This was one of those little gems I almost missed. I hadn't heard of anything new at the DiGiCo booth, so I swung by to say, expecting to move on quickly. Then I got talking to the guys and asked if there was anything new. They dropped this little silver box in my hand and said, "This."
The UB MADI is a simple, single purpose product at it's finest. It is just a bi-directional USB to MADI interface. Plug your MADI in and out lines into the unit, connect it to a USB port on your computer and you are ready to record and play back up to 48 tracks of uncompressed audio. That's pretty much it.
What is clever about it is that it's very small, bus powered and requires no configuration. Just plug it in, and it works. My initial question was, "Why use this instead of an RME MADIFace?" The answer was actually obvious after I thought about it. With a MADIFace, you need a PCI slot, either in a desktop or an Express34 slot. Few manufacturers are making Express34 slots anymore, and if you're on the road, you don't want to lug a desktop around.
USB, however, is everywhere. The only real downside to the UB MADI is that you loose 8 channels of record/playback capability. With a MADIFace, you get all 56 available in DiGiCo's MADI implementation. For most of us, most of the time, 48 channels is sufficient. They aslo worked hard to get latency down to an absolute minimum so you could presumably use this with Waves Soundgrid (at least, I'd like to try that...).
They packed a dual-core, 500 MHz cpu with an FPGA derived from the SD7 into that litte box, so there is quite a lot of extra processing power available. It's software updatable, so there could be additional functionality coming down the road.
It will be priced at about $1300, though I did not catch a ship date.