnect system noises through the onboard sound, no herc was actually being detected (as indicated by the 16/12fw Control Panel).

Regardless of onboard sound enabled or not I have this problem. Persistent on/offing of the unit will eventually work.

Not good enough and possibly referenced here:

I’ve informed the Au distributor who’s trying to replicate the error on the machines they have there and I’m yet to hear back from ts.hercules.com. The Tech Support line for Australia listed in the manual isn’t connected.


So far I’ve had a bit of a play with it. The preamps seem usable and neutral sounding. I recorded 8 tracks for 3 hours during a band praco on Sunday on the ASIO drivers with ntrack and they all stayed in sync. The unit sounds ok. I did have some issues with what sounded like dropped samples, clipping (my fault there) and some speeding up/slowing down in the later section. This is probably related to buffer number/size, and I’m not goign to make a judgement on the stablity of it just yet.

It seems like a great interface to use with a decent sized desk, and imo, that’s the only way to use it if you plan on monitoring anything with some flexability, although I’m still to try the through-software method.

Overall, I think it’s a unit that not quite completely pro. There’s lots to commend it, but I think in order to fit the price range Hercules have cut a number of corners, namely monitoring and drivers letting the apps do the work. Here’s hoping to improvements in the firmware, software and drivers.

I was seriously looking forward to using this, but if the on/off detection issue can’t be resolved, I’ll probably take it back as I can’t be bothered with that. It should just work.

I’m seriously underwhelmed.


Hi Willy:
That’s a nice/comprehensive, cover/report.

I know your looking at something to move onto… It sounds like your moveing away from the Candy-Glass Window… The Herc looks good, on paper…

Did the overall audio energy, of the analogue, sound O.K. to you? Did the Dynamic Range and Noise Specs. of the electronics sound O.K. when you heard what you recorded? It sounds to me like the A-D and D-A Converters leave a little to be desired… Or, do you think that part of it, is O.K.?

Boy, it’s hard to know where to put your money, these days…

For me, and if, I can ever get enough of it, I’m thinking of spending it on some RME hardware…


Yeah, everything seems to be a bit flashy these days. i suppose it’s the industries way of trying to stand out from the crowd.

I’ve spoken to the guys down at the shop, and they’ll let me swap it if I can’t resolve the on/off detection issue and support don’t get back to me in the next week or so. One of the guys uses a MOTU 828mkII with his laptop with no issues at all, so we’re going to have a go with that, see how we go.

Really, is it so hard just to get a decent interface that works with everything? I’m thinking that I will swap it, regardless, although I’m doing a gig this weekend I was hoping to record. Maybe I’ll use it, and still swap it anyway. Just testing it I guess. Dunno what to swap it for though. The EMU 1820m is a similar price, but I’ve seen some people have issues with it and nforce2 boards… ESP1010? M-audio 1814? Edirol FA101?


Thanks for the review Willy. I’m thinking MOTU may be the way to go. The Herc may not be ready for primetime…


I don’t think that direct monitoring (without using ntrack’s Live mode) of only two out of 16 channels is good enough. It’s on the low side of rediculous actually. It might be fine for someone working on their own, but why offer them 16 channels?

The more I play with it, the more it seems like it’s been made with the max number of inputs to a price point, but in order to do so features have been cut and made reliant on external software to be useable. It doesn’t help that Hercules haven’t answered any emails.

Edit: The new drivers allow you to monitor any single stereo pair to any output, whereas previously you could ONLY monitor any single stereo pair through the headphone or 1/2 outputs.

Still not good enough. How about routing any/all inputs to a single output??